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SBD/May 8, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Pilot Flying J CEO and Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III “apologized profusely Tuesday for the scandal that's overshadowed the team,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Haslam made his remarks “in a 10-minute media session just after giving the opening address at the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame's scholar-athlete banquet at LaCentre in Westlake.” He said that he “would've talked during last month's draft," but he did not "want to distract from the draft because the draft is all about football and the future Browns." Haslam yesterday also rejected the "notion of discord in the team's front office during the draft.” He said, "It was great to see it. And it wasn't all agreement. There was a lot of disagreement, a lot of conversation going back and forth. I'm very excited about the draft we had." In addition, Haslam reiterated that the Browns "will be improved, but perhaps not ready to contend in 2013.” He said, "We'll have a better football team this year. (But) we're going to do this the right way. It's not going to happen overnight. You don't go from winning 14 games in three years to winning 14 games in one year" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/8). In Canton, Todd Porter reports officials with the NFF offered to take Haslam "through a side door just before he was to appear on the stage and deliver the keynote speech.” But Haslam “wasn’t hiding.” Instead, he “walked through the front doors at LeCentre Banquet Facility, just like everyone else.” Porter writes Haslam “seems to be trying to take a hands-on approach to addressing his business problems” (Canton REPOSITORY, 5/8).
FRONT & CENTER: In Akron, Nate Ulrich writes there likely is "no member of an NFL organization ... more important than its owner, and many Browns fans aren’t sure whether Haslam can practice what he’s preaching.” Haslam did not take questions from reporters yesterday, and he "sounded as if he’s not worried about his status as owner of the Browns.” Despite Haslam’s “uncertain future, he also vowed to keep a promise he first made last summer when he struck a deal to buy the Browns.” He said, “I pledge to you we’re going to do everything we possibly can to bring a winner to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio because this area deserves it” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/8). The AP's Tom Withers noted Haslam plans to “return to Cleveland later this week, when the team will hold a minicamp for rookies and undrafted free agents” (AP, 5/7).
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer should "take the high road and be gracious" after they indicated they were still exploring their options with regard to acquiring the Kings and moving them to Seattle, according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson said of Hansen and Ballmer, "Once the relocation committee spoke as loud and as clear as it did, I would probably take a step back and understand that I'm probably not going to get this team, so how can I put Seattle in the best possible position to get a team moving forward?" He added that he would "travel to Dallas next week, when the full NBA board of governors is expected to take a final vote on whether to approve the Maloof family's sale of the Kings to Hansen and Ballmer -- or to a Sacramento group led by Silicon Valley software exec Vivek Ranadive" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/8). In Seattle, Jerry Brewer wrote NBA Commissioner David Stern would have "loved" for Hansen, Ballmer and their "investor dream team to put their heads down and walk away after the recommendation went public." Hansen instead is "quoting Muhammad Ali and intending to exhaust his 'options' to bring the NBA back to the Puget Sound." Brewer: "If the risk is alienating the league in perpetuity, so be it." Seattle "played nice five years ago in the hopes of getting a team back quickly, and it's not like that turned Stern into an advocate." Still, it is a "false notion that Seattle's hopes would be forever ruined if it challenges the NBA on this Kings sale." It is "time to fight because this is a perfect storm of a fantastic potential ownership group, a supportive local political climate, a re-energized fan base, sensible arena deal and an unprecedented offer to the NBA." If this "investor dream team doesn't win, there's no telling when the city will have an opportunity again" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/7).
RANADIVE'S GAMBLE: ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst wrote the "revelation" that Ranadive had agreed to lessen the Kings' revenue-sharing allotments while the team still plays in Sleep Train Arena and forgo them once they build a new arena "helps explain why owners on the league's relocation committee appeared to pass on what had looked like a better long-term financial situation by moving the team to the larger Seattle market." It was a "shrewd, if quite expensive, card to put on the table as owners were making the challenging decision of what to do with the team." A source said that Ranadive "made the offer after a study projected a strong increase in team revenues once a new arena is opened" (ESPN.com, 5/6).
Former AFL Chicago Rush Owner David Staral Jr. yesterday said that his past legal issues, which include three felony convictions, a pending Chapter 7 bankruptcy and an incident leaving him on probation for theft, had "nothing to do with what he says was his decision to 'walk away' from the team last week," according to Janssen & Gruen of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. He added that he "never expected his criminal background to be a big problem in owning" the team. Staral said he "never lied" about his background during negotiations to buy the team in February, but added "nobody ever asked" about it. Janssen & Gruen report Staral's record includes "benefit fraud and two convictions for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a former employer." He "refused to discuss the specifics of his fallout with the league, which he said was covered by a confidentiality agreement" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/8). In Chicago, Robert Channick notes among Staral's "first moves was paying $50,000 to secure the Allstate Arena for the first two home games." Allstate Arena GM Pat Nagle said that trouble "began when the next $50,000 check to secure the team's third and fourth home games bounced." Staral said that "weak attendance contributed to his difficulties, along with sponsorships and investment partners that failed to materialize." But Nagle said that Staral's financial history was "something league officials should have known about." Meanwhile, Channick notes the Rush are under league control. That is a "familiar position" for the team, as the league "ran the Rush last season after the team's previous owners abandoned it in 2011." Testarossa Entertainment Owner Julee White in November bought the team for $1M, but lasted "only two months with an undercapitalized ownership group" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/8).
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz yesterday said that the Arizona Rattlers' game in Chicago on May 19 "will be played." Kurz: "Nothing has been canceled. Arizona is coming in for a game at AllState. The team is not going away. The season will be played. We never not put out a game in Chicago." Kurz added that he "feels the league will prosper and get through the Rush ownership ordeal." Kurz: "The Rush never missed a game. No player has missed a paycheck. No player will miss a paycheck. No player in the history of the league has ever missed a paycheck. And it won’t start now" (AZCENTRAL.com, 5/7).
In DC, Adam Kilgore noted fans holding tickets to last night’s postponed Tigers-Nationals game can "use them only for Thursday’s makeup, a change in policy that rankled many Nationals fans as the team explained it as a consequence of higher attendance." Many ticket holders were "concerned they would not be able to attend a 4:05 p.m. weekday game after planning to go to a night game two days earlier." The Nationals in the past have "allowed fans with individual tickets to rained-out games to exchange them for any future ticket, subject to availability, of equal or lesser price." But the team last night announced “no exchanges or refunds will be issued” for tickets not included in season plans (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/7).
GROUP LOVE: On Long Island, Ivan Pereira notes Groupon as of yesterday was listing Yankees tickets "for weekday home games against the Indians and Mariners for $22, down from their $48 face value." Groupon Head of Consumer PR Tim DeClaire said that the site has had a partnership with MLB since '09 and has "worked with 13 teams to sell tickets so far this year." He added that the Yankees "didn't put up tickets on Groupon until June 13 last year" (NEWSDAY, 5/8).
PRICE CHECK, AISLE ONE: In Boston, Gary Remal notes with the end of the Red Sox' sellout streak, Fenway Park sponsor Stop & Shop is "offering its customers something they might have thought impossible to come by in months and years past: half-price BoSox tickets for nine home games against the Twins, Indians and Rangers over the coming five weeks." Red Sox Senior VP/Corporate Partnerships Troup Parkinson "denied that the Stop & Shop program was a Red Sox 'Hail Mary' to fill seats, instead calling it an offer to build loyalty with store customers that probably was planned long before the season’s first pitch" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/8).
The Suns yesterday hired Celtics Assistant GM Ryan McDonough as GM, making the 33-year-old the NBA's "second youngest GM." McDonough was chosen over Bucks Assistant GM Jeff Weltman and Spurs Assistant GM Scott Layden after "convincing interviews last week" in Phoenix and Monday in N.Y. Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said that McDonough “complements his skills and age for the department he runs.” Babby described him “as dynamic, positive and naturally communicative, traits that were not equated internally with his fired predecessor, Lance Blanks" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/8).
MONEY MATTERS: In New York, George Root III writes the reason that Sabres Owner Terry Pegula keeps GM Darcy Regier is “because Regier has learned how to keep the seats filled while still showing a profit.” The NHL, “just like any other sports league, is a business.” Pegula can “say that he doesn’t care if he loses money with the Sabres, but he has found out the hard way that it matters a lot.” Root: “When you see your $100+ million investment lose value at a rapid rate, you will do what you need to do to reverse that and get some stability back into the company.” That is “exactly what Pegula is doing right now.” He is “stabilizing his investment and Darcy has a long history of being successful with that” (Lockport UNION-SUN & JOURNAL, 5/8).
TROLLEY TOUR: C&M Marketing Services yesterday “announced plans for a new trolley ride tour along the Packers Heritage Trail, a collection of historic sites associated with the team’s early years.” The trail was “established last year as a walking tour that includes such sites as Curly Lambeau’s office and Vince Lombardi’s church.” Weather permitting, the tours also “will be scheduled around Packers home games in the fall” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 5/8).