SBD/April 30, 2013/Franchises

Sabres President Defends Hike In Ticket Prices, Says It Is "A Necessity" Under New CBA

Black apologized to Sabres fans, acknowledging it wasn't the best timing
The Sabres have been "taken to task by fans for a 4 percent increase in season tickets -- which was announced in a letter most ticket holders received on Friday, mere hours before the team’s Fan Appreciation Night finale" against the Islanders, according to Mike Harrington of the BUFFALO NEWS. Sabres President Ted Black "defended the team’s decision as a necessity caused by the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement and said the team needed to continue to qualify for the NHL’s revenue sharing program." Black "did apologize to fans for the timing of the ticket hike." He said, "If the timing was insulting? Absolutely. ... The suggestion we timed it that way is completely untrue." He said, "We’re the smallest U.S.-based market in the NHL. Revenue sharing exists for a market just like Buffalo. ... The obligation to grow as a league as a whole still exists. It’s not a written obligation but that’s what we’re trying to do -- grow league revenues." Additionally, for the first time, Black "pointedly detailed the team’s management structure by insisting he is equal to" GM Darcy Regier and "not his boss" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/30). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote the Sabres organization is the "winner" of the "2013 Chutzpah Award." The scale of "audacity just doesn’t register any higher than it does in Buffalo, where after just a couple of seasons in which, by the way, the Sabres have failed to qualify for the playoffs, Terry Pegula has gone from the Peoples’ Owner to, well, the Owner of the People." The letter to Sabres season-ticket holders read in part, "As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players, all teams must produce revenue primarily through ticket sales in order to keep the stability of the league and its franchises strong." Brooks: "Is Buffalo ownership suggesting this CBA places the burden on Sabres’ season ticket-holders to keep the league stable?" (N.Y. POST, 4/28). In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes the notion that Pegula "needs the revenue-sharing to keep the franchise viable is a joke." Having the letters "show up in mailboxes on Fan Appreciation Night was a flat outrage" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/30).

NO PAIN, NO GAIN? In Buffalo, John Vogl notes the Sabres "insist they have a winning plan." Once again, "they will have Regier implement it," as Black yesterday confirmed he will "remain as general manager next season." Regier said, "The reality of it is if I didn't have the confidence that I in the general manager's position, along with the people I work with, could accomplish building a Stanley Cup winner, I wouldn't be here." Regier's definitive plan involves "rebuilding through the draft, which mirrors Black's recent comments." Regier said that the Sabres' "new vision for winning their first Cup came about as a collective effort." Pegula "helped form and endorse it." Regier's emphasis on the draft "comes after failed attempts to contend through free agency and trades" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/30). Regier yesterday said, "I’d like to think that people will give up some suffering in order to win the Stanley Cup. I’m willing to do it. I believe our fan base is willing to do it." The BUFFALO NEWS' Sullivan writes, "How reassuring it must be for fans to know that Regier is ready to suffer for the cause." The more critical fans "would suggest that they have suffered quite enough." Sullivan: "What do you call missing the playoffs four times in the last six years?" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/30). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote Pegula "thought he would make Buffalo an attractive destination for players, but all the losing has turned it into a place many avoid." Fans came back "after being told the Sabres would be better and watched them get worse." Gleason: "Will they come back next year and invest in a team going nowhere?" Gleason writes "apparently all that rhetoric about keeping people accountable doesn't apply to the general manager." And the Sabres "wonder why people around the league think the organization is a joke" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/27).
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