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Volume 24 No. 159


The Hornets "continue to strengthen their base of corporate support, as Chevron agreed Wednesday to become the franchise's fifth major Crescent City Champions sponsor," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The number marks the "most Crescent City Champions sponsors the Hornets have signed up since the exclusive sponsorship program was established" in '07. The Chevron deal follows last week's announcement that Entergy will "join Cox Communications, 7-UP and Ochsner Health System as Crescent City Champions sponsors." Hornets President Hugh Weber said that with the new sponsorship deals, the Hornets "are $4 million ahead of where they were at the same time last year." Weber added, "This is a pretty special time on all fronts in terms of progress the organization is making for the objectives we set. All of those things are about getting the financial health of the team in order for an owner to step in and take over" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 8/25). The Hornets last year "joined with Chevron to raise $200,000 to promote the recovery of the seafood industry and coastal habitats after the BP oil spill," and Chevron VP/Gulf of Mexico Business Unit Warner Williams said that "working with the Hornets on public service initiatives motivated him to do more to solidify the franchise's footing in New Orleans." Williams: "It's really about supporting the economic sustainability of the region and ensuring the team stays in the city." Weber indicated that he has been "encouraged by gains in community support even as the NBA lockout threatens to cancel parts or all of next season." He said, "At a time when no one is talking about basketball, we're still making progress." In addition to corporate sponsorship, the Hornets are "working toward a new TV contract and new arena lease." Weber said that the "primary goal of a new TV deal, which would begin after next season, is to have games televised in more households throughout the region" (AP, 8/24).

The Dodgers have made an abrupt change of course in the potential marketing of their long-term cable TV rights, withdrawing yesterday an application to hire law firm Covington & Burling to help shop the rights they had just made on Tuesday. The club had asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to hire the firm, which has extensive experience in negotiating sports TV rights. But a notice of withdrawal of the request was filed late yesterday without prejudice. The Dodgers declined comment on the shift (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In L.A., Bill Shaikin cited a source as saying that the application "was most likely withdrawn because of a potential omission regarding a conflict of interest issue." Thomas Salerno, the lead attorney for the Coyotes during the NHL club's bankruptcy case, said, "It just seems odd." Dodgers spokesperson Lyndsey Estin "would not say whether the Dodgers would proceed with the plan to sell the team's cable rights" (, 8/24).

THE FINAL STRAW: SI's Lee Jenkins writes the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day "was a symbol of the Dodgers' deterioration." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told confidants the Stow beating was "the final straw" for Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt. Two weeks after the incident, Selig "dispatched a six-man task force" to L.A., led by MLB Exec VP/Administration & CIO John McHale Jr., to "evaluate stadium security." Jenkins notes McCourt's divorce from his ex-wife, Jamie, "was thought to be the moment the franchise hit bottom." The divorce "had led to dramatic cuts in team payroll and spending for players abroad, a market the franchise once owned," and the "question became whether it also resulted in a deterioration of the stadium atmosphere that culminated" with Stow's assault. L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said, "What happened (to Stow) was the direct result of a culture McCourt allowed to exist in and out of the stadium. It was barbaric." After the beating, Giants President & COO Larry Baer "tried to contact his equivalent with the Dodgers, but because of heavy turnover in the L.A. front office he did not know whom to call." Baer ended up "face-to-face with McCourt at Dodger Stadium the day after the opener, and told him that he did not feel comfortable encouraging Giants fans to wear their colors to games in L.A." But the Dodgers owner "told Baer everything was fine." Baer recalls, "That was unnerving." Still, Jenkins notes the Dodgers' reaction to the beating, "while not as swift as many would have liked, turned out to be forceful." The LAPD said that "no violent crimes have been reported" at Dodger Stadium since Opening Day. However, there are "far fewer people at the games." The Dodgers led MLB in attendance in '09, finished third last year and have fallen to 10th this season. It is "hard to say whether fans were put off by the Stow beating or by the security lockdown that followed -- or by how poorly the team, only two seasons removed from a second consecutive NLCS appearance, has performed." Padres P Heath Bell said, "You go to games there and everyone is so mad at the owner they won't show up. It's heartbreaking" (SI, 8/29 issue).

The Sharks yesterday announced that their parent organization will now be known as Sharks Sports & Entertainment, replacing the Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment group that was created in '00. The new SSE logo incorporates aspects of the Sharks' mark and includes the team's colors: pacific teal, black and orange (SSE). In San Jose, Eli Segall noted the rebranding "comes about a week after the company laid off a reported 19 employees, many of whom worked" in the now-shuttered corporate merchandise division. Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said that SSE "did not want to be affiliated with only the Silicon Valley region." The organization operates the Sharks' HP Pavilion, as well as "recreational ice rinks in San Jose, Fremont and Oakland." SSE also owns and operates the ATP World Tour SAP Open in San Jose and Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, as well as the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass. (, 8/24).

The Lions yesterday sold all tickets to their Oct. 10 "MNF" game against the Bears "less than 45 minutes after individual game tickets went on sale," according to Dave Birkett of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The Lions "haven't played on Monday night since 2001 and haven't appeared in prime time since 2005." By the end of yesterday, the Lions also "were close to selling out their Thanksgiving clash with the Green Bay Packers." Lions President Tom Lewand said demand for tickets is up "significantly" over recent years. Birkett notes after a "decade of losing football, often in front of less-than-capacity crowds, Lions fever seems to be at a post-Barry Sanders high." The team's game Saturday against the Patriots also sold out, the Lions' "first preseason sellout in six years" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/25). In Detroit, Drew Sharp reports "hundreds of hopefuls had lined up outside Ford Field, waiting for individual tickets to go on sale" yesterday after some fans reportedly "camped out Tuesday night to get first crack at the choice seats." Sharp: "The Lions are selling the idea that they're good, and people are believing" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/25). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith wrote, "The Lions have frequently been blacked out in recent years, thanks not only to the Lions’ terrible record but also to the terrible economy in Detroit, but early indications are that they have a chance of selling out all their home games. There’s real excitement for the Lions in Detroit, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years" (, 8/24).

EPL club Liverpool yesterday announced the launch of its “first official soccer academy in India, as it aims to spread the ‘beautiful game’ in a country where cricket is by far and away the dominant sport,” according to Will Davies of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Steve McMahon Football Academy, named after the former Liverpool player who is a partner in the venture along with the club and India’s Carnoustie Group, will open this October in Noida, to the east of Delhi. Liverpool "hopes to enroll about 500 students aged eight to 16 who will be trained by professional coaches.” McMahon said that Liverpool also is “looking for another campus in Delhi, and hopes to expand to Mumbai and Goa, as well as south and northeast India next year.” He added, “One of our goals as a team is to get the next Indian footballer to play, hopefully, for Liverpool Football Club.” Liverpool Int'l Football Academy Head Steven Turner, also at yesterday's announcement, said that the club “wants to have ‘a footprint in every continent in the next three years,’ and has plans to expand its academy network to South America and countries including the U.S. and China, where he is visiting later this week.” He also indicated that Liverpool “might tour India in 2013” (, 8/24). BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Mehrotra & Katakey noted Liverpool “already has a partnership with an academy in the western India city of Pune.” The club is “further entrenching itself in Asia after playing exhibition matches in China and Malaysia in July, a year after Standard Charter PLC, which gets more than three-quarters of its profits from Asia, signed a sponsorship deal with the club” worth $134M. McMahon said, “This is not about the money, this is about me giving something back to the game” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/24).

The Mets tomorrow during their home game against the Braves will hold the team's inaugural Social Media Night, an effort that continues a rapidly increasing interest by many MLB clubs in the emerging medium. The Mets have dedicated their Big Apple Reserved section, roughly 800 seats beyond the center field wall at Citi Field, to the Social Media Night and are selling a $41 ticket to the event that includes $18 in food and beverage credit. Attendees will also get a Connect Mets T-shirt, a series of Twitter-based giveaways and trivia contests, and a short meeting with rookie 2B Justin Turner, who has nearly 10,000 followers for his @redturn2 feed. The initiative was developed with the aid of MLBAM. "This is an important evolution of our ongoing effort to reach out to our fans and connect through social media," said Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard. "I'm sure we'll learn a lot and it will give us a foundation to grow the concept further next year."

The independent CanAm League Newark Bears have "scrapped plans to donate $2,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving" on behalf of former MLBer Jim Leyritz, as the team had "planned to announce it Thursday, the same night as a team-sponsored beer pong tournament promotion," according to the AP. The team said that it canceled the presentation "after MADD said it would not accept the money." Leyritz, who is retiring as the Bears' pitching coach, was convicted of drunk driving following a car crash in '07, but was "acquitted of felony drunk driving manslaughter charges" (AP, 8/24). Leyritz said that he was "not consulted" prior to the team announcing the promotion. He said, "I want to make it clear that I do not want to be associated with anything else going on that night. I don't want to have anything to do with the promotion of the consumption of alcohol" (, 8/24).