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SBD/October 17, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk said of an Ottawa Citizen report that said he has lost about $94M (All figures C) since purchasing the team, "They were wrong. It's $110 (million)." Melnyk, appearing on Ottawa-based CFGO-AM, said it was "kind of an anomaly, that kind of loss," partly because the "financial crisis that took place in '08 actually affected us over the past couple of years, believe it or not." Melnyk noted the franchise "pushed past 12,000 season tickets and there's still walk-ups that are coming up so we're going to be sold-out by gametime." He said in terms of the in-game experience for fans, "We did a lot of research and (have) very interesting results coming out of that research, one of them is how much the community takes ownership of its team." Melnyk: "We have to do something more than just show a hockey game. We're not in the hockey business -- that was my philosophy -- (but) we are in the entertainment business."
BUILDING A WINNER: He said of increasing payroll as the team is in the bottom third of the league, "We're not really 26th (in payroll and) … that doesn't really show the whole picture because the difference between being in the third quartile or first or second quartile is so miniscule." Melnyk noted the team has "spent the cap three straight years.” Melnyk: “We spent money for nothing … and that's not the way to win." He added, “I'm looking ten years out and saying, 'I know the cap's going up.' We just know the revenues are increasing throughout the whole league … and you do have to spend. But you don’t have to spend toe-to-toe with the guys that have money to throw around … and a lot of times they spend money for no reason. What they're doing is spending money to cover-up for mistakes." Melnyk said the team is in a "great, great spot where cap space is now a massive commodity. … It's like having three first-round draft picks."
IMPROVEMENTS COMING: He said upgrading the Canadian Tire Centre "is on the to-do list along with about 500 things before it." Melnyk: "We've got way too many boxes … and we're going to have to put some money into this building. But we spend millions of dollars a year in keeping it maintained so we’ve done a good job in maintaining it. It's just going to need some upgrades and I recognize that" (TSN Radio 1200, 10/16).
The Thunder tonight will play their fifth exhibition game at the BOK Center since '08 when they host the Pelicans, and the crowds "have gotten consistently larger" each time the team travels to Tulsa, according to Darnell Mayberry of the OKLAHOMAN. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, "It's always been great. Every game we've had there it's been a great atmosphere. It's great for us and great for the fans. It's an opportunity for us to continue to show the state our team" (OKLAHOMAN, 10/17). In Tulsa, Bill Haisten in a front-page piece notes the Thunder last year "attracted the largest crowd -- 18,233 -- in BOK Center history." Thunder officials said that tonight's game "is a sellout." BOK Center Assistant GM Jeff Nickler said, "The Thunder brand is strong in Tulsa. The atmosphere last year was electric." However, the '12 Thunder attendance record "won't be matched." Nickler said that because of an upper-bowl renovation in the BOK Center, the "seating capacity for an NBA game has been reduced to slightly less than 18,000." Thunder Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brian Byrnes said, "We believe we're a big enough brand that we can go into the market and be successful. We've shown that now. ... We're selling out quicker. ... We're seeing growth in merchandising and TV ratings in the Tulsa area." He added, "The fan base has grown to a point now where we can stand on our own. We can go up against some competitive issues and still be very successful." Haisten notes one of those issues is high school football. Most Tulsa-area teams "do play on Thursday this week, and still the Thunder game is a sellout." Byrnes said of scheduling the Tulsa date, "It's a bit of a tricky dance. We always start with what's going on in the market. We want to avoid high school football, if we can. We want to avoid festivals. We want to find a date that can be a success" (TULSA WORLD, 10/17).
THUNDER PRESEASON GAMES AT BOK CENTER IN TULSADATEOPPONENTATTENDANCE10/19/12Suns18,23310/12/10Grizzlies11,29710/14/09Heat10,42710/13/08Rockets9,549
NOTE: The Thunder did not host a preseason game prior to the start of the '11-12 season due to the NBA lockout.
Nuggets President Josh Kroenke has "shown a willingness to make the hard, sometimes unpopular choices" since his father, team Owner Stan Kroenke, elevated him to the role three years ago, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Josh Kroenke as much as anything "didn't believe the franchise could function with a disgruntled" coach in George Karl, who was heading into the final year of his contract this season, "obsessed over an extension the organization wasn't prepared to grant him." Kroenke said of firing Karl in June, "I didn't read the newspaper for a long time this summer, because I just didn't want to come across a story slamming me." Still, he has "withstood the scrutiny" and "long impressed people with his determination to make his own way." Kroenke most of all has "made these Nuggets his own now -- front office to coaching staff to roster." In a life where people have "constantly underestimated him, doubting the resolve, the desire, of a child who will be king, Kroenke has slowly, surely constructed a resume of significance in three-plus years overseeing the Nuggets." Wojnarowski: "Everything gets harder now; everything more complicated." Kroenke said, "I've been around pro sports since an early age, with the NFL, the NBA, soccer, and I've picked up things. But I've also found my own path. There's always a fear of failure in this family. I don't want to feel out of place in it. I want to go prove things to myself. I think that I can figure out people pretty quickly, that I've developed a good sense of reading them" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/17).
NBC's Cris Collinsworth said something "just didn't feel right" about using the name Redskins while calling the team's game against the Cowboys on "SNF," according to Dan Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Collinsworth said, "I have to admit, as I was watching the game Sunday night and I was saying the word Redskins, in my brain it was coming out red skin. And there was something about that that just didn’t feel right." He added, "I think [Redskins Owner] Daniel Snyder, the good man that he is, will eventually see what is best for the Washington Redskins is for him to lead a name change. And I hope he does" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/16). In Richmond, Cordel Faulk writes under the header, "Washington's Football Team Name Is Racist; Change It Now" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 10/17). THE MMQB's Don Banks asked, "What if the Redskins were known as just the Skins?" There would be "no apostrophe before the S, because it wouldn't be a shortened version of Redskins any more" (MMQB.SI.com, 10/16).
ALL IN THE TIMING: DC-based WNEW-FM's Chris Lingebach reported the "latest to make his pro-Redskins sentiments known" was SiriusXM host Chris Russo, who "vehemently argued to keep the name on his satellite radio show on Tuesday, in a debate" with SI's Peter King. Russo asked King, "Where were you ten years ago? Or where were you fifteen years ago? Why now all of a sudden has it dawned on you that the name might be offensive?" King said, "I wouldn’t say that it dawned on me all of a sudden. It’s something that, as I said, over the last two or three years, gradually, I have come to dislike. I just don’t like it because it seems offensive." King added of The MMQB, "If I didn’t have this site, if I were still working at Sports Illustrated as just a writer for the magazine, would I have taken this stand? I can’t tell you. All I know is that having my own site gave me more of the ability to say 'I’m not going to do this.'" King: "Having an open mind has allowed me to think about this often over the years, and whereas, I used to write it and not really like writing it but just wrote it and put it out of my mind, I just decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore." Russo and King over the course of the next six minutes "would volley back-and-forth passionately over an array of nuances commonly associated with the issue" (CBSLOCAL.com, 10/15).