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SBD/April 27, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Tom Gaglardi "has agreed to a price and most of the terms for buying the Dallas Stars -- and if he can steer it through bankruptcy court with the bankers in charge of the sale, the Vancouver businessman will be the NHL team's new owner," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. It is expected Gaglardi "will soon enter an exclusive negotiating period of roughly 30 days to complete the purchase of the NHL team" and 50% of American Airlines Center. A source said that the "last hurdle" is "taking the Stars through bankruptcy court so Gaglardi will not be hampered by any debts left by current owner Tom Hicks." The source said that declaring bankruptcy is "opposed by the NHL," but it is "viewed as a necessity because of the Stars' long list of creditors." Shoalts noted it is "hoped the sale can be completed by the end of May, but that is not certain as the bidders who lost out to Gaglardi in this round could resurface in bankruptcy court." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly Monday "declined to clarify the situation." He said the source's information is "partially true and partially inaccurate" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/26). ESPN DALLAS' Mark Stepneski cited a source as saying that the sale of the Stars "has picked up some momentum" and that Gaglardi "is the frontrunner to buy the team." Another source said that the Stars and Gaglardi "entered into an agreement to purse the negotiation of a sale," though there is "nothing binding on the sale." Stepneski noted there is "hope of a resolution of the sale by as early as late May," but there is "no guarantee of that." Gaglardi "tried to buy the Vancouver Canucks in 2004 and was rumored to be interested in the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 4/26).
BLUE SKIES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Friday said that the league was "confident a buyer would be found for the Blues that would keep the team in St. Louis." The league is "coming off a sixth consecutive year of record revenue, the league's third-best attendance for a season and a new television contract with NBC and Versus," and Bettman said that those things "should help the market for a team such as the Blues." Bettman: "This is a good time to buy." Bettman added that the Blues "would miss" Chair Dave Checketts, who is selling his stake in the team. Bettman: "The Blues are better off because of him. He is a good owner and knows how to run a team. It is a shame it didn't work out with his investors" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/23).
The NHL and Matthew Hulsizer are "making a last-ditch effort to restructure" the Chicago businessman's deal to buy the Coyotes "in hopes of overcoming the opposition of the Goldwater Institute," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. It appears that the changes "involve Hulsizer increasing the amount of money he and his partners will put into the purchase and the NHL reducing its asking price" of $170M or deferring payment of the full price. That would allow the city of Glendale to "reduce the amount" of the $116M municipal bond sale "that is to provide Hulsizer with much of the purchase price, perhaps by as much as half," to less than $60M. A source said it could be only "a few days" before the success of this effort is known. When asked if the NHL is willing to lower its asking price for the Coyotes and Hulsizer is "willing to top" the $70M he has pledged to put into the deal, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that he "disagreed with that 'characterization.'" Daly also "disputed the notion the deal is being revised to appease Goldwater." He said, "Goldwater is not even a factor in this for us any more." However, a lawyer for the watchdog group said that "unless the revised deal addresses the institute’s main concerns it will not back off from its promise to block the bond sale in court" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27).
THE CLOCK IS TICKING: In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks reports some officials and sources familiar with the process "peg late May or June as the deadline" for the NHL to determine whether the Coyotes will stay in Glendale or move to Winnipeg. Those officials "expect the fate of the Coyotes to be announced after the Stanley Cup Finals and before the NHL schedule is announced for next season," which generally happens in June. But another source said that the NHL "may make up its mind privately as early as May 6." If the franchise relocates to Winnipeg, it "might adopt the Manitoba Moose name instead of going back to the old Winnipeg Jets" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/27).
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, local business leaders and Kings fans "have done all they could in the past few months to prevent" the team from relocating to Anaheim, and the "final and perhaps most critical step came Tuesday, when the corporate community handed NBA representatives deposits on more than $10 million in sponsorship pledges for the Kings to stay at least another year," according to Antonio Gonzalez of the AP. NBA Exec VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations Chris Granger was "among those from the league who met with Johnson and some 30 business leaders at Golden 1 Credit Union in Sacramento." The NBA relocation committee, headed by Thunder Chair Clay Bennett, "will issue a final report to Commissioner David Stern later this week." Kings Owners the Maloofs "have until Monday to file a relocation request to the league." The "primary reason the Maloofs have explored relocation -- several failed efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento -- won't be answered by the deadline." A feasibility study for a new arena "isn't scheduled to be completed until the end of May" (AP, 4/26). In California, Brian Joseph noted the NBA officials were on hand to "investigate Sacramento's corporate commitments." Sacramento business leaders yesterday "signed their deposits," though Johnson said that he "didn't know the total amount." Johnson said the NBA has told him, "You guys have done everything you need to do up until this point, we just need the deposits" (OCREGISTER.com, 4/26). Johnson yesterday released a list of 32 companies that "have pledged $10 million in total in new corporate sponsorship dollars" for the '11-12 season (SACBEE.com, 4/26).
CIVIC COMMITMENT: The AP's Gonzalez reported "four California lawmakers, including the leader of the state Senate, sent a letter to Stern on Tuesday pledging to work with local leaders over the next year to try to build a sports and performing arts complex to replace" Power Balance Pavilion. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said that he would "use his clout to make sure his district gets its share of state bond money that could go to build the complex" (AP, 4/26). Meanwhile, in California, Eric Carpenter reported the Sacramento group "collecting signatures to force a public election that could keep the Sacramento NBA franchise from moving to Anaheim said Tuesday that it will only submit those signatures if Kings' owners file for relocation." Committee to Save the Kings co-Leader Rod Stutzman: "We have more than 11,000 signatures in hand and we are 100 percent confident that enough are valid (to trigger) an election. But we will only file those if the Maloofs file for relocation. If they don't file, we don't want to waste taxpayer money on a referendum that would be moot" (OCREGISTER.com, 4/26).
PUTTING UP A FIGHT: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes, "It's not the market, it's the ownership. That's crystal clear now as the greater Sacramento community has rallied to show it can support the Kings despite strong uncertainty surrounding the Kings ownership. ... Raising this money in this economic climate -- and with the Kings poised to move -- is no joke. Even if Johnson's effort yielded only $5 million in real pledges for luxury suites and sponsorship deals, it would still be an amazing accomplishment given that the Kings owners want out of Sacramento" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/27). Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears said Johnson has "done a great deal to get" the Kings back to Sacramento, but Anaheim "has dropped the ball." Spears: "They didn't have the TV contract together. The arena situation is shoddy. I heard they walked in there and the NBA just laughed at them, truly laughed at them" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 4/26).
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is scheduled to meet today with MLB execs in N.Y. as the embattled executive seeks to get further clarity on the league's takeover last week of club business operations, Monday's appointment of Tom Schieffer as club monitor, and Commissioner Bud Selig's refusal to approve a pending media rights deal with Fox that McCourt says will alleviate his financial distress. McCourt requested the meeting, industry sources said. But Selig will not be present as the commissioner continues to keep his distance from McCourt, in part due to legal reasons and concern over a potential lawsuit from McCourt. MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations & HR Rob Manfred and league officials and lawyers instead will be involved with the meeting, which could help determine whether McCourt challenges the league's seizure of team operations (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
TALKING POINTS: In L.A., Bill Shaikin reports McCourt is meeting with MLB officials "primarily to make one last pitch for approval of a television contract with Fox that would serve as his financial lifeline." The tentative Fox deal, valued at close to $3B by the Dodgers and closer to $1.7B by league officials, "has been with Selig for three weeks." Fox has indicated that the "proposed deal with McCourt would be available for any new Dodgers owner." Selig was "angered that Fox extended McCourt a personal loan to meet ... payroll obligations, and for now Fox has left McCourt to fight his own fight." FSN VP/PR Chris Bellitti: "This is an issue between the Dodgers and Major League Baseball." An MLB exec said that he is "convinced nothing McCourt might say could sway Selig from moving toward new ownership of the Dodgers." The exec said, "I've never seen him more determined." In today's meeting, McCourt also "plans to ask exactly what Schieffer has been asked to do, and whether McCourt would have any significant role or authority during Schieffer's tenure." McCourt is expected to be joined by Dodgers Vice Chair Steve Soboroff and his "two must trusted financial advisers," Jeff Ingram and Peter Wilhelm (L.A. TIMES, 4/27). A source close to McCourt denied a report that the agreement with Fox is "closer to $1.6 billion" than the $3B some have suggested (ESPNLA.com, 4/26).
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE: In L.A., Hernandez & Blankstein report the Dodgers have chosen former LAPD Capt. Rich Wemmer as the team's Security Chief, but are "awaiting approval before they can finalize his hiring." The Dodgers' top security position "has been vacant for four months and publicly became an issue when a San Francisco Giants fan was attacked and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day." Law enforcement officials indicated that the Dodgers selected Wemmer, a onetime clubhouse attendant for the club, "after approaching numerous former LAPD command staffers and being turned down" (L.A. TIMES, 4/27).
Real Salt Lake Senior VP/Soccer Operations & GM Garth Lagerwey said that the MLS team's CONCACAF Champions League final game tonight against Mexican club Monterrey is "not only the biggest in the state’s soccer history, but one of the biggest sports events ever in Utah," according to Michael Anastasi of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. RSL would be the first MLS team ever to win this tournament, and Lagerwey called tonight's game at Rio Tinto Stadium a potentially "historic" national event. He added, "We have got to win. We are well past the point of moral victories. ... It’s a game-changer. It’s the potential tipping point in selling out our building every night." Anastasi notes the game is "so important to Major League Soccer itself that virtually the entire MLS national staff is flying in from New York to support RSL" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/27). Lagerwey said, "We get more respect outside our country than we do inside it. I think we'll win over a whole bunch of fans who simply can't ignore us if we're able to win and achieve consistent success" (USA TODAY, 4/27). In Salt Lake City, Michael Lewis writes RSL is "on the verge of what many believe would be the greatest accomplishment in the history of American soccer." Lagerwey: "We haven’t had that Lake Placid moment like the 1980 U.S. hockey team, but that’s the opportunity I think we have. I think we have an event of that scale that can put the world on notice that American soccer is taking another step forward" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/27).
HELPING THE BOTTOM LINE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Fred Dreier reports RSL has parlayed its run in the CONCACAF Champions League "into increased sponsorship, strong ticket sales and additional local exposure." Unlike MLS teams in the past, RSL "has put significant promotion behind the tournament." Club President Bill Manning "credits its Champions League success for securing two new sponsors -- international home-security firm Vivint and Ford Motor Co. -- to six-figure, three-year deals" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/25 issue). In Utah, James Edward writes RSL's "total commitment to the CONCACAF Champions League has forever changed the way MLS teams view the tournament." No longer will MLS teams "view the competition as a bother, but rather a unique opportunity to stamp its name on the consciousness of the American soccer public." With a sellout crowd of more than 20,000 expected to attend tonight's game, Manning indicated that "gate receipts alone will net the team over half a million dollars." He added, "This will be our largest gate in our history." Edward notes combined with tonight's attendance, "nearly 100,000 fans will have watched RSL's march through the Champions League and Manning said collectively it's all been profitable" (DESERET NEWS, 4/27).
READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT: The DESERET NEWS' Edward reports to "ensure a pro-RSL crowd, management only put tickets on sale to its estimated 7,000 season ticket holders" for tonight's game. Those fans "were allowed to buy additional tickets as well, up to double their season ticket allotment." Manning said that RSL has "sold more than 200 additional season tickets." Once "about 15,000 to 16,000 tickets were sold, RSL then opened up tickets to past single-game ticket buyers via email" (DESERET NEWS, 4/27). Meanwhile, RSL Dir of Public Affairs & Broadcasting Trey Fitz-Gerald said Rio Tinto Stadium will be "pretty much at full capacity" in terms of media for tonight's game. He added, "Certainly, every booth is being used. Just about every camera position and patch panel will be utilized in some way, shape or form." There will be about 75 "on- and off-air TV staffers on air for the game," which kicks off at 10:00pm ET on Fox Soccer Channel. Fitz-Gerald: "It’s pretty massive. It’s the most concurrent production we’ve ever had at Rio Tinto. Even more than for the (2009 MLS) All-Star Game." He estimated that a "total of 200 print and broadcast journalists will be there for the RSL-Monterrey game" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/27).
On Long Island, Steven Marcus cites a source as saying that the partial sale of the Mets is "on track, and the team expects to select one of four remaining bidders next month, with the deal closing in June." The source said that there is "no front-runner among the bidders." The source "would not reveal the percentage of the team being sold but said the 'strong expectation' is that Wilpon would continue to remain in control." The Mets are "seeking $200 million for a minority share of the ballclub" (NEWSDAY, 4/27).
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz reports EPL club Manchester United owners the Glazers have been "working with a PR agency to improve their poor media profile and sell their global vision for the club." The Glazers in January "appointed Jon Tibbs Associates to work alongside" ManU Communications Dir Phil Townsend. Sources said that the move showed the owners "believed a chapter had closed after they paid down and that they were demonstrating their stated intention to remain the long-term owners" of ManU. However, Blitz notes the "PR impetus is unlikely to push the Glazers themselves into the spotlight" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/27).
GET YOUR GAME ON, GO PLAY: The D'Backs have created a second lip dub video to promote the upcoming MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field. Following up on a holiday-themed effort in December that marked the first lip dub video by a pro sports team, the new clip is not surprisingly set to "All Star" by Smash Mouth. Among those included in the new video are Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick, President & CEO Derrick Hall, GM Kevin Towers, former MLBer Luis Gonzalez and more than 100 team front-office employees (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
BEHIND THE SCENES: D CEO magazine's Tom Stephenson writes under the header, "Why The Rangers Cut Chuck Greenberg." A source said that the "troubles at the top began 'not until the first of the year ... and really not until February.'" When "word leaked out that before spring had officially sprung, Greenberg had missed all or part" of a board meeting in Scottsdale -- then "failed to co-host a scheduled party for advertisers the next day -- blood was in the water." Rangers President Nolan Ryan "basically told the powers-that-be that a 'him or me' situation had developed." And Greenberg "could not win that battle" (D CEO, May/June issue). Meanwhile, in Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw noted Greenberg and his wife, Jenny, "like living in the D-FW area and have no plans to move any time soon even though his involvement with the Rangers became a thing of the past in spring training." When asked if he still watches Rangers games or if it is weird to see them play, he responded, "Yes and yes" (DALLASNEWS.com, 4/26).