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SBD/February 6, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The Rams and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission are "in the process of finalizing" an agreement that "would allow the team to play home games in London over the next three seasons," according to Jim Thomas of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff said that tickets "could go on sale this week." He said, "The agreement must be formally approved by the CVC and [Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority], but we are optimistic there will be a successful resolution." The Rams are scheduled to play the Patriots on Oct. 28 at Wembley Stadium (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/6). Goodell during his state of the NFL press conference Friday said the league is "going to play the London games." He added, "We hope it will be the Rams and the New England Patriots next year. That's what we planned. I think it's great for the community of St. Louis to be able to get that global exposure. But there are issues that obviously are going to have to get resolved. We know there are discussions going on. We hope that will get resolved shortly and once that's resolved, we'll make decisions from there. But we will be playing in London next year" (NFL Network, 2/3). ESPN BOSTON’s Mike Reiss writes, “I'm surprised that the NFL didn't have its 'i's' dotted and 't's' crossed before announcing the Patriots-Rams game in London for Oct. 28. For a league that usually has all angles covered, it was a rare mistake. I'd still expect the Patriots to play in the game, but there is now a possibility the opponent could change” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 2/6).
LOOKING BEYOND LONDON: The POST-DISPATCH's Thomas noted St. Louis officials looking for “strong words of encouragement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the stadium lease situation didn't get them Friday." Goodell stated that the NFL “didn't want the Rams to leave St. Louis,” but also took a “relatively hard line on the ‘first-tier’ requirements in the Edward Jones Dome stadium lease.” He said, “There are lease issues ... as you know, that were articulated very clearly in the lease. Both parties are engaging in that, and their having that dialogue will allow that process to play out. And at that point in time we'll be more clear about what the issues are and what we need to do to resolve them." The CVC on Wednesday "submitted a preliminary plan for meeting first-tier requirements." Under the proposal, the CVC "would pay for 48 percent of the improvements, with the Rams" contributing 52%. The team has "until March 1 to accept or reject the offer." Sources said that the Rams are "expected to reject the offer because they will contend that $124 million isn't nearly enough to meet first-tier requirements, and that the lease terms require the CVC to pay for all first-tier renovations" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/4).
The Texans Friday announced that the team's "general ticket price will increase" by 8.5% for the '12 season, according to Joseph Duarte of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Nearly all seats at Reliant Stadium "will have a price increase between $3 and $10." The only location "not affected will be the Gridiron Terrace, the lowest-priced tickets located in the upper end zone that will remain $30." The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in '11 after winning the AFC South. Texans VP/Ticketing & Event Services John Schriever said that price increase "is necessary for the team to generate revenues that 'keep pace with our competition.'" Duarte noted that team "anticipates being in the bottom half of the 32 NFL teams in ticket prices when those figures are released" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/4).
LIONS ALSO RAISING PRICES: In Detroit, Chris McCosky reported the Lions Friday announced they will be “raising season ticket prices for the first time since after the 2007 season.” Season-ticket prices will increase “on average 7.9 percent for the 2012 season” to $72.04, but some 30,000 seats “will increase only 4 to 5 percent.” Premium seats “are not affected by the increase.” The Lions, who are coming off their first postseason appearance since '99, had “the 28th-lowest average ticket price last season.” With the increase, they “expect to remain well below the average -- 23rd or 24th.” Lions President Tom Lewand said, “In order to stay competitive, we have to be able to invest back into the product. And that's exactly where these dollars go, right back into re-signing our players and keeping the team together.” McCosky noted the price increase "will create more operating revenue for the team, but it won't greatly impact their ability to re-sign all of their free agents." Lewand said, "The cap governs where you are. ... Ticket prices are part of the player budget, but the camp is the main thing" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/4). Lewand said that the price for “80-85% of Ford Field’s seats will increase” in ’12. Lewand: “Our goal is to keep it at or below league average. But we also know that the realities of the economics of the NFL is that this is something that we have to do to stay competitive” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/4).
RAVENS FREEZE TICKETS AGAIN: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec reported the Ravens have decided “not to raise ticket prices at M&T Bank Stadium for the third straight season.” Ravens President Dick Cass said, “We know that our fans are stretching financially to buy our season tickets. The economy is getting better but it’s still not strong.” The team from ‘01-09 “raised ticket prices every other year.” However, the Ravens ticket prices will “remain in the upper half of the NFL” (Baltimore SUN.com, 2/4). Cass said that another factor in the price freeze is because the team “wants its ticket prices to remain competitive when compared with other NFL teams.” Cass: “We have to be mindful of what other teams are charging” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/3).
The family of late former Warriors Owner Franklin Mieuli said that 49ers Owners John and Denise DeBartolo York and their son, President & CEO Jed York, are "trying to cheat them out of millions of dollars," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. At issue is the Mieuli family's desire to "sell their piece of the Niners, and they say the Yorks are lowballing them on the value of the team." The accusations are "part of a breach of contract lawsuit filed against the 49ers" by an attorney for Mieuli’s estate. The suit claims the Yorks have done “anything and everything to deny Mieuli’s heirs the full and fair value” of their 5% ownership stake. Forbes has placed the 49ers’ value "in the neighborhood of $990 million -- meaning the Mieuli family’s share would be worth about $49.5 million." Using the 49ers’ "math, however, the team is worth only about $360 million -- so the Yorks are offering Mieuli’s heirs no more than $18 million." Matier & Ross noted whatever the "outcome, the lawsuit is certain to put spotlight on the team’s finances at an awkward time -- as the Yorks are asking season-ticket holders to fork over five-figure sums for seat licenses at the planned $1 billion Santa Clara stadium" (SFGATE.com, 2/5).
In L.A., Carol Williams noted the Dodgers asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross Friday "to reject claims for damages filed by the family of Bryan Stow, who was beaten in a Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day of the 2011 season." In a 44-page motion, attorneys for the Dodgers "argued that neither the team nor other entities in the baseball club's corporate structure have any liability for the March 31 assault that left Bryan Stow in a coma for months." The latest filing asks the Bankruptcy Court "to reject Stow's claims altogether, arguing that he can't prove a connection between the alleged security lapses and his beating" (LATIMES.com, 2/3).
PREDICTING THE FUTURE: In N.Y., Bill Madden noted if the Dodgers "wind up selling for $2 billion or more, the value of the Mets, a signature franchise in their own right, in the country’s largest media market with their own network and new stadium, despite their present hard times, have to be worth close to $3 billion." One source said, "What that means, is that the Wilpons can now go back to their banks, point to the value of the team, and say: ‘Lend us more money'" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/5).
A PIRATE'S LIFE: In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted Pirates GM Neal Huntington "believes in what the Pirates are trying to accomplish and feels his fan base is responding." Huntington said, "You look at what Tampa Bay has done. You look at the Clevelands, Arizonas, Colorados. Minnesota has done it for years. Good management. Good decisions. Good process, good systems, good people, good players, creates winning teams, and that’s where we believe we’re headed. That’s our focus. We don’t worry about what we don’t have. We worry about what we do have and how we compete with the big-market clubs and how we win" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5).
THROWING THE CHANGE UP: In S.F., Scott Oslter named A's Owner Lew Wolff his "Knucklehead of the Week" and wrote the gulf between Wolff and reality "continues to widen." At the A's FanFest, Wolff "met with a few selected fans, one-on-one, knowing he could charm the starstruck individuals with his folksy smile." He claimed his "garage-sale team can compete with the division powers, the Rangers and Angels." Ostler: "Does Wolff even know what sport the A's play?" (SFGATE.com, 2/5).
COME ONE, COME ALL: The Brewers last week announced they have created a program to accommodate approximately 100 people in a peanut-controlled area in Miller Park for three home games this season. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said, "Our goal is to make Miller Park accessible to as many fans as possible, including those with mild peanut allergies" (Brewers).