SBD/October 29, 2012/Franchises

Local Ownership Key To Grizzlies' Success Under Pera's Ownership

Season tickets in FedExForum's lower level range from $2,500 to more than $6,000
Memphis residents are “poised to have a greater influence” with incoming Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera owning the team than they did under current Owner Michael Heisley, where “relationships were fractured and the locals wound up owning less than 2 percent of the club,” according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Pera's local ownership group “will have a clean slate,” and will "spread good news about the team.” Not only “might that lead to more butts in the seats, it could be the catalyst of influence in the business community that leads to more premium seats and more sponsorships.” Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane has been “briefed on the NBA's new revenue sharing formula, which asks teams who wish to tap into the revenue to meet certain requirements.” Kane said that the team's “best path is to sell out the lower of the three levels at FedExForum, where season tickets range from about $2,500 per seat to more than $6,000 per seat” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/28).

BETTER DAYS AHEAD? In Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote the local owners who agreed to buy part of the team under Heisley “didn't like him or trust him.” Calkins: “This is how the great experiment began. The relationship didn't get better over the decade that was to follow. It got much, much worse.” This is the “other reason to be cautiously optimistic about Heisley's sale of the Grizzlies” to Pera. It gives the franchise a “chance at a fresh start.” Grizzlies investor Staley Cates said, "We can finally finish what we started. This is going to be good." Calkins wrote Pera “may not have Heisley's deep pockets, or his willingness to lose cash in the short run.” That would “seem to be the biggest risk of Pera's ownership.” If he has the "wallet and the will to win," the rest "should be easy.” You will “notice it by the array of Memphians at the opening press conference.” Sometimes, it “feels like the entire city of Memphis has bought a piece of the team” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/28). A Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial states, “The inevitable day that Heisley sold the team could have been fraught with worry for Memphis.” But the “inevitable day has come, and the team is secure, thanks to Pera.” He may be a “mystery, but from the company he keeps to the commitments he makes, the early signs are positive.” Now, it is “time to hear from the man himself.” The editorial: “What is his vision -- not just for a team on a court but a franchise in a community? Will he clean house? Is he hands-on? Will he be something of a Memphian, or an absentee owner? Will he spend to win?” There is “much for Pera to say … once the deal closes and the team is his.” The editorial: “But as we wonder, we see no reason to worry. The team is secure in Memphis for years to come, and that's what matters most” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/29).
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Franchises, NBA, Memphis Grizzlies

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