SBD/February 15, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Red Sox' sellout streak at Fenway Park "will end this season, perhaps as early as the second game," according to Peter Abraham of the BOSTON GLOBE. Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino on Thursday said, "It's going to rest in peace, I think, sometime in April." Abraham notes the Red Sox have listed 793 consecutive games "as sellouts," a record for MLB. The team "defines a sellout based on the number of tickets distributed, although in recent years empty seats have been plentiful at the park and available for sale into the middle innings." Lucchino: "Historically, for all of baseball, the second game of the season has been the toughest game to sell tickets for. It could be as early as that." He added, "I suspect it will be sometime in the first or second week." The Red Sox host the Astros for four games starting April 25. If the streak "survives that long, that series could kill it." Lucchino said, "There may be a reduction in ticket revenue. I don't think that's going to affect us if we have a winning team." Abraham notes Lucchino "forcefully defended team executives, saying all revenue produced is funneled back into the team." Lucchino said, "We are concerned about generating revenue, make no mistake about that. We're not embarrassed or apologetic about that." Lucchino: "As far as a television market, we're 22nd in all of baseball as far as TV homes. But we overproduce and generate revenue beyond that television market size" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/15). In Providence, Tim Britton writes Lucchino is "ready for the streak to end largely because he’s sick of defending it against claims of 'chicanery.'" He pointed out that Boston has "sold better than 99 percent of its available tickets over the last 11 seasons." That number "may drop this year, though." Lucchino: "Ticket sales are more challenging this year than they’ve been since the very first year we were here" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 2/15).
NOT FOR SALE: ESPN BOSTON's Joe McDonald noted since last season, there has been "speculation the Red Sox, or at least part of the franchise, was for sale." Lucchino and Owner John Henry have "denied that claim." Lucchino said, "We tried to say to those who asked that it was a false rumor. We didn't know where it came from, but if it's repeated a couple of times, it tends to gain a little credence, perhaps, but it has never been a consideration. I've never been in a meeting where anyone discussed the idea of us selling this team" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 2/14).
FALSE ADVERTISING? Lucchino said, "We’re just scrappy underdogs trying to win for our franchise and for our fans.” In Boston, Steve Buckley writes most Red Sox fans "understand the Sox are trying to field a representative team this season while holding onto and nurturing a promising collection of minor leaguers they hope will emerge as big stars." Now that Lucchino is branding the '13 Red Sox "as 'scrappy,' it’s as though expectations for this season are being tempered." Buckley: "And let’s face it, the whole 'scrappy underdog' thing hasn’t been what the Red Sox are selling on television, what with those non-stop, return-to-glory, '162 Chances to Restore the Faith' ads." The Red Sox "shouldn’t be selling 'scrappy' when such teams as the Houston Astros are handing out uniforms to starry-eyed kids" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/15).
NBA Commissioner David Stern “expects a concrete financing plan from Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson within the next two weeks, with the aim of settling the Kings' future by mid-April,” according to Brian Mahoney of the AP. Stern said that Johnson “will attend an April 17-18 owners meeting in New York to deliver his proposal, but the league expects to have heard it by then.” Stern also said that he “doesn't currently see ‘a push for expansion’ among owners, knocking down the idea that both” Seattle and Sacramento could end up with teams. Stern said his “statement about expansion is talk to” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver next year. Silver, who will succeed Stern when he retires next year, was “standing behind” Stern. Stern said, "I don't have any plans to champion expansion between now and Feb. 1, 2014. That's up to the ownership and the commissioner" (AP, 2/14). NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper cited sources on Thursday as saying that the NBA “does not expect legal challenges, whether from minority owners of the Kings or groups in Seattle, to be a serious impediment to a potential move.” Johnson has been in “constant contact with top NBA officials,” and he is “expected in town as part of lobbying efforts for the daunting task of convincing owners to vote down the sale of the Kings to a Seattle-based group.” Sources said that current legal action, along with “lawsuits in Seattle trying to stop construction of the proposed arena, could be an afterthought by summer.” It is not clear whether NBA leadership, with “several lawyers among the ranks, thinks the legal action has no merit or whether the concerns will be addressed in other ways” (NBA.com, 2/14).
SACRAMENTO PLAN A: Stern said that he has “no plans to meet with Johnson in Houston this weekend.” In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis notes Johnson and the Sacramento City Council are “scheduled to vote Tuesday on a symbolic resolution expressing support for the mayor's cause.” The resolution “touches on the city's quest to build a new arena” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/15). Johnson on Tuesday said that he “is ‘very close’ to announcing the big-money investors who will help the city make a bid to keep the Kings.” He said that the city “will present that proposal by March 1” (SEATTLETIMES.com, 2/12). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes Johnson is “in need of a powerful performance” at the All-Star Game. Voisin: "Arm-twisting. Coaxing. Convincing. Pleading. Crossover moves and maybe a three from the corner. Backrooms and hotel suites and lobbies. Anything and everything and everywhere.” Johnson had “hoped to present the league's owners with a compelling offer for majority interest in the Kings,” but as this weekend approaches, the “major equity partners have not been identified and no agreement has been reached.” This weekend is “another chance for Johnson to chat up old friends and display his considerable leadership skills” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/15).
Redskins GM Bruce Allen on Thursday said that the team is "not considering a change" to its nickname in light of renewed calls to change it by critics who claim it is racially offensive, according to Rich Campbell of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Allen "cited the team's history and benign intent in defending its nickname" against the claims. He said, "There’s nothing that we feel that is offensive, and we’re proud of our history." Several Native American groups, including the National Congress of American Indians, recently "intensified their public criticism of the nickname" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/15). In DC, Mike Jones noted speakers at a recent forum at the National Museum of the American Indian "condemned the name and demanded it be changed." City Mayor Vincent Gray also has "raised the issue and three Washington Post columnists criticized the name in recent weeks." The Redskins on their website this week "referred to a number of high schools that use 'Redskins' as their team name and interviewed one school official about the name" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/14).
DELICATE SITUATION: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said if a survey of DC residents was taken, 75% would say the name Redskins “is offensive." Wilbon: "If you polled the same people and said, ‘How many of you want to change the nickname,’ 95% would have said, ‘We don’t want to change the name.’” Wilbon wondered who would "apply the pressure” to change the name, as Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder “doesn’t want to do this.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser called the nickname "indefensible" and said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell eventually “will go to Dan Snyder and they’ll sit down in a room and he’ll say, ‘Let us help you out. We want you to change this name. You can keep the feathers, you can keep all of it, you’ve got to change the name because it’s fair and right.’” Wilbon noted pressure for a name change can come from social media, but said, “You’re talking about national thought versus local thought, and I don’t know when it comes to an NFL team that national thought can bring enough pressure if that team is insulated by local thought” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/14). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote under the header, "Time To Retire The Redskins Name." Smits: "Maybe President Barack Obama could follow [former U.S. Senator Robert] Kennedy's lead and say publicly that a team in our nation's capital shouldn't have a clearly racist nickname. If they spoke out, perhaps owner Dan Snyder would realize the times have long since changed" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 2/14).
NAME'S GOTTA GO: CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Freeman wrote now would be the "perfect time for the Washington Redskins to dump the ugly, stereotypical nickname that embarrasses them, their city and their league." The team instead is "doubling down on the nickname, publishing several remarkably tone-deaf pieces of propaganda on its website." It "doesn't seem to matter to Washington officials that the most recent poll increasingly shows mass hatred of the name by American Indians." Freeman: "We've become so complacent with this ugly, racial name that it has almost become comfortable, like old leather" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/13). In DC, Sally Jenkins noted the team recently "launched a campaign to defuse the pressure Snyder is under to change the team name by declaring that '70 different high schools in 25 states are known as the Redskins,' and therefore it’s surely an honorable word." Jenkins: "But I’m willing to hazard that most 10th graders don’t realize a team calling itself Redskins might as well rename itself the Darkies, Guidos, or Slant Eyes." It is Snyder's "favorite ploy to summon 'history' and 'heritage' to defend his use of a term that belongs in the same class as Dagos, Hymies and Krauts." Jankins wrote Snyder "doesn’t care to do anything about the name because he doesn’t consider American Indians a significant part of his audience" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/13). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "How is it possible that this is still a name in sports? I feel we’re going to look back 25 years from now when there are no more ‘Redskins’ … and say, ‘What the hell were we doing naming a team the Redskins!?’” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 2/14).
FINALLY BREAKING GROUND: In Richmond, Robert Zullo reports the Redskins on Thursday were "celebrating a belated groundbreaking ... for the new Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center now under construction on 17 acres of state property." Though the city's Planning Commission will review the final site plans Tuesday, work "started last month, since the facility must be ready by the end of June." Allen said that the team's management is "excited about the potential to interact with children and the community at large via the camp’s proximity to the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 2/15).
CAP & GONE: Allen said that the Redskins "continue to consider ways to fight the penalty that reduces their 2013 salary cap by $18 million." However, Allen "would not specify what actions the team is considering." The WASHINGTON TIMES' Campbell noted the NFL "penalized the Redskins $36 million in salary cap space last March 12, the day before the 2012 league year began" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 2/14).
The Blackhawks are the only NHL team yet to register a loss in regulation this season -- they are 10-0-3 entering Friday's game against the Sharks -- and with the club's '10 Stanley Cup championship not too far removed, the city of Chicago has "fallen head over heels" for the team, according to Ben Strauss of the N.Y. TIMES. The team has sold out 193 consecutive games, and their "season-ticket-holder waiting list, which is near 11,000, grew by about 250 during the lockout.” Comcast SportsNet Chicago has seen its five highest-rated Blackhawks broadcasts "all come this year." Blackhawks TV announcer Pat Foley, referencing the team’s logo, said, “I see more Indian heads than I’ve ever seen around town, and I grew up here in the ’60s with Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull. It’s been that way for a few years now, and, of course, the winning stokes excitement” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/15). In Chicago, Danny Ecker cited data from SeatGeek and noted tickets for remaining Blackhawks' home games on the secondary market are priced about 13% higher than last year's average resale price and "almost identical to the increase in price when buying directly" from the club. While the Blackhawks “don’t want to ‘price out’ the average fan," the sellout streak and "four straight years of leading the league in attendance represent some pretty staunch demand.” CSN Chicago is averaging a 5.05 local rating to date, “well above" the 3.11 that the club finished with last season" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 2/14).
The Royals have new billboards on Interstate-35 South in K.C. showing recently acquired P James Shield on one and C Salvador Perez on the other, and the "dynamic between the dueling billboards flanking the freeway is catching a lot of eyeballs," according to Kevin Collison of the K.C. STAR. One billboard show Shields "in full release" as he throws the pitch, and the other has Perez "gloving a fastball that's ripping through the sign." The corner of the billboard with Perez "not only has the fabric removed, but the surface beneath it down to the frame." The "sharp interplay comes from the creative minds at Walz Tetrick Advertising" in Mission, Kan. This is the agency's "first year with the Royals' account, and the billboards are part of their new 'Come to Play' campaign for the team." Royals VP/Community Affairs & Publicity Toby Cook said, "We've never received this type of fan reaction from a billboard. ... We could have done a trail of flame or smoke or something similar. But we thought if we could take it to the next level we should actually mess up the vinyl, and then the next thing was take off the vinyl and show the structure behind it." Collison: "It works so well that many drivers believe the wind has damaged the sign. That is, before they catch on to the fastball’s power." Cook added, "We’ve gotten dozens and dozens of Tweets and Facebook posts. I’ve gotten calls saying, 'That’s a great sign on the billboard, but did you notice it was damaged?' It’s got people talking about baseball” (K.C. STAR, 2/15).