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SBD/April 7, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The Cardinals drew a total of 100,638 fans for their three-game series against the Pirates this week, marking the "smallest attendance for a three-game series" in the history of the new Busch Stadium, according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The team drew 32,007 fans for Monday's game, marking the "smallest crowd in the ballpark's six seasons." But Cardinals VP/Ticket Sales Joe Strohm said, "There are a couple factors that play into that. No. 1, the season starting earlier (than usual). And No. 2, when you looked at the schedule and also saw you were playing against the final game of the NCAA (men's basketball) championship. Honestly, the Pirates play into it a little bit, but at the end of the day it wouldn't have mattered who we played outside of Chicago." The Cardinals approached MLB "about shifting Monday's game and playing Tuesday, Wednesday and today against the Pirates" in order to "avoid playing opposite Monday night's national championship game." But the Pirates open their home schedule today and "could not budge." Strohm said that with the "chilly weather Monday, the Cardinals estimated the crowd at around 21,000 and had an actual count of slightly more than 22,000." Goold notes April is a "harsh gauge" for attendance. In "every season at the new ballpark except 2007, when the team was buoyed by the 2006 World Series championship, April has featured the lowest attended games." Four of the "smallest crowds of 2010 were in April" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/7).
AVERAGE PLUMMETS: In Cincinnati, John Fay noted the Reds drew 105,160 fans for their weekend series against the Brewers, but their attendance "came crashing down Tuesday night" when "only 11,821 showed up" for the game against the Astros. But Reds COO Phil Castellini said Tuesday's attendance was "all about the weather." Castellini: "April and September are the biggest challenges. It's dicey if you're out of it in September. The kids are back in school and that kind of stuff. May's a little bit tough, if you get a lot of rain. But it's mostly April and September that are the challenges when you haven't presold." Castellini said that the Reds have sold "about 11,000 full-season packages," and season-ticket sales are "up more than 30 percent over last year." Castellini: "We're happy with that. But there's room for improvement" (CINCINNATI.com, 4/6).
SLOWLY CATCHING ON? In Baltimore, Dan Connolly notes the announced attendance for last night's Tigers-Orioles game at Camden Yards was 12,451, despite the "buzz" from the sellout of Monday's home opener against the Tigers and the Orioles' "hot 4-0 start." The attendance for last night's game was up 20% "from the first Wednesday night game in 2010, when the announced crowd was 10,248" (Baltimore SUN, 4/7). Before last night's game, MASNSPORTS.com's Steve Melewski wrote, "Will the Orioles' 4-0 start and some of the buzz right now surrounding the club translate into more tickets sold at Camden Yards? For the next two nights, the answer to that question is probably 'No.'" An Orioles official said the team was expecting crowds of "between (the) low to mid-teens" for last night's and tonight's games against the Tigers. Melewski wrote there is "more buzz around this team, more people are watching on TV and more people are talking about the team around town." But he added, "It may take a while, certainly more than just four games and four wins, for that to be felt at the turnstiles" (MASNSPORTS.com, 4/6).
WIN AND THEY WILL COME: In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes notes Indians Exec VP/Business Dennis Lehman is "hopeful" the team "can reach at least 1.5 million in attendance this year" after drawing 1,391,644 last season. However, the crowd of 8,726 for Sunday's game against the White Sox marked the "smallest in the history of Progressive Field," and Hoynes wonders, "How do the Indians get the fans back following consecutive seasons of 97 and 93 losses?" Indians manager Manny Acta said, "Do I want to see the ballpark packed every day? Of course I do. But that's something I can't control. If we win, they'll come." Lehman: "I think our attendance will improve. We have to play well, but I like this team. Our promotional schedule starts to kick in at the end of this month" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/7).
GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE: On Long Island, Anthony Rieber notes some "very good seats were still available" last night for the Mets' home opener against the Nationals tomorrow. A Mets spokesperson acknowledged that a "limited number of tickets were unsold but predicted the game will be sold out." The team's attendance "will be closely watched this season as club owners attempt to sell part of the team in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal" (NEWSDAY, 4/7).
The Dodgers yesterday "responded to the national fervor stemming from the beating of a Giants fan in the Dodger stadium parking lot last week by hiring" former L.A. Police Chief William Bratton to "assess their stadium security measures," according to Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. TIMES. Bratton, who served as L.A. Police Chief for seven years before leaving in October of '07, will evaluate the Dodgers' "policies and procedures related to security and fan services at Dodger Stadium." He also is "scheduled to work with the organization to develop a security blueprint for the stadium and parking lots." The Dodgers said that Bratton and his team "would begin consulting immediately." Dilbeck noted the Dodgers have "received criticism for a slow response to the beating of" Giants fan Bryan Stow after their season opener last Thursday at Dodger Stadium (LATIMES.com, 4/6). MLB.com's Evan Drellich noted Bratton is "considered an expert in the field," and he "developed a track record of reducing violent crimes" in his police chief role (MLB.com, 4/6).
NO COMMENT FROM DODGERS: In L.A., T.J. Simers notes he called the Dodgers asking to speak to Owner Frank McCourt "about the security concerns fans have expressed in email," but VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch said, "He's not available to speak with you." Simers: "Dodgers fans seem to be indicating this is the appropriate time to discuss their safety, but Rawitch said the team will have no comment on security issues." Rawitch said that "discussions are underway to stage an event where fans can donate to help defray medical costs" for Stow, but when asked whether the team will contribute to medical costs, Rawitch said, "I'll have to get back to you on that." Meanwhile, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "made it very clear he's upset" by the beating. Selig: "Baseball has enjoyed tremendous attendance the past seven years, and that's because it's been family entertainment. And to make such a human experience so great, safety at the ballpark is absolutely critical" (L.A. TIMES, 4/7).
SHAKEN CITY: In N.Y., Christian Red writes the incident has "outraged" L.A., with one L.A. county government source saying that attending a Dodgers home game "has become 'very, very scary' and that the incident has been a 'huge PR snafu' for the franchise" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/7). An L.A. TIMES editorial states "whatever caused the incident, it leaves us stunned and frustrated." The editorial: "We're not suggesting the stadium go dry and games turn into prayer services. And we realize that the violence is the fault of just a few fans. But trying to fix it has got to be the work of all the fans. They can start by reporting anything they know about last week's incident" (L.A. TIMES, 4/7).
BEHIND IN THE COUNT: SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote McCourt "has an uphill battle to keep the Dodgers." But he is a "scrapper, and he's also litigious, so he can't be completely ruled out." The divorce proceedings involving McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie, are "being watched with great interest by several other owners who have seemed intrigued by its soap operatic quality and almost unseemly details about the McCourts' over-the-top lavish lifestyle considering they aren't among baseball's richest owners" (SI.com, 4/6).
The Blue Jays are "open to the idea of eventually playing exhibition games in Montreal and various cities across Canada," according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Blue Jays President Paul Beeston yesterday said that the club "would consider playing games on the road at the end of Spring Training." He "thinks it would be a way to showcase not only the Blue Jays, but also the sport." Beeston: "I think it's good for us, I think it's good for baseball in Canada." Beeston added that he "does not have a timeline for when this initiative might take place." Chisholm notes the Blue Jays in the past "have played at the end of Spring Training in cities like Vancouver, Ottawa and even a failed attempt in Saint John, New Brunswick, that had to be cancelled because of snow." Montreal "would appear to be the most realistic possibility this time around, because the city has Olympic Stadium" (MLB.com, 4/7). Beeston "mused about being open to playing a game at the Olympic Stadium." But he said, "I don't see anything more than an exhibition game" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/7). Meanwhile, Montreal's CKAC-AM Sports Program Dir Michel Tremblay said that the station is "almost doubling the number of Blue Jays games it broadcasts live after getting solid ratings with a first try last year." CKAC Sports "broadcast eight weekend games last year and will air 15 this year" (CP, 4/6).
NEW LOOK: In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski notes "several reports since late March have been indicating the Jays hired a British marketing firm to rebrand the organization's logos and develop a new jersey." IAS Marketing "has been retained to rebrand the Jays," though the new jerseys "wouldn't likely surface on the playing field until the Jays open the 2012 season" (TORONTO STAR, 4/7).
Nets CEO Brett Yormark yesterday said "Brooklyn Nets" is the "working title" for the team following its move to the Barclays Center for the '12-13 season. Yormark: "Hopefully, sometime in the near future we'll have a formal announcement. I like Brooklyn Nets, but it's not a done deal yet." Yormark added of the team's future home, "Brooklyn is a borough of 2.5 million people and they've been underserved in the area of sports and entertainment since 1957. They want a home team and the Nets will be that home team, and in some respects, we'll be the new Dodgers." Yormark also discussed marketing the team in N.Y. and around the world, saying, "While we aspire to be global ... we must be local at the same time. While we attract global partners, we need local partners, and I think we're doing a good job at both." Meanwhile, when asked if the Nets would bring in a hockey team as another tenant, Yormark said, "We're having a lot of different discussions. It's a multipurpose venue and we're open to any and all possibilities and opportunities. We would love the Islanders to play a couple of games at the Barclays Center" (Fox Business, 4/6).
IS DERON BOUND FOR BROOKLYN? In N.Y., Marc Berman noted Nets G Deron Willliams is "not signed with the Nets past next season but the franchise was bold enough to unveil an 80 foot x 60 foot billboard in Times Square" yesterday with the heading, "Deron Williams & The Nets Bound for Brooklyn." Barclays Center is "not slated to open until the 2012-13 season, when Williams may be gone," and the Knicks are "expected to have major salary-cap space in 2012 and will have Williams as one of their prime targets." Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov last summer "put up a billboard of him and minority owner Jay-Z on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue, near Madison Square Garden" (NYPOST.com, 4/6).
In Detroit, Krupa & Goodwill cite sources as saying that an agreement between Pistons Owner Karen Davidson and Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores for the sale of the team is "close." But the sources said that while there is "some possibility a deal could be reached in time for the last NBA Board of Governors meetings this season, beginning Thursday, April 14," it is "unlikely." They said that "perhaps more probable ... is the process stretching into summer, maybe even autumn." That means the NBA "likely will not approve the sale until at least the next scheduled Board of Governors meeting in October" (DETROIT NEWS, 4/7).
HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: In DC, Jason Reid wrote while Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld "has made mistakes in leading" the team to this point, it is "not time for a major shakeup in Washington's basketball operation, particularly because Grunfeld has performed well recently." He has made "enough of the right moves this season to warrant continued control." Grunfeld, whose contract expires after the '12 season, "has worked effectively within the confines of owner Ted Leonsis's plan to rebuild the Wizards" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/6).
NEW MILESTONE: In Buffalo, James Fink reported the Sabres "for the first time in franchise history have sold more than 1 million tickets in a single season at HSBC Arena." The total "includes 756,568 purchased for ... the Sabres' 41 regular season home games plus another 330,000 tickets that were sold during the World Junior championship this past winter." Only three games "drew less than 18,000 fans at the 18,690-seat HSBC Arena," and "overall attendance was down just 0.4 percent from last year when the team attracted 759,695 fans for an 18,529 per-game average" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/6).
SETTLING OUT OF COURT: In Nashville, Jim Wyatt reports the Titans and USC "have settled their differences out of court." The Titans last July filed a lawsuit against USC and football coach Lane Kiffin "over the hiring of former Titans assistant Kennedy Pola." The two sides yesterday "announced a settlement," issuing a joint statement calling it a "mutually satisfactory arrangement" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/7).