SBD/Issue 222/Franchises

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  • Lerner Moving Ahead With Accumulation Of Aston Villa Shares

    Lerner Looking To Take
    Aston Villa Private
    Browns Owner Randy Lerner has accumulated 56.85% of the shares in Premier League club Aston Villa through agreements reached with the team’s BOD and major shareholder Jack Petchey, “but he is anxious to take that figure to nearer 90% before proceeding” with a takeover of the team, according to Stuart James of the Manchester GUARDIAN. Many of the minority shareholders, “none of whom are believed to own more than a 1% stake,” are Aston Villa fans who are “long disenchanted with [Doug] Ellis’s tenure as chairman and eager to see a change of ownership.” Lerner’s US$118.6M takeover bid has been recommended by the BOD, and his US$1.5B personal fortune “means he is able to purchase Villa with a straight-cash bid” (Manchester GUARDIAN, 8/15). Aston Villa Shareholders Association Chair Jonathan Fear said of Lerner’s purchase, “I can see nothing but positives from it. They’re going to rebuild the club and restore it to what it was.” In London, Phil Shaw reports there will now be a three-week period “during which other groups can outbid Lerner, and Villa would consider any new bids” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/15).

    FIRST AND GOAL: In London, Peter Lansley reports Aston Villa’s share price rose 8% yesterday to a record high of US$10.16. Lerner’s bid, which was brokered by former Football League Chair Keith Harris, who also brokered Roman Abramovich’s buyout of Chelsea three years ago, offers US$10.36 per share. Aston Villa finished 16th in the Premiership last season, and only 13,000 season-ticket holders have renewed. Lerner’s “first move” yesterday was to sign manager Martin O’Neill to a five-year, US$18.9M deal. Lansley writes Lerner “will take a hands-on role as he commutes from [N.Y.], but will ask” Operations Dir Steve Stride to continue in his post. Lerner will also add three new members to the BOD, IMG Vice Chair Bob Kain, former U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Charles Krulak and Michael Martin (LONDON TIMES, 8/15).

    FOLLOWING GLAZER? Also in London, David Bond writes Lerner’s takeover “on the surface ... looks like a repeat of the Glazer family’s acquisition of Manchester United.” Lerner wants to take the team private, but his advisers said that “that is where the similarities end.” Lerner, unlike the Glazers, “does not distance himself from the [Browns’] supporters.” He watches games “not from the comfortable surroundings of the executive seats but from the press box.” Sources said that he “intends to introduce the same approach once he takes control at Villa and is likely to scrap the directors’ box completely.” Also, unlike the Glazers, Lerner is funding the purchase “with his own money” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/15). Noting Glazer’s purchase of ManU and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft’s interest last year in Liverpool FC, the INDEPENDENT’s Andrew Buncombe writes, “If Glazer was partly lured by the glamour of United and Kraft was interested in Liverpool’s ‘brand,’ can the same be said of Lerner and his ... bid for Villa?” (INDEPENDENT, 8/15).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Browns, English Premier League, Franchises, IMG, Manchester United, New England Patriots
  • MLB Franchise Notes: Tigers Auctioning Off Prime Tickets

    Tigers Auctioning Off
    Premium Tickets On Web Site

    In Detroit, Fred Girard reports the Tigers are auctioning off a four-ticket On-Deck Circle package for every remaining home game this year at detroittigers.com and ticketmaster.com as part of a “burgeoning trend to recoup some of the revenue lost to scalpers and honest re-sellers alike in the secondary market.” The inaugural auction, which ended yesterday, drew a winning bid of $480 for Thursday’s Rangers-Tigers game. The Tigers and Dodgers, who are holding their debut auction tomorrow, become the sixth and seventh teams to hold ticket auctions (DETROIT NEWS, 8/15). Meanwhile, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports the Tigers have sold about 2,000 season tickets for ’07 “just to assure playoff seats.” Tigers TV analyst Rod Allen said, “I remember I used to have tickets from time to time, and I couldn’t give them away. Now, I can’t go anywhere without people asking for tickets” (USA TODAY, 8/15).

    DODGERS: The Dodgers have sold over 3.5 million tickets this year, marking the fastest they have hit that level since ’92 (Dodgers). In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted the team is on pace to sell 3.7 million. The Dodgers drew a record 3,608,881 in ’82, though NL attendance at the time was measured “by tickets used rather than tickets sold.” The club expects higher attendance next year “in part because the 2007 schedule tentatively includes” a visit from the Red Sox and a weekend visit from the Cubs (L.A. TIMES, 8/14).

    ORIOLES: The Orioles averaged 26,920 fans per game through their first 61 home games this season, down 19.3% from 33,343 in ’05. In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow writes since Cal Ripken Jr. retired following the ’01 season, “many fans feel the Orioles haven’t had a wide array of cornerstone players to draw crowds in.” Also, last year’s “midseason meltdown,” the firing of manager Lee Mazzilli and Rafael Palmeiro’s positive steroid test “put a black eye on the team for many fans” (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/11).

    NOTES: The Red Sox last night passed the 2 million mark in attendance in 56 games, the fastest in club history. The team reached the milestone in 57 games last year. Last night was the team’s 282nd straight sellout (BOSTON HERALD, 8/15)....The White Sox on Saturday drew their 17th straight sellout and the 37th of the season, both club records (DAILY SOUTHTOWN, 8/13)....Blue Jays President Paul Godfrey expects the team’s home attendance this season to total 2.3-2.5 million, the highest figure since 2.45 million in ’98. In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes the “best news for the franchise is that actual revenue derived from tickets sold is way up because they have not discounted as many tickets as in the past” (TORONTO STAR, 8/15).

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Cablevision, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Rangers, Southwest Sports Group, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Franchise Notes

    Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said that sales of season-ticket packages for the ’06-07 season “have increased about 60[%] from last year.” Rutherford: “With the season-ticket base we have now, we have a chance to average 15,000 [fans per game] or more.” The Hurricanes last season averaged 15,596 fans per game at the RBC Center, which has a hockey capacity of 18,730 (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/14).

    CORDIAL RECIPE: In New Orleans, John DeShazier writes Hornets Owner George Shinn is “working fast, furious and overtime to repair an image that has taken a beating in New Orleans for the past seven or eight months.” He “received approval from the NBA office to have the Hornets play their regular-season home opener in New Orleans,” and the team is “doing what it can to hold at least a week of training camp” in the city. Shinn “has taken a pounding in these parts, much of it earned. But for looking for ways to bring back the Hornets to New Orleans this season, if only for snippets of time and with obvious motives, he can take a pat on the back” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 8/15).

    VIKING QUEST: In St. Paul, Laura Billings notes the policies put in place by new Vikings coach Brad Childress include a training camp autograph policy with “an orderly schedule for fans to get autographs from different position groups, a strategy Childress hoped would ... ensure that people will be ‘able to get autographs in a safe environment.’” Another policy “demands that photographers ‘halt immediately’ their documentation of an injured player and his subsequent treatment” by medical staff. A Vikings spokesperson said that that was “put in place ‘out of sensitivity’ to the injured player.” Childress also banned hazing of first-year players (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/15).

    Print | Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Franchises, Gale Force Holdings, Minnesota Vikings, NBA, New Orleans Pelicans
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