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Volume 24 No. 158


The Flyers "aren't expecting a huge financial windfall from hosting this year's Winter Classic, but team officials say the exposure that hockey gets in the city will pay off," according to John George of the PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL. Flyers President & COO Peter Luukko said the Winter Classic is "similar to a Super Bowl. It's a league showcase and to get to host it is an honor. The excitement for hockey here in Philadelphia over a seven-day period is the real benefit for us long term." Industry sources said that the profit for the Flyers as host for the event "will likely be in the mid-six figures." Where the Flyers "will get a chance to make some money is in the ticket sales and sponsorship deals for the alumni game and the AHL game." The team also will "get revenue from the sales of Winter Classic merchandise it sells on its own, but not from items sold on the day of the actual Winter Classic game." Flyers Senior VP/Business Operations Shawn Tilger said that as of last week, the team has "sold more than 1,100 Winter Classic jerseys." Tilger added that the number is "40 percent ahead of the total sales of the 2010 Winter Classic jerseys when the Flyers participated in the game against the Bruins." He also noted that RW Claude Giroux' Winter Classic jersey is "the top seller with more than 300 sold" (PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/16 issue).

CHANGE IT UP? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "All 30 teams would love to host the event, even if it is not geographically feasible with the weather." He added of potential venues, "Through the course of discussions, probably every conceivable option has likely been raised, even if it's discussed for 2 seconds and kicked aside. ... Because of what it does for the host market, we're pretty much going to stay close to a team's market. Instead of being absolutely in the middle of nowhere, it doesn't make sense when we think we can be connected. I'm not talking about a stadium that's not downtown. But not being in either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, I'm not sure it makes a whole lot of sense -- at this point. As this thing goes on, and more and more of a foundation is built, my guess is [NHL COO John Collins] will be pushing the boundaries to go further and further out there" (, 12/20).

The Mets have been seeking 10 or so minority partners and some of the “perks” that will come from investing $20M to buy 4% of the team are outlined by Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. They include access to Mr. Met, the team mascot; a business card with designation of “Owner” and access to a fantasy camp called “Owners’ workout day.” The “benefits of ownership are laid out in a term sheet given by the Mets’ owners to prospective partners.” In addition, a single parking spot at Citi Field is reserved, and a “chance to throw out a game’s first pitch will be an annual privilege.” Every minority owner “will be assigned a team executive, who will be charged with tending to an array of possible needs.” But “season tickets for family members” will cost money beyond the $20M investment. Each minority partner will receive one luxury box at Citi Field, as well as “one free trip with the team during the regular season,” one free weekend’s stay at spring training; and “a lot of potential lunch dates -- with broadcasters and former players.” Sandomir: “A luncheon with the manager and general manager? Off-season only, the document says. Merchandise? Discounts, but not giveaways” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/21). ESPN’s Tim Legler and Marcellus Wiley today discussed the perks involved with being a minority partner. After hearing the stake does not come with Mets tickets, Legler said, “You’re going to ask somebody to fork over 20 million bucks and you don’t even get tickets? And where is that one parking spot? Who knows, it could be in Long Island.” Wiley said, “No wonder they’re under financial problems right now, if this is the proposal right here. I guess the 4% is all you should care about. ... Everything else, all these side perks, they’re almost insulting.” Legler: “Access to Mr. Met? For 20 million bucks you might come by my house and see him mulching my beds” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/21). Read the full term sheet.

LEAVING THE GULF: The Mets yesterday announced that they are "eliminating their minor league team in the Class A Gulf Coast League," which will save them $750,000-800,000. The Mets "were one of only three major league clubs with nine minor league teams" (, 12/20).

The Warriors said that Oakland-based health plan provider Kaiser Permanente “is the first sponsor to buy into its new top-tier sponsor program, called Gold Alliance,” according to Eric Young of the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES. Sponsors in the program “are paying at least $1 million, compared to the approximately $600,000 paid by the team’s biggest sponsors in the past.” As part of its multiyear deal, Kaiser “will get a broader array of promotional opportunities during games, on telecasts and on the web than any other sponsors.” Warriors officials said that they “hope to land two more top-tier sponsors this year and as many as seven total.” The club currently “lists about 80 sponsors.” Warriors President & COO Rick Welts said that over time they may “have a smaller number of sponsors, but hope to get more money from each one.” Welts also said that the team will "ramp up hiring in order to solicit and service the club's biggest sponsors and to sell more tickets." He wants to "hire at least 10 people in the coming year, which would add to the approximately 120 front office employees." Welts said that the Warriors "will start the season with about 10,000 season tickets sold, about even with last year" (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 12/16 issue). In S.F., Joe Garofoli cited sources as saying that Welts and GM Larry Riley “will speak to all of the people who work at the arena and explain how the club will try to help them out before the holidays and through the season with other ‘rewards.’” An NBA source said any decision to help arena workers who were hurt financially during the lockout “will be handled at the team level” (S.F CHRONICLE, 12/17).'s Kevin Arnovitz wrote Clippers President Andy Roeser and VP/Basketball Operations Neil Olshey have put the franchise "in a position to reverse decades of futility." Selling team Owner Donald Sterling “on the vision was likely every bit as challenging as swinging the deals themselves.” Whatever liabilities remain for the Clippers on the roster or in the locker room, “they pale in comparison to the damage that could be unleashed if Sterling were to decide to meddle in the progress.” With G Chris Paul and F Blake Griffin “weighing their long-term options over the next 18 months, the Clippers can't afford to have Sterling do anything to disrupt the aspirations of everyone involved in this project -- not Roeser or Olshey, not the superstars, not the supporting players, nor the fans in Los Angeles” (, 12/20). In L.A., Jon Gold wrote there “may be some buzz” to the Lakers-Clippers rivalry now, "but one blockbuster trade does not a rivalry make.” Despite having Paul and Griffin, the Clippers “are no Lakers” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).'s Scott Howard Cooper after the Clippers exhibition win over the Lakers Monday wrote under the header, "Clippers Look Good In Rout, But It's Still Lakers' Town" (, 12/20).

HELP NEEDED: Pacers Owner Herb Simon yesterday spoke for the first time about the new CBA and said that he expects the agreement “to help teams like the Pacers.” Simon said, “I think it's an improvement over the last CBA. That, along with the new revenue sharing, will help the smaller markets." In Indianapolis, Mike Wells notes while Simon “likes the progress made with the revenue sharing,” he still believes his franchise “needs help running Conseco Fieldhouse, which will have a new name Thursday.” Simon: “We still need to finalize our deal with the city to alleviate some of the arena expenses in a building that they own. That's the issue.” He added, “It's never been the Pacers are losing money. Part of the reason we're losing money is because we're having these arena expenses that most other teams don't have to deal with” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/21).

CONSCIENTIOUS SPENDER: In Philadelphia, Ed Rendell wrote 76ers Owner Josh Harris believes the team “can be a viable economic entity if they connect with the fan base by playing winning basketball and providing a great fan experience.” Rendell: “I predict Philadelphia, and especially Sixers fans, will love having Harris as an owner.” He “has clearly said all basketball decisions will be made by Doug Collins and Rod Thorn.” Harris also said that “he will spend money ‘for value.'" He “simply doesn't know how to lose.” Rendell noted Harris “turned Wall Street on its head and made a boatload of money at a very young age” (, 12/19).

HYPOCRITICAL SITUATION? Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban in an interview with TMZ said, “(W)e went through a long lockout, and one of the things we were trying to gain was that small-market teams could have confidence they could keep their star players. ... And within two weeks of the new collective bargaining agreement, the smallest-market team, which is owned by the NBA [the Hornets], threw up their hands and said, ‘We can’t keep our star player.’ So it’s not about Chris Paul. It’s more about the fact that the NBA kind of gave up on the CBA before giving it a chance. And to me, that made them kind of hypocritical -- or very hypocritical -- which didn’t sit too well with me.” He added, “We had a lockout. What was the purpose of the lockout? … Of all the teams not sticking it out, you would think the team owned by the NBA and run by the commissioner would be the first to stick it out, and they weren’t. And to me, it’s hypocritical, and threw a lot of us under the bus” (, 12/19).

In Toronto, Richard Griffin cites MLB sources as saying that the Blue Jays' bid for Japanese P Yu Darvish "was over $50 million, barely edged out by the winning bid of $51.7 million reported to be posted by Rangers GM Jon Daniels." Griffin writes fans "should take heart that the Jays are no longer perceived as whining poor boys of the AL East, that ownership is ready to compete." Grffin: "Now just do it" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote Monday "illustrates what we've discovered the past two offseasons: That the Rangers have the cash to compete in the free-agent market. No longer is Daniels simply playing Texas Hold 'em with prospects as chips." If the "past four seasons are any indication, Daniels and his staff have a tendency to win most of the bets they place." Daniels "played the process like a poker pro" (, 12/20).

IF YOU BUILD IT... New Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan said of the football market in Jacksonville, "People are going to come. Contrary to what the press says, we have not had a blackout in the last couple years. We are going to sustain that." Khan said of the NFL's possible expansion overseas, "I think there will be a market. The idea of possibly two teams overseas makes sense. ... England likely is a good spot" ("NFL Podcast with Peter King,", 12/20). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote Khan is "setting the right tone." He is "creating enthusiasm, but being as honest as possible about loyalty being a two-way street between the organization and the fans." Frenette: "Khan appears to be a breath of fresh air. If he's as good as he sounds, it should be a fun, interesting ride" (, 12/20).

DEEP WATER: In Toronto, Dave Perkins writes it "appears the Montreal Canadiens have gone off the deep end." Perkins: "Who else hires a new coach (Randy Cunneyworth) on a game day with now five consecutive road games looming on either side of the Christmas holidays? Further, when the inevitable complaining arises from the usual sources that Cunneyworth can’t speak French, the owner, Geoff Molson, comes out with a wishy-washy statement that pretty much dismisses Cunneyworth as a permanent candidate and sends the Habs fishing in shallow waters only for a French-speaking coach" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21).

: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan wrote Sabres Owner Terry Pegula "ought to be mad" about the team's 16-14-3 record, and it is "time he did something about it." Pegula "needs to shake things up." There is "no culture of accountability in that operation." Sullivan: "This is the 15th year of [GM Darcy] Regier and [coach Lindy] Ruff. It's a culture of contentment, in which people become too comfortable, and it trickles down to the players" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/20 ).