SBD/January 28, 2011/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Hawks are no longer tied to Philips Arena as collateral
In Detroit, Gregg Krupa cited a source as saying that Chicago-based Blue Media, LLC President Eric Lefkofsky was "approached about purchasing the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment, but Lefkofsky expressed no interest in the purchase and, so far, there has been no follow-up on the solicitation." The source: "It was really nothing more than someone saying: 'Are you interested in looking at it, as a good opportunity?' There are no legs, other than that" (DETNEWS.com, 1/27).

FREE AS A BIRD: In Atlanta, Kristi Swartz reports the Hawks are "no longer tied to Philips Arena as collateral in case its owners default on long term bond payments -- making it easier for the owners to tap into [the] NBA's credit facility and for the team to be sold -- according to a bond refinancing document from the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority." Documents indicated that Atlanta Spirit "refinanced the remaining $124.5 million of debt remaining on the arena in August 2010, just before the start of the 2010-2011 NBA season," and that the refinancing "pledges operator revenues up to the maximum annual lease payment as collateral for the bonds instead" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/28).

TESTING THEIR PATIENCE: In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz wrote the "fan support has been terrific" for the Blues, who have sold out their "first 26 home games of the season." Blues fans "have signed off on the rebuilding, the youth movement, the entire process," and they have "voted with their cash and their credit cards." Blues Owner Dave Checketts is "appreciative of the support," and he "knows that the St. Louis hockey public has demonstrated a willingness to wait it out." But Miklasz wondered, "At what point does the free pass expire? When will Blues fans be rewarded for their devotion and faith? ... There comes a time when a franchise has to recognize the need to change the mix, increase the urgency, and adjust a plan that isn't producing the anticipated results." Bill Laurie "hasn't owned the team since the 2005-2006 season," so "how long do we keep pointing the finger of blame at him?" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/27).

MR. BRIGHTSIDE: In Phoenix, Paul Coro notes Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver's outlook "remains bright despite experiencing his first losing season since his group bought the Suns in 2004." He acknowledged that his team is "in a transition but wants to remain competitive throughout it." Sarver said that the Suns have "various plans for the future, based on whether collective bargaining agreement negotiations get done before next season, delay next season or cancel next season and all the parameters a new CBA might set" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/28).
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