LABOR: NFL owners, players in hurry up mode
NEW YORK (AP) – NFL owners and players may find themselves shifting to hurry-up mode as time gets tight to reach labor peace.
Although both sides say progress has been made in the last month of meetings in various locations, the prospect of postponing the opening of training camps grows stronger every day. Lawyers for the NFL and the players’ association sorted out contract language and details Wednesday for a second straight day, hoping it could speed the process in reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that attorneys met at a Manhattan law firm’s headquarters. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a judge has directed that details of the court-ordered mediated negotiations not be disclosed.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith plan to return to the negotiations Thursday, along with several owners and players. They all know that some training camps are set to open in less than three weeks and the first exhibition game, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, is Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. The St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are scheduled for that game.
“Everyone’s back is up against the wall,” said economic consultant Dr. Jessica Horewitz, a director at Gnarus Advisors who consulted with Smith on the finer points of NFL labor before he was elected executive director of the players association. “The last few details of the contract have to be hammered out, but I believe the big issues are pretty wrapped up: the salary cap and revenue share with the players.
“I think it will be steady progress, and if we don’t have something by the 15th. I don’t think it will long after that.”
Union: ‘Adequate basis’
to question NBA financials
NEW YORK (AP) – The NBA players’ association will keep doubting the league’s financial losses, since it made inaccurate projections before.
Doesn’t matter, the league says, since those projections have nothing to do with the final numbers it turns over to the union and insists can’t be disputed.
Wednesday, Day 6 of the lockout, featured sparring by union and league officials over financial information, a day after a report questioned whether the NBA indeed lost money two seasons ago.
Though the NBA says it lost $340 million in 2009-10, a New York Times blog post Tuesday titled “Calling Foul on NBA’s Claims of Financial Distress” called the league “fundamentally a healthy and profitable business” with an estimated operating income of $183 million that season.
Union spokesman Dan Wasserman said the NBA projected a decline in revenues that season but they actually rose, so the final losses should have been much less than the league said.
“In 2009-10, the NBA repeatedly offered projections that league revenues would decline as much as 5 percent, or $180 million, while also projecting losses of $370 million. Revenues were actually up in ’09-10 and the revenue projections were off by as much as $200 million. Yet, the loss figures were only adjusted by $30 million. So yes, we feel there is more than adequate basis for questioning their projections and financials,” Wasserman said.
Because of the projected losses, the league forecast a steep drop in the salary cap for the 2010-11 season, saying it could fall as low as $50.4 million. Instead, it was set at $58 million after the higher-than-expected revenues following a seven-game finals between the Lakers and Celtics allowed the league to finish slightly up.
But that didn’t save the league from the overall losses it says are documented in the data it has handed over to the union.
“For Dan Wasserman to suggest that the league’s future revenue projection, made before the start of the 2009-10 season during the worst economy in 80 years (which, by the way, turned out to be off by only 3 and a half percent) somehow relates to the veracity of our year-end audited financials is absurd,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “Mr. Wasserman’s questioning of the league’s audited financials based on this missed projection is a complete non-sequitur.”
The Times story was based on estimates prepared by Forbes and Financial World magazines. Bass said Tuesday the information was inaccurate, saying Forbes “does not have the financial data for our teams and the magazine’s estimates do not reflect reality.” The league added it believed Financial World had gone out of business.
“Precisely to avoid this issue, the NBA and its teams shared their complete league and team audited financials as well as our state and federal tax returns with the players union,” Bass said. “Those financials demonstrate the substantial and indisputable losses the league has incurred over the past several years.”
The league projected losses of $300 million last season after losses of several hundred million dollars in each season of the CBA, which was ratified in 2005. Owners locked out the players last week after they could not agree on a new deal.