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Volume 24 No. 156


Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner today "issued a strong statement" denying a N.Y. Daily News story suggesting the family could explore selling the Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of Hal Steinbrenner: "I just read the 'Daily News' story. It is complete fiction. Me and my family have no intention to sell the Yankees and expect it to be in the family for years to come." Heyman writes Yankees President Randy Levine this morning "painted a picture of the story being so far from the truth it barely deserved a serious response." Levine said that the picture of Hal Steinbrenner "lacking interest in baseball or the team is absurd." Levine: "He is very enthusiastic. He's been managing partner three years. He won the World Series once, got to the ALCS once and we're here now. He doesn't have George [Steinbrenner's] personality, but nobody does'' (, 5/24).

INITIAL REPORT: In N.Y., O'Keeffe & Madden report rumors are flying in MLB and N.Y. banking circles that the Steinbrenner family "is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees." Multiple baseball and finance sources said that the Yankees "could be put on the block in the wake of the record sale price" of $2.175B the Dodgers went for in April. Sources said that the sale of the Dodgers is "just one reason why the Steinbrenner family may be looking to sell the team, which experts estimate could be worth up to" $3B. Another factor fueling the speculation is the fact that Hal Steinbrenner "doesn’t seem to share his father’s passion for baseball, and his brother, Hank, has virtually disappeared from the baseball landscape since he approved" a 10-year, $275M contract for 3B Alex Rodriguez before the '08 season. Hal Steinbrenner "rarely attends games, and according to those who know him, abhors doling out the huge money long-term contracts such as the Rodriguez deal." The source said, “Hal’s a smart businessman. And I’m just not sure that he considers baseball to be a smart business." One source said that there is "no reason for Hal, Hank, Jessica, the GM of the family’s stable in Ocala, Fla., and Jennifer to hang on to the team other than the prestige" of owning the Yankees. The source said, "Hal hates the players, and he hates the media" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/24).

JUST THINK ABOUT IT: In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes Hal Steinbrenner is a "very smart guy, which means smart enough to see and know that the landscape of baseball is changing." What he "has to see, as clearly as anybody, is that you can no longer buy your way to the World Series." The Yankees may "well stay in the Steinbrenner family forever." Lupica: "But believe me, if the O’Malley family can sell the Dodgers, the Steinbrenner family can sell the Yankees. Or at least be allowed to have a conversation about that." If the Steinbrenners "are thinking about selling, despite the loud and angry and predictable denials that such a thing could ever happen, and it’s an insult to their father’s memory for a newspaper like this one to even suggest a thing like that could ever happen, maybe that is business every bit as brilliant as George Steinbrenner showed you 40 years ago when he bought the Yankees." Lupica: "We constantly hear about the value of the Yankees. ... Ultimately, though, bottom line on that, it only matters if you sell. And if the Dodgers can sell for $2 billion, what are Steinbrenner’s Yankees worth once people start fighting over them? So why wouldn’t they at least think about it?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/24). Also in N.Y., O'Keeffe & Red name potential buyers for the Yankees, and include Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban on the list. However, Cuban said that he "won't make a run" for the team. Cuban: "After the Dodgers sale, I couldn't afford it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/24).

The Magic may meet next week with TNT analyst and former NBAer Shaquille O’Neal “to talk about possibly being the general manager,” according to sources cited by ESPN's Chris Broussard. The Magic on Monday parted ways with GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy, and "despite the public bickering" between O'Neal and Magic C Dwight Howard "about Superman and all that, Dwight and Shaq actually have a good relationship." In some ways, they "bonded over their dislike for Stan Van Gundy." Broussard: "The Magic feel like, ‘Look, if we can bring Shaq in, he’s been everywhere Dwight wants to go.’ He can help Dwight mature and maybe again, help keep him in Orlando" ("NBA Countdown," ESPN, 5/23). In Orlando, Josh Robbins writes the “notion of O'Neal as the Magic's general manager seems absurd at first blush, second blush and third blush.” Magic CEO Alex Martins said that the ideal GM hire "will have extensive experience, a strong background in managing player personnel, a history of successful long-term planning and the ability to set a culture for the basketball operations department.” Martins added NBA championship experience would be a "plus." Robbins notes O'Neal “has the championship experience” as a player, but he “has never worked in a basketball operations department” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/24).’s Marc Stein noted O’Neal has been “lobbying behind the scenes to be considered for the position, and the Magic -- in spite of the nastiest of divorces with O'Neal in the summer of 1996 -- are willing to at least sit down ... and give him the courtesy of hearing what he has to say.” However, that is a “long way from actually hiring” him (, 5/23).

CAN YOU HANDLE IT? When asked if Howard will select the team's next GM, Magic Senior VP Pat Williams said, "No. Alex has made that abundantly clear. Listen, we want Dwight Howard in a Magic jersey for life, there's no doubt about that. But, he needs to decide what he wants." Williams said of potential candidates for the team’s GM opening, "Alex has said his phone has been ringing off the hook. There will be no shortage of candidates" (, 5/23). ESPN’s Magic Johnson said O’Neal would “be great” for the Magic because Howard “needs somebody to really talk to, that can mentor him, not just on the basketball court but off the court as well.” Johnson said, “Dwight Howard: Make a decision ... quick this summer. Either you want to stay or you want to leave. He has to make a decision because now whoever’s running the organization they can move on or they know they got him and build around him” (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 5/23).

A FULL-TIME JOB: ESPN’s Tim Legler said O'Neal "probably thinks just because he thinks this guy is pretty good, this guy can't play, he can be a GM." Legler: "There's a lot more to it than that. It's so time-consuming. If you want to do it right, you've got to be there all the time, and I think that's been one of the problems that Michael Jordan has had" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 5/24). 

NOT A GOOD WEEK: In Orlando, George Diaz asks, “Which stock took a greater hit this week -- Facebook or the Orlando Magic brand?” The Magic “have supplanted the Los Angeles Clippers as the NBA's most screwy franchise.” The team “couldn't even fire their coach properly,” as Van Gundy was “at the Magic offices earlier on Monday, only to get a call several hours later from Martins telling him he had been fired.” Diaz: “That's an unprofessional cheap shot, and Van Gundy deserved better than that” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/24).

Thunder officials yesterday announced plans for an outdoor block party outside Chesapeake Energy Arena that will begin "three hours before home games,” but festivities “will come to an end when the game starts,” according to Michael Kimball of the OKLAHOMAN. The Thunder will “no longer show games on the giant screen affixed to the exterior of Chesapeake Energy Arena, ending what had grown into an NBA playoffs tradition in Oklahoma City.” Team officials did say that pregame Thunder Alley festivities “will continue on Reno Avenue north of the arena.” The decision comes in the wake of a shooting late Monday in Bricktown that injured eight people. The Thunder Alley crowd watching Game Five of the Conference Semifinals series against the Lakers “had swelled to an estimated 6,000 people Monday, far larger than the crowds that watched games outside the arena during previous playoff runs.” The team operates Thunder Alley “using what the city calls a Revocable Right-of-Way Use Permit, which is needed when an event operator wants a city street closed.” City officials said that the “process to apply for and approve those permits, and ensure event operators are in compliance with a permit's rules, has become so cumbersome and vague that efforts began a year ago to make changes” (OKLAHOMAN, 5/24).

The Coyotes' run to the Western Conference Finals this season is the "source of hope for those looking at the Coyotes bottom line," according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. The team averaged 12,421 fans this season, last in the NHL, and Coyotes President & COO Mike Nealy said, “It’s true this franchise has not done well financially. If you look back at some of the hurdles we’ve had, it’s not surprising. But we’re not that far off in the grand scheme of things in terms of making money.” Nealy added, "The biggest piece of the whole thing: you do need to have a competitive team that people believe have the potential to win. We had some years there where we weren’t creating believers out there." McGran notes on the "positive side, the Coyotes sold out every home playoff game." Nealy also "changed the business model this season, which he believes the team is only beginning to reap the benefits of." The Coyotes "stopped their massive giveaway of tickets, fearing it devalued their product, and as a result sold 60,000 more tickets than last year." Also, over 90% of season-ticket holders "have renewed, their highest renewal rate" since the team moved to Phoenix in '96. Nealy said that prospective Coyotes Owner Greg Jamison "knows what he’s doing when it comes to taking over the historic money-losing team that will again -- despite the playoff revenue -- land in the red." Jamison said, “We won’t discuss [the] exact number, it’s certainly a material amount but it’s not insurmountable. But with the lease as proposed and a competitive team, it’s very plausible to be on the other side of that and be in the black” (TORONTO STAR, 5/24).

TIME TO BUILD ON PLAYOFF SUCCESS: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote the Coyotes' playoff run "was exactly the jolt of credibility this team and market needed." Relocation rumors "won't die," and "hurdles remain," but the Coyotes "have the core elements needed for sustained success." The team "earned much civic credibility in this postseason." Bickley: "Remember how the 2011 Diamondbacks captured our fancy by fighting back from the brink of elimination, finally succumbing in extra innings of Game 5? The Coyotes did the same thing in 2012" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/23).

The EPL’s 20 clubs collectively lost $566.3M (all figures U.S.) in '10-11, “after spending all of their record” $3.6B income, according to David Conn of the GUARDIAN. Of the clubs in the EPL in ‘10-11, the year of most clubs' latest published accounts, “eight made a profit.” Eleven clubs sustained losses totaling $718.5M, with Manchester City losing $309M, “the greatest financial loss in the history of football.” Chelsea, bankrolled by Owner Roman Abramovich, “lost the next highest amount” at $106.7M. Liverpool, “documenting the first eight months of ownership by John Henry's Fenway Sports Group,” lost $76.9M. The clubs' combined deficit is “partly the result of the first year of the Premier League's 2010-13 TV deals,” in which a record $2.3B was earned from overseas broadcasters. The financial figures “portray a league of fierce sporting competition which relentlessly forces up players' wages” (GUARDIAN, 5/24).