SBD/Issue 21/Franchises

Franchise Notes

NFL's Newer Facilities Cutting Out
"Boorish" Fans, Fewer Incidents Reported
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Mark Yost reports the NFL has found that "newer, more upscale stadiums price out some of the more boorish fans." Eagles Senior VP/Business Operations Mark Donovan said when the team moved into Lincoln Financial Field in '03, the Eagles "not only saw a sharp drop in incidents the first year, but have seen a steady decline every year since." Observers said that the "atmosphere at the Linc is completely different from that at the Vet." Yost notes the biggest factor in the turnaround "has been the new security procedures," as Lincoln Financial Field "was the first NFL stadium to have a text-messaging system that allows fans to anonymously report trouble." Meanwhile, the Bills "are aware of the Eagles text-messaging system and would like to have it, but they simply haven't budgeted for it." Instead, the Bills have relied "on old-fashioned shame: publishing the names of those arrested at Bills games in the local paper" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/14).

TV OR NOT TV? In Dallas, Diego Aparicio reports MLS FC Dallas, for "the first time since the team moved into Pizza Hut Park in 2005," has seen average home attendance decline during the '08 season to 13,023 from 15,145 in '07, which was "the club's all-time best in the 20,500-seat facility." FC Dallas ranks 13th in MLS in average attendance, and President & GM Michael Hitchcock said that "the sagging economy, rising gas prices and competition with other events were general factors." But Hitchcock "cited television coverage as a major reason for declining ticket sales." Hitchcock: "We are very grateful to receive the exposure through the national television partners. But if you look for us right now at our stage and development as a team in this marketplace, Saturday night is the best night for us to sell the market. It's better than Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings." Aparicio notes every FC Dallas game was broadcast on TV "for the first time this year" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/14).

INSIDE JOB: Redskins Exec VP/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato announced on his radio show yesterday morning that the team cut P Durant Brooks. Washington Post reporter Liz Clarke said the announcement put Redskins coach Jim Zorn "in a horrible position for the main personnel guy, Vinny, to make news on his radio show." Clarke: "My understanding of the division of labor in any football team is the GM … gets the players and once the season starts it’s the coach who decides who’s cut or not. It’s kind of simple, and for the GM to go on the radio and basically say, ‘We’ve cut this guy,’ that does a disservice to Jim Zorn" ("Washington Post Live," CSN, 10/13).

A SIMPLE THANK YOU: In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt reported Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio "sent out an open letter to thank all the fans for their support this year and to reflect" on the season. The letter appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "in what amounted to a two-page ad," and is also posted on the Brewers Web site (, 10/13).

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