SBD/Issue 192/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Rays President Silverman
Critical Of Rays Fans
In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin notes Rays President Matt Silverman was "openly critical of the Tampa Bay fans and market" after yesterday's first game in the three day series against the Phillies at Tropicana Field "drew fewer than 20,000" fans. Silverman: "It's a rare privilege to host a rematch of the World Series, especially against a team with local connections. Based on all the information we had, we projected full houses. It's a huge miss." Rays manager Joe Maddon also "put some blame on the fans, noting that the most of the Tropicana Field crowd of 19,608 was in red." Maddon: "It's kind of awkward when you get to this point and all of a sudden the majority of the crowd is for the other side." The Rays this season are averaging 22,703 fans, which ranks in the "bottom third of the AL and the majors." The team's goal for the season was to be "around the major-league average, which was 29,562 entering play Tuesday" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/24).

LAYAWAY PLAN: The JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Kimberly Morrison notes with season-ticket sales "off to a rough start," the Jaguars are "revving up marketing efforts and repackaging tickets to add value and affordability." About 15,000 season-ticket holders did not renew this year, "more than doubling the nonrenewal rate of prior years." Jaguars Senior VP/Stadium Operations & CFO Bill Prescott said that the team is "well off the 43,000 season tickets it had sold at this time last year for the approximately 67,000 uncovered seats at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium." The team this week announced a new 12-month layaway program for '10 season tickets in addition to the previously established five-month layaway program. The program will "allow fans to set their own payment schedule and debit the amount automatically from their bank account for a 1.9[%] transaction fee and no interest" (JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/19 issue).

EXTRA CREDIT: In London, Paul Kelso reported EPL club Liverpool Managing Dir Christian Purslow "will open talks with" RBS over refinancing Liverpool co-Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks' US$579M loan in the "coming days, with a view to securing a new deal before the July 24 deadline." It is "expected that RBS will ask Gillett and Hicks to provide additonal security on top" of the US$306M in personal guarantees and cash they provided in January '08 (, 6/23).

SHIPPING OUT: A source yesterday said that FedEx Founder & CEO Frederick Smith is "not interested" in buying a majority share of the Rams. A report Friday claimed that Smith was on "the short list of people whose names are circulating as potential bidders" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/24).

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