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The Padres lead the NL West by two games, but at Petco Field it is "difficult to tell the team is in the midst of a pennant race," according to Don Norcross of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The Padres' average attendance for the past 12 home games -- including “attractive draws” against the Phillies, Rockies and Dodgers -- was 25,086, “several hundred below the season average.” The average crowd for this week's three-game series against the Dodgers was 21,499. The previous six games between the teams at Petco Park "averaged nearly twice that amount -- 41,252." Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel said that “multiple factors played roles in limiting the team’s attendance the past 12 games,” including the Rockies series occurring over the Labor Day weekend when there were “almost no group sales.” Also, Fox Sports shifted last Saturday’s game from 5:35pm PT to 1:10pm, and Garfinkel estimated that “it cost the team 3,000 to 4,000 fans.” In addition, the Dodgers are a “distant threat in the division race,” leading “not as many Dodgers fans” to attend this week’s games. Norcross notes “despite recent attendance, there is quantifiable evidence that fans are intrigued about this year’s team,” as Padres attendance is up almost 12.5% from last season. Garfinkel said that the team is “expecting at least 120,000 fans for the four-game Giants series this weekend.” And Channel 4 San Diego’s broadcast of Tuesday’s win over the Dodgers earned a 9.2 rating, "one of the highest of the season." Garfinkel: “Our TV ratings are up substantially this year, which is a demonstration of the excitement of our fan base” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/9).
Seventy-five Silicon Valley CEOs “have signed a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig urging the timely approval of moving the Oakland A’s to San Jose,” according to Tracy Seipel of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The two-page letter, assembled by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, “carries the signatures of well-known valley executives,” including Cisco CEO John Chambers, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, eBay President & CEO John Donahoe, SunPower CEO Tom Werner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner and venture capitalist John Doerr. It is the “latest and perhaps most impressive appeal to Selig from a range of avid supporters.” The letter “drives home the point that Silicon Valley can deliver a level of corporate support to baseball that no other city in the Bay Area can match.” The letter is the “second effort by the leadership group to make its case” for an A’s move to San Jose. Silicon Valley Leadership Group President & CEO Carl Guardino said that the letter “was not a response to renewed efforts by Oakland boosters to keep the team” in the city (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/9).
THE BLUEPRINT: The A’s and MLS Earthquakes announced Tuesday the selection of K.C.-based 360 Architecture as the architect for both teams’ proposed new stadiums. 360 recently completed New Meadowlands Stadium (A’s/Earthquakes). A’s and Earthquakes Owner Lew Wolff said that he selected 360 “to design a stadium for the Athletics in downtown San Jose.” The firm will also “design a separate stadium near the San Jose airport” for the Earthquakes (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/8).
In Dallas, Mike Heika reported Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. Chair Bill Gallacher and Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi "still are the two most interested parties in purchasing the Stars." But the "people who are involved in selling the Stars (Galatioto Sports Partners, the NHL, Tom Hicks, Monarch Investment Group) would like to see if they can draw in more investors." They "would like to get a spirited auction the way they did with the Rangers." Meanwhile, sources confirmed that the Stars are "operating as usual on their internal budget (believed to be near $45 million) and have no cash problems at this time" (DALLASNEWS.com, 9/8).
WAITING GAME: In Phoenix, Sanders & Chan reported Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley Tuesday "updated the City Council on progress" with new Coyotes bidder PEAK6 Investments CEO Matthew Hulsizer. Sources said that they "hoped a deal would be reached over the weekend, ready for a formal council vote Sept. 14." But City Council member Manny Martinez confirmed that a preliminary lease agreement between the city and Hulsizer for Jobing.com Arena "would not be prepared by then." Martinez: "Negotiations are ongoing. It won't be finalized between now and then" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/8). In Ottawa, Ken Warren wrote the "drama" over LW Ilya Kovalchuk's contract with the Devils did NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "a favour ... in a twisted way." It "deflected attention away from Bettman's never-ending nightmare -- the instability and uncertainty surrounding the future" of the Coyotes (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/8).
FAN OUTREACH: Canucks President & GM Mike Gillis said that he "will begin using Twitter to communicate with fans this season." Gillis said that the team "wants to be engaged via Twitter, and that social media can be used to cultivate young fans." He added that Twitter "means he can communicate directly with the public, minus the traditional media filter that has occasionally frustrated him during two years atop the franchise." Gillis: "Social media is not something that is going to go away, and I think it's a way to get a little bit of a different perspective out there. We'll test it out and see if it works" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/9).
NEW WARDROBE: icethetics.info noted pictures have been leaked of the Sabres' jerseys for this season, including the team's new "royal blue third jersey." The jersey's "script across the chest was almost certainly inspired by that of the old Buffalo Bisons." The jersey also contains the Sabres' "40th anniversary logo beneath the script mark -- the classic Sabres logo with 19 and 70 inside the blue circle." The team's new road jersey is a "white version of the new home sweater -- formerly the alternate uniform" (icethetics.info, 9/7).