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SBD/Issue 163/FranchisesPrint All
Smulyan’s Pursuit Of Dodgers Likely Over
Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan said that his bid to buy the Dodgers along with several TV stations "likely has ended." Smulyan: "We have ongoing discussions, but I think (News Corp.) will probably sell the team separately" (J.K. Wall, INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/19).
HOCKEY NEWS: In L.A., Ralph Frammolino, in a front-page report, examines the "soaring cost of hockey sticks" with the advent of composite metal sticks. The Kings "shelled out $57,000 more this year" for sticks than last year. The Wild paid an additional $75,000 and the Mighty Ducks an extra $100,000 (L.A. TIMES, 5/19)....In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported that the Wild's postseason run "resulted in the team's season-ticket waiting list surpassing 7,000, longest in the NHL." The Mighty Ducks' waiting list "is up to approximately 1,000" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/18)....In N.Y., Larry Brooks reported that Blue Jackets Owner John McConnell told Doug MacLean to be "prepared to continue in his dual role of GM and coach next season," as the Blue Jackets "see no value in making significant changes while anticipating a 2004-2005 league shutdown" (N.Y. POST, 5/18).
WHO'S THE BOSS?: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted that MSG's "Angles" recently explored the role of team owners, and wrote, "conspicuously left out of this conversation" was Cablevision CEO James Dolan. While Cablevision was "mentioned, along with other large corporations that own sports franchises, Dolan's performance as Knicks and Rangers boss was not analyzed." Host Curt Menefee gave Westchester Journal-News columnist Ian O'Connor "an opening" to discuss Dolan, when he asked "specifically about 'local' ownership." O'Connor did not mention Dolan. Raissman: "Was this an oversight? Or were Menefee and O'Connor reluctant to criticize Dolan on his own network?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/18).
Charlotte NBA expansion franchise Owner Robert Johnson appeared on CNN's "The Novak Zone" Saturday to discuss becoming the first African-American majority owner in pro sports and said, "Is it going to be a big change? Not really, because the fact that ... That I had the money to buy the franchise was necessary. This was not a minority gift. This was a business acquisition that I made out of money I had. But I do believe, though, that the cost of sports involvement so much with minority players on the field, ... you're going to see more diversity in the front office of the NBA, all of the leagues." Johnson, on his efforts with Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder to bring MLB to DC: "I'm taking more of the lead on that. Dan is supportive, but it's really my lead on it. The issue for me for baseball is, (one), the city must put up the money for the stadium. This is what happened in Charlotte. ... DC must come up with the money for the stadium, and they can either do that by building a new stadium or by completely refurbishing RFK (Stadium), which I think would be cheaper. The second is baseball must sell the [Expos] based on its current value or some portion of the team at its current value, not on what would be the perceived new value if it were in a brand-new stadium" ("The Novak Zone," CNN, 5/17).
MR. MORENO: In Seattle, Larry Stone wrote new Angels Owner Arturo Moreno's "ascension is viewed as a welcome symbol of progress and success for Latinos." Mariners Spanish-language announcer Amaury Pi-Gonzalez said, "With a new Latino owner of a [MLB] team, our profile grows ever larger." Stone added, "Baseball has professed to be committed to the advancement of minorities in positions of power. But, despite the directives from commissioner Bud Selig, progress at the highest levels has been slow" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/18).
In San Antonio, Amy Dorsett reported that the available tickets for Games One and Two of the Mavs-Spurs Western Conference Finals sold out in 45 minutes (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/17). The Spurs are not selling tickets for the Western Conference Finals "to anyone north of Austin, a move that Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban doesn't agree with." Cuban: "It's just not the right thing to do. It's not fair to the other owners. Every ticket sold helps me pay for the luxury tax" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/18). Cuban estimated the Mavs would gross $1.2M from Saturday's Game Seven against the Kings (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/18).
SIR CHARLES: In Sacramento, Scott Howard-Cooper reported that TNT analyst Charles Barkley "confirmed that he has held discussions with at least one team about joining the front office as a personnel executive." The team was not identified, and it is unclear "whether Barkley would make roster decisions or be more of a figurehead for a franchise needing a publicity boost" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/18).
HEAD OF THE CLASS? In Portland, Jim Beseda profiled Trail Blazers Exec VP Erin Hubert, who "is the leading candidate to succeed Bob Whitsitt as team president." Blazers Owner Paul Allen "plans to hire two people — a president to handle the business side, and a [GM] to deal with basketball-related issues." If Hubert becomes President, "her duties wouldn't change significantly from what she does now. The biggest difference is that she would have a hand in overseeing players' salaries, coaches' salaries and the other expenses that go with running the basketball side of the operation." Hubert: "It got kind of separate there for a while — the whole basketball side of things from the front office side. That's typical in sports ... but I don't think it's healthy for business. I think most teams are figuring that out, and they're all trying to find how better to bridge the two sides" (OREGONIAN, 5/18).
Sharks Sink Their Teeth Into Ticket Pricing
The Sharks announced that prices for full or partial ticket packages will remain the same in '03-04, but prices on individual tickets will rise $1-4, according to David Pollak of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, who noted that season-ticket prices "failed to go up for the first time since 1996 and only the second time ever." Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said the team "heard feedback from fans who felt there was the sense that, 'I'm a season-ticket holder. I make a commitment to you. Shouldn't there be a price differential for me?'" Bordelon added the single-game price increase was necessary because "even a projected $10[M] drop from last season's $49[M] payroll 'doesn't meet the financial needs of our company.'" Bordelon: "We do project losses this year and next year under this scenario." After fans complained that the safety netting "obstructed some views," the team said that it will not extend safety netting to the upper bowl next season, and that the netting will be thinner and hang "in a square — not diamond — pattern" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/18).