SBD/March 17, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Blues Chair Dave Checketts yesterday revealed that he "has decided to put the team and Scottrade Center lease up for sale," and "all 100 percent of the team/lease is available," according to Bernie Miklasz of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Since last May, Checketts has "sought investors to replace the roughly 70 percent of the franchise owned by TowerBrook Capital Partners." Checketts said that he had "lined up financing to take over TowerBrook's shares but negotiations reached an impasse," as the parties were unable to agree on the "value of the shares held by TowerBrook." He said, "The bottom line is I've been unable to make a deal with them. As a result, I've got to turn from being a buyer to a seller." Checketts and his investment firm, SCP Worldwide, own approximately 20% of the Blues; local investor Tom Stillman and other partners own the remaining 10%. Checketts, who noted he will remain in charge of the team until a new owner is found, has retained Florida-based Game Plan LLC to "help him find a buyer." He said that "every effort will be made to sell the Blues to buyers with local roots that will ensure the team's future in St. Louis." A source indicated that TowerBrook attempted to sell its 70% stake "independent of Checketts, but received little interest." The source added that TowerBrook "believed the Blues were worth more on the open market if all shares were made available. Including Checketts' piece." Miklasz noted Checketts, who took control of the Blues prior to the '06-07 season, "had hoped to remain in charge and run the franchise after securing investors to buy out TowerBrook," but that "proved to be unrealistic" (STLTODAY.com, 3/16).
THE TIME HAS COME: Checketts yesterday said, "Where I've been for the last couple months is trying to make a deal with TowerBrook. It couldn't happen. ... We weren't able to make a deal. I don't want to get any more specific than that." Checketts claimed to "have lost money in the first three years he controlled the team," but said yesterday that the Blues are "no longer losing money, and that the city is a viable market." There is "no timetable for a sale," which also includes the AHL Peoria Rivermen (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/17).
While the NBA Kings “ponder a move to Anaheim, they appear to be already laying the groundwork for a name change,” according to May & Warren of KXTV-ABC. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office “received an application on March 3 by a Nevada corporation seeking the exclusive right” to use the name "Los Angeles Royals." Another application filed the same day reserves the name "Anaheim Royals." The city of Anaheim, which owns the Honda Center, reportedly has insisted that “any team playing there carry the city's name.” The trademark applications were “filed on behalf of Crickets Corp., a Nevada corporation represented by Sacramento attorney Scott Hervey,” who represents Kings Owners the Maloof family. In addition, the web domains losangelesroyals.com and anaheimroyals.com also have been "registered within the past three weeks.” May & Warren noted the Kings “played for years in Rochester and Cincinnati as the Royals, and have lately been wearing their retro Royals jerseys in home games” (NEWS10.net, 3/16). In California, Randy Youngman noted the patent filing occurred “two days after the Maloofs received a deadline extension” from the NBA BOG to apply for relocation for next season. It is “reasonable to assume the NBA Kings would change their name for marketing reasons if they moved to Anaheim, because the NHL Kings are in the same Southern California TV market” (OCREGISTER.com, 3/16). Hervey also registered the named “Orange County Royals" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/17).
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERIENCED: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that he “has arranged to speak with the former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., about how that city dealt with losing an NBA franchise -- then getting a team back.” In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis noted Johnson's request is “yet another sign he is operating under the assumption the Kings are leaving.” Johnson: "There are things that we can do to prepare for life after the Kings, if they do in fact go to Anaheim." Johnson wants to talk with former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory "about how Sacramento can ‘keep our spirits up’ and get a new arena built should the Kings leave.” After the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans in '02, the Bobcats joined the NBA in '05 to open Time Warner Cable Arena, which “cost an estimated $260 million and was built with the help of public funding.” Johnson: "That could be a telling city for us to study when it comes to our potential predicament in Sacramento" (SACBEE.com, 3/15).
WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG: In Sacramento, Dale Kasler noted "barely a decade ago, the Kings were an elite NBA contender, with a packed arena and a richer payroll" than their rival Lakers. So then "how did they become a bargain-basement franchise, possibly headed to Anaheim?" The answer "lies in an almost seismic shift in the NBA landscape. The economic recession "widened the gap between the NBA's haves and have-nots,” and a “new breed of mega-wealthy owners outspent their competitors, including the Kings.” Kasler noted the “financial trouble for the Kings began in 2005, when a handful of sponsors pulled out, including Southwest Airlines.” Among those “defecting was Quest, a Sacramento tech firm, which gave up its luxury suite and sponsorship worth a total of $500,000 a year.” Quest CEO Tim Burke said, "The enthusiasm for the team was dramatically waning, and we could see that coming down the road." The Kings' 354-game home sellout streak “ended Nov. 6, 2007, a month before the recession started.” Kasler noted the “decline of the Kings has coincided with troubles for their owners." The Maloofs were "labeled billionaires by Forbes in 2003, but they've been hit hard in recent years” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/16).
NFL Cardinals coaches and front office members "will lose 35 percent of their bi-weekly salaries" starting April 11, "30 days after owners locked out the players," according to an NFL source cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Cardinals ownership "has the right to refund the money if no games are missed," but "if so much as one game is missed, the Cardinals are under no obligation to refund any of the money." The source said that there "also is consideration within the Cardinals' organization of having one week of unpaid furloughs for employees in May" (ESPN.com, 3/16). Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Darin Gantt reports Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson yesterday called team employees together "and told them there would be no layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts during the league's labor uncertainty." A source said, "He told us the only one who had to worry about losing any money this year was him." Richardson "promised his employees that they'd be taken care of even if the labor stoppage extended for months, telling them he had planned on this contingency well before this offseason" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/17).
COACHES FEARFUL: USA TODAY's Jon Saraceno reports many NFL coaches are "upset and frightened because they face serious, potentially daunting financial repercussions -- plus threats of retribution if they reveal internal policy -- after some teams instituted salary reductions following last week's lockout." NFL Coaches Association Exec Dir Larry Kennan said that at least 13 teams have "immediately docked their assistant coaches 25% to 50%, or have language in their contracts that let them do so." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello: "Everyone involved -- players, team staffs and league office staff -- are forced to sacrifice in this type of unfortunate situation." Kennan added that "about eight teams have told their head coaches and assistants they will not face salary cuts until August" (USA TODAY, 3/17). In N.Y., Ralph Vacchiano notes some teams that are cutting salaries "have promised to allow coaches to recoup the money when the lockout ends." Meanwhile, the Jets announced that they "were cutting the salaries of their coaches, along with those of everyone else in their football operation, by 25% before the lockout was even 24 hours old." Kennan said, "I was surprised by that. They've been one of the teams that has done right by coaches over the last several years" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/17).
WAIT AND SEE APPROACH: On Long Island, Tom Rock reports Giants season-ticket holders "won't be on the hook for 2011 ... until the NFL's labor situation is resolved." The team "will be mailing out invoices for the 2011 season this week and giving those who have purchased a PSL the option of paying for those tickets in full by May 1, or deciding by April 30 to wait until a new CBA is agreed upon." Fans who "choose the latter must provide the Giants with an authorized credit card that will be charged for the tickets at the time of an agreement between the owners and players." Rock notes the offer is "so far unique in the NFL" (NEWSDAY, 3/17). In N.Y., Paul Schwartz notes the policy is "in contrast to the Jets, who are offering a six-month payment plan or the option to pay 50 percent now and the remainder after the schedule is finalized." Meanwhile, Giants President & CEO John Mara reiterated team officials are "on full salary and will remain there until further notice" (NY. POST, 3/17).
The Heat announced yesterday that they have sold out of season tickets for the '11-12 NBA season. In addition, the team has launched the new Heat Priority Access Club, an annual fee-based membership program providing fans with a variety of benefits including advance opportunities to purchase playoff and individual game tickets, as well as priority on the team’s season-ticket waiting list. Fans can purchase membership to the Priority Access Club starting Friday for $50 (Rookie Level), $150 (All-Star Level) or $250 (MVP Level), each coming with different benefits (Heat). In Ft. Lauderdale, Shandel Richardson notes "waiting-list priority will now be determined by the new program, with the previous waiting list disbanded." Paying the "additional fee does not guarantee the opportunity to purchase future season tickets." In addition, the Heat already have "forwarded plans to season-ticket holders for contingencies if the 2011-12 season is shortened or canceled in case of a lockout." The team said that there would be "no refund of the new fees should the 2011-12 season be lost because of a lockout, but such memberships would be moved to the following season." Heat Exec VP & CMO Michael McCullough said that fans "will have the option to 'cash out' or exchange the money for Heat gift cards, which can be used to purchase tickets and team merchandise" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/17).
The Padres have "sold 10,300 tickets" for this season, a 13% increase over '10, according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The tickets sales for this season are also up 18% over the '09 season total of 8,700, which marked a "record low for the Padres since Petco Park opened" in '04. The Padres this season also are "running at a Petco Park-record 90 percent renewal rate from 2010 -- which was the first time that they showed an increase in season ticket sales over the previous season at Petco Park." Meanwhile, Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel said that the team is "not planning any uniform changes at this time." But Center notes the new Triple-A PCL Tucson Padres "unveiled their new 2011 threads Tuesday and the look fell in line with a 'retro' look that Garfinkel last fall mentioned might be in the Padres' long-term future." Designed by the Padres' Creative Services department, the Tucson uniforms "parallel the current Padres colors while using the type font used by the Padres from 1978-84." But Garfinkel in an e-mail said, "The Tucson unis don't have any connection to any plans to change the major league uniforms. There are no plans for changes at this time" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/17).
BLACK MARK: In California, David Garrick reports a "divided and frustrated Escondido City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday night to spend $92,000 on consultants analyzing a proposed minor league ballpark that would be home" to the Padres' Triple-A affiliate currently playing in Tucson. Council members said that they were "upset at a recent revelation that one of the consultants they've hired to negotiate the roughly $50 million deal on behalf of the city," Charles Black, is a member of the Padres' BOD. Of the $92,000, $41,630 went to Black. The city "also paid Black $40,000 in September, bringing his total compensation from the city to $81,630" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/17).
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside reported despite "advanced rhetoric from the Goldwater Institute, there remain signs that the municipal bonds crucial to the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer are edging closer to completion." Sources indicated that the bonds, needed to generate $100M that will go toward the purchase price of the team from the NHL, "were moving forward, in spite" of Goldwater's threat to sue the City of Glendale if a deal closes. Sources noted that Goldwater "has actually been in a position to file suit against the City of Glendale since the council approved the lease agreement with Hulsizer but has not" (ESPN.com, 3/16).
BODY OF WORK: Whitecaps Dir of Marketing Kim Jackman said response to the MLS club's body-painting promotional video "has been overwhelmingly good," despite some public criticism from lead sponsor Bell Canada. Jackman: "The body painting was our way of trying to tap into a soccer tradition -- they sing songs, they chant, they paint their faces, and, yes, they paint their bodies." Jackman said that "most of the negative reaction came because of the accompanying newspaper ads -- featuring the same body-painted model in a sultry pose, wearing only a strategically placed Whitecaps scarf." But Jackman added, "You could look in a Victoria's Secret catalogue -- or even a Bay catalogue -- and see more exposed people" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 3/17).
FOOTBALL MEETS FUTBOL: Sporting K.C. and Chad Ochocinco revealed yesterday that the Bengals WR will join the MLS club for a "four-day trial," starting next Tuesday. Sporting K.C. coach Peter Vermes said, "Look, we need as much publicity in this sport as we can (get). If he’s serious and we wind up getting publicity for it, then that’s great for the organization. It’s great for the game. Let’s go." In K.C., Terez Paylor notes the idea "was a home run" for the MLS club. A "quick Google search of 'Sporting KC' and 'Ochocinco' Wednesday afternoon yielded over 30 pages of results -- and the news had only been out for five hours" (K.C. STAR, 3/17). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of Ochocinco's trial with the club, "It's pandering. They're doing it for PR. Chad Ochocinco comes in, he tries out, you got all of the cameras out there from the local news stations. You get all the people tweeting" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/16).
SAYING GOODBYE: Former MLB Rangers Managing General Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg yesterday posted a "message of thanks to the fans of his facebook page," five days after his resignation from the team. Greenberg wrote in part, "I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone for your unwavering support over the last year and a half -- especially the past few days." Greenberg has changed his Twitter account from @ChuckRangers to @ChuckGreenberg, though he has not tweeted since before his resignation (DALLASNEWS.com, 3/16).