SBD/Issue 100/Franchises

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  • A-Rod Admission: Yanks Did Not Consider 'Roids In Contract Talks

    Cashman (r) Says Question Of Steroid Use Did
    Not Come Up During Rodriguez Contract Talks
    No Yankees execs discussed the possibility that 3B Alex Rodriguez "might have been a steroid user" during contract-negotiation process prior to Rodriguez signing his 10-year, $275M deal with the team in December '07, according to Jack Curry of the N.Y. TIMES. Yankees GM Brian Cashman: "It's not something that came up. ... It's clearly a fair question, but how would you know that from 2001 to 2003 this was taking place? Basically, you can ask that about any player we've signed or acquired. We had already been in a testing period. You get past that." Rodriguez Monday admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from '01-03, and as much as Cashman "hopes that Rodriguez is immune to the commotion and produces, he expected the steroid tag to cling to him." Cashman: "This will be a long process" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). Meanwhile, the Yankees yesterday said that they "are not looking to void" his contract, and Yankees co-Chair Hank Steinbrenner said he personally is not mad at Rodriguez. When asked about finding a way to get out from under Rodriguez' contract, Steinbrenner said, "No, no ... it's simply ... that's it basically." Steinbrenner said of whether he would attempt to trade Rodriguez, "I am not going to comment on anything like that (that) can get twisted, which happens in the media. Basically, it's no comment except that I support him and I am not personally angry at all." The Yankees are "convinced Rodriguez is sincere when he says he hasn't juiced since 2003" (King & Hale, N.Y. POST, 2/11).

    TIME TO MOVE FORWARD: On Long Island, Ken Davidoff reports the Yankees, who had "set the bar low" for Rodriguez' interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons Monday, came away "generally pleased" (NEWSDAY, 2/11). Cashman said that the Yankees "urged Rodriguez to tell the whole truth in his confession." Steinbrenner: "We support him and we're going to do everything we can to help make his season a successful one, to help him do that" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes, "This is really just the first inning of the revelation phase. A-Rod, after all, has nine years left on his Yankee contract. That is a long time for an organization to hold its breath that its most expensive commodity does not further wreck his image -- and theirs." And it is "all about to get more complicated for both player and team" (N.Y. POST, 2/11). But in N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the Yankees "now want to act as if this is some kind of 'Texas' problem with Rodriguez," as he noted in his interview he only took PEDs during his time with the Rangers (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11). 

    NOBODY WITHOUT FAULT: In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz noted Rangers Owner Tom Hicks has said that he "wants A-Rod to personally apologize to him." Schultz: "Try again. Hicks and every other owner should apologize for turning a blind eye to steroid use because they were more interested in selling tickets, souvenir jerseys and corporate sponsorships. ... The biggest problem with baseball's steroid era is the complete lack of responsibility anybody wants to accept -- starting with the owners" (AJC.com, 2/10). In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves wrote under the header, "Hicks Has To Face His Own Failure." It was Hicks' responsibility to "know what was going on in his clubhouse, where steroid use was rampant during his ownership." Hicks has to "look himself in the mirror, too, just as those of us who were around the team and didn't 'get it' during those years have to do" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 2/10).

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  • AC Milan Urges Beckham To Buy-Out Galaxy Contract Early

    Beckham May Have To Fund Part Of The
    Financial Settlement Himself
    Italian Serie A club AC Milan officials have urged MF David Beckham to "try to persuade" the MLS Galaxy to "agree to bring forward the break clause in his five-year contract, in October, so he can join the Italian club on a permanent basis now," according to Jason Burt of the London INDEPENDENT. Beckham "may have to fund part of the financial settlement, which would have to be negotiated, himself but would be rewarded with a lucrative contract, for at least 18 months, by Milan who are already understood to have agreed [to] personal terms and awarded him image rights." AC Milan officials "are adamant that they will not meet LA Galaxy's demands of around" US$21.6M in a transfer fee for Beckham (London INDEPENDENT, 2/11). ESPN SOCCERNET's Jen Chang wrote "when you factor in the marketing gold mine that Beckham represents to any club, there's no question that the Galaxy should demand a minimum of $15[M] before agreeing to let Beckham go." The Galaxy also are in a position to ask for "certain additional perks, such as a series of exhibitions against Milan" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 2/9).

    BECKHAM's IMPACT: SI.com's Franklin & Pickstone wrote Beckham joined the Galaxy "sincere in his belief that doing so would help Major League Soccer expand and, indeed, it was a huge coup for MLS to sign the world's most marketable player." But "from the perspective of his own soccer career, L.A. was the wrong destination" (SI.com, 2/9). But former Galaxy President & GM Alexi Lalas said, "I think if he leaves, you're delusional if you think this was a failure by any stretch of the imagination." Lalas: "The interest, the raise of the level on the field and of the brand in the United States is incredible" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/11).

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  • Jordan Says He Would Like To Increase Bobcats Investment

    Jordan's Desire To Grow As
    An Investor Still Strong
    Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan yesterday said his desire to grow as an investor in the team is "still strong," according to Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. In a conference call with members of the media, Jordan said, "I don't know if [Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson] is looking to sell the entire team. He's considering a lot of things, a lot of opportunities. ... Purchasing the whole team, I don't think that's an option right now. But if parts of the team become available, and I can afford it as much as anybody, I'd definitely like to grow my investment in the Bobcats." When asked about the team's home attendance, which ranks near the bottom of the NBA, Jordan said, "We're talking about tough economic times. I can't ask people in this community to build their lives around buying tickets to come to the Bobcats. ... To be upset that they choose not to entertain themselves, in the face of this economy, I can't argue that point. We have to continue to draw them by making it more exciting." Meanwhile, when asked about the possibility of the Bobcats signing big-name free agents, Jordan said, "At the end of the day, when you talk about players losing money (by changing teams) -- that extra year or that (higher) annual increase in salary (available to the retaining team, that's unlikely). I don't know if we have the corporate structure (in Charlotte) that a player could make that up in endorsements. I'm trying to be realistic" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/11).

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  • Attanasio Says MLB Cap Would Help Maintain Competitive Balance

    Attanasio Said Ticket Sales At Miller Park Are
    Best Indication Of The Economy's Impact
    Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio said competitive balance has been "great in baseball for the last decade or so and we have to keep it like that," according to Mark Kass of the BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE. Attanasio, who has "been pushing for MLB to implement a salary cap," said, "I am concerned, especially in a bad economy like this, that you have a segmenting out of the haves and the have-nots. When the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, it throws the competitive balance out of whack." Attanasio added, "It wasn't so much that I am hung up on salary cap as I would like to see competitive balance. Whether it is a salary cap or making the luxury tax payments greater, whatever you have to do to keep the competitive balance." Attanasio said a lot of other MLB owners are "telling me privately that they agree with me, but I don't see a lot of people speaking up on the issue." Meanwhile, Attanasio said the economy has "impacted our ability and our willingness to spend money, hoping things will stay good because you are just not sure what is going to happen in this economy. Frankly, with everything going on in this economy, I am getting a little nervous with our payroll at [$80-85M]." When asked what he will be watching with regard to the economy, Attanasio said, "Ticket sales, first and foremost, for our team because of how important they are to our overall revenue picture" (BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE, 2/6 issue).

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  • Huizenga Reflects On 19 Years Of South Florida Sports Ownership

    Huizenga Planning To Get Back Into Business
    World, But Will Not Rule Out Return To Sports
    Former Dolphins, Marlins and NHL Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga yesterday reflected on "leaving behind nearly two decades of sports ownership," during which "no one has had more sway over the course of sports in South Florida," according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Huizenga, speaking publicly for the first time since selling 95% of the Dolphins to Stephen Ross last month, said, "I know I'll have regrets, and I know I will miss it. But I felt after 19 years you know there's a little song out there, 'You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.'" Those who worked with Huizenga during the '90s said that he "didn't set out to change the region's sports landscape," but when the "opportunities arose, he seized them as he's always done." Huizenga "shepherded the Marlins and the Panthers hockey team into existence" and was the "influential mover behind" the Panthers' BankAtlantic Center. However, Huizenga yesterday for the first time acknowledged that he "shouldn't have dismantled" the Marlins in the offseason following the team's '97 World Series title "in order to sell the team." Huizenga said of owning a sports franchise, "You want to treat your customers and fans on a business-like basis, but what you really have to do is win those games. And that's not really what it is in normal business." Huizenga "didn't rule out entering sports again" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11). Huizenga: "I would never say never to anything. You never know what the opportunities are going to be in the future. ... My plan now is to get back into the business world" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/11). Huizenga yesterday said that he is "pulling for the Marlins to get their new stadium deal completed so they will remain in South Florida" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11).

    FOOTING THE BILL: Huizenga indicated that hiring Dolphins Exec VP/Football Operations Bill Parcells in December '07 was "his best" decision while owning the team. Parcells originally had a 30-day window to opt out of his contract if Huizenga sold the franchise, but Huizenga said that he "acted three weeks before the sale to make the escape clause open-ended, explaining that he didn't want Parcells to feel pressured." Huizenga: "It was the right thing to do. It was good for Bill, good for Steve and good for the Dolphins. We want to see Bill stay" (PALM BEACH POST, 2/11). Huizenga added Parcells is "good for the Dolphins and obviously they proved themselves with the year they had this year." More Huizenga: "It does benefit the team because Bill; now he has no reason to leave. He's not forced to make a decision in a short period of time. He'll have plenty of time to stay as long as he wants to stay." Huizenga said that before changing the opt-out clause to an open-ended option, he consulted with Parcells, Ross, Dolphins President & COO Bryan Wiedmeier and Exec VP/Business & Administration Bill Pierce (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11).

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  • NBA Franchise Notes: NBPA Files Grievance On Behalf Of Tinsley

    Tinsley Was Banished From
    The Team In October
    In Indianapolis, Mike Wells reports the NBPA Tuesday "filed a grievance" against the Pacers on behalf of G Jamaal Tinsley. Tinsley was "barred from the team before training camp" and was banished from the team in October. Tinsley's agent, Raymond Brothers, last week said that he "planned to file the grievance because he wants the Pacers to trade, release or buy out his client" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/11). Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird in a statement said the team "made it clear" to Tinsley and Brothers "that we would pursue a trade that we feel would be best for both parties and continue to do so." Bird: "In the meantime, we will do whatever necessary in preparing our case for arbitration should it come to that" (Pacers).

    SETTING SUNS? FANSTER.com's Greg Esposito wrote if Suns Owner Robert Sarver "isn't willing to make moves that move the Suns and their fans closer to their ultimate goal it is time he step aside and sell the team to someone who will." Reports have indicated the Suns "may be trying to shed as much as $40[M] from their payroll" before the trade deadline, and Esposito wrote the Suns "need, no deserve, someone who will keep a competitive payroll and will make moves that are basketball savvy rather than business savvy." Esposito: "Trading talent to shave payroll, selling draft picks and being reluctant to pay the luxury tax just won't cut it" (FANSTER.com, 2/10).

    COMING ATTRACTION: In Oklahoma City, Mike Baldwin cites sources as saying that a "Bison will be the Thunder's mascot." The mascot will be unveiled at halftime of Tuesday's Hornets-Thunder game (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 2/10).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Knicks Offering Discounts To Attract Fans
    During Tough Economic Climate
    In New York, Mike Dougherty noted the Knicks are "courting the coupon clippers with free hot dogs and souvenir hats." MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil said, "The business of team sports is not easy, but it's simple. We sell tickets. We sell marketing partnerships. We sell suites." Meanwhile, Dougherty wrote since the Mets and Yankees have new ballparks opening this spring, they "do not have to hustle as much to sell the cheap seats." Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard said the new stadium is an "enormous plus for us." Howard: "We're seeing it in our sales to date. Season tickets are ahead of where we were last year." Dougherty also noted the NHL is "still a hot ticket" in N.Y., as the NHL Rangers "have sold out 153 straight games" at MSG (Westchester JOURNAL NEWS, 2/10).

    PRICE WATCH: In Green Bay, Mike Vandermause notes Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy and the team's exec committee are "considering raising ticket prices this year." But with the economy "in shambles and the Packers coming off their worst one-season victory drop-off in team history, the last thing beleaguered fans need is more bad news." The Packers "have an opportunity to send millions of dollars worth of goodwill and good wishes into the community" by not raising ticket prices (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 2/11).

    PAYMENT PLAN: The Vikings will begin offering season-ticket holders a noncredit-based payment option via eLayawaySports. The Saints are the only other NFL team to offer the plan (Vikings). In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad reports the new payment plan "will enable purchases to be paid directly from bank accounts via a customized payment plan that can stretch into late July." There is a 1.9% transaction fee (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/11).

    STAFF REDUCTION: In Cincinnati, John Fay reports the Reds have "slightly reduced their front office staff as a result of the economic downturn." Layoffs were "in the single digits." Reds Senior VP/Business Operations Karen Forgus "emphasized that the club's baseball operations had not been affected" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/11).

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