SBD/Issue 112/Franchises

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  • Glendale Denies Report That Coyotes Will Receive $15M Break

    Coyotes President Says Glendale, Team And
    NHL Still In Middle Of Negotiations
    Glendale city officials Thursday "blasted" a report claiming that the city agreed to give the Coyotes a $15M break on a new Jobing.com Arena lease, according to Watters & Sanders of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Glendale city officials "vehemently denied the story, saying 'the statement about a $15[M] concession is completely inaccurate.'" Coyotes President & COO Doug Moss said Glendale, the team and the NHL are "still in the middle of negotiations" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/27). SPORTSNET.ca cited sources as saying that Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes "has had three separate out of state groups show interest with one already making a formal offer." An NHL source said that they "hope to have a new ownership group finalized by the 2009 NHL entry draft in Montreal" (SPORTSNET.ca, 2/25).

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  • Nats Officially Shift Dominican Operations As Fallout Continues

    Nationals Officially Fire Rijo In
    Fallout From Prospect Scandal
    The Nationals Thursday officially "abandoned the training facility" in the Dominican Republic and fired Special Assistant Jose Rijo, "all part of the fallout" from the Esmailyn Gonzalez situation, according to Svrluga & Harlan of the WASHINGTON POST. While Nationals President Stan Kasten Thursday said that the team's Dominican prospects will "move into a different facility on Monday," the recent events leave "significant questions about the direction of the franchise's efforts" in the Dominican Republic. In addition, there are "almost as many questions about" Nationals GM Jim Bowden, "whose future Kasten did not address directly and whose relationship with Rijo goes back nearly two decades" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/27). In DC, Mark Zuckerman cites team and MLB sources as saying that a "portion of the Nationals' ownership group is pushing for Bowden to be fired by the end of the weekend." The sources indicated that "no final decision has been made about Bowden's future," and Bowden "continues to have a handful of supporters within ownership, most notably" Mark Lerner. Nationals employees said that they are "working under the assumption" that Bowden "won't survive and they expect a change will be made." Team and league sources said that if Bowden is fired, "expect the Nationals to promote" Assistant GM Mike Rizzo on an interim basis (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/27).

    CAUGHT IN A RUNDOWN: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes amid "this mess, the right man has been given more authority" -- Rizzo. Kasten Thursday praised Rizzo for "relocating the Nats' entire operation in the Dominican Republic -- from one baseball complex to another -- in a 72-hour whirlwind of logistical, legal and leg work." Boswell added, "What engulfs the Nats these days seems like pure pain and embarrassment. And it is. But, mixed in, is progress" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/27). But in Philadelphia, Paul Hagen writes under the header, "Nationals Making Headlines For All The Wrong Reasons." The FBI investigation into the alleged skimming of bonuses paid to Dominican prospects is a "nasty, ugly mess," and it will "get only nastier, uglier and messier." While "nobody thinks the Nationals are the only team with baseball people who funneled off money intended for the players," there "probably isn't a franchise less ready to withstand this sort of spotlight" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/27).

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  • Lightning Co-Owners Facing Criticism During First Season

    Writer Feels Some Of Lightning Ownership 
    Group's Actions Create Impression Of Distress
    Len Barrie and Oren Koules buying the Lightning “seemed solid" at the outset, but "just five months into their ownership there is an unmistakable odour" around the team, according to Ed Willes of the Vancouver PROVINCE. While much of what has happened to the team on-ice “has been beyond their control,” it is the “other stuff that isn’t as easily dismissed." There have been stories about "financing and payrolls and papered houses and Barrie’s personal finances," as well as reports Lightning and arena employees are "being charged for parking." Those type of reports are "eroding the franchise’s credibility,” and creating the "impression of a franchise in distress.” It is “hard to know where the truth ends and fiction begins” with the Lightning.” When the club won the Stanley Cup in '04, it "seemed to be the one Sunbelt franchise poised for long-term success," but they currently are "just another trouble spot in a league which has enough trouble spots" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/27).

    LIGHTNING CUTTING PRICES: The Lightning plan to reduce prices for nearly 90% of '09-10 season tickets. Most of the ticket prices will drop by 8-12%, with an overall average decrease of 10%. Prices in some terrace level seats will drop by 80%. Half-season and 10-game mini plan prices are decreasing as well, with single-game ticket prices yet to be determined. The team Friday will mail its season-ticket renewal forms. Koules cited the economy, arena size and on-ice performance for the price drop (Lightning).

    CAPITAL GAINS: Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis said the team next year could sell "15,000 season tickets" sold at Verizon Center. Leonsis: "That's an enormous amount of season tickets. That would guarantee every game's a sellout." Leonsis added the team last year had a 94% renewal rate on season tickets and is expecting "about 95[%] this year." Leonsis said there are less than 2,000 tickets remaining to the general public for the '09-'10 season (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/26). Meanwhile, the Bruins' first day of new season-ticket sales on Thursday ended with the team selling 2,100 new full season tickets. The single-day sale tops the Capitals recent single-day total of 1,000 season tickets, set on Tuesday (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

    SNOWBIRD SPECIAL: Nets CEO Brett Yormark and NHL Panthers President Michael Yormark appeared together on Fox Business Friday morning to promote their Snowbird Ticket Exchange Plan, an agreement that allows season-ticket holders from both teams to redeem unused tickets at Izod Center and BankAtlantic Center. Michael Yormark said, “It’s all about creating a good value proposition for our sponsors, for our season seatholders and for the casual fans. In South Florida, what we’re trying to do is just make the sport affordable” (“Money for Breakfast,” Fox Business, 2/27).

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  • Latest Beckham Scenario Has Him In Milan Through Season's End

    An arrangement that would see David Beckham finish out the Italian Serie A season with AC Milan and return to play for the L.A. Galaxy this summer is among the latest scenarios being discussed by MLS and AC Milan, sources close to the league said. Financial terms of such an agreement were not available. The Galaxy's loan of Beckham to Milan is set to end March 9, but this scenario would allow the Italian club to hold onto him until June. The midfielder would then return to MLS for the remainder of the '09 season, which ends in the fall. A clause in his five-year contract with the Galaxy would allow him to leave the league at the end of the '09 season if he elects to exercise it.

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  • Soccer Franchise Notes: Liverpool CEO Rick Parry To Leave Club

    Parry Will Leave Liverpool
    At End Of This Season
    In Manchester, Andy Hunter reports English Premier League (EPL) club Liverpool CEO Rick Parry will bring his career at the club "to a close at the end of this season." Parry, who has worked for the team for 12 years, "has been at the centre of long-running disputes with the club's manager, Rafael Benitez, over the club's transfer policy," and with co-Owner Tom Hicks "over Liverpool's commercial operations." Hunter notes Hicks had "called for Parry's resignation last year, a demand which was resisted by" co-Owner George Gillett, who had "remained in agreement with [Parry] over transfers until recently" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 2/27). 

    TICKET TALK: The NORTHERN ECHO reported EPL club Newcastle United has "reduced season ticket prices for the 2009-10 campaign by an average" of 9%. The reductions "will take the cost of watching games at St. James' Park for the majority of ticket holders back to 2007-08 levels." Attendance at the club's home games has "dwindled" since Owner Mike Ashley bought the team in '07 and has "topped 50,000 only three times this season" at St. James Park (THENORTHERNECHO.co.uk, 2/25)....In London, Phil Gordon noted Scottish Premier League clubs Celtic and Rangers were told Tuesday that their "season ticket customer base should be protected from the worst of the economic downturn," allowing the clubs to "ride out any potential financial storm." The clubs "count on around 100,000 season tickets being sold each season to underwrite the bulk of their revenue, which, in both cases, exceeds" US$99.0M (LONDON TIMES, 2/25).

    DESPERATE TIMES: In Miami, Adam Beasley notes USL club Miami FC "unveiled an aggressive ad campaign Thursday," titled "For the Good of the Game -- For the Good of South Florida," which "targets the area's historically apathetic soccer fans." Also, $25 off any season ticket purchased this year will be applied to a '10 ticket plan, regardless if that team is Miami FC or the MLS franchise" which might be awarded to the city. Beasley also notes Miami FC "has been given a March 8 deadline to prove to its ownership group, Traffic Sports, that it has a viable business plan moving forward, with or without an MLS team in town" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/27).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Nuggets Season-Ticket Holders Who Renew For
    '09-10 Will Receive Price Lock For Playoffs
    The Nuggets Thursday announced season-ticket holders who renew for the '09-10 season will receive a price lock on their seats for the '09 NBA playoffs, from the first round to the Western Conference Finals, and will pay the same price for the '09-10 regular season. Season-ticket holders at Pepsi Center will also be able to use a new 10-month pay plan. New season-ticket buyers who purchase before April 6 also will receive the price lock for the playoffs. Overall, ticket prices for the '09-10 season will continue to be in the bottom half of the NBA in average price (Nuggets).

    ORIOLE OFFER: BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Ryan Sharrow reported the Orioles' "Birdland Stimulus Package," a "new promotional offer unveiled Wednesday, includes a kids night, where children ages 10 and under can attend all Thursday home games this season for free when accompanied by a paying adult." The offer "will be valid for up to two children per paid adult" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/25).

    LOOKING TO INVEST: Equity 11 Managing Partner J.B. Smith Tuesday met with Steelers President Art Rooney II to "discuss becoming a possible investor in the team." While Smith said in February he had been talking with the Steelers, "no one from the team has publicly mentioned him as an investor" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/26).

    CHARGING BUFFALO: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes after cutting G Derrick Dockery and TE Robert Royal, it looks as if Bills COO Russ Brandon "has finally decided to put his foot down and remind everyone he's in charge of the Bills' football operations." It is an "encouraging sign, a bold first step in a critical offseason" for the team. It also is a "slap at [former GM] Marv Levy" and an "indictment of" Bills VP/Pro Personnel John Guy. Guy is "supposed to be the expert on NFL players, but he has rarely hit the jackpot." If Brandon is "worthy of running an NFL operation, he can't continue to reward mediocre performance" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/27).

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