The NHL yesterday formally announced that the Kings will "host the Ducks in a regular-season outdoor game at Dodger Stadium next season," according to Eric Stephens of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. It will be the "first outdoor game involving two league teams to take place west of the Mississippi River," and will be played on Jan. 25 at 7:00pm PT. It also will be the "first contest played among the elements for both teams." The Kings have "long been one to covet" the annual Winter Classic, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman previously had been "resistant to the idea of holding it in a traditionally warm-weather climate." Downtown L.A. now is "being seen as a marketing opportunity after the franchise's Stanley Cup run last year." NHL COO John Collins said, "I think we have a good plan for how to pull it off obviously with the Kings and the Ducks. But I think if we do well in L.A., it opens up the opportunity to look at some other markets." NHL Senior Dir of Facilities Operations Dan Craig said that a "new refrigeration system will be used to create the Dodger Stadium rink over approximately four days and thermal blankets will cover it during the daylight hours for protection against the sun." Craig added that there are "contingency plans in the event of steady rainfall" (OCREGISTER.com, 5/6). In L.A., Elliott Teaford notes a secondary date "has been reserved just in case." The NHL picked Dodger Stadium "because of the novelty of playing a game with swaying palm trees just behind the baseball bullpens." The rink will be positioned "between first and third bases, with center ice at the pitcher's mound" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/7). Collins said, "We're trying to get this event to more markets and give more people an opportunity to tailgate and celebrate around hockey. I like the idea of tailgating in shorts" (L.A. TIMES, 5/7).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Andy Roddick and Venus Williams will each own slightly less than 5% of World TeamTennis in a deal announced yesterday. The two are not paying for their stakes, but will market the summer league, make appearances and be full equity owners, meaning they are subject to cash calls. Roddick and Williams will own 5% each of World TeamTennis Int’l, which owns 75% of the eight-team league. The remainder is largely owned by the USTA. WTT Commissioner & CEO Ilana Kloss said she hoped to broaden the tennis player ownership model “down the road,” along with int'l expansion next year. Roddick and Williams are longtime WTT competitors, and will be so again this summer (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). The AP's Melissa Murphy noted Roddick and Williams will "help identify new markets and reach out to potential owners, sponsors, fans and players." Kloss said that the league this season "added a new title sponsor, the pharmaceutical company Mylan; moved its Kansas City, Mo., team to Irving, Texas; and plans to expand to 16 teams by 2018." Kloss added that the league is "looking at potential teams in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver." Roddick "considers Austin and several cities in Texas a good fit, especially since tennis has become more global, with some U.S. tournaments moving to other countries." Roddick plans to "use social media to help drive interest to the teams and league" (AP, 5/6). Kloss said that WTT's "more pressing goal is strengthening its eight existing franchises ... citing Washington, Philadelphia and Sacramento as high-performing benchmarks" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/7).
The Rangers' Ron Washington is one of three African-American managers in MLB and he has “seen attitudes change dramatically in baseball over his more than four decades" in the sport, according Kevin Sherrington of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. On Opening Day, only 8.5% of MLB’s rosters were African-American, "less than half the 1986 peak" of 19%. The reason “for the minority representation doesn’t appear to be a top-down problem,” as it is one “from the bottom up.” African-Americans “simply aren’t playing baseball in the same numbers they once did.” Washington said, “The way the world is today, with the economy, with the struggles, it takes money to play baseball. You gotta have a park. In the inner city, there’s not any parks nice enough to play baseball. A lot of the kids are from one-parent families, usually the mom. They can make their money quicker in the other sports, and baseball takes time.” But he added, “I think more than anything else, it costs money for equipment and a place to play.” Washington said, “We’ll see if the passion comes back. Maybe these academies will work. They need to play every day. That’s what kids need to have to get the love it takes to go out and play this game. To be able to fail and realize you’re not a failure. Because there’s a lot of failure in the game” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/5).
In Boston, John Powers notes, "Any chance that baseball had to get back in the Olympics for 2020 likely was scuttled" when MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that the league "wouldn’t put its season on pause to enable the best players to compete." Selig's stance on the matter "won’t fly" with the IOC, which "isn’t going to hold a tournament for horsehide retirees and minor leaguers when the NBA and NHL send their best" to the Games. That also is "bad news for the softball folks, who merged their federation with baseball’s last month in a bid to give both dropped sports a better route back in." But it should "help the wrestlers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/7).
CAUSE FOR CONCERN? FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal writes the "early struggles" of Rays P Fernando Rodney and Orioles P Pedro Strop are "raising questions about the impact of the WBC on their respective performances." Officials with the Rays and Orioles "wonder if the heavy workloads and extreme intensity of the WBC had a negative impact on their respective relievers." But there is "no way to know if a true cause-and-effect is taking place." The season is "barely 20 percent complete, making it difficult to pass judgment" (FOXSPORTS.com 5/7).
ON-DECK CIRCLE: In Orlando, Shannon Owens writes Nationals manager Davey Johnson is a "wild suggestion" to take over for Selig when he retires in '14. Filling the role of commissioner takes someone "with a keen ability to maintain relationships." Owens: "And when you've spent almost 50 years of your life committed to professional baseball like Johnson, I'd say you have a relationship or two." The "obvious knock against Johnson is age, of course." Johnson is 70 years old, but commissioners "don't have to rule for 20-plus years." If eight years is "enough time for person to run a country, perhaps that term limit is more than enough to run the MLB" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/7).