SBD/Issue 129/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Sources Say Hicks Willing To
Consider Minority Investors
TSN.ca's Darren Dreger cited sources as saying that in the wake of Canadiens Owner George Gillett considering putting the team up for sale, the Stars are "contemplating something similar." Sources said that Stars and MLB Rangers Owner Tom Hicks is "willing to consider taking on minority investors, although at this point Hicks is not interested in selling the Stars" (TSN.ca, 3/23). In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves cites sources as saying that Hicks is considering removing $20M from the Rangers payroll, "not for this season but for 2010," which Hicks confirmed. Reeves: "I can tell you what slicing another $20[M] from his team's already below-average payroll would do. ... No matter how dedicated the Rangers are to their youth movement, this can't be good news for [President] Nolan Ryan or [GM] Jon Daniels" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/24).

EXPANSION PLANS: MLS Commissioner Don Garber in an e-mail to Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien yesterday said that the league "has no intention of abandoning Ottawa as an expansion franchise" despite awarding Vancouver and Portland expansion clubs for the '11 season. Garber said that MLS is "eager to 'expand our Canadian footprint' now that Toronto FC and Vancouver are in the fold." Garber: "Every element of the Ottawa application, as well as the ongoing interaction with [Senators Owner Eugene] Melnyk's group during the past year, has been nothing short of impressive. Add to this a vibrant soccer market in a city that holds a unique role as the nation's capital and there is no question that the league remains interested in bringing an MLS expansion team to Ottawa" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/24). Garber in the e-mail said that he "plans to continue to meet with Melnyk's group 'to discuss the next steps in the expansion process and the status of the stadium'" (OTTAWA SUN, 3/24).

SOCCER HOTBED: SOCCER BY IVES' Ives Galarcep wrote MLS' recent movement "toward the Pacific Northwest is about a league going where the fans are and where the passion for the sport is." Galarcep: "The reality is that the people in cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Portland genuinely love their soccer, and they are ready to embrace Major League Soccer with open arms" (SOCCERBYIVES.net, 3/23).

NO A+ FOR PR: In San Jose, Ann Killion writes A's Owner Lew Wolff "interrupted the building anticipation of spring training with a dismissive snub to his team's hometown," saying he would not pursue the building of a new ballpark in Oakland. The timing of Wolff's "missive -- a few weeks before opening day -- was baffling." Wolff has admitted that "season-ticket sales are down," and Killion writes, "The economy is in tatters. Almost anyone considering buying tickets to a ballgame could be easily talked out of such an expenditure" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/24).

JOINING THE CLUB: In Dallas, David Moore notes the Mavericks have become the "latest NBA team to announce a reduction in ticket prices for next season," as more than half of the seats at American Airlines Center "will cost less" in '09-10. Upper-level seats will be "reduced by $4 to $8," while lower-level seats will be "reduced by either $5 or $6 depending on their location" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/24).

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