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Deal Will Pay Mauer $23M
Each Year Between '11-18
The Twins yesterday announced they have "reached agreement on an eight-year, $184[M] contract extension" with C Joe Mauer, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The deal will pay Mauer $23M "each year between 2011 and 2018, and it has another fan-friendly aspect," as it "includes a clause that keeps the Twins from trading him without his permission for the tenure of the contract." Christensen notes as they "prepare to open Target Field, the Twins are turning into big spenders," as this year's projected payroll is $97M, up from $65M last year. Mauer's new deal "won't affect this year's total, but for 2011 the Twins already have $70.5[M] committed to just eight players" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/22). In St. Paul, Kelsie Smith notes the deal is the "fourth-largest in baseball history," behind Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' 10-year, $275M deal, his previous 10-year, $252M deal with the Rangers, and Yankees SS Derek Jeter's 10-year, $189M deal. Mauer's contract "obliterates" the Twins' previous record and "puts them in what can be dangerous territory." Signing Mauer "seemed nothing short of necessary for the Twins, but the history-making deal doesn't come without risk." Smith notes if the Twins "continue to field a payroll of about $100[M] a season, Mauer will be eating up" 23% of that (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/22).
BUILDING BLOCK: ESPN.com's Jason Stark wrote the Twins "knew that with a new ballpark about to open its gates thanks to the generous taxpayers of their state, this deal had to happen" (ESPN.com, 3/21). In St. Paul, Tom Powers writes these "aren't your granddaddy's Twins anymore," as the "new, modern, financially solvent Twins clearly have set up an impenetrable cash force field around Target Field." Powers: "Clearly they weren't joking when they said a new ballpark would result in a significant revenue boost that would be spent on player salaries. ... The bottom line is that the Twins organization turned a significant corner on Sunday" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/22). Twins President Dave St. Peter said that ticket sales for the '10 season are already higher than "all last season, when it drew 2,416,237 to the Metrodome." The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE's Sid Hartman noted the first six-regular season games at Target Field, series against the Red Sox and Royals, "are sold out." The Twins also will "soon announce their plans to unveil statues of Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett on Target Plaza" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/21).
Writer Says Target Field's Potential For
Increased Revenues Made Mauer Deal Possible
HOMETOWN STAR STAYS HOME: MLB.com's Kelly Thesier wrote Mauer, a "shy and modest guy who tries to avoid the spotlight," has "seen his status grow even more in recent years due to his on-the-field success" (MLB.com, 3/21). MLB.com's Mike Bauman wrote Sunday was a "good day not only for the Minnesota Twins, but for small-market baseball and competitive balance." Bauman: "A homegrown superstar stays home. That has not been baseball's typical scenario in the free-agent era." But Target Field, "and its potential for increased revenues, makes this deal possible, as it makes a viable future for the Twins possible" (MLB.com, 3/21). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes there was "no hometown discount for the hometown boy," as Mauer's contract "easily eclipsed" Yankees C Jorge Posada's record contract for a catcher (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote the Twins in offering Mauer the contract conceded that it is "bad business to build a ballpark only to have your own fans burn it down," as "on the list of most revered Minnesota sports figures ever, the line will continue to form behind" Mauer. It is a "great day" for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's "parity" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/21).
MEANT TO BE A TWIN: ESPN.com's Stark wrote the Mauer contract negotiations "had to be based on a single fundamental principle: that Joe Mauer was meant to be a Twin, whatever that took." Stark: "It isn't only the franchise that has built around Joe Mauer. It's the state of Minnesota itself at this point." Stark wrote everyone "should understand now that what it took was a historic contract, not some little bargain-basement, hometown-discount kind of deal." But one "should also understand that the money Mauer left on the table was undoubtedly somewhere in the neighborhood of the gross national product of Anguilla" (ESPN.com, 3/21). In Minneapolis, Hartman writes, "I don't believe there was ever a chance that Mauer would not stay with the Twins, because of what he means to the franchise. With 2.4 million tickets already sold for this season at Target Field, can you imagine how the great interest in the club would change with Mauer not in a Twins uniform?" Meanwhile, the no-trade clause in Mauer's contract "was one important reason for the long negotiating period," as the Twins have "negotiated only one other full no-trade clause into a contract before," when former P Brad Radke signed a four-year, $36M deal in '00. Hartman also writes he "wouldn't be surprised if there is deferred money" in Mauer's contract, despite Twins Owner Jim Pohlad recently saying that the Twins "don't believe in deferring payments in their contracts" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/22).
Warriors Sales Price Could
Surpass $400M Mark
Warriors Owner Chris Cohan has "retained Galatioto Sports Partners to sell the franchise," according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. While the "offering memorandum won't be completed for a few weeks," SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that the Warriors' price "could surpass the NBA-record $401[M] sale of the Phoenix Suns to Robert Sarver in 2004." Ganis: "It has the potential to go over $400[M] if there is a bidding war. There are enough people in the local market who can put down serious equity." Lombardo notes the "strength of the region's economy also makes the team desirable to potential investors." Inner Circle Sports Founder Rob Tilliss said, "The market has the Silicon Valley belt of wealth, and there will also be some people from the Los Angeles area that want to own a basketball team." The team leases the 19,596-seat Oracle Arena and they are "committed to playing in the arena through the 2016-17 season." Cohan bought the franchise in '95 for $119M and in '04, he sold a 20% stake in the team to a "group of four investors for an undisclosed sum." The Warriors have "just one playoff appearance under Cohan's ownership" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/22 issue).
DOLLARS & NONSENSE: In San Jose, Adam Lauridsen noted by waiving G Raja Bell, the Warriors "virtually guarantee that they won't spend more than $5[M] to add talent to the team" this offseason. This "should come as no shock given Cohan's financial moves over the last two years." The "entire reason why the team felt comfortable waiving Bell was because they're unlikely to use all their available money to upgrade the roster -- leaving them free to waste essentially $2-3[M] of bonus cap space." Cohan and company once again "prioritize short term gain over the team's long-term success." The Warriors "like so many times before ... chose the quick buck over the future improvement of the team." Lauridsen wrote as long as Cohan and Warriors President Robert Rowell are "calling the shots, I don't expect this mindset to change, and I don't expect the Warriors to make a serious, intelligent effort at building a winning basketball team" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 3/21).
Coyotes May Have To Relocate If
No Local Owner Lined Up By May
Ice Edge Holdings, which had "signed a letter of intent earlier this season to buy the Coyotes," is "no longer the front-runner to purchase the team," according to a source cited by Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. The source added that White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, who previously headed a group that bid for the team, is "back in the picture." LeBrun noted if there is "no local owner lined up by May, relocation could possibly enter the picture," though Glendale is "working hard right now to try to avoid that" (ESPN.com, 3/20). In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks cited a source as saying that "getting a more favorable lease at Jobing.com Arena is key to financing" Ice Edge's purchase of the team. Changes to the lease "could include allowing the team to charge for parking, easing up on fees the team pays to the city and giving the team more latitude in game-day operations." Meanwhile, other sources said that Ice Edge is "running into some challenges in getting financing to buy the Coyotes." But the source said that though the process is "taking time," he is "optimistic a deal can still be done" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/20). In N.Y., Klein & Hackel noted the sale of the Coyotes has "encountered a hitch," as Ice Edge "has not closed the deal." But Ice Edge COO Daryl Jones Friday "denied there were problems with financing." Jones: "On the contrary, we have financing from world-class institutions." Jones said the "main sticking point" is the arena lease. Ice Edge "wants lower leasing fees from the city." Jones: "Our stance is we want an appropriate lease from Glendale. I'd like to say our chances of getting it done are fairly good, but we're not going to do a bad deal." Klein & Hackel noted if "no deal is reached by June, Ice Edge may drop out" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).
Johnson Calls Charlotte's Business
Community "Arrogant" And "Incestuous"
Bobcats investor and former Owner Bob Johnson Saturday at the Urban Leadership Institute "called Charlotte's business community 'arrogant' and 'incestuous' and said the city doesn't do enough for existing and potential minority-owned business," according to Cleve Wootson Jr. of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Johnson said Charlotte is a "very, how would I call it, close-knit, arrogant, sometimes incestuous town." Johnson: "If you come to this town, and you look like you're one of those people that might break some glass ... it's going to be tough for them to relate to. The thing that concerns me is that I'm just surprised that the city doesn't do more for African-American small businesses. And I don't really understand that" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/21). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes Johnson's comments were "typically absurd because they revolve around a central theme" that Charlotte "again failed him." Johnson was "tough to relate to," and he "expected our accolades and our dollars simply because he was here." Sorensen: "If Johnson wanted us to support him, he was obligated to support us." Meanwhile, Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan over the weekend wrote an open letter to the city of Charlotte, and Sorensen writes the letter was a "testament to accountability" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/22). The open letter appeared as a full-page ad in the sports section of Sunday's Charlotte Observer. Jordan also sent out a separate letter to season-ticket holders (THE DAILY).
Jordan Discusses Nurturing Relationship With
Corporate Community In FS Carolinas Interview
MIKE ON MIKE: Jordan was the subject of ESPN's "Sunday Conversation" last night, where he addressed how he has changed since retiring. Jordan: "I have to understand times are different and successes are totally evaluated in totally different ways, and it took me a while to just see myself away from it, to not expect so much and not be so critical of so much. But I think I've gotten to that." He added, "I'm closer to the Mark Cuban type. I'm passionate. When you see me down on the floor, I may yell at the referees every now and then. I've yet to get a technical which is good. … So I am a hands-on owner, but yet I'm an understanding owner because I was down in that same position a lot of these players are in" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/21). Jordan: "What I'd like to see happen is that I build a great bond with this community and corporate America in this area. Obviously, there's going to be some interacting between us, the two partnerships, and I think I'm going to look for all different types of opportunities for that to happen so that we can grow the relationship." He added, "As quickly as we can get back trying to nurture some of these relationships the better. That's where my energy is right now. I'm happy to take ownership. I know it's a burden, I know it's a big financial commitment but I'm not afraid of it" (FS Carolina, 3/19). More Jordan: "I understand where Bob was and the financial restraints that he's dealt with. I like to feel that I'm going to come in and see if I can make a difference and I don't want to lose money. I got to accept that we may work our losses down to some degree, but at some point in time I'd like to think there's an upside to being involved in this process" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 3/19).
POISED FOR SUCCESS: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence cited NBA sources as saying that Jordan is "putting roughly $25[M] down of his own money and committing to pay close to $70[M] over the next few years to cover anticipated losses." Jordan is "working on lining up partners who will help cover the remaining money that brings the purchase price" to $275M, but the NBA is "confident, that because of his cache, he will have no problem finding people with deep pockets to join him." Jordan's "ability to build a relationship with the business community is seen as essential to a turnaround," and he "needs to mend some fences." The Bobcats had "experienced attendance decreases in three straight seasons until this season, when they've averaged 15,630 per game." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said Jordan "has to make the commitment, meaning he's got to put in the personal time in Charlotte so that the fans see him and he's there with the corporate people and business people" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/21). SI.com's Ian Thomsen wrote he believes Jordan "will succeed as owner of the Bobcats." Because Jordan has "invested so much of his own money in the team, he will be fully engaged," and that "means he will deploy himself as the face of the franchise." Thomsen: "He'll personally sell sponsorships, he'll speak to the media, he'll personally recruit players. No franchise in the league -- not even the Cavaliers -- has a better asset than the Bobcats have in Michael Jordan" (SI.com, 3/19).
POSITIVE LABOR IMPACT? In Miami, Michael Wallace noted with Jordan becoming an owner, Heat F and NBPA Secretary & Treasurer James Jones "expects one more sympathetic ear among the NBA's brass in labor negotiations." Jones said Jordan has a "unique perspective." Jones: "When you can mesh a person like Mike -- who played and is now an owner -- he has a perspective I don't think anyone in that (negotiating) room is going to have" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/21). Jordan said of the labor negotiations, "I plan on being involved. Obviously, I'm invested and I am an owner right now. I know there's a lot of discussions in terms of how this labor situation is going to happen. I've been on both sides. I'm totally aware of how successful David Stern can speak for the owners. If he asked me to participate, I will participate" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 3/19).
49ers Say Dir Of Player Personnel Trent Baalke
Will Lead Them At Draft Next Month
49ers Dir of Player Personnel Trent Baalke "will lead" the team at next month's NFL Draft following the departure of GM Scot McCloughan, according to a source cited by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Baalke has a "strong reputation around the league and many expect that San Francisco will be able to march on successfully." Meanwhile, Schefter wrote the 49ers and McCloughan must "figure out a resolution as to their current situation before any other issues can be addressed" (ESPN.com, 3/20). McCloughan Friday, "in his first public acknowledgment of the personal problems that apparently fueled his departure," said in a text message to Sirius Radio's Adam Schein, "Family needs to come first and I lost sight of that with my position at the 49ers. I will be back in [the] league at some point and be very successful" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/20). ESPN.com's Mike Sando noted that public records "showed a divorce pending" for McCloughan. Sando: "Sad, I thought, but lots of people go through divorces without resigning or otherwise leaving their jobs" (ESPN.com, 3/19).
TIME NOT ON OUR SIDE: In Sacramento, Matthew Barrows wrote the team's "once-trumpeted front office is in a state of flux at an inopportune time." The NFL Draft is "five weeks away," while the team's plans for a Santa Clara stadium "hinge on a June ballot measure." Barrows wrote 49ers Exec VP/Football & Business Operations Paraag Marathe is "poised to land a more prominent role" with McCloughan out of the mix. Marathe is the team's "main contract negotiator, and he has gained the Yorks' trust by managing the team's once out-of-control salary cap." Team sources said that Marathe is "smart and ambitious" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/20). San Jose Mercury News' Mark Purdy: "The 49ers do need to say something. For one thing, they are trying to get a stadium issue passed in Santa Clara. For another thing, you have got the draft coming up and their season ticket renewals are out." The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat's Lowell Cohn said, "The timing is horrible. You can't say that enough. Five weeks before the draft, all of a sudden the general manager is gone" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 3/19).
FALLING INTO DYSFUNCTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Michael Silver wrote the Raiders "aren't the Bay Area's only dysfunctional, tone-deaf NFL franchise." 49ers President Jed York "has gone radio silent at a time when his fan base deserves an explanation," and "not only is Jed York's silence an insult to the people who follow the team, but it's also an unduly harsh blow to McCloughan." Silver: "One thing of which we can be fairly certain was that McCloughan wasn't dismissed because of performance-related issues." Meanwhile, there is "suspicion among those in the McCloughan camp -- and other sources familiar with the team's front-office politics -- that Paraag Marathe ... pushed for the move as an attempt to gain more power." Marathe is "close with Jed York and is regarded as the team president's No. 1 confidante in the organization." But given the "high regard for McCloughan around the NFL," his departure from the 49ers is "not regarded as a positive development for the organization" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/19).
Thousands Of Tickets Still Available For
Red Sox' Home Opener Against Yankees
In Boston, Thomas Grillo reported "thousands of tickets are still available" on the secondary market for the Red Sox' home opener against the Yankees on April 4, and prices are down 30% from last year's opener against the Rays. FanSnap.com lists 6,360 tickets for the Yankees-Red Sox game "ranging from $114 for an outfield grandstand seat to $1,989 for a front row seat in the State Street Pavilion Club" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/21). Meanwhile, in Boston, Nick Cafardo cited a source as saying that former Red Sox Exec VP/Public Affairs Charles Steinberg "will not be returning" to the team. Steinberg, who was let go by the Dodgers as Exec VP & CMO in September, reportedly is "being considered for a position" in MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/21).
STRAIGHT JACKET: In Columbus, Tom Reed reported the NHL "will not allow the Blue Jackets to play host to an NHL All-Star Game until the franchise resolves its arena lease issues." An NHL source said that the team, which has bid on the '13 All-Star Game, was told by Commissioner Gary Bettman that it "must first stabilize its financial situation." The Blue Jackets' $5M annual rent for Nationwide Arena and $4M annual losses to run it are the "biggest financial obstacles facing the franchise" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/20).
EURO TRIP: In Boston, Steve Conroy reports it "looks like the first of the two stops on the Bruins' European excursion in September will be Belfast, Northern Ireland." The team is "expected to hold several practices and then play an exhibition at the Odyssey Arena." The team then is "expected to go from Belfast to Prague and remain there until the end of the trip" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/22).
HOOPS HYPE: In N.Y., Howard Beck profiled Nets Master of Ceremonies Marco G. Khare, who is "part hype man, part pitch man and the only consistent energy source in a Nets jersey." The Nets hired Khare, 25, "three seasons ago, when the team was in decline but not yet in disarray," and now he "may have the toughest job in the building." Nets VP/Entertainment & Event Marketing Petra Pope: "There are games where he has to push a little harder. We can't give up here. It's our job. We are entertainers." Beck noted a "handful of NBA teams have M.C.'s or D.J.'s, deploying them as carnival barkers and cheerleaders during timeouts" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).
NOTES: Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said that the team is "in no rush" to fill the position of VP/Basketball Operations following the firing of Tom Penn. Miller: "That's probably going to be an offseason move." Miller said that his goal is to "have the position filled before the NBA draft in June." Miller added that a "team of leadership personnel will give input and play a role in the hiring decision, including owner Paul Allen and Miller himself, but that [GM Kevin] Pritchard will have the final voice in the room" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/20)....MLS Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz Saturday said that "approximately 10,100 season tickets have been sold," and that the team is "cutting off season ticket sales at 12,000 for 18,500-seat PPL Park." The Union's first two home games "will be played at Lincoln Financial Field while construction at PPL Park is completed" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/21).