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SBD/February 14, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan has hired MetLife Stadium President & CEO Mark Lamping "as the second team president in franchise history and the first since 1997," according to Tania Ganguli of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Khan Saturday offered the job to Lamping, who will "oversee non-football operations." Both he and Jaguars GM Gene Smith "will report directly to Khan, with Smith handling on-the-field matters." Khan said of Lamping, "I think he’s going to be an absolutely wonderful addition in supplementing the weaknesses I have, and frankly the Jaguars organization has on the business side.” Lamping had a "five-year contract with MetLife Stadium and is leaving after his fourth year." With an opportunity to "work for the Jaguars and his contract nearing its end with MetLife Stadium, Lamping decided it was time." He said, "We’ve been able to achieve some very significant things in a short amount of time. I knew that this job had a start and an end. As much as (Giants owner) John Mara and (Jets owner) Woody (Johnson) would have liked that I stay on long-term, I really felt a very strong desire to hopefully stay in the NFL and do it with a team. … I would love to be a part of an organization that can bring a Super Bowl championship to Jacksonville.” He will "begin work with the Jaguars on Feb. 27." Lamping previously served as MLB Cardinals President from '94-'08, and yesterday "drew comparisons between the Jaguars now and the Cardinals in 1994." He emphasized the "need to turn the Jaguars into a regional brand, not just one that connects with Jacksonville." Lamping: "They have focused on building the Cardinal brand throughout the Midwest and as a result they have about 40 percent of their fans that travel for regional markets that come to St. Louis to enjoy Cardinal games. So we need to start at the center of the target and make sure we’re very, very strong in the Jacksonville community but have a very focused and concentrated effort to develop the regional markets outside Jacksonville" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 2/14). In N.J., John Brennan notes at MetLife Stadium, Lamping managed the "sometimes-challenging task of getting the Giants and Jets -- rivals on the field and having different philosophies off the field -- to work together to build the only stadium that is home to two NFL teams" (Bergen RECORD, 2/14).
TEAM TEAL: The FLORIDA TIMES-UNION's Ganguli notes the Jaguars yesterday held their "Team Teal kickoff rally indoors in the stadium’s West Club." There was "hardly room to walk as about 1,500 Jaguars fans packed into the room for the beginning of a new initiative to sell Jaguars tickets and stop ticket sales problems." To help that goal, Team Teal President and former NFLer Tony Boselli "announced a new ticket sales initiative in which season-ticket holders will be paid for referrals." Fans will receive "$25 for each general bowl referral and $100 for each club seat referral." Ganguli notes Team Teal began in '10 "as a response to the 2009 season, when the Jaguars had nine of 10 home games blacked out, including two preseason games." Since then, the Jaguars "haven’t had any blackouts, but ticket sales haven’t been easy." The Jaguars will "have Team Teal rallies throughout the area this offseason at parks and country clubs." At this point last year, the Jaguars "only had about 450 new tickets sold and have more than 1,000 this year" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 2/14).
Hornets Chair Jac Sperling said that the team’s ranking at the bottom of the Western Conference standings "will not impact the expected sale of the Hornets to a private investor or group,” according to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Sperling yesterday said that the team “will soon change hands from league ownership with an eye toward future stability and better on-court results.” Sperling: “I think the (new) owner, like our fans, is looking in the long term here.” Sources indicated that the list of potential suitors “has been whittled from a half-dozen or so, a number acknowledged by [NBA Commissioner David] Stern on several occasions, and that all parties have entered into confidentiality agreements regarding sales discussions.” Former Hornets minority Owner Gary Chouest is “said to be among the prospective buyers, while Saints owner Tom Benson and a group of West Coast investors fronted by former NBA coach and executive Mike Dunleavy have also been reportedly interested.” Sperling said that potential investors are “unconcerned with the team’s present difficulties, preferring instead to focus on the possibilities.” Sperling: “I’d say they’re looking at the future. I think, all of us (are)" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/14).
MANAGEMENT TRAINING: In Dallas, Brad Townsend noted Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban “continues to maintain” that G Chris Paul’s trade from the NBA-owned Hornets to the Clippers “was an equally poor decision, if not worse, than the trade that got vetoed” for Paul to go to the Lakers. Cuban: "I don't think it was about the Lakers, per se. I think it was about the way they did the deal, which was ridiculous. I don't think it was about which team. It was the fact that we just went through this whole CBA and said that the incumbent team has the advantage -- and then the team the league owns (chickened) out. Look how it's worked out for them.” He added, "Bad management gets you bad results" (DALLASNEWS.com, 2/13).
The Angels have seen season-ticket sales "surge in the wake of their blockbuster free-agency signings and plan to build on that momentum with a record number of billboards along freeways throughout the region," according to Chris Casacchia of the ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL. Angels season-ticket sales are "at 22,000, already ahead of last year's total of 21,500," and VP/Marketing & Ticket Sales Robert Alvarado said that the team "has a shot at its highest gate in years." The team is "forecasting about 24,000 season ticket holders once sales are complete for the upcoming season." The Angels have also seen a "20% increase on renewals for season tickets from a year ago," and expect all "25 Angel Stadium luxury suites that became available when last season ended" to be renewed. The team began an "aggressive marketing campaign last week built around" recently acquired 1B Albert Pujols and P C.J. Wilson. The campaign will "peak with more than 70 billboards along Southern California freeways, from San Diego to Los Angeles to the Inland Empire." Alvarado said that that will be the "most billboards the Angels have ever put up." Pujols will be "prominently displayed on many of the billboards," and as Cassachia notes, Angels Owner Arte Moreno "made his fortune in the billboard industry, so it's a familiar play for him" (ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/13 issue). Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Deb Peterson notes photos of the Pujols-themed billboards are circulating and feature the nickname "El Hombre," which Pujols "specifically has said he does not like." The billboard photo that "accompanies the website shows a picture of Pujols from the back wearing his Angels jersey with his name and number five next to the nickname 'El Hombre' in huge white letters on a red background." In an interview two years ago, Pujols said, "I don't want to be called that (El Hombre). There is one man that gets that respect, and that's Stan Musial. He's the Man. He's the Man in St. Louis" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/14).
The A's "unexpectedly snatched prized Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes away from the Marlins and other big spenders Monday, signing the 26-year-old to a four-year, $36 million deal," according to Susan Slusser of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team could also "make more big news later this week" with speculation they'll sign free agent Manny Ramirez. In the "course of a few days, the A's could go from a snooze of a spring camp to a circus atmosphere." If Cespedes thrives in MLB, the A's "hope is that a stadium will be opening just as his deal is expiring and that the team will be coming together as a contender, enticing him to sign an extension" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/14). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes for the A's, the Cespedes deal "is a staggering commitment." Before him, the "richest total contract on the Athletics’ roster belonged to catcher Kurt Suzuki, who is halfway through a four-year, $16.25 million deal." By average annual salary, the team’s "highest-paid player had been center fielder Coco Crisp, at $7 million a year for two years" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/14). ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl wrote, "To the surprise of many, the A’s actually had the money to spend, but nobody expected them to jump in, especially when they’re bobbing around that bright line between being cheap and being on the union’s list of baddies when it comes to clubs potentially not spending their revenue-sharing cash on payroll" (ESPN.com, 2/13). In Oakland, Joe Stiglich noted Cespedes' "addition adds to a perplexing winter for the A's." They traded Ps Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey, "trimming salary and stockpiling prospects as part of a rebuilding effort" (INSIDEBAYAREA.com, 2/13).
SHOCK HEARD ROUND THE WORLD: USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz writes the move "came as a shock partly because the A's were not even in the periphery of clubs supposedly wooing the multi-tooled Cespedes, but also because they had clearly indicated their intention to restructure the team so it could contend again when it moved to a hoped-for new stadium in San Jose" (USA TODAY, 2/14). In Oakland, Monte Poole writes $36M is a "startling figure, downright stupefying, for the A's, a downtrodden franchise that seems to take perverse delight in constantly hiding beneath its motto: 'Sure, we can afford to compete -- but why bother when we're being forced to survive in a dump?'" But maybe this is A's VP & GM Billy Beane "exhibiting his vision." Insofar as the A's "seem confident about acquiring their San Jose panacea, perhaps this is less about expense than investment" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 2/14). MLB.com's Jane Lee notes the move "also perhaps restores faith in doubtful fans." Cespedes' signing "would seem to complement the A's plans of contending in that new home, although there's no guarantee he'll still be with the A's when that time comes" (MLB.com, 2/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan noted the move "shocked the industry because these are the A's." But the deal "makes so much sense we should've seen it coming." Cespedes "could be special," and special "costs a whole lot more than $36 million." With Cespedes, the A’s payroll is "likely to creep from lowest in baseball to second-lowest." The A's signed Cespedes because "they had to," and in this marketplace, "with their situation, giving $36 million to a kid who hasn't taken a single major-league at-bat is about the only way the A's can carve that path to contention" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13).
ULTERIOR MOTIVES? ESPN's Karl Ravech asked, “Is it possible that the A’s -- who have done this -- they literally find something and then they also use it as a chip to get prospects? They could trade Cespedes for 14-year-olds in two years.” ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said that is “always a possibility with the A’s." Kurkjian: "Just look at what they did in this off-season, trading their young pitchers” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 2/13).
In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted the White Sox' slogan for '12 is "Appreciate the Game," and Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brooks Boyer said that he "understands the risks involved in the slogan." In '05, when the "slogan was 'Win or die trying,' nobody made fun of it when the Sox won the World Series." Sherman: "But last year's 'All in' was a disaster." Boyer said, "That's the risk you take." He added that the new slogan "will make more sense once the team rolls out its TV ad campaign later this month." The slogan is "based on new manager Robin Ventura's approach to the game," and Boyer said that the upcoming campaign will feature Ventura "preaching this philosophy" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 2/13).
BACK IN THE NEST: In Baltimore, Jack Lambert reports the Orioles will be handling their "marketing in house this season." The club's marketing had previously been handled by the Baltimore-based Leffler Agency. Orioles Dir of Communications Greg Bader noted that the team "could look for a new advertising agency soon." Bader: "We'll consider that on a year-by-year basis. Even a month-by-month basis is not out of the question" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/10 issue).
FIVE GUYS: In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi reports the Marlins are "un-retiring the No. 5 so left fielder Logan Morrison can wear it to honor his father, but the family of the Marlins' first team president isn't happy about it." Carl Barger served as team president from '91 until his death in December '92, and the Marlins "retired No. 5 before the franchise's first game" in '93 in Barger's honor. Marlins President David Samson said that it was his "understanding that the Barger family had signed off on the plan." But Barger's daughter said that neither she "nor her mother and sister has heard from the team" (PALM BEACH POST, 2/14).
PRINCE PAYING OFF: In Michigan, James Schmehl noted two weeks after the Tigers signed 1B Prince Fielder, team President & GM Dave Dombrowski said that the club has "already surpassed last year's full-season ticket sales." Tigers officials confirmed Friday that this year's ticket sales "have exceeded the 15,002 and 13,300 tickets sold in 2011 and 2010 respectively" (MLIVE.com, 2/11).
76ers CEO Adam Aron yesterday said that the team “has acquired the court on which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.” Aron tweeted that “it will ‘mostly be preserved,’ though details are still being worked out about how it will be used or displayed.” In Philadelphia, Peter Van Allen noted the acquisition is “significant timing because the 50th anniversary of Chamberlain’s historic scoring night is coming up on March 2.” 76ers PR Dir Michael Preston yesterday said that the team is “still working out details of how it will mark the anniversary when the Sixers play the Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center March 2” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/13).
WEST WORLD: In S.F., Rusty Simmons noted Warriors Exec BOD member Jerry West “has acted merely as a remote adviser" for the club to date. West said that he will “be a regular in the Bay Area" after this weekend's PGA Tour Northern Trust Open in L.A., for which he serves as Exec Dir. West: "I'm going to be up here a lot more. I think something can be done here, and it's kind of fun for me." His focus will be “planning for the first full offseason of working with Mark Jackson's coaching staff and the newly structured basketball operations team to identify the franchise's next steps” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/12).
REFORM MOVEMENT: CSNBAYAREA.com’s Ann Killion wrote 49ers CEO Jed York “is on a pretty amazing 13 month run.” Starting a little more than a year ago, York “stuck with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke,” and paid coach Jim Harbaugh “what it took.” He also “concentrated on the task of getting a new stadium.” It currently looks as if York is “going to get done what his father and his uncle could never achieve -- get the 49ers a brand new stadium.” Rather than “running from the team’s past success York has embraced it, bringing in former greats, including his uncle,” former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. Their regular contact “has mended one of the uglier rifts in sports ownership” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 2/13).