SBD/May 16, 2012/Franchises

NHL Franchise Notes: Penguins' Local TV Ratings Validation For New Regime

In Pittsburgh, Gene Collier notes the Penguins' local ratings on Root Sports Pittsburgh during the regular season "amplified the region's enduring embrace" of the team, as the 8.03 rating was "not only higher this season than those for any American NHL team, but for any NBA team as well." Penguins President & CEO David Morehouse said, "It shows what we've become in Pittsburgh." Collier notes the rating is "validation of what the current Penguins administration has accomplished over the past five-plus years." Morehouse: "It validates a lot of things we've been talking about; we've grown our base, broadened our base. A lot of stuff we've done in the community has had an impact. Our focus on youth hockey has had an impact, and I think our on-ice talent and our ownership's commitment of trying to win has had an impact" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/16).

RETURN OF THE KINGS
: FS ARIZONA's Craig Morgan noted the Kings are "experiencing the love" in practical terms. Kings COO Chris McGowan said, "Our TV ratings have doubled, our web traffic is close to doubling, we've already sold 1,500 new season tickets for next year and renewals are well into the 90th percentile." The team "sold out all but two games" this season. McGowan added, "When [GM Dean Lombardi] took over and started that rebuilding process, we saw some dipping in terms of interest. We were still very respectable from an attendance standpoint, where we would sell out 18 to 20 games a year and average between 16,500 and 17,000, but now we're getting a lot more attention." McGowan: "Winning has played a big role, but [a] lot of that is also due to a dedicated focus on building our season-ticket base and having the right staff in position to take advantage of our success" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 5/14).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes the Coyotes and the City of Glendale both “sound encouraged by the progress made” in former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison's attempt to purchase the team. When the sale takes shape, Coyotes fans “finally can be judged accurately as a hockey market. The condemnation from outside was never fair. It was hard to get fans to commit when the potential of being jilted was always there.” Phoenix “can be a hockey town,” and with “proper ownership and more money to spend, it can be a gifted team” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/16). In N.Y., Klein & Hackel noted the sale "could be scuttled by the same threat of legal challenges that sank earlier deals." Goldwater Institute VP/Litigation Clint Bolick, whose taxpayer watchdog group brought pressure sufficient to collapse a previous sale effort, said, "The scrutiny would be on whether the city is vastly overpaying for the arena management. That can only be determined when we see the actual figures" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC op-ed piece stated, "The Phoenix Coyotes story is critical to Glendale residents and we shouldn't be handing out a rose to Jamison just yet. Let's get to know him and his investors. Better yet, let's get to know exactly what any proposed lease agreement means for the taxpayers" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/14). 
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