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SBD/February 19, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Buss family released a statement yesterday regarding the future of the Lakers following the death of Owner Jerry Buss, and it "doesn't seem a sale is likely," according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. The statement read, "It was our father's often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy." The family has a 66% stake in the Lakers, and that "will now be held in a trust." Lakers Assistant to the President Bob Steiner said that the team "cannot be sold off in smaller pieces, only in its two-thirds entirety." Even if some family members "wanted to sell, there would be factors limiting that possibility." A majority vote (four of six) would be "needed among Buss' adult children" -- Jim (Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel), Jeanie (Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations), Johnny (Lakers Exec VP/Strategic Development), Joey (NBA D-League D-Fenders CEO) Jesse (Lakers Scouting Dir) and Janie Drexel. Buss' ex-wife, JoAnn, "also owns an undisclosed share of the team that is part of the family stake, but she does not get a vote." Jeanie will be "listed as the team's governor, a position that gives her the power to voice the Lakers' vote on issues at owners' meetings." She has been the team's "alternate governor for several years but now takes her father's title." On paper, it "makes her the most powerful of the heirs." Despite "limitations preventing an individual heir from selling the team, the relationship between Jim and Jeanie Buss will be important." AEG Chair Phil Anschutz, who owns Staples Center, the NHL Kings and 27% of the Lakers, has the "right of first refusal if the Buss family wants to sell the franchise." Other investors include Patrick Soon-Shiong (4%) and Majestic Realty President & Chair Ed Roski (3%) (L.A. TIMES, 2/19).
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Steiner said that Jerry Buss had been "away from day-to-day involvement with the team for most of the last two years" (PE.com, 2/18). USA TODAY's Gary Mihoces notes Jim Buss has been "running the basketball side" since '11, while Jeanie has "overseen the business end." The Lakers said that the same "operations model will continue" (USA TODAY, 2/19). In California, Kevin Ding writes with "both Jeanie and Jim groomed to handle their roles, the immediate future should feel the same as they did when Jerry was still around to make final decisions -- although there is valid reason to wonder how -- or for how long -- Jim and Jeanie, who have not gotten along recently, will settle for sharing control." Soon-Shiong "one way or another ... is a prime candidate to increase his ownership interest." Lakers VP/PR John Black said that eldest son Johnny "will manage the Buss family trust along with Jim and Jeanie" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/19). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote the "direction of a franchise that has always been able to reinvent itself over the years is in serious question." Berger: "Where do the Lakers go from here? ... The Lakers' future is now in Jim Buss' hands, which have thus far proven to be too small for the job" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/18). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said there has "been a fear in Southern California" about Jerry Buss' death, as Jim Buss, who is "not his father in any of the ways we’re talking about, is now running the team and has been” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/18). ESPN’s Chris Broussard noted the Lakers have "struggled" under Jim Buss, and they have "not been the well-oiled machine in terms of the way they are run in the past few years that they were for most of Jerry Buss’ tenure." Broussard: "It’s a concern” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/18).
LEAVING A LEGACY: Buss bought the Lakers in '79, and during his ownership won 10 NBA titles and made 16 NBA Finals appearances. CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Moore wrote the Lakers under Buss "weren't just a great team; they were the standard-bearers of excellence," and Buss "ensured it" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/18). ESPN’s Jalen Rose said Buss “helped turn the Lakers into not only a viable basketball team, but into one of the most storied franchises in any sport” (“Numbers Never Lie,” ESPN2, 2/18). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes Buss was "the perfect owner who hired good people, put up enough money, encouraged risk and never got in the way" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/19). ESPN's J.A. Adande wrote Buss "never forgot that the product came first, so he steadily reinvested the proceeds into the payroll" (ESPN.com, 2/18). In San Antonio, Buck Harvey writes Buss "tried to work within the margins." For example, in '00 when the NBA "introduced the luxury tax, Buss announced the Lakers would never pay an additional dime." But the "competitive instincts usually took over" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 2/19). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez: “The guy just loved winning and would do it at any cost” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Buss was the "connection from title to title, the star of stars." From "Magic to Kareem, from Riley to West, from Shaq to Kobe, Buss was the self-made icon who commanded the biggest respect in the room" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/18). Lakers G Kobe Bryant said, "I hope L.A. understands everything that he has accomplished in a very competitive sport with some very, very competitive teams. (Winning 10 titles), that's ridiculous ... It's absolutely silly" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/19).
MEMORIAL PLANS: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi reported there are "plans to honor Buss" before tomorrow's game against the Celtics. The team also is "planning a separate memorial service, possibly held at the Nokia Theatre across the street from Staples Center, this week or next week" (ESPNLA.com, 2/18). The Lakers said that funeral and memorial services "are pending." In L.A., Mark Medina noted in "lieu of flowers, the Buss family has also requested any donations go to the Lakers Youth Foundation or a charity of the donor's choice" (DAILYNEWS.com, 2/18).
Brazilian entrepreneur Flávio Augusto da Silva “is banking on Major League Soccer in Orlando being closer to reality” with an investment in USL Pro club Orlando City “estimated" to be $70M or $80M or more, according to Brendan Sonnone of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Augusto da Silva yesterday was announced “as part of the Orlando City ownership group.” With a plan “eventually to become the Lions' primary owner, Augusto da Silva represents a major piece in the USL Pro franchise's goal to join MLS.” Orlando City Owner & President Phil Rawlins said, "For Major League Soccer to take us seriously and look at us as a future expansion franchise, there's got to be a solid fiscal base. Flávio brings a big piece of that to the table." Augusto da Silva said that his “exact investment in the club will depend on whether the franchise gets into MLS and on admission and operation fees.” But joining MLS is “far from a done deal for Orlando City.” A major requirement for an MLS franchise is a "soccer-specific stadium," which Orlando City has “worked with the city and Orange County in developing.” Rawlins said that Orlando City would pay $30M of a proposed $110M stadium, and that the team “could know of possible admission into MLS by the end of 2013.” Augusto da Silva, who will “explore other business contacts and investors for Orlando City, said Rawlins will remain as president and in charge of day-to-day operations” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/19).
Ticketmaster said that its new secondary ticketing partnership with the Yankees to create Yankees Ticket Exchange will be "profitable, despite its slashing of seller commissions" from the 15% industry norm to 5% for season-ticket holders, according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Ticketmaster and StubHub have been "fierce competitors for more than a decade, but the arrival of Yankees Ticket Exchange introduces a price war between the two in the key New York market and for one of the most dominant brands in all of pro sports." Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard said, "The margins of the secondary business at traditional levels have been very healthy at scale, and we expect success here, too” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/18 issue). In N.Y., Garett Sloane notes the Yankees’ "move to dump StubHub and bring on Ticketmaster as its official reselling partner won’t necessarily bring cheaper ticket prices." Sloane: "In fact, fans might end up spending more." Prices on "dozens of tickets on StubHub yesterday" were 7.5% lower on average "than comparable prices posted on the Yankees Ticket Exchange." Of 28 cases for four games in the first half of the season, StubHub had a "lower price on comparable tickets in 27 cases." For Opening Day, for example, tickets at "seven different locations in Yankee Stadium" averaged 5.5% lower on StubHub (N.Y. POST, 2/19).
The Blue Jays' budget for the '13 season had initially been set for $100M, but team President & CEO Paul Beeston was able to convince the team's BOD this offseason that for every big-name acquisition, a "certain number of additional fans would come" to Rogers Centre this year, according to Sean Fine of the GLOBE & MAIL. Beeston "wanted to take it" to $125M, and the BOD gave him a "hearing unlike the one accorded" former Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke by MLSE. A source said, “You can’t even compare the two. ... Beeston does a very good job in instilling confidence in the board.” The source added, "Starting from the top, Edward (Rogers), they were saying, ‘look we’ve got the money, let’s spend.’ If the team starts winning, you fill up the stands, people spend more money, there’s more people watching at home, more people listening on the radio, the more times the Rogers Centre is mentioned. It’s just such a domino effect." Fine reported "most important of all to the owners was the timing." With Beeston and Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM Alex Anthopoulos claiming the Yankees and Red Sox are "not at their best," they explained "now was the opportunity" for the team. The team traded for Ps R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle and SS Jose Reyes and signed LF Melky Cabrera during the winter. Beeston said, "There's smart money and there's stupid money. We think this is smart money" (THEGLOBEANDMAIL.com, 2/16).
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Cubs Exec VP & GM Jed Hoyer said of Anthopoulos' offseason, “If you can be in that position where you can be aggressive and do what Alex did, I think it’s commendable and something you want to be in position to do” (“Clubhouse Confidential,” MLB Network, 2/18).
In Boston, John Tomase wrote if you can "divorce yourself from the disappointment of the last two seasons ... it’s hard to objectively find fault with the way" Red Sox Owner John Henry has run the team. His "biggest mistake -- and it was a doozy, in retrospect -- was spending too much money on players who either didn’t fit in Boston or were past their primes" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/17). Former BOSTON HERALD editorial page deputy editor Virginia Buckingham asked, "How are we criticizing ownership that after 86 years of heartbreak brought us two World Series Championships in four years?" Buckingham: "I want to thank this ownership team for maintaining and fostering the great Red Sox tradition and doing its best to bring us another championship" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/17).
TWIN BILLS: In Minneapolis, Phil Miller noted Twins single-game tickets "went on sale to the general public" last weekend, but team President Dave St. Peter said the demand was "a bit muted compared to the first few years at Target Field." For instance, "plenty of tickets for Opening Day against" the Tigers and a July 4 series with the Yankees "remained on sale on the team's website as of Sunday." Similar games "sold out quickly in the first three seasons of Target Field." But St. Peter noted that the Twins still "sold 50,000 tickets on Saturday" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/18).
FEELING ROYAL: The Royals this offseason added Ps James Shields and Ervin Santana, and 1B Eric Hosmer praised the team for the moves. He said, "The front office has gone out and done the moves they feel they’ve needed to do and strengthen our ball club. … The fans in Kansas City have been hearing all about it for many years now and I think the way to build that excitement back at (Kauffman Stadium) is to get out and show them, ‘Hey, we’re here and we’re ready to play for you guys this year’” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 2/18).