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Volume 24 No. 155


Padres Chair John Moores said that Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad "is on the verge of completing his long-awaited purchase" of the team, according to Barry Bloom of The 100% "sale of the franchise -- at an estimated $530 million -- that Moores has held since late 1995 is on the agenda for approval by the owners at this Thursday's first joint quarterly meeting of the year." Moorad and his group of partners "had previously made two payments and were in possession of 49 percent of the franchise." The remaining "$200-plus million is coming from his current group and doesn't include any new investors." Moores said of the deal, "It's 100 percent done." Moorad also is "waiting for approval from MLB of a new regional sports network contract with FOX Sports that will bring the Padres' media-rights dollars more in line with other baseball franchises of comparable market size" (, 1/9). In San Diego, Tim Sullivan cites MLB sources as saying that the "delay in approval of the Padres’ local television rights deal with Fox Sports was tied to the transition in ownership; that it was unlikely to move forward until Moorad had replaced Moores as the franchise’s 'control' person" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/10). Moorad "has until March 2014 to complete the sale" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 1/10). 

OWNERSHIP IN REVIEW: In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes Moores "scoffs at the thought" that he is "one of two men who saved baseball in San Diego." Canepa: "And for that reason alone, he was a good owner." When Moores "came out of nowhere" to purchase the Padres in '94, the "fire sale had just been completed." The team "was at the lowest of the low, playing baseball in a football stadium." Moores "insists his exit will not be bittersweet." Canepa notes Moores "says 'nolo commento' when asked why he sold the club, but there can be little doubt that his divorce from wife Becky had a whole lot to do with it." Moores said, "To be fair, I don’t know if I’d do it again. It’s like buying an E-ticket at Disneyland and a little ways into the ride saying, ‘Oh, oh, this was a mistake'" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/10). Moores also said that he "would continue to explore ownership opportunities in baseball and other sports." In '11, he "dropped out of contention to purchase" the Hawks. Moores said, "For me to get back in, it would have to be the right venue" (, 1/9).

Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan dismissed General Counsel & Senior VP/Football Operations Paul Vance on Thursday, indicating Khan is “determined to bring a new energy and direction to the franchise,” according to Tania Ganguli of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Vance had been with the organization since its inception, having “worked closely with former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver.” Vance said, “I had said to Shad all through the transaction that it was going to be his team. I think when someone buys something like a team and stuff like that it’s his decision what he wants to do.” Khan promoted Assistant General Counsel Sashi Brown to General Counsel. Brown has been with the organization since before the '05 season, having joined the Jaguars “three years after graduating from Harvard Law School.” Vance’s duties included “negotiating player contracts and forming the organization’s salary cap strategy, responsibilities he assumed in 2001.” He was “heavily involved in the coaching search in 2003 that led to the hiring of Jack Del Rio,” but was “not involved in this year’s coaching search.” Sources said that “contrary to reports, the decision to remove Vance was not related to a dispute that arose last week between the Jaguars and their assistant coaches.” Khan made his decision on Vance “before coaches notified the organization of a discrepancy in the contracts” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/10). However,’s Mortensen & Schefter cited league sources as saying that “a dispute over contract language that affects seven fired Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coaches for more than $3 million in salary may have been one of the factors" that led to Vance's dismissal. The seven assistants had signed extensions in '10 and the club “believed it was for two years that would expire at the end of the 2011 season.” However, the applicable clause in dispute states, "shall terminate on the later of January 31, 2012 or the day after the Jaguars' last football game of the 2012 season and playoffs." Consequently, the assistant coaches “want to be compensated for the 2012 season, especially if they remain unemployed” (, 1/9).

MLS Chivas USA "seems to be running from" its distinction as the sister club of Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara, according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Chivas USA GM Jose Domene insisted that for "all the similarities," the MLS team and Guadalajara "are not the same." Domene: "Chivas USA is a team with a rich heritage, history and tradition that is based in L.A. However, Chivas USA is not Chivas Guadalajara. They are two separate teams that work together." Guadalajara “posted the best record in Mexico's recently concluded Apertura, but Chivas USA has won just a quarter of its games over the last two seasons.” Guadalajara also has “a strong identity, something else its MLS sister team lacks.” Baxter noted in a region that is "home to more than 5 million Mexicans, Chivas USA would do well to play up its pedigree -- to stamp itself as the most Mexican team in MLS even if that connection stops with the name and the jersey design.” But Domene said, "Historically there has been a misleading message of Chivas USA being a 'Mexican' team. For obvious reasons we cannot line up Mexican players only. We are an American team with Mexican heritage in our brand." Further hurting the team's ability “to carve its niche in Southern California's crowded sports market is that it shares the Home Depot Center with the Galaxy, whose star-studded lineup and recent success cast a large shadow.” While the Mexico-born, U.S.-educated Domene “favors a broader, more inclusive approach," VP/Marketing & Sponsorship Rodrigo Morales, who spent five years running the organization in Guadalajara, is "said by former team officials to prefer playing up the MLS team's Mexican roots.” A move “might help too, with Domene confirming Chivas USA is in talks with ‘several cities’ -- including Pomona and Santa Ana -- about a possible relocation.” Winning “would also solve a lot of problems.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "We are very focused on how to make Chivas better, more popular in the market. How (can) we help them achieve the goals they set out when they came into the league in 2005?" (L.A. TIMES, 1/8).

As more groups declare their intent to bid on the Dodgers, MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig "in this hour of critical need ... are in the ominous position of not being able to actually dictate" how the sale process goes, according to Mark Kreidler of Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt is “going to be looking at the highest bidder,” something that Selig "must influence.” The Disney family is the latest group to express interest in the team, and the sale of the Dodgers “officially has become one of the most star-studded processes baseball has ever known.” The line of applicants outside MLB’s door “is testament to the truth that the Dodgers remain a potential crown jewel in the sport.” In the dream scenario, you would “see several of these competing entities find a way to coalesce into one superpower of an ownership group.” But that “is merely the dream.” Selig “must try desperately to influence the sale to the good of the Dodgers and their fans -- and, by extension, MLB itself.” Under normal circumstances, the idea of a seller “having such control is so commonplace it isn't worthy of mention.” But these “are not normal circumstances,” and Selig has to be “as sure as he possibly can that the Dodgers are being handed over to responsible, invested ownership” (, 1/9).

QUIET OFFSEASON: ESPN L.A.'s Ramon Shelburne reported the Dodgers "began the offseason thinking big" in terms of player transactions. However, GM Ned Colletti yesterday said that the team was "essentially done with its offseason acquisitions because 'we're at our payroll.'" Colletti "refused to lament the situation publicly." He noted the payroll is down from '11, but "sometimes it's not what you spend but how you spend it." While there has been "no direct link between the Dodgers' lowered-payroll this offseason to the sale, it's clear that the team has made very few expensive or long-term commitments since re-signing [CF Matt] Kemp to the largest contract in National League history this fall" (, 1/9).

YOU GOTTA SELL SOMETHING: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck asked, "How would you like to market the 2012 Dodgers?" With "no significant new players to trumpet, coming off a third-place finish, ownership still in flux," the team's solution is a "Dodger Stadium Greats Bobblehead Series." The Dodgers announced yesterday that their "final three bobblehead giveaways would be Vin Scully, Kirk Gibson and Eric Karros." Dilbeck wrote, "Not sure which is a bigger coup, getting the beloved Scully, who had resisted previous efforts to have a bobblehead night, or Gibson, whom I believe was so irritated the Frank McCourt Dodgers would not give him a managerial look that he auctioned off his 1988 World Series memorabilia" (, 1/9).

In Minneapolis, Paul Walsh notes pricing for single-game tickets to Twins games is "undergoing a significant evolution this coming season, with stadium-wide expansion of a concept that allows the price to fluctuate based on customer demand." The team yesterday "announced the widening of its 'demand-based' pricing structure." The Twins "used the demand-based price strategy last year in two price categories (Home Plate Box and Home Plate View)." For the first two weeks of single-game ticket sales, "prices will be fixed." Demand-based pricing will "kick in March 8 and does not apply to season-ticket purchases" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/10).

In Boston, Nick Cafardo asked, "Are the Red Sox and Yankees looking alike to you?" Cafardo wrote, "Not a lot of spending going on. Both are trying to reset their luxury tax rates for 2013 or 2014, so they are being more frugal." The "superpowers aren’t buying into Scott Boras’s notion that the luxury tax is a success tax, that teams paying it are making $300 million or more above expenses." Cafardo: "Strange to think that the Marlins and Nationals have become the spendthrifts and the Sox and Yankees are being frugal. Looks like the luxury tax may soon be dead, because everyone is trying to avoid it, including two teams that never had a problem paying it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/8). Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said of the Red Sox, "I can’t stand reading these stories that they’re cheapening out on players now after what they did last winter. Not the time to pull back.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan asked, “Do we go so far to say they’re acting as if they’re a small-market team?” Shaughnessy said the ownership group should not be "complaining about luxury tax dollars at this junction.” But Ryan said the luxury tax is “onerous and I can understand what they’re doing." Ryan: "I’ll give them a pass this year” (, 1/6).

STILL NOT SELLING: In N.Y., Andy Martino noted the Mets have "retained CRG Partners," but sources "maintain that the Mets owners are steadfast as ever in their belief that current financial difficulties will not force them to sell the team." The Mets expect to close "some sales of minority shares this month, although league officials familiar with the sales say that none has been completed." Sources "describe the process of selling shares for approximately $20 million apiece as 'rolling,' meaning that the team has not yet determined when it will end sales" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/7).

In K.C., Adam Teicher notes Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said that the team "talked with more than a half-dozen other candidates" before they hired interim coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel and Pioli "worked together with the Jets and Patriots before reuniting in Kansas City." They "appear able to work well together, something Pioli and [former Chiefs coach Todd] Haley, at least toward the end, couldn’t do" (K.C. STAR, 1/10). Also in K.C., Sam Mellinger writes Pioli is a "smart football man, and in the most important ways, the narrative about him being a wild egomaniac is misguided." Mellinger: "In certain ways, sure. But when it comes to personnel decisions and the thought process behind them, Pioli is hampered more by insecurity than ego." Faced with a decision, Pioli "almost always goes with the safe choice, the familiar choice, and that’s the part that needs to stop." Now "more than ever, Pioli must be bold." Mellinger writes, "Pioli made the right decision with Crennel, but only if the Chiefs understand that nearly all of the remaining fixes for a franchise that essentially just lost a year of development must be found outside the building" (K.C. STAR, 1/10).

FRONT-OFFICE SHUFFLE: In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted Bulls President & COO Michael Reinsdorf last week "re-organized the front office," and he said that he "anticipated questions wondering if the new set-up diminished" Exec VP/Business Operations Steve Schanwald's role in the front office. Reinsdorf "insisted that wasn't the case," and said that Schanwald will "continue to oversee the revenue side of the business while allowing somebody else to concentrate on the communications side." He said that the model is "similar to the one used by the White Sox." Meanwhile, Reinsdorf said, "I want to focus not on just the people coming to games, but also the rest of the community who are watching the games on TV, going to our website, Facebook. We want to cater to their needs, too. It may not equate to revenue today, but when that 10-year-old grows up to be a Bulls fans, he's going to buy tickets, merchandise in 10 years when he turns 20." (, 1/9).

In Dallas, Gerry Fraley noted the Stars "reached an agreement to open training camp next September in Boise, Idaho." While in Boise, the Stars will play an exhibition against Wild on Sept. 25. The Stars will "become the first NHL team to conduct part of training camp in Idaho." The deal "helps strengthen the working agreement" with the ECHL Idaho Steelheads (, 1/7).

BACK TO BLACK? In Detroit, Bill Shea noted the Lions' 10-6 season and return to the playoffs for the first time since '99 gives the team "an opportunity to increase ticket and other prices, such as merchandise, concessions, parking, local broadcast rights for preseason games and corporate sponsorship and suite sales." The Lions "haven't said they'll do any of that -- yet," but "don't be surprised if it happens." For the '10 season, the Lions "posted an NFL-worst $7.7 million operating income loss on revenue of $228 million." If those estimates are accurate, the Lions will be "very interested in capitalizing on renewed fan interest to get into the black" (, 1/9).