NBA Kings PR Dir Chris Clark said that more than 90% of last year's season-ticket holders "have renewed ... and several thousand new season ticket buyers are expected to select seats" today and tomorrow, according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The Kings this week are opening the doors of Sleep Train Arena for season-ticket holders to "write checks and pick out their seats for next season." Clark said that by Friday, the team may "see season ticket sales approaching the numbers the team had in its playoff years." Clark: "We expect to have more new season tickets sold than any previous season over the last seven years" Kings officials "declined to divulge actual sales numbers." But Clark said that the team has seen a "surge in ticket requests since a new ownership group won NBA approval last month to buy the team." Clark said that the new ownership group "hired 50 workers to sell tickets." Sleep Train Arena also will be open Thursday afternoon for "people who want to buy season tickets and pick out seats, but who have not yet placed a deposit." Seat prices will "remain the same for renewing season ticket holders." But team officials said that some prices will be "increased for new buyers in high-demand sections" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/25).
STICKING AROUND: In Sacramento, Jason Jones reported Kings Assistant GM Shareef Abdur-Rahim will be the "only holdover" from the staff of former President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. New GM Pete D'Alessandro said that he considers Abdur-Rahim a "rising star among front-office personnel." D'Alessandro "didn't say what title Abdur-Rahim would have but that it's 'safe' to say he would be on his staff" (SACBEE.com, 6/23).
The 76ers last night issued a statement that CEO Adam Aron was still a member of the team's front office, but they "waited hours before denying" multiple media reports that claimed Aron had been let go, according to Keith Pompey of PHILLY.com (6/25). CSNPHILLY.com's John Gonzalez writes there "might be a few reasons" for the Sixers waiting to deny Aron's firing, but the fact that the team "didn't move swiftly to refute the rumors ultimately helped fuel the belief that Aron had been ousted." Sources not long after the initial reports went out would not "confirm that Aron was out -- but they didn’t initially deny it, either." A Sixers spokesperson around 8:45pm ET -- about seven hours after the initial report -- said that the team "had not fired Aron." Gonzalez: "That's a pretty significant delay for a matter of this magnitude." Meanwhile, the Sixers "suddenly seem like an organization that wants everything to remain secret." Since hiring President of Basketball Operations & GM Sam Hinkie, the Sixers have "gone radio silent." Hinkie has been "a ghost" and Majority Owner Josh Harris "hasn’t talked." Even Aron -- normally a "prolific tweeter with a big public profile -- has faded into the background." The Sixers' "cagey approach becomes something else entirely when applied to a situation where people believe one of the minority owners has been fired as the team’s CEO." That is a scenario that "demands a quick reply and immediate transparency." Before Hinkie was hired, the "hot rumor" had Sixers co-Owner David Heller "assuming some of Aron’s duties." That was followed by a N.Y. Daily News report last week that former MSG President Scott O’Neil "visited with the Sixers and was close to landing a front office position." Sixers execs "should have known" questions would surface regarding Aron's future with the team and they "should have braced for it." They also "should have acted fast to deny the reports once they materialized" (CSNPHILLY.com, 6/25).
The AFL Utah Blaze are "expecting a cash infusion from a new investor" that will allow the team to continue playing home games at EnergySolutions Arena and "put a messy situation behind it," according to Christopher Kamrani of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The Blaze were evicted from the arena last Thursday after failing to "pay a reported $120,000 in rent obligations." The team also is "receiving financial assistance from the AFL to help meet its payroll obligations." Blaze Owner Kim Brown on Friday said that she has been "courting the investor, an unnamed Chicago-based real estate developer, since March." Brown added that the new partner is in the "final phase of analyzing the league, the franchise and its finances before officially signing." Brown said that AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz is expected to come to Utah this week to meet with venue owner the Larry H. Miller Group to "continue talks of how the organization can help the Blaze going forward." Brown added that the Blaze are "not the only franchise in the league receiving financial assistance from the AFL." Kamrani noted that if and when the new investor signs on, the Miller Group "has promised the Blaze re-entry" to the venue. Brown said of resources a new investor would bring to the team, "It’s millions. ... It’s a (significant) amount. It will get us through this season and allow us to set up a structure where we can start making money for next season." Asked if she was worried about a place to play Saturday's home game, Brown said that there is "no contingency plan" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/22). Kurz said that the situation was "unfortunate." Kurz: "This is not the normal course for the Arena Football League, but all businesses nowadays are faced with challenges here and there. ... If you run around like your hair is on fire, I don’t know how anyone survives business or life" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/23).
PICK & CHOOSE: In Utah, Brad Rock wrote keeping a "foothold in the marketplace is difficult, even for a team such as the Blaze, who have been around awhile." There are a "lot of challenges, beyond the debts Brown reportedly inherited when she became principal owner last winter." Arena football is a "good deal for the price, but as cash gets tight, people start deciding one or the other." It is "going to be a lot of work for the Blaze, with or without an infusion of investor money." Even with an "entertaining product, and even in the 'down' season, it's hard to find a place for one more sport" (DESERETNEWS.com, 6/24).
FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com’s Craig Morgan wrote the Coyotes extending coach Dave Tippett's contract “has myriad ramifications.” It is a “boost for the current players who have bought into and executed his systems so well.” It also is “important to the bottom line because the fan base believes in Tippett, so should the ownership saga be resolved within the next week, the club could see a boost in season-ticket sales.” In addition, Tippett's presence will “aid the team greatly when it looks to re-sign its own free agents" like G Mike Smith and C Boyd Gordon, or "sign other teams' free agents.” Coyotes GM Don Maloney, who also agreed to a long-term contract extension, said, "It's certainly a big selling point. You need your head coach in place. You need your staff in place before you try and convince players to sign with you” (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/24).
HALL PASS: FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall "understands a lot about the present realities and future possibilities” of MLB. Hall is a “major reason” the D’Backs are “competitive on the field despite ranking 11th among the 15 NL franchises in average attendance, while playing in a market that Hall said has the lowest per capita income of any in the major leagues.” Morosi: “If you didn’t know Hall’s name before, you would be wise to learn it now. Hall is set up to be a central leadership figure in the game for decades to come.” Hall has become MLB’s “happy diplomat, not merely talking about the nationalities represented within his organization but actually traveling to those countries.” His visit to the Dominican Republic this month “was front-page news in the country” (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/25).
SNEAK PEEK:In San Jose, Lauren Hepler notes the MLS Earthquakes debuted a “mobile sales trailer equipped with 3-D technology to help fans visualize” the team’s under-construction stadium. Earthquakes President Dave Kaval said that the team “has sold ‘hundreds’ of season tickets in the first few weeks of the new sales approach, and is taking requests from companies or fans who want to see the Quakes at their office.” He said that the team is “focusing on companies with a large pool of younger ‘Gen Y’ workers” (SILICON VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/21 issue).