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Volume 24 No. 156


MLS DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne has “stepped down as club president and will join another team in the league,” according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Payne was “instrumental in the organization gaining a foothold in the Washington sports market and supervised the team’s dominance in the league’s early days.” United’s primary investors for years were “uninvolved and deferred to Payne to run the club and speak [on] their behalf.” He was, in “essence, the team’s unofficial owner and, for 10 years, led an unsuccessful effort to build a new stadium in the metro area.” But a new investment group “has taken a more active and visible role since the summer acquisition of the team’s operating rights and will now spearhead talks with the city and developers on a stadium project at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.” Payne will “join another team in the coming days,” but the identity of his new employer “was not immediately known.” A source said that despite United’s “resurgence, investors concluded the business side ‘needs a lot of work.’” The source added that the search for Payne’s replacement “is underway.” The new president is “likely to focus on business operations, granting greater autonomy to General Manager Dave Kasper and Coach Ben Olsen to handle roster decisions.” Goff notes despite the organization’s “history of success, Payne’s management style wasn’t always well-received.” Payne was a “regular visitor to the locker room, attended practices on occasion and consulted with the technical staff about personnel issues” (, 11/27). Payne said he was “excited about the next phase of my life,” but was not specific about his next opportunity (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).

:'s Grant Wahl wrote on his Twitter feed, "Kevin Payne one of MLS's leading pioneers going back to '96 with DC United. Fiery guy. Will be strange to see him with another MLS team." Sporting News' Brian Straus wrote, "Architect of MLS' 1st dynasty, brand/culture that stood test of time. Huge accomp compared to early MLS peers." MLS Crew Senior Dir of Communications Alex Caulfield wrote, "Wherever he goes, KP will be inextricably linked to #DCU's success. Terrific guy to work for & deserves a ton of credit."

The Rays' commitment to 3B Evan Longoria is “substantial and significant for the Rays, who typically operate with one of Major League Baseball's smallest payrolls and finish at or near the bottom in attendance," according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. They also have “yet to see any real progress in their much-debated quest for a new stadium before their Tropicana Field agreement expires after the 2027 season.” Though they will be “buoyed in future years by MLB's enriched national TV contracts and a potentially lucrative new local deal,” Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said the increases alone do not offset "an astoundingly big commitment." The six-year, $100M contract extension to Longoria is set to end in ’23. Sternberg acknowledged that the Rays will “have to make choices on which other players to sign.” That is where the “hope to be in a new stadium comes in, with the accompanying increased revenue.” Sternberg said, "If by the end of this contract we're not, it's not going to work out well" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/27). In Tampa, Tom Jones asks, "Unless the Rays can find greater revenue streams (read: a new ballpark with increased attendance), how can they afford to pay Longoria and, say, Cy Young winner David Price and still have any money left to fill out a major-league roster?” The Rays are “sticking their necks out for one (oft-injured) player,” but this is “how the small-market Rays must do business.” They have to “gamble that Longoria will stay healthy,” and they have to “gamble that Longoria's next 10 years will be as good as or even better than the past five” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/27).
GETTING ANXIOUS:’s Sean McAdam noted Red Sox fans are “getting antsy” in the aftermath of the Blue Jays-Marlins trade two weeks ago, and the Tigers’ signing of RF Torii Hunter “generated more angst.” It is “not even December and already people seem overly anxious about what the Red Sox are going to look like in April.” It is “unlikely the Red Sox are going to make one of those big bold strokes this winter.” Nor should the team “be expected to pull off a giant trade.” The last time the Red Sox were “bold and made big moves was after the 2010 season, when they ‘won the winter’ by signing [Carl] Crawford and trading for [Adrian] Gonzalez -- two players they couldn't wait to unload less than 20 months later” (, 11/26).

The Single-A New York-Penn League Aberdeen IronBirds yesterday unveiled a new logo, which was “inspired by a furious, bat-wielding Orioles bird mascot introduced after the 1967 season,” according to Chris Korman of the Baltimore SUN. The bird's “menacing look combined with inspiration from the recent Iron Man movies ... form a slick new character” that team Owners Billy and Cal Ripken Jr. hope “will continue to draw young baseball fans to games.” The new bird's “piercing eyes stare ahead, while his metal wings spread wide and his talons prepare for landing.” The IronBirds' first logo, a “smiling fighter jet, lasted 11 seasons.” But as the Ripkens “continue learning the business side of baseball, they felt a new direction was needed.” Shirts and hats showing the new logo "went on sale at the IronBirds website” yesterday (Baltimore SUN, 11/27).