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SBD/November 11, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
MLS Commissioner Don Garber Thursday said that he "would support the relocation of DC United if the club isn’t able to improve the terms of its lease at RFK Stadium and make progress toward building a new facility in the city," according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. During his annual state-of-the-league address, Garber said he is "'very concerned' and 'continually frustrated' by United’s unsuccessful efforts to work with the city on a new stadium plan." Garber: "I am concerned about where this team will be in 2012." United has "taken a serious look at moving to Baltimore, which has proposed constructing a stadium in the Westport neighborhood, near the city’s baseball and football stadiums." Sources said that the club "has had preliminary talks with the University of Maryland about playing at Byrd Stadium until a new stadium is built in the Washington or Baltimore area." Until a "long-term solution is reached, United is seeking more favorable terms in its lease with EventsDC, which operates RFK." DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne claims the club "has about $1 million more in expenses than the average MLS team and collects about $1.85 million less in revenue." Garber said, "If they can’t get a new and improved lease in DC, and they've got to move to another facility in the region, I will be supportive of that, and in fact will help them do that" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/11).
STATE OF THE LEAGUE: Garber Thursday said that MLS will "go to an unbalanced 34-game schedule next year and there is 'a very strong possibility' next year's MLS Cup will be played at the site of the team that wins the Supporters Shield for best regular-season record." He added that MLS merchandise sales "increased 35 percent this year, when the league's regular-season attendance rose 7 percent to a record 17,872." The league's average viewers for telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2 "rose 16 percent to 311,000," and viewers on Fox Soccer "increased 26 percent to an average of 70,000." For Spanish-language broadcasts on Telefutura, viewers "increased 10 percent to an average of 233,000." Meanwhile, Garber said that there has been "no progress toward finding a venue in New York that would enable the league to add a second team in the area, but that MLS had hired a fulltime person to work on the project and had retained three consultants." He added that he "anticipates the league will resume talks with the Wilpon family after litigation filed by the trustee seeking to recover money for the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme is resolved." Garber mentioned that Las Vegas and Detroit are "possibilities for future expansion and said that although a Florida group was interested, no potential ownership in Miami has emerged" (AP, 11/10). USA TODAY's Beau Dure notes during his address, Garber also discussed Galaxy MF David Beckham. Garber: "David has delivered for us on all aspects of our expectations. MLS wouldn't be what it is today if David didn't decide to come." Beckham is "in the last season of a five-year contract with Los Angeles, which will play Houston in the MLS Cup final Nov. 20 at home." Garber "hopes Beckham will return but couldn't say he was sure that a new deal will be made" (USA TODAY, 11/11).
The Dodgers' season-ticket sales "are up 30% from this time last year," according to a source cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Dodgers Senior Dir of Ticket Sales Dave Siegel said that there had been "'no discernible bump' in sales in the days after last week's announcement" that Owner Frank McCourt would sell the team. Siegel added that the Dodgers "had experienced a 'steady increase' in sales since the team announced price cuts two weeks ago, with a 50% increase in revenue over the first four days of ticket sales." The Dodgers sold "about 17,000 season tickets in 2011, down from about 27,000 four years ago" (L.A. TIMES, 11/11). Meanwhile, ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne noted the prospective Dodgers ownership group led by former MLBers Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser "hasn't yet revealed details about who their financial backers are except to say that they have them." Hershiser Thursday "shot down skepticism about the seriousness and strength of their bid." Hershiser said, "I'm as serious as my heart beats. The next step in the process is to be approved by baseball to bid on the team. We think with the people we have in place and the assets we have in place, we will be a serious contender." He added that the group's financial backers "prefer to remain in the background at this point." But after reviewing details of their plan this week, Hershiser is "confident they have more than enough capital and assets to make a serious run at the team, which most analysts have estimated could sell for between $800 million to $1.2 billion" (ESPNLA.com, 11/10).
MAKING HIS BID: Former Sabres Owner Tom Golisano said that one of his reps "has been in contact with the Dodgers and with the Blackstone Group, which is handling the auction" of the team. The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Karmin & Futterman note the "biggest problem for Mr. Golisano is the growing public campaign, especially in the media, to ensure that the baseball team's new owner is an 'Angeleno.'" Although Golisano "suggested he might move to Los Angeles if he became the team's owner, he has never attended a game at Dodger Stadium and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan." His "outsider status could count against him when competing against local bidders with roots and connections in the city" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/11). ESPN L.A.'s Shelburne wrote under the header, "With New Owner, Dodgers Need A Facelift." Shelburne wrote, "To move this franchise forward, the Dodgers' next owner must be willing and eager to reinvent to the Dodger way. To take the best from the team's storied past and make it work in this new world. To update the Dodgers' culture, not simply remake it" (ESPNLA.com, 11/10).
NO STOW COMMERCIAL: The family of MLB Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day, said Thursday that a statement made by their lawyer, Tom Girardi, "indicating they might be willing to do a commercial in the future -- to help reassure Dodger fans that security issues at Dodger Stadium had been adequately addressed -- was premature." Girardi last week said that he had approached MLB "about working out a 'reasonable settlement' for the case now that" McCourt has agreed to sell the Dodgers. He said, "I think the family would then even cut a commercial for them, saying 'Come back to Dodger Stadium, it's safe, they (the new owners) have cured the problem, they were fair to the family.'" But Stow's family said Thursday that Girardi's statement "was premature and has been taken out of context" (ESPNLA.com, 11/10).