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SBD/March 4, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Thursday said that his 40-minute meeting with Kings Owners the Maloofs Wednesday "left him believing that the team has its sights set on Anaheim, and that Sacramento's only chance is if negotiations in Southern California fall through," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson said he does "not think Sacramento can influence the outcome" of the Maloof family's negotiations. Johnson added that the Maloofs "told him that they are not willing to hand over pivotal financial documents to a Sacramento-sponsored team that is studying how to build an arena in the city." Johnson said he took that as a sign the Maloofs are "fully exploring their options, which appears to be Anaheim." Johnson added that the Maloofs "also said 'absolutely not' when he asked if they would be willing to sell the team if an ownership group from Sacramento steps up to buy it." Johnson noted that the Maloofs are "business owners and must do what works best for them," and that Sacramento is a "mid-sized market with an old arena." Johnson: "Even if our team is selling out, if you don't have more luxury suites and more club seats, it's hard economically to compete." However, Johnson said that Sacramento "still has a chance to keep the team." Johnson: "If the dust settles, and Anaheim is not where they end up, they would 100 percent be willing to sit down with the ICON/Taylor group moving forward" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/4).
POINT/COUNTERPOINT: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi wrote of the Kings' potential move, "Anaheim would no doubt embrace their new NBA team and its owners, the Maloofs, who would serve as the anti-Donald Sterling when it comes to interacting with fans and players and making the team an integral part of the community." However, ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote, "The issue isn't whether Southern California can support three NBA franchises. It can. But the timing for this move couldn't be worse. Why in the world would you want to move a team that hasn't been relevant in almost a decade? To a town with two franchises on the rise? Heading into what will likely be a lockout season? In a down economy?" (ESPNLA.com, 3/3).
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, Greater Phoenix Economic Council President Barry Broome and others Thursday "called on the conservative watchdog Goldwater Institute to back off its threat to possibly block in court Glendale's agreement" with prospective Coyotes buyer Matthew Hulsizer, according to Rebekah Sanders of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The institute is "concerned the city's deal amounts to a government subsidizing a private business." Glendale is "ramping up public pressure on Goldwater to make its lawsuit intentions clear, saying the uncertainty is inflating the city's borrowing costs to finance its deal." Scruggs said the city is at "a critical juncture." Sanders notes Glendale "must sell bonds to pay Hulsizer $100 million, among many elements of the deal, in exchange for the right to charge for parking during arena events." The agreement "would keep the Coyotes in Glendale through 2041." However, if Glendale "can't complete financing soon, the National Hockey League would relocate the team." It is "not clear how much time is left." Scruggs said that "it had 'run out' but later that the league had set no deadline" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/4). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday said that he "hasn't set a pull the plug date for the Coyotes-Glendale-Hulsizer deal but the NHL would ... at some point start looking at alternatives" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/3). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman notes True North Sports & Entertainment Chair Mark Chipman and his partners "had a deal in place to buy the team and move it to Winnipeg last spring, before an agreement was reached to extend the stay in Arizona, and it's believed it could be easily resurrected" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/4).
TRYING TO KEEP THE PEACE: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside reported the NHL has "hired a consultant, John Kaites, to work with the Goldwater people to find some common ground on how the lease deal with Hulsizer might get worked out and allow Hulsizer to buy the team from the NHL." Kaites worked with White Sox and Bulls Chair Jerry Reinsdorf "on his failed bid to buy the Coyotes." Sources described the Goldwater role "as delaying and interfering as opposed to proactive and helpful." Glendale officials believe that the loss of the team "ultimately would cost the city and its taxpayers $510 million." Burnside: "If the Goldwater Institute is really about protecting the rights of taxpayers, wouldn't you think it would want to work with the city of Glendale to avoid that kind of devastating loss?" (ESPN.com, 3/3). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes Goldwater "may not even need to sue to make its point." Brunt: "Simply by declining to say that it won't -- and refusing to put a timetable on any final decision -- it has made the bond issue an extraordinarily risky proposition" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/4).
A federal appeals panel reviewing a compensation plan for former clients of Bernie Madoff Thursday "cast doubt on claims by the embattled owners of the Mets and other investors that they have a right to keep millions of dollars of fictitious profits," according to Tom Hays of the AP. Karen Wagner, a lawyer representing Sterling Equities, the company that runs the Mets, "argued that laws protecting investors say they're owed whatever amounts were reflected on investment statements in 2009 when Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme imploded." Wagner: "From the investors' perspective, the funds weren't fictitious. ... All the law says is that they were entitled to rely on the statements." Judge Pierre Leval referred to the figures as "figments of the imagination." Irving Picard, the trustee in the Madoff case, "has aggressively sought to recover funds through so-called clawback lawsuits," including one naming Mets Owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz. The suit "seeks return of $300 million it says were phony profits, plus up to another $700 million as penalty for the defendants' alleged willful blindness to steady double-digit returns that defied down markets." The Mets owners "have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, saying they were victims of the fraud." They "didn't attend Thursday's hearing, nor were they mentioned by name" (AP, 3/3). Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the "mediator trying to broker a settlement" between Picard and the Mets owners, said Thursday that he has been "working with both sides on an almost daily basis." Cuomo was "reluctant to say if any progress had been made in bridging the gap" between the Mets owners and Picard, who is seeking up to $1B from them. Cuomo said that he "expected to have two more meetings in the next week" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/4).
END OF THE ROAD? FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "While people inside and outside of baseball tell me that it's too early to rule out Fred Wilpon's chances of retaining control of the Mets, I find it increasingly difficult to believe that he will remain viable as owner. For the good of the team, the good of the game and maybe even the good of his family, Wilpon needs to get out. ... How long will it take for the partial sale and Madoff case to resolve? To what extent will Wilpon be damaged even if he achieves outcomes that he deems favorable? Will he ever fully recover?" Rosenthal added, "You hear plenty about the Mets' debt these days, but few know the true value of Wilpon's assets. ... If Wilpon's debts exceed his assets, then it's game over; he must sell" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/3).
The WNBA Atlanta Dream do not begin their ’11 season for nearly three months, but the team is trying to capitalize on its appearance in last year’s WNBA Finals with a new marketing campaign appearing throughout its home market. The Dream Thursday launched their "Run with the Dream" campaign, which includes billboards, radio and television advertising. Dream President & COO Toby Wyman said the campaign seeks to continue the momentum from the team’s Eastern Conference Championship while spreading awareness about the franchise. Wyman: “We’re still in an awareness building mode. Even though the team is going into its fourth season, I think awareness is still something we need to build.” The Dream finished the ’10 season ranked 10th in the 12-team league in attendance, drawing an average of 6,293 fans per game to Philips Arena. Dream Fs Angel McCoughtry, Iziane Castro Marques and Sancho Lyttle are featured in the initial series of TV and radio ads, while a second set of radio spots will emphasize the team's connection to the Atlanta community with a focus on the Dream's platform of inspiring young girls. Wyman said, “Once people make the connection with our players, we see that connection really help us from a box office standpoint.” He noted the media spend for the campaign is in the low-six figures. The campaign is via goodsteve advertising, Virginia.
Packers season-ticket holders "will still need to pay for their 2011 seats, and the National Football League will still release this season's schedule, despite the gridlock over" the CBA, according to Tony Walter of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. Packers Assistant Dir of Corporate Communications & PR Aaron Popkey: "We continue to plan for the 2011 season." That means the March 31 deadline for season-ticket holders to pay for their seats for the upcoming season "remains in effect." NFL Dir of Corporate Communications Dan Masonson said that the league "will again release its 2011 regular-season schedule in April" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 3/4). In N.Y., Ralph Vacchiano reports many Giants fans Thursday "awoke to an email from the team hawing expensive" PSLs "just 15 hours before a possible NFL lockout that could have put the [season] in jeopardy" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/4). In Florida, Erin Hawley reported concern that the potential lockout "could hurt Jaguars ticket sales has subsided," as former Jaguars OT Tony Boselli said that the team "has a refund plan in place should games be canceled." Jaguars Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Macky Weaver said that season-ticket sales are "holding strong; within a few hundred of last year's numbers" (FIRSTCOASTNEWS.com, 3/3).
MORE FURLOUGHS POSSIBLE: In Phoenix, Kent Somers reports Cardinals employees "would go on a one-week furlough in May if the lockout was ongoing, and most members of the coaching staff would take pay cuts of about" 30% (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/4).