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SBD/March 19, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
MLB appears unwilling to move the Orioles' Sept. 5 night game that would conflict with the Ravens' home opener. MLB Senior VP/Club Relations & Scheduling Katy Feeney, with little enthusiasm for the NFL's request for the baseball game to have an earlier start, said, "The Orioles game has been scheduled for quite some time." Asked if the issue was now dead, Feeney replied, "Nothing is simple," though she did not elaborate. MLB is opposed because the Orioles and White Sox each have games the night before in other cities, and generally teams do not have travel between a night game followed by a day game. Because the Orioles and Ravens share parking lots, hosting the games concurrently is not an option. The NFL team that wins the Super Bowl since '04 has opened the season at home on the Thursday night before the traditional Sunday afternoon kickoffs for other teams, replete with big celebratory events. That Thursday night falls on the same night of the Orioles game against the White Sox, and the NFL has ruled out holding the game a day earlier because that is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "I have talked to Major League Baseball, I have called (MLB Commissioner) Bud Selig twice and spoken to him about that. We are trying to work out an accommodation to allow the Orioles' game to happen earlier in the afternoon and the Ravens to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with their fans at home on Thursday night." Sources said that Ravens President Dick Cass also has reached out to the Orioles (Fisher & Kaplan, Staff Writers). The Washington Post's Mark Maske noted it appears if the conflict "can't be resolved, Ravens would prefer to play on the road Sept. 5 rather than at home that Sunday night" (TWITTER.com, 3/19).
WHO BLINKS FIRST: Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said that the team has "offered to compensate their baseball neighbors for any lost revenue." However, in Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec in a front-page piece cites a source as saying that the Orioles' "reticence to move the game to earlier in the day is a baseball issue, not a financial one." Orioles officials "don't think they could get the required approval from the White Sox, the league and the players' association to change the game time." Feeney said, "It doesn't just involve the Orioles. There is another team." Bisciotti said, “In fairness to Major League Baseball and the Angeloses, we’re trying to dump a pretty big problem on them and we’re asking them to make a lot of concessions that will benefit us and potentially harm them though it doesn’t necessarily harm them." He added, "The bottom line is if they wanted to do it, they would find a way to do it. From the Ravens and the NFL standpoint, we’ll do whatever we have to do in order to keep that tradition" (Baltimore SUN, 3/19). CBSSPORTS.com's Clark Judge noted Orioles Owner Peter Angelos would "have to sign off on the move, and there are two things you should know about the guy: 1) He takes his time making decisions, and 2) he's stubborn." A source said, "I know Peter Angelos, and he'll dig in like a tick's head in a dog. So there's no use in appealing to public opinion, because it won't work." Angelos has the "leverage here, and so does" MLB. Neither "has to budge." But the NFL "does, and it's trying." A source said that MLB is "willing to take the hit on this one, though it's Angelos who is unmoved" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/18).
TIME TO TAKE CHARGE: ESPN's Trey Wingo noted that if fans can "read through the tea leaves" with Goodell's comments, he was “saying, ‘Well, I’ve called the Orioles twice. It’s on you guys!' That’s him saying, ‘Hey, we’re reaching out. You guys haven’t responded.’" Wingo: "He’s putting the squeeze on them a little bit.” ESPN's Tedy Bruschi said, "I hope ... they can work it out because that’s such a special night for the world champion.” Wingo: "It’s an event, and with all due respect to baseball and the Orioles, you play 81 home games in baseball. You only get eight in the regular season in the NFL, and you want this one to be at home to kickoff the season” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Michael Silver wrote, "With all due (dis)respect to the displaced national pastime, it's time for the Sheriff of Park Avenue to walk all over Selig." Something is "going to have to give." And that "something -- sorry, baseball fans -- is not going to be America's most popular spectator sport." Goodell to his credit was "relatively polite when questioned about the conundrum." But if Selig "won't play ball, here are three words of advice for Goodell: Make it happen." Silver: "Does Selig seriously think he's going to win this battle against the NFL?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/18).
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross said that he "won’t be expressly or implicitly threatening relocation in order to get a public contribution toward the renovation effort" to Sun Life Stadium, according to Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. Ross said, "Having been brought up in South Florida and loving the Dolphins I would find that very hard to do. I mean, some times when you’re dealing with adversity and people are giving you a hard time you say, ‘Hey I’m not bound to stay here.’ But really I’m not threatening anybody. The Dolphins belong in South Florida and they are going to stay in South Florida?” Florio wrote that is "good news for Dolphins fans, but perhaps bad news for the effort to get Dolphins and non-Dolphins fans alike to support the effort to raise local hotel taxes by one percent." Ross "obviously believes they should." Ross: "I’m prepared to put a lot of money into [the renovations]. But I think everywhere you see a new stadium you see the public supporting it. And that is one thing [that] has not been supported in Miami. They did the Marlins stadium and that’s probably one of the major reasons we’re having problems" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/18). Ross added, “That stadium really needed some help, and I think you have to really enhance fan experience to bring them out to the stadium because it is so good at home today. So I think it was very, very important for South Florida, being such an aspirational city and growing and really becoming one of the great cities in America, that it has a first-class stadium. We put together a plan that I'm very excited about (that) more or less take that stadium and make it a new stadium, a very iconic stadium putting a canopy on it." The Dolphins have had trouble selling tickets in recent years, and Ross said the "easiest way to fill up a stadium is to have a winning team year in and year out" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 3/18).
BIG-GAME HUNTER: In Miami, Armando Salguero notes it has "become clear" to Ross there the only way the Dolphins land Super Bowl L is if the team wins "approval to upgrade Sun Life Stadium." Ross yesterday said, "The question is can we get approved. I do know without a renovated or modernized stadium, Miami is not going to get Super Bowls." Ross said that the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium would "make the facility feel like new." He "definitely thinks South Florida will get more bang for the buck than New Orleans got from its post-Katrina upgrades" to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (MIAMI HERALD, 3/19). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes a stadium upgrade has been Ross' "main off-the-field concern" this offseason. But Ross is "planning stadium upgrades," whether or not "the referendum passes" to raise the hotel tax. The vote is "likely to be held in May, right before NFL owners vote on the location of Super Bowl 50." He said that Sun Life Stadium will have "high-density Internet access." Ross: "Cellphones will work in the stadium, and you’ll be able to do a lot of the streaming and multi-tasking" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19).
WELCOME TO THE 305: In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly writes the Dolphins have been the "most aggressive and active NFL team during free agency, remodeling the team's roster." The Dolphins already have spent $185M in "total value of the deals luring five players, and re-signing five members of last year's team." What "scares the rest of the NFL is that Miami still has another $19-20 million to spend on free agents, and the team's 10 draft picks" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/19). The POST's Volin writes there is "no question that Ross is excited about the future of both" QB Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, who "made a flurry of moves in free agency." Ross: "You can see where the NFL is going -- it’s about speed and passing game and explosiveness and excitement, and you can see that’s what we’re developing. I don’t think we’re done" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes the Dolphins' "tactic has been to be a big element in the free-agent marketplace." They chose to "spend, largely, on replacements rather than holdovers." Stoda: "But did the Dolphins get better? It’s the all-in risk of such a substantial plan." The man who "deserves credit" for the Dolphins' new look is GM Jeff Ireland, who has been "much maligned through the years." He has been the "point man on the imports and exports" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19). Ross said, "I don't go out there and say, ‘Hey, I want this guy or I want that guy.’ You listen to your football people, and they thought this was the time. They put together a great plan and I've been encouraging them, ‘Hey guys, let's make moves, it's time to win’" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 3/18).
TICKET SALES LUKEWARM: The HERALD's Salguero writes fans' early reaction at the ticket window "has been lukewarm to the Dolphins’ so-far impressive offseason talent-grab in free agency." So the "ticket-buying crowd is still in show-me mode." But Dolphins' brass at yesterday's NFL owners meeting were "full of energy." Salguero: "Try as they might, the possibility of a Super Bowl reared its head." Ross: “If you don’t think that’s what our goal is and the only reason why we’re putting this team together, you’re nuts. But when it’s going to happen, no one is making any predictions." Salguero writes the Dolphins must "impress their fans before even one game is played to get them to turn out and vote in favor of upgrading Sun Life Stadium." Happy fans, "obviously, can be enthusiastic voters." Ross said, "We didn’t do this and sign these players to win a vote. They’re totally independent acts" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/19).
SEE YOU IN CANTON: The NFL today announced the Dolphins and Cowboys will compete in the annual Pro Football HOF game on Aug. 4. Three members of this year’s HOF class have ties to the teams -- Larry Allen played for the Cowboys from '94-'05, Cris Carter played for the Dolphins in '02 and Bill Parcells coached the Cowboys for four years before joining the Dolphins' front office for three seasons (THE DAILY). This will mark the “fourth time the Dolphins will play in the game” and the fifth for the Cowboys (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/19).
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft yesterday "went on the attack," as he was "fiercely protecting his asset, a man staunchly defending his team and his Patriots brand," according to Karen Guregian of the BOSTON HERALD. Kraft "pointed fingers, casting the blame squarely on" Athletes First Chair & CEO David Dunn and Broncos WR Wes Welker's representation for Welker leaving the Patriots. Kraft claimed that Welker's agents "led him down the wrong path because they 'misrepresented' his market value" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/19). In N.Y., Judy Battista notes Kraft's statements "offered an unusual amount of detail from one of the NFL's most tight-lipped organizations." Kraft said that the Patriots "offered a deal that was worth more than the one he took" with the Broncos (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19). Kraft called Dunn's contention that the Patriots never made an offer "bogus." He said, "It just isn't true" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 3/19). Kraft said Welker "has a great agent, but they way overvalued ... as they should." Kraft: "They don't really care about the New England Patriots. They care about getting the best financial deal for their client ... and their compensation is based on that." But in Boston, Ron Borges writes, "Don't waste your breath on how Welker's agent didn't care about the Patriots." The Patriots in the end "played the same game they accused David Dunn of playing." They "only looked out for themselves" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/19). ESPN BOSTON's Mike Reiss wrote there has "never been a time when Kraft had been so publicly pointed in his remarks about an agent." He said, "The agents are doing their job and trying to do the best job they can. But I just think it was a miscalculation of value here, and playing poker" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 3/18). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said, "It really speaks to the frayed relationship between Wes Welker’s people and the Patriots” (“NFL Total Access,” NFLN, 3/18).
AGENCY OFFERS ITS SIDE OF THE STORY: Athletes First issued a statement this morning responding to Kraft’s comments, saying the company had “tremendous respect” for Kraft and the “entire Patriots organization.” But it offered its take on the negotiations and stated a “lone offer” was made to Welker and “presented as a 'take it or leave it offer.'" Athletes First: "When we asked if there was room for structural changes, we were told no.” The Patriots “made it abundantly clear that their one offer was non-negotiable. Athletes First has no issue with this approach and casts no blame on either side for a deal not being consummated. However, we believe it is important that the negotiations are accurately portrayed in the media” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 3/19). ESPN's Chris Mortensen noted it was "unique" that Kraft was "willing to go on the record” about the details involving Welker. However, people could "certainly dispute the facts.” Mortensen said Welker “got more money” from the Broncos and “was actually offered more money by an unnamed third team.” To put that blame on Welker or his agents is an “insult to Wes Welker that he can’t think for himself” (“NFL 32,” ESPN2, 3/18).
PAR FOR THE COURSE: ESPN's Michael Wilbon noted Kraft is an “esteemed owner, not just a successful guy,” but he is “popping off and flexing” over the Welker issue. Wilbon: “I mean 90% of these owners have to flex because they’re richer and more influential and more powerful, and they have to remind fans and sponsors and voters and the media and even their players, ‘I’m King Kong, I’m the boss.’ These are, in most cases, the most ruthless, arrogant, dismissive guys. And even Robert Kraft, who is seen as a good guy widely in addition to being a great owner. They just have to do this every now and then. ... This is NFL ownership” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/18).
BUCKING BRONCOS: In Denver, Mike Klis writes Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen yesterday "hardly was overwhelmed with embarrassment" following the situation with free agent DE Elvis Dumervil. He said, "Not really. I've been around here for quite a few years. I've seen just about everything. This is not unusual." The Broncos "lured free agents with front-loaded deals rich in cash signing bonuses." Bowlen: "You get what you pay for. These are football players, and we know how good they are and how good they're not. To get them, you pay them" (DENVER POST, 3/19). Klis wrote, "No other team stirred free-agent buzz through the first two days of free agency last week more than the Broncos." And that was "before the Broncos blew up the Twitter world Friday with" the Dumervil "docudrama." Friday "marred what had been an exceptional free-agent period for the Broncos." Maybe not "quite as stirring as the previous year's free agency that placed Peyton Manning on the Broncos' billboard." But Welker "moves the needle as well as the chains" (DENVER POST, 3/17).
The Yankees yesterday sued StubHub in Bronx County Supreme Court, seeking to block the resale marketplace from allowing tickets to the team's games to be transacted at StubHub's new pickup location near Yankee Stadium. The club is seeking an injunction against StubHub, with a hearing set for today. New York law prohibits the resale of tickets within 1,500 feet of a facility with at least 5,000 permanent seats. As a result, the case rests largely on what specifically constitutes resale in a ticket transaction. StubHub says the pickup spot, located at 68 E. 161st St., diagonally across the 161st St.-River Ave intersection from the ballpark, will only be to retrieve prior orders and represents a legally permissible, distinct activity. The Yankees argue that retrieval is a fundamental part of the original sales transaction, and as a result, violates the law. The club's complaint reads in part, "One consequence of StubHub's unlawful action will be to disrupt the relationship between the Yankees and the Yankees' season-ticket holders, because the season-ticket holders may choose to purchase tickets through the unlawful Bronx (Last Minute Services) center instead of directly from the Yankees." The Yankees opted out of StubHub's recent five-year contract renewal with MLBAM and have since created their own resale marketplace, Yankees Ticket Exchange, in partnership with Ticketmaster.
SCALPING LIKELY TO OCCUR: The club also alleges in its complaint the StubHub location will encourage additional scalping and higher pedestrian congestion near the stadium. The file reads, "Those scalpers will purchase 'last minute' tickets at the LMS center, and then attempt to resell them in front of Yankee Stadium, leading to an increase in crime, nuisance and a further diversion of N.Y. Police Department resources in the area surrounding Yankee Stadium." StubHub in a statement said it will "vigorously defend itself" from what it called a "baseless lawsuit." The company said, "This lawsuit is a move by the Yankees to reduce competition and consumer choice. StubHub has always abided by and will continue to abide by the current [New York] statute." Depending on what happens with the injunction hearing, the StubHub pickup location is set to open Friday.
The Rays this season are debuting a “Welcome Home” ad campaign tagline that is “built on the concept of ‘home,’” according to Alexis Muellner of the TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL. The team for art and creative is “using images it shoots of fans reacting to the experience at Tropicana Field.” The in-house campaign "features radio and TV, print, outdoors and social media.” The club is “taking advantage of the many possible places to place digital advertising.” For example, ads “may pop while surfing Weatherchannel.com.” In addition, the team will “expand its advertising on the mobile app for music website Pandora.” Ads are “geographically focused, and they can be targeted to music preferences that align with the team’s popular concert series.” Execs said that there are “no changes” in the amount of media the team is buying this season. The team is “being more aggressive this year in pushing the sunburst part of its logo, which appears in a home plate shaped box that contains the tagline.” Rays President Matt Silverman said that the team's '12 attendance "was last in baseball, but by far the most-attended product in Tampa Bay" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/18). In Tampa, Robert Trigaux notes the campaign “kicks off later this week and features" Rays 3B Evan Longoria, P David Price and manager Joe Maddon. Other players "also appear in the campaign.” Silverman said, "The idea of the campaign is that a fan can settle into a Rays game whether they are in the ballpark or on the couch at home and feel like they are in a familiar place." The "Welcome Home" message on radio and TV “will be spoken by Rays players or Maddon to deepen the connection with listeners.” Rays VP/Marketing Tom Hoof said that the Rays “will soon reach out via the team website, inviting fans to share their favorite stories about the Rays.” Fans with “compelling tales will be featured as part of the ads” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/19).
MLS Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen and his “his ascension to being RSL’s sole owner" was profiled by Aaron Falk of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Hansen said that he “saw a team in need of saving” and “believed he had the ability to do something.” Hansen “knew little of the sport when he first bought in, but his passion and business savvy were undeniable.” He said that he immediately “dove into sponsorships and ticket sales.” When Hansen arrived, the team was “bringing in $2.8 million in sponsorships a year.” He said that this season, the club “will bring in $8.5 million.” That number “will cross" the $10M mark "next year with a new jersey-front sponsorship deal.” But for Hansen, the team is “unlike any other investment he’s made.” Hansen said, "One thing that’s black and white: I will never make money running this.” He said that the club’s profits “will go back to the team in hopes of making RSL perennially one of Major League Soccer’s top four clubs.” Hansen “acknowledges he has frustrated” President Bill Manning and team staff “as he reworks the club’s finances, cutting in some places and breaking off media and other components into separate entities.” Former Owner Dave Checketts said that MLS Commissioner Don Garber in December "presided over a sealed auction” for the team. Checketts added that he “won the bid and on Dec. 11 deposited the $33 million needed to buy his partner out.” At that point, he had “until Jan. 15 to close on the deal.” Checketts said, "I had a lot of sleepless nights in early 2013 thinking about what I wanted. Do I want to continue? Can I continue? I woke up and told my wife we were going to sell." Checketts said that he is “satisfied that he left a franchise that was on solid ground and capable of continued on-field success.” Hansen “agrees, and he thinks he can help take RSL to another level” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/17).
Browns CEO Joe Banner yesterday admitted that he “doesn't want” GM Michael Lombardi in the media spotlight yet. Banner said Lombardi is "a little bit of a lightning rod." In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot notes Banner instead “will address personnel matters for the time being.” Lombardi “hasn't addressed the media" since his title was changed on March 5, and he “didn't appear at press conferences for free agent acquisitions" DE Paul Kruger and DT Desmond Bryant. Banner yesterday said of Lombardi, “Distraction won't serve anybody's interests. He's got a tremendous amount of work to do right now, and whether that's good, bad or fair or not it doesn't really matter. It's just the reality of the situation." Banner added, “He's not going to be hidden. He's not going to be somebody over time you won't have an opportunity to talk to” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/19).
NO CHANGE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that the Redskins “met with the NFL twice in the past 30 days to try to recoup salary cap space the team lost" to a $36M penalty, but efforts were "unsuccessful.” Goodell said, “I’ve told the Redskins directly that there will be no change in the modification to their cap.” In DC, Rich Campbell notes Goodell “would not say whether he ever considered it a possibility that the Redskins would pursue legal action against the league outside of the arbitration process” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/19).
FLYING THE COOP: In Philadelphia, Les Bowen noted some Eagles fans “feel less engaged by the announcement last Friday that the team no longer will hold training camp in the intimate setting” of Lehigh Univ. The four or five “fan events team president Don Smolenski said are planned for Lincoln Financial Field might be available to more fans than Lehigh, but the setting won't be nearly as cozy.” Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie said, "I loved the fan engagement (at Lehigh). With NovaCare being one of the top facilities, teams are really tending toward (holding camp at home). We're really one of the last holdouts” (PHILLY.com, 3/18).