SBD/December 19, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
New Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan wants the team “to be a flag-bearer for the NFL's international initiatives,” according to Tania Ganguli of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Khan said, "I think it's in the Jacksonville Jaguars' interest to really get our hats in the ring and really actively pursue to play a game overseas." Khan noted “the international appeal” that EPL soccer teams have as they “have fans throughout the Middle East and Asia.” He sees the NFL “heading in a similar direction and wants to be part of it.” Khan: "I'm very open. I think it would serve Jacksonville well to play a game or two overseas, to get the name Jacksonville out" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/17). Khan said, "The NFL is going to be developing an international fan base. Why shouldn't it be the Jaguars? In all honesty, internationally, they don't know the difference between the Jaguars and the Steelers.'' Khan said that the reason outgoing Owner Wayne Weaver “had been reluctant to play in London was because of ‘moveophobia,’ the fear that fans would take it as a sign the franchise was in jeopardy of relocating.” But Khan is “so confident things will work in Jacksonville that he has no concerns about playing overseas” (AP, 12/16). U.K.-based blogger Damien Jarrett posted on his Twitter feed, "A @ukpatriots member spoke to Jonathan Kraft on potential game at Wembley with Jags; said he 'thinks it will happen'" (TWITTER.com, 12/19).
THE OUT CLAUSE: NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora cited a source as saying that part of Weaver's sale of the Jaguars to Khan “included a clause in which Khan must pay $25 million to the charity of Weaver's choice should he move the team within five years of the purchase date” (NFL.com, 12/18). Jim Woodcock, Khan’s spokesperson, said, “Shad Khan is 100 percent invested in Jacksonville and the legacy built by Wayne and Delores Weaver. So when Mr. Weaver requested this feature (the $25 million clause), Shad was very amenable to any language in the purchase agreement to that effect.” Woodcock also suggested that Khan’s first visit to Jacksonville as the owner last week “reinforced his positive feelings about the city” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/19). In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino wrote the combination of the NFL's TV contract renewal with Fox, CBS and NBC and the new CBA is “favorable for the small-market teams" and "almost guarantees Khan will be keeping the Jaguars in Jacksonville.” Even if the Jaguars “don’t sell out, the money flowing in from the new TV contracts, combined with a salary cap, will keep the team in the black.” But while the Jaguars “might not need sellouts to be viable, that doesn’t mean Khan isn’t going to put a lot of emphasis on filling the stadium.” He was “noncommittal on whether the Jaguars will continue to show games on TV when all the non-premium tickets aren’t sold.” Stellino noted owners “can do that by writing a check to the league for 34 percent of the value of the unsold non-premium tickets” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/18).
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: The FLORIDA TIMES-UNION’s Ganguli noted when news broke two weeks ago that Weaver was selling the Jaguars to Khan for $760M, it “seemed shocking and sudden.” While everyone “focused on blackouts, ticket sales and the head coach’s job security, Weaver and Khan put together a deal that began a new era.” After all the “secrecy of the past 15 months, Khan was suddenly a more public figure than he had ever been before.” Khan: “I’ve been amazed, quite frankly. I knew the NFL was big. I never thought somebody’d be photographing me coming out of the men’s room.” Jaguars Senior VP/Stadium Operations & CFO Bill Prescott said, “I think for the public it appeared to be very quick, but this is September of 2010 that the process started. You’re talking something that really was over the course of 14, 15 months.” Khan first contacted the NFL office “about his interest in ownership in 2006.” NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman “was particularly helpful.” Ganguli noted the ‘10 season opener “was the first time Prescott met Khan.” From then until the fall of ‘11, Prescott, Weaver and team General Counsel & Senior VP/Football Operations Paul Vance “were the only people in the Jaguars organization who knew Khan was negotiating a deal to buy the team.” Khan “only told a handful of people himself,” and he “kept it from all the other owners with whom he’d grown close as he learned about the business.” The lockout “delayed the deal, and talks broke off in March when the work stoppage began.” But Khan and his close advisers during that time “studied the organization” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/18).
The "most interesting stuff" that has come out of the divorce trial of Mariners minority Owner Chris Larson has been "some court-appointed appraisals of what the team is worth," according to Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES. The trial has "wrapped up closing arguments and is awaiting a decision," and one expert doing an appraisal for Larson's side "pegged the team's value at $551 million." The expert doing the appraisal for Larson's wife, Julia Calhoun, "put the franchise value at $750 million." In March, Forbes magazine's annual valuations of MLB clubs "suggested the team was worth $449 million." It turns out that Forbes, which has been "criticized in the past by M's management for lacking accuracy, may have erred on the conservative side." Because now, with analysts who were given "far more inside access than Forbes, we learn that one feels Mariners financial value is at least $100 million more." That came from the appraisal done on behalf of Larson, who has a "vested interest in seeing his stake in the team appraised lower because it could reduce the amount of any settlement he has to pay his wife." Baker noted on the "higher end, we've got a $750 million appraisal that blows the previous Forbes estimate out of the water" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 12/18).
MLS Sporting K.C. has sold out of its premium seating inventory for the first time in club history, a rep said. The club last week sold the remaining two of its 35 luxury suites which carry three-, five- and 10-year agreements and are priced between $52,500-85,000 per year. The club has also sold all 396 Field Club premium seats, which are in the $2,750-3,650 range, and its 976 Shield Club seats, which range between $1,250-1,400. Last year Sporting K.C. sold 33 of the luxury suites but kept two on a game-by-game basis. A representative said the team previously sold out of its field-side premium seating at its old home, CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Currently the club has sold 85% of its season tickets.
Orioles Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette's "vision for the club is coming into clearer focus, with news of a de-emphasis on physical scouting at the professional level, more resources poured into amateur scouting and the hiring of a Loyola University professor as an economic adviser to help quantify players' financial values to the team," according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore SUN. Duquette also has "orchestrated a fairly dramatic change in the scouting department." Six pro scouts -- including "former pro scouting director Lee MacPhail IV and advance scout Jim Thrift -- have been reassigned and offered jobs as regional amateur scouts." Orioles scouts Bruce Kison and Dave Engle, "who have major league responsibilities only, will remain in the same positions." But the pro scouts "who observe the minors and majors -- Ted Lekas, Jim Howard, James Keller and former Oriole Todd Frohwirth -- will now concentrate on amateurs." Duquette has also hired Loyola economics professor Stephen Walters "to be an economic adviser." Walters "left the same position with the Chicago Cubs to rejoin Duquette." Walters is "best known in baseball circles for making a numbers-based argument before the 2002 season on why the Red Sox should sign outfielder Johnny Damon." The Orioles also announced Friday that they have hired Danny Haas "as the organization's national cross-checker, meaning he will travel the country and provide additional looks and analysis on amateur players who interest regional scouts." Haas "had spent the past 10 seasons in amateur scouting with the Red Sox" (Baltimore SUN, 12/17). In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote Duquette has "begun to shake things up in the organization" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/18).
MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch noted the annual PirateFest concluded yesterday at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the club announced that they "ended up having near-record crowds at the three-day event." The total of 16,574 fans "falls just short of the record 16,839 fans that the event drew last offseason." This also "marked the first winter that PirateFest has been held during the month of December." In the past, the event "had been a fixture in late January" (MLB.com, 12/18). Meanwhile, the Pirates on Friday announced they have partnered with Qcue to introduce dynamic ticket pricing for Bleacher General Admission seating at PNC Park for the '12 season. Tickets for the approximately 1,400 Bleacher GA seats will be put on sale 10 days prior to each home game. The initial price will then be adjusted based on demand for the game (Pirates).
BASKETBALL JONES: In Indianapolis, Mike Wells reported more than 5,000 fans attended the Pacers' annual Fan Jam yesterday at Conseco Fieldhouse. Wells writes, "There's a buzz again. It's the type of buzz the Indiana Pacers haven't felt since the start of the 2004-2005 season" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/19)....The 76ers drew around 2,500 fans for an open practice last night. The fans received "free tickets, t-shirts and mini basketballs" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/19)....The Hornets "received a warm, enthusiastic reception from the just more than 1,500 fans as they were introduced" at Saturday's open practice and scrimmage. Most of the fans present "seemed more interested in the present than the past" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/18).
RISK MANAGEMENT: In Miami, Armando Salguero writes what Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland "says and does the next three months will determine the direction of the franchise for years." Ireland "is putting together a list of coaching candidates the Dolphins will interview once the season ends in two weeks." However, it will be Owner Stephen Ross' hire and if the "coach hire doesn't work out, it'll be completely on Ross, not on Ireland" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/19).
RAKING IT IN: TRIANGLE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Jason deBruyn cites an SEC filing as stating that Hurricanes Holdings LLC "raised $19.5 million from investors." N.Y.-based financial services firm Allen & Co. "received $1 million in sales compensation for helping" close the deal." Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos "began looking for minority investors before the season, at the time saying he wanted 10 to 12 investors to kick in between $1 million and $5 million each, to collectively own no more than 25 percent of the team" (TRIANGLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/16 issue).