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SBD/June 7, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
In a "seismic shift in the Eagles organization, Joe Banner is no longer the team's president," according to Jeff McLane of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The team has scheduled a 2:30pm ET news conference today to detail its front office moves. Banner, who has been a member of the Eagles' front office "since his childhood friend, Jeffrey Lurie, purchased the team" in '94, will become a strategic adviser to the owner. Lurie, however, "will allow Banner to pursue other opportunities outside the organization as he fulfills his new role." Meanwhile, Eagles COO Don Smolenski "will replace Banner as president and run the day-to-day operations." GM Howie Roseman "will assume all of Banner's responsibilities in managing the team's salary cap and contract negotiations." Banner said yesterday he hoped to "get involved with the world of buying and selling a sports team with the possibility of becoming part of a group that buys a team." McLane notes, "There is the 'inevitable question' of whether Banner was pushed out in a power struggle with [Eagles coach Andy] Reid and Roseman over the direction of the football team." Lurie said, "No, the opposite. It was all done, I think, for what's best for everybody involved." McLane writes, "Whatever the characterization, Banner's drastically reduced role signals a change for the franchise in both how it is run and in its image." Banner has "often been a lightning rod for fan discontent." Lurie said that potentially losing Smolenski and Roseman, "whom he labeled 'star, young executives,' played into the decision to promote both." He said that Smolenski "signed a multiyear contract as president" and that Roseman "already had a multiyear deal." Lurie, who has "known Banner for close to 50 years and referred to him Wednesday as 'my buddy,' gave him a ringing endorsement" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7).
PREPARATION IS KEY: Banner is "credited by many with both an early mastery of the NFL salary cap and with being the chief architect of the Eagles' philosophy of re-signing their own younger players well in advance of their contracts' expiring, thus locking up talented players before they hit the open market in the prime of their careers" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7). ESPN.com's Adam Schefter notes Smolenski is "receiving his most decorated promotion yet, but it is one for which the Eagles had been preparing and expecting." Banner and Lurie began discussions about "seeking other opportunities during last year's lockout, but the timing then was not what it is now." Since then, the Eagles have "had even more time to put together an executive succession plan with which they are comfortable." Lurie is "convinced the Eagles are well positioned to continue their run as one of the league's most successful franchises on and off the field." Banner also "praised the man replacing him." He said, "Don is one of the unknown jewels in the NFL, and so deserving of this chance to help steer this great franchise going forward" (ESPN.com, 6/7).
NO STRUGGLE: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said, “It’s pretty clear ... that Howie Roseman and Andy Reid have taken a more forceful role in shaping this team, in capology, in negotiations with players, acquisitions of players and it’s clear that Joe Banner wanted to take a different role. He told me that about 15 months ago he went to Jeffrey Lurie and he said, ‘Listen, I would like a new challenge in my life. Let’s make that happen.’ He’s interested in staying in the NFL, perhaps going out to L.A. ... where he could build a new stadium like he did in Philadelphia” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/7).
With one year left on his contract, NHL Panthers GM Dale Tallon and the team decided yesterday that the team "was indeed a place he should be for the foreseeable future, inking a multi-year extension with the club," according to Glenn Odebralski of NHL.com. Tallon has been "at the helm of the franchise for two seasons and has overseen a drastic turnaround in all aspects of the club" (NHL.com, 6/6). Tallon said, "I want to be here forever. I’m still a young man. I’m fit, willing and able. I like it here, I like Florida, I like (Owner) Cliff Viner, and I like working with this organization. ... I'm proud as hell to be a Florida Panther." In Miami, George Richards notes while terms of the new deal were not announced, "it is believed Tallon signed another three-year pact with the team." The Panthers "were a franchise in flux" when Tallon was signed in May '10 to take over for former GM Randy Sexton. Tallon has "brought some stability to the Florida front office as he became the eighth general manager since 2000." Prior to his time with the Panthers, Tallon served as the Blackhawks' GM from '05 until being demoted in '09 "after a number of restricted free agent contracts weren't submitted to the league in time." But Richards notes "many felt Tallon was a scapegoat" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/7). NHL.com's Alain Poupart noted Tallon is "scheduled to try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open, an event he played in two years ago." He said of his golfing, "It's a hobby for me now. I'll see what happens. If I'm able to do it, I'll try. If not, I'll go on and focus on the draft. It's the lowest priority for me" (NHL.com, 6/6).
Prospective Coyotes Owner Greg Jamison “still has not raised enough money” to purchase the team, according to sources cited by Mike Ozanian of FORBES.com. The Glendale City Council is expected to vote tomorrow on a new 20-year lease at Jobing.com Arena for Jamison to purchase the Coyotes. But sources said that Jamison is “having trouble raising the money to make the $170 million purchase because investors believe that even with a $15 million a year taxpayer subsidy over the course of the new lease the Coyotes will have difficulty turning a profit.” Investors are “skeptical that Jamison can boost ticket sales and revenue from non-NHL events enough to make the Coyotes profitable.” The Coyotes are “not likely to get a new, rich cable deal.” They are “locked in the league’s new national television deal with Comcast through the 2020-21 season, so there is no upside there.” Ozanian wrote, “Don’t be shocked if the NHL lowers its asking price well below $170 million or the deal with Jamison falls through” (FORBES.com, 6/6). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC editorial states Glendale has been “struggling with the Coyotes situation for three years,” but the details of Jamison’s “particular agreement are new.” Residents of the city “deserve the opportunity to fully review this complicated arrangement and offer thoughtful, well-grounded feedback,” as they “own the arena and should have a say in how their money is spent.” The editorial states, “The NHL may have set a deadline for three weeks from now, but it can be extended. The city, which has thrown so much money at the arena and hockey team, needs to get this right with the support of a fully informed community” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/7).
BREAKING GROUND: In Phoenix, Halverstadt & Harris note Glendale's proposed $17M taxpayer-funded arena-management deal with the Coyotes for next year "would be the only one like it among the Valley's major sports teams and may be one of the most lucrative” in the NHL. Sports execs and local government officials said that none of the other pro sports teams in the Valley -- the Cardinals, Suns and D'Backs -- "receives a tax-funded subsidy to run its stadium or arena.” Still, Halverstadt & Harris note a “4-3 majority of the Glendale City Council appears poised to approve the lease agreement” with Jamison to operate the city-owned Jobing.com Arena (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/7).
The Oilers yesterday announced that the team has agreed to terms on a new contract for GM Steve Tambellini. He has been with the team since '08 (Oilers). In Edmonton, John MacKinnon wrote while terms of the deal were not disclosed, "at least two years and probably three sounds reasonable, since he's searching for a head coach to replace the departed Tom Renney." Considering the Oilers have "missed the playoffs all four years on his watch, and six in a row overall, that's impressive organization patience, to say the least." Tambellini said that he "hopes to have a head coach in place by month's end, so he can help the club prepare for the onset of free agency on July 1" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 6/7). CBSSPORTS.com's Adam Gretz noted in the four seasons Tambellini has been on the job "the team has finished (in order) 21st, 30th, 30th, and 29th" in the NHL standings. That is "not exactly a great run, though the Oilers have been going through a (rather lengthy) rebuilding phase." The Oilers "definitely have an impressive core of young talent in place." Whether or not Tambellini "is the person that can build around them and add the proper complementary pieces to help return the Oilers to the postseason remains to be seen" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/6).
The Redskins yesterday announced that the team will retain its corporate headquarters in Ashburn, Va., and begin working with the city of Richmond to identify a suitable training camp site to hold summer practice there, starting in ’13. Gov. Bob McDonnell approved an initial $4M performance-based grant to support the retention and expansion. The City of Richmond is considering a number of locations for Redskins summer practice (Redskins). In DC, Kumar & Maske noted as part of the deal, a $30M expansion "will be coming to the team’s Loudoun County facility,” Redskins Park. McDonnell yesterday said that the state “has been working to negotiate a deal for about a year.” He added that both Maryland and DC “offered more money, but the Redskins selected Virginia.” Loudoun County will provide $2M "over the next four years,” while Richmond has “agreed to pay as much as $400,000.” Redskins GM Bruce Allen said that that the upgrades at Redskins Park “will include a new weight room, a new training room, a new cafeteria and improvements in the technological department.” Recent data indicates that the “Redskins support 1,832 jobs in the state, directly and indirectly.” The team "generates nearly" $200M in economic activity in Virginia. The Redskins Park expansion “is estimated to support 393 jobs during construction," while generating $52.8M in total economic activity. The team's HQs currently supports, directly and indirectly, 350 jobs and provides $2.2M in state and local tax revenue, "not including the corporate income tax paid by the team” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/6).
BUSINESS-FRIENDLY: McDonnell said that “from what his administration can figure out, the other localities offered ‘significantly more’ than Virginia’s package.” McDonnell: “What we have going for us is the fact that we have an incredibly business-friendly environment.” He said of the state’s funding, “It is a reasonable investment. We’ll get far more than $4 million in state tax dollars.” He added had the team left Virginia, “there would be an immediate and sudden impact” on the annual revenues it generates (FREDERICKSBURG.com, 6/6).
The NHL Kings are currently leading the Stanley Cup Final 3-1 and ESPN L.A.’s Ramona Shelburne wrote AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company owns the Kings, this week has been "practically bursting at the seams.” Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille said, “This is his baby. And he’s always treating us like we’re his baby.” The Kings have “always held a special place in Leiweke's heart because they were the first team he ran” in L.A. Long before he “helped get the Staples Center built or ever dreamed of luring [MLS Galaxy MF] David Beckham to L.A., Leiweke was a hockey nut.” Kings Senior Pro Scout Rob Laird said, “We had good support from our ownership in terms of being able to have some patience on developing young players and then the financial commitment to go out and sign key free agents" (ESPNLA.com, 6/6).
FRUGAL OR CHEAP? In DC, Mike Wise wrote Capitals and Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis is “frugal, almost conservative.” In his first two seasons as Wizards owner, the team’s payroll “has been 21st in the NBA.” His “perceived summer of change” has instead become his spring of “Eh, just sign him for another year.” Wise wrote, “Staying the course, something Leonsis does well, seems sensible.” But it also “obscures one other aspect of the methodical approach: It’s a lot cheaper." At some point when the conservative approach “doesn’t result in championship runs, what was once praised as frugality and patience starts to become scrutinized as cheapness and complacence” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/6).
BEHAVING BADLY: ESPN.com’s Jemele Hill wrote instead of “being giddy” about how Jaguars first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon “can bolster the Jags' anemic offense -- which ranked last in the NFL last season -- the team now has to worry about whether money will improve Blackmon's decision-making or make it worse.” Blackmon, who pleaded not guilty to a DUI charge Monday, was “thought to be in line" for a contract in the $20M range. But he has now “brought bad press to a city and franchise that simply can’t afford the negative attention.” Blackmon “bears the ultimate responsibility for changing his behavior.” The Jaguars “just need to make sure he’s properly motivated” (ESPN.com, 6/5).
GOLDEN TICKET: In Nashville, Alex Cate writes a new 5K race in the city “will include a ticket” to a Titans football game for the runners. Mayor Karl Dean, the Titans and the Competitor Group announced “the Back to Football 5K, which will begin and end at LP Field on Aug. 25.” The registration fee is $55 and "each runner will receive a ticket to one of three games -- Indianapolis Oct. 28, Houston on Dec. 2 or Jacksonville Dec. 30.” Runners can “indicate their preference when they sign up” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/7).