AEG, which owns the NHL Kings, is "denying that the team is up for sale, contradicting reports" that surfaced Wednesday, according to Tom Huddleston, Jr. of FORTUNE. In the original report, the N.Y. Post cited sources as saying that AEG "will look to unload the Kings" after the Stanley Cup Final. AEG President & CEO Dan Beckerman called the report "appalling." Beckerman: "It’s a complete fabrication from some unnamed sources trying to create chaos and mischief. ... There are no plans to sell (the Kings) now, or at anytime." Beckerman said of the timing of the report coinciding with the start of the Final, "It’s probably someone who is trying to create a distraction or a diversion at this opportunistic time. But, it doesn't change the fact that it’s completely fiction ... You have to sort of consider the source, where this came from" (FORTUNE.com, 6/5).
SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES: Beckerman said that the Kings during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final "broke team records for most ticket sales for a single game and most merchandise bought per fan." They also "broke a Staples Center record for the most standing-room tickets sold." ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted the team "broke a single-game ticket sales record thanks to its continuing strategy of dynamically pricing the playoff tickets it sells to the general public." Beckerman said that fans at Wednesday's game "spent an average of nearly $30 each on merchandise alone, while the total spent on food, beverage and merchandise" grossed more than $1M, "an all-time Kings single-game record." The team also "sold about 400 standing-room seats to suite holders, who were allowed to purchase six additional tickets for their suite." That total "surpassed the amount of standing-room tickets purchased" for a '10 NBA Finals game between the Lakers and the Celtics, which "was the previous record for the building" (ESPN.com, 6/5).
Former Sabres Owner Tom Golisano on Thursday confirmed interest in purchasing the Bills and said that he will "keep them in Western New York if his bid is successful," according to Brent Axe of the Syracuse POST-STANDARD. However, Golisano was "critical of the team" for undergoing a $130M renovation on Ralph Wilson Stadium "when a new stadium may be needed to keep the team in Buffalo." He said, "Do I feel it has to be me? No, I'm not possessed about owning the Buffalo Bills, just as I wasn't possessed about owning the Buffalo Sabres. They were in danger of leaving, too. In fact they were a lot closer to leaving than the Bills are. I got involved then because I wanted to keep that entity in western New York, and I want to keep the Buffalo Bills in western New York." Axe notes Golisano "alluded to government support for that new stadium if and when it happens." Golisano: "My guess and it's strictly a guess, is the stadium will be covered. I don't know if it'll have a sliding roof or just a permanent roof, but my guess is it will be covered. And the state government, our governor and some of our U.S. senators are very much in favor of this happening" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 6/6). In Rochester, Justin Murphy writes it "was evident" from Golisano's remarks that he has been "involved in the behind-the-scenes process" with the NFL and the trust that is currently in charge of the Bills. Golisano said that he has been "waiting for financial information on the team to be released in a few weeks before making any decisions." He added that some of the "price tags for recent pro-sports franchises," including $2B for the Clippers, "'seem absurd' and are beyond what he'd be willing to pay" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 6/6).
A crowd of 250 attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Coyotes on Thursday night at team's practice facility in Scottsdale, where they had the opportunity to "discuss a range of topics" with team President & CEO Anthony LeBlanc, GM Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett, according to Sarah McLellan of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. LeBlanc: "We want to hear what they have to say. So getting all that feedback, we knew we had some hiccups on the business side." LeBlanc announced at the event that the team's name will "officially change" from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Arizona Coyotes on June 27, "the opening night of the draft." The name change "will affect the jerseys only on the shoulder patch, which previously had 'PHX' on it," but it will "now read, 'AZ.'" LeBlanc also said that it is "unlikely the Coyotes will host an outdoor game next season." The Coyotes were "hoping to piggyback off the momentum of the Super Bowl, which hits Glendale in Feb.1, with their own outdoor game, and Chase Field was considered a likely destination." LeBlanc added that it is "fair to expect the Coyotes will host a game in the 'near future.'" The NHL has not "reneged on its promise to bring an All-Star Game back to the Valley after the previous one" planned for the '04-05 season was "washed out by a lockout." LeBlanc said that the team "will host the event, but a date hasn't been nailed down." LeBlanc also announced that ticket prices "in some sections will increase next season," while others "will be priced cheaper" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/6).
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday said he needed more time to study the ramifications of the Astros’ recent deal with 1B Jonathan Singleton. The contract has been hotly debated across the game, with some execs arguing a $10M guarantee before his big-league debut is unwarranted, and some MLBPA members arguing he left substantial money on the table and damaged his future earnings potential. Selig said, "It’s very interesting, but I really need to think about that. It’s different" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Singleton's deal "has ignited the ire of major leaguers" like Orioles P Bud Norris and free agent P Mark Mulder, "who say Singleton has given away his first chance for free agency for cash on hand." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "You can criticize if you want. If this kid's career goes bust and he can’t make that money, are you going to give it to him, Mark Mulder?" Wilbon: "Financial matters are private. Unless all of these people criticizing him knows what this guy has in his family and what his family (situation is) ... then shut up." Kornheiser said "baseball players always want to go by the union rule. They want to get you to free agency as quickly as possible. Those same people will say to you when you ask them any question about what they've done in their careers, 'This is a business. We're in a business here.' Singleton has obviously made a business decision." Wilbon said the MLBPA "has been the most successful of the professional sports unions because of that peer pressure and it is straight-up gangsta peer pressure" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/4).
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: The Astros last night selected high school P Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft. It was the third straight year that the team had the top pick, and MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said it is "not an accident" that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow "has come in and three straight years they get the No. 1 (pick) and all the money that goes with it.” MLB Network’s Joel Sherman: “I have no problem with the Astros using the system. ... It's up to the Players Association and commissioner's office to change rules that are helping teams tank. ... It's wrong that a team can be this bad consistently and keep getting rewarded.” Kenny asked, “Do you think we ever get to a time where baseball goes the way of the NBA?” MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo: “I don't see that happening. It is an imperfect system, but for baseball, it works. Remember you are not taking guys from the amateur game and they aren’t going straight to the highest level.” Kenny: “Luhnow has gone drastic on this, but it is grand strategy. He doesn’t want to lose. He wants to build a solid foundation to a powerhouse" (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 6/4).