SBD/March 29, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
NBA Kings co-Owner Joe Maloof "reacted angrily Monday night after learning a Sacramento city official had sent a letter to an Anaheim city official advising Anaheim officials to 'cease negotiating with the Kings,'" according to Randy Youngman of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Maloof, in his first public comments on the ongoing negotiations to move the Kings to Anaheim, said, "It's not for the mayor or anybody (in the City of Sacramento) to interfere with our business. That's what I think they're doing, and it's not right." Sacramento Assistant City Manager John Dangberg sent a letter earlier Monday to Anaheim City Manager Thomas Wood, "expressing concern that actions taken by the Anaheim City Council tonight might cause 'irreparable harm to the City of Sacramento.'" Dangberg in the letter also said that the Maloofs "had not provided 'assurance' they would pay off a $73.8 million loan from the City of Sacramento, as contractually required, if the team decided to relocate." Dangberg requested that Anaheim city officials "end negotiations related to the Kings' relocation and 'not authorize' the proposed $75 million in lease-revenue bonds to help the Kings move and to upgrade Honda Center." That agenda item is "expected to be voted on in Tuesday night's City Council meeting." Maloof said, "That letter is completely wrong, and it was uncalled for -- below the belt -- and it's a shame it had to come out of his office. We tried to be classy and not get in arguments in the media, but I (have to) make this comment." Youngman notes what "upset Maloof the most was the inference in the letter that the family ... might not repay the loan immediately if the team decides to relocate." Maloof said that he "believes the letter, on the eve of the important City Council meeting, was an attempt to 'block' the Kings' proposed move." He added, "You better be careful; don't mess around and interfere with our business" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/29).
PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS: In Sacramento, Bizjak & Lillis reported city officials, "saying they are seeking to protect the city financially should the Kings leave town," have "hired a specialist law firm to help enforce a legal requirement that the Kings pay off their $67 million city loan." The City Council will be asked today to "authorize paying Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson up to $150,000 to study and advise the city on its legal ability to force the basketball team to pay off its city loan if the team leaves for Anaheim" (SACBEE.com, 3/28). Dangberg said, "We are protecting the interests of the city of Sacramento and the taxpayers of the city of Sacramento. We are not accusing anybody of doing anything. We are just stating the facts as they are." Dangberg's letter also "dangles the prospect of a lawsuit against Anaheim officials over alleged violations of the powerful California Environmental Quality Act" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/29).
The Islanders yesterday announced “revised season-ticket pricing for 2011-12 designed to give existing subscribers relief and, perhaps more importantly, attract new ones,” according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. The team “guaranteed that every renewing season-ticket holder will pay the same as or less than in 2010-11.” For more than 60% of those ticket holders, the “per-game ticket price will fall.” Islanders Senior VP Michael Picker said that “nearly 80 percent would see a direct financial benefit.” Picker said that “on average, 2011-12 rates will drop about 16 percent from those charged for new subscriptions sold at the start of this season.” The “least expensive season ticket will cost $630 next season, or $15 per game, down from $25” last season. The “most expensive, excluding limited premium seats, will cost $90 -- and come with parking -- down from $110 for people who first subscribed at the start of this season.” There are “16 other price points in between.” Picker “declined to say what the Islanders’ season-ticket base is.” Best notes the team “has struggled with attendance for years,” with its average crowd of 10,650 this season ranking last in the NHL. The team “has not announced individual game prices for 2011-12, but they are likely to be lower than the beginning of this season and closer to where they have been since a reduction in February” (NEWSDAY, 3/29).
In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes reported the Indians projected 25-man Opening Day roster payroll is expected to be around $48.4M, the "third straight year the payroll has declined and the lowest it has been since 2005," when the team had a $41.5M payroll. It has dropped from $81.6M in '09 and $61.5M last season. The Indians are "expected to rank somewhere between 26th and 28th in payroll among MLB's 30 teams." By comparison, Baseball-Reference.com "projected the average salary for the five teams in the AL Central" at $91.2M -- the White Sox, Tigers and Twins will have payrolls of more than $100M, with the Royals "the only team with a payroll lower than the Indians" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/26).
DETROIT RENAISSANCE: In Detroit, Lynn Henning reports a sales surge has put the Tigers "in position to exceed their 2010 attendance numbers at Comerica Park and at least approach the 3 million mark they have reached twice in history." Tigers officials do not comment on ticket sales, but a source revealed that the team is "about 2,000 season tickets ahead of last year's, which slightly surpassed 13,000." The team drew 2,461,237 fans last year, the "lowest mark since 2005" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/29).
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: In California, Cam Inman reported the Giants are "cashing in on San Francisco's first World Series championship." Giants President & COO Larry Baer noted that the team has "sold 27,700 season tickets as opposed to 24,000 at this point last year." Baer: "It's been, quite frankly, even beyond our expectations." However, Inman noted if the Giants "indeed have dethroned the 49ers as San Francisco's marquee attraction ... they'll need to pack AT&T Park consistently, with fans and championships" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 3/26).
THE SUITE LIFE OF ZACK AND PRINCE: Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said that the team "had been successful in its important effort to renew leases on the 19 Founder's Suites at Miller Park," which all expired after last season. He said that 18 of the 19 suites "have been leased, with one still available that may be leased on a per-game basis." The Brewers offer three-, five- and seven-year leases. Schlesinger added that 58 of the 63 suites at Miller Park "are leased for the upcoming season" (Mark Kass, MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/25 issue).
CREATING A STATE OF MIND: In Toronto, Richard Griffin noted it has been 16 months since Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos took his position, and he has "rebuilt the farm ... and has fans in Toronto buzzing again." Anthopoulos said, "When you're trying to build a culture and what the organization stands for, it's not just one thing. We're doing X so that means we're professional, first class, treating everybody right. It has to be a laundry list of things and a multitude of things. It has to be a lot of the little things. When you start doing a lot of the little things, it starts to add up" (TORONTO STAR, 3/26).
In Houston, Jose De Jesus Ortiz reports Texans QB Matt Schaub "has taken it upon himself to help try to get the team ready" for the '11 season. Schaub yesterday "spent part of his morning working out with about two dozen Texans." Schaub: "You still have to go about your business and prepare for the season. Once we get something done with the league, hopefully sooner than later, we all have to be ready and in shape" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/29). Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Kent Somers wrote the Cardinals "seem among the least likely teams to organize such off-season workouts," as "many of their key players -- receiver Steve Breaston, center Lyle Sendlein, guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui -- have no contract for 2011" (AZCENTRAL.com, 3/28).
KEEPING FANS INFORMED: Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie and President Joe Banner "sent a letter to season ticketholders this week to update them on the NFL meetings and the labor situation," marking the "second letter they have sent to fans since the lockout" began. The letter reads in part: "Having just returned from New Orleans earlier this week, we wanted to take a few moments to give you a report. ... On collective bargaining, we reviewed the status of the union's litigation as well as the current work stoppage. We want to assure you that we want this resolved. We believe we offered a fair proposal that would pay the players an estimated $19-20 billion over the next four years, 2 billion more than they made over the previous four. ... We know that we will have a collective bargaining agreement with the players' union at some point" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/29).
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: In Oakland, Monte Poole writes, "Any euphoria felt by Warriors fans with the fall of the Chris Cohan era has given way to anxieties and debate over the capability of the new regime." Co-Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber "haven't been instant saviors." They "haven't delivered miracles or engineered dramatic improvement," and "with the new Warriors looking a lot like the old Warriors, impatient fans are growing restless." It is "much too early to conclude that Lacob won't find the right answers," as it is "not reasonable or rational to expect him to so quickly repair and redirect a vessel adrift for all but a few moments over the past 16 years." It is "not unfair, however, to wonder if he can repair and redirect the thing at all" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/29).
TIME FOR A CHANGE? In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence cited sources as saying that Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh "wouldn't be disappointed" if Owner Jim Dolan "lets him go this spring." But Walsh "isn't ready to retire, far from it." If Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird "decides to step down at season's end, Walsh would be at the top of the list to run the Pacers." He and Pacers Owner Herb Simon "have more than a long-time business relationship." The two are "extremely close and Walsh enjoyed overseeing the mom-and-pop operation when he ran the Pacers for 22 years" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27).