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SBD/June 18, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NBA's lockout-shortened regular season "wasn’t perfect, far from it, with all the injuries and too many games played over a condensed period," according to Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Lawrence writes, "We really won’t know if the lockout was worth all the trouble, and whether the new collective bargaining agreement, with its more punitive tax system, will, among other things, keep superstars in small and medium-sized markets, as [NBA Commissioner David] Stern hopes, or if they’ll still hold franchises hostage and muscle their way to the big-market teams. But this sure beats the alternative." Heat G Dwyane Wade said, "I think we had a great season. It was better than we thought. When we signed the deal, we were partners again, trying to grow the game together. We were back on the same team." Thunder G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said, "With all that is going on in our country and the trouble in the world, it's remarkable that people have continued to come back and watch our sport." The owners and the league "will lose millions for this season ... taking a hit on local TV money, corporate sponsorships and money from international sources as it had to play a reduced schedule." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "We'll have some losses for this season, but the season itself exceeded our expectations" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/18). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon during halftime of Game Three of the Thunder-Heat NBA Finals asked Stern if the “compressed season actually had a role in sort of the surge in interest in the NBA?” Stern: “Regardless of the impact on the players, the fans were feeling well served. But I think the combination of the compression, the Christmas Day five games and social media have combined to make this a much better season that we had reason to hope that it would be" (“Thunder-Heat,” ABC, 6/17).
MORE ON STERN V. ROME: Wilbon said of the contentious interview between Stern and syndicated radio host Jim Rome, “This week you found yourself in a little bit of hot water about this whole notion of conspiracy and the (NBA Draft) lottery. This is not the first time you’ve heard it.” Stern said it “makes for good copy, it makes for good questions and bring it on.” Stern: “I think the people that know the NBA and know me know that we don’t take our responsibilities lightly.” Wilbon said, “But there have been some times where this has concerned you more, I think, than it does now. Perception becomes reality. How much do you still worry about that?” Stern: “You do everything you can and then you roll with it” (“Thunder-Heat,” ABC, 6/17). Media reaction to the Stern-Rome interview also continued. In Buffalo, Greg Connors wrote Stern "came off as sounding cranky and condescending" in the exchange (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/16). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Stern "has turned into a complete jerk." While Rome "kept his cool, the insufferable jerk continued to fire away." Jenkins: "Give Stern credit for a distinguished career, but he has not aged well in the public arena" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/17). In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes Stern made a "stupid, totally inappropriate remark." Rome "handled it very well, not backing down while trying to explain he doesn't believe the lottery is rigged" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/18). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote Stern "should fine himself -- or the owners should." Stern owes "at least a public apology for making the remark" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 6/16).
AND ON RETIREMENT, NOT JUST YET! Stern said he has “no announcements to make” about retirement plans. Stern: “I love my job … and the owners will be the first ones to know, not the television audience, in all deference. They haven’t been fielding my salary for the last 30 years” (“Thunder-Heat,” ABC, 6/17).
FISHER KING: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted Fisher has "received very little support from fellow players" in the months since his dispute with NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter began. It is "uncertain how long Fisher can continue as president if the executive director and the executive committee want him out." Fisher said, "I think it’s normal, whether it’s basketball players or just people in general, not to comment much on things they don’t fully understand. And so you have to respect the fact that a lot of guys just are not in a place to fully understand all the details that have taken place. At the right time, I and we will deal with that and what we feel like is the best way for the players as a whole" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/17).
F1 majority investor CVC Capital Partners has now “cut its stake to around 35 per cent from 63 per cent in a series of deals in recent months,” according to the London TELEGRAPH. The deals have “helped to remove the pressure" on CVC to try to list F1 on the Singapore stock market. Some observers have speculated that the “hype generated around the flotation may simply have been designed to showcase the sport to private investors.” The CVC in a statement Friday said, "Several funds managed by Waddell & Reed Investment Management Company and Ivy Investment Management Company have today agreed to invest a further $500m in a private placement in Formula 1 at $9.1bn enterprise value" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 6/16). In London, Garry White noted each F1 race “commands a television audience of more than 500m global and revenues are expected to surpass $2bn this season for the first time” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 6/16).
EVERYTHING BIGGER IN TEXAS? In N.Y., Dave Montgomery wrote under the header, “Formula One Track, Nearing First Race, Gets Wary Embrace From Austin.” A Formula Expo was held in Austin this past weekend with “aims to introduce fans to the basics of Formula One through interactive exhibits, racecar simulators, meetings with former drivers and show cars.” The Circuit of the Americas track, set to host its F1 race in November, is “being built in southeast Travis County near Elroy, a ranching community of several hundred people on lots ranging up to 50 acres.” Elroy has “largely been bypassed by the growth that has developed other parts of the Austin metropolitan area, and its residents complain of inadequate services and the lack of basic conveniences like a supermarket or bus service.” The $350M project has “encountered its share of controversy, including a lawsuit between its principals, an earlier construction delay, and disputes about state and local subsidies.” But Circuit officials said that “work at the 1,100-acre site is on pace for completion this fall.” Circuit of the Americas Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Geoff Moore said that of the “more than 115,000 requests for information received by late May, about 35 percent were from Texas, 60 percent were from elsewhere in the United States and about 5 percent were from other countries, primarily Mexico, Canada and western Europe” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).
Andretti Autosport Owner Michael Andretti told the crowd at Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest that the event “would happen again in 2013,” according to Dave Kallmann of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Tickets went on sale yesterday via the milwaukeeindyfest.com website and are available “through the State Fair Park” starting today. The 36,000-seat stands “were about half full -- with nearly all of the best seats occupied -- and the infield crowd appeared better than in recent years.” If the crowd “was in the low-20,000 range, that would make it at least one-third larger than last year's.” Andretti said, "I think we had a great crowd for the first shot out here. It's something to build on. Hopefully we're going to be back here ... for a long time after that. We're excited about that” (JSONLINE.com, 6/16). ESPN.com’s John Oreovicz wrote the grandstands at the Milwaukee Mile “weren't close to full, but the hastily organized event drew well enough to give Andretti the confidence to announce that he will bring Indy cars back to The Mile in 2013.” In short, “no individual is investing more into Indy car racing than Michael Andretti, and everyone should be grateful for the effort and expenditure that one of the most successful drivers in the sport's history is putting in.” Oreovicz: “Right now, frankly, [IndyCar CEO Randy] Bernard needs additional aggressive promoters like Andretti” (ESPN.com, 6/16).
THE REPLACEMENTS: The FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reported despite IndyCar searching for a race to replace its recently canceled event in China, Texas Motor Speedway “has taken itself out of the running.” TMS President Eddie Gossage in a statement said that there were “too many issues and obstacles to add a second IndyCar event and promote it successfully” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 6/15). Andretti said that IndyCar officials “are free to negotiate with what should be its rival.” He said, “They have a window to talk to (Road America). I don't remember the details, but they can talk to them, and they should talk to them." In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote this comes in the aftermath of having the Aug. 19 street race in Qingdao, China, canceled. Road America “could take on this race on the China date because it has a sports car weekend already lined up” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/17). Speed’s Robin Miller said with the IndyCar Series cancelling its race in China that date on the calendar will “be replaced.” Miller: “If you took a poll from most drivers and all the fans who were at Wisconsin State Fair Park yesterday it would be right up the road at Elkhart Lake.” Miller cited a “doubleheader there" in '07 with IndyCar and Champ Car and “it was very successful and that’s exactly what people want. ... That’s still the best road course in North America and it makes so much sense. They don’t have time to go out and promote another race in August or September. This is already on the docket, you can make it an affordable ticket and have a hell of a crowd.” Miller said IndyCar will continue to pursue a date in China, “When they offer you $7 million to go race I’m sure they’re going to keep talking about it. … They’re going to keep the lines of communication open just for no other reason it’s a huge payday” (“Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain,” Speed, 6/17).
PICKING UP STEAM: In Iowa, Andy Hamilton wrote the IndyCar Series “lost steam during a 13-year power struggle that divided the sport into two leagues and dented its popularity.” KV Racing Technology co-Owner Jimmy Vasser said, “The one thing that comes up quite often is the TV package and the lack of reach and the lack of ratings. A lot of the business is tied to that as far as sponsorship and corporate involvement. When you get that ball rolling, it really makes the reach even farther.” IndyCar drivers and owners “are hopeful the product on the track leads to a bigger audience and a return to a popularity the sport experienced decades ago.” Hamilton notes the ‘95 Indy 500 -- the last before the split --“drew more than 8 million viewers and achieved a 9.4 Nielsen rating.” The ratings “plummeted to 7.1 the following year, 5.0 in 1997 and didn’t top 6.0 again until 2005 when Danica Patrick’s debut gave the sport a momentary push.” This year’s race drew a 4.34 rating and attracted 6.9 million viewers -- an 8% increase from ’11 (DESMOINESREGISTER.com, 6/16).
Las Vegas-based casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment on Friday announced that it is “buying the Heartland Poker Tour and its related assets, including poker website domain names, for $4.5 million,” according to Steve Green of the LAS VEGAS SUN. A bankruptcy auction was held last week for the assets of bankrupt sister companies Federated Sports & Gaming and Federated Heartland, which “own both the Heartland Poker Tour and the Epic Poker League.” The companies “filed for bankruptcy in February in Maryland.” Pinnacle, a creditor in the bankruptcy case, is “expected to convert its $2.1 million debt claim into equity, potentially reducing its cash outlay as the winning bidder to $2.4 million.” Pinnacle “didn't mention the Epic Poker League in Friday's announcement about the Heartland Poker Tour.” Bluff Magazine reported that there “has been speculation that Pinnacle won't use the Epic brand.” The Heartland Poker Tour is “a live, televised poker tournament series that made 17 stops in 15 states in 2011” (VEGASINC.com, 6/15).