SBD/January 18, 2011/Franchises

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  • Leonsis' Monumental Sports & Entertainment Reshaping DC Sports

    Leonsis estimates Monumental Sports & Entertainment nearing $1B in value

    Ted Leonsis is integrating late Abe Pollin's assets into Monumental Sports & Entertainment and “building what he says is an enterprise nearing $1 billion in value, one he hopes one day will rival New York's Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles' Staples Center as a dominant regional sports enterprise,” according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Leonsis “already has made hundreds of decisions designed to change the Wizards from a money loser into one of the NBA's high-performing and most profitable franchises.” In addition to “smart marketing and more handholding for customers, Monumental believes a disciplined businesslike approach will do for the Wizards” what Leonsis “did for the Capitals, transformed from an also-ran into the hottest ticket in Washington.” While he “recrafts his team and builds the game experience, Leonsis has also recruited new investors into Monumental, boosting the number of partners to 17.” The entire enterprise, with “more than $100 million in cash on hand, expects to break even this year.” Monumental Vice Chair & COO Dick Patrick said that the organization is “changing the Verizon Center and the Wizards physically, organizationally and culturally.” In addition to “creating a cleaner environment, physical changes have helped Leonsis squeeze more revenue from the building.” Monumental “installed pricey Acela Club ledge seating at a prime location in one end of the arena where less-lucrative restaurant seating once stood.” Leonsis also “moved radio announcers up into the stands to help make room for 16 courtside ‘dream seats,’ which sell for $64,000 per seat, per season.” Monumental is working with AT&T “to expand its cell phone capacity within the arena and to get WiFi in the building.” Leonsis also “has his eye on making money outside the building, such as the restaurants, museums and entertainment attractions nearby” (WASHINGTON POST, 1/17).

    CHIMING IN: Leonsis on his blog wrote, “Overall this article does show that we have a very large and integrated sports and marketing platform in a very big market that serves DC, VA and Maryland plus has fans all around the country and the world.” Monumental has “more than 1. 5 million names of people in our database and we will have more than 2.5 million turnstile clicks this year at Verizon Center.” Leonsis: “This is a big and important part of our local community. This is a big responsibility and we take it seriously. It is also quite a large investment and I am proud to have so many great partners to help us lighten the load and the risk inherent in leading these public trusts” (TEDSTAKE.com, 1/17).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics
  • Isles Losing Millions Of Dollars While Playing In Nassau Coliseum

    Islanders' lease at Nassau Coliseum is set to expire after the '14-15 season

    The Islanders are "losing millions of dollars" while playing at Nassau Coliseum, an "aging hulk whose best years are behind it," according to Baumbach & Marshall of NEWSDAY. The "big gorilla in the room" is where the Islanders will play when their arena lease expires after the '14-15 season. Islanders Owner Charles Wang said the "best place for the Islanders is on Long Island." Wang: "It's my home. At the same time, we must remember that the team must be economically viable as a business for the long term." Wang has spent "more than $200 million of his own money to cover the team's losses and millions more planning and promoting his Lighthouse Project -- a mixed-use development he wanted to build around a new sports arena." But the project is "all but dead with Hempstead Town, where officials objected to its density, size and scale." Wang's talks with Hempstead "have ended, the Lighthouse website is gone, its personnel have been reassigned, and all references to it removed from the Coliseum's outside walls and scoreboard." RXR Realty Chair & CEO Scott Rechler, the project's developer, "returned his interests in the team and the Long Island Marriott next to the Coliseum back to Wang." Meanwhile, the team's season-ticket base is "down 800 from about 6,500 last season." But despite "poor attendance, ticket prices increased in several sections of the Coliseum this season." Islanders President Chris Dey and Assistant GM & Dir of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski left the team after the '09-10 season, and sources said that the team has not filled the positions, "choosing to disperse their responsibilities among other staff." The Islanders are "working to encourage corporate sponsorship renewals." Bethpage Federal Credit Union, for instance, "recently renewed for two years instead of its typical single-year deal -- in part because of the pricing the Islanders offered" (NEWSDAY, 1/16).

    Print | Tags: New York Islanders, NHL, Franchises
  • WNBA Atlanta Dream Introduce Two Additional Investors

    Betty open to adding more investors as team seeks to become profitable

    WNBA Atlanta Dream Owner Kathy Betty today announced that she "will be joined by two new owners who are investing a total" of $1M in the team, according to Henry Unger of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The new owners are Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange VP/Investor Relations & Corporate Communications Kelly Loeffler, and Mary Brock, a philanthropist and wife of Coca-Cola Enterprises Chair & CEO John Brock. Betty said that she "will go from being the sole owner to managing partner of the all-female ownership group." The Dream were "losing about" $3M when Betty bought the franchise in '09, but "during her first year as owner, aided by a team that made it to the league finals before succumbing, the red ink was reduced." Betty "hopes to reduce the financial loss further in the upcoming season and then turn a profit in 2012, which will be difficult." Unger noted the Dream need to "average about 8,500 paying fans per home game at Philips Arena, but they've been coming up short by about 2,000 fans per game." The investments from Loeffler and Brock "will bolster team finances as it attempts to boost its marketing efforts to attract more fans." Betty added that she "was 'definitely open to additional investors' who shared their vision" (AJC.com, 1/17).

    Print | Tags: WNBA, Basketball, Franchises
  • MLB Franchise Notes: Rangers' Chuck Greenberg Stays Busy

    Greenberg reiterated that extensions for front-office staff are coming soon

    ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett reported Rangers Managing General Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg has "kept busy this offseason." Aside from the "day-to-day duties at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, he’s attended a variety of functions and has taken time to talk to fans." He was "signing autographs and answering questions during the Winter Caravan stop at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco this past weekend." Greenberg said the team's payroll for '11 is "significantly larger than any time last year," though he declined to offer a specific figure. Also, Greenberg reiterated that contract extensions for GM Jon Daniels and his staff "are coming soon, though it still hasn’t happened yet." He said, "It's a testament to how comfortable everyone is that we can focus on the other things that were more pressing" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 1/17).

    SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS: Cardinals Chair Bill DeWitt Jr. on Sunday discussed the increase in payroll the club will see this season, saying, "We look at it year to year. This coming year, 2011, we have commitments that would suggest with normal things that occur ... that we are well beyond $100 million. Frankly, looking forward we anticipate that our payroll will continue at that level or somewhat higher" (STLTODAY.com, 1/16). FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote losing 1B Albert Pujols to free agency after the '11 season "would be a devastating blow" to the Cardinals franchise. That is "not to say the Cardinals should give Pujols a blank check,” but from the “team’s perspective, a deal must get done" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/17).

    STILL IN CHARGE: A Yankees exec said the organization still has "full confidence" in GM Brian Cashman, and said the division within the franchise about signing P Rafael Soriano was "a disagreement, not a dispute." The exec said, "Cash did not want to give up the (No. 1) draft pick. But at the end of the day, he didn't throw his body across the tracks over it, he just disagreed with it. It was a good faith dispute. Reasonable people can disagree. ... Cash has not lost one iota of credibility or autonomy over this. There has been no loss of faith in him at all. Cash is in charge of all baseball operations, but he would never in a million years tell you ownership doesn't make the final decisions. It's their money, not his" (ESPNNY.com, 1/17).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, MLB
  • Franchise Notes

    Raiders Owner Al Davis reportedly withheld $120,000 in fines from Tom Cable's pay

    ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that Raiders Owner Al Davis this season “began deducting $20,000 from each” of former coach Tom Cable’s paychecks “until he had withheld $120,000 in fines.” Cable "filed a grievance against his owner with the NFL, becoming the latest Raiders head coach to be embroiled in a financial dispute" with Davis. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “will appoint an arbitrator to whom the Raiders and Cable will have to submit legal arguments and witnesses,” and the arbitrator “then will make the final ruling.” The NFL “is doing its due diligence to ascertain the exact reasons for the fines.” Davis reportedly was “upset with Cable over the fact that Oakland lost two days of organized team activities in June 2010, among other things” (ESPN.com, 1/16).

    COMING BACK WITH A ROAR? St. Louis-based SportsImpacts Dir Patrick Rishe said that the Jaguars' “end-of-season meltdown may have an impact on tickets sales next year.” But Jaguars Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Macky Weaver said that he “doesn’t expect the on-field turmoil” or coach Jack Del Rio “drama to deter the fan base the organization has worked to build.” Weaver: “We’ve built a foundation here for the way we handle ticket sales. We’re engaged with the business community and with the Mayor’s office.” Weaver credited the Jaguars’ Team Teal initiative, which “has concentrated on creating a buzz through online promotions and recruiting diehard fans to promote ticket sales to co-workers and friends.” He said that Team Teal initiatives will continue next season, “along with the Teal Deals coupon book that was given to season ticket holders last year” (JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/14 issue).

    ALUMNI GAME: In Calgary, Steve Macfarlane reports the Flames “haven’t made anything official, but confirmed yesterday an alumni game is something they’ve been discussing” leading up to the Feb. 20 Heritage Classic against the Canadiens at McMahon Stadium. Former NHLer Brian Skrudland is “working on getting together as many of his fellow 1986 championship Habs (who beat the Flames in the final) for the game that would take place Saturday evening before Sunday’s main event” (CALGARY SUN, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Franchises
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