SBD/Issue 59/Franchises

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  • Cubs Raising Prices On Premium Seats For Prime Dates Next Season

    Cubs' Club Box Outfield Seats Will Increase By
    Nearly 19% Next Season For "Platinum" Games
    Cubs season-ticket holders "will pay more for prime seats at Wrigley Field in 2010, while bleacher and most upper deck seats will remain about the same," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Club box outfield seats "will increase by nearly" 19% next season for "so-called 'platinum' games, a new ticket price tier that was introduced in 2009, and will nearly double from 14 games to 26 next year." The "most expensive seat will be a platinum club infield box, which was raised by $12" from $100-112. The "cheapest tickets will be $9 for an upper deck outfield reserved seat for one of the six 'bronze' games on weekdays in April, May and September." All bleacher seats "will remain about the same as in '09." A bleacher seat for platinum games "will go for around $60.50," a 0.5% increase from '09. The Cubs "maintain that half of the ticket inventory will remain about the same, while the average price increase will be $2 for 'gold' games and $5 for 'platinum' games." A 1% "rise in the city amusement tax," from 11% to 12%, "figured into the price hike." The Cubs "hiked the prices on their most expensive seats and said they believe many of them will be re-sold by season ticket holders." Cubs President Crane Kenney said that up to 25% of the platinum tickets sold are "re-sold to a secondary market like StubHub or scalpers for at least twice their face value." The team also is "creating about 700 more season tickets." In addition, the Cubs "will add a new luxury 'club' by combining six suites down the left-field line and open a skating rink this winter in the parking lot west of Wrigley Field (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/5).

    KEEPING SCORE: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Sullivan reported the Cubs are "making several changes at Wrigley Field in 2010, including a 'refacing' of the back of the historic center-field scoreboard." Kenney: "We're tearing it all apart and rebuilding it." The front of the scoreboard "will remain the same." The back "has a neon sign that says 'Chicago Cubs,' which will remain the same." There will be "no ads put on the back of the scoreboard for now." Kenney: "That's not to say we're not looking at some marketing opportunities." Sullivan noted the Cubs "recently installed two large wooden boards in the left-field bleachers to give potential sponsors a look at what their ad can look like." The boards also "obstructed the view of the Horseshoe Casino ad" near the ballpark. The boards "were taken down last week, but are likely to be installed for good before the 2010 season" (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 12/4).  Meanwhile, Kenney said the Cubs are “looking at the possibility of installing an intranet at Wrigley for fans” with smartphones, giving them “access to stats and instant replays” (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 12/5).

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  • Cards Chair Bill DeWitt Jr. Refutes Claims About Team's Economics

    DeWitt Calls Suggestions Cardinals
    Generate $250M "Way Off Base"
    MLB Cardinals Chair Bill DeWitt Jr. Saturday said "much of what has been presented or insinuated about our economic situation is distorted or is simply untrue," according to Joe Strauss of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. DeWitt said any suggestion that the club generates closer to $250M than $200M is "way off base." Agent Scott Boras recently said of the Cardinals, "They're not a mid-market franchise. They're Philadelphia." Strauss noted the comparison "equates the Cardinals, who technically sit in the No. 21 media market based on households, with the nation's No. 4 market." The Phillies ended last season with a $136M 40-man payroll, compared to the Cardinals' $100.8M, 12th highest in MLB. Strauss noted that figure "won't increase significantly anytime soon." For "at least the next several seasons the club says it hopes to maintain 'relatively fixed' payroll around" $100M, "barring declining attendance." Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III "helped place the figure in context during a Thursday presentation to faculty and business students at Webster University with a pie chart showing player salaries representing roughly" 50% of the team's expenses. Team operations, player development and facility operations "each consumed about" 10% of the expense pie, while interest on debt and business operations "complete the picture." The team had $194.3M in expenses last season, "up from $164[M] in 2005, the Cardinals' final season in old Busch Stadium." DeWitt Jr. said that a $115M payroll "would leave the franchise 'operating at substantial cash deficits.'" Meanwhile, Strauss wrote new Busch Stadium was "advertised as a boon that would permit the franchise to escalate payroll," but the ballpark has "in some ways forced ownership to keep it static." DeWitt Jr. confirmed that the team "pays more than" $20M annually in principal and interest to "meet two instruments that enabled the club to finance its portion" of the $365M ballpark (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/6).

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  • Are Glazer Family's Financial Issues Affecting ManU, Bucs?

    Glazers Trying To Secure Refinancing
    Package For Part Of ManU's $1.1B Debt
    Manchester United Owners the Glazers are "struggling to refinance their enormous debts amid concerns about the impact they are having" on the club, according to Ducker & Power of the LONDON TIMES. The Glazers have been "trying unsuccessfully to secure a refinancing package for part of the club's" US$1.1B debt "for months, having failed in 2007 and last year, because of the bleak global economic climate." The "main concern is understood to centre around" the US$286M "worth of debt that the Glazers are personally responsible for, not the" US$846M of loans secured against the club. The Glazers are "believed to have been trying to refinance ... so-called Payment In Kind (PIK) notes, money borrowed from US hedge funds that 'rolls up' at an annual interest rate" of 14.25%. It is "understood that United are operating well within the financial terms set by their lenders." However, Perry Capital and Citadel -- the "two US hedge funds that provided the Glazers with PIK loans -- get a range of rights over the club in the event that their financial performance falls beneath a certain level, including the right to appoint their own directors to the board" (LONDON TIMES, 12/5).

    DOWN BY THE BAY: The Glazers also own the Buccaneers, who are 1-11 this season, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted the team for months has been "dogged by claims" that it "isn't spending enough money on players." But the "proof will come in the coming offseason." With the salary cap "apparently poised to go away (at least for a year) as of March 2010, the extent of the team's spending on players will go a long way toward proving that the Glazers are serious about improving the quality of the team" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/5). In St. Petersburg, Gary Shelton wrote under the header, "What Do Glazers Think Of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Season? Well, It's Anyone's Guess." The Glazers are the "ownership family where everyone is a silent partner." Shelton: "They are Tampa Bay's Secret Society, the owners who live in the cone of silence, and they could turn a thousand mind-readers into illiterates. Whatever they may be thinking, they are not sharing" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/5). 

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  • NHL Franchise Notes: Wild See Green From New Alternate Jersey

    Wild Will Wear Green Jerseys In 15 Games
    Wild Dir of Retail Operations Matt Freiberg said the team's alternate green jersey has been "doing very well for us, and the line around it has been extremely successful, too." The Wild will wear the green jersey, which features "Minnesota" in script lettering across a green background, for 15 games this season. The club is not releasing sales figures, but NHL.com on the Monday after Thanksgiving "listed the Wild's third jersey as its 10th-best-seller" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/5).

    LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: The Senators are averaging 17,970 fans through 16 home games at Scotiabank Place this season, "down 1,174 from the same period last season." Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk said, "I saw what was coming down the pipeline. We've had a 10[%] drop. All that means is that someone who goes to 20 games a year ... goes to 18." He added, "We're going to be working hard to replenish our season-ticket base (and conduct) a full review of what steps we can do to get back to the sellouts we had a year ago" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/7).

    SOMETHING BRUIN? The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek predicted the NHL "will scrutinize" the Bruins C Marc Savard's new seven-year, $28.5M contract extension. Savard is "getting fair-market value" for the first four years of the deal, during which he will earn $7M, $7M, $6.5M and $5M. But the contract drops to $1.5M in the fifth season and to $525,000 for each of the final two years, "at which point Savard will be 39 and almost certainly retired." The deal is an "obvious and egregious attempt to keep the salary-cap charge down" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/5). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun: "The league feels ... it circumvents the spirit of the CBA." But the CBC's Glenn Healy said the deal "is 100% legal." Healy: "Everybody wins. The team wins, the fans win" ("HNIC," CBC, 12/5).

    ALREADY LOOKING AT EUROPE AGAIN: An NHL source indicated that the Bruins are "one of six teams that have been approached by the NHL to start the 2010-11 regular season in Europe" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/5).

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  • Franchise Notes

    In N.Y., Jim Rich reported three Jets fans at the team's November 29 home game against the Panthers were escorted from Giants Stadium by security personnel for "refusing to relinquish their banner," which read, "PSL? Go to Hell!" The Jets and Giants "have maintained there will be no retribution against season-ticket holders who speak out against PSLs," which will be required for some seats at the teams' new Meadowlands stadium. But how else can you "categorize the ejection of fans, who by accounts were not disturbing other fans, simply for displaying a sign that rebels against management?" Giants Stadium security "has a clearly stated policy prohibiting banners or signs from being brought into the stadium" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/6).

    ALL EYES ON THE SALE: In Dallas, Evan Grant wrote if there is "any drama" around the MLB Rangers at the Winter Meetings, it will "all be about the sale" of the team. Grant: "Will Tom Hicks accept the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan offer? Will former agent Dennis Gilbert, pushed aside as a partner by Hicks, rebound with an intriguing offer all on his own? Will Hicks, who seemingly lost any chance at retaining control earlier in the week, announce a partnership with Greenberg and Ryan that would allow him to remain in the ownership group, though as a minority owner?" Grant added, "After months of seeking the highest price and then the most power, Hicks may or may not get the best price from Greenberg/Ryan, and he definitely wouldn't retain significant power. But Hicks might find the option that best saves face for him and puts fans at ease about the future of the club" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/6).

    Thorn Says Nets Unsure When Proposed
    Sale To Prokhorov Will Go Through
    UP IN THE AIR: Nets President Rod Thorn said of uncertainty around the team regarding the planned move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the proposed sale to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, "By the time we can go out and talk to free agents, I think we'll know where we'll be playing, and when, and who the owner will be. But right now, we don't know when the sale will go through. Prokhorov might not be here until January or February." Thorn added of where the team will be playing, "We're going to be here in New Jersey for the next two years, whether we're [at Izod Center in East Rutherford] or in Newark. We know it won't be Brooklyn" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/6).

    NO PLANS TO PLAY DOWN UNDER: In Boston, Peter Abraham reported the Red Sox Saturday "quickly issued a statement refuting" a report by Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph that the Red Sox will "play a regular-season game at the Sydney Cricket Ground in March." The Red Sox said MLB "controls all matters regarding international play of Major League games," and "contrary to reports ... the Boston Red Sox aren't in negotiations to play, nor plan to play a game in Australia in the 2010 season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/6).

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