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SBD/October 19, 2010/FranchisesPrint All
The NHL has had to “front the Stars about $8 million in revenue sharing and league television money to help them pay the bills,” according to Ken Campbell of THE HOCKEY NEWS. Since there is “essentially no owner -- aside from the Monarch Investment Group and Galatioto Sports Partners, the two groups charged with ushering the sale of the Stars -- the franchise has had to have its budget approved by the league and must receive league approval for all transactions." The Stars drew only 11,750 fans to American Airlines Center on Saturday, the "smallest crowd for hockey the building has ever seen." Campbell wrote while it is "not exactly as desperate as the Coyotes situation, there are some eerie parallels." And the Stars situation is "far more discouraging" because "you could argue Phoenix has never really been an NHL market." If the Stars were "worth buying at their asking price, they would have had a new owner by now." The NHL "would like to believe the Stars are worth in the neighborhood of $300 million, but no buyer is going to pay anywhere near that in this economic climate." When Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. Chair Bill Gallacher was in the running to buy the Stars, sources said that the "final price would have been about $225 million and that price tag continues to be moving downward, perhaps as low as south of $200 million" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/18).
Basketball HOFer and Lakers investor Magic Johnson has sold his share of the team to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong for an undisclosed price. Soon-Shiong, a Lakers season-ticket holder for more than 25 years, is a UCLA professor who also serves as UCLA Wireless Health Institute Exec Dir and Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation Chair (Lakers). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan notes Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and biotech investor who "ranked No. 46 among the nation's wealthiest people by Forbes magazine this year" with an estimated worth of $5.6B. Johnson had a 4.5% ownership stake in the franchise. The Lakers are "worth about $600 million, and Johnson's stake had an estimated value" of $27M. But a Lakers source said the sale amount was "a lot more" than $27M, and added Johnson was "made an offer that he couldn't refuse." Meanwhile, sources close to Johnson "quickly quelled any connection between selling his share of the Lakers and aggressively pursuing ownership of another NBA team." Johnson in the last year "has been rumored to be interested in buying" the Warriors and Pistons, but he will "keep his title of vice president and continue to consult with General Manager Mitch Kupchak as needed" (L.A. TIMES, 10/19).
COULDN'T SAY NO: Johnson, who bought the 4.5% stake in '94 for a reported $10M, said, "This was a bittersweet business decision made on behalf of my family and myself." Johnson's agent Lon Rosen: "This really was just a smart business decision." Soon-Shiong "has played a primary role in cutting-edge treatments for a wide variety of cancers" (ESPN.com, 10/18).
Red Sox and Liverpool Owner John Henry, during a day of meetings yesterday with "local politicians and fans at Liverpool's city centre offices," sought input on a "range of issues, including the possibility of supporter representation on the board and the debate over whether the redevelopment of Anfield would be a better option than the proposed new stadium in Stanley Park," according to Tony Barrett of the LONDON TIMES. Henry "may have to begin rebuilding the club without the help" of Liverpool Chair Martin Broughton, who is "reported to be ready to step down to take a job involving investment in sport-related businesses." But Henry was "doing just fine yesterday," when he was "pressed for answers about his plans for the club." Member of Parliament Steve Rotheram: "I was quite impressed with the way they (the co-owners) conducted themselves. I met with four other MPs from the local area and we all fired questions about what the future of the club will be and they were open and honest." Barrett writes what "would have pleased fans most" was Henry's assertion that the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool Supporters' Union "helped to bring down" former co-Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett (LONDON TIMES, 10/19).
FOREIGN INFLUX: In London, Simon Briggs notes Henry's Liverpool purchase "maintains the number of foreign-owned clubs in the Premier League at nine out of 20." It is "not quite a majority shareholding just yet," but those nine clubs "include the cream of the crop: all of the so-called 'Big Four,' plus Manchester City and Aston Villa." Briggs writes, "The interesting question is why, at a time when margins are being squeezed and attendances are flatlining, do the foreign investors keep piling in with their wallets akimbo? The answer is almost frightening: they believe that the Premier League can get even bigger, even more corporate, even more aggressively expansionist" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/19).
There are "hints of a surprising warm embrace" as the Nets begin a scheduled two-year stint at Prudential Center, according to Richard Perez-Pena of the N.Y. TIMES. The arrival of the team "drew mostly positive, even enthusiastic, reactions from dozens of people interviewed on Newark streets." Team officials said that they "have set a record for new season tickets sold, 2,800 and counting for the season that opens Oct. 27," though they "would not say how many of the old season-ticket holders at the Izod Center at the Meadowlands have renewed." Rather than "acting as though it is just passing through, by all accounts the team has worked at building up local loyalty." Long before planning the move to Newark, the Nets "worked with community groups ... to sponsor youth leagues, holiday parties for children and other events." Recently, the organization "has started a new marketing campaign, opened a practice to the public and held a free basketball clinic in Branch Brook Park." Meanwhile, Perez-Pena notes the WNBA Liberty next spring "will join the Nets in making the Prudential their temporary home." Since the arena opened in '07, it has become a "popular site for concerts, in use more than 200 days a year," and Devils and arena Owner Jeff Vanderbeek said that the "year that started July 1 will be its first turning a profit" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/19).
In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay reported the Heat during last night's preseason game against the Bobcats launched "Fan Up, Miami!" in response to the fact that "late-arriving crowds are the norm" at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat as part of the campaign are encouraging fans to "watch the team warm up courtside before the game, even if you're sitting upstairs -- and exit the bars and balconies (they'll help by putting drinks and snacks in to-go cups and containers) early enough to get to their seats on time." Early-arriving fans will be "rewarded with discount cards good for merchandise and concessions." Fans in the arena concourses and clubs "will notice the sound getting louder as game time approaches." Talalay noted the tenets of the campaign include "Fan Up ... means being in your seat for tipoff ... and staying there until the final buzzer" and "Fan Up ... means there is nothing fashionable about showing up fashionably late .. it's just late" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 10/18).
GLAD TO HAVE YOU: A Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial stated the "controversial decision" to build the $250M FedExForum in order to attract the Grizzlies from Vancouver "was a smart move." The original agreement with the franchise "to grant first refusal rights for concerts and other performances ... turns out to have been a smart move." The Grizzlies in exchange "agreed to cover operating deficits," which "has been a yearly obligation for the Grizzlies, not local taxpayers." Meanwhile, "important to Grizzlies followers are the difficult-to-quantify but undeniable intangible benefits of fielding a major league sports franchise." The Grizzlies "may not be the biggest draw" in the NBA, but they "attract one of this city's most diverse gatherings." The editorial: "Memphis might not be 'Griz Country' quite yet, but things seem to be moving that way" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/16).
SOCAL FOR THREE? Lakers G Kobe Bryant said that Orange County "deserves its own" NBA franchise. The Lakers will play the Jazz in a preseason game at Honda Center tonight, and Bryant said it is "fun playing" at the arena "because I know how badly they want a team down there in Orange County." Bryant: "They definitely deserve one. ... You see how they support the Ducks and how they support the Angels. I think having a basketball team is well deserved" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/18).
ESPN.com's Adam Schefter cited NFL sources as indicating that Dolphins consultant Bill Parcells "is no longer taking part in the day-to-day decisions and activities of the team." Parcells, who last month stepped down as Exec VP/Football Operations, "has packed his bags and moved out of the Dolphins' offices." The team "knew this move was coming, but didn't realize Parcells' departure would happen so soon" (ESPN.com, 10/18). In Miami, Jeff Darlington cites sources as saying that Parcells "still will serve as a consultant, but his daily input is no longer." Darlington writes Parcells vacated his office in a "strange and untimely fashion" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/19).
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: In Columbus, Jeff Bell reports the Blue Jackets have sold "about 8,000" season tickets for this season, down about 20% from 10,200 last season. Blue Jackets Exec VP/Business Operations Larry Hoepfner said that the drop is "due in part to Central Ohio's struggling economy and the Jackets' disappointing results last season." However, Hoepfner added that corporate sponsorship sales are "solid and should top last year's total by the end of the season." Tim Hortons, Big Lots and Labatt Brewing Co. "expanded their sponsorships, and the list of new corporate partners includes Roosters Wings, Bd's Mongolian Grill, Chrysler Jeep, Heineken and Scott Miracle-Gro." Bell notes the "expanded deal with Tim Hortons will be the most noticeable," as the company will "add two concession stands and a portable cart selling coffee and baked goods at Nationwide Arena" (BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS, 10/15 issue).
GETTING THEIR PHIL: In Philadelphia, Amy Rosenberg writes under the header, "Female Fans Turned On By Phils." The "serious female baseball fan has entered the mainstream" in the city. The "daily addiction of baseball fandom has caught on, especially with young women." That group mostly "grew up playing organized sports," and Phillies officials said that they have "taken to the team in a major way." Rosenberg notes part of the draw is "Citizens Bank Park itself," as Phillies officials said that the ballpark has "drawn increasing numbers of women since opening" in '04 (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/19).
SEARCH GOES ON: In N.Y., Dan Martin notes the Mets yesterday "received permission from the Blue Jays to interview" Special Assistant to the GM Dana Brown, the "first minority candidate the team will talk to in an attempt to replace" former GM Omar Minaya. MLB consultant Sandy Alderson Thursday "will be the first candidate to return to Citi Field for a second interview" (N.Y. POST, 10/19).