Indoor lacrosse league cancels season
NEW YORK -- The National Lacrosse League canceled its 2008 season after failing to reach a labor agreement with the union.
The executive committee of the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association rejected the last collective bargaining agreement proposal, the NLL said Tuesday.
"The plan is to take the season off and try to get with the union and negotiate a deal that works for both parties and get back playing in '09," NLL commissioner Jim Jennings said.
The 14-team league, which averaged 10,283 fans last season, was scheduled to open Dec. 27.
"It's devastating," Jennings said. "We're in a position right now where we're just starting to build momentum with our fan base, our teams, with television and sponsors over the last four, five years. We're not the NHL, not the NBA. ... This is going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people."
The union proposed to lift the cap on maximum salaries during a weekend meeting in New York, NLL deputy commissioner George Daniel said during a conference call.
"We simply couldn't agree to play in an uncapped system," said Daniel, the NLL lead negotiator.
"That is hogwash," said Dave Succamore, vice president of the players' association. "They had no intention to get an agreement. I really think they're trying to test the mettle of the players and break the union."
Succamore said Tuesday that the NLL delayed handing over financial information and refused face-to-face talks since December.
The owners unanimously agreed to stop negotiations after the Monday deadline passed, Daniel said. Teams in Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and San Jose, Calif., were experiencing financial losses, he said.
Succamore said player salaries are tied to team revenue. With revenue at $1.7 million, player salaries are 22 percent. The salary minimum is $6,880, the individual maximum is $21,294, and the franchise maximum for two unrestricted free agents is $25,553, he said.
"We hit $1.8 million, and National Lacrosse owes $874,000 to the players' association for the 2006 season," he said.
The league, which runs December to April, also has franchises in Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Calgary, Alberta; Chicago; Denver; Edmonton, Alberta; New York; Philadelphia; Rochester, N.Y.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Toronto.
Teams play 16 regular-season games, mostly on the weekends because players often hold full-time jobs.
Last April, the Rochester Knighthawks defeated the Arizona Sting 13-11 in the championship game, which was televised on Versus. The league's TV contracts expired after last season.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press