SBD/June 13, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
There are reasons to believe the Stanley Cup champion Kings "can be more than a one-hit wonder," according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. The team has the "backing of [a] fervent fan" in AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, who allowed the franchise "to spend close to the cap limit this season." Most of the Kings' "key players are signed long-term except," save Conn Smythe Trophy winner G Jonathan Quick, "who has one year on his contract." Kings LW Dustin Penner said, "I think it's going to be expected now. We should be one of the favorites next year." Leiweke said, "We built this for a long run. It's a good young team with the core tied up, and we have the resources to keep our key guys and look to add. We want to compete for a long time now." Elliot notes parity brought about by the NHL's salary cap system "makes it difficult to build and sustain perennial contender" as success brings "demands for higher salaries and each team can stretch its budget only so far" (L.A. TIMES, 6/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes, "As hard as it is to repeat as Stanley Cup champs these days, the Los Angeles Kings may be better positioned than any other recent winner to pull it off." The team this season was "tied as the second youngest group in the league." Additionally, the Kings have "more than enough cap space to improve their team." The team "will not be, in other words, anything like the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, who had to dismantle their roster the season after winning to fit in new contracts for core pieces" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/13).
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes there is "credit to be shared in how these Kings were envisioned, built and maintained." Hoffarth gives Kings GM Dean Lombardi 25% of the credit, and Penner said, "We wouldn't be the team we were without having him at the helm." Blues Player Personnel Dir and former Kings GM Dave Taylor gets 10% of the credit, as does Leiweke. Hoffarth writes of Leiweke, "Those who control the purse strings make the rules. He got the OK from the AEG boys to spend the money that made things happen, then was smart enough to get out of the way when he realized his input wasn't all that bright" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/13).
BRAND-NEW FEELING: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the Kings’ victory seems like the NHL “just opened an expansion franchise in the entertainment capital of the world.” Plaschke said, “It’s like we have a hockey team all of a sudden. People who didn’t pay attention for so many years, suddenly there’s Kings flags flying, there’s people wearing Kings jerseys. ... It feels like hockey’s finally arrived in Los Angeles.” SB Nation’s Bomani Jones, who is from Raleigh, said, “Take this from somebody in a non-traditional hockey city that won a Stanley Cup: You don’t perform in the next two years after, it will go back to the way it was before” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/12).
WILL THE FANS RETURN? The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes the "larger question is, can the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory have a longer-lasting effect on the market -- and attract more than just the small, but hardcore fan base that has [supported] them so well, year in and year out." The Kings’ unexpected 16-4 run through the playoffs "created the usual celebrity sightings." Duhatschek: "The die-hard fans will remain, through thick and thin. For everybody else?" Kings TV host Patrick O'Neal said, "There's going to be a nice celebration. They'll show up for the parade, people will go 'Yeah' and then they'll go about their business again" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/13). Meanwhile, organizers of the Kings celebration set for Thursday at Staples Center said that all 18,000 tickets "are sold out." In L.A., Robert Lopez noted the hour-long "championship rally" is scheduled to begin at 2:30pm PT. Free tickets were distributed "on a first-come, first-served basis and were available online." Officials had said that season-ticket holders and suite and premier seat owners "would be given priority, with the remaining tickets made available to the public" at 6pm yesterday (LATIMES.com, 6/12).
BEACH PARTY: In L.A., Sam Allen notes nearly all of the Kings players "live in the South Bay, and they train at a practice facility in El Segundo." Manhattan Beach Council member Richard Montgomery said that he was busy yesterday "trying to arrange an event at which residents could take pictures with the cup." Montgomery said, "Our city is going crazy. Our businesses, our downtown restaurants, our bars, everyone's happy for the Kings. ... Now we get to enjoy it as a community" (L.A. TIMES, 6/13). An L.A. DAILY NEWS editorial states, "This ranks as one of the most joyous of L.A.'s many sports championships precisely because it was so unexpected. ... Another thing that makes this championship cool: The franchise has been so uncool in the eyes of most L.A. residents. Angelenos who looked beyond the trendy and stuck with the Kings have been rewarded with a well-earned memory" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/13).
PARITY OR MEDIOCRITY? In N.Y., Mark Everson writes parity in the NHL "produced a Stanley Cup final between an eighth-seed and a sixth-seed, strongly suggesting there is not much difference among the top 16 teams." Everson: "Don’t be surprised, then, when the recent schemes to expand the playoffs to 18 or 20 teams are revived for negotiation in the CBA. The more mediocrity, the better." The regular season must be "re-emphasized to matter, and that means de-emphasizing the playoffs." Everson writes, "Heresy? No. The NHL has already de-emphasized the playoffs in the wrong way, by achieving mediocrity through parity" (N.Y. POST, 6/13).
It has been a "good spring for the Devils and the Prudential Center they call home," as the team's Stanley Cup Final appearance "brought $32.2 million in additional revenue to Devils' coffers," according to David Giambusso of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. For a team "fending off bankruptcy with each slapshot, the money could not have come at a better time." Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek and team officials "would not provide specific details on revenue raised" during the team's journey to the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Star-Ledger "reviewed recent audits of the team by the Newark Housing Authority -- the arena landlord -- and used projections reported in sports business journals to arrive at the numbers." The Devils sold $26.2M in tickets, $3.75M in concessions and $1M in merchandise. Sponsors also "kicked in $1.1 million to the Devils' bottom line during playoffs" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/13). In Newark, Mark Di Ionno wrote under the header, "Enduring Legacy Of Devils' Stanley Cup Run Is Effect It Had On Fans, Newark." Di Ionno: "The Devils fans re-claimed their building, and finally christened Newark as a hockey town" (NJ.com, 6/12).
The sale of the Padres "is gaining momentum," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. A source said that three bidders "remain, and Padres owner John Moores expects to select a buyer between Wednesday and Friday of next week." The source added that a group led by former Dodgers Owner Peter O’Malley "is one of the finalists, and the other two bidders also are from southern California." The source said that one is a "businessman from Orange County" and the other is "a private equity investor from Los Angeles, but declined to identify them further." The source added that a fourth bidder -- Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull -- was "eliminated when he failed to reach the desired sale price." The source said that the sale price for the Padres is "expected to meet or exceed" $800M -- $600M for the club and $200M "for a portion of the team’s equity stake in Fox Sports San Diego." The source also noted that if a buyer "is indeed selected next week, a purchase agreement could be in place by the All-Star break and the deal could close by August" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/12). In San Diego, Kevin Acee notes Tull yesterday "was set to advise his financial partners of his decision" to withdraw his bid. Baseball HOFer and San Diego State Univ. baseball coach Tony Gwynn, who had joined Tull's group, "had no financial stake in the Tull bid." A source yesterday explained Tull's decision to withdraw, saying the purchase "doesn't economically make sense." The source added that Tull's group "made a 'respectable' offer but that the amount of money needed to buy the club did not feasibly leave enough money to improve the product on the field" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/13).
The NBA will “begin its vetting” of prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera “upon receipt of a formal application for ownership,” according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. There is “no time frame for the approval to come, though the hope of those familiar with the sale is by the end of the summer.” The time frame “could be affected by a variety of factors, including how familiar the league already is with a prospective buyer and other issues that could occupy the league's time.” Forbes estimates reveal that recent losses in Pera’s company's stock “have battered” his net worth, but that “doesn't necessarily mean he would be one of the ‘poorer’ owners in the NBA.” Forbes reports Pera's net worth “is now a little under $1 billion after being as high as $1.5 billion.” NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said Pera "has been a successful entrepreneur and he has a few dollars, a few hundred million dollars, whatever the number is, and I have heard that he's a huge fan." Stern: "He reminds me a little bit of (Portland owner) Paul Allen, who when he came into the league used to drive around in his car with a basketball in the trunk and stop if he thought he could get a good game" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13). Pera is Founder & CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, which had its stock price fall 12% on Monday and “has lost 66 percent of its value since May 1” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/12).
NO BLUFF HERE: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes the local minority ownership “did step up” during the sale process and they are the “only reason the team is here in the first place.” The locals “had the dream of bringing an NBA team to Memphis when nobody thought it was possible.” They would have “preferred to own the team themselves, but were willing to swallow their egos and become minority owners if that's what it took.” Calkins writes he suspects the minority ownership “didn't believe Heisley's buyer was real” when he told them they could meet the price of a buyer. Calkins: “Heisley has had a succession of phantom buyers, starting with Christian Laettner. Which points out the real problem, of course: the utter lack of trust on both sides” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).
KEEPING INFORMED: Also in Memphis, Ronald Tillery notes Pera “is described as deliberate in his approach,” and that “might also best describe how the Grizzlies will conduct their business until a transfer of ownership” is finalized in the fall. Pera “won't have veto power when it comes to Griz dealings but he'll be kept in the loop about transactions as a courtesy generally provided in the NBA by the outgoing owner.” Heisley “emphatically said that the Griz will operate under his philosophy until ownership changes hands.” Heisley: "I'm going to approach this draft like I normally would. Pera has not bought the team yet. If you think I'm just going to walk away you're crazy.” He added, "But I have every intention of inviting (Pera) to participate when we go through the draft. He will be kept informed of every basketball decision that's being made. Obviously, he'll have an opportunity to put his two cents in. We'll handle it like a fair business man would. I don't anticipate any disagreements" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).
PRICE INCREASE: Tillery reports the Grizzlies are “raising some season ticket prices effective June 29 -- the first increase in seven years.” But the increase is “not linked to Monday's announcement” that Heisley plans to sell the franchise to Pera. Increases range from $1 to $10 per game. Terrace III seats are “increasing from $10 to $11 per game, and courtside seats from $129 to $139.” Club Level seat prices “will remain unchanged.” The Grizzlies said that their season-ticket prices “remain among the lowest in the league, with 6,000 tickets priced at $11 or less per game and more than 10,000 tickets priced at $27 or less” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).
EPL club Manchester United has “ditched its plans for an Asian listing and is preparing to list in the U.S.,” according to sources cited by Stanton & Lau of REUTERS. Because it is changing listing locations, the club is “expected to make changes to its bookrunning syndicate.” Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley initially were “mandated as bookrunners for the Singapore listing, but sources said that this line-up might change.” Sources added that N.Y.-based investment bank Jefferies “has also joined the deal.” A source added that ManU had “always planned to position itself as a global media business rather than a sports franchise, suggesting that a U.S. listing would make more sense.” Stanton & Lau note ManU Owner the Glazer family is known in the U.S. through its ownership of the Buccaneers, and U.S. investors also are “familiar with the dual-class share structure that was under discussion” for ManU’s Singapore listing. A U.S. listing could earn a “better valuation as a media business, since it has contracts for broadcasting rights as well as its own television channel.” However, it is “unlikely to achieve the original goal of putting shares in the hands of a wide base of United fans” (REUTERS, 6/13).
English soccer club Derby County will become the first sports team in the country to offer demand-based pricing. The policy, which is expected to be announced today, will begin with match tickets for its home fixtures from the start of the ‘12-13 season. The team said its goal is to attract new supporters through more flexible pricing, while offering more options for existing fans who attend games at Pride Park Stadium. The best-priced tickets will remain part of the team’s season-ticket package. Single-match ticket prices will fluctuate on a daily basis depending upon factors including market conditions, team performance, rivalries, day of the week and weather. The Rams are teaming up with ticketing company Digonex and its services through Tickets.com for single-match tickets. Derby County CEO Tom Glick said, “We are very excited about the positive impact demand-based pricing will have on both our attendance and revenue next season."
The Warriors organization “revealed the logo and name for its D-League franchise, which will be moving from North Dakota to become the Santa Cruz Warriors,” and Assistant GM Kirk Lacob yesterday “got to tell the Santa Cruz community that it is one giant leap closer to housing a professional sports team," according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team also “announced the biggest singular sponsorship in the D-League's 13-year history, a naming-rights deal with Kaiser Permanente for a 3,200-seat facility that is expected to be built on Front Street in Santa Cruz.” Since the Warriors' ownership group purchased the North Dakota franchise last June, “it was clear that the team might be moved closer to the Bay Area.” Warriors VP/New Franchise Development Jim Weyermann “envisions a day in which players can practice with the big club at 10 a.m. in the Bay Area, then drive 90 minutes and play in a D-League game that night in Santa Cruz.” Lacob said, "There's going to be a whole new synergy that will help in player, coach and business development. The D-League team is now officially part of the Warriors' family" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/13).
WELCOME HOME: In Santa Cruz, Julie Jag notes Warriors Exec BOD member Jerry West yesterday spoke at a local Chamber of Commerce event “as part of what was deemed the official kickoff party for the Santa Cruz Warriors.” Last month, the Santa Cruz City Council “unanimously approved a $3.5 million loan for the team to build a temporary arena for its D-League team on Front Street, at the base of Beach Hill.” The facility, "can be rented for recreational purposes and concerts when not in use by the team.” An estimated 250 fans “have already bought season tickets” (SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL, 6/13). Also in Santa Cruz, Jim Seimas notes Lacob revealed the D-League Warriors' logo, “a large, blue ‘W' with trident-looking endpoints emblazoned over a yellow circle.” Underneath the circle, in capital block letters: "SANTA CRUZ WARRIORS," the team's name “bending to hugging the lower half of the circle.” Weyermann said that the team “already secured 100 reservations for priority seating -- without advertising.” Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente California Senior VP/Sales & Account Management Peter Andrade said of the naming-rights deal, "It makes sense, since we already have a deal with the Warriors.” The deal “is tied to the current contract Kaiser has with the Warriors.” Weyermann said that “two years remain on that deal, but there's an option for a five-year renewal period” (SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL, 6/13).