SBD/Issue 35/Franchises

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  • Tampa Radio Station Retracts Bucs Sale Report, Suspends Reporter

    WDAE-AM Suspends
    Sileo For Bucs Report
    WDAE-AM Thursday issued an apology and full retraction for a report earlier in the day by the station's Dan Sileo, which claimed the Glazer family suffered "massive losses" from the Bernie Madoff scandal and could be forced to sell the Buccaneers. The station in a statement said, "During a broadcast Thursday 10/29/09 on WDAE, morning host Dan Sileo made some statements about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Glazer family that were factually incorrect. We sincerely apologize for those statements and hereby issue a full retraction." An earlier version of the statement misspelled the family's last name as "Glazier" (THE DAILY). Clear Channel Tampa President & Market Manager Dan Diloreto said Sileo "has been suspended pending further investigation into this matter." It is not clear how long Sileo will be suspended. In St. Petersburg, Stephen Holder noted WDAE is the Buccaneers' flagship radio station, and Thursday's erroneous report "called into question the Glazer family's personal finances, something that could negatively impact their business dealings in other arenas" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/29). 

    THROWING THE FLAG: Buccaneers co-Chair Joel Glazer Thursday issued a statement disputing WDAE's report. Glazer in the statement said the report is "100[%] false." The Buccaneers "are not, nor have they ever been for sale. In addition, our family or any of our related companies have never invested one penny with Bernie Madoff" (Buccaneers). ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote of the release, "I've seen several thousand through the years and have never seen anything this strong or confrontational out of the Bucs." The team "got personal in a way that usually is done only by the Raiders." Yasinskas noted there have been "rumors about the Glazers selling the team for years," but there "never have been any substantiated reports to go along with that" (ESPN.com, 10/29). 

    CALL IF INTERESTED: Former 49ers Owner Eddie DeBartolo Thursday indicated that he would be interested in buying the Buccaneers if indeed the team came up for sale. DeBartolo, who resides in Tampa, said, "If a situation came about with something as close as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I would be a moron not to at least look into it and be somewhat interested." He added if the Glazers are "interested in selling, and they're very serious about it, of course we have a small syndicate that would be interested in it." In L.A., Sam Farmer notes the NFL in '99 fined DeBartolo $1M and suspended him for the entire season after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge, which "effectively ended his relationship with" the 49ers. DeBartolo in '00 sold his share of the team to his brother-in-law and sister, John and Denise DeBartolo York, but an "informal sampling of NFL owners in recent years indicates they would be willing to welcome him back" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30).



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  • Jamie McCourt Faces Uphill Battle In Claiming Share Of Dodgers

    McCourt Says She Thought
    Dodgers Would Be Shared
    Former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt this week in her divorce filing insisted that she is "entitled to a share of ownership in the Dodgers," but she "faces an uphill battle in persuading a court to throw out the legal agreement that says otherwise," according to family law experts cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt's attorneys have said that the Dodgers "should be considered community property under California law, which generally divides assets on a 50-50 basis in divorce cases." Her attorneys "have asked the court to declare as 'null, void and unenforceable' the document signed by each of the McCourts and worded specifically to supersede the community property law." The agreement provided that Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt "would be sole owner of the Dodgers and other business interests," and a list of properties belonging solely to him in the legal document includes "all assets of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team." Frank in court filings said that he "signed the agreement 'to honor the request of my wife' and to ensure the residences would remain out of reach of any creditors," as Jamie "would be sole owner of eight residences" as part of the agreement. But Jamie said that "it was 'never my understanding' that the Dodgers would not be shared and said she was 'simply told that I needed to sign the document' to ensure the homes would remain separate from business assets and not subject to community property law." Loyola Law School family law professor Charlotte Goldberg said that for Jamie to "persuade the court to override that agreement, she would have to show she was unaware of what she was signing, was unaware of what the effect would be and did not sign voluntarily." Goldberg noted that it "could be a difficult standard for Jamie McCourt to meet." But Jamie's attorneys said that their "trump card is an estate planning attorney with whom the McCourts discussed modifying the agreement last year." Jamie in her divorce filing said that Frank "told that estate planning attorney that he never had intended 'that the Dodgers ... be his separate property'" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30). An MLB source said, "It's a real mess." SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote there is a "lot of ugliness here." If Frank "wins the case, it appears he might have a chance to keep the team," but if the team is "split into two, it's going to be tough for either of them to wrest control" (SI.com, 10/29).

    SELIG TIGHT-LIPPED: Shaikin reports MLB Commissioner Bud Selig during an informal meeting with reporters prior to Phillies-Yankees World Series Game Two Thursday "refused to discuss the Dodgers' divorce drama." Selig: "This is not a subject that needs to be addressed here." Selig was "visibly agitated when the issue was raised," and he "declined to discuss what he would say to Dodgers fans worried about the future of the team." Selig "talks to club owners on a frequent basis," but he "would not say whether he now talks to Frank McCourt or Jamie McCourt, or both." Selig also "declined to say whether Jamie McCourt would continue to serve in her capacities with Major League Baseball, even after Frank McCourt fired her last week" as Dodgers CEO (L.A. TIMES, 10/30). In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes, "By the time the McCourts started one divorce, another was already being finalized, between the team and the values that once made it so special. This is why, today, if forced to choose between Frank or Jamie as a singular Dodgers owner, Major League Baseball officials would probably check 'none of the above.' Nobody will publicly say it, but some think baseball quietly wants this team sold to anyone not named McCourt, these recent daily embarrassments being only the latest example of the sort of poor judgment not befitting a curator of what was once a national sports treasure" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30).

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  • Atlanta Businesswoman Kathy Betty Purchasing WNBA Dream

    Betty's (c) Dream Too Investment Group
    Becoming New Owners Of Atlanta Dream
    The WNBA Thursday announced that Atlanta businesswoman Kathy Betty's Dream Too investment group will become the new owners of the Atlanta Dream, pending approval by the league's BOG. Betty, who will become the Managing Partner of the team, also serves as the CEO of the Garry Betty Foundation, established by her late husband, former Earthlink CEO Garry Betty (WNBA). In Atlanta, Kristi Swartz noted Betty declined to name the sale price she paid to former Dream Owner Ron Terwilliger. Betty is "currently the sole owner of the team," but said that she is "looking for investors." She said that Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson "approached her about buying" the team after Terwilliger in August told the WNBA that he "wanted to relinquish his position as primary team owner." It is "unclear whether the Dream was in danger of folding or being moved out of Atlanta, but Betty knows among her challenges is turning a profit." She "must aggressively pursue corporate sponsorships and sell tickets." Betty: "I have to build a compelling business case to the business leaders of Atlanta on how sponsoring the Atlanta Dream will not only help them give back to the community but will also help women-to-women networking. Women have a lot of purchase power, and I have to figure out how that's going to impact their bottom line" (AJC.com, 10/29).

    DREAM SCENARIO: ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel wrote it "certainly sounds like this is exactly the type of owner the WNBA needs -- the independent-of-the-NBA owner who has a passion for the product but is also a bottom-line business person." These are the "people who are committed to the concept that women's basketball is a viable entertainment option, but really do understand how to run a business." Similar to Mystics President & Managing Partner Sheila Johnson, Sparks co-Owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson, and Storm Owner Force 10 Hoops, Betty "believes in all the feel-good reasons for supporting the WNBA." But it is "not just about that." She also "truly believes it's a smart investment" (ESPN.com, 10/29).

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  • Knicks Seek To Reconnect With Fan Base With New Marketing Push

    Knicks Campaign A Multiplatform Effort To
    Reconnect Suffering Fans With Franchise
    The Knicks are "looking to keep the fan base fired up with a major marketing push," according to Anthony Crupi of MEDIAWEEK. The new campaign is a "multiplatform effort to reconnect long-suffering Knicks supporters with the franchise." The effort, dubbed "Declare," is a "call to action, a rallying cry." A poster of Knicks F David Lee "shows him driving to the hole, an image augmented by the tag 'Declare Your Talent.'" Another poster "captures Nate Robinson fresh off a dunk, fists up at chest level, pumped," with a tagline that reads, "Declare Your Pride." The campaign will be featured in N.Y. on "subway platforms and across the local airwaves, in the dailies and on various social-media platforms." The Knicks are "pushing through on local cable, blanketing their own air (MSG, MSG Plus), while making buys on ESPN, TBS, TNT and BET." A 60-second spot begins with a "panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline, before cutting to crowd shots, playground ball and an overhead shot" of Madison Square Garden. Actor Ed Burns "handles the voiceover." A 30-second version of the spot is also in rotation, and after a "month-long cycle, a new commercial will debut on or around Dec. 1." One new "wrinkle will allow fans to make their own declarations, by way of Facebook, Twitter and Knicks.com." The team "will solicit user-generated video submissions, allowing the voluble fan base to share their vision." Crupi noted the team to date has sold "2,500 new season-ticket packages," up 67% from this time last year. The team has also signed "30 new sponsors," including Time Warner Cable and Burger King (MEDIAWEEK.com, 10/29).

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  • Browns Fans Plan "MNF" Protest To Voice Displeasure Over Team

    Two Browns Fans Organizing "MNF" Protest To
    Voice Displeasure Over Current State Of Team
    Two long-time Browns season-ticket holders, Mike Randall and Tony Schafer, want the team to kick off the November 16 Ravens-Browns "MNF" game "in an empty stadium," in an effort to "voice their displeasure over the state of a team that offers them no hope," according to Marla Ridenour of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Randall and Schafer "hope to delay at least half the crowd from sitting down" before kickoff. Randall: "I'm a huge fan and I love the organization, but something needs to be done. We have to make a statement. It's nothing negative, just letting the organization know we support the team, but we do not support what's going on right now." He added, "I'm not saying boycott or wear paper bags. We'll have people around the gates to let people know. Go to the concourse, go to the restroom, just don't go to your seat." Randall and Schafer "both have met Browns owner Randy Lerner and do not question [his] commitment to the team." Schafer: "I've talked to Randy; Randy's a good guy, he wants to win bad. But if that was my company performing like that, I'd be a mean, nasty S.O.B." The Browns have started the season 1-6 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/29). Lerner responded to the planned protest in an e-mail: "It's been way too long since the Browns have had anything to feel good about or invest in, and it's clear that the doubt and negativity are taking on a life of their own. What I can say is that we, and I, have remained open to new and fresh ideas and thinking and people with passion for the Browns and football experience getting involved and with hope and luck and support, making a difference. We won't become entrenched or stubborn and despite my allergy to be more conspicuous, I do remain eager to seek help and guidance from any and all corners" (AKRON BEACON-JOURNAL, 10/29).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Writer Says NHL's Disregard
    For Gretzky Evident In Court
    In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes it is clear the NHL has "done a shoddy job of reaching out and communicating" with Coyotes Managing Partner Wayne Gretzky, and his "track record as an ambassador of the game demands better." The NHL's "disregard for Gretzky was evident Monday in bankruptcy court," where the league's agreement to purchase the Coyotes "did not address restitution for Gretzky." Gretzky has until this Friday to "file an objection to the purchase agreement" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/30).

    MISTAKE ON THE LAKE: In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot reported former Browns GM Phil Savage's criticism of the team earlier this week "could be in breach of his Browns contract." Savage, fired in December after four seasons, said that the Browns' current leadership has seemingly "dismantled what Savage was trying to build." But Cabot noted Savage's contract with the team runs through '12, and such agreements typically "contain language prohibiting former employees from making disparaging remarks about the team while they're still getting paid" (CLEVELAND.com, 10/28).

    DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: SI.com's Jon Heyman reported Padres CEO & Vice Chair Jeff Moorad and D'Backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick are "in a dispute." Kendrick apparently is "upset that Moorad kept secret from him for months his talks to buy the Padres, and also that Moorad has set what he sees as a high price for his D'Backs shares" (SI.com, 10/29).

    RED EYES: In Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty wrote MLB's economy is "out of whack and inspires no hope for half the teams it claims as members." The Reds next season are expected to spend less than their $74M payroll for '09, which "got them 78 wins." Five of the top nine payroll clubs made this season's playoffs, while just "one of the bottom nine made it." There is "no sound financial reason" for the Reds to spend $80M, or $85M. Reds Owner Bob Castellini suggested that a $100M payroll for the team "was possible, if the Reds could draw between 2.5 million and 3 million fans, something they've done" only four times since '78 (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/29).

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