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SBD/Issue 73/FranchisesPrint All
In K.C., Jeffrey Flanagan writes the “latest rumor being whispered around NBA circles” is that the Hornets “might be in line to become the eventual tenant” at the Sprint Center, which is scheduled for completion in ’07. K.C. Sports Commission President Kevin Gray: “We’ve heard a little talk about New Orleans, but you always have to consider the possibility of teams using us for posturing or leverage with their own city. I’m not saying that’s the case with New Orleans, but we can expect to be in the middle of some arena battles elsewhere” (K.C. STAR, 1/5).
WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR: The Chiefs’ season-ticket and parking prices will not increase next season. The average season-ticket price will remain at $67.33, which is expected to rank in the lower half of the NFL’s 32 teams next season. The team this season ranked 13th in average ticket price (Chiefs). In K.C., Adam Teicher reports the Chiefs have raised ticket prices for the previous six seasons, including a jump of 15% prior to this season that was “believed to be the largest spike in franchise history” (K.C. STAR, 1/5).
STEALTH BOMBER: The NLL San Jose Stealth have increased season-ticket sales by 25% for the upcoming season, having sold 1,500 season tickets for the eight-game ’05 season, up from 1,200 last season. The Sharks own an equity interest in the Stealth, and Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said if the NHL season is canceled, “we expect to see a significant walk-up bonus” (Andrew Hamm, SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/3 issue).
College Gambling Incident
In a “hastily called” teleconference yesterday, one day after announcing a deal to buy the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund, Quicken Loans Chair Dan Gilbert acknowledged that he had been arrested in ‘81 for “running an illegal gambling pool” as a college freshman at Michigan State, according to Alejandro Bodipo-Memba of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Gilbert suggested that the incident “was a youthful indiscretion that shouldn’t have any bearing on his ability to successfully run an NBA franchise.” Gilbert, on whether the arrest will hinder his chances of buying the Cavaliers: “I’m not concerned. If I was, I wouldn’t have gone through this process over the last 90 days.” Gilbert also vowed to “never speak about” the incident again. Meanwhile, NBA VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said the league “knew about [the arrest] before it became public” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/5). Frank indicated he could not comment on the approval process, but said that he did not “think the league ever has halted a pending deal” (DETROIT NEWS, 1/5). Gilbert needs approval from three-fourths of the NBA’s 30 owners before the sale becomes official. Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said Gilbert’s arrest “won’t affect my vote at all. It just makes him more interesting” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/5).
UNUSUAL CASE: The AP’s Chris Sheridan noted the background check for a prospective NBA owner typically “is focused on finances rather than ethics,” and there is no language in the NBA bylaws “setting out what might disqualify a prospective owner.” But the bylaws do establish rules of conduct for existing owners including “prohibition on wagering on games” (AP, 1/4).
REAX: The AP’s Steve Wilstein wrote Gilbert’s transgression did not “stop him from being admitted to the Michigan state bar to practice law or from sitting on the board of a savings and loan. If nothing worse turns up, it shouldn’t stop him from taking control of the Cavs” (AP, 1/4). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “If you’re (NBA Commissioner) David Stern, when you introduce him, you have to say, ‘We’ve looked into this, it was a long time ago (and) we’re going to forgive and forget, but we’re going to monitor this closely.’” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “That’s for PR value. In the vetting process, this thing has to be incredibly thorough. They’re going to have to do the kind of background checks that they ought to do” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/4). ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell added, “I don’t think this will hold up a $400[M] deal” (ESPNews, 1/4).
FAIR PRICE? Cleveland State Univ. sports economist Mark Rosentraub said that the Cavs “would have been worth $100[M] less” on the market without G LeBron James, adding that $375M is “’a fair price’ for the team, given the players under contract, their commitment to stay, the quality of the arena and the size of the market” (AP, 1/4).
Anaheim Seeking Restraining Order
To Stop Angels’ Name Change
With the Angels changing their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the city of Anaheim is seeking a “temporary restraining order that would force the team to remain the Anaheim Angels,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Meanwhile, if a court rules in favor of Anaheim in its lawsuit contending the name change violates the team’s Angel Stadium lease, the city “could terminate the lease, evict the Angels and collect $15[M], plus damages.” But Anaheim Public Information Manager John Nicoletti said that the city wants “to enforce the lease, not terminate it.” Shaikin cites sources as saying that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig approved the name change but had asked Angels Owner Arte Moreno to “work with the city rather than fight it.”
COURT OF OPINION: Angels VP/Communications Tim Mead said that of the 3,500 new season-ticket deposits the team has received, “fewer than 100 accounts had been canceled since Monday’s announcement of the name change,” and the team “has lost only one current season-ticket holder because of the change.” The team has received 540 e-mails and 200-300 phone calls about the name change, “the majority in opposition” (L.A. TIMES, 1/5). Angels DH Tim Salmon, on hopes the name change will “broaden the Angels’ appeal and help the team attract national revenue”: “From Arte’s standpoint, if he feels he can get a better TV contract and put a better product on the field ... as a fan, that’s what you’d want, isn’t it?” (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/5). But ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell said, “It’s very strange to believe (that the name change) would really boost marketability and sponsorship deals. ... It’s more of a branding thing, but I really don’t think that their TV rights will increase, that sponsors will say they’re worth more. If anything were to increase it, it would be putting Los Angeles on the jerseys or on the hats, and they say they’re not doing that” (ESPNews, 1/4).