The NBA last Tuesday "held a conference call with members of the league's relocation committee to outline deal points" on the proposed sale of majority ownership of the Kings to a group led by Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, according to sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources said that the call "detailed what NBA officials described as 'a non-binding set of deal points'" on a $525M sale of majority ownership to Hansen's group, which also includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Sources said that the call informed several league owners that the Hansen-Ballmer group would "purchase 65 percent of the Kings." The NBA office told members of the relocation committee that the "non-binding agreement would constitute 53 percent of the franchise owned by the Maloof family and an additional 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich." Wojnarowski wrote it is "unclear if the selling of 53 percent of the Maloofs' share would leave them with any future stake in the franchise." However, sources said that there is "no circumstance" where the Maloofs would have "any real input or governance over day-to-day team operations" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/14). Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said, "We've been paying close attention to all the news reports, and my staff has touched base with their staff. Something's going on, and there's clearly discussions going on, but there's not a finish line that I know about." McGinn when asked what he is hearing from Hansen's group said, "The same thing they tell you. ... They're not commenting" (SEATTLEPI.com, 1/14).
HOPE FOR SACTOWN? NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper wrote if the Maloof family sells the Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer group, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be "down to his final hope: The Board of Governors, one representative from each team, either an owner or high-ranking executive as proxy, refusing to approve." Such an outcome would be "very rare, and maybe even unprecedented." Johnson in essence would be "urging owners to deny the bid of a group that by every indication has the financial resources and wants to CPR new life into a floundering franchise by moving it to a city with major corporate backing and a tradition of supporting sports" (NBA.com, 1/14).
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN: In Sacramento, Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak report Kings fans yesterday "launched a website asking people to make nonbinding commitments to purchase season ticket packages in a new Sacramento arena should new owners emerge here for the Kings." Meanwhile, a petition asking NBA Commissioner David Stern to "allow a local ownership group the opportunity to match a bid by interests seeking to move the Kings to Seattle eclipsed 7,700 signatures." If a new ownership group "keeps the team in town and builds a new arena, the list will be given to the Kings' sales staff." As of late yesterday, more than 2,100 fans said that they would "buy tickets at a total value of more than $7.3 million" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/15). A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial states in part, "The possible bidders who are lining up to keep the Kings in Sacramento deserve serious consideration from the NBA and the team's current owners." The ownership groups have to "prove their financial muscle, and their proposals need to be fully developed and vetted." Nonetheless, it is "encouraging that potential investors have stepped forward." Many in Sacramento are "justifiably sick and tired of the Kings soap opera." They "would not shed many tears if the team left." But it is "well worth a little more angst to see if there's a plausible path to keep the Kings in Sacramento, with new, committed owners and without too much public expense" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/15).
Chiefs GM John Dorsey yesterday during his introductory press conference called the position his “dream job,” according to Adam Teicher of the K.C. STAR. Dorsey said that he had “turned down employment overtures from other teams in part because he was hoping someday he could work” for Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt. Teicher writes everything was “tied together” by Dorsey’s relationship with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, as the two worked together with the Packers from ’92-98. Dorsey said, “I’ve always thought it (paramount) for success that the head coach and general manager be on the same page. Collectively, this thing is going to work.” Reid said of Dorsey, “There were times I tried to hire him throughout my career in Philadelphia. It just wasn’t right. He firmly believed (the Chiefs) was his dream job.” Teicher reports Dorsey will have “final say on all roster decisions, including the draft, free agency and trades,” but Reid will have “considerable input.” Dorsey’s focus will be “building and maintaining the roster.” While former GM Scott Pioli was “charged with managing other matters as well, Dorsey won’t be so burdened.” Hunt said, “John is going to be very focused on personnel. It’s what he grew up with the last 20 years with the Green Bay Packers. That’s where his expertise is. ... (Pioli) was managing the head coach and the peripheral things associated with head coaching like the trainer, films, equipment, etc. With Andy on board, John doesn’t have to spend time thinking about those things” (K.C. STAR, 1/15). In K.C., Sam Mellinger notes there is “no public record of Dorsey calling the Chiefs his ‘dream job’ before this week.” But in separate conversations yesterday, both Dorsey’s wife Patricia and Reid said that they have “known Dorsey felt that way for years” (K.C. STAR, 1/15).
SEARCH PARTIES: CBSSPORTS.com’s Jason La Canfora writes of the Jets’ and Browns’ GM vacancies, “I can't imagine the two general manager searches linger much longer.” Most NFL staffs will be “assembling at the Senior Bowl soon enough and you want to have a structure in place with decisions coming up on the roster, contracts, franchise players, etc.” The Jets have “cut a tremendously wide swath, focusing the first portion of their search on candidates with more of a scouting/evaluation background, and then another stage with candidates with more a cap/business side background.” The team “can't hire both," so it will be "interesting to see where they go with this.” The Browns have “identified some candidates and asked for permission to interview them, but don't seem as far along in their search.” The team has “put together several top executives" under CEO Joe Banner, but has yet to fill the GM position. With Banner having “final say, and the coach already put in place by the front office, this won't be a scenario in which the general manager will have as much power as in some others” (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/14).
Heat Owner Micky Arison, along with Fs Chris Bosh and LeBron James and G Dwyane Wade, “got busy" reminding fans that yesterday was the final day to vote for starters for the Feb. 17 NBA All-Star Game, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Bosh said, "We had to hit a little stride before the polls closed. If I have the opportunity, I felt like I was in striking distance, so why not?" The All-Star starters will be announced Thursday. Bosh in the most recent release of balloting totals trailed Celtics F Kevin Garnett 390,751 to 362,973 "for the third and final Eastern Conference frontcourt starting spot" behind James and Knicks F Carmelo Anthony. James on Sunday wrote on his Twitter feed, "Help get my homie/teammate 2 the NBA All-Star game! Vote by txting 'Bosh' to 69622 & tweeting 'Chris Bosh #NBABallot." But it was Arison who "has been the de facto campaign manager, not only pushing for Bosh, but making sure that votes cast would be counted.” Arison on Friday wrote on Twitter, "Please tweet Chris Bosh #NBABAllot or U can text bosh to 69622 to vote Chris an All Star Starter. RTs dont count." For Bosh, Arison's efforts were "particularly rewarding." Bosh said, "It's cool. I mean, just to see someone who's so involved with the team, who cares about his guys. He's just a cool guy. ... He loves his team and just the guys who really help out with the team and the staff and everything" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/14).
The Sabres announced that 10,175 fans came to First Niagara Center last night for their "first live glimpse of the team they were deprived of during the nearly four-month NHL lockout," according to Dale Anderson of the BUFFALO NEWS. An usher said, "I don't think they were expecting this many people. It's fantastic." There was "unrestricted access to the premium seats on the 200 level" for the scrimmage, although concession stands there "were not open." The uppermost seats in the 300 level "were closed." Anderson notes throughout the arena, video screens proclaimed "Welcome Back, Sabres Fans." Lines were "10-deep formed in front of the first-level concession stands, where discounts were ... in force." Everything in the Sabres store also is "half price from now through Saturday." The "intensity of fan enthusiasm surprised everyone." When availability opened Sunday for season ticket and mini-pack holders, the Sabres "set a single-day sales record of 31,213." Sabres President Ted Black said the sales volume "blew us away." Anderson notes the Sabres already have sold out four home games, and "fewer than 18,000 seats are available in the 300 level" for the other 20 games combined (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/15). In Buffalo, John Vogl noted though the Sabres "have some uncertainty as to how fans will respond post-lockout, it's no surprise they had such great one-day success" with the ticket sales Sunday. All mini-packs "sold prior to the lockout were voided," and the ticket-sale window for fans who "kept their money with the Sabres during the work stoppage (which was nearly everyone) opened Sunday." Each mini-pack "consists of at least four games and as many as 24, so every ticket holder purchased multiple games." Because mini-pack tickets went on sale yesterday to the general public, prior ticket-holders "had only one day to buy to secure the best seats" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 1/14).
CANADIENS SEEING SELLOUTS: In Montreal, Brenda Branswell reported the Canadiens' season opener Saturday against the Maple Leafs "is sold out and there are only a few tickets left for Tuesday’s game at the Bell Centre" against the Panthers. Tickets for the two games "went on sale Sunday after the lockout officially ended." Individual game tickets for the Canadiens' 22 other home games "go on sale this coming Sunday." The Canadiens yesterday announced details of their "plan to let people attend an intra-squad game at the Bell Centre for free on Thursday as well as the Habs and Leafs morning skates on Saturday, part of a bid to make amends to fans for the lockout." Seating is "first-come, first served." The team is "promising everyone who attends a free hot dog, chips and a soft drink" (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/14).
In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn notes among the "several lockout-induced tasks needing completion before the Penguins' Jan. 23 home opener, none looms larger than getting fans their tickets." Ticket printing "started Friday night ahead of Saturday‘s official approval of the schedule." The Penguins have "about 16,000 full and partial season-ticket holders, with another 2,000 tickets set aside for single games." The club "not only mails its tickets, but also prints them, a formidable task considering that 11 of the 24 home dates left after the lockout were rescheduled." The "approximately 64,000 tickets for the first four home games went out first, which meant considerable printing and envelope-stuffing." Penguins VP/Ticket Sales Chad Slencak said that the tickets "should arrive by the end of the week" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/15).
MOTORING ON: In Detroit, Helene St. James writes the Red Wings have "solid support -- an estimated 1,000 fans watched Day 2 of camp -- but even so, there's recognition that it'll take some work to soothe the anger fans feel after the 113-day lockout." Red Wings RW Danny Cleary said players recognize that "we've upset a lot of fans," especially "the fickle fan." Cleary: "Our jobs, as players, is to put a good product on the ice, sign an extra autograph, as many autographs as you can. With the shortened season, it's going to be hard to do a lot of appearances, to get out there in the community. All I know is, our team will work hard to represent the jersey proudly" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/15).
ATTACKING PRICES: The Sharks yesterday announced a series of fan appreciation promotions that will take place over the next several weeks. Season-ticket holders, executive suite owners and corporate partners will receive a double discount (now 30%, normally 15%) on all regularly priced Sharks merchandise from Jan. 16-31. For all five Sharks home games in January, fans purchasing a main meal item at any main concourse or Comerica Bank Club food service station with fountain drink will receive a free 16 oz. soda (Sharks).
COLUMBUS DAY: The Blue Jackets yesterday announced a pair of ticket offers and several in-game festivities around the club's Jan. 21 home-opener against the Red Wings. Fans who purchase a ticket for the game will get a second of equal value for no additional cost. The Blue Jackets and Ticketmaster also will waive convenience and order processing fees for online ticket purchases from Jan. 15-21 (Blue Jackets).
In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy reported the Bengals for the second straight year are lowering season-ticket prices in a "significant number of sections of Paul Brown Stadium." Price reductions will be in effect in 20 sections for the '13 season. A "number of sections priced last year at $50 per game for season tickets will be reduced to $40, and many sections priced at $60 last year will be reduced to $50." Some ticket prices will increase "for the first time in four years," and prices for at least 45% of seats at the stadium "will remain unchanged" (CINCINNATI.com, 1/14).
PUTTING THE MUZZLE ON: In Miami, Barry Jackson reported Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria, in addition to “forbidding” team President David Samson from doing his radio show, also has “told Samson that he can no longer do interviews.” That is “short-sighted, because Samson made himself more accountable and accessible than many team presidents, even amid unpopular decisions made solely by Loria.” The Marlins owner also has “refused to speak to the media since mid-November” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/13).
FRIENDLIER CONFINES: ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg reported the Cubs are "eliminating service charges" for new mini-plan ticket packages, and it is a "decent deal." Cubs VP/Ticket Sales & Service Colin Faulkner said that service fees "would’ve been as high as $40 for the six- and nine-game plans that go on sale Jan. 23." Greenberg noted the Cubs "want to move inventory before all of their single-game tickets go on sale March 8." The team in previous years "sold out single-game tickets on the day they went on sale," but those days "are long gone" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 1/14).
BLUE TEAM GO: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck notes the Dodgers are "making single-game tickets available to all home games" in the '13 season, but they will not "all cost the same." The team will be using "a new four-tier pricing program." In the past several years, Dodgers tickets to many of the "more attractive games on the schedule were initially offered only as part of a mini-season ticket plan, so that's at least good news" (L.A. TIMES, 1/15).