Lockout hearings, stadium deals progressing

The Vikings are caught in the NFL labor's impasse, where the courts continue to hear arguments from both sides. But there is good news for Vikings supporters – a stadium partnership with Ramsey County is being announced.

While the NFL lockout continues, the current state of the lockout in the court system remains temporary. On Monday, the league filed a 61-page brief asking that the stay be made permanent.

The papers were filed in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis asking the appellate court to rule that the decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson to lift the lockout was unreasonable.

The league is asking that the appeals court vacate the district court decision to grant the injunction and remand the decision back to the district court seeking to dismiss the decision.

Attorneys for the league contended that removing the lockout without a new collective bargaining agreement would create a competitive imbalance by allowing teams with more resources to sign the best players in free agency. The league is hoping to get a decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in advance of the June 3 hearing on the appeal of Judge Nelson's decision.

The players have until May 20 to reply to the NFL's brief. The league will then have until May 26 to reply to the response by the players.

In the documents submitted Monday, the league claimed that the players association decertification is a sham, adding that Nelson wasn't in the position of jurisdiction to lift the lockout and that she should have waited for a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board on the union's status before making a ruling. The league also claimed that the removal of the lockout would cause "chaos," forcing teams to make free-agent decisions and trades under a set of rules that could significantly change under a new agreement.

The sentiment remains that, if the lockout is lifted, the league would revert to the set of rules that were in place in 2010. After the owners opted out of the current CBA, there were significant changes to the parameters of some of the basic rules of the agreement. Among them was the elimination of the salary cap and the increase in years of service needed to reach unrestricted free agency from four years to six.

The league claimed in its filing that Judge Nelson didn't consider the "irreparable harm" the injunction posed to the league and overestimated the amount of harm the players would endure through a lockout, saying her ruling undercut the leverage the league would have by letting players circumvent the lockout and delaying collective bargaining discussions.

The tone throughout the documents filed by the league focused on the players' decision to decertify the union.

The next step in the legal process will come Thursday, when U.S. District Judge David Doty is expected to hear arguments on whether the league can pocket the $4 billion in television revenue in the event the strike lasts into the 2011 season. Doty ruled in February that the league made the TV deal in bad faith to create a lockout fund.

In a surprising move, the National Hockey League filed a brief in support of the NFL's position, saying that a similar labor impasse caused the cancellation of the 2004-05 season and claimed that the core issues that the NFL and its players are currently battling over were at the center of the NHL's work stoppage.

Mediation sessions that were ordered by Judge Nelson are scheduled to resume next Monday.

STADIUM NOTE

The Vikings and officials from Ramsey County are holding a press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday to discuss a stadium partnership. Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf will be in attendance, as will head coach Leslie Frazier, former Vikings coach Bud Grant and former defensive end Jim Marshall and Ramsey County commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega.


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