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Volume 24 No. 112

Franchises

Former MLB Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg is "close to completing an agreement to buy" the Hurricanes from Owner Peter Karmanos for about $500M, according to sources cited by Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Sources said that the team will "stay in North Carolina" and Greenberg will "seek to add local investors to the ownership group." He plans to "split his time between Raleigh and Dallas." The price tag is "roughly the same as what Bill Foley recently paid" to land the expansion Golden Knights. Investment bank Allen & Co. has been "overseeing the sale process for the team." Karmanos -- who has owned the team since '94, when it was the Hartford Whalers -- said in January that he was "open to selling the franchise." Greenberg in '11 "sold his stake in the Rangers," though he "still owns a trio of minor-league baseball franchises" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/13). Hurricanes President Don Waddell on Thursday confirmed the team is "staying in Raleigh" if the sale is completed. However, he "could not comment on the proposed price or potential ownership group or how long the process could last." In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes Hurricanes Holdings LLC is "made up of 18 investment groups," with individual investors including Hurricanes Exec VP & GM Ron Francis and AHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Michael Kahn. Though Greenberg will look for other local investors, questions "remain about other members of the potential ownership group and whether Greenberg would be a majority or minority owner, and how much assumed debt would be a part of the purchase" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/14). Also in Raleigh, Jeff Gravley cited sources as saying that Karmanos' partners, a "group of local investors who have a minority stake in the team, would have the option to participate in any new ownership" (WRALSPORTSFAN.com, 7/13). 

STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes the potential sale to Greenberg "appears to be the beginning of the end for the Hurricanes’ time in ownership purgatory." The franchise has been "paralyzed ... since Karmanos lost his silent, unshakably loyal partner" in late co-Owner Thomas Thewes and while his "personal finances became increasingly strained." There are "still unanswered questions surrounding the deal," but "any momentum toward change is positive momentum." DeCock: "While this may only be the first dawning rays of a sale that may still take months to finalize, it couldn’t be more welcome" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/14). 

Coyotes Managing Owner & Chair Andrew Barroway spoke publicly Thursday for the "first time since he became the sole owner," and the message he delivered "highlighted the dedication to keeping the Coyotes in the Valley amid the ongoing pursuit of a permanent arena," according to Sarah McLellan of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Barroway said, "The most important thing is to find a long-term home for the Coyotes in Arizona. We couldn't be any more committed to Arizona and the Valley, and the biggest project at hand is to find a home in the right place for the Coyotes in Arizona." He added, "Let's put this to bed: We're not relocating." New team President & CEO Steve Patterson also was introduced Thursday, and he said that the Coyotes are "open to talking to anyone in the Valley interested in a partnership." McLellan notes the Coyotes are "particularly intrigued by the East Valley." Barroway: "Failure is not an option here. We're going to get a new stadium in Arizona, where it should have been located to begin with." The Coyotes will play at Gila River Arena next season and "continue to evaluate their situation on a year-by-year basis but have yet to look" at the '18-19 season. McLellan notes Barroway became the only owner of the team June 12 when he bought out his minority partners. It was always his "dream to own the team himself, and there were 'too many cooks in the kitchen' with the previous group." Barroway said, "No major disagreements. But it's hard to get 10 guys to agree on anything." He added that the Coyotes will be "strategic in their spending," but he "wouldn't identify where their budget would rank compared to their peers." Barroway "doesn't expect any more changes to the ownership structure" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/14).

The Knicks have "reached an agreement in principle on a deal" with Kings Exec VP/Basketball Operations Scott Perry to make him the franchise's new GM, according to sources cited by Wojnarowski & Begley of ESPN.com. Consummation of the hiring is pending the Knicks and Kings "arriving at terms on compensation," as the teams have been "wrangling over a financial arrangement." Perry would "report to Steve Mills, who will be elevated" to Knicks President. Sources indicated that Mills "will hold ultimate authority in the front office," while Perry "will be afforded tremendous freedom to operate as he chooses." He will be the "day-to-day voice running the basketball side." Sources said that the Knicks have been "searching for a GM who won't push for an overhaul of the front-office staff," as well as an executive who can "coexist with Mills" (ESPN.com, 7/13). In N.Y., Marc Berman reports the Knicks have "courted Perry for more than a week" with Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke "gathering a pool of candidates as head of the search." Now it will "be a Mills-Perry connection and perhaps Allan Houston promoted back to his assistant GM role" (N.Y. POST, 7/14).

READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT: In N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes Perry may not have much name recognition, but he "does hold an extensive -- and largely promising -- resume as an NBA executive." He was "part of the Pistons front-office team that assembled" the team that won the NBA title in '04. He also has worked for the Sonics and Magic before being hired by the Kings "just before the club was widely praised" for its '17 Draft and free agency. However, he has "never held the top GM job" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/14). On Long Island, Al Iannazzone notes Perry, "considered a good talent evaluator," had a "hand in what many believe has been a very good offseason for the Kings." They added G De’Aaron Fox, F Justin Jackson, C Harry Giles and G Frank Mason III in the Draft, then signed free agents G George Hill, F Zach Randolph and G Vince Carter (NEWSDAY, 7/14). In Sacramento, Jason Jones notes Perry has been "credited around the league" for giving the Kings' front office "much-needed credibility" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/14).

WILL THINGS ACTUALLY CHANGE? In N.Y., Frank Isola writes the "question now is how much power will Perry have to run the team." Isola: "Will Mills and those close to him allow Perry to perform his job or is Perry there just to provide cover for them?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/14). NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson asked, "Is this really a dream job in that you're coming in as the No. 2 guy and you have no control, no power and you don't get to hire your own staff? Or is this going to be a different situation than they presented to David Griffin?" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 7/13). SNY's Marc Malusis said, “It’s great that they’ll bring in a basketball guy to be GM. But at the end of it, does he have any kind of control?" SNY’s Jon Hein: “Nothing’s going to change.” Mills is "running this team (and) James Dolan is running Steve Mills." Hein: "I don’t think much is going to change, no matter who gets that GM title” ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 7/13). SNY's Sal Licata asked, "Has there been any word on a change of ownership? Is James Dolan still running things? If so, this means nothing" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 7/13).

The Braves' attendance is up 33% in their debut season at SunTrust Park from last season, while their local TV viewership is up 50% "compared with this point last season," according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The team has drawn an average of 30,578 fans per game at SunTrust Park, "up from an average of 23,030 through the same number of games (42) at Turner Field last year." The increase of 7,548 per game is "by far the largest in the majors this season." The Braves, who at 42-45 are in second place in the NL East, now rank 14th in home attendance, up from 25th at this point last year. The Braves have "averaged 36,319 fans for Friday-Saturday-Sunday games" at SunTrust Park and 25,837 for weekday games. Based on their current averages, the Braves are "on pace to draw about 2.5 million fans for the full season, which would be almost 500,000 more than either of the past two seasons and their most since drawing 2.55 million" in '13 (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/14).

CUTE AS A BUTTON? In Georgia, Will Hammock noted the Triple-A Int'l League Gwinnett Braves have unveiled the "highly anticipated finalists" of their "Name The Team" contest: Buttons, Big Mouths, Gobblers, Hush Puppies, Lambchops and Sweet Teas. A total of 4,024 submissions were entered online with "more than 900 different name ideas." A selection committee made up of staff from the G-Braves, the MLB Braves and branding partner Brandiose "decided which names made the final cut to six." Fans can vote online "for their favorite among the six finalists," and the leading vote-getters "will factor into the final choice" (GWINNETTDAILYPOST.com, 7/13). In Atlanta, George Mathis wrote if fans think naming a team after the "South's favorite beverage is stupid," they have "yet to hear the other suggestions." Mathis: "My theory is the G-Braves released so many awful alternatives the public will feel blessed when the team humanely selects 'Buttons.'" That is a reference to Button Gwinnett, who repped Georgia in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence (AJC.com, 7/13).

Red Sox execs said the club’s move to opt back into a full integration with MLBAM partner StubHub is designed as a test for the latter half of the ’17 season. MLBAM and StubHub are currently in talks regarding a potential extension of the five-year partnership expiring after this season. While those negotiations occur, the Red Sox will experiment with offering its season-ticket holders a direct tie to both StubHub and the club’s own Red Sox Replay. “We have a lot of fans who remain very happy with Red Sox Replay, but we also heard from some fans who said they wanted StubHub back,” Red Sox Senior VP/Ticketing Ron Bumgarner said. "Fundamentally, our goal is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our season ticket holders to resell the games they can’t attend, so we’re doing both.” The fee and commission terms for both ticket resale platforms will remain intact, with Red Sox Replay offering lower seller fees and club rewards points and StubHub providing greater brand awareness and scale. Even with the dual integrations, sellers of Red Sox tickets will still need to pick one to use -- the club’s test does not call for simultaneous listings of the same ticket inventory.

The Steelers said that Miami Air Int’l will “provide charter flights for the team this season, but the Steelers are continuing to ‘look for options in the future years,’” according to Jill Beckman of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. American Airlines in April “announced it was suspending charter flights for six NFL teams" -- the Steelers, Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, Jaguars and Cardinals. Along with the Steelers, American “dropped flights” for the Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, Jaguars and Cardinals. American is “continuing its partnership" with just the Cowboys, Panthers and Eagles, as all three teams are “based in major hub cities.” Miami Air also “provides charter flights for the Penguins" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 7/13).