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Volume 24 No. 160


The NHL Panthers yesterday announced the layoffs of "an unknown number of staff members," according to Tim Reynolds of the AP. The Panthers are "believed to be the NHL's second team to publicly announce layoffs" since the CBA expired at 11:59pm ET last Saturday, joining the Senators. The team as of yesterday "listed 149 employees on its staff directory across all platforms, including hockey operations, business operations, arena operations and at the team's training facility." Jobs were "reduced in multiple departments" (AP, 9/18). In Ft. Lauderdale, Davis & Fialkov cite a source as saying that "no one under contract in hockey operations was laid off, including coaches, scouts and personnel evaluators." Another source estimated that "as many as a dozen employees were laid off, and some were told they would be rehired after the lockout." Davis & Fialkov note the Panthers meanwhile "are continuing to sell tickets for the opener and beyond." The team on Sunday launched an "I Love Panthers Hockey" campaign, "promising that the entire Panthers staff (more than 100 employees) will make appearances at charitable organizations, schools, rinks and neighborhoods throughout South Florida on Fridays beginning this week to promote the team and assist with various charitable initiatives" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/19). In Miami, George Richards reports the layoffs, which include mascot Stanley C. Panther, "came mostly in arena operations and sales." Meanwhile, Panthers season-ticket holders will "have the option of getting 10 percent of monies paid to the team forwarded to future sales or get a 5 percent refund" in the event that any regular-season games are canceled. Fans also "can get full refunds if the entire season is canceled." Any refunds "wouldn't come until the lockout ends and a revised schedule is announced" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/19).

: A spokesperson for Capitals Owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment said that the team "won't be laying off employees or making staff members take pay cuts during the lockout." In DC, Stephen Whyno noted the staff directory on the team's website shows that the team "employs 124 people, though that includes television and radio rights-holders" (, 9/18). Meanwhile, the Capitals in a letter to fans regarding the team's policy for season-ticket holders wrote, "We will not charge your account for any NHL game, preseason or regular season, that is not played. In appreciation of your continued support and loyalty we would like to provide you with a 1% APR interest on the funds you have on account related to games that are not played" (, 9/18).

WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN: A Blackhawks spokesperson said the team will not make any personnel changes "for the foreseeable future" (, 9/18). A source said that the Stars organization "has not had any layoffs, that everyone has been told to continue to do their jobs, and that ... everything is status quo" (, 9/18). 

HANGOVER CURE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes in a "weird way, the lockout could be a blessing in disguise" for the NHL Kings. Despite coming off their Stanley Cup win, the Kings were "never going to displace the NBA’s Lakers in terms of popularity," and when the Lakers acquired G Steve Nash and C Dwight Howard, it "cemented the Lakers as the No. 1 attraction in the market, with everybody else playing catch-up." On the "plus side, what the lockout may permit the Kings to do is mitigate the effects of the Stanley Cup hangover." Teams that won one year "had a difficult time ramping it up for their title defences, largely because of the short summers, the wear and tear on players’ bodies, and sometimes, the length and breadth of their actual celebrations" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/19).

Shares for EPL club Manchester United yesterday “fell by 3.5 per cent" after the club announced their "first reduction in revenue" since the Glazer family purchased the team in '05, according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. The shares “dipped after the club revealed they relied on a tax credit to deliver a profit in the first trophy-free season" under the Glazers. The tax credit of $43.8M [all figures U.S.] due to the club after they "recorded consistent losses in the first years of the Americans’ ownership” covered a $17.8M “decline in revenue caused by United’s elimination in the Champions League group stage last season.” The club last year also was “knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round." ManU recorded a $37.3M profit as "revenue fell" from $537.3M  to $519M. ManU still carries $708.4M of "borrowing in the form of bonds," down from $743.9M the previous year, and spent $80.2M servicing them, "down 3.5 per cent” from ’10-11. Still, the "underlying figures revealed on Tuesday will be viewed by the Glazers as vindication of their approach to United.” The figures “show that commercial revenue continues to rise rapidly, outstripping broadcast and match-day income for the first time” (London TELEGRAPH, 9/19). In London, Julian Knight writes, “The blow to the bottom line was softened by greater commercial activity." ManU has 34 partners, which brought in $189.6M "over the year to the end of June." That figure is up $21.1M "on the previous 12 months” (London INDEPENDENT, 9/19).

PROTECTING THE BRAND: Also in London, James Moore writes ManU's increased commercial revenue “was desperately needed because Man U the company barely turned a profit, and that was only thanks to a chunky tax credit.” Without the credit, the club “would have shown a loss, just like virtually every other football club.” Moore: “The question now facing Man U the company is whether Man U the brand can continue to generate the sort of revenues it has been enjoying if Man U the club suffers through an extended period without silverware” (London INDEPENDENT, 9/19).

Minneapolis city officials and representatives of the Vikings “signed off Tuesday on a plan to allow more than a dozen food vendors to set up shop along a two-block stretch of the Hiawatha light-rail line Sunday in hopes of luring more fans" to the 49ers-Vikings game, according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Mayor R.T. Rybak said the experiment, dubbed "railgating," is designed to "add more sizzle" to pre- and postgame festivities. Meryhew notes the railgating idea is “part of a broader vision by Rybak and city officials to provide fans with an alternative to more traditional tailgating, and generate more game-day traffic and activity in advance of the opening of a new downtown stadium in 2016.” Rybak said that he “hopes the city and downtown restaurateurs can eventually turn Fifth Street ... into a 'Purple Path,' where fans gather at food and beverage trucks and celebrate” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/19).

: In Minneapolis, Jean Hopfensperger writes the arrival yesterday of the state of Minnesota's first video pulltab games created "a stir at five popular nightspots and launching an experiment expected to fund a new Vikings stadium while opening a fresh chapter for the state's charitable gambling industry.” Five games manufactured by a Las Vegas gaming company yesterday were “approved by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board.” Eventually, the games are “projected to fund about $350 million of the $975 million Vikings stadium” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/19). In St. Paul, Tad Vezner notes the games are “played on iPads distributed by bar workers, all tied to a central database of prizes unique to each bar.” Bars get “batches of 7,500 ‘tabs,’ purchased by charities and stored in a central database for each game, each with its own allotment of winning tabs.” The bars “receive another batch when the tabs run out” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/19).

The 76ers have "sold more tickets for the 2012-13 season than they did last season," according to John Mitchell of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. 76ers CEO Adam Aron said that the Sixers have "more than doubled the sales of full season-ticket packages from 3,300 last season to 7,000." He added that sales of 10-game ticket packages "have more than quadrupled" for the Sixers, who begin the regular season on Oct. 31 with a home game against the Nuggets. Mitchell notes this marks the second season in a row that the Sixers "expect to see significant gains in attendance." Last season, the team "saw average attendance at the Wells Fargo Center jump" to 17,502 after averaging 14,751 in '10-11. Aron said that the increase in ticket sales "is not solely" because of the team's acquisition of C Andrew Bynum. Aron credited Bynum for "about a 5 percent bump" in sales. The Sixers, who have "reported a 92 percent renewal rate on season tickets, did not change the majority of their ticket prices" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/19).

STRONG SALES IN THE BIG EASY: In New Orleans, John Reid noted the Hornets on Monday announced that they have "surpassed an average of 12,000 tickets sold per game this upcoming season, which includes partial and full-season season ticket packages, group sales and suites." It is the "highest tickets sold per game average prior to the season starting since the Hornets relocated from Charlotte, N.C., in 2002" (, 9/17).

Keeping the core of the Lakers roster together for the '13-14 season “could cost nearly $200 million,” according to Ben Bolch of the L.A. TIMES. The team in '12-13 will spend $128M to cover the payroll and "associated luxury taxes for a roster dripping with superstars.” But this will be the “last season the Lakers will pay a dollar-for-dollar penalty for exceeding the luxury-tax threshold.” The team's league-high '12-13 payroll of $99.2M will "cost them an additional $28.9 million in taxes, because that's how far they are above the $70.3-million tax level." Starting in '13-14, the tax burden "gets significantly heavier." Teams that are $20M or more over the tax level will “accrue additional penalties, increasing by 50 cents per dollar for every $5 million.” The Lakers “already have $79.6 million committed to eight players” for the ‘13-14 season, and assuming the team re-signs C Dwight Howard “next summer to a maximum contract that calls for him to make $20.5 million in the first year, that bumps the Lakers payroll over $100 million." The increased luxury tax would put the team "on the hook for a staggering total of $199.5 million." Also, beginning with the ‘14-15 season, teams that were "taxpayers in each of the previous three seasons will activate a ‘repeater tax,’ an additional dollar-for-dollar charge tacked onto existing penalties.” Mitigating the Lakers' financial outlay “to some extent" will be the team's 25-year, $5B broadcasting rights deal with Time Warner Cable that is "set to pay the team roughly $120 million" in the '12-13 season. The Lakers also have “one untapped financial tool at their disposal. … The so-called amnesty clause” (L.A. TIMES, 9/18).

NASH BRIDGES: Lakers G Steve Nash appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” last night and presented host Jay Leno with his No. 10 Lakers jersey. Leno noted, “Now, some Suns fans (are) very upset that you left.” Nash: “There's a couple.” Leno then asked, “Do you hear from them?” Nash: “You know, (they’ve) been overwhelmingly supportive actually. A lot of people have been really thrilled for me to have a great opportunity and thanked me for my eight years there recently. But there have been some people that were very angry” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 9/18).

Dodgers investor Magic Johnson was profiled on HBO’s “Real Sports” last night, and Johnson disclosed he invested $50M in Guggenheim Baseball Management's purchase of the team. HBO's Jon Frankel noted Johnson becoming an investor in the Dodgers “was the crowning achievement in one of the most remarkable second acts in modern American life." Johnson said, “I’m a control freak and I don’t apologize for that. I never invest in anything that I don’t have say-so in.” Frankel asked, “You’re not a silent partner?” Johnson: “I don’t know how to be silent.” Frankel noted when groups began to bid on the Dodgers earlier this year, they knew they "would need a popular face.” Johnson said, “My phone started ringing and about five or six billionaires called me. ... They all wanted to sit down with me and include me in their group as they made a pitch and made a run after the Dodgers. So I interviewed all of them and my first question, ‘Do you want to win?’” Frankel asked, “What did they want from you specifically from day-to-day?” Johnson: “Well, write a big check first.” Frankel followed Johnson around Dodger Stadium on a gameday, and fans continuously came up to him to take pictures and thank him for acquiring the team. Frankel: “Forgive Dodger fans for treating Johnson like a savior because to them that’s exactly what he is, rescuing the franchise from the previous owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, after their sensational divorce put an iconic team in the tabloids and bankruptcy" (“Real Sports,” HBO, 9/18).