MLB is "preparing for the possibility that Frank McCourt might take the Dodgers into bankruptcy court before the league could strip him of the team," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Experts said that bankruptcy "could provide McCourt with the authority and funding to remain in control of the Dodgers, at least in the short term." McCourt would "almost certainly face opposition in bankruptcy court from the league, which could use a 'voluntary termination' clause as empowered by the MLB constitution to revoke a franchise upon a bankruptcy filing." Also, a source indicated that Jamie McCourt would argue that her ex-husband "has no right to take the team into bankruptcy without her approval, since she claims half-ownership of the team." Still, Shaikin notes bankruptcy courts "need not yield to MLB rules." One high-ranking MLB exec "expressed surprise McCourt did not file for protection as soon" as MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced last month that the league was assuming day-to-day control of the Dodgers. In bankruptcy court, McCourt likely would argue that the team's "financial problems would be resolved with the approval of a long-term broadcast contract with Fox." Ultimately, he would "need the big banks to buck Selig and side with him." Alan Gover, an attorney with the firm that represented the new Rangers' owners through that MLB club's bankruptcy process in '10, said, "He would be rolling the dice that the creditors would support him. If they don't, he's walking into a trusteeship. That would be an endgame and a wasteful use of litigation" (L.A. TIMES, 5/10). The Dodgers reportedly are at risk of not being able to meet payroll later this month, and Selig yesterday said, "I don't know that right now" (ESPNNY.com, 5/9).
IN-AND-OUT: MLB yesterday briefly hired former Padres and Pirates exec Dick Freeman to aid Dodgers monitor Tom Schieffer in his oversight and investigation of the club on the league's behalf. But it rescinded that hire just hours after making it due to what MLB officials termed a potential conflict. League execs were not specific on what the possible tripwire with Freeman working on the Dodgers case might be. It was not deemed to be major, though still significant enough to warrant his not aiding the club. Freeman himself is believed to have identified the issue. MLB might still hire someone to help Schieffer run the beleaguered club (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
WELCOME TO BROADWAY: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes McCourt is expected to attend this week's MLB owners' meetings in N.Y., starting tomorrow, "just as he has for the last seven years -- but this time will be much different." It will be McCourt's "first all-expenses-paid trip to New York since MLB took over day-to-day operations of the financially strapped ballclub and perhaps his final appearance there as owner of the Dodgers." Selig likely "won't be making small talk with McCourt, and McCourt figures to be greeted by pursed lips and murmurs." No other team owner "has publicly sided with McCourt in his feud with Selig and MLB, but even if owners privately felt McCourt is being wronged, they're not about to outwardly reveal their sentiments" (USA TODAY, 5/10).
STANDING HIS GROUND: Selig yesterday again "expressed optimism that the Mets would resolve their financial situation without his office interceding in the club's affairs." During an interview with ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y., Selig said, "I feel very comfortable that we are going to have a very reasoned economic solution." He said there "isn't anything" that would make him take the same action with the Mets as he did with the Dodgers. Selig: "They are approaching it the way I would approach it, quite frankly. They are looking to add equity and I absolutely have not a scintilla of doubt that that's going to work out well and we can move on" (NEWSDAY, 5/10).
With a nod to their past, the Wizards today unveiled their new red, white and blue uniforms, along with two new secondary marks and an updated primary logo. The Wizards’ new design links the team’s look with the old Bullets uniforms before late owner Abe Pollin changed the team’s name and colors in '97 when he opened the team’s downtown DC arena. The team’s redesign was announced at a press conference at Verizon Center. The new look also aligns the Wizards’ brand with other Monumental Sports & Entertainment teams in the Capitals and WNBA Mystics. One of the Wizards’ new secondary logos features a lowercase “dc”. The other new secondary mark is a basketball with the image of the Washington Monument integrated into the design and topped with a star. The tweaked Wizards primary mark features the new red, white and blue color scheme. The “Wizards” name is on the front of the home white jersey with “Washington” on the front of the road red uniform. The Wizards' new branding effort became a priority for Owner Ted Leonsis after he bought the majority interest in the Wizards from Pollin’s estate and created Monumental Sports & Entertainment last June. “There are lot of elements of yesteryear, but enough twists to the design that make it fresh,” said Wizards Exec VP/Business Operations Greg Bibb. He said the team worked with the NBA and a design team from adidas for the better part of a year on the redesign. The Wizards will continue their rebranding efforts with a new line of merchandise expected in a few weeks and a redesigned court at Verizon Center to be ready for next season.
Grassroots efforts are “underway to attract” an NHL franchise to Portland, according to Andy Giegerich of the PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL. Discussions are in the “very early stages,” as organizers have “met informally to discuss strategies.” The organizers “must convince an owner or ownership group to purchase a team and reach arena-usage terms” with the Trail Blazers, who own the Rose Garden. Trail Blazers Senior VP & COO Sarah Mensah: “Would it make sense to add another major sports tenant? Absolutely. The building was constructed for both basketball and hockey.” ID Experts CEO and “longtime NHL advocate” Bob Gregg said that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman “has indicated the Pacific Northwest would provide a stellar NHL base.” There is no NHL team between San Jose and Vancouver. However, NHL Senior Communications Manager Kerry McGovern in an e-mail said that the league “has no current plans for expansion or relocation” (PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue).
TURNING ATTENTION TO THRASHERS: In Atlanta, Chris Vivlamore wrote the “clock could start ticking on the Thrashers this week” with the city of Glendale scheduled to vote today “on whether to pay another $25 million to the NHL” to keep the Coyotes in the city. The $25M would be used by the Coyotes “for operating expenses and would keep the financially struggling team in Arizona for one more season.” The proposal is “expected to pass.” Vivlamore wrote with the “situation in Phoenix settled for at least another year, True North Sports and Entertainment, a group interested in purchasing the Phoenix franchise and moving it to Winnipeg, Manitoba, could turn its attention to the Thrashers” (AJC.com, 5/9).
In Boston, Jerry Kronenberg reports secondary ticketing agencies are selling tickets to Red Sox games at Fenway Park "way below face value amid weak demand." Ace Ticket Owner Jim Holzman said, "Seats are selling for half of what they usually do." For last night's game against the Twins, Pavilion Club seats at Fenway "carrying a $90 face value were available for just $59, while $75 pavilion box seats were listed for only $35." StubHub had "more than 1,200 tickets still available two hours before game time, including $28 bleachers for $6 and $30 grandstand seats priced at $7." Holzman attributed the "cut-rate prices to the Sox’ sub-.500 record at a time when the Celtics and Bruins are in the thick of postseason runs" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/10).
SHARK TALES: In San Jose, Eli Segall reports the Sharks "have quietly launched a 'dynamic pricing' system for individual tickets purchased at the box office or through its exclusive vendor, Ticketmaster." Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said that the team began using the system last month for its first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Kings. He said that the Sharks, who had not used dynamic pricing before, plan to "continue using the system" for the '11-12 regular season. Bordelon noted that the Sharks "have sold about 1,500 to 1,700 tickets in each playoff game this year in which prices fluctuated through dynamic pricing" (SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue).
A LIGA OF THEIR OWN: FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell yesterday said that the La Liga club's "interest in investing in the MLS is history." During a conference call to announce the team's summer tour of the U.S., Rosell said, "There will be no other Barcelonas in the world." He noted that Barcelona "attempted to be involved in a prospective team in South Florida before the MLS expanded to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, a project of Barcelona’s previous administration" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/10).
SETTLE DOWN NOW: In St. Louis, Robert Patrick reported the Rams "have settled a civil complaint against a man who helped defraud dozens of investors out of $5 million." The Rams sued Joshua D. Gould and a company that he "used the ill-gotten gains to finance, The Sports Nook Inc., for unpaid tickets, the breach of a sponsorship agreement and for the use of a suite" in Edward Jones Dome. Gould and his company have agreed to pay St. Louis Rams Partnership LLC $50,000 "for the sponsorship, $37,800 for tickets and $41,000 for the suite, as well as roughly $1,000 in interests and costs" (STLTODAY.com, 5/5).