SBD/March 30, 2012/Franchises

Dodgers Ticket Sales Increase Dramatically After Team Purchase Announcement

Dodgers exec said team has reached season-ticket renewal goal from '11-12
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).
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