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SBD/March 11, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The MLB Rangers Friday morning announced that Managing General Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg is leaving the organization. Team President Nolan Ryan will add the title of CEO and oversee all business and baseball operations, reporting directly to the BOD (Rangers). In Dallas, Evan Grant cites a source as saying that Greenberg "left the Rangers’ spring training facility in Arizona abruptly on Saturday during a weekend that was supposed to be full of activities for the managing partnership." He was "not at a club party" he and Ryan "were supposed to host on Sunday." Greenberg's surprising departure "comes just shy of the seven-month mark of MLB’s unanimously approving" Greenberg, Nolan Ryan and "more than a dozen others to purchase the club after a courthouse auction pushed the sale price to more than $590 million" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/11). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson reports "no one reason was given" for Greenberg's exit, but his "method of operations could have created disagreements within the organization," including with Ryan, and "among the ownership group and even Major League Baseball" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/11). SI's Jon Heyman on his Twitter feed wrote, "Chuck greenberg managed to upset a lot of people as managing partner but undoing came after he upset nolan ryan" (TWITTER.com, 3/11).
WHAT WENT WRONG? In Dallas, Evan Grant notes from the "moment he gained control of the Rangers seven months ago, Chuck Greenberg fancied himself as an aggressive owner determined to reshape the club, its operations and its brand in his vision." But he "never owned the team, only a small percentage of it." It appears that "somewhere during the 16-month purchase process or during the seven months since the club was officially transferred from Tom Hicks to the coalition of owners Greenberg put together, he lost sight of the fact" that he was CEO & Managing General Partner. Grant: "What is starting to emerge is a picture of a man who was perhaps seduced by the challenge of landing the team and then obsessed with running it, even when he didn't have ultimate or unilateral authority to do so" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/11). ESPN’s Buster Olney writes, “This is a stunner, although folks within other organizations did wonder if there would inevitably be clashes because of how many Texas executives spoke loudly for the organization -- general manager Jon Daniels (naturally), President Nolan Ryan, and Greenberg” (ESPN.com, 3/11).
MSG Sports sent out invoices to its 28,000 season-ticket holders today announcing the organization will be raising season-ticket prices an average of 49% for the Knicks and 23% for the Rangers for their respective '11-12 seasons. MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil said the arena's four-year, $850M renovation is "the dominant reason for the ticket increase." "I hope there is not sticker shock here," O'Neil said. The lion's share of the price increases are coming at the club level. For Knicks games, 48% of the arena -- 8,623 seats -- will see a price increase of 15% or less. The most expensive floor-level seats would see an increase from $3,000 a game to $3,600 a game. It is the first time the Knicks have raised season-ticket prices in six years. Meanwhile, 72% percent of seats at Rangers games will see a price increase of 10% or less. The top 1% of Rangers seats will see an increase of 198%. Both the Knicks and the Rangers will lose 700 seats in the lower bowl for the '11-12 seasons after construction over the summer. O'Neil said the lost seats were put on hold during the '10-11 season to prevent any season-ticket holders from losing lower-bowl seats. The lost seats would be added with the addition of a bridge during the '13-14 season. Changes to single-game tickets have yet to be announced.
NFL Cardinals officials Thursday announced that the team is "not increasing prices on season tickets for the 2011 season," and that about 3,700 seats "will decrease in price, including 2,300 that went down from $40 to $25," according to Kent Somers of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The Cardinals said that the $25 ticket is "among the lowest in the NFL," and they "now have about 8,800 tickets at that price." Additionally, 1,400 tickets "were reduced by $5," from $60 to $55. Team Marketing Report indicated that the average price of a Cardinals ticket in '10 was $67.69, which "ranked 23rd out of 32 teams." Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said that "anyone paying for 2011 tickets in full by April 15 will be eligible for one of four trips for two to Super Bowl XLI in Indianapolis" next February. Bidwill also said that "in the event of a work stoppage, ticket holders could choose to apply the money to playoff or 2012 tickets, or get the money refunded for games missed." Somers notes if the ticket holder "chooses to apply the money forward," they "also will be given a card that can be used to purchase food and drink at the stadium" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/11). In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks noted the Cardinals are "sending season ticket renewals to existing ticket holders this week" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/10).
For a team with just 16 wins through Thursday, the T'Wolves "seem to have a high percentage of fan appeal and fame, a byproduct of Kevin Love's historic double-double streak," according to Ray Richardson of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Love's 52-game streak, the "longest in the NBA since the league merged with the ABA in 1976, has energized the Wolves' franchise so much that the club has put out last-minute ticket packages tied to the streak." In a 24-hour span this week, "more than 1,700 people took advantage of a ticket offer" for Wednesday's game against the Pacers at Target Center, a promotion related to Love's No. 42 jersey. The one-game deal included "upper-level seats for only $4.20 and specially priced seats of $42 in the lower level." Richardson notes attracting "more than 15,000 fans -- in the middle of the week against an unheralded Eastern Conference team -- reflects the interest level in Love's streak and his overall play this season." Love has been a "willing participant in a majority of the club's marketing efforts to help promote the team." T'Wolves President Chris Wright said, "There's a definite buzz surrounding our franchise because of all of this. The franchise has had an enormous amount of recognition" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/11).
Just a few weeks into his ownership of the Sabres, Terry Pegula "has become the region's newest rock star," according to James Fink of BUSINESS FIRST OF BUFFALO. Pegula "has been thrust into the public eye" since buying the team from Tom Golisano last month. WGRZ-NBC Sports Dir Ed Kilgore: "I don't think Buffalo has ever had an owner quite like Terry Pegula. ... You can't go anywhere in Buffalo without hearing the Terry Pegula-related buzz." Fink notes a "tell-tale sign has been the team's 'Blue and Gold Club' where fans can register to purchase season tickets." The club "has added 100 members since Pegula bought the team and now has more than 1,500." Sales of Sabres merchandise has "remained steady, with no real spike since the ownership change" (BUSINESS FIRST OF BUFFALO, 3/11 issue). In Buffalo, John Vogl notes Pegula and Sabres officials "promised things would change," and they already have "spent more than $20,000 for a logoed carpet that was installed in the dressing room Thursday." Sabres players "will get their first look at the arena changes" Friday. They also have "made plans to change the way fans watch the games, both in HSBC Arena and on television." They have "engaged the fans and embraced the customers' ideas, and they will continue to do so." Sabres President Ted Black "made it clear he and the organization are listening to the fans, especially the ones who visit the 'suggestion box' on Sabres.com." Black: "I can personally assure people that I have read every one, and I continue to read them. That's what I do the last couple of hours before I leave at night. ... Some of the ideas were really interesting, and we want to make changes immediately." Vogl reports the Sabres are "taking two steps to make sure fans know when intermission is ending and the game is resuming." Countdown clocks "will be placed on the concourse television monitors, and a chime or siren will sound when two minutes remain in the break." The Sabres also "will change the tune for their television opening" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/11).
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FULL OF TIGER BLOOD: The Condors have not marketed Charlie Sheen Night any more than a normal game, but the response has been exponentially greater. Still, Riley does not expect attendance at Rabobank Arena to go through the roof. "It's not overwhelming," he said. "I think our attendance will be better on Saturday because of this promotion. ... I don't necessarily think we're going to have lines for two blocks, but it's certainly going to have a positive effect on us." Riley said the opportunity to boost the Condors' social media presence was a major impetus behind the Sheen promotion. In the press release announcing Charlie Sheen Night, the Condors said they would allow the actor to rename the team if they could break his record of gaining one million Twitter followers in less than 25 hours and 17 minutes. The team did not come close to setting that mark, but the Condors did double their Twitter followers in the 24 hours following the announcement. "The Twitter and Facebook aspect is one of the reasons we really hooked onto this. Just by those two things alone, it was worth doing it," Riley said. The Condors did invite Sheen, a noted sports fan, to attend the game, but they have yet to receive a reply.
GNARLY GNARLINGTONS: The Condors have received some negative feedback for the connection to such a controversial figure, mostly from local fans. But Riley defended the promo as simply an attempt to have fun. "We don't take ourselves too seriously and hope that other people don't either," he said. "We're a business and we're trying to be one dollar in the black. You've got to do what you've got to do as a business. We think this can help us sell some tickets and get us some publicity." As long as the Condors keep shaking all the trees, it is likely the publicity will continue.
In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin cited a Dolphins source as saying that the franchise's coaches "have language written into their contracts stating that the team can reduce their salaries in the event of a lockout." GM Jeff Ireland "has the sole authority to determine the reduction amount," and he will "handle each coach on an individual basis instead of applying one standard salary cut." The source said that the reason for treating the coaches individually "is to allow Ireland to take family situations into account when deciding on paycuts." The source added that coach Tony Sparano "could have his salary reduced in a lockout" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 3/10).
BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL: In St. Louis, Dan O'Neill reports the Blues "announced season ticket pricing for the 2011-12 season on Thursday that will see some 1,200 seats at Scottrade Center decrease in price by as much as" 9%. The team also is offering an "Ice Your Price" option under which current season-ticket holders through April 9 "can freeze their price for next season without an increase." After April 9, tickets for seats not decreasing in price "will adjust to an average increase" of 7.5%. O'Neill notes the Blues continue to have "among the most affordable tickets in the NHL," as the club's average ticket price this season is the "fifth-lowest in the league" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/11).
FIT FOR THE KINGS: In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore wrote he thinks Orange County, which has "an estimated 3 million residents," has "enough non- or casual Lakers and Clippers fans ready to throw their allegiance behind the Kings" should they relocate to Anaheim. Bonsignore: "Call me crazy, but I think so. ... It will take time, but if the Kings are serious about fielding a competitive team, they will eventually put together a club fans are willing to pay money to see 41 times a season." Additionally, with the Lakers "soon moving to a self-owned television station, the Kings will have an open slot at Fox Sports West waiting for them" when they get there (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/10).