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McCourts' Divorce Trial
Scheduled To Begin Monday
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office "has resisted any substantive involvement in -- or comment about -- the Dodgers' divorce drama," but that "could change during the upcoming trial," with MLB Senior VP & General Counsel Thomas Ostertag scheduled to appear as a witness for Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Ostertag "would be expected to testify that McCourt is the sole owner of the Dodgers," and that his estranged wife, Jamie, "has no claim to ownership under baseball rules." Ostertag "could also say Jamie had never been approved by MLB as an owner and in fact had prepared statements for MLB certifying Frank as the sole owner." The McCourt trial is set to start Monday, with Jamie asking the court to"throw out an agreement she and her estranged husband signed six years ago that specifies he is the sole owner of the Dodgers." The list of "potential witnesses, highlighted by the McCourts themselves, otherwise is dominated by lawyers who worked on drafting or revising that agreement." Shaikin notes the two sides yesterday "filed several pretrial motions." Jamie "asked the court to restrict testimony on the discrepancies among recently discovered versions in the agreement, arguing the discrepancies alone -- three versions say the Dodgers are Frank's sole property and three do not -- represent sufficient grounds to throw out the agreement." Frank "filed three motions, the most significant of which asked the court to bar discussion of the current value of the Dodgers" or the couple's homes (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).
DRIFTING APART: The L.A. TIMES' Carla Hall in a front-page piece writes of the McCourts, "Behind closed doors, they were often a noisy power couple -- stubborn and contentious, arguing over whatever they felt strongly about, whether it was ticket prices or putting players' names on jerseys. (He had the names taken off at one point; she wanted them back on.) But in public, cameras captured them perpetually grinning at each other, as if sharing some delicious joke. ... Today, they live apart -- she in Malibu, he at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills -- and they no longer argue face-to-face. High-priced lawyers do it for them, and though the spectacle might be noisy and feisty, few would call it fun." Jamie said that she has been "advised not to speak to Frank." But she noted, "I would talk to him in a minute. ... How can you be with someone for 30 years and not try to find common ground?" (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).
Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos Still
Looking To Sell 49.9% Of Team
Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford said that the team's payroll this season "will be in the range of" $44-45M, about 18% less than its '09-10 opening payroll of $54.6M, which was the "largest in team history," according to Chris Baysden of the TRIANGLE BUSINESS JOURNAL. One reason for the payroll reduction is the team's "financial performance a year ago." Rutherford "won't reveal specifics," but he said that the team "lost money." Hurricanes Hockey LP generated total revenue of $65M for the nine-month period that ended March 31, a 5.8% decline "from the same period in the previous season, when the Canes made the playoffs and advanced all the way to the conference finals." The two "big culprits for the revenue decline were admissions," which were down 9.5% to $21.8M, and revenue sharing, which declined by 9.1% to $23M. The declines "would have been worse if not for a nearly 30 percent spike in revenue from advertising sales," which totaled $6.1M. Baysden notes the revenue declines are "only part of the reason the team is cutting back on player costs." Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos also has hired Allen & Co. to sell 49.9% of the team "after former partner Thomas Thewes died" in '08 (TRIANGLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/20 issue).
JUST A MATTER OF TIME: In Nashville, Nate Rau reports the Predators' ownership group "has until Sept. 15 to purchase shares in the team that were owned by" former investor William "Boots" Del Biaggio. Nashville's Metro Sports Authority "moved the date after the initial Aug. 12 deadline passed without a deal." Metro Sports Authority Chair J.D. Elliott said that the deadline extension "was for procedural reasons and the deal should be consummated in the coming days." The purchase requires the approval of CIT Group, the owners' primary lender, and the NHL, but attorneys working on the deal indicated that "those hurdles would be cleared without a problem" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/24).
Most Target Field Tickets Will Carry Higher
Price In '11, With Increases Ranging From $1-3
The Twins yesterday announced that most season-ticket prices will increase for the '11 season. Target Field's "most expensive seats, the dugout box seats, will go up from $69 a game this year to $72" next season. Home plate box seats also will go up $3 to $53, while "Diamond box, field box and left field bleacher seats, priced at $38, $29 and $18 a game this year, will each cost $2 more" in '11. Club level seats, $55 and $48 a game this season, "will be $58 and $50 next year," while all the "terrace level seats will cost $1 more a game." The only seats "not going up are the outfield mezzanine level seats" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/24).
NO REST FOR THE WEARY: In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted the Mets' attendance at Citi Field "keeps plummeting (down 6,000 per game from last season), the controversies keep growing, and the Mets can’t seem to find solutions." Still, it "doesn't get any easier" next season. With arbitration cases, the Mets will have about $140M "committed to the same players." With the "decline in attendance and the murky finances of the Wilpons, who lost a small fortune in the Bernie Madoff fiasco, it’s unclear" how much GM Omar Minaya "can do to change this team." A team exec said, "It’s always difficult when the high-priced players don’t live up to their contracts. The Mets have had a lot of that, unfortunately" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).
LOVE IS ALL AROUND YOU: In Ft. Worth, Anthony Andro reports the new ownership group of the Rangers, led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, already is "taking steps to expand their reach within the region." The Rangers Sunday ran full-page ads in the Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, as well as in newspapers in several other Texas cites, including Austin, Abilene, Longview, Tyler, Waco and Wichita Falls. The ad, also appearing in papers in Oklahoma City and Shreveport, La., featured an open letter from Greenberg and Ryan and "mentioned how the Rangers wanted input from the fans on how to better serve them" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/24).
Josh Kroenke (l) Has Become More Involved
With Nuggets' Decisions In Recent Months
YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Nuggets VP/Team Development Josh Kroenke has "undoubtedly emerged as a far more powerful voice in the franchise" this offseason. Kroenke this past weekend met with Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony about a new contract, and Kroenke's "burden is unmistakable now: As a 30-year-old on the cusp of taking over majority ownership of the Nuggets, he must sell the All-Star forward on staying the course with the Nuggets." The departure of VP/Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien earlier this month has "elevated Kroenke to a more prominent role in the Nuggets organization," and sources noted that he "made a springtime tour to meet several of the most prominent West Coast player agents" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/23).
TIME FOR A NEW GAME PLAN: Bobcats President & COO Fred Whitfield yesterday said that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade teaming with the Heat "could affect how the Charlotte Bobcats sell tickets to big games that have lost their star power." Whitfield contends that in the past, the Bobcats "could count on selling out both home games" against the Cavaliers and "at least one Toronto home game." But he said that the Bobcats "will now have to look at 'more creative' pricing and sales strategies to move tickets to those games." Whitfield also noted that the Bobcats "may not sell any single-game tickets to the Heat's two Charlotte games due to high demand" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/24).
GIVING YOU WINGS: In N.Y., Brian Lewis reported new MLS Red Bulls F Thierry Henry "isn't just helping lift the club on the pitch, but at the gate and the cash register, as well." The Red Bulls earned their "first sellout at Red Bull Arena" when they hosted the Galaxy on Aug. 14, and Henry has "even unseated Los Angeles' David Beckham as the top jersey-seller in MLS." Lewis noted Beckham had "held that post since his 2007 arrival, reportedly selling an absurd 300,000 jerseys in his first season with MLS" (NYPOST.com, 8/23).
BUCKING THE TREND: In Boston, Albert Breer notes while many NFL clubs with "high-profile restricted free agents in the fourth- and fifth-year category -- who would have been unrestricted prior to this season -- have held the new rules over such players’ heads, the Broncos have gone in the other direction." The Broncos "tendered five RFAs in March, and they have all been taken care of." Plenty of NFL teams "have taken advantage of rules restricting player movement this offseason," so it is "interesting to see one that didn't" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).