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Volume 25 No. 28
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Closing Bell

Sources Say DeMaurice Smith's Contract Close To Complete
MSG Business Ops Exec Steve Mills Stepping Down
Ramirez To Lose More Than $7M In Salary During Suspension
Cablevision Systems Corp. Considering Spinoff Of MSG Unit

SOURCES SAY NFLPA EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT FOR SMITH CLOSE TO COMPLETE

By Liz Mullen & Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writers, SportsBusiness Journal

The employment contract for DeMaurice Smith, who was elected as NFLPA Exec Dir at the union’s annual meeting in March, is close to being completed, sources said. Most, if not all, of the contract terms have been agreed upon, these sources said. Sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the contract. A spokesperson for Smith would not comment.


MSG EXEC STEVE MILLS HEADED TO MAGIC JOHNSON ENTERPRISES

By Terry Lefton, Editor-at-Large

Mills Leaving MSG To Join
Magic Johnson Enterprises
MSG Sports Teams President of Business Operations Steve Mills is leaving the organization after nearly a decade to work for Magic Johnson Enterprises, industry sources said. Mills, who has not yet left MSG, has been with the organization since September ‘99. He switched from MSG Sports President & COO to his current position last July, when NBA league exec Scott O’Neil was named MSG Sports President. MSG VP/Communications Justin Edelman had no comment on the matter.

With a new president, Mills’ departure was not unexpected. His tenure as Garden management included the hiring of former Knicks marketer Anucha Browne Sanders and former Knicks President of Basketball Operations and coach Isiah Thomas. Browne Sanders, a former SBD/SBJ Forty Under 40 winner, won $11.5M in the ‘07 settlement of a sexual harassment suit against Thomas and MSG.

Mills joined the Knicks as Exec VP/Franchise Operations and became MSG President in June ‘01. Prior to joining MSG, Mills spent 16 years in the NBA league offices, last serving as Senior VP/Basketball & Player Development. Sources said Mills hopes to teach, possibly at his alma mater Princeton.


MANNY RAMIREZ TO LOSE MORE THAN $7M IN SALARY DURING 50-GAME SUSPENSION

Ramirez' Failed Drug Test To Cost Him $7.7M 
Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez' 50-game suspension, effective tonight, for violating MLB's drug policy will cost him $7.7M, or about 31% of his $25M salary. Ramirez becomes the "biggest star suspended under an oft-criticized [MLB] testing program" that started in '03. This marks the "second drug scandal to rock baseball within four months" following Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' admission of past steroid use (LATIMES.com, 5/7).

A source indicated that the substance Ramirez tested positive for is "supposed to boost sex drive," adding that it is "not Viagra, but a substance that treats the cause rather than providing a temporary boost in sexual performance" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/7). Sources said that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG – human chorionic gonadotropin, a "women's fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body's natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle" (ESPN.com, 5/7).

ESPN's Jayson Stark said the incident is "a problem for the whole sport, not just the Dodgers." But L.A. Times reporter Dylan Hernandez said, “You could argue that (Ramirez) might be the most popular player this team’s ever had and I think it’s going to be crushing.” L.A. Times reporter Kevin Baxter added the Dodgers "designated part of the stadium ‘Mannywood’ and had ticket deals. … They’ve built a lot on Manny" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/7). SI's Arash Markazi noted the Mannywood section "has already been removed from the Dodgers' ticket page" (TWITTER.com, 5/7).


CABLEVISION MAY SPIN OFF MSG UNIT, ACCORDING TO Q1 EARNINGS REPORT

Cablevision Systems Corp. today announced that it "may spin off" its MSG unit – which operates the arena, Knicks, NHL Rangers, Radio City Music Hall and MSG Network – "bowing to shareholder pressure." Gabelli & Co. analyst Chris Marangi said that the spinoff may value MSG at $3B and "allow Cablevision to focus on its more profitable cable-TV business" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/7).

The announcement of a possible spinoff came as part of Cablevision's Q1 earnings report. During the period, MSG's operating loss improved by 8.8% from the year-ago period to $2.2M. Overall, Cablevision's revenue was $1.9B, up 10.6% from Q1 '08, with net income of $20.1M, compared to a loss of $31.6M in the year-ago period. MSG Chair James Dolan said in a conference call that he "would not answer any questions regarding the possible spinoff" (NEWSDAY.com, 5/7).


DANICA PATRICK THE LATEST CELEBRITY TO APPEAR IN "GOT MILK?" CAMPAIGN

IndyCar driver Danica Patrick was announced today as the latest celebrity to join the Body By Milk campaign. Patrick, who becomes the second race car driver to be featured in the campaign after Jeff Gordon in '97, will appear in "got milk?" print ads wearing a black cat suit. Patrick said of the ad, "I think it was done beautifully." With Indy 500 winners traditionally drinking milk in victory lane, Patrick said, "I would definitely like to drink some milk in a couple of weeks" (THE DAILY).


ADIDAS FORECASTS INCREASED SALES FOR TAYLORMADE GOLF UNIT IN '09

adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer today at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Germany forecasted higher sales at the company’s TaylorMade golf unit this year and said that his “ambition is to overtake larger rivals Acushnet Co. and Callaway Golf.” Hainer reiterated that adidas’ ’09 sales will decline at a “low-to-mid single-digit” pace, “excluding currency swings, and that profit will be below last year’s record level” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/7).


PENS-CAPS ON VERSUS DRAWS MOST SECOND-ROUND NHL PLAYOFF VIEWERS SINCE '02

Versus’ telecast Monday of Penguins-Capitals Eastern Conference Semifinals Game Two drew 1.207 million viewers, marking the most-viewed second-round Stanley Cup Playoff game since Sharks-Avalanche earned 1.369 million viewers on ESPN in ’02. Through Monday, Versus is averaging 789,547 viewers for six NHL Conference Semifinal telecasts, up 11.4% from 708,444 viewers for the same period last year (THE DAILY).


DON CHERRY TO ROLL OUT DECAL PROGRAM TO DISCOURAGE UNSAFE HITS

CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry tonight will launch a "new STOP decal program for the back of helmets" during the first intermission of the net's Canucks-Blackhawks playoff game. The decals, which aim to discourage players from hitting from behind, were commissioned and paid for by Cherry in conjunction with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA). Teams at any level can apply for the stickers and receive them free at OMHA.com (TORONTO SUN, 5/7).


ALLI, NBC CAMERAS HEAD TO BEIJING FOR SECOND ANNUAL CHINA INVITATIONAL

The Alliance of Action Sports, or Alli, will hold its second annual China Invitational beginning tomorrow at the Beijing Univ. of Technology Gymnasium, one of the venues built for the '08 Olympics. NBC will air a taped telecast of the event on June 14, marking the first time the China Invitational has received U.S. TV coverage. The competition features the same events as the inaugural China Invitational with the addition of a BMX vert contest (Alli).


BUZZER BEATERS….

ESPN today formally announced that Matt Millen is joining the net as an NFL and college football analyst. Millen will appear on "Monday Night Countdown" and pre- and postgame editions of "SportsCenter" (ESPN).

NBC is reportedly in talks to hire former NFLer Rodney Harrison and former NFL coach Tony Dungy as analysts (NEWSDAY.com, 5/7).

The NFL Alumni and Fourth & Goal today jointly announced that the two groups have agreed to merge in order to form the NFL Alumni Association (NFLAA). The 15-member NFLAA BOD will hold its first meeting May 12 (NFLAA).

 
South Africa and Italy today “confirmed their bids to host either the 2015 or 2019 Rugby World Cup tournaments.” England and Japan are also bidding for the event. Australia, Scotland and Ireland have “withdrawn from the process after saying it would be too expensive to host” (REUTERS, 5/7).

Autism Speaks and snack brand Heluva Good have partnered for the May 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover Int’l Speedway (DIS), which will now be known as the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips & Cheese. The partnership is entering its third year (DIS).


QUICK HITS….

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the baseball field, Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games” – Fox Business’ Brian Sullivan (Fox Business, 5/7).

"It doesn't matter what Congress does, we're going forward, and we will sue" – Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, on plans to move forward with an antitrust suit against the BCS (KUTV.com, 5/6).

“It makes you really wonder, though, about the validity of anything they put out” – An unnamed network exec, on Nielsen Media Research delaying primetime network ratings for three days (DAILY VARIETY, 5/7).

“Considering the economy and considering global sports sponsorships ... it's a tough climate for all that stuff. We've had high interest” – Lance Armstrong, on companies interested in sponsoring his cycling team if he takes over for financially-strapped Astana (AP, 5/7).


THE DAILY'S HOT READS….

ATHLETICBUSINESS.com's Andrew Cohen writes as sports venues' life spans get shorter, "more architectural and marketing savvy is going into the design and renovation of spectator facilities, as architects and owners try to stave off obsolescence" (ATHLETICBUSINESS.com).

YAHOO SPORTS' Matt Hinton writes of NCAA Sports, "If we're really interested in fostering greater competition, there are two options: Cut the chaff by further separating the haves from the have-nots, or develop another step that allows the have-nots to fall somewhere in the stratosphere of the haves" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com).

Also:

See the Hot Reads section for more sports business-related links. 


TONIGHT'S EVENTS….

Red Wings GM Ken Holland will be the guest on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s “NHL Hour” on Sirius XM Radio at 4:00pm ET.

Dolphins LB Akin Ayodele will host “Akin Ayodele’s Celebrity Billiards Shootout” at Knight Time Billiards at Seminole Paradise in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The event will benefit Ayodele’s charitable foundation, Akin PATH.


IN OTHER NEWS….

Sirius XM Radio Inc. today reported a Q1 loss of $236.6M, or $0.07 per share, and “its first-ever quarterly decline in net subscriber additions.” The company lost 404,400 subscribers during the quarter, down from a gain of nearly 626,000 in the year-ago period (AP, 5/7).


DAILY DOWNLOAD….

This video from NASCAR.com features drivers Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano taking part in a charity event at Southside Speedway near Richmond, Virginia, a prime example of how NASCAR drivers actively engage their fans.


CHANNEL SURF….

NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip will again appear on NBC’s “My Name Is Earl” at 8:00pm ET, concluding his two-show arc on the series.

Lance Armstrong will appear in ABC’s “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist” at 10:00pm ET.


HEADLINERS….

Here are tonight’s headline guests on the following talk shows:

“Late Show” Norm MacDonald
“Tonight Show” Adam Sandler
“Late Late Show” Matthew McConaughey
“Late Night” Martha Stewart
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” Hugh Jackman

DAILY DIGIT….

4 – Rank of the '09 NFL Draft among the most-blogged topics for the month of April, according to Nielsen Media Research. The topic trails only "Flu Outbreak," "Easter" and "Somali Pirates" (Nielsen).


NOTES & QUOTES FROM THIS DAY IN SBD HISTORY….

2004
"The bases were an extremely small part of this program; however, we understand that a segment of our fans was uncomfortable with this particular component" – MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy, in a statement, on the league nixing its plan to place "Spiderman 2" logos on the bases for three days as part of a deal to promote the film's theatrical release.


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know at:
pbounds@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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