SBD/March 9, 2011/Franchises

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  • Bettman Blames Goldwater Institute For Delaying Coyotes Sale

    Bettman has not set a deadline for Coyotes deal, but says time is running out

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "laid blame Tuesday evening on the shoulders" of the Goldwater Institute for the delay of the Coyotes sale to Matthew Hulsizer, according to Rebekah Sanders of the ARIZONA REBUPLIC. Bettman, speaking before last night's Canucks-Coyotes game, said that the conservative watchdog group "had obstructed Glendale by threatening to sue to block a deal that would keep" the team at Jobing.com Arena. Bettman: "It's time for Goldwater to stand down. In light of their conduct in this matter, I question whether this is really an organization concerned with the public interest." He added that the league "continues to support the city's deal" with Hulsizer. Bettman: "Our commitment remains as strong as ever. But time is running out." Bettman arrived in the region Tuesday morning "to meet with city and team officials and extend an invitation to Goldwater." But he said that the institute "refused to meet with him unless reporters were invited" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/9). Glendale must sell $116M in bonds to "provide Hulsizer with money to complete the transaction," and Bettman said that the bonds "remain the one obstacle left to be cleared." Bettman: "Based on what we have been told by the bond underwriters, the market for these bonds -- solely because of the Goldwater threat -- has been impacted" (ESPN.com, 3/8). More Bettman: "To have some private organization ... be able to frustrate the will of the elected representatives of Glendale is amazing to me without doing anything but casting aspersions and suggesting something might be illegal without doing anything to enforce it. I don't get how the Goldwater Institute can be this obstructionist" (FS Arizona, 3/8). He added, "I believe with proper ownership this franchise will be fine. I think we have the right owner and the right circumstances in place" (VANCOUVER PROVINCE, 3/9). Bettman yesterday met with Coyotes employees, coaches and a few players to "discuss the team's future" (AZCENTRAL.com, 3/8). Watch Bettman's press conference last night at Jobing.com Arena.

    A DEAL'S A DEAL: Hulsizer, responding to a report that a "last-ditch effort to save the sale of the Coyotes is in the works," said that he "will not change the agreement he has with the City of Glendale as part of any 11th-hour attempt to keep" the team from moving. Hulsizer in an e-mail said, "I am prepared to honor my deal, which is lawful. It's a free market, so if someone else wants to step in they should." He added that he is "unaware of any plans by the NHL to reduce its price for the Coyotes or for Glendale to cut the bond issue." Hulsizer: "I wouldn't pay more and shouldn't. I don't know why the NHL would cut its price. I don't know about Glendale cutting the bond offering" (Shoalts & Sekeres, GLOBE & MAIL, 3/9). In the original report, the PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL's Mike Sunnucks cited sources as saying that a "last-ditch plan" could include "reducing the amount of City of Glendale bonds for Hulsizer and the Coyotes from $100 million down to $70 million." It also could include having the NHL "discount its estimated $170 million asking price," and asking Hulsizer to "contribute more than the current estimated $70 million he is putting into the transaction" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/8).

    CLOCK IS TICKING: Sources said that Hulsizer "might have until May to try to work out his purchase of the team from the NHL." Other reports have stated that the process "could take until June." May is when the league "needs to figure out whether to schedule games for Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena or the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the Coyotes likely will go if the Hulsizer sale fails" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/8). Bettman said, "We're hanging in there. Our commitment is as strong as ever. But time is running out, and if something doesn't happen, we're going to be close to the end. The bonds need to get sold. It's as simple as that" ("NHL On The Fly," NHL Network, 3/8). He added prior to last night's game, "We have options. But I'm not going to discuss what those options are. The options we're going to continue to pursue are here. We are obviously aware of the interest in Winnipeg. We are greatly appreciative of that interest, but I don't want to say or do anything that raises expectations. I don't think that's fair. We're not giving up" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/9). GLOBE & MAIL reporters debate whether Winnipeg is a viable NHL market (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/7). 

    IN A TOUGH SPOT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes Bettman "looked weak Tuesday." He looked like someone who was "playing his last card, trying to save face, trying to set up a future speech in which he can claim he did everything he could to keep the Coyotes right where they were." But it "isn't public relations that ought to be his concern right now." Brunt: "The folks Bettman will have sway with his great powers of persuasion are his employers, the owners. He needs to come up with a story to explain how, following the Coyotes bankruptcy, the Jim Balsillie incursion, the season of league ownership, the accumulation of losses, and the revelation of Hulsizer as saviour thanks to that remarkably generous offer from Glendale, the whole thing could hit the rocks because a small band of true believers sent out a few letters and press releases, filed some access to information requests, wouldn’t promise not to sue, and refused to be bullied off their position" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/9).

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  • ManU CEO Ardently Defends Glazers Against U.K. Parliamentary Questioning

    Gill says Glazers aren't only owners who don't address supporters groups

    Manchester United CEO David Gill yesterday "delivered a staunch defence" of the Glazer family during "hostile questioning" by members of the U.K. parliament about the EPL club's owners, according to Glenn Moore of the London INDEPENDENT. Gill said that the debt "loaded on to United by the Glazers did not affect the running of the team." He admitted it "would be better in some respects if the debt was not there." But he added, "It doesn't hamper the club, it doesn't impact what we do. It has no impact in terms of transfers." Gill also said that the Glazers "had increased the club's income." Meanwhile, Gill note Manchester United Football Club Ltd. "is a UK company" despite being registered in Delaware. Gill: "The ultimate owners might be in Delaware but where are the owners of Chelsea (based)? It doesn't matter. Our ultimate ownership is 100 per cent Glazer family. The passport is not an issue. You can have very bad British owners." Gill said that the Glazers were "not alone among owners in not speaking directly to supporters, adding he speaks to a supporters' forum three or four times a year." He also "defended the refusal to engage" with Manchester United Supporters Trust, saying it was because the group's "avowed intent is to change ownership" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/9). In London, Ashling O'Connor notes the club "will not negotiate with supporters' groups who are 'at war' with the Glazer family." Gill: "We understand the importance of fans. We would be naive and stupid if we did not understand what the fans think. (But) not everyone hates the owners" (LONDON TIMES, 3/9).

    CAUSE FOR CONCERN: In London, Sandy Macaskill reports the EPL is "closely monitoring Birmingham City after concluding that the club's financial position gives cause for concern." The league also "privately expressed unease at attempts by the Birmingham board to distance themselves from their parent company, Birmingham International Holdings." Birmingham's finances have "again come under scrutiny after a statement made to the Hong Kong stock exchange last week revealed 'the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt' on the ability of BIH to continue as a growing concern." BIH owns 96% of Birmingham City plc, which owns the club. Recent accounts published by the club "showed that Birmingham has debts of more than" US$47M (London TELEGRAPH, 3/9).

    Print | Tags: Manchester United, English Premier League, Soccer, Franchises
  • NFL Labor Watch: Woody Johnson Talks Pay Cuts, Furloughs In Event Of Lockout

    Johnson (r) defends decision to cut pay, furlough Jets employees during lockout

    Jets Owner Woody Johnson yesterday discussed the team's lockout plans, which include 25% pay cuts "for all employees under contract in football operations and one week of furlough per each month of a work stoppage for employees on the business side," according to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Jets employees "were made aware of their plans as early as four months ago." Johnson said, "It's tough to do it because nobody likes to take anything away from the people in the building that made it all happen for us. ... We did what we thought we had to do. To be responsible, we had to let our employees know about this furlough program, and give them time to prepare." He added, "I think we fully explained why we had to do this in a way we felt was believable to them" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/9).

    EASING THEIR MINDS: In Dallas, Gerry Fraley reports Cowboys coaches "will not take the financial hit many of their peers will during a lockout." The Cowboys "have lockout language in the contracts of their coaches," but NFL Coaches Association Staff Dir Larry Kennan said that the Cowboys "will be kind to their coaches if there's a lockout." Kennan said Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "does treat his people well." Kennan: "The Coaches Association isn't fighting with Jerry Jones. We're fighting owners who don't treat coaches nearly as well as he does" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/9).

    Print | Tags: NFL, New York Jets, Franchises
  • Franchise Notes

    Levenson says talks about a sale of Thrashers do not involve the Hawks

    Atlanta Spirit co-Owner Bruce Levenson yesterday said that discussions with three groups interested in purchasing the Thrashers "are ongoing." Levenson: "There are three that have gotten to the point where we’re comfortable enough to provide them information. We’ve been in the process of providing them the information that they have requested. We are having open dialogue." SPORTING NEWS' Craig Custance noted Atlanta Spirit "continues to work" with The Raine Group Founder & Partner Joseph Ravitch "to find a new owner for the team." Levenson indicated that the "three potential buyers are currently only interested in buying the Thrashers and not the NBA’s Hawks -- and all would keep the NHL team in Atlanta" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 3/8).

    ON THE UP AND UP: In DC, Dan Steinberg reported the Capitals have sent out ticket invoices to season-ticket holders, revealing that "prices are going up for the fourth straight year." There are two sets of prices: one for ticketholders who renew by March 16 and another for new season-ticket holders. For those who renew their packages by the deadline, prices are up 4-21%. For those who sign up after March 16, prices are up 6-19%. The team also is introducing different prices for "attacking" seats -- those "on the end of the ice where the Caps shoot in the first and third periods" -- and "defending" seats (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/8).

    GET HOME SAFELY: In Tacoma, Larry LaRue reported the Mariners are "trying to fight" team officials driving under the influence. Mariners Dir of Team Travel Ron Spellecy said, "Two years ago, we came out with cards in English and Spanish giving the numbers of car services players could call for a ride home. This year, one of the guys at the car service came up with the idea of giving everyone a key fob. I asked our merchandise people, and they said they could come up with one." He added, "We gave them to executives, coaches, players, media -- and we told them in our first meeting, 'Be careful'" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 3/6).

    TOP CAT: In Charlotte, Peter St. Onge in a front-page piece notes Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan yesterday "spoke to a gym full of rapt Northridge Middle School students, then visited a children's hospital, a Boys & Girls club, a men's shelter." Along with Jordan's appearances, Bobcats employees "fed 150 school bus drivers, sorted and packed food at Second Harvest Food Bank, and helped refurbish the Marsh Road Boys & Girls Club teen center and playground." It was "part of a Bobcats day of service in which 150 employees fanned out across the community -- an idea that team officials say came from Jordan, who wanted what was important to Charlotte to be important to his franchise" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/9).

    Print | Tags: Franchises
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