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SBD/June 12, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
An L.A. County probate judge has "scheduled a four-day trial for July 7-10 to determine" whether banned Clippers Owner Donald Sterling was "properly removed as a trustee from the Sterling Family Trust," according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A. Co-Owner Rochelle Sterling "assumed the role of sole trustee and negotiated" the pending sale of the team to Steve Ballmer after two neurologists deemed Donald Sterling was "mentally incapacitated and no longer able to conduct his own legal and business affairs." Her lawyers "requested an expedited hearing so that the sale could be approved" by the NBA BOG by July 15 and closed by Sept. 15, as outlined in the purchase agreement. Should the sale "not be closed" by Sept. 15, Ballmer "theoretically could pull out of the deal and the NBA would be forced to begin termination proceedings against Sterling again, then sell the team itself." However, sources said that there is "no indication Ballmer would do that." Bobby Samini, an attorney for Donald Sterling, yesterday said that he "intended to bring in independent experts to evaluate his client's mental status." Samini also said that his client was "determined to fight the NBA's charges to terminate his ownership." Samini: "We're going. Period. A week ago, he would have considered (selling). But the NBA didn't want to give him his dignity. They want to disgrace him. They were looking for a reason to push him out" (ESPNLA.com, 6/11). Samini added that he "plans to aggressively argue that the league is selectively punishing Sterling for his racially charged comments and that the NBA has done little to address being sued four times since 2008 for gender discrimination" (USA TODAY, 6/12).
AVOIDING A SHOWDOWN: In L.A., Rainey & Fenno note Rochelle Sterling has "said through her advisors that she wanted to avoid a showdown with her husband unless it became absolutely necessary." Her petition "suggested that moment came when Donald Sterling continued to block the sale of the team." She indicated that the league seizing the team and selling it at auction could result in a "substantially lower sales price and force the Sterling trust to pay the NBA's costs in completing the transaction, which could be substantial." Rainey & Fenno note the sale agreement would "leave Ballmer in complete control of the team," but Rochelle Sterling's petition "provided new details about an arrangement that would allow her to maintain a presence with the team" (L.A. TIMES, 6/12). In N.Y., Gilbert & Cacciola note if the court "rules in favor of Sterling, the NBA would likely revert to its original plan of holding a hearing to terminate his ownership." The league would "need a three-fourths majority of the league’s 30 team owners" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12).
ANOTHER SUIT FILED: In L.A., Javier Panzar reports former Clippers intern Frank Cooper has "filed a federal lawsuit against the Sterling Family Trust, claiming the team violated labor laws by not paying interns." Cooper alleges that he "regularly logged 40- to 50-hour work weeks as an unpaid fan relations intern for two months in fall 2012 and frequently performed the same tasks as paid employees." Maurice Pianko, Cooper’s attorney, said that he has been "speaking to other former Clippers interns and expects several others to join the suit" (L.A. TIMES, 6/12).
The Bills are "pushing a last-minute piece of legislation" to permit concession stands at Ralph Wilson Stadium "to begin selling beer at 11 a.m. on game days instead of noon as now permitted under law," according to Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. Assembly member Sean Ryan, who introduced the measure, said that earlier beer sales "would provide a 'more controlled environment' for beer consumption than might exist with tailgating traditions." He added, "Bills fans seem to have a taste for beer before noon on Sundays." Other NFL stadiums have "a similar approach to try to get fans to head inside." Ryan noted that the Sabres are "able to pull fans into the arena before many Bills fans might think of heading from the parking lot." A similar, "fourth-quarter-style push to move the sales to an hour earlier was attempted two years ago in the Legislature but failed." The legislative session is due to end June 19 (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/11). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said, “They’re going to drink beer out in the parking lot anyway. You may as well have them come in and charge way too much for the stuff that they can buy at the store a lot cheaper” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 6/11).
THIRSTY FOR MORE? In Buffalo, Tim Graham noted Pabst Blue Ribbon Owner C. Dean Metropoulos, who was a "runner-up" to Shahid Khan in the Jaguars sale three years ago, will "take a look at the Bills when the team's financial advisers produce their sales book." A spokesperson for Metropoulos said, "The Metropoulos family has a continued interest in acquiring an NFL franchise and expects to review any such opportunity." Forbes estimates that Metropoulos is worth $1.3B. The family's private equity group "partnered with another company to buy Hostess out of bankruptcy" for $410M last year (BUFFALONEWS.com, 6/11).