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Volume 24 No. 116


Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad yesterday said the team's '12 payroll "will start with a five," with the eventual "resting place" over the next five years being $70M, according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The Padres' local TV contract expires after this season, and Moorad said the next -- and yet unannounced -- "broadcast agreement will set the tone for the Padres payroll over the next five years."  Center notes the team's final payroll this season "will be around $45 million, meaning Moorad is committed to at least an 11 percent increase in 2012." Moorad said that the Padres "won't be a big player in the free agent market" as part of the overall plan for the organization. Moorad also reiterated that his ownership group "will put all revenue generated by the Padres back into the club and Petco Park." He said, "The goal every year is to break even. No profit, no loss. There is a budget every year. That budget will not have a loss. At the same time, no one in the ownership group will be taking any profit out of the club." Center notes the "eventual goal is to operate the Padres without having to service debt." Moorad's ownership group "inherited $206 million in debt, which included a $60 million line of credit," when it agreed in '10 to a "timed purchase of the Padres." The deal "can be completed any time between now and the spring of 2014," though Moorad yesterday denied rumors that his ownership group "will soon complete its purchase" of the Padres from John Moores (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/10).

Prospective buyers of the Blues have until Aug. 22 to "present a nonbinding bid" to Game Plan LLC, a step that "could have a purchase agreement in place by mid-September," according to Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Game Plan, the firm hired by Blues Chair Dave Checketts to conduct the sale of the team, recently "sent out letters to 10 'interested parties' requesting offers" for the Blues, the Scottrade Center lease, the AHL Peoria Rivermen and the Peabody Opera House. Rutherford notes the fact that 10 groups received the letters "doesn't mean there are 10 groups that have serious interest in buying the Blues." It "simply means those groups have had dialogue with Game Plan at some point in the process." A group led by Blues Minority Owner Tom Stillman "remains in the mix," and a source said that Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer "is still involved." Game Plan Founder & Chair Robert Caporale yesterday said that two groups that are attempting to purchase the Stars are "planning to 'move quickly on the Blues' if they are unsuccessful in landing Dallas." Rutherford notes "quick completion of the Dallas deal also could help define the market price for the Blues." Observers have estimated that the Stars "could be sold for as much as $230 million." Caporale believes that the Blues "could fetch $200 million" if the Dallas estimate is correct. Caporale maintains that a sale is "possible before the Blues' season opener" Oct. 8 against the Predators (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/10).

DESERT DISH: Coyotes COO Mike Nealy on Monday said that two parties "have been communicating" with the NHL and Glendale since Hulsizer in June pulled his bid to purchase the team. Nealy said that the "latest hopefuls aren't new to the sporting world, but they don't want their names out there as they work out details" (, 8/8).

The Dodgers are now battling with their merchandise vendor, Facility Merchandising Inc., as part of their ongoing bankruptcy case, adding to the still-mounting legal woes surrounding Owner Frank McCourt. FMI, which replaced Delaware North's Sportservice beginning last year, wants Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge Kevin Gross to order the Dodgers to decide whether to honor or reject the FMI contract by the end of the season. Bankruptcy law allows the club an option to walk away from the contract, in which FMI pays the Dodgers at least $4.5M per year in guaranteed royalties and signing bonus installments. But FMI, which says it has lost $2.5M thus far in the Dodgers concession deal, wants a quick decision before having to buy merchandise for the '12 season and make its next payment to the club. "FMI should not be put to the task of spending, quite literally, millions of dollars of additional funds while being left in limbo as to whether FMI will ever obtain the benefit of its bargain, while (the Dodgers) take advantage of that uncertainty," the company said in its filing with the court. FMI added sharply declining attendance at Dodgers Stadium has depressed merchandise sales revenue by about 25% thus far this season, and that a "business-threatening event" could soon be facing the outfit. "Because of the difficulty in selling the merchandise due to the low attendance numbers and lack of fan support, FMI is experiencing a liquidity squeeze, which has resulted in difficulties with FMI's own suppliers, many of whom have imposed credit holds," the company's filing continued.

OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: The Dodgers counter that they should continue their reorganization on their own timetable, and that FMI owes the club more than $333,000. The merchandising deal, the club said in its objection to the FMI motion, carries no attendance guarantees of any type, and as a result, Dodgers lawyers said FMI is using the bankruptcy as an opportunity to amend the original deal. "Eager to get its foot in the door at a time when (the Dodgers) were enjoying unparalleled success at the box office, FMI made a deal that it now regrets," the club said in its response.

In Nashville, John Glennon notes for the first time since '99, the Titans "did not sell out all their regular-season home games on the first day that single-game tickets were made available to the public." Titans Exec VP/Administration & Facilities Don MacLachlan on Monday said that there were "less than 1,200 tickets remaining" for the Oct. 30 game against the Colts, and he expected that it would "sell out shortly." He also indicated that there are "between 1,200 and 2,000 tickets remaining for each" of the team's seven other home games. The Titans are "looking to keep a streak alive of 124 straight sellouts, one that includes preseason, regular-season and playoff contests" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/10).

BACK TO BLACKOUT? In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino reported the NFL is letting the Jaguars "use 10,000 complementary tickets for the two preseason games to get to the blackout number because of the short selling season following the lockout, but that policy will not be in effect for the regular season." Jaguars Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Macky Weaver said, "I hope lifting the blackouts for the preseason games doesn't send the wrong message to the fans and make them think it will happen for the regular season." Stellino noted the Jaguars need a "surge in ticket sales" to reach the "14,443 non-premium tickets needed to be sold for each game to lift the blackouts" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/9).

THE SUITE LIFE: In Houston, Allison Wollam reports the Texans are "unveiling new features for corporate suite holders." Texans VP/Ticketing & Event Management John Schriever said that the team's "194 luxury suites are at 95 percent capacity ... and the team doesn't have much turnover because most are leased on a multiyear basis." Despite that, the Texans have "invested in a new service from Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Spotlight Ticket Management to make sure corporate users keep coming back." SMT's program "designates a suiteholder's ticket to a company, lists the company's contact information and how much business the suiteholder does with that business" (HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/5 issue).

CAT'S MEOW: In Charlotte, Tom Sorenson interviewed Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson and asked him who "will run the team when he no longer can." Richardson: "I don't really think a lot about that. I'm in good health. We have a good organization in place and -- hopefully -- that's too far in advance." Richardson said of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "He has the potential to end up being the best commissioner" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/9). Meanwhile, also in Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes the Panthers have a new coach and a "high profile rookie quarterback." With "so much change in the air, it might be worth taking a look at the Panthers' look." All 32 NFL teams "will make at least minor adjustments to their on-field style next season as Nike takes over from Reebok as the league's uniform licensee." In a "broader context, Carolina's panther logo and fuzzy lettering remains the same as it was when the expansion franchise debuted" in '95. For the moment, the team has "no plans to apply to with the NFL to make more substantial changes" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/5 issue).

CLOSE TO THE HEART: ESPN BOSTON's Mike Reiss reported the Patriots throughout the '11 season will "wear a patch on their uniforms to honor the memory of Myra Kraft," the late wife of team Owner Robert Kraft. The patch bearing Myra Kraft's initials, "MHK," will be worn "on the left chest of every player" as part of the team's plans "to dedicate the entire 2011 season" to her memory. In addition, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation "will focus its season-long initiative in 2011 on recognizing and rewarding volunteerism," including honoring the U.S. Military (, 8/9).