SBD/July 26, 2011/Franchises

The NFL Goes Back To Work: Teams Send Letters Thanking Fans For Their Support

Richardson pens open letter to Panthers fans committing to building a championship team
Several NFL teams yesterday released letters to their fans thanking them for their support during the 136-day lockout. Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson penned a letter to fans that appeared on the team's website yesterday and in today's Charlotte Observer. The letter read in part, "The last 12 months have been very difficult for Panthers fans. ... You are passionate about the game and have stuck with our organization through the highs and lows that come with an NFL franchise. ... I have learned timetables can be tricky, but I can promise we will continue to make a total commitment to building the championship team you deserve" (THE DAILY). In Boston, Ian Rapoport notes the Patriots sent season-ticket holders a "letter of thanks" after a 97% renewal rate this offseason. Team Owner Robert Kraft and President Jonathan Kraft acknowledged that the last five months "have been tough for fans in likely the first offseason dedicated to the business of the game, rather than the game itself." The Krafts "thanked fans for their patience." The letter read in part, "We look forward to getting back to the game of football and look forward to seeing you in Foxboro in the coming weeks." The note described the new CBA as "fair" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/26). Meanwhile, Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie and President Joe Banner also wrote a letter to fans that read in part, "We're proud to represent Philly fans, and we thank you for your patience during this long offseason" (PHILLY.com, 7/26).

THANKFUL FOR THE FANS: Broncos President Joe Ellis was asked yesterday if the lockout did any "long-term damage" to both the NFL as a whole and the Broncos specifically. Ellis said, "It's not so much as it would have been if we had started canceling games, there's no question about that." He added, "We have had tremendous support from our sponsors and ticket holders, and they have been unwavering. I think we’ve done the best we can to communicate with them through this. They have had every opportunity to abandon us, no question about it" (DENVERPOST.com, 7/25).

RE-STARTING TICKET SALES PUSH: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino reports the Jaguars "will start a season-ticket blitz Tuesday with the theme of 'It’s Go Time,' hoping to make up for lost time." The team has to sell about a "total of 17,000 non-premium tickets per game -- including 10,000 season tickets -- to avoid TV blackouts for the second consecutive season." Jaguars Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Macky Weaver said, "It’s a big number, but I’m cautiously optimistic." Team Owner Wayne Weaver said, "We need the fans to step up." The Jaguars also have 4,000 premium tickets to sell, but those "don't count toward the blackout number." Stellino notes the NFL also is starting a "Back to Football" marketing campaign with the lockout lifted (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/26). Meanwhile, Vikings VP/Sales & Marketing and CMO Steve LaCroix said that single-game tickets "will go on sale Aug. 3, and a push will be made to increase the season-ticket base." LaCroix: "We're going to be very aggressive with our season-ticket base that have not responded or didn't fully commit to this year, and get back in touch with them." LaCroix said that the Vikings have sold "more than 2,500 new season tickets this offseason, but acknowledged the team isn't in the range of last year when it sold about 55,000" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/26).

NOT WAITING AROUND: StubHub said yesterday ticket sales on the site for upcoming '11 NFL regular season games were doubling typical sales patterns, both in terms of unit sales and gross dollar volume, as a result of the end of the lockout. The most actively traded team yesterday, by number of tickets sold, was the 49ers, followed in order by the Cowboys, Redskins, Chargers, Chiefs, Giants, Jets, Lions, Packers and Saints. With the additional trading activity, however, the average price fell to $120 per ticket, down from $134 on Sunday and $145 per ticket a week ago (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

GOING TO THE NIGHT TIME: In Green Bay, Rob Demovsky notes the Packers' full training camp schedule "won't be announced until Tuesday at the earliest," but team President & CEO Mark Murphy indicated that it "would look quite a bit different than in previous summers." Murphy: "Most of the practices will probably be in the evenings. I think those are very popular" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 7/26). Murphy said that the team "will go ahead with its annual Lambeau Field preseason practice (Family Night scrimmage), only this time it will not include a full-contact scrimmage." It will be a "normal night practice that fans will pay $10 to attend." Murphy noted that the Packers were "one of the teams who did not require any of their employees to take a salary cut during the lockout." Murphy: "I'm proud of the way we handled it as an organization." Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Tom Silverstein reports the defending Super Bowl champions "will make it to the White House for a visit with President Barack Obama next month." Murphy said that the team "has been working behind the scenes to arrange a visit before the start of the regular season" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/26).

REMEMBERING THE ALAMO: In San Antonio, Tom Orsborn reports the Cowboys will report to training camp at the Alamodome tomorrow, but "unlike in past years when the team trained in San Antonio, there will be no 'Kickoff Spectacular.'" The annual pep rally and concert the night before the first practice was a "casualty of the lockout because the uncertainty of the labor talks made it difficult to plan" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 7/26).
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