SBD/September 17, 2012/Franchises

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  • NHL Lockout, Day 2: Most Teams Not Laying Off Staffers This Early

    Molson previously advised his staff they would be put on a reduced work schedule

    The Maple Leafs Saturday announced that the team "will not be laying off any staff" during the NHL lockout, according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. MLSE President & COO Tom Anselmi in an e-mail said that it "looks like jobs are safe for support staff." Anselmi: "No plans for anything like that at this point in time. In the past we have redeployed people, but nothing planned at this time.” McGran noted during previous NBA and NHL lockouts, staff members "like the media relations crew simply helped out with some of the organization’s other sports teams," such as the Raptors, AHL Marlies or MLS Toronto FC. Meanwhile, a source said that the NHL "would be laying off at its head office." But NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "denied it" (THESTAR.com, 9/15). The GLOBE & MAIL's MacLeod, Gordon, Bailey & Walton reported Canadiens President & CEO Geoff Molson "advised the team’s administrative employees two weeks ago that they would be put on a reduced work schedule in the event of a labour disruption." Canadiens VP Donald Beauchamp: “There are no layoffs in the plan. Everyone is going to be working a four-day week.” The measure "affects office employees, arena workers, security guards and support staff at the Bell Centre." Meanwhile, the Candiens are "going ahead with their annual charity golf tournament next week." Team alumni will "fill in for the roster players at the event, which typically raises [C]$500,000 for the Canadiens’ children’s foundation, and season-ticket holders have already been informed that their ducats will be honoured in the event of a truncated season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).

    WHAT TEAMS ARE OFFERING TO STAFF: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch wrote some Senators employees "were given layoff notices weeks ago" that would take effect today if the lockout was not avoided. The Flames reportedly are "offering unpaid leave during the NHL work stoppage" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/16). However, Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said there are "no plans to do any sort of layoffs" among the team's front office staff. He added that team is "actually going to try to utilize the time to do projects that have been backlogged," as well as staff training and community outreach. Bordelon said the Sharks are likely to schedule "some interactive opportunities for fans to come down here and maybe meet with coach or general manager or broadcasters" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/16). The Lightning on Friday announced that the team "is not planning immediate staffing changes" (TAMPABAY.com, 9/15).

    BUYER'S REMORSE? In L.A., Helene Elliott noted NHL teams yesterday "began announcing refund plans for season-ticket holders." The Ducks said that fans "who keep their money with the club will receive 5% interest on the money and credit for all games missed, which is the same as the Kings' policy." Fans who want an immediate refund "will get that plus 1% interest" (LATIMES.com, 9/16). In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes an e-mail to Hurricanes season-ticket holders states they "will not pay for any games which go unplayed." It said that season-ticket holders will get 3% "simple interest on money in their ticket accounts, accrued between Sunday and the end of the lockout, and that it can be used to buy other tickets this season and next season" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/17). The WINNIPEG SUN reported Jets fans can "keep their money with the Jets and collect 3% interest toward 2013-14 tickets, or get their money back every 15 days of lockout season, with only 1% interest" (WINNIPEG SUN, 9/17). Meanwhile, in Illinois, Tim Sassone notes the Blackhawks yesterday postponed this Saturday's "training camp festival." The team said that the event "will be rescheduled if there is a training camp, and all tickets will be honored." The Blackhawks in an e-mail to fans said any "refunds for any canceled games will include an additional two percent interest" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 9/17).

    MOMENTUM HALTED: In Miami, George Richards writes the general thought is the Kings and Panthers "are two teams who will be most negatively affected by a prolonged NHL lockout." The Kings will see a "lengthy wait to raise" their '12 Stanley Cup banner. That "could affect their ability to capitalize on the moment." Meanwhile, after "a decade of futility and turnover, the Panthers are trending north -- and fans are taking notice." But the Panthers, a franchise "which operates in the red, could actually be helped financially by a short-term work stoppage." If the lockout "wiped out the opening month, the Panthers would lose just three home games and would save big bucks by not paying salary nor paying for a long-scheduled road trip." An NHL return by November "would work out pretty good for the Panthers -- since that is the time of year when their attendance begins an upward trend." Richards: "Snowbirds usually bring better crowds" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/17). In Nashville, Josh Cooper wrote the lockout "could hurt the Predators" after the team has advanced to the second round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The Predators also announced a "team-record 25 sellouts" in the '11-12 season (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/16). 

    GETTING TOGETHER ON THEIR OWN: In Columbus, Aaron Portzline reports a "group of 20 or so Blue Jackets will continue to skate most mornings in the OhioHealth Ice Haus" attached to Nationwide Arena. The players are "free to do so" because the venue is owned by Franklin County, not the team. But the players "will buy their own Gatorade, do their own laundry and sharpen their own skates" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/17). In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov reported most veteran Panther players "will rent ice-time at Saveology.com Iceplex." The players "will not be allowed to use the dressing room or the BB&T Center, and are forbidden to speak to any staff members" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/16).

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  • Dolphins Draw Smallest Attendance For Home Opener In Last Thirty Years

    Only 201 fans reportedly were in the entire midfield Section 415 during the first quarter

    The announced crowd of 54,245 yesterday for the Dolphins’ 35-13 home-opening victory over the Raiders marked the “fewest number of tickets distributed for a Dolphins home opener since 1982, when 53,823 were distributed” for a game against the Baltimore Colts, according to Hal Habib of the PALM BEACH POST. It also “likely was the fewest number of bodies in the stands for a home opener at least since 1991.” The figure was “an alarming 18 percent smaller than the worst-attended Dolphins home opener in the 2000s.” Habib notes Sun Life Stadium has a capacity of 75,540 for NFL games. The Dolphins used “creative ways to fill seats Sunday, with club owner Stephen Ross helping to give fans free caps commemorating the 1972 undefeated team.” But only 201 fans "were in the entire midfield Section 415 during the first quarter, for example, leaving more than half empty." Most suites "appeared to be half-full; some weren’t in use at all.” On the club level, "perhaps 10 percent of the seats on the entire east side of the stadium were in use, and roughly 40 percent of all club seats were filled.” Only the lower bowl, which “appeared to be 80 percent full, would have had a fan … feeling cramped” (PALM BEACH POST, 9/17). In Miami, Andre Fernandez notes, "Only one home game last season (Houston in Week 2) drew fewer fans than Sunday’s turnout” (MIAMI HERALD, 9/17). 

    YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS: In Boston, Greg Bedard noted to a recent report citing a friend of Ross' as saying that GM Jeff Ireland “could be in serious trouble if the team really bottoms out.” Bedard asked, “Is Ross completely insane?" Ross "decides that Ireland is worth keeping on after Tony Sparano fizzles out as coach." Ireland is then "allowed to pick the new coach, Joe Philbin, who then hand-selects a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who successfully ran the scheme of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in college." Then after one season Ross "might fire Ireland?" Bedard: "Might as well chalk up the Dolphins as being terrible for another four years” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16).

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  • Bills Could Schedule Additional Regular-Season Games In Toronto; Deal Expected Soon

    Bills could play eight regular-season games in Toronto over next five years

    Bills fans can "expect there to be more” regular season games in Toronto, as the Bills "want to strengthen their footprint” in Southern Ontario, according to Mark Gaughan of the BUFFALO NEWS. A finalized deal “eventually will be announced by November or December, at the latest.” Gaughan wrote, “All signs that I can see point to more than five regular season games over five years.” An extension of the Bills' deal with Rogers Communications to continue playing games in Toronto was approved by the NFL Int'l Committee in May. Because Toronto “doesn't want any exhibition games,” the way to “pump up the deal for the next five years” is to give more regular season games to Rogers. Gaughan: “Eight regular-season games over five years? A 2-1-2-1-2 scenario? Don't be surprised if it ends up something like that, give or take a game.” Meanwhile, a “subplot to the Toronto partnership is the Bills' season-ticket sales total" for ‘12. The 43,267 figure in '12 marks a 16% increase over ’11. However, the ‘11 total was “depressed by the lockout,” and the ‘12 total “came after the Bills had arguably the best spending offseason in their history,” including deals for DE Mario Williams, WR Stevie Johnson, DE Mark Anderson and RB Fred Jackson. Yet the ‘12 total “still is below” the 44,084 sold in '10, and “ranks seventh over the last 10 years” (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/16).

    STADIUM ISSUES STILL UP IN THE AIR: In Rochester, Leo Roth wrote of the Bills' likely agreement with Erie County for a one-year lease extension on Ralph Wilson Stadium, "Following an NFL trend, the Bills will help pay for improvements." But “given the dynamics of ownership, who pays what, how, for how long?" Roth: "Would a new owner not want a new stadium all together?” The Bills “could agree with the stipulation a new owner can’t move the club until the lease expires.” That decision “makes the team less desirable on the open market but it’s the right thing to do if public money is accepted, the right thing to do for their fans.” If the team wants a lease “with no strings attached, the Bills, like any company leasing a building and looking to grow, should pay for most if not all of the stadium renovations themselves, recoup the costs in the price tag of their business, and reap the additional revenue in the interim that the upgrades bring” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 9/16).

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  • Former Congress Member Harold Ford Jr. Joins Robert Pera's Bid to Buy Grizzlies

    Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), a native of Memphis, “has agreed to become a member" of prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera's bid to purchase the team, according to Geoff Calkins of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Ford did not specify “what percentage of the team he will own.” He said that he “met Pera through mutual friends more than a year ago, before Pera began his pursuit of the Grizzlies.” Ford: "I still have a home in Memphis; I didn't want to see the team leave.” He added, “Robert assured me that moving the team was not his desire. He's serious about making the team a success on and off the court. He's even more serious about making sure there's local involvement." Ford said that he “talked to Pera about navigating the political landscape in Memphis, about talking to the right people about the right things” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/16).

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  • Louisville City Officials Meet To Discuss Potential Future Bid For NBA Franchise

    Junior Bridgeman met with more than 20 other community leaders in Louisville

    Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office said that a group of community leaders convened by former NBAer Junior Bridgeman on Friday met with the mayor "to discuss the possibility" of an NBA team coming to the city, according to Green & Klepal of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Fischer said the meeting gauged the “level of interest” and the “conditions necessary to attract a team.” He added, “This must be a win for the University of Louisville, as well as other stakeholders." Fischer spokesperson Phil Miller said that the city "is not involved in any 'active deal' with a team." Miller said that it was the "first meeting for the group, which included more than 20 people." He added that a deal "would have to be worked out with U of L to share the KFC Yum! Center -- and revenue -- with a professional team." UL Media Relations Dir Mark Hebert said that "no one from the university was invited to Friday’s meeting." Green & Klepal noted the school "keeps the bulk of revenue from suite sales and has control over scheduling at the building." However, the KFC Yum! Center "has struggled to pay off $349 million in construction bonds" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/15).

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