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SBD/May 2, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver Tuesday defended the NBA relocation committee's recommendation for the Kings to remain in Sacramento instead of moving to Seattle. Appearing on PBS' "Charlie Rose," Silver said, "Some people are surprised at the preliminary decision the relocation committee has made. They say, 'Look at Seattle -- there's more corporate headquarters, there's more TV households, there's the potential to generate more revenue there. Shouldn't you move a franchise to the market where there's more revenue?' And our response is, 'Not necessarily, that if you look at total value over time, and brand building, and community support, and that continuity is important.'" Still, Stern said the Seattle bidders, including hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, represent "the perfect prototype for an NBA owner" ("Charlie Rose," PBS, 4/30). In Sacramento, Ben van der Meer noted following the relocation committee's vote to keep the Kings in town, "prominent downtown interests said it’s time to look seriously at what could be developed in and around a new arena." Sacramento developer David Taylor said that "suddenly there's energy toward development of new office, housing and retail downtown because there's a belief the Kings will be there." Taylor said, "Whether it generates actual projects being built, we'll see." He added that downtown investors and developers "may begin investigating various projects but won’t necessarily commit money to following through until it’s obvious an actual arena is moving forward" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1). Meanwhile, the SACRAMENTO BEE's Kasler, Lillis & Bizjak address questions about what is next for the Kings.
TIME TO MOVE ON: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes the city's "arena drama has gone on long enough." With "respect to the disappointed folks in Seattle ... it's time" for Hansen and Ballmer "to turn the page, to find another city and another franchise to pick on." Voisin: "Be wary of taking on incumbents. NBA owners argue like siblings and even have been known to scream at their commissioner." And owners "hate the headaches that come with relocation." Voisin: "Two more words of advice for Hansen and Ballmer: Lose graciously." This is "Sacramento's time, Sacramento's first big break" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/2). A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial stated if Kings Owner the Maloof family "truly cares about Sacramento and the Kings, it ought to graciously step aside." It is "time to end the uncertainty and give the team and its city a fresh start." They "have to recognize that their best move now is to sell to a strong ownership group that would keep the team in Sacramento and work with the city to build a new arena downtown." The Maloofs "would still cash in." While the Sacramento group's offer is "said to be" $15M less than Seattle's, it would "still put a record value on the franchise." The Maloofs are "refusing to comment on their next step," which is "one reason why they have worn out their welcome." All the "hard work" by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will "amount to little ... if the Maloofs insist on hanging on." The "absolute last thing anyone should want is to repeat this wearisome drama again next year" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/1).
NEGOTIATING TOOL: MSN MONEY's Jason Notte wrote, "Congratulations, Seattle. You're now to the National Basketball Association what Los Angeles is to the National Football League." With Hansen and Ballmer "still determined to build a new arena in Seattle and planning to pitch the NBA's board of governors before it votes formally on the matter on May 13, the league and its Sacramento franchise now have something just as valuable as a major-market team in Seattle." They have a "bargaining chip." Notte wrote the owners "want to be able to make this kind of move over and over again. 'Give us a new publicly financed stadium, or we'll move to Seattle' is a threat that works as well in Portland or Milwaukee or Minneapolis or Salt Lake City or Memphis or New Orleans or Phoenix as it does in Sacramento." Author Neil deMause said the Sacramento deal maintains "an arena-subsidy business model that has helped make many rich NBA owners even richer." Notte wrote "unless the league expands ... Seattle is just an NBA code word for extortion" (MONEY.MSN.com, 5/1). Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday said that the Kings potentially staying in Sacramento "raises the stakes for Milwaukee leaders hoping to retain" the Bucks. In Milwaukee, Rich Kirchen noted the Kings news has "given rise to speculation that the Seattle ownership group might look to buy another franchise -- possibly" the Bucks. Team execs have said that the team is "not for sale." But the Bucks and the NBA have said that the team "will need to leave Milwaukee after the 2016-2017 season unless a new arena is built." Barrett said, "We need to be pro-active and get the Bucks to stay here" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/30).
Guggenheim Partners President & Dodgers co-Owner Todd Boehly yesterday said that his company's winning $2.1B bid for the franchise "was a reflection of how the consortium of new owners see the team: As an entertainment property," according to Alex Ben Block of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Boehly, speaking at a Business of Sports panel in Beverly Hills, said, "It was our job to treat it as an entertainment experience." The panel, moderated by TV sports personality Jim Gray and featuring tennis HOFer Jimmy Connors and hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky, covered the "unprecedented amount of money paid for sports franchises, the high cost of talent, rapid inflation in major sports TV rights and the rising cost of cable TV for subscribers." Boehly's "logic also applied to Time Warner Cable's thinking in sewing up a $8 billion deal for TV rights to the Dodgers' games, only a year after it paid about $3 billion for the rights to show" Lakers games. TWC Exec VP and Chief Video & Content Officer Melinda Witmer said, "We need fans who are passionate about turning on the TV and watching the game or match, and it’s all about the entertainment value and the fan." Gretzky said, "You’re paid for two reasons as an athlete -- to entertain and to win" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 5/1). Connors said that tennis "broke out of the country club mold during his prime because players like him and John McEnroe realized it wasn't just about sports, it was about entertainment." Since then, the sport has "reverted to being more politically correct." He said that it "needs another shot in the arm to carry it to another level." Raine Group co-Founder & Partner Joseph Ravitch "rejected the notion that billionaires buy sports teams as an expensive vanity project or because they think they'll 'be able to flip it to some greater fool' down the line." He said that "very few of the sports franchise deals he has consummated involved emotion." Ravitch: "There's always an economic calculation to it" (CURRENCYOFIDEAS.TUMBLR.com, 5/1).
With a 10-year-old licensing agreement between the Red Sox and the city of Boston for use of temporary concession stands outside Fenway Park and the air space over Lansdowne Street "set to expire at the end of this season, the club is pushing to make the lucrative arrangement permanent," according to Borchers & Herman of the BOSTON GLOBE. The Red Sox in November sent a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Agency arguing that the "low license fee is reasonable" because John Henry's ownership group has paid $56.7M in "property, sales and meals taxes since buying the team in 2002." The BRA in '11 "charged the Red Sox an average of just $186,000 per year for use of" Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street, even though the team generated "an estimated" $5M in revenues from them. Since Fenway's Green Monster section opened, the Red Sox have "more than tripled seat prices there." Yet the team's license fee "has increased by just 28 percent over the same period." The Red Sox in the letter "pushed for a permanent extension of the current terms, arguing that a higher fee would represent an 'unwarranted, punitive burden' on an ownership group that has never sought public financing for Fenway Park renovations or for a new stadium." While Red Sox owners have spent $285M on ballpark improvements "without public funding, they also have enjoyed substantial tax breaks that helped to defray their costs." The Massachusetts Historical Commission has awarded the club $47.7M in tax credits, and Fenway Park's "inclusion last year on the National Register of Historic Places was worth another" $45.5M in federal tax credits. Red Sox owners could gain "another financial benefit by setting their BRA agreement in stone." If granted "permanent control of the two streets, owners could claim the license as a capital assets, instead of as an expense, if they were to sell the team" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/2).
A day after rumors of the NLL Edmonton Rush "relocating to Saskatoon flared up," team President Dave Jamieson "stepped in to douse the flames," according to Chris O'Leary of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Jamieson said that there was "no need for Rush fans to be concerned that the franchise would be moving to Saskatoon or anywhere else." Jamieson: "The report of the Rush entertaining, or at least having someone approach them from Saskatoon, is correct. There was an expression of interest from a party in that city." But he added, "Talking to (Rush owner) Bruce Urban, he remains committed to the city of Edmonton, the game of lacrosse and the team. He’s never wavered in his belief that this sport and his team could succeed here." Jamieson continued, "We had about 1,600 season-ticket holders, which is strong. It’s not the best in the league, it’s not the worst, but we need more and our corporate sponsorship, we’re very lucky to have who we have, but again, we just need to grow those areas for our team to remain here for years to come" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/2).
The announcement last week naming Tim Leiweke as new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO has created rumors about Phil Jackson being interested in joining the Raptors as team president. The possibility has been a topic of discussion on many sports TV and radio talk shows this week. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "If you want to be president of a team, I don't know why you would go to the Raptors. It's an awful team." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said if Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss "is running the Lakers, Phil Jackson's not going to be the coach, so that option won't be there and maybe you look to your buddy" in Leiweke. He added, "It seems like Phil has this itch to get back to work. I would think the Lakers, but it's going to take some rearranging at the top before that happens" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/30). CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb: "I think it may be the only fit to where he gets this type of power." Gottlieb added, "I do think that Toronto has a lot more to offer than probably about half the teams in the league." CBS Sports Net's Allie LaForce said, "He's not going to get the love and the basketball hype that he will in L.A." But she added, "In Toronto, there certainly is no room to go down so it can only get better from there and he won't fail" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 4/30). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez: "I still don't think even his presence can do enough to attract big-name players to Toronto." ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "Being the Pat Riley of Canada doesn't have the same allure to it" ("Around the Horn," ESPN, 4/30).
SOMETHING GOOD? ESPN's Dan Le Batard said Jackson "is old now." Le Batard: "He doesn't want to coach necessarily the team, he can be president. But if he's going to be president, he wants it to be of a good team and he prefer that it be in the United States" ("Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 4/30). ESPN's Ryen Russillo said of Jackson, "He can go to Toronto where a guy running all of their sports organizations is a guy that he's had a close relationship with." Russillo added, "If there's no other opportunity out there for him, he's 67, he's bored, he wants to be around basketball, go ahead and take the Raptors gig if he's committed" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/30). Comcast SportsNet Chicago's David Kaplan said of Jackson possibly going to the Clippers, "If you're the owner of the Clippers and you've taken a beating for so many years, Donald Sterling, and you've always been criticized, if you walked up to Phil and said, 'Blank check, my friend. Fill it in, you're running the whole deal.'" ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg: "Has Donald Sterling ever written a blank check?" ("Sports Talk Live," CSN Chicago, 4/30).
Blue Jays security is “on alert after recent unruly, alcohol-fuelled behaviour,” according to Mark Zwolinski of the TORONTO STAR. The Jays “realize they’re getting a bad reputation around the majors after the recent incidents, including during the series against the Yankees when a man was ejected after tossing peanuts into the Yankee bullpen.” The team “logged roughly 20 fan ejections” at its home opener. The bigger numbers “come on Friday nights, but settle down on Saturdays and Sundays when more families come to the Rogers Centre.” While the club said that it is “cracking down on drunkenness with police, security staff, security managers and alcohol compliance officers, ejections are common when emotions run highest -- when the team is winning, or when expectations are high, like with the 2013 Jays.” In the World Series years of ‘92 and ‘93, there “were 100 ejections on some nights” (TORONTO STAR, 5/1).
ABIDE BY THE RULES: SPORTSGRID.com’s Rick Chandler noted when it comes to “saying stuff in an MLB park, you’d be surprised at how few rights you actually have.” Yankee Stadium security policy “prohibits things like briefcases, laser pens and vuvuzelas, which seems perfectly logical.” But it also prohibits "any other devices that may interfere with and/or distract any sports participant, other patron.” That could “be a whole lot of things, and the Yankees get to make up what they are.” In addition, fans who “are or appear to be intoxicated and/or unmanageable will not be permitted into Yankee Stadium.” The Dodgers’ Fan Code of Conduct states any fan “acting disrespectfully” can be ejected. Giants Senior Security Dir Tinie Roberson confirmed that each team is “left to its own devices.” Roberson said, “Although there are some procedure similarities on what warrants an ejection, there is no standard league-wide policy." Roberson added fans are "not automatically ejected at the request of a player. There has to be justification by observing and reporting and then the appropriate action is taken, which could be a verbal warning and/or ejection warranted depending on the reported incident” (SPORTSGRID.com, 5/1).