INDIANAPOLIS — The large banner of Peyton Manning has been removed from Lucas Oil Stadium.
The move Wednesday comes a day before the Colts will take Andrew Luck, Manning’s replacement, with the No. 1 overall choice in the NFL draft.
Pete Ward, the team’s chief operating officer, says the timing had nothing to do with the draft. Instead, he says, it was because a crane was in the area and available to take it down.
The banner had hung outside the stadium since its opening in 2008. After Manning was released March 7, the team added the words “Thank you Peyton” to the banner. Many credit Manning for helping to secure funding for the new stadium. A large banner also hung outside the RCA Dome before the team moved to Lucas Oil.
Vikings players hit Capitol as stadium vote nears
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Their goal finally in sight, the Minnesota Vikings summoned star power Wednesday to put extra pressure on state lawmakers nearing decisive votes on public financing for a new pro football stadium.
Running back Adrian Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway and center John Sullivan lent aid to a franchise lobbying team of nine, which is counting heads for an expected House vote as soon as Thursday and guiding the bid for a nearly $1 billion stadium through its final Senate committees.
In a barely 30-minute visit, the players chatted with legislators and posed for pictures with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
“It’s a team effort. We’re just showing our support,” Peterson said. “Legislators, those guys are really pushing to pass this bill. They have tough decisions to make and discussions to have. We’re just here to let these guys know that we support them.”
Meanwhile, the stadium bill continued to move closer to expected House and Senate floor votes. It survived the Senate’s Finance Committee on a vote of 9-5, but not without complications: The committee reshaped the proposal in a way that its chief author said would cost needed support.
The changes came in the form of an amendment to include state authorization of casinos at two Minnesota horse-racing tracks. That proposal is a longstanding and controversial issue at Minnesota’s Capitol, and sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen said linking it to the stadium could hurt her bill’s progress.
Thunder’s Harden cleared but sits against Nuggets
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant glanced over at the locker next to him and it still didn’t feel right that James Harden wasn’t there.
The good news is he should be back in time for the playoffs.
Harden passed the NBA-mandated tests required for him to return from the concussion he suffered when the Lakers’ Metta World Peace elbowed him in the back of the head, but the Thunder held him out of Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Denver Nuggets.
The playoffs start this weekend, with Oklahoma City as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and hosting its postseason opener.
“I’m just worried about his health and want to see him back on the floor with us because he means so much to us,” said Durant, the league’s two-time scoring champion. He means so much to the city.
“It’s just tough not to see him right next to me in the locker room.”
When World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, reared back and clocked Harden after a dunk in the first half Sunday, it hit Durant hard emotionally.
“Maybe if I would have stopped Ron Artest from dunking that ball, he wouldn’t have did it. So I kind of felt a little bit of me when he did it,” Durant said.
World Peace was suspended seven games for elbowing Harden. He’ll miss the Lakers’ regular-season finale Thursday night at Sacramento and then the start of the playoffs.
Warriors’ Lee having surgery on torn ab muscle
OAKLAND, Calif. — Another starter for the Golden State Warriors is heading to the operating table.
The team said David Lee will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn abdominal muscle. The procedure will be performed by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. Lee’s recovery time to resume basketball activities will be determined following surgery.
He has missed seven straight games after an MRI exam on April 13 revealed a strained groin and stress reaction. The former New York Knicks forward, in his second season with the Warriors, averaged 20.1 points and 9.6 rebounds this year.
Point guard Stephen Curry and center Andrew Bogut are both having arthroscopic surgery on their injured ankles in Los Angeles this week. The Warriors host San Antonio in the season finale Thursday night.
Tax break for the Hornets fails in La. House
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana House narrowly refused Wednesday to extend an existing tax break given to the New Orleans Hornets that saves the team $3.7 million a year.
The extension proposed by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, fell four votes short of passage in a 49-46 vote Wednesday. It needed 53 votes to win approval.
The NBA team gets a tax break through the state Quality Jobs Program. Henry proposed continuing that for the length of the Hornets’ new lease with the state, which is set to go through 2024. The tax exemption expires in 2013.
Henry said the extension was part of the deal for keeping the team in New Orleans and part of the deal with new Hornets owner Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints.
But critics said the state doesn’t have enough money to continue offering multimillion dollar tax credits to wealthy team owners.
“At some point we can’t continue to make Mr. Benson a ward of the state. We are robbing pension funds. We are bleeding our schools. We’re closing clinics and hospitals,” said Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin.
Henry plans to bring the proposal up again for another vote in the coming days.
Yankees RHP Pineda out for season
ARLINGTON, Texas — New York Yankees starter Michael Pineda will miss the entire season without pitching in a game because of a tear in the labrum of his right shoulder.
The Yankees said the right-hander will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday in New York and be out for about a year.
“It’s a loss,” manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday. “He was a guy that we were counting on this year. We traded for him, and unfortunately he’s hurt.”
New York acquired Pineda from Seattle in January, giving up top catching prospect Jesus Montero to get the 23-year-old All-Star pitcher.
Pineda felt weakness in his shoulder during an extended spring training game Saturday, which came three weeks after he had problems in a spring training start. The tear was discovered in a medical exam after that.
When Pineda experienced discomfort in the back of the shoulder during spring training March 30, the initial diagnosis was tendon inflammation in his right shoulder.
Girardi said Pineda wasn’t quite himself during spring training, but that the 6-foot-7, 260-pound pitcher was making his starts and doing his bullpens without any complaints of pain.
“He just felt like his arm was weak, so it explains why it was weak now,” Girardi said. “When and where and how and what we did doesn’t matter now. What we have to do is more forward and try to get this kid healthy.”
Pineda was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings last year as a rookie for the light-hitting Mariners. He’s now going to miss an entire season, and possibly more.