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SBD/October 17, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III yesterday after the NFL owners formally approved his purchase of the team “wasted no time in making a bold announcement -- that team president Mike Holmgren is out and former Eagles President Joe Banner is in as Chief Executive Officer,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Holmgren, who is “three years into a five-year deal that pays him about $8 million a year, will remain through the season and then retire.” Banner was introduced at a news conference this morning at Browns HQ in Berea, Ohio, and will officially "take over" Oct. 25 when the sale of the team closes. Haslam said that Holmgren will “work closely with Banner until the end of the season to make sure there's a seamless transition.” Haslam said of Banner’s role, "Joe's going to be the CEO. He'll be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company, but any big decisions, we'll be involved in." Haslam added, "This is the only personnel change we're going to make until the end of the season, and I'm not at all saying we're going to make changes at the end of the season.” Haslam's purchase of the Browns from former Owner Randy Lerner for $1B was “unanimously approved by the 32 NFL teams.” Lerner will "retain a 30 percent stake for four years” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17). In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes Haslam’s hiring of Banner and settlement with Holmgren "was stunning only for its speed.” Haslam said that Banner had been “put through the same kind of extensive background check he used when hiring top executives at Pilot Flying J” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/17).
TURNING THE PAGE: In Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote under the header, “Jimmy Haslam Scores A Touchdown In His First Day As Cleveland Browns Owner.” Holmgren's departure is “not a major loss, and Banner's executive skills could be a huge advantage.” Banner is a “salary cap guy, a business man and an experienced, high-level football executive.” While the Browns' “football people will report to Banner, his history is not that of a guy who tells a general manager who to draft in the third round” (CLEVELAND.com, 10/16). NBC Sports Network's Mike Florio said Haslam "didn’t need a surrogate owner in Mike Holmgren." Florio: "And really, what has Holmgren done to improve that team in the time that he’s been there?” (“Pro Football Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 10/16). The BEACON JOURNAL's Ridenhour writes Banner is "one thing Holmgren was not, a proven front-office executive” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole wrote Banner will “help Haslam focus on the football operations, such as deciding whether” GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur “should stay.” Cole: "But be very clear about that last sentence: Banner will help make that decision. When it was Holmgren and Lerner, Holmgren made the decision” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/16). ESPN’s John Clayton said, "Because of the fact that this team’s not winning there’s the likelihood after the season there’s going to be a lot of changes” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 10/16). FOXSPORTSOHIO.com's Jackson & McManamon cited sources as saying that Heckert has “told people close to him that he believes he'll lose his position with the team at the end of the season and that Heckert was making calls to friends around the league as early as August about potentially landing on another team's personnel staff in 2013” (FOXSPORTSOHIO.com, 10/16).
SQUARE PEG, ROUND HOLE? In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote Holmgren was “miscast here from the day Lerner let him pick his role.” Holmgren’s role with the Browns was “no longer what he signed up to do -- run his own franchise for an owner only too happy to shower him with cash and get out of the way.” The team has “a lot more immediate accountability than it did under Lerner.” Holmgren's “impending exit is proof of that” (CLEVELAND.com, 10/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Cole wrote the NFL “doesn't want guys like Holmgren in board rooms sitting in the owner's chair.” For his part, Holmgren was “always a little out of place at these events.” He was “a football man in a room full of guys who are concerned with how to monetize the game.” It “wasn't that Holmgren couldn't understand the dollar signs, but it's not what drives him” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/16). ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley noted the Browns' .263 winning percentage under Holmgren is the "second-worst" in the league during his tenure. Holmgren's “biggest mistake was keeping Eric Mangini around" for the '10 season, while hiring Heckert was Holmgren's "best move” (ESPN.com, 10/16). CBSSPORTS.com’s Jason La Canfora cited sources as saying that Holmgren has “no interest in pursuing other football ventures -- coaching or front office” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/16). ESPN's Ed Werder said the “expectation is he'll resume his retirement in Seattle and he’ll count all of his many dollars that he's accumulated in recent years” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/16). The PLAIN DEALER's Cabot notes Haslam “declined to say if outgoing team president Mike Holmgren will receive the balance of his contract for 2013 and 2014, an estimated $16 million.” Haslam: “I'm not going to talk about that. It's been a very amicable situation with Mike" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17).
OWNER'S EQUITY: Haslam said of his efforts to sell his Steelers stock, "We're real close to selling the majority of it and I think that will happen by the end of the month and I would (hope) that the balance will happen by the end of the year. Art Rooney and the Steelers want to see it happen, we want to see it happen. Once I told Art we were negotiating with Randy, I completely divorced myself from the Steelers" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17). Steelers President Art Rooney II said, “There will be (overlap) but we've sort of worked it out with the finance committee and the commissioner, where Jimmy won't have access to Steelers information during this time. It won't be a problem, but will it take a few months" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/16). Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the NFL “didn't encourage Randy Lerner to sell the Browns.” Goodell: "When Randy and his family made the decision that it was time for them to move on, it is time to move on. We assisted them in trying to achieve their objectives” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17).
ROLLING OUT THE WELCOME MAT: Browns K Phil Dawson said, “This isn’t any kind of indictment on how things have been done previously, but (Haslam’s style is) very much welcomed and there’s a certain presence and a certain energy that he brings, a certain level of accountability just by his mere presence here. Has it been a distraction? No. Has it been welcomed? Yes” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/17). Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said Haslam “reminded me a little of myself coming in because he's so passionate and enthusiastic.” Kraft said that Haslam's “experience in building Pilot Flying J into a multi-billion enterprise will serve him well.” Kraft: "I think he'll lend us his business expertise. He has a different exposure to a marketplace that I'm not sure anyone else in our league does” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17).
The Phillies "are not increasing" season-ticket prices for '13, according to Ryan Lawrence of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Phillies VP/Ticket Sales & Operations John Weber said the only change is a "modified pricing structure." Lawrence notes 10 games have "tickets that have gone up in price while 10 others have tickets that have gone down in price." Weber said, "We took a look at it and picked 10 games (to increase prices). And 10 other games will go down the same amount. It's a very simplified pricing model. There is no price increase (overall)." Lawrence notes of the 10 games that are "on the higher end, eight are against either NL East or American League opponents, and all but one of the games takes place before the All-Star break." On the "flip side, six of the 10 games that have gone down in price fall in the final 2 months of the regular season." With the new pricing structure, the "most expensive ticket at Citizens Bank Park, the lower rows of the Diamond Club, will cost $145 each for the 10 high-priced games and $125 for the lower-priced games." For the other games on the schedule, "the price is $135." The "cheapest seat at the ballpark fluctuates by $3." In the "10 higher-priced games, tickets in the terrace deck and pavilion deck are $19; in the lower-priced games, the same seats go for $13." For the remaining games, "those tickets are $16" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/17).
NEW DYNAMIC: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes Cubs officials yesterday said that their "overall average ticket price will decrease by 2 percent in 2013, most of which stems from a 10 percent reduction in the average price of a bleacher ticket." Cubs VP/Ticket Sales & Service Colin Faulkner said that the prices were "decided upon after working with Natural Selection, a technology company based in San Diego that analyzed the primary and secondary markets." Many season-ticket holders will "see prices remain flat, or even see a slight increase." Most of the decreases are "in the terrace reserved outfield, the upper deck outfield boxes and the bleachers." Faulkner said that those seats "make up 30 percent of the capacity of Wrigley Field." He added that the Cubs will use "dynamic pricing in the entire ballpark ... after experimenting with the concept in the bleachers in 2012." Despite a '12 record of 61-101, the Cubs "don't expect a significant drop-off in season ticket sales" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/17).
The Yankees failed to sell out ALCS Games 1 and 2 and the team now "appears concerned that it will be unable to sell out next weekend, either, if the Yankees do make it to Games 6 and 7," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. While it is "unclear how many tickets are for sale, an online map of Yankee Stadium shows that seats are available in nearly every section of the first two decks." The lowest-priced seats in those sections are "in the far reaches of the upper deck and cost $113." More seats "appear available for a deciding Game 7 than for Game 6." The average online asking price for tickets for Games 6 and 7 "is now 20 percent below the online prices for the 2010 ALCS games in the Bronx" (NYTIMES.com, 10/16).
BRONX BUMMERS: SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote, "Here is the problem with being a Yankees fan: You're cheering for Goldman Sachs." The Yankees are either "obscenely rich and extremely successful, or extremely rich and not quite as successful as they planned, forcing them to hold a conference call with reporters in which they apologize for 'not meeting expectations,' and then they resume being obscenely rich and successful." With the Yankees, it is "a lot harder to fall in love." There is "no enjoying the journey. At times, there isn't a journey at all." Rosenberg: "I understand why people cheer for the Yankees. I just don't understand how anybody gets joy out of it anymore." The Yankees "could have gone in a hundred directions with the new Stadium." Instead, they "built the world's largest Automated Teller Machine: Every corner is designed to pull cash out of customers' wallets." The "final, distasteful touch was that enormous plaque for George Steinbrenner in Monument Park, as though Steinbrenner was a more important historical figure than Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio." This Yankees era "is more about bigness than greatness" (SI.com, 10/16).
Attendance at BC Place Stadium for the CFL Lions and MLS Whitecaps has “slipped ever since” the facility opened, according to Bruce Constantineau of the VANCOUVER SUN. There were "more than 50,000 rabid Lions fans" filling the new facility on opening day, while 21,000 Whitecaps supporters "packed the soccer-specific lower bowl one day later." The Lions are “averaging just under 29,000 fans a game this season and the Caps are attracting about 19,400." It is a “head scratcher as both clubs have played winning football at home this year.” Lions President & CEO Dennis Skulsky said that the Lions “remain a profitable business, despite the lacklustre attendance but stressed that could go 'either way' very easily." The Whitecaps “won’t reveal if they’re profitable but it’s difficult to picture them being in any kind of financial straits with such a strong corporate sponsorship base and attendance that still ranks in the top third of the league.” Constantineau noted "poor on-field performance last year and the end of the first-year MLS curiosity factor contributed to the team’s season-ticket base falling to 13,000 this year from more than 15,000 in 2011.” The team recently “offered season-ticket holders a 12-percent discount if they committed to 2013 season tickets by early October -- an offer that created the lowest season ticket prices in the club’s brief MLS history.” The Whitecaps will “try to attract more young people to games next season by introducing a new student season ticket for university and college students.” While Lions games “attract an average television audience of more than 800,000, Whitecaps games have attracted an average of 80,000 viewers on Sportsnet Pacific this year, up 38 per cent from last year.” TSN broadcasts “have maintained last year’s average of 149,000 viewers” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/13).