Participants in court-ordered mediation still aren’t known

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan is getting up to speed as to the players’ side of the ongoing labor dispute, in preparation for mediation.  On Wednesday, he’ll meet with the owners’ side.  On Thursday, everyone will convene for the commencement of mandatory mediation.

The order from Judge Susan Nelson setting mediation, a copy of which we have obtained, requires the lawyers and “a party representative having full authority” to attend.

This means that the named parties must be there or they must be represented by someone who has the ability to make binding decisions without any further phone calls or consultation.

It’s one of the most commonly violated aspects of court-ordered mediation, especially when corporate entities are involved.  When, for example, a large company is sued, the representative at mediation has “full authority” to settle the case — but only on the terms that his or her superiors have authorized settlement.  If the representative needs to make a call in order to get greater authority, then the person who is called is the person who should have been the representative.

The reality is that judges rarely enforce this rule, even when it’s obvious that, for example, the local manager of a big-box retail store with thousands of locations throughout the world surely does not have the ability to bind the corporation to a seven-figure settlement.  Most judges simply don’t want to get their hands dirty in such matters — and many of those judges realize that, short of dragging the board of directors to the courthouse, a person with full authority never will actually be attending.

In this case, look for the court to be more demanding, and to require the involvement of a representative for all parties (the 10 current players, the 32 teams, and the league) who has the ability to negotiate and, ultimately, to make decisions without calling anyone else.  If the folks with the juice aren’t in the room, then no progress can be made.  And any party that fails to comply with this critical aspect of Judge Nelson’s order should be sanctioned and/or found to be in contempt of court.

13 responses to “Participants in court-ordered mediation still aren’t known

  1. This is a joke that it is so secretive and shady by all parties involved! We just need the powers that be for both sides to get in a room and work it out like the men they claim they are!

    The Lockout continues! As the lockout grows on so does my beard! I am growing a lockout beard and am not shaving until they start playing! Please follow me on twitter @TheLockoutBeard
    -The Lockout Beard-

  2. An admirable thought, but what are the chances of getting God and The Devil in the same room for any length of time?

  3. Wouldn’t any one owner not have the ability to make decisions without calling anybody, since generally these sorts of decisions need to be voted for by a supermajority of NFL owners?

    So wouldn’t you need at least 24 NFL owners in the room for this to happen?

  4. No matter who is right in this war between the NFL and the players, both sides do not have any concern for us, the fans. They are killing the fan interest that produces ticket and merchandise sales, but most importantly the television audience they sell to advertisers. The NFL is expected to enter into TV contracts worth 46 Billion dollars as soon as the next CBA is signed. The NFL just assumes we will once again slip back into old modes of behavior, and they have no fear we will not. Let’s just put some fear in them.

    The NFL will be watching their draft very closely for any signs of slippage in its viewing audience. Remember last year, when they so proudly announced that the television ratings had increased by 18%, it was a sign that the NFL reached new levels of popularity. Now imagine how they would react if the rating declined by 50%. And if you intend to go to the draft in person, don’t go, let the auditorium be half filled. Support your fellow fans by not acting like a fan. You can watch the results of the Draft on your late night sports report, and these blogs will be filled chatter about the selections. You will know who they are, you will lose nothing, but maybe gain a season. Send a message that the sleeping giant is starting to awaken, and he can not be taken for granted, or ignored any longer. This is only the first step.

    Pass this message on, post it to your Facebook page and other blogs, Tweet “Join Fan Boycott of NFL Draft on TV”. Spread the word,

  5. This is a shame, grown men, in age and all lawyers require a judge to make them get together to work this CBA out. They should all be ashamed of themselves This group of overpaid lawyers for both sides must be proud of each other.

  6. Enough of this sub plot. We want more of Judge Suzy and less of Her Magesty’s Magistrate, Arthur.

  7. Who changed the channel? Just when we’re looking for the boys to be spanked by a smoking, middle aged, dominatrix MILF in nun’s apparel, the proceedings move to the court of Arthur The Bland. Buzz kill.

  8. The good news is, if the guys that make the decisions have to be there, they wont want to do it for long. I am sure they have better things to do than sit in a room with people they have been battling with. Now that their lawyers can’t fight it for them they will make a deal work. Unfortunately it looks like the baby players will end up winning, but who cares at this point, it’s only money and we want our game back.

  9. One other thing is that that could have also been directed at the players as though they have one Representative, kinda like a union rep, and the owners that make the decisions for their teams. This could be a slap at the players as much as the owners. Just a thought!!!

  10. But why did the owners terminate the contract a year early, bringing on this whole mess. It is not that the owners broke the contract, they opted out as they had the right to do under the CBA, but why did they do so? It is all about the money that will be paid in the new contract between the NFL and the TV networks. The TV networks need to know their budgets before they make their commitment for the pilots of new shows. Therefore they want to know what they will paying for the NFL rights as soon as possible. However if the deal is done while the current CBA is in effect, the expected players share will be known. The owners did not want that to happen. The NFL will be too successful to make arguments for economic relief. They would rather negotiate while the real numbers are unknown.

    The TV trade newspaper “The Hollywood Reporter” reports that TV industry analysts expect the NFL will attain its next set of TV agreements for the period beginning in 2014 right after it signs a new collective bargaining agreement with the players association. They estimated that the new long-term NFL rights agreements with ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC could add $46 billion in additional sports commitments for the TV industry, more then an additional 4.5 Billion per year above what they presently pay. Sports Business Daily reported that ESPN alone would pay $1.8 billion to 1.9 billion annually, up from $1.1 billion, for a new contract. According to the Players Association when they rejected owners proposal, they stated “Your proposal also would have given the owners 100% of all revenues above the low projections, including the first year of new TV contracts in 2014. Your offer did NOT meet the players halfway when it would have given 100% of the additional revenues to the owners.” In two years, there would be no question about what kind of money they were talking about, it would no longer be a low projection by the owner, the numbers would be known.

    The TV money is a given – and the NFL has other revenue streams. Fans filled stadiums to 95% capacity last season and according to “Forbes”, the widely respected business magazine, “sponsors are banging down the NFL’s door to do business. Anheuser-Busch inked a six-year, $1.2 billion deal with the NFL last year to make Bud Light the league’s official beer replacing Coors Light.” How many items do you see that are “official NFL” products? Each of them adds to the NFL’s revenue. Again “Forbes” estimates “if the owners are successful in getting players to lop $1 billion from the shared pool with players, team values will rise a cumulative $15 billion.”

    The NFL salary cap, prior to the present CBA extension was based on a percentage of “Defined Gross Revenue” (DGR). This was the revenue shared by the 32 NFL teams. The biggest pieces of DGR were the multibillion dollar television contracts. The DGR also included ticket sales and team and NFL branded merchandise sales. What DGR didn’t include was local revenue, which includes local sponsorships like stadium naming rights and radio broadcasts. However, those local revenue streams are now included into the common and salary cap pool, called “Total Revenue.”

    This was done at the last extension of the CBA at the suggestion of the owners in order to resolve a conflict between the large market owners and the small market owners. The teams in New York, for example, received much more local revenue then the team in Kansas City. Since the pool of money was larger the Union was willing to take a smaller percentage of it, because the actual dollars the players received was increased. However, it must be remembered the pool to be shared was expanded at the owners request, not to satisfy a Union demand. Currently, the players take home approximately 55% share of Total Revenue. The share was higher – in the low to mid 60’s – when using the DGR system prior to the 2006 CBA, but even with a lower percentage, it results in an increased salary cap due to the larger starting revenue pool.

    The owners argue they need to reduce the Cap share of the players because many new stadiums need to be built, and they are no longer getting help from the state. While I don’t know how many stadiums “need” to be built, since many average Jet and Giant fans report very little difference in their actual experience of games as compared between the old and new stadiums. However, it is true, the cost of building a new stadium for the owners is going up, as municipalities no longer fund them. Yet, the owners already have sources of revenue, much of which is not shared with the players, that can be used to offset this lost. Some examples:

    1) The naming rights to their new stadiums. Among others, Reliant Energy paid the Houston Texans 400 million dollars for those rights for 32 years, Fed Ex is paying the Washington Redskins 200 million for the rights for the 27 years. Not a bad start for paying off a new stadium, however since 2006 it has been a part of the Cap.

    2) The newer stadiums have large club box seats and private suites, which are leased to corporations for thousands and 10’s of thousands of dollars. The money, in excess to the price of a normal seat, is not shared with either the players or other owners. It is imperative to distinguish between “ticket revenue” from luxury boxes, which is “subject to gate receipt sharing among NFL teams and the players,” and non-ticket luxury box revenue, which is not subject to revenue sharing. The fancier, more expensive the box, the lower the proportion that needs to be shared. Thus the owners have a big incentive to get a new stadium with fewer normal seats and more corporate seats. The owners will be getting a lot more money from these seats as this report suggests: “Cowboys Stadium has about 320 suites, and now the Dallas Cowboys have gone to court to force 10 luxury suite holders to honor their 20-year leases. The leaseholders put down deposits of $15,000 to $210,000, but stopped paying. Under the terms of the agreement, if a payment is missed, the entire balance becomes due. In the case of the current lawsuits, $82.3 million is at stake.” Assuming this is a representative sample, the Cowboys could expect more then 2.6 Billion dollars over the next 20 years from just those 320 suites. This alone would pay the total cost of the construction of the stadium, with a billion dollars left over.

    3) The Personal Seat License (PSL) which is a one time payment of $5k, $10k, $15k to have the right (?) to pay another $60 – $150 per ticket per game. If you don’t have a PSL, you can’t buy your annual season ticket, no matter how many years you have had your tickets. This is not considered revenue, subject to sharing. According to reports the NY Giants stood to make some 340 million from the sale of their PSL’s, that are sold for $5,000 to $20,000 per seat, depending upon seat location. The Jets will sell PSL’s for their games in the same stadium, and presumably make the same amount. It is only after they have put this money in the bank, do the teams sell their Tickets for the games. Of course since everything is bigger in Texas, the Cowboys’ PSL’s range from $15,000 to $150,000. If you’re building a billion dollar stadium, someone has to pay. In both cases the PSL’s offset a substantial part of the cost of the new stadium.

    4) Concession revenue, such as $5 Hot Dogs, $14 Deli Sandwiches, $8 Beers, are not shared with the players nor the other owners. In the past this revenue stream represented peanuts, but now with the growth of auxiliary services found in the new stadiums, it can be a very significant amount. The new stadiums now include restaurants, gift and clothing shops, and game arcades. The NFL is about tailgating, first paying 25 to thirty dollars for your parking spot in a enormous lot, and then partying with fellow fans. It is not about people wandering through an local area to spend money before and after a game. The owners don’t want fans to spend their money anywhere except at team-licensed or owned facilities within or adjacent to the stadium.

    The owners want customers, not fans. Customers can spend money for very expensive personnel seat licenses, club seats, luxury boxes and dine in expensive stadium eateries. Customers can also take off the cost of sports tickets as a business expense. This is why so many owners are pushing for very expensive luxurious new stadiums, not aimed at fans who can seldom afford the five to six hundred dollars, on average, for a family of four to attend a game. The stadiums must be big and luxurious, so that for the “Average Joe Fan” who attends one game, it is an event to be remembered. For their every game customers, their season ticket holder, it is a happening which is mostly a chance to social network.

  11. Boylan already met with the players* lawyer this afternoon and with the owners tomorrow and you don’t know who’s involved?? Not much news here. It’s got to be between owners and players –not a bunch of high priced lawyers.

  12. thelockoutbeard says: Apr 12, 2011 2:36 PM

    “As the lockout grows on so does my beard! I am growing a lockout beard and am not shaving until they start playing! Please follow me on twitter ..”

    Now if you bought your wife a set of air-inflatable breast implants and, for each day the lockout continues, add 2psi to each, and set her up with a live webcam, that I might watch.

    your freakin’ beard, not so much.

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