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SBD/November 14, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
The Marlins Friday unveiled their "colorful" and "distinctive" new look to an invitation-only crowd in their new ballpark and on a live stream on Marlins.com in a "glitzy presentation that featured a performance by rapper Pitbull," according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The team "revealed four uniforms: The home white, road gray and alternate black each have MIAMI in beveled, block-lettering across the chest, with the logo M larger and accented by the leaping marlin." The home whites have "orange piping around the collar, sleeves and down the pants leg." Only the orange alternate "varies with MARLINS across the chest and the abstract fish leaping from the middle of the name." Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria said that the primary colors are "symbolic of the sunsets and the citrus industry, sunshine, the sky and sea." Loria: "We are unique, we're sleek and different, and we are the colors of Miami." Davis noted while the uniforms are "nontraditional for Major League Baseball, they fall well short of extreme." Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez: "All the players like them. We think it's a cool uniform. It's something different, it's something of its own" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/12). MLB.com's Joe Frisaro noted the team's new colors are "black, yellow, orange and blue" (MLB.com, 11/11). In Miami, Adam Beasley wrote, "The Miami Marlins' future is bright -- bright blue, bright yellow and bright orange." Loria at the unveiling "simply beamed, soaking in the realization of a vision he has fought for since buying the team" in '02. Marlins P Ricky Nolasco said, "It feels real. everybody's excited about it." Beasley noted opinions on the new uniforms are "mixed." One online critic said, "Halloween was last week" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/12).
VARYING OPINIONS: The SUN-SENTINEL's Davis notes of more than 5,000 votes cast in a poll on Sun-Sentinel.com, 59% rated the uniforms as "awful," while only 14% "gave them high marks." Still, there were "200-300 fans lined up waiting for the first chance to buy merchandise" at 11:00pm ET Friday at the ballpark, and "some waited more than an hour and a half." Most were "buying multiple items" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/14). Marlins VP/Marketing Sean Flynn said "there was a long line running down the street" about an hour before merchandise went on sale at the ballpark. The Marlins on Saturday "set up kiosks at select locations in South Florida" (MLB.com, 11/13). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi noted a survey of his Twitter followers found that about 75% were "liking the uniforms" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 11/12). The debut of the uniforms was "upstaged when a photo began circulating early Friday afternoon of two players modeling the new brand began circulating on Twitter" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/12).
FISHING FOR FREE AGENTS: The PALM BEACH POST's Capozzi cited an MLB source as saying that the Marlins "have made 'substantial offers' to a trio of free agents" -- 1B Albert Pujols, SS Jose Reyes and P Mark Buehrle. There was "speculation the Marlins' offers were meant solely to generate more publicity to the club's rebranding," and the news "injected more buzz to a rebranding ceremony that shattered the thrifty image of the old Florida Marlins." Loria said, "We've made offers but I'm not going to discuss them" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/12). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote the team "upstaged itself" Friday. The new uniforms, colors and logo "were meant to own the marquee but were relegated to mere window dressing." Loria "was undertaking a transformation as stark as the change in uniforms but in some ways even more stunning." He "was unveiling himself as a man at long last prepared to spend hugely to field a winning team" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/12). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote, "The Marlins are working from a well-worn playbook as they prepare to open a new ballpark. The theory is that if they invest in big names, fans will be inspired to fill the place." But if "no offers are substantial enough to actually entice the players to South Florida," the Marlins' "great experiment would tell us, once and for all, whether the area can support baseball." Loria "deserves credit for trying to make it work for his franchise, for attempting to alter perception of his club and excite a fan base that has been disinterested to this point" (ESPN.com, 11/12).
SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl wrote, "With a new park and a new identity, it seems like the [Lorias] are setting down roots and the Marlins are gearing up to become a Miami institution. They seem to have money to spend, creating the additional expectation is that they’ll be able to make a play for major free agents for extended stays" (ESPN.com, 11/11). In Boston, Nick Cafardo cited MLB sources as saying that the Marlins "plan to increase their payroll to more than $80 million and could go as high as $100 million" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/12). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote, "There can be streams of revenue when moving from old football haunt Sun Life Stadium to a baseball-only jewel." But "rarely is it franchise-changing money, at least in the long term, if recent history is any indication" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/12).
An ongoing battle between the Dodgers and FSN promises to intensify following a renewed move Saturday by the club to market its cable TV rights well in advance of the current contract terms. The Dodgers made an amended filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to begin soliciting bids for the rights, revising a bid first made in September. The latest move takes into account developing efforts by Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt to sell the club, and the filing claims the separate marketing of the TV rights will enable the franchise to "provide prospective buyers … with real-world information about what the value of the telecast rights would be if openly marketed." Any proposed cable rights deal, however, would be "expressly subject to final approval by the new owner," the filing continues. The moves to both separate out the media rights in another bid process and hold the media rights auction over the next several months represent key parts of McCourt's strategy to maximize the value of the Dodgers' assets. And the club in the latest filing acknowledged, as it has in the past, that its long-term cable rights represent "a large share of the team's overall value." FSN holds exclusive rights through the '13 season, including an exclusive negotiating window that in the current pact does not even begin until November '12. The Dodgers are seeking to have FSN's potential damages identified before any new deal is consummated. The club also claims the network has shown an "adamant refusal to engage in any form of negotiation or discussion" on the issue. A hearing on the media rights is scheduled for Nov. 30 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
TIMELINE OF SALE COULD BE JEOPARDIZED: In L.A., Bill Shaikin reported an extended legal battle over the rights issue “could jeopardize the timetable established by the settlement” between McCourt and MLB, which “calls for a new owner to be selected by April 1 and for the deal to be closed by April 30.” It is “possible that McCourt could sell the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium in one deal, the parking lots surrounding the stadium in a second deal and the television rights in a third deal.” An investment banker with several clients interested in the Dodgers said, “I don’t even know what’s for sale here” (L.A. TIMES, 11/13).
Joe Lacob and Peter Guber since buying the Warriors last year have "overhauled the business and basketball operations, renovated Oracle Arena and the team's headquarters, and subbed out the maligned medical staff," according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Along the way, they have "shown innovative thinking and have been willing to spend big money for small on-court advantages." They hired Bob Myers to be assistant GM, Mark Jackson as coach, Rick Welts as President & COO and convinced Jerry West to join the exec board. Simmons noted while some other franchises have been "cutting staff during the league's lockout, the Warriors are making upgrades." They "renovated the team's headquarters, making the offices transparent with large openings, an abundance of light and glass walls, and offering a nod to the franchise's history with floor-to-ceiling photos of former players in the halls." The players' locker room has been "renovated, the Oracle Arena food is being reviewed, the sound system has been improved, and Wi-Fi has been added for all fans." Plans are being made for a "high-definition enhancement to the scoreboard, and conversations have started about music, mascots and improving mobile/social networking options." As "perfect complements to one another, Lacob handles the daily operations and Guber is the entertainment expert." They "take their time, study all sides, ask thoughtful questions and then act with resolve" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/13).
In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford cited sources as saying that the Blues and prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer are "still working to complete" a deal for the team. Two weeks after sources confirmed that a purchase agreement had been signed, "neither Hulsizer nor the team has acknowledged the deal publicly." It is believed that a formal announcement is "pending because of contingencies in the deal that need to be satisfied, specifically the financing." Sources said that Hulsizer "would have 70 percent control of the club under the agreement, while Blues chairman Dave Checketts would hold the remaining 30 percent, although Checketts would be an investor and have no hand in hockey operations." Sources added that Checketts' investment "needed to close the deal is $20 million," and if that "would entitle him to 30 percent of the Blues, it suggests that the total equity in the deal is about $60 million." Sources said that if Hulsizer's deal with the Blues "doesn't come to fruition," a local group led by Blues minority owner Tom Stillman "remains interested in buying the team" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/12).
HAVING HIS SAY: In Boston, Stephen Harris noted U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is "doing what he can to try and keep the Coyotes in Phoenix," and that mostly "means talking." After dropping the first puck for the Canadiens-Coyotes game Thursday at Jobing.com Arena, he "ripped into the Goldwater Institute, the conservative group that has so far blocked the sale of the team." McCain: "I’ve never seen such arrogance. When an organization like the Goldwater Institute, elected by nobody, representing nobody maybe some very wealthy donors, makes a decision like they did and it’s harmful to the economy to the state of Arizona, then I do weigh in" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/13).
WORKING TOGETHER: The Maple Leafs have agreed to a development deal with the Zurich Lions of the Swiss Elite League. The teams will exchange ideas on coaching, player development, roster management, social media, ticketing and security. Zurich also will gather information from the Maple Leafs on potentially building a new arena in Switzerland (Maple Leafs).