SBD/Issue 93/Franchises

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  • Nolan Ryan Hopeful MLB Oversight Of Rangers Will Be Lifted

    Ryan Expects MLB Oversight Of Rangers Will
    Be Lifted Once New Ownership Takes Control
    Rangers President Nolan Ryan yesterday acknowledged that MLB "continues to oversee the organization, something it's done since July," but noted that he "expects those restrictions will be lifted" once the new ownership group takes control, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDALLAS.com. Ryan said, "We were required to have any expenditure that was not budgeted for ... to be approved and also any signing outside of the slot limit had to be approved." But he noted, "MLB did not want to affect the normal day-to-day operations. It really did not encumber us to the point where we couldn't do anything. They realized we needed to run as usual as much as we possibly could" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 1/26). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson reports MLB "gave the green light" to the team's trade for C Ivan Rodriguez in August, but "would let the Rangers go only so far" when they tried to sign first-round draft pick Matthew Purke to a $6M deal (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/27). Ryan said, "I'm very pleased that with the budget restraints that we were operating under, we were able to get creative, move things around and free up some money so we didn't leave a void in the ballclub. That made a difference." He noted he expects no "distinct changes" to the team's operations. Ryan: "We're going to stay with the overall plan we put in place in 2007 with developing our own players. We feel the organization is in a position to be very competitive" (MLB.com, 1/26).

    MAPPING OUT A GAME PLAN: Prospective Owner Chuck Greenberg said he is "not going to interject" his opinions in baseball decisions, adding he plans to focus on the "business side" of the organization. Greenberg: "How do we connect with the community? How do we create a higher tempo of energy in the front office? How can we do a better job of filling the stands and make an impact on people's lives?" When asked about the team's payroll, Greenberg said the "resources are here" in the Dallas market. Greenberg: "We have to do a better job of cultivating that support. Is there one payroll figure that makes sense? No. I just think it depends on the circumstances." He added, "If the organization is doing all of the things it ought to do in all facets of the operation, this franchise should be able to operate like a big-market team." Greenberg said Rangers Ballpark at Arlington "could use some freshening up in 2010," noting a "more centrally located HD video board can enable the game-day experience to be enhanced." But he added, "Whatever we do with this ballpark will be with care for the legacy of the ballpark." Meanwhile, Greenberg said of outgoing Owner Tom Hicks' future with the club, "I'm sure there was a tremendous temptation to be involved and to be on the board, but I think for the franchise's future and for Tom's legacy, the way we ended up putting this together is best for everyone" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 1/26).

    GLORY DAYS? In Ft. Worth, Baker & Ahles report Columbus-based development firm Steiner & Associates is suing Hicks "over who owns a portion of land" near the ballpark that is included in the proposed sale of the Rangers. The firm, which began working with Hicks more than five years ago, has filed suit in Tarrant County (TX) to "determine who has the rights to 45 acres that was to be the site of Glorypark," the planned development around the ballpark. Steiner filed the suit last Thursday, "two days before Hicks announced a deal" to sell the club and land to the Greenberg-led group. A Hicks spokesperson noted that "all the Glorypark land is included in the land to be transferred." However, Steiner's suit asserts that Steiner's Arlingtonpar LLC owns 25% of Glorypark Town Center LLC. Hicks yesterday said that the suit "has no merit and will not prevent the sale of the team." Hicks: "For them to be pirates and try to hold me up at the time the baseball team is being sold is just very disappointing." Steiner in the suit also is seeking $14.5M, including $6M the company "put into the partnership," $6M spent on the project and a $2.5M fee Hicks vowed to pay "if he sold the Rangers" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/27).

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  • Falcons Raising Price Of Some Premium Seats At Georgia Dome

    Falcons' Suite And Club Seat Tickets
    Will Cost 4% More Next Season
    The Falcons are "raising the prices of some premium seats at the Georgia Dome," according to Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Suites and club seats "will cost 4[%] more next season." Falcons VP/Sales Dave Cohen: "We think that Atlanta is a growing market, and (there is) a lot of potential out there with small, mid and large companies to sell club seat inventory to." Cohen said that he is "confident he can sell 1,000 club seats this coming season, up from 766 sold" for last season. Stafford notes super suite seats "will decrease $1,000, from $4,250 each to $3,250." Georgia Dome GM Carl Adkins said that the price reduction is aimed at making the premium boxes "more attractive to buyers." Meanwhile, Falcons VP/Marketing Jim Smith was "bullish on advertising for the upcoming season." He said that the team has $9M in inventory at the Dome, an "increase over this past season when that number was around" $8.6M (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/27). Cohen said that the team "expects to sell 14 suites at an average price of $80,000." The team last year sold 17 suites altogether. Cohen added that the team "sold 150 single-game suites in 2009, and expects to sell the same amount this year." Those seats "average $4,369 each." In Atlanta, Lisa Schoolcraft noted the Falcons have "contracts for 32 'super suites' at the dome, and hope to sell 42." Cohen said that the "goal for club and suite sales in 2010 is $18.9[M]," which would represent $4M in "new premium seat revenue" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/26).

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  • Phillies Ahead Of '09 Full-Season Equivalent Ticket Sales Mark

    The Phillies have surpassed their '09 season-ticket sales base, selling nearly 27,000 full-season equivalents for the '10 season, about 10% ahead of the 24,600 FSEs sold for '09. The club is anticipating selling another 1,000 FSEs before the season starts. Thanks in part to a popular Sunday-only mini-plan, the Phillies' Sunday home games this season each have a pre-sold base of more than 38,000 people per game. The club is coming off its second straight National League pennant, but it also is buoyed by an improving economy. "It's really all come together for us. We have an incredibly loyal and passionate fan base," said Phillies VP/Sales & Ticket Operations John Weber. "Our baseball operations team has retained our core players, so they've established continuity there while still making acquisitions to improve our club. Players enjoy playing here, and while economically it's still tough, we're up and are seeing lift. It's all intertwined."

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  • Greg Oden Apologizes To Trail Blazers For Nude Photographs

    Oden Apologizes For Nude Photographs,
    Says They Were Meant To Remain Private
    Trail Blazers C Greg Oden yesterday apologized to his teammates, team Owner Paul Allen and his family after nude pictures of him surfaced on the Internet, an "embarrassment for the Blazers," according to John Canzano of the Portland OREGONIAN. Oden's apology was "driven from his own embarrassment and conversations" with his reps at BDA Sports Management, and he was "right to get in front of this and make a public statement." Canzano writes, "This error by Oden isn't dog fighting, or smoking pot in a yellow Hummer, or being caught with drugs by an airport metal detector. And if you can't tell the difference, you need to educate yourself" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/27). Oden yesterday said the photos were for a "lady friend who I was having a relationship with" and were "definitely meant to keep private" (OREGONLIVE.com, 1/26). Oden prior to his apology held a teleconference with Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, coach Nate McMillan and agents Bill Duffy and Mike Conley Sr. Oden said that they all agreed that the "best way to tackle the problem was to 'address it and get it out of the way.'" In Portland, Kerry Eggers writes, "You have to be careful about what you do. Don't put yourself in a position where the world can make judgments about your character. Don't put the organization that is paying you millions of dollars to play basketball in such an unfavorable light" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 1/27). Pritchard yesterday said, "I'm disappointed, and a little embarrassed." When asked if Blazers players are "warned to avoid such pitfalls," Pritchard said team Dir of Player Development Hersey Hawkins "does a great job of communicating with these guys." He added, "We'll continue to try to educate and help the players" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 1/27).

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  • NBA Franchise Notes: Fords, Ilitches Not Buying The Pistons

    Ford Jr. Says His Family Is
    Not Interested In Buying Pistons
    Ilitch Holdings President & CEO Christopher Ilitch and Lions Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr. yesterday said that "their families were not interested in buying the Pistons" from Karen Davidson. Ford said, "Just answering for myself, no. I think between the Lions, Ford Field and Ford Motor Co., I feel like we've kind of got a full plate." Ilitch, whose family owns the Red Wings, Tigers and Little Caesars Pizza, said, "You never know what the future holds, but I would say we're focused on winning hockey games, winning baseball and trying to sell a little pizza once in a while" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/27).

    COMMUNITY SERVICE: In Detroit, Bill Laitner reports the Pistons are giving ticket discounts to their February 21 game against the Spurs as part of a "fund-raiser for the budget-strapped West Bloomfield School District after a parent came to the team with the idea." Pistons VP/PR Matt Dobek said that the team is "selling a $175 lower-level ticket for $100 and a $40 second-level ticket for $20 -- online and by phone -- and giving half of the proceeds to the West Bloomfield Education Foundation." Pistons G Richard Hamilton and F Austin Daye also are "featured in a video on the district's Web site, ... promoting education and asking viewers to buy tickets" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/27). 

    IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM ... In DC, Michael Wilbon notes "half of the 20,173 in attendance at Verizon Center" for last night's Lakers-Wizards game "seemed to be cheering for the Lakers." In addition, nearly "one-quarter seemed to be wearing Kobe jerseys." Wilbon: "We've reached that point of the season where the primary reason to attend Wizards home games is to go and see the opposition, the other guys' all-stars, the icons, the LeBrons and D-Wades and CP3s. They used to market the team this way, in the early 1990s when the Bullets were hopeless" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/27).

    ... JOIN 'EM? Nets GM & coach Kiki Vandeweghe yesterday said that he "did not believe" that free agents "might be turned off" by the team's poor season. The Nets currently sit at 3-40, and Vandeweghe said, "Having been through this before, having been down the recruiting process, having had a lot of cap space, having had a really bad rebuilding season, I was never asked once by an agent or a free agent about our record the year before. You're judged by not necessarily on your record, if you fast forward to July, you’re judged on the assets you have in place and what the free agents are going to come join" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/27).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Pats Not Signing Brady Before '10 Season
    Could Send Fans A Bad Message
    In Boston, Christopher Gasper noted Patriots QB Tom Brady is headed into the final year of his contract, and it would "send a terrible message to players and a fretful fan base already roiled by the team's near religious reluctance to pay out lucrative, long-term deals if Brady were allowed to go into the 2010 season without a new deal." While the "buzzword for the Patriots is financial flexibility" heading into a potential uncapped season, there is "not a CBA agreement in the world that doesn't make signing Brady a smart business move on and off the field" (BOSTON.com, 1/26).

    JET POWER: In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro reports the Jets on Monday sent out a recorded message from coach Rex Ryan to season-ticket holders, "waxing about the fact that these are not 'the same old Jets' and firing them up for next season in the first year in the new stadium they'll share with the Giants." Ryan in the message said, "Let's play this game in front of our fans and our stadium, the new Jets stadium. I can't wait. We get our own stadium and we are not visitors in our stadium. This is our stadium. We are the biggest show in town, and that's what it's going to be" (N.Y. POST, 1/27). 

    FANTASTIC FOUR: In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes Vikings QB Brett Favre "might be able to squeeze several million dollars" more out of team Owner Zygi Wilf if Favre elects to return next season because "Wilf needs Favre as his stadium marketing tool." Meanwhile, a source indicated that a local Vikings apparel shop "would have enjoyed a profit of about $100,000 from merchandise sales had the Vikings beaten the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday and advanced to the Super Bowl" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/27).

    TOO BIG OF A DISTRACTION? MLB.com’s Peter Gammons wrote Mark McGwire’s return to the MLB Cardinals as a hitting coach was “never a ploy to get him into the Hall of Fame.” It was instead about manager Tony La Russa’s “belief in the work ethic, team values and teaching skills of McGwire.” But the move has “turned into a PR disaster,” as the "opening shot of the 2010 season is going to be McGwire in his Cardinals uniform.” Gammons: “La Russa likes to control his team, his clubhouse and the environment, but can he control it enough so that McGwire isn’t a distraction?” (MLB.com, 1/25).

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