SBD/March 3, 2011/Franchises

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  • NFL Labor Watch: Teams Announce Plans For No Furloughs, Layoffs During Lockout

    Wilf told Vikings employees team has no current plans for layoffs

    Vikings President Mark Wilf, "after reading about other NFL teams already laying off people because of the expected lockout," held a meeting with "all of the team employees and let them know that for the time being there would not [be] any layoffs if there is a lockout," according to Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Wilf said that he "would look at things again in September to see if it becomes necessary to make a change in the non-layoff policy" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/3). In New Orleans, Jim Varney notes the Saints thus far "have not issued any warnings to employees or sent any letters with paychecks indicating the team might be considering furloughs," a step the Jets "have publicly acknowledged they will take with staffers if a lockout commences." Varney: "In the short term, neither furloughs nor layoffs are in the cards" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/3). Jaguars Senior VP/Communications & Media Dan Edwards said that the organization's plan during a lockout is "'to operate business as usual' and that there are no plans to layoff, furlough or cut any staff." In Orlando, Andrew Carter notes the Dolphins, "like most teams," have it "worked into the contracts of their assistants that their salaries could be reduced as much as 40 percent during a lockout" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/3). In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell notes Colts Owner Jim Irsay last month "insisted he has no plans to reduce the pay of his coaching staff or front-office personnel." Irsay: "I really don't anticipate any of those type of changes." Meanwhile, the potential lockout "apparently has had little impact on the Colts' season ticket renewals." Monday was the "deadline for individuals to renew their packages," and Colts COO Pete Ward said renewals are "tracking almost identical to last year at this time" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/3).

    SEEING HOW THINGS PLAY OUT: In S.F., David White reports the 49ers are "more than willing to watch the collective bargaining agreement expire tonight without making any pre-emptive moves to improve their 6-10 team." A team source said, "Everyone is just kind of waiting to see what happens." White notes all the 49ers did yesterday was "offer one-year restricted free-agent tenders to three players" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/3). In San Diego, Kevin Acee reports nine Chargers "got restricted free agent tenders" yesterday, "most of which will probably prove meaningless." Chargers S Eric Weddle, one of the tendered players, said, "I know once the CBA gets solved this will be wiped out" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/3). Meanwhile, in S.F., Vittorio Tafur reports the Raiders have signed "five potential free agents to contracts before the agreement expires." But the team "didn't include one signing bonus that required a check being cut before a game is played" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/3).

    STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS: In Green Bay, Richard Ryman notes a lockout "won't shut down public and business operations at Lambeau Field." Operations to which the public has access, "such as Curly's Pub, the Packers Pro Shop, the Hall of Fame and stadium tours, will continue as usual." The Lambeau Field Atrium "also will continue to host conferences and other events" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 3/3).

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  • Maloofs, Mayor Kevin Johnson Finally Meet About Kings' Future In Sacramento

    Maloofs sat courtside for second home game since Anaheim plans became public

    Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday "finally met" with Kings Owners the Maloofs before the team's home game against the Trail Blazers, and Johnson said the participants "had a candid and productive conversation about our mutual goals and interests" during the 40-minute meeting, according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson: "I made clear that our community wants the Kings to stay, but we are fully aware that this is ultimately their decision. ... I fully expect to continue an open, direct and proactive dialogue with the Maloofs as we all move forward." Kings officials yesterday reiterated that they are "not commenting publicly on the issue of the team's future or the effort to build a new sports arena in Sacramento." Lillis reports Johnson yesterday also "spoke by phone with NBA Commissioner David Stern for 45 minutes." R.E. Graswich, Johnson's special assistant, "described that conversation as positive." Meanwhile, Sacramento-area business and labor leaders yesterday "began to amp up pressure to build a new sports arena in Sacramento and keep the Kings in town." Three of the "most influential business groups in the city -- the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, the Sacramento Metro Chamber and the Sacramento Convention and Visitors' Bureau -- released a joint statement saying a new arena would create jobs and that building a new facility here 'will require a significant commitment and investment from the community'" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/3). In Sacramento, Jason Jones notes Kings co-Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof last night "were courtside for the second consecutive game." The Maloofs "have attended both home games since speculation about a potential move to Anaheim picked up All-Star weekend." Johnson also was "on hand for a second consecutive game" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/3).

    NO ONE TRICK PONY: In Sacramento, Carla Meyer in a front-page piece reports the future of Power Balance Pavilion as the "region's premier concert venue" is getting "lost in the din about the Kings' possible exit." The arena "draws some of music's hottest acts -- and there is no indication a Kings exit for Anaheim would end entertainment events at the arena." The Maloofs "own the arena as well, and will keep control of the building as long as they pay back $67 million they owe the city of Sacramento." The Maloofs did not comment on the arena's future, but Live Nation Dir of Marketing Chris Martinez said that the promoter "still is on board for events." Meyer notes "other arenas have shown they can survive, even thrive, without anchor teams," as Seattle's KeyArena "has attracted more entertainment since it lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma in 2008" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/3).

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  • Pistons Talks Continuing With Gores Despite Expiration Of Exclusive Negotiating Period

    Gores (l) and Davidson reportedly remain committed to reaching a deal for Pistons

    Despite last week's "expiration of another exclusive negotiating period," talks between Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores and Pistons Owner Karen Davidson for control of the franchise are "very much ongoing," according to Ellis & Gallagher of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. A source said that Gores "remains committed to purchasing the Pistons, Davidson remains committed to sell to Gores, and the NBA is committed to seeing the deal become a reality." But the source added that a "final deal still could take several weeks." Should the Gores deal fall apart, Davidson "could try again with the Ilitch family" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/3). In Detroit, Vincent Goodwill cites a source as saying that "although things are progressing, a deal may not be reached for a few weeks due to many variables in place, which includes the matter of a possible lockout this summer" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/3). Meanwhile, Olympia Entertainment President & CEO Tom Wilson yesterday indicated that Red Wings and Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch still is interested in purchasing the Pistons. Wilson said Ilitch still is operating under terms of a non-disclosure agreement with Davidson, and as a result he could not comment about ongoing efforts to sell the NBA team to Gores. When pressed further about whether Ilitch, who failed to reach a deal for the team during an exclusive negotiating period with Davidson last year, still has interest in owning the Pistons, Wilson smiled and said, “We’re still under the non-disclosure agreement, so we must still have some interest” (WXYZ-ABC, 3/2).

    FALLING ON HARD TIMES: In N.Y., Joanne Gerstner writes the Pistons "appear to be in chaos, a startling state for a franchise that has clicked so well on so many levels over the past decade." The "synergy now lies in disarray" thanks to "public displays of player discontent, including what appeared to be a boycott of a practice last week; the team's 22-41 record; and the drawn-out process to sell the team and the arena." Palace Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Alan Ostfield: "There is no page in the NBA sports business handbook for what is happening; it's a perfect storm of challenges right now. ... We're not hiding that things aren't where we want them to be. We hope this is just a blip" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/3).

    Print | Tags: Detroit Pistons, NBA, Franchises
  • Mets Owners Could Face More Charges If They Fail To Settle Madoff Suit

    Fred Wilpon could ask for more financing help from MLB

    Mets Owner Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, already facing a $1B lawsuit from their ties to Bernie Madoff, are "expected to face additional allegations from a court-appointed trustee about how they may have benefitted from the multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme if they fail to reach a settlement," according to a source cited by Futterman & Rothfeld of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The trustee, Irving Picard, and the Mets owners have been "mired in an acrimonious dispute." Sources indicated that lawyers for Picard "have told the defendants that if they don't reach a settlement, they will add additional allegations by a March 18 legal deadline." One of the sources said that Picard's "amended complaint would include new allegations about amounts of investments with Mr. Madoff by the Mets owners and associates at their real-estate firm, Sterling Equities Associates." Today, the Wilpons and Katz "will be among the investors facing off" with Picard over his "refusal to honor the final statement balances of investors in the Ponzi scheme." Futterman & Rothfeld note the "behind-the-scenes tussles come as the owners of the Mets step up their efforts to sell a minority stake in their franchise." Sources indicated that within the next two weeks, MLB is "expected to approve about 14 individuals and groups to bid for the franchise." Sources added that team owners, who "previously said that they are seeking a single individual or partnership to purchase as much as 25% of the franchise, would also consider selling a series of minority stakes in the coming years." The sources contend that the Wilpons and Katz "need to raise between $150 million and $250 million to finance the operations of the franchise for the next two years and lower its debt" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/3).

    HELP IS ON THE WAY? On Long Island, Steven Marcus cites sources as saying that the Mets "could get financial help" from MLB, "if needed, before a partial sale of the club is completed." The team borrowed $25M from MLB in November "to cover operating expenses." A person monitoring the team's efforts to sell a minority stake in the franchise said, "There may be a 30-day period before a deal is closed where funds (from MLB) could be advanced. That would then be repaid with funding from the (new) partnership." A source indicated that MLB "will evaluate any future Mets loan request on a circumstantial or case-by-case basis, as would be the case with any team" (NEWSDAY, 3/3).

    IN THE ON-DECK CIRCLE: In N.Y., Lattman & Sandomir reports a group that includes Rays investor Randy Frankel "has shown interest in buying a share of the Mets, becoming one of about a dozen serious investors to emerge." Along with other interested bidders, the group "has paid a nonrefundable $25,000 application fee to Major League Baseball for permission to see the Mets’ financial records." Global trading company BTIG co-Founder Steven Starker "is the main investor in the group," which also includes Frankel, Marquis Jet co-Founder Kenny Dichter and Doug Ellin, creator of HBO's "Entourage." Sources said that Frankel "would sell his share in the Rays should his group’s bid for the Mets be successful." A source indicated that another investment group led by SkyBridge Managing Partner Anthony Scaramucci "has also submitted an application" to MLB. Contrary to reports, Scaramucci's group "does not include" former Mets manager Bobby Valentine (N.Y. TIMES, 3/3). Scaramucci said, "I'm not going to confirm or deny what's going on in the paper. But here's what I will say: I think that the press has been horrific to my very close personal friends, the Wilpon family. They've been unfair. They've mischaracterized what's gone on with them, and I think in the coming weeks we're going to see some really good news as it relates to the Wilpon family" ("The Strategy Session," CNBC, 3/2). Meanwhile, Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban yesterday said that he is "not involved with any of the groups that have filed paperwork" with MLB to view the Mets' books (NEWSDAY, 3/3).

    Print | Tags: New York Mets, Franchises, Baseball
  • Wild Freeze Prices On All Season Tickets In Attempt To Restore Sellouts

    Wild's sellout streak was snapped at 409 games earlier this season

    The Wild yesterday announced that all season-ticket prices for the '11-12 season will remain frozen at '10-11 levels. Season-ticket holders who renew their tickets by the early renewal deadline of April 1 also will be eligible for the "Pay as we Play" program. Those ticket holders only will be charged for confirmed home playoff games and will receive "Wild Bucks" food and beverage gift cards ranging in value from $25-150 per seat on their account (Wild). Wild VP/Customer Sales & Service Jamie Spencer said that the aim of the price freeze is to "resume selling out every home game at the 18,064-seat Xcel Energy Center." In St. Paul, Bruce Brothers notes the Wild "had their streak of consecutive sold-out games end at 409 shortly after the beginning of the 2010-11 season," and the team has had "four turnouts of less than 17,000" this season (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/3).

    DISCOUNT DEAL: In St. Paul, Ray Richardson reported the T'Wolves "kicked off a ticket promotion Tuesday that allows current and prospective season-ticket buyers to get significant discounts." Fans who buy season-ticket packages before the April 13 deadline "qualify for discounts ranging from" 3-22%. A T'Wolves spokesperson said that before the promotion, the team "had an 82 percent renewal rate on season-ticket sales" for the '11-12 season (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/2).

    Print | Tags: Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Timberwolves, Franchises
  • MLB Franchise Notes: Giants Introduce Dynamic Pricing For Spring Training Games

    Giants pricing Spring Training tickets based on demand for various games

    In Phoenix, Peter Corbett noted the Giants have introduced a dynamic pricing system for their Cactus League games that is "based on demand," similar to airline-ticket pricing. Pricing for the outfield grass berms "has increased at Scottsdale Stadium from the league-standard $8 to as much as $26, including a $3.50 handling fee." That is "more than the per-game price of $25 for a season-ticket holder's box seat for the Giants' spring games." Giants Senior VP/Facilities Alfonso Felder "encouraged fans to buy their tickets early or pick weekday and less-popular games to avoid the premium prices" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/2). The Giants in '09 introduced the dynamic-pricing concept for regular-season games at AT&T Park (THE DAILY).

    SEASON TICKET UPDATES
    : In St. Paul, Tom Powers reports the Twins have "sold out their 25,000 Target Field season tickets" for the '11 season, a franchise record. The previous high mark was set last year with 24,500 season tickets for the team's inaugural year at the ballpark (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/3). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Corey Brock reported the Padres have "surpassed the 10,000 mark in season-ticket sales for the upcoming season, putting them well ahead of where they were at a year ago." At this time last year they "had sold 8,240 season tickets." This year marks the "first time the franchise has eclipsed the 10,000 mark in season-ticket sales since the 2008 season" (MLB.com, 3/1).

    STANDING FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN
    : The Indians' payroll this season will be about $46.8M, and in Akron, Sheldon Ocker wrote, "So what if the club wins 75-80 games? The Indians are striking a blow for fiscal responsibility at a time when salaries are threatening to spiral out of control again." There are "those who criticize" Owner Larry Dolan and his son, Chair & CEO Paul Dolan, for "refusing to participate in the annual budget-busting free-agent frenzy." But Ockler wrote, "Enough is enough" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/27).

    ALLOCATING THEIR RESOURCES
    : SI.com's Joe Lemire wrote the $30.7M the Pirates have spent "signing their picks from the last three drafts, the most by any team in the majors," is a "staggering reality for a club whose major-league payroll annually ranks near the bottom of the league and hasn't exceeded" $50M since '03. Pirates GM Neal Huntington: "We can't spend the amount of money it takes to bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter or a middle-of-the-lineup bat. Or, really, a middle-of-the-rotation starter or just an everyday player. We have to develop those from within." However, Lemire wrote at some point the Pirates "will need to spend more on the big-league club," as "no team can fully and adequately stock a competitive roster entirely with its own draft picks" (SI.com, 2/28).

    Print | Tags: MLB, Baseball, Franchises
  • Franchise Notes

    Rangers insist they will give GM Jon Daniels a contract extension

    MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan noted a contract extension for Rangers GM Jon Daniels "is still not done." Team President Nolan Ryan has said that it "will get worked out," and he "made it clear the club does not want to lose Daniels." But the GM's current deal "runs out after the season and an extension that has been talked about since Daniels was named 2010 Executive of the Year during the playoffs last season has not been completed." Ryan said, "It's getting worked out. I'm not going to tell you that it's going to get worked out this week, but it will get done. You get down here and one thing leads to another. We have a board meeting tomorrow and when you come to the ballpark, there is always something that needs to be addressed. But I have all the confidence in the world that it will get done" (MLB.com, 3/2).

    DOLLARS & SENSE: In Dallas, Mike Heika noted EXCO Resources Chair & CEO Doug Miller is a "fan first and foremost and he thinks like a fan, so that would definitely be a big part of his attempt to make the Stars a successful business if he is able to buy the team." But like "every other guy who is trying to buy the Stars, Miller has some issues with paying too much and with leaving enough money to run the team the way he wants to run it," and that is "what could make closing a deal with the lenders very difficult." Monarch Investments and the other lenders that own a piece of the Stars "showed in the sale of the Texas Rangers that they are extremely intelligent in the ways of making money" (DALLASNEWS.com, 3/2).

    LANGUAGE OF LOVE: In Phoenix, Paul Coro reports the Suns "will wear their notorious 'Los Suns' jerseys again." As part of the NBA's annual Noche Latina marketing effort, the Suns will wear the "Los Suns" jerseys for a March 25 home game against the Hornets. That game at US Airways Center "will be one of 12 NBA games featuring clubs that wear uniforms with the team names as spoken by the Spanish-speaking fans and media" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/3).

    STAYING CONNECTED: USA TODAY's Robert Klemko notes the Devils "took an unprecedented step in connecting with fans with the February launch of Mission Control, a high-tech hub for fans" at Prudential Center. The Devils said that "online fan participation has spiked by 7% on Twitter and 4% on Facebook since the initiative began two weeks ago" (USA TODAY, 3/3).

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