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The NHL, Renaissance Sports & Entertainment and city of Glendale yesterday held "preliminary talks to establish a framework for further negotiations on a Jobing.com Arena lease agreement," according to Craig Morgan of FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com. The "real work will commence on the lease in the coming days, and it will start with a meeting between" Acting City Manager Dick Bowers and RSE, the ownership group headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc that has a Coyotes purchase agreement with the NHL, "as soon as it can be scheduled." That meeting will "help form the structure of what an arena lease would look like, and it will be up to the city and RSE to reach such an agreement." The NHL "essentially handed off responsibilities after Tuesday’s meetings and has no scheduled plans to be further involved in the negotiations, other than in a support role." At issue still is the "cost of managing the arena." The city earlier this spring "sought bids from management firms interested in operating the arena." The deadline for submission of those bids "is Friday for both Coyotes owners and non-Coyotes owners." The city has $6M "budgeted annually, while RSE is believed to be seeking between" $13-15M annually (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 5/28). In Phoenix, Paul Giblin reports NHL execs yesterday told Glendale officials that they will "keep the team in Arizona, provided they can agree to a deal concerning Jobing.com Arena." Both sides have "just a few weeks to reach a decision to meet their own internal target dates." NHL execs are "nearing important milestones, in late June, to release the 2013-14 season schedule." Knowing where the Coyotes will play next season "would ease that process." Glendale officials are "working to complete the municipal budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1." RSE has to "complete the purchase of the team from the NHL." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to "specify the price of the pending sale" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/29).
The NBA BOG yesterday "unanimously approved" the Kings' sale to the group led by Vivek Ranadive, "essentially ending the Maloof family's turbulent tenure as Kings owners," according to a front-page piece by Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Experts said that the "peaceful conclusion to a battle that has lasted since January was a tribute to the NBA's skillful navigation through the process -- a result of lessons learned during previous, bloodier disputes over franchise control." The NBA was able to "snuff out the possibility of legal challenges, despite speculation that the Maloofs or their prospective business partners in Seattle were going to sue the league if they didn't get their way." The sale process is "expected to be completed" on Friday. The Maloofs in addition to the $236M payout from the Ranadive group will receive a $30M "nonrefundable deposit from" former Kings bidders hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. A source said that the Maloofs are "keeping that deposit even though the Seattle deal has died." Hansen said, "It's just not decided. … It's just a negotiation. How hard do you press for it without suing somebody? I'm just not interested in litigation." Hansen added, "Do you really think suing the NBA would be the best route to get a team back here? I don't think getting in a protracted legal bout is going to solve anything" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29).
GOING GLOBAL: In California, Lisa Liddane noted Raj Manufacturing Owner Raj Bhathal is "one of the investors in a consortium to buy a majority stake in the Kings." Bhathal said, "After soccer, basketball is the largest global sport and, in our opinion, the sport that has the best growth prospects. We believe that basketball will be the leading American sport of the 21st century. Basketball is global, multicultural and talent-driven." Bhathal said that one of his roles will be to "spearhead the international committee for the Kings, with the long-term goal of increasing the team's global visibility, including in Ranadive and Bhathal's native India." Bhathal said that he has seen the "untapped opportunities firsthand" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/25).
END OF THE ROAD: In Sacramento, Jason Jones reported Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie, whose contract "expires at the end of June," was told last Thursday he would "not be brought back." Ranadive is expected to "use his connections as a minority owner with the Warriors to help fill openings with the Kings." Potential candidates "to replace Petrie" are Warriors Assistant GM & Dir of Player Personnel Travis Schlenk and ESPN's Chris Mullin (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29). Also in Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes it would take an "arena full of therapists to determine whether Petrie's ineffectiveness was due to the crumbling of the Maloofs' financial empire." Petrie's tenure "began with a rush, could have and should have included an NBA championship in 2002, and ended with a massive thud and a near-simultaneous departure with the Maloofs" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29).
RETURN OF THE QUEENS? Voisin wrote "not that the Ranadive group needs a nudge," but the WNBA Monarchs were "prominent and present throughout" a parade last Thursday celebrating the Kings staying in Sacramento. Voisin: "This is strictly me talking. But the WNBA will be back. The Monarchs will be born again. Not next month or next season and, realistically, probably not until the new sports and entertainment complex opens in 2016." The incoming Kings owners "love their daughters, love the fact their daughters are devoted and accomplished hoopsters, and because the WNBA adds dates to the calendar and bodies in the new building." Ranadive "evaded the topic and pleaded for patience" when asked directly about a WNBA team. Voisin noted he "previously pursued a WNBA franchise for the South Bay" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/26).
The Angels and the city of Anaheim have "opened negotiations on a deal that would keep the team in town -- and in a newly renovated stadium -- into the next decade and beyond," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. That the two sides have "made it to the bargaining table is a tribute to the burial of an expensive hatchet." When Angels Owner Arte Moreno "slapped a Los Angeles label on the team eight years ago, the city of Anaheim sued." Moreno "won, but not before he spent $8 million to defend himself." But since then, the city and team "worked together to bring the All-Star game and World Baseball Classic to Anaheim." City Mayor Tom Tait said, "It makes sense to move along, to put the past in the past and work for the future. Why wouldn't we want a good relationship with the Angels? We certainly value them tremendously in our city." In the decade that Moreno has owned the Angels, the team's charitable foundation "has donated more than $3 million, primarily to organizations in Anaheim and surrounding communities." Tait said of Moreno, "I think his heart is in the city." The Angels can "leave the city after the 2016 season, in accordance with the terms of the Angel Stadium lease." City officials declined to discuss the negotiations, and the Angels "simply confirmed them." As negotiators for the Angels and the city work toward an agreement, Tait is the "pivotal figure in getting any deal past the City Council." But, as Angel Stadium turns 50 in '16, it is "nice to envision a birthday celebration rather than a somber farewell" (L.A. TIMES, 5/25).
MONEY FOR NOTHING: The L.A. TIMES' Shaikin wrote of the Angels and Dodgers' on-field struggles, "You can almost hear the heartland owners, laughing at the L.A. teams falling on their moneyed faces." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said, "I'm sure of that, because I used to say that." The Dodgers have MLB's largest payroll in history and are in last place, while the Angels spent $375M on RF Josh Hamilton and 1B Albert Pujols and have a losing record "even after winning their eighth consecutive game Sunday." Angels President John Carpino in an e-mail said that the franchise takes "a long-term view" and added that the club "continually modifies its seven- and 10-year business plans." But Shaikin wrote the team "appears to have bumped up against its spending limit." Meanwhile, the Dodgers "might operate above the luxury tax this year, and for a few years to come, but Kasten said that is not part of the long-term business plan." Kasten: "We understand that you can't win by just writing checks. For us, in our market, with this fan base, we felt it was something we needed to do for now. But it is not our long-term strategy. Our long-term strategy is one you might recognize from my history." Shaikin wrote if the Dodgers and Angels "do not sell out their four games this week, that is a referendum on what they got for their money, not whether they should spend it" (L.A. TIMES, 5/27).
As Twitter continues gaining traction, the MLB teams “in whose backyard Twitter was founded have worked to harness its potential for marketing and fan engagement,” according to Matt Kawahara of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Giants Dir of Social Media Bryan Srabian said that when he started in ’10, the team’s Twitter account “had about 3,500 followers,” whereas it currently has over 430,000 followers. Srabian said, “One thing I've learned is how social media is that two-way conversation. Obviously we're going to answer as many questions as we can. But for me the important part is listening to fans.” Srabian noted that the Giants “plan to hold a social media night on July 26 and give away a ‘Marco Scutaro rain globe’” -- a concept “posited on Twitter by a fan.” The Giants also plan to open a social media café “in what used to be a Build-A-Bear workshop in center field.” Srabian: “Worst-case scenario, it'll be a place to get a cup of coffee and charge your phone.” Meanwhile, A’s Marketing & Advertising Manager Amy MacEwen said that the club uses social media to “engage and ‘activate’ fans.” MacEwan said that prior to a giveaway next month involving a gnome in the image of P Grant Balfour, the club will “hide ‘giant gnome posters’ around the area and tweet clues to their locations.” MacEwan: “We value reach a lot. When our followers start retweeting, they're becoming brand ambassadors." Both Srabian and MacEwan said that their respective teams “don't pressure players to use Twitter, though they recognize the appeal for fans.” The A’s “often ask fans inside the Coliseum to post pictures of their view or food.” A’s Senior Manager of Digital Marketing Travis LoDolce said that the club has “tweeted in-game photos of concessions stands with no lines and watched as fans flocked to that stand” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/26).TOP MLB TEAMS ON TWITTER AS OF MAY 28RANKTEAMFOLLOWERS1Yankees903,5162Phillies761,2983Red Sox471,6034Giants430,2575Cubs241,69422A's114,533
BAY WATCH: In S.F., Ann Killion wrote the A’s-Giants rivalry “would be more intriguing if both teams really hated each other or mocked each other, but we have to leave that to the front offices.” The truth is the Giants “don't think much about the A's, at least not while they're still safely ensconced in Oakland.” And the A's “enjoy hosting the Giants because they are guaranteed a big crowd every time.” A’s C Derek Norris said, “When there's 13 people in the stands and you get a big hit and you hear the claps in the dugout, it doesn't really encourage you. When we pack the house, we feed off of that." Though the A's "aren't selling out regularly, there is some carryover from last season's theatrics.” The A's are “drawing better than they did a year ago, when they had managed only one sellout before hosting the Giants” during interleague play in late June (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/28).