SBD/January 24, 2011/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Heat raising season-ticket prices for next season, offering postseason discounts
In Ft. Lauderdale, Shandel Richardson reported the Heat "will raise season-ticket prices for next season, but will offer discounts on postseason tickets." Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said that the "hike will be minor." Woolworth "didn't specify the exact increase, but said most season-ticket holders he spoke with called the change acceptable." He added that the "biggest increase will occur in the upper-bowl seats, where tickets will jump anywhere from" $7-10. Richardson noted season-ticket holders would have the option to "allow the Heat to retain funds" in the event of a work stoppage, and those fans "would receive a 5 percent 'loyalty payment' each month for every canceled game." Season-ticket holders "also may be eligible for discounts throughout this season's playoffs under the loyalty plan" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/23). The Heat's "season-ticket renewal process is under way with a deadline of March 11" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/23).

NEW JERSEYS ON THE WAY: In St. Petersburg, Damian Cristodero reported the Lightning have "turned in paperwork to advise the NHL" that the team will "make changes to its home and away jerseys next season." Whether that "means the color scheme, logo or both is unclear, though there is speculation the team's primary color might change from black to a blue closer to that currently used on its third jersey." Neither the NHL nor the Lightning "would confirm changes are coming." But Cristodero wrote it "makes sense" that the new ownership group headed by Jeff Vinik and CEO Tod Leiweke "would want to rebrand the franchise" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/23).

WINTER SPENDING: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt spent "approximately $80 million on free agents this winter," and the team's payroll "will be at least $15 million higher than last season." Dilbeck estimated the Dodgers' Opening Day payroll at $94.5M, and when you add in deferred payments, the payroll reaches $110.8M. However, Dilbeck wrote there is "a lot of gambling going on here, and McCourt is not eager to relinquish the dice." Dilbeck: "The Dodgers should be competitive, but what happens if they're not and attendance takes a hit? What if it just takes a hit because people are weary of McCourt and stay away in protest?" (LATIMES.com, 1/21).

RAY OF HOPE: In St. Petersburg, John Romano wrote the Rays agreeing to terms with LF Manny Ramirez and DH Johnny Damon Friday means the team "can at least begin the season with an opportunity to contend" and "give their fans the hope that a 90-win season is not completely out of the question." The Rays' "had been heading toward one of the greatest payroll slashings in modern times." They had "gone from about $73 million in payroll last season to a projected $35 million or so in 2011." While the payroll "will still be much lower," it is "not quite the clearance aisle." Romano: "After seeing so many players sprinting out of Tropicana Field for the nearest ATM, the Rays finally have brought some stability back to the lineup" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/22).
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