The Islanders today announced they are moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, beginning with the '15-16 season. The announcement was made during a press conference attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Islanders Owner Charles Wang, N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark (THE DAILY). In N.Y., Seifman & Calder report the Islanders will “keep their name at the insistence of NHL officials.” Brooklyn leaders, Wang and “arena managers, eager to score a second major tenant for Barclays, joining the NBA's Nets, had no problems with that demand.” The Islanders have “long sought a new home, to replace the crumbling Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.” The team has been “handicapped by their abysmal arena, making it difficult to attract free agents to come to the team and fans to show up for one that has consistently been at or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in recent seasons.” There have been rumors of “potential overtures from other cities like Kansas City and provinces like Quebec desperate to regain an NHL franchise.” While the team is “now destined to leave Long Island, this may be a compromise local fans can accept” (NYPOST.com, 10/24). On Long Island, John Valenti notes the Islanders' lease expires in '15 , and Wang "has made it clear he has no intention of the Islanders playing in that arena beyond that.” The team has “sought a new arena to replace the Coliseum dating back to the 1990s, but have been consistently rebuffed by Nassau County officials.” Barclays Center seats 18,000 when configured for basketball, but it is “unclear how many fans it would seat if configured for hockey.” The Wall Street Journal in February estimated the hockey capacity was “in the 14,500-seat range.” The team was “supposed to play a preseason game at the Barclays Center against the Devils on Oct. 2, but that was canceled due to the ongoing NHL lockout” (NEWSDAY.com, 10/24).
Ozzie Guillen yesterday was “fired by the Marlins" after just one season as their manager, receiving the news “in a phone call" from Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, according to Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. Beinfest said parting with Guillen was an "organizational decision." However, sources said that the “final say rested with owner Jeffrey Loria.” Sources said that off the field “there were ‘myriad reasons’ for Guillen’s fall from grace.” Among them were “his failure to connect with the community, his lack of clubhouse leadership, his failure to motivate, and his inability to get along with everyone from Loria on down to members of the front office.” Yesterday's decision came "just 13 months after the Marlins traded two minor-leaguers" to the White Sox in return for Guillen, and signed the manager to a four-year deal worth $10M. The team’s next manager “will be the fifth for the Marlins since June 2010, and eighth since Loria gained ownership of the franchise in 2002.” Only the Mariners “have had as many managers in that time” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi reports Beinfest “admitted that a phone call was not the ideal way to fire a manager.” But the World Series starts today, and MLB “frowns on big announcements during the playoffs.” The timing “highlights the eagerness of the front office to move forward, starting with a long-planned meeting” with Loria tomorrow in N.Y. “to discuss next season.” Under Loria, the Marlins have "had just one manager who lasted for at least three consecutive seasons -- Fredi Gonzalez (2007-June 2010)." Beinfest said, "Ideally, yes, it would be outstanding to have a manager down there for a number of years and win." He added that he "did not think the constant turnover will scare away potential candidates” (PALM BEACH POST, 10/24).
GIMME ONE REASON: Beinfest said Guillen was let go for a "cumulative" number of things, including the "overall disappointment with the record.” He added that it “wouldn’t be fair to say he was ousted primarily" because of his comments regarding Fidel Castro. FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com’s Chris Tomasson wrote, “You have to wonder if Guillen, who had three years left on his contract, would have been given at least another season on the job had he never said it.” The Marlins "will have to pay off" the remaining $7.5M on Guillen’s contract, but "who knows how much money was lost this season or could have been lost in the future due to fans having been turned off by Guillen’s remark?” (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 10/23). The AP’s Steven Wine reported Marlins officials “believe the damage” from the Castro remark “was lasting.” The officials “blame disappointing attendance at the new ballpark in part over lingering fan resentment about the Castro comments” (AP, 10/23). The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers said, "Loria hired him to be salesman and to be a marketable guy, and Ozzie cut that right off from the start with the stupid comments about getting a kick out of Fidel Castro’s toughness, about the dumbest thing you can say in South Florida” (“Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 10/23). SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin said Guillen's tenure "was pretty much over" after the Castro comments ("Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 10/23). Meanwhile, ESPN CHICAGO’s Bruce Levine wrote Loria “hated being called out by his manager in September,” when Guillen said that “everyone from the owner on down was responsible for the lost season.” The “easily provoked Loria apparently made up his mind at that point to cut bait and bite the bullet" on the money still owed to Guillen (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 10/23).
FIGHTING FISH: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes under the header, “Guillen Is Fired, But Loria Is The Problem.” Inside the Marlins offices, there are “two groups of people.” There are “those who think team owner Jeffrey Loria is doing an increasingly shabby job of running the franchise," and "there is Jeffrey Loria.” Hyde: “Is there a plan here? Any consistency of thinking? Anything to warrant confidence for Marlins fans?” If Loria “wanted to fire Guillen for that quote and the way it simmered in South Florida, he should have done so at the time.” But if Loria “wanted to fire someone for this ugly season, if his finger was twitching so badly he needed to find some righteous blame, there were more far relevant targets than Guillen” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/24). Hyde in a separate piece wrote, "Loria keeps going through managers like dinner napkins. And good ones like Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez, too.” Hyde: “Be forewarned, whoever takes the job next. And get a big guarantee in your contract” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 10/23). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes Guillen “did not get a fair shot under the impatient Loria.” Guillen “could have been a good fit for Miami, and the same could be said for" Girardi and Gonzalez (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24). SI.com's Jay Jaffe wrote while Guillen "deserves his share of the blame, a greater share must lie with Loria and Beinfest, who knew exactly what they were getting when they hired a manager whose attention to the dugout already appeared to be wavering." Jaffe: "They’ll have to find a new way to bring fans out to their park, because home run whirligigs and profane managers aren’t enough" (SI.com, 10/23). ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden wrote the Marlins’ next hire "will be a tough one because no proven skipper will want to go there since there is no job security” (ESPN.com, 10/23).
GOOD RIDDANCE: In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes, “Don’t blame Jeffrey Loria for this one on anything but the timing.” The “easiest thing to do is criticize Loria as a team owner who goes through dugout bosses without compunction.” But “here’s the pertinent question in this case: What took him so long?” (PALM BEACH POST, 10/24). In Miami, Barry Jackson wrote Marlins execs “want a manager who would foster a more serious clubhouse culture, instill more discipline and professionalism in his players, and be a better motivator than Guillen” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 10/23). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said Loria fired Guillen because he “just got tired of him.” But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “I’m stunned it’s over this quick” (“PTI,” ESPN, 10/23).
The absence of Red Sox Owner John Henry and Chair Tom Werner at yesterday’s press conference to introduce new manager John Farrell was “accompanied by speculation that they are becoming increasingly disengaged from the business of the club,” according to Gordon Edes of ESPN BOSTON. That speculation "feeds rumors that Henry is looking to sell the club.” Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy said, “That’s an easy one to address. He’s absolutely not looking for a buyer. He’s absolutely not looking for a partner. I don’t think he could have been any more clear about the fact that he’s committed to the Red Sox. I think he says, it’s what I do, sort of who I am. John is as actively engaged and committed to the Red Sox as he ever was. I either speak to him on the phone or e-mail with him every day. I know [Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino] probably multiple times a day, [GM Ben Cherington] probably multiple times a day. ... I think they’re unfairly criticized for not being physically at every single thing that happens at Fenway Park.” Kennedy added, “They really haven’t changed their management style over the years. It’s understandable when you have other high-profile sports assets and then when you don’t perform, people are going to say, ‘Have they taken their eye off the ball?’ No, that’s on us. We -- management -- have made poor decisions that haven’t worked out because we’re not playing baseball in October” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 10/24).
FOUL PLAY? In Boston Scott Lauber writes Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos expressed "disappointment over what he calls ‘gamesmanship’ in negotiations" to free Farrell from his contract, but Anthopoulos “stopped short of accusing the Red Sox of tampering by talking to the manager before they were given permission.” Cherington “rejected the notion that the club acted inappropriately.” Talks between the two teams “existed primarily at the ownership level” between Lucchino and Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston, “friends for more than two decades” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/24). Lauber in a separate piece notes Cherington “already appears far more at ease” with Farrell than former manager Bobby Valentine, whose "marriage to the GM had been arranged by ownership and Lucchino, and therefore was doomed from the start.” Cherington said, “It’s important I have a relationship with the manager that’s strong to the point that you can disagree and be candid with one another and walk away knowing the relationship is intact. I have a better chance at making (good) decisions if that relationship allows for that candor.” Farrell said, “I think that unity can be felt by the players” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/24).
FAMOUS LAST WORDS: Valentine appeared on NBC Sports Network's "Costas Tonight" last night and said he “worked for some pretty good people” at the Red Sox. Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino “treated me like you want to be treated” and Owner John Henry and Chair Tom Werner “are super people.” Valentine: “It’s not like I’d do anything to make their life anymore miserable than I’ve already made their life for a season” (“Costas Tonight,” NBC Sports Network, 10/23).
Former Blues President John Davidson "is close to an agreement to join the Blue Jackets" as President of Hockey Operations, according to Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Sources said that an announcement "could come as soon as today." Davidson "would serve directly under" Owner John McConnell, "giving him authority" over GM Scott Howson, Assistant GM Chris MacFarland and the rest of the hockey operations department. If Davidson’s time in St. Louis is "an indication, he will not shy away from adding seasoned hockey executives." Current Blue Jackets President Mike Priest, who has held that title since '07, "likely will retain his seat on the NHL Board of Governors but is expected to focus on the business side of the organization." The Blue Jackets "spoke to Davidson in May, when a window in his contract with the Blues allowed him to meet with other teams." Davidson then met with team officials on Oct. 12 and 13, "only a week after his contract buyout with the Blues was complete." The Blue Jackets "made sense as a destination for Davidson from the time the Blues were sold to Tom Stillman in early May." Stillman "wanted to pare down the front office, which, under Davidson, had become crowded and expensive." At $2M per season, "Davidson was the biggest paycheck of the group" (DISPATCH.com, 10/24). In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford notes with three years and approximately $6M left on his contract, Davidson and the Blues this month "mutually agreed to an undisclosed buyout" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/24).
RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: In Columbus, Michael Arace writes the Blue Jackets "have interspersed brief spells of credibility with long spans of ineptitude and folly in their 13 years on ice." If Davidson "shows up at the nadir, he is just in time." His job will be "to reverse a long history of mismanagement." McConnell and Priest "must be credited for recognizing the depth of the problem, acting on a solution and getting the right man for the job." Davidson "craves challenges," and he "has one" with the Blue Jackets. He "cannot fix this thing overnight, but if he can get it running in the right direction, he will find a good, solid hockey market ready to take the ride" (DISPATCH.com, 10/24). ESPN.com's Craig Custance tweeted, "It's hard to get too excited about front-office moves in the midst of a lockout but the hiring of JD by CBJ could be a franchise-changer" (TWITTER.com, 10/24).
EPL club Manchester United Vice Chair & Chief of Staff Ed Woodward yesterday said that the Glazer family has "no plans to sell" the club "in the near future," according to Neil Gardner of the LONDON TIMES. The Glazers' decision to "sell off 10 per cent of their shares in the club in the IPO sale in August raised some questions over their long-term involvement." But Woodward said that they "have no interest in cashing in the rest of their holding." He said, "There is always interest in this business. It is a phenomenal brand and club, but they are not willing sellers at all, they won’t even engage, they are long-term investors." Woodward said that the club now had "gross debt of around" $574M (all figures U.S.) and that it "was comfortable with interest payments of around [$49.4M] this year." He also "revealed that India and Australia are both on a shortlist of countries for United to tour in the summer." In addition, the club will "open an office on the east coast of the USA to try to cash in on growing interest in football in North America." (LONDON TIMES, 10/24). Woodward "declined to name the city" where the office will be located, but he indicated that the office will open as the clubs looks "to raise more cash to reduce the club's debt" (AP, 10/23).
GOING GLOBAL: In London, Mark Ogden notes the Glazers’ plans to "tap into the growing football market in India could open up a hugely lucrative new stream of revenue for the club." Although Blackburn Rovers, a Football League Championship team "owned by Indian poultry producers Venky’s, played a game in Pune last season, no Premier League club has yet undertaken a tour of the country." With Bundesliga club Bayern Munich "drawing crowds in excess of 100,000 on recent visits to the subcontinent and United aware of the vast English-speaking middle-class in the country, offers to play in India next year are currently being discussed at Old Trafford." Research shows ManU has "20 million fans in India, but while visiting the country has been mooted in the past, issues such as the Indian climate during the English pre-season have scuppered previous efforts to tour" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/24).
TAKING STOCK: In London, Bill Edgar notes ManU "expressed concern" yesterday over their "falling share price but remain buoyant over their 'very strong financial position.'" The club’s shares were trading on the NYSE yesterday "at $12.24 each, down from $14 at the flotation in August, thus valuing the club at about $2.05 billion." The flotation raised about $231M, "half of which went to the Glazer family, the owners, and half to pay off some of the club’s debt." Many felt the Glazers’ business model "was unworkable when they became owners in 2005." But Woodward "believes it has succeeded through the Americans’ understanding of how to exploit new markets." Annual commercial income "has risen from about" $80M million to nearly $191.2M "during their seven years in charge, and the club believe that there is enormous scope for further improvement." ManU has identified "almost 100 kinds of products with potential for sponsorship, many of them obscure." ManU motor scooters are "sold in Thailand, while a company in Japan is the club’s official marine diesel engine partner" (LONDON TIMES, 10/24).
JUST DO IT: The DAILY MAIL's Charles Sale notes ManU will be looking to negotiate "Nike's biggest-ever sponsorship deal when they begin renewal talks over Old Trafford kit supply in February." The 13-year Nike agreement with ManU that "expires in 2015 is worth [$483M], plus a profit share on retail sales." Woodward is "looking for a 'major increase' from Nike." Nike has a "six-month window of exclusive talks" with ManU and the club is "sure to remind Nike that shirt sponsorship has risen more than six fold in the same period." The deal could reach [$1.6B] if Nike "signs up for a similar length of time" (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 10/24).
MLS Crew President & GM Mark McCullers said that the club “looking for more local investors is nothing new.” In an interview with SportsBusiness Journal last week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Crew Owners the Hunt family had "made a commitment to get out." McCullers: “We were very public about it two years ago, and we’ve been very active in the process. That’s what (Garber) was talking about; there’s no doubt in my mind. I think he overstated it in a live interview.” In Columbus, Adam Jardy notes the team “mentions just one local investor by name on its website, Columbus real-estate developer Ron Pizzuti” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 10/24).
SWIMMING WITH THE DOLPHINS: In Miami, Adam Beasley writes the Dolphins have “given their supporters reason to believe,” and “those green shoots of life couldn’t come at a better time.” The Dolphins average home attendance of 55,776 ranks 31st in the NFL, and TV ratings “have been soft, although certainly better than when the season started.” With a home schedule “bereft of signature matchups, the Dolphins probably will flirt with blackouts for much of the season” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24).
SEARCH PARTY: In Charlotte, Joseph Person cites sources as saying that the NFL Panthers are “expected to hire an outside consultant to run the search” for a new GM after Marty Hurney was let go this week. Any consultant hired by Owner Jerry Richardson "would come to Charlotte to examine the football operations, attend practices and watch video of a team whose 1-5 start led to Hurney’s dismissal.” NFL rules "prohibit the Panthers from interviewing officials with other teams until the end of the season" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/24).