SBD/April 11, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
NBA Kings Owner the Maloof family has "given Sacramento an ultimatum: Come up with a solid bid" to purchase the team by 8:00pm ET tomorrow or they "won't even entertain" future overtures, according to sources cited in a front-page piece by Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. A source said that if the Maloofs "receive a matching offer" by the end of business tomorrow, they will "consider it as a serious backup proposal should the NBA nullify their tentative deal with Seattle." The Maloofs said that they "wouldn't negotiate with the Sacramento group" if the offer does not arrive in time or falls short of matching the Seattle bid. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson last night "wouldn't speculate on why the Maloofs delivered the ultimatum." But he said that the Sacramento investors are "following the rules laid out by the NBA and are in regular contact with the Maloofs and their lawyers." Johnson, regarding whether the Maloofs know how much the Sacramento group is bidding, said, "They know the number -- trust me, they know the number." He added the Sacramento group's latest offer is "essentially everything it needed to be" in terms of competitiveness with Seattle. However, he said that he "doesn't know if it has been submitted to the Maloofs in legal, contract form." It is "not clear if the Maloof ultimatum carries any legal force." The question of how the family would "respond to a rejection of the Seattle plan has been one of the great mysteries surrounding the Kings drama" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/11).
TAKE COVER: A source said that the NBA has asked the Sacramento group, if they want to win, to cover the $30M fee the second-place Seattle group would lose by not getting the club. The NBA declined to comment. The Seattle group's purchase agreement with the Maloofs includes a $30M non-refundable deposit. Were the Kings to stay in Sacramento, the Seattle group would lose that money. However, a source said that in not wanting for Seattle to be discouraged if they do not get the team, the league wants to make the group’s effort whole. Presumably, that would be a show from the NBA that even if Seattle were not to get the team, the league remains high on the market. The Maloofs' 65% share of the team translates to $341M. With the extra $30M, the Sacramento group would need $371M in cash, minus any assumed debt. The group also has a nonbinding agreement with the city of Sacramento for a new $447M arena, of which the ownership has to cover $190M. They also would be responsible for the $77M of debt on the current arena. The Sacramento group is expected to submit its final package to the NBA tomorrow, and on the same day announce some new investors. The league’s BOG meets next week, but is not expected to pick a winner then. Details of the package are key as there has been talk that the quickly-assembled Sacramento group will have trouble matching the financial muscle of the Seattle group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge fund manager Chris Hansen (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).
BIDDING WAR? NBA Commissioner David Stern last week at the NBA BOG meeting said he did not want the Seattle/Sacramento battle over the Kings to become a "bidding war." However, in Seattle, Bob Condotta notes it is "thought the Seattle group can increase its offer for the Kings" if it so chooses. Kings co-Owner George Maloof represented the team at the meeting, and reiterated that the family "wants to sell the team to the Seattle group." It "won't be much of a debate if the Sacramento group does not have an offer that matches that of Seattle's" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/11). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote some people might consider the Maloofs giving the Sacramento group an ultimatum while already having a binding deal done with the Seattle group "an act of bad faith, and frankly, it isn't an act of good faith by any means." Ratto: "In a deal like this, the seller has the leverage ... and leverage and good faith tend to collide with each other." Seattle is "still the favorite to win the owners’ vote on the 18th because of its considerable advantages," but Hansen and Ballmer must "wonder anew with whom they’re dealing with here" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/10).
The MLB Rangers yesterday announced Nolan Ryan will remain CEO, ending “six weeks of internal drama and intense speculation after Ryan lost the president’s title but leaves open how long he will stay,” according to Evan Grant of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Though Ryan was at yesterday’s Rays-Rangers game, “he did not comment to reporters about his decision.” Grant: “Now comes the next question: How long will this arrangement last?” Ryan “has two more seasons beyond 2013” on his contract, but his statements in the team's release yesterday “made no reference to serving out the length of the contract.” It is more likely Ryan "will give an honest chance to the unique working arrangement” in which Rangers President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels and President of Business Operations Rick George “operate their departments on a fairly autonomous basis, but Ryan has input in the decision-making process.” Ryan “rarely overruled the duo on decisions.” Grant: “It is, in theory, the same arrangement that was in place ... The decision to stay will give the deliberate Ryan time to examine whether the situation is actually unchanged.” It could “certainly be re-evaluated after the season.” Daniels said, “I’m glad he’s decided to stay on. We’ve got a good thing going -- a good plan with good people” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/11). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson noted Rangers co-Chair Bob Simpson and Daniels “maintained that the Rangers’ power structure had not changed and that all decisions had to be run past Ryan.” Sources said that Ryan “wanted to ensure that his voice mattered in baseball decision-making, and also didn’t want to be seen as a figurehead” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/11). ESPN DALLAS' Todd Wills noted Ryan “attended all six home games over the weekend and into this week.” Ryan's decision “saves the Rangers from what could have been a public relations issue” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 4/10).
KEEPING THE BAND TOGETHER: ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote Ryan’s decision to stay is “terrific news and a huge relief for … Daniels, the entire Rangers front office and fans.” Ryan has been the “face of this club” and an “important asset in helping vault this organization into that elite group of clubs that are annual contenders.” The idea of Ryan “not being a part of the Rangers … just wasn't something anyone, including Major League Baseball, wanted to contemplate.” Simpson and co-Chair Ray Davis “had to find a way to keep Ryan in the fold and they’ve managed to do it.” Both Ryan and Daniels, “despite their differences, made critical decisions that led to success.” It is “nice to have that combination around a little longer” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 4/10). In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton writes Rangers fans “likely will cheer Wednesday’s announcement and heave a heavy sigh of relief.” Ryan’s name “on the Rangers’ company masthead has been a reassuring one since he first donned the team uniform in 1989.” When he was hired by then-owner Tom Hicks and became the club’s president in February ‘08, he “appeared to inherit a task -- getting the Rangers to a World Series -- for which there was no real job description.” Ryan “started doing almost everything -- choosing the new uniforms, remodeling the ballpark, reordering the concessions, etc.” Ryan's name “quickly became synonymous with the franchise.” LeBreton: “I think Ryan felt compelled to be the final authority on all decisions. That became an increasingly difficult task, which the co-chairmen hoped to alleviate by promoting Daniels and George.” LeBreton writes, “Maybe I’m being naïve, but I don’t sense that at any time were the co-chairmen trying to force Ryan into leaving the Rangers” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/11).
QUESTIONS REMAIN: In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington notes, “Nowhere in the statement does it say Ryan is in it for the long haul.” The fact that Ryan “left without talking to the media should tell you something.” Questions “would be asked that he’s not ready to answer: Where the restructuring of the organization went wrong, how much it hurt, whether he’s over it. Clearly, he’s not.” However, “it’s not his style to detract from the good that’s going on with a club he just as obviously wants to remain a part of” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/11).
Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said the team’s 794-game regular-season sellout streak at Fenway Park, which officially ended with last night’s game against the Orioles, was a “remarkable ride.” Appearing on NESN’s Red Sox pregame show last night, Lucchino reflected on the mark, which expands to 820 when including postseason games, and called it a “remarkable achievement for the Red Sox and for our fans to have filled this ballpark.” The streak ended with the team’s second home game this season, and Lucchino noted some fans likely were “taking a wait-and-see attitude to get a sense of what the personality of this team would be, what its chance for success might be,” before buying tickets. He said during the Red Sox’ 93-loss season last year and the “collapse of 2011, even though fans may look out and see empty seats, that's not an indication that these tickets weren't sold.” Lucchino: “They were indeed sold but for … whatever reasons, people decided not to come. But it's been a real achievement." NESN's Tim Wakefield, who played 17 years with the Red Sox, said a “big round of applause goes out to all the fans that showed up here for 10 straight years.” WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford said it "would have been nice” to end the streak last year because there are "so many good feelings about this team right now." But he added, "This is a little blip on the radar” (“Red Sox Gameday Live,” NESN, 4/10). MLB Network's Tom Verducci said of the streak, "It’s pretty impressive, you got to admit. Yes, the 93 losses took a lot of the steam and momentum out of what they had going there, but great fans there in Boston. I know it’s a smaller park but it’s going to be a long time, obviously, before we see anybody even approach that kind of a streak” ("MLB Tonight," MLBN, 4/10). The game drew 30,862 fans at the 37,499-seat ballpark (THE DAILY).
In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell reports nearly 95% of Colts season-ticket holders "have renewed their orders." Estimated at 57,000, that is "a return to the standard Peyton Manning-era renewal rate after the team experienced a noticeable and anticipated dip" -- approximately 87% renewals -- in the '12 offseason. The Colts also have "sold all 141 suites at Lucas Oil Stadium." Approximately 5,500 seats "remain unsold as season ticket packages and won’t be put on sale until after the NFL announces the 2013 schedule Tuesday" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/11).
SOIREE ON THE PARQUET: Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck said that the team is "considering filing an application" to host an NBA All-Star Game. He said that he "had a conversation" with Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Exec Dir Jim Rooney "about taking steps in the process." In Boston, Gary Washburn noted there is a "shortage of NBA cities applying for All-Star Games because of the cost." However, there is a "concern the NBA would not award an All-Star Game to a cold-weather city." The league has not held the event "in the northeast region" since Philadelphia in '02 (BOSTON.com, 4/8).
SWING AND A MISS: SPORTS ON EARTH's Emma Span writes the idea of the Twins charging fans to view early batting practice "was not particularly significant -- possibly announced prematurely, definitely retracted, and in any case involving a relatively small number of fans and a relatively small amount of money." What "does seem significant, however, is the anger provoked in Twins fans." Span: "The idea seems to have tapped into deeper resentment and concerns about fan treatment, the cost of games, and I would argue, the increasing class division at a lot of stadiums." That anger is "something teams should be paying attention to" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 4/11).