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SBD/January 25, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The Hornets have "surpassed the attendance average of 14,735 fans this season" after drawing a sellout crowd of 17,233 for last night's home game against the Thunder, "meaning the team must remain in New Orleans for at least another year," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stressed that "meeting the attendance benchmark was only the first step in keeping the NBA franchise in New Orleans for the foreseeable future." He said that the next step is "getting fans to purchase season tickets, with the goal being 10,000 for next season." Hornets officials indicated that the team has 6,300 season-ticket holders this season, down from 10,000 for the '08-09 campaign. Greg Rusovich, Chair of the New Orleans Business Council and co-Chair of the Hornets Business Council, said that they "plan to make a similar push to solicit support from local businesses as they have since last month to meet the attendance benchmark." The Hornets Business Council received "more than $420,000 from local businesses in pledges to buy tickets in the past five weeks." Rusovich: "We’re going to bring in maybe 20 or 25 leading businesses in the area that are really interested in the Hornets and then we are going to bring in all the regional businesses" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/25). Jindal and Hornets Chair Jac Sperling said that there have "not yet been any serious negotiations about changing or extending the lease." However, both said that they have had "casual discussions about what can be done to strengthen the team's long-term viability in south Louisiana." Jindal previously said that while he "won't divert public funding from state obligations" to the Hornets, he is "willing to consider enhancements to the state-owned arena and amendments to the lease that could enhance team revenues" (AP, 1/24).
TIME FOR FANS TO ANSWER CALL AGAIN: The TIMES-PICAYUNE's Reid said, "I think the fans of New Orleans have answered the call, I feel the fans of New Orleans will answer the call again. ... The fans have shown for the last four years since this lease was amended in 2007 that NBA basketball and NFL football with the Saints can work in this market. The league, which now owns the Hornets, wants to see signs that they can get adequate support for this basketball team, and that comes with these season-ticket sales." The NBA is "going to look much more closer at the season-ticket sales over the next three months than they did for the attendance benchmark" (NOLA.com, 1/24).
The bidding price for the Pistons is "expected to range around the $350 million mark, below the previously estimated $400 million-plus price floated when the team began looking for buyers this past summer," according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources indicated that the "latest bids for the franchise" are in the mid-$300M range. Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores reportedly is "in the middle of a 30-day exclusive negotiating period to buy" the Pistons from Karen Davidson. Lombardo notes a "drop in the team’s price points to a decline in the value of the franchise." If a sales agreement is "reached in the immediate future, Gores would likely meet with NBA owners at the All-Star Game and then owners would have to vote to approve the deal at a later date." A source said, "Davidson wants to sell but this is not like the sale of the New Orleans Hornets to the league." Citigroup is representing Davidson in the deal. Pistons officials would not comment on the sale (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/24 issue).
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR? BLOOMBERG NEWS' Andy Fixmer cited a source as saying that The Gores Group Chair & CEO Alec Gores, the brother of Tom Gores, is "preparing a bid" for the Dodgers "in the event the current owners' divorce forces them to seek a buyer." The source indicated that Alec Gores, who made his fortune in leveraged buyouts, "may try to purchase" the team from Frank McCourt either with his brother or by joining an investment group. Details of a possible offer were not available (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/24). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote the "great irony is that the financially troubled McCourt has made the Dodgers a profitable and desirable team to own." But the "problem for McCourt is he has leveraged the team so seriously that he hasn't been able to secure additional funding" (LATIMES.com, 1/24). Meanwhile, Bloomberg TV's Michele Steele reported real estate mogul Alan Casden "will also bid if the team goes on the auction block" (Bloomberg TV, 1/25).
The Pirates yesterday "announced the details of their 2011 promotional schedule and ticket pricing, with a slight increase in prices for tickets that are bought the same day of the game," marking the "first price increase of any kind for Pirates tickets in nine years," according to Colin Dunlap of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The higher ticket prices "will not affect season ticket buyers, group ticket buyers or individual ticket buyers who purchase their tickets prior to the day of the game." Advance tickets "will be priced between $2 to $5 per ticket less than the day of game price." The Pirates also announced a new promotion called Free-Shirt Fridays, which will feature a "different Pirates themed T-shirt giveaway at all 13 Friday home games this season and a tailgate with live music on Federal Street prior to the games" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/25). Pirates President Frank Coonelly said that the club "believes the greater Pittsburgh market would support higher prices." But he added, "We did not think this was the right year to begin to move our pricing toward the industry's average" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/25).
SPRING FEVER: In Philadelphia, Jeff Janiczek reports demand for Phillies Spring Training tickets "has exploded." The team "has already sold 15,000 more tickets to spring training games in Clearwater, Fla., this season than it did in 2010, and those sales are expected to continue to grow over the next month." The Phillies "saw an immediate increase in the demand for all ticket packages" when P Cliff Lee was signed in mid-December, and the demand for Spring Training tickets "has been no exception." Phillies VP/Ticket Sales & Operations John Weber said six of the Phillies' 15 Grapefruit League games at Bright House Field are "sold out or very close to selling out" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/25).
The Bills yesterday promoted VP/Strategic Planning Mary Owen to Exec VP/Strategic Planning, moving her "behind only" Owner Ralph Wilson, CEO Russ Brandon and Treasurer Jeff Littmann "on the business side of the team's organizational chart." Owen, who is Wilson's niece, "started her career with the Bills as an intern in 1997 and joined the front office full time" in '00. She has played a "key role in the Bills Toronto Series since its inception" and serves as the team's Managing Dir for the partnership with Rogers Communications (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/25).
Guber stresses the need for Warriors to improve
the fan experience at games
STAYING ACTIVE: MLB.com's Mark Sheldon noted the Reds reportedly have signed P Johnny Cueto to a new four-year, $27M contract, which would "mean that the Reds have committed a combined $151 million this winter toward contracts" for four players: Cueto, P Bronson Arroyo, RF Jay Bruce and 1B Joey Votto. The ownership activity "signals to the league and Reds fans that the small-market club, and defending National League Central champions, is trying to keep its window of competitive opportunity open for as long as possible" (MLB.com, 1/24).
SHARING IS CARING: In Atlanta, Carroll Rogers reported the Braves have "launched a new online service to help both current and prospective season ticket holders share and distribute their tickets." Available at braves.com/sharedtickets, it is a "tool that allows prospective season tickets holders to find partners to share tickets with by browsing other accounts for seat locations, price and dates that appeal to them" (AJC.com, 1/24).