Confidential “special terms” included in the Dodgers' bankruptcy court settlement last year gives the team’s new owners a “chance to cap income subject to revenue-sharing" from any new RSN deal at about $84M a year, according to sources cited by Helyar, Church & Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. While a new Dodgers RSN deal “could get as much" as $225M a year, the club "may enjoy an annual unshared windfall" of as much as $141M. Former MLB Rangers Minority Owner & President Michael Cramer said, “It’s an incredibly great deal for the new ownership that was obviously a factor in the amount of money they were willing to pay. Any team in the league would say, ‘Can I have that?’ It’s going to create a lot of owners saying, ‘Where’s mine?”’ Sources said that the special terms also set a "4 percent annual escalator, for the life of whatever contract the team signs setting up the network.” However, MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred said that “it doesn’t work that way.” He said, “The basic treatment is exactly the same as every other team in baseball. Any dollar that’s actually received in rights fees or signing bonus by the Dodgers is subject to revenue-sharing.” Dodgers Owner Guggenheim Partners spokesperson Torie von Alt said that the team “would have no comment.”
PANIC BUTTON: Phoenix-based bankruptcy attorney Thomas Salerno said that taken altogether, the settlement terms "suggest MLB was so eager" to get former Owner Frank McCourt out and “avert an open-court airing of charges he’d leveled against [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig in filings that it made significant concessions.” Salerno said, “McCourt had a lot of leverage, because MLB did not want a public hearing on the inconsistencies with which it treats teams.” Manfred said that team owners were “briefed on this provision of the settlement, but language of the 'special terms' remains secret.” Sports consultant Andy Dolich said that “special treatment for the Dodgers bodes ill for baseball.” He said, “If you don’t have a codified set of rules that everybody is playing with then you have a different game. The ongoing divide between top and bottom in all sports creates a dynamic of question marks" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 9/27).
FAMILY FEUD: In L.A., T.J. Simers notes McCourt’s ex-wife, Jamie, filed a motion in court because she “believes Frank committed fraud by understating his assets.” She has asked for "all documents related to the Dodgers’ sale.” This “includes the very same details Guggenheim has steadfastly refused to publicly divulge” (L.A. TIMES, 9/27).
Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley "remains confident about his agreement to sell the team to Robert Pera despite the more-than three months that have expired since the deal was announced," according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Heisley said, "I don't think it's dragging on. ... The banking industry is a lot more cautious and it takes a little longer than it did in the past. But I have no reason to believe that it won't go forward." He added, "I'm not really worried about whether (the sale) will consummate or not." Heisley added that it is "business as usual until Pera is approved." He said, "There's an understanding between me and Mr. Pera that I would go forward and make the decisions that need to be made. If there's any problem, we'll get together. But he agrees with the way we've conducted business" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/27). A COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial states Pera "has the financial wherewithal to purchase the team and operate it successfully." The editorial asks if the Shelby County (Tenn.) Commissioners who objected to the transfer of the FedExForum lease "really think the NBA is going to let the Grizzlies be sold to someone who doesn't have the deep pockets to operate the team?" The NBA "surely does not want to get into another situation like the one in which it owned the New Orleans Hornets for almost two years" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/27).
The MLS Sounders FC season-ticket package for the first time will include "no international friendly," according to Don Ruiz of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer on Tuesday said that "such friendlies may continue to be scheduled, but they will not be part of the season-ticket package" for the '13 season. Hanauer: "We've listened to our fans. We've heard -- it's of course, mixed -- but some of the feedback is 'We're way more interested in competitive games than exhibitions.' It doesn't mean we won't do a friendly, it's still possible." Ruiz notes in terms of attendance, the friendlies "have been successful." EPL club Manchester United's visit last year drew 67,052, the "largest soccer crowd ever in the Pacific Northwest." Chelsea this year "drew 53,309 to CenturyLink Field," which ranks as the fourth-largest home crowd of the team's season. The Sounders "have led MLS in attendance in each of their four seasons." Attendance averages have climbed each year, and Hanauer said that the club's decision to drop friendlies from the season-ticket package "makes it more likely that the upward attendance trend will continue" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/26).
THE PEOPLES' CHOICE: SPORTING NEWS' Brian Straus writes the Sounders "are going to historic lengths to ensure that fans still matter." Starting Oct. 7, season-ticket holders and members of the MLS club's fan association, called the Alliance, "will have the opportunity to vote on whether to 'retain' or express a 'lack of confidence'" in Hanauer. If "lack of confidence" wins, the club "actually will hire a new GM." For the most part, this is a "no-lose situation for the Sounders and for Hanauer," as it is "great publicity and makes for fantastic fan relations." As a minority owner of the club, Hanauer "won't be on the unemployment line if voted out." But it is "unlikely going to come to that," as Hanauer is "a Sounders institution." At least 10,000 votes are "required for the Oct. 7-Dec. 7 election to be valid and the results will be authenticated by an outside accounting firm." The club's Twitter feed "already has featured #AdrianIN and #AdrianOUT hash tags -- a sign the Sounders will have a bit of fun with this election" (SPORTING NEWS, 9/27).
HITTING THE RESET BUTTON? Sounders Majority Owner Joe Roth said of the team's Xbox jersey sponsorship, which expires after next season, "We don't have anybody. We're looking. ... They're not out of the running, they've just had a very unimaginative conversation over the course of the past year. They see things differently than we do" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/27).
After drawing a crowd of 13,797 for Tuesday's Indians-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field the White Sox are "on pace for a season-total home attendance of 1,970,082, falling short of their 2011 total of 2,001,117," according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The White Sox begin today one game out of first place in the AL Central. Team historian Mark Liptak said that such a drop "would mark the sixth consecutive season in which Sox home attendance has dipped from the previous season." Liptak said that such a streak "has happened just two other times in team history -- from 1926 to 1932 and from 1965 to 1970." The reasons behind the current drop are "harder to figure out for a team that has spent most of the season in first place" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/26). Indians CF Brent Lillibridge, formerly of the White Sox, on Tuesday wrote on his Twitter feed, "A first-place team with only 6 home games left and the lower bowl isn’t even full. You’re better than that Chicago.” Lillibridge yesterday said, “I thought there would be a lot more excitement and more people here at the ballpark. I got here and didn’t really feel it. It was kind of weird. ... It’s playoff time right now. I just want to see Chicago really embrace it" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 9/27).
IN THE BLACK: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan writes, "Despite one of the worst seasons in club history, the Cubs attendance was strong enough to make the team profitable." Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said, "All the money will go back to the team in one form or another." The team's "budget flexibility was something the Ricketts family has waited for since buying the club" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/27).
The Marlins have signed Adam Greenberg to a one-day contract. Greenberg while playing with the Cubs in '05 was hit in the head with a pitch during his only MLB plate appearance, meaning he did not have an official at-bat. Marlins President David Samson appeared on this morning's episode of NBC's "Today" to extend the contract to Greenberg, saying, "This is someone who we believe deserves to have one at-bat." Samson promised Greenberg he would get at least one at-bat during next Tuesday's game against the Mets. Greenberg said, “I can’t address and express how much it means to me, and this isn’t just about me or an at-bat. Baseball in general doesn’t owe me anything." NBC's Matt Lauer handed Greenberg a Marlins hat to wear and asked Samson, “There’s no deal struck here with the Mets' pitcher, nobody’s going to be lobbing pitches to Adam that night?” Samson: “I can assure you they’re going to try to get him out. ... You’re going to have a chance to swing and you better swing, Adam.” Greenberg: “You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll be ready.” Filmmaker Matt Liston has championed the effort to get Greenberg one MLB at-bat via an Internet campaign, and he said, "I don’t know whether I’m going to be crying or just jumping up and down" (“Today,” NBC, 9/27). "CBS This Morning" also profiled Greenberg's story, and CBS' Mark Strassman reports Greenberg "says Liston’s zeal re-energized him to chase a dream he thought was over” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 9/27). MLB Network's Peter Gammons wrote on his Twitter feed, "Thanks to Marlins for giving Adam Greenberg his richly-deserved at-bat. It will be an intensely human moment. Thanks Jeffrey Loria." SI.com's Peter King wrote, "I'll be a Marlins fan Tuesday night."
COMMISSIONER APPROVED DEAL: In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi reports Greenberg will “bat against R.A. Dickey after the Marlins received approval" for the contract from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Greenberg has agreed to “donate his one-day salary to the Marlins Foundation, which will then make a donation to the Sports Legacy Institute -- an organization that advances the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups.” He currently is one of “only two players ever to be hit by a pitch in his first-and-only Major League plate appearance and never take the field" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 9/27). In Ft. Lauderdale, Juan Rodriguez notes Greenberg “developed vertigo and post-concussion symptoms that stalled his career.” He last played “on an affiliated baseball team in 2008.” From ‘09-11, he was with the independent Atlantic League Bridgeport Bluefish (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/27).