Bending it: Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl offered a cogent, blow-by-blow analysis of the David Beckham deal. Wahl praises Tim Leiweke and AEG's two-year effort to chase Beckham and then consummate the deal; he seems to be one of the few reporters to note AEG's deep connections in London and in the music/entertainment business. He also points out that the $250 million figure that's been banded about is just that – a headline-grabbing number.
"Is Beckham's contract with the Galaxy really worth the reported $250 million? No, and it's not even close. Leiweke refused to discuss the details of Beckham's deal, but league sources confirmed that Beckham's guaranteed salary will be around $50 million over the entire five-year length of the contract. That's hardly chump change, but it's still less than the salaries of a lot of U.S. sports stars.
"Nor will Beckham's salary bankrupt MLS. Per the league's new designated-player rule, MLS's owners (who otherwise share the costs for all player salaries) only have to contribute $400,000 a year for each of the league's 13 designated-player exceptions. (Right now Beckham is the only one.) The rest of Beckham's salary comes from Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz. The result: Anschutz is on the hook for around $48 million guaranteed with Beckham, while MLS owners only have to pay $2 million."
2016 Olympics: On Friday, Gov. Schwarzenegger and Mayor Villaraigosa, spoke at a press conference at the Coliseum to kick off the last-lap effort to persuade the USOC to choose Los Angeles for the 2016 Olympic bid. In the two-way race against Chicago, L.A. boasts deep connections within the U.S. and international Olympic family. L.A. also trumpets its existing facilities as a major advantage: with such new arenas as Staples Center and the Galen Center, among others, the city will only have to build one new venue (for shooting, at the Fairplex in Pomona). Chicago's bid entails building several new venues, at major expense.
The setting of the press conference, however, was a not-so-subtle reminder that the Coliseum is the fulcrum of L.A.'s bid. Face it: the Coliseum remains a conundrum. Is it an historically vital stadium that, with a re-installed track and other refurbishment, will be ready to greet the world? Is it an outmoded structure that will turn off the USOC? Or, is it both?
On Monday, the USOC will receive L.A.'s bid – including the details of its plans for the Coliseum. The verdict – Chicago or L.A. -- will come down April 14.
Sports films: Last weekend, the L.A. Times rolled out its film sneaks for 2007. The list of upcoming sports films appears to feature more comedies (intentional or not) than usual, including: Balls of Fury, about "a broke former professional pingpong player. . . recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the world of underground pingpong tournaments and take down his father's killer;" The Comebacks, a "spoof of inspirational sports movies;" The Game Plan, about a quarterback whose life "comes to a crashing halt when he discovers he is the father of a 7-year-old girl;" Blades of Glory, with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder starring as figure skaters who perform as a duo; and Eleven Men Out, in which "Iceland's star soccer player quits the pros and joins an amateur team of gay men." Call it the Nacho Libre-Talladega Nights factor.
Meanwhile, the Times' Kenneth Turan highlighted several sports docs showing at Sundance and Slamdance: Zindane: A 21st Century Portrait, which Turan calls "perhaps the most unusual sports film you'll ever see;" Chasing Ghosts, about the "early days of video gaming;" The Bad Boys of Summer, "a look at San Quentin's baseball team;" and Row Hard No Excuses, about the "men who race across the Atlantic in rowboats."