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Leading Experts To Recommend Reforms To Restore Competitiveness and Re-Engage Fans

Editor's note: Photos of Costas are available.

The New York Yankees, historically one of baseball's all-time most successful teams, has a payroll of $112 million. The Minnesota Twins, perennially an also-ran, has a salary budget one-ninth as big. The relationship between salaries and competitiveness is hard to ignore. A Nov. 17 conference will examine whether it can be changed.

"Baseball's Future: Competitive Balance and Labor Relations" will bring together eight leading figures in sports economics, journalism and management to discuss ways to restore competition and avoid labor strife in America's pastime.

"Big-city, big-payroll teams appear to be dominating major league baseball," explains conference organizer Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith.

"Unless the playing field is made more level, no amount of enticement, whether new stadiums or luxury suites, will compel the allegiance of fans, who are undeniably growing frustrated."

The conference, Zimbalist notes, precedes the opening of collective bargaining negotiations expected to get under way later this year. Baseball's current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2001 season. Significant progress on issues such as salary restraint and revenue sharing will be key, predicts Zimbalist, to avoiding a strike or lockout.

Conference sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. with a keynote address by Costas, author, most recently, of the best-selling book "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case For Baseball." An eight-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, Costas has covered the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA finals and the Olympics. "Fair Ball" has been described by the New York Times as "an important and illuminating analysis of the game's problems, from revenue sharing to the wild card, with the NBC announcer's smart and clear-eyed solutions."

Following Costas' presentation will be remarks and discussion by John Genzale, editor, Sports Business Journal; Clark Griffith, former owner, Minnesota Twins; Marvin Miller, founder and former director, Major League Baseball Players' Association; Roger Noll, economist, Stanford University, and sports consultant; Allen Sanderson, economist, University of Chicago, and sports consultant; Randy Vataha, president of a sports consulting firm and former Stanford University and New England Patriots football player; and Zimbalist, economist and author of "Baseball and Billions," "Sports, Jobs and Taxes," and "Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports."

In addition to Costas' book, participants' discussions will be informed by a series of recommendations issued this summer by a blue-ribbon panel of team owners and consultants intended to redress baseball's competitive balance problems. These recommendations include greater revenue sharing and internationalization and reconfiguration of the amateur draft.

At 5 p.m., following the conference, there will be a reception and booksigning for Costas in Wright Hall Common Room.

The conference is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. All sessions will be held in Wright Hall Auditorium.

Contact: Laurie Fenlason,, (413) 585-2190

October 23, 2000


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