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SBD/October 11, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Dodgers begin play against the Cardinals in the NLCS Friday night, and the team has replaced the Yankees as MLB’s most “dominant financial power” since Guggenheim Partners bought the team for $2.15B in ’12, according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Restraint is “hailed as a virtue” in MLB more than ever, but at “every turn, where others see risk, the Dodgers see opportunity -- and pounce on it with fervor.” They have "benefited from the very pattern they have defied." It was the "failed spending spree in Miami" that in part compelled the Marlins to trade SS Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers in July '12, and it was a "losing, bloated roster in Boston last summer that prompted the Red Sox to unload" more than $270M in salary commitments in a deal that sent 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford and two other players to L.A. If the Dodgers "took a risk in acquiring these players, it was a risk they could afford," because in '14, they will "begin a 25-year local television deal with Time Warner Cable" valued at up to $8.5B. It is the "expected revenue from that deal that puts the Dodgers in a different stratosphere than their opponents." The TV-fueled spending is "reminiscent of how the Yankees more than doubled their payroll" between '00-05 amid the creation of YES Network (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/11). However, in N.Y., Tyler Kepner reports despite sporting a $216M payroll this season, the Dodgers do not expect to keep a payroll exceeding $200M "in perpetuity." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said, "Very soon we will gravitate to a number that is below that, not because we’re aiming for a number but because, organically, we will morph into more of a homegrown team. And as mature contracts get offloaded, they’re going to be replaced, finally, with the farm system that’s producing replacements" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).
A TALE OF TWO WORLDS: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes the NLCS will feature a "clash of baseball worldviews and a collision of regional cultures." The Cardinals have "always hugged Midwest virtues while the Dodgers loved movie stars in the box seats and star power on the field." But this year, both teams are "such extreme versions of their traditional selves it’s just delicious." The Cards are "drilled in fundamentals and are often greater than the sum of their parts," so they "don’t need superstars." But the Dodgers "have more stars than Orion." Dodgers CF Matt Kemp is out for the season, but "you hardly notice since Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game." Meanwhile, former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke "backs him up and five other Dodgers are playing under contracts" with an average value of over $100M (WASHINGTON POST, 10/11).
NECESSARY BREAK-UP: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted Johnson is not returning to ESPN's "NBA Countdown" studio show and writes it "should already have been clear to Magic there was no way he could continue as a basketball commentator while keeping up with all his other professional and personal interests, while adding his role as part-owner of the Dodgers." Johnson was "supposed to be the face of the Dodgers’ new ownership and promised to be at Dodger Stadium every day at 8 a.m. ready to work." He was "supposed to be all in on his grand adventure in owning the Dodgers," so clearing his schedule of a "time-consuming and unnecessary role with ESPN releases him to now give that enterprise more of his attention" (L.A. TIMES, 10/11).
The NHL Panthers on Friday night play their first home game under the ownership of Vincent Viola, and the Viola family intends to "shape the Panthers in the mold of the old-style family-run teams," according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, who wrote under the header, "Violas Bring Family, Swagger To Panthers." John Viola, Vincent's oldest of three sons, said that his family "will put their stamp on the Panthers, indicative of their Italian-American heritage." He said of the BB&T Center, "You'll be in our house, and it will be your house." Davis noted Vincent Viola's message to fans is that "turning around a long-struggling franchise will be a process, one that he is committed to." Viola during Friday's game will be sitting with Panthers Vice Chair & Partner Douglas Cifu "near the red line a few rows up from the glass." Cifu said, "There is not going to be an owners suite. We are fans first, Vinnie and me. We took the best seats that were still left. And we paid for them, I want you to know" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/10). Davis notes the Panthers Friday will unveil a new $4.2M scoreboard that is "cutting edge with one of the first pitched-forward, 360-degree continuous primary screens in professional sports." It features "state-of-the-art 6mm LED high-definition screens, 16 feet high and extending almost 168 feet around." Panasonic and Lighthouse Technologies built the board. A "sellout is expected for the 15th home opener at the BB&T Center." Panthers President & CEO Michael Yormark said that season-ticket sales "are up from the lockout-shortened season total of the 'low 8,000s.'" He added, "I anticipate us being at between 9,500 and 10,000 full-season ticket equivalents this year." Yormark said that the ownership change "also spurred a flurry of ticket-buying in the past couple of weeks" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/11).
WHERE'S CAT BALLOU? In Miami, George Richards notes the Panthers drop the puck on their 20th home opener "one day shy of the 20th anniversary of the first game at Miami Arena." Although the team said that it would "play Friday’s game in 1993-style jerseys, that won’t happen because of league marketing rules." Instead, "youngsters will wear jerseys representing the Panthers’ lineup from that first night in Miami during introductions" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/11).
SOMETHING ON THE LINE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Panthers and the Lightning on Thursday jointly announced the creation of the Governor's Cup, an annual competition between the two franchises. The winner of the season series will be awarded the Cup following the final matchup of the year, and each team will make a donation to the other team's youth hockey initiatives. The Cup will be supported by a multimedia marketing campaign including an official logo. The Lightning on Thursday beat the Panthers 7-2 at Tampa Bay Times Forum in the first of the teams' four matchups this season (THE DAILY).
The Stars are seeing a "renewed vigour" in their business operations, and team officials are "reaching for a renaissance," according to David Ebner of the GLOBE & MAIL. Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi said, "I like where we sit. The business of the Dallas Stars dug quite a hole. We’re well on our way to getting it fixed." Ebner reported attendance jumped 20% last year from the "terrible" '11-12 season, and the club has the "equivalent of 7,000 season-ticket holders, up from 6,000" in early '13. When Gaglardi arrived there "were fewer than 5,000 season-ticket holders." The Stars' first two home games "did not sell out but merchandise sales each night, buoyed by new jerseys," exceeded $100,000 plus. A "richer television deal is near-ready, and would kick in next season." The Stars made around $12M a year from their current Fox Sports contract, "a figure that is set eclipse" $20M. Gaglardi "before the changes last summer initially reached into the past." The "first gambit was to reinstall Jim Lites as club president and other hires included Mike Modano ... as a face of the franchise." Gaglardi also extended welcomes to "big business names in Dallas, creating an ownership-advisory group of some of the city’s prominent business people to help spread the word." Connections from the board have "helped the Stars sell some discount tickets to families to repopulate the stands and stoke long-term interest." Meanwhile, Lites has "marketed Gaglardi," pushing the "reluctant owner into the spotlight in a city where sports owners are typically iconoclasts," like the Cowboys' Jerry Jones and the Mavericks' Mark Cuban (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/10).
TIP OF THE CAP: In Dallas, Mike Heika noted the Stars this summer added $8.2M to their payroll and "climbed to within" $2.2M of the NHL’s $64.3M salary cap. The top 24 teams in the league are within $4M of the cap, which means "trades have to be salary for salary, and teams have to get creative if they want to make deals." Stars GM Jim Nill said, "It’s a concern, but teams will have to find a way around it." Heika reported Nill is "watching every penny he spends, and said he has daily meetings with the front office to see where savings can be made." If that means "operating with less than 23 players, he’ll do it." If it means "sending a player to the AHL instead of keeping an extra body, he’ll do that too" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/10).
The Bucks "have reduced prices on more than 9,000 seats in the upper bowl" of BMO Harris Bradley Center by 10-20%, according to Rich Kirchen of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Bucks Senior VP & Chief Revenue Officer Ted Loehrke said that the price-cut strategy is "'an investment' by the Bucks to fill more seats." He said that the price of about 4,500 upper-deck seats "along the side court" will be decreased 10%, while 4,600 seats along the end court will see a 20% decrease. Loehrke said that the price drops mean "some seats will see price declines of as much as $10 from last season." The "remaining 2,000 seats in the upper deck will see no change" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/9). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Don Walker reported Mayor Tom Barrett's budget proposal to "allocate $175,000 in city parking revenue per year for five years to the BMO Harris Bradley Center got a cool reception from some aldermen on Wednesday." Arena officials hoped to use the funding to "address maintenance issues and repairs and upgrades." However, Alderman Michael Murphy said that the proposal "would set a bad precedent." Alderman Joe Dudzik also "couldn't support the Bradley Center funding, saying many residents couldn't afford to attend events at the arena." The state has "provided a total of $10 million in grants to" the arena for "maintenance, upkeep and planned improvements" (JSONLINE.com, 10/9).