SBD/October 26, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The NBA on Thursday approved Robert Pera's bid to buy the Grizzlies and "cleared the way for the 34-year-old" to become the second owner in franchise history, according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Pera still must "close the $350 million deal with current owner Michael Heisley." The Grizzlies in a statement said that the closing of the deal "is expected to take place shortly." The NBA's approval was viewed "as the most significant hurdle for Pera's bid." Pera is "not expected to speak publicly about the purchase until after the deal closes." Spurs Owner Peter Holt said that he met Pera for the first time Wednesday and "asked him why he wanted to get into the basketball business." Holt said that Pera "responded by saying it has always been a love of his." Holt said, "The reason I brought the question up was, he's going into a business that has its ups and downs, obviously, like all businesses. And I said if there isn't a real love in your heart, not just your head, for it, then it's just not going to be a lot of fun. Because it's a tough business, it's a tough business" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/26).
MYSTERY MAN: In Memphis, Ronald Tillery notes NBA Commissioner David Stern "will be in FedExForum on Nov. 5 for the Grizzlies' home opener against the Utah Jazz" where "presumably, he'll introduce Pera to Memphis." Players and coaches "reacted Thursday with cautious optimism." Pera "remains a mystery, except for his age (34) and primary business interest (Ubiquiti Networks)." The hope of "FedExForum employees responsible for Griz wins and losses is that their new boss doesn't see the need for major modifications" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/26).
STAYING PUT: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes, "You know the really wonderful thing about the moment? You don't hear a single thing about the team being moved." It is "not even part of the conversation." Calkins: "This, ladies and gentlemen, is something to celebrate" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/26).
MEETING POINT: The Grizzlies and FedExForum on Thursday announced a partnership with Charles Vergos' Rendezvous to be the official provider of Memphis barbecue for all FedExForum events. Rendezvous will have five locations throughout the arena and will have its grand opening Nov. 5 (THE DAILY).
The N.Y. TIMES’ Jeff Klein examined some issues facing the Islanders' move to Barclays Center and noted the team can “probably expect an attendance infusion.” Barclays Center likely will hold around 15,000 for hockey games, which would be the smallest capacity in the NHL. But the Islanders averaged just 13,191 at Nassau Coliseum last season, “29th in the 30-team league.” The Islanders also will “probably be able to increase their average ticket price.” Addressing why the team would move from one facility to another where it would still be a tenant, Klein wrote, “The short answer: $35 million in extra revenue per year. That goes a long way toward wiping out the club’s current operating deficit, estimated at $8 million per year.” Nassau Coliseum, built in '72 and “barely renovated since, has 31 luxury suites and a relatively small number of high-priced premium seats.” Spotlight TMS CEO & Co-Founder Tony Knopp, whose firm manages corporate-ticket sales at Barclays Center, estimated that the suites at the Coliseum “generate about $3 million a year and the premium seats about $16 million.” Barclays Center, which is "far more geographically convenient to corporate customers than the Coliseum, has 104 luxury suites.” Knopp estimated that those suites would “generate about $21 million for the Islanders, while premium seating would generate an additional $33 million.” Meanwhile, Islanders Owner Charles Wang indicated the team's name and colors will remain the same, but Klein wrote it will be hard for Wang "to ignore the marketing mother lode the Nets have mined in switching from New Jersey red, white and blue to Brooklyn black.” Online retailer Fanatics.com said that sales of Nets merchandise have “increased by 3,000 percent this month from the same period last year” (NYTIMES.com, 10/25).
SPACIOUS SETTING: Wang addressed the seating capacity of Barclays Center, saying that Islanders fans “will find room among the 15,000 or so seats that will be available.” Wang: “If you look at the Coliseum, we have about 16,200 seats in the arena. I wish I could say to you, 'Gee, we're sold out every night.' As you know, we're not.” He added, “Yes, we should be so lucky as to have a problem (in Brooklyn) of not having enough seats. When we say 14,500, we're talking about unobstructed seats. We have to work on it. At 15,000, it's really good, it's an intimate environment" (NEWSDAY, 10/26). But in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, “Here’s my problem with the Islanders moving to Brooklyn: It’s another example of a league attempting to use a venue (Barclays Center) as the main attraction in marketing a team, which never works, at least not for long.” Buffery: “Fancy, new arenas don’t stabilize franchises. There has to be a market for the sport” (TORONTO SUN, 10/26).
ALL GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: On Long Island, Neil Best wonders whether the Islanders might “prove more of a business threat” to the Rangers in Brooklyn. MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner said, “We'll see what happens. We look at it that the Islanders are still in the marketplace. If they go to Brooklyn, I think they'll continue that traditional rivalry. It's a great thing for us, the Islanders and the sport of hockey” (NEWSDAY, 10/26).
EPL club Arsenal Owner Stan Kroenke "defended his running of Arsenal in the face of heated opposition by fans at Thursday's AGM, where questions were raised about whether the club was being run more for profit than sporting gains," according to Amy Lawrence of the GUARDIAN. Kroenke, CEO Ivan Gazidis and Chair Peter Hill-Wood were "all heckled at the meeting as they justified Arsenal's financial strategy and long-term vision despite the failure to win silverware" since '05. It is the first time "since the American sports mogul began to invest in the club in 2007 that he has publicly given any indication of his priorities for Arsenal." Kroenke said, "I have never put debt on the club, I have never said in any meeting that money wasn't available." The meeting was "tetchy enough" for club manager Arsene Wenger to "call for unity." Questions from the floor included one about the "bonus paid to Gazidis." Gazidis predicted that in two years "prospects will look considerably different from Arsenal's perspective, with the effects of financial fair play and the upcoming commercial deals which will be renewed in 2014." He said, "The landscape of football is moving in our direction." But the message "was not received with overwhelming enthusiasm" (GUARDIAN, 10/26).
NOT SHOWING RESPECT? In London, Gary Jacob notes Wenger was "applauded, but not even he could employ enough charm to placate a number of disgruntled shareholders and protect his board, as he has done in the past." Kroenke looked "shell-shocked at being heckled over his failure to answer two questions." The "irritation and impatience" of Hill-Wood "erupted when he ended the meeting at Emirates Stadium by telling fans: 'Thank you for your interest in our affairs.'" It was "among a number of patronising and disrespectful comments from Hill-Wood that only served to antagonise fans" (LONDON TIMES, 10/26). ESPN.com's Miguel Delaney wrote the board "had to justify the direction of the club in the face of what was probably the most fractious atmosphere ever seen at the event" (ESPN.com, 10/25).
STAYING COMMITTED: In London, Jack Pitt-Brooke notes Kroenke "was still committed to winning trophies after an acrimonious annual general meeting at which he was confronted by supporters, accusing him of not meeting fan groups and criticising him for failing to rule out paying a dividend to investors" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/26).
THE NEW DEAL: In London, Matt Scott notes Arsenal's contract with Nike "expires in 2013-14 and Adidas’s interest is set to hugely improve" the $21M a year the club will earn from it. Arsenal fans buy "800,000 shirts every year, the third biggest number in Nike’s portfolio after Manchester United and Barcelona." It is "understood Adidas is hoping to renew an association with Arsenal that ended in the mid-1990s after taking the strategic decision to 'own' London." adidas is "also believed to be set to conclude a deal with Fulham" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/26).