SBD/Issue 175/Franchises

NHL Franchise Notes: Gillett Defends Habs' Tix Price Increase

With the Canadiens raising season-ticket prices 3-5% next season, Canadiens Owner George Gillett Jr. said, "If we're going to be competitive in the new NHL, we're going to have to be realistic about this, and be partners with our fans. The salary-cap increase will be more than 10[%], and our increase is [3%]. ... We try to keep our prices fair and balanced, but we're in a highly competitive market and we've got to find ways to come up with more money." Gillett added of criticisms that some of the increase could support his stake in Liverpool FC or his potential investment in Evernham Motorsports' NASCAR team, "We're not taking from Montreal to Liverpool, from Liverpool to Montreal, from NASCAR to anywhere. That's outrageous." Gillett added that the team is spending C$8-10M on revenue sharing (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/6).

ISLANDERS: On Long Island, Greg Logan reports Islanders Owner Charles Wang decided to buy out the remaining four years of C Alexei Yashin’s ten-year contract. The last four seasons of Yashin’s $87.5M deal are valued at $26.45M. Under the NHL CBA, Wang is “permitted to pay two-thirds of that amount [$17.63M] over the next eight years to buy it out.” The salary-cap hit will be “approximately $2.2[M] per season over that time” (NEWSDAY, 6/6). NEWSDAY’s Mark Herrmann writes the buyout is the “biggest victory in years for you if you are an Islanders fan who pleaded with management to do the only sensible thing.” The Islanders are “worried that this move will be construed as a bow to public pressure. Not to worry. In fact, it is just the opposite. This is a bold move toward common sense” (NEWSDAY, 6/6).

PREDATORS: In Nashville, John Glennon writes Predators fans are “approaching businesses to sell them on season tickets, buying additional season tickets, mounting petition drives and organizing a rally.” They are “trying to ensure the Predators average at least 14,000 in paid attendance next season -- and to show prospective owner Jim Balsillie there is every reason to keep an NHL team in Nashville for the long run.” A day after Owner Craig Leipold announced his intentions to sell the team to Balsillie, season-ticket holder Brian Hogue began a “Keep the Predators in Nashville” online petition, which has collected nearly 4,000 signatures. He intends to mail the petition to Balsillie and the NHL . Predators Exec VP/Business Affairs Steve Violetta said that season tickets are being renewed at “about the same pace -- around 66[%] -- that they were last year at this time.” The team ended with a renewal rate of 85-90% last year and have “similar numbers projected for this year” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/6).

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