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Volume 24 No. 117


Anaheim city officials "launched the process Friday of financing the Kings' potential relocation" to Honda Center, releasing a "proposed financial package that includes $25 million to renovate the 18-year-old arena and $50 million in 'transition costs,'" according to a front-page piece by Kasler & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The Anaheim City Council is "set to vote on the package Tuesday at a meeting dedicated to this one issue," and while sources said that the NBA team "hasn't yet agreed to relocate, the financing would be a crucial piece of a deal." Anaheim is involved because it owns Honda Center and would issue the bonds, but the "debt would be repaid" by Ducks Owner Henry Samueli, who manages the arena. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in a statement said the package, if approved, "will clear the path for a professional basketball team to call Anaheim home." A source indicated that the $25M "would pay for NBA-caliber locker rooms, office space and other amenities." The source added that the $50M in transition costs "would include the relocation fee the Kings would have to pay" the NBA, which is split among the 29 other teams. Kasler & Lillis noted Kings owners the Maloofs would have to pay a $76M exit fee to the city of Sacramento, and that "must be immediately paid in full if the team leaves." Anaheim city officials on Friday "released a series of documents, including an unsigned 103-page lease" between Honda Center and an NBA franchise identified only as "TeamCo." The lease would expire in 2026. None of the documents mention the Kings or the Maloofs (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/26). The Anaheim City Council's actions "are the first official acknowledgement that steps are being taken to bring the Kings" to Orange County for the '11-12 season (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/26).

INSIDE THE DOCUMENTS: In L.A., Lance Pugmire noted Anaheim is "taking steps to assure its place on the league map." The resolution requires the NBA team to carry Anaheim "as its first word and sole geographic identifier." Anaheim Finance Dir Bob Wingenroth said, "Several private investors have expressed a desire to purchase all of the bonds." Sources indicated that Samueli is "among them" (L.A. TIMES, 3/26). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton noted the documents released Friday indicated that the Maloofs "will go from wanting to control everything in Sacramento to virtually being tenants" at Honda Center. The Maloofs have "demanded control of any and all revenue streams related to a new arena in Sacramento if they were to keep the Kings," but the proposed Anaheim deal is "full of significant concessions" to Samueli. The documents reveal that the Maloofs would control "only 50 percent of parking revenue and only 50 percent of food and beverage revenue generated for NBA games. The Maloofs "would not control the Honda Center naming rights," and under any new naming-rights deal for Honda Center, they "would be entitled to only a third of the money." The Maloofs would receive 100% of "NBA-related advertising inside Honda Center," but they would get "only a third of every other form of arena advertising." The Maloofs also would "share in no revenue from NHL games, concerts or any other events at Honda Center" outside NBA games (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/27). In California, Randy Youngman notes were it "not for Samueli, it's safe to say this deal could not and would not get done." Without his "deep pockets," it is "questionable the Maloofs would have the money needed to pay the NBA's hefty relocation fee (likely in the $30 million range) and pay off an existing loan with the City of Sacramento" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/28).

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED? The Kings on Saturday issued a statement "rejecting a plan by former Kings officials to renovate Power Balance Pavilion." The group of Sacramento-area officials spoke with Kings co-Owner George Maloof on Friday in a "half-hour phone conversation." City Councilman Rob Fong and County Supervisor Phil Serna "also participated in the conference call." The Kings said, "A representative of the Maloofs listened to their plan in depth, but they do not have the financing in place and a renovation of the existing structure is not an adequate solution" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/27). In N.Y., Dan MaGrath wrote Kings fans "have finally given up, and Sacramento is resigned to their departure." R.E. Graswich, a top aide to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, said, "Right now the mood is good riddance, although I’m not sure it has sunk in." He added, "We’ve got bigger problems -- 12.5 percent unemployment, people being laid off or furloughed, their homes in foreclosure. The Kings would be a nice distraction if they were any good, but they’re not" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).

HAS HIS PHIL: Lakers coach Phil Jackson "thinks NBA owners are in fantasyland if they approve" the Kings' relocation to the L.A. market. Jackson on Friday said, "What other metropolitan area has three teams in it? It's ridiculous to put another franchise in this market. It just doesn't make sense to do that" (L.A. TIMES, 3/26). He added, "To have another team, 40-45 miles away, that puts a lot of pressure on everybody in the area" (, 3/26). Angels Owner Arte Moreno yesterday said, "I look at the metropolitan area and say how many basketball, hockey, baseball, basketball and NFL teams can you have? We also have a couple of major universities in USC and UCLA. And Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State have terrific baseball programs. You're competing with them for media time and advertising dollars. How much discretionary income and advertising dollars do people have?" (, 3/27).

HIT 'EM WHERE IT HURTS: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi cites sources as saying that if the Kings move to Anaheim, the Lakers' new 20-year TV deal with Time Warner Cable "won't be as lucrative as it once was." Last month, the Lakers "agreed to an unprecedented 20-year television agreement with Time Warner Cable to distribute Lakers games and original programming across two regional sports networks in HD that will include the nation's first" Spanish-language RSN. Sources indicated that if a "third NBA team moves into the market, however, the Lakers' television deal will decrease by about just under 10 percent." Markazi notes the Lakers' deal with TWC "was viewed as a major blow for current rights holders" FS West and KCAL-CBS. But the Kings "could lessen that blow and create competition for viewers and fans in Orange County if they filled the void left by the Lakers on both outlets" (, 3/28).

Drayton McLane is "nearing a deal to sell the Astros to Houston businessman Jim Crane," according to sources cited by Richard Justice of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. A former baseball official, "who had hoped to put together his own group," said, "I'm hearing it's a done deal." But McLane on Friday "flatly denied a deal has been struck." He said discussions are continuing with "three or four people who are aggressively going after it." McLane: "There's not a deal. We're not farther along with Jim than with anyone else. Whoever the person ends up being has to be qualified by MLB. No price has been agreed on, and we've got to make sure they've got the money." Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg, hired by McLane to conduct the sale, said, "It's not true we have a deal. It's premature to say anyone is the leading candidate. Having said that, Jim Crane has all the qualifications." Greenberg added of the timetable for a deal, "I think this deal will be done in a matter of weeks, not months. We're deep into negotiations with a number of parties and hope to bring it to a head in the near future. I'd say it'll be the early part of the season as opposed to the later part of season." Justice noted McLane and Crane "had a handshake agreement for the franchise in 2008, but Crane abruptly changed his mind and broke off discussions." Crane "attempted to buy the Chicago Cubs in 2008 and the Texas Rangers last summer during their bankruptcy auction" (, 3/25). Greenberg said that Crane is an "outstanding potential candidate." Greenberg: "If you go back to Drayton's press conference (in November), he laid out in general how he was thinking about a transition, and he talked a lot about local ownership. Crane is a local guy, and obviously Crane's a very successful businessman with a high degree of energy and a great love of the game" (, 3/25). Greenberg added, "Typically this process takes six to nine months to finish. So by definition we're in the seventh inning. We're well along in discussions with multiple parties. It's premature to say that we're on the verge of a deal being struck" (, 3/25).

SET UP FOR SUCCESS: The HOUSTON CHRONICLE's Justice wrote the Astros "should be one of baseball's great franchises," and "everything is in place to succeed." From '04-07, the Astros "drew an average of almost 3 million fans per season to Minute Maid Park," and if they "become competitive again, they'll fill that park back up, make it noisy and fun." The Astros "may never be able to afford" a $175M payroll, but if they are "managed smartly, they will have plenty of money to succeed." They "must have a sensible blueprint, and they absolutely must stick to it when times are tough." Part of McLane's legacy will be that he "ran the Astros during a stretch in which they went to the playoffs six times during a nine-year stretch," but "perhaps his greatest gift was in leading the campaign that got one of the great parks in all of baseball built" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/26).

The Flyers are "instituting a price increase of more than 21 percent for six sections in the lower bowl" of Well Fargo Center as part of a "wider 'rescaling' that will see almost every ticket increase in price next season," according to Frank Seravalli of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Comcast-Spectacor President & COO Peter Luukko acknowledged that "some of the increases, especially for fans in the lower bowl, may be 'harsh.'" He said, "We're rescaling the house. Since the lockout (in 2004-05), we've increased ticket prices just 5 percent. And that's 5 percent as a total for the six seasons, not 5 percent each year. The salary cap in the NHL has increased more than 50 percent over the 6 years. We're a top 5 market in the league and we've had the 15th or 16th average ticket price." Luukko added, "It's something that we thought long and hard about. With the rescaling, some fans may have to move over a section or two to stay at their current price point, but they won't be priced out of the lower bowl." Seravalli notes previously, every ticket in the lower bowl -- regardless of section or row, with the exception of the first row against the glass and those in the Cadillac Grille -- "was just $79 for season ticketholders." However, during the '11-12 season, "just two of the sections in the lower bowl will feature the same $79 price point." Those that are "not increasing to $96 -- or $193 for the first row or $102 for the Cadillac Grille -- will bump to either $85 or $89." That is an 8.8% increase or 12.6% increase "for most seats." In addition, the Flyers are "starting a new price point for each row in the upper deck." Each row "will have a different price, ranging from $65 in the first row to $37 in Row 15" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/28).

DOING THEIR HOMEWORK: Flyers Senior VP/Business Operations Shawn Tilger said that the team's marketing and sales department "researched this for eight months using statistics from the NHL, in-house and outside sales, secondary market research (StubHub, eBay etc.), plus input from a fans’ advisory board on what they felt were the best locations in the arena." The Flyers "also looked to see what tickets in the arena were and weren’t moving on re-sale and what prices people were willing to pay for specific tickets in certain parts of the arena" (, 3/27).

Frank McCourt "declined to comment on the Dodgers' unsettled ownership situation" on Friday when he met with reporters "for the first time since spring training camp opened," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt, who had not seen the Dodgers play this spring until Friday's game against the D'Backs, "specifically declined to explain how he could be so confident that he would retain sole ownership of the team amid significant legal and financial hurdles." He said that he "would address the ownership situation at a later date." Attorneys for McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie, are "engaged in settlement discussions aimed at resolving a divorce that has left ownership of the Dodgers in dispute." It is "uncertain how McCourt could finance a divorce settlement and manage the Dodgers' stiff debt as well" (, 3/25). An L.A. DOWNTOWN NEWS editorial stated, "Given this state of affairs, it is time for the McCourts to move on." It is time for the McCourts to "swallow their pride and to let someone who really cares about the team and the city, and someone with the resources to make the Dodgers competitive and the stadium experience enjoyable and efficient, take over" (, 3/25).

RESTLESS NIGHTS FOR SELIG: In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is "obsessed with his legacy, which, after the steroids scandal, is again being threatened by the serious debt problems" of the Mets and Dodgers. Forbes as part of its MLB valuations suggests that Selig "turned a blind eye to the growing financial woes" of the two NL clubs because McCourt and Mets Owner Fred Wilpon "have always been reliable big market allies for the commissioner." Madden noted it was "no surprise the day after the magazine hit newsstands came the report that Selig is planning on tightening up the MLB debt rule, which currently requires teams to maintain 60% assets to 40% liabilities, supposedly." This issue, "directly tied to Selig's legacy, will be coming to a head in the upcoming MLB labor negotiations with the players' union." One industry source noted that the failure of small-market franchises to "use their revenue-sharing booty on players has now become exacerbated by the debt-ridden situations of the large-market Mets and Dodgers" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27). In Oakland, Monte Poole wrote, "If there is an owner Selig wants to dump, it's Frank McCourt, whose stewardship of the Dodgers has been by turns bizarre and inept, and whose messy divorce is both a financial beehive and an ongoing embarrassment to the, ahem, sanctity of the sport. If there is an owner whose predicament gnaws at Bud, it's Fred Wilpon." With McCourt as the "tack in Bud's loafers and the Wilpons as a constant case of heartburn, it's easy to imagine Selig nudging them toward the same door through which the minority owners of the old Expos were tossed." Poole: "Bud would be happier, healthier and more willing to embrace retirement when his term ends after the 2012 season" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/27).

MLS Sporting KC is "in little danger of being overlooked," despite its "location in one of the league's smallest media markets," according to Seth Vertelney of It has been a "whirlwind two weeks" for the club, which has become the "first professional sports franchise to name its stadium after a nonprofit organization" and brought in Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco for a tryout. Sporting KC VP/Communications Rob Thomson said, "We call it innovative. That's a word we use a lot, and that’s how we operate every day." Ochocinco's tryout may be the "most recent and high-profile example of Sporting’s experimental nous, but by no means is it the first." In trying to "break through the overloaded American sports market," Sporting KC has shown it is the "archetypical franchise when it comes to guerilla marketing tactics." The team's rebranding from the K.C. Wizards to Sporting KC "unquestionably got people talking," and the naming-rights agreement for Livestrong Sporting Park "received publicity that rarely accompanies a stadium-naming announcement." Thomson said, "Each year four or five teams sell stadium naming rights, so it’s not a new story. Ours was just different." Most recently, Ochocinco's trial -- already extended from four days to a week -- has "generated massive amounts of attention." There were "40 media members in attendance at Ochocinco’s first training session Wednesday -- four times the normal amount" (, 3/25). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman wrote under the header, "Ochocinco-MLS Becomes A Win-Win Relationship." Sporting KC is "making national sports headlines, getting airtime on ESPN, and that's a good thing for the sport." It is "hard to blame" the team for granting Ochocinco a tryout (MIAMI HERALD, 3/27). 

JUST FOR KICKS: ESPN followed Ochocinco as he trained with Sporting KC last week. Footage was shown of Ochocinco working out, running drills and scrimmaging over three days, with his time extended to play in a reserve game. Sporting KC President Robb Heineman: "It's not every day you get a world-class athlete like Chad Ochocinco coming into the game of soccer. To have Chad in here and work him out and see if over time he can progress and be a guy that can show up on the field, that's worth the investment." ESPN's Bob Ley said, "Sporting Kansas City has already gotten more international publicity than it could have otherwise purchased" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/27). MLS Chicago Fire Technical Dir Frank Klopas said, "I know he's a great athlete, but if Ochocinco goes there, maybe we have (Bears WR Devin) Hester come to our team for a tryout. I'll take Hester over Ochocinco. … It's like me saying I'm going to call up (Bears coach) Lovie Smith and say, 'I'm coming for a tryout next week'" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportNet Chicago, 3/25).

YOUTH OF A NATION: In Portland, Allan Brettman noted about five years ago, MLS "started to take aim at one of the most coveted demographics, the 18-34 age group," and "perhaps few MLS campaigns have reflected the 18-34 target with more resonance than the Timbers'." The expansion club's promotional effort "seems to have worked: The season ticket supply is gone and six games are sold out or very close to it while Timbers management is confident that every game will sell out." After MLS "awarded a franchise to Portland, the Timbers' marketing staff began discussing strategies to promote the team." Timbers VP/Business Operations & Marketing Cory Dolich and his staff "pondered the qualities people linked with the Timbers brand that had existed in Portland." Dolich said, "Extremely passionate, electric -- a great in-game atmosphere. When we put that all together we decided we really need to showcase our fans." To Jelly Helm, whose self-titled agency handles the Timbers' advertising, Dolich's message "meant soaking in the chants, the bouncing, the singing, the sense [of the] raucous community that comprise the 90 minutes inside a stadium with the Timbers Army." Helm said, "What we really focused on was the most exciting, energetic part of the Timbers" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/26).

Seventeen NFL teams are "not changing ticket prices, nine are raising them, four are decreasing them -- and two are both raising and decreasing, depending on seat location," according to Barry Wilner of the AP. The Chargers, Browns, Cardinals and Buccaneers are the "four clubs reducing the cost of tickets," while the 49ers and Chiefs are "dropping some prices, raising others." The Giants are "not raising ticket prices," but the Jets are "having a 2.3 percent average increase." The Jets have "added a payment alternative that defers 50 percent of the total amount due until a training camp date is announced." The Panthers have "added a fourth payment option for fans: 10 percent of the renewal price due up front and 90 percent due upon the signing of a new" CBA. Wilner noted the Bills have extended their "series of payments by one pay period and adjusted payment terms so that 50 percent of the account balance is not due until the league announces games will be played," and at that point fans will "have a two-month period to make the remaining payments." The Jaguars are "offering more flexibility" in their payments, but a team spokesperson said that it "had nothing to do with the lockout" (AP, 3/25).

TIMELINE UNCHANGED: Cardinals VP/Media Relations Mark Dalton said the team is "proceeding with the expectation that the season will start on time." Dalton added that the team's "timeline for selling season tickets remains unchanged because it needs the time to ensure the process is completed on schedule." He noted that the process "includes collecting deposits, accommodating existing ticket holders who want to change seats, contacting those on the season-ticket waiting list, selling to new customers, collecting final payments and distributing tickets." In Phoenix, Kent Somers noted the Cardinals "don't disclose the number of people on their season-ticket waiting list but say it's in the thousands." The team "did not increase" season-ticket prices for the '11 season and "reduced the price of 3,700 seats by $5 apiece" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/25). 

Browns LB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Scott Fujita "expects his teammates to hold organized workouts on their own" during the ongoing lockout, according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Fujita said, "We just have to be mindful that we have to be careful. There's so many issues with workman's compensation and everything else. I know some guys by position group have already been meeting up a bit, having some workouts and stuff. Again, once we have a clear picture of what's ahead, I would expect guys do start getting together." He added, "I'd like to think we can get (players) back in the building and working in time for the season. That's our top priority. But it is going to come down to who's losing (the most) money." Fujita "does not know when things will begin to resemble normalcy." He said it "could be the next week" after the April 6 hearing on the NFLPA's antitrust case against the league, but he added, "It could be five months from now. It could be a year from now. We really don't know" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/27).

: In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly reports some Dolphins players are "organizing a player-run offseason program that's set to begin" today at Nova Southeastern Univ.'s "weight room and athletic fields." Sources said that Dolphins OT Jake Long is "coordinating the weightlifting and workout sessions with the help of" QB Chad Henne. But with "many players living outside South Florida in the offseason and planning to train on their own until the lockout ends, the level of participation isn't expected to be high." Many agents for Dolphins players have "advised their clients not to participate in player-only workouts" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/28). Chiefs S Jon McGraw and C Rudy Niswanger said that they are "planning to organize some team conditioning sessions in Kansas City." Niswanger: "As far as guys getting together -- working out, running -- I think that's a great thing guys should do." But he added, "The only issue is: If guys get together and start throwing and running routes and doing some practice-type drills, we just have to be careful about that. ... If a bunch of guys get together and hurt themselves, they're done. The team has no responsibility. The team can release the player and not pay him anything" (K.C. STAR, 3/27).

GETTING TOGETHER: In Chicago, Vaughn McClure reported free agent WR Rashied Davis "intends to help organize" QBs and WRs for workouts "within the next few weeks as the NFL owners' lockout is keeping players from Halas Hall." Davis is "interested in" the AFL Chicago Rush's "main practice facility inside Allstate Arena." Rush officials said that they "would be open to the idea," and McClure noted "getting approval from Allstate Arena management shouldn't be an insurmountable problem" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/25). In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted Panthers players "who live in Charlotte year-round are popping up at gyms around the city." Panthers FB Tony Fiammetta: "We have that great support staff when we're at the stadium. But right now it's just us." Fiammetta "spends about $500 a month for the services" of former Panthers speed and conditioning consultant Jeremy Boone "and a local chiropractor" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/27).

The Nationals have relaunched their fan loyalty effort, the Red Carpet Rewards Program, as an online amenity. Believed to be the first of its type in MLB, the new, Internet-based Red Carpet Rewards Program was created through a partnership between the club, MLBAM and London-based customer management outfit Fortress GB. Fans earn points for season-ticket purchases, and redemption awards include additional tickets and preferred parking. But a second and more dynamic phase to the program is under development in which radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is being tested at Nationals Park this season. Program members eventually will be able to earn points from concession and merchandise purchases and other activities to their accounts. "This is another beginning of how we use technology to enhance the fan experience. We see this as a big step forward," said Nationals COO Andy Feffer. "The rewards program needed to be faster and more efficient." The Nationals also plan at some future point to tie the rewards program into virtual ticketing. The club in recent months also has pursued several other interactive elements to drive awareness and ticket sales, including a microsite launched in December devoted to season-ticket purchasing. The online functionality will allow easier sharing of points and rewards with friends, family, and co-owners of season-ticket plans, particularly a large number of Nationals season-ticket accounts that are shared in some way.

In Portland, John Canzano wrote the Trail Blazers are a "nice little playoff team right now," though they are "no threat to win the Western Conference." But if team Owner Paul Allen "seizes the momentum and fosters a more harmonious mission, the Blazers will soon turn the corner." If he does not, "we're about to watch the same old routine in which the organization teases us, then promptly twists itself into a pretzel." In the past, Trail Blazers officials "have been required by ownership to come up with a written plan at the beginning of each season," and there is a "basketball operations plan and a business plan." Canzano: "As if those things can ever be independent. I've obtained a couple of these in past seasons, and marveled at how disconnected one is from the other." Now, the "challenge belongs to Allen, who wants badly to win a championship with either the Seahawks or Blazers." The "irony" is that Allen "has more control over that than anyone." Canzano: "So what's the plan, boss man?" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/27).

DEAR DONALD: In L.A., Mark Heisler wrote an open letter to Clippers Owner Donald Sterling. Heisler: "Your team now has all these great young players with Blake Griffin, the best you've ever had." Yet the Clippers "haven't had a great season, by normal standards." The lower and upper bowls at Staples Center "are sold out the rest of the season," so "you're in the money." But "on the other hand, how in the name of Sigmund Freud can you expect Blake to regard this as a legitimate operation when he sees you heckle [former G Baron Davis] one day, in court against one of the NBA's all-time greats the next and the day after that in arbitration against the coach you ostensibly fired, who you claim quit?" (L.A. TIMES, 3/26).

FALLING FAST: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw noted the Stars are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year, which "could be devastating." The Stars have "never endured back-to-back failures until last spring," and "if they make it three in a row, they join the ranks of the Minnesota Wild as most irrelevant Western Conference team south of Edmonton." The Stars rank 23rd in the NHL in average home attendance this season at American Airlines Center. The team is two points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/26).

HANGING IN THE BALANCE: In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford reported after months of Blues President of Hockey Operations John Davidson's extension "being placed on hold, there is serious doubt he will be re-signed before new owners are identified and legitimate uncertainty about whether an incoming group would retain the face of the Blues' franchise since 2006." Davidson "has expressed numerous times a desire to remain president of the club" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/27).