SBD/Issue 132/Franchises

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  • Moorad Takes Control Of Padres As Sale Is Formally Completed

    Moorad Will Acquire 100%
    Of Padres Within Five Years
    Padres Owner John Moores Thursday formally completed the sale of the team to former D'Backs General Partner & CEO Jeff Moorad, who will immediately assume the role of Padres Vice Chair & CEO. Moorad and his ownership group will acquire 100% of the franchise over a period of up to five years, subject to MLB approval (Padres). Moorad unveiled a list of 10 of the 12 investors in the team, which includes Pro Football HOFer and Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman. The AP's Bernie Wilson reports several San Diego-area business execs "also are involved in the group," though Moorad said that he "wanted to make sure the group didn't become too unwieldy." Moorad: "We put together a group of friends and acquaintances who share both a passion for baseball and a passion for business." Moores, who will remain as Padres Chair, is "essentially financing the deal," and he also "remains the control person in charge of the team." Moores: "I think it's a bit unusual. I think it's more than a bit unusual. These are bizarre times." Moores said that "approximately $100[M] has changed hands so far," and that the "structured sale can be accelerated or slowed down" (AP, 3/27). MLB.com's Barry Bloom noted the transaction at this point "didn't have to be approved by the remainder of the owners because the control person at the head of the ballclub didn't change," but when that change occurs, the move "will have to come to a vote" (MLB.com, 3/26). The SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE offers a list of the 10 known investors in the club. The people associated with Hall Of Fame Racing, of which Moorad is co-Owner, are denoted by asterisks.

    PADRES INVESTORS
    Troy Aikman* Patrick and Joanne Graham
    Alfred Baldwin John McEvoy
    Richard Barry Robert Piccinini*
    Dan and Denise Costa Jay Stein
    Tom Davin* Wayne Seltzer

    GRADUAL TRANSITION: In San Diego, Tom Krasovic notes Moorad "will report to Moores," and Moores also will "continue to represent the Padres on major league committees." Krasovic cites a source as saying that Moorad will be "very limited" in his ability to bring D'Backs staffers with him to the Padres. The source said that Moorad and the D'Backs "have an understanding that he will not raid the organization" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/27). In California, John Maffei notes while former MLBer Eric Karros and D'Backs VP/Player Development A.J. Hinch "have been mentioned as men Moorad would like to add to the Padres organization," Moorad said that he will "use the 2009 season to evaluate the Padres staff." Meanwhile, Padres President & COO Dick Freeman "will retire soon" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/27). ESPN.com’s Buster Olney notes Moorad “can give clear orders about where he wants to take the Padres in the future, a stark contrast to the leadership of Moores last season.” Moores, who was in the midst of a divorce, was “rarely seen or heard from in the Padres organization last season" (ESPN.com, 3/27).

    Moorad's Goal Is To Compete On $70-80M
    Payroll With Players, Including Peavy
    MOOR OF THE SAME? In San Diego, Tim Sullivan writes the "philosophical similarities between the club's incoming and outgoing owners are more striking than their differences." While Moores "described the transition as a 'sea change' ... it does not appear that Moorad is poised to immediately make waves." Moorad: "The goal here would be to essentially compete on a $70-80[M] payroll going forward." Sullivan writes the picture Moorad painted Thursday was "one of organic payroll growth, of young players becoming pricier through maturity and performance instead of having a budget buttressed by massive investments in the free-agent market." Moorad replaces Sandy Alderson as Padres CEO, but he said that he is "not ready to start rolling heads." Moorad is "more focused on the long haul than the quick fix." In the short term, the Padres are "going to be selling infrastructure -- their academy in the Dominican Republic, their investments in international and domestic amateurs -- and relying on reduced costs and revenue-sharing to balance a budget confronting the twin challenges of major-league lousiness and global recession." Sullivan writes the plan is "not sexy," but it is a "business model Moores and Moorad believe in" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/27).

    END OF AN ERA: In California, Jay Paris writes the story of the transaction is "more Moores than Moorad." Moores is San Diego's "one-time knight in the shinning armor, who never heard a disparaging word." He "donated money around town and built a winner of a ballpark and a winner of a franchise." And while Moores Thursday "told some jokes" at the announcement, he "didn't look happy." Paris: "While he needled sportswriters, he must have felt a prick of pain from transferring a true love to someone else" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/27). The AP's Wilson notes Moores "looked melancholy sitting next to Moorad" at Thursday's news conference (AP, 3/27).

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  • Bettman Confirms Coyotes Seeking Investors, But Won't Relocate

    Bettman Says Goal Is To Bring In New Capital,
    Make Coyotes Solvent
    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday said that the "financially struggling" Coyotes are "actively seeking investors or possibly new ownership, but reiterated that the team won't be relocated," according to the AP. Bettman while attending the Oilers-Coyotes game at Jobing.com Arena said, "Our goal is to bring in new capital and make this franchise solvent. That's our direction, and at this point moving the franchise elsewhere is not on the table." Bettman said that the Coyotes are "actively engaging with potential investors, whom he would not identify" (AP, 3/27). Bettman: "Based on the information I'm getting, the process of finding a new buyer is moving along to their satisfaction. (Bankruptcy) is not something that we find likely or desirable. I think everybody needs to take a deep breath. There's no urgency right this minute, and at least based on the information that I've been given, things are on track" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 3/27). More Bettman: "We are very supportive of the Coyotes, and the Coyotes being in Glendale, and (owner) Jerry Moyes has made it clear he's looking for a capital infusion. ... We're not thinking about anything else." Bettman indicated that it is "not a question of the league tolerating a difficult financial situation, but a question of ownership tolerating it" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/27).

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  • Are Hicks And Gillett Focusing Efforts On Keeping Liverpool?

    Gillett (l), Hicks (r) Facing July Deadline
    To Repay $650M Loan
    With the news EPL club Liverpool co-Owner Tom Hicks is looking to add investors for his Stars and MLB Rangers franchises coming "close on the heals of the revelation" that fellow Liverpool co-Owner George Gillett is reviewing his own portfolio, it is "becoming more obvious with each passing day that Gillett and [Hicks] are concentrating their efforts on keeping" the EPL club, according to Pat Hickey of the Montreal GAZETTE. Gillett and Hicks "borrowed heavily to finance the Liverpool purchase two years ago and are facing a July deadline to repay a $650[M] loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland." The two men have "received an extension on the note but the bank has its own problems." However, Liverpool is an "iconic soccer brand" in the EPL, and the league "appears to be recession-proof." Hicks also noted that the team is "expanding its brand in Asia" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/27).

    TREAD LIGHTLY: NATIONAL POST's L. Ian Macdonald writes owning the Canadiens and Bell Centre "may be a profitable private business, but owning them is a public trust." Macdonald: "It's not just about hockey, and how the Habs are doing. ... Nor is it about the bottom line -- the Canadiens may be a valuable brand, but they are a low-margin business. Owning the Canadiens means tending the pride of les glorieux, serving a public that regards the Canadiens not so much as sports team as religious cult." There are "much more important businesses than the Canadiens, but no more important sporting or cultural institution in Quebec." Macdonald writes this "should give [RIM co-CEO] Jim Balsillie pause." Balsillie is reportedly a "lifelong Habs fan, and has been shopping for an NHL team," but "even with the best will in the world, he would have to ask if owning the Canadiens would be beneficial to the RIM brand." Macdonald: "Would ownership by an avid Habs fan from Ontario be sympathetically portrayed in the media, or viewed as a hostile takeover?" (NATIONAL POST, 3/27).

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  • Tigers Need Solid Season To Attract More Fans, Boost Revenue

    Tigers Season-Ticket Sales Drop As Economy
    In Michigan Struggles
    The Tigers' ticket sales this season are "awful, making it even more important that Detroit starts its season strongly," according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. If the Tigers "get off to a terrible start, as they did last season, fan interest in the team -- already impacted by the economy -- will take a body blow." The Tigers "don't have that kind of margin for error." They "need to spark interest in the team immediately to lure fans to buy tickets." The team has "one of the highest payrolls" in MLB and "will need to pay that off" (ESPN.com, 3/26). The Detroit Free Press' Jon Paul Morosi said there has been a "pretty big drop" in Tigers season-ticket sales this season as the "economy in Michigan has been struggling even longer than even the national economy, which has had a big impact." Morosi said Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch has "not ordered any dramatic reductions in payroll, and for the foreseeable future, this team will remain one of the higher payroll teams" in the AL ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/26).

    MONEY BALL: In Detroit, Lynn Henning wrote with the Tigers required to finalize their 25-man roster next week, Ilitch "should decree that roster decisions in no way be influenced by money." Ilitch "can acknowledge that it was a mistake for" Tigers President, CEO & GM Dave Dombrowski to extend the contracts of Ps Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, but "what matters is not the $39[M] Ilitch owes two pitchers for the next two seasons. What matters is winning." Ilitch "must emphasize that neither money, nor the extensions, nor Dombrowski's desire to yet make two contracts look valid, can influence for one moment the team's decisions" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/26).

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  • MLB Franchise Notes: Despite Sluggish Sales, Giants Optimistic

    Giants Have Sold Fewer Than 20,000
    Season-Ticket Plans At AT&T Park
    In San Jose, Andrew Baggarly reports the Giants this season have sold fewer than 20,000 season-ticket plans at AT&T Park, off almost 25% from the '07 season. However, team officials "believe they will avoid the catastrophic projections that are haunting other major league cities, and through walk-up sales and promotions, they are hopeful their season attendance will come close to matching the 2.8 million fans they drew last season." For the first time, the Giants are offering a "six-payment plan rather than requiring a full deposit" before Opening Day this year. Also, Giants Senior VP/Consumer Marketing Tom McDonald said that group sales are "on par with last season and individual ticket sales are better than at this point last year" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

    TALE OF TWO CITIES: Phillies President & CEO David Montgomery said that the team's season-ticket sales are up 17% this season, from 20,487 in '08 to more than 24,000 this year, while sponsorship revenue "should increase" about 3-4%. Montgomery noted that since the Phillies won last season's World Series, they were able to replace the "few contracts they lost on the 71 suites at Citizens Bank Park, and sponsor departures, largely automakers, were filled in by other categories." Meanwhile, White Sox CMO Brooks Boyer said that the team's ticket sales are "pacing ahead of last season, while sponsorships are slightly down." Boyer said that the team's "most significant sponsorship losses" this offseason were Bank of America, which did not renew its expired five-year deal, and GM's Buick, Pontiac and GMC brands (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/26).

    WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S: Kalahari Resorts has purchased the naming rights to the new landing area at Miller Park for the Brewers' mascot, Bernie. Under the multi-year sponsorship, Kalahari becomes the official water park of the Brewers, and the deal includes signage around the ballpark and other promotional rights. The Brewers Thursday said that Bernie's new landing area will be unveiled this season (JSONLINE.com, 3/26).

    BULLPEN RELIEF? In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves writes if it "makes sense," Rangers President Nolan Ryan could become a minority investor in the team with Owner Tom Hicks, who is looking for additional shareholders. But if the deal does not make business sense, Ryan will "back away quicker than opposing hitters did when he fired a fastball high and tight." Ryan: "Owning a (major league) team with my boys was always a goal if the right situation came up where we could be involved, an active involvement." But Reeves notes with Hicks, the Rangers "already have a majority owner who's very actively involved in the team with his own sons" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/27).

    CLEANUP HITTER: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde reports the Marlins have adopted a "new fashion statement," forbidding players from wearing jewelry, among other things. Marlins manager Fredie Gonzalez: "We want to look professional. Nice and neat." Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez, who used to wear his hair in corn-rows, said, "I had to cut it. ... It's incredible. We're big-leaguers" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/27).

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