Burkle in K.C.; sports media '06

The latest news from Kansas City and its search for an NHL franchise is that the Pittsburgh Penguins' ownership group, led by Mario Lemieux, is meeting today with K.C. officials and arena representatives. The Pens are mulling a move after its plan to build a new arena in Pittsburgh has unraveled, according to the Post-Gazette.

Today's meeting has several LA-based components. AEG put up about $54 million to build K.C.'s new downtown arena, which it will manage when it opens this fall. AEG's point-person in search of an NHL team for K.C. is former Kings great Luc Robitaille. Lemieux and Robitaille, who played together in Pittsburgh, are also partners in a minor league hockey team. And, one of the lead figures in the Penguins' ownership group is none other than Ron Burkle.

* * *

A little late maybe, but here's my take on the year past in sports media:

Best Sports Films (feature): Nacho Libre and Talladega Nights. The endless stream of football films – Invincible, We Are Marshall, etc. – proved underwhelming, while Sly Stallone (Rocky Balboa) should have stayed away.
Best Sports Films (documentary): Heart of the Game and Freedom's Fury. I enjoyed Once in a Lifetime, about the New York Cosmos and the old NASL, but without Pele's presence, it felt incomplete.

Best Sports Books: Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports (Gotham), by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams; Sayonara Home Run: The Art of the Japanese Baseball Card (Chronicle), by John Gall and Gary Engel; and Michael Lewis' The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (W.W. Norton).
Honorable Mention: David Maraniss' Clemente (Simon & Schuster), although it didn't match the passion of his Vince Lombardi biography, and Douglas Century's Barney Ross (Schocken).

Sports Magazine of the Year: When the New York Times introduced Play Magazine in 2006, the editors wrote that it would be "A magazine that simultaneously celebrates how sports are played today while presenting the big, rich human stories that emerge from the world of sports. It doesn't get any better than that." Whatever. The magazine's first two cover subjects – skier Bode Miller and the Brazil's World Cup team – didn't pan out, but with profiles by the likes of Michael Lewis (Willie Wood, Bill Parcells) and David Foster Wallace (Roger Federer) and with excellent media criticism from Bryan Curtis, Play began to find its voice.

Sports Websites: Deadspin (natch) and SportsBusinessDaily.com (subscription only).

Best Eulogies: In the NYTimes Sunday Magazine's annual "The Lives They Lived" issue, Michael Sokolove wrote about Steve Howe, while Jonathan Mahler remembered Mike Quarry. Two small gems about two disquieted souls. In 2005, Sokolove wrote The Ticket Out, a Boys of Summer-styled look back at the Crenshaw High baseball team that starred Darryl Strawberry. The book has been in the news because one the most prominent players on the team, former Major Leaguer Chris Brown, recently died under mysterious circumstances in Houston.

January 3, 2007 9:22 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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