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SBD/August 30, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that the team's plan to honor the Univ. of Florida's '08 National Championship team prior to the Oct. 23 game against the Broncos "was conceived to generate ticket sales during a challenging time and not a slight" against the Univ. of Miami, according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Dee said that UM "declined a similar proposal to honor the 10th anniversary of UM's last national championship during a Dolphins game this season." Dee: "We reached out to both schools at about the same time in early to mid July." Davis notes Broncos QB Tim Tebow and Dolphins C Mike Pouncey both played on the '08 UF team, and former UF coach Urban Meyer "has agreed to participate in the celebration." However, the idea "sparked an angry backlash from UM supporters on sports talk radio shows and social media sites." A SunSentinel.com poll showed that 76% of respondents voted the plan was a "ridiculous misread of the market," while just 12% supported the idea. Dee: "Are we surprised, yeah, maybe a little, given the fact that these schools don't play every year." He added, "I wish we were in a position where those kinds of marketing things didn't matter. We're not in that position, and there's over 100,000 active Gator alums in South Florida" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/30). Dee indicated that UM declined to participate because the school wants to "do that on their own." Dee: "We love the University of Miami. We can't afford to discriminate and only market to fans that are Hurricane fans. It's unfortunate some have viewed it as inflammatory" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/30). The UM football team has played in Sun Life Stadium since '08 (THE DAILY).
LOOKING FOR NEW WAYS TO SELL TICKETS: Dee said, "We never envisioned that the reaction we've gotten would be what it is. ... It'd be great to just open the doors and let 70,000 people come in. But now we need to be creative and aggressive. We've got to push." In West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick notes a blackout "was clearly a concern for that Oct. 23 date with Denver, which is not a Miami rival." Skolnick writes of Dee, "He did not convince me that Gator Day was a brilliant idea. Rather, he convinced me that the Dolphins are just about out of ideas when it comes to drawing fans during these challenging times. They've tried celebrity owners, an orange carpet, a nightclub, even an awful new fight song. Still, they're searching." However, Skolnick writes the "transparent tie-in with Tebow, a player on the visiting team, seemed beneath an NFL franchise that has touted its own tradition for decades" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/30).
BAD TIMING: In Miami, Greg Cote notes Dee is "working damage control," as the "timing of the announcement makes it seem like piling on" after the recent scandal involving UM and booster Nevin Shapiro. Dee said, "There may be a raw nerve at the moment." Cote writes the Dolphins front office "is making a habit of these sporadic embarrassments big and small, from Jeff Ireland/Dez Bryant to Stephen Ross' Jim Harbaugh mess to the team gift shop selling Jets jerseys to this." The team needs to "draw a line." Cote: "The Dolphins are a Miami team. This is Miami" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/30). In Orlando, George Diaz wrote under the header, "Worst Idea Ever: Dolphins Honoring Tebow, Gators On UM Turf." Diaz: "Dee obviously is clueless when it comes to all things involving Hurricanes, Gators and Seminoles. Nobody likes each other. Memo to Dee: Many fans actually hate the other side" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/29).
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane reports the Dolphins' game Thursday night against the Cowboys will be blacked out locally, which "could be a harbinger of things to come." The team has "sold out 101 straight games," though reportedly "thousands of tickets remain for the Week 2 home game against Houston" (PALM BEACH POST, 8/30). In Miami, Barry Jackson notes there is a "realistic possibility that a few regular-season home games also might be blacked out." Dee said of the game against the Texans, "If there were a couple thousand tickets left, we would figure out a way to get it done. But this is more significant" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/30).
NFL Senior VP/Government Affairs Jeff Miller attended Sunday night's Saints-Raiders preseason game at O.co Coliseum and he "praised Raiders security, saying the game-day environment is much better than it was in 2008," according to Vittorio Tafur of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Miller said, "Over here in Oakland, they have done a real nice job, improving the way they deploy their resources in the parking lot and engage with the fans in the lots. I was out there with a lot of fans and many of them said, 'Hey, we really like the fact that the police come in and out of each aisle and talk with us and interact with us.'" He credited Raiders Chief Exec Amy Trask, "all the staff with the Raiders and the stadium personnel who have taken this really seriously." Miller added, "From where it was to where it is now is a long way." He also indicated that the NFL might "take all seven months to decide whether or not to approve the 49ers' recommendation to suspend the 49ers-Raiders preseason series." Miller said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "is not looking to force" the 49ers to play the Raiders next preseason. Miller: "Maybe it doesn't get played next year, I don't know. But ultimately the teams are going to play each other in the future" (SFGATE.com, 8/29).
PICTURE THIS: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted Trask has "circulated a series of photos showing fans with family members and babies enjoying Sunday night's game." Trask wrote in an e-mail to the media, "Now, those of you who regularly attend our home games know that this is not aberrational -- it is the norm. That said, in light of the recent attention on the family friendly nature of sports facilities, I thought it important to send some new photographs -- from our most recent game." Trask added, "None of these pictures were taken in our Club Sections or our Suites -- these are fans throughout the stadium." Florio wrote the images "definitely provide a different context" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/29). The league also released photos from Sunday's game yesterday, and NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello wrote on Twitter, "Perception + reality, often not the same." In a USA TODAY sports section cover story, Robert Klemko notes the NFL "introduced a fan Code of Conduct in 2008 with an evolving list of best practices for stadiums and a committee to oversee it." The committee conducts "fan surveys and weekly audits of every franchise, issuing grades at the end of each season." Miller said that since '08, the league "has seen incident reports and ejections rise and arrests drop, indicating the problem is being 'nipped in the bud.'" But Miller added the violence at the Aug. 20 Raiders-49ers preseason game is "a clear sign that even though we do a lot, we need to do more -- and we will do more." Levick Strategic Communications Senior VP Jason Maloni, whose DC-based crisis management firm works with athletes and clubs, said that social media "makes us more aware of these incidents." Following the Raiders-49ers "fiasco, dozens of videos emerged on YouTube and other websites depicting fans trading blows in the stands, stadium corridors and parking lots" (USA TODAY, 8/30).
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BAY: 49ers President Jed York yesterday discussed the status of the 49ers-Raiders preseason series and said the S.F.P.D. told him the "only way that they really think it can be played is during the day." York: "Our recommendation to the NFL has been, ‘Let's postpone it for a few years. Let's try to work on things with the Raiders.' ... The ball’s in the NFLs court and they’ll make a final decision because the only team we choose to play against in the preseason every year is San Diego.” CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz asked if there was “no evidence” that the people causing the most trouble were not attending the game, “why was it necessary from your standpoint to take the step” to cancel the series. York: “When you have two fan bases that are so close to each other, you have issues that exist amongst, not necessarily the fan bases, but really between folks that can come out to a preseason game where you can buy a ticket very cheap on StubHub or something like that. You come out to a game, that's not the element that you want at your game. ... the people that are just coming to create trouble. That seems to happen more often when the two teams play each other than when we play anybody else” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area," 8/29).
EPL club Arsenal yesterday announced it would “give free tickets to those who attended the humiliation” of an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, according to Katy Murrells of the GUARDIAN. Around 3,000 fans “made the 400-mile round trip to Manchester on Sunday, only to see the team suffer their heaviest defeat since 1896.” Arsenal will now “write to those supporters, offering to cover the cost of a ticket at a future Premier League away game.” Murrells noted this is not the “first time a football club has taken such action,” as players from EPL club Wigan “clubbed together to refund the costs of fans who travelled to Tottenham to see their team humbled 9-1 in 2009” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/29). All Arsenal fans who bought tickets for the Arsenal-ManU match “will be contacted over the next couple of days and offered the chance to see another away game this season for free.” The club is “not offering to pay for the travel cost for the away game” (THETIMES.co.uk, 8/29). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Arsenal Owner Stan Kroenke is “showing those people Americans know how to run operations over there." Paige: "To give free tickets, what a great idea” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/29). Washington Post columnist Mike Wise said, "It’s a nice gesture. I would wonder if an American professional team would do that” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 8/29).
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD: In a special to the London INDEPENDENT, Arsenal Supporters' Trust BOD member Tim Payton writes while Arsenal is not “in danger of dying,” the team does “face the risk of serious decline on and off the pitch if urgent action isn't taken.” Arsenal “didn't just take a heavy beating” from their defeat Sunday against ManU. The announcement of ManU’s new $16.5M (all figures U.S.) per year practice jersey sponsorship deal last week with DHL means the club now earns $81.5M “more a year in commercial income than Arsenal.” This gap “will widen over the next three years as the long-term deals for shirt sponsorship and kit supplier put in place by Arsenal when raising” the $652M plus to build the Emirates Stadium “do not expire until 2014.” The Arsenal Supporters' Trust estimates that the “opportunity cost of lost revenue” is $163M over this period. Payton notes the “lack of commercial income and the impact of the investment” at EPL clubs Manchester City and Chelsea “explains why Arsenal can no longer compete with the wages players” in the $49M bracket demand (London INDEPENDENT, 8/30). SportsBusiness Journal's Tripp Mickle earlier this month talked about the issues top Arsenal execs Ivan Gazidis and Tom Fox face, including "leading a cultural revolution."
ESPN.com's Dan Graziano cited sources as saying the Eagles and QB Michael Vick have "agreed on a six-year, $100 million contract with $40 million in guarantees." Graziano wrote, "My first thought was that this speaks loudly about the way the Eagles right now are managing their franchise: Everything they do revolves around and depends on Vick." The deal is "about Vick and the Eagles' decision to hitch their wagon to his mercurial star in spite of his risky style of play and his proximity in time to his legal troubles" (ESPN.com, 8/29). In Philadelphia, Jeff McLane notes the Eagles "have spent an incredible amount of money since the lockout ended in late July -- approximately $225 million in contracts to rookies, free agents and now Vick" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/30).
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette reported the Steelers promoted Dir of Football Operations Kevin Colbert to GM, making him "the first to hold that title in Steelers history." Colbert had held his previous title since the team hired him in '00. Bouchette noted the Steelers have had three presidents, player personnel directors and directors of football operations, "but never a general manager." The new title "was merely slipped into their 2011 media guide, which is available only in digital version at the moment on the team's website." There is "no elaboration as to the promotion, merely a title change for Colbert and a line in his biography that he is in 'his first year as the team's general manager'" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/29).
BLACK & TEAL: An editorial in this week's JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL notes the "disappointing news that the Jaguars are in danger of falling back into the TV blackout abyss this season." Season ticket sales last week "were about 15,000 short of the level needed to avoid a TV blackout for the opening game of the season on Sept. 11" against the Titans. The Jaguars avoided TV blackouts for home games last season when "a volunteer effort led by Team Teal made tremendous progress drumming up ticket sales." The editorial notes the Jaguars' front office is "now worried that if the opening game is blacked out, it could dampen ticket sales for the rest of the season" (JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/26 issue).