SBD/Issue 169/FranchisesPrint All
Incoming Predators Owner Does Little
To Assuage Relocation Fears
MONEY LOST: Leipold said that despite the league’s new revenue-sharing plan, the Predators had lost $27M over the last two seasons (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/25). In a letter to season-ticket holders, he wrote, “When the franchise began, I said we would run it as a business in order to be successful. ... We indicated that making a huge profit was not a top priority — but we certainly didn’t make plans to lose a significant amount either” (Predators).
SPONSOR SUPPORT: In Nashville, Chas Sisk reports “several major sponsors of the [Predators] said Thursday that they planned to step up efforts to promote the team to local businesses in a bid to keep” the club from moving. Sommet Group Managing Partner Brian Whitfield, whose company last week bought naming rights to the team’s arena, said, “I’ve already had some folks calling me who have ideas for supporting the team.” First Tennessee Bank President Mike Edwards said that he would also “promote the team to businesses.” A survey of 12 team sponsors found that, except for Whitfield, “all of the team’s sponsors were unaware that a sale of the Predators was in the offing” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/25).
RELOCATION SITES: In Toronto, David Shoalts writes “even high-ranking NHL executives expect the Predators to be moved in two years after the out-clause” is exercised. A source close to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that Sprint Center in K.C. “is the preferred location in the short term.” But the source said that a move to Canada “is not out of the question” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/25). In Nashville, Paul Kuharsky examines potential relocation sites and notes Hamilton, Ontario, is 41 miles from Toronto, “so a team moving there would have to negotiate around complicated territorial issues” with the Maple Leafs. There is “rampant discussion” that Balsillie could build an arena in Waterloo, where RIM is located, Kitchener or Cambridge — which all have no territory issues (TENNESSEAN, 5/25). Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, who spoke with Balsillie yesterday, said, “If he chose to have it in Kitchener, we are prepared to assist in finding an appropriate site and doing what we can to make sure it gets here. He’s not at that stage yet” (FINANCIAL POST, 5/25). The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell: “I think their team is gone. You’ve got a Canadian owner who’s passionate about hockey and who has all but publicly said he wants to bring a team to Canada” (TENNESSEAN, 5/25).
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW? In Nashville, David Climer writes Leipold “couldn’t have consummated the Predators’ sale at a worse time.” The current ticket sales push “is likely to go south.” The team already raised ticket prices, and it “cannot make deep inroads in the business community” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/25).
Ducks’ Trip To Stanley Cup Finals
Expected To Boost Season-Ticket Sales
RED WINGS: Also in L.A., Helene Elliott reported the Red Wings “didn’t sell out any of nine home playoff games, ending a streak of 452 consecutive sellouts.” While the announced attendance was “often close to capacity ... the large clusters of empty seats told of an economic alienation” between the team and fans. The average regular-season Red Wings ticket was $43.13, but the cheapest first-round playoff seat cost $63. The most expensive was $144, which increased each round and topped out at $225 for the conference finals (L.A. TIMES, 5/24).
LIGHTNING: In St. Petersburg, Damian Cristodero reports the Lightning will not cut payroll next year and it “might even end up higher than last season’s $44[M].” Lightning Exec VP & GM Jay Feaster said that he believes Palace Sports & Entertainment Owner Bill Davidson “will allow payroll to go higher if the team plays well and needs to add pieces” next season (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/25).
Marvin Lewis Apologizes For Saying
Police Are “Profiling” Bengals Players
BRIGADE: The AFL Brigade will play at Sprint Center starting next season. Most ticket prices will go up, but the team is “hoping the new arena’s improved amenities will help boost falling attendance.” Front-row season tickets will cost $1,125, up from $890 currently at Kemper Arena, while end-zone season tickets will increase from $192 to $225. Some upper-level seats will remain $68 for the season. The team averaged 15,234 fans per game last year, but through six games this season, the club is averaging just 11,384 fans (K.C. STAR, 5/25). HORNETS: Hornets Owner George Shinn said the team grossed $150,000 from season-ticket renewals during the team’s draft lottery party Tuesday night. In New Orleans, John Reid reported the Hornets are “planning to utilize [G Chris] Paul and several other players in a number of events to increase the team’s fan base in New Orleans.” Paul said that he “plans to work with Saints [RB] Reggie Bush on community-related events” (TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/24).
MILLWALL FC: Chestnut Hill Ventures’ John Berylson and Demos Kouvaris have invested $2M in English third division club Millwall FC, giving them the option to acquire more than 30% of Millwall Holdings. Berylson said, “We would rather start at the ground level and go up. The Championship (second division) is our near-term goal” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25).