SBD/March 10, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Coyotes RW Shane Doan yesterday joined NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "in questioning the motives of the Goldwater Institute," according to Paul Friesen of the WINNIPEG SUN. Doan, the only member of the Coyotes left from the franchise's days in Winnipeg, told a Phoenix-area radio station that Goldwater officials are "crossing the line by meddling in city affairs." Doan: "You're not an elected official, and if you want to be in control of the city, go run in an election." He also questioned the "high profile the Arizona taxpayer watchdog group has gained by stalling the sale of the Coyotes to Matthew Hulsizer." Doan: "They've found something they can stake their name to. And now people go to their website and they see they can make a donation. And it becomes more self-serving." Doan acknowledged that the "future of the team has become a distraction." Doan: "My 12-year-old is asking, 'Are we going to Winnipeg?' It drastically affects the players." Friesen notes Goldwater "has threatened to sue the City of Glendale if it goes through with a bond sale to raise $100 million for Hulsizer's purchase," and that "has stalled the sale of the bonds, jeopardizing Hulsizer's takeover bid" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said there are a "couple of possibilities" the league is pursuing in order to complete the sale to Hulsizer. Daly told a Phoenix radio station, "We're busy working on another alternative. We're not giving up on this. We need to be creative, we need to work with the City of Glendale, we need to work with Matt Hulsizer and we need to get this done any way we can." When asked about the team potentially relocating to Winnipeg, Daly "was almost dismissive." Daly: "We've had a lot of conversations with Winnipeg over time. But that doesn't make Winnipeg at all unique." He added, "There are a number of markets throughout North America that come to see us from time to time. ... There is a demand for franchises. This is not a situation where if we don’t get this done in Glendale the Coyotes won’t have another home. It’ll just be unfortunate for all the people who’ve spent a lot of time, money and passion on this team" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10).
KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reports the NHLPA is "fielding calls from players concerned about the Phoenix Coyotes crisis but is not planning to get involved yet." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "If I thought there was something the union should be doing which could affect a better result for everybody, I’m not unwilling to undertake that. This is a process in which the union is not essentially involved." But Fehr "does not want to see the Coyotes move." He said, "It would be great if they could figure out a way to make it work on an economically viable basis" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 3/10).
OPTIONS EXHAUSTED? YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote should Bettman "place pride aside here, he has a legitimate cover story if the Coyotes have to leave." Something "doesn't frame this as the NHL's failure." The NHL "went to court, bought the team, owned it, operated it, facilitated its sale to a party willing to keep it in Glendale, and then through the actions of a politically motivated group and the local bureaucracy (and the dreaded economy), the deal fell apart." The NHL "did everything it could" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/9). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman writes, "Phoenix is simply not a good hockey market. They have tried and failed to save their team and now it’s time to move on. Winnipeg has deep-pocketed owners who are believed to be willing to give the NHL what it wants for the franchise." Wyman: "The pieces are in place and a deal is there to be made, if only Bettman can swallow his pride and allow it to happen" (WINNIPEG SUN, 3/10). However, in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, "Let’s forget about relocation once and for all. Instead, let’s think about retraction. I know it will never happen, but in a perfect world, the NHL would do just that. There are too many teams" (TORONTO SUN, 3/10).
MARKET SIZE MATTERS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin notes the NHL is "expected to announce its new U.S. TV package within the next six weeks." Dowbiggin: "Now ask yourself, for which city would NBC or Fox or ESPN add zeroes on the rights cheque? Winnipeg or Phoenix?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/10). Phoenix is the 12th largest media market in the U.S. (THE DAILY).
Public financial documents and interviews suggest that the Mets "may well have needed the proceeds from selling part of the team regardless" of the lawsuit brought against the team's owners by Irving Picard, the trustee in the Bernie Madoff case, according to Sandomir & Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. The reasons in many cases were the "result of bad timing and unforeseen circumstances, including an economic downturn that coincided with the opening of the Mets' new stadium in 2009 and a rash of player injuries that sank the team on the field and disillusioned fans." Revenue from "about 10,600 club seats and suites and from advertising and concessions dedicated to paying off the Mets' new $800 million home, Citi Field, fell tens of millions of dollars short of forecasts made just two months before the season began in 2009." That was followed by a "nearly 20 percent decline in attendance in 2010 and a resulting slide in revenue that was compounded by an increase in stadium bond payments." However, Mets Exec VP & General Counsel David Cohen this week "maintained that the size of the lawsuit was what really motivated the hunt for a partner, not any financial pressures." Cohen: "The decision to seek minority investors was not related to any intermittent fluctuations in revenue." Sandomir & Belson note in February '09, the Mets "estimated in a financial disclosure document that Citi Field would generate" $224M. Yet revenue that season fell "well short" at $180.4M. The way sponsorships are booked "accounted for about $7 million of the difference in revenue, but the gap was still large." The figures for '10 are "not yet available," but it "seems improbable that things went appreciably better for the Mets." At the "same time that ticket sales were slipping last year, the Mets' payments on their tax-free bonds more than doubled" to $43.7M from $19.1M in '09. Still more is due on $65M in taxable bonds that had also been used to build the ballpark (N.Y. TIMES, 3/10).
RARE AIR: In N.Y., Kosman & Robbins report the Mets are "telling suitors they are expecting to raise $200 million for a 25-percent stake in the team, valuing the franchise at about" $1.3B. That would make the Mets "almost as valuable as the Yankees, which Forbes says are worth" $1.6B. The valuation is "based on taking the $200 million sale price, multiplying it by four and adding the team's $500 million in debt." However, a Mets source "denied that price expectations have been mentioned, saying they will be addressed after the groups are certified" by MLB (N.Y. POST, 3/10).
The Jaguars sent an e-mail to fans yesterday "announcing a contest to put photos of fans on general bowl non-premium season tickets" for the '11 NFL season, according to Vito Stellino of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. To enter the contest, fans must go to the team's website by March 16 and "complete a sentence saying why they should appear on the season tickets." They also have to "upload a picture of themselves that displays their pride as a Jaguars fan." The team will "narrow the field to 20 and post the entrants on jaguars.com, and the 10 with the most votes will appear on the season tickets." Jaguars Senior Manager of Business Development & Sales Operations Steve Livingstone said that "more than 200 entries were already filed" by yesterday afternoon. Livingstone said that the "idea came from the team's marketing department as the Jaguars continue to find ways of repeating their success of last year, when they didn't have a blackout." To date, 21,849 non-premium season-ticket holders from last year "have renewed," about 56%, and the team has "sold 874 new non-premium tickets at this point." The Jaguars "need to sell 50,957 general bowl season tickets to lift the blackouts." Stellino notes the Jaguars will "continue some of their popular features from last year, including conference calls with club officials." They have the "technology to dial all ticket holders at the same time, so fans can answer their phone and listen in." The "first call will be tonight," with GM Gene Smith taking questions. Livingstone also noted that the Jaguars "will expand the Team Teal program" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/10).