Erie County (New York) Exec Mark Poloncarz yesterday said that he “believes that a short-term deal to extend the terms” of the Bills' existing lease on Ralph Wilson Stadium by a year “can be worked out quickly," according to Denise Jewell Gee of the BUFFALO NEWS. However, Poloncarz added that it is "not likely major stadium construction will start during the 2013 off-season.” Poloncarz said, "The goal was to get a lease done this year so we could have shovels in the ground, so that fans of the Buffalo Bills who attend games for the 2013 season would see changes at Ralph Wilson Stadium before the start of that season. In all likelihood, that's not going to happen now." Gee notes meanwhile, state officials yesterday sought to “clarify their role in the negotiations, objecting to a characterization” by Bills CEO Russ Brandon that talks are "in a stalled holding pattern." Gee notes, “Extracting a long-term commitment from the Bills to stay in the region in exchange for public funding for major upgrades to the county-owned stadium has been at the center of negotiations, which started early this year, to renew a lease agreement that expires in July 2013.” Poloncarz said that a proposal from the Bills for more than $200M in renovations to the stadium "would take three off-seasons to complete.” He added that the start of major construction “would now likely be pushed back until 2014 once a long-term lease deal is reached.” Gee notes Bills execs and state and county officials “are now focused on arranging a one-year extension of the lease to allow discussions over a long-term deal to continue” (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/13). Poloncarz said that he “expects the new one-year deal would be similar to the team's existing lease” (AP, 9/12). In Buffalo, Mark Gaughan noted “the last meeting held among all three parties in the talks -- the Bills, and state and county officials -- was June 29.” A source said that “three scheduled meetings since then were canceled or postponed.” The NFL has a fall meeting scheduled for Oct. 16-17 in Chicago “at which G-4 funding for Buffalo could get approved.” But for the Bills to “get on the agenda for that meeting,” the team “would need to present a plan to various league committees” when those panels meet Sept. 19-20 in N.Y. Brandon: "The key point is we're going to miss committee meetings -- most notably the Stadium Committee meeting next week -- which will not allow us to be on the agenda for the October meeting. So we can't reasonably expect to complete the process in time for the 2013 offseason schedule for potential work (on the stadium)" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 9/12).
The Hurricanes yesterday announced the addition of five investor groups to the team's ownership roster as part of Hurricanes Holdings LLC. Two groups have opted to keep their deals private. Among the other three are Playmakers Management, controlled by team VP/Hockey Operations Ron Francis. Another is GreedgardenDRC, controlled by retired businesswoman Eliza Kraft Olander and McHenry Software President Brian McHenry. The final investor is Tekelec President & CEO Ron de Lange (Hurricanes). Francis said that loyalty to Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos Jr. "was one reason he chose to invest in the team." He said, "It was important to give a little back and help Pete." In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes this is the second time Karmanos "has added investors." Last November, he "welcomed a group of 10 partners, which included" Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford and AHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Michael Kahn. Francis said, "I'd go to a lot of the investor meetings and presentations, and the more I listened, it made sense to me to help the franchise. We see this franchise getting better and better. We want to grow our game and grow our business in this area" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/13).
An original announcement said that “no current players would attend the annual” Calgary Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic, but that “all changed Tuesday afternoon as the stars were being lambasted on Twitter and fan websites,” according to Wes Gilbertson of the CALGARY SUN. Flames LW Curtis Glencross said, “Everyone is kind of making us look like the bad guys.” He added, “Our ultimate goal is we’re here to support the charity” (CALGARY SUN, 9/13). Flames LW Alex Tanguay said, “With what’s going on with the owners, we’re not in favour of doing too much for the team. But this is for the right reason. Maybe we won’t do as much for the team if it goes to a lockout, but right now we’re happy to help the community” (CALGARY HERALD, 9/13). In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher writes what made the Flames' move “stand out is that it goes right to the heart of how nicey-nicey these disputes really are, even though the owners are going after the players' livelihood pretty aggressively.” Gallagher: “Why are [the players] so co-operative and passive in these matters? Sure, they're nice guys and there's no point in being miserable or small after it's over, but you have to wonder what life would be like if there was a little more acrimony and the players became a little more militant” (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/13).
The Canucks have “a plan for their office staff and that involves working less, and making less as well” if the NHL locks out its players on Saturday at 11:59pm ET, according to Elliott Pap of the VANCOUVER SUN. Employees would be “reduced to a four-day week and take a corresponding 20 per cent pay cut.” Canucks COO Victor de Bonis said that the team “will continue to be ‘very active’ with their charitable endeavours throughout any work stoppage” (VANCOUVER SUN, 9/13).
IN UNDER THE WIRE: In DC, Katie Carrera notes the Capitals signed LW Troy Brouwer to a “three-year, $11 million contract extension on Wednesday that keeps him in the Capitals’ plans through the 2015-16 season.” The possibility of a lockout and the uncertainty about “what limitations will be placed on contracts in a new agreement prompted a flurry of signings around the league in recent days.” Brouwer admitted that the CBA deadline “played a role in coming to terms on an extension” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/13).
NEW RULES & RESTRICTIONS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov notes the Panthers players during a lockout “will not be allowed to use the team's facilities in Coral Springs or at the newly named BB&T Center.” They will be “permitted to rent ice time at the Iceplex as they have been doing because it's a public ice rink.” But they will have to “use the cramped, antiquated locker rooms across from their state-of-the-art training area.” In addition, they “won't be allowed to have any discussions with coaches, management or public relations employees” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/13).
LET THE BATTLES BEGIN: In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless writes the NHL owners are “asking for as much as they are for the best reason of all -- they believe they can get it and they likely will.” That may “prove to be unpopular with players but it's true until proven otherwise.” Maybe NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr “really is that good at his job.” But if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman “gets his way, the Jets and the people who own and run the franchise will find themselves on even better footing than they are today.” The Jets “made money last season under the current CBA model and any improvements to the next agreement from an ownership perspective” will provide Jets Owners Mark Chipman and David Thomson a “little more breathing room and give the franchise more of an opportunity to succeed on and off the ice” (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/13).