SBD/Issue 31/Franchises

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  • MLB Giants Likely To Surpass $100M In Payroll For First Time In '11

    Giants' Success This Season Could Be A Factor
    In Creating Future Generations Of Fans

    The Giants' run to the World Series "could boost revenues in 2011, but fans should not expect ownership to spend gobs more money on payroll," according to Henry Schulman of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Giants President & COO Larry Baer: "We're not going to have a doubling effect, or a double-digit massive increase. That's not who we are. The good news is, who we are is not going down in payroll either." Baer said that ownership "hopes to do what it can to keep the Giants intact." The team's payroll this season is "just under" $100M, and it "should cross that threshold for the first time next year" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/24). MLB.com's Chris Haft wrote while "no studies have been done to prove it," you get the "unmistakable feeling that the Giants' success this season has created a new generation of fans." Baer, "who pays attention to such trends, agreed with this assessment." Baer: "What we're finding is that the component parts on this team are really likable. ... It's a long list. These are players that kids are gravitating around." Baer added, "It's more of a family-oriented appeal. We're hopeful because that's what you want. That's a good thing for the future and for baseball's future, to have likable players from the perspective of youth" (MLB.com, 10/23). In San Jose, Mark Emmons writes the "likable Giants have won Bay Area hearts," as "even non-baseball fans have fallen in love with an overachieving group of underdogs that possesses both characters and character and could win the team's first World Series since moving to California in 1958" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/25).

    ARLINGTON ROAD: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the Rangers' ownership transition has "energized the organization and spurred interest in the community at a unique time when the Cowboys appear to be fading." No matter what happens in the World Series, the team "appears to have an excellent chance to join the second-tier powers" like the Giants, Mariners and Cardinals (ESPN.com, 10/23). Rangers Owner Chuck Greenberg: "We knew that if we could create the kind of success that our fans had never gotten to enjoy before, it could be one of those magical instances when a franchise gets better overnight. All through the process, as difficult as it was, I thought this was possible." Greenberg added, "We rethought our approach to payroll a few months ago before this run; we recognize we have a terrific young team whose value is now greater than the cost and they will make more money" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/24).

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  • Jordan Meets With Bobcats Fans As Part Of Community Outreach

    Jordan To Give Fans Opportunity
    To Sit In His Courtside Seats

    Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan Friday met with 700 of the team’s season-ticket holders in a “50-minute question-and-answer session that was part seminar, part pep rally,” according to Scott Fowler of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The appearance by Jordan was “part of a broader effort to get him more involved in the community and with the fans.” The team also launched a page on its website where “people can ask him questions directly.” Jordan: “I have to let them touch my mind, or parts of me, to understand. So it's necessary. I have to step outside my comfort zone so that they have the comfort to be a part of us. I totally understand that and I welcome that.” Jordan owns the four seats closest to the Bobcats’ bench, and he said during Friday’s meeting that from “now on he would allow some lucky fans to sit in those seats when he wasn’t there.” He said, “Don’t get too excited, though. I won’t be missing many games.” Fowler reported the Bobcats also are “conducting a marketing study as to whether the club should change its name.” Jordan mentioned that the team “had thought about changing uniform colors, too.” Jordan: “We’re still wavering”(CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/23). He said of changing the Bobcats name, “It’s not a financial thing. It’s a matter of, is it worth it? Is it in our best interest? Do we gain or lose from what we’ve done so far?” (AP, 10/22). Jordan Friday sat for a wide-ranging Q&A with the Charlotte Observer.

    LEADING THE WAY: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s King & Lombardo take an extensive look at Jordan's ownership and note from Bobcats "upper management, down to the rank and file; from the league office; from minority investors; from sponsors and other business leaders; from all corners, you will hear the refrain, backed by examples that support it." Jordan is "engaged." He is "committed." He is "all-in." NBA Commissioner David Stern: “If you did a survey about how much time an owner spent in the office, (Jordan) would be right up there. He is hands-on with his sleeves rolled up. He is ringing the bell.” Jordan said, “I am a closer. I will step into major deals. If it means dinner, drinks or whatever, I am open to it. But we have to use it sparingly. I am here to help, but I don’t want to do other people’s jobs.” Jordan said that his goal is to turn the Bobcats “into a winner, both in the standings and on the balance sheet; to pass it on to his children as a family legacy.” Jordan: “The biggest investment I have is this team. I have to make it work and I feel like I have found my niche. I am comfortable in this city. I know my way around. And my commitment isn’t just my name” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/25 issue). Jordan in yesterday's Charlotte Observer penned an open letter to fans expressing his commitment to the team and community (THE DAILY).

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  • Seattle Sounders Extend Brand Beyond MLS Into A Global Force

    Sounders Set Another Single-Season Attendance
    Record This Year, Averaging 36,173 Fans A Game

    The MLS Sounders in their second season have "already become a flourishing brand that resonates globally and serves as a model for franchises in all sports," according to Joshua Mayers of the SEATTLE TIMES. Led by a "driven ownership group, picture-perfect marketing and impeccable timing," the Sounders' fan support at Qwest Field is "on par with some of the most prestigious clubs in Europe." The team set an MLS record in home attendance this season, averaging 36,173 fans per game, and that total "would be top 10 in the EPL, top five in Spain's La Liga and top three in Italy's Serie A." SI soccer writer Grant Wahl said, "The distance Seattle has put on the (MLS) field is stunning." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "There's little doubt amongst anyone in the professional sports community, here or even abroad, that this was one of, if not the, most successful launch of a professional sports expansion team in history." Mayers notes Sounders fans have "done their part as consumers." The team's merchandise sales "top MLS and are more than twice that of the No. 2 team, the Philadelphia Union." The Sounders also were "one of two" MLS teams to make a profit in '09. In addition, Sounders games on ESPN "lead the league in local ratings." With franchises in Portland and Vancouver joining MLS next season, "an impassioned three-way Pacific Northwest rivalry will be reborn." Still, Sounders Owner Joe Roth said that "becoming stagnant" is his "greatest fear." Roth: "That's my number-one concern and what keeps me up at night. How do we keep growing?" Sounders investor Drew Carey said, "I want to sell out Qwest Field totally -- with no tarps at all. I don't know how many years it will take us -- 20, 25, 50? I just want to be alive to see it. That's what I'm dreaming about" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/24).

    TIME TO STEP IT UP: MLS Toronto FC has pledged to hold prices "firm in 2012 for season-ticket holders who renew their seats for 2011 by the club-imposed deadline." The team missed the playoffs for the fourth time in as many years, and TFC officials in a letter to fans on the club's website said the team "has let you down on and off the pitch." TFC vowed to "create a winning culture." After a series of town-hall meetings with fans, the club also promised to "solve transportation headaches around BMO Field on game days" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).

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  • Oilers To Become First Canadian NHL Team With Cheerleaders

    Some Oilers Fans Not Happy
    About New Cheer Team

    The Oilers are "getting set to entertain fans in a new way with the first Canadian cheerleading team in the NHL," according to Pamela Roth of the EDMONTON SUN. The team recently announced that it "will be hosting auditions for a cheer team at the end of the month," and the cheerleaders "will make their big debut during a home game later this year." Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge after "attending several American NHL games that had cheerleaders in the stands" said that the Oilers "wanted to create a cheer team of their own to enhance the entertainment." LaForge said that the cheerleaders "will be located in the concourse areas and select locations in the upper bowl." They will "perform during all home games, travel locally and participate in community events." An Edmonton Oilers Cheer Team Calendar "will also be launched during the holiday season." There are "23 teams in the NHL that already have cheer teams" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/22).

    NOT CHEERING: In Calgary, Valerie Fortney wrote, "There's just one glitch to the Edmonton Oilers' announcement this week that they'll soon be adding a cheer squad to their club: a good number of their fans find the idea revolting enough that they're revolting themselves, against it." Less than 48 hours after LaForge "announced 'a little extra spice and sparkle' would soon be added" to the franchise, fan forums and newspaper chat boards "exploded with outrage"  (CALGARY HERALD, 10/23). In Edmonton, Jeff Cummings reported Oilers fan Lisi Monro has started an "online petition against the idea." She said that a cheer team "would ruin the longtime traditional experience" at Rexall Place, and the "sight of scantily clad cheerleaders on the ice is not part of the hockey culture in Canada." Most Edmonton Sun readers "seem to be in agreement," as roughly 57% of respondents in an online poll "voted against the idea of having an Oilers cheer team" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/23). At presstime, 870 had signed Monro's petition (THE DAILY).

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  • Franchise Notes

    In Miami, Armando Salguero reported Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has told GM Jeff Ireland that former Chiefs President, GM & CEO Carl Peterson "isn't a fit" with the Dolphins. Sources indicated that Ross "has given Ireland assurances Peterson will not be hired to replace" Bill Parcells, who stepped down as Exec VP/Football Operations last month. Ireland already has "amended his contract with the Dolphins so that he is answering directly to Ross and no one else" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 10/23). Meanwhile, Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson attended yesterday's Steelers-Dolphins game as a guest of Ross. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported Johnson "has not had discussions with Ross about becoming a minority owner of the Dolphins, but praised the organization at length and said he would 'definitely' be excited about discussing that possibility" ("NFL Gameday Morning," NFL Network, 10/24).

    Twins Will Again Cap Season-Ticket Sales
    At 25,000 After Selling Out Entire '10 Season

    NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP: In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reported the Twins "already have renewed more" than 90% of the club's season-ticket base for the '11 season. Twins President Dave St. Peter said that the club "will again cap season ticket sales" at 25,000 for its second season at Target Field. Hartman added, "Look for the Twins to soon formally announce plans for a variety of Target Field enhancements, including a second video board that will be installed in right-center field" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/24).

    AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: Mets COO Jeff Wilpon on Friday said that the search to fill the team's GM position "has been narrowed to two candidates:" MLB consultant Sandy Alderson and former D'Backs GM Josh Byrnes. Both will meet this week with Jeff Wilpon, Mets Owner Fred Wilpon and President Saul Katz (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/23). Byrnes today is scheduled for his second interview (NEWSDAY, 10/24). N.Y. Daily News columnist Bob Raissman said of the GM search, "The Mets are really keeping their fans in the loop on this search, which is a good thing" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/22).

    SUNNY SIDE UP: In London, Jeremy Wilson reported the English Football League has agreed to Portsmouth's "exit from administration on the condition that new owner Balram Chainrai cannot take any capital out of the club until all of the creditors are repaid." Portsmouth and former Owner Alexandre Gaydamak reached a deal on Saturday that will "herald a new era following eight months in which the threat of liquidation has been constantly hovering." Chainrai has indicated that it is "not his ambition to remain Portsmouth owner in the long-term, but he has pledged to bring stability and is even eyeing a possible return" to the EPL (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 10/24).

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