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SBD/July 14, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Comcast-Spectacor "reached an agreement Wednesday to sell the 76ers to a group of investors" led by Apollo Global Management Senior Managing Dir Joshua Harris, according to Kate Fagan of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The deal is pending approval by the NBA's BOG, though "no difficulties are expected regarding the NBA's approval of the sale." While terms of the sale were not disclosed, sources "put the deal's value at approximately $280 million for a 90 percent share of the team." Comcast-Spectacor and Chair Ed Snider will retain a 10% share but "will relinquish operational control." The deal does not include the Flyers or Wells Fargo Center, both Comcast-Spectacor owned, and under terms of the agreement, the 76ers "will continue playing" in the arena. Comcast-Spectacor said the 76ers "will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center and will have a long-term cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia." The TV deal runs through '29. Fagan notes Harris is joined in the prospective ownership group by The Blackstone Group Senior Managing Dir David Blitzer, hedge fund Wesley Capital Owner Art Wrubel and former NBA Kings Senior VP & Assistant GM Jason Levien. It remains unclear "what role, if any, Levien will play within the Sixers' front office." The investment group has met with 76ers President Rod Thorn "on several occasions" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/14). In Philadelphia, Bob Cooney cites a source as saying that the deal is for 100% of the 76ers, contrary to speculation that Snider will retain a stake. Another source said acquiring the NBA team is a "logical fit" for Harris. That source added, "He has always had a soft spot in his heart for Philadelphia" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/14). The PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS takes a deeper look at the prospective owners.
WHAT'S THE GAME PLAN? The INQUIRER's Fagan notes now that "details of the sale are understood, the immediate question becomes how the ownership swap will affect the team's basketball side." Thorn and 76ers coach Doug Collins "have had conversations with members of the new ownership group, but no one has revealed any sort of insight into the new regime's long-term plans; at this point it will likely require a few months behind the wheel before even the owners know what direction is best." Fagan notes as of now, a "feeling exists within the team that at least a small amount of change will occur." GM Ed Stefanski, whose contract with the 76ers "will expire soon, is somewhat of a redundant presence considering that Thorn is now officially in charge of personnel decisions." Couple Stefanski's role "with Levien's and Thorn's, and that's like three quarterbacks hovering over center" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/14).
A five-member committee of unsecured creditors has been established in the ongoing Dodgers bankruptcy case, a panel that includes the MLBPA, radio rightsholder KABC-AM, and the parents of Bryan Stow, the Giants fan severely beaten at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day. The other two entities are Pyro Events, Inc. and AVM Systems Limited Partnership, representing vendors. The committee represents all unsecured creditors in the Dodgers case, as a result giving the five entities a significant voice in the eventual outcome. Current and former Dodgers players, most notably former LF Manny Ramirez, make up the majority of the club’s largest unsecured creditors. MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said in Phoenix on Tuesday the union will be heavily involved in the Dodgers case, are “more than concerned” about the club’s ability to compete, and want the team to return to flagship status for the league (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes the Dodgers “do not currently owe Stow any money, but his family has sued the team over the stadium parking lot beating in which he was critically injured.” The Dodgers' bankruptcy filing indicated that the Dodgers “owe KABC $273,321” (L.A. TIMES, 7/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Eric Morath notes creditor committees “often wield influence in bankruptcy cases, so the union’s spot among the five members could give the players some say over a plan for the Dodgers to reorganize their debts or over a possible sale of the team.” The MLBPA “gains a key seat at the negotiating table that it didn’t have in” the Rangers' Chapter 11 case last year (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14).
SURVEY SAYS: ESPN L.A.’s Enrique Rojas noted an informal survey taken on Tuesday at Chase Field prior to the All-Star Game showed Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban “would be more than welcome as the owner” of an MLB franchise. Dodgers RF Andre Ethier said, “It would be fine; I think he would be more than welcome to baseball.” Mets RF Carlos Beltran said, “It would be positive for baseball. He has a lot of passion. He’s a guy that has shown that he is willing to do everything he can to win” (ESPNLA.com, 7/13).
NO ESCAPING TEAM'S ISSUES: Cuban, who has been mentioned as a possible buyer should current Owner Frank McCourt put the Dodgers up for sale, sat with actors Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds during the pre-show for last night's ESPY Awards, and the team's status came up in conversation. Bateman, a Dodgers fan, said, “If we had an owner as incredible as Mark, we’d really have something. ... I don’t know Frank McCourt, but there’s a large distance between what you do and what Mr. McCourt’s done for us, I suppose. I think there might be something for sale.” Cuban replied, "It’ll be interesting to see what happens if and when it does come up for sale.” Bateman and Reynolds are co-starring in the upcoming release “The Change-Up,” and Bateman said if it does well at the box office, the two of them and Cuban “might be able to make a bid” for the Dodgers. Reynolds: “0.01% ownership? Just in the hot dog side of it all, the Dodger Dog?” Cuban: “Hey, your net worth’s already more than the people who own it now, so you’re okay” ("2011 ESPY Awards," ESPN, 7/13).
The Predators yesterday “unveiled their newest uniforms,” replacing last year’s blue and white-trimmed color scheme with “bright gold tops with blue trim and white piping, adorned with Nashville icons,” according to Austen Gregerson of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Predators coach Barry Trotz noted, “The shoulder patches are a guitar pick, the three stars representative of Tennessee, it’s got a lot of Nashville identity.” Other details in the jersey include “fangs in the collar and guitar strings in the numbering and lettering.” The new design “was unveiled on a large banner hanging from the side of the AT&T building in downtown.” A corresponding advertising slogan, “Behold The Gold,” was shown across the top of the display. Predators CEO Jeff Cogen said, “It’s about creating a dominant color, and blue is not a dominant color. We wanted that sea of gold that you saw in the playoffs.” Gregerson writes, “The visual impact of the new color in a league littered with blues and reds will undoubtedly make a statement, and if the fans in attendance preordering their own gold jerseys are any sort of sign, Tennessee sports fans have become accustomed to bold colors” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/14).
The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ Tim Kawakami wrote the MLB Giants are “treading right towards baseball financial superpower status, and the way to keep that momentum going is to re-invest some of the surplus right back into the product at the appropriate moment, for the appropriate player.” That time “is probably now, and that player seems to be Mets OF Carlos Beltran, a proven postseason performer beyond all doubt.” The defending World Series champions are “awash in cash and adoration -- the sellout streak, the 2010 trinkets sold, the videos, the record TV ratings, the whole take-our-money-please Giants fan lalapalooza.” Kawakami: “Giants management owes the fans, who have supported this franchise to the fullest measure” (MERCURYNEWS.com, 7/13).
MARKING THE MOMENT: Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban on his blog wrote since his team won the NBA championship "there have been surprises,” and the first “is just how many people around the country were rooting for us.” Cuban: “As I travel around the country the response and support is far beyond anything I have experienced.” He added, "The second and still the most amazing to me is how Dallas Ft Worth and all of North Texas is responding to the Mavs. I expect people to come up and congratulate me. But that isn’t what is happening. Instead, people are thanking me. ... To be part of something so special is Tremendous” (BLOGMAVERICK.com, 7/12).
FAMILY TIES: In London, Ian Herbert notes Manchester City “may have to prove that their Abu Dhabi owner,” Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is not influenced by his half-brother, Etihad Airways Chair Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, if the EPL club's US $644M sponsorship deal with the airline “is to avoid failing one of the key tests of the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations.” Manchester City is “comfortable” that the deal “represents ‘fair value’ and is not simply a means of the Abu Dhabi royal family, which founded Etihad, artificially inflating the balance sheet of the club.” Manchester City will have to "demonstrate that several members of Sheikh Mansour’s family who have been integral to Etihad do not exert" influence over him (London INDEPENDENT, 7/14).
WOMEN'S WORLD: WNBA President Laurel Richie, when asked in a Q&A if there was anything she could do to “counteract persistent skepticism about” the 15-year-old league, said, “The truth is that all of our metrics are heading in the right direction. Sponsorships are up. Ticket renewals are at an all-time high” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/14).