ESPN’s Bob Holzman reports the Cardinals and 1B Albert Pujols have stopped negotiating for a contract extension, something that “comes as no surprise" considering the distance between the two sides. Pujols is reporting to Spring Training tomorrow and had set today as the deadline to extend his current deal, which expires after the ’11 season (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 2/16). SI.com's Jon Heyman last night reported Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, "at one point in the negotiation ... proposed that part of a deal include a piece of the storied team for Pujols." The idea is "unconventional and perhaps even unprecedented, but it is not explicitly disallowed by baseball rules." Only "part ownership of a competing team by a player" is prohibited. If Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. "agreed to take Pujols as a limited partner, commissioner Bud Selig would have had to approve the complicated arrangement, which would have had to allow for a provision for transfer of Pujols' shares in the event he were later traded" (SI.com, 2/15).
PLANNING AHEAD: In L.A., Helene Elliott reports the NHL Kings have announced their season-ticket pricing for next season, and "increases vary depending on location, and range from $1 to $6 per game for those who renew by March 21 and from $1 to $9 for those who renew after March 21 or are new buyers." Kings VP/Communications & Content Mike Altieri said that the "average increase is $3.80 for those who renew by March 21 and $6.87 for those who renew after that date or become new buyers." Meanwhile, a Ducks spokesperson said that 54.1% of season-ticket prices "will rise 50 cents to $6.50, with an average increase of $1.53." Prices for 39.5% of season tickets "will decline 50 cents to $27.50, for an average decrease of $6.68," and prices for the remaining 6.4% "will be flat" (L.A. TIMES, 2/16).
FRIENDLY ADVICE? In N.Y., Marc Berman reported Florida Int'l Univ. men's basketball coach and former Knicks President of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas yesterday "did not deny he was unofficially consulting with Knicks owner James Dolan" on the potential acquisition of Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony, and "suggested standing pat won't win a championship." Thomas, when asked "point-blank if he's advising Dolan, specifically on Melo," said, "The conversations I have with any of my friends are always private and confidential." Reports earlier this month indicated that Dolan "has not exercised the final year" on Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh’s contract "because he still has Thomas on his radar" (NYPOST.com, 2/15).
PUSHING FOR THE TOP SPOT: GOAL.com's Wayne Veysey reports Arsenal investor Alisher Usmanov, "who has a stake of just under" 27% in the EPL club, has "vowed to increase his stake" after moving past Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich on the list of Russia's richest people. Usmanov, the club's "second largest shareholder, is continuing to plough some his vast fortune into sweeping up small tranches of shares in Arsenal every week on the alternative PLUS market." Sources said that Usmanov is "targeting the 29.9% threshold already occupied by Arsenal's largest stakeholder Stan Kroenke and that he has no interest in buying another club, either in the Premier League or overseas" (GOAL.com, 2/16).