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SBD/January 13, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
A's Owner Lew Wolff "denied all speculation Wednesday that he has any interest in buying" the Dodgers, according to Joe Stiglich of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. The idea was "floated Tuesday by ESPN national baseball writer Buster Olney" in a column addressing Frank McCourt's ownership of the Dodgers. While Olney noted that "it was pure speculation," the idea "was creating buzz." That the A's "felt compelled to issue a release denying the notion added fuel to the connect-the-dot fire." Wolff, attending the MLB owners' meetings in Arizona, said, "It actually came as a one thousand percent surprise to me. I don't even quite get it. I normally don't spend my time denying things, otherwise I'd be doing it constantly. But I wanted to make sure I didn't have any possible interference with what's going on with the Dodgers and (Major League Baseball). The other reason is so everyone knew my target is getting the new venue for the A's." Asked if he and other A's investors would consider selling the franchise if a new ballpark does not come to fruition, Wolff said, "There's no thought of that and no plans of that" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 1/13). McCourt yesterday "did not stop to speak to reporters" at the owners' meetings. As he walked, however, he "addressed the question of whether he had the same concern that other owners have privately expressed about his ability to retain control of the Dodgers." McCourt said, "No, I don't" (LATIMES.com, 1/12).
The Falcons are set to host the Packers Saturday night in an NFL divisional playoff game, and the team's $121.3M player salary total is the "lowest of the remaining teams" in the postseason, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Falcons Owner Arthur Blank yesterday said the team is "in a very good place." Blank: "We continue to support our football department with resources the very best that we can. We are not in the top quarter of teams in terms of revenue in the NFL. ... The salary cap is very competitive with everybody. It's one of the strengths of the NFL in that because of the salary-cap system, you have an opportunity to compete whether you are a low-revenue team or a high-revenue team." Ledbetter reports increasing the team's revenue "is part of the impetus behind the push for a new outdoor stadium." Blank: "We are working towards a new stadium eventually, and that will help us. But we do what we can, which is obviously very competitive." Meanwhile, Blank "believes the league will avoid a lockout in time to play the 2011 season." He said, "We are doing everything that we know how to do. We are prepared to work 24/7 with the union to do that. So, I'm optimistic that we'll have a season in 2011" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/13).
Ticket prices for Sunday's Jets-Patriots AFC Divisional game are averaging $294 on SeatGeek.com, 30% "higher than the average regular season ticket price of $226" at Gillette Stadium, according to Thomas Grillo of the BOSTON HERALD. SeatGeek Dir of Communications Ben Kessler: "These Pats-Jets ticket prices rival World Series games." Prices range "from $197 for a seat in section 329 to $1,723 for a spot in the club level." SeatGeek "listed about 5,000 tickets yesterday for Sunday's 4:30 p.m. matchup, but some sellers advertise on multiple sites and are counted separately by the Web site, making it unclear how many seats are actually available." FanSnap.com President & CEO Michael Janes said that of the four NFL playoff games this weekend, "demand for the game in Foxboro is by far the highest." Janes: "The Pats-Jets game is by far the hottest ticket at the moment and has grown over the week." StubHub Corporate Communications Manager Joellen Ferrer said that Jets fans are "buying more tickets to the game than Pats fans from her site" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/13).
BEAR MARKET: In Chicago, Mark Konkol reports ticket prices for Sunday's Seahawks-Bears game at Soldier Field "have plummeted," and ticket brokers said that "by week's end, fans might be able to score tickets for less than face value." Ferrer: "Prices are going down. It's not the match-up everyone expected, but we're still seeing strong, steady sales." The cheapest ticket available on StubHub yesterday was "going for $111, just four bucks more than face value," while the most expensive ticket "sold for $1,870." Overall, the average ticket price was about $322, which is "about $40 less per ticket" than the '07 Seahawks-Bears NFC Divisional game (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/13). Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Ken Sugiura reports the ticket market for Saturday's Packers-Falcons game "apparently is weakening." The average ticket price on StubHub of $197 "dropped a few dollars" between Tuesday and yesterday (AJC.com, 1/12).
Astros Owner Drayton McLane estimated that 20-25 parties "have expressed interest in beginning a process that could lead toward a sale" of the team. Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg, who was hired by McLane to conduct the sale, said, "We're pleased with the level of interest that's been expressed to this point." Greenberg "initially estimated a 6-12 month process, which began in November when McLane announced he was putting the Astros up for sale" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/13).
LET IT SNOW: In Cleveland, Rick Grayshock reports "just over 50,000 Clevelanders" attended the Indians' Snow Days at Progressive Field, and Indians Digital Media Coordinator Robert Campbell said that the team is "very happy with how the event turned out." Campbell: "The plan all along was for there to be a Year 2 of the event, and now we start the process of evaluating and determining what enhancements to make for next year." Grayshock notes the "big draws" at Snow Days were "the Batterhorn -- a large snow tube slide going from the outfield bleachers to the field below -- and the Frozen Mile which was an ice rink and track running along the perimeter of the field" (CLEVELAND.com, 1/12).
COLLECTIVE SOUL: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw notes Browns President Mike Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert and Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, reportedly the lead candidate to become the Browns' next head coach, "share the same agent," Professional Sports Representation Inc. Owner Bob LaMonte. Shaw: "The fraternity feel to such a partnership at the top of the Browns' organization might strike you as disconcerting, but there's merit to the idea of a team president, front office and head coach pulling in a direction they all believe is right." Buying into a Shurmur hiring "would really be as much about having trust in Holmgren than anything else" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/13).
HOME SWEET HOME: In San Diego, Bill Center reports former MLBer Trevor Hoffman, who officially retired yesterday, will return to the Padres "in a front-office capacity." Hoffman: "I'm interested to see what I will be doing. I'm open to ideas." Hoffman, who pitched for the Padres for 16 seasons, will become the "fourth member of the 'special assistant to baseball operations' alumni club." Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad: "I think it's important to stay in touch with the history of the organization. I said from the beginning, running a baseball team is sort of like running a public trust. This is a relationship." Padres Exec VP & GM Jed Hoyer said there is "no hurry to assign him a position" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/13).