SBD/Issue 161/Franchises

Bobcats Look To Cash In On Momentum From Playoff Appearance

Bobcats' Ticket Renewal
Rates At 85% For Next Year

The Bobcats "have a much better story to tell this off-season" after making the postseason for the first time, but it is up to Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan and President & COO Fred Whitfield to "make the Bobcats financially viable," according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The team prior to the '09-10 season was "projected to lose $35[M]," but team officials said that "several successes of late have improved the Bobcats' bottom line." The Bobcats have sold "more than 800 new season tickets for next year," and renewal rates have "climbed to 85%, up from around 70% in recent years." That ranks the team sixth and 12th, respectively, in the NBA. Whitfield said that those sales, "much like several corporate sponsors expected to be added in the next few months, are the culmination of an 18-month push." Industry execs said that the Bobcats "must pounce on the momentum" from making this year's playoffs. SportsCorp President Marc Ganis: "They must stay in the public eye after the playoffs. Every week or two, they need to have something that puts them in the public eye. It almost needs to be scripted." Spanberg noted Jordan "approved increased budgets for game operations at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs, adding flair to the team's post-season push," and he allowed Whitfield to "hire eight staffers, the franchise's first gain since laying off 38 employees" in '08. NBA Commissioner David Stern "praises Jordan and Whitfield for seeking help from the league office to improve ticket and sponsorship sales, as well as game operations and marketing." Stern: "To me, this is about Michael the businessman. I very much enjoy telling him that whatever he's doing isn't good enough. That's all you have to tell him" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/30 issue).

SAYING THANKS: In a special to the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, Jordan wrote, "On behalf of the entire Bobcats Sports & Entertainment family, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the city of Charlotte, our fans from across the Carolinas and our partners from around the country for helping us make this season the best in franchise history. ... None of this would have been possible without the support and contributions of the Charlotte community." Jordan thanked fans for "kind words of encouragement this season ... remarkable energy at home games and for helping us create one of the best playoff atmospheres in the league." Jordan: "For the first time since I've been involved with the Bobcats, you could feel a sense of pride among our fans and momentum in the city" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/2).

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