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SBD/May 16, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The NBA BOG yesterday by a 22-8 vote "killed a 5-month-old deal" between the Maloofs and a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle, meaning Sacramento is "keeping its Kings after all," according to a front-page piece by Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The decision "represents a huge victory for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who led the city's come-from-behind effort that seemed a few months ago to have little or no chance against a well-financed Seattle deal." NBA Commissioner David Stern following the vote said, "It was advantage incumbent. This wasn't an anti-Seattle vote, this was a pro-Sacramento vote." Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis report a "major issue remains unresolved," as the Maloofs "have not yet agreed to sign a backup offer from the Sacramento investor group" led by Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadive. Team co-Owner George Maloof after the vote insisted "there's no pressure on us" to sell the team. But Stern said that he "will personally push for a deal to be signed by the end of this week." A source said that attorneys between the two sides had been "talking 'seriously' throughout the day, even before" the NBA BOG voted. Johnson said that he "expects the two sides to negotiate around the clock in the coming days to pull a deal together" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/16). SPORTSPRESSNW.com's Art Thiel noted there was "no vote taken" yesterday on the sale of the team, including Hansen's backup offer for a 20% stake that he announced last Friday. But Stern said the sale agreement between the Seattle group and the Maloofs "ended effectively with the relocation vote" (SPORTSPRESSNW.com, 5/15).
SPIRITED DEBATE AROUND VOTE: USA TODAY's Sam Amick reports while the vote was "expected" following the relocation committee's recommendation not to move the team, it was "anything but a rubber-stamp style denial of the bid." A source said that there was "plenty of spirited debate on the topic, noting that the fact that it went nearly all four hours that were scheduled ... was an indication of the tone of the discussion" (USA TODAY, 5/16). NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "It was a wrenching decision for several of the owners. I don’t necessarily think 22-8 reflects the view of the league or those owners towards Seattle. I think ultimately the discussion was that is was not about a contest between the two cities, it was about whether or not Sacramento could continue to support an NBA franchise" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/15). Trail Blazers BOD member Peter McLoughlin, who represented Owner Paul Allen, afterward said that the Blazers were "one of the eight teams that voted in favor of the relocation." McLoughlin: "With Paul's ownership of the Seahawks and the [MLS] Sounders, and the fact that he lives in Seattle, and his relationship with Steve Ballmer, it was important for him to be supportive of Seattle -- as he always has been. He's always been wanting the NBA to return to Seattle, and always said it was a sad day when the NBA left" (NBA.com, 5/15).
MALOOFS' OPTIONS APPEAR LIMITED: NBA.com's David Aldridge reported Stern "made it clear his intention was for the Maloofs to sell outright to the Ranadive group." Stern said following the vote, "We think, that because the Maloofs have overall been very good for Sacramento and the Kings and the NBA, that they will be motivated to do something fast so that the franchise can get cranking, and we can hold the Mayor to his promises of support by ticket sales, season ticket sales, naming rights and sponsorships" (NBA.com, 5/15). ESPN.com's Marc Stein cited sources as saying that it has been "conveyed to the Maloofs that approval from fellow owners is unlikely at this point if they try to sell to a group other than Ranadive's." George Maloof "seemed to acknowledge that before leaving" the site of the meeting. He said, "I can pick who I sell to, but it's up to the owners" to approve any deal (ESPN.com, 5/15). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin notes Maloof yesterday "referred to the process as 'fair;' said legal action was a nonstarter; praised the commissioner and the committee for extensive work on the matter; confirmed the family's attorneys had been negotiating with Ranadive; and said that long before agreeing on a $341 million deal with the Hansen/Ballmer group in Seattle, unsuccessful attempts had been made to sell to investors intent on keeping the team in Sacramento." Maloof was later "asked why he never went public about a desire to sell to a local group." He responded, "That's not the way I do business" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/16).
EXPANSION'S EMERGENCE: Stern said that there "were no promises made to the Seattle group about a team in the future." However, Stern and Silver did indicate that "expansion could be an option later." In Seattle, Bob Condotta in a front-page piece reports Stern and Silver's comments on future expansion seemed to "soften their previous stance that adding teams was not in the cards." Silver said that the league "might take a more serious look at expansion after its current national TV contracts expire after the 2015-16 season." Condotta notes Hansen "did not speak to reporters afterward but released a statement through his sonicsarena.com website." He said he was “extremely disappointed" with the vote and believes his group "put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan.” He added he would "look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16). Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears said Hansen will get his "own brand-new franchise" after the new TV deal is done. Spears: "Just let it go, be patient and let the process happen." Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Jim Kozimor said, "This is just like in Charlotte. They lost their team, they eventually got a team back" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 5/15).
ARENA PLAN TO CONTINUE: In Seattle, Lynn Thompson in a front-page piece notes while the decision was a "blow to many of Seattle’s political leaders, they vowed to continue the environmental and economic reviews already under way for a new sports arena" in the city. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn noted that the agreement with Hansen to build a $490M arena is "good for five years, and that the city would continue to work with him to bring a professional basketball team back to Seattle" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Spears noted the fact the Seattle arena plan was not complete "was the problem" with the bid for the Kings. Spears: "Their arena was probably flimsier than the one in Sacramento" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 5/15).
SEATTLE SEETHES: In Seattle, Jerry Brewer writes the city "lost in the same way that a sparring partner loses to a boxer in training." It "wasn't a real fight, just an exhibition for the benefit of one." Hansen "really wasn't competing for the Kings," as Seattle "existed solely to be used to make Sacramento better in the NBA's eyes." Brewer: "For the past four months, we have been Stern's pawn. Now, we're back to being his punch line." The next time Seattle "plays with the NBA, it has to be a fair game that the city is capable of winning." That means it "has to be a game that Stern isn't overseeing." The Stern/Seattle relationship is "too toxic to bother mending" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16). In Tacoma, Dave Boling writes under the header, "Don't Let Door Hit You On Way Out, Commish." If the NBA "just came out and gave Hansen and the boys the expansion team they deserve, they could no longer be used as leverage. ... Don't you know there were a half-dozen owners in that meeting in Dallas thinking about their aging facilities, and taking notes on exactly how Sacramento used Seattle's robust bid to help them get into the taxpayer's pockets" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 5/16). SPORTSPRESSNW.com's Thiel wrote Stern spoke "like an insincere, unctuous monopolist," and Sacramento "no more deserved to lose the Kings than Seattle deserved to lose the Sonics" in '08. But the NBA "takes no responsibility; it merely takes advantage" (SPORTSPRESSNW.com, 5/15). Former Sonics F Shawn Kemp said that he "thought the NBA exploited the Seattle group ... to rally investors in Sacramento." Kemp: "It seems like we were used a little bit as leverage here in Seattle, and it feels that way, too. ... I felt like David kind of stuck it to us today" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16).
THE RIGHT MOVE IN THE END: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote "logic prevailed" with the vote because the "simple, reasonable thing to do was actually done. ... The incumbent won." Berger: "Just as it should have been." When an NBA city has "proven it can support a team, has made a compelling case that it can continue to support the team, has a credible plan for a new arena and a strong ownership group, it shouldn't lose out to a shinier city with richer potential owners just because money talks" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/15).
MLS Revolution Owner Robert Kraft has "come under fire recently," as many fans believe the club is Kraft's "second priority, rather than an equal investment" to the Patriots, according to Julian Cardillo of BOSTON.com. An anonymous preseason player survey conducted by SI's Grant Wahl also stated that the Krafts "are the league’s worst owners." Revolution President Brian Bilello said there is a "weird perception" with both the Krafts and the Hunt family, which owns the Crew and FC Dallas, because they both "have NFL sides as well." Bilello: “There’s a lot of great things about having the Krafts as owners. They’ve supported this league. They do things behind the scenes not just for the Revolution, but for the sport of soccer in this country.” Cardillo noted from a "standpoint of backing the league, few will argue against the Krafts involvement." They were "one of the original ownership groups" when MLS was founded and the Revolution have played since the inaugural season in '96. However, it "seems unlikely that the Krafts will spend Patriots player money for a Revolution player." Bilello "believes that having the backing of the Krafts is very positive for American soccer." Meanwhile, the "negative reputation" of the artificial turf field at Gillette Stadium could be "preventing them from signing a high-profile player." The state of the field kept Red Bulls F Thierry Henry "from playing on it this Saturday," while David Beckham and Antonio Valencia "decided not to play on the turf field in the past." Bilello indicated the Revolution are working on a new soccer-specific stadium, though he "still won’t comment on the status of the plan." Bilello: “We’ve been at it for six years and I’m confident about it. When you’re working with municipalities and cities it’s hard for us to necessarily control a timeline. Once we get our stadium project off the ground, a lot changes" (BOSTON.com, 5/13).
Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy and the team have been able to "accomplish all of their goals" after tallying a record $43M profit in '12 along with $64M raised in a recent stock sale, according to Paul Imig of FOX SPORTS WISCONSIN. The "most important" goal was to have enough money to make QB Aaron Rodgers the "highest-paid player in NFL history." The Packers also gave a $66M extension to LB Clay Matthews. Murphy said, "We want all decisions to be football decisions, not financial decisions. I think making sure we have the resources available (is important) so they can make decisions based strictly on football reasons." Imig noted without the "huge profit margin last year, Murphy still wouldn't have been too concerned about the team's financial flexibility to dish out such huge sums of cash." But for a team owned by the community that "doesn't have a rich Jerry Jones type of owner in place, it does add increased challenges when planning how to spend tens of millions of dollars in a short period of time." The Packers are also "midway through" a four-year, $286.5M Lambeau Field expansion project. Though Murphy has been able to "check off several major items from his agenda recently, he wants to make sure that he and his staff are looking for more ways to keep improving different aspects of the franchise." Murphy: "You always have to remain vigilant in making sure you're doing everything you can, so that, number one, the fans have a great experience and that we remain competitive. I think the next thing where you'll start to see some changes is in the whole concept of Titletown; some development around the stadium" (FOXSPORTSWISCONSIN.com, 5/14).
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Murphy during the team's annual Tailgate Tour said the Packers want retired QB Brett Favre "back in the family." Murphy last year said that the team would "like to retire" Favre's No. 4 jersey in the future. However, FOX SPORTS WISCONSIN's Imig noted Favre at the time "had no real connections with the Packers." Murphy: "It's got to be the right time for him and us. That (retiring Favre's jersey soon) will happen" (FOXSPORTSWISCONSIN.com, 5/14).
In Philadelphia, Bob Cooney notes the role of 76ers CEO Adam Aron has been “a subject of much speculation the past week, regarding whether his duties have changed.” It “never appeared as if Aron had anything to do with basketball decisions, meaning a say in free-agent signings, evaluating players or game-planning.” The hiring of President of Basketball Operations & GM Sam Hinkie "seems to further solidify the notion that Aron isn't directly involved in on-the-court decisions but is still totally entrenched in the business side of the organization” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/16).
DO THE DINOSAUR: In Vancouver, Michael Hobson wrote the “longer the Raptors decision-makers linger over whether to pick up the option” on team President & GM Bryan Colangelo’s contract, the “more damage they will do to their franchise not only from the performance standpoint on the court but from public perception as well.” The Raptors "want to take the necessary time to make the proper decision," but taking their time is not "doing anyone in the organization any good” (VANCOUVERSUN.com, 5/14).
OFFSIDE CALL: In L.A., Nick Green noted MLS last week "quickly denied" a report that the league had “assumed control of flailing Chivas USA for failing to fulfill league requirements.” But it seems that “such an eventuality -- or something similar -- is only a matter of time for a franchise rapidly becoming one of the worst marketing disasters in American sports.” Green: “Who would have thought Mexican owners could blow the marketing of a Mexican branded futbol club in the nation's top Latino market?” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/15).