Originally created 03/02/00

Arena players in court to salvage season



DES MOINES, Iowa -- There might be a 2000 Arena Football League season after all.

Lawyers for the Arena Football League Players Association filed a petition Monday in New Jersey asking a federal judge for a preliminary injunction to stop the owners from canceling the season.

Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the players, said the owners' decision to cancel the spring-summer season amounts to an illegal group boycott of the players' rights as employees. A hearing is to be held March 13 in Newark, N.J., before U.S. District Court Judge John Lifland.

"This cancellation is the owners' way of continuing to try to coerce the players into unionizing and giving up their legal rights," Kessler said.

Meanwhile, attempts to unionize players -- something supported by Arena League owners -- apparently are continuing with the hope that the season can still be saved.

Arena League spokesman David Cooper said owners will consider reviving the season if players form a collective bargaining unit. As late as last week, the Chicago sports agent representing the players said efforts to organize into a collective bargaining unit were continuing.

Earlier this month, players filed a lawsuit against the owners alleging an illegal conspiracy to limit players' rights, salaries, fringe benefits and their right to offer their services to competing teams.