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Volume 24 No. 117


Quogue Capital Founder Wayne Rothbaum "won’t join" the Jeb Bush-Derek Jeter bid for the Marlins, according to a source cited by Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. A source said that Rothbaum "had been in talks to contribute" $150M to the $1.3B bid. However, Rothbaum bowed out because he was "unable to reach agreement on the terms of his investment." Soshnick reported losing Rothbaum "calls into question whether Jeter and Bush can raise the money they need to finance their bid, which was provisionally accepted" by Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/18). MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday said that the two groups trying to purchase the Marlins -- Bush-Jeter and a group headed by Tagg Romney and Tom Glavine -- are "neck-and-neck in their pursuit." In Miami, Clark Spencer notes whether either entity has "met the financial requirements to buy the club" Loria is the question. Both groups reportedly are "still looking for investors to help meet" the $1.3B price. Manfred said, "The bidders are in relatively the same place in terms of price -- maybe minuscule differences. And they are in fact in the price range that Mr. Loria was looking for." He added that the "final negotiations at this point are between the bidding groups and the Marlins." Spencer notes Bush is "not limiting his fundraising efforts to deep-pocketed investors." A MLB source said that the Bush group has "cast a net in search of investors willing to contribute" as little as $10M, or less than 1% of the bidding price (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19). Sources said that a resolution is expected before the next set of owners' meetings in August, and perhaps before the Marlins host the All-Star game in July (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

SECRET WEAPON? USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale profiles Steelers investor and Baseball HOF BOD member Thomas Tull and writes there is "no doubt among baseball’s hierarchy that one day, perhaps sooner than anyone anticipates," Tull will join their "exclusive ownership circle." Tull and Jeter "are close," and he "could be the lead investor" in the Bush-Jeter bid for the Marlins. However, Tull said that the "locale and timing" of the Marlins’ sale "isn’t quite right." Nightengale notes Tull "scoffs at the notion" that Bush-Jeter are "having trouble landing investors ... without his financial support." He believes that Jeter could "attract virtually any investor he desires." Tull: "I don’t think Derek’s going to need any help on that front. Derek Jeter would be the last guy I would try and bet against." Nightengale notes it was often "suspected that if Jeter ever was involved with a team, Tull would be his lead investor." When the news broke that Jeter and Bush were partners in their bid, Tull was "believed to be the power broker behind the scenes." Tull actually explored purchasing the Padres in '12 until the deal fell though (USA TODAY, 5/19).

The Rams' planned rebrand "might not happen until" '20 with the opening of the team's $2.6B Inglewood stadium being pushed a year from its expected '19 debut, according to Gary Klein of the L.A. TIMES. Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff said that the "process with the NFL and uniform-maker Nike had begun and that the Rams are eligible to rebrand" in '19. However, the stadium delay could push the new uniforms back as well. Many fans were "disappointed that that team stuck with the St. Louis ensemble that featured the colors blue, gold and white" when they returned to L.A. last season. Switching to the "blue and white uniforms of the mid-1960s, or the blue, yellow and white colors adopted in the ’70s" were among the possibilities mentioned. The stadium delay is "not expected to affect the Rams on the field," but it "could affect the sale" of PSLs for the new stadium. The team last year "sold 70,000 season tickets at the Coliseum." A Rams spokesperson last month said that the team would "not comment on the number of season tickets sold" for '17 until all sales were complete. However, the fact that the Rams "made season tickets available to those on the waiting list indicates there was attrition after fans watched the Rams go 1-6 at home." Demoff said that the delay will "not affect the timeline for the sale of PSLs or other sales" (L.A. TIMES, 5/19). Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Jim Thomas notes by playing in the L.A. Coliseum for another year, the Rams will "play an international game again" in '19. League bylaws "state that teams playing in a temporary stadium must play an international game each season" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/19).

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT? The Chargers will play one more year at the 30,000-seat Staples Center as a result of the delays to the Inglewood stadium, and ESPN’s Jeff Saturday called it a "brutal piece of information" that will hurt the team "from a players perspective.” ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi said playing in the small venue means "your homefield advantage is almost eliminated.” ESPN's Trey Wingo: “It’s another tough look for the teams that are in L.A. right now as they try and get that stadium ready” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 5/18). NBC's Mike Florio: "Good luck with that budget in 2019, Chargers” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 5/19).

The A’s have formed a waiting list for their new Ballpark Pass after the $19.99 per month subscription offer to the club’s home games quickly sold out. The club sold “several thousand” passes, which only guarantee standing-room access to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The decision to cut off sales of the Ballpark Pass was governed by its standing-room capacity of the stadium of about 2,000. “You’re not going to get 100% utilization of the pass for a particular game," A's Exec Dir of Ticket Sales & Operations Steve Fanelli said. "But the question we had to wrestle with was what would happen if we sold out a game in our regular seats, even with the upper deck now opened. We needed to be able to make sure we could still accommodate everybody.” The A’s began experimenting with smaller subscription-based offers in ’15, but this year implemented a longer, four-month option with a much lower monthly price and put more marketing behind it. “This was clearly the right price point, particularly for people not ordinarily thinking about A’s tickets,” Fanelli said. The club said roughly 30% of the A’s Ballpark Pass purchasers previously have not bought A’s tickets. A potential expansion of the Ballpark Pass program is being considered for later in the season. For now, fans on the waiting list will gain an opportunity to buy a Ballpark Pass only if somebody opts out of the auto-renewing commitment. “We really feel this program has the ability to complement our core product offerings for years to come, while attracting a new audience to the ballpark,” Fanelli said.

The Predators' run to the Western Conference Finals has brought with it an atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena that has been described as lively and deafening. The enthusiasm for the Predators in Music City peaked during Thursday night's Western Conference Finals Game Four, which set an arena attendance record of 17,423. With the series tied 2-2, Nashville is already prepping for Game Six on Monday night. Fox Sports Tennessee's Willy Daunic spoke with THE DAILY about the excitement level in the city right now and whether that can be sustained in a non-traditional hockey market. Some answers have been edited for brevity or clarity.

: What's the vibe and level of excitement around the city of Nashville right now surrounding this team?
Daunic: It's really incredible. For me, it's extra special because you can find a few of us who have been around from the beginning (in '98) in some form or fashion. I was a young sports talk show host who latched on as the pre- and postgame show host back then and it's just amazing the growth curve of the fan base. There are two things going on right now. You have a much broader casual audience jumping on board who want to be a part of it and want to know what’s going on. The other dynamic is the fan base that's been around for a long time, whether from the beginning or 10 years ago when the ownership changed and it looked like the franchise was kind of teetering. It's so satisfying for them and there’s a hunger to go all the way -- you can sense it.

Q: What was the atmosphere like in Bridgestone Arena during the first-round home games against the Blackhawks and how did that series win affect the fan base?
Daunic: They've been such a great, successful team that has knocked the Predators out (of the playoffs) a couple of times. It was so invigorating for the fans to be able to get over the hump and not only beat them, but sweep them. That (series win) really vaulted everyone to another level of confidence, from the players all the way through the crowd, in that belief that you can win the whole thing.

Q: Nashville is not really seen as a "traditional" hockey market being in the South, but do you see this level of excitement and passion for the team as sustainable?
Daunic: I do. We went through that period of ownership change -- this summer will be the 10-year anniversary since that change. It was a critical time for the franchise and the current ownership group came together and basically saved the team. But there was also a rally and a decision by the community that said, 'Hey, maybe we took this team for granted for a while, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t lose this asset,' and that's when I think that core (fan base) became stronger. But now 10 years later, you've basically got a generation of young fans who have grown up with this team. They don’t know any different. The Predators have always had to work really hard to find as many ways as they could to bring you in, because once you get in there and see the entertainment product not just on the ice but what they do around the game with the presentation, they hook you. Now you're through one generation of fans and you've got their kids who are going into the workforce, who are coming back home from college. Now they're having kids and bringing them to games.

Q: How does the rise of the Predators compare to that of the Titans when they made their Super Bowl run in '99? Or maybe even compared to now with the buzz surrounding the team and Marcus Mariota?
Daunic: When the new stadium opened in '99 and they officially became the Titans, they made the Super Bowl the first year. There was this instant explosion of football fans who had a winner right away, they had a great nucleus of young guys and for about five years, it was unbelievable. The Titans didn't have to build from scratch and build the fan base, it was almost effortless for them back then. Now fast forward to this period of time when they haven’t made the playoffs since '08, it’s gotten to the point where they’re now having to start working to get the fans here. I think the Titans are starting to realize building that connection with your fans goes a long way. I think they're starting to come back around, but it's been interesting because even though it's football and it’s the Southeast, there's no substitute for building that emotional connection with the fans.