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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Details of the "six-game, four-continent exhibition tour by NBA players set to begin at the end of October have not been finalized, but 14 of the 18 players approached have contractually committed to the tour," according to sources cited by Ric Bucher of Sources said that the list of players approached to play in the tour include Bulls G Derrick Rose, Lakers G Kobe Bryant, Heat F LeBron James and Heat G Dwyane Wade. The tour is scheduled to "start with a game Oct. 30 in Puerto Rico and include two games in London, one in Macau and two, back-to-back, in Australia." Sources said that the players "will be paid salaries ranging from six figures up to $1 million" (, 10/23). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Mitch Lawrence reports NBA Commissioner David Stern's "ax is expected to fall on more NBA games" today. The next round of cuts "will include games played starting Nov. 15, which is when the majority of players start to get paid." NBPA reports indicate that around "400 of the league's 450 players are paid from Nov. 15-May 15." NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said canceling games is "all part of the owners' plan to see if our guys are going to cave" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/24). Hornets G Chris Paul said, "A lot of people think it's just about the economics, but the economics is something we're willing to talk about. But at the same time, the system and the economics have to go together" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/24). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's John Lombardo reports the NBA has "lost about 400 jobs as part of the collateral damage inflicted on the league and its teams during" the lockout. A source said that the job losses are "estimated to number roughly 200 at the NBA's headquarters and its international offices and about 200 across its 30 teams since last season and over the course of the lockout." The job losses are "the result of combined layoffs and attrition." Lombardo notes it is "unclear how many of the lost jobs will be replaced or filled after the lockout ends." Bill Sutton & Associates Principal Bill Sutton, whose sports consulting firm works with the NBA, said that in addition to the staff cuts, a "hiring freeze for most non-revenue-producing jobs has been in place for some teams" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/24 issue).

THE BARGAINING BOOGEYMAN: YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski noted Owner Paul Allen "appears to be checking out on the Blazers, and there’s suspicion that his motives center on saving as much money as possible in this CBA to eventually ready his franchise for a sale." Allen in Thursday's collapsed CBA negotiations "stepped out of the shadows, declared himself the hardest of hardliners and played the part of the improbable boogeyman in these dysfunctional labor talks" by offering the union a "take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum" on BRI share. Allen's "agenda -- and that of several owners -- is making these teams more palatable for prospective buyers." Wojnarowski noted that will "come at whatever the consequences to the league’s public standing, relationships with its players, its fans, its future." Stern is "fighting to end this [lockout] and preserve his legacy," while NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver is "fighting to show these owners that he's the tough guy they should want as the next in line." Allen, the "richest American owner in sports is fighting the fight, shoulder to shoulder, to change a system that he himself made into such a mockery" (, 10/21). In Portland, Allan Brettman noted Allen "did not speak during a session between a group of owners and player representatives that was overseen" by Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service Dir George Cohen. Trail Blazers President Larry Miller "rejected the contention" that Allen took a hardline because he is "positioning the team for sale." Miller: "Absolutely the team is not for sale." Miller and Silver said that Allen's presence at Thursday's mediation "was partly coincidence." Silver noted that Allen was "in New York to attend the league's Board of Governors meeting on Thursday morning." Silver said after the BOG meeting, "We asked Paul if he was available to attend the mediation session in person." Silver added, "Paul did not speak at the session with the players. ... I do not understand why his presence has taken on a life of its own as if he was sent in to deliver a message to the players" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/22).

TRYING TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT: In Portland, John Canzano noted Stern "dispatched his chief lieutenant, Adam Silver, on Friday to make sure that everyone knows ... Allen didn't say a single word in Thursday's negotiating session." Canzano noted "no one disputed this fact," but the NBA nonetheless "went into damage control and planted its message on the doorsteps of the very fans who know Allen's heavy-handed billionaire schtick best." Additionally, Miller "offered that the team is not for sale." Canzano: "Forgive me for feeling hopeful when I heard Allen might be positioning the Blazers for a sale" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/23). In Portland, Mike Tokito wrote under the header, "NBA High-5: Blazers' Paul Allen Revealed As One Of Hard-Line Owners Blocking Resolution Of Lockout," and goes on to outline the league's key hardline owners (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/22).

MORE ON THE OWNERS:'s Bucher "defended Robert Sarver" on KTAR-AM's "Doug & Wolf" show Thursday when asked "what he had heard" about the Suns Managing Partner's influence during the CBA negotiations. Bucher said, "If nothing else, he has a firm belief in how he thinks things should be done. Right or wrong, for all the same reasons that I admire [Mavericks Owner] Mark Cuban, has he done all the right [things]? No. But he's been very aggressive and forceful in taking his stand and giving his position, and I will always respect that" (, 10/20). In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote the lockout is "being fueled by small-market owners who feel powerless in a league of big cities, mammoth television contracts, and state-of-the-art arenas" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/23).'s Brian Windhorst cited ownership sources as disagreeing with "Hunter's assumption that the divide goes down market-size lines." Sources said that Knicks Owner James Dolan and Lakers Owner Jerry Buss "have been among the most aggressive owners pushing for reform throughout the process." But sources also said that Hunter "is right about [Heat Owner Micky] Arison and his desire to make a deal." Arison has "plenty of incentive to represent his interests and try to get basketball re-started as soon as possible." But Windhorst noted it is clear Arison "doesn’t enjoy much support in his position" (, 10/21). Knicks G and NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. said, "You can look at it and say the majority of owners don't want a deal. But there are owners eager to get a deal done. At this moment they are overshadowed by a contingent of owners who are trying to get everything they want in a new CBA." Mason Jr. said Dolan is "definitely one of the owners who's ready to get back to work." He said Dolan "has put a lot into renovating the Garden and put a lot into the team. He had a lot of tough years and there's a lot of promise now. He wants to get back out there" (N.Y. POST, 10/24). In L.A, Pugmire, Bresnahan & Turner surveyed front office execs, NBA officials, players, attorneys and "others close to the game to get a sense of where the owners stand." The chart below lists the NBA owners and their positions based on the survey (L.A. TIMES, 10/22).

Paul Allen Trail Blazers
David Stern (NBA) Hornets
Robert Sarver Suns
Dan Gilbert Cavaliers
Ted Leonsis Wizards
Michael Heisley Grizzlies
Glen Taylor T'Wolves
Gavin & Joe Maloof Kings
Clay Bennett Thunder
Peter Holt Spurs
Greg Miller Jazz
Stan Kroenke Nuggets
Michael Jordan Bobcats
Herb Kohl Bucks
Larry Tanenbaum Raptors
Donald Sterling Clippers
Jerry Buss Lakers
Mark Cuban Mavericks
James Dolan Knicks
Micky Arison Heat
Wyc Grousbeck Celtics
Mikhail Prokhorov Nets
Rich DeVos Magic
Les Alexander Rockets
Joshua Harris 76ers
Peter Guber & Joe Lacob Warriors
Tom Gores Pistons
Jerry Reinsdorf Bulls
Herb Simon Pacers
Alex Meruelo Hawks

SCHEDULING WOES:'s Sam Amick cited sources as saying that the union "believes that Stern assured his ESPN and TNT television partners that, by back-ending the missed games, he can still deliver an 82-game season even if starts in December" (, 10/21). In California, Kevin Ding noted the Lakers Dec. 13 home game against the Raptors "will not happen under any circumstances then and there." The NBA has "already allowed Staples Center to vacate its commitment to the Lakers that day and schedule an extra date of the Jay-Z and Kanye West concert tour" (, 10/21). In Miami, Linda Robertson asked, "Is a shorter NBA season such a horrible concept?" The lockout "could serve as impetus for a new philosophy for the NBA and our swollen sports culture: Less is more." Robertson: "Cut the length of the season. Permanently" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). In N.Y., Fred Kerber cited one NBA GM who said, "Remember in 1998-99, we didn't settle until Jan. 6, and we were playing the first week of February. So I'd say anything a month down the road is in danger. Beyond that, it's too early. But you've got to get everybody back in the room first" (N.Y. POST, 10/22). T'Wolves F Michael Beasley: "The last few days haven't been the prettiest. Everybody is frustrated, but I feel like losing the NBA season is far-fetched" (ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS, 10/22).

Many questioning why Hunter did not give the
union decertification option a harder look

THE D-WORD: Hunter Thursday said that the league "is going for an NHL-type system -- 'super-hard cap, compress salaries, limit contract length.'" In Boston, Steve Bulpett wrote, "This begs the question that, if he has known this so long, why are the players out of work today and staring at salary losses in the millions?" The players "simply don’t have much recourse as long as this is between them and the league." Hunter "knew what was coming, which makes it all the more astounding that the union didn’t explore the decertification option" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/22). In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote the union's unfair trade practices complaint against the NBA "will never go to court." There will be "no union decertification -- once an option for the players -- because the National Labor Relations Board won’t allow it." Both sides have "filed suits with the NLRB, and once you’re locked into that, the board will block any decertification petition." Hunter "knew that as soon as he filed the suit" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/23). Indiana Univ. School of Law Dean Gary Roberts said the NBPA's "unfair labor practice complaint is extremely weak and lacks legal basis." Northeastern School of Law Professor Roger Abrams said, "I don't think the board will [find] merit in either side's charge" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/23). TNT's Shaquille O'Neal said the NBA agents' planning strategy for players is a "touchy situation." He added, "Agents have always wanted to be in control. When the checks don’t come in, the players’ agents don’t get paid. So you have to look at what they’re doing it for. Are they doing it for their own pockets or are they doing it for the betterment of the players?" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23).

WHAT IS IT REALLY ABOUT?'s Andrew Brandt wrote the CBA negotiations "have become personal." Brandt: "My sense is each side has an internal deadline on these negotiations. While it's not clear when the deadlines are, my sense is that (1) neither side has reached its deadline, and (2) the deadline is later for the owners than the players" (, 10/22). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford wrote under the header, "NBA Players Have Good Argument, But Little Leverage." Ford wrote the players are "going to lose this one, and probably lose it really badly." The game "has to reinvent itself" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/23).'s Michael Wallace wrote this was "supposed to be negotiating in good faith," and the owners "don't appear to be doing that." It has "turned into ruthless neglect." Wallace: "I've heard the owners' side. I've listened to the players and read many of their tweets. I'm still not sure what to believe. ... This is no longer about the ideal of bargaining in good faith. It's about the logistics of disguising the lies. It's a test of wills. It's a question of who's willing to lose the most?" (, 10/21). In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote the lockout "is not a fight between greedy owners and greedy players,' but rather a "fight between selfish owners and selfish owners." Le Batard: "The players, all of them, want to play. The owners? Not so much. ... If you think the hawkish [Cavaliers Owner Dan] Gilbert wouldn't try to throw away an entire season out of pure spite for James, you didn't read his crazy-crayon letter in a rare moment of raw, rabid public honesty from an owner" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/23). In DC, Mike Wise wrote soon the CBA negotiations "won't be about money." Rev. Jesse Jackson worries that soon it "will be personal and irreconcilable and no longer about the color green." Jackson said, "I hope it doesn’t degenerate into names and language that’s hard to take back once it’s started." Jackson said HBO's Bryant Gumbel last week "exposed a subtext of tension," when he referred to Stern as a "modern plantation overseer." Jackson: "He pulled the cover off a very sensitive issue: how we handle the race dimension of it. And I hope we would not have a my-way-or-the-highway attitude about this" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).

IN THIS CORNER...: Syracuse Univ. sports management professor Rick Burton in a special to the N.Y. TIMES wrote it is "Stern alone who must carry the weight of his sport, including owners, players, employees and vendors." Stern must "resolve this matter appropriately or run the risk of bringing the game into disrepute for a sustained period" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23). The STAR-LEDGER's D'Alessandro wrote Stern and Hunter "know exactly what it will take" to reach a CBA. D'Alessandro: "What they’ve done these last few months is patronize two disparate groups that have only three things in common: They are competitive, they are arrogant and they are not used to losing. That means both the commissioner and the union boss are left to devise a strategy that makes both testosterone-fueled sides feel victorious" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/23). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote when it "comes to lying, or not completely telling the truth, there have been instances during this entire numbing process when both sides haven't been on the level" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/22).

EVERYTHING'S OK: In Oklahoma City, John Rohde reports during yesterday's US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational exhibition game hosted by Thunder F Kevin Durant, the White team beat the Blue Team "before a near-sellout crowd of 13,000 inside the Cox Convention Center." Rohde notes despite the lockout, there were "no catcalls directed toward players," and fans "screamed for autographs." Cellphone cameras "were all the rage," and "no one left early and the players left to a standing ovation." Durant said, “I knew this was going to be a hit, especially here in Oklahoma City. ... I was happy with the turnout" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/24). Last night's game was "the largest crowd for any NBA exhibition game in the United States this summer," with the "previous high being 4,800 at Morgan State in Baltimore." Players "were introduced by their colleges, not their NBA teams" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/24). In Oklahoma City, Darnell Mayberry writes, "This NBA lockout hasn't broken hearts around here. The love affair with the National Basketball Association is alive and well" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/24).

Nowitzki open to playing overseas if
NBA lockout continues to drag on

UPCOMING EVENTS: Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki said, "If there is no settlement, I'll go back home any time soon and probably start training with my coach again and really get back in the routine. And then you've got to keep your options open, maybe see what's going on overseas. If the lockout still stays strong then I've definitely got to look into something there in January, February" (, 10/22). Meanwhile, in DC, Michael Lee reports free agent F Josh Howard is "taking advantage of the opening" created by canceled NBA games "to host a charity game on Nov. 12." The game "will be held at the P.C. Cobb Athletic Complex at Dallas's Fair Park, which seats about 2,200" (, 10/24). Magic C Dwight Howard wrote on Twitter that he is "putting together events for Nov. 11-13 that will include an exhibition game that Sunday at UCF" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/23). YAHOO SPORTS' Marc Spears cited sources as saying former NBAer Allen Iverson is "hosting the Las Vegas Superstar Challenge on Nov. 12-13" (, 10/21).

MLB instant replay once again has become a major issue following a significant blown call at first base by umpire Ron Kulpa during Game Three of the World Series Saturday night. However, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre, both part of the commissioner's ongoing Special Committee for On-Field Matters, again said yesterday they are hesitant to implement blanket changes anytime soon. "The overriding principle remains to do what's right and be careful to not react to one specific thing," Selig said. "This is a different sport ... and I remain very concerned about the pace of the game." Torre said he does not want for the panel, and MLB in general, to be seen as stubborn on this issue. And to that end, he said he is keeping an open mind on the increased use of technology. But similar to Selig's concern about pace of game, Torre said, "Wholesale replay is going to disrupt the flow of the game." He added that more replay "isn't going to stop players and managers from arguing calls." Still, additional components to the replay system, particularly with regard to fair and foul boundary calls, are likely to be created. Torre additionally took particular issue with a pool reporter question posed Saturday night to Kulpa inquiring whether his growing up in St. Louis entered into the blown call. "Are they going to miss plays? Sure, they are going to miss plays. Are they going to miss pitches? Sure, they are going to miss pitches," Torre said. "But last night that question hinted at questioning somebody's integrity. That was so far over the line." Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, also part of the On-Field Matters committee, said additions are likely needed to ease the burden on increasingly pressured umpires. "They've got so much on their plate, and right now they'll catch as much heat as any manager for making or not making a move," LaRussa said (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Rangers manager Ron Washington said that he "would be in favor of some sort of expanded instant replay in the World Series, but not in the regular season." Washington: "I don't want to be having everything replayed (in the regular season). It could be imposed in the World Series because of the magnitude of the game." Washington previously "has not been in favor of replay" (, 10/23).

ALCOHOL BAN CONSIDERED: Torre yesterday said that MLB is considering a leaguewide ban on alcohol in team clubhouses following this month's controversy involving Red Sox players drinking at Fenway Park. "It's something we're concerned about," Torre said. "I have some plans to talk to people. I'm going to look at it and find the best way to approach it. I have no trouble talking about that behavior." Nearly half of MLB teams already have bans on alcohol in their clubhouses. Rules, however, are typically relaxed after games and during flights. "We're up there and we're role models, or we should be role models for the youngsters and how they behave" (Fisher). Selig added that the "clubhouse drinking by the Sox was something that bothered him." Selig: "You never like to hear that. I'm very image-conscious about the sport and that's a great, proud franchise" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24).

UPDATE ON CBA TALKS: Selig said CBA talks with the MLBPA continue to be "productive" and meetings continue to be held regularly, including another session yesterday. But he declined to put a specific timetable on when a final deal might arrive. A new agreement is anticipated within several weeks, according to several industry sources. The current five-year pact expires Dec. 11 (Fisher). Selig said the issues MLB would like to see addressed in the new CBA are “competitive balance, slotting and a worldwide draft.” He said the bottom 12 teams in MLB “have been disadvantaged” and that “wasn’t the purpose of the draft.” Meanwhile, Selig said he wants to go to blood testing for HGH in MLB.  Selig: "I want to pat us on the back. I’ve been doing that in the minor leagues. It’s worked very successfully … and I want to bring that to the major leagues. … It’ll be another step in our program of how we’ve dealt with all these things. We’re in negotiations" (MLB Network, 10/21). Selig added that realignment "before the 2012 season remains unlikely ... but there is a tentative schedule for the possibility in 2013." He said that he would "like to see expanded playoffs, despite the dramatic final day of the regular season." USA TODAY's Peter Barzilai notes the drama that resulted in the Rays and Cardinals making the postseason when the Red Sox and Braves lost "would have been absent with an expanded playoff format" (USA TODAY, 10/24).

HAPPY WITH ALL-STAR GAME FORMAT: Selig said that despite the Cardinals being the wild-card team and having home-field advantage in the World Series, he is still “happy” with the system of rewarding home-field advantage to the league that wins the All-Star Game. He said, “There was no great way to do it. ... I like this. Players play hard. We’re doing more by the way. We’ll do more for next year to make sure we have better representation.” Selig noted there could be an announcement about changes to the All-Star Game and with regards to the issue of players not showing up to the game after being named to the team, Selig said, “I will expect everybody to be there" (MLB Network, 10/21).

: In Boston, Peter Abraham reports Selig "has given the Red Sox and Cubs a Nov. 1 deadline to determine compensation" for Theo Epstein. If a deal is not agreed to by the deadline, Selig "will step in and mediate." Epstein officially resigned as Red Sox GM Friday to become Cubs President of Baseball Operations. He will "negotiate the compensation for his services with his successor with the Sox, Ben Cherington." The two teams "have suspended talks until Epstein is introduced in Chicago tomorrow and Cherington officially takes over in Boston" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24). Selig said, "They have until Nov. 1, Theo and Ben and all the other parties involved. Hopefully they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. ... They either get it done or they won't. If they don't, then I will" (Fisher).

GRIFFEY HONORED: Selig yesterday gave his Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award to former MLBer Ken Griffey Jr. In addition to a HOF-caliber on-field career, Selig lauded Griffey for "staying out of controversy," and playing an instrumental role in active players wearing uniform No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. The uniform tradition first seen in '07, is now an annual staple each April 15. "I hope the next generation of players emulate Ken Griffey Jr.," Selig said. Griffey is the 12th recipient of the award since its formation in '98 and first since Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, in '07 (Fisher). Griffey said, "It's very humbling. One of the things I said to Bud when he told me was, 'Are you sure,' and he said yes. ... The hands of a lot of people hold part of that trophy other than mine" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/24).

The WTA BOD today announced that it has voted unanimously to extend the contract of Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster for another five years through '17. Since assuming that role in '09, Allaster has presided over several milestones for the organization, including securing $80M in total revenue and signing five new sponsors in the past 18 months, along with several renewals, for a 60% increase in sponsorship revenues. The most significant of those renewals is with lead sponsor Sony Ericsson (WTA). USA TODAY's Douglas Robson notes with the extension, Allaster is "in line to become the longest serving female chief executive in women's tour history." Allaster said, "For us to have this stability allows our organization to stay focused on growing the business." The unanimous vote to extend Allaster's contract "took place during board meetings last month in New York." If she finishes her term, Allaster will "trail only Jerry Diamond in longevity." Diamond ran the "fledgling WTA from 1974-86." Allaster is "credited with carrying out the so-called roadmap plan that streamlined the calendar to offset player absences (spearheaded by her predecessor, Larry Scott), as well as turning over sponsorship stones in a tough economic climate." Under her leadership, the WTA has "increased prize money, TV viewership and attendance at its biggest events." Allaster noted that the "explosion of social media" is a "big opportunity being exploited by the tour." She also said that the WTA is "in final stages of a new international broadcast deal with UK-based Perform that could double the number of live women's matches across multiple platforms (smart phones, tablets, etc.)" (USA TODAY, 10/24).

MORE LIVE TENNIS:'s Richard Pagliaro reported ESPN has "signed a four-year agreement with the WTA to carry live coverage of its events across multiple platforms." Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. ESPN and the WTA "will officially announce the partnership" today. The deal "includes exclusive rights" to WTA Premier event weekday matches, as well as rights to the WTA Championships singles final on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with live round-robin and semifinals coverage also on ESPN3. Coverage begins tomorrow with the WTA Championships from Istanbul. ESPN3’s live coverage "will feature select round-robin matches, both semifinals and the final." ESPN2 will "provide tape-delay television coverage of the final" at 1:00pm ET. This year's Istanbul matches will also be shown on Tennis Channel. Starting with the Sydney tournament in January, ESPN3 "will present live coverage of more than 70 matches from 11 events, including early rounds and select quarterfinals, annually between January-October." The net will "use the same commentators who work ESPN2’s television coverage and rely on the world feed when it is not providing television coverage of an event" (, 10/23).

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in his short tenure has “signed big-ticket sponsors, added a popular street race and new car designs, and stanched the slide in attendance and television ratings,” but Dan Wheldon’s death has left behind "bitterness and finger-pointing," according to the N.Y. TIMES’ Belson & Garrett, who wrote under the header, “Aftermath: A Driver’s Death Has Raised Questions About IndyCar’s Leader.” Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dir of Communications Jeff Motley said, “This wasn’t even our event. But they’ve left us to be the only ones to answer for this. There is such a thing as Crisis Management 101. And they flunked it.” LVMS leased its track to IndyCar for the season-ending race. Eager to “shake things up, Bernard worked his Rolodex relentlessly, regularly held predawn conference calls and fired off e-mails while others were asleep.” Bernard previously had stated that he would resign if the Oct. 16 race didn’t triple the TV ratings from last season’s finale, but an IndyCar spokesperson “would not say whether Bernard would make good on his promise and resign.” Several execs in the sport have “urged caution about rushing to conclusions about blame or reforms.” Belson & Garrett wrote what “is clear, though, is that emotions remain raw.” Some racing execs who “were skeptical of Bernard’s tactics are mulling his ouster, while others are considering keeping him on a shorter leash.” ESPN analyst Scott Goodyear said, “I think this is going to be a wake-up call that could lead to some massive changes. There was the same reaction when Dale Earnhardt was killed and changes were implemented” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23).

BLAME GAME: In L.A., Jim Peltz writes Bernard was "inundated with hate mail" following Wheldon's death. But as IndyCar began an investigation into the crash, others said that “neither Bernard nor his promotion was the culprit, although safety changes should be addressed.” Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker said, "The blame game needs to stop so the energy can be turned toward learning from this incident and making the sport safer and stronger." NASCAR driver Tony Stewart said, "Randy Bernard has been getting beat up over it and he shouldn't." Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach President & CEO Jim Michaelian said, "To ascribe blame in any way to Randy for what transpired in that tragic incident in Las Vegas I think is unfair" (L.A. TIMES, 10/24). The AP’s Tim Dahlberg wrote, “Sometimes it takes a death to change things.” Change “can't come about until the mistakes of the past are examined and measures are taken to make sure they're not repeated.” Change is “already underway with a new car for next year that reportedly will include a reinforced cockpit and partly enclosed wheels” (AP, 10/23).

BIDDING FAREWELL: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin notes Wheldon's “lighter side was on display in a memorial service at Conseco Fieldhouse,” and there were “more laughs than tears.” There were an “estimated 3,000 attendees at the 90-minute memorial” yesterday (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/24). In St. Petersburg, Jamal Thalji noted a funeral was held for Wheldon on Saturday in the city and IndyCar founder Tony George, team Owner Roger Penske and Bernard were “all in attendance.” Wheldon's pallbearers included drivers Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan. Danica Patrick “was also there” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/23).

NFL team CMOs will gather Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., for their first conference organized by the league. While the league has had business summits before, the NFL is now hosting more focused, smaller conferences under VP/Club Business Development Brian Lafemina. A ticketing conference is scheduled for Dec. 6 at MetLife Stadium, and a gathering of team presidents in March. This week’s conference is set to include a keynote address from Arbinger Institute Global CEO Jim Ferrell, whose company offers corporate coaching services. There will also be a presentation from Barry Kahn of Qcue about ticketing. Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway will talk about leveraging football operations for marketing, giving perspective as a former player and now a member of the Broncos' front office. NFL VP/Player Development Troy Vincent, who formerly was NFLPA President, will also talk with him on the subject. Other presentations include database marketing, in-game experience, and one from Barclays Cards, a league sponsor. The league last month launched an intranet portal, Club Central, intended to allow clubs to share best practices. Nearly 200 NFL execs are now using the site, said Lafemina, a former MSG exec who joined the league last year. The NBA offers a similar site for its teams, he said. The site allows teams to post best practices, and arrange regular conferences calls, the audio of which is posted on the site.

UFL officials are "determined to stay in business for a fourth season" in ’12 despite "mounting losses," according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. To do so “will require new teams, new investors, a new television deal and smarter business decisions, all of which will need to be done soon.” UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue Friday before the Las Vegas Locomotives-Virginia Destroyers Championship game said, “We're looking at making a decision sometime in January. A lot depends on expansion. We are looking at eight (teams) for 2012." UFL Founder and Locomotives Owner Bill Hambrecht said that he will “settle for six, provided all are on solid fiscal ground.” Hambrecht: “We definitely can't continue the way we're currently constructed. If we're going to be taken seriously, we have to have more than four teams. Eight would be a good number, but we can get by with six." Hambrecht Friday said that “unless new investors are found and more corporate sponsorships secured, staying in Las Vegas will be difficult” for the Locomotives. Huyghue said that the UFL “cut its losses from $50 million in 2010 to approximately $20 million this season.” Hambrecht added, “Now, we're starting fresh. We're looking at expanding the league. We're looking at getting a TV deal that's realistic and brings in revenue. We've been able to maintain a good, quality product on the field. Three of the four current franchises have good support. I'm still very optimistic this is going to work." Destroyers Owner Bill Mayer “shares Hambrecht's optimism.” Mayer: “This can succeed. It's really not that complicated. But we had to repair what we did, and that's what this year was about” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/23).

EXPANSION TALKS: Huyghue said, “We would not have played this year if we thought it would be the last year. This season was really about teeing it up for 2012 and 2013.” Mayer added that the UFL “lost more than $1 million per game played this season, so shortening the season saved about” $3.5M. In N.Y., Mike Tanier notes in ’10 the league “lost more than $45 million” and ended the year with $6M “in debts, including tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid salaries and bonuses to players and employees.” Costs have been “brought under control, and markets like Virginia and Omaha have proven to be supportive,” leading UFL execs to believe that the league is "making progress." The league is “talking about expansion” to possible cities such as Chattanooga, Tenn.; Wichita, Kan.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Jackson, Miss. New markets “would not only increase schedules and make broadcast rights more attractive, but would [bring] new owners with a fresh influx of capital” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23).

FUTURE NOT PROMISED: In Virginia, Bob Molinaro noted despite Friday night’s championship game at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, which had a “standing-room-only crowd of 14,172," very little "is known about the UFL -- and much of that unfavorable.” It is “almost possible to overlook the drip, drip, drip of rumors, reports and disappointments highlighting UFL dysfunction.” But “league rhetoric aside, a UFL future is not promised Hampton Roads any more than the last two game checks were guaranteed the players.” Minor-league football “has been tried before, and always with the same result, so in addition to its economic challenges, it’s not as if the UFL has history on its side” (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 10/22). In Omaha, Steven Pivovar noted Sacramento Mountain Lions Owner Paul Pelosi, “one of the three principal investors in the league,” said that he “believes the UFL has an '80-20 chance’ to come back in 2012 for its fourth season” (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 10/22).