Redskins Owner Dan Snyder yesterday offered his "most detailed defense to date of the Redskins name," writing a letter to fans explaining his stance on the issue, according to Shin & Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Snyder writes in the letter that while he respects the "opinions of those who are offended by the team name ... we cannot ignore our 81-year history." Tens of thousands of fans and season-ticket holders "began receiving e-mails and letters from Snyder on Wednesday, four days after President Obama added his voice to the decades-long debate over the team name." The "often-combative" Snyder in the letter took a "softer, more personal approach than he has in the past." He also "rejected any negative characterization of the name." He cited a nine-year-old Annenberg Public Policy Center poll of 800 Native Americans across 48 states that "showed nine out of 10 did not find the name offensive." Snyder also "pointed to an April Associated Press-GFK poll" that found 79% of those surveyed said the team should keep its name. He "quoted leaders of American Indian tribes in Virginia who have publicly expressed support for the name in news stories." Snyder wrote, "I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too." His "intended audience -- Redskins fans -- largely applauded the team’s shift to a less confrontational, more empathetic tone" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/10). Snyder in the letter "invoked the franchise’s proud tradition and his personal experience going to games with his father, Gerry, at RFK Stadium" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/10).
WHAT THE DEBATE COMES DOWN TO: In N.Y., Ken Belson in a front-page piece writes the name debate "tends to settle on one question: how many people must be offended by a team’s name for a change to be warranted?" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10). Also in N.Y., Filip Bondy writes Snyder is "just another holdout wrapping himself in the false romantic notion that his football team is somehow honoring Native Americans with its name" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/10). Sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards said, “For someone to be so incompetent, to be so deficient in terms of their facility and dexterity with the standard linguistic currency of the culture to such an extent that they have to resort to epithets in order to express themselves, it’s not so much offensive as it is pathetic” ("Jim Rome On Showtime," 10/9). In Utah, Doug Robinson wrote the "end is near." The NFL and the Redskins "just don't know it yet." They "just have to decide how long they want to resist the inevitable" (DESERETNEWS.com, 10/9). CBSSN's Tony Luftman: “If Barack Obama, with the government in a shutdown, takes time to comment on this, I say it rises to a level of serious interest” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 10/9).
Rockies Owner Dick Monfort yesterday said that he "will not alter" the team's front-office structure this offseason, and added that he "expects the player payroll to expand" by about $9M for '14 from an estimated $83.7M this past season, according to Saunders & Renck of the DENVER POST. Monfort, speaking during a wide-ranging interview at Coors Field, said that Rockies Senior VP/Major League Operations & Assistant GM Bill Geivett will remain "in charge of day-to-day operations and reporting" to Rockies Exec VP, Chief Baseball Officer & GM Dan O'Dowd, who is "in charge of the Rockies' player development but is also the boss of the front office." He said O'Dowd will oversee the minor-league operations and player development." Monfort "doesn't believe the unusual front-office setup creates confusion for teams trying to make deals with the Rockies." He said, "It's not that we have two GMs, it's that they just switched roles." Meanwhile, Monfort "disagreed with those who contend he doesn't have a passion to bring winning baseball to Colorado." He said, "I want to win at everything, even checkers." Monfort added that a "realistic goal is getting the Rockies into the playoffs 'a couple of times every five years'" (DENVER POST, 10/10).
SEATING RENOVATION AT COORS FIELD: In Denver, Patrick Saunders notes the Rockies yesterday announced the "next major construction project at Coors Field -- an extensive redesign and renovation to the upper right-field seating area and concourse." Monfort said that much of the money for the project "came from a surplus of capital construction funds and also from money the Rockies and the Denver Metropolitan Stadium District received from Aramark and RTD." Monfort insisted that the extra money the club will be putting into the project "won't hurt next year's team payroll." He said, "At best, it cost us a utility player for one year" (DENVER POST, 10/10).
A judge's decision last week that the NHL cannot recover most of the $145.9M (all figures U.S.) it was trying to get from former Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes is "a nasty blow" to Commissioner Gary Bettman, "as he has long told the NHL's 30 owners they would not lose money on the Coyotes debacle," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. The ruling from U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum last week could prevent former Coyotes minority owner and coach Wayne Gretzky from collecting $6.5M owed to him. Baum said in his decision that "federal bankruptcy law does not allow the league to recover any" operating losses. He also wrote that he "needs more information" about attorney fees and money paid to unsecured creditors "before he decides if Moyes is responsible for paying part or all of those claims." Baum's wording "indicated he is not inclined to rule in the NHL's favour." The ruling could "mean some awkward questions for Bettman at the annual governors meetings Dec. 9 and 10." Baum said that the consent agreement all NHL owners must sign, "in which they promise to finance all costs of a franchise, does not apply in a bankruptcy proceeding." This also is "a severe blow to Bettman, who has long used the consent agreement to force owners eager to escape
the financial obligations of a money-losing franchise to keep paying the
bills." However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail wrote, "We do not have any long-term concerns about the enforceability of the various contracts that govern the league. ... The case is a long way from conclusion at this point. The ruling we got on Friday is just the first word on this particular claim" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/10).
The Lakers today will play the Kings at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena instead of Thomas & Mack Center, a decision that is "about marketing two brands and about the city’s NBA future," according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The team called Thomas & Mack Center "their Las Vegas home for years." Lakers Senior VP/Business Operations Tim Harris said, "From a marketing standpoint, we had a deal with the Mirage back in 2004 where we felt we were helping promote the Mirage’s brand in Southern California and the Mirage promoted the Lakers’ brand in Las Vegas. Now what we’ve done is taken that original concept and broadened it to include all of the MGM’s properties." MGM Grand President & COO Scott Sibella, who brokered the original Lakers-Mirage deal and put together the current package, said that "once the Grand Garden had the capability to host an NBA game that it was only natural for the MGM to pursue bringing the Lakers over." Harris said that the partnership is a "chance for the Lakers to grow, not just in Las Vegas but in Southern California as well by taking a page from the MGM’s loyalty rewards program -- MLife." Harris: "We’re talking to the MGM about how we can implement something similar to MLife with the Lakers where we can have our own loyalty rewards program. The technology is there. We just have to figure out the best way to use it." The Lakers for the game are bringing corporate sponsors to Las Vegas "for a couple of days to experience the city." The team also is "flying in 150 of its longtime season-ticket holders to enjoy the game" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/9).
In N.Y., John Harper writes Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner despite his statements on Tuesday about his commitment "to fielding a championship-caliber team every year ... may decide the financial advantages of getting under" the $189M luxury-tax threshold in '14 "make too much sense to discard." Yankees manager Joe Girardi after signing a new four-year contract yesterday has the "time he may need" to win a championship. Even if the Yankees "suffer through a second straight Octoberless season in 2014, it’s hard to imagine a sustained period of mediocrity." They will "always have a financial advantage," even if MLB has "negated it considerably in search of parity in recent years, and getting under the luxury tax for a year would allow them to flex it more mightily than ever" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/10).
NO PRESSURE: In S.F., Scott Ostler writes the future of the A's in Oakland "might hang in the balance" during tonight's ALDS Game 5 against the Tigers. A "slam-bang series against the dreaded Red Sox, especially if it leads to a World Series, might be the tipping point in keeping the A's in Oakland, in a new ballpark." This might be a "now-or-never opportunity, and a lot of things would have to fall into place, but momentum is building in favor of Oakland" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/10).
APPLE TURNOVER? The N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raismman said the Nets "have a chance" to grab the spotlight in N.Y. away from the Knicks because the Knicks "aren't going to be that good this year." The N.Y. Daily News' Andy Martino said, "The Knicks have the ingrained thing going on, but the Nets are capturing a moment that's already hot for Brooklyn." SNY's Marc Malusis said the Nets have "stolen the national spotlight away from the Knicks" because the Nets have the "best starting five in the NBA" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 10/9).
BIRD IS THE WORD: NBA Senior VP & Managing Dir for NBA Asia Scott Levy said that "when the league branches out overseas, it looks for teams that will serve as good ambassadors." In Indianapolis, Candace Buckner wrote although the NBA's current Global Games schedule "had been decided more than 18 months ago, the Pacers threw an assist to their intercontinental marketing" with the All-Star selection of F Paul George and the team's "fearless performance in the Eastern Conference finals last spring." NBA Country Manager for the Philippines Carlo Singson "offers an even more compelling reason for the Pacers’ inclusion." Singson: "Everyone is so excited that [Pacers President of Basketball Operations] Larry Bird is coming to the Philippines for the first time. That’s what everybody is talking about" (INDYSTAR.com, 10/9).