SBD/Issue 238/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Stan Kroenke Unanimously
Approved As Rams Owner

The NFL owners today unanimously approved Stan Kroenke as the next owner of the Rams. The current owners, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, will retain a 31% stake that at some point in the future they may sell to Kroenke. In a press conference at the owners meeting in Atlanta announcing the vote, NFL Exec VP/ Finance & Strategic Transactions Eric Grubman spent as much time at the lectern answering questions about the deal structure as Kroenke. Because he owns the NBA and NHL team in Denver, Kroenke could have run afoul of the league's cross ownership rules. But Kroenke will cede operating control of the teams to his son Josh by the end of the year, and full equity control by '14. Grubman said the structure conforms with NFL precedent (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

END OF THE LINE: SportsCorp President Marc Ganis last night confirmed that QSL Sports Limited "did not enter a formal bid" for EPL club Liverpool "despite weeks of speculation." Ganis, whose firm helped form the prospective investment group, said, "There was never a formal proposal submitted by us to the club and we have been very clear about that." In London, Paul Kelso writes Ganis' admission "will fuel the suspicion" that the bid was "motivated by publicity, though he denies this." QSL Chair Kenny Huang "offered no explanation for his withdrawal," but sources said that "publicity around the bid led their anchor investor to pull out" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/25).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: SI.com's Ann Killion noted the sale of the Warriors to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber "isn't expected to be approved until the end of September at the earliest, shortly before training camp is scheduled to begin." Lacob recently said the timing is a "real problem." The "NBA-starved Bay Area is clamoring for a total house cleaning, getting rid of all the guilty parties." Lacob "can't make any changes until he officially owns the team, but by then, the season will be just days away." If Lacob "wants to win over fans, sell tickets and make a good first impression, he can't possibly bring" coach Don Nelson back. Killion: "The drumbeat for Nelson's departure keeps getting louder, the impatience with his style more pronounced" (SI.com, 8/24).

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Pirates President Frank Coonelly Sunday would not confirm reports that the Pirates' total debt as of last year was $120M, but he said that the "debt is 'manageable' and the team, which made a $34.8 million profit from 2007-09, is in solid financial shape." Coonelly: "We've made important, meaningful capital improvements to facilities the organization had neglected in previous years. To make improvements, you need to generate positive income every year. A lot of businesses have over-leveraged themselves in bank financing, but we've been very careful not to do that" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/25).

FAN APPRECIATION: In Chicago, Mitchell & Kaplan report the Blackhawks are "offering every season ticket holder a chance to have their photo taken with the Stanley Cup." This is "believed to be the first time a U.S. professional team has allowed every season ticket holder to take a picture" with the trophy (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/25).

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