Angels officials have had “preliminary talks about moving" the franchise from Anaheim to City of Industry, Calif., according to a source cited by Ben Baeder of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. The team's lease at Angel Stadium is up in '16, and the Angels "at that time would either have to renew their agreement until 2029 or move to a new home.” Angels Owner Arte Moreno in the past has said that he would “need to know this year or next whether he should stay in Anaheim or move the team.” The source said that while officials at Majestic Realty Co. are "still working hard to bring a National Football League team to Industry, they are open to building a baseball stadium instead.” Majestic Realty VP John Semcken in the past has said that he “did not think that Moreno would be interested in moving his team from Anaheim.” Baeder notes those who “opposed an NFL stadium said they would oppose a baseball complex.” Lake Forest College economics professor Rob Baade said that he would “not be surprised if the Angels were shopping around for potential stadium deals.” Baade said, “It's a negotiating chip. ... They would use a proposal in Industry or some other place in their negotiations with the current stadium owners” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/20).
Blue Jackets execs and coaches "will absorb salary cuts of up to 50 percent in the coming weeks," according to Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Sources said that the team's scouts -- "many of whom still will be scouting in minor leagues and junior leagues during the lockout -- will endure a 30 percent salary cut." Portzline reports the rest of the front office, including club-employed broadcasters, was "informed in a staff meeting on Tuesday that they will be hit with 10 to 15 percent salary cuts and a four-day workweek should the lockout extend beyond Nov. 1." Nationwide Arena workers have "been informed by the Convention Facilities Authority that no layoffs or pay cuts are coming." However, Franklin County (Ohio) Convention Facilities Authority Exec Dir Bill Jennison said that part-time employees will "work fewer hours with each canceled game." The Blue Jackets "hope that by reducing salaries they will be able to avoid layoffs among their front-office staff of roughly 130 employees" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/20).
PLAYING IT CLOSE TO THE VEST: In Calgary, Wes Gilbertson writes Flames President & CEO Ken King is "tight-lipped about the details of the Flames’ contingency plan during the latest NHL lockout, but the news around the Saddledome was more positive than at some other NHL arenas." The Flames employ a full-time staff of "about 165 people, and that number won’t shrink during the current labour dispute." However, "some front-office types and other employees are accepting paycuts as a result of the stalemate between the NHL and NHLPA." In most cases, the "reduction in salary and workload takes effect Oct. 1." King said, "The salary and work-requirement cuts are on an ascending level, meaning that those at the executive level will face the largest cuts and then that moves down through the group. Those at a certain level will not be affected at all” (CALGARY SUN, 9/20). Meanwhile, Red Wings Senior Communications Dir John Hahn said team execs "don't have any plans to lay anyone off" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/20).
AMERICAN INGENUITY: In Rochester, Kevin Oklobzija reports the AHL Rochester Americans will move their Oct. 21 home game "to Oct. 23 at the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo." If the lockout "extends well into December, one or more additional Amerk games could be moved to Buffalo." Sabres President Ted Black said that "nothing else in October or November will be touched." He added that he "understands that many Amerk season-ticket holders may not like the switch, but added that every attempt will be made to make the switch as painless as possible." Oklobzija notes during the '04-05 lockout, the Amerks "played four games in Buffalo and averaged 15,160 fans" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 9/20).
Bills CEO Russ Brandon yesterday “denied a story suggesting the NFL team might play more than one home game a year in Toronto in the future,” according to John Kryk of the QMI AGENCY. Brandon, speaking on WGR-AM, said, "The one thing I wanted to be very clear about is we will not be playing multiple games up north.” The Buffalo News on Sunday reported the team “might relocate more than one regular-season home game a year” to the Rogers Centre as “part of the Bills-in-Toronto series renewal.” Brandon: "We are continuing those negotiations and we are close to an agreement, but the one thing that I will say is that the report in the Buffalo News was not accurate. We will not be playing more regular-season games in Toronto." Brandon added that “no playoff games ever would be held in Toronto.” A source said that “only one pre-season game likely will be part of the renewal” rather than one per year, “as in the original arrangement.” The source added that the series extension would be “less lucrative for the Bills.” The source said ticket prices would be "significantly reduced” (QMI AGENCY, 9/19). Brandon also said that the organization will "likely start trying to increase its hold in the Syracuse market, furthering its regionalization plan." Brandon said, "Syracuse is definitely a Bills town. I grew up there and it was certainly split between Giants, Jets and Bills back in the day, but it's certainly a Bills town now. I think there's more that we can do there as well. It's just a two-hour, 15-minute drive. There's more opportunity, but we need to continue to strengthen Rochester and Toronto and Southern Ontario" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 9/20).
Timberwolves majority Owner Glen Taylor “no longer is considering just one prospect to succeed him," according to Charley Walters of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Taylor on Tuesday said, "At first I opened it up to just one person and said I would 'hold it for you for a while,' but when we didn't get a deal done, I told that person there are other people who had made inquiries and that I'm going to talk to them, and that's what I'm doing now." Taylor, who also owns the WNBA Lynx, in July said he and a prospective buyer "sort of" had an understanding for a deal before the coming season. He would not reveal “the new interested parties, but including the initial prospect there now are believed to be three inquiring about obtaining majority interest in the Wolves.” Taylor: "I continue to meet with several different parties who appear to have interest in completing a deal. I'll be patient and see if it works out." Taylor said that whoever "ends up with the Wolves, that person or group would be required to keep the franchise in Minnesota.” He also said that he has “received calls from people who would try to move the Timberwolves if they could buy the team.” Taylor: "But that's not part of the conversation." He added that there is “no time frame for a transaction.” Taylor said, "I'm not anxious, and I'm not in a hurry" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/20).
The Spurs yesterday unveiled their alternate uniforms for the upcoming season and the “most prominent image” is the team’s “simple, iconic U-shaped logo, writ large across the left breast,” according to Jeff McDonald of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. More than “two-thirds of the NBA’s teams will include a third uniform in the wardrobe case this season,” and the Spurs are “set to add to the en vogue trend with a sartorial look different than anything they’ve worn before.” In addition to the trademark logo, the Spurs’ new "silver top features the uniform number on the right breast in black, with black and white vertical stripes along the side.” The accompanying shorts are “monogrammed with the letters ‘SA’ on the left leg, the only alphabetical mention of the team or city on the front of the ensemble.” The team plans to “break them out only for a dozen or so home dates this season, debuting with the Nov. 1 home opener" against the Thunder.” The new look will “be available for purchase starting Oct. 6 at the Spurs’ fan shop at the AT&T Center, online at NBAStore.com and at area Academy sporting goods stores” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/20). The new jerseys are also available by purchasing a six-game Platinum Pick 6 ticket package, which allows fans to choose games against the Lakers (Jan. 9) or Heat (March 31), plus a selection of five additional games throughout the season (Spurs).
FINDING THE SILVER LINING: ESPN.com’s Paul Lukas wrote the new jersey “arguably looks more like a practice uni.” Lukas: “I'm a ‘less is more’ guy, so I'm generally fine with minimalist designs, although this one is really pushing it. The most interesting thing about it is that the jersey doesn't include the team name or the city name” (ESPN.com, 9/19). In San Antonio, Dan McCarney noted while "certainly unique, these togs just aren’t all that interesting.” They took a “bold step by removing any specific identification and went strictly with their iconic Spur logo.” The move is “not necessarily a good step, mind you, but definitely a bold one, and that deserves credit.” McCarney added minimalism “is one thing, but these uniforms are just, well, dull” (MYSANANTONIO.com, 9/19).
NET GAIN: ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and Chris Broussard discussed the Nets' new jerseys, and Kornheiser said they are “simple, they’re stylish and they are really old-school." Kornheiser: “I don’t know if I like them, but I know that they are striking and so from that sense, stylistically I like them.” ESPN’s Chris Broussard said the jerseys are “Raider-like” in that they are “intimidating, like the Raiders, and it’ll appeal to the hip-hop” crowd, which will be "loving these uniforms” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/19).
The Blue Jays sit at the bottom of the AL East standings in what has been "the season from hell," according to Steve Simmons of the TORONTO SUN. Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston said, "It has not been fun. I've never experienced a year like this one, where so many things have gone wrong. You go back to the beginning of the year, even into the season, attendance was coming back, our TV numbers were great, there was a good buzz about the team. But once the team started to go south, it just seemed to be one thing after the other. And it never stopped." Simmons writes the "list of everything of anything that has gone wrong assaults Beeston's regular rose-coloured approach to the club." Beeston: "It's the one thing that keeps me up at night. When you build something and you don't deliver, there is a feeling of emptiness." Simmons notes the Orioles and A's, "perennial doormats, may go to the playoffs." Beeston said, "I'm actually pissed off about it. And the reason being: Can you tell me who the favourite is in the American League? There isn't one." Asked about the lost opportunity of this season, Beeston said, "We had something going here. You could feel it. The way people were returning to baseball. The way interest was increased. There are angry people out there and I understand why. We're angry too. And it's hard to get to the place where people are excited about your team. We started to get there and then everything fell apart" (TORONTO SUN, 9/20).
FACING THE CONSEQUENCES: The GLOBE & MAIL's Robert MacLeod noted Blue Jays SS Yunel Escobar was "suspended for three games" by the team after he "displayed on his eye black a homophobic slur written in his native Spanish" during last Saturday's game at Rogers Centre against the Red Sox. The phrase "Tu ere maricon" was written on Escobar's eye-black stickers. Escobar will "lose roughly $90,000 (U.S.) in salary," which will be "donated to organizations that deal with gay and lesbian causes." Escobar also will be "required to participate in sensitivity training programs" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/19). In Toronto, Steve Buffery asked, "How dumb were the Jays not to notice the writing under Escobar's eyes before he went on the field?" This is a "multi-million dollar organization, owned by billion dollar corporation and no one notices a homophobic slur under their starting shortstop's eyes?" (TORONTO SUN, 9/19). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair wrote of the incident, "The stupidity and arrogance of Escobar and his teammates have done more than torched currency with the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community; it has given other peoples of diversity cause to second-guess, and that is deadly in this age of social media and high-tech marketing in a city as diverse as Toronto" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/19).
In Ft. Lauderdale, Juan Rodriguez notes Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest does not think manager Ozzie Guillen is “the sole reason for this miserable year.” Everybody “had a role, from owner Jeffrey Loria to team president David Samson on down.” In regards to complaints about the dimensions of Marlins Park, Beinfest said, “I think there is too big a deal being made because the walls are the walls and if you let it affect you in any way, and I’m not speaking specifically about our players, that’s not productive. You have to deal with it. Use it to your advantage. Hit the balls in the gaps.” Beinfest said of the ballpark, “The roof’s open. The roof’s closed. It’s windy. It’s humid. It’s this. It’s that. I’m not sure we have enough data to say it’s this or that. Is it spacious? Absolutely” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/19).
MET GAINS: On Long Island, Marc Carig notes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “stayed on message regarding the state of the Mets, once again reiterating his support of the Wilpon family, even as the franchise deals with financial questions in the aftermath of the Bernard Madoff lawsuit, which was settled in March.” Selig said, “I have no concerns whatsoever.” He added, “I don't consider the Mets a problem in any way, shape or manner. They're on the right track. That should give you your answer” (NEWSDAY, 9/20).
CHICAGO BLUES: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan noted the Cubs entered Tuesday night's game with a home attendance of 2,597,624, and with nine home games remaining had “no chance of surpassing the 3 million mark.” The “last time that happened was in 2003.” The Cubs have seen attendance “drop every season since” setting a franchise record in ’08 with 3,300,200 fans. Despite the decline, the Cubs “decided to maintain the third highest average ticket price in the majors this year” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/19). Cubs VP/Tickets Sales & Service Colin Faulkner said that the team is “on pace to finish with a final season home attendance of around 2.8 million fans” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 9/17).
EXCHANGE PROGRAM: In Houston, Zachary Levine noted Astros GM Jeff Luhnow does not deny “there is a strong business incentive to wanting to turn Mexico into Astros country and the Astros into a team with a little more of a Mexican presence.” Luhnow said, “We’re hoping that we can ultimately get more Mexican players here and ultimately connect more with our Mexican community, which is pretty substantial not only in Houston but also in South Texas and all of Texas, for that matter.” Levine wrote as the Astros “work toward a spring training game in Mexico City or Monterrey in 2014 with a caravan trip in 2013, it’s worth noting the first 51 years of the franchise’s history have seen almost no contributions from Mexican players” (CHRON.com, 9/17).