SBD/January 19, 2011/Franchises

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  • Bucs, Chargers Decrease Some Ticket Prices In Attempt To Combat Blackouts

    All 10 Buccaneers home games were blacked out locally this season

    The Buccaneers yesterday announced "reductions in many season-ticket prices, lowering the cost of 'tens of thousands' of tickets at Raymond James Stadium," according to Stephen Holder of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Most prices in the lower bowl will "remain flat" next season. But "reductions as great as 31 percent will be seen in the upper deck, including 'upper sideline' seats that will be slashed from $75 to $52," meaning that season-ticket holders "would save $230 on each of those seats." There also will be a "decrease from $99 to $89 on some end zone seats." The Buccaneers are "making other reductions, including some on parking rates, 10 percent discounts on food, beverages and merchandise for season-ticket holders and youth tickets 50 percent off adult admission." Holder notes average attendance for Buccaneers games this season was 15,000 "below capacity, and the team failed to sell out any of its games for the first time in more than a decade," meaning that "all eight regular-season home games and both home preseason games" were blacked out (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/19). ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas noted the Buccaneers "at various points in the early part of the previous decade" said that they had an "extensive waiting list for season tickets." But that waiting list "disappeared, season-ticket sales dropped dramatically, and the Buccaneers had home games blacked out." Many of the team's games this season "drew crowds of around only 40,000, even though the Bucs were one of the league's most surprising teams" (ESPN.com, 1/18).

    CHEAPER VIEW: The Chargers are lowering the price of nearly 10% of tickets at Qualcomm Stadium for next season while keeping the same prices for all other seats for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season. The 6,500 View Level end zone tickets will cost $54, down about 15% from $63 this season (Chargers). The Chargers "had three games blacked out" this season, and Chargers Exec VP A.G. Spanos noted that the View Level seats are "perennially among the last to sell." Spanos added that he hopes the price decrease will "persuade people 'on the fence' to invest in season tickets." The Chargers are "allowing season ticket purchasers to pay in three installments, one more than in previous years" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, Football, Franchises
  • Stars Formally Introduce Tony Tavares As Interim President

    Tavares says Stars have "several" potential buyers and team will remain in Dallas

    The Stars yesterday formally introduced former Ducks and Nationals President Tony Tavares as interim President, according to Mark Stepneski of ESPN DALLAS. Tavares will "begin his role as interim president of the Stars immediately." The team has "been without a president since August, when Jeff Cogen left the organization to join" the Predators as CEO (ESPNDALLAS.com, 1/18). In Dallas, Candace Carlisle reported Tavares "will assist with the sale of the Stars to a new owner and will help boost the net worth of the franchise." The team has several "interested and well-qualified potential buyers," but Tavares indicated that the new owner will not "relocate the team." Tavares: "It's not going to happen. I can say with the utmost confidence this team is here for the long haul" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/18). Also in Dallas, Mike Heika notes Tavares previously ran Disney Sports Enterprises, so he "understands trying to win on a budget." He also was appointed by MLB to help run the Expos, "so he understands distressed franchises." Tavares "might be the perfect fit" for the Stars. He already has "given the team new direction with its ticket plans." He believes that "giving away or heavily discounting tickets to fill the building is a bad long-term strategy," so he has "limited comps and discounts and is willing to suffer with smaller crowds for the short-term." Tavares also is "doing what he can" to help Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. While the Stars are "stretching their $45 million payroll budget to the seams and had to make some tough cuts after adding" $1.4M to trade for RW Jamie Langenbrunner, Tavares said that he "doesn't rule out another addition before the Feb. 28 trade deadline" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/19).

    YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN NEED: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes the NHL "needs to get involved with this franchise and promote what should be its most successful team in non-traditional markets." The league "owes it to the Stars to do something other than offer tired clichés about record attendance and increased profits." Stars ownership is "not trying to market this team, they're just trying to sell it." Anything beyond "finding a suitable buyer -- which appears no closer today than it was at the start of the season -- is not a priority." The Stars have "built a solid core of players that is actually winning, but this team has become a ghost in this town." The Stars average "just over 15,000" fans per game at American Airlines Center, 23rd in the NHL, and "that number is a fabricated load." The NHL should help until Tom Hicks "dumps the team." Engel: "The Stars were the guinea pigs for the league when it gave Norm Green the green light to take hockey to Texas and see if a sport on ice could work in warm climates. ... Now the Stars don't look that much different than the Coyotes, Thrashers or a handful of other mostly irrelevant hockey franchises scattered about. Their ownership situation stinks, and no one seems to care what they do in their towns" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Dallas Stars, Hockey
  • Twins Likely To Set Franchise Record For Payroll This Season

    Twins' payroll likely to exceed $115M after signing players such as Liriano

    After "topping out around $101 million last season, a franchise high," Twins GM Bill Smith is "well on his way to shattering that mark with the most expensive team in Twins history with a payroll likely to tip" $115M, according to John Shipley of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The Twins currently have 15 players "under contract worth a guaranteed" $89.9M, leaving "10 players to fill out an active roster by the team's season opener." Unsigned players include LF Delmon Young and P Francisco Liriano, "both of whom will command substantial raises" on the $2.6M and $1.6M, respectively, they made last season. Young, Liriano and P Kevin Slowey all filed for arbitration Friday, and Shipley notes even if the sides "meet at the midpoint," signing the three players "would add about" $12M to the payroll. Shipley: "Add $10 million to re-sign free agent Carl Pavano, and that's around $112 million, with six players still needed for the active roster." Smith acknowledged that he has a "target budget." But he added, "It's all a function of revenue. Sometimes it's a moving target; revenues increase, revenues decrease. We're pretty well extended. We're still looking around, still trying to find a fit for us." Shipley writes if the Twins are "in the race at the trade deadline, Target Field could again give them the wherewithal to find postseason help" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/19).

    HONORING THEIR HISTORY
    : MLB.com's Kelly Thesier reports the Twins will unveil a statue in honor of former RF Tony Oliva "outside Gate 6 on Opening Day." Oliva's statue "will join the three statues that are all currently in place" at Target Field -- Baseball HOFers Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew (MLB.com, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Minnesota Twins, Franchises
  • Can MLS Timbers Wrest Market Share From Blazers In Portland?

    The Timbers have posted 21 billboards around Portland ahead of first MLS season

    As the Portland Timbers prepare for their inaugural MLS season next year, the OREGONIAN's John Canzano wonders if the club can "carve out enough market share to rise" above the Trail Blazers in popularity in the Portland market. The Timbers have sold "more than 10,000 season tickets," and suites are "sold out for next season, too." And in a stroke of "sports-marketing brilliance," the Timbers recently posted billboards -- 21 of them, featuring 11 different Portlanders -- that are "somehow simultaneously subtle and imposing." The billboards "have been called eye sores by some sign critics, and they've caused some confusion from people who don't really know what exactly they're advertising." But they are "within allowable limits, and the mystery ends up a piece of the marketing genius." Canzano writes, "The Timbers are doing it right, so far. Maybe they looked across the city at the Trail Blazers and saw the mistakes that the NBA organization has made." The "real competition in Portland isn't between the local colleges and the Timbers, but, rather, with the monopoly that the Blazers have enjoyed." Canzano: "Will the Blazers sponsorships and season-ticket numbers be threatened by the new operation? It feels like one operation has a smart plan and the other has the advantage of being on the scene first, with history and a more-established league on its side." But the possibility of an NBA lockout "might put fans in the position of wanting to try something new," and it will be "interesting to watch how the Timbers approach their cross-city competition." Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson and COO Mike Golub have been "quick to downplay what feels like a natural rivalry," while the Blazers are "busy pretending the Timbers don't exist." But "nobody can ignore how the NBA franchise worked to help kill the Rose Quarter baseball stadium proposal that Paulson pushed" for the Triple-A PCL Portland Beavers (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Portland Timbers, Portland Trail Blazers
  • NLL Blazers Further Apologize For Lap Dances, Create Free Carnival For Fans

    NLL Boston Blazers President & GM Doug Reffue yesterday announced the team will hold a free “Carnival on the Concourse” prior to Saturday’s game at TD Garden. The move comes as the Blazers are under fire for the halftime show at last Saturday’s game, which featured a lap dance contest. The Blazers will hold the carnival from 5:00-7:00pm ET, and fans will have the chance to meet members of the organization and win free tickets to future games. The first 500 fans to arrive will get free tickets to Saturday’s game, while all fans under 14 years old will receive a commemorative gift (THE DAILY). Reffue also posted a message on the Blazers’ website, vowing to take "strong measures to make sure this will never happen again" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/19). A BOSTON GLOBE editorial notes side entertainment “is part of the spectacle of a live sporting event, and sexualized content isn’t unheard of; think of the barely-clad, gyrating Celtics dancers.” However, the lap dances “clearly crossed a line,” and while the news coverage around the incident “has raised the team’s profile, it might also do lasting damage to its image.” The editorial states the ticket giveaway is a "nice gesture, but the team also needs to clean up its act." If the Blazers "want to be the local equivalent of professional wrestling, that’s their right." But they "should give fair warning to people considering bringing their kids" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Franchises
  • NBA Heritage Events Bring Teams Attendance Lift, Generate Buzz

    NBA heritage nights can draw as many as 2,000 additional fans

    Many NBA teams “search far and wide for gimmicks to fill seats,” and Heritage games are "meant to court even the smallest émigré enclaves to NBA courts, and provide just a tad of buzz ... to pump up attendance,” according to a front-page piece by Joel Millman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Raptors have Filipino Night “set for early next month, arriving on the heels of Serbian, Jewish and Chinese nights in January.” The T’Wolves are “hosting both an Israeli Heritage and a Jewish Heritage event, with a Canadian Heritage Night teed up for late January and a German Heritage night for March.” Meanwhile, the Warriors' Latino Night is on Jan. 28, after the team “held events saluting fans from Iran and China.” Pitching ethnicity is “an easy win for clubs that don't typically draw big crowds.” By focusing on visiting ethnic players, heritage events “can generate interest, raising the odds of higher ticket sales.” With the “right plans -- such as special foods and autograph signings with the star player -- some teams say they can fill as many as 2,000 additional seats.” The NBA currently has “86 foreign-born players,” and Millman writes the “biggest heritage star this season" is Kings F and Israel native Omri Casspi. The Kings this month “lured Jewish fans in Toronto, Washington, Boston and Atlanta.” But while pre- or postgame opportunities to meet players like Casspi “drives ticket sales, there's no guarantee that players will oblige.” Kings VP/Media Relations Troy Hanson said of Casspi, "He's done more than his share. We just had to say no to some teams." Millman notes some NBA teams have “found a safer bet is to showcase others, such as ethnic coaches and retired players” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: NBA, Basketball, Franchises
  • Franchise Notes

    Bowlen apologizes to Broncos fans in letter that is part of ticket-renewal packages

    Pat Bowlen in a letter to Broncos season-ticket holders said that "last season was his most difficult in his more than a quarter century as owner of the Denver Broncos and he pledges to restore integrity and a winning culture to a franchise rocked by problems on and off the field." Bowlen, in a letter sent as part of the season-ticket renewal package, said, "You deserve more from this franchise than what we saw in 2010, and you have my word that I will restore the culture of winning, trust and integrity within the Broncos." He added, "I pledge to you that we will exceed your expectations going forward and put the right people in place to lead this team, beginning with the addition of John Elway" (AP, 1/18).

    MORE BARK THAN BITE
    : NBA Kings co-Owner Joe Maloof denied a report last week that Ducks Owner Henry Samueli "offered the Maloofs a $100 million loan to move the Kings to Anaheim's Honda Center." Maloof said, "No, no, no." When pressed for more comment, Maloof said that he "can no longer comment on arena issues as instructed by the NBA" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/19).

    WHAT DREAMS MAY COME: In Atlanta, Henry Unger noted WNBA Dream Managing Partner Kathy Betty has "plugged a gaping hole in her business plan" by adding a combined $1M investment from IntercontinentalExchange VP/Investor Relations & Corporate Communications Kelly Loeffler, and Mary Brock, a philanthropist and wife of Coca-Cola Enterprises Chair & CEO John Brock. Betty, Loeffler and Brock yesterday said that they "did not invest their money to lose it over the long haul," and they "want to turn a profit." The Dream need to average "about 8,500 paying fans per game" to break even; the team averaged about 6,500 in '10. Still, the owners "think they could see black ink" in '12 (AJC.com, 1/18).

    A CARDINAL SIN? MLB Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols said he will end contract negotiations with the team at the start of Spring Training, and ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “If you're a great baseball city like St. Louis and you've got to pony up and give him a contract a little bit better than A-Rod, you give him $200 million for seven years." But ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, "Can St. Louis afford that? It's not New York, it's not Los Angeles. It doesn't matter how great he is; do they have the money in a small market?" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Franchises
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