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SBD/Issue 167/FranchisesPrint All
Balsillie Would Be Willing To Have Coyotes
Play One More Season In Glendale
WHO'S IN CONTROL? The NHL's claim that it exercised a series of proxies and took control of the Coyotes in November '08 is wrong, according to a filing submitted to the court late Friday night on behalf of club Owner Jerry Moyes. The filing contends that Moyes had full power to file for bankruptcy on May 5 because he still controlled the team. A series of declarations by Moyes, former Coyotes CEO Jeff Shumway and Coyotes attorneys support the filing. Moyes said, “The NHL did not manage, control, run or direct Coyotes Hockey, the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team or any of their related operations.” By way of support, Shumway said that he, not the NHL, recommended the Coyotes cut non-player payroll in late '08 by 20%. He said that the league never intervened in player negotiations or trade talks after allegedly taking over operations in '08. He also said he resigned in January '09, contradicting NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly's claim that he was relieved of his job. That assertion was supported by an attorney with the team who suggested that the league learned of Shumway's resignation when he called NHL Exec VP & General Counsel David Zimmerman to inquire about making Moyes the team's governor to the NHL in place of Shumway. In his declaration, Shumway says the Coyotes ran out of money in November '08. He said he had concerns about the proxies the NHL drew up for the club that month and described them in an e-mail to Zimmerman as “sweeping,” but Zimmerman assured him that they were the same as proxies the club signed in '06. Shumway contends that the NHL's assertion that it took control of the club through those '08 proxies contradicts what Zimmerman said before those proxies were signed (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). In the court filings, Balsillie and Rodier said that they “negotiated the proposed sale with Moyes believing he was in charge.” Rodier: “At no time did anyone suggest that Mr. Moyes did not have the authority he seemed to have” (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 5/16). Moyes noted that the NHL “never publicly said it was in charge and in fact [Daly] was quoted in January as saying Moyes’ group was ‘making day to day business decisions’” (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 5/16).
Labatt Breweries, Home Hardware Already
On Board With Balsillie's Web Site
THE RIGHT MOVE? A TORONTO STAR editorial stated, “What’s not to like about Jim Balsillie’s bid to bring another NHL team to southern Ontario? Hockey fans would benefit from another option … for NHL tickets; the economy would be boosted by an increase in tourism and other activity; and the beleaguered city of Hamilton … would get a much-needed shot in the arm.” Now is the “time to rally around Balsillie’s bid, not to second guess it” (TORONTO STAR, 5/16). However, in N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote, “In much of the cheerleading coverage of the current Balsillie vs. NHL saga from some Canadian sources, the use of the vague ‘southern Ontario’ obscures the potential damage to the Sabres that Balsillie’s move to Hamilton could cause.” Under “longstanding NHL rules, Hamilton lies within” the Sabres’ territory, and it would take an “enormous indemnification payment to the Sabres to make them give up as much as 15[%] of their annual business.” Buffalo is "by far the NHL’s strongest TV market in the U.S., despite its small size," and the Sabres are “often the No. 1 American team in sweater sales.” The NHL “would lose plenty” if a Hamilton team caused the Sabres to fold (NYTIMES.com, 5/16). In Toronto, Steve Simmons wrote Hamilton is “not the proper place for an NHL team.” The “best location for a second team in Southern Ontario is Toronto,” and the “second-best location is Western Ontario, somewhere in the highly populated area of Guelph-Kitchener-Cambridge, where there is significantly more business and more money than there is in the Hamilton area” (TORONTO SUN, 5/17).
Bettman Using Radio Talk Show
To Talk Directly To Fans
BUYER BEWARE: In Hamilton, Steve Milton wrote the NHL “has publicly attacked Moyes’ integrity -- right in the town where he’s been a leading citizen for years.” So, if you are an owner with a franchise to sell, “which route are you going to follow?” What the league “suggests you do or what your accountants and lawyers suggest?” The recent “ugly history points directly to the former.” So “how many other owners would dare to deal with Balsillie, if he loses this round? Not many” (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 5/16). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Stephen Brunt wrote the Coyotes situation is an “interesting test of how the NHL treats its own.” Moyes “kept hockey alive in [the] Valley of the Sun by himself for the past six years.” He “bought in to the program. He believed what he was told. He got creamed.” There is a “lesson there, if you’re an NHL owner in a market struggling for survival.” However “they treat the least of their partners, some day that’s how they will treat you” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/16).
Daly Says NHL Considered Winnipeg
As Last Option For Coyotes
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...: The GLOBE & MAIL’s David Shoalts reported a new twist emerged Friday that might see the Coyotes “wind up in Las Vegas in a couple of years -- with the NHL’s approval.” A source familiar with Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf’s letter of intent to buy the Coyotes from the NHL said that Reinsdorf's "autograph is the only thing" he would put toward the team, as “any cash will actually be provided” by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and MGM Studios Chair & CEO Harry Sloan. Daly said in an e-mail such an offer is “entirely fictitious,” "not accurate," “comical” and “totally untrue.” However, Shoalts noted if the Reinsdorf-led group purchases the club, “some sort of escape clause will be inserted” into the Jobing.com Arena lease, and if attendance and revenue “do not hit certain targets in two years, the team can move.” An exit fee “might be paid,” and the source said that the team could end up in Las Vegas with Bruckheimer “at the controls -- which is what many in the NHL would like to see anyway” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/16). But the GLOBE & MAIL’s Jeff Blair writes, “Baseball people who know Reinsdorf say that regardless of his financial stake or ultimate intentions in a purported bid to buy” the Coyotes, he “has no stomach for a protracted public battle” over the team. The “deeper the matter sinks into a legal morass, the greater likelihood he extricates himself completely from the affair” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/18).
LOST IN THE DESERT? In Phoenix, Paola Boivin wrote hockey in the city is “nothing but dead air right now.” The team held a “Save the Coyotes Rally” on Saturday and “attracted several hundred without a single player or team official in sight.” It is a “sad turn of events for a brilliant sport and raises important questions" about Coyotes Managing Partner and coach Wayne Gretzky’s accountability. Gretzky “always wanted to make it about the players, not him,” but if he “could have done more to encourage fans to come out and see those players, why not?” If the NHL “wins its court battle with Moyes, the Coyotes would be best served by Gretzky sticking to one role” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/17). In Arizona, Scott Bordow wrote the Coyotes are “on the verge of leaving, and over a span of several hours only a few hundred bother to show up at the rally? Doesn’t that make a fairly significant statement about the Coyotes’ relevance here in the Valley?” (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, 5/16). In Toronto, Kevin McGran noted, “Less than 1,000 had signed up for a Save-the-Coyotes Facebook site” as of Friday (TORONTO STAR, 5/16). Daly said that the team’s “problems can be directly tied to its lackluster performance.” But he said that the team is “poised to make a ‘competitive breakthrough.’” Daly: “I think this market would be good if the Coyotes would ever win” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/18).
ARENA DEBT MET: In Phoenix, Watters & Sanders reported Glendale records show the city "has met its arena debt as expected, although that could change if the Coyotes were to leave." That “could leave the city having to dip into taxpayer coffers to meet its obligation,” as the loss of the Coyotes “would result in a direct loss to the city of $2.4[M] a year in rent payments from the team and other fees” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/17).
Booker Expects To See
Nets Up For Sale Very Soon
POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT: A New York state appeals court last week ruled 4-0 against opponents of the Atlantic Yards development, upholding the state's right to use eminent domain given the public benefits associated with the project. Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO and Nets Owner Bruce Ratner said that he is "confident the project would break ground this year," and reiterated the Nets would move in for the '11-12 season. Eight companies, in addition to Barclays, have signed on as founding partners for the arena (Forest City Ratner). Ratner said of the court ruling, "I'm honestly overjoyed. This is a weight off my back." Ratner added that he plans to "break ground by October" on Barclays Center, and that he "wants to pare the projected $1[B] cost of the arena by about" $200M. Ratner said that he will "decide within 60 days whether to keep the original design, by the architect Frank Gehry, or use another." In N.Y., Charles Bagli noted opponents of Atlantic Yards "vowed to continue their fight and expressed skepticism that Mr. Ratner would get the financing at a time when lenders are refusing to invest in real estate projects." Meanwhile, the housing and the commercial building at the Atlantic Yards development "may have to wait for some time ... given the anemic economy" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/16).
NOT OVER YET? In N.Y., Rich Calder noted the four-member appellate panel "determined the project has enough 'public benefits' -- such as the creation of 2,250 affordable housing units and thousands of jobs -- to warrant condemning land." Opponents said that they "plan to take the appeal to the state's highest court," but Ratner said that he "believes the latest ruling is the 'final hurdle' holding up construction and vowed to finally break ground" (N.Y. POST, 5/16). In N.Y., Jotham Sederstrom noted further appeals could delay the project "from several months to three years." But state officials indicated that Friday's ruling "removes the final obstacle to construction" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/16).
Tim Leiweke Says AEG Focused
On Arena And Concert Businesses
Yankees Still Struggling To Find
Ways To Fill Up New Ballpark
TIME TO TAKE CHARGE: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Yankees co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner, who is running the franchise, "needs to start reminding the people who report to him that they work for him, not the other way around." People are "always going to tell him that things aren't as bad with their fans as the media says they are," which is "just another way the underbosses look out for themselves instead of the Yankees." Sources indicated that Streinbrenner is a "good guy, doing the best he can while getting on-the-job training" and "deciding whom he can trust." But within the Yankees organization there is President Randy Levine "letting everybody know he's the president of the Yankees pretty much every chance he gets," and COO Lonn Trost "taking fire these days for everything that goes wrong at the new Yankee Stadium." Lupica: "Sometimes the war to win the AL East is nothing compared to the turf wars that go on behind the scenes at the new Stadium." One MLB exec, who "thought he'd never miss" Yankees Chair George Steinbrenner, said of the franchise, "There's not one voice." Lupica wrote Yankees fans "shouldn't miss [George Steinbrenner] because they miss the show," but they "should miss him because he would have banged a few heads over the run-out of the new stadium" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/17).
Several Celebrities, Athletes Showing Interest
In Purchasing Some Old Yankee Stadium Items
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Russell Adams notes an "astounding 47 homers were hit in the first 13 games" at the new Yankee Stadium, and "two thirds of those were hit to right field where the names of sponsors like Sharper Image and Toyota are displayed." Sharper Image VP/Licensing Federico de Bellegarde: "We couldn't be happier with our investment" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/18).
Media Weighs In On Cuban's Actions
During Nuggets-Mavericks Playoff Series
ZEROING IN ON A CANDIDATE: In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda reported the T'Wolves appear to have "focused on hiring" Trail Blazers Assistant GM Tom Penn to lead the team's basketball operations after former Heat GM Randy Pfund withdrew from consideration on Friday. Penn is the "last known candidate interviewed" by T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor and CEO Rob Moor (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/16).
COSTLY TURNOVER: In California, Carl Steward wrote the Warriors "don't deserve" outgoing Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin, whose contract was not renewed. Mullin "gave the franchise a level of respectability and admiration it hadn't had since" Owner Chris Cohan bought the team in '95. Steward also characterized new GM Larry Riley as coach Don Nelson and President Robert Rowell's "puppet" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 5/16).
LOSING THEIR BITE? About 2,400 Sharks fans attended the annual state of the team meeting last Thursday at HP Pavilion, and it was "far from a hostile crowd." About half gave coach Todd McLellan and four players a "standing ovation." However, there were "plenty of fans who remained seated with their arms folded across their chest, silently showing their frustrations" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/15).