SBD/Issue 32/NBA Season Preview

Can Grizzlies' 10 Seasons In Memphis Be Deemed Successful?

Grizzlies Discounting Tickets
To Sell Out Home Opener

With the Grizzlies heading into their 10th season in Memphis, the COMMERCIAL APPEAL’s Geoff Calkins wonders if the “franchise -- and the vote to build FedExForum -- has been a success.” Calkins wrote, “I would like nothing more than to be able to agree that the jury is in, the Griz are a hit.” But that is “not quite true." At the “very least, it’s more complicated than that.” The Grizzlies are “desperately discounting tickets to sell out the opener Wednesday night,” and community leaders felt the "need to turn last month’s birthday party for the Grizzlies into a drum-up enthusiasm rally.” But the “enterprise isn’t the disaster that some people feared." The team “didn’t leave town in three years” and FedExForum “hasn’t gone belly-up.” The arena may have been the “most controversial part of the Grizzlies’ move to Memphis a decade ago,” but it is the “most obviously successful aspect of the move today.” Still, all has “not been well on the court or in the stands,” and that is where the franchise has “lagged.” NBA Commissioner David Stern on Friday, while “pronouncing the Grizzlies move to Memphis a success,” also said, “We wanted it to be … more successful.” The team “now struggles to sell half” of the 10,000 season ticket equivalents it once sold. Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley said, “It’s up to the team to create an atmosphere that people feel compelled to participate in. We haven’t done that often enough” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/24). In Memphis, Ronald Tillery reported Grizzlies C Marc Gasol “purchased 500 seats for the team’s season opener” against the Hawks tomorrow, and those tickets will be handed out at FedExForum today at 5:30pm CT (, 10/25).

STAYING PUT? Heisley has said that he will “never move the Grizzlies out of Memphis, but he hasn’t foreclosed the idea of selling them to someone who might.” Heisley recently acknowledged that “none of his children seems interested in running” the team. The COMMERCIAL APPEAL’s Calkins wrote although the local ownership group “could not reach an agreement to buy the franchise from Heisley the last time around, some collection of locals would clearly take another run at the team if it went back on the market for a price that makes sense” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/25). 

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