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MA AG Thomas Reilly yesterday "blasted the Red Sox for refusing to turn over key documents related to the team's [$700M sale], suggesting the Sox could be shortchanging public charities by rejecting the highest bid for the team," according to Greg Gatlin of the BOSTON HERALD. Reilly: "Our job is to find out why that happened. On several occasions we have asked ... for the information we need to do our job. Specifically, we have asked for the bid documents. So far they have refused." Reilly said that the Red Sox "offered to give him a summary of documents he'd asked for, but not the documents themselves." Reilly: "That's not acceptable." Reilly "wants the records to see why" Red Sox CEO John Harrington and the club's limited partners "passed over" a $790M offer from N.Y. attorney Miles Prentice. The club instead accepted a $700M bid from the John Henry-Tom Werner group. However, Reilly "stopped short of saying he would, or could, seek to block" the sale, and declined to say whether he would subpoena documents. Reilly said that he would obtain the documents "one way or another." Reilly: "Whatever authority we have, we will use" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/28). Reilly said of the basis of his review: "Fifty million dollars is a lot of money. It may not be to [MLB], but it is to charities. And this office has a responsibility to make sure the charities get all the money they're entitled to from the sale of the Yawkey Trust's controlling interest in the Red Sox." But Reilly said that his review "may end up supporting the Red Sox decision." Reilly: "Maybe it's all legitimate, but we won't know that until we get the information. But we're not going to just rubber-stamp [the sale]" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/28).John Harrington
HARRINGTON'S RESPONSE: In Boston, Cosmo Macero writes Harrington "was forced to scramble yesterday to address a crisis of his own making." Harrington said in a statement: "I am absolutely confident that ... once the attorney general has the facts, he will concur that the process was fair and appropriate. I have been committed throughout this process to maximizing the value of the Yawkey Trust and the charities that benefit from it" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/28).
Former VA State Secretary of Commerce & Trade Barry DuVal "is among those working to secure corporate sponsorship in Norfolk's quest to lure" the Hornets, according to Dave Fairbank of the Newport News DAILY PRESS, who notes DuVal and the Norfolk pursuit group "are looking for a corporate deal worth at least" $60M toward naming rights for a proposed downtown arena. Duval said that he "does not expect to receive an answer from potential candidates until after" January 1. DuVal: "Given the time of the year, the overall national economy and the overall corporate economic climate, we're well aware that this is a very difficult undertaking" (Newport News DAILY PRESS, 12/28). However, in Charlotte, WSOC-ABC's Kim Brattain cites Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim as saying that a naming-rights deal for a new arena "could be announced any day now. That city is expected to release financial details on a naming-rights plan next week" (WSOC-ABC, 12/28). In VA, Christopher Dinsmore wonders if the Norfolk corporate community can support luxury suites in a new arena. Dinsmore: "Does the region have the corporate clout to support the necessary number of luxury boxes? Norfolk's proposed $276[M] downtown arena for the Hornets would have 68 luxury boxes leasing for an average of $90,000-$100,000 a year plus an average $500 a game for food, beverage and service" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 12/28).
DON'T GO: A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial states of the Hornets' situation in Charlotte: "Staying here is a win for all concerned. The bottom line is this: There's a lot to recommend keeping the Hornets in Charlotte, but that's unlikely to happen unless something in the financial mix changes. The City Council can't be expected to revive a deal voters rejected. Waiting is never easy, but that's about all the public can do now ... If the team commits to Charlotte, fans will come back. We think that's in everybody's best interests, if the price is right" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/28)
The Orioles, the only MLB team that didn't raise ticket prices from '98-01, will increase the cost of 80% of the seats at Camden Yards in '02, according to Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore SUN, who writes that the Orioles are "braced for a decline in attendance" and increased the cost of approximately 37,500 seats by as much as $5. The "highest jumps" involve lower box and club level seating between first and third base. Meanwhile, 1,887 seats in the right-field bleachers near the scoreboard have gone from $9 to $13 and have been renamed "Eutaw Street Reserved Seats." But the Orioles "have either maintained or lowered the price" of nearly 10,000 seats. About 5,300 seats in the upper deck have been reduced between $1-4, with 4,600 others remaining the same. Kubatko notes the club also "will continue to offer discount ticket programs" (Baltimore SUN, 12/28).