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Bennett To Pay At Least $45M To Get
Out Of Final Two Years Of Arena Lease
Washington Legislature Must Approve KeyArena
Funding For Seattle To Receive Additional $30M
Schultz (l) Still Seeking To Rescind
Sale Of Sonics To Bennett
TO SERVE & PROTECT? ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote the NBA "should be banned from using the phrase 'NBA Cares'" in future PSAs because "that's the message the sad Sonics saga sends out. The league doesn't care one bit unless you're willing to give up your money to enable its profits." Keeping the Sonics in Seattle "should have been up to David Stern. Instead, he was more interested in helping his buddy Bennett and maintaining leverage for the other owners than serving the fans who had supported a team and were responsible for millions of dollars of NBA revenue over the years" (ESPN.com, 7/2). TRUEHOOP's Henry Abbott wrote a local NBA team is a "region's lone outpost for the best of basketball," and anyone “who loves the sport is prone to following the NBA." Abbott: "That's what the NBA is entrusted with protecting. And that's what the NBA did not, in my estimation, protect in this case" (ESPN.com, 7/2).
Team To Begin Season-Ticket
Sales Today In Oklahoma City
READYING FOR ARRIVAL: Bennett said that tickets to games at the Ford Center, which hosted the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina from '05-07, will "be generally higher than they were for Hornets games, but promised there will still be affordable seats." He added that "all home regular season games will be played in Oklahoma City, but talks are in progress that would allow some preseason games to be played in Tulsa." Bennett noted that the team will "establish a temporary office somewhere in downtown Oklahoma City and move to permanent office space in the Ford Center once it is constructed." Cornett: "Somebody is going to have to pinch me to think this day is really here. If I had a concern -- and my tongue is not in my cheek -- I'm concerned we don't have enough seats in that arena. I think the season ticket sales are going to blow the roof off the building" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/3). Bennett said that the franchise "will do everything it can to allow former Hornets season ticket holders an opportunity to reclaim their tickets," though a plan for that "has not been finalized and the franchise cannot make any guarantees" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/3). Daily Oklahoman reporter Darnell Mayberry: "They have a good foundation because you had the Hornets here and they have that database with season-ticket holders. ... But I think you really have to get out there and market your team and sell tickets at this point” (NEWSOK.tv, 7/3).
FORD CENTER CHANGES: In Oklahoma City, Randy Ellis reports renovations to make the Ford Center ready for the Sonics, including "brighter lighting and upgrades to wiring and the broadcast infrastructure," will begin this summer and are scheduled "to be completed by the fall of 2010" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/3). Also in Oklahoma City, Steve Lackmeyer reports Oklahoma Ford Dealers for a 90-day period now have "exclusive rights to negotiate a new sponsorship deal with the city" and the team. If a deal is "not struck after that 90-day period, the team is free to seek a new sponsor," but Oklahoma Ford Dealers during the next 180 days "must be given a chance to match or beat any new naming rights deal" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/3).
TV POSSIBILITIES: Even though Oklahoma City's FSN Southwest shows Mavericks games, the RSN said it is prepared to bid for Bennett's team starting next week. FSN Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Bellitti: "FSN Southwest is a fully distributed network throughout Oklahoma. We look forward to conversations with the Sonics now that they are free to discuss their future in Oklahoma." Cox, the main cable company in the area, aired Hornets games while they played at the Ford Center, on a local origination channel (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
GRACIOUS IN VICTORY: The DAILY OKLAHOMAN's Berry Tramel writes Bennett in announcing the move Wednesday in Oklahoma City was "received like a hero," but he "didn't act like a hero." Bennett: "I don't feel, standing here today, victorious. I just don't feel that" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/3).
Stern Says Renovated KeyArena Would
Be Viable Option To Host NBA Team
ATTENTION TURNS TO ARENA PROBLEM: The NEWS TRIBUNE's Williams in a separate piece reports Seattle business and political leaders are turning their "attention toward solving the main problem that hampered efforts to keep the team here: Financing an arena that meets the NBA's needs." Overcoming a "chilly relationship between Stern and Seattle city officials is another hurdle for the city," and "now the city finds itself with the task of having to smooth over that relationship since it needs Stern's help to secure a new NBA team." King County (WA) Council member Pete von Reichbauer: "I've said this before -- don't demonize Commissioner Stern. You can disagree with him, but today's opponent may be tomorrow's ally. Clearly now if you are going to have an NBA franchise in this region, it's going to come through Commissioner Stern's office" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 7/3).
RETURN TO SENDER? In Tacoma, John McGrath writes, "Understand this: The NBA is coming back to Seattle, coming back to KeyArena, coming back in green and, yes, gold." The "only problem with an NBA team returning to Seattle as the Sonics: The team most likely will be uprooted from Memphis, or Sacramento, or Charlotte" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 7/3). Meanwhile, any new Seattle team "could inherit the Sonics name and the team's green and gold colors" (USA TODAY, 7/3). ESPN’s Michael Smith said of the city retaining the franchise marks, “That’s good, assuming they get a team." But he added, "If you retain a franchise history, does it matter if you don’t get a team? ... I don’t know if the NBA is going to be hard pressed to put a team in Seattle” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning, ESPN2, 7/3).
Oilers Fighting Anti-Edmonton Sentiment
From Pronger's Departure From Team
FIGHTING MISPERCEPTIONS: Staples notes one of the first moves of the Oilers’ “counter-offensive” in the spring of ‘07 was to send NHL agents a hand-carved box made in Alberta. Inside was a video recorder, which “turned on to play a video" hosted by former Oilers player and coach Craig Simpson that "promoted Edmonton and the Oilers.” Current players C Shawn Horcoff, LW Ethan Moreau and D Steve Staios all “spoke glowingly about the city” on the video, which ended with GM Kevin Lowe “talking about the [Oilers'] commitment to winning another Stanley Cup.” The team's signing of restricted free agent RW Dustin Penner last year “got players, agents, managers, and the rest of the hockey world talking about Lowe’s aggressive tactics, rather than focusing on any perceived shortcomings of the city” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 7/2).
Oilers Formally Introduce
Katz As New Team Owner
STAYING THE COURSE: The EDMONTON SUN’s Derek Van Diest writes the Oilers are “one of the healthiest franchises in the [NHL] operating under a strong business plan. It’s a plan that won’t change too drastically with Katz at the helm.” LaForge: “The business operates in the black and we already play to the cap. (Katz) is more strategic and more competitive in the sense that he’s always asking ‘What else could we do’? And I really enjoy that” (EDMONTON SUN, 7/3). Katz said, “More than anything, we will instill a vision of limited bureaucracy. We won’t have committee meetings or board meetings. Decisions will be made very quickly” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 7/3).
Raptors Deny Talk Of Playing Regular-
Season Games At HSBC Arena In Buffalo
CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller reported Mariners Owner Hiroshi Yamauchi reportedly is "looking to get out of the baseball business and is intent on selling his controlling share of the Mariners." Microsoft exec and Mariners Minority Owner Chris Larson, "it is said, wants to become the controlling owner." Miller wrote one "fascinating rumor making the industry rounds" indicates that an investment group led by Larson and former Mariners GM Pat Gillick would assume "control of the Mariners sometime in the near future, with Gillick running the baseball operations and naming the new GM" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/2).
Final Price Tag For Recent Wild
Sale In Neighborhood Of $265M
CARDS: In Arizona, Kent Somers reported NFL Cardinals season-ticket sales are "lagging behind the pace of the team's first two years" at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, but team officials "don't expect a streak of 20 straight sellouts to end" next season. Cardinals VP/Marketing & Sales Ron Minegar said that the team has sold "more than 55,000 season tickets, 2,000 to 3,000 short of the previous two years." Also, the waiting list for season tickets has "decreased from about 7,500 to 2,000," but Minegar said that the "downturn isn't unusual." Minegar added that the Cardinals' "challenge over the next month will be getting the word out that season tickets are available." The team's "advertising efforts will increase after the July 4th holiday" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/3).
ASTROS: In Houston, Richard Justice writes Astros GM Ed Wade "hasn't done a terrible job. It just seems that way at a time when the Astros appear to be going nowhere for a third straight season." Wade has "no chance of filling all the holes because the Astros neglected their minor league system for too long." The problem is "not going to be fixed overnight, and until it is, the Astros will have to spend millions more in free agency just to stay afloat" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/3).