SBD/Issue 5/Franchises

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  • Ratner Reportedly Closing In On Nets Sale To Russian Billionaire

    Prokhorov May Soon Buy
    Majority Stake In Nets
    Nets Owner Bruce Ratner is "inching closer to selling a majority stake in the team" to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, according to sources cited by Charles Bagli of the N.Y. TIMES. Ratner in recent weeks has acknowledged that he is "talking to potential investors," and sources indicated that Prokhorov is the "leading contender to buy a majority stake in the team" and the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Bagli notes Ratner has been "eager to bring in new blood," as his Forest City Enterprises development company, which owns 23% of the team, has endured about $380M in "pretax net losses over the past five years" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). In Moscow, Ira Iosebashvili notes Ratner in July reportedly discussed a deal with Prokhorov, and a source claims that Prokhorov's "interest in the team has not waned." No Russian has "ever owned a piece of a major American sports franchise," but "several have become owners or major shareholders" in soccer clubs, including Roman Abramovich with Chelsea and Alisher Usmanov with Arsenal (MOSCOW TIMES, 9/18).

    ALL SYSTEMS GO: In N.Y., Rich Calder reports the Empire State Development Corp. Thursday gave final approval to a revised plan for the Atlantic Yards development, allowing Ratner to "secure private land needed" (N.Y. POST, 9/18). CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS's Amanda Fung noted the approval, which had been "widely anticipated, is expected however to spark yet another round of lawsuits from groups that have opposed the project from the start" (CRAINSNEWYORK.com, 9/17).

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  • Wild's Sellout Streak In Danger, Tickets Remain For Every Game

    Wild's Longest Active Sellout Streak In Danger,
    Still Have Tickets Available For Every Game
    NHL's "longest active sellout streak is in danger of ending," as the Wild has "tickets available for every game this season," including Friday night's preseason game against the Blue Jackets, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The Wild is around a 90% renewal rate of its 16,500 season tickets for the '09-10 campaign, and Wild COO Matt Majka said, "We have struggled to renew season tickets in the same way we always do, which is 95[%] plus." Russo reports the "only inventory the team has left to sell is premium seating," which ranges from $65-95 per ticket. Majka said that the economy has "forced the Wild to be 'more creative than we ever have been.'" Russo notes because some season-ticket holders "share tickets with a partner who no longer can afford them, the Wild has a couple of plans that 'tries to marry people that lost a partner.'" Majka: "We're doing our best to make sure our building's full." Majka "knows what other franchises are going through and said it could be worse." Majka: "We are fortunate to be in this market." The Wild entering this season have sold out all 365 home games in franchise history, including both the preseason and postseason (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/18).

    TO CATCH THE PREDATORS: YAHOO SPORTS' Ross McKeon wrote fans "have to wonder what the priorities are these days" for the Predators. After the team reached the playoffs four consecutive seasons, the Predators finished last in the Central Division last season. The team "should feel the urgency to improve because everyone else around them sure are getting better," but they instead are "looking within to find the answers while walking a tightrope with the salary cap in a much different way than most teams." The Predators have one of the "smallest payrolls in the league, committing approximately" $42M. There is a "whopping $14.5[M] or so available before hitting the cap." Cap rules "stipulate teams must spend within $16[M] of the ceiling, so the Preds barely qualify" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/17).

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  • Franchise Notes

    In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson notes the "biggest story of the off-season" for the MLB Rangers will be "who opens up his wallet and buys the club from Tom Hicks." Some prospective buyers have "lined up with the understanding that they will have to pay somewhere between" $450-525M for 100% ownership of the franchise. MLB "wants to have the sale wrapped up by the end of the year, but a spring sale is more likely." While the Rangers have "areas to address this off-season," it is "not like they have been wild spenders the past three years" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/18).

    DeBartolo To Be Inducted As Inaugural
    Member Of 49ers HOF This Weekend
    LEARN FROM THE PAST: In San Jose, Mark Purdy notes the 49ers are "making a concerted effort to reconnect" with their heritage beginning with former Owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.'s induction this weekend as the inaugural member of the team's new HOF. The move "officially sends a signal to all of the Eddie-era players that the team's leadership appreciate his contributions -- and theirs." Purdy also notes with a "stadium election looming in Santa Clara next year, it's hardly the worst idea in the world to have the most popular owner in team history on board to support the plan" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/18).

    A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY REPEATING: The Falcons for Sunday's game against the Panthers at the Georgia Dome will "pay homage to the inaugural 1966 team, with a black jersey, white pants and red helmet." The team's Web site also has "gone Throwback, showing all pictures in black and white" (AJC.com, 9/16).

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