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  • CHICAGO TRIBUNE WONDERS IF DA BEARS ARE LOSING DA LUSTER

              The Bears were examined by John Mullin in the CHICAGO
         TRIBUNE under the header, "Are Bears Losing Their Grip On
         City?"  Mullin: "The Bears have lost more than games over
         the last several years.  Along the way, they have begun to
         do the once unthinkable: lose Chicago.  The city has always
         been a Bears town.  It is not anymore.  On and off the
         field, the Bears are a franchise at a crossroads."  Last
         year's average of 9,900 no-shows was the most since '83, and
         the '97 home-opener crowd of 59,263 was the smallest since
         '84.  Last Sunday's game drew a local 22.5 TV rating,
         "barely half what the Bears regularly attracted a decade
         ago" and down about 20% from the second game in '96. 
         Mullin: "Bears games simply are no longer the focal point of
         fall Sunday afternoons in Chicago.  The obvious reason is
         losing."  Bears VP/Marketing Ken Valdiserri: "We live in a
         society of what have you done for me lately.  We're feeling
         a little of that" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/14).  Yesterday's
         Lions-Bears game had 7,797 no-shows (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/15). 
         
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Franchises
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              NHL: In Hockey Player magazine, Broncos Owner Pat
         Bowlen is mentioned as a possible suitor of the Oilers.
         Bowlen, a native of Alberta: "I don't have any comment on it
         at this time" (Sam Adams, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 9/14).
              NFL: Nancy Irsay filed suit on Friday "seeking at
         least" $13M in damages from the Colts and the executors of
         her husband's estate (Susan Schramm, STAR-NEWS, 9/13).
              NBA: In Toronto, William Houston reported that Raptors
         President Richard Peddie is "writing a book" about "how he
         built the Raptors into what they are today."  Houston also
         noted that current Raptor ticket ads "do not even mention
         the team or its players."  Houston: "The largest type in the
         ad reads: 'Great Bulls seats'" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).
              MLB: The Devil Rays "unveiled their 53-foot traveling
         exhibit," the Devil Rays Express, which will cost "about"
         $500,000 and will be used at team -- and sponsor-related
         events throughout the state (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/12).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Denver Broncos, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Indianapolis Colts, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Raptors
  • HEAT ARENA PLANS TO COME FIRST, WNBA NEXT

              Miami "won't be among" the WNBA's two expansion teams
         next summer, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. 
         Heat President of Business Ops Jay Cross says the Heat
         "decided to concentrate on the construction" of its new
         arena "before pursuing a WNBA team."  Cross: "It's best that
         we wait until we have the new arena."  Jackson added that
         the Heat "is having enough trouble just negotiating its own
         lease for the 1998-99 season.  Cross said discussions are
         'moving slowly' but he isn't discouraged -- yet."  The team
         is hopeful that construction of the bayfront arena will
         start in January and be completed by the start of the '99-
         2000 season.  In other Heat news, Cross added that the team
         has "topped last season's season-ticket sales" of 8,700, and
         he said that it "won't replace" Exec VP Pauline Winick, who
         will retire on October 1 (MIAMI HERALD, 9/14). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Miami Heat, WNBA
  • ISLANDERS' BUYER GLUCKSTERN GETS GOOD REVIEWS FROM MEDIA

              The Islanders introduced Coyotes co-Owner Steven
         Gluckstern as "the newest would-be owner" of the team on
         Friday, according to John Valenti of NEWSDAY.  Gluckstern
         and partners, New York Sports Ventures, signed a letter of
         intent for the team and its cable TV package worth $195M. 
         Islanders GM Mike Milbury: "The last guy who came in here
         brought enthusiasm.  This guy brought cash with him, too." 
         Valenti: "Not to mention a stage presence, sense of humor
         and human touch that was noticeably lacking in the often-
         dour [John] Spano."  Gluckstern said that of "significant
         appeal" to him and his partners in the purchase was the
         chance to redevelop the 70-acre Mitchel Field parcel at
         Nassau Coliseum.  Gluckstern: "This is about three things
         that were attractive to us.  The franchise, a unique
         television contract and the 70 acres we're sitting on top of
         now."  New York Sports Ventures also includes "two major" NY
         real estate developers, Howard Milstein and Stephen Ross, as
         well as NY businessman Dan Doctoroff.  The group hopes to
         have the deal approved by the NHL Board of Governors by
         December, but a league source said Friday that a "more
         realistic timetable" would be January (NEWSDAY, 9/13). 
         Brett Pickett, son of current Isles Owner John Pickett, will
         continue to operate the club until the end of the year
         (Michael James, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/13).  
              RAVE REVIEWS: NEWSDAY's Fessenden, Valenti, et al.
         write that Gluckstern "heads what may be one of the most
         overqualified ownerships in the most blue-collar of
         professional sports."  Islanders co-Chair & CEO Bob
         Rosenthal: "Gluckstern is a no-nonsense man.  He's already
         in the business, he wanted the Islanders, he negotiated in a
         very fair way, a very tough way" (NEWSDAY, 9/14).  NEWSDAY's 
         Steve Jacobson: "[I]mmediately, there is stability for a
         team that is now growing into a competitive level after
         nearly 10 years in the doldrums" (NEWSDAY, 9/14). 
              SLOW TRACK: Gluckstern said it will take five years to
         replace the Nassau Coliseum, but NEWSDAY's Ken Moritsugu
         wrote that the tentative sale "has renewed hope among"
         Nassau execs for a "private sector-led major redevelopment
         of the Coliseum property in Uniondale, including a new
         arena, an exhibition hall, a hotel and sports and
         entertainment-related retail stores" (NEWSDAY, 9/13).
              COYOTES UPDATE: In AZ, Coyotes CEO Richard Burke, on
         losing Gluckstern: "Things will not change, as far as the
         operation goes. ... But my role will lesson."  The
         REPUBLIC's Tim Tyers: "Perhaps a bigger question is whether
         the ownership change will also affect the Coyotes'
         relationship with Suns President Jerry Colangelo.  His
         management company hold the Coyotes' lease at America West
         Arena."  Burke said that any talk about a possible move out
         of America West Arena is just talk, "at least for the near
         future" (Tim Tyers, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/13).
                
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, New York Islanders, NHL, Phoenix Coyotes, Phoenix Suns
  • NHL ACTION DEBUTS IN CAROLINA WITH DUELING EXHIBITION GAMES

              The NHL Hurricanes drew 6,046 fans at the 21,000-seat
         Greensboro Coliseum Saturday for an exhibition game versus
         the Islanders, according to Steve Politi of the Raleigh NEWS
         & OBSERVER, who wrote that despite the fact that the
         Coliseum was "less than a third full," it "didn't look
         embarrassingly empty" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/14).  In
         Greensboro, John Nagy called it "a respectable crowd"
         (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 9/15).  Greensboro Coliseum
         Events Coordinator Carl Ellison Jr., on the NHL in
         Greensboro: "We still have some redneck in us, but I think
         the awareness is growing quite a bit.  More people know
         about hockey than used to" (John Valenti, NEWSDAY, 9/14).
              HOCKEY NIGHT IN CHARLOTTE: In Charlotte, 7,474 fans
         attended Saturday's Panthers-Bruins exhibition at
         Independence Arena (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 9/14).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Franchises, Gale Force Holdings, New York Islanders, NHL
  • SEEKING SWEETER BANKING DEAL, CELTICS MAY CUT FLEET

              The Celtics said Saturday they are "on the verge of
         severing their relationship with Fleet Financial Group in
         favor of archrival BankBoston Corp. or Providence-based
         Citizens Financial Group," according to Tina Cassidy of the
         BOSTON GLOBE.  The move would be a "public relations blow to
         the region's largest bank, particularly given that the team
         plays in the FleetCenter, an arena that cost the bank" $30M
         for naming rights.  The Celtics say they are "unhappy" with
         Fleet because many of the bankers in its sports lending
         division with ties to the team have resigned after the John
         Spano incident; the team also "wants a larger marketing
         contract than Fleet was allegedly willing to provide" after
         the team signed Rick Pitino.  Source close to the situation
         say the team may be trying to get more from the bank than
         its $50M "borrowing business is worth."  They add the team
         is looking for $6M worth of marketing over five years, while
         it "generates only $250,000 in revenue per year for the
         bank."  Celtics Chair Paul Gaston has met with BankBoston
         Chair Charles Gifford, and BankBoston had the team's account
         for about 10 years before Shawmut took it over in the early
         '90s.  Citizens Chair Lawrence Fish is also eyeing the
         account (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).  The WALL STREET JOURNAL's
         Jeffrey Krasner values the account at $120M.  Fleet Dir of
         Corporate Marketing & Communications Anne Finucane: "You can
         see where it would be very attractive to someone that didn't
         have the name Fleet in the arena, but our name is everywhere
         in that building" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/15).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, Fleet Financial, Franchises
  • TURNER UNLIKELY TO PUT KIBOSH ON MURDOCH/DODGERS DEAL?

              While News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch's offer to buy
         the Dodgers still faces "formal scrutiny" by MLB owners, the
         transaction "is already beginning to look like a done deal,"
         according to Hiltzik & Newhan of the L.A. TIMES.  Hiltzik &
         Newhan: "[N]o concerted opposition has emerged among the
         owners. ... They will probably take a final vote on the deal
         by the end of the year."  The only teams "to have openly
         expressed concerns about the deal" are the Padres and
         Giants.  Padres Owner John Moores "is concerned" that any
         increase in the number of Dodger games on TV could "cut into
         his team's attendance," while the Giants have expressed
         "similar sentiments."  While Murdoch and Time Warner Vice
         Chair Ted Turner have feuded publicly in the past, "at least
         one Turner confidant said last week that he would not be
         surprised to see Turner abstain or vote against the Dodgers
         deal 'just to be ornery' if his vote would not be deciding. 
         He might, however, be less likely to cast a 'nay' vote that
         would actually kill the transaction" (L.A. TIMES, 9/14).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, News Corp./Fox, San Diego Padres, Time Warner
  • VIKINGS FACING FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS OF METRODOME

              Vikings President Roger Headrick spoke before the NFL
         Management Council and told members "how difficult it is for
         the Vikings to remain competitive," according to Sid Hartman
         of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Headrick was "very upset"
         when Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Henry
         Savelkoul "killed any chance of building a new multipurpose
         stadium for the Vikings and Twins," and "is equally upset"
         that officials "can't agree on a price to sell the Met
         Center land so that the Vikings ... could get some reduction
         in rent for the Metrodome."  Headrick: "I have not explored
         the possibility of the Vikings moving to Cleveland, [L.A.]
         or Houston and don't have any plans to do so.  The NFL
         doesn't want franchises to move" (STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14). 
         CNN's Peter King reported that if the Twins get a ballpark
         deal, the Vikings "will be forced to move; there's a lot of
         skepticism in that organization, whether they can last in
         Minnesota. If the Vikings move, I think there's no question
         it will be to Cleveland" ("NFL Preview," CNN, 9/14).
              NO THANKS: The Vikings "rejected" a $50,000 offer from
         WFTC-Fox to buy the remaining tickets for Sunday's game to
         lift the local blackout (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/13).
         
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Time Warner
  • WILL DON BEAVER BE THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR FOR TWINS?

              Don Beaver, who is looking to bring an MLB team to NC,
         was in Minnesota to "let Twins owner Carl Pohlad know that
         Charlotte is interested in either buying the Twins or
         encouraging Pohlad to relocate there," according to Sid
         Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Hartman: "The
         Pohlads refused to confirm Beaver's visit.  But rest assured
         Beaver spent a long time with the Pohlads."  Hartman noted
         Pohlad's "great relationship" with the Charlotte banking
         community as another possible lure (STAR TRIBUNE, 9/13).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB
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