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The City of Glendale on Friday "produced a counterproposal" to prospective Coyotes Owner Renaissance Sports & Entertainment’s arena-lease bid, according to Craig Morgan of FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com. The counterproposal "supersedes the proposal that was discussed by the council on Thursday" in preparation for a vote tomorrow. The changes include an "altered structure of parking revenue, altered language to prevent one side from suing the other over issues at the arena and an increase in the city’s percentage of naming rights" from 15% to 20%. But the "big one was Glendale’s call for a five-year out clause that mirrors RSE’s five-year out clause." If the city’s losses total $50M or more over that time period, it "wants the ability to walk away from the Coyotes." RSE spokesperson David Leibowitz said, "The city’s proposal for an out clause is a non-starter. The city must remove that and return to the initial framework of the deal that was already negotiated." Further "angering RSE was that it said its attorneys met with Glendale attorneys three weeks prior to Friday’s session, at which point the city raised the idea of an out clause for itself." Weiers and council members including Coyotes supporters Gary Sherwood and Manny Martinez said that they were "prepared to move forward with a vote on the new proposal, even though RSE will never accept it." Weiers: "We're going to vote on Tuesday. The only thing that might happen is they may come back and say, 'You know what, we were kidding. We really didn’t mean what we said,' and I sort of expect that’s exactly what they’re going to say." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail responded, "He can characterize it the way he wants, but it is what it is. We either get certainty in Glendale by July 2, or we immediately pursue our other options outside of Glendale" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/28).
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote it looks like Glendale officials have "made their bed of ice with the NHL and now they have no choice but to sleep on it." The "best news, at this hour, is that there has to be a decision." With the '13-14 NHL season about 100 days away, "imagine the chore ahead" of RLB Holdings if they "drop the franchise out of the Seattle sky later this week a scant three months before dropping the puck" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/30). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote, "Either way, there will be no closure. That’s just a myth." It is "not like there’s a line of people outside the door yearning to buy tickets, waiting for the moment this team secures some kind of short-term future in Glendale." If the Coyotes leave, it "doesn’t mean forever," it will "only sound like it." There will be a "probation period, for sure, a time for the NHL to frown down upon us like we’re some kind of failed partner." But somewhere "down the line, if someone figures out how to build an arena in Scottsdale, the NHL will undoubtedly return." Just "not on Gary Bettman’s watch" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/30).
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick decided late last week to release TE Aaron Hernandez if he were "to be arrested in connection with the murder in any way," but they "expected Hernandez to be arrested for obstruction of justice, and were 'taken aback' when he was charged with murder," according to a source cited by Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. The source said, "We had no inside knowledge. Did it matter to us? No. We were not going to have somebody on the team that’s close to a murder." Volin noted the Patriots will "carry significant cap charges for Hernandez over the next two years," but NFLPA records "show -- and the source confirmed -- that the team has voided all of Hernandez’s remaining guaranteed money," which totals $5.91M. But the Patriots believe that the NFL’s bylaws and CBA have "specific language about 'conduct detrimental to the best interests of professional football' that works in favor of them voiding all future payments to Hernandez, including an installment of his signing bonus." The source said, "It was guaranteed for skill and injury, but it wasn’t guaranteed for personal conduct that cast the club in a negative light, and that’s why we cut him. We know the CBA. We are well within our rights." The source also said that the team will "try to recoup previous bonus money awarded to Hernandez, though it could be tough given Hernandez’s significant legal fees" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/29).
PATRIOT WAY GONE ASTRAY? In Boston, Joan Vennochi wrote under the header, "Without Myra, The Patriots Lost Their Way." The "Patriot Way" was a play called by the late Myra Kraft "17 years ago -- and has been out of favor for a long time." The Patriots are "not alone in gambling on players with troubled histories," but what "sets them apart is their ability to sell a myth for as long as they did." It took "a bullet-riddled body ... to reveal the truth" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/30). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch wrote, “The famed Patriot Way is a pile of rubble now, the final blows applied this week by each mind-boggling allegation against Aaron Hernandez that came tumbling out” (N.Y. POST, 6/30). But the N.Y. TIMES' Greg Bishop wrote cutting ties with Hernandez was "not another example to debunk the so-called Patriot Way," but rather an "example of the Patriot Way at work." As the Patriots franchise became "an NFL power, its method of operation, the way it conducted business, became more than a slogan." The Patriot Way always was "less about moral fiber and upstanding citizenship and more about how players prepared for and played in actual football games." The Patriot Way "never left room for nostalgia, or misguided loyalty, or anything but decisions cold and calculated." To use Hernandez and the "to bolster an argument that the Patriots have lost their way is a dangerous stretch, a tenuous connecting of the dots." To say that because Hernandez "flunked at least one drug test while in college at Florida the Patriots could have in any way guessed or predicted that he would be accused of murder while on their roster is beyond any logic" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/29).
RETURN POLICIES: In Massachusetts, Mark Farinella noted the Patriots are "offering an exchange program in which fans who bought a replica Aaron Hernandez jersey from the Patriots ProShop can exchange it at no cost for any other player's replica jersey in the store at Patriot Place." The exchange offer involves Hernandez jerseys that were "purchased at the Patriots' souvenir store or online at PatriotsProShop.com." Anyone who wants to "exchange a shirt for one of comparable value can visit the Patriots ProShop" from 10:00am-9:00pm on Saturday or 10:00am-7:00pm on Sunday (Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE, 6/29). Boston-based Activate Sports & Entertainment President Jim Delaney said that the exchange is "another step in the right direction." He added, "It's a nice thing to do for their fans who have been equally outraged and shocked. The quicker you can rip the Band-Aid off the better, and the sooner you can move forward with rebuilding the damage done to your brand" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/29). Meanwhile, in Boston, Billy Baker writes under the header, "Aaron Hernandez Shirts Are Hot Items On EBay." An online market for Hernandez memorabilia "has emerged." Heavy bidding on eBay is "often driving prices for items well above what the sellers paid for them." Baker: "The question is: Who is buying the jerseys? And why?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/1).
The AFL Orlando Predators’ loss to the Jacksonville Sharks on Saturday triggered a discount for the team’s season-ticket holders. The Predators Performance Guarantee, announced before the season, promised fans an incremental discount on ’14 season tickets if the club failed to win at least 10 games this year. Saturday’s loss put the Predators at 5-9 with four games remaining to be played. The promotion called for the discount to grow by 10% for every game less than 10 that the Predators fail to win. In an ironic twist, the discount-triggering loss for the Predators, owned by Brett Bouchy, came at the hands of the team owned by his brother, Jeff (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).
ON THIN ICE? The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes Panthers GM Dale Tallon "opted for the player considered the most NHL-ready" by selecting Finnish C Aleksander Barkov with the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL Draft, showing Tallon needs "a reason to get someone, anyone, to buy tickets." Along with the Devils and Coyotes, the Panthers are "one of the NHL’s three biggest financial headaches." By the time the Panthers missed the playoffs this season "after a nice run in the first round the year before, they once again faced the prospect of acres of empty seats" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/1).
CASH CALL: In Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote, "Nearly every week there is a something in the news that makes me wonder how Jimmy Haslam will be able to be the long-term owner of the Browns." Haslam "obviously ... has a lot of assets," but you "like the owner of your team to have a steady cash flow and not a mountain of legal concerns." Nearly every NFL owner "turns a profit every year, and that may be true of the Browns." Pluto: "But all that debt? It is indeed 'significant,' as reported by Standard and Poor's" (CLEVELAND.com, 6/30).
MY KIND OF TOWN: In Chicago, David Haugh wrote the '12-13 Blackhawks fall into the category of a team that "transcends sports by appealing across all demographic groups with equal parts proficiency and panache." They have a "historically robust Q rating." Friday's Stanley Cup parade in Chicago was a "show of passion under a sweltering sun celebrating guys who chase a puck on ice." Haugh: "Years from now, history will record the arrival of Chicago's golden age of hockey with an image of the sea of red at Hutchinson Field." Every sports city in the U.S. "looked on with envy." Haugh: "Forget just Chicago; is there a recent title winner anywhere that penetrated its market like the Blackhawks have?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/30).