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Volume 24 No. 157


T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor on Friday said he developed a case of "seller's remorse" and has decided to not sell most of his stake in the team, according to Bruce Brothers of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Taylor speaking at the press conference for new T'Wolves' President of Basketball Operations and minority owner Flip Saunders, said, "We're going to go the opposite direction. Rather than me having a smaller interest in the team, it would be a larger interest in the team." Taylor added that he has "offered to buy out his 12 limited partners ... and expects about half of them to take him up on the offer." Taylor: "They'll make a healthy reward on their investment into the Timberwolves." While adding Saunders as part-owner, Taylor said that he will "continue to search for others 'that live in Minnesota' to come in as limited partners" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4). In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins noted though he "declined to provide too many specifics, Taylor said it would cost 'less than $100 million' to buy out all of his limited partners." A "handful of prospective groups approached him, none with Minnesota roots." Some "wanted to move the team or take control immediately." A few "offered to keep the team here but made lowball offers." Taylor said of ensuring the T'Wolves remain in Minnesota after his time as owner, “I think you’ll see the answer to that in a couple of weeks." Scoggins wrote Taylor’s "ledger as owner includes a mixed bag of good, bad and downright bizarre." He has displayed a "willingness to spend money aggressively, but he also can be tightfisted at times." He is "incredibly loyal to employees -- sometimes to a fault -- which creates a perception that top decision makers escape accountability in difficult times." But Taylor "made a good decision in bringing Saunders back" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/4).

SUCCESSION PLANS: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported there are "no plans" for Saunders to succeed Taylor as majority owner. Taylor said, "I think that my responsibility as the general partner is the money part. I think his part of the partnership is his knowledge, understanding of the league." Walters noted a "handful of the Timberwolves' limited partners who invested about $1 million each" with Taylor and "want to get out for various reasons, including estate planning, can expect a return of about $5 million" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4). Taylor on Friday said that he has "made some mistakes in the past." He said, "Perhaps supporting Flip leaving our organization as coach was one of those things I did wrong" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4).

OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD: In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda wrote Saunders "shuffled around the question when asked if he is done with coaching now that he is leaving an ESPN commentary job for an executive’s job." With Saunders, Taylor "brought back a guy he now regrets firing in 2005, a guy who, while coaching in the CBA, was one of the first people to contact Taylor looking for a job when he bought the team in 1994." Saunders on Friday "bought a piece of the franchise himself because he said he believes in Taylor as well as the financial future of the NBA, the team and the city" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/4). Also in Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse wrote the last nine years have "provided the longest stretch of futility ever experienced by a major league sports team in Minnesota." Reusse: "Much of it has been management, and with the Timberwolves, there is always the added element of lousy luck." If coach Rick Adelman stays and Taylor is "able to unite these two basketball brains for the next three or four years, the owner, now 72, will have found the best combination of decision-makers in the mostly sad history of Minnesota’s second NBA franchise" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/5).

The Sacramento group bidding to keep the NBA Kings in town on Friday "deposited 50 percent" of its offering price, which is believed to be $341M, in an escrow account in an attempt to "nail down a deal" with the Maloof family for their 65% interest in the team, according to a source cited by Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. A coalition fighting Sacramento's tentative deal for a new Kings arena separately "sued the city, claiming it's suppressing evidence of secret subsidies to the developers of the project" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/4). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan cites a source as saying that the NBA "negotiated key concessions" from the Sacramento group in the days leading up to last week's recommendation by the Relocation Committee not to relocate the team to Seattle. Sources added that the group "agreed to cover a significant amount of any cost overruns for the franchise’s proposed new arena in Sacramento ... and agreed to a timeline of construction goals." One source said that the group also "agreed to limit how much revenue sharing it would take while playing in the team’s current arena and would end the club’s status as a revenue recipient altogether once moved into the new arena." The Kings are "projected to get about $18 million in supplemental revenue sharing in the coming season." A source said that the figure will be "lower in future years and nonexistent when the team moves into the planned new arena in 2016 because of an expected increase in locally derived revenue" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue).

EXCLUDING EXPANSION? In Seattle, Bob Condotta wrote it "seems like such an easy solution to a complex and increasingly contentious problem: Why not let Sacramento keep the Kings and give Seattle an expansion franchise?" But while the way the NBA has "handled the Seattle/Sacramento battle has veered all over the map, with ever-changing deadlines and committee makeups, the league's stance on expansion has been consistent throughout -- it's not on the table right now" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/5). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's efforts to keep the Kings have "provided a blueprint" for Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers to "possibly eliminating the biggest relocation threat facing the Coyotes" in a prospective Seattle franchise. Had hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who is leading the Seattle group's bid, "delivered the Kings as hoped, Seattle was thought to be an immediate NHL relocation/expansion candidate." Bickley: "Thanks to the work of Johnson, the city of Glendale now has a road map in how to save a franchise, galvanizing the business community in the hour of need" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/5).

The Dodgers and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office "appear poised to reach a peace treaty on the last major issue left from the bankruptcy battle launched" by former Owner Frank McCourt, which is how much the Dodgers would "have to share from their massive new television contract" with Time Warner Cable, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The issue had "sparked concern among baseball insiders" that team Chair Mark Walter and his partners at Guggenheim Baseball Management might "consider flipping the team for a huge profit rather than settle for less from the TV deal," which is worth nearly $8B over 25 years. However, neither Selig nor Walter would "want to risk what might happen if the bankruptcy court were to determine how to split the television money." Walter said any consideration of selling the team is "so far off the radar screen." He added that he was "confident the issue would be resolved in negotiations." Walter: "We're not trying to get anything special out of baseball. I don't believe there is going to be an issue with baseball." Shaikin wrote to the "credit" of GBM, it "did not wait" to upgrade Dodger Stadium. Walter said of Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten, "I think Stan and his team did an incredible job getting anything significant done with the stadium. We're not done with it, but I thought we did a great job of fixing it up." In one year of ownership, "just about everything but the won-lost record looks pretty good." Shaikin: "'Looking up' just might be the best way to describe the state of the franchise." Walter: "I don't want to give the impression we have done anything yet. We're just getting started" (L.A. TIMES, 5/5).

WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD: The Dodgers currently are fourth in the NL West with a 13-17 record despite having the league's second-highest payroll. ESPN’s Curt Schilling said of the team's poor start, “I’m struck by the fact that L.A. is almost a Hollywood situation right now. You got a lot of glitz, a lot of glitter, a lot of names, but they're not winning ballgames” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 5/5).

It has been 38 years since the Flyers won the Stanley Cup and "no one is more frustrated than" Flyers Chair Ed Snider, according to Sam Carchidi of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. He said that there were "extenuating circumstances surrounding the abbreviated, 48-game season." Snider: "I don't want this to sound like excuses because all teams had a shortened schedule and just a one-week training camp. Some teams did well (the previous season) and were happy with their system. We got knocked out by New Jersey in the second round, and New Jersey dominated, and I think the coach wanted to tweak the system." He added, "We ended up with the worst schedule in the league. At one point, we played 20 games, and Boston had played 15 (actually, 14). You already have a compressed schedule, and ours was compressed more than anyone else's. And when you have tweaking, no practices, and a bad start, we never recovered." Snider continued, "Our fans love the game and know we're trying hard every year to get better. Fans aren't stupid. They know when an organization is doing everything possible and when it's not. They probably wouldn't support us if we weren't working our butts off" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/5).

In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote of the Coyotes, "After four years of instability and chaos, it will be hard to convince and convey a sense of urgency to a skeptical populace. Alas, we’ve been down this road too many times." The Coyotes are "a location problem, not a marketplace problem." Had the franchise "moved to Scottsdale as originally intended, the team would be stable and profitable." Bickley: "Contrary to popular belief, we can be a thriving NHL market. All we need is the right owner, and the right mayor to make it happen" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/5).

LOST CAPITAL: In N.Y., Ian Austen noted for the Canadiens, the 34 lost regular-season games "still loom unpleasantly large in the downtown shops, restaurants and other business that depend on the city's highly developed affinity for hockey." The cost to Montreal’s business community from the lockout "cannot be measured precisely." But several economists and analysts "agreed that whatever the amount, it was substantial and unrecoverable." BMO Capital Markets Chief Economist & Managing Dir Douglas Porter said, "My rule of thumb is that the smaller the city, the greater the impact. In Winnipeg, it was very powerful" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/5).

FERTILIZING THE GARDEN: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont noted a crowd of "some 3,000 gathered outside Toronto's Air Canada Centre for each of the Leafs' first two playoff games in Boston to watch the games on a big screen." It is the "kind of outdoor partying that might happen around TD Garden if the Bruins ever get around to developing the vacant building parcels they control in the front and back of the building" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/5).