SBD/Issue 37/Franchises

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  • Giants Fans Will Not See "Dramatic" Price Increase Next Season

    Giants Have Received 4,000 New Deposits For
    Full-Season Ticket Plans For '11 Season

    MLB Giants President & COO Larry Baer said that there "will be no 'dramatic' increase in ticket prices" in '11 despite the team's World Series win, according to Andrew Baggarly of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Baer: "It's important to make sure the game is priced right for our fans. We won't come out and say, 'Well, we're a World Series team now, so we're doubling your prices.' There may be increases, but they will be modest. We aren't going to double the payroll and we aren't going to double ticket prices." Baer noted that the Giants "have received 4,000 new deposits for full season-ticket plans in 2011, increasing a base that stood at roughly 21,000 this year" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/2).

    NO SLOWING DOWN: The Giants last night completed their World Series win over the Rangers, with the championship marking the first for the club since its move to S.F. following the '57 season. Giants officials said they believe the club, after more than five decades without a title, several prior postseason near-misses, and a near-move to St. Petersburg, Fla., in the early '90s, is now entering a more prominent and prosperous era. "We've been fortunate to accelerate our trajectory and we're going to continue to build on what has been achieved," said Giants Managing General Partner Bill Neukom, who gleefully participated with the players in the clubhouse champagne soaking ritual. Drastic changes, however, are not planned to either ticket prices at AT&T Park or team payroll in '11. "We're trying to grow this methodically," said Baer. "I think in both cases we'll probably be up single-digit [percentages]. I don't see us going crazy." The Giants are attempting to get their season-ticket base back to the high 20,000s, matching the club's sales peak of several years ago (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Neukom: "We're going to celebrate for a while and go to our organizational meetings, not this week but next week, and sort it out as best we can. Just like we did this year, we will burn the midnight oil. We will not go to bed any night without having figured out who we are, where we want to get, how we get there, who can get us there. We can't let up. It's too competitive" (MLB.com, 11/2).

    LOOSENING THE PURSE STRINGS: Rangers GM Jon Daniels yesterday prior to World Series Game Five "shed some light on future plans" for the team, saying that he "expects to have a much bigger checkbook to wield this offseason as he looks to retain his core and build upon it." Daniels: "I've got a general idea of what it's going to be, and it'll definitely be north of where we've been the last couple years. I can't tell you exactly how much north it will be at this point, but yeah, I would expect we'll have the ability to be more active than we have been the last few years" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/1).



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  • Greenberg Apologizes For Derogatory Comments About Yanks Fans

    Greenberg Did Not Receive A Fine From
    MLB For Comments About Yankees Fans

    Rangers Owner Chuck Greenberg last night formally apologized to MLB and the Yankees for derogatory comments he made earlier yesterday on ESPN Radio in Dallas regarding Yankees fans' behavior during the ALCS. On the "Ben and Skin Show," Greenberg said, "I thought Yankees fans, frankly, were awful. They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I've seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment." MLB executives privately were angered by the remarks, as expected, and quickly pressed Greenberg to apologize both publicly and to the Yankees. A chastened Greenberg did just that, recanting the comments, and as a result did not receive a fine from MLB. "Earlier today, in the course of praising the extraordinary support and enthusiasm of Texas Rangers fans, I unfairly and inaccurately disparaged fans of the New York Yankees," Greenberg said in a formal statement. "Those remarks were inappropriate. Yankees fans are among the most passionate and supportive in all of baseball. I have spoken directly to [Yankees co-Chair & Managing General Partner] Hal Steinbrenner and [President] Randy Levine to apologize for my intemperate comments. I would like to express again how proud we are of our fans and how remarkably they have supported the Rangers throughout lean times and now during this magical season." The Yankees, for their part, did not engage in the issue yesterday, though it was expected prior to the Greenberg apology that some response would have come after the World Series. "At this time, we are honoring the commissioner's policy regarding respecting and not distracting from the World Series," the club said in a statement (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    FIRST SHOT IN BIDDING WAR? In N.Y., Mark Feinsand cites a source as saying that the Yankees are "likely to have plenty to say about Greenberg's comments once the Fall Classic is over." A source said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig gave Greenberg a "one-time pass because of his status as a rookie owner." Feinsand writes with free agent P Cliff Lee "expected to be the object of a bidding war between the Yankees and Rangers, Greenberg's comments may have simply been part of his plan to convince the lefty that Texas is a better option for him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/2). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes Lee's wife, Kristin, last week said that the Rangers' wives "were taunted, spit at, and had beer thrown at them" during ALCS games at Yankee Stadium. Greenberg's "attack could serve to intensify the battle for Lee in free agency" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/2). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes of Greenberg, "It's obvious what he's doing here, right? This is a message to Lee. ... This was surely a reminder to Lee that his wife and some other Rangers wives were allegedly treated in less than chivalrous terms by a handful of infidels during the AL Championship Series. Surely, it was a shot across the bow to the Yankees." Greenberg "sank to the dumbest levels of talk-radio idiocy with this one, sounding like Chuck-from-Irving, first-time, longtime" (N.Y. POST, 11/2). But in Dallas, Barry Horn writes he believes the "PR-savvy owner" was "speaking from his heart" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/2).

    DON'T MAKE IT MORE THAN IT IS: WFAN-AM’s Mike Francesa said, “This is a man who has owned the team for 15 minutes. ... We have got to cut Chuck a little slack for this reason. He's owned the team for 10 minutes. He's not used to the limelight. He doesn't realize that you don't go on radio shows and say stupid things like this. You watch the words you use. You don't speak in blatant generalities." Francesa added, “Don't get all overheated with this. You treat it with a grain of salt and realize the guy's a rookie. He made a rookie mistake" ("Mike Francesa," YES Network, 11/1).

    KERNEL OF TRUTH: In N.Y., John Harper writes Greenberg "shouldn't pretend as if New York is the jungle and every other stadium is full of peace, love and understanding." But there is "no doubt the atmosphere at the Stadium is rowdier and edgier than" at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Part of it "seems to be that some Yankee fans seem to think it's their responsibility to create a hostile environment -- and live up to their reputation as a tough crowd." Harper writes, "It is hard to be too indignant about Greenberg's comments. They were inappropriate for someone in his position, obviously, which is no doubt why he apologized, but there was also some truth to them" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/2). However, WFAN-AM's Craig Carton asked, "In other words, one guy accidentally spills a beer on Cliff Lee's wife, next thing you know we're all violent and we're all embarrassing?" ("Boomer & Carton," MSG, 11/2).

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  • WPS FC Gold Pride, Washington Freedom On The Verge Of Folding

     

    WPS clubs FC Gold Pride and the Washington Freedom are "on the verge of folding," another sign that the "fledging league that started during the economic downturn last year continues to struggle," according to Elliott Almond of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The Gold Pride and Freedom announced yesterday that they are "seeking investors or new owners to save clubs that have some of the world's best players." Gold Pride GM Ilisa Kessler, whose club is just five weeks removed from winning the WPS Championship, said, "It's a do-or-die week for us." The teams have until Nov. 15 to "put money in escrow to ensure solvency" for the '11 season. WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas declined to say "how much money teams need to commit, but yearly operating costs run about $2 million." Kessler said, "We're looking under every rock we can to find somebody who is interested." But she added it "doesn't look likely." Almond notes the "possible loss of two of the league's best teams comes in a year that saw the end of franchises in Los Angeles and St. Louis." WPS would have five returning franchises for '11 if the Gold Pride and Freedom fold, while a Buffalo-area team is expected to join the league. Eileraas said, "We'd rather not lose teams, but we could withstand losing a team or two and still have a season" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/2).

    DOWN TO THE WIRE: The Freedom issued a statement last night in response to a report earlier yesterday stating the DC club and Gold Pride were to announce this week their plans to fold. The statement read, "The Washington Freedom continues to have conversations with prospective investors and strategic partners. As previously reported, we are seeking investors and/or partners as part of a plan to align the team's costs with its revenues so play can continue in 2011 and beyond. ... Contrary to reports, Freedom does not plan an announcement about its participation in the 2011 WPS season until it has had an opportunity to consider all proposals." Freedom President & GM Mark Washo later added, "Discussions have been dragging longer than we've all anticipated. At a point, talk has to turn into action, clearly. But we are still holding out hope for a few lingering opportunities. We're approaching the 90th (minute), hoping for extra time" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/1). ESPN L.A.'s Scott French writes the "possibility they'll become the third and fourth teams in the second pro U.S. league to disband isn't remote by any means," and it could spell the "end of the nascent league" (ESPNLA.com, 11/2).

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  • How Should Raptors Be Marketed Given Team's Low Expectations?

    Advertising Execs Feel Raptors' Young Onez
    Site Not Best Way To Market Team

    A panel of advertising execs recently discussed how to "make people care" about the Raptors, whose players "have combined for zero all-star appearances and form such an underwhelming unit that" SI ranked the team last in the Eastern Conference, according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. Fuzion Marketing Group Founder & CEO Quency Phillips said that the team should sell "accessibility," while Urban Music Association of Canada President Will Strickland said that the club should sell "ownership." N.Y. Cosmos soccer club CMO Dan Cherry said that the team should sell "possibility." Raptors officials said that they are "selling all of the above." Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Exec VP & COO Tom Anselmi said that the "idea of community investment inspired last summer's 'Raptors Plus YOU' ad campaign," and he pointed out that the Raptors "led all NBA teams in community visits last season." Campbell noted the Raptors "identified three of their most promising young players" in F Amir Johnson and Gs Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan and "organized a marketing campaign around them." The initiative, entitled "Young Onez," has its own website, but the experts said that it is not a "clever campaign that uses the internet effectively." Cherry said after visiting the website he "didn't know if the Young Onez were the three guys or if they were the youth supporting the Raptors." He added, "When you separate three (players) you’re comparing them to superstars ... in the era of the Big Three with the Celtics and the Big Three in Miami, why would you pick three people?" Strickland added the campaign "serves no real purpose." Strickland: "The Raptors haven’t connected the dots at all. When you see the link you don’t go 'Oh, that's the Raptors.' You go 'Young Onez? Okay, that must be a rap group.'" Phillips: "There's no explanation of what it really is about."

    TAKING A GLOBAL VIEW: The team's roster "includes players from six countries," and the ad execs "agree the club needs to sell that multiculturalism." Cherry: "I would definitely tap into the international nature of the team and draw more support that way. I'd definitely leverage that, not as a key message but I'd do that above the Young Onez campaign." Anselmi said that the Raptors "are taking a multicultural approach to local marketing ... from planned theme nights to targeted ticket sales campaigns in Toronto's various ethnic communities" (TORONTO STAR, 11/1).

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  • Franchise Notes

    Phillies Have Season-Ticket Waiting
    List For First Time In Team History

    In Philadelphia, John George reported the Phillies for the first time have "created a waiting list for season tickets." The team "ended the year with 123 straight sellouts" at 43,500-seat Citizens Bank Park, and VP/Sales & Ticket Operations John Weber said that the club this season "capped season ticket sales at 28,700." Weber: "Our goal is to retain as many 2010 season ticket holders as possible. We are taking season ticket requests for 2011, because we will receive a few cancellations" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/28).

    TRADEMARK DISPUTE: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck reported the Dodgers last week filed a complaint with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office against Brooklyn Burger "for using the team's familiar cursive style 'Brooklyn' in the company's logo." Brooklyn Burger Owner Alex Buxbaum said that he was "approved for a trademark in April." Dilbeck noted if the Dodgers "want to stop every company from using their stylized Brooklyn, they'll have to get busy," as "several other establishments also use the cursive Brooklyn" (LATIMES.com, 11/1).

    TRAVEL PARTY: The Timbers Army, Emerald City Supporters and the Vancouver Southsiders -- the fan groups of the Timbers, Sounders and Whitecaps, respectively -- have joined together to oppose limiting visiting fans in the three teams' stadiums to the 150 tickets stipulated by MLS. The groups in a release argued that visiting support adds to the atmosphere of their home stadiums. They added that limiting the amount of visiting supporters to 150 is an "insult" to the tradition and history surrounding the rivalries between the three clubs and "undermines the growth" of MLS in the Pacific Northwest (THE DAILY).

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