SBD/Issue 112/Franchises

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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