SBD/June 13, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday during his state of the league address hinted that the future of the Coyotes "could be decided by the end of June," but he "refused to provide a drop-dead date" for the decision, according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Bettman said, "There is a Board of Governors meeting on June 27 and a (Glendale) City Council meeting on June 25. Stuff is going to happen." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "indicated the plan was to release a schedule in July." Bettman said that the NHL "prefers to keep the team in Glendale and believes the franchise would be viable with proper ownership." But he said that the league is "running out of time." He added that he "doesn't like franchise relocation because of the impact it has on fans, cities and businesses that have supported the team" (USA TODAY, 6/13). Daly said that if "nothing was resolved soon, 'it certainly means that it’s possible that the team won’t play there next year.'" Bettman said that he was "worried that the city of Glendale would have to 'board up' Jobing.com Arena if the Coyotes moved." He added that the "phone had been ringing from other cities eager to host a relocated Coyotes club, although he declined to confirm whether Quebec City and Seattle, believed to be the strongest candidates, were among them" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13). Meanwhile, FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's A.J. Perez noted Bettman "didn’t deny that the Coyotes ... could go on hiatus." Bettman said, “There are a myriad of options. Obviously we'll have lots of choices, options and decisions. At the time, if we get to that point, and hopefully we won't, then we'll focus on which one is the best" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/12).
EXPLORING OTHER OPTIONS: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote the league would "prefer to keep the team in Glendale for reasons that almost nobody can fathom, but the behind-the-scenes work that could see the Coyotes move is furious at the moment." Unless AltaCorpCapital Chair & CEO and potential Coyotes owner George Gosbee can "come up with a deal that will pay them somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million a year from a city that is deeply in debt, the Coyotes will move in time for the 2013-14 season." If the Coyotes move, "speculation is they will relocate to Seattle for a variety of reasons." Moving to Seattle would "keep the Coyotes in the west and maintain the integrity of realignment." It also would "give the NHL an opportunity to get a foothold" in a potential $490M arena that was going to be built in Seattle before the city missed out on the NBA Kings. Speculation is that if Gosbee’s group "cannot come up with a suitable deal to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, Seattle then becomes a viable option." The team would "play out of the antiquated Key Arena in Seattle until the new arena is built." It would not be the "ideal situation, but it’s the best option at the moment." However, a source said that there are a "couple of kinks in that plan." The first is that Key Arena has "taken out its ice-making equipment and cemented over the chilling system in the floor." That would "leave the Tacoma Dome, which is about 30 miles south of Seattle, as a possibility." The other is that hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who is "building the new arena, is not a hockey fan" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 6/12).
TAKING BIDS: In Phoenix, Caitlin McGlade reports four bidders have "submitted proposals to manage Jobing.com Arena, a task that historically has been handled by the venue’s anchor tenant," the Coyotes. The bidders include a "couple of smaller, local events companies and two subsidiaries of other Valley sports teams," the NFL Cardinals and Suns. However, if city officials "struck an arena-management deal with a non-hockey firm, the city likely would lose the Coyotes, who have played at" the $220M arena since it opened in '03. Potential Coyotes owners, including Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, the NHL's "most recent selected buyer of the team, have sought arena management and the multimillion-dollar payment from the city that comes with it." The City Council is "expected to vote on an arena-management contract June 25, although the mayor and others this week said it isn’t a hard and fast deadline" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/13). Also in Phoenix, Paul Giblin reported Glendale City Council members "maneuvered around the state’s Open Meeting Law last week when they privately met" with NHL execs and potential buyers of the Coyotes who "outlined their desire to use and manage Jobing.com Arena" (AZCENTRAL.com, 6/12).
A key provision included in the previously unreleased sales agreement between former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and new Owner Guggenheim Baseball Management "makes clear that McCourt retains a critical role in determining whether the NFL returns" to L.A., according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt could "win either way: by luring the NFL to the Dodger Stadium site, or by pocketing $150 million if he cannot." The deal calls for Guggenheim to "invest as much as $650 million in a real estate development fund run by McCourt -- for projects not located on the Dodger Stadium property -- and for him to receive an annual management fee, starting at" $5.5M. The deal also guarantees McCourt at least $7M per year "in fees the Dodgers pay to rent the parking lots and grants him the option to sell back his stake in those lots to Guggenheim no later than" '17, for $150M. Alternatively, McCourt "could buy back part of the land for the construction of a sports venue." Although McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers as part of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court settlement with MLB, he was "not required to sell the surrounding land." MLB's concern is that the Dodgers' "parking and operational rights not be harmed by a new sports stadium." Guggenheim President & Dodgers co-Owner Todd Boehly confirmed that Guggenheim has "held preliminary discussions with the NFL." Boehly said that as of yesterday morning he was "not sure if the NFL had been informed of the previously undisclosed terms regarding McCourt's involvement." He said, "I don't believe the NFL has all the details at this point. It hasn't gotten to that level of discussion. We haven't hidden the fact that it is us together." Boehly added that he "had 'no idea' what effect Wednesday's disclosure would have on discussions with the NFL, but said the league never has indicated to Guggenheim that McCourt's involvement would make the Dodger Stadium site a nonstarter" (L.A. TIMES, 6/13).
The Pirates "resumed using metal-detecting wands to screen fans entering PNC Park" for last night's game against the Giants, one night after the new procedure "resulted in significant delays getting into the park," according to Karen Price of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. In an effort to "reduce fans' wait times, the team increased the number of staffers using wands and entry corrals to organize the lines, though it was unclear how many more staffers and corrals were employed." The team "abandoned the wanding plan Tuesday after lines wrapped around the ballpark even after the game had started" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/13). In Pittsburgh, Jacob Axelrad wrote the Pirates' "solution to what team president Frank Coonelly called an 'unacceptable' experience of long waits and late entrances to PNC Park after metal-detecting wands were deployed Tuesday night: Show up earlier." A team statement released yesterday "mentioned that 'adjustments' have been made in staffing security procedures and personnel," but Pirates Senior Communications Dir Brian Warecki "declined to say what they were" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 6/12). In Pennsylvania, John Perrotto writes it is “hard to fault any professional team for adding security in light of the terrorist attacks in Boston and the fear of something on an even larger scale occurring at a sporting event.” But it also is the teams’ "responsibility to make the security screenings as reasonable and smooth as possible and keep the line moving.” Pirates officials “should have known Tuesday was not the right time to start the wanding.” Having P Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the '11 draft, make his MLB debut Tuesday “should have signaled to anyone with a modicum of either common sense or baseball sense that the debut would create a much larger-than-normal weekend crowd” (BEAVER COUNTY TIMES, 6/13).
The South Florida SUN-SENTINEL reported the NHL Panthers were "offering a limited number of discounted 2013-14 season-tickets and other perks to coincide" with last night's Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final Game 1. Panthers VP/Communications & Public Affairs Matt Sacco said that the "44-game package for $7 a game is available for 500 seats in various locations in the 400 level of the BB&T Center." The deal includes "parking, a Panthers jersey and a ticket to four concerts in a concert series for season-ticket holders" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 6/12).
SNAKES ON A PLANE: D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall and a group of 30 team employees this week "embarked on a five-day trip to the Dominican Republic." Hall yesterday "hosted a dedication ceremony" for a field in Boca Chica that the team "recently renovated with new grass, improved irrigation, new dugouts, a rebuilt seating area with new concrete foundation and new bathrooms" (ARIZONASPORTS.com, 6/12).
WISH UPON A STAR: YAHOO SPORTS' Doug Farrar reported eight-year-old Lateef Brock, who was "born with chronic kidney disease," attended Redskins practice Tuesday through the Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brock "got to hang out in the locker room with [RB Alfred Morris] and his teammates, got a few punting tips from Sav Rocca, tried on London Fletcher's very large helmet, and enjoyed a private passing tutorial with Robert Griffin III" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/12). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Greg Johns reported four-year-old Sophia Robinson through the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Monday at Safeco Field "was greeted by several Mariners players." P Felix Hernandez "wound up down on his hands and knees building dirt piles with her as the two got to know each other" before the team's game against the Astros (MLB.com, 6/12).