SBD/September 7, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi, the NHL and the Stars' creditors "have agreed to a price and all other documents related to Gaglardi purchasing the team out of bankruptcy," according to a source cited by Juan Elizondo Jr. of the DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The source indicated that Stars officials are "confident about the deal and will move forward to bring the team out of bankruptcy if lienholders approve the plan." The bankruptcy court process "would open the door for other potential buyers" to bid against Gaglardi. Bids would "push the process about two months," but if "no other offers were made, Gaglardi could have the team in about a month after the proposal is presented to the bankruptcy court" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/2). In Dallas, Gerry Fraley noted Gaglardi's bid on Friday "triggered a process that should have a new owner in within three months." The "next step is for Monarch Alternative Capital, which took control when Hicks Sports Group defaulted on $525 million in loans in 2009, to submit a prepackaged bankruptcy plan to a court." The plan "calls for a filing on Sept. 14 in Delaware district court." Prepackaged bankruptcy is "considered to be a quick and smooth process because new financing, the Gaglardi bid, is already in place and management has reached agreement with creditors on the major details." The bankruptcy court "will allow any interested parties one last chance at the Stars." If at least one bidder is "willing to beat Gaglardi’s offer by a minimum of $10 million, the Stars will go into auction" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/3). Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said last week that he "has been told by the league that the sale should be completed before Christmas" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 9/2).
CHANGING LINES: In Toronto, Kevin McGran noted the NHL "has three troubled franchises" for sale -- the Stars, Coyotes and Blues. The league-owned Coyotes reportedly have two bidders "looking to keep the team in Arizona," and the Blues "have found a new investor" in Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "In a perfect world, settled and stable ownership is always better than the alternative. But the fact that certain clubs are for sale (or will be sold) does not, in itself, raise cause for concern" (TORONTO STAR, 9/5).
The NHL Jets yesterday “revealed sharp-looking home and away jerseys before a crowd of roughly 200 invited media and guests” at a Canadian Air Force base in Winnipeg, according to Ken Wiebe of the WINNIPEG SUN. The primary color on the home jerseys is a "crisp navy blue -- known as Polar Night Blue and found on many Royal Canadian Air Force planes -- while the secondary colour is a lighter blue -- Aviator Blue, which closely resembles the colour worn on the jerseys of the 1948 RCAF Flyers." A “distinguishing feature of the road white jerseys are the Polar Night Blue sleeves, with stripes near the elbow and underneath the numbers.” Jets co-Owner Mark Chipman said, “You try to do a whole bunch of things. You want something that’s unique but you also want it to be simple. I think we captured that. You put it all together and it just seems to fit together.” Wiebe noted the “only so-called damper surrounding all the enthusiasm was that the new jerseys won’t be available for purchase until early October” (WINNIPEGSUN.com, 9/6). The Jets' name and logo “weren't the first choice of the team's new owners but they bowed to public pressure and that meant a last-minute rush to get the logo and jersey's ready for the season.” The colors are “essentially the same as those worn by the original Winnipeg Jets, who left the city in 1996 when the team relocated to Phoenix” (CP, 9/6). Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said that the Jets “will wear a special commemorative patch on opening night” against the Canadiens on Oct. 9 at MTS Centre. After that, the uniforms “will sport a commemorative inaugural season patch” (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/7). The WINNIPEG SUN's Wiebe writes the unveiling of the jerseys at an air force base was “fitting.” Wiebe: “This union between the Jets and the military has come under some scrutiny by a certain segment of the population, but you can count me among those who like the look of the logo and are genuinely impressed by the jerseys themselves.” Cheveldayoff said, “The lines are clean, the colours are very sharp and the logo is very distinct. Very simplistic, yet very complex. It can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people” (WINNIPEG SUN, 9/7).
WHAT'S ALL THE HYPE ABOUT? PRO HOCKEY TALK’s Joe Yerdon wrote the “sweaters are nice, but underwhelming.” Yerdon: “With all the build up and the waiting that went into this, coming up with something that’s a bit plain and simple comes off almost as boring but these are good sweaters and a good look all told” (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/6). YAHOO SPORTS’ Sean Leahy wrote, “As much as we would have liked to have the Jets return to their previous jerseys for the full nostalgic effect, we'll give these a bit of a pass, although the shoulder yoke and arm/waist stripes seems a bit much” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/6).
The WNBA Atlanta Dream on Saturday announced the transition of team ownership to investors Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler from Managing Partner Kathy Betty, pending approval from the WNBA BOG. Brock and Loeffler joined Betty in January '11 as the only all-female ownership group of an Atlanta professional sports team (Dream). In Atlanta, Christopher Seward noted when Betty bought the team in '09, it was "losing about $3 million." During Betty's "first year as owner, aided by a team that made it to the league finals before succumbing, the red ink was reduced." The added investments from Brock and Loeffler are "expected to bolster team finances as it attempts to boost its marketing efforts to attract more fans" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/4).
TAKING IT STRONG TO THE HOOP: The AP's Vin Cherwoo noted WNBA attendance "rose again this year and TV viewership is at its highest level since 2005 as the league's 15th season heads into the final stretch." The WNBA reported that attendance through the final week in August had "increased by about 2 percent ... compared to a corresponding point last season, marking the fifth straight year of improvement." This season's attendance growth "is being driven by big increases" for the Sky (30.5%), Mystics (14.5%) and Lynx (13.3%), and the league said that six other teams "also reported rising numbers." Cherwoo noted the improvement has occurred while the Liberty, "who averaged a league-leading 11,069 at Madison Square Garden last year, have seen a 31 percent decrease in their first of three seasons at Prudential Center" while MSG undergoes renovations. Additionally, ESPN last week said that the net's 12 regular-season broadcasts "drew an average of 270,000 viewers -- an increase of 5 percent from last year and the highest figure since 2005." It is the "third straight year those numbers have gone up." WNBA President Laurel Richie said, "All of our key metrics are pointing in the right direction" (AP, 9/2).
Sports business execs said that the $1.2B bid for the Dodgers, financed in part by state-run financial institutions in China, "would face substantial obstacles before being considered" by MLB. The execs "wondered if the offer was legitimate because the buyers had not been named, except for the front man William Burke, the founder of the Los Angeles Marathon." Additionally, the execs "questioned if financial institutions run by the Chinese government would be transparent enough to provide baseball with the necessary documentation to be properly vetted." The execs also "suggested that a non-negotiable bid for the team, its media rights and real estate might not be serious" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted Dodgers' lead bankruptcy lawyer Bruce Bennett, a partner at N.Y.-based Dewey & LeBoeuf, "makes $975 an hour." The firm in a court filing last week revealed that for 34 days of legal representation ending July 31, it "incurred fees of $1.7 million" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2).
WORTH A SHOT: The Mets last week broke off talks with hedge fund manager David Einhorn about buying a minority interest in the team, and in N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Einhorn "saw a chance to parlay that original investment into becoming the controlling partner of the team, and reached for that chance with both hands." Lupica: "It was a smart, aggressive play by a hedge-fund guy, and if the financial circumstances with [Mets Owners] the Wilpons and Saul Katz hadn't improved, Einhorn might have pulled it off, in the short run." But this "was never about love of the Mets or love of baseball with David Einhorn, it was about the art of a deal he tried to make." It was "absolutely a short that could have turned into a nice, long-range plan, and didn't, because in the end the Mets decided they didn't need Einhorn as much as they thought they did" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/4).
OUT OF THE SHADOWS: In St. Louis, Joe Strauss reports the Cardinals, "moved by player complaints that reached a crescendo after Monday's shadow-shrouded loss" to the Brewers, announced that they "will not schedule games for midafternoon starts next season." Shadows crept over the plate during the bottom of the fourth inning of Monday's game, creating what Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols called a "ridiculous" situation. LF Matt Holliday compared it to hitting "in a dark room." Cardinals GM John Mozeliak yesterday confirmed that the team's preliminary schedule for the '12 season "has moved all holiday games either to evening or early afternoon start times while increasing the number of early afternoon game times for midweek getaway days" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/7).
THE SHIRTS OFF THEIR BACKS: A BOSTON GLOBE editorial stated the Yankees are taking their "reputation for evil a step too far by threatening to sue a mom-and-pop operation hawking anti-Yankees merchandise that parodies the team as 'Baseballs [sic] Evil Empire.'" Although Tracy Carey "has sold fewer than 1,000 T-shirts, the Yankees filed a copyright infringement claim, arguing that her logo deceives the public into thinking the merchandise is official team gear." The editorial: "But Carey's products are clearly not reproductions of the original. They are parodies, which are protected under fair use statutes" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/6).