SBD/Issue 205/Franchises

LeBron Picks Miami: Heat Poised For Financial Windfall

Heat Can Expect Revenue Boosts From Ticket,
Suite, Premium Seat Sales And Sponsorships

The Heat, "which has said it lost money in recent years, is now poised to reap a windfall" from LeBron James' decision to sign with the team, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The Heat "can expect revenue boosts in nearly every category -- tickets, suites, premium seat sales and sponsorships, including arena signage." Florida-based Sports and Sponsorships President Scott Becher said, "You're probably looking at $10 million or more in playoff revenue alone, not to mention maybe another $10 million on regular-season ticket sales, sponsorship and media sales." Becher estimated that the team's sponsorship revenue "would increase three-to-five times what it was last year." Becher: "There will be immense interest in associating with anything Heat related." Horrow Sports Ventures CEO Rick Horrow said the trio of James, G Dwyane Wade and F Chris Bosh "could cause a 30 to 40 percent increase in sponsorships and even more in overall revenue." Meanwhile, Jackson notes because of the way the team's "broadcast contracts are structured, the Heat will receive a financial boost on radio this season but not necessarily on television." Clear Channel's contract for radio rights to Heat games "has one season left," but an industry source said that Sun Sports' deal for TV rights to Heat games "has at least five seasons remaining and the team cannot ask for a higher rights fee." Sun Sports GM Steve Liverani Thursday said that his staff is "meeting this week to determine how much the James/Wade/Bosh pairing will affect ad rates." He said that rates "will increase, but it's too soon to tell how much" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/9). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds notes Sun Sports "figures to ring up significant gains in ratings" during the '10-11 season for Heat broadcasts. The net averaged a 2.51 rating for 71 Heat games during the '09-10 season. Meanwhile, FS Ohio "figures to take a ratings hit." The net averaged an 8.55 rating for 70 Cavaliers games last season, the "top mark for a regional with NBA telecasts" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/9).

HOT TICKET: In Miami, Adam Beasley reported prior to James' announcement, the Heat sold out their '10-11 season tickets Thursday. Only a "handful" of lower-level season tickets were still available to the public at $6,000 a piece on Thursday morning, and those were "quickly snapped up, possibly by fans, possibly by brokers looking to cash in" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 7/8). The AP's Tim Reynolds noted the season-ticket sellout "doesn't mean all 19,600 seats are gone for the 41 home games," as "not every seat has been released for sale and some will be held back for single-game purchases." The Heat by mid-afternoon yesterday posted a message on their website "inviting fans to call the team ticket office directly for purchase-related questions." Reynolds noted it was "expected" that more tickets would be available on Friday (AP, 7/8). In Miami, Michael Wallace writes there "hasn't been this much excitement around the Heat" since O'Neal "arrived in a diesel truck he parked in front of AmericanAirlines Arena in 2004." The Heat and their fan base in a span of two days have "gone from bracing for the devastation of Wade's potential free-agency departure to embracing the possibility of winning perennial NBA championships" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/9).

TAKING OVER THE TOWN? In Miami, Greg Cote writes the city became the "capital of basketball" after James' announcement, and South Florida is now the "epicenter of American sports." The Heat also "became bigger than the Dolphins. Maybe not forever, but immediately and for the foreseeable future." Heat home games will become "events, every one an assured sellout festooned with celebrities," and parking fees outside AmericanAirlines Arena "went from merely costly to ridiculous." Also, network TV likely "instantly adopted a new 'it' team" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/9). In West Palm Beach, Hal Habib writes, "Years from now, South Florida sports fans may look back on the moment of James' decree as not only shifting the balance of power in the NBA, but raising a question that had seemed preposterous: Can the Heat supplant the Dolphins as kings of the South Florida sports marketplace?" Basketball HOFer Rick Barry, who attended the Univ. of Miami, said, "Florida will always be a football state, certainly, but as long as the Heat's performing at a high level people are going to support them." WQAM-AM host Orlando Alzugaray said that the Dolphins "now have competition to rule the sports landscape." Alzugaray: "If the Dolphins aren't relevant by November, we're going to forget about them and we're going to move on to the Miami Heat" (PALM BEACH POST, 7/9). ESPN's Bob Holtzman said, "This is a football city as you guys know and it's quickly turn into a basketball city here in the last two days." ESPN's Mike Greenberg: "It remains a New York sports town. But I will say the Heat will be, without question, the biggest team in town now over the Dolphins" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 7/9).

FANS LOVE A WINNER: In N.Y., Larry Dorman writes James, Wade and Bosh "will take over a town that loves winners -- and only winners -- and will reign for as long as the team competes for titles." Miami is a "football town, and that has not changed since the Dolphins arrived more than 40 years ago." The Dolphins were "tolerated but unloved until Don Shula arrived in 1970 and built a dynasty." There also were "some die-hard University of Miami backers in those days," but the football team won fans when it embarked on its "stretch of dominance from the 1980s through the early 2000s." When the Heat won their first and only title in '06, the team was "greeted by a huge outpouring of love from the locals," but following C Shaquille O'Neal trade to the Suns in '08, the "big Heat crowds pretty much followed him to the exits." However, if anyone "can elevate hoops to the stratosphere where Shula and Marino live, it is James" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/9). Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard said, "South Florida stinks as a sports town. They don't deserve this. ... What Miami does exceptionally well is it does the bandwagon well" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/8).

Heat President Pat Riley Praised For Landing
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade And Chris Bosh

RILEY DOES IT AGAIN: On Long Island, John Jeansonne writes Heat President Pat Riley is "himself on center stage again" as a result of "having pulled all the strings to sign the league's top three free agents." Recruiting James, Wade and Bosh has "re-established the Riley maestro vibe cultivated when he won four league titles" with the Lakers and took the '94 Knicks to the NBA Finals. ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy said Riley and Heat Owner Micky Arison "get a boatload of credit" for signing the players (NEWSDAY, 7/9). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ethan Skolnick writes Riley "made basketball matter here," and he "delivered on the promise" of a title. Skolnick: "Now he has given the sport permanence. Now he has earned a statue in Miami, to match the one of Shula in Miami Gardens" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/9). NBA TV's David Aldridge said, "I say this all the time: Kyra Sedgwick is not 'The Closer,' Pat Riley is the closer. With cap room, Pat Riley always gets someone pretty good" (NBA TV, 7/8).

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