Monday, July 31, 2006

How much for a new arena?

Interesting article about arena costs in the Pittsburgh paper today.

I suppose this applies to Orlando, too.

$290M in funding tight, but doable, for arena

Several analysts uninvolved in the Pittsburgh discussions view $290 million as a fair starting point for construction-related costs, if the arena is not intended to be among the league's largest, and if it doesn't necessarily include the most luxurious amenities.

This will be an interesting twist in the Pittsburgh arena saga. Let's say Isle of Capri doesn't get the slots license (seems likely). Sam Fingold and the city, county and state government will have to work out a lease for the $315M Plan B funded arena. But, who pays cost overruns?
Here's an important paragraph to remember.
The governor has laid out Plan B as a financial alternative relying on $7.5 million a year for 30 years from the slots licensee, $7 million a year from a state development fund covered by slots revenue, and an annual Penguins contribution that includes a $2.9 million payment and giving up $1.2 million in naming rights that would be directed toward the arena cost. Also, the Pens would be expected to pay $8.5 million up front, as team officials indicated in the past they would be willing to do.

Just so the Devils are never mentioned as a potential franchise looking to relocate, which some uninformed people say "Why don't the Devils move back to KC?":
The only NHL arena currently under construction, to open in 2007 in Newark for the New Jersey Devils, carries a price tag of $310 million. It will contain 18,000 seats, 78 luxury suites, 150 food and retail areas, a gourmet restaurant, 750 television monitors and 12 escalators.

Also, Guy Junker from the Pittsburgh Trib decides to frighten Pittsburgh hockey fans.

Junker: Future of Penguins grows cloudy

Early in his bidding process, he talked about moving the team to Kansas City, where there is a new building and a sweetheart deal all but set.

Well, there isn't a building, yet. And, we have no idea about a sweetheart deal. We know the deal doesn't include operation of the facility and we know AEG must get their cut from any deal in order to pay off their $50M investment.

Frank Gehry to build arena.

Remember Frank Gehry, the world famous architect that bid to be the architect of what is now Sprint Center?

The Frank Gehry that some sports talkers in Kansas City basically made fun of?

Well, he will build an arena afterall -- in Brooklyn.

Atlantic Yards will be the new home of the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets.

The development is backed by Forest City Enterprises. Yes, the group that is working with Harrah's to bidding against Isle of Capri for the slots parlor license in Pittsburgh.

I guess we'll see what Gehry can do when awarded the opportunity to build a sports facility.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

You want to read great sportswriting?

Ladies and gentelman, Terry Frei.
Message to all things Penguin: Make up your minds

What a wonderful column.

I love this graph:

For one thing, with Sidney Crosby on the ice and Evgeni Malkin about to join him front and center, the names on the marquee (if the NHL actually allows star names on the marquee) will be compelling and the entertainment quotient high, regardless of where the franchise ends up.

And this one:
When Badger Bob Johnson, who coached the Mario Lemieux-led Pens to the Stanley Cup, reprised his trademark line, "It's a great day for hockey," he meant in Pittsburgh, too.

But at some point, the indignities pile up and become ridiculous, demeaning and even tiresome.

We're getting dizzy trying to separate the disingenuousness from the sincerity.

And, if you read this blog with any regularity, you agree 100% with this graph:

At some point, and that point is rapidly approaching, if not already past, somebody needs to step in and forcefully say: This is getting silly.

Do yourself a favor and read the entire column.

Orlando news columnist plays chicken with Magic

Interesting column in Saturday's Orlando Sentinal.

DeVos needs us more than we need him

But with DeVos, there is only vague talk about a "significant'' contribution toward a new arena that would cost between $350 million and $395 million. How do we define "significant"?

If you look at the market and other arena deals, DeVos should pay more than half the cost of the facility.

Really? OK, so some guy at Marquette backs up the claim, but David Glass is paying, I believe 7% and the Chiefs are paying, I believe 18%, for renovations to their facilities.

If Orlando insists on half then we may have the second DeVos owned team in KC (remember Dan DeVos owned the Blades).

A good model for us is the Dallas Mavericks' American Airlines Center. The city capped its commitment at $125 million, leaving the rest to the Mavericks and NHL's Dallas Stars. They had to cover all cost overruns. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had plenty of them as he upgraded the facility into a high-tech, state-of-the-art arena with a final price tag of $420 million. The city's share of that came to about 30 percent.

Interesting, but two franchises who consistently put 95%+ capacity in the building kicked in for AAC. Orlando has one franchise that draws about 90%, 85%, 83%, 85% capacity over the last five years.

What if DeVos balks at this and threatens to move? We wave goodbye.

Good. That hack Mike Bianchi should be on the high school beat anyway.

Kansas City is overextended with football and baseball, and already has lost an NBA team.

Yes, we lost an NBA and an NHL team. We get it.
Of course, the NHL team was owned by a bunch of morons who couldn't make a go of it in Denver either and sold the team to John McMullen.

And, the Kings were in existence in the age before Jordan and the Internet. Some people have told me the Kings' season ticket campaign consisted of waiting for last year's season ticket holders to call to renew their tickets.
Charlotte lost a team and got one back.
New Orleans lost a team and got one back.

We have no other major sports franchises and, with all due respect to UCF, no competition from college sports. Kansas City is overextended with football and baseball, and already has lost an NBA team.

What do you want to bet me Thomas has never even BEEN to KC.

If the Magic leave Orlando, this simply creates a void that another franchise will fill, be it from the NBA -- with its ready supply of restless teams -- or another major sport.

I doubt, however, that NBA Commissioner David Stern is dumb enough to hand over his monopoly here to another league.

Why? So another team can NOT fill the building.

Look, I'm all for these owners paying for their own palaces. But, it's just not going to happen. The demand for these teams is too high and the supply to short.

Orlando better kick in at least $200M plus cost overruns or Devos will take his ball and go. I think asking for any amount more than 33% from this owner is asking for too much.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fingold to buy Penguins

This is huge. I told you in May to get to know Sam Fingold.
Sam Fingold, the 34-year old who once said he would buy the Penguins and move them to Kansas City, will be the first to have exclusive rights to purchase the NHL franchise.

Fingold agrees to buy Penguins; Promises to keep team here if possible

"As passionate hockey fans, we are excited about this opportunity to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins," Mr. Fingold said in a Penguins' news release. "We agree with the current ownership group that the Penguins should remain in Pittsburgh and that a new arena is crucial to the team's long-term success.

"So many of the elements for success already are in place here, including a loyal fan base and a spectacular core of young talent, led by Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are an important part of Pittsburgh's sports landscape, and it is our objective to do everything possible to secure their future here."

Even Paul McGannon has some spin on the topic:
The next 30 days will determine if Pittsburgh is able to come up with financial models and scenarios to stay in Pittsburgh," Mr. McGannon told the Star for a story appearing today.

"That's the first choice of the league and the current ownership group. But if for whatever reason that does not work out politically or casino-wise or otherwise, what are the other options? Fingold looks at us favorably as an option."

(and from Friday)
Fingold ices others in Penguins bidding

Fingold signed a letter of intent and will have 30-days to negotiate the purchase of the team. This does not mean he will buy the team. Dave Checketts and an Andy Appleby guy both had exclusive 30-day negotiating rights to buy the St. Louis Blues and didn't come away with a purchase. Checketts came back to the table later to eventually buy our beloved Missouri-based franchise.

Remember, it is still unlikely that Fingold will move the team to KC.

We need to get a couple of things straight.
1.) There is no lease agreement for the proposed new arenas in Pittsburgh.
If Isle of Capri is awarded the slots license, the team stays in Pittsburgh.
If not, there is a Plan B for a new arena. If a lease is drafted that allows the Penguins to operate the Plan B-funded arena, then the team will stay in Pittsburgh.


Because the team would generate more revenue by playing in an arena they operate than by playing in an arena they do not operate. AEG will operate Sprint Center.

What could cause the team to move even with Plan B?

If the Penguins will not operate the Plan B-funded arena.
If the Penguins are on the hook for any cost overruns to the arena. Interest rates are not going down. The cost for the bonds to finance the Pittsburgh arena are not going to be any cheaper six months from now. The $300M arena Plan B is proposing could cost more than $350M by the time the agreement is signed and could push $600M by the time the debt is retired.

Regardless, according to a Post-Gazette story from earlier this week, the NHL may stand in the way of any move.
NHL bylaws, funding plans should keep Penguins here

The state and local government's proposed plan for alternative arena funding and the NHL bylaws have dovetailed nicely to make it difficult for a new owner to move the Penguins to another city.

A copy of the four-page Section 36 of the NHL bylaws, dealing with franchise relocations, was obtained from the league.

There are 24 areas of consideration that are to be used in determining whether to allow a team to move, including "whether there is a reasonable prospect ... that it could become financially viable" and whether the club received a "publicly financed arena, special tax treatment, or any other form of public financial support."

A new arena under Plan B would arguably give the Penguins a reasonable chance of financial health, and it could fit the criteria of public financial support.

Also considered under the NHL bylaws would be local fan support, whether local authorities could help reduce operating costs and whether a move would harm the league's image or make travel, scheduling and divisional alignment difficult.

The Penguins have no trouble with fan support. Last season they led the NHL in attendance increase. Even with a horrible team.

A move to KC would, actually, help divisional alignment as the Red Wings, the only Western Conference team in the Eastern time zone, could move back to the Eastern Conference.

There won't be a public comment coming from the NHL any time soon. However, Bettman has made it pretty clear that he wants to keep the Pittsburgh market in the NHL.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Let's compare Web sites

Winnipeg wants to get the NHL back. They have a guy (group?) trying to help lure an NHL team back to Winnipeg.

Here is the "Bring back the Jets" Web site.
Bring back the Jets

The Hartford wants an NHL team back. The Hartford Whalers' booster clubs still exists and is trying to help lure an NHL team back to Hartford.
Official site of the Hartford Whalers' Booster Club

KC wants to get the NHL back. We have a guy (group?) trying to lure an NHL team.

Here is the NHL21 Web site.

Could Hornets buzz KC next?

By the end of 2006, George Shinn wants a final decision on where his team will play in the 2007-08 season and future seasons.

Basically, he's waiting for the NBA office to say it is OK to move from New Orleans. Why wouldn't they approve a move? New Orleans will never have the population it once had and is now smaller than Omaha.

Could KC be on Shinn's list?

Shinn wants decision soon

If Jason Whitlock thinks David Glass is the WOE (worst owner ever) wait until he gets ahold of George Shinn.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fingold and two others still in bidding for Penguins

Three bidders still in running

Looks like the group with Andrew Murstein (who at one time inquired about buying our Kansas City Wizards) and his group with Mark Cuban and Dan Marino are still in the bidding for the Penguins.

Interesting quote here:

Business sense dictates that pushing the sale price closer to $200 million and working to keep the team here could be counter purposes.

It's thought that the Penguins are worth a lot more as a portable team. Forbes, for instance, most recently estimated the team's worth at $137 million. Several people close to the sale process have said anything significantly higher might reflect a value associated with a team coveted by another city.

Or perhaps the higher price is just what the market will bear at this time, regardless of where the team ends up, partly because the NHL's year-old collective bargaining agreement gives its teams a more sound financial footing.

I tend to think it's the NHL's new CBA, which is much more owner friendly -- especially for a team in a medium market like Pittsburgh.

But, one has to wonder why the Penguins are fetching $175M and the Blues were sold for $150. Perhaps Bill Laurie has no business sense and is a lousy negotiator (actually that's likely).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What event should open Sprint Center?

OK, let's talk about something exciting.

The opening of Sprint Center!

I think everyone in Kansas City agrees that the concept and building of Sprint Center is a much needed addition to downtown Kansas City's revitalization (along with H&R Block's headquarters, growth of loft apartments and condos and the proposed KCP&L district--photo below left) and the financing through hotel and rental car taxes was the way to go.

According to, the arena opens in 441 days.

What do you think should be the first event in the new arena?

Since the opening will be mid-October 2007, there are a few options.

A concert or a college basketball game
(and, I suppose, it could still be an NHL game. No chance for an NBA game since the NBA season doesn't start until November 1)

Either one, a concert or a basketball game, would have to appeal to a mass audience and ensure a crowed of 18,000+.

My thought
Big XII - Big 10(11) Challenge
Missouri Vs. Iowa

Kansas Vs. Illinois

Such an event would not only draw college basketball fans to the NABC Hall of Fame opening, but also appeal to both sides of the state line and would, most likely, draw national television from at least ESPN.

Missouri vs. a Midwest region powerhouse and Bill Self against his former team, Illinois.

In 2007, all four teams may be ranked in the preseason top 25.

The right concert, like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel or the Rolling Stones would be sure sellouts, but would they capture the spirit of the arena as well as college hoops?

Your thoughts?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hartford 2 Kansas City 0

Kansas City is being shutout by Hartford in its bid for a local owner for an NHL team.

Nothing would assure Sprint Center of a NHL or NBA tennant like a local, Kansas City owner purchasing a franchise in either league.

Hartford, on the other hand, has two finalists in the bidding for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two bidders, Larry Gottesdiener and Sam Fingold even own real estate across the street from each other in the Connecticut city.

We're About To Save Pittsburgh Again

That could put Fingold on the same road to K.C. as Gottesdiener wants to take to Hartford.
Although he has lived in Hartford a number of years, we don't know Fingold. We don't know his game. We do know for some time he was talking as if he was going to move the Penguins to a new arena in Kansas City, but now he's found the Western Pennsylvania religion. In the process, he has taken some cracks at Gottesdiener and [Hartford Mayer Eddie] Perez.

One shot Fingold took at Eddie Perez was this.
"I'd rather buy a team and put it in another city than have it in Hartford and deal with [Mayor] Eddie Perez, because I don't think he quite understands all the economics associated with bringing a team to the city," Fingold said. "You think Hartford should spend $290 million on a new arena vs. trying to figure out how to fix the school system and cut down crime?"

You could replace Hartford with Kansas City in that sentence and it would apply.

They even have an NHL21-type group in Hartford.
Pens would find whale of a welcome in Hartford
Penguins fans might be devastated by that news, but the Whalers Boosters Club -- yes, it remains active -- would be thrilled. Gottesdiener spoke to the group this spring and vowed to work toward bringing the NHL back to Hartford.

"Nobody wants to see anybody lose their team," said Alan Victor, booster club president. "It's a terrible feeling and we wouldn't wish it on anybody. However, given the NHL is not going to expand, we want NHL hockey in Hartford."

Hartford currently does not have a new arena online.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fingold hi bid -- now we know

Now we know why AEG and NHL21 were so confident an NHL team would come to KC for the 2007-08 season.

Because they probably knew long ago that the bidders they were working with, David and Sam Fingold, would come in with the high bid.
Hartford man top bidder for Penguins

Mr. Fingold has the highest offer of the four active bidders, a figure of around $175 million, sources with knowledge of the negotiation process told the Post-Gazette. At least one other bidder, believed to be Lawrence Gottesdiener, may still attempt to outbid him, a source said.

This is after another Canadian group, out of Hamilton or Waterloo, made the initial high bid, but supposedly dropped out because they were told relocating the franchise was not an option.

The $175M bid is $25M more than the St. Louis Blues sale price.

In the last week or so, the NHL has basically said "no dice" to a franchise relocation because the Penguins don't meet the criteria for such a location.

The criteria since 1993 seems to be "if the franchis is in a former WHA market".

During the first couple of weeks in May, Sam Fingold confirmed that he had conversations with a group in KC about moving the Penguins to Sprint Center in both the Toronto Star and on Toronot radio station The Fan 590.
Torontonian wants to move Penguins to KC
Sam Fingold -- Get to know him!

Then on July 13 Fingold told the Hartford Courant that he doesn't think the franchise will relocate.
Penguins Move Won't Fly, Developer Says

On July 18, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed a story stating the NHL will stand in the way of a Penguins' relocation.
Roadblock impedes Penguins' exit

AEG and NHL21 are still hoping.
Penguins fans seem to be on a roller coaster. Now, they are nervous again.

Friday, July 21, 2006

KC Star Op-Ed comes around to no Pens

The Kansas City Star's Op-Ed page is now on board that it looks bleak for an NBA or NHL team to relocate to Kansas City.

Keep pressing for events at KC’s Sprint Center

Let's break this opinion down paragraph by paragraph.

Construction is proceeding at a good pace on Kansas City’s Sprint Center. City officials report plenty of money on hand for the project.

Good news.
And the arena’s top leaders are working diligently to bring all kinds of events — from concerts to Arena Football League games — to the building once it opens in late 2007.

Has Tyler Prochnow and the Brigade officially announced that they can move to Sprint Center? I haven't heard.
That would be good. Arena Football is a nice addition to our sports landscape. Plus, the Brigade's logo is cool.

This is exactly what Kansas Citians had hoped would happen when they approved the arena in 2004 to help revive downtown and replace the aging Kemper Arena.

Well, almost exactly.

As the sound effect goes, Wa-wa-waaaaaa
This week Kansas City officials got some discouraging news about their attempts to woo a professional basketball or hockey team to the Sprint Center.

This week? This week? It has been nearly nothing but discouraging news for six months. Read through my 100+ posts. The Star chose to ignore what was happening in Pittsburgh, the Penguins inching closer and closer to staying in Pittsburgh.

One loyal Kansas City-area hockey fan once wrote, "Pennsylvania politics will prevail" more than a year ago about whether the Penguins would move. I don't know if it was the alliteration or the fact that he's a Western PA native, but it stuck with me. I began to follow what was going on in Pittsburgh, then, started this blog because I'd read about newsworthy events in Pittsburgh or other cities and find nothing in the Star.
It appears the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association will move in a few years to Oklahoma City. And the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League will stay put. Both franchises had been on the list of possible major-league franchises for Kansas City.

Mayor Kay Barnes remains upbeat, putting some pressure where it belongs: on the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The company, which is the city’s partner in building the Sprint Center, is on the hook to cover operating cost overruns for the facility.

Of course Barnes remains upbeat. She's a politician. What is she going to do? Throw in the towel?
And, putting pressure on AEG is misguided at best. AEG can't WILL a franchise to break their lease or sell their arena.
Anschutz Entertainment needs to keep up the full-court press to get a NBA or NHL team to Kansas City. A club would bring thousands of people downtown about 40 times a year. Among other benefits, this would be a tremendous boon to the nearby Kansas City Power & Light District.

How come he didn't say "keep up the strong forecheck" instead of "full-court press"?

Yes, NHL or NBA would bring thousands of people downtown about 40 times a year. But, so would the AHL. Maybe 8,500 and not 17,000, but it's better than 0. Combine the AHL with the AFL and you have a base of nearly 500,000 visitors from which to build. Not bad.
In the meantime, Kansas Citians recognize that the Sprint Center promises to be a great addition to downtown.

Yes, we do.
And, yes it absolutely is.

However, continuing to misinform Kansas Citians about the possibility of the NHL is irresponsible. The NBA seems to be in a greater state of flux with the Orlando Magic, NO/OKC/Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trailblazers with tenuous arena deals.

I do believe, based on the history of NHL franchises, there is one NHL team that may consider relocating to KC. More on that later.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Serious competition from Hamilton, Ontario

So it seems this group from Hamilton, Ontario won't go away. A couple days ago we posted a link to a story in the Pittsburgh paper about a group from Canada that withdrew their bid for the Penguins because it looks as if the franchise will not leave Pittsburgh.

Well, according to a story in today's Pittsburgh paper, this Canadian group is still going to pursue an NHL team for Hamilton, Ontario -- just not the Penguins.

Canadian group still desires NHL

It appears the group from Canada that withdrew its bid to buy the Penguins is interested in bringing the NHL to Hamilton, Ontario.

It's just not likely to be the Penguins.

A group whose money men are so secretive that only a few well-placed government officials know their identity has had a $200,000 deal with Hamilton that gives it proprietorship over Copps Coliseum. That deal expires in about six months, but there were talks recently to extend it.

What does Hamilton, a city sandwiched between NHL cities Toronto and Buffalo have over Kansas City? A local ownership group who will operate an arena.

Honestly, I don't think the NHL would welcome a team in Hamilton. It doesn't extend the league's "footprint". But, when you have a bidder willing to put up $175M when the recent selling price of another medium-to-small market team was $150M, it certainly gets everyones attention.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Which franchise may be interested?

The question about who will play in the Sprint Center seems to be backwards.

Everyone seems to be asking, “Which NHL franchise is most likely to relocate to Kansas City?”

When the question really should be,“Which franchise may be interested in relocating?”

If you ask the second question first, you need to know each franchise’s arena agreement to get the answer.

The Star, with their huge staff of reporters and editors and ability to request necessary documents, hasn’t yet asked that question. Perhaps the loss of Jeff Passan and Wright Thompson has left them too short staffed to pursue such stories.

They could. It would make for a very interesting story. I’ll even show you an outline for the story.

Steps I, II and III happen before ever interviewing AEG or NHL21.

I. Intro

a. KC is getting an arena

b. AEG says they can bring an NHL or NBA team, yada, yada

II. Professional sports teams and lease agreements

a. All 30 teams have leases, blah, blah, blah

III. List the 30 teams and their lease

a. a. X number of teams own and operate the arena in which they play like the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers

b. b. X number of teams own the arena in which they play, but do not operate it (Ottawa Senators)

c.c. X number of teams do not own the arena, but have a contract to operate the arena (Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks)

d. d. X number of teams do not own the arena or operate the arena and are bound only by the lease

IV. Teams in a, b and c are not candidates for relocation

V. Therefore, these teams may be candidates for relocation

a. We asked for comments from AEG on these specific teams

b. We asked for comments from these teams’ presidents as to whether they are pleased with their lease agreement a

That’s it. It sure would clear up a lot.

It’s not that difficult a story and it would be so enlightening to Kansas City sports fans and tax payers who approved the arena financing, to whom the Star has an obligation to inform.

Oh, heck, I’ll do it for them.

Team Possibility? Why?

MontrealNoOriginal 6
Tampa BayNoa. Own and operates arena
DetroitNoOriginal 6
PhiladelphiaNob. Own but do not operate arena
OttawaNob. Own but do not operate arena
TorontoNoOriginal 6
CalgaryMaybeNot sure who owns or operates SaddleDome
VancouverNoa. Owns arena
MinnesotaNob. Operate but do not own arena
NY RangersNoOriginal 6
ColoradoNoa. Own and operate arena
Los AngelesNoa. Own and operate arena
DallasNofavorable lease
EdmontonMaybeLeases arena from city*
San JoseNob. Operate but do not own arena
ColumbusNoa. Owns arena
BostonNoOriginal 6
FloridaNob. Operate but do not own arena
PittsburghMaybeNew arena pending
CarolinaNob. Operate but do not own arena
PhoenixNoNew arena in 2003
AtlantaMaybePossible ownership change
AnaheimNob. Operate but do not own arena
NashvilleNob. Operate but do not own arena
New JerseyNoArena under construction
St.LouisNoNew owner, favorable lease
WashingtonNob. Team owns 44% of Washington Sports, the arena operator
ChicagoNoOriginal 6 -- jointly own and operate arena with the Bulls
NY IslandersMaybeNew arena pending

*the Edmonton Oilers are essentially owned by the citizens of Edmonton much like the Green Bay Packers

This took about two hours of Internet research, mostly on

Two Canadian franchises, who Gary Bettman has explicitly said he does not want to move and four U.S. franchises. I couldn’t find the owner or operator of the HSBC Center in Buffalo. Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders are very close to solving their arena problems. The Atlanta Thrashers own and operate the arena, but the ownership of the team is in currently in question.

KC Star finally admits Penguins have slipped away

Five days after I said "It's over." The KC Star has decided to actually read the Pittsburgh papers and says the Penguins (and as a result of the Sonics announced sale yesterday) and the Sonics have slipped away from Sprint Center.

And in Pittsburgh, city and county officials announced they have solidified financing for a new arena, a move that could help the Penguins remain in Pittsburgh after their lease at antiquated Mellon Arena expires next spring.

Kay Barnes still says an NBA or NHL team is coming to Sprint Center for 2007.

“I am totally confident that AEG has been and will continue to do what is necessary to secure a NBA or NHL team or both for the Sprint Center,” Barnes said after hearing about the purchase of the SuperSonics.

I'm speechless.

Besides the Penguins, who are expected to be sold in the coming days, another NHL team that could be a candidate for relocation is the Nashville Predators, who are in the midst of battling the city for improvements to the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Posted on on June 17, more than a month ago. After I made that post, I sent an e-mail to Paul McCann of Sports Radio 560 WNSR in Nashville. He wrote back, "Interesting blog...from Nashville's vantage point, you're grabbing at straws...Pred's aren't going anywhere..." If you're a hockey fan, you'll love McCann's blog. Why is Nashville always mentioned? It's simlpy not fair and unjustified. Nashville was awarded an expansion NHL team because the LEAGUE WANTS TO BE THERE.

Even though 2007 is fast approaching, Tinnen said there is time for a franchise to move to Kansas City and begin play in the fall. She said the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix with three- to six-month turnarounds.

How many times do I have to say this on this blog before someone from the Star reads it.

THE KEY IS IN THE LEASE AGREEMENTS. If you want to find the answer, look at the teams' lease agreements. If an NHL or NBA franchise owns and operates the arena, they are not moving. If a franchise has a sweetheart lease, like the Carolina Hurricanes, they are not moving.

Once the Star does this research, they will see that there are maybe four candidates for relocation in the NHL (not sure about NBA).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Penguins don't have reason to move, says NHL

Roadblock impedes Penguins' exit

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interesting story today. They say,

According to people familiar with the sale process, the Penguins were ready to sell to the high bidder, a Canadian entity or group that offered $175 million or more, but that bidder backed out over the weekend based on what it learned about the NHL's stance and the state's "Plan B" for arena funding.

So, the group rumored to be headed by RIM CEO Jim Balsillie wowed the Penguins with their offer and the Penguins were ready to sell for a rumored $175M. The bid would be $25M more than what the St. Louis Blues sold for -- and the Blues have a beautiful, new arena in which to play.

Apparently, Gary Bettman told them, "No, not if there is a plan for a new arena in Pittsburgh".

Well if this is true, all I have to say is, good for Gary Bettman. I must say before the lockout I was not sure about Bettman. But, the lockout was good for the NHL. The NHL now has the best CBA for medium and small markets like KC. And now, Bettman isn't allowing franchises to just take up and move on a whim.

It's believed the four remaining bidders -- whose offers are in the $150 million range -- are more willing to work with Plan B if the Isle of Capri does not get the slots license, although at least one of them might be holding out hope that if Plan B falls apart the team could still be moved.

So, Fingold isn't giving up on KC. I guess there is still a very slight ray of hope for those "spinning" that the Penguins may still play in Sprint Center.

The NHL's bylaws are not public documents, but they contain a passage that defines many conditions that need to be exhausted before a team would be allowed to move, NHL spokesman Frank Brown said yesterday.

Since the Penguins' major problem is its facility, the NHL probably would not approve relocation as long as there is an active plan for a new arena.

Wouldn't you love to know what those conditions are? I'm sure one of them is lack of attendance over a certain period of years. Considering the Penguins average attendance last season, I'm sure they wouldn't meet some of the conditions for moving a franchise. A franchise would have to meet those conditions to even consider moving to KC or Houston or Hamilton, or, heck with renovation to KeyArena, Seattle (since developments today point to that city losing the Sonics).

I guarantee you AEG knows the conditions...considering Phillip Anschutz is on the Executive Committe of the NHL Board of Governors (I believe).

I'm going out on a limb here. I think we start hearing about an AHL franchise in KC for 2007-08 in November.

Sonics sold to OKC investor group

Major development on the NBA side of things.

An Oklahoma City group of investors led by Clay Bennet will purchase the Seattle SuperSonics from majority owner Howard Schultz (Starbucks guy).

Sources: Sonics sold to Oklahoma City

Bennett is president of investment firm, Dorchester Capital. They specialize in property finance.

I guess that puts the nail in the coffin of Sonics to KC rumors.

This team may very well be on its way out of Seattle and into the Ford Center in OKC. Last season, Oklahoma City proved it could support NBA basketball as the temporary home of the New Orleans Hornets.

Now, a group of OKC investors owns an NBA team. Sure, the Sonics have a lease with KeyArena until 2010, but leases have been broken in the past in professional sports (didn't the St. Louis Rams break a lease?).

George Shinn can't keep the Hornets in New Orleans. The city, basically, doesn't exist anymore and corporations aren't going to return. Heck, the "new" New Orleans is smaller than Omaha. Shinn is going to have to find a home for his nomadic franchise.

Could it be KC?

An NHL or NBA franchise would be nice, but Shinn is, despite what Jason Whitlock calls David Glass, George Shinn is the second worst owner in professional sports behind the Chicago Blackhawks' Bill Wirtz.

It would be nice to have an NBA or NHL team in Sprint Center, but a George Shinn owned KC Hornets? No thanks.

NHL too expensive?

As I posted earlier this year, the average NHL ticket is $41.

Tickets in Miami for the Florida Panthers averaged $34. Now, the Panthers are raising ticket prices by $12 and $7, depending on the opponent. However, parking is now free.

The Panthers are including parking in the cost of the ticket. Part of the reason the Panthers are doing this is because fans would park at Sawgrass Mills, a retail shopping area, and walk to the games. Now, the Panthers get parking $$ out of everyone, regardless of whether they park at Sawgrass Mills and walk or park at BankAtlantic Center.

By the way, the Panthers are one of those teams that owns and operates the arena in which they play.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

LV Mayor says Peguins to LV "a bunch of crap"

How refreshing is it to hear a politician not beat around the bush with spin?

Las Vegas' Oscar Goodman probably can't be categorized as "honest", but at least he doesn't pull any punches when someone misquotes him.

A Pittsburgh television station reported on its Web site ( that Goodman was set to "seal a deal" to bring the NHL franchise to Las Vegas. When informed of the report, Goodman was not amused.

"It's a bunch of crap," he said. "They're trying to use us again as a pawn, and I'm not going to allow that to happen."

"I told him (Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor) I hope the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh," Goodman said. "I have not had any discussions whatsoever that would even suggest the Penguins move here."

Goodman: Penguins not Vegas-bound

Good, now we won't hear Las Vegas associated with the Penguins again (until someone from the Star mentions LV).

This part of the story is interesting.
Goodman said he is continuing efforts to bring a major league franchise to the city, and rumors are swirling that the NBA's Sacramento Kings are interested if they cannot close a new arena deal.

The Kings' owners, the Maloofs, are from Albuquerque, but have operated casinos, food and beverage and banks in Nevada for years. They currently own The Palms casino.

As for Goodman's penchant for straight talk, wouldn't you love to hear Kay Barnes or someone from AEG say, "Looks like the Penguins are staying in Pittsburgh, so we're going to pursue other professional sports, like the AHL, National Lacrosse League and Arena Football League for now. There may be an NBA or NHL team available in the next three to five years."

Not going to happen while their spin machine is working overtime

Great story about Seattle's arena issues

Sonics ready third shot at arena funds

You want to learn about where Seattle has been and where they are going with the Key Arena issue?

Read this story.

What is becoming clear is that the Sonics are going to venture to Olympia for a third straight session and plead their case, either with the support of the city, or with the King County Council as a partner with Bellevue as a destination.

If this team doesn't play in Key Arena in the future, they will play in Renton or Bellevue.

Friday, July 14, 2006

It's over -- Pittsburgh will get an arena

Call Miracle Max because the "Penguins to KC" rumors may not be dead, but they are certainly "mostly dead."

Today, the Pittsburgh papers say that both Harrah's and Majestic Star agree to Plan B to fund Pittsburgh's new arena.
Leaders tout arena offer
All casino bidders pledge funds for arena

Both have pledged $7.5 million a year for 30 years toward construction of an arena. Mr. Onorato said both commitments are contingent on a company getting the state license to operate a casino and on the Penguins committing to staying in Pittsburgh.

In addition, Gov. Ed Rendell is prepared to advance $26.5 million in state money for site acquisition and preparation.

How did this all get started? Well, let me tell you a story. There was this hockey team. They played in the oldest and nearly the smallest arena in the NHL. Their lease on that building expires on June 30, 2007.

Well tie it up with a little bow and call it a present because that is when Kansas City's new arena will be ready, Fall 2007. The operators of KC's new arena said, "We could get an NHL team." An aggressive marketing group, NHL21, said "We could help lure an NHL team to KC." Sports fans thought this was great, because there is no NBA21 group working to bring us an NBA team, so this should work out swimmingly.

Then, the Pittsburgh Penguins entered into an agreement with Isle of Capri casinos. Isle of Capri is bidding for the one slots parlor license for the Pittsburgh area. To make their bid stronger they agreed to build the city of Pittsburgh a $290M arena in which the Penguins will play.

Only problem is that Isle of Capri is competing with the largest gaming company in the U.S., Harrah's. So, with all Harrah's, ahem, influence, it looks grim for Isle of Capri.

The Kansas City media took AEG and NHL21's word as gospel and said clever things things like March of (hockey) Penguins to KC?. Sam Fingold fed the fire by saying he'd move the Penguins to KC if he buys the team. He said this before he talked with Pittsburgh politicians about Plan B.

Enter the Governor of Philadelphia, err, Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. He worked with Pittsburgh area politicians to come up with Plan B. It says Pittsburgh will get an arena with slots parlor revenue AND $7.5M per year for 30 years from whomever is awarded the slots license. The problem was that neither Harrah's nor Majestic Star agreed to the proposal at the time it was announced.

Some in KC still said, "We could get an NHL team". And, the Kansas City media ate it up with headlines like Penguins still may end up nesting here.

With yesterday's announcement, Harrah's and Majestic Star have agreed to Plan B. If Isle of Capri is awarded the slots license, they will build a $290M arena. If Harrah's or Majestic Star is awarded the slots license, they will kick in money for a $300M arena.

Folks, this is over. If an architect hasn't been chosen for Plan B, I'm sure Kansas City-based HOK Sports has their RFP group working overtime.

And, today, in the KC Star. Nothing. Leaving most Kansas City sports fans to believe there is still a chance that the NHL will come to KC. Oh well, that's why I have this blog, so the few readers I have know.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Contrasting stories from Pittsburgh and Hartford

On the same day a story ran in the Pittsburgh Trib-Review saying KC is going on a power play to attract an NHL team.

Kansas City goes on power play

A Hartford Courant story says that Sam Fingold says the team won't move.

This is EXTREMELY significant because Fingold is the only bidder for the team that has showed any interest in KC.

Penguins Move Won't Fly, Developer Says

But don't expect the relocation of the franchise, another bidder said Wednesday. Hartford developer Sam Fingold, who is attempting to purchase the Penguins with his father and brother, doesn't see the Penguins going anywhere.

"I know the Penguins' first goal is to keep the team in Pittsburgh, so I don't know what [Gottesdiener's] goal really is," Fingold said. "I have a hard time believing that team is leaving Pittsburgh."

Then, Fingold took a shot at Hartford's mayor. Remember, Fingold's U.S. home is in Hartford, as is Larry Gottesdiener's home. Gottesdiener is also bidding on the Penguins.

Hartford is not an alternative for Fingold, even though he is based in the city.

"I'd rather buy a team and put it in another city than have it in Hartford and deal with [Mayor] Eddie Perez, because I don't think he quite understands all the economics associated with bringing a team to the city," Fingold said. "You think Hartford should spend $290 million on a new arena vs. trying to figure out how to fix the school system and cut down crime?"

Told of Fingold's comment, Matt Hennessy, the mayor's chief of staff, said, "I think the city is excited that there are real developers with a history of success, such as Larry Gottesdiener, who are interested in bringing an NHL franchise to the city of Hartford."

Back to the Pittsburgh Trib review story, it says AEG will start selling the 1,800 club seats this fall.

The city sold all 72 luxury suites in Sprint Center, its new arena, and will start selling 1,800 club-level seats by fall. The publicly funded arena is scheduled to open in October 2007 and is trying to lure a hockey or basketball team.

OK, we know that is not right. According to a previous story in the KC Star, 63 of the 72 suites are sold because they are holding back nine suites for the future owner, etc.

The part about the club seats is the only new information in this story. AEG's Brenda Tinnen and NHL21's Paul McGannon both have quotes in the article, but it's the same spin.

I found this part interesting:
By contrast, Gov. Ed Rendell said Wednesday that his backup plan to build an arena in Pittsburgh would allow the Penguins to double -- maybe even triple -- the team's stadium revenue. His plan asks the team to pay $8.5 million up front and $2.9 million a year, while forgoing $1.1 million a year in naming rights.

The deal requires the team to pay 16 percent of the arena costs,

Now we have a little information about the type of lease AEG has to offer to lure the an NHL team.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lacrosse for Sprint Center?

Ok, I'm like you and hate Hearne Christopher, Jr. Have you ever seen this dude in person? He is the kid in your kindergarten class who sat in the corner and ate paste all grown up.

However, in today's column he actually addressed a topic some KC-area sports fans have wondered about.

Can we get a National Lacrosse League team to play at Sprint Center?

KC dudes have their lacrosse to bear

Lacrosse is a very fast growing sport. I know from first hand experience that it is growing quickly in KC. We currently have eight area high school teams.

There is one error, of course, in Hearne's column (the guy does three stories a week and uses the same five sources over and over again...he can't do a little Internet research?) Rockhurst HIGH SCHOOL has a terrific Lacrosse team, current Missouri State Champions, however Rockhurst University does not (at least not in the USLIA-sanctioned Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference).

With a little research, Hearne could have discovered that KU, KSU, Mizzou and Missouri State all have teams and actively recruit high school players.

The National Lacrosse League is an indoor version of the fast-paced outdoor game. Personally, I prefer outdoor, but see the appeal of indoor. The NLL will have 13 teams next season in markets throughout the country -- not just the Northeast where the sport is extremely popular. Phoenix, Portland, Denver, San Jose and Minneapolis have teams.

There is a nationwide, 10-team outdoor Lacrosse league, too. Major League Lacrosse was founded by this guy.


I'd love to see the NLL at Sprint Center.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Number of bidders for Penguins narrows

According to Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the number of bidders for the Penguins could narrow to three this week -- or one.
Penguins' sale reaches crucial stage

When one offer is chosen, that bidder will sign a letter of intent for the right to negotiate exclusively for a period of time.

Although details of the bids remain mostly unclear, the sale price is expected to top $150 million.

We saw this happen with the St. Louis Blues. Dave Checketts signed a letter of intent to negotiate exclusively with Paige Laurie's father. The talks broke down and Checketts was out. He was, of course, back in later and eventually purchased the team.

A list of the four, possibly five, bidders for the team is in the article.

One of those five is from Hamilton, Ont and would like to move the team to that Canadian city. Hamilton reported back in NHL hunt

As I have said on this blog before, Jim Basillie CEO of the company that makes Blackberrys, is reportedly the money guy.
However, the Pittsburgh paper was unable to contact Richard Rodier, the Toronto lawyer who says he's working on behalf of a financer interested in bringing a team to Hamilton.

That money man is thought to be Jim Basillie, the co-CEO and chair of Waterloo-based Research and Motion (RIM), the company that makes the BlackBerry communications device.

Remember, only one is interested in POSSIBLY moving the team to KC, Sam and David Fingold. The other groups have no showed no interest in moving the team to KC.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

KC one city in queue for Sonics

KC is mentioned in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as one of the cities in line to attract the Seattle SuperSonics if they don't come to an agreement with the city for renovations to 10-year old Key Arena.

Plenty of cities waiting in line for NBA team

Once again, the media speculates about KC as a potential home for an NBA team because we have the ultimate pawn in the game, Sprint Center.

However, once again, an NBA ownership group has never actually mentioned KC as a possible site for relocation...and they don't again in this article.

"This is a huge basketball city. ... We think the NBA would be really popular here," said Lara Schopp, spokeswoman for Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes.

No, Lara, this is a huge COLLEGE basketball city. And, as Charlotte has proven with the Bobcats, huge COLLEGE basketball cities do not necessarily support an NBA team.

I contend we are behind Anaheim for a relocated NBA team because Henry Samueli, Anaheim Ducks and Arrowhead Pond owner, is willing to BUY a team and move them to his arena. We don't have a local, or any, group interested in BUYING an NBA team and moving them to Sprint Center.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fingold's interest in KC cools

On the same day a one-source story printed in the KC Star about how KC is still in the running to be the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Don't count on NHL preseason game in KC.

The article said,

McGannon attended the NHL draft recently in Vancouver, B.C., and spoke with commissioner Gary Bettman. Pittsburgh is up for sale and could move unless a new arena is built. Sam Fingold, a real estate developer, stated he’d like to buy the Penguins and would move them to KC unless Pittsburgh gets a new arena.

A key is the Isle of Capri gaming company, which will fund a new arena there only if it secures a slot machine parlor, and a decision on that is expected before the end of the year. But if it gets outbid for the slots license, Isle of Capri won’t be part of a new arena.

Not so fast there KC Star. Perhaps actually CALLING or e-mailing Sam Fingold would help.

Because Fingold, the ONLY potential Penguins' owner who has mentioned KC, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an e-mail that he is interested in talking to local politicians about Plan B and keeping the PENGUINS IN PITTSBURGH.

New arena financing could keep team here
Fingold changes tune, says Plan B may work

Fingold seems to have cooled in the idea of moving the team.
"In light of exploring some new options for Plan B ... a meeting with political officials could prove positive and very productive, now that there is a certain sense of urgency," Fingold said. "I have learned the best deals are made when time is of the essence.

"I believe in the last few weeks that the state and political officials have finally begun to understand the severity of the situation that the team is facing ... the potential of other offers being presented by other cities.

"With that in mind, I believe we may start to see some movement on the state's [part]. I believe it could change the dynamics of all bids submitted to this point."

PLEASE stop chasing this windmill Mr. AEG Quixote and sidekick NHL21 Panza.

Work on attracting the two AHL teams that do not currently have a home.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

No Preseason game in KC this year

NHL21 officially announced that there will be no preseason game this year at Kemper Arena.

The press release said,

Currently the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL are undergoing an ownership change, and depending on circumstances in Pittsburgh, the Penguins could possibly be a candidate to move to Kansas City and the Sprint Center.

which is stretching the truth, a bit. The Penguins "could possibly" be a candidate for relocation, however "probably won't be" is more accurate. The city, county and state are working more collaboratively with potential ownership groups to secure a new facility in Pittsburgh, regardless of the slots casino license.

Other teams in the NHL also are prospects to call Kansas City home.

I don't believe it. This is just spin until a frachise comes out publicly to say they are considering relocation. Not ONE other NHL team has mentioned relocation.

Kansas City could possibly obtain an expansion franchise from the NHL in the years to come.

In the years to come? How vague. Could the NHL expand in 10 or 20 years, yes. Will it happen in the next five? No way. Not in the middle of this so-far-successful CBA.

“NHL 21 currently is devoting time, energy, and effort to obtaining an NHL franchise for Kansas City and the new Sprint Center. We continue to have productive talks with people associated with Pittsburgh as well as other NHL cities.” McGannon added,

Seriously, let's work on ATTAINABLE goals, like an AHL team.