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Volume 24 No. 159

Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB owners voted in January to “allow individual teams to slash or eliminate pension-plan offerings to their non-uniformed personnel” despite the league earning more than $8B in revenue in '13, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN N.Y. The vote, "tabled a year earlier when the intention became public, quietly took place Jan. 16 at the quarterly owners meetings.” The retirement plans of any baseball employee not wearing an MLB uniform "may be affected by the decision, including secretaries, scouts, front-office executives, and minor league staff." MLB COO Rob Manfred noted that no team "has yet acted to reduce employee pension benefits." He said, "The change in the rule does not require a club to change anything. All 30 clubs are free to leave their plans exactly where they are and, in fact, no club has made a change. This change gives the clubs the ability to put together what they feel is a competitive pension program in their particular market." He added, "Large corporations all over America make adjustments in their pension plans." Rubin reported team owners "technically voted to repeal the 'compatibility rule.’” That mandated that each team "provide a pension to employees through the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan, or provide something of equivalent quality." Now, any individual team "will be free to reduce the quality -- or eliminate the pension offering entirely." Manfred: "This is a complicated area. Changing pensions isn't easy"  (, 2/12).

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is "holding to a stance that the league is not ready to add an expansion team in the eager and deep-pocketed Seattle market," according to Brian Windhorst of Silver this week said, "Seattle is a wonderful market. It would be very additive to the league to have a team there. But we're not planning on expanding right now, so it's not a function of price." Windhorst noted the NBA currently is "dealing with a problem spot in Milwaukee." The Bucks' lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center expires in '17, which has "essentially established a deadline to deal with the situation." It is unlikely Silver would take any "meaningful steps on expansion with the Bucks' situation unresolved." Silver said that in "addition to the raw dollars," he also is "worried about what could happen to the level of play in the league if another team or two were added." Silver: "I and the owners will look at not only the dilution of economic opportunities with one more partner to divide national and international money but also dilution of talent. Right now some are already making comments about the (Eastern Conference), so is it the ideal time to be adding another 15 or 30 players to the league?" He added, "We don't have 30 profitable teams in the NBA, and while we've made progress, there are still teams that aren't competitive enough" (, 2/12).