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Tom Hicks' Effort To Sell The Stars Now
Likely To Extend Well Into NHL Season
Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. Chair Bill Gallacher "has pulled out of the running" to buy the Stars, according to a source cited by Richard Durrett of ESPN DALLAS. Gallacher had been "rumored in recent months to be closing in on a deal to buy the club from owner Tom Hicks, but that has now fallen through." The source indicated that Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi "remains interested, other groups could get back in the bidding and that some newcomers have been added to the mix" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 9/22). In Dallas, Mike Heika cited a source as saying that Gallacher has "not officially alerted the NHL or the broker (Galatioto Sports Partners) that he is no longer interested in pursuing the purchase of the Stars." But that does not mean that he "hasn't made that decision on his own." Heika reported there have been several other parties "sniffing around the team," but insiders believe that "these potential buyers do not believe the value is as high as the lenders would like it to be." As a result, there could be a "long standstill in the negotiations until the economic pressures of running the team start to push on the sale." Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk yesterday said that he is "looking at the beginning of the year for possible resolution" (DALLASNEWS.com, 9/22). A source said that while "ownership was hopeful the sale could be completed by the Oct. 8 season opener, the process is moving very slowly" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/23).
Predators Have Failed To File Statements
Of Team's Worth For Past Two Fiscal Years
The Predators are “violating the terms of their Bridgestone Arena lease in one case and seem to be skirting them in another,” according to a front-page piece by Cass & Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The Predators have “failed to file statements of the team’s net worth -- which are required to guarantee the city would be able to recoup its investment if the team went belly-up -- for the past two fiscal years.” Team officials said that the "annual July 1 deadline, which the owners agreed to during lease negotiations, is impractical and unreasonable." The Metro Sports Authority (MSA) “subsidizes the Predators to the tune of about” $8.8M a year under the lease. The Predators are “required to submit a certificate of net worth” to the MSA every July 1 to “show the team is worth at least $50 million and able to repay Metro’s investment in the arena.” Cass & Rau report the team has “only turned in one certificate of minimum net worth since the new lease was struck in 2007, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.” The information was submitted in September '09, “offering information that was more than a year old.” That means the MSA “has not been updated on the team’s net worth for more than two years.” MSA member Steve North said, “The Predators have been very careful to avoid making their finances public.” But Predators execs said that the July 1 deadline is “unreasonable because it doesn’t give them enough time to conduct a certified audit” with their FY ending June 30. Predators President & COO Sean Henry said that an updated certified net worth statement “would be submitted in the coming months.” Henry added that the “issue could be resolved if the agreement was amended to move the deadline to some time after October each year.”
OVER THE CAP: The Predators' sister company, Powers Management, which runs the arena for the MSA, has “routinely charged a facility fee of $2.50 as part of the price of a concert ticket, despite a stated cap in the lease of $2 for ticket surcharges on ‘non-team events.’” Powers execs said that the additional $0.50 from each concertgoer is “a standard industry practice,” and noted that it has “netted the company $150,000 to $200,000 a year since at least 2002 to help pay for building maintenance” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/23).
Attorney Larry Silverstein yesterday testified during the McCourt divorce trial that he “simply botched his words” in a property agreement draft he wrote “late one night or early morning in 2004, when he listed Frank McCourt’s sole property as ‘exclusive’ of the Dodgers,” according to Hall & Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Silverstein later changed “exclusive” to “inclusive,” meaning the Dodgers “were not joint property” of Frank and Jamie McCourt. Jamie contends that she “would not have signed the agreement if she believed that she was signing away her claim to any ownership in the team.” However, Silverstein, who was “acting on behalf of both McCourts, said she never indicated anything of the sort, including during a March 29 phone call when the two discussed the draft agreement.” Silverstein: “She never once said that the Dodgers should not be listed as Frank’s assets.” But Jamie’s attorney, David Boies, said that whatever his client told Silverstein during the March call “prompted the attorney to change the draft ‘as soon as he got off the phone with her.’” Boies “maintains there never was an error, that Silverstein was following Jamie’s wishes when he wrote that the Dodgers were not Frank’s sole property.” He added that when Silverstein "later changed the wording to include the Dodgers in Frank’s sole property, he was changing the document to reflect Frank’s wishes." The trial was scheduled to resume this morning, and the two sides are “expected to meet privately at the courthouse for a mediation session” tomorrow (L.A. TIMES, 9/23). Silverstein yesterday "acknowledged his handwritten notes on a draft of the agreement, after he had spoken with Jamie." He had added the word "exclusive" to the draft. He also acknowledged "meeting with Frank the next day, when the word was changed to 'inclusive.'" Boies: "Without Jamie being present, they changed it, without ever telling Jamie" (LATIMES.com, 9/22).
Edwards Will Dress For Sunday's Game
Against The Dolphins, But Will Not Start
The Jets reportedly were "prepared to deactivate" WR Braylon Edwards for Sunday's game against the Dolphins following his arrest Tuesday morning for DWI but will not do so because the NFL CBA "prohibits the suspension or deactivation of a player charged with his first DWI or DUI," according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. The Jets were "furious at Edwards' alleged actions" after he was arrested on drunken-driving charges, but were "concerned the union would try to block" any move to leave him off the roster this weekend. Sources indicated that the NFL "repeatedly has pressed the NFLPA to increase the level of discipline for first-time DUIs to a suspension of up to four games," but each time the union "rejected the idea." Glauber writes it is "time that rule is changed, so that teams have tougher disciplinary options for players who put themselves in the kind of situation Edwards did Tuesday." There eventually may "be a policy that allows stricter penalties, but not until a new CBA is negotiated." Glauber: "This is far too important an issue to be used as a bargaining chip. The NFL and the union routinely have updated policies on substance abuse and personal conduct. It's time to do so again" (NEWSDAY, 9/23).
ARE JETS HIDING BEHIND THE CBA CLAUSE? WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa said the Jets are “trying to scam everybody into this idea that they can hide behind the players' association here and put Braylon Edwards on the field, which is what they want to do.” Francesa: “What they want to do is look the other way here. … They are not in any way compelled by a players' association or compelled by anybody to play him. That is nonsense. Since when does the players' association get to tell people who they play or who they don't play?” (“Mike Francesa,” WFAN-AM, 9/22). In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote the Jets "elect to sit this one out" instead of "taking a stand on dumb, dangerous behavior like this, against drunk-driving and against" the NFLPA. The Jets claim that the CBA mandates the "best they can do ... is sit Edwards at the start of Sunday's game against the Dolphins." Lupica: "The Hard Knocks Jets let a soft union save the guy" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22).
JETS SHOULD TAKE ON UNION: Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp said the Jets "should have taken on the players' union and deactivate him for this game and said, 'You guys want to challenge us on this one? Bring it on.'" Sharp: "Rex Ryan is this guy who's always picking for a fight and now they're backing down" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 9/22). SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin said, "Go ahead and deactivate him. I don't care if the Jets were worried about a legal battle. A legal battle is not the biggest issue here. You need to send the right message to your fans" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 9/22). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "Don't worry about making the union mad. This is the weakest union in sports right now. These guys are voting to decertify all around the league. Go ahead and just throw it in their faces. They have no power anyway." Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said, "It is interesting that the players association on one hand is telling you that you can't suspend the player for any kind of drinking offense, but then on the other hand institutes a program where they'll pick you up any time of day, 24-hours-a-day no questions asked for a drinking violation. So which is it? Do you have your player's best interest at heart or not?" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/22).
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Ryan yesterday said he told the team following Edwards' arrest, "Quite honestly, I'm basically tired of dealing with some of these issues. I'm tired of the embarrassment to the owner. Let's just end it; let's stop, whatever it is." Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum added, "Our reputation is important. We take it seriously. We want to be known as a first-class, upstanding organization." In Newark, Jenny Vrentas writes Edwards' arrest is a "black eye for the Jets, who two days after an important victory over the Patriots had to once again deal with questions about the team's discipline level" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/23). N.Y. Daily News reporter Roger Rubin: "To most of the people, what we are seeing (with) these incidents make it a frat house atmosphere (and) are basically reprehensible" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 9/22).
Arsenal's New Global Media Initiative Includes
Finding TV Partners In India, China, U.S.
Arsenal is looking to Chief Commercial Officer Tom Fox to "promote its brand around the world," and the his task is to "sell the club outside the UK in the way that Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have done," according to Bill Wilson of BBC NEWS. Fox at a Sports Marketing 360 event in London said, "We spend a lot of time working on how we can build a successful model that is not so relying on winning." As part of that aim to "promote the club business as a whole entity, rather than just the playing side of things, Arsenal has announced a new global media initiative." The strategy includes "finding TV and multi-media partners around the world, including the major markets" of India, China and the U.S. The club also is "looking to increase its digital media output, covering online, premium broadband, mobile phone applications, Internet TV, and video on demand." Fox, who prior to joining Arsenal worked in the U.S. for the NBA, Nike and Gatorade, said that he believes the "mixture of Arsenal's global PR and an increased thirst for televised sport in India and China can help the club break new ground." Fox: "There are 104 shops in China where Arsenal FC merchandise is sold. In 12 to 18 months, we will be looking to get Chinese youngsters to write stories about Arsenal Football Club. That will be more important than anything we can do with those stores." He added, "To get into a market like China, which is increasingly cluttered, not only with other football brands, but also names like Jeep, is not easy. To get through that we have to show them that Arsenal is different, expose them to our brand, get our message over. ... We must remember we are a £240m brand launching in Asia and the US, and potentially in India, when we know that billion-dollar brands are also looking to launch there" (BBC.co.uk, 9/22).
HANGING ON BY A THREAD: Liverpool Managing Dir Christian Purslow yesterday said that the club "can barely service the debts and interest which were loaded on to the club by Tom Hicks and George Gillett when they took over" in '07. Purslow: "Can we afford to meet (our loans, interest costs and bank charges)? Just about. Do I wish that every penny spent on interest was available to spend on players? Passionately." He added, "We are highly profitable. The issue is that too much of that profit is being used to service loans put into place when the club was bought." Also, Purslow for the first time publicly acknowledged the "boardroom divide at Liverpool between Hicks and Gillett and the three directors who can outvote them." Purslow confirmed that he, Chair Martin Broughton and Commercial Dir Ian Ayre "would reject any proposal from the owners" to replace the club's bank debt "with further borrowings from elsewhere" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 9/22). Purslow "dismissed fears Liverpool will go bust should the current ownership issues not be successfully resolved" (London INDEPENDENT, 9/23).
Wild's Sellout Streak At Xcel Center
Ends At 409 Games
In Minneapolis, Michael Russo notes last night's Blues-Wild exhibition game drew an announced crowd of 16,219 at Xcel Center, the "first non-sellout" in Wild history at the 18,064-seat arena. The game was played "in front of thousands of empty seats -- a lot more than the 1,845 announced." Wild COO Matt Majka "thanked the fans for years of support." He contends that when the Wild, having missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, build a "consistent winner, the fans will fill the building again." Majka: "Part of me wants to say the key is the economy. But that's not good enough. We just need to get better as an organization." Wild Owner Craig Leipold in a blog entry on the team's website and in an e-mail to season-ticket holders vowed to "continue spending to the salary-cap ceiling" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/23).
WHO'S PICKING UP THE TAB? In Phoenix, Rebekah Sanders reported the Glendale has "received no bills" from the NHL for Coyotes losses, "but whether city residents are off the hook for $25 million is open to debate." The NHL for the first time last week was "allowed to submit bills for Coyotes losses." Prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer placed $25M in escrow, but Glendale still has "offered no documentation that city residents have avoided picking up the $25 million tab completely." For now, "it appears the city has avoided paying the team's tab" (AZCENTRAL.com, 9/22).
YOU NAME IT: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay reported the Panthers have brought back "The Perfect Plan" for another week "after its success last month." The program, allowing fans to name their own price for tickets, now runs until next Wednesday. Potential buyers "could have their offers accepted, be offered another location for that price or work out a different agreement." A Panthers spokesperson said that "more than 200 season tickets were sold through the program" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/22).
FREE TO DO WHAT I WANT: In Toronto, Paul Hunter noted Maple Leafs fans "got into Air Canada Centre for free" Tuesday night for the team's exhibition game against the Senators. Coke Zero title sponsored the event, "covering the cost of tickets as [the] Leafs opened their exhibition schedule" (TORONTO STAR, 9/22).
In DC, Michael Lee reports NBA Commissioner David Stern Tuesday spoke with Wizards G Gilbert Arenas "to express his excitement about having Arenas back in the league" after his 50-game suspension last season for bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room at Verizon Center. Stern told Arenas that he "can talk about anything going forward -- except the infamous dispute last December involving guns." Stern later called Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis to inform him that "public comments from the organization about the situation are also off limits." Stern "wants Arenas and the Wizards to put it all behind them." Leonsis is "set to begin his first full season as majority owner of the Wizards and said he had no problem with Stern's gag order" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).
Towers (c) Watches Last Night's D'Backs Game
With Derrick Hall (l) And Ken Kendrick (r)
HIRE GROUND: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes the D'Backs yesterday "unveiled a top-shelf baseball guy with credentials, testimonials and a giant ring gleaming from his finger" in new GM Kevin Towers. He "has an excellent reputation," and he is the "antithesis" of former GM Josh Byrnes. Towers is a "scout's guy, not a numbers guy." Hiring Towers may be a "raw deal" for D'Backs interim GM Jerry DiPoto, the "in-house candidate who did a fine job while acting" in the role. But the D'Backs "took a big chance on an unproven commodity once before, and the unceremonious firing of Byrnes made it impossible to go down that road again" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/23).
THE RAY-ZOR'S EDGE: With Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg saying the team's '11 payroll will be considerably less than the $72M it is this season, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, "It absolutely works against the entire sport to have a really good team like this and just have it broken up because financially, people aren't showing up. … While I absolutely abhor Stuart Sternberg coming out and making those comments when he made them, I can't blame him." ESPN's Tim Kurkjian: "The answer is they have to get a new ballpark, and they have to get one now. … Otherwise, people are not going to go to the games" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 9/23).
MAKING PROGRESS: Bucks VP/Business Operations John Steinmiller and Dir of Ticket Sales Jim Grayson said that the team's season-ticket renewal rate is "near 90%, which is the league's benchmark rate." Steinmiller added that the Bucks are "close to selling 2,000 new, full-season equivalent packages." In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes the team "has begun running TV and radio ads, touting the team that 'is on everybody's radar.'" The Bucks this season "brought in actor Dennis Haysbert ... to do the voiceovers for both radio and TV" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/23).