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Schultz Seeking To Have His
'06 Sale Of Sonics Rescinded
Stern Says That He Feels Sonics Owners
Have Been Negotiating In Good Faith
ROCK THE VOTE: In Seattle, Johns & McNerthney report the NBA BOG Thursday or Friday will meet in N.Y. and is scheduled to vote on Bennett's request to relocate the Sonics to Oklahoma City. A spokesperson for Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said that she is drafting a letter to the NBA "that will be co-signed by numerous political leaders in the state in an effort to present a case for keeping the Sonics in Seattle." The relocation also is contingent on a trial between the city of Seattle and the Sonics' owners or "some other sort of resolution of the KeyArena lease." Meanwhile, the Sonics yesterday sent a letter to season-ticket holders, indicating that "no renewals will be accepted until the team's future is clarified" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/15). Meanwhile, the Oklahoma House of Representatives yesterday approved a measure that would give Sonics owners "financial incentives" if the team relocated. The state Senate is expected to take up the measure later this week. The bill would "expand the state's Quality Jobs program to include major league teams," which would amount to about $4M annually for the Sonics (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 4/15).
REAX: In Seattle, Jerry Brewer writes Schultz's "dire attempt to right his wrong is the longest of all shots. And though he probably won't admit it, he's motivated in part by a desire to suppress fan anger. If Seattle becomes an NBA ghost town, he doesn't want to walk around fearing for his coffee beans" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/15). Suns President & COO Rick Welts, formerly Sonics Dir of PR, said of the Sonics' situation in Seattle, "It breaks my heart, but at the same time I understand it. But even if the team leaves, I believe there will be another NBA team. It would be the most attractive (U.S.) city not in the NBA." Welts added: "If an arena is built, I just think the market would be incredibly attractive for another NBA team. But that's my heart talking. There's not much I can do about it professionally." Welts said of Stern, "It's a subject I don't discuss with him because it's too personal for me" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/15).
Johnson Says Charlotte's Business Community
Not Giving Bobcats Enough Support
PEANUT GALLERY: In Charlotte, Tommy Tomlinson writes of Charlotte business leaders letting Johnson down in terms of team support, "The short answer is, [Johnson's] right. The long answer is, Charlotte ain't the town it used to be." Tomlinson: "Now we've been burned. The Hornets left us. Building a new arena turned into a knife fight. Those big companies are shedding jobs. And a lot of those gleaming new houses are under foreclosure." He added: "Very little of that is Bob Johnson's fault. It's just bad timing" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/15).
Knicks Offer Unlimited Free Food
During Fan Appreciation Night
CHECKETTS WEIGHS IN: Blues Owner and former MSG President Dave Checketts in a radio interview yesterday said of Thomas: "The bottom line is that with the highest payroll in the history of the game for years and years, he doesn't have a playoff win to show for it. That's how you make that evaluation." Checketts added the Knicks do not have an "environment that demands winning, that expects winning and the kind of character guys that want to win" (1050ESPNRADIO.com, 4/15).
Nationals Failing To See Attendance
Bump From New Ballpark
TROUBLE? In DC, Mark Zuckerman noted it is "evident that the organization overestimated how much fans are willing to spend to sit in the lower decks of a stadium, brand new or not." The Presidential and Diamond club seats, priced at $325 and $170, respectively, "didn't appear to be even half-full for any game" last week. Nine other MLB clubs have opened new ballpark's since '00, and five of the teams, the Giants, Cardinals, Phillies, Padres and Astros, all averaged more than 35,000 fans per game in their park's first season. The four clubs that drew less than 35,000 per game, the Brewers, Padres, Reds and Tigers, all had losing records. Zuckerman wrote for the Nationals, a "more reasonable goal this season would be 2.4 million, which roughly equates to 30,000 a game." But Zuckerman added all the "paranoia over parking and traffic appears to have been overblown." Few of the fans "who bought parking passes near the ballpark, or took Metro to the Navy Yard station or took advantage of the free RFK Stadium shuttle have offered up significant complaints" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/14). In Baltimore, Jeff Barker reported industry observers are "stunned" by the low attendance at Nationals Park so far this season. Former Maryland Stadium Authority Chair John Moag: "The folks in DC have experienced a new baseball stadium, and that's Oriole Park. So the novelty of a new park isn't so novel." In DC, however, Moag added, "It's really early, and it's tough to make conclusions" (Baltimore SUN, 4/12).
CHARITY CASE: Meanwhile, in DC, Brigid Schulte reported the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Saturday at Nationals Park unveiled the Wall of Dreams, a collection of 1,026 gold-, red-, blue- and green-stitched baseballs in the center field plaza in an "effort to raise money to help the community." The color of stitching on the ball corresponds to the amount of the donation, ranging from $250 for red to $5,000 for gold. The funds from the Wall will be used to help build a kids' baseball academy in Ward 7 in DC, a new pediatric diabetes wing at Children's National Medical Center, and to support a local Boys & Girls Club and nonprofit Earth Conservation Corps, both located near the ballpark (WASHINGTON POST, 4/13).
Writer Lauds Canadiens For
Recent Game Presentation
FLAMES: Flames officials have "started punishing scalpers in-house," meaning they are banning people who sell their seats for a profit. Flames VP/Ticket Sales Rollie Cyr: "This past season, we canceled 32 season tickets after we found out they were scalping tickets at a significant premium." In Calgary, Michael Platt reports last week "another handful of playoff tickets were declared null and void, as Flames' management investigated the sale of seats at prices way above face value." Cyr said that the '07-08 season "found the Flames dealing with a new form of ducat devilry: Forgery." Because tickets purchased online are "of the self-print variety, there's nothing to stop a con artist from making multiple copies." Once a bar code on a ticket is scanned at the Saddledome, "further copies will be rejected" (CALGARY SUN, 4/15).
Islanders Finish Last In Attendance
For Second Time In Last Three Years
CAPITALS: Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis, in a Q&A with the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Justin Scheck, said of Forbes magazine reporting the team is worth $145M, or 28th out of 30 NHL teams: "The Forbes numbers are the biggest (expletive) joke I've ever seen. But we bring it upon ourselves because we don't publish our numbers. A banker who did our numbers, based on comparables, said our value would be [$225-250M]." When asked what the league can do to get a better TV deal, Leonsis replied, "My belief, and what I've been advocating, is we've lost the TV war. ... We wanna be, and we're becoming, the leader in growing digital media" (WSJ.com, 4/10).
CANUCKS: In Vancouver, Iain MacIntrye reports the Canucks fired GM Dave Nonis yesterday, and the dismissal “changes everything and will almost certainly lead to other major changes.” Nonis’ “chief failing this season was that his defence couldn’t stay healthy.” Meanwhile, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault’s job also is likely in “jeopardy as Nonis’s successor will presumably want to hire his own coach” (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/15).