SBD/March 30, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Dodgers Senior Dir of Ticket Sales David Siegel Thursday said that the team has seen a "dramatic increase in ticket sales" since Tuesday night's announcement that Guggenheim Baseball Management had purchased the club, according to Tony Jackson of ESPN L.A. Siegel said, "There is definitely a renewed sense of excitement with our fans, and it has really resonated (in terms of sales). Our phones have been ringing like crazy." Siegel "declined to provide specific numbers as to how much sales had jumped since the announcement." However, he did say that the increase "has been more in season-ticket and mini-plan sales but that it also has extended to some degree to single-game sales." Siegel added that he had "seen increases in overall sales" since the team announced in October that it actually was lowering the prices of most of the seats throughout Dodger Stadium for the '12 season. He noted, "We are seeing a lot of season-ticket holders who flat-out canceled last year calling back now to see if their seats are still available." Jackson noted allowing season-ticket holders to retain their "seniority even after canceling their tickets for a year or even two is a courtesy rarely extended by professional sports franchises." But the Dodgers were "so determined to bring those old customers back into the fold that they were able to offer that without really penalizing anyone who would have moved up in seniority by not canceling their plans." Siegel added that the Dodgers "already had reached their season-ticket renewal goal" from '11-12 (ESPNLA.com, 3/29).
NO PARKING REVENUE FOR MCCOURT: ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne cited sources as saying that the joint venture between Guggenheim Baseball and former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt for the land around Dodger Stadium "will not allow McCourt to reap any profits from parking revenue." Guggenheim Baseball "has control over the parking lots and land around the stadium." Sources said that McCourt "is in line to see future profit from the land only if it is developed in the future." But sources said that there "is no plan for development in the near future." Dodgers controlling Owner and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter said, "What Frank does have is an economic interest in land, but we control the parking and all the fan experience and that's of the utmost importance to us" (ESPNLA.com, 3/29).
MORE BUZZ FOR FREEWAY SERIES: In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes only days before the Angels and Dodgers were to "reestablish their exhibition-season rivalry in a three-game 'Freeway Series' ... the Dodgers stole a considerable amount of thunder with the announcement that they had been purchased by a deep-pocketed group that included" Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson. With that announcement, any "visions of blue states becoming red states as disenfranchised Dodgers fans jumped on the Angels' bandwagon have at least temporarily been put on hold." The Angels have launched an "aggressive campaign to become a World Series champion -- and also to win over the Southland." The buzz created by signing 1B Albert Pujols and P C.J. Wilson "carried the off-season, and the Angels unveiled dozens of billboards starring new additions" that targeted historically Dodgers neighborhoods. Pugmire writes, "Expect a sea of red for the series opener Monday in Anaheim, but the prevailing color is sure to change Tuesday and Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, where Johnson is likely to make a hero's appearance." Angels VP/Marketing & Ticket Sales Robert Alvarado: "There's plenty of baseball fans to go around. ... We'll do 3 million (in season attendance), they'll do 3 million. We don't see it as a competition, but a friendly rivalry" (L.A. TIMES, 3/30).
INSIDE THE OWNERSHIP GROUP: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Alex Ben Block noted Dodgers co-Owner Peter Guber, who also serves as Warriors co-Owner and Mandalay Entertainment Group Chair & CEO, "can’t talk about what his role will be" with the team until after Guggenheim Baseball gets approval for its $2.15B deal, but a "look at how he has impacted his sports interests provides some insight into how much Hollywood glitz Guber will likely bring to the Dodgers." If nothing else, Guber is "expected to be a force in marketing the team, not only in traditional ways but also using cutting-edge new media tools." Most of all, Guber is "likely to bring a new level of personal service that should please team fans who have suffered in recent years under the unpredictable McCourt regime" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 3/29). Meanwhile, in L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote Johnson is "not only smart enough not to have an introductory press conference announcing his group had won the bidding war for the Los Angeles Dodgers in New York, he’s smart enough to quickly reach out to the most cherished member of the organization" in announcer Vin Scully. Johnson "wasn’t the only one smart enough to quickly contact Scully." McCourt "called first, followed by future team president Stan Kasten." Scully said that Johnson told him "how much he was looking forward to working with him" (LATIMES.com, 3/29).
SAYING GOODBYE: MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reported McCourt "sent an email to club employees Wednesday, after he agreed to sell the team." The e-mail read in part, "I want to express my sincere appreciation to our entire organization for its dedication and support. Regardless of the difficult public spotlight we as an organization have had to operate within over the past several years, we can all be very proud of the significant turnaround we have achieved on behalf of the Los Angeles Dodgers." The e-mail continued, "It is a turnaround that has, among its highlights, returning the Dodger organization to profitability; developing a highly competitive baseball team for the field, including winning four titles in the last eight years; and making the Dodgers a meaningful contributor to the community." McCourt is expected to "meet with company employees on Monday" (MLB.com, 3/29). In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan writes the Dodgers sale "underscores that it is almost impossible to fail financially as the owner of a sports franchise -- no matter how awful or incompetent you are." After putting up "zero money and then milking the business for his personal gain for eight years, McCourt walks away with at least $1 billion in profit" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/30). Former MLB GM Steve Phillips said, “This is unbelievable. I came in here when the whole thing blew up -- he’s going to go to bankruptcy, lose the team. They were going to send it to auction. ... He is going to come out with over $800 million in the deal” ("Varney & Company," Fox Business, 3/30).
Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen Thursday took to his Twitter feed to deny a report that he has listened to offers for the franchise. Allen wrote, "It is absolutely false that I have entertained offers for @pdxtrailblazers. Unnamed sources are wrong as usual. Why don’t reporters check?" (TWITTER.com, 3/29). CSNNW.com's Dwight Jaynes cited sources as saying that at least two groups have "apparently approached Allen, who briefly put the team on the market in the spring" of '06 before withdrawing it. While Allen "may be listening to offers, as he did previously, there are no guarantees he will be able to bring himself to part with the team." However, two groups have "expressed serious interest in buying the franchise, even though Trail Blazer officials have repeatedly denied the team is for sale." Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said, "I have no knowledge of any groups that have been talking to anyone down here, that’s for sure. ... In the past, when Paul was thinking about it, I was in the loop. But that went away. Could there be something going on? Maybe ... but I don't think so." Jaynes reported one of those "interested groups is said to be based" in L.A., while the other is "said to be a local group." One of the groups is "far enough along in discussions that it has scheduled a trip to the Rose Quarter to look at the team’s books and assess the arena." Neither group has "any interest in moving the team out of Portland" (CSNNW.com, 3/29).
Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley has "instructed his attorney, Stan Meadows, to stop negotiating" the sale of the team with Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison, according to a front-page piece by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Heisley said that Ellison's representatives "made repeated overtures about moving the Grizzlies." Heisley: "We're not even considering Ellison. This team cannot be moved." Heisley is asking $350M for the Grizzlies and said that he "makes it clear with potential buyers that the team's arena lease with the city and county is rigid." Heisley acknowledged that there is one other person "looking at the prospect of buying the team, but he expressed skepticism." Heisley: "I don't know if he's serious. I think I'll own the team for a while" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 3/30). In Memphis, Michael Sheffield noted the team’s contracts with the city are "strong enough to keep it here at least" through '21. Heisley said, "That’s more than enough time for fans to show the league this is a good market. If it’s a good market, people won’t get permission to relocate the team. The league doesn’t relocate teams that are doing well. They relocate teams that are doing poorly." Heisley also noted that the "bottom line on revenue sharing is that the Grizzlies could receive an annual boost" of around $20M kicked in from all of the league’s teams (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/29). A Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial states, "Bottom line: We don't want the Grizzlies to be stuck in Memphis; we want them to succeed here." This is about a "civic asset we can't afford to take for granted." The editorial: "Memphis would be a poorer place without the Grizzlies. They deserve our support." They have "earned it" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 3/30).
Canadiens Owner Geoff Molson Thursday announced "sweeping changes to the team’s hockey operations department," as GM Pierre Gauthier was relieved of his duties and Bob Gainey, Gauthier’s adviser, departed from the team, according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal GAZETTE. Former Canadiens GM Serge Savard is "incoming as a consultant to Molson for the headhunting." Parting with Gauthier "was Molson’s call, not that of an ownership consortium and certainly not that of the opinionated fans who are taking credit for it." Molson said, "The reality is, if you look in the mirror, we haven’t had enough success in the past nine years. Once in a while, these tough decisions have to be made." He added that he "doubted that a GM would be in place by the NHL’s April 10 draft lottery," but instead is hoping to have someone "for the June 22-23 entry draft and opening of free agency on July 1." Stubbs notes Molson sees himself "as a delegator more than a micromanager, so the new GM will indeed run the show." But he "won’t be expected to do it all himself." The timing of the announcement "was curious, to say the least -- it seemed to be shovelling more dirt of speculation onto a mudpile of misery that’s grown deeper by the game." However, it is "inspired -- turn the last 10 days of the season into a small celebration of the promise ahead rather than prolong the autopsy" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/30). SI.com's Stu Hackel noted Molson "made it a point on Thursday to stress that the Canadiens not only had to fix problems on the ice, but that rupture with fans who were embarrassed by this season’s episodes of instability, including the uproar surrounding the hiring of unilingual Randy Cunneyworth as coach" (SI.com, 3/29). In Montreal, Mike Boone notes Molson made "frequent allusion to the fans in his prepared remarks on Thursday." Molson began the press conference by saying in French, "It goes without saying we are very disappointed. This is the best hockey city in the world, and we didn't satisfy our fans' expectations" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/30).
LOOKING AHEAD: Savard said Thursday on CKGM-AM that the next GM "will need to speak French." Savard said, "In this province, to have a position like general manager or head coach of the Canadiens, it doesn’t have to be a guy from Quebec, it doesn’t have to be a French-Canadian, but the guy has to be able to communicate to the people in French. If my guy doesn’t speak English, he’s not qualified either, because he has to communicate with the people in English as well” (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 3/29). In Toronto, Bruce Garrioch cites NHL execs and agents as saying that the list of candidates for the GM job includes Hockey HOFer Patrick Roy, NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, Lightning Assistant GM Julien Brisebois, Blackhawks Assistant GM Marc Bergevin, CAA's Pat Brisson, Senators Dir of Player Personnel Pierre Dorion and Maple Leafs Assistant GM Claude Loiselle (TORONTO SUN, 3/30).
The Flames have become the majority owners of the CFL Calgary Stampeders, the “fifth team under the NHL club’s control," according to Ian Busby of the CALGARY SUN. The Flames’ ownership of the Stampeders means the team “will now look at building a sports complex downtown with both a football stadium and a new arena.” One of the silent Stampeders owners a few months ago “expressed interest in selling his share,” and that “started a process where the Flames determined they should take over controlling interest.” With Thursday’s announcement “comes word that minority partner John Forzani said the rest of the owners have kept their shares with the intentions of moving into the background of Stamps ownership.” The Flames already are majority owners of the WHL Calgary Hitmen, the NLL Calgary Roughnecks and the AHL Abbotsford Heat. The Stampeders are the "second team purchased in less than a year” -- the Flames bought the Roughnecks last June (CALGARY SUN, 3/30). Stampeders President & COO Lyle Bauer said, “It makes a lot of sense. Our vision and plan for the future mirrors what the Flames are trying to do.” He added he and Flames President & CEO Ken King “have had numerous conversations about the future.” In Calgary, Kristen Odland notes the Flames previously “had a small ownership stake in the Stamps, while the majority group was headed” by Forzani and former CFL Commissioner Doug Mitchell (CALGARY HERALD, 3/30).
DEAL DETAILS: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Allan Maki cited sources as saying that the deal will see the Flames ownership in the Stampeders “rise to 70 per cent from the previous five per cent.” The majority of the original owners, including Forzani and Mitchell, will “remain on board in a lesser capacity.” Forzani said, “This was not a money deal. Ask yourself this question: what’s in the best long-term interests of the Stampeders? The answer is: we wanted to be run by a very professional organization that is in the business of operating sports franchises.” King said that the Flames’ six-man ownership group "‘is moving to become a sports corporation’ so it can best operate its growing list of properties.” Flames Owner Al Libin, Senior VP/Finance & Administration John Bean and King along with “three original owners will form the Stampeders’ new six-man executive board and oversee the football team’s operation.” King said the Flames will lend their manpower and expertise to “ticket sales, marketing, human resources, promotions” (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/30).