SBD/Issue 19/Franchises

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  • Predators Try To Lure Fans Back After Missing Playoffs Last Year

    Predators' Season-Ticket Base Of 8,500
    Has Slipped Since End Of Last Season
    Predators President of Business Operations Ed Lang said that the team's season-ticket base of 8,500 "has slipped since" the end of last season, according to John Glennon of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Lang "declined to reveal a specific number, noting the Predators will be selling season-ticket packages through December or January," but he added that tonight's home opener against the Avalanche "probably won't sell out." But Lang said that ticket sales "for the first four home games are selling at a better rate than the first four home games" last season. Also, Glennon notes the team is "on target to meet or exceed last year's sponsorship numbers." While some sponsors "pulled out last season, others -- such as a.d. vallett & co., Equiplink, Jersey Mike's, Purity Dairy, Bridgestone and Anheuser Busch -- have returned or been added for the first time." The Predators also are "on target to meet or exceed numbers in their 'premium' category, which includes suites and premium seating," and they are "tracking well ahead of last season in group sales." Lang: "It's still hard out there. We're still spending as much money on marketing and advertising as we did last year, and we've actually added a couple new salespeople." The team failed to make the playoffs last season, and some sports business experts "believe it's even more important to produce a consistent winner in nontraditional hockey markets such as Nashville than in places where the sport has deeper roots, where fans are more likely to keep their hearts and wallets open to the team, even in less successful times."  Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard: "In nontraditional hockey markets, in most cases, you're just another form of entertainment fighting for the dwindling discretionary dollar." Predators Owner David Freeman said that the team "made a small profit after the 2007-08 season, when they reached the playoffs, and suffered a small loss last season when they fell just short" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/8).

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  • Twins At More Than 17,000 Full-Season Equivalents For Next Year

    Twins' Late Season Charge Helping Team Sell
    Tickets For Inaugural Season In New Ballpark
    The Twins have sold more than 17,000 full-season ticket equivalents for the debut of Target Field next season, more than 50% higher than the 11,000 full-season equivalents for this season that had been the club’s all-time record. Club officials said 10-15% of next season's total to date has arrived within the last several weeks as the Twins surged to the AL Central title. Twins President Dave St. Peter said, “We’ve had good (sales) momentum all summer, but definitely within the last month, it’s ratcheted up to another gear. We feel like we’ve got a good shot at hitting 20 (thousand), which would be huge for us since historically we have been low with regard to season tickets.” Reaching 20,000 equivalents would represent half of Target Field’s projected 40,000-seat capacity and rank among the top-selling clubs in the league (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    BRING ON THE YANKEES: In Minneapolis, Christensen & Neal report the Twins sold "over 46,000 tickets for both Games 3 and 4" of their ALDS series against the Yankees "within 2 1/2 hours of the end" of Tuesday's AL Central tiebreaker victory over the Tigers. St. Peter said that sales "have been cut off but that he expected to have more tickets available over the next couple of days as season ticket holders return unused ones" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/8).

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  • Pirates Expected To Hold Line On Ticket Prices Next Season

    The Pirates "will not raise ticket prices" next season, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Pirates President Frank Coonelly yesterday said, "I do not anticipate any price increase, even in the individual-(game) pricing." It will mark the "eighth year in a row the team has held the line on season-ticket prices." The Pirates' home attendance this past season was 1,577,853 -- a "decline of about" 2% from '08. It was the "lowest-ever total at PNC Park," and the franchise's "worst total since 1998." Coonelly: "We knew it was going to be a difficult time for our fans. That's why we came out with value plans and took several measures in order to enhance the value of Pirates baseball." Coonelly has said that the Pirates "need to consistently draw 2 million-plus." Coonelly: "There's no question we need to significantly grow attendance in Pittsburgh in order to be competitive." Biertempfel notes the team "mulled raising prices for certain 'premium' games, such as interleague clashes or weekend games, a step some other MLB clubs already have taken." But Coonelly said, "There won't be variable pricing in 2010. Can I say that we will never come to the conclusion that it makes sense to have some differentiation? I'm not prepared to say that" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/8).

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  • Should NFL Accept Controversial Rush Limbaugh As Rams Owner?

    Writer Says NFL Should
    Think Twice On Limbaugh
    While it is radio personality Rush Limbaugh's "right to take a shot at becoming part of a new Rams ownership group," his "American Dream is a potential nightmare waiting to happen" for the Rams, St. Louis and the NFL, according to the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH's Bryan Burwell, who writes under the header, "NFL Should Think Twice On Limbaugh." Limbaugh's money is "green and plentiful and his politics are conservative, which means he'll pretty much fit right in with the rest of the gang within the NFL ownership's corridors of power." NFL owners "probably don't care about his politics," and with a "wink and a smile, they will surely welcome him to their club, because ultimately all they care about is whether or not his check will bounce." The owners "will all look the other way when it comes to Limbaugh -- forgetting his polarizing racial politics." But Burwell writes, "Bringing Limbaugh back into the NFL family will ultimately be met with the same disastrous effects from the last time it was tried. Remember the failed experiment with the ESPN NFL pregame show? ... That's why I keep scratching my head and wondering why so many people foolishly believe that at some point Limbaugh's mouth won't cause another embarrassing situation for the Rams and the league." Burwell added, "I wonder how Roger Goodell, the no-nonsense NFL commissioner whose primary personal directive is to 'protect the (NFL) shield,' will cope with an owner as potentially combustible as Limbaugh" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/8). CBS SPORTS' Mike Freeman wrote, "The league has made significant strides in putting its horrid racial past behind it. The NFL isn't perfect on the issues of ethnicity, but it tries. Allowing Limbaugh ... a seat at the owner's table would instantly undermine everything the NFL has worked decades to accomplish" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/7).

    BAD FOR BUSINESS? FANHOUSE.com's Kevin Blackistone wrote, "It is true that freedom of speech in the country is a protected right. Limbaugh can say whatever he likes and so can you and I. ... But that doesn't mean a potential business partner or employer can't refuse him like a restaurant does of diners who refuse to don shirts and shoes. They can and the NFL should." If the league accepts "whatever bid the group including Limbaugh puts up, it would be a slap in the face to at least two-thirds of its players, and that is selling short the other third." Blackistone: "It would be public relations suicide for the NFL to vote Limbaugh into its ranks and, I would hope, commercial suicide for it as well. At the very least it could be suicide for the Rams. What black player would want to toil for someone like Limbaugh if he didn't have to?" (FANHOUSE.com, 10/7). ClickOnDetroit.com's Rob Parker said, "As a black person, I would have a hard time going to a Rams game, paying money to a person who I believe has very little regard to black people." ESPN's Skip Bayless: "You could make a case maybe he could be a silent partner -- a so-to-speak ‘minority owner’ -- and stay out of the limelight” ("ESPN First Take," ESPN2, 10/8).

    THE ULTIMATE WILD CARD: In St. Petersburg, Gary Shelton wrote, "I don't agree with all of Rush's politics. ... Still, I find the notion of Limbaugh owning an NFL team an intriguing idea." Shelton added, "Wouldn't the owners' meetings be interesting?" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/7).

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  • EPL Franchise Notes: Gillett Reportedly May Sell Liverpool Stake

    Gillett Reportedly Flying To
    Saudi Arabia To Discuss Bid
    In London, Alan Nixon reports Liverpool co-Owner George Gillett reportedly is "flying to Saudi Arabia next week for talks in a bid to sell" his 50% stake in the club to Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud. Gillett is "due to arrive in the Middle East on Wednesday and is scheduled for a three-day stay to sort out the deal with the Prince's advisers and his financial company F6 Sports." There are "no figures being released on what Gillett is looking to get for his share in Liverpool but it is anticipated that the deal will be good enough to get him out of his current hole" (London DAILY MIRROR, 10/8). F6 Sports Dir of Strategic Investments Barry Didato said Prince Faisal's share in Liverpool "could go from anything from nought to 100%." But Didato added Faisal "cannot be seen as a solution to the debt or problems in the existing relationship between the owners" (BBC.co.uk, 10/8).

    TIME TO MOVE ON? In Manchester, Daniel Taylor reports former Manchester United Chair Martin Edwards, who is "now a life honorary president," has become the "first dissenting voice at boardroom level to question the way the club is being run by the Glazer family." Edwards "described the Glazers as having 'behaved fairly well' but he is also alarmed that ... United have accrued debts of around" US$1.1B. Edwards: "It concerns me that the club are in so much debt. The club are not in control; that family are in control of the debt. ... The crunch time will come when they (the Glazers) exit. Will they saddle the club with the debt or just sell the club on for a profit because that's all they are interested in?" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 10/8).

    HIGH COURT CLAIM: In London, Richard Fletcher reports investment bank Seymour Pierce "has filed a High Court claim against" Hong Kong-based investment company Grandtop Int'l, which is controlled by Carson Yeung, who "took control of Birmingham City earlier this month." Seymour Pierce claims that Grandtop "agreed to pay a [US$3.5M] success fee to Seymour Pierce when it appointed the bank to advise the investment company on the acquisition of Birmingham City" in '07. While Seymour Pierce was "not involved in the recent takeover, the bank claims that its contract still entitles it to the multi-million pound success fee" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/8).

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  • Franchise Notes

    The Yankees last night set a new attendance record for the new Yankee Stadium, drawing 49,464 for its ALDS Game 1 win over the Twins. The total beat an August 6 game against the Red Sox that drew 49,005 and is in part the result of the club adding café and standing room seats for the playoffs. The Yankees only minimally experimented with standing room tickets during the regular season, resulting in crowds below the stadium’s listed capacity of 52,325 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). WFAN-AM’s Mike Francesa: “This is what we’ve been waiting for -- a Yankee game in October in the new ballpark” (“Mike Francesa,” YES Network, 10/7).

    PICKING UP THE PACE: Pacers Sports & Entertainment COO Rick Fuson yesterday said he is "very confident" about the WNBA Fever's future in Indianapolis. The team tomorrow will face off against the Phoenix Mercury in a decisive Game 5 for the WNBA Championship, and Fuson said, "Right now, we just want to make sure these ladies have everything they need today to win the championship." The Fever have "never been profitable" in their 10 seasons, but if "ticket and merchandising sales are any indication, a recent surge in fan support may be enough to indeed secure the team's future" (Scott Olson, IBJ.com, 10/7). The team drew a sell-out crowd of 18,165 to last night's WNBA Finals Game Four, and ESPN's Pam Ward said, "Talk about Fever fever, people have it in Indianapolis" ("WNBA Shootaround," ESPN2, 10/7).

    NOT JUMPING IN HEAD FIRST: Chicago Tribune reporter Fred Mitchell said he would be surprised if new Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts “made what we would consider major moves” during the next 60 days. Mitchell: “I would suspect that he would be in the observation mode. He’s probably got some things at the top of his priority list to keep a closer eye on than others. But I think he’s going to transition a little bit into the whole system and observe and make changes as necessary” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” CSN Chicago, 10/7).

    SAME OLD STORY: In Buffalo, Donn Esmonde wrote the Bills' "chronic mediocrity is compelling evidence that the Buffalo team’s core problem is its ownership and management," which "consistently misjudges talent, fails to spend wisely on personnel and does not hire capable coaches." Esmonde: "Welcome to the Bills, the General Motors of the NFL. With no government bailout in sight" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/7).

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