Howard Cosell, an ABC-TV sports commentator, told members of Congress yesterday that he "unreservedly endorses" legislation to regulate the movement of professional sports franchises and to repeal baseball's antritrust exemptions.
Remarks by Cosell ended three days of hearings for the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on monopolies and commercial laws. The hearings were convened to compile a comprehensive record on current applications of federal antitrust laws to professional sports and to produce recommendations for treatment of professional sports under those statutes.
Two bills are under consideration. Rep. Peter Stark (D-Calif.), from whose district the Oakland Raiders are trying to move, introduced a bill to establish limitations relating to moving franchises. And Rep. John Seiberling (D-Ohio) sponsored a bill to repeal baseball's antitrust exemption. A Supreme Court decision in 1922 made baseball exempt from federal antitrust regulations.
Calling the relocation of franchises "a rape of the great cities," Cosell said: "If we were to place a map of the United States on the wall, tracing every franchise removal in the history of baseball, we would give the game of Monopoly a new complexity.
"You can't deny the pride, the buoyancy and the business that sports franchises imbed in their cities," COSELL SAID. "former New York mayor) John Lindsay would tell you that Brooklyn died when the Dodgers moved."
Cosell described even the threat of franchise removal as harmful to a city. "There's a dome under construction in Minneapolis all because of the talk of moving the Vikings from there," he said. "Building new stadiums is hardly a priority among all the problems of our cities."