SBD/Issue 238/Franchises

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  • Vick's Eagles Debut Draws Few Protesters, Mostly Fan Support

    Vick's Debut Lacks Off-Field Opposition And
    Protesters That Many Had Expected
    The sum total of protesters outside Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night for Eagles QB Michael Vick's return to the field against the Jaguars "could have fit into two minivans," according to the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS' Rich Hofmann, who writes under the header, "Vick's Debut Falls Short Of All The Hype." For "fans of controversy," Vick's "re-entry into football society continues to disappoint." Vick received a "semistanding ovation when he entered the game on the Eagles' second offensive play," and if "anyone booed in what was then a stadium that was two-thirds full, I didn't hear him." Vick: "I can't explain the feeling. It was unbelievable, the way that I was embraced, just a warm welcome. ... I didn't think it was going to be that positive" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/28). In Philadelphia, David Gambacorta notes there was "little evidence on display of any opposition to Vick" outside the stadium, as "only two groups of people showed up to protest against Vick." There were "few animal-rights activists on hand," and "scores of Eagles fans ... seemed uninterested in the protests, or the media members who aimlessly paced the sidewalks for much of the evening" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/28). Also in Philadelphia, Joelle Farrell reports Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire and a "dozen or fewer supporters stood in front" of Lincoln Financial Field and took questions from reporters before the game. But there were "no signs or visible demonstrations" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28). 

    FOOTBALL CROWD: The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Bob Ford writes the game drew a "football crowd" that came for "playmaking not politics, for spectacle not speeches." There were "perhaps a dozen pro-Vick enthusiasts marching around for the cameras, and maybe a half-dozen on the other side." The "pregame bluster was as predictable as it was perfunctory, and Eagles fans attending the game mostly ignored it." Ford: "In all, you have to mark it down as a successful day for Vick" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28). Eagles President Joe Banner before the game said, "We've had the opportunity to meet with the different animal rights groups and frankly, they've been very rational, very reasonable. They're not happy (about the Vick signing). ... But they understand that it's happened and there's an opportunity to try to do some positive things." Meanwhile, ESPN's John Barr noted there were "signs of support for Vick" at Lincoln Financial Field with fans wearing "plenty of fresh printed Vick jerseys" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/27).

    Vick's Protesters Were Few And Far Between

    MEDIA OUTNUMBER PROTESTERS: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes, "If you added up all the protesters on both sides of the argument, they were far outnumbered by the reporters who were present." An Eagles spokesperson said the media turnout more closely resembled a "heavy regular-season game." The team estimated that it "issued approximately 20[%] more credentials than it normally would for a preseason matchup." Gonzalez notes the initial "uproar over Vick here in town -- both pro and con -- was genuine and organic," but "not anymore." Vick is "nothing but a prop now, a puppet to be exploited by different organizations in order to advance their respective positions and predetermined agendas" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/28).

    BETTER THAN NOTHING: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote under the header, "Vick's Debut Not On National TV, But NFL Network Saves The Day." The Jaguars-Eagles game was not scheduled to be televised nationally, but NFL Net "showed all of Michael Vick's first-quarter plays ... via a live look-in," which was a "satisfying resolution to a problem that aggravated NFL viewers all day" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote there have been "some exhibition games this month that fans wanted to see, but they aren't available." Dougherty: "If NBC can 'flex' out of regular-season games on its 'Sunday Night Football' package, why not let the networks do it in preseason?" (TIMESUNION.com, 8/27).

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  • Bill Daly Expresses Urgency With Coyotes' Jobing.com Arena Lease

    Coyotes' Future At Glendale
    Arena In Question
    NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the Coyotes' lease agreement with Glendale for Jobing.com Arena needs to be "resolved or not by the end of this calendar year," according to Bob Baum of the AP. The NHL plans to "quickly engage in talks over a new lease agreement with the city of Glendale" if the league wins the September 10 auction for the team. Fellow bidding group Ice Edge Holdings' bid for the team is "contingent on reaching" a lease agreement, which "must happen by the end of next week." Ice Edge CEO Anthony LeBlanc: "The risk is if we don't finalize a deal with the city we simply can't move forward with the auction." Meanwhile, Daly when asked if Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, who withdrew his bid earlier this week, could ultimately buy the club from the NHL, said, "I wouldn't rule anybody out." Daly blamed Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes and RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie for the "lack of local bidders," saying that the two have "'taken every opportunity to make it as difficult as possible' for potential buyers who would keep the franchise in Arizona." Daly claims that the franchise's value "has been eroded by the bankruptcy process." Daly said that if Balsillie wins the September 10 auction, the NHL will "immediately appeal and seek a stay to halt the sale" (AP, 8/27).

    LOOKING CLOSER AT THE BIDS: In Phoenix, Carrie Watters reports the NHL's bid for the Coyotes "looks to pay all creditors," except Moyes and Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky, who is set to earn $6.5M next season. Daly said, "The magnitude of (Gretzky's) contract is not the type of contract we should be assuming on behalf of future owners." Daly could not confirm if Gretzky would stay on as coach (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/28). Meanwhile, in Toronto, Paul Hunter notes while Balsillie's $212.5M offer for the Coyotes "appears to easily top" the NHL's $140M bid and Ice Edge's $150M proposal, "it is not that clear-cut." Daly said, "The value of Balsillie's bid is somewhat misleading. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, because if it is contingent on the club relocating, it results in significant and very costly claims from most of the club's current vendors, creditors and business partners -- including the city of Glendale -- against the estate. Those claims don't exist if the team stays local. So at the end of the day, we believe the value of the two bids are very comparable" (TORONTO STAR, 8/28).

    SPIN MOVE: In Hamilton, Scott Radley writes the NHL's acknowledgment that the Coyotes may relocate was "enough to cause some people to wonder if the league was finally waving a white flag," especially considering "how strongly the league's gatekeepers have been clinging to the It-Must-Stay-In-Arizona position" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 8/28). SI.com's Jim Kelley wrote this bankruptcy proceeding "has exposed a seamy underside of the NHL" that prospective partners are "likely to want to keep at a considerable distance" (SI.com, 8/27). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman said the NHL is "putting an incredible amount of roadblocks up, but to what end? It just seems so silly to be considering keeping this team in Phoenix." The WINNIPEG SUN's Kirk Penton noted, "If you're going to say anything nice about [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman it's that he's sticking to what he believes in, and he still believes that it's going to work down there" (WINNIPEGSUN.com, 8/27). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote the NHL's position on the Coyotes has "never been as preposterous as some would believe." The league "wants a team in that large U.S. market, or more specifically, believes that a successful, efficiently run club would do just fine and be of benefit to the league." But the NHL's effort to buy the Coyotes and sell the team to a third party "for a profit is such an extreme manipulation of the process" (THESTAR.com, 8/27).

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