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SBD/Issue 238/FranchisesPrint All
Weaver Says Media Is Unjustly
Picking On Jacksonville
Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver said Jacksonville is "going to be a great football market," according to a Q&A with the Jacksonville DAILY RECORD. Weaver: "We've got to grow generations of fans. People don't understand that if you look at Pittsburgh, you look at Green Bay, they're small markets. They're not huge markets. But they've been there for 85, 90 years. They've grown generations of fans. We just have to figure out a way to struggle through it, and be a part of the growth, and we will." When asked if the media is "unjustly picking on Jacksonville," Weaver said, "I don't think there's any question that we've been an easy market to pick on because we did black out all but one game last year. And then we haven't won as much, let's be honest, in the last 10 years." Read more from Weaver's interview below.
Q: Does the negativity get to you personally?
Weaver: Sure it does. It gets to me on a number of levels. First of all, I’m proud of what we’ve done here, and I’m also very self-critical that we have been average. That’s not what I want to be. I have never been that in my other businesses, and I made a commitment that we’re going to win a championship here, and I believe that we will.
Q: How significant is it that a local company put its name on the stadium?
Weaver: It’s huge. We’ve been talking to EverBank for a couple of years about naming rights. We’ve had some other people come in and make lowball offers to us. We wanted a brand on our building that we think is commensurate with the NFL, and we believe that EverBank is an iconic brand. ... I think they saw this as an opportunity, a platform to really create brand awareness, and I think it’s going to be a great investment for them, and it’s certainly great for us.
Q: What is the biggest issue fans have?
Weaver: I think it’s gotten expensive for a family to come to an NFL game, and we’re very conscious of that, and we’ve tried to do everything that we can do to be competitive.
Q: There’s been a lot written about selling the team. What do you see happening?
Weaver: At some point, I will sell the team. There’s no question about it, because I don’t have any family members that are going to take it. My plan would be to find someone that has the same passion I have for the market, and would be good stewards. But who knows? Things change over time.
Q: Do you have a time frame for an exit strategy?
Weaver: No. It’s going to be finding the person that has that passion for our community, and wants to be a great steward and wants to accomplish the same goals that we have for the organization. That opportunity may come sooner than later. You know, the truth is I’m having fun (Jacksonville DAILY RECORD, 8/24).
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: A FLORIDA TIMES-UNION editorial states, "It's good news that City Hall is again -- after a one-year absence -- buying season tickets to Jacksonville Jaguars games. ... Consider it an investment in keeping the Jaguars, and their substantial economic impact here." However, there must be "strict enforcement of the ban on tickets being used by city officials and their friends," and there "needs to be some sort of accounting to assure the public that the ban is being honored" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/25).
UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that he is "surprised by the response the Omaha Nighthawks have received since their mid-April inception," according to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha WORLD-HERALD. Huyghue: "I thought this would be a vibrant area, but not in my wildest dreams did I think there would be this much enthusiasm this quickly. We haven't had another franchise adopted like this market. ... It would be easy to say we'd like Las Vegas to be our model franchise, but the truth of the matter is, from all statistical standpoints, it's here." The UFL's four teams during last year's inaugural season averaged 9,678 fans per game. The Nighthawks, who open their season Sept. 24 at Rosenblatt Stadium, already have sold "more than 8,000 season tickets." Nighthawks Dir of Business Operations Don Igo said that a "recent spike in sales following last week's signing of quarterback Jeff Garcia pushed the team past the 8,000 mark." Huyghue said that the team's signings of former NFLers like Garcia and RB Ahman Green "have helped the franchise establish credibility." Huyghue: "That's what we have to continue to do, so that people know that this league is attractive to high-level, NFL-caliber football players and not just guys on the bubble" (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 8/24).
JUST A BUMP IN THE ROAD: In Virginia, Dave Fairbank reported the UFL "insists that it's still coming" to the Norfolk area despite Virginia businessman and prospective team owner Jim Speros and the league walking "away from the negotiating table last week." It is "13 months before the local team plays its first game," and sources said that the issue is "ownership and contractual, not desire or commitment." Speros said that the "impasse with the UFL was a business decision born of poor timing," as he "wanted more control than the UFL was willing to cede at this time." He said that he "still might be involved with the franchise at some future date, and that he won't burn his contact list." But Fairbank wrote it is a "bit unsettling when a start-up that's just finding its footing cannot make a go with the guy who delivered the market and did the initial legwork" (Newport News DAILY PRESS, 8/24).
Stan Kroenke Unanimously
Approved As Rams Owner
The NFL owners today unanimously approved Stan Kroenke as the next owner of the Rams. The current owners, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, will retain a 31% stake that at some point in the future they may sell to Kroenke. In a press conference at the owners meeting in Atlanta announcing the vote, NFL Exec VP/ Finance & Strategic Transactions Eric Grubman spent as much time at the lectern answering questions about the deal structure as Kroenke. Because he owns the NBA and NHL team in Denver, Kroenke could have run afoul of the league's cross ownership rules. But Kroenke will cede operating control of the teams to his son Josh by the end of the year, and full equity control by '14. Grubman said the structure conforms with NFL precedent (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
END OF THE LINE: SportsCorp President Marc Ganis last night confirmed that QSL Sports Limited "did not enter a formal bid" for EPL club Liverpool "despite weeks of speculation." Ganis, whose firm helped form the prospective investment group, said, "There was never a formal proposal submitted by us to the club and we have been very clear about that." In London, Paul Kelso writes Ganis' admission "will fuel the suspicion" that the bid was "motivated by publicity, though he denies this." QSL Chair Kenny Huang "offered no explanation for his withdrawal," but sources said that "publicity around the bid led their anchor investor to pull out" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/25).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: SI.com's Ann Killion noted the sale of the Warriors to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber "isn't expected to be approved until the end of September at the earliest, shortly before training camp is scheduled to begin." Lacob recently said the timing is a "real problem." The "NBA-starved Bay Area is clamoring for a total house cleaning, getting rid of all the guilty parties." Lacob "can't make any changes until he officially owns the team, but by then, the season will be just days away." If Lacob "wants to win over fans, sell tickets and make a good first impression, he can't possibly bring" coach Don Nelson back. Killion: "The drumbeat for Nelson's departure keeps getting louder, the impatience with his style more pronounced" (SI.com, 8/24).
STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Pirates President Frank Coonelly Sunday would not confirm reports that the Pirates' total debt as of last year was $120M, but he said that the "debt is 'manageable' and the team, which made a $34.8 million profit from 2007-09, is in solid financial shape." Coonelly: "We've made important, meaningful capital improvements to facilities the organization had neglected in previous years. To make improvements, you need to generate positive income every year. A lot of businesses have over-leveraged themselves in bank financing, but we've been very careful not to do that" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/25).
FAN APPRECIATION: In Chicago, Mitchell & Kaplan report the Blackhawks are "offering every season ticket holder a chance to have their photo taken with the Stanley Cup." This is "believed to be the first time a U.S. professional team has allowed every season ticket holder to take a picture" with the trophy (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/25).