Moag and Company Sports Notes (07 December 2018)

Date: Dec 2018


Who is the all-time leading goal scorer in Major League Soccer (MLS)?

Last Week’s Answer:  The Arizona Cardinals were founded in 1898 and have operated from 1898 to 1906, and again from 1913 to present making them the oldest continuously operated U.S. professional football team. They were a charter member of the NFL in 1920.


As the XFL and AAF announce uniforms and city locations, it appears yet another league is "tossing its hat into the ring to compete with the NFL," according to Former NFLer Ricky Williams announced that the "Freedom Football League" will be joining the ranks, with Williams and Pro Football HOFer Terrell Owens among the names associated with the league. Williams said that there are "about 100 stakeholders with 50 former players among them." Other names "emerging as early owners" are former NFLers Jeff Garcia and Dexter Jackson. FFL games will be in the "spring and summer (avoiding colliding with the behemoth that is the NFL) and there will initially be 10 teams." The league's ultimate goal "appears to be to allow people to play football who are out of the NFL or even looking to get back into it". The FFL, which did "not specify what year it would begin play, will be financed by private funding and public offerings." The FFL "plans to have clubs" in San Diego, Oakland, St. Louis, Birmingham, Oklahoma City, Portland, plus locations in Texas, Florida, Ohio and Connecticut.


Former Miami Marlins President David Samson recently revealed that the former ownership group "planned to sell the team" to Inter Miami Managing Owner Jorge Mas last summer if he had been "able to come up with the agreed-to financing," according to the Miami Herald. Samson said that after Mas bid $1.2B for the team last summer, he "informed Mas he would be sold the team if he could reach that figure, even if the other bidding groups bid the same." Samson: "We chose Mas to sell the team to. We thought he was going to get the team at $1.2 billion." Samson said that the Marlins "preferred selling to a local owner if all things were equal because as a local owner, Mas 'would have been what the Marlins never had.'" Samson: "Local ownership would have been better for the team." The Marlins were eventually sold to a group led by Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman for $1.2B, and Samson said, "Mas and Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman had the same bid but Mas wasn't able to finance the bid." Mas via email said that Samson's comments are "accurate." Samson said that Sherman and Jeter "got the team only because they offered the most money, disputing any thought" that former Owner Jeffrey Loria "wanted Jeter to get the team." Samson: "Jeffrey had absolutely no preference during the process. He left me alone to complete the process and get the best deal possible".


The Phoenix City Council is slated to vote Dec. 12 on a $230M deal with the Phoenix Suns for renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena. The city of Phoenix will put in $150M and the Suns $80M to revamp the downtown arena. Renovations will start in '19 and be completed in '21. The deal would have the Suns staying at the downtown Phoenix arena through '37, with the potential to extend that lease to '42. City funding would come from existing tourism taxes. City officials said that the deal does not have to go to voters because it is a renovation. The Suns arena opened in '92 and is one of the oldest in the NBA. The arena has a $182M annual direct impact on Phoenix. Without the renovations, the team could notify the city as early as next July that it wants out of its lease and could exit by '22. City officials point out the arena hosts 130 events each year. The Suns' lease payments will go from $1.5M per year in the current deal up to $4M. The deal also creates a fund to handle post-renovation repairs and improvements at TSR Arena. The Suns would also commit to paying for and building a new $25-50M practice facility in Phoenix. The Suns' arena deal does not include the Arizona Coyotes, who have been looking to move out of Glendale’s Gila River Arena. The vote also comes before a March run-off in the Phoenix mayor’s race. The front runner in that race, Kate Gallego, has been skeptical of an arena deal.


The NHL unanimously approved Seattle as the league's 32nd franchise during the BOG meeting in Sea Island, Ga. The team will begin play in the '21-22 season at a renovated KeyArena. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the announcement an "exciting day" for the league and noted it is "thrilled" to add Seattle. Bettman: "Today is a day of celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams." Bettman confirmed the expansion fee for the Seattle ownership group, which will be led by David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, is $650M. An expansion draft will take place in June '21 "under the same rules" that were in place for the Golden Knights when they entered the league in '17. The Golden Knights will not participate in the expansion draft. NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said the $850M renovation of KeyArena will begin immediately. The group had desired to start play in the '20-21 season. However, Leiweke said that the team will "use the added time to ensure fans are given a first-class product." He said, "We went back and forth on it for weeks. In the end, they figured ‘Why risk it? Do you really want your team to start on the road? Have your team play all of its home games at the arena they’re going to call home".


Second-year club Atlanta United hosts the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup Final, and while Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank felt the team would be successful, team President Darren Eales "will be the first to tell you that we thought it would take longer than this," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Asked how he thought Atlanta United's success on and off the field has redefined Atlanta as a sports city, Blank said he has "never been part of the camp that said Atlanta was not a great sports town." Blank: "I always believed if you put a great product on the field, you give the fans a great experience, that they will respond to that." After Atlanta was awarded an MLS expansion franchise in '14, Blank said there were "some people who were skeptical" about whether soccer would work in the city, but he "didn't give them a lot of audience." Blank: "I had a good feeling for the pulse of soccer in Atlanta." Blank said Atlanta United's success so far can be tied to fans having the "opportunity to be part of the birthing process of a new franchise in the city, in a sport that is a global sport." Blank said of the atmosphere on game days, "We respect the soccer fans so that when they walk into that stadium it doesn't feel like a Falcons stadium. It feels like a Atlanta United stadium in every sense".

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