SBD/Issue 15/Franchises

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  • Mets Cut Ticket Prices Mostly Due To Economy, Not Losing Season

    Mets Ticket Price Cuts Among The Deepest
    Being Pursued By Any Team For '10 Season
    Mets execs said the club’s '10 ticket pricing plan, led by average cuts of more than 10% for full-season tickets and in excess of 20% in some sections of Citi Field, was driven primarily by the economy as opposed to the club’s ugly fourth-place finish in the NL East. The price cuts, while to some degree expected, are among the deepest being pursued by any MLB team for the ’10 season, with many other clubs, including the Yankees, generally holding prices steady. “As we were putting together the plan, looking at purchasing patterns and so forth, the owners definitely wanted to be aggressive,” said Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard. “The economy was definitely the main thing here. We can’t deny that team performance was a factor, but we also wanted to have this be an expression of thanks for the support we’ve received throughout the season.” Certain areas of Citi Field were found to be overpriced during the club’s analysis, he said. In a letter sent to season-ticket holders, the club in part said, “Everyone at the Mets ... shares your disappointment with the 2009 season. We are also determined to get the organization and the team to where you -- and we -- want to be: a championship caliber team for 2010. You will soon hear from ownership and (GM) Omar (Minaya) about how we plan to improve the ball club through a combination of player signings, trades, enhanced player development and continued commitment to one of the highest player payrolls in Major League Baseball" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). 

    CITI ON DOWN: Howard said that the tickets with the "largest declines will be in sections on the field level and second deck that adjoined lower-priced seats." He noted that fans "tended to avoid those higher-priced sections in favor of seats nearby that were cheaper." The Mets might "expand the number of clubs at the stadium that fans can visit next year" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/2). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes the Mets also plan to "cut prices by reducing the number of games classified as 'gold level' in their variable pricing system and making those games part of the two cheaper designations, 'bronze,' and 'value.'" The Mets appear to have "learned from their disastrous experiment to sell individual tickets on a monthly basis -- rather than making the entire schedule available before the season" (N.Y. POST, 10/2).

    Mets Not Fearing Typical Second
    Season Attendance Drop At Citi Field
    NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP: Howard said he is not fearing the typical attendance drop seen in the second year of new facilities. “There is that year two pattern, but we’re not as concerned. Even amid everything that’s happened this year, the injuries and the disappointment we all certainly felt with our record, the ballpark has been the star of the season, and the fan experience has been exceptional.” The ticket price cuts will generate at least a mid-seven figure drop in projected revenue, but Howard said it was conceivable to make that sum up through increased attendance, even with Citi Field filling this season to 93% capacity with an average attendance of nearly 39,000 per game. “It’s feasible. That’s going to depend in part playing well from the outset, which we’re obviously confident of doing once we come back healthy and rejuvenated. But, yes, the idea is for this to spark increased sales.” Meanwhile, efforts are ongoing to install more imagery of the club’s history in and around Citi Field, and the Mets will install a team hall of fame and museum in an as-yet-undetermined location in the ballpark, with artifacts to be displayed there to include the franchise’s two World Series trophies (Fisher).

    GOING DEEP: In N.Y., Joe Ward writes Citi Field appears to be "fan friendly," but "is the field too large?" The team previously indicated that it has "no intention of making any alterations to Citi Field" for next season, but "should the Mets think about moving home plate 10 feet forward so they could shorten Citi Field's dimensions without having to knock down any walls?" The Mets designed the new ballpark "to be a pitcher-friendly park, just as Shea Stadium was often thought to be," but whether they "want to admit it or not, the Mets might have gotten more than they bargained for" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/2).

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  • Dodgers Freeze Season-Ticket Prices, Raise Some Single-Game Prices

    Dodgers Freezing Season-Tickets Prices, But
    Expected To Raise Some Single-Game Prices
    The Dodgers have "decided to freeze the price of season tickets for the second consecutive year," but are also expected to "raise single-game prices for the most popular home dates next season," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Dodgers President & COO Dennis Mannion said that the team is "evaluating how it might charge the most for the games most in demand." The "best seats at Dodger Stadium -- in the Dugout Club, immediately behind home plate -- are sold on multiyear contracts, not as season tickets," and the team has "significantly raised the price on many contracts up for renewal." Former Dodgers Managing Partner Bob Daly said that he "does not plan to renew his contract for four seats in the second row." He said that the team "raised his annual fee from $130,000 to $200,000." Daly: "It's not that they're raising prices. They're entitled to do that. They're raising them a staggering amount of money. There's an insensitivity about the whole thing." Mannion said that the Dodgers have "included 'a big escalator' on contracts for seats in the first three rows, in part because contracts that had expired last year had been subject to similar increases." Meanwhile, Shaikin notes the Dodgers are expected to finish the season as MLB's home attendance leader. With three regular-season home dates remaining, the team's "cumulative season attendance total is at 3,601,611,"second only to the Yankees, who are at 3,719,358 and finish the season on the road." Mannion said that the Dodgers are "expecting crowds of more than 50,000 fans" on Friday and Saturday. The Dodgers drew 3,730,750 fans last season (L.A. TIMES, 10/2).

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  • Jim Balsillie Giving Up NHL Pursuits To Focus On RIM Business

    Balsillie Will Focus On RIM
    Business, Step Back From NHL
    A spokesperson for Jim Balsillie said that the RIM co-CEO is "stepping back" from his NHL pursuits to "focus on his" RIM business, according to a front-page piece by Ken Peters of the HAMILTON SPECTATOR. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield Baum Wednesday rejected Balsillie's bid for the Coyotes, following previous unsuccessful attempts to acquire the Penguins and Predators, and Univ. of Toronto's Rotman School of Management Dean Richard Powers said that "it's three strikes and out for Balsillie." Powers: "As long as [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman is there." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that while the league has "interest in the Hamilton market," it is "not planning to make any moves." Daly: "We are always interested in areas and markets that are excited to support NHL hockey. And we have little doubt that Hamilton is one of them. Hamilton and the southern Ontario region will continue to be on our radar screen, but we remain committed to our current markets." Balsillie's lease agreement for Copps Coliseum is set to expire later this month, and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger noted that "once that happens, he will begin working the phones in a bid to attract another NHL suitor." Eisenberger: "There have been other suitors we have had discussions with. We know there is interest and we will continue to pursue that interest" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 10/2).

    BACK ON THE ICE: Ice Edge Holdings Thursday said that it will approach the NHL if and when the league "gains control of the franchise." Ice Edge pulled out of the bidding for the Coyotes last month, but the bid group's COO Daryl Jones said, "We are definitely interested in purchasing the team from them." He added, "We really can't do anything until they get awarded the team, or until they officially buy the team." Ice Edge was unable to reach an agreement with Glendale on a new lease for Jobing.com Arena, but Jones Thursday said, "We're really close with the city, in terms of being where we want to be" (NATIONAL POST, 10/2). Daly Thursday in an e-mail said, "We're confident that there will be buyers for this club that want to operate it in Phoenix. ... There is no immediate time frame. We are still digesting the court's opinion and evaluating our options." When asked if Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf may make another bid for the club, Daly said, "(The sale) may or may not involve someone who has already looked at purchasing the team." Daly said that the current Coyotes management "stays in place and can continue to make moves." The Coyotes Wednesday night held a reception for season-ticket holders, and President & COO Doug Moss said, "We had 600 people in the concourse and there was an electricity in the building" (USA TODAY, 10/2).

    Writer Says Coyotes' On-Ice Performance
    Is Hurting The Franchise The Most
    BAD MOON RISING? In Phoenix, Justin Bourne writes under the header, "On-Ice Product Haunts Coyotes." If the team does not "make major personnel moves, they're going to stink again" this season. It is "no wonder fans, media and sponsors can't find their way to the rink." Bourne: "The problem isn't the lease in Glendale, or Jim Balsillie's obsession. ... Being awful every year is what's killing it" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes lost amid the "embarrassing revelations" from the Coyotes' bankruptcy case is that the NHL "isn't necessarily doomed to more of the same, or at least it isn't if some visionary leadership quickly materializes." The NHL needs to "acknowledge reality, turn the ship around, and there won't be another Phoenix fiasco" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2). However, a TORONTO STAR editorial states the "real losers" in this case are "Canadian hockey fans -- particularly those in southern Ontario -- who have been deprived once again of another team in this hockey-mad market." Teams are "being maintained in American markets where professional hockey ranks somewhere behind poker as a spectator sport -- not just Phoenix but also cities like Nashville and Atlanta" (TORONTO STAR, 10/2).

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