Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 156


The NBA yesterday said that Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle is no longer part of a group trying to buy the Kings and keep the team in Sacramento because his ownership stake in a company that represents NBA players would violate league rules. Burkle became an investor in film studio Relativity Media in '11. Relativity COO Happy Walters is an NBA player agent who represents about a dozen players and oversees the Relativity Sports division. In February, prominent NBA player agent Dan Fegan joined Relativity Sports as President of Basketball and the company now represents more than 50 NBA players. The NBA, like other leagues, has long had a prohibition against team owners holding interests in firms which represent players. Attempts to reach Burkle for comment were unsuccessful (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer). In Sacramento, Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler in a front-page piece report Burkle was "going to take the lead in developing" a proposed $448M arena and "would have held a small ownership stake in the team." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "insisted that Burkle's new role would not deflate the effort to keep the Kings from going to Seattle." Johnson added that other investors "would pick up the financial slack." With Burkle "taking a back seat," Johnson said Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadivé and 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov "are going to be the lead investors" on the team and arena. A source said that Qualcomm Owner the Jacobs family would "take on a more significant role in the ownership group." Even with a smaller role, Burkle's participation "in the development around the proposed arena is seen as vital." City officials said that the development is "key to making the whole project pencil out for investors" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/9).

BLOW TO SACRAMENTO'S BID:'s Ray Ratto said in light of the Burkle news, it is “too hard to look at Sacramento as seriously involved here given the fact that their investor line-up changes like week after week after week.” Ratto noted Seattle's bid still has Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is "worth more by himself than the entire NBA." Ratto: "That means he’s got throw weight that everybody else in that room on April 18th is going to pay attention to” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 4/8).

An “undercurrent of discontent was prevalent" yesterday for the Marlins' home opener against the Braves, and the crowd of 34,439 could “very well turn out to be the largest crowd of the season,” according to a front-page piece by Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. The “harsh reality of what’s ahead could start to become more apparent” today at the second home game. The Marlins “enticed fans to Monday’s game with discounted tickets, two-for-one specials and an assortment of other gimmicks and promotions” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/9). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda notes the announced attendance yesterday was “a whole lot more than actually showed up.” The number still “likely projects as the largest gathering of the season.” A nine-game home stand to start the season should “provide something of a litmus test for attendance this year for a team that has six losses in seven games.” There also were “scattered protesters" at the home opener and speculation was that Owner Jeffrey Loria “chose to stay in his stadium suite to avoid negative reaction rather than use his field-side seat” (PALM BEACH POST, 4/9). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes the home opener crowd made for a “nice baseball atmosphere.” But Hyde writes, “What a shame you won't have more nights like this.” Marlins officials “expect under 15,000” for today's game (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/9).

LUCK ON THEIR SIDE? YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Adelson writes certain circumstances “inflated the attendance.” The weather “was perfect,” and there were a “fair amount of Braves fans.” To the Marlins' credit, "they offered free tickets to first-responders and servicemen.” Following the game, Marlins 3B Placido Polanco called the attendance "a good sign." P Kevin Slowey said, "The crowd was amazing, for all the turmoil. A lot of people love baseball here." However, further questions to players were “shut down” by Marlins Media Relations Dir Matt Roebuck, who “escorted” Adelson out of the clubhouse (, 4/9).

A SIGN FROM WITHIN: The SUN-SENTINEL’s Hyde reports four young men from Ft. Lauderdale in the second inning “walked down the concourse,” with one carrying a “Free the Marlins” sign, another with the printed message on a shirt: “Marlins Baseball Helping Others Get Better Since 1998.” As they talked, two policemen “walked over.” After they “went to their seats, other policemen stopped them.” Two of the guys said that they then were "ejected from the stadium.” One of the men, Dan Barton, said they were ejected on the reasoning “people wouldn’t be able to see over our sign.” But he added, “We weren’t even to our seats yet.” Marlins President David Samson said that the sign “wasn’t the problem.” Samson said, “They were drawing some attention to themselves, making some noise later in the game, which is not uncommon. As per standard operating procedure, the police go up, try to calm them down and they did not” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/9).

SPEAKING OUT: In Miami, Armando Salguero writes Loria is “rightfully reviled locally for what he has done in turning the Marlins into a local calamity and national laughingstock.” He is “simply a huckster,” and he is a “fraud trying to perpetrate a poorly veiled deception on good baseball-loving people.” If Loria “really wanted to correct last year’s mistake he might have kept some of the pieces that actually fit quite nicely on a team that simply failed to come together.” But because he is this team’s owner, any fan that “invests faith and emotion” in a Marlins player is “wasting time because it won’t be long before he is sold off, too” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/9).