Larry Brooks of the New York Post is a guy who doesn’t often get things right and he’s hell-bent on sticking up for the Players Association which, by default, makes him an enemy of Gary Bettman’s state. This is something we appreciate – it’s what I do here after all.
Apparently someone told Larry that there is hockey news going on in the offseason and a lot of it circles around Gary Bettman being a bumbling idiot who looks the other ways when his ownership buddies get involved in floating loans to broke other ownership buddies.
No, really, Larry noticed – have a look here.
One thing of note here that Brooks or the interns and bloggers he’s getting his information and creativity from, to which I didn’t even think of and my slant isn’t exactly hidden here, is that Phillip Anschutz, the owner of the Los Angeles Kings and one of the guys propping up Boots Del Biaggio, might be working an angle of his own to get a team to Kansas City. Their plan to get the Penguins fell through, Boots Del Biaggio went broke so there went the Predators. Now what?
How about his team.
The Los Angeles Kings.
Tell it to us Larry:
The NHL may have looked the other way during the first week of 2007, when
Kings governor Tim Leiweke visited Kansas City and did his AEG ownership’s
bidding by lobbying for the Penguins to move to the AEG-owned and operated arena
in KC should things have fallen through in Pittsburgh, but the league doesn’t
appear to be looking away now.
It isn’t looking away at what from the outside appears to be a blatant
conflict of interest and from the inside might be violations of the NHL
Constitution and League By-Laws by AEG, which secretly agreed to loan the
now-indicted “Boots” Del Baggio $7 million for use toward becoming part of the
ownership group of the Predators, coincidentally enough another candidate to
move to Kansas City.
Oh really?! Well what in the world would one of the big wigs with the Los Angeles Kings be doing in Kansas City? The Kings are doing fine in Los Angeles. Clearly this is just a case of Tim Leiweke trying to help his other business arrangements make more money, right?
Preach on Larry:
But AEG, LA owner Phil Anschutz and Leiweke have somehow amassed real power
within the league despite running one of the NHL’s eyesore franchises. The Kings
have missed the playoffs five straight seasons and in eight of the 12 seasons
Anschutz has owned the team. They have won one playoff round (in 2001) since
their 1993 trip to the Cup Finals.
They are likely to have the league’s lowest payroll this season while GM
Dean Lombardi sheds anyone with market value over the age of 25, yet have raised
prices this offseason while promising to do so again next summer.
Ownership could not care less about putting a winning product on the ice,
instead it’s consumed with manufacturing a scheme that will place an NHL team in
AEG’s arena in Kansas City.
Well, my mistake then.
So let me play the role here of the junior detective in this game of Clue:
Tim Leiweke and Phillip Anschultz are both financially involved with the L.A. Kings as owners.
Leiweke works for AEG Entertainment.
Phillip Anschultz is the “A” in AEG Entertainment.
Leiweke and Anschultz supported the sale of the Penguins to a group ready to move the Pens to Kansas City in an AEG owned and built arena.
Anschultz floated money to his friend Boots Del Biaggio to help him buy a stake in the Nashville Predators.
Del Biaggio apparently had plans in place ready to both buy the majority share of the Predators and then have the team bolt town for Kansas City to the AEG owned arena – an arena owned by the group once the Predators, presumably, fell short of ticket sale commitments and broke the lease with the Metro Group of Nashville.
Anschultz is currently running an L.A. Kings team that is, as of this writing, $12.3 million dollars under the NHL salary floor ($27.7 million in salaries, the floor is $40 million).
Anschultz raised ticket prices for Kings games this year despite the team being one of the worst in the league last season and doing so under the promise of bringing a winner to the Staples Center in the coming seasons.
Anschultz Entertainment Group has a stake in ownership of the Staples Center and makes plenty of money from ticket sales of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers as well as the Kings and other events held there.
Anschultz Entertainment Group also owns the Sprint Center Arena in Kansas City, Missouri which currently has zero major professional sports tenants.
Now, I don’t have to be a genius here to see that adding a professional sports team to the Sprint Center Arena would help fill up a lot more dates (about 41, maybe more depending on playoff success) on the schedule. The Staples Center currently hosts 80+ NBA games a season with the Lakers and Kings as well as numerous large arena rock concerts and whatever else they want to come to Los Angeles.
In short, the Staples Center won’t lose out at all if the Kings were to go away. The Anschultz Entertainment Group would help line their pockets a lot more by bringing a professional team to Kansas City and filling up their spanking new 18,000 seat arena.
Interestingly enough, part of the agreement AEG signed with Kansas City to build the Sprint Center Arena was this:
Anschutz Entertainment Group of Los Angeles has signed an agreement to
contribute $50-million of the $250-million cost of the project, which will
replace Kemper Arena as the city’s main indoor sports center.
The agreement calls for Anschutz to cover any cost overruns AND operating deficits,
manage the arena for 35-years and work to attract both an NHL and an NBA teams.
And lookee what we have here… two failed bids to bring previously floundering NHL franchises to Kansas City and now the guy who has a binding agreement with a city to fill up his new arena with a professional franchise who has a majority stake in a current franchise that he’s running into the ground.
And, amazingly, out of all of this – with guys like Anschultz and Craig Leipold (who is as guilty as sin in this as well for floating loans to Del Biaggio) who are great friends of Gary Bettman – Bettman knew NOTHING of his friends sending money to a broke loser to help keep the dream alive of sending the Predators to Kansas City so Anschultz wouldn’t have to fill his new arena himself.
Who wants to start crafting the Kansas City Kings logos now?