NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday said "no purchase and sale agreement has been submitted to us" regarding the Kings and their potential relocation to Seattle. Speaking prior to the Knicks-Pistons game in London, Stern said, "We assume if one were going to be executed, the next thing they would do is submit it to us." He acknowledged there has been "lots of speculation ... of what’s going on” with the team. Stern noted the league has been in contact with Seattle city leaders and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, who has reportedly been interested in acquiring the Kings. Stern: “We are more or less in a series of communications but right now we don’t know anything in terms of actionable plans” (NBA TV, 1/17). In Seattle, Bob Condotta reports Stern "confirmed that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be given a chance to address the NBA Board of Governors or the Relocation Committee this spring to state the city's case." Stern indicated that the move is a "courtesy given cities that have been supportive of teams." Stern: "Sacramento has been particularly supportive" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/18).
LOCAL GROUP COMING TOGETHER: KXTV-ABC’s Nick Monacelli cited sources trying to keep the Kings in Sacramento as saying that a local ownership group “is forming faster and better than expected.” The source said that the group “could be announced as early as next week.” Johnson “admits big names with deep pockets are being added to the equation.” He said, “There’s not one or two, there’s multiple people that are interested. Once it leaked and once it became public that there was a potential deal in Seattle, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. These are people that have significant dollars and these are people that want in at different levels” (NEWS10.com, 1/17).
The TORONTO STAR’s Daniel Girard conducted a Q&A with new Toronto FC President & GM Kevin Payne about his plans for the club heading into Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft. Below are excerpts from the conversation:
Q: Why is the so-called culture change at TFC so important to you? Payne: Obviously, you worry in any situation where a team has had six seasons of futility and really only one season in which the team was even close to the playoffs. I would be naïve not to assume that there has been damage done to the attitude of everybody around the first team. We really need to change the way things are done on an everyday basis.
Q: What does that mean in practical terms? Payne: I’m going to do some things a little differently here than I ever did them at DC United. We’re going to actually have some symbolism and some slogans, if you will, on the wall, which I’ve never been a big believer in. We want to create a culture here where players think it’s a privilege to put on the TFC shirt. And, the way to begin that process is by addressing every single day.
Q: Given TFC’s history of futility, is it difficult to go out and sell the club to prospective players and staff? Payne: It hasn’t been so far. Certainly when people see the facilities here they recognize that everything is in place to be very successful. The facilities here are by far the best in Major League Soccer. ... I think people whom we talk to also look at my track record and they know that there’s going to be real energy put into improving this team. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned. We’re going to be demanding but also supportive.
Q: What will make the 2013 season a success for you? Payne: Obviously if we were in the playoffs. But I think even if we were in the conversation about the playoffs late in the season, if we’re banging on the door, fighting for a playoff spot. But I’ll be much more focused on ‘did we change the environment here the way we want to.'
Q: What are you asking from fans? Payne: I don’t necessarily say patience. I would like them to understand that what we’re trying to embark on is a process. We’re not going to fix this overnight. … But I do want them to recognize that we have a way of thinking about this and we’re trying to create a plan that takes us over a period of time that allows us to continue to improve for several years. ... I really do hope our fans will pay attention to what we’re trying to accomplish. I certainly will ask for their support. I understand why they might be somewhat skeptical or impatient or frustrated (TORONTO STAR, 1/17).
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee Thursday said the new Dolphins logo that will be unveiled later this year is "not the one" that was published online and picked up by several South Florida newspapers. Speaking on WQAM-AM's "The Joe Rose Morning Show," Dee said, "The change, in some people’s eyes, is going to be slight and in some other people’s eyes probably more significant. ... I can tell you the basic fundamentals of the logo won’t change.” There will be a “look back at history in terms of some of the elements of it and a look ahead at the future in terms of others." Dee: "We’ve had three logos in the history of this franchise ... and we’ve been working on this for two years, did a lot of testing, talked to a lot of fans, a lot of focus groups.” Dee said the team has “done some extensive consumer research” and “partnered with Nike and the NFL” on the new mark, but the team will not allow season-ticket holders to vote on the logo. Dee added, “It’s very difficult with the timeframe and the process that we have to have a democratic approach to that.” He said, "Before we rush to judgment on what we may have and what uniforms are going to look like, I would just ask you to have an open mind and maybe these new uniforms and this new logo could have a similar impact for us that the Patriots logo change had for them back in 2001” ("The Joe Rose Morning Show," WQAM-AM, 1/17). The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde wrote on his Twitter feed, "I've never seen a franchise spend more time talking about, or a fan base more engaged over something trivial, as this new Dolphins logo."
LET ME UPGRADE YA: Dee said the “pledge” the Dolphins made toward the renovations of Sun Life Stadium was that the team would "pay for at least half and that there will be no new or increase in local taxes for those Miami-Dade residents.” Dee said after the bad feelings between the city of Miami and Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria over the building of Marlins Park, it is "low-hanging fruit for those who oppose us to just easily sit there and say, ‘Look at these guys. This is another Marlins deal.’” Dee: “I’m not going to Monday morning quarterback what the Marlins did or didn’t do. I wouldn’t want them doing that to us, but I will say we’re obviously cognizant of the environment. ... We’ve come forward with some ideas off the bat (which) differentiates us from some of the other situations that have taken place in recent history” (“The Joe Rose Morning Show,” 1/17).