SBD/Issue 48/Franchises

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  • Grizzlies' Marketing Team Optimistic Despite Iverson Departure

    Grizzles Moving Forward With Revised
    Marketing Plan That Excludes Iverson
    The Grizzlies Monday released G Allen Iverson, but Grizzlies Senior Dir of Marketing & Communications John Pugliese "sounded stoic and even optimistic" about a revised marketing plan, according to Scott Cacciola of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Pugliese said, "Our campaign was not focused around Allen. It was focused around the young core of talent we had. So from a campaign standpoint, nothing will change. We have a loyal group of fans who are in this 'Griz Country' and part of 'Griz Nation,' and we've gotten a lot of support in the last day." Pugliese said that his marketing team "caught a break with the timing of all this, considering new billboards are scheduled to go up Friday." Pugliese said that G O.J. Mayo, F Rudy Gay and "'animated elf characters' will pitch holiday ticket packages." All of the ads "will be Iverson-free." However, Cacciola notes the team did design a "slogan that played off Iverson's nickname, 'Answer the Call.'" Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are "not offering ticket or merchandise refunds to disgruntled fans." All Iverson merchandise at The Grizzlies Store yesterday was 50% off and "all 90 remaining replica jerseys slashed from $170 to $85, even though there was one important disclaimer: All sales are final." There also "remains the small matter of 3,000 Iverson jerseys that the team had planned to give away" prior to the December 4 game against the Mavericks. Pugliese said that the they are "awaiting delivery at U.S. Customs," and he has "no idea what to do with them." Cacciola: "Should the team still give them away? Donate them to charity? Something else entirely?" Pugliese: "There are a lot of options. We want feedback from fans" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/18).

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  • Dave Dombrowski Adamant Tigers Not Headed For Fire Sale

    Jackson Rumored To Be One
    Of Tigers On Trading Block
    The popularly-held idea that the Tigers are slashing payroll heading into the ’10 season “took another hit" yesterday from Tigers President, CEO & GM Dave Dombrowski, according to Lynn Henning of the DETROIT NEWS. Dombrowski said, "I can assure you 100[%] that we do not have any kind of fire sale, or salary dump, or whatever you might call it, taking place." He added, “If we make any trades, I would assure you that we will make a trade because we think it’s a good trade for us. … It will not be done to move a salary.” Tigers CF Curtis Granderson and P Edwin Jackson are rumored to be on the trading block, but Dombrowski "would only say that 'conversations' continued with respect to just about any name on the roster." Henning writes the Tigers, who had a payroll of $115M last season, "appear to have a vision," as they "will deal for multiple young -- and affordable -- players that will mesh with the new wave to craft a younger, fresher, less costly contender." Granderson, 28, and Jackson, 26, are "two key players, but players whose 2009 market value is appealing when money is tight and new blood is needed" (DETROIT NEWS, 11/18).

    DECISION TIME: In Cincinnati, John Fay wrote the Reds are "counting pennies in a business in which it takes millions of dollars to win." Reds GM Walt Jocketty last week said he is "not yet" planning to cut payroll to balance the budget, and Fay wrote it "probably depends on how season-ticket renewals go." Early ticket renewals have been described as "promising," but if that trend "doesn't continue, and the Reds have to slash payroll to make budget, it means they may have to trade" 2B Brandon Phillips or P Bronson Arroyo. The Reds’ payroll in ’09 was $73.5M, and they already have $59.25M committed to six players next season. Fay: “Even if all 18 of the other players on the roster make the $400,000 minimum, they'll account for $7.2[M]. That adds up to $66.45[M]." However, if the Reds trade Phillips and Arroyo, they would "further risk alienating the fans." Fay wrote, "My advice in both cases is don't do it" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/14).

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  • Blue Jays Discontinuing Some Season-Ticket Perks Next Season

    Blue Jays Season-Ticket Holders' Annual Trip
    To Spring Training Being Discontinued Next Year
    Blue Jays season-ticket holders' annual trip to the team's Spring Training facility in Dunedin, Florida, is “being discontinued” next year, as is the practice of "providing season-ticket buyers the use of a Rogers Centre luxury suite for a regular-season game," according to Robert MacLeod of the GLOBE & MAIL. Blue Jays VP/Ticket Sales & Services Jason Diplock insisted that the Blue Jays are “acting on the concerns expressed to them by the full-season subscribers.” He said that while the seat holders “enjoyed the perks of the Florida trip and the access to the luxury suite -- perks that have been ongoing for about seven years -- it still represented a large out-of-pocket expense to the fans.” The Blue Jays last March flew about 750 season-ticket holders to Spring Training, which Diplock said cost the organization “well into six figures.” But the trip also costs the fans, as Diplock said they "still had to get their accommodations, rent a car [and] exchange their money over." Diplock: "It was becoming a challenge." MacLeod notes the luxury-suite offer included the free use of the box, but the season-ticket holders “had to pay for food and drink for as many as 10 or 12 guests, which could easily run to more than $1,000.” Diplock said that the club “plans to hold a subscriber barbecue this season, only it will be in Toronto in April” at Rogers Centre. Meanwhile, season-ticket holders who renew early will receive a “free pair of tickets” for the December 3 Jets-Bills game at Rogers Center (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18).

    STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: In Toronto, Morgan Campbell writes Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston is "crafting a plan to make the club … perennial contenders,” and he hinted that the plan “might include” former GM Pat Gillick. Beeston “expressed a strong desire to re-establish the Blue Jays as a national brand,” as fan interest in the team “has declined as its record sagged.” With GM Alex Anthopoulos’ “emphasis on stringent scouting and smart drafting, Beeston thinks the Jays can become baseball’s version of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks” (TORONTO STAR, 11/18).

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  • MLB Franchise Notes: Greenberg, Ryan Work Closely In Rangers Bid

    Ryan Helping Prepare 
    Final Bid For Rangers
    In Dallas, Evan Grant reports the "working partnership" between Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg and Rangers President Nolan Ryan "appears to be more formal than ever ... as the contenders for the Rangers' ownership finalize their bids for control of the team." A source said that Greenberg and Ryan "have worked more and more closely over the last month as they prepare their final bid," which is due before Thanksgiving. The source said that they have "met together with local investors," and that they have "received significant interest from local investors to the point the group could be called more local than national" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/18). In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel notes Greenberg "spent much of the past several weeks in Arlington, Texas, meeting with Rangers front office staff and members of the current ownership group" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 11/18).

    NATIONAL TREASURE? In DC, Mark Zuckerman noted the team has added aournd 17 "new front office positions in the last six weeks." While "some of those are part-time international scouts," it shows the "emphasis that has been placed on beefing up the front office." Meanwhile, the Nationals "have finalized a deal to build a new Dominican academy in Boca Chica after spending the last year renting a facility owned by Rawlings in the same area" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 11/17). Meanwhile, also in DC, Dick Heller noted the Nationals "have introduced 'great value-packed incentives'" for fans buying '10 season-ticket packages. Each fan "will receive up to $7 per ticket in 'added value' that can be used to purchase food, drinks and team merchandise at Nationals Park." Heller wrote, "During these perilous economic times, the idea of getting something for nothing is more attractive than ever. As opposed to usually getting nothing for something when you sit in the stands" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/15).

    A STEP UP: In Minneapolis, Michael Rand writes of the Twins' new uniforms, "While retro can be overdone, there is absolutely not a thing wrong with those home throwback uniforms that pay homage to the 1961 season and the upcoming 50th year of Twins baseball." Also, the "road grays are an upgrade in the eyes of some (though not all) as well" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/18).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Writer Says Warriors' Problems Could Call For
    League To Step In And Provide Stern Direction
    In Portland, Geoffrey Arnold wrote the Warriors' problems are "growing each day." Many star players are "no longer with the team," and a front office "power struggle forced the departure of a popular executive" in Chris Mullin. The team is "guided by an aloof and unorthodox coach," and the result is a franchise that was "once a darling of the league that is now a laughingstock." The team's problems "could call for the league to step in and provide stern direction" (OREGONLIVE.com, 11/17). In S.F., Ray Ratto writes the franchise has "dead-ended in its present state." This is the "worst Warriors implosion of the half dozen or so we've endured since the mid-1970s, because it is so raw, so free of pretense or disingenuousness" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/18).

    LOOKING TO SELL: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that he has "six potential buyers on the line" for the Coyotes. But the GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts notes a "day in search of the elusive six produced little concrete information." The "one obvious suitor" is Ice Edge Holdings, but "after that, the field thins out quickly." If he "can't sell the team by the end of the season, Bettman will have to tell the governors the total tab for rescuing the Coyotes ... could hit" $200M. That "would be the purchase price plus the legal costs in the war against [Jim] Balsillie's plan to buy the team and move it to Hamilton, plus this season's losses." Considering the team lost more than $60M last season and "this season's ticket sales have cratered," that $200M estimate "might be on the light side" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18).

    WILD BUFFALO: The Bills fired coach Dick Jauron yesterday, and in Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes the team has "been a dysfunctional mess for a decade." The "only thing you can count on is that they'll lose -- and that the owner will function on the cheap." The Bills are "at a crossroads," whether Owner Ralph Wilson "admits it or not." He has a "bad team, an inferior front office [and] increasingly disaffected fan base." Wilson has to "loosen the purse strings and pay the going rate for good football people" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/18).

    FEAST FOR A KING: The NBA Kings prior to yesterday's game against the Bulls held a free holiday buffet for ticket holders, and a team spokesperson said that "everyone in line when the game started was served, estimating that 1,084 fans were served." Kings co-Owner Gavin Maloof: "People were crowding to get in. I couldn't believe how many people there were. But, hey, we'll try anything. ... At the end of the day we'll evaluate it. Maybe we'll do it again" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/18).

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