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Volume 24 No. 156


Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen yesterday said that he "envisions taking on multiple investors to fill the void" left by prospective Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer’s departure from his group looking to bring the NBA back to Seattle, according to Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES. Hansen, appearing on KJR-AM in his first local interview since Ballmer bid $2B for the Clippers last week, said that he "still views landing an NBA team as a 'much more difficult' challenge than securing investors, but will need additional deep pockets." Hansen: "It’s likely that we would bring on at least another partner, or two, or three. I don’t think we want 20 partners. I think a handful of good partners is great." Baker notes Hansen gave "no time frame for adding partners." He said that he is "focused on getting an environmental impact study of his arena plan completed by summer’s end." Hansen said that his group "views hockey as a 'break-even proposition' and that his main goal remains an NBA team" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/3). Meanwhile, a SEATTLE TIMES editorial states Ballmer has both the "spare cash and the requisite grasp of reality to recognize that Seattle’s pursuit of a new sports arena and teams to fill it is, at best, improbable" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/3).

QUEEN OF ALL MEDIA: Talk show host Oprah Winfrey said that she "went back and forth in negotiations" for the Clippers. But she "pulled out of negotiations" when the cost neared the eventual sale price of $2B. Winfrey said, “$2 billion -- OK, now that’s my limit!” She added that the sale price "wouldn't have been a savvy business decision." Winfrey: "We went over that number, and then we went over that number again, and by the time we got to the final number (it was no longer) a good business decision" (, 6/2).

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME:'s Larry Coon listed his winners and losers of the Donald Sterling saga. Coon listed the NBA owners as a winner, because Ballmer's $2B bid for the Clippers "should increase the value of every other team." Coon: "If anything, maybe this sale merely creates a price bubble that will soon burst." Coon also listed the NBA BOG and Commissioner Adam Silver as winners, while potential new NBA owners, the Lakers and Lakers fans came out as losers (, 6/2). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes Clippers co-Owner Rochelle Sterling's "deft maneuvering and quick sale" of the team "saved the NBA and her estranged husband untold embarrassment, to say nothing of millions in legal fees" (USA TODAY, 6/3).

YET ANOTHER LAWSUIT: In L.A., Dakota Smith reports a woman who said that she is a former employee and romantic partner of Donald Sterling "filed a lawsuit against the embattled Clippers owner" yesterday, alleging "discrimination and retaliation." Maiko Maya King alleges that she "worked for Sterling as his personal assistant, but lost her job last month after enduring a stream of racist and sexist taunts." She is "represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/3).

NHL Panthers CEO & President Rory Babich yesterday announced that several positions on the organization's business side "were eliminated to improve overall corporate efficiency," according to Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. A source said that most of the "nearly 25 employees laid off were high-level sales people and service representatives and none came from the hockey operations side." The Panthers finished the season ranked 29th in NHL attendance, averaging 14,177 fans per game, so Babich "clearly felt a reorganization of the sales force was called for." Babich in a statement wrote the Panthers "undertook a reorganization that resulted in certain positions being eliminated." He added the changes "will enable us to operate efficiently while continuing to focus on bringing the best in sports and entertainment to BB&T Center." Babich also "sent an e-mail to his season-ticket holders and sponsors" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/3).

Blues Owner Tom Stillman and his group of investors "put many resources into this year’s team, and like the national experts, believed that the club had the potential to win its first Stanley Cup," according to a Q&A with Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Stillman last week made "his first public comments since the postseason ended" for the Blues, who lost to the Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Below are excerpts of the Q&A: 

Q: Do you see the Blues as still being positioned well for success, or do you believe any changes need to be made?
Stillman: As much as we were disappointed, at the same time it's clear that we are not far away from breaking through. Mainly for that reason, I don't think anybody is thinking that we should blow everything up.

Q: How did the lack of more home playoff games and thus increased gate revenue impact the franchise?
Stillman: Obviously the result is we didn't get revenue from a second round, third round or more, so it does hit us that way. But my view of a rational way to construct a budget for a business is not to include revenue that you're not pretty certain to get. I don't think it's a great idea to build a budget and assume lots of playoff rounds. You can't base your finances on that when you don't know it's going to happen. So strictly on the business side or financial side, we hadn't counted on absolutely getting that revenue. We have tried to stay prudent and sound in our financial practices, including our budgeting practices. 

Q: How is the organization doing financially?
Stillman: We're doing better. We're more stable. But we have a ways to go to reach our goal of being a really sound, stable franchise with a secure long-term future.

Q: How is owning the Blues compared to how you envisioned it?
Stillman: The answer really is, I don’t know that I had a well-formed vision of how this would be. To the extent there was one, it wasn’t a view that we’re going to walk in, take over and everything was just going to go straight through the roof. I’ve had a parallel experience, taking over a beer business 20 years ago, and that was not a smooth ride for a lot of those years. It takes time and effort, and trial and error, to get an organization where you want it to go. On the hockey side, to me, it’s been not very much trial and error. It’s been trial and success with most of the moves that have been made. Again, we didn’t end up where we wanted to this year, but we’re going to keep at it (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).