The Jockstrap Bubble Bursts, and Now Sports-Team Owners Are Paying the Price

Last Updated May 11, 2010 6:23 PM EDT On the sports field, poor performance usually leads to defeat. In the owners' suites, though, where executives have been overspending on player salaries for decades, it's been a different story. Now, however, it's karmic payback time, as sports economics have finally gotten so bad that several owners have recently sold their franchises at a loss -- the first time that's happened since the 1970s. The reason is simple. Team owners have been able to live high on the hog thanks to an unprecedented three-decade boom in team values: the Jockstrap Bubble. As the financial exuberance of the 1980s, 1990s and whatever-we're-calling-the-last-decade mounted, hot money, ego and new revenues from sponsorships and luxury boxes combined to kick-start a boom in professional sports-team ownership. And once the notion took hold that teams would perpetually rise in value, it wasn't long before owners began blowing through the new cash in ever more extravagant ways. For example, private equity mogul Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers, signed Alex Rodriguez to a $25 million per year contract in 2000. While the Rangers never made the post-season with Rodriguez (he was traded to the Yankees in 2004), Hicks -- whose sports empire is now in shambles -- is trying to arrange a sale of the Rangers that is acceptable to his creditors. The recent financial crisis, however, brought all that to an end. Bank credit, which helped fuel the acquisition spree, dried up along with buyers. With the escape hatch of a sale to a greater fool firmly shut, some owners started to shudder at the thought of their still-rising costs and decided to get out while they could. Black Entertainment TV founder Robert Johnson recently sold the Charlotte Bobcats to NBA legend Michael Jordan for $275 million, after paying $300 million for the team in 2003. And former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Jeff Vinik bought the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team from Oren Koules and Len Barrie Continue Reading

When the Colt .45s became the Astros and the origins of other Houston sports team names

By Craig Hlavaty Updated 4:00 pm, Thursday, December 1, 2016 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 40', target_type: 'mix' }); Continue Reading

Jets’ loss to Steelers short of Super Bowl XLV the latest crushing defeat for New York sports teams

If misery loves company, then Jet fans this week can throw a vast pity party around here. While it's true the Jets' wounds are freshest and they haven't won a title in 42 years, many other New York area franchises own records nearly as futile. Several stink out the joint on a regular basis, while others simply fail to win the biggest games. The Knicks last won a title in 1973. The Rangers captured exactly one Stanley Cup in the past 71 seasons. Met fans have endured a quarter century without a World Series championship. The Islanders won a title 28 years ago and have been truly pathetic of late. It's been 35 years since the Nets claimed the ABA crown. The Red Bulls and Liberty have never won anything, despite playing in leagues without many opponents. Take away the free-spending Yanks, the traditionally frugal Devils and the Giants' outrageous Super Bowl victory in 2007, this town would be in desperate need of silverware as it dined regularly on crow. Why is it so hard to win large in the Big Apple? Here are a few theories, along with thoughts from Lou Lamoriello (who has won three Cups with the Devils) and Rod Thorn (who made it to two Finals with the Nets). The media and fan pressure eventually get to players in big spots: All you had to do was attend one of the Jet playoff practices to understand the sort of cluster-phobia a New York team can experience. Add outsized personalities and mini-scandals to the Florham Park formula, and things became crazy. "Some players have a hard time playing under that scrutiny," said Thorn, now with the Sixers in Philly. "There are so many more stories. No matter the sport, you're gonna get looked at very closely. Then you look at (Amar'e) Stoudemire, how he's embraced it. New York can be a good recruiting tool for free agents, but you have to have a toughness about you, not be afraid to fail." That goes for coaches and team executives, as well. "You can't allow fans and media to determine what you do," said Continue Reading

High School of Sports Management hits a home run with first class of graduates

The kid was raised on the hallowed Brooklyn ground where Jackie Robinson made sports history. Christian Waterman grew up in the Ebbets Field projects loving sports. But he never played. "I was obese as a child," he says. "So I didn't play but I loved sports and aspired to be a sports journalist. Or maybe a sports agent." Then his mother found out about a new public high school opening in Coney Island called the High School of Sports Management. "It started in a little run-down building in Coney," says Waterman. "But I loved it right away." The school has since moved into the building that was once Lafayette High School that graduated Dodger great Sandy Koufax, Mets owner Fred Wilpon, and noted broadcaster Larry King. Steve Cohen, president of the Brooklyn Cyclones, says he was approached about six years ago by the Department of Education and Coney Island community activists Connie Hulla and Sheryl Robinson about helping to launch this unique theme school. "The concept was to create a small, sports career-oriented high school in the area," says Cohen, who majored in sports management at the University of Massachusetts. "Coney Island had produced many NBA stars. But only a very select few ever play professional sports. So the idea was to offer the kids of Brooklyn, especially minority kids, another avenue into the professional sports industry where there aren't a lot of minorities in management." Cohen agreed to help. Once the school opened in 2006 Christian Waterman enrolled as one of 94 freshmen and was soon taking classes in the history of sports, sports management, broadcasting, journalism, sports law and sports medicine in addition to a standard academic curriculum. Cohen showed the students how to actually stage a sporting event by putting on a charity celebrity softball game at MCU Cyclones Stadium. "By our sophomore year the school had built a relationship with UMass which had one of the best sports management programs in the country," Continue Reading

New York Yankees face first showdown with Joe Torre, the greatest manager Big Apple has ever seen

PARIS - This is about baseball, a long way from home, from R.A. Dickey winning again and Mo Rivera pitching out of bases loaded in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks got him bad once. This is about baseball in a soccer time here and all over Europe and all over the world. Especially here, where even the president of France, Sarkozy, is looking into the French national team getting just one point in the World Cup and becoming the most famous clowns in his country since Jerry Lewis. Know that they took it about as well here as Yankee fans did after their team fell apart against the Red Sox in October of 2004. Joe Torre managed that '04 Yankee team, same as he managed the four that won the World Series between 1996 and 2000, as great a run as any Yankee team ever had, and that includes the five World Series in a row they won for Casey Stengel once. Now Torre is with the Dodgers and this weekend his Dodgers go up against the Yankees in Dodger Stadium. And that is very big stuff, just because Torre, in all the important ways, is the biggest manager the Yankees have ever had. This isn't the World Series we thought we might get when Torre left the Yankees and went with the Dodgers. It is the Yankees going to Los Angeles, not walking into the new Yankee Stadium for the first time after the way he owned the old one in its last true glory days. It is them facing "Mr. Torre," as Derek Jeter still calls him, for the first time since he left three years ago. So he is in his third season Out There. It doesn't change what his record was with the Yankees, even if he did get kicked around a little bit on his way out the door. Even if there was always the ridiculous notion that Torre's only real job with the Yankees was as some kind of clubhouse therapist, and that once the game started either Don Zimmer would do the heavy lifting or the Yankees would just manage themselves. "I know who I am," Torre said to me one day last season. "I know what we did." And left it at Continue Reading

Banking on it: Will a giant South Bronx building change a neighborhood?

For $32 million, about the price of a four-bedroom in Manhattan’s most expensive apartment building, Taconic Investment Partners and the Denham Wolf Real Estate Services partnered to buy a mammoth, 405,000-square-foot landmark in Hunts Point that could become another economic engine for the South Bronx’s fastest-emerging neighborhood. Originally built in 1911 as the American Bank Note Company Building, the three-structure fortress off the Bruckner Expressway once printed foreign currency and stock certificates. Today, it’s an architectural wonderland boasting sawtoothed roofs, a vacant 80,000-square-foot central floor flooded with light, artist work lofts, an internationally acclaimed dance company and two charter schools. “This building is a city unto itself,” says architect Neil P. Kittredge, a partner in Beyer Blinder Belle who is overseeing the $25 million renovation for the developers. “It was originally designed around the process of printing money and to give abundant light to the people who worked there. The fortress look was meant to convey a secure appearance. It’s one of New York’s true treasures.” There is no building like this in the five boroughs. One could easily get lost inside — and be happy about it. The size of an armory, with a castle turret overlooking an operational 19th-century stone monastery, the building sits atop one of the highest points in all the city. It has views of the Hunts Point industrial zone that stretch all the way to the Manhattan skyline. Some rooms are as large as indoor stadiums. With plans to make a creative commercial center for companies looking for exceptional spaces at low prices, the Bank Note could alter the residential and retail fabric of Hunts Point, a neighborhood that’s been striving for revival and respect. After word came in the early 1900s that the Bank Note complex would be built, turn-of-the-century developers put up high-end Continue Reading

Brooklyn Sports Person of the Year: Ruth Lovelace

Boys & Girls coach Ruth Lovelace had just finished giving her postgame speech to the Kangaroos, who were fresh off an 82-41 home rout of Grady last Tuesday. Minutes after Lovelace was done talking and the team left the locker room, senior forward Garfield Hinds reappeared, with several of his teammates beside him. "(Garfield) told me, 'A reporter needs you right now and it's very important,' so I walk out, the whole team's there and there's this big cake in the middle of the court," Lovelace said. "They yelled, 'Surprise! Happy Birthday!'" The Kangaroos - who came into the week 4-0 and tied with Lincoln atop the Brooklyn 'AA' Division - were expressing their appreciation for the coach they admiringly call "Love." "I didn't expect that from them and they didn't have to do that," Lovelace added. "I just wanted them to go out and get a win. That shows me how much they respect me and they know how hard I'll go for them if they're doing the right thing." For her dedication to her players on and off the court in 2007, Brooklyn Sports is proud to name Lovelace the Daily News Brooklyn Sports Person of the Year. In an interview with the Daily News in March, Lovelace - who also coaches the girls handball team in the spring - drew a blank when asked to provide her own basketball coaching record; knowing that she helped change a young person's life, she said, was her personal measure of success. By that standard, Lovelace is more than successful. The Kangaroos' 14-year coach has always taken the extra step to help her players, particularly in time of need. There was the time she helped a point guard deal with his mother's suicide. She once bought enough groceries for another player to get by, and helped another to deal with his family's eviction notice. Her team went 33-3 overall, earned a national ranking and made it to the PSAL championship game last season; throughout the experience, Lovelace continued to be there for her players. While point Continue Reading

Unlike old days, MLB teams hold fire on managers like Willie Randolph

The Willie Randolph-Mets follies last week is the latest example of a manager on the verge of being axed by popular demand, only to be told at the last minute to take off the blindfold and go back out there and lead. But as much as the Mets were underperforming when the Wilpons summoned Randolph to that summit conference at Shea on Monday, the situation wasn't nearly as dire as, say, Seattle's. The Mariners, with their $117 million payroll, entered Friday's action in last place, 14 games under .500. But strangely, there have been no media calls for M's manager John McLaren's head and Seattle ownership has remained totally supportive. Nor has there been any talk of the Padres, 13 under .500 after being picked to contend for the NL West title, firing their manager, Bud Black. In recent days, there have been rumblings in Milwaukee about Ned Yost being in trouble, as the Brewers, who were expected to be battling the Cubs for NL Central supremacy, are one game under .500 and in fourth place. Though Yost's handling of the clubhouse and some of his on-field moves have come under scrutiny, Brewers GM Doug Melvin has shown no inclination to make a change. Then again, it wasn't Yost's idea that Prince Fielder became a vegetarian, which seems to have sapped his power. And certainly Yost had no control over closer Francisco Cordero defecting to the Cincinnati Reds, leading to eight blown Brewer saves already this season, five of them by his replacement, Eric Gagne. Early on, Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers looked to be the leading candidate for "first manager fired." The Rangers got off to a dreadful 7-16 start and then the team's ace, Kevin Millwood, went down with a strained groin. But converted reliever Scott Feldman and retread Sidney Ponson have done a remarkable fill-in job in the Rangers' makeshift rotation, and with Josh Hamilton having his monster first two months, Texas has been able to crawl back to .500 while effectively putting an end to speculation Continue Reading


GLORY ROAD. With Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Jon Voight. Director: James Gartner (1:46). PG: Violence, brief strong language. 2.5 Stars. One of the advertising tag lines for James Gartner's inspirational sports drama "Glory Road" is "The incredible story of the team that changed the game forever." The event referred to was tiny Texas Western University's upset win, with an all-black starting five, against powerhouse Kentucky's all-white squad for the 1966 national championship. And it did, indeed, alter the racial mix of major college basketball, at least in the South. At the same time, it gave a small boost to the growing civil rights movement. But don't mistake this "incredible story" for anything like a true account of that actual milestone. "Glory Road" is a pure Hollywood fantasy, based on barely more than the facts mentioned in the above paragraph, along with the names of the players and the final scores of the games depicted. As movie fiction, however, I guess it is entertaining enough. Its Cinderella story line, conceived by the novice screenwriting team of Chris Cleveland and Bettina Gilois, is a starkly simplistic tale about former girls basketball coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) who, in his first year with a Division I men's team, manages to: - Recruit a batch of hot-doggin', underprivileged, under-recognized black kids from Northern cities. - Help them overcome the taunts, trashing and physical assaults of rednecks they encounter on the road. - Use tough love to pull the undisciplined recruits together, mature them and integrate them into a one-for-all and all-for-one unit with their white teammates. - And lead them to a 27-1 miracle season, crowned by a thrilling come-from-behind, nationally televised victory over the No. 1-ranked team of legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight, in demon-seed mode). Add a fabulously upbeat '60s rock score, some ESPN highlights-style basketball action montages and some predictable Continue Reading

Swedish soccer team booked on Germanwings Flight 9525 saved by last-minute plane switch

A last-minute change in travel plans saved a Swedish soccer team from boarding the doomed Germanwing plane that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday, likely killing all 150 passengers on board. Dalkurd FF, a third division club from Borlänge, was scheduled to travel back to Sweden from Barcelona on Germanwings Flight 9525 but rebooked its players on different planes after agreeing that the layover in Duesseldorf would be too long, AFP reported. Team management divided the squad into three other flights with destinations in Zurich and Munich, unaware that it had made a life-saving decision. "We were supposed to be on that plane," Sporting director Adil Kizil told Swedish daily Aftonbladet after learning of the tragedy. "There were four planes that left around the same time and that flew north over the Alps. Four planes and we had players on three of them. You can say we were very, very lucky," he said. Dalkurd goalie Frank Pettersson also confirmed the team's narrow brush with death in a series of Twitter posts. "To all those who have tried to contact us in the past few hours we are home and we are fine. It was another plane," Pettersson tweeted. "May they rest in peace." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading