SBD/January 5, 2011/Franchises

NFL Panthers' Richardson Talks Finances At Rare News Conference

Richardson held press conference for the first time in nine years

NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson “met formally with the media Tuesday for the first time in nine years,” and he “made a couple of references to the team's finances," according to a front-page piece by Joseph Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Richardson “bristled at a question about the team's willingness to spend money" and at a reference to former coach John Fox's "lame-duck status" during the '10 season. Richardson said that he “chose not to fire Fox before this season in part because he didn't want to pay off Fox and his staff, with a total of $11.4 million in contracts, while also paying a new coach and assistants.” He said, "You know, we are running a business here. And people don't like to see their ticket prices go up. … I have 14 partners here in town. I own approximately 48 percent of the team, or our family does. And 52 percent is owned by partners, and I have an obligation to give a fair return to them." Person reports Richardson "wants the new coach to be more involved in the team's marketing efforts." Richardson also indicated that he “would not sign any of the team's pending free agents until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, which he predicted would not be any time soon.” But when asked about his "commitment to invest in the team, Richardson pointed to the upscale stadium lounge where the news conference was held.” Richardson: "Does this room look like it's a room (where) we're not spending money?" Meanwhile, Panthers President Danny Morrison said that the Panthers “would not raise ticket prices -- as they did before last season -- and would offer fans refunds for any games that are affected by a possible lockout” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/5).

SHORT TERM GRADES: A Charlotte Observer online poll asked readers, “Are you confident in Jerry Richardson’s Leadership?” Twenty-four percent of the readers said that they are “very confident,” 31% indicated they are “so-so” and 44% said that they are “not at all confident.” A total of 2,579 readers responded (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/5). Meanwhile, Richardson yesterday said that he “plans to own the team until he dies.” In Charlotte, Scott Fowler wondered, “Beyond then what happens?” Richardson “wouldn’t say, saying he was focused more on the short term” (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/4).

WHICH BIG CAT IS BETTER? In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell wrote the Bobcats “have a more humble, transparent and practical owner” in Michael Jordan than the Panthers do in Richardson. Bonnell listened to Richardson’s press conference on the radio and found the owner “cordial and personable,” but was “embarrassed by his attitude.” Bonnell: “He was flippant, he was condescending and he was certainly patronizing toward women among his questioners.” Panthers fans “deserve better than that” (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/4).

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