Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner and driver Tony Stewart yesterday "defused all of the potentially damaging conjecture, concerns and questions raised a week earlier" when SHR co-Owner Gene Haas "revealed he had angered and annoyed his NASCAR business partner by single-handedly spearheading the hiring of Kurt Busch," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Stewart gave a "commanding performance in his first news conference" since breaking his leg in an Aug. 5 sprint car crash. Stewart said of Haas' hiring of Busch, "We never argued about it. Gene was so excited about doing this and having his hand involved in it. As his partner, I love seeing him engaged. ... I just expressed my concern about the timing." But Stewart also "delivered a series of underlying messages ... about the stability of his team and relationship with Haas that were calculated without seeming rehearsed." Stewart yesterday showed "he can be composed and tranquil ... when the moment arises," and by doing so "proved again how he has built enormous off-the-track clout as a savvy businessman whose empire includes myriad personal endorsements, racetracks, and teams." Stewart, when discussing Haas' desire to have four teams in '14, "didn't let his emotions betray him in calmly explaining that he'd expect no less from Haas, a magnate known for his maverick streak in building a billion-dollar business." Stewart: "Gene is a self-made success story in the CNC industry, and he's pretty much been a one-man show doing it." Ryan writes Haas next time "even might take Stewart's advice on adroitly handling the media." Stewart: "He's like, 'I'll just wing it.' I'm like, 'No, you can't do that, speaking from experience.' He called me two days later and (said), 'Man, you were right'" (USA TODAY, 9/4).
STAYING PLUGGED IN: The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote the "snafu" around the Busch signing "aside, Stewart has gone to great lengths to remain engaged with all of his businesses during his time on the injury list." Stewart said that "aside from not being able to race, he's only missed one appearance and has held meetings at [business manager Eddie Jarvis'] house over the last three weeks." Stewart is "on pace to run more than 100 races this year" and admitted yesterday that "fatigue had set in around the NASCAR race at Indianapolis in late July." That was "two weeks before the sprint car crash at Iowa" in which he broke his leg. Stewart said that he "planned to return to the track this weekend at Richmond and hinted he'll use a motorized scooter." Fryer noted Stewart is "accustomed to racing as many as six days a week" (AP, 9/3).
ON THE MEND: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass reported Stewart is "vowing to race sprint cars again and [is] hopeful he will return to the track in time" for the '14 Sprint Cup season. Stewart said, "If I got in a racecar and didn’t wear a helmet and didn’t wear seatbelts, then that would be dangerous. ... But I’m going to go live my life. I’m going to take full advantage of whatever time I’ve got on this earth. I’m going to ride it out to the fullest, and I’m going to get my money’s worth." Stewart "plans to mix in sprint-car races throughout the Cup season." But he said that said he "doesn’t plan to run 70 of those -- his schedule for 2013 -- next year." He added that the "cutback would be for scheduling purposes and to keep him from getting worn out" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/3). In Orlando, George Diaz reports Stewart's crash "didn't leave him with a 'scared straight' moment." Stewart's potential return for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23 is "fabulous news for the NASCAR Nation," because "stars drive sports, and Stewart is as good as they come in terms of providing starpower." Diaz: "Expect Tony to tone it down a bit. Just don't expect him to quit" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/4).
The Jaguars yesterday announced a "new community-based campaign called Stand United Fridays aimed at firing up more business and fan involvement with the team," according to Drew Dixon of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Jaguars President Mark Lamping "called upon local businesses, schools and military organizations to get engaged in the events of the initiative." The campaign aims to "sweep the community up in activities ranging from wearing Jaguars apparel to decorating offices, schools and military organizations with Stand United decals in business windows." Team and city officials said that the effort "isn’t directly aimed at driving up ticket sales, but rather at drumming up fan engagement." Other facets of the campaign include "free Stand United fan pep rallies at EverBank Field," with the first being held tomorrow, as well as "regionwide appearances from Jaguar personnel and promotions in about 130 bars and nightclubs around the First Coast area." There also will be a "regionwide scavenger hunt on Fridays prior to every Jaguars home game where fans will search the area for a hidden Stand United Jaguars football helmet," as well as "citywide displays of Stand United with enhanced signs at Jacksonville International Airport and Friendship Fountain on the Southbank being colored teal each Friday." The organization in recent years has enlisted former NFLer Tony Boselli to "drive fan interest accompanied by special season ticket prices as part of 'Team Teal' and the 'All In' campaign featured players, coaches and even management." All facets of the community are "being encouraged to support Stand United." But Jax Chamber Chair Greg Smith said that local businesses "are key" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/4).
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is "kicking the tires" on a potential purchase of the CFL Argonauts with a long-term goal of bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto, although "nothing is imminent," according to sources cited by Frank Zicarelli of the TORONTO SUN. The "'For Sale' sign has yet to be erected, but eventually" Argonauts and B.C. Lions Owner David Braley will "divest himself of the Argonauts." A top MLSE exec recently "toured the Argos’ football facility." The "questions remain when and who ultimately ends up owning the team at a time when Braley isn’t getting any younger -- and eventually he’ll have to sell both" the B.C. Lions and Argonauts. B.C. Lions operations "both on and off the field are ideal, making any sale a slam dunk." Sources said that the fact MLSE has "taken a look at the Argos, even in a peripheral way, speaks to a vision that clearly involves the NFL." Football among major sports is "the one missing jewel in the MLSE structure," but "to play with big boys it will involve MLSE pursuing the Argos." The "theory is that MLSE will need to show the NFL it can make a football product viable ... by investing the money necessary to build a full-time facility and perhaps even a new football stadium." If MLSE "ends up owning the Argonauts, it could help prevent the NFL from looking like the bad guy if ... the CFL ends up suffering from the increased football competition in the battle for TV viewers and media interest." Zicarelli writes of a potential deal, "There are many moving parts and so much that needs to be done that nothing is expected to get done anytime soon" (TORONTO SUN, 9/4).
EVERYBODY LOVES A WINNER? In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote Argonauts fans have responded to the team's Grey Cup championship last year "by staying away in droves this season." The Argos in their last four home games "have averaged less than 20,000 customers, a combination, undoubtedly, of many factors including an inability to secure consistent and appealing home dates from Rogers, which owns the dome but gives the Blue Jays preference." The team has "played on a Friday, a Thursday, a Tuesday, a Sunday, a Friday again and now a Tuesday again." The CFL "remains a very tough sell in this market" (THESTAR.com, 8/30).
The N.Y. POST's Page Six cites sources as saying that Jay Z is "selling his minority ownership" in the Nets to coach Jason Kidd. Kidd will "take over Jay's .067 percent (1/15th of a percent) stake in the team for about $500,000." A source said, "Other owners want to give Jason a part ownership of the team, and urged Jay to sell his shares to him." Jay Z was "introduced to the team" in '03 by Drew Katz, the son of former Nets Owner Lewis Katz. Kidd, who at the time played G for the Nets, "suggested the music mogul buy the team" (N.Y. POST, 9/4).
INTO THE WILD: In Minneapolis, John Vomhof Jr. noted the Wild "expect to see a boost in merchandise sales after unveiling new white road jerseys" for this season. The jersey "follows the classic design style of the club's red home jersey that was unveiled in 2003 and its green alternate jersey that was unveiled" in '09. New jerseys "often increase a team's merchandise sales because many diehard fans insist on having the latest, greatest apparel." Wild COO Matt Majka: "Even non-jersey sales will pick up as a result of this" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/3).
CREW CUT: In Columbus, Michael Arace wrote it is clear MLS Crew Chair Anthony Precourt "had a heartfelt appreciation" for former coach Robert Warzycha's "contributions to the Crew over 18 years, and the decision to fire him was a difficult one." It only came "after a lot of thought, and it was only executed as part of a bigger plan." Arace wrote the Crew brain trust "gets a jump on the hiring process at a time when offseason initiative -- player-contract negotiations, worldwide scouting plans and player-recruitment initiatives -- are already gathering momentum." Precourt yesterday was "scheduled to fly to Chicago ... for a series of meetings with, as he put it, people who can help with the search." Precourt: "I've been inherently involved in all aspects of this decision. I'm not an absentee owner in any way" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/3).