SBD/December 7, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The NFL Finance Committee last night unanimously approved Shahid Khan's application to buy the Jaguars, and the "entire ownership will now vote ... on his $760 million purchase of the team" at a meeting next Wednesday in Dallas, according to Vito Stellino of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The $760M price tag is the third-highest in NFL history. The committee members "were already familiar with ... Khan's background because of his pursuit of the St. Louis Rams last year." Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver's sale of the team "had been under review by the league prior to the announcement" of Khan's agreement to buy the franchise last week. Khan, who attended the meeting "without any representation," was asked after the vote about fans' "comfort in the future of the Jaguars in Jacksonville." He said, "Let me just say let them wait until next week. They will be very comfortable next week (after the sale is formally approved). Hopefully, if the vote goes the way we are expecting, I will be happy to elaborate on it. They will not be disappointed." Stellino notes fans "have embraced his ownership, and many were wearing mustaches in his honor" at Monday night's game against the Chargers (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/7). Khan had "initially said he wouldn't speak publicly until after next week's vote, but he decided to answer a few questions on camera after two Jacksonville TV stations made the trip to New York for the finance committee meeting" (NEWS4JAX.com, 12/6).
REMEMBERING WEAVERS' IMPACT: In a special to the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton wrote Wayne and Delores Weaver and their limited partners in the franchise "not only did the unthinkable by luring the NFL to one of the smallest markets ever to be awarded a team, they also embraced our community." Peyton: "They helped us believe in us, when no one else did. ... We will all be forever indebted to them for their leadership, their support -- but perhaps most of all -- their belief in our city" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/4).
Magic officials announced that Vice Chair & CEO Bob Vander Weide has “stepped down from his post" and Alex Martins has been promoted from President to CEO, according to Josh Robbins of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Vander Weide, Martins and Dan DeVos -- the son of Magic Owner Rich DeVos and “now the team’s new chairman” -- insisted that C Dwight Howard’s impending free agency after the '11-12 season “had nothing to do with Vander Weide stepping down.” Martins said, “This is something that Bob has started talking to me about over a year ago and something he’s probably talked to the family about longer than a year ago. And we’ve been preparing for this time for a year.” Vander Weide, a member the NBA’s labor-relations and planning committees, said that he “was waiting for the league’s labor dispute to be resolved before he made his intentions public.” Dan DeVos will serve as the DeVos family's “primary conduit with front-office officials on team matters.” Vander Weide started his career with the Magic in ’92. He emphasized that “family considerations aren’t the reason he’ll move into more of an advisory role with the Magic” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/7). Vander Weide held a press conference this morning to formally announce the move, and he said, “I agreed with the family back in 1991 to do this for three years and I stuck for an additional 17-and-a-half because basically I fell in love with this organization.” Martins said, “We will not change as an organization from the organization that you’ve known. ... We’re focused on one thing first and foremost and that’s to win a championship" (MAGIC.com, 12/7).
TIMING IS STRANGE: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi asks, “Why retire from a job he was always so passionate about?” Vander Weide “absolutely loved being the Magic's Mark Cuban.” He is “dashing, good-looking, athletic, charismatic and outspoken,” and he had a “dream job that, quite frankly, wasn't overly stressful.” Now the entire future of the franchise “falls upon Martins,” and he will “either be the man who rode in on the white stallion and helped [team GM] Otis Smith keep Dwight in Orlando or he will be the man responsible for rebuilding the franchise after Dwight leaves.” Bianchi: “If you want to put one person in charge of leading the organization through these tumultuous times, Martins is your guy. … He is the rising star in the Magic's executive branch -- smart, smooth and politically savvy” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/7).
LATE NIGHT CALL: Vander Weide today confirmed that he called Howard at 1:00am ET recently but firmly denied a report that he “drunk dialed” the All Star. He admitted that he had some glasses of wine, “but I was not drunk.” Vander Weide: “That phone conversation has not changed my relationship with Dwight. We like each other. We even love each other as people” (MAGIC.com, 12/7). Bright House Sports Network's David Baumann reported Howard "thought Vander Weide may have been intoxicated" in the call in which Vander Weide "told Howard how much the Magic wanted to keep him in Orlando." Vander Weide: "I was playing paddle with friends and had a couple of glasses of wine. Maybe Dwight thought it was inappropriate to talk business after a couple of glasses of wine. ... Maybe I should have waited until the morning" (CFNEWS13.com, 12/6). SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin said, "I think everyone out there understands what I am saying when I say nothing good happens with alcohol and a telephone at 1:00am” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 12/6).
The launch of the Packers' fifth stock sale in the team history yesterday “was met with enthusiasm,” with 28,000 shares sold in the "first two hours and 20 minutes," according to a front-page piece by Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The Packers allotted 250,000 shares, at $250 "per share plus a $25 per order handling charge, to raise money for $143 million in expansion and improvement projects at Lambeau Field.” The sale is scheduled to end Feb. 29, but Murphy said that it “could be extended if there is sufficient interest.” If the Packers choose to sell more than the 250,000 allocated this time, Murphy said that they “might have to go back to the NFL for additional approval.” Florida-based Packers Jon Littnan said that the computer system used to buy the shares “was slow at first.” It took him “about 15 minutes to get on the site using two computers.” New Hampshire-based John Rokes reported that “later in the afternoon it took him about five minutes to buy a share.” Ryman notes prior to the sale yesterday, the Packers “had 112,148 shareholders owning 4,750,937 shares” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 12/7). USA TODAY’s Matt Krantz notes the stock “pays no dividends, and cannot be sold or traded on a stock exchange.” The shares “can only be transferred to a family member,” and shareholders receive “no preferential treatment in terms of tickets” (USA TODAY, 12/7). In N.Y., Paul Tharp notes shareholders “can call themselves team owners, and buy special apparel saying so.” They also “get to vote at the team’s annual meeting and watch the team practice” (N.Y. POST, 12/7). Murphy noted there are “special apparel lines that only shareholders can purchase and on those times when we do win the Super Bowl, they get Super Bowl collections” (Bloomberg TV, 12/6).
PERFECT SEASON JUST A COINCIDENCE: Murphy said the Packers' current undefeated record had nothing to do with the stock sale, as it has been "something we’ve looked at and studied for awhile." Murphy: "It really is around our plans to expand Lambeau Field. ... The stock sale was one of the ways we looked at as a way to fund it. We thought about seeking public money, but decided against it just with the economy in Wisconsin and the political situation within the state we didn't think it made sense to try to seek public money for this project” ("Power & Money," Fox Business, 12/6). While this is the team's fifth stock sale, Murphy noted it is the "first where we've had the opportunity to sell online, so we weren't really sure how that would affect things." Murphy: "We tried to be fairly conservative with our estimate and what we budgeted. But I do think being able to sell stocks through the Internet online really opens up a much more national market than we've had in the past” (“Fast Money,” CNBC, 12/6).
MAKING THE ROUNDS: In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes in addition to the appearance on Fox Busines and CNBC, Murphy yesterday was on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" and syndicated radio show "The Jim Rome Show." He also appeared “on local television stations in the Green Bay area, held a news conference once the sale commenced and also did a teleconference call with national writers.” The Packers “even sent out an email blast to fans who had signed up to get Packers news and special offers” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/7). The Packers are running a half-page ad in today’s USA TODAY touting the team’s stock sale (THE DAILY).
The settlement between MLB and Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, held from public view for more than a month since the initial Nov. 2 announcement of the deal, was finally filed late last night with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In the pact, McCourt retains control over whether to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots and surrounding land in the sale of the team and ballpark, and may choose to keep them. Bidders may submit offers to buy the property, but any decision to sell those assets remains with McCourt. Among the other material terms of the deal:
- MLB takes a position of non-involvement in the ongoing media rights battle between the Dodgers and Fox.
- The incoming buyer retains full control over whether to enter into a new cable TV rights deal that McCourt wants to hold an auction for now.
- A post-sale non-participation policy for McCourt stipulating that he and his relatives are barred from being formally involved with any buyer, media entity or financing vehicle connected with the team. McCourt is also barred from "retaining directly or indirectly any interests in the assets that compromise" the Dodgers. In the case of the parking lots, McCourt will be required to transfer a long-term lease to the new owner allowing use of the lots on game days.
- Cooperation by MLB to help the Dodgers complete its bankruptcy reorganization.
SALE TIMETABLE: The settlement also lays out an aggressive timetable for the sale of the team of taking initial bids on or before Jan. 13, with an auction completed by April 1 and a closed sale by April 30. "The agreement is a 'win-win' for not only the (Dodgers) and MLB but for all parties in interest in these bankruptcy cases, and should therefore be approved," the Dodgers said in a filing with the court (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC: An L.A. TIMES editorial states, "Although it's not imperative that the ballclub be owned by a local entity, it wouldn't hurt to have an owner rooted in the community." Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson, who is part of a bid group looking to buy the Dodgers, "has an extensive history as a local investor who helped revitalize South Los Angeles when corporate interests had shunned the area." The next owner of the Dodgers "should share his sensibility on how to run the team" and "see it as a civic asset, not just a piece of real estate" (L.A. TIMES, 12/6). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes, "Not all the potential bidders have spoken publicly and none of them have been as open as Johnson. Upon announcing his bid last week, he publicly positioned himself as a McCourt alternative whom McCourt should like" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).
The Ravens "plan to put more than $200,000 into a new marketing campaign next year aimed at planting their black and purple flag in the sands of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and southern Delaware," according to Alexander Jackson of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Starting with a Ravens "Beach Bash" event in June in Ocean City and "extending through the summer, Baltimore’s team plans to bring players, cheerleaders and beer specials oceanside." It will be the "first time the Ravens have done extensive marketing on the other side of the Bay Bridge." The team is trying to capitalize on an NFL agreement that gives the Ravens exclusive marketing rights to the Eastern Shore." Ravens VP/Corporate Sales & Development Mark Burdett said that the team is "on the hunt for sponsors and already [has] snagged Miller Lite as a partner in its beach weekend promotion for five years." Delaware has "just under 900,000 residents -- and those who are football fans root for a mix of teams from the Eagles to the Redskins to the" Steelers. The Ravens have the "exclusive marketing rights to Delaware's lower two thirds," and Jackson notes having "exclusive marketing rights means the Ravens can bring a parade to town or run a Miller Lite promotion at bars there" while other teams cannot (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/2 issue).
Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley recently sat for a Q&A with the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL's Ronald Tillery and broached the subject of selling the team. Heisley said, “I don't have a broker out selling the Grizzlies. The situation has never changed. I'm 75 years old and I live in Chicago. The right, and by that I mean a local owner -- and it could be somebody willing to move there -- would be a better owner than Mike Heisley. I have never changed that position. But we don't have anybody interested in seriously buying the Grizzlies. And I'm not shopping the Grizzlies” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 12/6).
GETTING IN THE SPIRIT: The 76ers today announced all tickets in the mezzanine level for the team's 13 home games in January will be $17.76 or less, with no online fees if bought on Sixers.com. All season-ticket holders who have already bought tickets about $17.76 in that level will be upgraded to the lower level for those games. That comes after the team yesterday announced it is reducing online fees for tickets purchased on the team's website. The reductions include eliminating order fees and delivery method fees. There will now only be one comprehensive online ticketing fee of 14.25% of the face value of the ticket, with a $4 minimum charge. Last season, the ticketing fee was never less than $6.50 and additional order and delivery charges added another $6.50-9.50 to every order (THE DAILY).
CUTTING FEES: The Hawks have announced there will be no ticketing fees on any tickets this season. The club also is extending complimentary tickets to fans under the age of 16 for its lone preseason game at Philips Arena, a Dec. 22 matchup against the Bobcats (Hawks).
SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON: YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Freeman notes the Celtics' new ticket ad campaign “trumps up the passion of their faithful,” and in doing so, it also “knocks Heat and Laker fans, specifically noting that their home-court venue isn't Hollywood or South Beach.” Freeman wrote it is “hard to argue with the premise,” but where the ad “becomes problematic is in its suggestion that this brand somehow makes Boston a home for truer sports fans” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/6).
NOW HIRING: Bobcats President & COO Fred Whitfield said that “an unspecified number of employees will be added in the coming weeks.” In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes the team “cut 10 staffers after the lockout began, attributing the reductions to the lockout and reconfigured responsibilities.” At the time, about “130 people worked for the team” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/2 issue).
STATING THEIR CASE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Kelly Dwyer reported a group of Magic fans “have put up a billboard encouraging New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul to consider a trade to Orlando, and pushing Magic GM Otis Smith to explore a deal” for Paul. The group BringChrisPaul.com, whose website redirects to the Stay Dwight fan effort to keep C Dwight Howard with the team past this season, put up the billboard. The sign “has since been taken down, temporarily; as the Stay Dwight backers remove the Magic logo from Paul's uniform” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/6).