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Stan Kasten Has Talked With Astros Owner
About Possible Interest In Owning Team
Astros Owner Drayton McLane estimated that he "has had 20-25 conversations either personally or through his hired investment bank with people expressing some interest in being part of a group to purchase the Astros," according to Zachary Levine of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. McLane acknowledged that "one of those was with" former Nationals President Stan Kasten. But he added that talks with all parties "were preliminary," and that he "hasn't shared financial information with any interested party." McLane: "There is no activity right now. It's just conversation." Levine notes "many of the talks have been through" Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/9). Kasten: "I don't discuss anything that I'm working on. I've been active since the end of the season all over the country talking to a lot of people." McLane: "Stan Kasten is a good, good human being and he's casting around. He said he wanted to talk about this and I told him to call Steve" (MYFOXHOUSTON.com, 12/8). McLane added, "Stan and I have talked and he has said someday he'd like to get back into baseball, but as far as him putting a group together, there's no substance to it" (MLB.com, 12/8).
Monty Williams Gets Impressions That Gary
Chouest Could Still Be Interested In Hornets
Hornets coach Monty Williams last night said that "based on his dealings and conversations" with former Minority Owner Gary Chouest, he "could envision a scenario in which Chouest returns to purchase the team," according to Jennifer Armstrong of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Chouest "reached an impasse in negotiations with George Shinn to buy Shinn's remaining interest in the franchise, and now the two are in the process of selling their interests to the NBA for a reported" $300M. Williams said that Chouest "has spoken to him about the situation throughout the process." Williams: "From his words, he's not out of the picture; I will say that. If there's an opportunity for him to get back into it, I think he would jump on it in a minute. ... From his standpoint, having talked to him, he's tried to do everything he could to keep this team here. He's been really forthright with me explaining his position." NBA Commissioner David Stern said that "nothing precludes Chouest from stepping back in as a potential owner." Armstrong reports another potential local investor is New Orleans-based attorney Morris Bart, who said that he is "interested in purchasing a 10 percent share of the team if the NBA can find a majority investor." The NBA "plans to seek local ownership with hopes of keeping the Hornets in New Orleans, but it's possible the league might not aggressively pursue new ownership until it is able to reach a new" CBA (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/9). In New Orleans, John Reid noted Bart "has been a corporate partner with the franchise for the past five seasons and said he wants to help to keep the team in New Orleans" (NOLA.com, 12/8).
LAGGING SUPPORT: In New Orleans, Nakia Hogan notes the Hornets beat the Pistons last night in front of an announced crowd of 10,823 at New Orleans Arena, the "smallest crowd of the season at the Arena." Many of the fans "had shown up wondering what happens next" for the team. The Hornets "can opt out of their lease at the Arena, which runs through 2014, if they fail to average 14,735 fans per game through Jan. 31, with a penalty" of $10M. The team "would have to notify the state of their intentions by March 31, 2011, if the attendance benchmarks aren't achieved." The Hornets were averaging 13,860 fans per game this season prior to last night's game (10 games), and they have 13 more home dates before the Jan. 31 deadline. The club has only "sold out one game -- against the Miami Heat -- at the Arena this season" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/9). Hornets F David West said, "We're going to stick to what we're doing. Approach this thing as professionals understanding there is a change somewhere in the works." West "wouldn't call the news a distraction," but he said it would be "naive to assume we're not aware of what's going on" (WWLTV.com, 12/8).
MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME: In Louisville, Klepal & Green in a front-page story report Louisville Metro Council members "have been funding a behind-the-scenes push to lure" an NBA team to the city, "spending $60,000 to contract with attorney J. Bruce Miller to approach teams and potential investors." Miller, "who has been Louisville's point person in four previously unsuccessfully attempts to lure NBA teams," said that his work "started out as a type of feasibility study, but turned 'pretty hot' in October." Miller yesterday said that he "has a majority investor interested in buying a franchise and moving the team here." He added that 15 to 25 potential minority investors "are also interested, but he wouldn't name any of them." Miller "wouldn't say where the potential investor is from, or even if he resides outside of the country." Meanwhile, Univ. of Louisville AD Tom Jurich said that the school is "open to possibly sharing the KFC Yum! Center with an NBA team" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 12/9).
Prokhorov Claims He Receives At Least
20 Proposals A Week From U.S. Businesses
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov "thinks as soon as he moves the team from New Jersey to Brooklyn" for the '12-13 season, the team will "become profitable because instead of being off of some freeway in Jersey, he'll be in Brooklyn," according to Ryan Chilcote of BLOOMBERG TV. Chilcote said of Prokhorov, "He'll have access to all of the people in Brooklyn with a much denser population. Plus ... they're hoping to get some of the Knicks fans and in some ways he's already getting what he wanted because his idea from the get-go was to introduce himself to the United States to get more business deals, and he says he is seeing some of those deals in the pipeline that he is considering." Prokhorov: "Every week I receive minimum 20 proposals from the United States from any kind of business, some of them that are completely crazy. But still I have a very strong flow of proposals." Meanwhile, Prokhorov said for the "long-term strategy it's better" not to make the playoffs, but for the "short-time it's better to be in the playoffs." Chilcote: "So if you had your preference, what would it be: Go into the playoffs or not going to the playoffs but get a good draft pick?" Prokhorov: "I need both." When asked about any potential trades, especially for Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony, Prokhorov said, "I've never heard this name in my life" (Bloomberg TV, 12/8).
Duchene Has Amassed More Than
4,200 Followers Since Joining Twitter
Avalanche C Matt Duchene said that he joined Twitter last week "to give the Avalanche a hand at the box office," according to Adrian Dater of the DENVER POST. The team "remains mired in 26th place in home attendance," so Duchene "wants to do something about it, starting with making his personal life and observations more open to the public." Duchene yesterday said, "You look at our team, and we've got so much talent and guys that are worth watching, and it's discouraging to go out on a Wednesday night and see 12,000-13,000 fans. I thought to myself, 'What can I do, other than continuing to try and help the team on the ice, to help it off the ice.'" He added, "My main motivation was to try and put more people in the seats. Because when we play in front of a full house, it's a lot more energy." In the seven days since he joined Twitter, Duchene already has amassed more than 4,200 followers. Avalanche Senior VP/Communications & Team Services Jean Martineau said that the team "did not have a problem with Duchene's new account," believed to be the first for an Avalanche player. Duchene said, "I'm going to encourage people to come out and watch the team. I know there's a lot of people from Denver on there" (DENVER POST, 12/9).
Bowlen (l) Talked This Week With Elway
About The HOFer Joining Franchise
In Denver, Woody Paige reports Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen and Pro Football HOFer John Elway "did have dinner on Monday evening just hours" after the team fired coach Josh McDaniels, and they "discussed the possibility of Elway joining the Broncos on a full-time basis." Broncos COO Joe Ellis said he has had "two very good conversations with John." Ellis added, "I know he genuinely is very passionate about helping the Broncos and Pat in any way he can." But Elway said, "I don't know what the situation is right now, and where Pat's going" (DENVER POST, 12/9).
TALKIN' BROADWAY: In Miami, Jeff Darlington reports Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has arranged for the team to "travel to New York a day early" in advance of Sunday's game against the Jets so that his team can see the Broadway production of "Lombardi." The Dolphins will "practice at the Giants' training facility Friday afternoon before the show." Ross' initiative is "certainly unprecedented," as owners typically "leave travel arrangements up to the coach" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/9). Giants President & CEO John Mara, Jr., an Associate Producer of "Lombardi," said Ross "mentioned to me he might want to bring the team up early so he could take them over to see the show." Mara: "I remember joking with him, 'Good luck selling that to your vice president of football operations.'" However, Bill Parcells stepped down from that role in September, so "Ross was able to arrange the theater outing" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/9).
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson's letter to Bank of America Stadium PSL owners was "long overdue in a season in which the Panthers have totally fallen apart." He does not "come out and offer a detailed explanation of where the franchise is going in the future, but he admits the league’s labor uncertainty is an issue." Yasinskas: "More importantly, he says pretty strongly that he’s committed to spending money and putting a good product on the field in the future. ... Glad to see Richardson finally reach out to his fans" (ESPN.com, 12/8).
Whitfield Says Bobcats Have Not
Contemplated Re-Acquiring Hornets Nickname
Bobcats President & COO Fred Whitfield said re-acquiring the Hornets nickname for Charlotte's NBA team is "not something we've even contemplated." The Hornets' future in New Orleans is uncertain after Owner George Shinn was forced to sell the team to the NBA, but Whitfield said of acquiring the nickname, "We wouldn't contemplate that as a possibility unless we knew it could be a reality." When asked about "renaming the team or rebranding the product in other ways, Whitfield said that's a more complicated process than fans probably realize." Whitfield: "When you do something that massive, it changes everything at the league level -- we're talking about authentic jerseys. The expense is in the millions and it takes several years to work out. New uniforms, new colors -- and all that goes through Adidas" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/9).
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP: In DC, Adam Kilgore notes the Nationals will leave the MLB Winter Meetings this afternoon having "signed Jayson Werth, competed for Cliff Lee and earned a new reputation as one of the boldest, most aggressive and least thrifty teams of the offseason." The "merits of the Werth contract will be decided over seven years," but "already, in one week, it has changed the Nationals' image." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: "I see the perception of the fan base in Washington seeing us as a team to be excited about, because we're going in the right direction" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/9).
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: ESPN CHICAGO's Doug Padilla reported White Sox officials are saying that Chair Jerry Reinsdorf "did not enter last-minute negotiations to make sure a three-year, $37.5 million Paul Konerko deal got done Tuesday night." White Sox Senior VP & GM Ken Williams: "He's not happy with being portrayed as coming in on the white horse to save the day, because he really -- you know, he's got a close relationship with Paul. He really tried to stay out of this as much as possible." Padilla wrote Konerko is "like family to Reinsdorf so of course he didn't want his personal feels for a player to cloud the negotiating process" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 12/8).
NEW RECRUIT: In DC, Steven Goff cited a source as saying that the MLS Galaxy are "awaiting word" from AC Milan MF Ronaldinho and his representatives about his "interest in joining the club next season." The source said the MLS team "doesn't want to wait any longer" and would like to "move on with or without him" in the next week or so. Goff noted finances are "apparently not an issue, just Ronaldinho's level of interest in coming to MLS from AC Milan" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/7).