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NFLPA's Smith Has Spoken
To Goodell About Limbaugh
POSSIBLE BACKLASH FROM PLAYERS: In N.Y., Gary Myers noted Limbaugh's "potential presence as the owner of the Rams has created a backlash from black players who claim they would never play for a team owned by him," so "voting him in would be a mistake." If black free agents "refuse to play for the Rams, and if the Rams black players don't want to play for Limbaugh and refuse to re-sign, imagine the product the Rams will put on the field." Limbaugh is "so outspoken it would be inevitable he would say something to embarrass the NFL and upset his players," and the NFL "does not need a lightning rod like Limbaugh owning one" of its 32 teams. While Myers noted it is "hard to see Limbaugh getting the votes" of approval from NFL owners, one team owner said, "I can't imagine some of the characters who have become owners in different sports" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/11). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "We are back to the Jim Brown era of social activism … and I find this a very intriguing notion that there’s a block of athletes out there who are willing to say something political for the first time in 30 years” (“PTI,” ESPN, 10/9). CSN Mid-Atlantic's Al Koken said, "This could have a real serious backlash.” But Washington Post reporter Rick Maese said, "Isn’t that an easy thing to say at this point? At the end of the day, it’s just someone who signs your check” ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/9).
DOESN'T MATCH UP: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Chris Littmann wrote, "After reading everything Limbaugh has said and continues to say, you've got to wonder why a man who seems to so openly loathe black people would want to own a business that will largely have those same people as its employees" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/9). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “I don’t know whether Rush Limbaugh is a straight-up bigot or he simply plays one on TV and radio, but he is universally reviled by black people in this country, and justifiably so based on his public pronouncements” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/9). ESPN.com's Jeff MacGregor wrote a "very big part of what American football sells is accountability," and this is "going to be Mr. Limbaugh's biggest problem." Football "sells personal responsibility and teamwork," but Limbaugh has "made his career and his fortune peddling" blame (ESPN.com, 10/9). USA TODAY's Drew Sharp: "The league cannot be that hamstrung in finding deep-pocketed financiers that it's left with no alternative but embracing someone whose occupational practice is making people feel more comfortable within their own prejudices" (USA TODAY, 10/12).
Scott Says He Would Not Play
For Limbaugh-Owned Team
LEFT GUARD: SI.com's Peter King notes data from Politico.com shows that "no NFL team in the past 20 years has donated more money to the Democratic Party than the Rams." The Rams have given $230,050 to Democrats, or 98% of the franchise's total political donations (SI.com, 10/12).
Daly Says NHL Has Interest In Returning
Teams To Supportive Canadian Cities
PROMINENT SUPPORTER: Quebecor Media Inc. President & CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau Friday said that he is "keeping up on what teams could become for sale 'if we decide to re-locate teams to Canada,' adding that he was very aware of the financial difficulties facing some American hockey clubs." Peladeau said that while it will "take the involvement of more people to make something this big happen," he noted that his team is "working hard to figure out the 'winning recipe.'" Peladeau: "It's undeniable that forming a group to explore bringing a club to Quebec is desirable." Sources said that Peladeau is "actively searching for partners in [Quebec City] to bring the plan to fruition" (QMI, 10/10).
NOT GIVING UP: The TORONTO STAR's McGran notes RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie's lease agreement with the city of Hamilton "that gives him exclusive rights to an NHL team at Copps Coliseum ends this week," and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said that "once that takes effect, the city will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman to let the league know about its continued interest in attracting a second team to southern Ontario." Eisenberger: "We have certainly talked over the last few months and we still have an agreement with Mr. Balsillie that's due to expire. Once that happens, we'll be taking the next steps to do more work on what the next iteration for NHL hockey in Hamilton is" (TORONTO STAR, 10/12).
Plight Of The Phoenix: The AP's Andrew Bagnato reported Ice Edge Holdings COO Daryl Jones and Ice Edge investors "have been discussing lease options with Glendale officials with an eye toward reviving their bid for the financially ailing Coyotes, whose sale has been tied up in a complicated bankruptcy proceeding." Jones, who attended Saturday's Coyotes home opener at Jobing.com Arena, said Ice Edge's "intention is to buy the team." Jones said, "The ideal scenario, I think, is that somebody buys the team quickly. Because if not, I think extended uncertainty is just going to lead to poor ticket sales and basically a lot of losses on the business side" (AP, 10/11). Meanwhile, the CBC's Strachan Saturday on "HNIC" said "there's concern about the way" the Coyotes are "being run by some of the other people around the league." Strachan: "Essentially, Bill Daly is running the Phoenix Coyotes and some people around the league are (asking) … who's making the decisions as to what players go where, who's making the decisions as to what the budget is going to be." But Milbury responded, "Bill Daly's not making any hockey decisions." Strachan said Daly is "making financial decisions that affect the hockey team." Milbury: "That's because they're totally out of control in terms of the finances in Phoenix and his responsibility is to make sure they don't go past whatever budget they have internally, which makes sense" ("HNIC," CBC, 10/10).
SVSE Has Talked To A Number Of Teams In
Last Year About Relocating To HP Pavilion
NOT SO FAST: Kings co-Owner Gavin Maloof confirmed that "discussions have taken place" with San Jose officials, and he acknowledged that Kings President John Thomas "toured HP Pavilion last February." But Maloof added, "Yes, we've talked to other cities. We get calls all the time. But our message to everybody is the same. We want to stay in Sacramento, and we all want a solution to the arena. And if this isn't the right time because of the economy, then we'll wait. ... We're not going anywhere." Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Ailene Voisin noted the Kings are "operating in the black and are projected to break even throughout the season, the result of reducing operating costs and more prudent salary cap management." Also, the Maloofs "have become increasingly more visible locally," and Gavin Maloof in particular is "said to be dictating the new ticket packaging and marketing plans, and in general, pressing hard for the organization to reconnect with the community" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/11).
Bettman Says Panthers Partners' Levels Of
Investment, Roles In Group Could Change
WELCOME CHANGE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote Bettman was "in town to oversee what he called a 'restructuring' of the ownership and, whatever that means, it can't be bad news." South Florida "can support a hockey team better than a baseball team." When the Panthers "put a good product on the ice a decade ago, the season-ticket base was over 10,000 and they went a few years of selling out Miami Arena." But Hyde wrote the team now is the "anti-Marlins." Though the Panthers "spend money," they "just have no consistent plan." Hyde: "This ownership change, where it sounds like Cohen will take a smaller role, has to be a good thing" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/11).
Despite Recording Their 17th Straight Losing
Season, Pirates Saw Attendance Drop Just 1.9%
Lakers Have Highest Season-Ticket
Renewal Rate In League At 98%
NARROWING THE FIELD: In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson reported the number of bidders for the Rangers "has been pared in half to three" -- Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, White Sox Special Assistant to the Chair and former MLB agent Dennis Gilbert and Crane Worldwide Logistics Founder Jim Crane. Wilson writes Greenberg, "considered by some to be the front-runner," has the "one thing that the other two potential owners don't: the interest" of Rangers President Nolan Ryan. Ryan under Greenberg's bid "would maintain his role as team president while adding the role of minority owner" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/10).
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: On Long Island, Arthur Staple wrote Islanders Owner Charles Wang is "doing the right thing by laying low" on his proposed Lighthouse project, as the "next few weeks are about getting things done behind the scenes," whether with the Town of Hempstead or someone else. Staple: "To do otherwise would play more games with fans who have already been toyed with plenty. The games involve the team that this whole fight is about. It's been easy to lose sight of that" (NEWSDAY, 10/10).