SBD/November 28, 2011/Franchises

NBA Franchise Notes: New Labor Deal Is Good For Kings' Arena Plans

NBA and Kings have given Sacramento until March 1 to assemble an arena financing deal
In Sacramento, Bizjack & Kasler wrote the potential resolution to the NBA lockout “comes at a key moment” for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s effort “to finance a downtown arena to replace aging Power Balance Pavilion and persuade” Kings Owners the Maloof family to keep the team in Sacramento beyond this season. The NBA and the Kings have given the city “until March 1, 2012, to put an arena financing deal together or risk seeing the Kings move.” Johnson and the City Council on Dec. 13 “are expected to discuss whether the city can contract to have a private company run the city’s downtown parking operations in exchange for upfront cash to jump-start arena financing” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/27). Also in Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote the "tentative labor agreement reached in the wee hours Saturday gives the Kings another chance ... to compete again." But the small-market owners "arm-wrestled their bigger colleagues for a reason: This is their league, too" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/27).

A WIN FOR THE SMALL MARKETS: When asked if a new CBA would make the Hornets "more financially attractive" to a potential new owner, Tulane Sports Law Program Dir Gabe Feldman said, "I think there's no question. I think it makes it more attractive for all owners, but particularly an owner for the Hornets. I think first of all the fact that the lockout is now almost over, and revenues will start coming in. And there is a system that does make it easier for a team for like the Hornets to compete on and off the court" (NOLA.com, 11/26). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote with the new deal the Pacers "have won," and so have "all the league's small-market, small-revenue teams -- the Hornets and Bobcats, the Kings and the Bucks and several others." Kravitz noted, "We will have a reconstituted NBA that gives the little guys a better chance to compete with the L.A.s, New Yorks and Bostons." The small-market "excuse -- 'we just can't compete when Mark Cuban is paying all that money' -- is going to ring more hollow than ever" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 11/27). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote any deal "that reduces salaries, shortens contracts and makes it harder for big spenders to compete for free agents -- all things that this deal should do -- is ultimately good for the Grizzlies" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/27). Memphis Mayor AC Wharton said, "I want to encourage every Memphian and every Grizzlies fan to get behind our team and support them during this abbreviated season" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/27).

DEEP-POCKETED TEAMS: In L.A., Mike Bresnahan writes the Lakers "were one of the teams targeted by small-market owners and NBA officials in the proposed" CBA. The club faces "an incredibly steep tax designed to instill more league parity and less spending by deep-pocketed teams." The Lakers' payroll last season "was $91 million, the NBA's largest, and they paid an additional $21 million in penalties because they were that far over the tax threshold." In two years, a $91M payroll "would cost the Lakers a staggering $68 million in additional taxes." Under the new agreement, teams that cross the tax threshold "four times in a five-year span will also be hit with a 'repeater tax,' an additional dollar-for-dollar penalty on top of any existing penalties" (L.A. TIMES, 11/28). In West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick wrote Heat Owner Micky Arison "had a different agenda than many other owners." That does not "diminish from the brilliance of his positioning during the lockout." Plenty of players, especially veterans, "around the league were paying attentions, and they now know for sure that he's friendly to their cause" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/27). In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote if making money was his goal, Arison "would have been better off with the previous, broken system than he is with this one." He is going to have "to share revenue now." He is going "to have to pay a luxury tax." But Arison "isn't in this game for money. He is in it for fun, for sport, a fan like the rest of us" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/27).

WELCOME RELIEF: In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat wrote the Raptors "needed a season." With attendance "sinking like a rock and on the heels of an uninspiring 60-loss campaign, the team could not afford to alienate the many casual basketball fans it will need to get back on board in order to get attendance back up to snuff." The hardcore, dedicated hoops fans "will always return, but the thousands of harder sells might have balked at paying top dollar in 2012-13 if the lights remained dark" (TORONTO SUN, 11/27). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Tom Spousta wrote "few NBA cities viewed the news of a labor agreement with more welcome relief" than Oklahoma City. The Thunder sent letters "to its approximately 4,000 season-ticket holders (representing 14,000 seats) and offering a choice to leave their money on account at 5 percent interest or receive monthly refund checks." About 85% of those fans "reportedly chose to let the Thunder hold their money" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27).

RECONNECTING: In Milwaukee, Charles Gardner cited a source as saying that Bucks officials and members of the team's sales and marketing departments "were scheduled to meet Sunday to begin the process of reconnecting with season-ticket holders, reaching out to potential new fans and coming up with new marketing ideas to ignite interest after a long layoff." The source said the Bucks had a "30-day plan ready to be put in place to get ready for the beginning of the compressed season." Bucks staffers yesterday took "calls from fans who have questions about their season-ticket packages or are considering renewing their ticket packages" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 11/27). In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote, "I think the public will give [the T'Wolves] the benefit of the doubt." If the team looks "halfway decent, the love train could continue to roll." If they look like "the same old Wolves, people will turn away quickly" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/27).

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