SBD/October 15, 2012/Franchises

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  • Yankees Exploring YES Network Ownership Changes; Postseason Ticket-Sales Down

    Levine says Yankees are not looking to sell its stake in YES Network

    The Yankees are “looking for the right investor to buy out their partners in the YES Network, including Goldman Sachs,” according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Yankees President Randy Levine, Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner and Goldman Sachs partner Gerald J. Cardinale last week “met with top Fox executives.” Levine said, “It was not our first meeting with the Fox people. I’ve known them for a long time and we respect their opinions.” News Corp. Deputy COO James Murdoch “is a director of Yankee Global Enterprises L.L.C., the umbrella company for the team, which owns about 34 percent of the YES Network.” Another element of Levine’s talks with Fox “could involve YES carrying some of Fox Sports 1’s programming in the New York market.” Levine said that the team was “not selling its part of YES." Sandomir reported the net is "said to be worth more than $3 billion.” Levine added that the “effort to find purchasers willing to pay the price for the stakes held by Goldman, Providence Equity and some former owners of the Nets might not lead to a sale.” Levine: “We want to keep our options open and see what the marketplace is” (NYTIMES.com, 10/12).

    TURNSTILE TROUBLES
    : ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell noted the Yankees yesterday morning “still had tickets available and several thousand more were for sale on the secondary market” for ALCS Game 2 against the Tigers. Yankees fans yesterday morning received e-mails "telling them the team was still selling tickets to the game.” Levine said that the characterization of the team's postseason ticket sales "has been inaccurate.” Levine: “We sold more than 49,000 tickets for Wednesday and Thursday and more than 47,000 tickets for Friday and Saturday.” Rovell noted Levine has been a “critic of StubHub." Levine: “As I've said, we have significant issues with StubHub and it has been affecting our attendance in a negative way all year. We expect that to be resolved after the season” (ESPN.com, 10/14). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes despite drawing 47,082 fans at Yankee Stadium yesterday, it was the “third straight playoff home game that the Yankees drew fewer than 47,200 fans, or about 3,000 short of capacity.” Belson cited a Yahoo Sports report as saying that Yankee Stadium ushers were “told to move fans in the upper deck into empty seats below so the unfilled sections would be less noticeable” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/15).

    HOME-FIELD DISADVANTAGE
    : YAHOO SPORTS’ Jeff Passan notes "every other playoff stadium" was filled to capacity but Yankee Stadium had "entire sections empty, thousands of unsold tickets, even ones as cheap as $15 through resellers.” Tigers LF Quintin Berry said, “This is a very easy place to play now. Coming from Oakland, the fans there were so rowdy. It was easier to come here.” Passan writes, “No matter how the Yankees spin this ... the swiss-cheese crowd is a stunning indictment on their failures to transition the atmosphere of the old stadium to the new one” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, New York Yankees, YES Network, StubHub
  • New Browns Owner Haslam Preparing To Be More Hands On With Franchise

    Haslam has been talking about owning an NFL team "for 10 or 15 years"

    NFL owners will approve Jimmy Haslam III's $1B purchase of the Browns tomorrow in Chicago, and yesterday's 34-24 win over the Bengals "marked the changing of the guard," according to Marla Ridenour of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Current Browns Owner Randy Lerner "did not make a postgame locker room appearance; presumably he did not attend." Lerner "returned to his home in Long Island after the sale of the team was announced Aug. 2 and has not been seen since." In the closing seconds of yesterday's game, Haslam "watched from just outside the Browns' tunnel" and when the game ended, he "shook hands with two well-wishers and headed to the locker room." Browns WR Josh Cribbs said of Haslam, "He's really hands-on. He's down there greeting the fans, greeting the players. We love to see that because he cares. Not saying that past regimes didn't, but you all know" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/15).

    A LONG TIME COMING: Haslam said that he had been "talking with his father and brother Bill, now governor of Tennessee, about owning an NFL team 'for 10 or 15 years.'" Those close to Haslam believe that his "humor and business acumen make him the perfect choice to rebuild the storied franchise." U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said of Haslam, "Jimmy is a powerful figure. He’s very intense. That would be the word I would use to describe him more than anything else" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/14). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said Browns President Mike Holmgren “has the unique position of sitting in on the league meetings that he knows will soon send him packing when owners approve the sale of the team.” Haslam has “intensively researched the organization he will revamp, seeking counsel from a group that has included former Packers GM Ron Wolf who gave Holmgren his first head coaching job, and former Colts GM Bill Polian who will not join the organization despite some discussions that considered the possibility” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 10/14). SI’s Peter King said Haslam is “going to have to make his first big decision: What do I do with Pat Shurmur as coach, what do I do with Tom Heckert as General Manager and what do I do with Lord Mike Holmgren?” (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 10/12).

    WINNING WITH HEART: In Cleveland, Robert Smith wrote Haslam "brings a reputation for winning and winning the right way." Many see a "business titan with a heart." Univ. of Tennessee College of Business Administration Dean Jan Williams said of the Haslam family, "They really do the right things, the right way, and treat people right." Greater Knoxville Business Journal Editor Amy Nolan said, "The family and the company have just been very generous, very down to earth. They are accessible people." However, Smith wrote the Haslams "mix politics and business and they wield their money and influence to favor Republicans, which could draw scowls in Democratic-leaning Northeast Ohio." Having risen "to the top of a competitive industry, the Haslams have at times been accused of crossing the line from aggressive to ruthless." Knoxville-based Cornish Global Advisors President & CEO Jeff Cornish said, "He's a guy who asks a lot of questions. He keeps incredible tabs on everything. Not much gets by him." Haslam said, "The same basic philosophies that you have used in business apply to football. Now, there are strategies and tactics in any business, but it's still all about execution. Strategy is important, but execution is way more important." Haslam: "My dad used to say, 'Before you make a decision, think about how you would feel to see it in the newspaper the next day'" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/13).

    ALL IN THE FAMILY: In Cleveland, Jodie Valade writes Haslam's wife, Dee, may be able to use "her marketing and branding expertise to heighten the Browns' profile and image." That effort "almost certainly will include a heavy focus on charity work." Dee Haslam said, "We're not doing this for a hobby. We're all in" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/15).

    Print | Tags: NFL, Cleveland Browns, Franchises
  • MLB Franchise Notes: John Henry Reportedly Looking To Sell Stake In FSG

    A Red Sox official said the rumor that Henry would sell a piece of FSG is false

    FOXBUSINESS.com's Gasparino & Egan reported Fenway Sports Group Chair John Henry is "seeking a minority owner" for the company. Sources said that Henry is "entertaining the idea of selling a minority stake, or what’s known as a 'limited partnership.'" Rival MLB owners said that FSG is "weighing selling a chunk of the holding company to potential investors." But Red Sox Corporate Communications Dir Zineb Curran said, "There is absolutely no truth to any other sale or claim that John Henry is selling the team or a piece of FSG" (FOXBUSINESS.com, 10/12).

    THIS IS BIRDLAND: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos said that he was "exceptionally pleased" with the '12 season. Angelos said, "Especially for the Orioles, which we all know is an institution in Maryland. And for a long period of time, as you gentlemen and ladies have stressed frequently, there was a long, long arid period. … I hope this will be the case, this year, that we mean business. And in the future you can depend on this kind of a performance and hopefully much better" (Baltimore SUN, 10/13). Orioles Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said, "We took a giant step forward this year, and we re-energized the fan base, improving the number of games we won was significant." Duquette: "I've said all along the way to build a good ballclub is from the ground up. It's not from the top down. Having said that, we signed a couple free agents last year that did a good job. ... So, we are always looking for opportunity, but I'm going to tell you this: The core players are going to come from our minor league system" (Baltimore SUN, 10/14).

    FEDERAL RESERVE: Vince Gennaro, author of "Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning In Baseball," estimated that the Nationals "would have seen at least" $25M in incremental business had the team won the '12 World Series. Univ. of South Florida Sport & Entertainment MBA/MS Program Dir Bill Sutton estimated the value of a championship or "even a World Series appearance" at $35-40M. Consulting firm the Aspire Group CEO Bernie Mullin "thinks the potential loss is closer" to $65-75M (ESPN.com, 10/13).

    CUDDLY CUBBIES? In Chicago, Rick Telander wrote, "I found it interesting that in an essay in this newspaper, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts described his team’s 2012 season as 'disappointing.' Kind of like describing the Great Chicago Fire as 'warm.'’’ Ricketts' essay Thursday "mainly describes the charitable work the Cubs do." Telander: "Aren’t the Cubs a major-league baseball team? When did they become a stadium-owning, TV-revenue-producing, third-highest-ticket-price-in-baseball-demanding Mother Teresa in pinstripes?" Ricketts' article is "all PR." It is "hearts-and-minds propaganda ... A load of crap." It is "simply a way to soften up the city and make it easier for Ricketts and Co. to float devious bonds to rebuild Wrigley Field at citizens’ risk." Telander: "The Cubs are turning into a vicious, soul-free, corporate monster that already has conned the public into paying for a defective product. And apparently it’s just beginning" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/14).

    A ROCKY ROAD: In Denver, Woody Paige wrote, "The Rockies' monarchy has replied insensitively to season-ticket holders hungry for quality baseball." The "rock-headed ownership and management sent out letters to thousands of the team's most loyal fans stating that if their season tickets are renewed for next season, cards will be issued for free food and merchandise." Paige: "How about starting pitchers and new ownership/management instead of hot dogs and ice cream? When are you going to stand up, speak up and get fed up? ... When are you going to demand that [Owner Dick Monfort, GM Dan O’Dowd, Assistant GM Bill Geivett and General Partner Charlie Monfort] step aside and let someone else run this franchise right, rather than run it into the ground?" The Rockies "stink like sewage sludge" (DENVER POST, 10/14).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, MLB, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies
  • Franchise Notes

    YAHOO SPORTS’ Michael Silver writes, “How could Chiefs owner Clark Hunt have offered general manager Scott Pioli an extension, as reported Sunday morning by CBS' Jason LaCanfora, with a straight face? The simple answer may be that Hunt didn't -- both the Kansas City Star's Adam Teicher and NBC's Peter King later reported that no offer was made” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15). FOXSPORTS.com’s Jason Whitlock writes, “Hunt isn’t stupid. Kansas City’s fan base is frustrated and motivated.” Extending Pioli at this time would “further motivate an already-active fan base,” which has “taken to social media to educate local and national media about what has been going on with Chiefs football the last two decades and the lengthy list of errors Pioli has made in four years.” They are “tired of reading the propaganda pumped out by Pioli’s partners in the mainstream media” (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/15).

    BUYERS' MARKET
    : BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Matuszewski & Kuriloff noted NFL Jets tickets on the secondary market are “selling for half as much as those” for Giants games in the same stadium, five weeks into the season. Secondary market price aggregator TiqIQ found that a “quarter of the seats at MetLife Stadium are on the secondary market for the Jets’ final three home games.” Jets President Neil Glat said, “The business is healthy and if we win it gets even healthier” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/12).

    OPEN MIC
    : In Milwaukee, Kathy Flanigan wrote the Bucks held their “first-ever national anthem auditions” on Saturday. The auditions were “the brainchild” of team Dir of Game Entertainment John Watson. Watson said that “171 people had gone through the audition process.” Flanigan noted Watson, Game Operations Assistant Kris Burnelli and Bucks’ Energee dance team manager Tricia Crawford “played the judges’ roles.” The winners “will be announced" early this week. Watson said that “probably five to 10 individuals or groups from the auditions will sing at games during the season” (JSONLINE.com, 10/13).

    PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT
    : The 76ers named Sixers.com correspondent and WMMR-FM on-air personality Matt Cord the team’s public address announcer. If Cord is unable to serve, MLS Union announcer Kevin Casey will handle the PA duties. Cord and Casey were chosen after team execs listened to the auditions of 107 applicants and three rounds of tryouts (76ers).

    Print | Tags: Franchises
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