SBD/Issue 184/Franchises

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  • Stephen Strasburg Set For Much-Anticipated MLB Debut Tonight

    About 200 Media Credentials
    Issued For Strasburg's Debut

    Nationals P Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his much-anticipated MLB debut tonight against the Pirates in front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park, where simply mentioning Strasburg's name "brings down the house," according to a sports-section cover story by Mel Antonen of USA TODAY. Approximately 200 news media credentials have been issued for tonight's game, "about the same number as a postseason game." In addition, MLB Network, which will air the game nationally, and ESPN are "anchoring special shows from Nationals Park." Nationals President Stan Kasten said, "In my three sports in more than 30 years, I've never seen the sustained demand for one player's attention. Stephen is the buzz of the town, and it's nice to be the center of attention of a positive baseball story" (USA TODAY, 6/8). MLB.com's John Schlegel wrote when Strasburg "steps to the mound in front of a packed house at Nationals Park to make one of the most heralded debuts in years, it will be a big deal, and then some" (MLB.com, 6/7). In DC, Thomas Boswell writes, "Whether you are in Nationals Park or watching on television when Stephen Strasburg makes his major league debut, you'll know you are seeing a landmark event." DC is "reentering the baseball mainstream at last." With a "decent team on the field already and Strasburg about to assume the role of ace, Washington baseball, for the first time in the memory of even the oldest local fan, is serious" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/8).

    ALL HYPED UP AND READY TO GO: MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote tonight marks "arguably the most hyped debut in recent memory." There will be a "lot of celebration before and during the game," including filmmaker and baseball historian Ken Burns tossing out the ceremonial first pitch (MLB.com, 6/7). In Baltimore, Jeff Barker writes Strasburg's arrival, "combined with other promising developments, has given area fans hope." National interest in his debut "dwarfs that of celebrated prospects" in the past, including Orioles C Matt Wieters last season. MASN analyst Phil Wood: "Sportswise, nothing compares in Washington. Maybe the Beatles in '64. That's the closest thing I can think of" (Baltimore SUN, 6/8). Washington Post columnist George Will, a Nationals season-ticket holder, said, "We increasingly are a star-driven culture, and the hype of Strasburg plays into that" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes, "It is an event, a happening, and history. It is what occurs in 2010 when breathtaking talent emerges in an era oversaturated with media. No one ever blogged about Fernando Valenzuela or offered up their thoughts on Twitter about Mark Fidrych" (N.Y. POST, 6/8).

    ACE IN THE HOLE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Fisher & Broughton note MASN, also airing tonight's game, is "expanding its postgame show from a half-hour to a full hour" for its coverage of Strasburg's debut. Ad inventory for the broadcast is "fully sold out, with rates doubling typical Nationals games, and network officials expect further spikes in ad sales as the season progresses." MASN VP/Communications Todd Webster said, "Demand has pushed up across the board. We're seeing big increases everywhere" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/7 issue). Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, whose team owns the majority of MASN, recently said that "'it's a very good thing' for his club that the Nats are generating excitement over their performance and Strasburg's debut." Webster noted that advertisers have "paid MASN a premium to be part" of tonight's broadcast, and are "paying premium rates for Strasburg's next two starts as well." He said about Strasburg's debut, "Because of the demand and interest and expectations of extremely high ratings, advertising rates have doubled" (Baltimore SUN, 6/8).

    Tonight's Game Is Expected To Be The
    Nationals' First Home Sellout This Season

    GETTING IN LINE FOR SECONDS? Secondary ticket market prices for tonight's game have crashed hard in recent days, with a glut of still-available inventory rapidly absorbing demand. StubHub last night showed the average selling price of tickets to the game had fallen to $67, similar to an ordinary Nationals game, with the highest actual sale at $500 per ticket. On ticket metasearch engine FanSnap, listing prices that reached as high as $999 per ticket late last week have fallen to just over $300. Hundreds of tickets remain available at less than $100, with FanSnap's average listing price now standing at $68.73, down from more than $109 last week. The Nationals, meanwhile, still have primary market ticket options for the anticipated sellout. In addition to a regularly scheduled block of 400 $5 bleacher seats being released shortly before game time, the club is selling 2,000 standing-room tickets at $10 each, as well as individual seats in the Party Suite and Jefferson Suite sections at $95-$145 each. The offer of the individual suite seats, which quickly sold out, represented the first time the club has ever made that offer. The club also is opening stadium gates at 4:30pm ET for the 7:00 first pitch (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's David Biderman notes Strasburg's impact on the secondary ticket market "can't be overstated." The Nationals have tickets "selling for 68% more than the major-league average on the resale market." Ticket-price forecaster SeatGeek.com data shows that Nationals tickets, which "usually sell on the secondary market for $51.58, are going for more than twice that." There also have been "more than four times as many tickets sold as usual" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/8). 

    ALREADY SCORING JERSEY SALES: In DC, Dan Steinberg reported just about all the merchandise booths at Nationals Park Sunday "was featuring Strasburg shirts, front and center," often with Strasburg "the only personalized shirt available." Steinberg: "The team store by the center field gates? First shirt you saw when you walked in on the right was Strasburg ... and first shirt you saw when you turned left was Strasburg" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/7). UCF DeVos Sport Business Management Program Associate Dir Bill Sutton said that the Nationals tonight "may hit a million-dollar jackpot of ticket and merchandise sales." But Nationals COO Andy Feffer said that while Strasburg's arrival "is a boon, the team doesn't want to build a marketing campaign around one player," as it instead "wants to sell the idea that the franchise is improving as a whole" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/8).

    WASHINGTON MONUMENT: CSN WASHINGTON's Mark Zuckerman noted the Nationals last night selected Bryce Harper with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, giving the franchise "a 1-2 punch that has never been seen before, in these parts, or anywhere else in around the sport." Combined with Strasburg's debut, DC has become the "epicenter of the baseball universe." Kasten said, "There's nothing to compare it to. Who's had these kind of events back-to-back? ... It finally gives us attention that we haven't had the last five years." Zuckerman noted the Nationals for the first time are "being noticed for actual baseball reasons, and that has left club officials giddy in the days and weeks leading up to these two events" (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 6/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote under the header, "Nationals Finally Relevant With Harper, Strasburg." Between the two events, the Nationals "finally matter." Each is a "franchise-altering player, and together they provide two linchpins around which every team -- Yankees included -- would love to build" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/7). In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes under the header, "Huge Capital Gains." This has to be the "most significant two days in the history of the franchise" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/8). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez wrote, "The early part of this week is probably the best time in history to be a Nationals fan" (MLB.com, 6/7). Comcast SportsNet's Ivan Carter said this week is the "start of a new era for the ball club." Carter: "The exciting part about that for local sports fans, the Nats are doing it the homegrown way. ... It makes it an exciting era for baseball in DC” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 6/7).

    TAKING THEIR TIME: Baseball writer Murray Chass noted the first week of June is a "safe week for teams to add their top prospects to their major league rosters and start their major league service clock ticking." The goal is to "delay a player's eligibility for a salary arbitration and free agency." By keeping a player in the minors for the "first six weeks or two months of a season, a club keeps him from getting a full year of service for his first year in the majors." The prospect then will "have to wait seven years instead of six before he can be a free agent." ESPN's J.P. Ricciardi, formerly GM of the Blue Jays, said, "I think smaller-market teams are cognizant of the fact that you have to control these players as long as you can." Kasten admitted the service time was "one of the factors" in the team's decision not to promote Strasburg until June. He said, "There are things our guys felt very strongly about that he needed to experience. Could he have pitched up here on opening day? I'm sure he could have. Were there things for him to learn? I'm sure there were" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 6/6).

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  • Nats Get Their Man, Turn Focus To Signing Boras-Repped Harper

    Nationals Select Bryce Harper With First
    Overall Selection In Last Night's MLB Draft

    The Nationals last night selected College of Southern Nevada C/RF Bryce Harper with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, and the "focus now will shift to the process of Harper officially becoming a National," according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. Harper is repped by Scott Boras, who is "notorious for protracted negotiations that brush up against the deadline for draftees to sign, which this year" is Aug. 16. Harper "will almost certainly exceed the record contract for a position player, still Mark Teixeira's $9.5 million in 2001," but Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is "optimistic the negotiation will not be an ordeal." Rizzo: "We're going to put our best effort forward. We know that we have a player who wants to play. We've got a representative that we've dealt with successfully in the past. We're going to give our best effort on all sides" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/8). MLB.com's Mike Bauman wrote one "sure thing is that, represented by agent Scott Boras, Harper will not be receiving anything other than maximum dollars." There is "speculation that Harper/Boras will attempt to land a signing package even larger" than the $15.1M given to Nationals P Stephen Strasburg last summer. The Nationals "had to pay a precedent-shattering price to land Strasburg and they may have to spend their way into the same fiscal neighborhood to sign Harper" (MLB.com, 6/7). MLB Network, televising the Draft for the second straight year, landed a remote interview with Harper, but no question was posed regarding upcoming contract negotiations. Boras represents four of the top seven picks overall, including No. 3 pick SS Manny Machado (Orioles), No. 4 pick SS Christian Colon (Royals) and No. 7 pick P Matt Harvey (Mets) (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    LIKELY A DEAL WILL GET DONE: CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman said Boras "usually waits until the last hour on August 15th to get it done, and I think that is going to be the case again.” However, Zuckerman believes Harper will sign with the Nationals, saying, “He wouldn’t have gone and gotten his GED at age 16. He wouldn’t have gone and played in this wood bat league at age 17 to hold out and go back to college for another year. He wants to play.” Zuckerman: “I would guess that his signing bonus will be larger than Strasburg’s at $7.5(M), but that the total package will probably be less than what Strasburg got" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 6/7). ESPN’s Mike Golic said Boras is going to look for a deal bigger than the one that Strasburg got.” ESPN's Mike Greenberg: "I think they’ll get him signed but I think it’ll go right to the border line” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 6/8).

    MONEY-SAVING MOVE? ESPN.com's Keith Law noted the Dodgers used the No. 28 pick to select high school P Zach Lee, described by one source as the "most unsignable player in the draft." Several other sources indicated that the Dodgers "may have taken him knowing they couldn't sign him with the intention of getting the compensatory pick next year when, they hope, they have more money to spend in the draft" (ESPN.com, 6/7). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes the Dodgers "for the most part ... have not signed players to bonuses that exceed the recommendations of the commissioner's office," but Assistant GM for Amateur & Int'l Scouting Logan White acknowledged that the Dodgers "might make an exception" for Lee. White said that "fiscally conservative" Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt is "aware that Lee, who is being advised by agents Randy and Alan Hendricks, could cost more than a typical player selected 28th overall." But White "adamantly denied that the Dodgers purposely selected an unsignable player to save money." White said he is "cautiously optimistic" about signing Lee. White: "As the summer plays out, you'll see the effort will be made." Hernandez notes Lee is "committed to play football at LSU," and White said that he "hasn't considered signing Lee to the kind of deal that would allow him to play football at LSU during the fall and baseball in the Dodgers' minor league system during the summer" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). ESPN L.A.'s Tony Jackson noted Lee "presumably would be part of one of the nation's premier college baseball programs" at LSU as well, which is a fact he is "almost certain to use as leverage in any negotiations with the Dodgers" (ESPNLOSANGELES.com, 6/7).

    RANGERS ALREADY SIGNING PICKS: Sources said that the team has "agreed to terms on a $1 million signing bonus" with C Kellin Deglan, whom the Rangers selected with the No. 22 pick in the first round. The Rangers last year selected P Matt Purke in the first round "expecting to sign him but couldn't make a strong enough offer," and as the Rangers front office yesterday "hunkered down in the 'war room,' it wanted players they knew were highly likely to sign on the dotted line by the Aug. 16 deadline." Rangers GM Jon Daniels "doesn't believe the club's limited financial resources meant sacrificing talent" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 6/7). The Rangers reportedly signed Deglan for $1M, while a baseball official said that No. 15 pick CF Jake Skole has "nearly agreed to terms" at the recommended slot (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/8). In Dallas, Evan Grant notes there are "two ways to analyze the Rangers' haul" yesterday. The first thought is the bankrupt team "went to cheapest route possible, selecting relatively pain-free and affordable players." Deglan in mock drafts "earned the unofficial title of 'easiest to sign.'" However, the other thought is that in a "draft class noted for balanced but unspectacular talents, the Rangers valued 'makeup' as much, if not more than, any physical tool" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/8).

    Yankees Use First Pick On Local Product Cito
    Culver, Who May Be Easier To Sign

    SIGNABILITY DOWNPLAYED, BUT STILL AN ISSUE: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig gave no clues as to how signings would likely go this summer. During the past several years, numerous clubs have ignored MLB's unofficial slot recommendations, causing unease around the game. "Each club is going to have to answer that, and if they've done their work properly, they know whether these guys are singable and how quickly they're signable, or if they're not," he said (Fisher). MLB Network's Peter Gammons noted as the Draft "goes along, I don’t think we’ve seen very many of the ‘OK, we’re going to draft him just based on signability.’ … In the majority of cases, we haven’t seen that (teams) are going to go way below slot.” The Reds drafted C Yasmani Grandal with the No. 12 pick, and Gammons noted Grandal is expected to ask for around the same amount of money as the $6.5M the Giants gave C Buster Posey as the No. 5 pick in '08. Gammons: “Playing a game of slot for a switch-hitting catcher can be very dangerous.” However, he noted Reds GM Walt Jocketty’s history “is being able to go above slot” with high draft picks, including J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel. However, the Astros drafted 2B Delino DeShields Jr. with the No. 8 pick, and MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds said, “Signability plays into this. He made himself available. He wants to sign, he wants to play” ("2010 1st-Year Player Draft," MLB Network, 6/7). SI.com's Ted Keith notes the Phillies selected P Jesse Biddle at No. 27 and the Yankees chose SS Cito Culver at No. 32, both of whom are "local products who may be easier for their clubs to sign." That "may be a telling sign that even big-market clubs like those in Philadelphia and New York are worried about signability" (SI.com, 6/8).

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  • Kroenke Intends To Keep Nuggets, Avalanche In The Family

    Kroenke Plans To Shift Ownership
    Of Nuggets To His Son

    Stan Kroenke yesterday in a statement made clear that he "intends to keep ownership" of the Nuggets and Avalanche within his family, as well as own the Rams, according to Benjamin Hochman of the DENVER POST. Kroenke also made his "first public comments about transferring ownership of the Nuggets to his son, Josh," who is the team's VP/Team Development. Kroenke in the statement said, "Our son Josh has been involved with many of our organizations for several years and that family continuity remains a priority. My family looks forward to owning the Rams, Nuggets and Avalanche for years to come while being compliant with all stipulations set by the NFL. Our family remains committed to fans in St. Louis and Denver." Hochman notes Kroenke "will transfer some or all of his ownership of the Nuggets to his 30-year-old son." It is "unclear how Kroenke will handle the ownership of the Avs, though it is possible he could pass that ownership to his son or possibly to his wife." NBA Commissioner David Stern said that the league "has not received anything official regarding Kroenke transferring ownership of the Nuggets." Stern said that a transfer of ownership "would have to be approved" by the NBA's BOG. Stern: "I know (Josh), I know the family -- very smart business and basketball family. I know he's deeply involved in the basketball side of the (Nuggets') operations." Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony said of Josh, "He's very business savvy. As an owner, it'll take some time for him to learn everything. But eventually, I think he'll become a great owner" (DENVER POST, 6/8).

    RAM CHARGER: In St. Louis, Christopher Tritto notes the Rams' front office is "riding a resurgence of local interest" in the team. Rams VP/Sales Michael O'Keefe said that new season-ticket sales are "tracking about 300 percent ahead of this time last year, and they have been since before the April 22 draft," when the team selected QB Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick. The team in February announced that "two-thirds of the seats at the Edward Jones Dome would drop in price." O'Keefe said, "We've experienced call volume in the ticket office we haven't seen in a couple of years." Also, Rams CMO Bob Reif said that a "large number of local companies are in sponsorship and ticket purchasing talks with the team, and many current business partners are working on renewals" (ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/4 issue).

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  • Glazer Family's Businesses Found To Be Nearly $1.6B In Debt

    Group Of ManU Fans Uneasy About Amount
    Of Debt Currently Being Carried By Glazers

    Manchester United and Buccaneers Owner the Glazer family is $1.59B (all figures U.S.) in debt, $578.8M "more than previously known -- after borrowing extensively against their shopping mall business," and the debt "may threaten their hold on" ManU, according to Sweeney & Head of the BBC. Mortgage documents indicated that the Glazers have borrowed $570M against their shopping mall company First Allied Corp. and $95M against the Buccaneers. In addition, a portion of the Glazers' $1.01B ManU debt "will soon see them charged interest at a rate of 16.25%." A Glazer spokesperson said that the family "holds more than" $2.89B in assets. But Sweeney & Head noted the "extent of the debt owed by the Glazers is likely to fuel a continuing revolt by some supporters, who oppose their ownership of the club." Analyst Andy Green found the mortgages "on 63 of 64 First Allied shopping centres." Green said of the Glazers, "These are people who tell us not to worry about Manchester United debt because they are great businessmen. In their core business in the US they got it absolutely wrong." EPL Wigan Athletic Chair Dave Whelan added, "I don't think anybody can be satisfied with how Manchester United are being run. ... They have got somewhere in the order of three-quarters of a billion pounds worth of debt. That has got to be eliminated and eliminated quickly." But ManU CEO David Gill said, "We're very confident the business model we have in place will ensure the club can continue to compete at the top of football for many years to come" (BBC.co.uk, 6/7). The GUARDIAN's David Conn noted the prospectus that was circulated to potential ManU investors in January listed First Allied as the family's "only 'principal business interest,' besides United and the Bucs." Green's investigation into First Allied revealed that that business "has been seriously hit by the recession." Not all of the First Allied shopping centers "are in trouble; some are fully occupied and making profits." Conn: "Yet peeled back by this exposure is a fact acknowledged by the Glazers: their property business, recession-hit, is not the engine for the family's fortunes. It is the sports clubs they bought, United and the Bucs, which they believe will generate them cash and increased value" (GUARDIAN, 6/7).

    GLAZERS RESPOND: Buccaneers Dir of Communications Jonathan Grella yesterday issued a four-paragraph statement in response to the reports, and in St. Petersburg, Rick Stroud notes the Glazer family's message "was clear." The statement indicated that the family is "not siphoning profits from its NFL team to offset debt of more than" $1B from ManU. The statement added that the Glazers' companies "generate revenues of $800 million a year and that each business -- including the Bucs and Man U -- is 'independent and self-sufficient.'" The statement: "Buccaneers fans should know that the Glazer family is as financially well-positioned as ever before. Companies they own generate revenues in excess of $800 million each year" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/8). But in St. Petersburg, John Romano notes the statement "did not dispute Green's numbers," and it "seemed to acknowledge the loans secured against the shopping centers." The Glazers "have never denied that they took on debt when they bought" ManU, and what Green's research "seems to reveal is the debt is larger than anyone had imagined." Green: "I don't want to give the impression that they are about to go bankrupt. They have two very valuable sports franchises worth billions. The problem is they are sitting on a very large amount of debt." Romano writes the Glazer family should "try being honest." Romano: "The Glazers should show up at FanFest 11 days from now and actually answer unfiltered questions from fans" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/8).

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  • Heat Unveil New Billboard As Part Of "We Want Wade" Campaign

    Heat Erects "We Want Wade" Billboard
    Near Wade's Neighborhood In South Florida

    The Heat took their "We Want Wade" campaign to "new heights Monday when the team unveiled a billboard designed as a contract near Wade's neighborhood" in South Florida, according to Michael Wallace of the MIAMI HERALD. The billboard along the 79th Street Causeway is "just a few miles from Wade's North Bay Village home, and is one he is likely to pass often." The ad features an "enlarged portion of a contract with the dotted line left blank." Wade's name "appears directly underneath the line." The Heat are "calling it the 'Sign Here' billboard." Should Wade re-sign with the Heat, team officials "will try to get him to also sign the billboard." The ad is the "latest phase of recruiting" the Heat plan to continue until Wade signs. The team last month launched its WeWantWade.com website, which has "received significant traffic" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/8).

    NEW YORK CALLING: In N.Y., Clyde Haberman notes the city has "put muscle into a campaign to lure LeBron James," who will become a free agent on July 1. For the campaign, dubbed "C'mon LeBron," N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and "other prominent New Yorkers have turned themselves into mendicants, all but getting down on one knee to beg" James to "abandon his home state" and sign with the Knicks or Nets. Haberman writes in "one sense, the supplicant impulse is understandable," as the Knicks and Nets are "painful embarrassments." But the "strenuous effort being poured into 'C'mon LeBron' raises a question." If "so much energy can be expended on a basketball player, why can't the same be done in a range of endeavors, including some that are of far greater interest to many New Yorkers?" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes of "C'mon LeBron," "That's it? That's the best slogan the world's greatest city can manage?" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/8). On Long Island, Neil Best writes the "off-court wild card is that New York offers intangibles that could sway a man who has said he wants to be a 'global icon'" (NEWSDAY, 6/8).

    FREE TO DECIDE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Everson & Biderman note there has been talk of a meeting among big-name NBA free agents to discuss their offseason decisions, and there is "nothing that would make such a meeting illegal." Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh said, "They have the right to talk, so it's fine with me. ... What they want to do is see if and where spots are going to open. They're trying to make sure they're not getting in each other's ways." Everson & Biderman note a "star player could delay signing with a team until it promised to bring another pricey player aboard." UCLA's Anderson School of Management professor Daniel Mitchell said, "If you can organize yourself, and if the other side isn't organized, whoever is in that position has the greatest bargaining power and determines outcomes." This year a handful of free agents "can really cash in, both in terms of compensation and in concocting just the kind of work environment they desire" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/8).

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  • MLB Rangers Ask For Allowance To Pay For Restructuring Advice

     

    The MLB Rangers asked a federal bankruptcy court yesterday to allow the team to pay investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners at least $1.5M for restructuring advice, according to court documents. The Rangers late last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, seeking to overcome creditors' objections to a sale of the club to a group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg. The two sides are gearing up for potentially make-or-break hearings next week in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas. Perella Weinberg has been one of the advisers to the team since May 7, 2009, according to a letter included as an exhibit in yesterday's fillings. According to the terms of that engagement letter from Perella to the Rangers, the team would already have paid about $5M. The new agreement would, in addition to the $1.5M, have an $87,500 monthly retainer. The creditors could object to these fees. A lawyer for the creditors did not immediately return calls. During the months of haggling between January and May, the creditors succeeded in reducing the team's investment banking fees committed to Perella, Merrill Lynch and Raine, sources said. However, all those gains were taken away by the bankruptcy filing.

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  • Southern California Sports Organizations Hit Hard By Recession

    Professional and amateur sports organizations in Southern California have been "stung by the recession," according to Hugo Martin of the L.A. TIMES. A study released yesterday by the L.A. Sports Council and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce showed that with "drops in attendance, ticket prices and part-time employment, sporting events drew 18% less revenue in 2009 compared with 2007," when the study was last conducted. Fifty-five sports organizations in Southern California generated $4.2B in revenue last year, down from $5.1B in '07. The three-month study, conducted by graduate students from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, was "based on revenue reports and employment and attendance figures from the sports organizations." The study "examined the revenue generated by the sports organizations, not the money spent by fans who paid for lodging, food, travel and souvenirs outside of the sporting venue." Much of the decline in direct revenue was "attributed to a combination of factors, including a 16% drop in annual attendance to the events and a slight decrease in ticket prices" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne noted sports "pumped $1.7 billion directly into the local economy last year, which resulted in a $4.2 billion impact." In '07, while L.A. was "still enjoying record economic gains, sports contributed $2.1 billion directly into the economy." The '09 figure, "while lower by 18 percent, is in line with 2005 figures ($2.1 million)" (ESPNLOSANGELES.com, 6/7).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Geffen Reportedly Interested
    In Acquiring Clippers

    In N.Y., Peter Vecsey cites a source as indicating that DreamWorks SKG co-Founder David Geffen is "hot to buy 51 percent of the Clippers" and that he had dinner in L.A. with Clippers Owner Donald Sterling on Friday "to discuss just that." Geffen "has been deep in the hunt for quite some time," and the source said that Geffen told Sterling Friday "he can deliver LeBron as long as he's calling the shots." But Vecsey writes he "can't imagine" Sterling "selling controlling interest of anything he owns, much less turn over the decision-making of his showcase property." The "opinion of one and all" is Sterling will "take the Clippers to the grave with him" (N.Y. POST, 6/8).

    ANTICIPATING A REVIVAL: MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil last week said that the Knicks "have sold 3,000 new full-season tickets since around the All-Star break, which he called 'a huge milestone.'" O'Neil added that "more than 90 percent of 2009-10 season subscribers renewed, and that the total number" of season-ticket holders "is about 13,000." O'Neil, referring to the beginning of free agency, said, "I think the hope and excitement about what's coming, the anticipation of July 1, is pretty spectacular to be a part of. ... If I were a Knicks fan and had any interest in buying tickets, now would be the time, for sure" (NEWSDAY, 6/8).

    CUTTING BACK: Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos last week said the team "will not be over" $50M in payroll during the '10-11 season. Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford added the team has "definitely decided not to be active in the free-agent market" this offseason. In Raleigh, Chip Alexander writes Karmanos' "talk of having a significantly reduced payroll next season -- about $44 million -- obviously was made with an eye toward attracting someone to buy into the team" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/8).

    NOT A RELAXING SUMMER: In Baltimore, Jamison Hensley reports the Ravens were "forced to cancel next week's offseason camp -- their last one before training camp -- after violating the collective bargaining agreement's offseason workout rules." The penalty came after the NFLPA "lodged a complaint against the Ravens." A joint NFL and NFLPA statement yesterday indicated that it was "determined that the Ravens had broken the rules concerning the intensity and tempo of drills conducted at their offseason camps as well as the length of time spent by players at the team's facility" (Baltimore SUN, 6/8).

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