SBD/Issue 34/Franchises

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  • Jamie McCourt Lines Up Bid To Buy Dodgers, But Frank Will Not Sell

    McCourt's Attorney Says She Will
    Emerge As More Qualified Exec
    Jamie McCourt's attorney yesterday said that the former Dodgers CEO has "lined up financing for a possible bid to buy" the team from her estranged husband Frank, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. But Frank McCourt's attorney, Marshall Grossman, said that Frank has "no intention of selling the Dodgers, to her or anyone else." Grossman: "Congratulations to her for being a prospective buyer. There is no seller. Perhaps she could explore some other sport." The court overseeing the couple's divorce proceedings scheduled a November 5 hearing on Jamie's bid for "immediate reinstatement" to her role as Dodgers CEO, from which Frank fired her last week. The court also scheduled a December 1 hearing to "discuss spousal support and other issues pending trial." Dodgers President & COO Dennis Mannion in court documents filed yesterday on behalf of Frank alleges that Jamie "did not show up for work more than half the time, put her own image ahead of the team's and 'exhibited an almost disdainful disregard for the fundamental requirements of her job and workplace etiquette.'" Mannion denied Jamie's claims that he had "instructed team employees not to work with her and excluded her from management discussions and decisions." He contends that he would have "welcomed her involvement had she shown up for work more often." Mannion further alleges Jamie focused on work "designed to cultivate and promote her image as the highest ranking woman" in MLB, even when those activities "were not financially successful ventures and did not fit the strategic needs of the organization." Jamie's attorney Bert Fields denied those charges, and said that the court proceeding would show Jamie "to be a more qualified executive" than Frank. Fields: "When people find out what she did as opposed to what he did, they're all going to want her to run the team." Meanwhile, Frank in his filing yesterday claimed that he fired Jamie "in part for having an affair with her driver, who was employed by the Dodgers." Frank's attorneys allege that Jamie and her driver, Jeff Fuller, "spent 2 1/2 weeks in France this summer and billed the team for the trip." Fields admitted that Jamie is "in a romantic relationship" with Fuller, but claims that it began "after she separated from Frank" on July 6. Fields also said that Jamie "did not bill the team for the trip" (L.A. TIMES, 10/29).

    STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: In Sacramento, Bill Bradley notes the Padres "had to be liquidated as part of the divorce settlement" between Owners John and Becky Moores, and that sale "made a bad economic situation worse for the Padres." The McCourts' "salacious tale of Hollywood gossip is not going to end soon," and it "may cause the Dodgers to be put up for sale, too" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/29).

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  • Jets Cut Some Season-Ticket Prices At New Stadium For '10 Season

    Jets Cite "Disappointing Sales" As Reason
    Behind Discounting Some Season Tickets
    The Jets yesterday said that they have "cut the prices of the season tickets attached to the 7,000 mezzanine club seats" at their new Meadowlands stadium, citing "disappointing sales as the reason for the discounts," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The Jets said that they "would keep in place the personal seat license fees that fans must buy for the right to purchase club seats." The $400 mezzanine club corner tickets were "cut to $195 a game, and the mezzanine goal line tickets, which were $400, were cut to $245." The corner tickets "still require a $5,000-a-seat license," while the goal line tickets require a "$7,500 license." The mezzanine club sideline season tickets "were slashed from $500 apiece to $295 and the mezzanine prime tickets were cut from $500 to $395." The lowered prices "will apply to those who have already purchased the club seats as well as to new buyers." Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins: "At the current trajectory, those club seats weren't going to sell out." Sandomir notes beginning Sunday, the team "will begin selling season tickets to 20,000 seats, some that require the purchase of seat licenses and others, in the upper deck, that do not." A "few thousand upper bowl seats, priced at $95 to $125, remain" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/29). In N.Y., Rich Cimini notes the mezzanine club seats "represent about 10% of the new stadium." The Jets said that so far they have sold "about 70% of their non-premium seats to existing season-ticket holders." Higgins: "We came to the conclusion that these prices are really 2007 prices in a 2009 world" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/29).

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  • Redskins' Ban Of All Signs Not A League-Wide NFL Policy

    Redskins Banning
    Signs At FedExField
    The Redskins "aren't following NFL marching orders in banning homemade signs" at FedExField, as the league has "no policy of banning signs or enforcing editorial judgments on clothing" at its games, according to Sean Leahy of USA TODAY. Several NFL teams noted that the general principle is that "messages cannot be offensive." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said, "It is the home club's responsibility to prevent the display of temporary signs or banners which obstruct sightlines or which are inflammatory, derogatory or generally in bad taste." Bengals Dir of Business Development Bob Bedinghaus said, "We would remove any sign that we find offensive or vulgar." But Redskins COO David Donovan acknowledges that FedExField security officials "might have been overzealous in asking fans to obscure T-shirts critical of team owner Daniel Snyder." CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow indicated that no NFL team has "ever told him signs wouldn't be available for a broadcast" (USA TODAY, 10/29).

    PROJECT CENSOR: In DC, Dan Daly writes it "doesn't matter what silly spin the organization wants to put on this." In the end, it "still comes across as censorship, the stifling of dissent, when some of the signs taken away voice displeasure" with Snyder and Redskins Exec VP/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato. Daly: "It's one thing if the sign uses foul language or blocks the view of an entire section; it's another when it merely exercises the fan's First Amendment rights" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/29). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "People in Washington are angrier over this ... than they are over the team's losing ways of recent years. If anybody tries to spin this and say it's anything other than (censorship), they're liars" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/28). CSN's Ivan Carter: "Do they not get that this makes it even look worse?" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/28).'s Kevin Blackistone: "People are just ticked off to a height that I've never seen before. They want to express it. They should be given the right to express it." L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "I can't believe that Federal Express, which pays $7.6(M) a year to sponsor that stadium, wants their name associated with this kind of censorship" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/28).

    Writers Criticizing Redskins' Team
    Management, Front Office, Snyder
    MAKING ENEMIES: The POST's Michael Wilbon wrote the Redskins "didn't learn a damn thing from being called out" this summer for "suing season ticket holders who could no longer afford seats in the worst recession in decades." That incident "should have embarrassed them into cleaning up their act," but team management "has gone from bad to worse." By banning signs at FedExField, did Snyder "think this is going to make folks around town stop talking about either the team's incompetence or the fact that an increasing number of people hold him (justifiably) responsible?" Wilbon: "Could a club think any less of the people who support it than this censorship suggests?" (, 10/28). In DC, Sally Jenkins writes while the Redskins have a 2-5 record on the field, "by far the worst performers on the team are in the front office." Team management "can no longer deny its primary role in running cohesion and exacerbating the team's problems, despite its best efforts to blame others, and to spin and censor." Jenkins: "Forget their NFL rivals, the Redskins apparently have enough opponents inside their own building" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/29). Washington Post reporter Gene Wang: "I grew up in this city. I’ve been here 40 years and I’ve not once seen it this bad with the Redskins. ... It's the organization as a whole, the mismanagement, the height of arrogance with which they are carrying themselves is what's making fans really angry" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/28).

    CUT OWNERS SOME SLACK?'s Ross Tucker, who played in the NFL from '01-07, wrote "flawed owner involvement is one of the worst-kept secrets in sports." It is "easy for fans to point to the relative lack of success of teams like the Cowboys and Redskins of late and blame the owners for being overly involved." But Tucker wondered, "If you were the owner of an NFL team, would you take a backseat and decline to have significant input on all the football decisions? I didn't think so. You see, making the decisions is why businessmen like [Jerry] Jones and Snyder get involved in pro sports" (, 10/28).

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  • CFL Argonauts co-Owners Considering Making Bid For Coyotes

    Sokolowski Expected To Meet
    With Glendale City Officials Monday
    CFL Toronto Argonauts co-Owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon are "considering making a bid for the Phoenix Coyotes and plan to meet" with City of Glendale officials next week, according to Waldie & Brunt of the GLOBE & MAIL. Sokolowski and Cynamon "had been linked to Ice Edge Holdings, a group of eight Canadian and U.S. businessmen who have made a pitch for the club." But sources said that their involvement with Ice Edge "ended several weeks ago," and that the two are "now exploring their own options for the club and they have assembled about a dozen financial backers." Sources added that Sokolowski and Cynamon were "never formal members of the Ice Edge but were kept abreast of the group's efforts." Sokolowski is "expected to be in Phoenix on Monday to meet with officials from the City of Glendale." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday declined comment on "whether league officials have talked to Sokolowski or Cynamon about a bid" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/29).

    WINNER TAKE ALL:'s Sarah Kwak wrote the "'Field of Dreams' formula for success ... if you build it, they will come; if you win there, they will come back," is a "familiar theme" in Phoenix. Coyotes RW Shane Doan: "I really do believe (the Coyotes) can survive here. But it takes us winning because if you don't win, there are just too many options here in the valley." Coyotes RW Scottie Upshall: "We can't just be an average team this year because ultimately, that's what's going to hurt this franchise, is us not being competitive. Stay competitive, and the fans will come." Upshall added, "I'm sure (creative ways to build a fan base) is something this organization has talked about, but without an owner, you know, it's tough to really get anything together" (, 10/28).

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  • Dennis Gilbert Meets With Rangers Officials About Buying Team

    Gilbert The Third And Final Potential Owner
    To Meet With Rangers In Past Two Weeks
    White Sox Special Assistant to the Chair Dennis Gilbert yesterday met with MLB Rangers officials as he "continues to pursue buying the club from Hicks Sports Group," according to Jeff Wilson of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Gilbert is the "third and final potential owner to meet at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington the past two weeks." The next step in the process of buying the team is to "submit final bids," and a source said that the bids are "due in late November." Wilson notes the winning bid is "expected to be for at least" $500M, though a sale "might not be completed until January" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/29).'s T.R. Sullivan noted Gilbert's meeting with the Rangers included a tour of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and "conferences with officials of the Rangers' baseball and business operations." Similar meetings were "held last week with investment groups headed by" Crane Worldwide Logistics Founder Jim Crane and Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg. Sullivan noted the next step "could be formal bids or continued negotiations with" Rangers and Stars Owner Tom Hicks (, 10/28).

    WATCHING THE STARS: In Dallas, Mike Heika writes he believes Hicks when he "says he wants to remain the owner of the Stars." Heika: "He likes this team. He wants this team to win, and he believes it can win and make money." Heika added it is his guess that if Hicks is able to "come out of this financial storm" that is forcing him to sell the Rangers with his ownership of the Stars in tact, he "will do whatever it takes to start spending to the cap again." Heika: "He obviously can't right now because of the financial situation he's in, but I think that he understands for the long-term success of the franchise, the owner of a hockey team in Texas has to spend money" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/29).

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  • Spurs Trying To Maintain And Build Support From Fans, Sponsors

    Spurs Facing Challenges In Maintaining
    Fan, Sponsor Support In Recession
    Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations Rick Pych "admits that team officials have faced challenges in maintaining support from fans and sponsors as jobs disappeared and sales weakened in the recession," according to William Pack of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The Spurs are "trying to address those concerns in a variety of ways: by freezing season ticket prices and offering options that extend ticket payment periods; by offering special, reduced-price promotions on a variety of games; by upgrading an area of the AT&T Center balcony to make it more appealing; and by providing activities such as free, post-game concerts that give fans more to do." Pych: "We want to appeal to as many people as possible. We hope to be a very, very competitive team. But there's a lot more going on than that, and it's all at a good value." Pack notes so far the results "suggest the Spurs are on pace with last year." The team "expects to sell close to 11,000 season tickets this year, which would be about normal for its seven-year stay at the AT&T Center." Pych noted that "some of the team's corporate sponsors dropped out this year because of economic concerns, but they have been replaced by other companies." The Spurs this season also are "initiating a new marketing campaign oriented around the excitement that game days create in San Antonio." The campaign "features the word 'SpursDay,' which the team hopes will become part of fans' vocabulary to demonstrate how closely intertwined the team and the community are" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/29).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Glazer Family Reportedly Puts Bucs Up For Sale
    After Massive Losses Due To Madoff Investment
    WTSP-CBS' Noah Pransky is citing WDAE-AM as reporting that "massive losses due to investments with Bernie Madoff" have forced Buccaneers Owner the Glazer family "to run the team on a minimal budget ... and may lead to the team's sale." The Glazers have owned the Buccaneers since '95 and have been "criticized for cost-cutting measures and the team's winless start" this season. However, WDAE reported that the cost-cutting is "largely a result of the family's more than $400[M] indirect loss to Madoff schemes and all signs point to the Glazers putting the team on the market" (, 10/29).

    GREENE TEA: In St. Petersburg, Damian Cristodero reports Miami-based real estate investor Jeff Greene, who was reportedly interested in investing in the Lightning, yesterday in a statement said his due diligence into the team's finances "determined that this investment does not meet our criteria." Greene said the numbers "do not work for us." Sansone Group Principal Tony Sansone Jr. said his group of investors "remain interested" in possibly buying the team, and it is "unclear what effect Greene's decision will have on Sansone, or if the process has been clarified or set back." Greene "was recruited by" Lightning co-Owner Oren Koules, and under Greene's plan, co-Owner Len Barrie reportedly "would have been bought out." Koules "would have been a secondary owner, though with a voice in personnel and organizational decisions." It is "believed under Sansone's plan ... Koules would be bought out" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/29).

    MEMPHIS BLUES: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes the Grizzlies during yesterday's home opener at FedExForum were "supposed to come out, see the nice crowd, and prove to everyone -- and maybe even themselves -- that this could be a different Grizzles team." They were "supposed to try, at the very least," but they "didn't do any of that," losing to the Pistons 96-74. The Grizzlies are a "fragile enterprise," and the home opener was "important." The fans "have been beaten down by years of ineptitude." This "isn't like the Cleveland Cavaliers losing their home opener." Cavaliers fans "will be back," but Grizzlies fans "may or may not be" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/29).

    MONEY MATTERS: A Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta report on "how sports teams in the Southeast are doing during the recession" indicated that the Saints are "faring well off the field." The team's $213M in revenue last season "compared favorably with the Southeast's other" five NFL teams -- the Dolphins with $232M, the Buccaneers with $224M, the Titans with $216M, the Jaguars with $204M and the Falcons with $203M. Meanwhile, the report said that NASCAR tracks are being "harder hit" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 10/27).

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