SBD/June 5, 2012/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Yankees Link Attendance Drop To StubHub Pricing

In N.Y., Josh Kosman reports Yankee Stadium attendance is down 3.6% so far this year -- greater than the 3% drop last season -- and the team "is blaming StubHub for its gate woes.” Yankees President Randy Levine said, “We believe there are serious issues with the StubHub relationship. We are actively reviewing more fan-friendly alternatives for next year.” He also said that the team's contract with StubHub “expires at the end of the season.” Kosman notes the Yankees and other MLB teams have “bellyached about StubHub for a couple of years -- as more fans turn to the low-priced online reseller for tickets instead of buying directly from the team.” The average crowd at Yankee Stadium this season is 40,949 through 25 games, compared with 42,491 last year. The Yankees’ 25-game average is off 9% while "overall, MLB attendance is up" 7%. A source said that season-ticket sales have “dropped a few thousand, to the mid-30,000 range, the drop [is] about the same amount that daily attendance is down” (N.Y. POST, 6/5).

JOINING THE FRAY:
In Houston, Jennifer Dawson notes MLB Giants investor David Wolff “has thrown his hat into the ring for a chance to acquire a controlling interest” in the Padres. Wolff has owned a piece of the Giants “for a dozen years, though he will not reveal the size of his stake.” Wolff said of buying the Padres, “I would only do it if I was a managing partner. I would put together a group the way Jim Crane did in buying the Astros.” Wolff, regarding whether he had begun forming an ownership group, said, “No. I have an idea of who I would call. I’m trying to decide how hard I’m going to pursue this. I’m still pondering it” (HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/1 issue).

GOING FOR GLORY:
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg was profiled under the Personal Business section with the subhead, "Wealth Matters," in Saturday's N.Y. TIMES. In the piece, Paul Sullivan asked, "So what’s the appeal of owning a team?" Sternberg said that there "were only three reasons: to win, to make money or to bask in the glow of being an owner.” Citi Private Bank Sports Advisory & Managing Dir Bradley Rangell said, “You can make money in this. You can make an investment in a rank-and-file team, manage it OK and ride the appreciation. Or you can do what happened in L.A. and put a business plan in place to develop around the team.” Sternberg said, “In the fall of 2005, they handed me the keys. We knew enough to make the car run, but to make it run well was a different story. ... I had no understanding of what it meant to become a public person. Being out there is a necessary part of promoting our brand.” Sternberg, regarding the value of the franchise, said, “I don’t think of what it’s worth. It’s like my house. I don’t think about the value of it because I’m not selling it” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/2).

SOCIAL EVENT: In DC, James Wagner noted the Nationals “started putting the players Twitter handle on the giant center field scoreboard as they’re batting.” A team spokesperson said in an e-mail, “We just started doing this for the players that are on Twitter a part of our larger new media strategy” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/4).
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