SBD/Issue 47/Franchises

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  • Yankees, A-Rod Reportedly Near Deal; Scott Boras Not Involved

    Rodriguez Holds Contract Talks
    With Yankees Without His Agent
    Free agent 3B Alex Rodriguez and his wife met yesterday with Yankees Senior VP Hank Steinbrenner and Yankee Global Enterprises Chair Hal Steinbrenner in Tampa without agent Scott Boras, and a deal “could soon be in place that would pay Rodriguez about $270[M] for the next 10 years,” according to Kepner & Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. Acting on the advice of Boras, Rodriguez opted out of his previous contract, but he “recently informed the Yankees through common friends at Goldman Sachs that he was reconsidering his stance.” While Boras is advising Rodriguez in the talks, he is “not dealing personally with the Yankees.” Hank Steinbrenner said, “That’s completely up to the player. … I, at no time, told Boras he can’t be there.” The “lukewarm market” Rodriguez has found for his services during the free agent period so far was "one of the reasons Rodriguez came back to the Yankees, and another was his business empire," including a real-estate business, a Mercedes-Benz dealership and various endorsements, as he “believes he can maximize those assets by staying a Yankee” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15). In N.Y., George King reports Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitch Modell is thought to be the third party through which Rodriguez contacted the Yankees. Rodriguez “hasn’t divorced himself” from Boras, and a team official said that a report saying the Yankees "don't want to negotiate with Boras ... wasn’t true.” The official added telling an agent he cannot be part of the negotiating process is “against the rules” (N.Y. POST, 11/15).

    IS A DEAL IMMINENT? SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports a ten-year, $280M contract, that can reach over $300M with incentives, “is expected to be completed in the next day or two” (SI.com, 11/15). A source said that terms of a deal “have been reached, although contract language still must be hammered out before anything can be made official.” A Yankees official said that he believes Rodriguez is “trying to restore his image, which has taken a beating” since he opted out (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15). YES Network announcer John Sterling cited a source as saying the deal is “done, or it’s going to get done.” Sterling added Rodriguez “admitted that it was a mistake to opt out of the contract, and that they should have signed with the Yankees right away” (XM Radio, 11/14).

    Many Feel Boras 
    Mishandled A-Rod Situation
    EMBARRASSING DEVELOPMENT FOR BORAS: ESPN’s Buster Olney said the Yankees “cannot, by baseball rules, push the agent aside, but there’s no question the way this has played out, it’s a tremendous hit for Scott Boras within the industry. … Other agents and executives really believe Scott misplayed the situation” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/14).  In N.Y., Murray Chass writes that unless Rodriguez is conspiring with Boras, he is “repudiating Boras by letting the team know he would negotiate a contract without him.” Rodriguez “clearly came to the conclusion that he had made a mistake and had accepted bad advice from Boras” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15). In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes under the header “Boras Deals With Embarrassment.” Boras opened Rodriguez up to “ridicule by announcing his free agency during the final game of the World Series, a dramatic step toward a $300[M] offer that never surfaced, at least not publicly.” Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said, “Not only was it a misread of the market, it was a complete strategic blunder to put A-Rod in that situation” (L.A. TIMES, 11/15). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes Boras "made such an ass of himself announcing that A-Rod was opting out [during the World Series] that even he apologized afterward."  Boras also made a "bad chess move refusing to meet with the Yankees" after the club offered a five-year extension in October (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/15). 

    BORAS' INVOLVEMENT: However, on Long Island, Wallace Matthews writes under the header, “A-Rod’s Call To Yankees Just A Negotiating Ploy.” Matthews: “When it comes time to really talk dollars, you can bet Scott Boras will be involved” (NEWSDAY, 11/15). Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan: “There’s no way this deal gets done without Boras in the room” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 11/14). WFAN’s Sweeny Murti said the Yankees will "talk directly to Alex, when they make the money offer. And what Alex is going to do, he obviously needs some legal advice, so he’s going to talk to Scott on his own and just kind of work some numbers here and there. But Scott is not going to directly talk to the Yankees and drive this bus anymore” ("Mike & the Mad Dog, YES, 11/14).

    THE NEW YANKEES HIERARCHY: In N.Y., John Harper writes under the header, “Hank Steinbrenner’s Stance Caught A-Rod, Boras Off Guard.” The “one development that [Rodriguez] didn’t see coming, the one that caused him to finally stand up to [Boras] and go looking to make things right with the Yankees, was the emergence of Hank Steinbrenner as the new Boss.” A source who talked to Rodriguez said, “Boras had been telling him not to worry about what [GM] Brian Cashman was saying about the opt-out, partly because they knew they had [Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner] on their side. But then Alex saw the shift in power, with the Steinbrenner sons taking over, and here was Hank saying ‘Goodbye, we don’t want you if you don’t want to be a Yankee’” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15).  MLB.com’s Mike Bauman wrote if Rodriguez re-signs with the Yankees, it “will signal that the younger Steinbrenner generation, … apparently now in power, will be every bit as aggressive as their father in pursuing talent” (MLB.com, 11/14). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, “No one was willing to play poker with Boras, and that is surely the biggest reason A-Rod sought out the Steinbrenner family.” Sources said that Rodriguez “was stunned at the ugly backlash that greeted the news he was opting out” (N.Y. POST, 11/15). In N.Y., George Vecsey writes Boras “went too far, and Rodriguez did not seem to understand any of the implications of putting the squeeze on the Yankees” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15).

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  • Braves' Revenue Rising; Payroll Expected To Increase

    Braves Owner Liberty Media revealed in an SEC filing this week that the team had “robust revenue and cash flow last season,” and Braves Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk said that the club was “profitable and will spend ‘many millions more’ on next year’s player payroll,” according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Liberty said that the Braves generated $101M in revenue and $34M in operating cash flow for the three-month period that ended September 30. That brings the Braves’ revenue to $151M and operating cash flow to $46M since Liberty acquired the franchise in May. While McGuirk said that the figures “represent a ‘snapshot’ from the 4½ high-revenue months and reflect a ‘wildly skewed’ picture of the Braves’ year-round financial performance,” he acknowledged the Braves are in a “very healthy state right now.” McGuirk: “The team has gone … from huge losses (in 2003) to close to break-even (in 2006) to minimal profitability this year -- minimal but encouraging profitability.” The team began the '07 season with an $81M payroll, and McGuirk noted that he “doesn’t have a 2008 payroll budget.” McGuirk: “When we think we have the right team for the right money, we’re going to stop. All I can tell you is we’re going to spend more money. We’ll spend many millions of dollars more” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/15).

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  • Long Home Run: Red Sox-A's To Open '08 Season In Japan

    Birth Of Second Child Could Sideline
    Matsuzaka For Games In Japan
    The Red Sox and A’s will open the ’08 regular season March 25-26 at the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome in Japan, marking the third time MLB has opened its season in the city. The teams will also play exhibition games against Japanese teams on March 22-23. The A’s will be the designated home team for the series (MLB). Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said of the trip to Japan, "As much as [MLB] wanted us to go, we were of course concerned with what impact it would have on our players and the competitiveness of the schedule next year. So there was plenty of internal debate." In Boston, Amalie Benjamin notes the trip may conflict with the birth of Red Sox P and Japanese native Daisuke Matsuzaka's second child. Lucchino said the team is hopeful the child will be born "at such a time that will allow him to participate as well." Nonetheless, Red Sox P Hideki Okajima, also from Japan, is "an attraction in his homeland" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/15). Media corporation Yomiuri, which owns the Nippon Professional Baseball League Giants, will sponsor and host the games (MLB.com, 11/14). A source indicates that each player will receive about $50,000 for the games (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 11/15).

    OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: In Boston, Michael Silverman writes the trip, "first brought up by Japanese sponsors in late spring, never caught the imagination of Red Sox players, who were concerned primarily with the toll trans-Pacific flights can take on a body." However, there was "never enough of a groundswell of discontent to derail the plan," and MLB took steps "to make the trip less disruptive" than the '04 Yankees-D'Rays series.  Red Sox SS Alex Cora said, "We have to be good ambassadors of the game." Lucchino added, "There was a serious effort to adjust the schedule to allow for a more comfortable re-entry" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/15).  The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, on whether playing the season opener in Japan will hurt the Red Sox: “I think it can. The team will probably have to leave around March 19-20. To me, that’s a peak time. … You have to play competitive games almost a week before you normally do."  Cafardo added, "People look forward to going to spring training, and now you’re cutting off a couple of weeks. … People probably already have their vacations, they’re already booked” ("The Globe 10.0," NESN, 11/14). A's GM Billy Beane said the trip "is great for baseball, and what's great for baseball is great for the A's. There aren't reasons not to pursue an opportunity like this. They're giving us more than ample time to prepare, before and after the trip. The game is going global. Any attempt to restrict that is shortsighted" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/15).

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  • Price Of Victory: Red Sox Increasing '08 Tickets 9%

    Red Sox Raising Ticket Prices
    By 9% For Next Season
    The Red Sox, who last season had the most expensive tickets in MLB, are increasing their prices for the '08 season by 9%, as the team decided "it needed more revenue to fund everything from Fenway Park improvements to free agents to draftees," according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. Benjamin reports, "Just about every spot in the park now will have at least a few dollars added to help pay for the 2008 Fenway improvements," projected at $40-45M. Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said, "We need revenue to fuel the vision ... for a competitive, entertaining, winning team year in and year out ... and to preserve, protect, enhance, improve Fenway Park." The Red Sox have sold out 388 consecutive regular season games  Red Sox VP/Marketing & Sales Sam Kennedy said the team is "very cognizant of [the Yankees] and the revenue opportunities that they have" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/15).  Also in Boston, Jerry Kronenberg reports the Red Sox are raising the price of field box seats 19%, lower bleachers 13%, loge box seats 5.9% and grandstand, right-field and right-field roof box seats 11.1%.  However, the team will not increase the $12 upper bleacher seats, the $20 standing-room-only tickets, the $25 Conigliaro's Corner and pavilion standing-room-only space and the $90 pavilion box seats. Red Sox Exec VP Charles Steinberg said, "We're eager to keep seats that are [$12-20] affordable for as many people as possible." Team Marketing Report's Jon Greenberg said he expects a 3% ticket increase throughout MLB (BOSTON HERALD, 11/15).

    FAN REAX: Season-ticket holder Jon Freedman said of the price increase, "It's pretty disgusting, but I'm not surprised. But you know, if I don't buy them, there are at least 1,000 people who will." Another season-ticket holder, Joe O'Donnell, who was part of a local group that attempted to buy the team in '02, said, "I don't have a problem with it." Season-ticket holder Steve Garvin added, "As long as they find better players, I'm all in favor of it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/15).

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  • Texas Not Hold 'Em: Lites Gets New Role With Hicks' Changes

    Hicks Shakes Up Stars Front
    Office With Executive Changes
    Former Stars President Jim Lites, who yesterday stepped down from his position with the team, will "expand his role as the point man" on several projects for Stars and MLB Rangers Owner Tom Hicks and his Hicks Marketing Group, according to Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  Lites will focus on the new stadium for the  English Premier League's Liverpool, of which Hicks is an owner, and for a new $55M minor league hockey arena in Austin that Hicks is trying to build. Lites is also "expected to do more with Hicks' portion of the Glorypark development around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/15).  Jeff Cogen stepped down from his role as President of the Rangers to replace Lites at the Stars, and Hicks indicated that he is "in no hurry to hire" a replacement for Cogen.  MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reported the Rangers' business side will be run by Exec VP/Communications & PR Jim Sundberg, Exec VP/Business Operations Rick McLaughlin, Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Andrew Silverman and CFO Kellie Fischer. Dan Fine will continue to oversee the Rangers' team store in Dallas, Chuck Morgan will still direct in-park entertainment and Hicks Holdings COO Casey Shilts and VP Tom Hicks Jr. will "continue to play major roles in the Rangers' overall operations" (MLB.com, 11/14).

    Hull (r) Taking Over Co-GM Role With Stars
    CLOUD COVERING: In Ft. Worth, Jennifer Floyd Engel writes the Stars have "a disillusioned and shrinking fan base, apathy from all except diehard precincts, empty [American Airlines Center] seats, playoff disappointments and a mediocre start to this season." But the firing of GM Doug Armstrong and the re-assignment of Lites "absolutely ... begin[s] to clean up" the situation. Engel writes, "Just a guess, but Hicks, like his Stars ticket-buying public, didn't take kindly to Lites' 'we're not dumb, we haven't fallen asleep' letter to Stars season ticket holders. Neither did Stars players" (FT. WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 11/15). Special Advisor Brett Hull and Assistant GM Les Jackson were named co-GMs to replace Armstrong, and in Calgary, Scott Morrison writes Hicks putting Hull "in a more prominent role gives the distinct public impression the Stars are going in a different -- perhaps bolder -- direction." Morrison: "Add to that a marketer taking over as team president and Hicks has certainly changed the dynamic of his club" (CALGARY SUN, 11/15). SI.com's Allan Muir wrote while Armstrong "was the very definition of stoic, Hull is boisterous, and one of the game's great personalities. If the organization was looking for someone who can capture the attention of a disinterested local media, as well as fire up the faithful, Brett Hull is the ideal candidate" (SI.com, 11/14).

    ENGLISH RIFT? In London, James Ducker reported Liverpool has "dismissed suggestions that a rift has developed" between co-Owners Hicks and George Gillet, over funding for their proposed US$823M stadium. Liverpool CEO Rick Parry said, "I have just spent a couple of days with Tom and George. Both of them were in good spirits, working hard together on their future plans for the club" (LONDON TIMES, 11/14).

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  • More Than 3,000 Fans Submit Deposits For Seattle MLS Tickets

    More than 3,000 fans have submitted $50 per-seat deposits on season tickets for Seattle’s new MLS franchise that was officially announced Tuesday, according to Matthew Gaschk of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. The yet-to-be-named team’s co-Owner and GM Adrian Hanauer said, “This is what we were hoping for, but we didn’t know exactly what to expect. To hear that so many people responded just within the first 30 hours shows me that this is going to be a success.” Hanauer said that he “doesn’t expect the initial boom in ticket sales to last long, but does think there will be a steady stream of new tickets sold in the coming months.” Meanwhile, co-Owner Joe Roth “expressed interest” in signing U.S. national team and Premier League club Fulham G Kasey Keller, who is from the Seattle area and has indicated he wants to return there to finish his career (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 11/14).

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