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The success of the 49ers has seen them grow into one of the most valued franchises in professional sports, according to ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER business writer Edward Iwata. Financial experts say the team's market value "hovers near $200 million -- a price surpassed or rivaled" only by the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Yankees, and the Lakers. But while the franchise is worth a healthy amount, it is not a big profit-maker. Franchise analyst Paul Much said because of the team's "generous payroll," they would be lucky to break even (Edward Iwata, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/8).
The slow progress in the sale of the team to Adelphia Communications Corp. Chair John Rigas has led the Pirates to search for other buyers, according to the PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE. A team official said the team is "working on other alternatives," and during a conference call, at least two board members said they believed the team could be sold for more than the $85.15M offered by Rigas. Jeff Moffie, a Cleveland investment manager, said he has put in a bid that he "contends was substantially higher" than Rigas. Moffie said he would leave his bid on the table for only 24 hours, since he didn't want his bid to be used to "pry a higher offer from Rigas." During their conference call, team owners discussed who would be responsible for lawsuits "stemming from the players strike" and Rigas' financial "health." The owners want Rigas to accept the legal risks and some questioned whether Rigas could afford to assume the financial losses between now and the close of the potential sale. Most of Rigas' family wealth is tied up in Adelphia stock, which "has tumbled by more than 50% since March." The team faces heavy losses due to the players strike, interest payments from heavy debt, and a decrease in local TV revenue. The team will receive close to $3M from cable-TV partner KBL for the 75-games the network will carry this year, down about $500,000 for last year (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/7).
The Bucs sold 1,026 season-tickets on the first day of ticket sales, due to reduced prices and "perhaps increased interest." More than 600 season-tickets were purchased for $150, part of the special "$Buc-50 Zone," where a minimum of 4 tickets must be purchased for the special rate of $15 a game. The team is trying to "recoup the loss" of more than 6,000 season-ticket holders after they raised prices last year, and improve a season- ticket base which ranked 27th in the NFL a year ago. Season tickets at reduced prices will be on sale until May 12 (Rick Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/8).