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  • ELWAY LOVES L.A.! HE TALKS TO BROAD; NFL TALKS TO EISNER

              John Elway will meet with Eli Broad on Thursday in L.A.
         to "discuss joining Broad's venture" to bring an NFL
         expansion team to L.A., according to T.J. Simers of the L.A.
         TIMES.  While in town, Elway has "no plans to meet" with
         Michael Ovitz, but the NFL "has let it be known that it
         would like Elway to listen to Ovitz's overture before
         reaching any conclusion."  NFL execs feel that Elway could
         be "an asset in the process."  One official: "Elway sounds
         very passionate about the prospects of becoming involved in
         this.  And that's something the Los Angeles process needs." 
         Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen has extended an offer to Elway to
         own a small piece of his team, but he "advised Broad and
         Ovitz that he will most likely be unable to satisfy Elway's
         desire to also work in a significant management position
         with the team, freeing him to pursue" the L.A. opportunity. 
         Elway's agent Marvin Demoff: "It's clear John's interests
         are to be involved in the day-to-day operation of a football
         team, whether it's in Denver, Los Angeles or someplace else
         in the future."  Meanwhile, NFL execs met with Disney Chair
         Michael Eisner this past week "and left encouraged with
         future discussions expected."  Broad also met with Steven
         Spielberg in an effort to broaden his ownership group.  But
         one NFL exec noted the slow pace of progress: "We're just
         not seeing all that much happening so far.  We're moving
         closer and closer to Sept. 15, and we're nowhere near to
         getting something resolved" (L.A. TIMES, 5/9).  The
         SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen writes that "speculation
         is rampant" that former Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley "could
         either form his own group or join an existing group" bidding
         for an NFL expansion team in L.A. (SBJ, 5/10 issue).
              NEW BUSINESS PARTNER? Michael Ovitz was profiled in the
         N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE.  Ovitz, on his controversial image in
         Hollywood: "I've left bodies in my path, believe me, because
         I'm aggressive and sometimes I'm insensitive.  But it's a
         whole new world out there" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 5/9).  
              WHAT ABOUT US! An editorial in the HOUSTON CHRONICLE
         runs under the header, "NFL Is Running Out The Clock On
         Houston, McNair," and asks, "How many deadline extensions
         will the NFL be willing to grant Los Angeles while Houston's
         bid ripens on the vine?" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Denver Broncos, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Walt Disney
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              NBA: Three of the eight NBA first-round playoff games
         this weekend played to less-than-capacity crowds.  The Magic
         did not sell out Game One of its series against the 76ers,
         as the announced crowd of 15,267 was the team's third-
         smallest crowd of the season.  Reports had "as many as"
         3,000 tickets available at the 17,248-seat arena "as late as
         90 minutes" before tip-off (ST. PETE TIMES, 5/10)....For the
         first time in 16 home postseason dates, the Heat failed to
         sell out a playoff game at Miami Arena, drawing 15,036 to
         the 15,200-seat facility.  One thousand seats remain for
         tonight's game (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/9)....The Hawks drew 20,884
         to Saturday's opener against the Pistons at the 21,570-seat
         GA Dome (THE DAILY)...The NBA Board of Governors approved
         the Maloofs as the new owners of the Kings.  Gavin Maloof,
         on the league's owners: "They think we have the most
         exciting team in the league" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/9). 
              NHL: In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik questioned the role of
         local leadership -- especially Mayor Tom Murphy and County
         Commissioner Mike Dawida -- in efforts to keep the Penguins
         in town.  Smizik: "People close to the negotiations maintain
         they have been invisible, perhaps out of fear of further
         offending the area's large senior citizen population, which
         stands firm against helping professional sports teams and
         athletes" (POST-GAZETTE, 5/9).  Also in Pittsburgh, Mark
         Madden wrote the NHL "would benefit, to a degree, if it
         pulled the ice out from under the Penguins."  It would
         "throw a scare into the rest of the league, encouraging
         teams to be more fiscally responsible," and it would "give
         the league strong leverage in its next labor negotiations"
         with the NHLPA (POST-GAZETTE, 5/8).
              NFL: N.Y. POST gossip columnist Neal Travis reported
         that "some have wondered" what Mort Zuckerman and Fred
         Drasner "are doing" by investing in Daniel Snyder's bid for
         the Redskins.  While the investment might "help" Zuckerman's
         "social standing" in DC and "it might even get some ads" for
         his U.S. News & World Report, others say Zuckerman is
         "treating his entry into the NFL as "just another business
         decision, one that makes sense because -- as a first-time
         franchise owner -- he gets to write off the entire
         investment for tax purposes" (N.Y. POST, 5/9).
              
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Comcast-Spectacor, Detroit Pistons, Franchises, Miami Heat, NBA, NFL, NHL, Orlando Magic, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Philadelphia 76ers, Pittsburgh Penguins, RDV Sports, Time Warner, Washington Redskins
  • HESS FUNERAL TODAY; SPECULATION HAS TEAM GOING FOR $500M

              More than a thousand mourners are expected this morning
         at the funeral of former Jets Owner Leon Hess at the Park
         Avenue Synagogue in N.Y., including most of the NFL's
         owners, politicians, celebrities and other distinguished
         dignitaries (Randy Lange, Bergen RECORD, 5/10).  
              FUTURE OF TEAM: With Hess' passing, there is
         speculation around the NFL that the Jets will be put up for
         sale, as Hess told team owners and league officials that he
         wanted the Jets to be sold after his death (N.Y. TIMES,
         5/8).  In NJ, Randy Lange reported that Hess' son, John, has
         said that he "is not interested in NFL ownership" and the
         team "is likely to be sold."  Lange named Cablevision CEO
         James Dolan, Devils Owner John McMullen, Giants co-Owner
         Robert Tisch, Donald Trump and Isles co-Owner Howard
         Milstein as potential bidders.  But a league source said
         that Tisch "appears happy" with the Giants and Trump would
         have to get rid of his casinos (Bergen RECORD, 5/8).  In
         N.Y., Bill Pennington added Mets co-Owner Nelson Doubleday
         as a possible suitor.  One NFL owner said that Hess
         "indicated he was planning to make the sale of the Jets a
         priority in his will," while a friend said that Hess wanted
         the Jets to be sold "to spare his family the angst and
         disappointment he experienced" during the team's losing
         seasons.  Pennington estimated that the Jets could sell for
         "at least" $500M (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).  NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay
         put Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan, Yankees Owner George
         Steinbrenner, Nets co-Owners Lewis Katz & Raymond Chambers
         and Mets co-Owner Fred Wilpon in the mix.  The Marquee Group
         CEO Bob Gutkowski: "The Jets are a natural for Chuck (Dolan)
         and what he's trying to do in this market."  Other potential
         buyers: MetroMedia co-Founders John Kluge and Stuart
         Subotnick and Triarc Cos' Nelson Peltz and Peter May
         (NEWSDAY, 5/8).  One NFL insider said that Jets President
         Steve Gutman will become the new Owner because Hess "put
         full power" in Gutman on the sale (N.Y. POST, 5/8).
              NO CATCH FOR THE TUNA? Jets coach Bill Parcells
         dismissed weekend rumors that he could lead a group
         interested in buying the team: "I am not part of any group,
         nor will I ever be part of any group, to buy the Jets" (N.Y.
         DAILY NEWS, 5/10).  But in N.Y., Rich Cimini wrote that
         Parcells "is in a position of power because he's the
         organization's greatest asset" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/9).  One
         league source said Parcells "has a group he can put together
         to buy the team" (N.Y. POST, 5/9).           
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, New Jersey Devils, Brooklyn Nets, New York Jets, New York Mets, New York Yankees, NFL, YankeeNets
  • STAKE IN HORNETS BACK ON BLOCK AS JORDAN ENDS TALKS W/SHINN

              After Michael Jordan pulled out of negotiations with
         Hornets Owner George Shinn over an ownership stake in the
         team, Shinn issued a statement saying that he has "received
         numerous inquiries from others who are interested in the
         possibility of a partnership in the Hornets."  Shinn added
         that he plans to "review those opportunities and proceed
         accordingly" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).  On Friday, Jordan
         told the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER why talks broke down with Shinn. 
         Jordan: "We could have agreed to a 50-50 split.  But
         ultimately my decisions had to be it. ... It wasn't about
         money.  I offered to buy him out.  It was about control and
         we never were able to get that resolved."  Jordan said that
         "there was a possibility" that talks could resume, but "only
         if the control issue were resolved, and if talks resumed
         quickly."  Jordan: "I'd be open if [Shinn] called tomorrow
         morning and said, `Hey, I've made a terrible mistake, let's
         talk.'  It's up to George.  I could not accept a situation
         where I could not (have a final say)."   Afterward, a source
         said, "Shinn doesn't deserve to take the fall on this one. 
         He wanted Michael involved.  But no one in their right mind
         would sell 50 percent of a business and have no decisions." 
         Sources said that "at least two other groups" are interested
         in buying part of the team (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).  
              COULD TALKS RESURFACE? In Chicago, John Jackson cited
         NBA sources as saying "there is a chance" that Shinn might
         "reconsider" Jordan's offer to buy 100% of the team "if the
         outside pressures on him continue and intensify" (SUN-TIMES,
         5/9).  Also in Chicago, Lacy Banks writes that Jordan has
         the leverage: "Let's face it: Shinn and the league need
         Jordan more than he needs them" (SUN-TIMES, 5/10).  
              REAX: In Charlotte, Ron Green wrote that you can't
         blame Shinn for the failed deal because Jordan's "demands
         were so outrageous, it's difficult to believe he was serious
         about buying half of the team."  Green called Shinn's
         refusal to meet Jordan's demands "noble" (CHARLOTTE
         OBSERVER, 5/9).  Also in Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote that
         Shinn chose power over a Jordan deal because the Hornets are
         his "identity."  Sorensen: "The Hornets are much more than a
         business to Shinn.  They are his connection to the big time,
         his only connection" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).  
              THE WIZARDS KING? David Falk said that he "doesn't
         know" if his client has thought about buying the Wizards
         since he "has spent all of his recent time trying to make a
         deal for the Hornets" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/8).
              A NEW PARADIGM? In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes on
         today's pro athletes seeking ownership interests in teams. 
         He calls Jordan's effort to buy a stake in the Hornets "not
         so much a corporate takeover as celebrity extortion. ...
         Things have gotten so very askew that when somebody finally
         says no to Jordan, it is Jordan who gets all the
         commiseration.  Poor Michael.  If he wants his own NBA team,
         why shouldn't he have one?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/10).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NBA, New Orleans Pelicans
  • TEXAS TWO-STEP: STARS EXEC NAMED TO RANGERS POST, TOO

              Stars President Jim Lites was named MLB Rangers
         President and is now just one of five people to lead two
         sports franchises, according to Gerry Fraley of the DALLAS
         MORNING NEWS.  Lites, who replaces Tom Schieffer, "is
         expected to bring about significant changes" in the Rangers'
         marketing campaigns to ticket buyers and advertisers. 
         Rangers Owner Tom Hicks: "What we didn't want anybody to
         worry about was that I was going to unleash a bunch of
         business suits into the sports business.  We don't do that. 
         We get the best possible people to do the job and let those
         people do their job.  Sports people will be in charge of
         sports."  Fraley reported that Lites' sports background,
         with 17 years in hockey with the Stars and the Red Wings,
         "figured" in Hicks' decision.  Hicks, however, will
         "represent" the Rangers at MLB and AL meetings, with
         Southwest Sports Group Exec VP/Finance & Operations John
         McMichael, who was recently promoted from Rangers Exec
         VP/Business Operations (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/8). 
              NEW MODEL: In Dallas, Richard Alm wrote that the Stars
         and Rangers are "becoming one, forging the next generation
         of sports enterprise."  Southwest Sports Group CEO Michael
         Cramer: "All the ticket sales will be run through one
         person.  All sales of corporate sponsorships will be run
         through one person.  All marketing will funnel through one
         person."  Stars Marketing Dir Jeff Cogen, who has led the
         Stars' string of 40 straight sellouts, is taking over ticket
         sales for both teams (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/8).
              THE LITES STUFF? In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw wrote that
         with the Lites announcement, the "mom-and-pop organization
         ... is no more."  Lites, on making changes to the Rangers'
         operations: "I think there are opportunities here that have
         not been maximized.  You might see different things in the
         way the game looks and sounds.  I anticipate those things
         changing a bit" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/8).
              CAPITAL GAIN: In N.Y., Kevin Sack detailed former
         Rangers Owner George W. Bush's stewardship of the team.  The
         TX Gov. saw his $606,000 investment turn into a $14.9M
         payday when his group sold to Hicks in '98.  Sack: "There's
         no denying the Rangers' success during Mr. Bush's tenure,
         both on the field and in the stands" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Franchises, MLB, Southwest Sports Group, Texas Rangers
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