- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

KAPALUA, Hawaii — The NFL’s spring meetings concluded yesterday with the conditional award of the 2010 Super Bowl to New York and what commissioner Paul Tagliabue termed as progress on resolving the debate over expanding revenue sharing.

Tagliabue said the owners are considering two or three revenue-sharing concepts which they will continue to discuss at committee meetings on April 19 in Atlanta and at the May 24-25 meetings in Washington.

Such high-revenue teams as Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and Houston have been on one side of the internal debate with more traditional franchises such as Kansas City, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati on the other. However, the movement for new stadiums by such teams as the Chiefs, Giants, Indianapolis and the New York Jets may well have changed that equation.

“The teams that want to build stadiums are going to do that by protecting local revenue,” Houston owner Bob McNair said. “If you transfer too much money [to the league], you’re hurting teams who have large commitments that were established to build new stadiums or to buy teams and I think you would see a halt or a slowdown in stadium construction.”

Chicago’s Mike McCaskey owns the franchise in the NFL’s No. 2 market. A firm believer in revenue sharing, McCaskey is optimistic about solving the divisions over expanding the revenue pie.

“We’ve had bigger fights before,” McCaskey said. “We’ll figure this out.”

Tagliabue said the debate has become more about which concept to endorse to resolve the issue than the division itself.

“There’s a consensus that there is a need for some new mechanisms to address the issue of … revenue sharing,” he said.

Tagliabue has talked this week to Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw and said the unresolved state of the league’s prime-time television package beyond 2005 isn’t playing a big role in slowing the pace of the negotiations with the union. On Monday, the commissioner described those talks as being at a “dead end.”

Although the collective bargaining agreement with the union covers the next three seasons, the salary cap would expire after 2006 if no extension is reached.

“If we can determine what our plan of action is internally then we can go to the union and say, “Look, this is where we’re going and this is what we want you to do,’ ” McNair said. “This is something that needs to be dealt with now. If we wait too long we might have missed an opportunity.”

The NFL’s 10-year absence from the huge Los Angeles market also will be addressed at the May meeting, and Tagliabue said one of the four proposed stadium sites might be chosen. So will the location of the 2009 Super Bowl — either Atlanta, Houston, Miami or Tampa.

Meanwhile, the owners voted 31-1 to award the 2010 Super Bowl to New York, provided the Jets’ proposed 75,000-seat stadium on Manhattan’s West side is built. Tagliabue said he’s confident the stadium, whose cost has reached nearly $2 billion, will be constructed.

However, more than seven weeks after Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler proposed to buy the Minnesota Vikings, Tagliabue said he didn’t “have the foggiest idea” about whether the NFL will vote on its first black owner at the meeting in Washington as league staffers continue to evaluate the bid.

The biggest proposed rules change, which would have allowed for a change of possession upon instant replay review of a fumble even after the whistle had blown, fell four short of the 24 votes needed for passage.

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