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An anonymous group of "concerned East Bay citizens" threatened yesterday to obstruct the Raiders' return to Oakland with a ballot measure that could "scare off investors and collapse an agreement embraced three days ago by elected officials," according to Stacey Wells of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Organized under the banner "Taxpayers for a Vote on the Raiders Deal," members "want an independent financial review of taxpayers costs and risks" involved in a plan to sell $225M in bonds to relocate the team. The group has hired S.F.-based p.r. firm Advocacy Communications to run the campaign and has established a toll-free phone number "to recruit members" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 7/14). Peter Fimrite reports that former Alameda County Supervisor Don Perata, a longtime Raiders advocate, said he will file documents today demanding that the group file papers with the Fair Political Practices Committee which would reveal their identities. Perata: "These guys are hired guns, and they're representing some big money San Francisco interests. We're onto them and we are going to force them out" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 7/14). Perata also asked: "Is it [49ers President] Carmen Policy? This is not the first time that people in San Francisco have treated Oakland like a colony" (Sandy Kleffman, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/14).
The Class A Portland Rockies drew 19,658 for their home opener, the largest Class A crowd in America this year. Through 14 home games, the team has averaged 7,202 fans for a total of 100,823, which marks the earliest a team in the Northern League has passed the 100,000 mark. This is the team's first year in Portland, after 14 years in Bend, OR. Portland became an open market when Joe Buzas took his Triple A team to Salt Lake City last year, and Rockies Owner Jack Cain moved the Rockies to Civic Stadium. THE RIGHT MOVES: Part of the team's success is attributed to S.R.O. Partners, a Portland-based consulting and training firm specializing in tickets, sponsorship, and suite sales strategies. Tom Leip, VP/Marketing for the Rockies, told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY that they took the "ticketing marketing program by SRO and ran with it." Leip said the program was "very aggressive" and said his staff of 18-20 full and part-time employees spend their entire day selling tickets. Leip said the marketing program is based on ticket sales , "if we sell our tickets, the marketing will take care of itself." If the stands are full, advertisers will want to buy signage and sponsorships. Doug Piper, President of S.R.O. Partners, said his company helped the Rockies hire and train an outside sales team. S.R.O. then followed up with training sessions, including helping develop a database. They are also in discussions on helping with sponsorships next season. Dwight Jaynes, columnist for the Portland OREGONIAN, told THE DAILY that the team has been "wildly successful." Jaynes said baseball as a whole is not being sold correctly, but "these guys had lots of salesman on the streets selling tickets." Jaynes: "People think that you can open the gates on opening night and fans either love you or hate you. But they worked hard. ... The Cain's have proven that the off-season is when the work gets done, and tickets are sold." Rockies Owner Jack Cain, to THE DAILY: "We are a retail business. We just have a different product to sell." COULD PORTLAND BE HOME TO EXPANSION? When asked if Portland was a solid baseball city, Leip said that was "an understatement." Leip: "Portland is as good a baseball market as any in the country. It has a population with a large disposable income and they will come if is a good show." The OREGONAIN's Jaynes agrees: "[Portland is] a great baseball town, and once it wakes up, it could be a great potential major league expansion city" (THE DAILY).
The Devils agreed yesterday to play at Brendan Byrne Arena at least through next season, and for 11 more after that if a renegotiated lease with promises of new revenues from luxury suites and advertising is approved by September, according to the N.Y. TIMES. If the deal is not completed by September 15, the NJSEA would reactivate its request for a temporary restraining order to keep the team from terminating its current lease (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). Devils President & GM Lou Lamoriello: "The reality is that if the Sports Authority delivers what has been promised, the Devils have a 12-year lease and commitment to remain in New Jersey. There are no escapes if the Authority keeps its word" (N.Y. POST, 7/14). In the N.Y. DAILY NEWS, Colin Stephenson reports that promised improvements to the arena will include 14 new luxury boxes, 1,600 club seats, additional advertising space sold inside the arena and the construction of restaurants and exclusive "club rooms" for club seat patrons (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/14). Larry Brooks notes that the Devils have also moved to prevent another professional franchise from relocating to the Meadowlands. Funding for the renovation work will be generated, in part, by selling the naming rights to the arena (N.Y. POST, 7/14). YANKEES LOST IN YONKERS?: Larry Brooks notes that the Devils "have done their part to see to it that another New York team -- the Yankees -- cannot now use the Meadowlands to hold this city hostage" (N.Y. POST, 7/14). Yankees Exec VP & General Counsel David Sussman, from a prepared statement: "It appears that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has decided it would prefer to have a National Hockey League team over a Major League Baseball team playing in the Meadowlands" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 7/14).
Hal Bodley reports in today's USA TODAY, that the Expos are not for sale and are not moving. Expos President Claude Brochu: "I consider myself a lifer in this game" (USA TODAY, 7/14)....Bodley also examined the woes of the Giants. Giants President Peter Magowan: "One partner was quoted as saying if the Giants don't get more fan support they may have to consider leaving. We have about 27 investors, maybe one or two feel that way. The majority of us are committed to keeping the team here" (USA TODAY, 7/14)....Michael McIntyre profiles the success of the Indians this year in the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Indians VP/P.R. Bob DiBiasio: "This is happening because of the big three: One, Jacobs Field. Two, this is the best team in baseball right now. And three, fans are starved for both one and two" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/13)....According to Nets Treasurer David Gerstein, the Nets are not for sale, contrary to rumors that investment firm Morgan Stanley is shopping the club for $90M (Thomas Hill, N.Y. POST, 7/14)....Gary Picknell reports in the TORONTO SUN that Boca Raton Developer Norton Herrick has turned his sights away from the Blue Jays and has focused on purchasing the Pirates (TORONTO SUN, 7/14).