SBD/Issue 41/Franchises

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  • Rooney Brothers Aim To Sell Steelers Shares To Dan By End Of '08

    Rooney Has Assembled Team
    Of Investors For Steelers Stake
    Steelers investors Tim, Art Jr., Patrick and John Rooney are "working on details of an agreement to sell their shares" to their brother Steelers Chair Dan Rooney and his son, Steelers President Art II, and to "get NFL approval by the end of the year," according to Ed Bouchette of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. In order to do so, the four brothers need to "present an agreement to the NFL in time for its finance committee to consider it and then send it along to the league owners meeting" scheduled for December 17 in Dallas. Art Rooney Jr. indicated that the agreement the sides have been working on includes a "gradual transfer of each brother's shares over a set number of years" to Dan and Art Rooney II, who have "assembled a team of investors for the purchase." The Rooneys, who each own a 16% stake in the club, thought that they were "close to a deal among themselves over the past two weeks, but it stalled recently as lawyers and family members haggled over specifics." Art Jr. said, "Two Wednesdays ago, I thought we were starting to get this thing bundled up. But the devil's in the details; you look at things, go over them again and again and get advice." The brothers are hoping to have an agreement approved by the NFL by the end of '08 because of "extra tax consequences they believe will be introduced retroactively to the beginning" of '09 by President-elect Barack Obama's administration and Congress. Art Jr.: "There's a deadline because of this big tax situation. It has to be settled in good time. I think everybody knows the clock is ticking." Bouchette notes the offer from Dan and Art Rooney II is the "only one the other four Rooney brothers have considered over nearly two months." Art Jr.: "I think Dan is the last man standing." Dan Rooney has "parted with his interest in the racetracks," per an NFL request for the brothers to either "divest themselves of ownership in their two racetrack/casinos or in their ownership of the Steelers." Art Jr. "nearly has done so as well" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/11).

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  • Second NHL Team In Toronto Could Value At $400-600M

    MLSE Could Be Entitled To 
    $250M Territorial Payment
    The "value of a second NHL team in Toronto would range between" $400-600M (all figures US), and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) would be entitled to a one-time territorial payment of up to $250M, according to sports economists cited by David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that a second team in Toronto "would instantly become the third most valuable franchise in the league behind" the Maple Leafs and Rangers and on par with the Red Wings and Canadiens. The payment to MLSE "would range between" $90-250M, "depending on factors such as arena rental, sponsorship, broadcast rights and advertising." The rights fee "would be lower if the team rented the Air Canada Centre and significantly higher if the club operated another arena" in the Toronto area. Meanwhile, Shoalts wrote "theoretically, the NHL could not use its 'dominant position' in the professional hockey market to prevent competition with an existing company, in this case the Maple Leafs." Univ. of Toronto's Faculty of Law Associate Dean Anita Anand said that a lawsuit "could be filed on those grounds even though the Competition Bureau, which acts as an enforcement arm for the federal government in antitrust matters, ruled last March that the NHL does not engage in monopolistic behaviour." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail affirmed that the league's "constitution does not guarantee a veto." Daly said any franchise relocation into Southern Ontario "would only require a majority vote" of the BOG (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/10).

    OFFSIDES CALL: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "admitted yesterday that the Ontario market could probably support a second NHL team," but he "dismissed the probability." Bettman: "Can the Ontario market support another team? Probably. But you can't base a decision on probability. You have got to study the market closely." Bettman said that "relocating an existing franchise to the Toronto area to compete" with the Maple Leafs "would not happen because all 30 of the NHL's clubs are in good financial shape." He added that "expansion was not on the horizon, either, because of 'uncertain economic conditions.'" Bettman said that the "only way the league would consider relocation of a franchise ... is if an owner decided ... that his team could not survive in its market." Bettman: "Anyone who thinks there are any (official) discussions going on right now about another team in Ontario is wrong" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/11).

    MEDIA MATTERS: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston notes a poll asked NHL broadcasters what one change they would make to the NHL and the "second most cited change was franchise relocation." TSN's Pierre McGuire: "You can easily have eight teams in Canada. But move existing teams and save expansion for Europe. European expansion is legit. It's the only place where they can get new-found revenues." CFMJ-AM host Bill Watters said that a second team in Toronto "should be the league's first priority" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/11).

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  • Portsmouth Owner Gaydamak Reportedly Discussing Sale Of Club

    EPL Club Portsmouth In Talks
    For Potential US$109M Takeover
    South Africa-based Central Rand Gold CEO Greg James reportedly is leading a US$109M takeover bid for English Premier League (EPL) club Portsmouth FC, according to Oliver Kay of the LONDON TIMES. James in the past week has held a "series of discussions" with Portsmouth Owner Alexandre Gaydamak and is "understood to be confident of striking an agreement to buy the club" from holding company Devondale Investments. James is being assisted by soccer agent Pini Zahavi, who "knows both men well and may be retained in a consultancy role if the bid is successful" (LONDON TIMES, 11/11).

    UNITED FRONT: MLS FC Dallas Media Relations Dir German Sferra yesterday "shot down the reports linking" Hunt Sports Group Chair Clark Hunt to EPL club Newcastle United. Sferra said of the Hunt family, "There's nothing to it. They're happy with the sports investments that they currently have. They're not pursuing Newcastle or any other sports franchise at this time." Meanwhile, in L.A., Grahame Jones notes AEG Chair Philip Anschutz also has been reported to be interested in the club, but while his name has been "freely mentioned in the English press, there has been no confirmation of his interest" (L.A. TIMES, 11/11).

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  • MSG President To Add Three Sales Execs To Help Grow MSG Sports

    O'Neil To Add Execs In
    Ticket, Sponsorship Sales
    MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil is "putting his stamp on the organization with plans to hire three new top executives as O'Neil charts a course of aggressive growth to coincide with the renovation" of MSG, according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. O'Neil said that he "will hire two senior vice presidents and another vice president to help lead ticket and sponsorship sales across MSG Sports' Knicks, Rangers and Liberty franchises." The new hires are "additions to the staff and not replacements and are expected to be completed within a few weeks." The Rangers have "capped their season-ticket sales at 14,000, while the Knicks work to turn around their business after the past few disastrous seasons both on and off the court." O'Neil "would not disclose the exact season-ticket base for the Knicks," but he said that he expects to "surpass 10,000 this season." The Knicks' renewal rate stands at about 85%, "above the league's" 80% average. MSG also has 25 corporate partners who "spend at least $1[M] annually with both franchises, and one change under O'Neil has been to add value to some of MSG's top spending partners." The Knicks are "creating a 'coach for a day program' for top sponsors who will tag along" with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni for a day. The team has "set 10 dates for the program." While O'Neil "beefs up MSG's sales staff, he also is focusing on creating, acquiring or partnering with other sports-related properties." O'Neil said that MSG has "looked at about 15 potential deals in and around" N.Y. O'Neil: "We are open for business and we have a mandate to grow the business" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/10 issue).

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  • NHL Franchise Notes: NHL CBA Clarifies Rangers Dilemma

    Cherepanov (2nd from r) Listed As
    "Defected Player" Prior To Death
    In N.Y., Larry Brooks reported the NHL CBA "almost certainly will have to be amended in order for the Rangers to be awarded the compensatory pick they are seeking for the loss" of '06 draft pick RW Alexei Cherepanov, who last month died after collapsing during a game while playing in Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL). Currently, Article 8.3 (b) in the CBA "leaves no doubt that compensatory picks are meant as protection for teams whose unsigned first-round selections are eligible to either go back into the draft or become free agents." But Cherepanov before his death was "listed as a 'defected player' on NHL roster status reports," and arbitrator Richard Bloch last week "upheld the NHL's implementation of 'defected player' status." As a result, "regardless of the circumstance, an unsigned Cherepanov's rights would have belonged to the Rangers beyond this season and into the foreseeable future" (N.Y. POST, 11/9).

    DUCK HUNTING: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote depending on what happens to the Bruins this season, the team "could be a player" for Ducks Exec VP & GM Brian Burke this offseason. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli's contract expires at the end of next season, and the role of Bruins President has been "vacant since Harry Sinden was booted off the job" in '06. Dupont wrote there would be "plenty of room for Burke" with the Bruins, as long as Owner Jeremy Jacobs was "willing to pay the freight." Another "likely bidder for Burke" will be the Blackhawks. The Maple Leafs and Senators also "might be enticed" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/9).

    Watch This Clip

    BAILOUT FALLOUT: In St. Louis, David Nicklaus noted the rules for the Blues' "Fan Bailout Plan," which includes naming its remaining Saturday games as "Fannie and Freddie Mortgage Saturdays," do not say whether the team "got permission" from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to use the companies' names. If they did not, "Fannie's and Freddie's lawyers might not be happy about this particular bailout" (STLTODAY.com, 11/10).

    NOTES: The Flyers have four players from Finland, the most in the NHL, and the Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. Pekka Lintu said that the Finnish Embassy for the Stars-Flyers game on November 24 will recognize the team. Flyers President & COO Peter Luukko, who has Finnish ancestors, will host Lintu and five of his guests in his suite at the Wachovia Center and introduce them to the Flyers' Finnish players before the game (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/9)....The AP's Nancy Armour wrote under the header, "Blackhawks Become A Vibrant Brand Again," and noted a year after the team's season-ticket base "dwindled to 3,400, it is a franchise-record 14,000." Each of the team's home games at the United Center this season has been a sellout (AP, 11/8).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Writer Feels Lions' Struggles, Fan Apathy 
    Have Team Ownership At "High Boil"
    In Detroit, Mike O'Hara wrote anyone involved in the Lions' management team "should be worried more than ever," as the wrath of Owner William Clay Ford Sr. and Lions Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr. "surely must be at a high boil" with the team 0-9. O'Hara noted the future of the annual Thanksgiving game in Detroit and "creeping apathy by fans toward the Lions" are "among the issues this week." ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their "Mike & Mike" show last week "campaigned to have the game taken away from Detroit," and ESPN's voice as an NFL partner "cannot be discounted as purely media ranting." O'Hara: "Suppose the broadcast networks -- Fox, CBS and NBC -- chime in?" (DETROIT NEWS, 11/10).

    PEACE, NOT WAR: In the wake of reports of disharmony within the Warriors front office, Warriors President Robert Rowell said, "The reality is we're on the same page with respect to pretty much everything that we're doing now. I hire basketball guys to make basketball decisions and I'm letting those guys do their job with respect to the roster and who those players are. I'll get involved like I've gotten involved with terms and conditions and where things fit within our budget." Meanwhile, in S.F., Janny Hu notes the team this season has yet to sell out a home game and is averaging 18,688 fans through three games. Rowell: "Business right now is tough. It's no different right now than it is in any other industry" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/11). In San Jose, Marcus Thompson II writes Rowell's "matter-of-fact demeanor and rapid responses to questions contradicted the cloud of chaos and drama that appears to be hovering over the franchise." Rowell "shot down talk of a feud" with Warriors Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin, and "as always declined to comment on personnel decisions" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/11).

    ORIOLE WAY: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec noted the price of Orioles season tickets "will remain the same for 2009." Orioles Dir of Communications Greg Bader Friday confirmed that season-ticket invoices "have been mailed and there are no price increases." Individual tickets will "go on sale in January." Camden Yards' attendance last season was 1,950,075, the first time attendance has been below the two million the mark since the ballpark opened in '92 (Baltimore SUN, 11/8).

    BOB'S CATS: The CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Erik Spanberg reports Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson, when asked "about whispers that the NBA league office frowned" on the team's reported cutting of 35-40 employees, answered "with questions of his own." Spanberg: "What could the NBA say to him after laying off 80 workers, or 9% of its staff, last month?" Johnson: "We're not going to skimp on the player personnel or on the fan experience." Johnson also said of "speculation about a possible sale" of the team, "As far as I know, I'm the owner of the Bobcats as long as the Bobcats are going to be in Charlotte." Johnson: "The Bobcats are a business that you have to nurture. You don't come in and turn any kind of sports team into a cash register at all. You focus on building a team that's going to create the kind of credibility and fan support that you need over the long term" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/7 issue).

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