SBD/Issue 221/Franchises

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  • Chargers Fine Heightens Dispute Around NFL Players' Twitter Use

    Cromartie Fined $2,500 For Complaining
    About Food Chargers Provide At Camp
    With Twitter "already at the fore of discussion in NFL circles, the debate over its effect on the league and its players was ramped up" when the Chargers yesterday fined CB Antonio Cromartie $2,500 for a "complaint about the food the team provides," according to Kevin Acee of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Chargers coach Norv Turner last Friday "banned tweeting from the Chargers' building and also any tweets that were 'detrimental' to the team." Cromartie yesterday said, "I think (the fine) was steep. I'm not going to take back what I said. I thought it was harmless." He added he is "going to have to be more careful what I say." Following Turner's edict on Friday, Chargers LB Shawne Merriman on his Twitter feed wrote, "Coach said we cant tweet in the building so i called my lawyer and found a lupo in that contract  ... tweeting outside yeaaaaaa." A source said that Merriman "was not fined because his tweet was not considered derogatory about the team." Turner, expounding on the team's policy, said, "We deal with all forms of media. We're happy to be open and give fans a look at what we're doing. We're not going to go out of our way to give our opponents a competitive edge or give (people) something we feel should stay in the building." Acee notes many NFL GMs and coaches have "expressed concern over Twitter and reportedly have set team policies similar to the Chargers." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said a team's attempt to govern Twitter usage is "no different than any organization or company monitoring what its employees say publicly to ensure it is consistent with company policy" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/5).

    WATCH WHAT YOU TWEET: CNBC.com’s Darren Rovell writes yesterday was the “single most damaging day for the brand” of Twitter. It began with more NFL teams “banning players from tweeting during business hours, continued with a more stringent policy by ESPN ... and eventually ended with news that 10 NFL teams were not allowing reporters to tweet from open, public practices.” While we “all love to hear the inside dirt” from the players, “just because it’s sports doesn’t mean it isn’t a private business.” Rovell: “Should Cromartie be fined for his ‘nasty food’ comment? I don’t think so. Should he have been fined if he tweeted the name and the idea of a new Chargers play from the playbook? Of course.” Teams have to understand that there is “value for fans in getting an inside look and they should encourage players to keep tweeting,” but should also “tell them not to tweet anything they wouldn’t tell a reporter” (CNBC.com, 8/5). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "The whole thing with guys tweeting stupid things, you know what? It’s really not hurting anybody. Antonio Cromartie complaining about the quality of the food at training camp really isn’t hurting anybody. It sounds like a kid at summer camp" ("Mike & Mike In The Morning," ESPN2, 8/5).

    Kawika Mitchell Criticizes Chargers Fining
    Cromartie For Tweeting About Food
    PLAYERS' RESPONSES: Bills LB Kawika Mitchell yesterday tweeted, "I'm sure you'll complain. Our voice is our rite. It's bullsh!t that the league is scared of twitter. We have opinions. We sit back...and listen to all the bullsh!t media, coaches and fans have to say, so if the chargers food sucks. It sucks. Please! B mad at real sh!t" 49ers LB Takeo Spikes referred to the Cromartie situation when he tweeted, “Just finished a DECENT lunch & about to hit practice."

    UP TO THE TEAM: NFL Panthers coach John Fox yesterday said that he "doesn't mind if his players use 'Twitter' to communicate with fans and friends, but he's cautioned them to be careful about what they write" on the site. Fox: "We've just made our guys real aware that whatever you put on there is going to be fair game, so they're aware of it" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/5). ESPN's Mike Golic: "Football wants to be careful about how it’s used and before the league even comes up with a policy, obviously teams are" ("Mike & Mike In The Morning," ESPN2, 8/5). FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti noted the Packers have are "outlawing tweeting within team functions, and I think it’s a good idea. It can be distracting. … Guys, focus on your jobs. Tweet in your off-time” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/4).

    POWER TO THE PEOPLE?: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz notes while the NFL has recommended teams to "allow tweeting, blogging and Facebooking during training camp," 12 of the league's 32 teams have "banned or limited tweeting and blogging" for media during open practices. Under that scenario, fans can "sit in the stands at Colts camp and send up-to-the-minute tweets and blog posts" about training camp, but reporters cannot. Kravitz writes, "In terms of credible, accurate information, I'd rather get my camp news from a beat reporter with access than some guy who bags groceries." Kravitz asked the Colts if he could "tweet from the stands" during their training camp, but Craig Kelley, the team's VP/PR, indicated that Kravitz would be "jeopardizing ... post-practice access to coaches and players" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/5). CNBC's Rovell lists 10 teams that have banned media members from using Twitter during open practices: Falcons, Bills, Bengals, Lions, Colts, Chiefs, Saints, Patriots, Rams and Seahawks. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “Not sure if it's allowed in Foxboro, but standing on practice field as Patriots walk out for their first work of the day. And I'm tweeting" (TWITTER.com, 8/5). CNBC's Rovell writes teams banning media from tweeting at open practices is “complete and utter nonsense.” If a reporter has a “following who wants play by play of practice, why wouldn’t you as a team allow that?” (CNBC.com, 8/5).

    BREAKING NEWS: In Minneapolis, Zulgad & Scoggins report the Vikings officially waived WR Aundrae Allison yesterday afternoon, after Allisons's agent Drew Rosenhaus on his Twitter feed said that the team "would waive Allison by 5 p.m. if he wasn't traded first." Zulgad & Scoggins note if Allison had "any value, Rosenhaus' tweet about Allison's impending release alerted the rest of the NFL and meant the team wasn't going to get anything for him," which "couldn't have thrilled Vikings officials" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/5).

    TALE OF TWO LEAGUES: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the NFL is "treating Twitter as the enemy," while the NBA "has its own widely popular Twitter page." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "These are two leagues with distinctly different marketing plans. One league, the NBA, covets stars, needs stars, doesn’t care so much about teams, brings you into the arena with faces you see and players you know. The other league puts helmets on their heads, says the team is above all people, doesn’t want stars, and has many more people control. So, it’s just sort of different” (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/4). The NBA's Twitter feed has 1,102,797 followers currently, while the NFL's official feed has 771,600 (THE DAILY).

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  • Moyes Allowed To Question Reinsdorf On Possible Collusion

    Questions Raised About
    Beasley's Tie To Coyotes Deal
    U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum yesterday allowed Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes to "have his lawyer question" Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and Arizona attorney John Kaites about "possible collusion with Glendale officials or the NHL" in their bid to acquire the Coyotes, according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. While Moyes has "long questioned how Glendale officials treated him compared to Reinsdorf, the issue was given a fresh push" following a report published Monday that "raised questions about the relationships" between Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley, Reinsdorf, Kaites, Reinsdorf's son Michael and two companies hired by Beasley to survey the Coyotes situation (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/5). In Phoenix, Sarah Fenske wrote Beasley is "trying his best to hand over the Coyotes to his friend" Kaites. Beasley in October hired Massachusetts-based Beacon Sports Capital Management to "assess the Coyotes' finances," and while the company was in Glendale, it met with Kaites and Reinsdorf. Fenske notes Kaites and Reinsdorf "weren't being talked about by anyone as prospective buyers at that point." In addition, Beasley's calendar reveals he held "repeated meetings with both Kaites and Reinsdorf over the past year." Kaites and Beasley had "no fewer than four scheduled meetings or conference calls in August and September 2008, which is right about the time the Coyotes' ownership began asking City Hall for help." Also, Glendale last year hired Michael Reinsdorf's Chicago-based Int'l Facilities Group (IFG) to "assess stadium operations" at Jobing.com Arena, and city officials confirmed that IFG "suggested Glendale hire Beacon" (PHOENIX NEW TIMES, 8/3).

    BAD MOON RISING: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes these details of Beasley's "back-room negotiations with Jerry Reinsdorf have damaged his credibility," and now there is the "appearance of a skewed playing field and something that smells of cronyism." Bickley: "Now, the lights are on and everyone's paying attention. It will be nearly impossible to shape a deal that makes the Coyotes appealing to investors and taxpayers alike" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/5). In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes while Glendale has been "silent on what concessions it's willing to make" to a new owner, it is "becoming more obvious with each passing day that no matter who wins control of the Phoenix Coyotes, the taxpayers of Glendale, Ariz., will be the big losers" (Montreal GAZETTE, 8/5). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes the NHL is an "exceptionally profitable business in its core markets, supported by extremely loyal fans, but it will never be viable in Glendale." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "knows it, as do the governors who employ him." Brunt: "They've see the books. They understand that the Coyotes have never made money in Arizona, and never will" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/5).

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  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace Defends Decision To Cut Scouts

    Wallace Defends Laying Off Full-Time Scouts,
    Says Team Has "Adequate Coverage"
    Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace appeared on Memphis' WHBQ-AM yesterday and discussed the team’s decision to let go of its full-time scouts. Wallace said the club let go two domestic scouts and one in Europe, with the “possibility one of those guys may come back and work with us." He said the team has “adequate coverage" in Europe, adding, "We know what's going on." Wallace: "Right now we have, including our European person, five people -- and I'm included in that five -- involved in our scouting efforts." Wallace noted there are several ways teams can approach scouting. Wallace: “You can have people in all these areas around the country or you can consolidate the scouting into the hands of a smaller group that is going to be responsible for the success or failure of the actual decisions that a team makes. We went the route of a smaller number involved in the scouting efforts, but we're all doing the same things we've done before." Wallace said he did not believe the move to let go of the scouts “was a big issue.” Wallace: “I don't feel that we are at a competitive disadvantage at all. I think it's the type of story that is very easy to grab on to and say, 'The Grizzlies are being cheap.' … I think we're unfairly tabbed as a team that's only looking at the dollar amounts" (WHBQ-AM, 8/4).

    IS COST PLAYING A ROLE? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said an “underlying theme” in the Grizzlies’ moves is that Owner Michael Heisley “doesn't want to spend any money.” Wilbon: “There's a lot of resentment that he left Vancouver, and he feels that he was influenced by the league to leave Vancouver for Memphis. … They didn't make the money that he has told others privately he expected to make in that market and now, as a result of that, he is just shutting it down." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "I do think you need a full-time scout outside the borders of the United States for European and South American talent, Asian talent." But Wilbon said, "They only draft in the top five. They should know everybody, because God knows they ain't drafting at the bottom of the first round" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/3).

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  • NHL Panthers Sale Closer, But Work Remains Before Deal Official

    SPAC Reportedly Not Looking
    To Move Panthers After Acquisition
    While the sale of the NHL Panthers to Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. (SPAC) is “closer to consummation,” there remains “considerable ground to be covered before the transaction becomes official,” according to Allan Muir of SI.com. But if “all goes well, the sale is on track to be finalized” before the start of the season. SPAC “isn’t looking to move” the Panthers, which is “good news for fans who were hearing their team’s name mentioned as a possible target for relocation.” Current Owner Alan Cohen is “expected to simply exchange his stake in the team for shares in SPAC,” meaning the man who has “presided over a reign of lunacy almost unmatched in the league could yet remain the hand on the rudder under the new ownership.” However, there is a “good chance that the consortium could install another leader, possibly Andrew Murstein, one of the group’s founders.” Muir: “Nothing beats a single, well-funded, passionate owner ... but as far as options go, this SPAC thing might just work out.” If SPAC officials want to “keep their shareholders happy, all they have to do is keep their customers happy.” And for the customers to be happy, the team “needs to get better fast” (SI.com, 8/4).

    IN THE LOCKER ROOM: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay notes the Panthers have unveiled a new season-ticket offer called the “Panthers Locker Room.” It includes season tickets in the lower bowl at BankAtlantic Center for $35 a game -- down from $50 last season -- and “personal attention from players.” The 1,100 seats are being “divided into segments that will be named for five to seven Panthers players, who will hold autograph sessions and skating clinics for fans in their areas.” Those seat holders “will also get their section namesake’s merchandise and birthday and holiday e-mail messages from him.” The sections are being “decorated to look like the inside of a team locker room.” Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark: “Fans talk about that all the time: ‘I want to meet my favorite player, I want to meet my hero.’ We’ve gone to the players and gotten their sign-off that we want to do something unique” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/5).

    NEW PARTNERS: BDO Seidman, LLP and Chief Executive Air have inked deals making them official marketing partners of the Panthers and BankAtlantic Center, while Andy Frain Services has enhanced its existing partnership. BDO Seidman's deal is its first sports marketing agreement and includes presenting sponsorship of the concierge desks at BankAtlantic Center VIP entrances and an “Inside the Numbers” in-game feature. Chief Executive Air’s multi-year deal includes the presenting sponsorship of BankAtlantic Center’s suite attendants, including branded shirts and nametags. Andy Frain Services' multi-year agreement includes designation as the Official Security Services Provider of the Panthers and business-to-business networking opportunities (Panthers). 

    FREQUENT FLIERS: In a special to THE HOCKEY NEWS, George Richards notes the Panthers this preseason will travel approximately 7,000 miles, as the team will take a “now annual pre-season tour of Canada.” The team in total will play nine preseason games, but only one at BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers “draw very few fans to pre-season games, so from a business standpoint, the team makes money when on the road.” Yormark: “In this economy, perhaps only having one pre-season game at BankAtlantic Center is a good idea. It’s one less game our season ticket holders have to pay for. Pre-season hockey in September is a hard sell, there’s no doubt about it” (THE HOCKEY NEWS, 8/3 issue).

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  • Blue Jackets' First Playoff Run Helps Ticket, Sponsorship Sales

    Blue Jackets Seeing Boost In Ticket, Sponsorship
    Sales After First-Ever Playoff Appearance
    The "buzz created by the Columbus Blue Jackets' first run into the playoffs and some twists on seating packages seem to be trumping the recession's effect on ticket and corporate sponsorship sales," according to Jeff Bell of BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS. Blue Jackets Senior VP/Business Operations Larry Hoepfner said that the team's season-ticket sales are running about 5% "ahead of the pace from a year ago," while the renewal rate for season tickets is nearly 87%, which is a 
    "few percentage points above where it stood at this time a year ago." Bell notes the club this offseason "restructured some seating in the upper bowl at Nationwide Arena to make 1,400 more season tickets available at the two lowest prices." The Blue Jackets also "introduced several mini-season ticket plans and made the lowest-priced seats available in all six, 10- and 20-game ticket packages." Hoepfner said that sales of partial-season plans are "up more than 80[%] from a year earlier." Meanwhile, the team has "signed nearly a dozen corporate sponsors to renewals this summer, including six-figure deals with Verizon Wireless, American Electric Power Company Inc. and AAA Ohio." Hoepfner said that "more agreements are expected before the regular season begins in October." Bell notes the team has "lost a combined $80[M] over the past seven years," and Hoepfner said, "We still have work to do to get back to where we were" (BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS, 7/31 issue).

    HOLDING STEADY: In Detroit, George Sipple reported the Red Wings "sent renewal brochures to season-ticket holders Monday, adding two new payment plans and keeping season-ticket prices the same." The team "increased the number of payment installments from four to six," and Red Wings Senior VP/Business Affairs Steve Violetta said that they will "become the first NHL team and third in pro sports to offer a layaway option for season-ticket holders." Season-ticket holders who choose the layaway option "will be charged a 1.9% flat transaction fee and zero interest." Sipple noted Red Wings officials knew they "had to make payment plans easier because of the economy." Violetta: "We know we're competing against bread and milk to a certain extent." Violetta added that individual ticket prices "will be determined and announced later," and confirmed that the team's $9 ticket "will return and will be offered again in two-month segments" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/4).

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  • WNBA Dream Owner Terwilliger Looking To Sell Stake In Team

    WNBA Dream Owner Looking To Sell
    Despite Team Being In Second Season
    WNBA Dream Owner Ron Terwilliger “has informed the WNBA that he would like to relinquish his position as primary owner, but he intends to remain an investor” in the franchise, according to Chris Vivlamore of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Atlanta-based Hope-Beckham President Bob Hope, who is part of an informal group charged with finding a new lead owner, said of Terwilliger, “His heart was in the right place, but life changed on him.” Hope said that Terwilliger “has relocated to New York and has had unspecified changes that prevent him from being actively involved with the team and in the Atlanta community.” Hope and Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson, who is also part of the group searching for a new primary investor, said that they “do not expect the search for a new owner to last long.” They “already have assembled a list of potential candidates,” and they “believe the search for a new investor does not mean the demise of the franchise,” which is in its second season of existence (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/5).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Rangers Offering Ticket Discounts Of Up To
    75% For Weekday Games
    The MLB Rangers are offering ticket discounts of up to 75%, "depending on the seats," for weekday games in August and September. The offer, a promotion with team sponsor Southwest Airlines, applies to all Monday-Thursday home games beginning with the Twins series August 17-20 and continuing with series against the Blue Jays and A's (AP, 8/4). The discounts allow fans to buy tickets for $5-10 for Monday-Thursday games through September 16. Rangers Exec VP/Sales Andrew Silverman said, "Those games before the last homestand, they're tough." Silverman projected that the team's attendance after the next homestand will be up about 11% over '08, "among the best increases" in MLB (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/5).

    SAFE AT HOME: In L.A., Chris Erskine writes from a "fan's standpoint, Dodgers games are dramatically better this year." The security at Dodger Stadium is "tighter, the gangy vibe of the last few years on the mend," families are "back, and the entire atmosphere, from field level to the top deck, is vastly improved." The security crew's "pregame patrols of the parking lot have weeded out the knuckleheads who used to tank up before entering the stadium." The ballpark "still isn't exactly a day care center," but it has "become a good, safe, family-friendly place to watch a game again" (L.A. TIMES, 8/5).

    NOTES: The Cowboys have sold more than 20,000 Party Pass tickets for the September 20 game against the Giants, the first regular-season NFL game in the new Cowboys Stadium (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/5)....Israel's Maccabi Haifa basketball club will drop the nickname Heat for the upcoming season. While the NBA did not formally request the name change, team Owner Jeffrey Rosen in a statement said "some private discussions with NBA officials concerned possible confusion in the marketplace, since the NBA markets internationally" (THE DAILY).

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