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Rogers Centre Will Host Bears-Bills On Nov. 7,
Which Coincides With CFL Regular-Season Finale
Rogers Centre will host Bears-Bills on November 7, and while the game coincides with the final day of the CFL regular season and a Argonauts-Alouettes game, the CFL "isn't quaking in its boots," according to Christie & Naylor of the GLOBE & MAIL. The Bills "had previously played two regular games in Toronto in December, after the Grey Cup had been played," but Argonauts President & CEO Bob Nicholson said it was "always anticipated after the first year" that the NFL would want to schedule a Bills Toronto Series game during the CFL season. Blue Jays and Rogers Centre President & CEO Paul Beeston, who is overseeing the Bills Toronto Series for the first time, said that there were "two reasons he wanted to move the annual Toronto game to early November." He wanted the "chance to have the Rogers Centre roof open," and to "improve the chances that the game will be meaningful in the standings." Beeston added that he "doesn't believe the Bills playing in Toronto on an Argo road date is a bad thing for either club." Beeston: "You can watch the Bills at 1 p.m. and the Argos at 4 p.m. If the Argos had been playing at 1 p.m. then the Bills would have played at 4 p.m. We're trying to be considerate of them, as much as we'll take criticism for it." Nicholson said that he "does not view the NFL's selection of an earlier date as a challenge for the CFL" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/21).
SUNDAY FUNDAY: Beeston said that he is "working with the Argos to promote the game as a special football Sunday." In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich notes Bears-Bills will be broadcast by CTV, which "has to be a bitter pill for Rogers." Rogers "owns the rights to the 4 p.m. games and its channels carried the first two Bills games" played in Toronto (TORONTO STAR, 4/21). Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Allen Wilson notes "according to media reports in Toronto, reception to the Bills playing games there has been lukewarm at best." If the Argonauts are "competing for a playoff spot, they could steal some of the Bills' thunder or the Bills could do likewise" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/21).
The Chiefs' first regular-season game at the newly renovated Arrowhead Stadium will be on national TV, as they will host the Chargers on Monday, September 13, as the "second half of the opening Monday night doubleheader," according to Adam Teicher of K.C. STAR. The Chiefs "have never opened a season with a Monday night game." The Royals are scheduled to host the A's at Kauffman Stadium the same night, and Royals VP/Communications & Broadcasting Mike Swanson said the team is aware of the conflict and working with MLB and the A's to "see what accommodations can be made" (K.C. STAR, 4/21). Meanwhile, Lindsay Jones reports the Broncos "had put in an official request to open the season with a home Monday Night Football game against the Raiders." Instead, the Broncos will open the season on the road against the Jaguars, marking the "sixth straight year the team will play its first game away from Invesco Field at Mile High." The Broncos also "might have other reasons to complain to the league schedule makers," as the team "will play three consecutive road games in weeks 13-15" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
HOME SWEET HOME: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino reports the Jaguars will play "three out of their first four games" at home, where the team "can take advantage of the heat at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium that often wears down opposing teams." This marks the "first time since 2002 that the Jaguars opened with three of their first four games at home," and the team is "hoping that the announcement of the schedule and the draft later this week will boost ticket sales." The Jaguars "still need to sell 20,999 non-premium tickets to avoid blackouts." They "need to sell 50,075 non-premium tickets and hope to sell 8,000 in group sales per game, which means they have about 13,000 left to sell on either a season-ticket or per-game basis" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/21).
Ross' Wish To Play More Late
Afternoon Games Not Granted
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: ESPN.com's Tim Graham reported the Dolphins "were granted zero 4 p.m. kickoffs at home this year" despite the fact team Owner Stephen Ross "expressed his desire to play more 4 p.m. games at Sun Life Stadium to make the oppressive South Florida weather more tolerable for fans." The Dolphins will host "back-to-back games under the lights" with a "SNF" game against the Jets in Week Three and a "MNF" game against the Patriots in Week Four (ESPN.com, 4/20). However, in West Palm Beach, Ben Volin reports the NFL did comply with Ross' request to an extent, as the Dolphins "won't play a 1 p.m. home game until Oct. 24, against the Steelers" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/21).
GIANT DOSE OF REVENGE? The Giants will host the Panthers on September 12 in the first regular-season game at New Meadowlands Stadium, which "brings in the same opponent that humiliated the home team 41-9 in the bitter final game at Giants Stadium" last season. The Giants also will face the Colts on "SNF" in Indianapolis in Week Two, "meaning the entire country will see Eli vs. Peyton in the second Manning Bowl." Giants coach Tom Coughlin: "The uniqueness of the schedule is that we will play six games before we play a divisional opponent" (N.Y. POST, 4/21). ESPN's Trey Wingo said of the Giants' loss to the Panthers last year, "Don't think that isn't lost on the NFL, with how they lost that home game against Carolina: 'Well, let's bring in the Panthers again'" (ESPN2, 4/20).
NOTES: The Cowboys "will face the Super Bowl contestants in an 11-day span during the second half," as they will host the Saints on Thanksgiving Day and travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts the following week. That is the "first time in 17 years that a team has played the Super Bowl clubs from the previous season in consecutive games" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/21)....The Chargers "do not play a true East Coast game" for the first time since '92, as they "only go to the Eastern time zone twice" to play the Bengals and the Colts. The Chargers "have five games that are at least two time zones away, their fewest since 2006" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/21)....For the "first time since the Browns returned in 1999, they won't be opening the season at home." Meanwhile, all 16 of the team's games are at 1:00pm ET (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/21).
Kroenke Reassures Rams Fans
Team Will Stay In St. Louis
If Stan Kroenke "gains NFL approval in his quest to purchase the Rams, he vows to do everything he can to secure the team's long-term future in St. Louis," according to Bernie Miklasz of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Kroenke, in his first interview since announcing that he has exercised an option to match Flex-N-Gate President Shahid Khan's bid for the available 60% of the team, "broke his customary silence in an attempt to reassure Rams fans of his positive intentions." He said, "I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis. ... I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I'm stepping up one more time." Kroenke is "bothered by the perception that he'd work against St. Louis, or that he'd scheme to move the Rams back" to L.A. Kroenke said, "I'm born and raised in Missouri. I've been a Missourian for 60 years. People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I am an honorable guy." Miklasz writes it was "encouraging to hear him speak so adamantly of his desire to find a way to make it work here." Kroenke, who owns the Nuggets and Avalanche, "declined to discuss his plan to persuade the NFL to accommodate his bid for the Rams" by circumventing the league's cross-ownership rules. Meanwhile, Rams Majority Owner Chip Rosenbloom yesterday "also ended his period of silence on the Rams' sale." Although he "wouldn't discuss the sale process," he "emphasized that he likes Khan and Kroenke and considers them friends." Rosenbloom: "There's no reason to believe that Stan would be anything less than committed to St. Louis. ... He's been by our side for 15 years" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/21).
With a "dozen bidders" -- including Oracle CEO Larry Ellison -- "signaling interest in the Golden State Warriors, the team could fetch owner Chris Cohan more than" $400M, according to sources cited by Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. 24 Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov also has expressed interest in buying the team, and he indicated that he "might eventually even bring some of his sports pals like Lance Armstrong, Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson into the deal." A group of Silicon Valley investors that includes Riverwood Capital Partner Michael Marks and Silver Lake equity co-Founder Jim Davidson -- which bought a 20% stake in the Warriors in '04 "when Cohan ran into tax troubles -- is expected to be in the hunt as well." An anonymous Silicon Valley exec also has been "privately mentioned as a possible suitor." The exec said that he "doubts the Warriors are worth more" than the $315M listed by Forbes in its most recent NBA franchise valuations. But he acknowledged the sale "could get crazy if they do an auction process," as expected (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/21).
Cavaliers Finished In The Red Last Season
Despite Advancing To Eastern Conference Finals
The Cavaliers have a "chance to make money this season if they advance to the Eastern Conference finals," despite payroll and luxury tax payments exceeding $100M, according to sources cited by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Sources said that the Cavaliers last season, paying out in excess of $100M in player salary, "finished just below the break-even line" while losing in the Eastern Conference finals. The sources noted that the team's operating revenue so far this season is "indeed in the red," and the Cavs are "part of the heavy losses in the NBA that will cause the salary cap to decrease" next season. Windhorst notes most league execs will "explain that the bottom of the balance sheet depends largely on how the accounting is performed." The Cavaliers, who also profit from non-basketball events at Quicken Loans Arena "plus parking revenue from Gateway garages, include arena operating earnings plus payments on the debt Dan Gilbert took on when he bought the franchise when calculating their bottom line." So while the Cavs are a "success story, the team is also an example of the problem within the league." They are "expected to set a team record for revenue" this season, with ticket and suite sales "up from last season." The team also owns "one of the top five highest-paying local television deals in the NBA," but the "problem is the Cavs need all of that revenue just to break even." Still, Gilbert is said to be "committed to continue spending -- even if that means losses and even if it takes 60 wins and a deep playoff run to squeeze out a profit" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/21).
Sounders Unveil All-Yellow
Uniform To Be Worn This Summer
The MLS Sounders FC "unveiled a new third uniform Tuesday, an all-yellow ensemble that will be worn for the team's international friendlies this summer," according to Joshua Mayers of the SEATTLE TIMES. Sounders investor & GM Adrian Hanauer said, "This is a bold statement, which I think most people familiar with the club would say we are prone to do. ... Some people may hate it. Some people will love it. But for sure people will notice it." The team "could also wear the uniforms in competition, most likely in the U.S. Open Cup or CONCACAF Champions League" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/21). Sounders F Steve Zakuani said of the new uniform, "When I first saw it, it reminded me of Brazil. If we play like them, it will be perfect. It's a good jersey. It's different. It stands out." In Tacoma, Don Ruiz notes Hanauer "acknowledged the marketing angle" associated with the new uniform, and noted that the team "already had sold a lot of green jerseys and blue jerseys." He said that "merchandising money is shared between the club and the league, but the club gets the larger share." The team's new look was "driven by the club, the league and uniform manufacturer adidas." The alternative kit "won't necessarily be a permanent part of the club's wardrobe," as Hanauer said that it "will probably be replaced by new alternate looks from time to time" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 4/21).
IT'S ELECTRIC! YAHOO SPORTS' Brooks Peck writes, "They call that scorching yellow color 'electricity' not because it's the same color as electricity, but because it feels like electricity shooting directly into your eyeballs when you look at it. So with this and their home 'rave green' kit, the Sounders have officially cornered the market on human highlighter outfits" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/21). In Seattle, Gerry Spratt wrote, "It looks like the Oregon Ducks might have a case for copyright infringement" (SEATTLEPI.com, 4/20).
MLB is "disappointed" that the proposed sale of the MLB Rangers from Tom Hicks to Chuck Greenberg's group has been "stalled by a dispute involving the lenders to the team's owner," according to the AP. The two sides "announced an agreement on Jan. 23, but creditors of the Hicks Sports Group ... have not approved it." MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy said, "We hoped to have it closed on or about opening day, and we're disappointed it's not closed yet." However, DuPuy said Hicks and Greenberg's group are "trying to get the transaction completed." DuPuy: "The commissioner has had considerable contact with the parties, and we're working closely. We understood that because of the Hicks Sports Group debt ... that there were issues with regard to the parent company lenders. We've met with them, as well, and we're trying to work through that." Meanwhile, DuPuy said that MLB "doesn't have any second thoughts about approving" Frank and Jamie McCourt to buy the Dodgers in '04, despite their ongoing divorce proceedings. DuPuy said the McCourts "have done a fine job operating the Dodgers." DuPuy: "Their personal situation is sad for them, but no one has any regrets about the McCourts' ownership of the Dodgers. They have said they have no intention to sell the team, and I take them at their word" (AP, 4/20).
Dunleavy Files For Arbitration,
Says Clippers Cut Off Salary
In L.A., Mark Heisler reports former Clippers GM & coach Mike Dunleavy has "filed for arbitration, saying the team has cut off his salary." Dunleavy, who was fired in March as Clippers GM about a month after surrendering his coaching duties, was owed $1.35M for the "balance of this season" and $5.4M for next season, a total of $6.75M. Clippers attorney Robert Platt said, "We are in the process of mutually attempting to resolve any outstanding issues with Mr. Dunleavy. We're hopeful that we can reach a resolution in the near future" (L.A. TIMES, 4/21). A source indicated that Dunleavy, whose contract ran through the '10-11 NBA season, is owed nearly $12M, including "deferred money from the entire time he had been with the Clippers" (ESPNLOSANGELES.com, 4/20).
THE FANS WHO CRIED WOLFF: In N.Y., Mark Feinsand reports "several fans in the bleachers" at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for last night's Yankees-A's game were "instructed by ballpark security to put away signs that were critical" of A's owner Lew Wolff. A's Dir of PR Bob Rose said that the team "has had a policy in place for more than 30 years banning any signs with negative personal messages." Rose noted that the policy "includes both A's personnel as well as their opponents." He said that fans are "more than welcome to bring any signs into the ballpark -- something many teams don't allow -- as long as they aren't in bad taste and aimed at a specific person." Feinsand notes A's fan Jorge Leon has "put together a group of fans to tote signs to the Coliseum this week to vent their frustration" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/21).
DROWNING IN DEBT: In London, Nick Szczepanik reports EPL club Portsmouth's debts have reached US$183M -- "far higher than the most pessimistic estimates" -- but club administrator Andrew Andronikou believes that the debt "will not scare off potential buyers." But Andronikou admitted the club is "no nearer to a buyer than we have been for the past two months" (LONDON TIMES, 4/21). EPL CEO Richard Scudamore has "ruled out a financial rescue" for Portsmouth, and said that the "troubles were entirely down to financial mismanagement at the club." Scudamore rejected the idea that the EPL "might throw Portsmouth a financial lifeline as 'absolutely crazy,' pointing out that the distribution of TV rights money already provided clubs" with at least US$46M per season (BBC.co.uk, 4/21).