SBD/Issue 121/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf said that the loss of RB Chester Taylor and G Artis Hicks in free agency had "nothing to do with any effort to cut down spending on players to make this team a winner." Wilf: "Our actions of the last several years have spoken larger than words. We spend when it's appropriate. ... When we want somebody, we go after them...When the opportunity arises and when the time comes, we will go out and get that person, but right now we're really working on the draft." Meanwhile, Wilf said that he is "hopeful that the Legislature will find a way to get a Vikings stadium bill passed this year." Wilf: "I think there's a way to get this thing done this year, so I'm excited on that front" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/8).

EXTENDED RESPONSIBILITES: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted the NHL "rarely meddles in the teams' day-to-day operations," but as the current owner of the Coyotes, a team of league execs has used the "opportunity to help improve the franchise's marketing, ticketing and accounting." The NHL "receives weekly budget updates, approves major purchases and fills budgetary gaps" for the Coyotes, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials "also hold town hall-style meetings to try to assure the local community that its team is not moving despite its financial uncertainty." NHL VP/Ticketing Strategy Jeff Morander is "helping the Coyotes develop a business plan for next season that can be passed on to the new owners" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/6).

Bird Feels Pacers Have Smaller
Room For Error As Small-Market Team

PICKING UP THE PACE: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote the Pacers are an "NBA afterthought, a small-market franchise that disappeared from the landscape" following the brawl with the Pistons in November '04. Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird has been "trying to make the Pacers matter again." Bird: "It's been tough, but it's part of the process. We had to get rid of some of the players and rebuild. We knew it was going to be tough, and it is." More Bird: "We don't have as much room for error as the bigger-market teams. We just feel like we haven't gotten the break we need yet, and once we catch that, we have to take advantage of it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).

TICKET HIKE: The Steelers for the fourth time in six seasons are "raising ticket prices." A ticket that cost $85 last season "will cost $92 for the 2010 season." The Steelers in a letter to ticket holders said the increase was so the team could "continue to meet the challenges of remaining competitive" in the NFL (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/7).

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