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SBD/July 5, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
In one of the most "monumental days in Minnesota hockey history," the Wild "shook the foundation" of the NHL yesterday by signing LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98M contracts, according to a front-page piece by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Within five hours of the signings, Wild officials said that the team "had sold about 700 new full season tickets for next season." When the NHL's free agency period began Sunday, Parise and Suter "began texting each other behind the scenes with the objective of making the reunion happen." Suter is a "Midwestern guy whose wife, Becky, is from Bloomington," and the "allure of playing at home for Parise, born in Minneapolis and a resident of Orono, was strong." Suter's agent, Neil Sheehy, said, "This is like Gretzky going to L.A., Malkin and Crosby going to Pittsburgh. It's a game-changer. It's huge" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/5). Wild Owner Craig Leipold said, "To say our phones are ringing would be an understatment. This is a game changer." USA TODAY's Kevin Allen notes in 12 years of existence, the Wild "showed themselves to have an avid fan base, but they had limited playoff experience and virtually no national profile." That "might have changed Wednesday" (USA TODAY, 7/5). In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse writes, "This is an unprecedented leap by a Minnesota owner to compete for a championship." Leipold had told GM Chuck Fletcher "to be relentless in the pursuit of Parise and Suter, and the owner's commitment of a touch under $200 million was enough to nab the pair." Reusse: "Nothing this dramatic has happened here in competitive bidding for outside talent since the Minneapolis Lakers met George Mikan's asking price of $12,000 to outbid the Chicago Stags for the legendary center in the fall of 1947" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/5). In St. Paul, Ben Goessling notes the contracts "were the biggest a Minnesota sports team has ever given to a free agent," and excluding former Vikings QB Brett Favre, the deals "might be the most momentous" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/5).
THE CROWD GOES WILD: In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes Leipold yesterday "became the Alpha Male of Minnesota sports owners." Yesterday was "his best day as an NHL owner." Leipold said, "In the ticket office, our phones are ringing off the hook. We had eight people come in today at 12, not knowing what would happen. Now we get both players and we've brought in everybody on the payroll. We have hundreds and hundreds of season tickets sold. It's an amazing day" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/5). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek notes the Wild were "always in the picture financially, but it was critical for Fletcher to sell the pair on the possibility that Minnesota was poised for a major on-ice turnaround as well" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/5). In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere writes the Wild have "suddenly become relevant, going from a team that was hoping to make the playoffs to a team that will be expected to go deep into the postseason" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/5). SI.com's Allan Muir wrote after joining the NHL in '00, the Wild "finally became a team worth watching on Wednesday afternoon." They "became relevant with a stunning coup" (SI.com, 7/4). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Adam Proteau wrote, "Finally, the intense and lasting love the state has for the sport has been rewarded -- and not just through a trade, but through the personal choice of players who could have signed anywhere" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 7/4).
Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said that the team sold "roughly 500 new season tickets on Tuesday, turning in a one-day, seven-figure haul," according to Stefan Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. It was the "best day Yormark could remember in his seven years with the Nets, and perhaps record-breaking." It came on the day G Deron Williams "decided to return and a day after the Nets secured six-time All-Star Joe Johnson in a trade that won't be official until July 11" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/4). In N.Y., Tim Bontemps noted Tuesday's success "continues what has been an impressive run since the team officially was unveiled as the Brooklyn Nets within the shadow of their new arena, Barclays Center, on April 30." Yormark said, "I think we are hitting our stride now, and I would hope this momentum will continue, and I anticipate it will" (NYPOST.com, 7/4). Also in N.Y., Harvey Araton writes it was Williams' decision "to stay after the Nets banked their foreseeable future on him that instantly established elusive franchise legitimacy" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/5). ESPN N.Y.'s Ian O'Connor wrote Nets GM Billy King "just finished off a move worthy of a Sinatra tune." Williams "will stick around for a long time, and so will the bold GM who signed him" (ESPNNY.com, 7/3). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes, "First Joe Johnson and now Williams re-signs. If [Magic C Dwight] Howard joins them, this becomes as big a week as any sports team could have around here" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/5).
PERFECT MARRIAGE: ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “No team may ever have needed a free agent as badly as the Nets needed Deron Williams." Greenberg: "When you take into consideration what was at stake for their franchise ... the entire perception of the franchise completely changes. I think you can't overstate the significance to the franchise of the decision that Deron Williams made.” ESPN’s Mike Golic said Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and investor Jay-Z “want to win in New York and knock the Knicks off the backpage." Golic: "They want to be the team in New York now. I'm sure part of that was Prokhorov saying, ‘Do what you have to do, spend what you have to spend.’” Greenberg: “Guys like Prokhorov and Jay-Z aren’t going to be irrelevant” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 7/4). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande said with Williams, Johnson, F Gerald Wallace and C Brook Lopez, the Nets are a "playoff team, and that’s an improvement and something to sell to the fans in their locale of Brooklyn” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/3).
BROOKLYN, BROOKLYN TAKE ME IN: TNT’s David Aldridge said of Williams staying with the Nets, “Moving to Brooklyn and a new arena were huge aspects of this. If they stayed in New Jersey ... he would probably be going to Dallas right now. That the fact that he’s going to New York and has a chance to really be the focal point of a team moving into a brand new building with an owner who thinks globally and has global visions for the Nets, I think that combination took over and was big in the decision” (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 7/3).
EPL club Manchester United owners the Glazers "have signalled their intention to move the club's registration to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands and float its shares on the New York Stock Exchange," according to David Conn of the GUARDIAN. The U.S. Stock Exchange registration statement said that the principal intention "is to sell enough shares to new investors to pay off an as yet unspecified portion of United's [US$658.23M] debts, which the Glazers loaded on to the club when they bought it in 2005." The registration statement "makes it clear that the Glazers have reorganised the ownership of United, via the Cayman Islands, so they can realise cash from investors while retaining control of the club." The ManU shares will "be split into two classes, A and B; the A shares will be offered for sale to investors on the New York Stock Exchange while the Glazer family will retain ownership of the B shares, which carry 10 times the voting rights of the A shares." Not only will investors "have diluted voting rights but there is no intention even to pay them a regular dividend, so the investment would be to realise some future gain via the Cayman Islands if they sell the shares." The registration statement "does not set out yet how many A shares will be sold on the market, nor the price which will be set, and therefore the total by which the family is seeking to reduce United's huge debt" (GUARDIAN, 7/4).
REASONS FOR U.S. FLOATATION: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz notes a listing in Asia "would have seen the owners exploiting interest in the club from fans in the region." An equivalent push "in the US is unlikely to happen." But one of the "motivations for listing the shares in the US is to enable the Glazers to use a dual-class share structure, and thereby retain control" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/5). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Futterman & Clark noted United would be "one of the first sports teams to go public in the U.S. in more than a decade." Data tracker Dealogic indicated the last team to do so was the Indians, which launched in '98 and "was later taken private" (WSJ.com, 7/4). The AP's Ronald Blum noted the deal "could ease pressure on the club's cash flow as it tried to keep and acquire players in an attempt to regain English and European titles." While the stock price and the number of shares "were not listed, the registration statement said the club hoped to raise a maximum of $100 million -- a place-holding figure that could change before the offering becomes effective" (AP, 7/4). However, in London, James Ducker writes the Glazers "managed to distance themselves more than ever with a fanbase doubtless hoping that the club will be sold rather than, as curiously stated in the document, passed down to the 'linear descendants' of Malcolm Glazer" (LONDON TIMES, 7/5).