MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has "rejected a proposal under which Fox would have lent about $200 million" to Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, according to sources cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The sources indicated that McCourt "would have used the Dodgers' cable television rights as collateral, extending the team's current contract with Fox by as many as four years if he did not repay the loan." Selig "made his decision several weeks ago." Since then, McCourt has "continued to explore financing options that would enable him to satisfy the commissioner and manage a debt that, according to court records, exceeded $430 million as of November 2009." Steve Sugerman, a spokesperson for McCourt, "declined to discuss how Selig's decision might affect McCourt's ability to manage the Dodgers' finances." Shaikin notes Selig has indicated that he "might withhold approval of any minority investor or broadcast contract proposed by McCourt." The Fox loan "could have enabled the company to secure an extension to the Dodgers' rights at about $50 million per year had McCourt not repaid the proposed loan." David Boies, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, said that "any such deal should trigger 'court supervision' of the Dodgers' finances, so as to ensure the value of the team is not harmed until the court determines ownership." Frank and Jamie divorced in October, but have "not reached a financial settlement" (L.A. TIMES, 2/25).
The NBA Kings took "another small step toward relocation Thursday, requesting permission from the league to extend the March 1 deadline they were facing to formally file for a move to Anaheim, Calif., in time for next season," according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The extension would allow Kings Owners the Maloofs to "review their options with the NBA's Board of Governors at its April 14-15 meeting in New York." NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said that the BOG is "reviewing the request." The request is the "latest and perhaps strongest signal to date that the Kings want to move south after a 26-season run in Sacramento," though receiving an extension "won't guarantee an official request to move would be approved" by the NBA BOG. Relocation requires a majority approval among the league's 30 teams, and sources indicated that the Lakers are "strongly opposed to the idea of a third NBA franchise moving to Southern California, largely since the Honda Center sits 30 miles" from Staples Center, the team's shared home with the Clippers. While the Lakers and Clippers "would possess one vote each, it's believed they will seek support from other teams to vote against a Kings move to Anaheim if the process gets that far." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "reacted with dismay" to news of the extension request. He said, "We're going to fight. The deal is not done. We know they're looking elsewhere. But it's not a done deal. If it was a done deal, they would have filed on March 1." Stein noted the Maloofs "first have to come to terms on a loan and lease arrangement" with Ducks Owner Henry Samueli, whose management runs Honda Center, "before they can even take their plan to the league's owners for a vote" (ESPN.com, 2/24).
KEEPING THE FAITH: Johnson on Thursday said that he was "upset that he had to hear the news via Google alert, rather than from the Kings themselves." Johnson: "I would have preferred a phone call in advance. Sacramento deserves better than this." In a press conference Thursday evening, Johnson "alternated between disappointment and defiance, saying he believes the Kings and the Sacramento community can still work something out." The mayor said that he and team officials "have arranged a meeting next Tuesday when he hopes both sides can explain where they stand and clear the air." Johnson also "called on the Kings to make good on their promise to turn over financial documents to Sacramento developer David Taylor, who along with arena builder ICON Venue Group was tapped by the city this spring to devise a financing plan for a new downtown arena" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/25).
SHOW OF SUPPORT: A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial notes a group of Kings fans is "pushing to sell out Monday night's home game" at Arco Arena. Their goal is to "revive the raucous, ear-numbing roar of Arco Arena when Sacramento was known throughout the country for its love of NBA ball." The editorial states, "We hope it works. Sacramento can't make a claim for keeping the Kings if its fans can't fill an arena, at least some of the time. ... While attendance at a single game is unlikely to influence the Maloofs' decision to relocate, it surely will send a message" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/25).
Chargers coaches and some of the team's high-paid personnel "will take immediate pay cuts should NFL owners lock out their players next week," though the team has "decided to not cut any employees unless a lockout drags into the season," according to Kevin Acee of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. It is "not known the size of the pay cuts Chargers personnel will take, but it is believed to be significant." It is "possible that if no games are lost to the lockout that the withheld pay will be reimbursed." Chargers employees, including coaches, "already took a hit last week when the Chargers joined 11 other NFL teams that had previously opted out of the NFL pension plan." Acee notes "all teams have been preparing for the lockout differently." The Chiefs "recently laid off 11 employees; the New York Jets plan immediate furloughs in the event of a lockout, and talk at the NFL Scouting Combine ... is that several other teams plan similar cutbacks." Almost every assistant coach in the league is "subject to potentially severe pay reductions in the event of a lockout" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/25).
NO FURLOUGHS FOR GIANTS: Giants President & CEO John Mara Thursday "confirmed that the Giants -- unlike the Jets -- don't intend to make their staff endure furloughs, layoffs or salary cuts in the very likely event of a lockout starting next week." Mara said that he "met with both the football and non-football personnel last week to tell them a hiring and salary freeze would be instituted instead -- at least in the early going." Mara: "That'll be revisited at a later date, and we'll see where we are a few months from now. But for now, that's what our intention is, not to make any drastic changes" (N.Y. POST, 2/25).
Conservative watchdog group the Goldwater Institute said that the city of Glendale is "under intense pressure by the National Hockey League to complete bond financing within days for its deal with the Phoenix Coyotes or risk losing the team," according to Rebekah Sanders of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The city, in turn, is "demanding an answer from Goldwater about whether it intends to sue to block the deal." Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren said that the group's timeline "would not be swayed by outside pressure but a decision could be made within a few days." Sitren noted that Jordan Rose, an attorney retained by Glendale, "told Goldwater on Thursday that the NHL would walk away from the Glendale deal unless Goldwater agreed not to sue." But Rose said, "The NHL, financial institutions and the city continue to move forward." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "The league has not communicated, nor has it set or established, any deadline for completion of the bond sale or the closing of the franchise sale transaction." Sanders notes Goldwater "has explored for weeks whether Glendale pledged significantly more money to team buyer Matthew Hulsizer than it would get in return, which could violate Arizona's gift clause." The city "intends to sell as much as $116 million in bonds to pay Hulsizer in exchange for allowing the city to charge for parking during arena events" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/25). In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless reports the bonds "were issued more than two weeks ago but pre-sale attempts have failed to gain much traction and Glendale to date has been unable to come up with the money Hulsizer needs fronted in order to close the deal with the NHL." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Toronto's Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 Thursday said, "(Phoenix will close) provided they sell the bonds, which they are working on doing. Obviously, if the bonds don't sell that's a whole different kettle of fish. If the bonds do get sold there will be a closing soon" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 2/25).
CSNBAYAREA.com's Matt Steinmetz wrote the “Joe Lacob Era is off to a bad start.” It "might not be entirely fair and it might not be all his fault, but the NBA is a results-oriented league and so far Lacob hasn't backed up his confident early ownership talk with appropriate and meaningful action." Lacob “didn't make a deadline deal to improve the Warriors” before the NBA’s trade deadline. Steinmetz: “What makes Thursday so disappointing -- and, yes, demoralizing -- for a lot of Warriors fans is that it was Lacob who came in and talked about making a ‘big splash’ and doing ‘bold’ things” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 2/24). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes since taking over the team, the differences between Lacob and former Owner Chris Cohan "remain largely hypothetical." Kawakami: “Lacob's Warriors still overpay underperforming players. Still are stuck without many options for big upgrades. And still seem slightly more determined to do a sales job than a total refurbishing” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/25).
DECLINE IN VALUE? In Detroit, Gregg Krupa notes a “day before the most recent deadline for negotiating the sale of the Pistons, there was no word of an agreement Thursday amid continuing talks.” But there is “more evidence of the declining value of NBA franchises, a looming issue for the league that affects the discussions about the Pistons.” Sources said that the value of the Cavaliers “declined from about $375 million to $275 million this year” after the departure of LeBron James. NBA owners have said that they are “losing money and that the players’ union must accept significant concessions that amount to a new model of ownership if the league is to re-establish its profitability” (DETROIT NEWS, 2/25).
MARKET DEMAND: In Minneapolis, John Vomhof Jr. reported the T’Wolves have launched a “new dynamic pricing system for single-game tickets in which prices will rise and fall” based on availability and demand. The system, Wolves Tix, starts with the March 1 game against the Lakers. The concept is “designed to mimic the secondary market where scalpers move prices up and down based on supply and demand.” The technology behind the program “gives the Wolves the ability to alter prices daily,” but team officials said that they “only plan to make changes every couple of days at first” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/24).
ON THE MARK: Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban criticized the Hornets’ trade for Carl Landry, noting the club should not be adding salary since it is owned by the league.” ESPN's Michael Wilbon said all the owners “probably do have a beef if they see a team they're subsidizing going more over the cap to acquire somebody for the stretch run and the playoffs that they might then in turn use to defeat one of those owners.” Kornheiser said, “The league is subsidizing this team and he feels fairly enough to say, 'Hey, wait a second. This is my money, this is everybody's money. We don't have a plan in place. What are we doing with this team and you're costing me money and you're hurting me personally because if I have to play them and they're better, why do I have to do that for?'" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/24).
In South Carolina, Darin Gantt reports the Panthers have "adjusted their ticket plans to account for the possibility of missed games" in the event of an NFL lockout. Panthers President Danny Morrison Thursday said the team has included a "10-90 plan" as a payment option this year. Owners of PSLs, suites and club seats "can pay 10 percent of their annual balance when they sign up in April, and the remaining 90 percent would not be charged to their credit cards or drafted from their bank accounts" until the NFL and NFLPA agree to a new CBA. Panthers Dir of Ticket Sales & Operations Phil Youtsey said that "those payments would be due within 48 hours of a CBA being signed, whenever that happened" (ROCK HILL HERALD, 2/25).
THREE UP: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports the Yankees "again will have Major League Baseball's highest payroll on opening day, but other teams are infringing on their exclusive subdivision." Salary data reveals that the Red Sox and Phillies are "projected to have payrolls" exceeding $165M, and the Red Sox' "future salary commitments rival those of the Yankees." The Yankees' Opening Day payroll "could fall just shy of $200 million for the first time in four years" (USA TODAY, 2/25).
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? The Bruins Thursday announced that "most of their season ticket-holders will need to dig a little deeper into their pockets to keep their seats, increasing the average cost by $4.34 per game" for the '11-12 regular season. TD Garden Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Amy Latimer noted that some of the arena's 17,565 seats "won’t increase at all in price, while others will jump from as little as $1 to as much as $9." The increases for season-ticket holders "will set loge prices at $65-$110 per ticket, while balcony seats will range from $25-$69 each." Latimer said that the Bruins in recent years have "ranked approximately 10-12 among the NHL’s 30 teams for average ticket price" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/25).
MAKING A GRAND ENTRANCE: Vancouver Whitecaps CEO Paul Barber Thursday said that "around 15,500 season tickets have been sold" for '11, the team's inaugural MLS season. The team plans to cap season tickets at 16,500. The Whitecaps have sold more than 18,000 tickets for their first home game at Empire Field, against Toronto FC on March 19. Barber said that the Whitecaps, who will move into BC Place later in the MLS season, are "talking with a major European team to play an exhibition game at Empire Field either in the spring or summer" (CP, 2/24).