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SBD/November 10, 2010/FranchisesPrint All
The group of lenders serving as owner of the Stars is "seriously considering naming an interim president to help guide the team," according to a source cited by Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. A decision "could come by the end of the week," and the source said that the potential move "could be seen as a sign that the lenders are content to run the team for the remainder of the season." The Stars "have been operating without a president and have been run by" three Exec VPs since former President Jeff Cogen left the team in August. There has been "input from the executive committee of the lenders, as well as the NHL." Meanwhile, an NHL source said that "three people have been approved by the league to look at the Stars' books and study a possible offer to buy the team," though they "have not come close to meeting the price that would satisfy the lenders." A Stars source said that the team has been "running on the monies collected in the summer through ticket sales, advertising and television revenue, but those monies could run out in December." The Stars "have talked to the NHL about getting an advance on future money that is normally collected by teams after the season, but the lenders may have to be prepared to start covering potential losses" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/10). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote it is "interesting that it's taken so long to find a buyer." LeBrun: "But this team will sell. It's a good market and a good purchase in my mind" (ESPN.com, 11/9).
The Nuggets have "pushed out" advisor Bret Bearup in an "ongoing shakeup of the franchise’s basketball operations department," according to NBA sources cited by Wojnarowski & Spears of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources indicated that the Nuggets informed other teams on Monday that President Josh Kroenke and Exec VP/Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri are the "only officials authorized to discuss basketball issues on the franchise’s behalf." Nuggets Owner Stan Kroenke will "continue to use Bearup as a consultant on non-basketball matters." Bearup has been involved with the Nuggets since Stan Kroenke purchased the team in '00, and he "played a strong role in personnel moves, despite never having an official position." In recent weeks, Stan Kroenke has "come under pressure from the league office and rival owners who had issues with Bearup’s conflicting interests outside of the team." Bearup only had the title of an advisor, but "agents and rival team officials understood he carried considerable influence with Stan Kroenke, which often made negotiations confusing and difficult" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/9). ESPN.com's Chris Broussard cited sources as saying that league officials had been "advising the Nuggets to get rid of Bearup," who is "well-known" in basketball circles. Since '00, he has been "arguably the most powerful voice in Nuggets basketball, serving as Stan Kroenke's most trusted advisor." Kroenke gave Bearup the "power to make or break deals, the power to override the club's more qualified men who had been hired to run the club." While Bearup had "no official position" with the Nuggets, he "had an office at the team's headquarters and the power to make phone calls and propose trades on the club's behalf" (ESPN.com, 11/9). Bearup was "instrumental in the construction of the current Nuggets roster and was heavily involved in trades" for Gs Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups. In recent weeks, he has been "actively scouting potential trade acquisitions" for F Carmelo Anthony (DENVER POST, 11/10).
Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations Rick Pych said that the team is "highly optimistic about the long-term health of the franchise -- in large part because of the projected economic growth for the city," according to W. Scott Bailey of the SAN ANTONIO BUSINESS JOURNAL. Pych: "You have to be optimistic about the future here." Bailey noted SSE has "created a program to help fans who don't want to invest in 40-plus home games but who still want to be season ticket holders." The program matches fans "with others in a similar situation so that they can share their season ticket packages," and Pych said that "roughly 1,000 people are now participating in that partnering program." He said that the Spurs "still expect to sell the equivalent of about 10,000 full season tickets this season." Pych said that the Spurs also "have tried to create more bang for the buck for fans and sponsors this season." SSE is "converting some 4,000 square feet of space on the event level at AT&T Center into a private club for some of its high-end season ticket holders," and Pych said that "work on that club should be completed by next month." SSE also has "sweetened luxury box deals, lengthening some commitments with business supporters in the process." Pych: "Almost everything that we are doing is geared toward providing additional value." He added that the Spurs have sold "more than 90 percent of their luxury suite inventory," and that the national average for suite sales "is now closer to" 60% (SAN ANTONIO BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).
SUPER FANS: In San Antonio, William Pack reported Nationwide Insurance and the Spurs Monday announced a sponsorship agreement that "creates a sweepstakes to select a 'Super Fan' who will be recognized at each Spurs home game." Winners of the "World's Greatest Super Fan In The World" sweepstakes "will get to join the Spurs on the court during pre-game warm-ups and to high-five team members during pre-game introductions." They also will receive "four lower-level game tickets and a souvenir T-shirt and will have their pictures featured on the arena's overhead video screen during the game" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 11/9).
Sounders investor & GM Adrian Hanauer said season-ticket renewals for the MLS club are "on target or basically on a comparable basis" to last year. He said, "Three weeks after announcing we’re renewing we’re at some percentage that’s the same as it was the year before 21 days after. And we do have a waiting list, we haven’t dug into that yet. But you always obviously get people who aren’t going to renew, and people move out of town and have different financial situations. So it’s a little premature to know where the capacity will end up" (THENEWSTRIBUNE.com, 11/9).
LEARNING ON THE JOB: In Boston, Frank Dell'Apa noted the "one visible change" at Liverpool since John Henry's New England Sports Ventures bought the EPL club last month "is the presence of Henry himself in the stands at Anfield." Now that NESV has "relieved the financial strain on Liverpool, things seem to be going smoothly." Henry said that the "business of soccer is 'like the Wild West,' investors not always in control." He also talks of a "culture shock" regarding how EPL clubs operate. N.Y.-based soccer consultancy LFC Int'l Founder Jeff L'Hote: "What you want is an owner who understands the business of professional sport and will put a winning team on the field" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/9).
ALL OPPOSED? Wigan Athletic Chair Dave Whelan has "raised doubts about the proposed takeover" of fellow EPL club Blackburn Rovers by India-based chicken producer Venky's, saying that he "would rather give his club away to the right British owner than sell to an overseas company." Whelan noted that he "sympathises with the trustees of the former owner Jack Walker's estate wanting to sell, but doubted the sense in doing so to Venky's." He said, "The Blackburn deal doesn't sound right, and it doesn't look right. ... I am sure Venky's can help sell Blackburn Rovers shirts in India, but I think it'll be very short-lived" (GUARDIAN, 11/10).
HOPING FOR A GOLDEN GOAL: FC Gold Pride GM Ilisa Kessler in a special to the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS writes the WPS club is "running out of time unless an eleventh-hour investor surfaces." Kessler: "Monday is the deadline for making a capital call to WPS, and the current ownership is unprepared to make it. If the capital call is not made, the Pride will cease to exist. ... The team's demise would be a great setback, not only for professional sports in the Bay Area but for the cause of gender equality across the country and around the globe. My fervent hope is that the progressive and entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area survives sufficiently to save the Pride" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/10).
NAME THAT TEAM: San Antonio’s new NASL team, which will debut in '12, has started a contest to come up with a suitable name for the club. The contest runs Nov. 10-Dec. 17 and invites fans to submit names to the charity website www.soccerforacause.com. A panel of judges from STAR Soccer, NASL San Antonio and others will select the name in early January. The fan who provides the winning name will win a package that includes four season tickets, team equipment and a trip for two to accompany the club on a road trip (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).
In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton writes, "You want to get rid of Jerry Jones, the general manager? Stop going to his games. Don't buy any more Cowboys tickets until Jones agrees to hire -- and listen to -- a real football man. Don't buy any more Cowboys T-shirts. Don't buy any more gameday Party Passes. Don't rent any stadium suites. Don't buy any $14 Cowboyritas. Stop going to his games." LeBreton notes $29 end zone Party Passes are "still available" for $13.95 on StubHub for the Nov. 21 Lions-Cowboys game. LeBreton: "Lions vs. Cowboys. Some party. Don't go" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/10).
FAILED FORMULA: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami wrote 49ers President & CEO Jed York has "tried to shape the entire 49ers franchise into a West Coast version of Jones' Cowboys -- everything run through all-powerful top executives, even the football decisions." The model is "clearly Jones and the Cowboys." Kawakami: "The Yorks tried to do it Jerry's way for a few years. Now Jerry's way has failed even Jerry. What does Jed do now?" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 11/9).
SAME OLD STORY: In N.Y., Larry Brooks wondered how long Islanders Owner Charles Wang is "going to use The Lighthouse as an excuse to hold his franchise hostage." There is an "arena waiting for him in Queens the moment he wants it, an arena and short move that would immediately revitalize the franchise." Brooks: "The minute you hear Wang say Queens isn't Long Island is the minute you're hearing Walter O'Malley say Queens isn't Brooklyn" (N.Y. POST, 11/7).
KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported former Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut "remains very active in an attempt to bring an NHL team back to Quebec City, including the efforts of building a new rink, which is paramount." Aubut said Monday, "Everything is going well. Lots of things happening behind the scenes. I'm very positive about things" (ESPN.com, 11/8).