The NBA "has the right to buy back" the Bucks from prospective Owners Wesley Edens and Mark Lasry if a "deal to a bring a new arena to the city is not in place" by November '17, according to sources cited by Windhorst & Stein of ESPN.com. The $550M sale of the team by Owner Herb Kohl announced last week "includes a provision that allows the league to buy back the team" for $575M if construction on a new building in Milwaukee is "not underway by the deadline." Although one source yesterday said that the league would "likely only take that step if it didn't see 'significant progress' toward a new arena in Milwaukee by then, this provision ensures that the NBA would control the fate of the franchise from that point as opposed to Edens and Lasry." The inclusion of this clause in the sale agreement is an "unspoken admission that neither the league nor the new owners are convinced that construction on a modern building in Milwaukee will be underway in the space of three-plus years" (ESPN.com, 4/21).
FUNDING COULD BE TOUGH TO FIND: In Milwaukee, Rich Kirchen writes despite the $100M pledges from Kohl and the prospective owners for a new arena, "scoring the balance of funding will be far from a slam dunk." The donations leave between $200-300M to be "raised through additional private funding sources and possibly public sources." Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy thinks that the project will "require public financing." That could "include government sources that don’t directly come from taxpayer pockets such as a tax incremental financing district." But a sales tax "remains on the table as a possibility." Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg, whose firm was retained by Kohl to bring in new team investors, said that Edens and Lasry "may not lobby for public funding, but they will work on the planning, site and design for the new arena" (MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/18 issue).
The Bills have agreed "to pay up to $3 million -- largely in the form of debit cards redeemable only at the team store -- to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the team of sending too many alerts to fans who signed up for a text-messaging service," according to Stephen Watson of the BUFFALO NEWS. Florida-based Bills fan Jerry Wojcik in his October '12 suit contended that the team "violated the terms of its text service by sending him 13 messages over two weeks when it promised to send no more than five per week." The Bills in a settlement filed last week in federal court in Tampa, Fla., agreed to provide up to $2.5M in "debit cards to people who had signed up for the text service, along with $562,500 to Wojcik’s lawyers and $5,000 in cash to Wojcik as class representative." The cards can "be used at the Bills store at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park or online at the team’s website." They "can’t be redeemed for cash." The debit cards "are worth $57.50, $65 or $75, depending on which class tier a fan is assigned to, and the Bills said in a legal filing that an estimated 39,750 phone numbers had been registered through the now-defunct text-messaging service." Under the terms of the settlement, the Bills "promise to put in place 'safeguards' to ensure any new service abides by limits set by the team on the number of messages" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/22).
The NBA will fine Raptors President of Basketball Operations & GM Masai Ujiri $25,000 for saying “'F--- Brooklyn' at the end of his speech to several thousand fans at a pep rally outside Air Canada Centre" before Saturday's first-round playoff game against the Nets, according to Bontemps & Kerber of the N.Y. POST. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "issued the fine after reconsidering his initial decision not to fine Ujiri, but instead give him a warning." After apologizing at halftime of Saturday's contest, Ujiri did so "once again in a radio interview" yesterday morning. Ujiri said, “My mom taught me better than that.” He added that he had also "apologized to the NBA, the Nets organization" and to Nets GM Billy King. Ujiri said that the moment was "meant to be part of trying to establish a new mentality in Toronto." Ujiri: "To me, it was about us, and trying to build a culture here where we believe in ourselves. We are who we are" (N.Y. POST, 4/22). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "If you listed all the general managers in the league … and you said who was the least likely to be involved in something like this, Masai would be that guy. He's the most sober thinking, right-minded person." Wilbon added team execs and coaches "should never go" to fan rallies, as attendees "want you to say something that is going to incite them." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I don't think it deserves real outrage, but I do think it deserves a real fine" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/21). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "I wish he hadn't apologized for that. They've got 10,000 people outside of the arena. He was trying to fire them up. He did fire them up. Don't apologize" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 4/21).