With “no end in sight" to the NHL lockout, the Wild "announced cost-cutting measures during a staff meeting Tuesday,” according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The “vast majority of the 200-person staff was informed that it will begin four-day, 32-hour work weeks that will reduce salaries by 20 percent.” In order to “alleviate the stress heading into the holiday shopping season, employees won't feel losses for the first time until after Christmas.” Wild COO Matt Majka “wouldn't speculate whether layoffs would be on the horizon” if the lockout results in the cancellation of the '12-13 season. Majka said that the team's objective is to “avoid layoffs," and that the Wild "decided the fairest thing to do was ‘difficult’ across-the-board pay cuts.” He said that there has been “an uptick lately in Wild season-ticket holders requesting refund options,” but that sponsorships have been “largely unaffected.” Previously, the only Wild employees to receive cuts in base pay “were those making more than $70,000 a year, and that was a 30 or 35 percent reduction to the compensation over that $70,000 threshold.” Canucks, Canadiens, Senators, Blue Jackets and Blues employees “have been working four-day weeks for some time, as well as full-time employees at NHL headquarters" in N.Y. and Toronto. The Senators, Panthers, Oilers, Coyotes and Blues have “laid off employees” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/28). In L.A., Helene Elliott notes the Wild “spent $196 million over the summer to sign free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to identical 13-year, $98-million contracts that included a $10-million signing bonus to each player.” Though Suter and Parise "are not getting paid, both players got their bonus checks.” So the Wild “paid $20 million to two players who aren't playing and now feels compelled to economize on staff salaries” (L.A. TIMES, 11/28).
YOU'VE GOT MAIL:In San Jose, David Pollak notes the Sharks sent a refund to ticket holders and the first check “comes to 1.8 percent of the 70 percent of the season most season-ticket holders have paid for to this point.” The team yesterday in an e-mail to season-ticket holders said that it would “take two weeks to process and mail out November refunds to those who paid by check, pushing their actual arrival inside the mailbox to mid-December.” Though four more games “already have been canceled for next month, the team only is giving refunds on a month-by-month basis in case a labor agreement is reached and more games are added to the December schedule” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/28).
A Glendale, Ariz., City Council majority yesterday “approved a $320 million arena-management deal and lease" with prospective Coyotes Owner Greg Jamison that "should keep the hockey team as the anchor tenant” for the next 20 years at city-owned Jobing.com Arena, according to the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The agreement, which “passed on a 4-2 vote,” comes after two City Council votes in the past five months and “more than three years of uncertainty.” Jamison said that he “hoped to complete his purchase of the team in the next 30 to 60 days.” Council member Joyce Clark said, “Eight years and 11 months later, hopefully we are celebrating an event as important to our arena as the opening itself.” Mayor Elaine Scruggs and Council member Norma Alvarez, who each voted no, said that the “financially struggling city couldn't afford to pay Jamison an average of $15 million annually to manage the arena.” The reworking of the $324M deal the council approved in June “lightens the city’s payments in the first five years, gives Jamison incentives to bring in more non-hockey events and implements penalties for NHL lockouts” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/28). The proposal would “help Glendale because it would reduce payments in the early years of the 20-year deal and save the city $4 million.” The deal “requires Glendale to cut $17 million from the general fund," which means “trimming dozens of positions within city government over the next five years.” But without the team, Glendale would “still have to trim $12 million” (AP, 11/28).
BIG STEP TOWARD STAYING: SPORTING NEWS’ Sean Gentille writes the decision is “the most definitive move yet to keep the Coyotes in Arizona with Jamison as their owner -- and out of, say, Quebec City.” Whether Jamison “actually has the funds necessary to pay the $170 million price tag” for the team “has been a point of contention for some time.” He “says he does, but that his investors' involvement hinged on the lease" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/28). YAHOO SPORTS’ Greg Wyshynski writes of the deal, “For better or worse, this is as much a part of [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman's legacy as any of his lockouts.” It was a “personal crusade to thwart” prospective Owner Jim Balsillie, and then to “overcome the political obstacles in Glendale to justify the time and treasure it took to keep the Coyotes on life support.” If Jamison “closes the deal, it's a victory for Bettman." Based on "the expansion fees the NHL will suck out of Seattle and Quebec City alone, it might be a win.” Wyshynski: “Bottom line: The Coyotes appear close to remaining in Glendale, even if that's the 100,000th time we've written that statement in the last three years” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/28).
MLS club Toronto FC this afternoon will introduce Kevin Payne as its new team President, according to Daniel Girard of the TORONTO STAR. Payne, who yesterday resigned as DC United President & CEO, will "have his work cut out for him at TFC, becoming the top dog -- both in the business and soccer operations -- at a club which has yet to make the playoffs in its six-year existence and finished dead last" this season. Payne will "be top executive with TFC, reporting directly" to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & COO Tom Anselmi. Payne "faces a host of key decisions upon his arrival at a club which is under intense pressure from its disenchanted and frustrated fan base to turn around its fortunes." At the "top of the list is the fate of the coaching staff" led by head coach and Dir of Soccer Operations Paul Mariner (TORONTO STAR, 11/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's Paul Attfield notes the move will "bring TFC in line with the other Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment sports properties in having a dedicated president, a role Brian Burke fills with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Bryan Colangelo with the Toronto Raptors." It also will allow Anselmi to "get out of the firing line." Previously MLSE Exec VP & COO, Anselmi was "the one nominally held accountable by fans and media for TFC's inadequacies as a succession of head coaches were hired and fired." Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi said of TFC hiring Payne, "They could have just simply maintained the status quo but they've obviously decided that they need someone in that position who has the MLS knowledge and the MLS leadership and in my opinion it's never too late and so in order to reignite the passion, this is a great first step in that direction" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/28).
UNITED THEY STOOD: In DC, Steven Goff writes Payne "raised United through infancy and some terrible teenage years, supervising a record four MLS Cup championship squads and helping wedge the sport back onto the city's landscape after the North American Soccer League's demise a decade earlier." But with a new investment group "looking to put its signature on the organization, Payne's parenting was no longer wanted." Sources said that he "was not fired ... but he wasn't embraced either" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/28).
The NBA's most recent CBA will "dramatically boost the amount of money the Indiana Pacers get from the league, but it won't be enough to put the team in the black," according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Pacers are projected to receive about $20M from shared league revenue this year, "four times the amount the team received under the old arrangement." Recent estimates by Forbes magazine state that the new contribution from the league "accounts for about 20 percent of the team's annual revenue." Forbes also stated that the team has "lost money each of the last six years." Forbes estimates that the Pacers during last two full seasons "lost a combined $32.6 million." During the lockout-shortened '11-12 season, the Pacers "lost $10.5 million." Team execs have said that those estimates "are low, that losses for a recent single season have been as high as $30 million." Schoettle writes it is not clear how the additional cash "will affect negotiations with the Capital Improvement Board, the public entity that owns the city's sports and convention facilities." League sources said that the Pacers will not be profitable but "they'll be close to covering basketball operating expenses, which doesn't include the cost" of operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse. SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, "This deal may help (the Pacers) be more competitive and financially sustainable, but only with excellent management. With this new deal, the best-case scenario is break-even" (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/26 issue).