SBD/October 4, 2013/Franchises

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  • Orioles Ride Renewed Star Power To Bumps In Attendance, Ratings, Merch Sales

    Orioles attendance rose by about 255,000 fans over last year

    While the Orioles missed the postseason this year, the franchise's brand "appears stronger than it's been for at least a decade," according to Childs Walker of the Baltimore SUN. The team's total home attendance of 2,357,551 this season is its largest since '05 and the increase of about 255,000 fans over last year is the "fourth-largest" in MLB. The Orioles' 12% attendance jump from '12 to '13 "couldn't match" their 16% from '11 to '12, but they "did not get the kind of September bump they did the previous season, when every game mattered to the team's playoff chances." They also had to "get by with fewer special-attraction dates, such as the six sculpture unveilings that drew large crowds" in '12. Orioles VP/Communications & Marketing Greg Bader said that the team was "particularly pleased to see their season-ticket base increase for the first time in several years," and added that the club "expects similar growth this offseason." Walker noted ratings for Orioles games on MASN increased about 50% from '12, the "second-biggest jump in baseball." MASN Senior VP & General Sales Manager John McGuinness said that advertising interest was "such that the network was often low on inventory for retailers seeking commercial space during games." Walker wrote improved merchandise sales were "another sign of the club's greater popularity." One "big difference from previous years was the club's star power." The list of the 20 best-selling MLB player jerseys "was devoid of Orioles" from '10-12. But 3B Manny Machado ranked 5th and 1B Chris Davis 16th on a recently released list which "ranked sales since the All-Star break" (Baltimore SUN, 10/3).

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  • Talk Of The 'Town: NHL Rangers Debuting New Lighthearted Marketing Campaign

    “Welcome to Rangerstown,” the NHL Rangers’ new marketing campaign, strives to connect the NHL club to die-hard and young fans in a lighthearted way. “We wanted to take a fresh look by having fans as part of the action and by showing off the personalities of our players,” said MSG Sports President Dave Howard. “Sales are strong, so this is much more of a brand campaign with a focus on growing the fan base.” The campaign is a collaboration between the Rangers’ marketing department and N.Y.-based agency NSG/SWAT. In the script of one television spot planned for production, Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist takes up residence in a family’s home. The well-dressed Lundqvist gives fashion tips to the husband and saves the wife from a kitchen mess by “saving” a falling coffee pot. Says the wife, “He’s the most special man in our lives.” The spots will run regularly on MSG Network and on cable networks in the N.Y. market. Digital buys include ESPN.com, NBCSports.com, NYPost.com and WSJ.com. Print ads will be featured in Newsday, which is owned by Rangers parent company Cablevision. The campaign will be weaved into the Rangers’ game presentation, with informal and fun profiles of the team’s players shown on the arena scoreboard.

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  • WNBA Sky Still Operating In The Red Despite Delle Donne Leading Team To Playoffs

    About 90% of the Sky’s games were broadcast on local cable this season

    The WNBA Sky are “still in the red” after eight years in the league, according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNW. The Sky's seven-year playoffs drought prior to this season “clearly did not help," but that’s not the part “that has confounded” team Owner Michael Alter. He said, “I was less concerned about how that would all come to pass than on the business side. That’s definitely harder than I thought.” Isaacson wrote it is corporate Chicago that “has let the Sky down.” Alter: "Most of the men's sports dollars are corporate dollars. Sky boxes, season tickets -- they spend tons of money. And I thought to get them to spend a small fraction of that on us was a no-brainer, boom, it's done -- and that hasn't happened, and it has been an enormous learning process for me." Though Chicago is a big market, it is “an expensive one in which to advertise and Sky simply don't have the budget to compete.” Alter said that Chicago "doesn’t have the women’s sports culture or history of places like Connecticut and Seattle.” But he added that local media “have been coming along” and that attendance is up 20%. Also, about 90% of the Sky’s games “were broadcast on local cable affiliate WCIU, with ratings higher than” those of the MLS Fire and “comparable (in early June) to those of the Cubs and White Sox.” Alter said that the relationship between the Sky and the Bulls “is a strong one, including Bulls Night at a Sky game” for the first time in ’13, but it “would have been a huge help early on” to have them as partners. Alter also said that although “the Sky’s quick playoff elimination was ‘pretty devastating,’” he is hopeful that decisions by F Elena Delle Donne and GM & Coach Pokey Chatman to stay in Chicago “will help raise the team’s profile” (ESPNW.com, 10/2).

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  • Franchise Notes

    In Dallas, Evan Grant reported the MLB Rangers are "expected to see total payroll reduced slightly" next season. President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels on Thursday said he expected the '14 payroll to be in a “similar range, but a little below,” the '13 figure. The Rangers spent approximately $125.3M on payroll in '13, "eclipsing the previous high total" of $120M in '12. However, the Rangers "experienced a drop in attendance" in '13 of about 300,000 fans, or nearly 9% over their "record paid attendance of 3.46 million" in '12 (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/3).

    TASTE OF THE ROCKIES: In Denver, Troy Renck notes Rockies Owner Dick Monfort "following a second-consecutive last place finish" in the NL West, "promised not to raise season ticket prices in 2014 in a letter to season-ticket holders on Thursday." He also "vowed to bring a championship team to Denver." Monfort wrote, "We will not rest until we do it. ... Our organization is committed to doing everything in our power to bring you, the greatest fans in the world, a championship" (DENVER POST, 10/4).

    WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE: In Minneapolis, John Vomhof noted the Wild have "posted especially strong results on the sponsorship front" heading into the new season. New sponsors for '13-14 include Campbell's Soup, Arby's and several other companies that "will be announced within the next couple of weeks." Jack Link's Beef Jerkey also "signed a multiyear sponsorship agreement with the club, returning for the first time" since the '07-08 season. Wild COO Matt Majka said, "We are already ahead of any recent year and I am cautiously optimistic that we are headed toward our best year ever on the sponsorship front" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/3).

    BOMBS AWAY: In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless noted Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger "is prepared to overhaul the governance structure" of the CFL Blue Bombers if the team "can't meet its financial obligations to the province." While the province has "no say in how the Blue Bombers are run, the loan agreement that financed the team's new stadium gives Selinger options if the team defaults." Sources said that Selinger is "interested in a new operational model that would not only allow for greater transparency, but also the opportunity for fans to elect" its BOD. Selinger has "already told Bombers CEO Wade Miller and a select group of the club's board of directors they must live up to their loan obligation" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 10/3).

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