SBD/Issue 43/Franchises

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  • Dave Checketts In Advanced Talks To Sell 49% Of Real Salt Lake

    Source Says Checketts, Group
    Like Idea Of "Local Partner"
    MLS Real Salt Lake (RSL) Owner Dave Checketts is in "advanced" talks with Utah-based real estate developer Dell Loy Hansen about selling 49% of the MLS franchise, according to a front-page piece by Edward & Palmer of the DESERET NEWS. The deal has not been finalized, but Hansen said "there is a deal in principle." It still requires approval from the FCC, MLS and lenders. Hansen, who is President of Wasatch Property Management, said, "We're just looking forward to finishing the approvals." While RSL would not comment on the sale price, Edward & Palmer note MLS expansion franchises have recently been valued at $40M, while RSL's newly-constructed Rio Tinto Stadium cost $110M. Sandy (UT) Mayor Tom Dolan said that city officials "have been aware of the proposed purchase and are excited about the potential of having a local owner" (DESERET NEWS, 11/11). In Salt Lake City, Michael Lewis cites RSL sources as saying that "all of the proceeds from the sale will remain" with the franchise, and are "not tied to Checketts' effort to buy" the Rams. The sources claim that the sale does not indicate RSL is "facing financial problems," but rather is designed to "strengthen the financial position" of the team, Rio Tinto Stadium and KALL-AM, owned by Checketts' SCP Worldwide. Lewis notes Checketts and his ownership group "have grown to like the idea of a 'local partner,' especially after including one in their ownership" of the Blues. Meanwhile, Hansen told weekly Salt Lake City business newspaper The Enterprise that he "plans to 'brand' many of his real estate holdings ... by decorating them with RSL flags and banners and offering game tickets for sale." He added that his company also will "sponsor housing for 20 players and staff members" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/11).

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  • NHL Might Try To Renegotiate Coyotes' Jobing.com Arena Lease

    Potential Bidders Will Likely Find Coyotes'
    30-Year Lease For Jobing.com Arena Troubling
    The NHL is "thinking about trying to renegotiate the ... lease agreement between" the Coyotes and the city of Glendale, according to Chris Johnston of the CP. The NHL recently paid $140M to "purchase the team out of bankruptcy and is currently looking for a new buyer." The Coyotes have a 30-year lease with Glendale for Jobing.com Arena that "potential bidders will likely find troubling." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league is "considering trying to negotiate a better lease to make the team more attractive." The NHL is "eager to unload the Coyotes as soon as possible and believes a renegotiated lease could help speed the process up." Daly: "It may be one way to move the process forward by going in and doing our own deal, understanding what's there and then we have something to sell. And either people want to buy it on those terms or they don't. It could make it easier I'm not suggesting it's the only way to go about it" (CP, 11/10).

    SALES PITCH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle notes during the last six months, the Coyotes "lost more than half" of their 5,500 season-ticket holders and a "number of key personnel." In the "wake of the departures, the Coyotes have looked elsewhere for assistance on ticket and corporate sales." The team hired Phoenix-based Ticket Sales University and New Jersey-based telemarketing group Turnstile Ticketing to "assist in the team's ticket sales effort." Because the season is already under way, Coyotes President & COO Doug Moss "shifted the front office's sales focus from selling season tickets to selling group packages." The team also "created a number of new offerings to try to entice people to buy tickets." Moss: "I don't see a sellout out there in the future, but the better the team plays, and the more programs we put in place, the better attendance will be." Moss is "looking to hire a full-time consultant to assist and manage the five-person corporate sales staff" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/9 issue).

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  • Jamie McCourt Speaks For First Time Since Filing For Divorce

    McCourt Says She Has A Plan 
    To Buy The Dodgers  
    Former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt in her first public comments since filing for divorce from her husband Frank, the team's Owner, said that she has a "plan to buy the team and 'absolutely' sees herself as owner" of the team, according to T.J. Simers of the L.A. TIMES. Jamie in the divorce proceedings has been "portrayed as someone with no ownership claim and not fit for duty." But she said, "I don't need to be the controlling interest, I just love baseball that much and want to stay a part of it and lend my expertise any way I can." When asked about Dodgers President & COO Dennis Mannion's recent assertion that she was not "fit" for the team's CEO role, Jamie said, "I wasn't surprised so much as I was floored and saddened. I hired him. None of what he said was true." Jamie in divorce filings claims that she was the "face of the Dodgers," and yesterday she said, "When I became CEO, Frank used to say, 'Go be the face of the Dodgers, go be the external brand (in the community).'" Jamie indicated that she would not discuss details of the divorce, and since she was "described as an 'at will' hire by Frank McCourt in a letter terminating her services as the team's CEO, there was no apparent need in either case to detail any alleged wrongdoings." But Jamie said, "To read everything that's been said is devastating, and my kids are pretty upset about it. I want my kids to look back and say she took the high road. It's hard, but that's what I'm going to try and do." Jamie now has "no standing with the Dodgers," and Frank reportedly since firing her last month has "gone on a purge, dismissing as many as 15 or 16 employees considered loyal to Jamie." She said, "I take it very personally. ... It bothers me that people not working for tons of money in most cases were let go when all they cared about was helping the Dodgers to get a ring. It really upsets me." Meanwhile, Simers reports the Dodgers "hired a corporate strategist four years ago to evaluate the whole organization, including the relationship between Frank and Jamie." The report said Frank "doesn't value her talents, listens to her only on his terms and shows little respect/acknowledgment for her in public" (L.A. TIMES, 11/11). 

    DODGER BLUES: Longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully yesterday said, "On the present incident taking place, as someone who holds in gravest sanctity the issue of marriage, it breaks my heart. That's all I have to say on that" (LATIMES.com, 11/10).

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  • 76ers Roll Out Several Initiatives To Reignite Fan Interest

     
    76ers Senior VP/Business Operations Lara Price said that the team has "loaded up on specially priced ticket packages and plans this season" after finishing 23rd in the NBA in average attendance last year with 15,802 fans per game, according to John George of the PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL. The team's home opener on October 30 against the Bucks drew just 14,638 fans to Wachovia Center, and last season's average home crowd was down nearly 5,000 from the '01-02 season. The 76ers this year cut the price of their family pack ticket plan from $99 to $76, and once again will offer $10 tickets through a partnership with McDonald's. The team is "bringing back a 'Ladies Night Out' package introduced at the end of last year," and has added an "online 'sixth man club' where members who sign up on the team’s Web site get discounted ticket offers nearly every week." Last month, the organization "mined its database for names of former season ticket buyers" and invited them to a private dinner, where Comcast-Spectacor President & COO Peter Luukko, 76ers GM Ed Stefanski and coach Eddie Jordan all spoke. Price said, "We are really trying to accommodate all lifestyles and income levels" (PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/6 issue).

    AN EMPTY FEELING: Last night's Magic-Bobcats game drew an announced crowd of 13,415 at Time Warner Cable Arena, and in Charlotte, Rick Bonnell writes, "If I were the Bobcats, I wouldn't just be worried about the number of empty seats at home games, but where those seats go empty. Let's face it: You could sell out the upper bowl every game and the revenue amassed couldn't pay the bills. Right now the lower bowl from baseline-to-baseline, the 'oceanfront property,' can look pretty deserted, particularly on a weeknight" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/11). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz writes it "looked more like a preseason game at tip-off Tuesday night, with the lower bowl about 60[%] full" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/11).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Heat Owner Micky Arison Insists He
    Has No Interest In Selling The Team
    Heat Owner Micky Arison "insists he has no interest in selling the team despite sustaining millions in annual losses." Arison: "No question this is going to be a tough year for the franchise. It's about trying to lose less money. We've never made money here. We're trying to create a climate of fiscal discipline like every other business." Arison, who serves as Chair of Carnival Cruise Lines, also estimated that he has seen as much as a $200M "reduction in operating costs" for that business (MIAMI HERALD, 11/11). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes Arison "stressed the plan now is to eventually hand over the team to his son," Heat VP/Basketball Operations Nick Arison. Micky Arison: "I thought it was a great asset to keep for my family." He added, "We're in good shape with sponsorship, surprisingly good shape, but really struggling with ticket sales, and I think that's the situation all over the country, with some exceptions" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/11).

    OFFSEASON UNCERTAINTY: In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson writes a potential sale of the MLB Rangers and the "prospect of having a new owner in place this off-season might affect how effectively the Rangers are able to fill out their 2010 wish list" this offseason. Final bids for the team from three potential owners are "due this month," but a transfer of ownership from Hicks Sports Group "might not be completed until January." Still, Rangers GM Jon Daniels yesterday said that the team "will be conducting business as it has in the past" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/11).

    RENEWAL RATE: In San Diego, Bill Center reports the Padres "recorded a season-ticket milestone Tuesday when the renewal rate hit" 56%, which "tops last year's total renewal rate" of 55%. Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel: "We are on track to sell more new season tickets by the end of this month than we did the entire 2009 season." Garfinkel "credits the upsurge in sales to the Padres' late-season performance as well as reduced prices for many season-ticket sections" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/11).

    OWNER'S MANUAL: CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon said he is looking to "resolve in short order" the CFL Toronto Argonauts' ownership issue. Argonauts co-Owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski last month said that they "were mulling over selling the team." While "insisting they'd rather keep the team, they also said they'd require the league's help to do that, likely in the form of some revenue-sharing deal among the CFL's eight teams." Cohon yesterday said that is "certainly something up for discussion among the other owners." But he said that a "final deal on that is likely a ways off" (TORONTO STAR, 11/11).

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