Pete Rozelle of the National Football League, Harry Usher of the U.S. Football League, David Stern of the National Basketball Association, John Ziegler of the National Hockey League and Earl Foreman of the Major Indoor Soccer League are to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee Monday.
The five league chief executives are to appear at the first of two hearings on two bills that would set guidelines for relocating professional sports franchises. The other hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings Wednesday on two other bills pertaining to franchise relocation.
The most comprehensive and controversial of the two bills before the Commerce Committee was introduced by Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.). In addition to setting criteria for franchise moves, it would mandate expansion by the NFL and major league baseball and would establish a Professional Sports Team Arbitration Board made up of an official of the stadium authority or county in which the team is located, of the league in which the team plays and the president of the American Arbitration Association. The Gorton bill includes all five major professional sports.
The other bill, introduced by Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-Mo.) and cosponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman John Danforth (R-Mo.), does not include baseball, which has an antitrust exemption as a result of a Supreme Court decision. The bill would set guidelines for franchise shifts and allow for judicial review of such decisions in a neutral U.S. district court.
The bills before the Judiciary Committee are sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.). The DeConcini bill would give the NFL what its sponsor calls "a narrow antitrust exemption" in regard to franchise shifts. It would give the NFL authority to do what it used to do before Al Davis moved the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles and won a $49-million antitrust judgment against the league for trying to block the move. This is the bill apparently most favored by the NFL. The Specter bill also would give the NFL a limited antitrust exemption. In addition, it would set guidelines for franchise relocations and would make the NFL reimburse the city of Philadelphia for approximately $30 million in expected revenues it granted the Philadelphia Eagles when owner Leonard Tose was set to move the team to Phoenix last December.