Newport Beach-based Mobilitie Founder & CEO Gary Jabara "is the leader of one of three groups believed to remain in the running" to buy the Padres, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Mobilitie is "involved in the ownership, management and development of cell phone towers." L.A.-based Oaktree Capital Principal & Dir Steve Kaplan "also heads a group pursuing the Padres." Jabara and Kaplan join former Dodgers Owners the O'Malleys "as the apparent finalists for the Padres." Reports indicate that the "proposed sale price" is $800M (LATIMES.com, 6/14). In San Diego, Brent Schrotenboer notes the O'Malley family's bid "is joined by" golfer Phil Mickelson (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman notes while Padres Chair John Moores "may well get" upwards of $800M, some interested parties "think his asking price can't be justified by the Padres' low revenues." Despite the "seemingly high price tag, it appears Moores still has at least two potential buyers in the bidding ... and maybe even three." Sources said that $800M "was the qualifying offer just to make it into the final three." Heyman: "Some believe that the low-revenue Padres at $800 million plus is just as crazy as the Dodgers' record price, if not more." A source said that he believes the Padres are "a money loser" if the player payroll exceeds $35M, "a paltry sum for a baseball team." The Padres are currently "last in player payroll" at about $55M. Moores' $800M price tag "is said to come from" $600M for the team plus a $200M "piece of the team's new lucrative TV deal with Fox" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/14).
Kings COO Chris McGowan said that the team's Stanley Cup Playoff run "has had a 'humongous' influence on merchandising and ticket sales," according to Andrew Owens of the L.A. TIMES. McGowan said, "We've definitely seen a spike in season tickets already. Attendance was doing very well during the regular season. But then we made the playoffs and saw a big spike after we beat Vancouver in the first round. That's when we started to sell lots of season tickets." McGowan said that the team "already has sold out its partial ticket plans for next season and projects to do the same with season tickets -- a feat that has never occurred in team history." He added that just as the team is "experiencing a buzz at the ticket office, it has experienced a similar demand for Kings apparel and merchandise." McGowan: "Our numbers during the playoffs and finals were unprecedented in both hockey and basketball. ... People are coming down here and buying jerseys, hats, anything they can get their hands on that commemorates the Stanley Cup Final." Kings LW Dustin Penner said, "You start seeing a lot more silver and black everywhere and you get noticed a little more wherever you go" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille said that the team's "market research shows there are 2.5 million hockey fans in Southern California." YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika noted those fans are "are spread out throughout the sprawl, diluted, and the Kings share them with the Ducks." Robitaille said that the goal is to "increase the total number of hockey fans to 3 million and to claim as much market share for the Kings as possible" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/14).
ROAR OF THE CROWD: In L.A., Gold, Allen & Leu note the L.A. Police Department estimated the crowd for Thursday's celebratory Kings victory parade "at 250,000." Later in the afternoon, "legions of fans packed every seat in the Staples Center." The crowd saved its "most explosive cheers" for coach Darryl Sutter. Fans also "stood as one" and "chanted 'MVP'" for Conn Smythe Trophy-winning G Jonathan Quick. Until now, despite "some playoff success and a slew of talented players, the franchise was probably best known for not winning the Stanley Cup despite signing the best player the world had ever seen" in Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky. But in the "glow of the champions, all seemed forgotten Thursday" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15).
A crowd "estimated at 7,500 turned out to watch the Colts' Wednesday practice at Lucas Oil Stadium," according to Phil Richards of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Colts COO Pete Ward said that the club "sold 260 season tickets" during the event. Available seats "were marked and fans were given the opportunity to try them out." The Colts came into June "with 3,500 unsold season tickets, but that number has been pared to about 2,100, nearly all of which are upper-level seats priced at $690." Asked if the Colts might consider conducting a minicamp practice at the stadium annually, Ward said, "Would love to do that each year but it just depends on stadium availability corresponding with the new 'weekday' minicamp dates" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/15).
THE CAT'S MEOW: In Charlotte, Joseph Person notes the Panthers also held an open minicamp practice, and the team "estimated Thursday's crowd at 5,500, including 1,000 sponsors." Many in attendance "were treated to free footballs as players tossed them to fans following big plays." Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who came up with the idea, said that "it might become an annual tradition" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/15). WBTV-CBS' Dedrick Russell noted event organizers said that "it will be hard not to do this again next year." Fans were allowed into Bank of America Stadium for free, and Panthers President Danny Morrison said, "I was amazed how many came from long distance." The Panthers said that "the momentum is high" and ticket sales "are better this year than last year" (WBTV.com, 6/14).
The Bengals are "joining the league's digital revolution, becoming the latest team to move their playbooks from three-ring binders to tablets," according to Joe Reedy of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. The organization "bought about 110 iPads for players and coaches for the upcoming season." There will be "at least 12 teams this season, including the Bengals," using digital playbooks. Bengals Exec VP Katie Blackburn "proposed the move last year, but head coach Marvin Lewis was hesitant due to the lockout and the lack of programs that were user-friendly." Going digital also "required the Bengals to upgrade their IT infrastructure, which they did through partnerships with Pomeroy and Northern Kentucky University." The Bengals "would not put a specific figure on how much the total cost was other than to say ownership committed to investing hundreds of thousands of dollars." Another benefit of the digital playbook is that "players are allowed to access notes from previous games" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/15).
In Memphis, Michael Sheffield notes prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera must cross "numerous hurdles" before his deal to purchase the team "is finalized -- most of all, approval by the NBA." The league will conduct a "study of Pera's finances, not only to show he can afford to buy the team but also run it." Pera also must "present the league with a management team that will be in charge of operations." Finally, if it "hasn't been done already, he has to meet with the owners of the other 29 NBA teams." Sources said that Pera is "maintaining a low profile until the process moves along" (MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/15 issue).
MATH CLASS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes Yankees President Randy Levine recently clained StubHub "has caused the fall in home attendance." Levine also said the team is exploring more “fan-friendly alternatives for next year.” Mushnick: "More fan-friendly? Like what? Unless it’s greatly reduced ticket and concession prices, the Yankees still will be five years too late! From the day new Yankee Stadium opened, the Yankees stretched and surpassed the limits of logical affordability" (N.Y. POST, 6/15).
LEARNING THE HARD WAY: Browns President Mike Holmgren Thursday said the team is "not for sale." He said he talks to Browns Owner Randy Lerner "all the time." Holmgren: "I assume he'd tell me 'cause we have a very open, honest relationship" (OHIO.com, 6/14). In Ohio, Tim Bielik wrote Lerner is the "most invisible owner in all of sports and for a franchise that has been fledgling for 13 years like the Browns have been, that's nowhere near acceptable." He also has helped run EPL club Aston Villa "into the ground." Lerner has "not only ruined one football team, but two." The Browns need "a more aggressive owner and one that's more willing to be in the public." Lerner "shouldn't be a Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones type of owner, but something like a Dan Gilbert would be great for the team" (MORNINGJOURNAL.com, 6/12).
LOVE TO HATE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Criag Davis noted Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen ranks as the "least respected manager in the game" according to a poll in Men’s Journal of 100 MLBers. The survey is the July edition of the magazine. Guillen said, "I don’t get paid for people to like me, I get paid to win games. In my career, I’ve got a World Series championship and two playoffs. There’s a lot of great managers in baseball that are very good guys, and they don’t got (bleep)" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 6/13).