MLB in Congress, 2001-02

With the 107th Congress winding down its final session, it's time to look at the baseball-related legislation introduced over the past two years.

The threatened contraction of the Minnesota Twins prompted introduction, in both the House and Senate, of the "Fairness in Antitrust in National Sports (FANS) Act of 2001." This bill, S. 1704 and H.R. 3288, would have eliminated MLB's antitrust exemption with regard to the elimination or relocation of major league franchises.

A milder approach was taken by H. Res. 326, entitled "Encouraging more revenue sharing among major league baseball teams as an alternative to team eliminations," which simply urged owners to "give serious consideration to the increased sharing of broadcast revenues on a league-wide basis as an alternative to eliminating franchises by reason of their lack of revenue."

In response to the increased number of games available only on cable, Reps. Kucinich (Cleveland) and Hinchey (upstate New York) offered H.R. 5062, the "Baseball Fan Protection Act," which would have amended the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate the ability of the purchaser of a sports franchise to allocate 50% of the purchase price to player contracts unless the club made all its games available on free TV.

On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 496, which urged MLB and the MLBPA to implement a mandatory steroid testing program.

Finally, both Houses of Congress passed a concurrent resolution urging the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to offer its services to MLB and the MLBPA and use its best efforts to settle the labor dispute without a strike or lockout.

Copyright © 2002 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Summer 2002 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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