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Vegas Baby- Sin City's Shot At The NBA And More..

Friday, 16 Feb 2007 | 10:06 AM ET

The $6 Million Payment:

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
AP
Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Everyone and their mother are writing the stories about the NBA entertaining the thought of moving to Las Vegas. But I’m going to take it a step further. What will it take for a team to move to Vegas? We’ll have to see what Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman proposes to the Board of Governors in April, but if NBA commissioner David Stern is set on taking all 2,400-plus NBA games off the board for a team to move there, the natural question is, “What kind of compensation will an NBA team owner have to pay the sports book operators to shut down their business?”

The math hasn’t been put out there, but I’m not naïve to think that I’m the only one who has done it. Goodman told me yesterday he hasn’t begun to discuss the compensation model with the sports books and Stern seemed surprised when I mentioned the compensation term to him, but I guarantee you one of the insiders has the math all figured out.

It’s actually ridiculously easy to figure out, but I backed myself up by dialing up two sports book directors at reputable Las Vegas sports books. Sports betting is a $2 billion annual business and the NBA makes up about 10 percent of that, so that’s $200 million. The hold percentage, which is what the house wins, is about 3 percent of that, so that’s $6 million and that’s gross revenues before expenses. If you want to count the juice, you can pile on $20 million, but the two guys I spoke to said the $6 million was the more important figure.

Can you imagine that? That we are a $6 million annual payment away from having a team in Vegas. Obviously I’m missing what team and what their permanent home would be and all the politics behind it, but I bet you never guessed that number was so low. I certainly didn’t.

The funniest thing about the Stern interview was that he downplayed the NBA’s role in Vegas, doubting the 10 percent of all sports betting number I had told him.

“Our understanding is that it’s a small number that’s almost insignificant,” Stern said.

Tim Hardaway Fallout:
There’s something called freedom of speech, but Tim Hardaway’s “I hate gay people” rant isn’t going to help him much. In fact, it might have been career suicide. On Thursday, he was dumped by BaldGuyz, a grooming products company, only four months into his two-year endorsement deal. And we’re predicting that he’s not going to see a bump of business at Tim Hardaway’s U.S. 1 Car Wash or Tim Hardaway’s House of Wings, either. He was also dropped as chief basketball operations advisor for Trinity Sports and Entertainment, a group which owns the CBA’s Indiana Alleycats. Trinity’s majority owner is NFL backup quarterback Jay Fiedler. “I was very surprised to learn of Tim's insensitive remarks last night,” Fiedler, said in a news release. “The opinions, views and remarks expressed by Mr. Hardaway in no way reflect my views or those of anyone else in our organization, and we want to make that clear to our corporate partners, the CBA and all the fans of the Indiana Alleycats. Mr. Hardaway was instrumental in the startup phase of our basketball operations, but we must now move forward without his services or any association with him whatsoever."

The Sponsorship Rx:
Mets team physician David Altchek lost his job in 2001 after a 10-year run with the team when the Mets decided, as the majority have teams have decided to do recently, to go the sponsorship route. Hospitals pay a team for the rights to treat a team's players and ad deal is thrown in where they can call themselves the official caretaker of the team. Altchek at the time wasn't happy that he lost his job to doctors at the New York University-Hospital For Joint Diseases just because they were shelling out more than $1 million a year to the team. A year later, he told ESPN.com's Tom Farrey, "From a club's point a view, it's convenient (to take the money). Problem is, if you choose the doctor based on who pays the most, it changes the paradigm. You've violated the principle of getting who's best."

Altchek has a good reputation as a doctor, but it wasn't long before he was part of a team that was the highest bidder. Before the 2005 season, the Hospital for Special Surgery became the official medical team of the Mets and Dr. Altchek - as associate attending orthopedic surgeon at HSS -- was back in the fold. The Hospital for Special Surgery now has an official deal with the New York Giants and this week, they signed on to sponsor the New Jersey Nets. Altchek will serve as medical director of the team.

Crossing The Line?:
The Boston Red Sox have to do all they can to make up the money from paying the $100 million plus to Daisuke Matsuzaka. They've apparently entered into a partnership with Japan-based Funai Electric Company, according to the Boston Herald. As part of the deal, Funai will sponsor a tent in which Matsuzaka and fellow Japanese pitching teammate Hideki Okajima will conduct interviews with the Japanese media. Funai will also get the backdrop behind the players while postgame interviews are being conducted on the home and on the road. There is of course one problem with this - what binds Matsuzaka to going along with this? What happens if his marketers sign a deal with competitor Sony?

Down Goes The NCAA:
Intersport, a Chicago-based media and event company, beat the NCAA in a year-long battle over the rights to use the term "March Madness." The Circuit Court of Cook County entered a declaratory judgment giving Intersport the exclusive right to use the March Madness trademark in connection with entertainment services, mostly including the presentation of athletes and entertainers in panel form. Intersport has produced March Madness branded television programming for years after securing the trademark in 1989. The court ruled that Intersport can distribute video of its March Madness content to the public in any manner.

"We moved proactively in light of the NCAA's threats to have a legal determination that our intended use of our intellectual property was proper and within our exclusive rights," said Intersport president & CEO Charles N. Besser. "The Court made it crystal clear that we have been acting properly and that we have full rights in the digital space and beyond as it relates to our March Madness content. We will aggressively seek to protect and utilize our exclusive rights against the NCAA or any unauthorized user."

The NCAA and the IHSA own most of the rights to the terms March Madness through the jointly owned March Madness Athletic Association.

Kobe Bryant Memorabilia:
Upper Deck is now in full force Kobe Bryant memorabilia selling mode, with the Los Angeles Lakers guard at the top of the NBA’s jersey sale list again. Including in this first “24” product offering is a pair of autographed Nike shoes, Spalding game balls and a framed jersey. Bryant is inscribing “Carpe Diem” - seize the day - on all the autographed pieces. Here’s what the items will cost you:

Bryant signed jersey in an archives box, limited to 24 pieces: $1,099.99

Bryant signed Kobe Zoom 1 Nike shoes: $1,499.99

Bryant signed Spalding basketball, limited to 24 pieces: $699.99

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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