A new prospective Coyotes ownership group, led by former Glencore Int'l Managing Dir Ray Bartoszek and Carriage House Partners Founder Anthony Lanza, "is kicking tires" on buying the team for $220M, and if they "cannot get what they want from Glendale by July 2 ... the club will move to Seattle," according to the CBC's Glenn Healy. The NHL has a "handshake deal" with Renaissance Sports & Entertainment for the Coyotes, but a Plan B has come into play if Renaissance does not "get their subsidies with regards to Glendale council." Former NHLer Jeremy Roenick "will be part of the group that will help to run hockey operations" if Bartoszek and Lanza buy the team. The CBC's Elliotte Friedman noted the Canucks announced they are relocating their AHL affiliate to Utica, N.Y., "but before that they tried to put them in the Key Arena in Seattle." Friedman: "It was blocked. They were told it was not available for hockey" ("HNIC," CBC, 6/15). In Seattle, Allen & Thompson noted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council two weeks ago "worked out a tentative deal with" Bartoszek and Lanza for the "use of KeyArena for the 2013-14 season if they can ... secure the team and relocate to Seattle" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/17). McGinn yesterday in a statement acknowledged that a rep of hedge fund manager Chris Hansen "introduced him two weeks ago to potential investors in an NHL team, who also met with several members of the city council." McGinn added that he "also spoke with Commissioner Gary Bettman last week." But SPORTSPRESSNW.com's Art Thiel wondered how McGinn plans to make Key Arena "viable as a two- to three-year temporary home for NHL hockey." The building was remodeled in '95 "for basketball only," meaning the "sightlines for the bigger floor required for the NHL limit seating to about 11,000" (SPORTSPRESSNW.com, 6/16).
MYSTERY MEN: Glendale City Council member Gary Sherwood on Friday said, "There are other groups lurking that the NHL hasn’t brought to us. They have their one candidate. And the way I look at it is, maybe Renaissance (Sports and Entertainment) is the best for the NHL, but maybe only second- or third-best for Glendale.” In Phoenix, Dan Bickley cited a source as saying that there is a "mystery buyer," who is "real and would bring real money to the table." Renaissance’s deal is "heavy on loans, short on equity, and no person has more than a $10 million stake in the game." They want "an out clause after four to five years, creating fears that they conceivably could run the team into the ground and bail." If there is a "better option for Glendale, the NHL should produce that party immediately." The NHL has been "a loyal partner." It has "stood by the Valley, for better and for worse." But the NHL is "done running this franchise" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/15).
CLOSING IN? FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's Craig Morgan noted Glendale and RSE have "done what many thought impossible." Multiple sources have confirmed that the two sides "have bridged a $9 million annual gap on an arena lease agreement and the proposal will be presented at the Glendale City Council executive session on Tuesday." But while the city has "only approved $6 million in its budget to manage the arena," it is believed Renaissance Sports and Entertainment "was able to find multiple Coyotes-related revenue streams for Glendale that will provide the city between" $8M and $11M annually on a 15-year lease. RSE needs "about $15 million annually to manage the arena" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/14).
The NBA Kings on Saturday reached an "agreement to hire" Nuggets VP/Basketball Operations Pete D'Alessandro, who spent the past three seasons as a "well-regarded assistant" to former GM Masai Ujiri, according to Jason Jones of the SACRAMENTO BEE. D'Alessandro was "considered a top candidate to replace Ujiri," who left the Nuggets late last month to become Raptors GM. He is "noted for his statistical analysis and understanding of the salary cap" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/16). Jones reports Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive today will officially introduce D'Alessandro "at a news conference at Sleep Train Arena." The Kings also have offered ESPN's Chris Mullin a "role as a consultant." Sources said that Mullin "likely will accept" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/17).
TOO NICE OF A NUGGET? In Denver, Mark Kiszla wrote while former Nuggets coach George Karl has "done his best to portray" team President Josh Kroenke as an "impulsive son of a billionaire whose recent basketball decisions have been stupid, the large hole in the team's organizational chart is the result of something else." Kroenke has "been too nice of a guy," particularly "with Ujiri." Kroenke was asked if that is true and responded, "That's a tough one. That's a question I've had to be honest with myself. When personal and business becomes mixed, it's not a good situation. But I know we're going to be OK here. People got on me when I hired Masai. ... Was I too soft with Masai? Part of me feels that way. But part of the way I am as a person, whether it's Masai Ujiri or whoever is in the front office, if somebody has a dream opportunity, I'm not going to hold them back" (DENVER POST, 6/16). Also in Denver, Christopher Dempsey noted D'Alessandro's departure "means the Nuggets probably will have to hire a general manager from outside the team." However, interviews for that job will "take place mostly after the Nuggets' coaching situation has been settled" (DENVER POST, 6/16).
GAME OF THRONES: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "recounted some of the behind-the-scenes action" in his effort to keep the Kings from relocating to Seattle. In Sacramento, Dale Kasler noted not only did "small-market Sacramento snatch the Kings back from bigger, wealthier Seattle, it rid itself of the unpopular" former Kings Owners the Maloofs and "set the stage for an overhaul of its tired downtown." Johnson said that succeeding was "one of the highlights of his life." Johnson: "I didn't win a championship on the court. This is Sacramento winning a championship." He "had a key ally" during the process in NBA Commissioner David Stern. Strategic communications firm Fabiani & Lehane Owner Chris Lehane, one of the mayor's advisors, said, "There was a genuine relationship, a friendship between the mayor and the commissioner." Ranadive's role "proved crucial." However, he "took his time joining the fight" as he was "reluctant about leaving the Warriors," for whom he served as vice chair. Mercury Public Affairs Partner Adam Mendelsohn, who advises Ranadive, said when Ranadive saw he "could be the difference … that's the point where he stepped up" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/15). The SACRAMENTO BEE reported local group Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork "intends to begin circulation petitions" this week to "put the city's downtown arena financing plan up for public vote in a special election." City officials said that the group must "collect 33,000 valid signatures from supportive registered city voters." That is "15 percent of the city's 220,000 registered voters" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/15).
The Mets on Saturday morning held a Q&A session with 350 season ticket-holders at Citi Field, and GM Sandy Alderson said that the team will be "capable of adding substantial pieces soon, and the need for patience is almost over," according to Mark Hale of the N.Y. POST. Alderson said, "I believe in the next six months or so, we’ll be in position to make some significant acquisitions, either by free agency or trade." He added, "Problem is, that at some point the best thing you can do is have a little patience. I’ve been preaching that for the past couple of years and I know it’s wearing thin" (N.Y. POST, 6/16). Alderson said of the fans, "If they're unhappy, believe me, I am even more unhappy." He added, "The reality of our situation is that we owe [Mariners LF Jason] Bay and [Mets P Johan Santana] a total of around $52 million, out of a payroll of about $107 million. One of them is hurt and one of them is gone. But we're still paying them. When you take away that money, you are talking about a payroll that is in the bottom three or four. For now. That's not an excuse, that's the fact of our situation." Alderson continued, "I know people don't want to hear this, but we are approaching the end of the cleanup. I'm not using that as an excuse. I'm not writing off this season. But there are reasons why we are where we are" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/16).
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: In N.Y., Anthony McCarron noted Alderson "commiserated" with the season-ticket holders, "assuring them that the Mets themselves feel the same pain fans do over the club's awful start." But what else "do you tell a bunch of your most loyal supporters?" Alderson also "reminded fans of the glee they felt last month when the Mets swept the Yankees in the Subway Series" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/16). ESPN N.Y.'s Matt Ehalt noted Alderson is in his third year as Mets GM and the team "has not been active in acquiring talent during his tenure." Fans have "questioned whether Alderson's plan is paying dividends" (ESPNNY.com, 6/15). Alderson said that his "master plan in reshaping the team is about to come into focus in the coming months." He will "benefit from having roughly $50 million come off the books for next season" (NJ.com, 6/15). On Long Island, David Lennon wrote the Mets are "unwatchable." Even with the "promises of better days ahead -- supposedly in 2014 -- it's becoming increasingly difficult to stomach what's left of this season." Alderson is asking fans for "more time to produce something palatable" (NEWSDAY, 6/16).
ROCK THE VOTE: In N.Y., Scott Cacciola noted the Mets' All-Star campaign for 3B David Wright includes ads "on buses and billboards, each more bold and breathless than the last." The Mets have "gone to extreme lengths for an elusive goal: securing enough votes from fans so that Wright can start at third base in next month's All-Star Game at Citi Field and give the club something to feel proud about." But the club's "attendance has sagged, and the many ballot boxes that are scattered about Citi Field have gone largely undisturbed by the intrepid fans who do show up." In recent days, with the team "again slipping to familiar depths, Wright has told the Mets to tone down their get-out-the-vote operation." He said, "I feel very uncomfortable being singled out for All-Star-Game type stuff when the team is struggling the way it is" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15).
Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek, less than six months after restructuring the team's debt, has "missed an interest payment," and the club now "risks defaulting on its new loan," according to a source cited by Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. The "latest financial blow-up" for Devils Arena Entertainment is "a missed interest payment in April" of nearly $3M. The firm, which also operates Prudential Center, "owes lenders roughly" $170M. Vanderbeek last year "struck a deal to refinance the team’s debt and buy out his partners" in an effort to give him "two years to stabilize the finances." But the combination of the lockout and the Devils missing the playoffs this season "blurred the financial picture." Sources said that Vanderbeek now "has until only this summer -- not until 2015 -- to sort out the problems." Sources added that the team is "looking to raise as much as" $20M by selling a minority stake, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "must dedicate some energy to help accomplish that goal." The NHL last year loaned the Devils roughly $25M and "agreed in December to not ask for payment" until July '14. But sources said that in recent months the league "ponied up again," this time advancing about $5M "in licensing and other shared revenue." The NHL as "a sizeable creditor to the Devils" now must approve "any major financial moves the team makes" (N.Y. POST, 6/17).
New Sharks COO John Tortora said the team's deficit during the lockout shortened '12-13 season was "substantially higher" than the $15M lost in '11-12, according to David Pollak of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. This trend is "not likely to change right away" as the team pursues "the creation of a 'sustainable business model.'" Tortora said, "I don’t think it’s possible during the 2013-14 season. As the new CBA evolves, that will help. As we evolve as a business model, with perhaps greater efficiency, that may help the bottom line as well. So I think there is a way to get to profitability, but we’re a long way from achieving that goal.” Tortora said that the franchise is "interested in improvements that can be made" to HP Pavilion, the sixth oldest NHL arena, and "plans to start talks with the city about that in a couple years." Majority Owner Hasso Plattner said in January that he had a "standing offer out to buy the share of anybody else who wanted to sell." Three other members of the original ownership group "took him up on that" over the past five months. Former Mayor Tom McEnery, Harvey Armstrong and Floyd Kvamme "no longer have their names on the list," leaving Plattner, Former Yahoo CFO Gary Valenzuela, MYCFO co-Founder Rudy Staedler and venture capitalist Gordon Russell (MERCURYNEWS.com, 6/14).
A top Wizards exec said the franchise would "probably not" be renamed the Bullets. "There are certain instances in the last few years with certain players that I think are going to prevent that," said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Senior VP & CMO Joe Dupriest. Though he did not name names, Dupriest clearly was referring to an '09 incident when former player Gilbert Arenas illegally brought a gun into the team's locker room. Much of the fan base has supported changing the team's name back to the moniker it took in '63 when the franchise moved from Chicago to Baltimore. The team changed its name to the Wizards in '97. "There's an appetite for Bullets marks. I think you'll see a lot more of that. You'll see people buy the merch," Dupriest said. "I don't see us changing the name to the Bullets. But I see us using the Bullets with the Wizards mark and using that history a lot more."