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SBD/Issue 181/FranchisesPrint All
Moyes Believes He Can Sell
Coyotes Through Court
STATING HIS CASE: Balsillie Friday on ESPN Radio’s “Tirico & Van Pelt” show said the Coyotes franchise has “lost a lot of money. It has a fairly difficult financial and limited fan base issue for whatever reason there is. The judge has to pay attention to creditors, and I said I’ll look after the creditors if I can put (the team) in a market where it can afford to pay its bills. … If somebody thinks they can get value in Phoenix, top the offer.” Balsillie added, “There are twice as many fans in this southern Ontario area as surveyed as there are in the whole New York area. There are three teams there, and there is one here. So if New York can support three, you could argue that southern Ontario could support six.” Balsillie also discussed the Maple Leafs’ possible objection to a team in southern Ontario, saying, “The Leafs have a huge following and they sell out forever, and will forever. We put a list up for ticket signups and it sold out in a day, so there’s no question the team will do very, very well and continue to do well. I don’t think it’s a principle concern in terms of their gate” (“Tirico & Van Pelt,” ESPN Radio, 6/5).
Attorney Reveals That Maple Leafs Profited From
Exhibition Games Played At Copps Coliseum
FOLLOW THE RULES: Oilers Alternate Gov. Cal Nichols said, “This is Balsillie’s third attempt to reach his goals and objectives and, you know, I have watched it from a long distance, and he is just going about it in an inappropriate way.” Nichols: “The first thing you do, is you go and do your homework and build your consensus with those who run the league -- Gary (Bettman) and his staff -- or you chip away, one by one, at the board of governors. … It seems to me this is a very bullish way to try and achieve what you want.” The NATIONAL POST's Joe O'Connor notes a prospective owner requires 23 of 30 votes from the NHL BOG, and an NHL exec said of Balsillie, “I am not sure he would have the 23 votes, to be blunt. … Sometimes in life, whether we like it or not, rules are rules. And guidelines are guidelines. And at the end of the day, if there can’t be an acceptance or a realization that certain things have to be followed well, then …” (NATIONAL POST, 6/9). Meanwhile, the GLOBE & MAIL’s Stephen Brunt writes it is “increasingly hard to believe” the court battle involving Balsillie and the NHL is not about personalities. Brunt: “Would it have really come down to this -- a decision by a bankruptcy court judge in Arizona with acres of earth scorched en route -- if it weren’t” Balsillie and Bettman involved? (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/9).
Coyotes Drama Has Been
Ongoing Since Last Year
HINTS OF TROUBLE: One of the first reports detailing the Coyotes’ financial struggles surfaced last December, with claims the team was expected to lose between $25-35M for the ’08-09 season. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in January admits the Coyotes are in need of “an infusion of capital,” and says the league is assisting in the club's effort to find additional investors or a buyer. But in February, Bettman, appearing on FS Arizona, lashes out at the media coverage of the Coyotes’ financial situation, saying “reports about the franchise's demise are just ridiculous.” By the end of February, more details of the team's shaky financial situation continue to emerge, as Glendale city documents reveal that the Coyotes have not made lease payments for Jobing.com Arena in the previous seven months. A report also claims if the team fails to pay its debt, the league will take the club over. But Coyotes President & COO Doug Moss asserts that the NHL has not assumed control of the club, and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says a report claiming the league could take over and potentially move the team “contains some inaccuracies.”
WHO'S IN CHARGE? Moyes' Chapter 11 filing in May comes as a surprise to many, including Bettman, who says he was in Phoenix on his way to discuss sales offers with the team when he was notified. It quickly becomes evident that the case will come down to whether Moyes has the right to sell the team, or whether the NHL is in control of the franchise. Daly claims Moyes "had no right to seek bankruptcy protection and sell the team" to Balsillie, and the NHL characterizes Balsillie's effort to buy the Coyotes and relocate the club to Ontario as a "sham" that "should be rejected" by the bankruptcy court. But Balsillie, who has previously bid on the Penguins and Predators, claims the bankruptcy judge must allow the sale to go through because his $212.5M is the highest bid for the team, and the court has an obligation toward the club's creditors. The resulting showdown in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix could have far-reaching implications in the sports industry, as a ruling on the case could set a precedent on how much control leagues have over who can buy a franchise.
Current Ownership Unlikely To Agree To
Move Thrashers Out Of Atlanta
WELCOME TO MIAMI? TSN's Bob McKenzie said the NHL Panthers' sale to Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. is a "definite maybe." McKenzie noted the sale agreement "still does exist, but there's a major step between the agreement to purchase and actually getting the sale completed, and they're in that gray area right now." McKenzie said the Panthers reportedly are "having some second thoughts about closing the sale with this group." McKenzie: "It could go either way. There are no guarantees it will be sold, but there's certainly a fish on the hook. But whether it gets into the boat or not remains to be seen" ("NHL Live," NHL Network, 6/8).
United Football League (UFL) Commissioner Michael Huyghue yesterday announced Park Avenue Equity Founder & Senior Partner William Mayer as the owner of the league’s N.Y. franchise. Ted Cottrell, the franchise's head coach, also was on hand at the media event. Huyghue said that the league is in final negotiations for the team's stadium. The UFL is scheduled to begin play in October of this year (UFL). Huyghue yesterday in introducing Mayer said, "Can't play without New York." Mayer said that the franchise could play their home games at Citi Field or Hofstra Stadium, and ticket prices will average $20 per game. In N.Y., Jay Greenberg notes the team also "will play one contest in Hartford as a test for a franchise there" (N.Y. POST, 6/9). Mayer: "We will be playing somewhere in the city, so you don't have to go across the river." Huyghue added, "We just think that that's really where our market is. I think that's where people really want to have some ownership in a football franchise, that will never feel that way about the Jets or Giants." Huyghue said the team will announce their home stadium in "two to three weeks" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/9).
CALLING THE SHOTS: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio cites sources as saying that former Saints personnel exec Rick Mueller "has secured a key position" with the UFL as VP & GM. A formal announcement is expected as soon as today. Mueller will "serve in that role for all four franchises" in the league's inaugural season, and he will "oversee all aspects of player scouting and acquisition" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/8).
Mercury Are Reducing Operating Budget
By At Least $200,000 This Season
Strong Record, Paul's Performance In '07-08
Boosted Average Attendance 20% This Season
West Ham United's Ownership
Transferred To CB Holding
EXPENSE REPORT: In Manchester, David Conn reports EPL club Liverpool is "being made to pay" about $2.99M (all figures U.S.) to "cover the travel, legal and other personal expenses" of co-Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Financial records show Hicks during FY '08 charged about $310,796 for "third party consulting, travel and other expenses," while Gillett charged about $208,816 for "reimbursable travel, legal, personnel and other expenses." The accounts do not offer further detail on what the expenses entailed, and Hicks and Gillett did not comment (Manchester GUARDIAN, 6/9).
TIME TO TOON IN: Seymour Pierce Exec Chair Keith Harris, who is charged with brokering a sale of Newcastle United, said that there are "'two or three' rival parties vying to buy the club." Harris: "I'm confident there will be offers to consider in quite short order." Harris indicated that he "expects a deal to be completed by the end of June." Newcastle yesterday confirmed that the Owner Mike Ashley is seeking $161.9M for the club (BBC.co.uk, 6/8). Newcastle yesterday posted the sale price, as well as an e-mail address for interested buyers, on its Web site, and in London, George Caulkin wrote, "What this announcement has done is simply add another layer of embarrassment to the club. Short of putting it up for sale on eBay, it's hard to see how this could have been handled in a more amateurish way" (TIMESONLINE.co.uk, 6/8).
In DC, Theola Labbe-DeBose reports DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin prior to Sunday night's Mets-Nationals game ordered that Nationals Park launch "no more fireworks" after a fan "felt paper debris fluttering down on him and his grandson." The Nationals typically ignite fireworks for the national anthem, a home run, after a win and on every Friday. The fire department lifted the ban yesterday after the Nationals "agreed to change the direction in which the fireworks are set off and the content of the explosives and make other adjustments." Since the Nationals did not play last night, the "brief ban never played out" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9).
Larry Brown Says Bobcats Need
Jordan To Be Involved With Team
NOTES: The Bills yesterday said that season-ticket sales at Ralph Wilson Stadium have "surpassed 52,000 for the second straight year, the first time that's happened since the early 1990s." In addition, the Bills said that single-game tickets for the first three games of the '09 regular season are sold out (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/8)....Mariners DH Ken Griffey Jr.'s contract stipulates that if he "preserved his previous year's statistics and helped draw just 259 more fans" on average to each game at Safeco Field, he would earn a $1.25M bonus. However, the Mariners are "actually seeing fewer fans" this season, cutting Griffey's "potential bonus by $450,000" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/8).