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SBD/December 27, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
A little-known provision in Olympia Entertainment's lease of Detroit's city-owned Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Arena "promises" the city a 25% share of cable TV rights for live events, but the city "hasn't been able to collect a dime" from the owners of the Red Wings though that has been the deal since '80, according to documents cited by Christine MacDonald in a front-page piece for the DETROIT NEWS. Rough estimates last year showed the city is "owed $70 million, but a national sports economist cautioned it's likely much lower." The revelation comes as Olympia "wants to use up to $12.8 million a year in tax dollars to help fund a new downtown arena." City documents indicated that since its lease expired in '10, Olympia "hasn't paid millions of dollars for items such as rent, concessions and other revenue and property taxes." According to one document, officials in '11 "claimed the unpaid debt was $6 million that year." Negotiations on the Joe Louis Arena lease "continue," even as Olympia Development pursues a $650M mixed-use project at an undisclosed downtown location. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing last week "announced an aggressive plan to collect $50 million in delinquent taxes owed to the financially strapped city." Bing said, "If you owe money, we expect you to pay the money." City officials, who would not answer specifics about the cable revenue sharing payments, said that negotiations "are ongoing." MacDonald noted in a deal "long considered one of the best" in the NHL, Olympia pays $450,000 per year to rent the arenas, "but is expected to pay the taxes." The city has "provided free police protection, landscaping and snow removal." Although the lease expired, the Red Wings have "remained and are considered a 'holdover tenant' bound by its terms." City documents showed that the outstanding debt "is a subject of negotiations for a new lease" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/26).
Sabres fans who are angry about the NHL lockout said that they "might cut down on their ancillary spending on things like concessions and merchandise," but almost no one is "canceling their season tickets," according to Mike Harrington of the BUFFALO NEWS. The Sabres have 15,400 season ticket-holders and "more than 3,000 others on a waiting list for tickets known as the Blue & Gold Club." Even though the lockout has canceled more than half of the '12-13 season, the team reports that "just 15 accounts have canceled -- accounting for fewer than 50 tickets." On top of that, only about 20% have "opted for refunds on the canceled games." The rest have "kept their money with the team," earning 4% interest that will be refunded on credits for future tickets, merchandise or concessions. The Sabres had "a 99% renewal rate for tickets for this season." But the experience at First Niagara Center, "combined with a pricing structure that makes season tickets in Buffalo one of the best deals with the NHL, has most people keeping their seats." The Sabres, "particularly owner Terry Pegula, have plenty of good equity built up with fans." While the Bruins may have "a major PR issue to deal with because owner Jeremy Jacobs has been at the center of the league’s hard-line negotiating stance, Pegula has not had any active role in the negotiations." Sabres season-ticket holder Mike Tracz wrote in an e-mail "I may be mad at Gary Bettman, Don Fehr, et al, but I feel confident in saying that it’s not Terry Pegula’s fault, nor the fault of any of his players or other employees, that this lockout has dragged on this far" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/26).
Anticipation about the Dolphins' new logo "is creating quite a buzz," as images have hit the Internet "that claim to be the team's logo," according to Chris Perkins of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The "most popular image" came from fan website DolFansNYC.com, and prompted Dolphins CEO Mike Dee to tweet on Monday, "I hear all the logo buzz out there ... I'll provide an update soon!" He posted another tweet last night that read, "Lots of buzz re logos. Love the passion! We continue to explore a # of design alternatives ... final decision by Draft." Perkins noted that evidence "indicates an announcement is imminent." The Dolphins' Pro Shop near the team's training facility in Davie, Fla., "has been low on inventory for weeks." The speculation is that the store is "not re-stocking merchandise with the current logo because it'll be outdated soon." There is no specific release date for the new logo, just a "general time frame in which a final design decision will be reached" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 12/26). The speculative new logo is a "little bid of old, and a lot of new." It includes the "familiar orange sun as an outline, but the dolphin will get a futuristic makeover" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/27).