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MLS Galaxy Rejects AC Milan's
First Transfer Offer For Beckham
AFTER SHOCKS: In S.F., Tom FitzGerald wrote the possibility of Beckham remaining with AC Milan is "not good news for the Earthquakes and other MLS teams, who had banked on the iconic midfielder to boost their attendance." The Earthquakes last season averaged "slightly less than" 10,000 fans per game at the Univ. of Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium, but the club averaged 32,972 in two home matches against the Galaxy, both of which were moved to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to "accommodate the crowds." The Earthquakes also booked both of their home games against the Galaxy for the '09 MLS season at the Coliseum, but, "in contrast to last year's Beckham hype, made no mention of him as an attraction in announcing" the schedule. Earthquakes Exec VP/Business Operations David Alioto said the lost revenue from Beckham's absence would be measured "in tens of thousands, not millions." Alioto added that "any Beckham losses to the Quakes would be more than offset by their recent sponsorship deal with Amway," and he noted that because Amway also sponsors AC Milan, the deal "might even lead to a Quakes-AC Milan exhibition match this year." FitzGerald noted the Earthquakes' two home matches against the Galaxy "could be switched to Buck Shaw with little trouble" since Earthquakes Owner Lew Wolff also owns the A's and has a "special relationship with the Coliseum management" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/7). In Ft. Worth, Tobias Xavier Lopez wrote the "rest of MLS clubs should be looking for compensation" from AC Milan as well, as the "only legitimate sellout" for FC Dallas last season at Pizza Hut Park came against the Galaxy (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7).
Writers Deem Beckham In MLS
Experiment Mostly As Failure
IMPACT ON U.S. SOCCER: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman wrote under the header, "Beckham Never Became The Savior Of MLS." No matter how MLS "chooses to sugarcoat the news" of Beckham's potential departure, it is a "slap at the league that gushed over him." Kaufman: "Has he had a lasting effect on the sport in this country? Not really" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/8). SI.com's Arash Markazi wrote Beckham's heart was "never really into leaving Europe behind and coming" to L.A. Markazi: "Then again, when you get dumped, you really don't have a choice in the matter." Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid had "relegated him to a reserve role," and "like most in that situation, he fell for the first person that came along and made him feel wanted again" (FANNATION.com, 2/6). However, ESPN SOCCERNET's Steve Davis wrote Beckham's tenure in MLS was "hardly a failed bit, as he certainly raised the league's profile in countless ways, which was the league's hope all along." Since Beckham joined the league, TV contracts "have been signed" and sponsors "have been added or re-signed." And the "always-important stadium initiative and expansion effort have marched confidently forward." Davis: "Anyone who thinks Beckham's presence didn't add to the coffers in a myriad of ways isn't thinking in business terms -- which is certainly the right of every fan. On the other hand, it would be difficult to deny that the Galaxy's meddling upper management sucked much of the joy from Beckham's MLS experience and played a huge role in his decision to ditch MLS" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 2/6).
JUST LIKE TWINS: In St. Paul, Phil Miller noted Jim Pohlad Friday indicated that he "intends to adopt the same management style" as his father, which means "staying informed about baseball operations and making decisions about budgets and business plans but rarely influencing player transactions." Jim Pohlad did not discuss a "payroll target for this season or the future," but said that the Twins can continue to "spend roughly 51[%] of their revenues on ballplayers." The team is "believed to be well below that mark" with its current payroll of about $60M, but it also "means the front office must spend wisely." Meanwhile, each Pohlad son now owns one-third of the franchise, and Friday they said that they were "unanimous about wanting to keep the team." Jim Pohlad said it is "certainly our goal" to own the team in 20 years. Pohlad: "We have no intention of doing anything else" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/7).
WEATHERING THE STORM: The ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS' Miller wrote the Twins are "particularly well-positioned to ride out this economic emergency." The team's payroll is among the 10 lowest in MLB, and the economy of Minnesota is "more stable, for the moment, than that" of the Twins' division rivals. The team anticipates "larger crowds this season as fans say farewell to the Metrodome." Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony: "We have resources, for the most part our contracts are appropriately (priced), and we have ownership that wants to win" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/8).
NBA Europe Live Canceled
Due To Economic Recession
GARDEN GROWING: In N.Y., Frank Isola wrote under the header, “David Stern’s Visit To Madison Square Garden Is A Sign Of Knicks’ Progress.” Stern for Friday’s game against the Celtics “was seated not far from” MSG Chair James Dolan. Last week during the Knicks’ three home games against the Lakers, Cavaliers and Celtics “electricity and competitive basketball were back” at MSG, despite the home team losing all three games. Stern: “Three great teams, the best in the NBA, come all in the same week, and the Knicks -- the scrappy Knicks -- have done very well against them. I could have imagined this a year ago but I would have imagined it a little differently.” Meanwhile, Dolan has allowed Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh to “restructure the club’s infamous media policy.” Walsh “has made himself and D’Antoni more accessible to the media, but some aspects of the policy appear to be out of Walsh’s control.” A team source said that N.Y. Daily News reporters are “barred from being interviewed at halftime on Knicks radio broadcasts, the only local paper so treated.” It is “not known if that order came directly from Dolan” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/8).
Ryan Howard's New Three-Year, $54M Deal
Increases Phillies' '09 Payroll To Over $130M
FOLLOW THE LEADER: New Padres Owner Jeff Moorad said his agreement with the team is "designed to allow [former Padres Owner John Moores] to continue to be involved for the next several years, and I look forward to that." Moorad: "I'm certainly not one to close the door prematurely, so I think we've created a method by which there can be an orderly transition of ownership, and I'm excited to be a part of that." More Moorad: "To be able to come to San Diego and be part of what I think is a challenge on the front end, but certainly a very, very special opportunity to join the Padres and to help them and assist them and assist the people that are there in the organization make the kind of strides that need to be made to make the organization great again, is an opportunity that I really felt I couldn't pass up" (XX Sports Radio, 2/6).
RED WITH ENVY? In DC, Thom Loverro wrote of the Nationals new marketing slogan, "Get Your Red On," "Did the Nationals steal red from the Washington Capitals, whose marketing campaign is 'Rock the Red' this season? The Nationals say they were in the red before the Capitals, pointing out that the Lerner family conducted a red-themed promotion when it took over the franchise" in '06. Nationals VP/Communications Chartese Burnett: "Now I'm not going to say that anyone stole it from us. You know, you look around and you see sports teams that have had similar themes, but I don't think it's fair to say we got anything from the Capitals. And as good ideas go, it's OK to steal. But I don't want it to go unsaid that we had a very good rallying around 'Get Out Your Red' when the Lerners took over" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/7).
FRESH FISH: The Marlins "sold more than 40,000 individual-game tickets Saturday -- the most at a Fanfest since" Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria bought the team in '02 (MIAMI HERALD, 2/8).
Ravens Season-Ticket Prices For '09 Season
Will Increase $5-15 Per Ticket
PLATINUM SETTING: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington reported the Sabres' new platinum pricing level for seating at HSBC Arena has "apparently kept fans away from the last two home games against normally prime opponents like the Maple Leafs and Canadiens because of sticker shock." Platinum prices for non-season ticket holders range from $78-$233. Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn: "I would say we were probably too aggressive doing this. It's pretty simple. Our gold pricing has generated as much revenue as our platinum so obviously (platinum) is not priced right. That's the bottom line." Wednesday's game against the Maple Leafs drew 17,355 fans -- "more than 1,300 shy of a sellout and the team's lowest figure since 16,909" fans against the Flyers on April 7, 2006. The team "set the new platinum range this year" for the three visits by the Maple Leafs and Friday's game against the Canadiens, which drew 18,161 fans. Thus far, the games are zero for three on selling out the arena. The Sabres "dropped gold prices by about 15[%] heading into this year while bumping up the others." Quinn said that the Sabres "will keep platinum next season but will be reevaluating the price structure" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/8).
PRICE IS RIGHT? Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins said the Jets "will not raise ticket prices" for the '09 season at Giants Stadium. On Long Island, Neil Best noted the "last time the Jets did not raise prices was between" the '01 and '02 seasons, "in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks." The NFL Giants "have not yet announced their prices" for '09, but they are also "expected to keep them at '08 levels." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last month said that "three-quarters of teams will keep prices flat this year" (NEWSDAY, 2/7)....In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa noted prices at Bruins games next season for first-row seats along the glass "will increase from $150 to $165," while prices "will decrease for seats in the four corner loge sections" from $89 to $85. Prices for seats in "all other sections will remain the same next season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/7).