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SBD/July 10, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Padres President & CEO Tom Garfinkel resigned yesterday after more than four years on the job. Garfinkel, who previously held positions with Chip Ganassi Racing, Texaco and Miller Brewing, followed former Padres Vice Chair Jeff Moorad to the club from the D'Backs in '09. Garfinkel then remained with the Padres following the departure of Moorad early last year and for 11 months after the arrival of a new ownership group led by Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler. Fowler will assume Garfinkel's responsibilities on an interim basis while a replacement is sought. Garfinkel had been among the point figures on the club's high-profile impasse with Time Warner Cable to carry FS San Diego. Multiple industry sources pointed to an ideological divide on the direction of the club between Garfinkel and ownership, but the move arrives without acrimony. Garfinkel in an e-mail wrote, "My time at the Padres has been incredible. I thank them for the opportunity and wish them nothing but the best in the future." Garfinkel said he has not determined his future career path, and will take some time off before deciding (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). An anonymous Padres official said the move “has been building for some time,” as Garfinkel and the ownership group “saw the big picture differently.” Padres Exec VP & GM Josh Byrnes added, "I’m not totally surprised. I’ve been around long enough not to be stunned. But I don’t expect any additional changes." In San Diego, Bill Center notes Garfinkel "oversaw a number of changes at Petco Park, including the upgrading and expansion in variety of concessions and refining the Padres season ticket plans." He also "worked to bring other events to the ballpark, including concerts and other athletic events including international soccer and rugby matches" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/10).
PRELUDE TO MORE? In San Diego, Matt Calkins writes the Padres need to make some moves “that actually make waves and not just ripples in a puddle." Garfinkel was an "influential off-the-field figure, and every organization needs one of those." But there has "never been a SportsCenter anchor who shouted 'did you see the way he negotiated that television deal?!'" If the Padres are to "upgrade themselves to contender-status, then Garfinkel's departure must simply be the prelude, because if it ends up as the headline, this story is barely fit for print." Garfinkel's exit on its own has "no more significance than a producer leaving a TV show." It "doesn’t hinder the writers" or "take actors off the set." And in "all likelihood, it wouldn’t affect ratings." If Garfinkel's removal was the "drizzle before the downpour, then it might provide fans with something they have long struggled to experience in Petco Park: Hope" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/10).
The Broncos are facing the "humiliation of having its top two assistants to football operations boss John Elway arrested on drunken driving charges," according to a front-page piece by Legwold & Parker of the DENVER POST. It was made public this week that Broncos Pro Personnel Dir Tom Heckert was arrested for DUI on June 11. That comes along with Player Personnel Dir Matt Russell being charged for the same violation on Saturday. The Broncos have "long placed a premium on projecting a positive image." Team President Joe Ellis said, "It's embarrassing for us as a franchise, it's embarrassing for [team Owner Pat] Bowlen, it's especially embarrassing for our fans. We don't tolerate it, and we're not going to. My expectation is the discipline will be severe." Ellis added, "One episode is one too many. Two is ridiculous. I understand the outrage in the community, I understand the outrage of the fans. It's justified. We have an obligation to do the right thing. And we will." Legwold & Parker report Russell and Heckert "not only face punishment from the legal system but also by the Broncos and the NFL in terms of suspensions and fines." A rehab program also is "likely to be mandated." While the Broncos "appear to be more inclined to help Russell and Heckert get counseling rather than firing them, the repercussions are expected to be harsh, by the team and perhaps the NFL." Their arrests "fall under the league's personal conduct policy, so both could be fined and suspended, no matter the outcome in their coming court appearances." Heckert's first court date was Monday, the "same day the Broncos were forced to release statements on Russell's arrest." Russell will have his next court appearance "in Summit County on Aug. 21" (DENVER POST, 7/10).
SOMETHING NEEDS TO HAPPEN: In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes the Broncos “have a drinking problem," and the “sobering truth is: The Broncos must do something more than say they're sorry." Suspending Russell "without pay for at least three months while the top aide to John Elway deals with the legal fallout seems within reason" (DENVER POST, 7/10). KCKK-AM's Peter Burns noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is "all about protecting the NFL shield," and if he is going to "suspend players for acting like a knucklehead, then you've got to fine and suspend a front office executive as well." Burns: "I don’t put a front office executive above a player because everybody's an adult here." Kiszla noted the league "wants to get past DUIs," but players typically "don't get suspended nearly as bad as what probably will happen with Russell." Kiszla said, "That's the power of the players' association and the deal of the collective bargaining agreement. If they wanted to end this, they could end it a lot quicker. But they use it as bargaining chip" ("The Press Box," DENVERPOST.com, 7/9).
The N.Y.-based American Indian Community House on Monday pulled out of the Mets’ Native American Heritage Day, citing frustration with the team for “thwarting months of planning," according to Scott Cacciola of the N.Y. TIMES. The Mets in March approached the AICH about helping with the event and began to plan "pregame festivities that would include traditional dancing and singing" outside Citi Field. It was scheduled for July 25, when the Mets host the Braves. But the team recently became concerned “such activities might be interpreted by the Braves organization as a form of protest over its nickname.” The Mets then “drastically reduced the day's activities: no singing, no dancing." AICH Deputy Dir Kevin Tarrant said that his group "originally hoped to hold the festivities in early June so that the game would coincide with an area powwow, a traditional American Indian gathering." But the Mets were "on a road trip that week.” Cacciola reports the AICH "agreed to pay a $2,000 deposit to cover roughly 15 percent of the cost for a block of 500 tickets, which the group would then help sell." The AICH in exchange would be "free to stage pregame festivities outside Citi Field." The Mets agreed to "print 500 T-shirts (proposed design: the team logo adorned by feathers) and to broadcast two public service announcements for the group on the stadium's video boards." The AICH began to promote the game in “early April," but the Mets on July 1 told the group there would be “no public-service announcements of any kind, and no pregame festivities outside the stadium." A Mets official in an e-mail wrote that the Braves "had nothing to do with the decision." The Mets host "multicultural events throughout the season as a form of community outreach (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk yesterday said that he "won’t be able to invest any more deeply in the team or in the city" of Ottawa after his plan to build a casino at Canadian Tire Centre was rejected by the City Council, according to David Reevely of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. Melnyk noted the Senators annually lose money and said, “If you heard a number, it would be staggering." He has set a C$50M "cap on player salaries and can’t afford to spend more." Reevely reports it "pleases Melnyk to own a hockey team and he doesn’t intend to sell or move the Senators, but without a 'third revenue stream,' his options for expanding the empire and renovating the arena are limited." Melnyk: "It puts a whole damper on my enthusiasm that I came here with 10 years ago" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 7/10). In Ottawa, Jon Willing notes Melnyk "makes no secret that the Senators are short on revenue options while not making a profit." Melnyk said that "not having another revenue opportunity could 'stunt our growth.'" Melnyk: "We're trying to compensate that lack of capital by changing the way we conduct our hockey operations, that is, develop young players. We now have the youngest hockey team in the NHL and we try to be competitive that way" (OTTAWA SUN, 7/10). Willing notes a "gaming house would make the sports operations more financially healthy." Melnyk said that he "wants to invest in the Canadian Tire Centre in hopes of bringing more acts to Ottawa." But "without the extra money, there will be no investments." Melnyk when asked if he would leave Ottawa said, "No, no, no, no, no. I just won’t spend anymore money, that’s all" (OTTAWA SUN, 7/10).
CHANGING TIRES? The CITIZEN's Reevely reported Melnyk "wants to renovate the Canadian Tire Centre to, among other things, have fewer suites." The "general sense is that the arena is a bit too ambitious a building for the market." Melnyk also said that he has "not intended to cut back on community work," though he "doesn't see being able to afford that kind of thing." He "doesn't want to punish people who have nothing to do with city council's decision" (OTTAWACITIZEN.com, 7/9).
The Warriors have followed up their run to the Western Conference semifinals this year by already selling franchise-record 13,400 season tickets, according to Eric Young of the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES. The team last year at this time had "sold 9,600 season tickets." The Warriors said that they will "cap sales of season tickets at 15,000, which would mean about 4,600 individual tickets will be available for home games next season." The club added that the "vast majority of last year’s season ticket holders renewed and they sold about 2,700 new season tickets to reach the current franchise record." The Warriors plan to use “digital ticketing" next season for all season-ticket holders. Instead of "issuing paper tickets, the club will give season ticket holders a bar coded card that they will use to enter Oracle Arena" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/9).
In N.Y., Howard Beck notes with the NBA's '13-14 salary cap set at $58.679M and the luxury tax threshold at $71.748M, the Nets will be "exceeding and escalating at a dizzying rate." The Nets' payroll after the addition of F Kevin Garnett and G Paul Pierce will be about $98M, "triggering a tax bill" of about $75M. That would be the "most any team has paid since the league instituted the luxury tax" in '02-03. It also would be "more than double the total taxes paid by all 30 teams combined" in the '11-12 season. The Nets under the old system would have paid $26.25M in taxes (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
LIGHTER IN THE WALLET: ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported six teams were "formally handed the bill for the tax payments they owe the league for last season's payrolls." The Lakers have the highest bill and will be "forced to pay $29,259,739 in luxury tax." The five other teams facing tax bills include the Heat, Nets, Knicks, Bulls and Celtics (ESPN.com, 7/9).
JAZZ FUSION: In Utah, Brad Rock wrote the Jazz have picked up "almost nobody" in opening days of free agency, and but that has "stirred up more excitement than if they'd added a bigger name to the old lineup." Rock: "Welcome to the Tomorrowland age of Jazz basketball. Looking back is pointless because, well, there’s nobody there." But the Jazz will be "seriously involved in free agency next year -- with a better pool from which to choose" (DESERETNEWS.com, 7/7). Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey's "options were to do something bold in free agency or just keep his future possibilities open." He "obviously chose patience" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/7).
A SLOW BUILD: Clippers F Blake Griffin said of whether L.A. is now a Clippers town instead of a Lakers town, "I know now when I go out there's a lot more Clippers fans that I run, into which is nice." Griffin: "The Lakers are a great franchise for a reason, with how many championships they've won. They're good for a reason. They're going to have their fans and they're going to have their team." But he added, "For us ... it's just about continuing that process of getting to that level, trying to get to that level because that's a level not many teams have reached" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/9).