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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chops Are Becoming a Bloody Mess

By now you have probably heard most of the latest about the Chops, but I will give you a brief recap:
1. The Schlegels proposed selling the AHL franchise and replacing it with a lower tier CHL franchise.
2. Knowing that plan would not fly, the Schlegels proposed selling the AHL franchise to pay off their creditors. Polk County would then get whatever was leftover, what they claimed as "A significant amount of money."
3. Polk County immediately rejected the latter proposal (PC had already dismissed their CHL plan). The "significant amount of money" was estimated to be under $700,000.
4. Prior to placing an AHL franchise in Des Moines (the Stars then Chops), the Schlegels signed a $12.5 million non-relocation agreement. Essentially they cannot move or sell the franchise before the 2015 season. It does not take a genius to figure out their "significant amount" of $700,000 is a wee bit less than $12.5 million.
5. Polk County has now filed lawsuits against the Schlegels as they are clearly not acting in good faith toward the signed contract (non-relocation agreement).

Now the non-relocation agreement has been published by the Des Moines Register. Here are some key points:
Section 3.1 Relocation of the Team,(a) The Team shall not relocate the Team or the Home Territory of the Team outside the boundaries of the Local Area during the License Term.

Section 3.2 Prohibited Actions. Except during the last year of the License Term, the
Team shall not apply for or seek approval from the American Hockey League for the relocation of the Team or the Home Territory of the Team outside the Local Area or for the reduction of the Local Area.

Since it is a pain to copy and edit the text from the image file published, I will summarize the rest of the important stuff. You can read the full copy here.

Section 4.4 Basically says that by signing the Non-Relocation agreement, the Schlegels have consulted and confirmed with their attorneys that the agreement is legally binding. They not forgo their obligation by filing bankruptcy. Even in the event of a bankruptcy, the Schlegels are on the hook for the penalty ($12.5 million).

Section 5.1.2 specifies that the Schlegels must field an American Hockey League franchise (meaning their CHL proposal would violate the non-relocation agreement). (f) Specifies that the Schelgels must abide by the AHL's rules for ownership; they violated this rule previously by using the team as collateral for a loan.

5.2 Confirms that the AHL recognizes the legality of the non-relocation agreement. They agree that the Schlegels are bound by it.

In the language, the Schlegels are represented by DM Hockey Holdings LLC. AS Manager of the franchise, Howard Baldwin signed off on the agreement.

Now that I better understand the terms of the non-relocation agreement, I think the Schlegels should sell the franchise to Polk County for the fair market value (less than $5 million). Since Global Spectrum already runs Wells Fargo Arena and basically splits revenue with Polk County, they should be contracted to run the franchise. That way the two entities with the most financial interest in the arena would be in control of it anchor tenant (the Chops) and have direct control over its revenue stream, marketing, etc. Since their revenues would be impacted by the box office performance of the team, they would be wise to improve the quality of the product on the ice and increase the marketing and exposure for the team.

An alternative suggestion would be to sell the franchise to the Ducks (our 2008-09 affiliate). Bind them with the non-relocation agreement, but renegotiate the arena lease to make the team more profitable. Anaheim has stated several times that they were happy with the fans, the facilities, the travel, and pretty much everything else in Des Moines. The only thing that they were unhappy with was the Schlegels.

Something Big Is Coming!

Keep your eyes peeled because something big is coming to the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association within the next few days. I have dropped hints in various places and have told a couple of people exactly what is coming.
All I will tell you at this point is that the effects will be long lasting and hopefully positive!

Friday, June 26, 2009

No Lacrosse This Saturday!!!

We will not have a Summer Open Lacrosse League session tomorrow (6/27). Thunderstorms have been predicted throughout the day starting at 3:00 AM. Even though it is only a 50% chance, the odds are not in our favor. Also, the Hy-Vee Triathlon is scheduled to use multiple areas of Valley Southwoods all day tomorrow starting at 6:00 AM. At this point, cancelling is the easiest and most logical option.
We will resume our normal sessions on Monday and Thursday, but we will not play next Saturday due to the holiday.
Contact me with questions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

!Estados Unidos Patea Nalgas Espanoles!

Okay this is pretty far from lacrosse, but I am a huge soccer fan. Since I was home sick today, I was able to watch the US men play Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
After narrowly making the knockout round everything was working against our boys. After going a man down against Italy, we saw our 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 loss. Unfortunately two of those goals were scored by Giuseppe Rossi, an Italian born and raised in New Jersey! (FIFA's citizenship and nationality rules are fairly complicated.) Next came a 3-0 loss to perennial favorite Brazil. Heading into last Sunday's game against Egypt, all hope looked lost for Bob Bradley's boys. The only thing working in our favor was a fairly weak Egyptian side. In order to get past our prior failures we would have to beat the Egyptians by at least three goals and Italy, who lost to Egypt, merely need to lose by less than three goals to Brazil. Considering Egypt's performance (including a narrow 3-4 loss to Brazil) things did not look good for the Stars & Stripes.
With two of our starters out due to red cards and Tim Howard resting on the bench, everything indicated that Bob Bradley was phoning it in. For all intents and purposes, the team had its bags packed and was gearing up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. When the team got hot and went on a three goal rampage things starting getting interesting. Backup keeper Brad Guzan maintained a clean sheet throughout. Then word came in that Brazil put up the same scoreline against the Italians! Almost through sheer luck the US made the semifinals!
Unfortunately waiting for us was a Spanish side that coasted through an easy group stage against Iraq, South Africa, and New Zealand. As the current European champions, Spain was enjoying a FIFA record 15 game winning streak and a 35 game unbeaten streak. Analysts around the world predicted the rapid demise of the US team against the world's number one team.
When Jozy Altidore scored the first goal in less than 30 minutes of play, I nearly crapped myself. Not only did the extreme underdog American team score the first goal, they did so against arguably the best goalkeeper in the world playing for the absolute best team. Clint Dempsey's insurance goal in the 74th minute demonstrated the perseverance of the Americans. When Michael Bradley (yeah, he is the coach's son) received our side's third red card of the tournament, I was afraid that things would go Italy all over again. Luckily Howard and the rest of the squad continued stone walling the Spaniards to hold onto the 2-0 victory.
When the US steps onto the field at 1:00 pm (our time -ESPN2) they will most likely be facing another uphill battle. Brazil will face South Africa tomorrow; the winner will be our opponent on Sunday afternoon. All signs indicate that Brazil will be our opponent. Despite our earlier loss to them, we will come into the game knowing that David already slew Goliath one time in the tournament. Brazil will be round two.
Either way, the US Mens National Team has reached the final of a FIFA event for the first time in its history. Hopefully we can continue this momentum throughout the remainder of our World Cup qualifying schedule and into the Big Tournament itself...

On a side note: Giuseppe Rossi chose to play for the Italians due to his parental heritage. He stated that it was his desire to win a major tournament and felt that the United States had not yet reached the point of contention. With Italy's early exit from the Confederations Cup and the US team reaching the finals, it looks like Rossi might have made a poor call. Granted Italy is the current World Cup champion and that title is the most coveted, but I would like to think that he has now cursed the Italians the same way that Marian Hossa seems to have cursed the Detroit Redwings...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chops - Nothing Official

While the official word has not yet been posted on the Chops site or AHL home page, all signs indicate that the Chops AHL franchise will not take the ice this fall. On Friday they laid off the entire ticket sales staff and other front office personnel. Making things worse, I found this today:

"The Chops ownership was unable to meet financial obligations and the team's operations have been suspended."

I will definitely miss having the American Hockey League in Des Moines. It was nice to have the top level minor league here for a few years. It is a shame that such terrible owners managed to screw it up just as the team began to make inroads in the community. Hopefully this is a temporary situation and the Polk County Supervisors can manage to locate a new (local) owner to relaunch the team ASAP.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Youth Lax?

In case nobody has noticed, we have had a few kids coming to our games with their parents from time to time this summer. Thursday night we had a 10 year old from Ankeny there for a while. While not yet enough for an honest to goodness youth league, I am encouraged by the increasing number of parents contacting me. To continue the growth of lacrosse in the Des Moines metro area, we definitely need to get something going for the kids. I mean aside from the upcoming YMCA clinic.
This got me thinking about the box lacrosse thing. Maybe a box style league would be a great place to introduce younger players to the sport. They would not have to deal with long poles and the smaller number of participants would probably work better on the smaller field. Current adult or high school players could "coach" the teams and ref the games. Their league could run right along with the high school/adult box league.
Granted we will need a few more kids, but I am throwing this out for feedback. I would definitely like to get field lax started for younger players throughout the metro. In the meantime, a winter box league could serve as a great stopgap. The "big four" sports all have greatly developed youth programs in DM already. We need to get moving!
Post your comments or email me with your ideas for building a youth program.

Tribe 7