SBD/Issue 16/Franchises

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  • Saints Draw Raucous Crowd At Alamodome, But Shy Of Sellout

    Saints Fall Short Of Sellout
    In San Antonio Opener
    A crowd of 58,688 attended yesterday’s Bills-Saints game in San Antonio, short of a sellout in the 65,000-seat Alamodome, according to David King of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. But the crowd was “impressive –- and noisy,” and Saints Owner Tom Benson “credited the ... fans for providing the emotional support that he said sparked” the team to a 19-7 win (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). One Saints official “described the percentage of season-ticket holders from New Orleans ... as ‘insignificant.’” In San Antonio, Mark Wangrin reports 8,000 tickets were supplied for evacuees and San Antonio-area relief workers (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). Benson “predict[ed] either sellouts or near capacity crowds” for the team’s two other games at the Alamodome, October 16 against the Falcons and December 24 against the Lions. Also in San Antonio, Tom Orsborn reports while just 5,000 tickets remain for the Falcons game, close to 40,000 tickets are left for the Lions game (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). In L.A., Diane Pucin notes there were “huge pockets of empty seats” at the dome (L.A. TIMES, 10/3). In Dallas, Rick Gosselin writes the crowd “was disappointing by NFL standards,” but San Antonio “doesn’t have to apologize for the size of the crowd.” The Saints “played in front of two smaller crowds last season” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/3).

    CROWD SUPPORT: CBS analyst Rich Gannon said of the crowd noise after a delay of game penalty on the Bills, “You talk about this home-field advantage. These fans are excited to have the Saints here. (The noise) obviously caused some confusion for (Bills QB J.P. Losman).” CBS’ Don Criqui said, “They really do have a home-field advantage. You can’t believe the decibel level in this building.” Gannon: “I’ve never heard a building louder.” But after Bills RB Willis McGahee ran for 25 yards on his first carry, Criqui said, “A lot of Bills fans are here” (CBS, 10/2). Saints DE Charles Grant said, “It made me feel like I was back in New Orleans again. I think that’s what we really needed” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). Benson said of the crowd, “These fans were really into it. ... They were responding to what these guys have been through, a terrible tragedy” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/3).

    Pregame Festivities At Alamodome
    Include New Orleans Flavor
    FEELS LIKE HOME: The EXPRESS-NEWS’ King reports pregame festivities included a “dash of down-home Saints flavor, from a Dixieland band ... to members of the cheerleading squad, the Saintsations, who sold calendars outside the gates,” and New Orleans native Irvin Mayfield playing the National Anthem. There was “no shortage of fans sporting Saints merchandise,” including some bootleg T-shirts that said, “San Antonio Saints.” However, licensed merchandise “wasn’t exactly sailing off the shelves.” One vendor outside the Alamodome said, “It’s been slow. We haven’t been too busy” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3).

    NOT AMERICA’S TEAM: The EXPRESS-NEWS’ Wangrin writes it “looked and sounded like a typical ... Saints game through the cameras and microphones of CBS. ... Those expecting a full-scale, advertisement for San Antonio as full-time host, though, would be disappointed.” A CBS spokesperson said that just 5% of the country saw the game locally, including “all of Louisiana, San Antonio, upstate and western New York, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and scattered stations throughout Texas” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, CBS, Detroit Lions, Franchises, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Viacom
  • McGwire Breaks Silence But Refuses To Comment On Testimony

    Mark McGwire Declines To Discuss
    Steroids In Return To Busch Stadium
    In his first public comments since testifying before Congress at a steroid hearing in March, former MLBer Mark McGwire “did not elaborate on his congressional appearance in which he repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether he had first-hand knowledge of steroid abuse in the game,” according to Joe Strauss of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. McGwire, who was at Busch Stadium Friday for a celebration of the final weekend at the ballpark, said his statements at the hearing would be “the last time I’m going to ever talk about it.” McGwire: “I’ve moved on from [it] and I wish the media would. It’s pretty simple. I made my statement in [DC].” McGwire later said, “I miss the game of baseball. And I can’t wait for someday when somebody offers me a fantastic job to get back in baseball.” Strauss noted McGwire gave a pregame interview “devoid of steroid talk” to Cardinals radio analyst Mike Shannon. FSN Midwest “expected to interview McGwire in its TV broadcast booth during Friday’s game,” but Fox sources said that they had “been instructed that questions about steroids and the March hearings were off limits,” which “led to a discussion at FSN over how to handle the situation.” But FSN Midwest GM Jack Donovan said, “He decided to sit with his family, so we never had to make any decision” (ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 10/1).

    REAX: When asked about McGwire, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, “This is a day of celebration. ... That’s the only comment I’m going to make on that subject.” Meanwhile, Selig said he has not heard from the MLBPA since the most recent Congressional hearing in DC last week (MLB.com, 10/2). In Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz wrote, “Shame on the Cardinals, and shame on [MLB] for letting the Cardinals parade a fraud before the Busch Stadium public the same week ... Selig continued to press hard against the drug enablers in the players’ union” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/2).

    LEFT OFF: The AP reported McGwire was left off the All-Time Busch Stadium Team by fans who instead voted for current Cardinal Albert Pujols at 1B (AP, 10/1).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Arizona Cardinals, Franchises, MLB, News Corp./Fox, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Inauguration: Nationals’ First Season In DC A Success

    Nationals Conclude Successful
    First Season In DC
    After the team’s inaugural season in DC, Nationals President Tony Tavares discussed the state of the franchise with Thom Loverro of the WASHINGTON TIMES. While the Nationals drew around 2.7 million fans this year, Tavares said no-shows were “a huge issue. We are going to try to address that in a resale policy in our ticketing agreement going forward. What we would be looking to do is to put our season-ticket holder in a position that if he is not using his tickets, this would give him an electronic secondary outlet to sell his tickets on.” Tavares added, “I am looking at doing more day games during the week next season, because those have been well received.” Tavares said the team’s “TV situation is one of the biggest corrections that must take place during the offseason. You need broader distribution of MASN.” More Tavares, on the playing field at RFK Stadium: “I have seen cow pastures that look better than that. It is deplorable. That is a condition that must be corrected for next season” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/1).

    WELCOME BACK: In DC, George Solomon wrote the 2.7 million attendance figure is “remarkable when you consider the club did not become operational until February and renovations to [RFK Stadium] continued through this weekend.” Also, the dispute between Comcast and MASN “greatly restricted television viewing of the games so necessary in the marketing of any sports team” (WASHINGTON POST, 10/2). In Baltimore, Jeff Barker notes the Nationals this season were among “baseball’s elite in sales of caps and other merchandise” (Baltimore SUN, 10/3). In a front-page piece in Sunday’s WASHINGTON POST, Barry Svrluga looked back upon the Nationals’ ’05 season. Nationals CF Brad Wilkerson said of MLB’s sale of the team, “I hope they get off their butts and start moving (on ownership), because I think [DC] ... could be one of the top four or five places to play in the whole major leagues. But I think having [MLB] owning this team, there’s still a cloud over the team’s head, where a lot of things can’t move in the right direction to make it the best it can possibly be” (WASHINGTON POST, 10/2). A WASHINGTON TIMES editorial states that while “off-the-field uncertainty looms” concerning a new ballpark and new owner, “We’ll address those problems moving forward. For now, it’s time to savor a season well played and a banner year for baseball’s return to Washington” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/1).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, MLB, Washington Nationals
  • MLB’s Vital Signs Look Strong As ’05 Regular Season Ends

    MLB concluded its regular season yesterday and the league’s TV ratings “have been strong” while its Internet properties “are robust,” according to Jeff Blair of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The league set a single-season attendance record with four days remaining, though the increase “was fuelled chiefly by growth in the larger cities and by moving the Expos to [DC]. Beyond that, half of baseball’s 30 teams went into the final weekend staring at attendance decreases, and questions remain about the long-term viability of” the D’Rays and Marlins. The issue of steroids “provided the backdrop to the 2005 season and will continue to do so now that the attention of the national media will focus on the game” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/3).

    Adding High-Priced Talent Does Not
    Lead To Playoffs For Some Teams
    CAN’T BUY ME PLAYOFFS: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker noted none of the four teams that “set the pace in last winter’s spending binge” — the D’Backs, Dodgers, Mariners and Mets –-made the postseason. Braves President Terry McGuirk, on last winter’s spending: “We were horrified — as was the commissioner, as were many of the owners.” McGuirk added, “The efficiency of the dollars spent for performance received is maybe the lowest in the last five years. Just abysmal” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/2).

    AROUND THE HORN: With the season coming to a close, THE DAILY presents a round-up of news from MLB franchises:

    ANGELS: USA TODAY’s Jorge Ortiz writes of the Angels, “What used to be an undistinguished club forever in the shadow of [the Dodgers] has become a model franchise.” Angels P Jarrod Washburn said signing big-name free agents and having a stable coaching staff and owner “really opens players’ eyes around the league and they say, ‘Hey, looks like a place where I want to play’” (USA TODAY, 10/3). In a separate piece, Ortiz notes the city of Anaheim, which is suing the Angels over their name change, is “manifesting support for the team in message boards and banners, issuing a proclamation and encouraging employees to wear red,” though a city news release on Friday “repeatedly referred to the team” as the “Anaheim Angels” (USA TODAY, 10/3).

    City Of Anaheim Supporting Angels
    Despite Pending Lawsuit
    BLUE JAYS: In Toronto, Larry Millson reports the Blue Jays sold 2,014,995 tickets in ’05, marking the third consecutive year attendance has increased and the first time since ’99 that the club has surpassed two million. There is also a “possibility of the payroll being bumped to about” $80M next season from the $50M area “where it has hovered in recent years” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/3).

    D’RAYS: In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin reports the agreement for D’Rays Managing General Partner Vince Naimoli to hand control of the team to General Partner Stuart Sternberg “has been finalized.” Naimoli “will retain a title and perhaps an office.” One of Sternberg’s first moves “is expected to be the dismissal of” GM Chuck LaMar (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/3). Also in St. Petersburg, John Romano writes, “It is difficult to overstate the importance of this transaction. ... For the first time in years, there is a chance for reconciliation between a franchise and a community” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/3). Meanwhile, the D’Rays finished last in MLB in attendance this season for the first time, drawing just 1,141,669, the third-smallest figure in club history. The D’Rays were last in the AL for the fifth straight season (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/3).

    GIANTS: The Giants’ final attendance of 3,181,023 was their lowest in six seasons (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/3).

    MARINERS: In Seattle, Bob Finnigan reports the Mariners, despite a 69-93 record, ranked fourth in the AL in attendance with 2,725,459, or 33,648 per game, trailing only the Yankees (50,502), Angels (42,033) and Red Sox (35,167) (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/3). But also in Seattle, Larry Stone notes average attendance has fallen 10,000 per game, or nearly 25%, since ’01. Season tickets have dropped from 21,000 to 17,000 (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/3).

    Loria Declines To Discuss
    Marlins’ Financial Losses
    MARLINS: Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria declined to specify how much money the team will lose this season, saying, “If I tell you, I’ll be on the ground horizontally. It’s not pretty” (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 10/1). Loria, on the team’s quest for a new ballpark: “I keep hearing people say we don’t need a roof. We do need a roof. ... Would you be happy having your office outside on the lawn? You can’t run a business out in the lawn, and the same thing goes for a baseball team” (PALM BEACH POST, 10/1). In Ft. Lauderdale, Rodriguez & Berardino note Marlins manager Jack McKeon resigned following Sunday’s game, but he will remain as a special advisor to Loria “unless he’s offered another managerial job” (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 10/3).

    METS: The Mets’ final attendance of 2,829,929 was their largest since ’89 (Adam Rubin, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/3).

    PIRATES: Pirates Managing General Partner Kevin McClatchy in a letter in newspaper ads and on the team’s Web site stated the club’s ’06 payroll will increase to the “upper $40[M] range,” and in Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic noted that would represent an increase of $11-14M. McClatchy said that the decision “was based mostly on the 15[%] rise in attendance” from 1.58 million to 1.8 million. He added that the unspent $5M from the club’s self-imposed limit of $40M this season “is being counted” toward next year. McClatchy: “Anybody who’s out there saying we intentionally tried not to spend money, quite frankly, has no idea what they’re talking about” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/2).

    RANGERS: In Ft. Worth, Kathleen O’Brien reports the Rangers’ attendance this season was 2,525,221, up from 2,513,685 in ’04. However, average attendance was down because the club had 80 home dates with one double-header in ‘05 compared to 79 home dates with two double-headers last year. Rangers Owner Tom Hicks said that revenues “were up marginally,” while President Jeff Cogen added that it was “a profitable year” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/3). In Dallas, Richard Durrett notes the Rangers’ season-ticket and group-sales numbers were up in ’05. Cogen: “We lost the momentum from last season starting in July. You have to sell tickets a certain way whether the team’s winning or losing. We didn’t do a good enough job” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/3).

    REDS: In Cincinnati, John Fay reported the Reds’ attendance of 1,943,157 was down 344,093 from ’04 and was the lowest since ’02, the year before the team moved into Great American Ball Park. With the “drop in attendance and [$15.2M] rise in payroll, [the Reds] are likely to lose money this year.” The team’s payroll was $61.8M at the beginning of this season, and GM Dan O’Brien said of ’06, “Early indications are it will be in the neighborhood of where we are now” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/1).

    YANKEES: In N.Y., Murray Chass noted Yankees VP & Special Advisor to the General Partners Gene Michael has been “shut out of personnel and scouting matters” in favor of VP/Scouting Damon Oppenheimer. The “prevailing view” is that Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner gave Oppenheimer the assignment “because Oppenheimer wanted it and because the Tampa office, where friction has developed with Michael, believed that it could do a better job. In addition, Steinbrenner was more comfortable with his Tampa people and had grown uncomfortable with Michael” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/2).

    Print | Tags: LA Angels, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cablevision, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Rangers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Southwest Sports Group, Texas Rangers, Time Warner, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, YankeeNets
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