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MLB, Dodgers Waiting On Glazer
To Get The Numbers Straight
USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports Bucs Owner Malcolm Glazer's deal to buy the Dodgers "is so complex it's not going to happen anytime soon, if at all." MLB President Bob DuPuy: "The ball is in their court. (The Glazers) were going to provide some information to us which we have not received." Bodley notes that the information is "how the Glazers plan to stay within the complicated guidelines set by the NFL and MLB." The purchase price would be $360-450M, and MLB rules "permit only 40% of that [can] come from borrowed money." DuPuy: "It's a very complicated proposal" (USA TODAY, 8/26).
JAG-GED: In Jacksonville, Bart Hubbuch reports the Jaguars "sounded a warning to their fans yesterday" by announcing Thursday's preseason finale against the Redskins will be blacked out. Also, more than 12,000 tickets remain for the September 14 home opener against the Bills. The team is planning a "Fill The House" sales campaign for the Bills game "in hopes of avoiding the first blackout in team history of a regular-season home opener." None of the team's '03 home games are currently sold out (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/26).
NOTES: Former Whalers Managing General Partner Howard Baldwin has purchased the AHL's dormant Louisville franchise "with the hope of returning to the league in Hartford." Baldwin said that "four or five cities he wouldn't name have shown interest in the franchise" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/26). The Hartford Wolf Pack have played in the AHL since the Whalers' relocation to Raleigh following the '96-97 season (THE DAILY)....In PA, Michael Bullock reported that N.Y.-based consulting firm National Media Group visited Harrisburg, PA, last month on behalf of the NBDL "to discuss expansion plans that might include the city." NBDL President Phil Evans: "We are actively pursuing expansion in the Northeast." While Evans would not disclose the other cities the NBDL is considering, he did say that "all of the potential markets are located in [PA] and [NY]" (Harrisburg PATRIOT-NEWS, 8/24).
Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban appeared on ESPN's "SportsCenter" last night where he was asked by ESPN's Dan Patrick, "If there was no salary cap, no luxury tax and you were able to spend as much as you wanted, would money be an object to you to build a champion in Dallas?" Cuban: "Sure. ... One thing that people don't pay attention to is [that] our revenues have almost tripled since the day I have gotten here. I work hard to try to keep our costs relative to our revenues. ... I just wouldn't spend over the top, but to me it's a lot more painful to lose games and not win championships than it is to lose money."
BACK IN BUSINESS: Cuban, defending the comments he made about the Kobe Bryant case being good for the business of the NBA, told Patrick, "If there is a crush of media coverage, I believe there is going to be an increase in sampling of the NBA product, and I think we have such a great product that people who sample it, some percentage are going to continue to watch it." Patrick: "But Mark, if sexual assault or rape is involved in a conversation, I don't know anything great that can come out of it." Cuban: "If you ever watch any of the financial news environment, they say, 'Well, we have a war in Iraq. Which stocks are going to benefit?' How do you feel about that?" Patrick: "I'm not on board with that either." Cuban then cited the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding incident and the subsequent impressive Nielsen rating the '94 Olympic figure skating broadcast earned, adding, "It's not about the tragedy of rape. That's not the conversation at all." Patrick: "You can't separate the two, Mark. Sexual assault, Kobe Bryant, NBA, it's all inclusive." Cuban: "Dan, grow up and understand the business world. When you have something that impacts your business, if you ignore it because it's a sensitive subject, you won't be running that business very long." More Cuban: "I just didn't do this interview to bring this whole thing up again. If I would have known, I probably would not have sat here. Once again, you guys are bringing it up and trying to be opportunistic from it. You're being so hypocritical." Cuban added, "I'd be willing to bet you that there was analysis done at ESPN, ABC and Disney to understand what coverage should be given or not given. ... You try to maximize the dollars you're making from it. So how could you say that there's nothing good in bringing up such an unfortunate circumstance?" Toward the end of the interview, Patrick said, "You want to talk to me about maturing and growing up. You should have been mature and said [to 'Access Hollywood'], 'I shouldn't comment.' ... You shouldn't have said anything" (ESPN, 8/26).
THE INSURANCE QUESTION: Cuban, who has complained of the NBA-approved insurance policy on players playing in off-season competition, wrote in an email to the TORONTO STAR: "International competition is for profit, big business. Why we as a league offer up our most valuable players is beyond me." But the TORONTO STAR's Dave Feschuck wrote, "While Cuban continues to underline the risk of international action, he conveniently fails to mention the rewards. It's no secret that ever since the late 1980s, when the NBA started sanctioning games between NBA teams and club outfits from other countries, basketball has undergone an unprecedented global boom. And it's no secret the NBA has profited immensely from the game's global expansion" (TORONTO STAR, 8/26).
Bobcats Exec VP Ed Tapscott confirmed yesterday that Owner Bob Johnson has issued a deadline for Michael Jordan to become part of the organization, according to Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Tapscott said, "Bob has indicated that there is a deadline in his mind for the discussions with Michael. I'm sure it's sooner, rather than later. I'm sure in the near term Michael and Bob will sit down and come to some decision." Sources said that Jordan and Johnson "will talk in the next week to resolve whether Jordan will head the basketball operation"
(CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/26). In NC, John Delong reported Johnson has given Jordan a deadline of Labor Day to "either join the organization as team president and part owner or officially turn it down." It is the "third such deadline that Johnson has given Jordan since they started discussing a deal in late May." Delong added that if the Bobcats "had any realistic hopes" Jordan would join the team, "they probably would have held off announcing season-ticket prices that have not been well-received" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 8/25).
NJ Rejects Funding To Assist Corzine &
Kushner In Nets/Devils Bid
The state of NJ has "rejected a request for at least $100[M] in funding that the partnership of U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and real estate developer Charles Kushner would use to help buy the Nets and Devils," according to George Jordan of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Sources said that the request was made because the Corzine-Kushner partnership is becoming "wary of buying the teams." Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) said yesterday that the partnership "needs help from the state to compete with an array of financial incentives being offered" to N.Y. developer Bruce Ratner, who wants to relocate the Nets to Brooklyn. Torricelli said, "New York is considering a public subsidy to take the teams from us and in [NJ] this is a business deal. It's going to have to stand on its own merits." But NJ Sports & Exhibition Authority (NJSEA) President George Zoffinger said, "We have worked very hard to take the sports authority out of public subsidy and we have no intention, for anybody, to reverse that direction" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/26). Zoffinger: "I do want to save these teams in [NJ]. I want them to stay in [NJ]. But if [N.Y.] and Long Island want to put together big, subsidized packages, we're not going to compete" (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 8/26).
MATCH GAME: In NJ, Daniel Sforza cites two sources as saying that the teams "have demanded $125[M] in state-funded operating subsidies to make them more attractive to a buyer" who will keep the team in NJ. But YankeeNets President Finn Wentworth denied the reports, saying, "That's absolutely false. The only request that has been consistently made is to build an arena in Newark." The sources added that YankeeNets had told NJ officials that, if the state can match a $125M subsidy promised by Ratner, they will sell to a group "that would be inclined to keep the Nets" in NJ. Wentworth also denied that claim (Bergen RECORD, 8/26).
Marketing Storm Around Willis
Tiring Out The Young Star
Marlins P Dontrelle Willis' S.F.-based agent Matt Sosnick "has asked the Marlins to calm down the marketing circus that surrounds their most bankable young star," according to Mike Berardino of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL. Sosnick "also expressed concern over the number of team-sponsored outings Willis" has made to "area schools, corporate sponsors and the like." Sosnick: "He's physically exhausted. Dontrelle does nothing else except give interviews and pitch and sleep." Sosnick voiced his concerns to Marlins Assistant GM Jim Fleming late last week. Sosnick added that Marlins Managing General Partner Jeffrey Loria "recently went to the club's marketing officials and asked that Willis be made exempt from the weekly schedule of player appearances." But Loria said, "I have not given any orders to do that. Whatever is good for Dontrelle is what we're going to do." Sosnick stressed that "neither he nor his client is dissatisfied with the way the Marlins have treated Willis." Sosnick: "Loria is an absolutely great guy and he and (wife) Sivia have treated us like gold. The guy has been a saint." As for the D-Train Flex Pack, a special ticket plan the team introduced around Willis' starts, which the player has voiced concerns over, Sosnick said, "What's in place is in place. The Marlins have a right to benefit from the fact he's pitched well" (SUN-SENTINEL, 8/26).