SBD/Issue 36/Franchises

Chuck Greenberg Has Big Plans To Market Rangers, Star Players

Greenberg Hopes World Series Run Results
In Expanded Presence For Team Around Dallas

MLB Rangers Owner Chuck Greenberg and the rest of the team's new ownership group are "looking for ways to turn fan interest into a higher national profile for the team and its players," according to Melissa Repko of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. As the team prepares to host Game Five of its first World Series tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, "T-shirts sporting the club's now-famous claw-and-antlers will be nearly as present as the five-pointed blue star that symbolizes sports in North Texas." Greenberg said, "We have such likable and charismatic players. Now what we need to do is be innovative and aggressive on the business side to convert all of that interest we have into something that is more lasting regionally as well as nationally." Greenberg admitted that he was "unimpressed with the Rangers' previous marketing strategy." He said he plans to use the team's postseason run to "completely transform the franchise," noting Rangers officials will be "thoughtful and strategic in how we reach out to our fans." Still, Repko noted the team's "marketability remains somewhat paradoxical." Rangers CF Josh Hamilton, the team's "most valuable player," has had "off-field drug problems that could limit his endorsement prospects." Also, P Cliff Lee "could end up wearing another team's jersey next year." The Marketing Arm Senior VP & Managing Dir Bill Glenn said, "The Rangers right now are more likable than marketable. If you don't have players who have high awareness nationally, they won't have the ability to represent a brand." But MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith believes that Hamilton "shows endorsement potential, despite and perhaps because of his troubled past." Smith: "Madison Avenue is looking for somebody that is inspirational. As a 14-year-old boy, would I want to be like Josh Hamilton? Yes. Girls admire him. The kid has been to hell and back" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/30).

BEHIND THE SCENES: In Ft. Worth, Mitchell Schnurman noted North Texas sports fans are "accustomed to sports owners who command as much airtime as the players," but the Rangers are "rolling out a different model, designed more like a publicly traded company than a sole proprietorship." XTO Energy Chair Bob Simpson, who along with former Energy Transfer Partners co-CEO Ray Davis "put up more than half" of the club's $593M purchase price, said, "This isn't going to be my new job." Simpson wants to "bring XTO values to baseball," offering Greenberg and Nolan Ryan "more equity if they hit financial targets and sharing the wealth with workers." Schnurman noted one of the "first moves was to enroll about 250 Rangers employees" in MLB's pension plan, a perk that is "practically unheard of today." There are "big plans for fans, too, starting with a giant replay screen" at Rangers Ballpark likely to cost around $20M. Above all, the new owners "expect to sign their stars." The team's payroll, "among the lowest in baseball, could double in coming years." Simpson said, "We're going to go after Cliff Lee -- hard, and we have the financial firepower to do that. Guys like Josh Hamilton, we will take care of those guys. And we'll do it within a model that's sustainable" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/31).

BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY: Former Rangers Owner Tom Hicks attended this weekend's World Series games in Arlington and called the team's success "very bittersweet." Hicks said, "The sale was Aug. 4. We were already eight games in first place. I've had a real outpouring of friends and people who are important to me call me or email or written me letters, recognizing that this team didn't start on Aug. 5." Hicks believes that the Rangers "will increase their full-season ticket equivalents from 12,000-13,000 this year to 25,000 or even 30,000 next season." He said, "When you go to the World Series, your season-ticket base probably more than doubles the following year. So this has only been a sleeping giant of a market. ... And that gives you the revenue to keep the best players." Hicks said that he "watches every Rangers game," but "not so for Liverpool," the EPL club he sold to New England Sports Ventures last month. Hicks: "I never became as ... big a soccer fan as I am a baseball fan" (AP, 10/31).

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