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SBD/April 14, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
A "faithful following once considered among the best in American professional sports came together" last night for the Lakers-Kings game at Power Balance Pavilion in what could be the Kings' last game in Sacramento before relocating to Anaheim, according to Antonio Gonzalez of the AP. A "standing-room only crowd packed things beyond the 17,317-seat capacity, and many arrived well before tipoff." Fans' "optimism reverberated in the echoes of those trademark cowbells and in the purple-painted faces who came to remember the glory days." A "video montage for 'Fan Appreciation Night' was shown before tipoff," and Kings F Donte Greene addressed the crowd, saying, "On behalf of all my teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization, thank you. You guys are the best fans in the world." Gonzalez notes there were "derogatory chants and angry posters toward Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who were not in attendance" (AP, 4/14). In Sacramento, Peter Hecht writes the "standing-room-only crowd" provided an "emotionally surreal scene." The crowd "cheered at times as if it were" the '02 Lakers-Kings Western Conference Finals. Hecht also notes "hundreds of fans, some with tears in their eyes, stood at their seats chanting, 'Here we stay!' when it was over" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14).
I WILL REMEMBER YOU: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes, "So how do you say goodbye? If this truly is goodbye? You remember the Kings." Voisin: "The cheering, the chanting, the symphony of cowbells. The uniquely passionate crowd that ranked second to none in the NBA for the better part of three decades. ... The NBA still doesn't have many places like this" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14). ESPN's Bomani Jones said of last night possibly being the last NBA game in Sacramento, "While normally I'm not very emotional about these things, that's a city that supported a team that quite honestly most of us would not have gone to watch. ... There are a lot of great fan bases, and the Kings are on that list. For them to lose that team is sad especially considering you don't know if the place they are going want a team" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/13).
RELOCATION ROUNDUP: In Sacramento, Dale Kasler notes NBA relocation requests normally are "overwhelmingly approved," but the Kings' move to Anaheim "could be complicated by the presence of two teams already in" L.A. NBA Commissioner David Stern "has long been cool to the idea of a third team in the greater Los Angeles market," and Lakers Owner Jerry Buss and Clippers Owner Donald Sterling are "widely expected to lobby against the move." The Kings "probably won't know their fate until sometime in early fall," when the NBA BOG "would vote on the Maloofs' relocation request." Meanwhile, "last-ditch efforts continued" yesterday to "keep the Kings from leaving." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson today "will address the NBA's financial advisory committee," and to "buttress Johnson's presentation in New York, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce pleaded with businesses to commit to becoming corporate sponsors of the team." Chamber President Matt Mahood "was hoping for commitments of at least $5 million in time for Johnson's appearance," and he "asked for pledges of at least $100,000 apiece for luxury suites, blocks of tickets or sponsorships" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14). Johnson said that he will "provide documentation in New York of expanded Sacramento business sponsorship interest in the NBA." Johnson: "It's more probable than not they're going to Anaheim. I just have to show why it makes good business sense to have Sacramento in the league" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).
PUT AWAY THE RUBBER STAMP: NBA reporter Sam Amick said the pushback from the BOG about a move to Anaheim "is going to be significantly more" than the Maloofs are expecting. Amick: "I'm not saying it's going to get voted down, but I think right now the league and owners are just kind of wondering if Anaheim is the right spot." Meanwhile, Amick said he has been told Johnson is "going to take the high road" in his presentation to the BOG, and it will not be a "mud-slinging campaign against the Maloofs." Amick: "But he does have to show why they need another team here. If they're going to lose this one, bring another one in" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/13).
The Dodgers announced last night that half-priced alcoholic drinks will no longer be part of the team's "Half Price Food & Drink Promotion," set to begin with a game against the Braves at Dodgers Stadium next Thursday. The promotion is set to take place at six midweek day games through the '11 season (Dodgers). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes the amended promotion comes after Giants fan Bryan Stow was critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day. L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck last week said that "he believed alcohol consumption contributed to problems at Dodger Stadium and that police officials were pushing the Dodgers to raise prices and stop sales at an earlier point in the game." Dodgers VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch said that team officials will "continue to reexamine their alcohol policies" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14). ESPN L.A.'s Jackson & Shelburne noted today's Cardinals-Dodgers game will be the first at Dodger Stadium since team Owner Frank McCourt, Beck and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last Friday that the team "will pay for increased on-duty police officers and security at home games." A joint news conference has been scheduled for 4:00pm PT today to "discuss the new security measures." A Dodgers spokesperson said that "in addition to the increased police presence, the team has already arranged for temporary lighting in the parking lots" (ESPNLA.com, 4/13).
CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote eliminating half-priced alcohol was "absolutely the correct thing to do," and the "absolutely obvious thing to do." But it "took nearly two weeks" since Stow's assault "to reach this conclusion." Dilbeck: "McCourt has been behind on this story since the moment it happened. ... It’s like he only responds after he receives political, media and public pressure" (LATIMES.com, 4/13). Also in L.A., Chris Erskine writes Dodgers fans "should have the option of goon-free zones" at home games, so "perhaps it is time for a nondrinking section" at Dodger Stadium. Erskine: "No one will ever mistake Dodger Stadium for an opera house. Swine are everywhere from the best seats to the worst. ... But don't abandon your ballpark" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).
The Warriors have hired Wasserman Media Group NBA agent Bob Myers as Assistant GM, and new team Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber "plan to groom him to take over the front office," according to league sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Warriors GM Larry Riley "will receive a contract extension" to stay with the franchise, but sources said that Lacob "offered Myers the job with an understanding he’ll eventually ascend to the top of basketball operations." Myers will leave WMG, "where he had risen quickly under powerful agent Arn Tellem to represent such players" as Trail Blazers G Brandon Roy and Thunder C Kendrick Perkins. Sources indicated that Myers "has discussed his move with his clients," and all have "committed to staying with Tellem" and WMG. Agent Greg Lawrence "has partnered with Myers on multiple clients and is expected to work with Tellem to take over the top players that Myers leaves behind" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/13). An NBA source said that the Warriors will extend Riley's contract through '13 (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/14). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes this is a "stunning decision by Lacob, because Myers has never held an executive position, does not have obvious ties to anybody in the front office, and he generally has not been considered as a candidate anywhere else." But that also is "what makes this a very canny hire," and perhaps even "a great hire." Myers is "levelheaded, well-connected and obviously very player-friendly" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/14). Blazers GM Rich Cho said, "Coming from the agent side and going to the front office side should bode very well for him" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/13).
Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan yesterday "reaffirmed he's committed to making the Bobcats an elite team," according to Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. He "won't predict how long that might take, in part because he doesn't know how the new collective bargaining agreement will look." But "when confronted with the perception by some fans that Jordan is cheap, he defended himself vigorously." Jordan: "I don't want people thinking we're not willing to spend or that we're dumping salaries. I want to spend money on a team that gets us into the top four (in the East). I would love to do that. That's all we think about" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/14). Jordan said, "We want to get to the top, and once you get to the top, you want to stay at the top. I want this city to understand what it feels like to be an elite basketball team, an elite team in general. Sometimes you have to do some spending, and I'm not afraid to do that. But once we get there, we belong there, we want to stay there. I'm committed to getting us there and I'll do everything in my power to get us there" ("Bobcats Live Pregame," SportsSouth, 4/13).
LEADING THE CHARGE: FS CAROLINAS' John Manasso wrote Jordan is "using his political capital to benefit the small-market Bobcats at the bank." The Bobcats this past season "had a 93 percent renewal rate on full season ticket equivalents and led the league in new ticket accounts with 2,500." They also "earned their highest regular season television ratings in their seven seasons." Bobcats TV announcer Steve Martin said of Jordan's efforts, "It has paid off big dividends and lifted the team, especially in the ticket office. He's paid a lot of attention to improve and motivate to sell and move the needle" (FOXSPORTSCAROLINAS.com, 4/13). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes, "In the new NBA, teams collect talent. That talent tends not to seek small markets such as Charlotte. ... Jordan is the equalizer. The Jordan brand fills the boardroom. Jordan is charismatic and glib and sounds committed." Sorensen adds, "Just as Jordan sells T-shirts, he has to sell his team." Jordan said, "Why can't Charlotte be that destination? It has been in the past. It was. Why not now? I like to think we have the organization to do that. And I will do everything I can" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/14).
A STABILIZING PRESENCE: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted the Bobcats entering last night's season finale against the Hawks "were averaging 15,839 fans per game at 19,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena, comparable with last season's attendance." Business and community relations for the franchise "have stabilized after an era of diminished results and expectations" under former Owner Bob Johnson. Ticket and sponsor sales "have increased under Jordan's stewardship, while the Bobcats have launched a more ambitious civic and charity campaign to keep the franchise visible year-round." Jordan "pronounced his first year as an NBA owner as fun and enjoyable," saying the team has "spent the year trying to invest back" into the community. Jordan: "Our work force has been an extension of who I am and where we want to go. I think they've done a heck of a job, from the basketball to the business side" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/13).
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said that a report on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 in Toronto that the Coyotes will move to Winnipeg as soon as they are knocked out of the NHL playoffs "is not accurate," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. He said that the league is "still trying to complete the sale of the Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer." Daly in an e-mail said, "The situation remains status-quo. Efforts to effectuate a sale remain ongoing." Hulsizer in an e-mail said that he is "not ready to abandon the sale." He added he is "still working on it" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/14). However, in Toronto, Damien Cox notes multiple reports indicated that the "plan for Glendale to sell $116 million worth of bonds to help finance Hulsizer’s $170 million purchase of the team is no longer viable, primarily because of threats by the taxpayer watchdog group the Goldwater Institute to sue the city if it tries to close the deal." Another report out of Winnipeg indicated that Hulsizer "has pulled all his concessions off the table and that True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. will soon be invited to table an official offer to move the Coyotes back to Winnipeg" (TORONTO STAR, 4/14). A source said the arrangement that would see Hulsizer buy the Coyotes is "on life support" (WINNIPEG SUN, 4/14).
FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE: Maple Leafs fan Darren Thompson, who is trying to "pull together a fan group" to buy the team, said that his plan is "coming into focus." Thompson said that he "has attracted 7,000 pledges with a value of [C]$100 million, and that progress helped create a favourable impression after meetings with ownership representatives on Tuesday." In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski notes while Thompson "wouldn’t say who the stakeholders were, he said he was also planning to meet with banks, law firms, and public relations companies during his two-day stay in Toronto to attract the corporate requirements needed to legitimize his dream while the pledge process grows." The financial aspect of Thompson’s plan is to have "one million Canadians pledge" C$1,000 each, which would get his plan a C$1B "sum needed to seriously enter the bidding process for the team" (TORONTO STAR, 4/14).
Ballpark Real Estate LP spokesperson Lisa LeMaster, whose firm is being sued by the Rangers over parking at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, yesterday said that fans attending Monday's Angels-Rangers game "will not see higher parking prices." The Rangers "feared higher prices if Ballpark Real Estate took over parking operations." But parking "will remain $10, or $5 for Friday games, and be operated by the Rangers." A state district judge in Tarrant County has "scheduled a hearing for this morning" in the lawsuit, and the Rangers "want the judge to issue a temporary restraining order to ensure that parking rates don't change at least until the case can be more fully heard" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/14).
HOMECOMING FOR HENRY: In DC, Steve Goff cited sources as saying that the MLS Red Bulls "have been approached about participating" in the Emirates Cup in London this summer, which is hosted by EPL club Arsenal. No team from outside Europe "has ever competed" in the tournament. The "primary attraction from a New York appearance would be" F Thierry Henry, who played for Arsenal from '99-'07 (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/13). Meanwhile, in London, Paul Kelso reports Stan Kroenke's "first significant decision as majority owner of Arsenal could be to impose" a 6.5% increase on the club's season-ticket prices. Corporate Club-level ticket holders "have already been hit with average increases of four per cent with some as high as" 6.5%, but Arsenal "has delayed announcing a similar levy on general admission ticket holders." A "final decision on whether to proceed with the above-inflation increase will be made by the club board within the next month" (London TELEGRAPH, 4/14).
NEWS THAT'S FIT TO DISCLOSE: The N.Y. Times Company "has been confirmed as Liverpool's second largest shareholder." The EPL club's owner, Fenway Sports Group, "made the disclosure to comply with Premier League rules, which state that any ownership of more than 10% must be declared." FSG in a statement said, "The economic interest in this company is held by a range of investors, including Tom Werner. Those holding more than a 10% interest are John Henry and the New York Times Company" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 4/13).