SBD/August 1, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
While the sale price of the MLS Crew was not disclosed, Forbes reported Precourt Sports Ventures acquired the franchise for $68M, the "highest fee paid for an existing" MLS franchise, according to Adam Jardy of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Reps for both Hunt Sports Group and PSV declined to comment on the figure. PSV Managing Partner Anthony Precourt will "return to Columbus on Wednesday and start evaluating the organization." He inherits a team "facing long odds to climb back into the playoff picture and facing concerns about the state of its stadium, training facility and financial goals." Precourt also will "start the process of building a legacy at a facility where the first owner, the late Lamar Hunt, is memorialized with a statue outside Crew Stadium." Former MLSer William Hesmer, who played with the Crew from '07-12, said that the change in ownership "could reverse the team’s on-field trend." Hesmer: "The Crew, unfortunately since 2008, hasn’t placed a lot of emphasis on winning. They haven’t done all the little things that other teams have done to really, truly say that we want to win no matter what. Whether that’s a training facility or flight schedules or meals or spending money on players or scouting or whatever it is, they haven’t kept pace in that regard, and I think that frustrates fans. If you really want to grow a fan base ... they don’t want to be involved with somebody who is settling with mediocre" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/1).
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL: ESPN's Alexi Lalas, during a discussion with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, said Chivas USA, "on and off the field, is certainly having problems." Lalas: "Do you think it needs fixing and if so, how are you going to help fix it?" Garber responded, "This was an idea to create a Hispanic brand, connect it to Guadalajara and that idea hasn't worked. So we've got to find ways to work with (Chivas USA Owner) Jorge Vergara ... and figure out a solution because Major League Soccer is going on all cylinders throughout the league. We're proud of all the great success that we've had and we deserve to have a successful team, as our fans do, in Los Angeles." Meanwhile, Garber said of the discrimination lawsuit filed against Chivas USA by two former coaches, "This is a club that's got employees representing 15 countries." He continued, "We've spoken to the club. We're going to monitor what happens and I can assure you ... if we find out that anything happened that was inappropriate, the league will act in ways that will ensure that the right thing happens. But let's let the facts play themselves out." Garber: "We have zero-tolerance for anything that can be determined or be thought of as discrimination" ("MLS All-Star Game," ESPN2, 7/31).
Renaissance Sports & Entertainment officials insist that the group's bid to purchase the Coyotes "is still on track and will happen before Monday’s deadline," according to Mike Sunnucks of the PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources earlier this week said that the group "was still finalizing financing and other parts of the deal." The sources added that "some financing may have not been totally lined up, or needed to be replaced." That remark "solicited a strong denial" from RSE exec Daryl Jones. Others sources "also insist the sale is on track toward completion" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/31). Meanwhile, in Portland, Kerry Eggers notes the Trail Blazers this summer, "after years of turning their backs to the NHL ... got involved with negotiations for a potential move" of the Coyotes to Portland. Blazers Owner Paul Allen reportedly "was prepared to offer" $200M for the Coyotes. While another group was interested in moving the team to Seattle, the lack of an NHL-quality arena there "might have persuaded the league to pick Portland first had the Coyotes relocated." Both Portland and Seattle "are on the NHL’s short list." Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan said Allen “never made an offer” for the Coyotes. But he added that an "extensive market analysis convinced Allen the NHL in Portland would be a positive move." McGowan: "I never got the sense that Paul wasn’t interested in the NHL. ... Our analysis led us to believe that potentially a team could work here. We were in the mix when it related to Portland as a potential option, but it didnt work out, so it becomes moot" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 8/1).
EXPANSION NOW AN OPTION? Seattle-based KJR-FM host Mitch Levy wrote, "I'm hearing that the NHL Commish is encouraging the board of governors to make an expansion team available to Seattle" (TWITTER.com, 7/30). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits noted Levy "went on to say" that a franchise would cost $275M to acquire and "if that became a reality, it would begin operations" in '14-15. But that would "all be based on an ownership group coming forward and the plans for a new arena continuing down the path of becoming reality." KeyArena "likely would serve as the home of a team until an arena came to be" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/31).
The Yankees are considering whether to take over retail space at 68 E. 161st in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, a site previously held by StubHub. The club in March sued StubHub over the company's plans to open a ticket pickup location at the site, and subsequently reached a settlement that saw StubHub open a new service center at 651 River Ave., about a half mile from the ballpark. In recently filed court documents certifying the formal completion of the settlement agreement, StubHub attorney Eric Hochstadt said the parties "are engaged in discussions about the possibility" of the Yankees taking over the location, "contingent on landlord approval." Club attorneys declined to comment, but industry sources said the Yankees are more evaluating their options as opposed to firmly trying to get into the space (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
EXIT SANDMAN: The Yankees yesterday announced that the team will honor retiring P Mariano Rivera on September 22 at Yankee Stadium, but in N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes the team "revealed no details about the ceremony." The event will take place "before the fourth-to-last home game" of Rivera's career, as the Yankees' final regular-season home game is Sept. 26 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/1).
Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan's "imprint is all over" the franchise this offseason, as he has "trimmed the business staff, but says he has put more emphasis on areas of 'need,'" according to Kerry Eggers of the PORTLAND TRIBUNE. McGowan said his split from AEG last October "was about having the ability to have more influence on how we’re going to run the building. We need to market in a collaborative and collective manner as opposed to separate staffs.” Eggers notes the Blazers have hired a "new catering service and will make renovations and updates in the club seating and suite areas, though most of those changes won’t be in place" until the '14-15 season. The team last season sold "between 11,000 and 12,000 season tickets" in the 20,500-seat Rose Garden. McGowan said that the club is "on pace to better that next season." He added, "We want to be at about 12,500. I’m encouraged by where we’re at on ticket sales.” He envisions "capping season ticket sales at about 16,500 in the future." The Blazers last season "sold 29 of their 66 luxury suites on a full-season basis," and there are already "commitments for 38 next season." McGowan said that the Blazers are "on pace for increased sponsorship dollars, too, in part because of what he calls a 'unique' partnership between the club and area businesses." Another major project for McGowan in recent months has been "seeking a naming rights sponsor for the Rose Garden -- which, incidentally, is unlikely to carry the 'Rose Garden' moniker when a deal is reached." The Blazers are in "serious negotiations with at least one business with local ties" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 8/1).
The White Sox enter today's game against the Indians with MLB's second-worst record, and the team has "bottomed out on the field and at the gate," according to Jon Greenberg of ESPN CHICAGO. The White Sox "have to get people interested in the team again, interested enough to actually buy tickets in advance. To watch games. To care." The "belief that this team can't rebuild for fear of losing the fan base has been disproven, as the team they have now has already lost the fan base." Even after "dramatically lowering season ticket prices the past two seasons, attendance is terrible," as the team's 23,121 fans per game ranks 24th in the league. Through 50 games last year, the "competitive Sox were averaging 23,980." MLB attendance is "dependent on offseason sales and season-ticket plans." White Sox fans "jumped ship in the last few years" of the tenure of former manager Ozzie Guillen, and "season-ticket, and mini-plan, sales suffered." OF prospect Avisail Garcia, who came to the White Sox as part of trade that sent P Jake Peavy to the Red Sox, is the "kind of player they need to keep adding to get back fans and transform the team" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 7/31).
IT'S A START: In Chicago, Daryl Van Schouwen writes the "best way to fix a franchise in need of a facelift from the ground up is to manage resources wisely." White Sox GM Rick Hahn "already has struck gold" by inking P Chris Sale to a $32.5M contract during Spring Training, and trading Peavy prior to yesterday's trade deadline to relieve the team of the approximately $20M left on his contract. Hahn is a "trustworthy steward of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s riches." This is "not to say Hahn is a penny-pinching accountant whose top priority is the bottom line" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/1).
In Houston, Randy Harvey writes the Astros' rebuilding plan "must enter phase two" after yesterday's trades of P Bud Norris, CF Justin Maxwell and P Jose Veras. Phase one of "trading veterans for prospects is finished." The team's active payroll is about $13M, with Ps Eric Bedard and Wesley Wright the only players making "much more than" the MLB minimum $490,000. While the team is not seeing wins on the field, "they seem to be happening elsewhere." Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has earned "high praise for his performances since arriving in Houston in the last two drafts, in offseason transactions and at the trading deadline" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/1).
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? In Philadelphia, Ryan Lawrence writes much like Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. "standing pat on deadline day, the present-day Phillies are a team stuck in neutral." They are attempting to "succeed with an eye on the future, but one on the past, too." Amaro said, "We talked about a couple of (trades) late. I guess the bottom line was we didn't find anything that was satisfactory. Nothing we thought was going to improve us." But Lawrence writes just because the Phillies "were inactive yesterday does not mean they won't look to be active this month" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/1).
HARDLY BUMMIN' IT: In L.A., Helene Elliott writes Dodger Stadium has been "alive the last few weeks, a magnet for entertainment and athletic stars," and team investor Magic Johnson "hopes that will last" (L.A. TIMES, 8/1). Also in L.A., Chris Erskine writes the Dodgers' new Dugout Club "isn't everybody's cup of high-priced tea," but should fans get the chance, "you might consider going." The 880-seat section behind home plate "ranks right up there with the elite options across the nation." Parking and food are "included in the price of the tickets, which range from $400 to $800." Fans in the club sometimes are "seated so low you lose fly balls against the backdrop of the crowd" (L.A. TIMES, 8/1).