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SBD/May 23, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
It will come as “no surprise to Yankees fans or to followers of MLS" that former Red Bulls and EPL club Manchester City MF Claudio Reyna was named New York City FC's Football Dir, but the appointment has “raised eyebrows, not least since it means handing Reyna responsibility for building a competitive team from scratch, despite having never previously served as a team executive at any level or in any capacity,” according to Jonathan Clegg of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Reyna in some respects is “an obvious choice to lead the team.” A New Jersey native, he “captained the U.S. national team at two World Cups ... and most recently served as U.S. Soccer's youth technical director” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/23). ESPN FC’s Roger Bennett wrote Reyna was “one of a handful of men who would have fit the bill, but none could be more perfect.” Reyna said, "This is the area I grew up in but when I take a step back and remember where the sport was when I came of age when, frankly, it was not relevant at any level, and look where it is now -- big youth to pros for men and women -- I realize New York City FC is going to add one huge level onto all the work done by so many people over the past four decades." Still, the “jump from being a creative midfielder for Manchester City to helping them build a club from scratch is a huge one.” Reyna admitted the task is "daunting." Reyna also hinted “at what he hopes may be some of New York FC's perceived advantages.” He said, "Every player I ever met during my career loves New York City. We hope we can attract non-Designated Players of quality who want to spend time in the city and in MLS and experience the growth of our club" (ESPNFC.com, 5/22).
HOUSE HUNTING: In N.Y., Ken Belson notes the “next and far larger task will be to find a new home for the team, which expects to begin playing in 2015 at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field or another temporary home.” MLS and N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that a “roughly 10-acre area in the eastern end of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is an ideal site for a stadium.” Yankees President Randy Levine, who is the club’s point person in the partnership with Man City, said that both clubs would “assess the proposed site for the stadium in Queens, but look elsewhere if needed, including at locations not previously considered and at private property.” Levine added that the Mets, who have “demanded a hefty share of parking revenue for use of the lots at Citi Field, are not an impediment to reaching a deal for a stadium” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23).
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: GOAL.com’s Kyle McCarthy wrote the “mooted" $100M deal to create NYC FC "combines limitless resources with political capital, a mixture that will prove helpful as this new club attempts to build a stadium and captivate a city.” MLS in its “pursuit of general acceptance in a still skeptical landscape veers toward the unseemly at times, but it is not one iota misplaced here.” The right club in N.Y. can “aid those endeavors significantly and plot an improved and more expansive course for the future.” McCarthy: “For better or for worse, the Red Bulls have failed in their attempts to chart that path over the past few years. The absentee owners in Austria still plunge ample funds into their advertisement-cum-soccer club to capture attention and receive a return on their investment, but their considerable expenditures cannot fix the location of the stadium (a hindrance to city dwellers who shudder at the thought of taking the PATH out to Harrison), the seemingly perpetual mismanagement or the star-crossed history of a team still yet to lift its first significant title.” NYC FC must “take advantage of its inherent strengths -- its operating and political capital, plus its ties to one of the strongest sides in England -- to hit the ground running and vanquish any thoughts of potentially catastrophic failure or underachievement.” Hurdles, miscalculations and missteps “often prove costly in the competitive New York environment” (GOAL.com, 5/22).
QUESTIONS REMAIN: In N.Y., Brian Lewis wrote there is “no doubt the Bombers know the city and Manchester City knows the game; but the marriage leaves a host of questions unanswered, both athletic and ethical.” Lewis wondered, “Will Manchester City and the big-spending Bombers be able to build a winner in the salary-cap MLS? With Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s notoriously poor human rights record, will the league be judged by the company it keeps?” Levine said of Mansour, “Before we get involved with any partner, we make sure they understand we have zero tolerance (for bigotry). We’re confident” (NYPOST.com, 5/22). In N.Y., Joe Anuta writes the odds that NYC FC "will scrap plans for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park are more likely than official announcements have indicated.” MLS has spent “more than a year" and nearly $2M on lobbyists to "lay the groundwork for a 13-acre stadium proposed on top of a non-working fountain in the park, which was touted by the Bloomberg administration but met with vehement opposition by Queens parks groups” (Queens TIMES LEDGER, 5/23).
DOUBLE TROUBLE? MLS Commissioner Don Garber yesterday said that the rivalry between the Red Bulls and NYC FC will "benefit the league.” Garber said, “We're going to have a good thing going on: Two teams trying to be the king of the New York region.” He added, “It will make everyone work harder. We'll have some challenges as we always do, but we have challenges every day. This is one we'll turn into an opportunity.” Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said that he is “excited to face ‘a true rival’ when the club takes the field in 2015.” Petke said, "They’re the new guys coming in and I’m looking forward to smashing them in 2015, to be honest with you" (NJ.com, 5/22). However, in Columbus, Michael Arace writes a new MLS franchise in “America’s largest market can only add to MLS’ legitimacy -- if it works, and that’s is not a lead-pipe cinch.” NYC FC might be “well-funded by a collection of smart sportsmen, but the bid came together only when the Yankees signed on last week,” and club officials have “much yet to calculate” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/23).
BEHIND THE SCENES: AM LAW DAILY’s Brian Baxter reported Levine, Yankees COO Lonn Trost and Yankees Senior VP & CFO Anthony Bruno “took the lead on behalf of the team in the negotiations” that brought about NYC FC. Herrick, Feinstein LLP Chair Irvin Kishner also is “advising the Yankees on the agreement with Man City.” Akin Gump partner Trey Muldrow III also “advised the Yankees," while a team of lawyers from Shearman & Sterling “advised Mansour and his Abu Dhabi investment group.” Paul Hastings LLP real estate attorney Martin Edelman has “taken the lead counseling Man City.” Fried Frank LLP attorneys Stephen Lefkowitz, Richard Leland, and Tal Golomb, Jacob Feldman and David Gest are “leading a team from the firm advising MLS on all aspects of the project, with a particular focus on obtaining the land use and environmental approvals necessary for building on city parkland.” Proskauer Rose, a “longtime legal adviser” to MLS, has been counseling the league “on its expansion efforts and move into Manhattan" through attorneys Jonathan Oram, Alan Parnes, Jennifer Paine and Bradley Shron (AMERICANLAWYER.com, 5/22).
STILL NEED TO CONVERT SOME: WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa made it clear he was not that enthusiastic about the Yankees-Man City MLS partnership during his show Tuesday. Following a promo for YES Network's coverage of yesterday's press conference, Francesa asked, "The Yankees have a press conference tomorrow at 10:00 about what? ... Is that that Manchester United thing?! Oh, who cares! Oh my god, the last thing I care about is the Yankees owning a soccer team. I couldn't care less. I don’t care what team it is, where it is, I could care less what soccer team they own. That doesn’t interest me. You couldn’t get me involved in that if my life depended on it. I couldn’t care less!" ("Francesa," WFAN-AM, 5/21).
Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III, whose Pilot Flying J trucking company remains involved in a federal investigation, apologized “for any damage done to the NFL brand,” according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. Haslam at the NFL owners meetings this week “addressed his fellow owners for about five minutes.” His appearance “wasn't on the agenda,” but Haslam “asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell if he could speak to the group.” Haslam after the meeting said, "I thought it was important. We're partners in the NFL. I wanted to address them face-to-face." By the accounts of “three owners and another key team executive,” Haslam "scored major points in strengthening his NFL ties.” Sources at the meeting felt Haslam “seemed sincere in maintaining that he wasn't personally involved in the scheme.” Haslam outlined some of the “internal measures he has undertaken with Pilot Flying J, which include an audit review and the hiring of a compliance officer.” He also offered to “speak additionally in private about his issues with any owners who wanted further explanation.” Steelers President Art Rooney II said, "He doesn't want to bring any embarrassment on to fellow owners" (USA TODAY, 5/22). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted Haslam is "doing everything he can to wall off" Pilot Flying J from the Browns. But if the situation "unfolds badly for Jimmy Haslam and he ends up being indicted, then you could see some disruption at the top of the organization." Florio: "The challenge is to keep it from trickling down to the football operation. We're still months away from any type of resolution there. Until then, they just go forward with the football team and try to improve" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 5/22).
A BANNER YEAR: Browns CEO Joe Banner said of working with Haslam, “He gives me a degree of independence and trust, but at the same time I talk to him every day and he asks all the right questions. He's here regularly and makes us better through his insights and smarts. … He's got an infectious optimism about him, so it's a perfect situation from my perspective.” Banner added of how the federal investigation affects team business, “There's no impact other than as we've grown to know him and his family, and we care about him. It's just hard to see him go through it. But as far as the operation of the team? No impact." CBSSPORTS.com’s Clark Judge wrote Banner is “unfazed” by the team’s current situation. Banner insisted that things “can ... and will ... change ‘pretty quickly.’" Banner said of uniform changes for the Browns, "We promise that the helmet won't change. We promise the new look will respect the history. We're going to do a lot of focus groups. We're not going to put something out there that we haven't done a lot of research on. It's not going to be anything radical, I can guarantee that. But it will be new, forward looking and energetic. It will reflect what we want the franchise to be" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/22).
NBA Kings officials yesterday said that the club's sales staff "sold more season tickets on Tuesday than on any other day in Sacramento team history, other than day one, nearly 30 years ago," according to Lillis & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Kings PR Dir Chris Clark said that the team "has a policy of not releasing specific ticket sales counts," but noted that requests were "coming in every few seconds after the team officially opened sales Tuesday morning." The Kings also announced that seven members of the new ownership group -- including Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive -- are "scheduled to attend the free Long Live the Kings Rally" tonight (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/23).
YOUR NAME HERE: Kings Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Jeff David said that the organization has "received calls from companies that want to get together to talk possibilities" for a naming-rights deal for the Kings' proposed downtown arena. He added that the inquiries are from "serious companies." In Sacramento, Kelly Johnson wrote Sleep Train Founder & CEO Dale Carlsen, whose company currently has naming rights to the Kings arena, a few days ago "wasn't ready to indicate whether the employee-owned company might want to get its name on the new arena" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/22).
In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger notes the Canucks yesterday fired coach Alain Vigneault, so now it "all falls on the lap" of President & GM Mike Gillis, who "could -- if the team doesn't improve, should -- be the next one to go." It is Gillis who "ultimately dropped the axe on Vigneault." Zeisberger: "The spotlight now shifts solely to Gillis. As it should" (TORONTO SUN, 5/23).
GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH: In Detroit, Bill Shea noted Red Wings fans are "selling their playoff tickets for more money than they did for earlier games in this round, but they're going for less of a premium in Detroit than in Chicago." TiqIQ Senior Dir of Data & Communications Chris Matcovich said that the average home ticket price "on the resale market for this round in Detroit is $234.31, which is nearly 25 percent below the entire series average of $311.70." He added that the "most expensive ticket available at 20,066-seat Joe Louis Arena now is $1,300." Face value of the playoff tickets "is $62 to $227" for games at the arena (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 5/22).
SUCCESS EQUALS SALES: The AP's Rusty Miller noted the Blue Jackets after "playing the best hockey in franchise history down the stretch ... have enjoyed an upsurge at the box office in recent weeks." The team said that it has seen a 13% "improvement in season-ticket renewals from one year ago, when the Blue Jackets were coming off perhaps their worst season in the NHL and sold around 7,000 season tickets." The team has sold "almost 1,000 new season-ticket plans including fans who upgraded to larger packages" (AP, 5/21).
SECOND FIDDLE: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes under the header, "New York Is No Hockeytown." N.Y. treats the Rangers "the way ESPN treats the NHL." Among winter/spring sports, "basketball rules in this town, even if the local team was eliminated five days ago." The N.Y. tabloids "have been full of Knick stuff this week." It is "impossible to have a hockey culture in New York City." The people who "live and work here did not grow up breathing Zamboni fumes." N.Y. can "never be Toronto, Detroit ... or Boston" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/23).