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SBD/March 20, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said the team is "close" to a resolution with the Orioles over the Sept. 5 scheduling conflict, but he noted there are a "lot of parties with Major League Baseball that have to come together and find out whether it's an obstacle that they can overcome." Speaking yesterday to NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano at the NFL owners meetings, Bisciotti said, "I think we still have a chance to get it worked out.” If the Ravens had to open the season on the road, Bisciotti said he would be “disappointed for the fans." But he said of not having the Thursday night celebration, "We have eight away games and eight home games, and if we're forced to do it, then we have to do it. Like I said, there are just so many parties involved that if it's insurmountable then I'll be disappointed, but we'll get over it” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 3/19). Any shift of the MLB schedule requires the approval of the league, the Orioles, the visiting White Sox and the MLBPA, with a variety of competitive and business issues at play. MLB thus far has not been keen on the change, but a source said the Orioles are still trying to accommodate their neighbor. Negotiations are ongoing between Ravens President Dick Cass and high-ranking Orioles officials. Further complicating the issue is shifting the White Sox-Orioles from the evening to the afternoon would run afoul of provisions in the MLB CBA preventing day games after a night game in a different city (Fisher & Kaplan, Staff Writers). MLB Senior VP/Club Relations & Scheduling Katy Feeney said, "From a baseball competitive standpoint, it would be very difficult to change times. We're talking about September" (NFL.com, 3/19).
LEAVE IT TO THE TEAMS: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said MLB and the NFL “shouldn’t be involved with this." Wilbon: "Two teams that share the same plot of land ought to have enough goodwill to work this out in their own.” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “If I’m the Orioles, the NFL has to give me something. Steve Bisciotti said he will accommodate them for lost revenues. I got to get a gift bag, I got to get something if I’m going to move out the way.” Wilbon: “Let the Ravens play on Sunday. This whole Thursday thing, let’s not act like it’s Thanksgiving Thursday. This is a tradition of three-and-a-half minutes” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/19). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck cites sources as saying that the Ravens "have offered to try and compensate the Orioles for the inconvenience, but that possibility may have been endangered" by comments from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens officials that "seemed to be aimed at putting the O’s on the defensive, even though this scheduling snafu is not of their making." If that was the "intent, it was brilliantly cynical and manipulative, considering the Orioles are just bouncing back from 14 years worth of bad publicity." The Orioles may yet "agree to some kind of accommodation, but they are under no obligation to do so when moving the game to the afternoon immediately after a travel night for both teams could have an effect -- however subtle -- on the ability to compete for a playoff berth" (Baltimore SUN, 3/20).
TOUGH TO MAKE THE MOVE: In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes she could see MLB "accommodating this request" if the Orioles-White Sox game was "in the midst of a homestand ... at the end of a homestand, or if it followed an off day." But it follows "night games on the road for both teams." Hamilton: "If the Thursday night opener were important, I’d feel differently. But we’re not talking about a postseason game. We’re talking about a faux-opening day." The NFL "cooked up this Thursday night spectacle featuring a pregame of middling rock stars and lots and lots of blather" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/20). In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd wrote, "I just hope it's not the O's who end up hurting themselves and caving in to the almighty NFL." Having the Orioles "play an earlier day game and the Ravens move back the start of their game that night would be a disaster." Cowherd: "It seems to me the NFL is going to have to accommodate the Orioles on this one" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/19). But in DC, Cindy Boren wrote, "If I were Goodell, I'd make another generous offer to compensate [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig, the Orioles and the White Sox for their trouble -- and it would be my final offer." If Selig "didn't accept it, I'd schedule that Sept. 5 home opener for the Ravens and let nature take its course" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/19). NBC Sports Network’s Michelle Beadle said, "You’ve got TV for both sides for the baseball side. You’ve got teams coming in, you can’t just switch it all willy nilly.” But Beadle later said, "My reaction is that obviously football should come first." NBC Sports Net's Dave Briggs: "The NFL will get their way" ("The Crossover," NBCSN, 3/19).
The Yankees yesterday won a temporary restraining order from a Bronx County Supreme Court judge prohibiting StubHub from opening its planned pickup location near Yankee Stadium. Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez approved the club's request to keep the spot, located at 68 E. 161st across the 161st-River Ave intersection from the ballpark, closed while the broader case is pending. A hearing is scheduled for Monday on a permanent injunction the Yankees seek as the case is on a fast track to be likely decided before Opening Day. The Yankees are arguing the opening of the StubHub location will render irreparable harm on the club's ticket sales operations. Yankees attorney Jonathan Schiller said, "We are grateful. The order will protect the Yankees and their ticket holders and fans from unlawful corporate scalping." The Yankees sued StubHub on Monday, claiming the StubHub location violates a New York state law prohibiting ticket resale within 1,500 feet of a venue with at least 5,000 permanent seats. StubHub countered the location, like its many others around the country, does not represent the resale of tickets but simply retrieval of prior orders. But the club successfully argued that ticket retrieval is a fundamental part of the sale itself, citing in part StubHub's own corporate policies that "a sale is not complete until the buyer receives the tickets." StubHub had intended to open the pickup location Friday. StubHub Head of Communications Glenn Lehrman said the company is "reviewing its legal options" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). StubHub lawyer Salvatore Romanello said, "We believe the (scalping) law does not apply to us -- we are a Web site." But Gonzalez called that a "stretch," noting "the physical location is not virtual" (N.Y. POST, 3/20).
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: In N.Y., Ken Belson notes the decision was the "latest move in a battle between the Yankees and StubHub." The Yankees and the Angels were the "only two teams to opt out of a leaguewide deal with StubHub this year." Instead, both teams are "working with StubHub’s rival, Ticketmaster." StubHub claims that the Yankees this year "conspired to have them thrown out of a hotel in Tampa, Fla., near Legends Field, the team’s spring training complex." StubHub said that it "rented space in the hotel so fans could pick up their tickets there." The Yankees did "not dispute that Stubhub was removed from the hotel, but said they were concerned about the privacy of their players" (NYTIMES.com, 3/20).
The Jaguars’ plan to “shop for less-than-established starters during the opening week of free agency” has Owner Shahid Khan’s approval, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Khan on Monday said, “One thing I’ve learned in life, you get to the fork in the road and have the easy way or the hard way. Most of the time, the hard way is the right way.” He added, “You look at the teams that are successful and (ask), ‘How did they get there?’ … A key lesson learned is you have to suck it up. Free agency is appropriate to fill some holes, but I think we proved last year that you can spend the fourth-highest (amount) and have the worst record in the league.” Meanwhile, Khan said the "best case" is for EverBank Field to have new scoreboards in August '14. He also has “seen designs of the new uniforms that are scheduled to be unveiled next month.” Khan said, “It’s sleek. It’s new age. It really represents the Jaguars.” He added the feedback from fellow owners about the Jaguars playing in London has been “incredible” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/19). Jaguars President Mark Lamping said season-ticket renewals are “tracking well” despite the team’s 2-14 record last season. Lamping said, "We're pleased with the renewals at this point.” But he “didn't provide specific figures” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 3/18). Khan said that Jags fans "were excited about the team going to England and he anticipated a decent number of hometown fans would make the trip across the ocean." CBSSPORTS.com's Pat Kirwan noted Khan also "felt British fans would be coming to Jacksonville to see the team play" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/19).
FITTING THE BILL: In Jacksonville, Matt Dixon reported northeast Florida officials “have begun the pitch to secure $2 million in sales tax exemptions for improvements to EverBank Field.” The bill “adds a provision to state law allowing current publicly owned stadiums to be eligible for a $2 million annual sales tax rebate over 30 years ‘in order to meet or exceed the league’s facility standard.’" The team “already has a similar $2 million annual exemption under a law that allows the use of incentive money to keep or retain teams that play at publically owned fields.” That exemption has “12 years left” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 3/18).
Indians fans can expect "an injection of new blood this season" from RF Nick Swisher, CF Michael Bourn and manager Terry Francona, but one thing they "can't expect: lots of bobblehead giveaways," according to Kate Kaye of AD AGE. The team in the past has "planned five to seven promotions featuring bobbleheads." But Indians VP/Marketing & Brand Management Alex King said that the '13 season "will bring just two." He said that the decision was driven by "marketing-mix modeling, a data-centric marketing approach that's still novel in the sports world." King: "What we found is, it's most incremental for us to have more giveaway nights and fewer giveaways per night." The Indians began "working with marketing-mix-modeling firm ThinkVine before last season." ThinkVine "mimics a market rather than employing actual consumer data." The company "built a marketplace of 5,000 simulated consumers living in the greater Cleveland area, some die-hards, [and] other infrequent visitors to Progressive Field." The team compiled "marketing and promotional information from the previous five years -- things like PR impressions, TV and radio ad buys, digital spending, promotion dates, and how all those efforts translated into daily sales for each game day" (AD AGE, 3/18 issue).
MLS has “certainly made it clear that whatever the Red Bulls are doing, it isn't enough to lock down New York,” as the league has “made an astonishing push to get a stadium built in Queens,” according to Howard Megdal of SPORTS ON EARTH. Megdal wrote, “Clearly, if MLS believed the Red Bulls could be that beloved New York team, they'd concentrate their efforts on, well, helping the Red Bulls, and expand to deserving cities like Orlando.” There is a “certain bargain fans of the Red Bulls have made with themselves in order to support the team: it's going to be hard to get there, and at season's end, the team is going to make you pay for believing, but much of what comes in between is transcendent.” The Red Bulls have “at least struck a deal” with Harrison, N.J., for their fans “to park in the enormous twin empty fields directly in front of Red Bull Arena.” But fans “have to get up pretty early in the morning to get those spots.” There also is “not an English language broadcast of the game, let alone a pregame show, postgame show, or terrestrial radio show that discusses the Red Bulls on either of the two 24-hour sports radio stations in New York.” In addition, the “Red Bulls, flush with money, seem to do very little advertising” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 3/19).
Buccaneers co-Chair Joel Glazer yesterday said that ownership "takes full responsibility" for the team's recent lack of success. Glazer added, "There's no question we have to take responsibility. Not being in the playoffs for five years, there's no question that is a contributing factor [to poor attendance]. So we have to get it right on the field and we're committed to doing that." Glazer: "We've got great fans in the area. The economy is still difficult. That hasn't changed over night. ... But it's incumbent upon us to put a team on the field this community can be proud of and they will respond. I have no doubt" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/20).
LIGHTNING STRIKES: Chargers President & Chair Dean Spanos yesterday said that hiring coach Mike McCoy and GM Tom Telesco, who both happen to be more than 20 years his junior, has "given him new vigor." He said, "Changes were made, and there [is] a new energy around the club right now, a new attitude. You can see it. It’s at a very high level right now. There is more enthusiasm than I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not like, ‘Oh well, back to work today.’ It’s enthusiasm.” In San Diego, Kevin Acee writes everything heard "from all corners of the building is how inclusive and positive and full of life the new Telesco-McCoy tandem is" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/20).
ROLE PLAYING: Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III yesterday said that Pro Football HOFer Jim Brown will "have a formal role" with the organization. Meanwhile, Haslam added that the team "won’t sign up" for HBO’s "Hard Knocks" after participating in a similar show on the Travel Channel this past season. He said, “I think it interferes with your basic football operations." Haslam also said that he "hopes to make enhancements to FirstEnergy Stadium by 2014, but nothing major will be done before then" (OHIO.com, 3/19). Haslam regarding his role in player evaluations said that he "won't go to private workouts or watch tape, because that doesn't fit his skill set" (CLEVELAND.com, 3/19). Haslam is profiled in this week's SportsBusiness Journal.
GO WEST: Redskins GM Bruce Allen yesterday said that newly-hired Senior Exec A.J. Smith will "serve the Redskins as a San Diego-based consultant." Smith's role with the team will "center on internal evaluations." His responsibilities "had not been publicized by the team." Allen and Smith's friendship "dates from the early 1980s when they worked together with the Chicago Blitz of the USFL" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 3/19).
FISH MARKET: Images of the Dolphins' purported new logo are floating around the Internet, and ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said he did not care for it because the new logo "doesn’t even look like a dolphin." Kornheiser: "It looks like a shark actually, and it has a certain meanness to it. The old Dolphins logo has everything you want in a friendly dolphin. It’s got a helmet, it’s jumping up out of the water, it’s jumping through a hoop. It’s doing things that actual dolphins do, and I love the old Dolphin logo.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon asked how the new logo is "any different from” the old logo. Kornheiser pointed out the new logo does not have a helmet like the old logo and said, "In an era of player safety, you need a helmet!” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/19).