Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An open letter to the NY Times' Rich Sandomir

Mr. Sandomir:

Yesterday's New York Times published an article by you and Mr. Ken Belson, "Hoping to Sell, Team Owners Face a New Opponent: Recession".  In the article, you and Mr. Belson state:
Now that the economy seems to be on the mend, owners who held off selling during the downturn are seeking to unload their teams. According to sports bankers, the teams thought to be for sale include the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Detroit Pistons in the N.B.A; the Stars, the Atlanta Thrashers and potentially the Columbus Blue Jackets in the N.H.L.; and baseball’s Houston Astros.
I am sure that, as a sports columnist, you can appreciate that the fan base of any team would be surprised when speculation is floated suggesting that their favorite team may be for sale.  As a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, I had that very reaction upon learning of your article.

The team's financial issues, stemming from perhaps one of the worst arena leases in professional sports, are well-documented in Columbus.  That the team potentially may be for sale, however, is surprising as the community and team are working to develop an arrangement which lifts the roughly $10 million annual millstone from the Jackets and lets them operate as the profitable team that they should be.

In addition, your source(s) singling the Columbus Blue Jackets out as being for sale is curious as there are other teams in the National Hockey League who surely are in much more dire straits on the hockey operations fronts and were not mentioned.  We hockey fans are regaled with stories of how NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's 'sun belt strategy' for expansion has not yielded the financially sound franchises that he (and the team owners) had hoped.  Your mention of the Atlanta and Dallas NHL franchises as being sale possibilities in your article adds credence to this assertion.  The fact that the Jackets were mentioned as opposed to other teams, however, leads one to believe that there may be more than idle speculation at play.

Lastly, there is the reputation of the New York Times itself to consider.  I can rely upon lesser print outlets, or some of our dimmer lights in the cable news world, to throw out idle speculation.  I do not see the New York Times engaging in this behavior, however.  That you printed the Columbus Blue Jackets as a potential sale target suggests that there may indeed be a fire where you have reported smoke.

So I'd like to ask (and hope that you respond here):

  • How did you come to the conclusion that the Jackets may be on the selling block?  
  • How many sources suggested that this potential sale was possible?  If you cannot provide the names of the source(s) - and while I'd love to know their name(s), I guess that you would have offered them had they been willing to go on the record - can you explain their positions and how they might be in a place where they could offer up such conjecture?  
  • What more have you learned about the Columbus Blue Jackets ownership situation that we as Blue Jackets fans should know?
I apologize for the unorthodox way of reaching out to you, but your article does not have an email address attached for followup questions.  Thus, I hope that this blog post, combined with a Twitter message linking to it, reaches you.  

Thank you for your article.  I look forward to learning much more from you about my favorite NHL team.

Sincerely,

The Dark Blue Jacket

3 comments:

  1. Perhaps he is such a non-hockey fan that he, in sticking with his sunbelt theme, thinks it is Columbus, GA. That's just more wild speculation, though.

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  2. As the person who brought forth the article in yesterday's chat, I do believe it has some merit considering the ownership put out a quick no-comment on the article. Previously when approached with this subject, the answer was always the team isn't for sale.

    Paul

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  3. Interesting point, Paul, and one worth considering.

    Thanks for posting!

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