SBD/October 14, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The "slow process" of Red Sox Exec VP & GM Theo Epstein moving from Boston to the Cubs continued Thursday "as representatives of the teams discussed compensation," according to Abraham & Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. The Red Sox are "expected to get either cash or two or three minor league prospects in return" for Epstein. The "quality of those prospects could be tied to how many front office staffers are allowed to accompany Epstein to Chicago." Once Epstein's move "becomes official, the Red Sox will name" team Senior VP & Assistant GM Ben Cherington as his replacement. There are "no indications that the Red Sox will be able to unload a bad contract on the Cubs" as part of the compensation package (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14). Sources Thursday said that Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts "is handling the negotiations with the Red Sox regarding players who possibly could be exchanged." The Cubs "could send cash or a combination of players and cash." The Cubs reportedly "will not surrender any" major league players (MLB.com, 10/13). WEEI-FM’s John Dennis reported Thursday was "not a good first day of negotiations." Dennis: "My understanding is, from a couple of baseball sources here in Boston, Ricketts is talking about doing it with cash and the Red Sox are talking about doing it with prospects” ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 10/13).
THE REPLACEMENT: YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown noted Cherington was first hired "as an intern in 1997." Cherington, 37, "has served the club in many capacities over 14 years, the past three as Epstein’s lead assistant" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/13). ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes cited a source as saying that Epstein "has yet to inform most of his staff whether he is headed" to the Cubs, "despite widespread reports that he has accepted a five-year deal to relocate." Edes noted Epstein "has always valued a strong core of trusted voices around him, so it would seem a given that he will seek permission from the Red Sox to take a couple of people with him" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 10/13).
OWNERSHIP SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED: ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski called Wednesday's Boston Globe report a “smear campaign" against former manager Terry Francona and added Red Sox ownership "should be embarrassed by how this is shaking out." Wojciechowski: "Do you think if the Red Sox had advanced to the playoffs, we would have ever heard word one of this? Absolutely not. A smear campaign happens when something goes wrong and somebody has to blame somebody. Sox ownership is blaming the wrong people.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Red Sox management has “decided to turn on their own.” The information in the Globe article “had to come from someone within the organization,” and management is “trying to dismiss their own role with what’s happened with the Red Sox” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/13). WEEI's Dennis called the current atmosphere around the Red Sox a "cesspool" and said that could have impacted Epstein's decision to leave the team. Dennis: "I think he looks at this and says this may be a longer fix than I’m willing to get involved with” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 10/13). Meanwhile, in Boston, Bob Ryan wonders, "Has one amazingly awful month undone the good work of the previous seven years?" Ryan writes Red Sox fans "now realize they were asked to root for what has been revealed to be an unrootable team. So will it be instant forgive and forget when we all reconvene next April for the Fenway Park 100th anniversary season?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14).
Saturday is the one-year anniversary since Fenway Sports Group Owners John Henry, Tom Werner and their 17 partners took over EPL club Liverpool, and their ownership tenure "has been marked mostly by progress and feel-good optimism," according to David Conn of the GUARDIAN. Before buying the club, Henry acknowledged he knew "virtually nothing" about Liverpool or the EPL. Conn noted, "Central to Henry's and Fenway's fascination was English football's, and Liverpool's, huge worldwide support, compared to the US-restricted following for American sports." Given how "compelling Fenway found these individual financial arrangements, it is no surprise" Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said earlier this week that the club wants "to break out of the collective overseas TV deal, the only income football shares." When asked if American owners want EPL clubs to structure their own TV deals, like Spanish La Liga clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona do, Henry said, "These people (the American owners) understand media and the long-term global implications. They're going to want to reach their fans in the new media landscape. The Premier League was created in response to changing media. Audiences will drive leagues rather than the other way round." Meanwhile, Conn noted Henry "'rarely' visits Liverpool, given his commitment to the Red Sox" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 10/13). Henry is "clearly keenly worried about a backlash from" both Liverpool and Red Sox fans, both of whom "may accuse the owners of concentrating too much on the other -- a reaction that erupted in Boston last week with vitriolic press criticism of Fenway's 'dysfunctional' organisation and Henry's involvement with Liverpool." Henry said, "There was a lot of criticism in Boston that we weren't going to spend money on the Red Sox after we did the Liverpool transaction. Then there was the fear we wouldn't spend in Liverpool. Hopefully the fans of both clubs will eventually see what we see clearly -- that there is nothing to fear from the existence of the other club" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 10/12).
LONG WAY TO THE TOP: Henry admitted Thursday night Liverpool is "still a long way behind" EPL club Manchester United and "that it could take years to get the club where it needed to be." In London, Ian Herbert notes Henry "subtly echoed" Ayre's contention that clubs should be allowed to negotiate their own int'l TV deals when he "insisted that Liverpool's proposed new or expanded stadium was not the 'game-changer' that" former club Managing Dir Christian Purslow once suggested. Henry: "(The stadium) is not the full solution. Barcelona and Real Madrid are dominant clubs because they are able to maximise all aspects of the revenue generation. We have to try to do that as well. It's an important component" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/14). Also in London, Jim White writes, "Make no mistake, Henry and his team are not here for the long-term benefit of English football. ... They are here for the long-term benefit of New England Sports Ventures. Sure, their ownership might also result in long-term economic benefit for Liverpool FC. But they have no interest in maintaining the wider strength and continuity of the English game" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/14).
STAYING HOME: In Boston, gossip columnists Fee, Raposa & Johnson report Henry on Thursday "canceled his trip to England to watch his Liverpool footballers take on" ManU. Henry and his wife were "set to hop across the pond" Friday to join Liverpool investor and Heat F LeBron James to watch Saturday's match (BOSTON HERALD, 10/14). James will attend a Liverpool match "for the first time since he became a minority owner" the club (ESPN.com, 10/13). In Boston, Steve Buckley writes it would be nice if Red Sox ownership "thought a little less about globalization and more about the die-hards who care more about good baseball." Buckley: "The Sox’ owners have a right to make money, just as they have a right to have outside interests." But Buckely notes, "Red Sox fans don’t want soccer thrown in their faces. They don’t want auto racing. And moving forward, the only way they’re going to buy into the 'Red Sox Forever' ad campaign is if the Red Sox are forever about baseball" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/14).
Fans entering BankAtlantic Center for the NHL Panthers' home opener against the Lightning Saturday will "see red, red and more red" as part of the team's new "We See Red" marketing campaign, according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The team debuted a new "blood-red jersey" in June, and response to the sweater "was so favorable ... the Panthers decided to extend the theme to red all over." Green "has been replaced by red throughout the building, on walls, sponsors signs, the scoreboard and most notably all 10,000 seats in the lower bowl." Upper bowl seats "remain blue, the team's other dominate color, but the red rampage reaches to the rafters." Pillars in the lobby "are red and display graphics of Panthers players." Even arena staff "will be decked out in red." Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark: "You're going to walk into our building and it's going to really feel like you're at the home of the Florida Panthers. It's created a new identity." He added, "When we developed this campaign we wanted to change the perception of our franchise." The home opener is not sold out; Yormark said that "about 1,000 tickets remained at midweek but was hopeful of a full house by faceoff." He said, "Some of our fans, quite frankly, have been burned in the past. I think fans are being a little more cautious" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/14).
OPEN HOUSE: In St. Petersburg, Susan Thurston notes the Lightning spent $40M in St. Pete Times Forum renovations this summer and "most of the work -- but not all -- should be finished" by the team's home opener Monday against the Panthers. As part of the upgrades, crews have "replaced all 19,000-plus seats with thick-cushioned ones with a cup holder." The club level "got black leather chairs with the Lightning logo; the rest got dark blue fabric seats." The suites "got a luxury makeover with new furniture, flat screen TVs, built-in beer tubs and induction burners." The team also "put together a large collection of local photographs to differentiate Tampa Bay's arena from any other city's." Nearly 100 shots of team moments and local history "are on display in the club-level concourse, along with two dozen silk canvas works measuring 7-foot-by-5." The main entrance and new restaurant will be completed "about mid November." The entrance "will have one large staircase (rather than the previous two) with access to the box office, VIP guest services and a 4,000-square-foot team store and cafe." The plaza's indoor and outdoor bar called Shots "was eliminated" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/14).
Canton Charge Thursday “was announced as the team name” for the Cavaliers' NBA D-League team, according to Josh Weir of the Canton REPOSITORY. The Charge logo, “colored in familiar wine and gold, is a cavalier brandishing his sword in attack mode.” The logo “intertwines the minor-league basketball team” and the Cavs. Charge GM Wes Wilcox said, “It’s no longer Canton D-League Team. It’s the Canton Charge. For us to be able to communicate that to our fans is really exciting.” The Cavs’ marketing team worked with New York-based Cenergy Communications “to produce the Charge logo.” The team “sifted through 1,000 possibilities for a name … before settling on Charge.” Marketing a team “without a team presented a challenge,” but now “the franchise can move forward in terms of merchandising and other business opportunities.” The team’s website also “switched from www.cantonnba.com to www.cantoncharge.com at the announcement” (CANTONREP.com, 10/13).
WILL IT LAST? In North Dakota, Lou Babiarz wondered if the NBA D-League Dakota Wizards "have a future in Bismarck beyond this season?" Warriors co-Owner and Dakota Wizards Owner Joe Lacob said that a “trip to Bismarck for the tipoff celebration, which drew about 600 fans to the Civic Center, was an important early step in the evaluation process.” Lacob: “We’ve sold a fair amount of tickets. Hopefully we’ll sell more, bring in some more sponsorships, as people start to understand our commitment and our passion to integrating the Wizards and the Golden State Warriors.” Lacob said that he believes “that buying a D-League team puts the Warriors at the forefront of a trend.” Lacob: “We do believe firmly that long-term that is the way it’s going to be in the NBA. We think that every team will have a single organization it will be affiliated with and perhaps own its own D-League team” (BISMARCK TRIBUNE, 10/13).
Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos Thursday announced AHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Michael Kahn has joined the NHL team's ownership group (Hurricanes). Kahn said, "Honestly, when (Karmanos) decided he wanted to look for investors, when the opportunity presented itself, I was pretty much right there. And I'm sure other people will join in." Karmanos a few weeks ago said that he "had completed the sale of $20 million in equity of the Hurricanes, a franchise he valued at $240 million." He added that there were "seven or eight investors but did not name them" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/14).
CLOSING THE DEAL: In Philadelphia, Kate Fagan cites a source as saying that Comcast-Spectacor's sale of the 76ers to a group of investors led by Apollo Global Management Senior Managing Dir Joshua Harris is "expected to close early next week." Terms of the sale were agreed upon in July, but the deal "has been pending approval of the NBA's board of governors for more than two months." The new ownership group is "expected to speak publicly for the first time next week, assuming the sale is officially approved, as expected" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/14).
ALL OR NOTHING: In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes Frank McCourt's "decision to take the Dodgers into bankruptcy means he could be forced to walk away from the team with absolutely nothing." McCourt's "intention in putting the Dodgers into bankruptcy is to keep the team, not to sell it." However, the debt load and tax liability "have increased to the point where the $150-million loan assumed in bankruptcy funding could wipe out much -- if not all -- of whatever profit he would make if he is ordered to sell the team." Meanwhile, McCourt "has yet to resolve a divorce in which he claims sole ownership of the team and his ex-wife, Jamie, claims half-ownership." In a bankruptcy court filing last month, MLB attorneys argued that "'everyone wins' if the Dodgers are ordered sold, including his ex-wife and McCourt himself" (L.A. TIMES, 10/14).
DRAWING POWER: ARIZONA SPORTS' Adam Green notes more than 2.1 million fans saw a D'Backs game at Chase Field this season, but it was the crowds toward the end of the season against the Giants that "left a lasting impression" on D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. The team "averaged more than 44,000 fans per game over the three game series." Hall said that "it was special and he hopes it carriers into next year, and it would be a bit of an upset if it didn't" (ARIZONASPORTS.com, 10/13). Hall, when asked during a fan Q&A if season-ticket sales have increased dramatically for next year after the team's postseason appearance, said, "Not drastically, but we are definitely seeing a lift. And our season ticket renewal percentage is through the roof" (MLB.com, 10/13).