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SBD/February 6, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
As many as 700,000 people "mobbed downtown" Seattle yesterday for the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory parade, throwing a "street bash befitting of world champions," according to a front-page piece in the SEATTLE TIMES. As the "newly anointed champions rolled by, decades of dashed hopes and losing seasons seemed to evaporate." Seattle's "long-suffering fans were suffering no longer." The estimated attendance "eclipsed the city’s latest Census count of about 635,000, easily making it the biggest street party in city history." At least 13,523 Seattle public-school students, about 27% of the 51,000 total enrollment, "reported absent," and of the district's "roughly 3,000 teachers, 565 called out." Seahawks Owner Paul Allen’s First & Goal organization "covered the costs" of the parade and stadium rally. By early afternoon, emergency phone lines "had been clogged as the downtown hordes had overwhelmed cellphone and Internet signals" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/6). Allen later said that he was told the crowd actually "was a million people." In Tacoma, Dave Boling in a front-page piece notes the attendance figures "didn’t include the many thousands who intended to join in but hit gridlock and turned back." Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, "I have never seen anything like this" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/6). In Seattle, Lynsi Burton noted the turnout "exceeded the highest predictions of city officials" (SEATTLEPI.com, 2/5). ESPN.com's Terry Blount wrote, "The whole city went Beast Mode. ... Whatever the number, it was something to see, a victory parade that has to rank among the most impressive ever for any team." Fans "braved massive traffic jams and public transportation overload" (ESPN.com, 2/5). SPORTSPRESSNW.com's Adam Lewis noted when the parade arrived at CenturyLink Field, players, coaches, execs and staffers "climbed down from their rigs and were hailed by another 45,000 season ticket-holders and their families" (SPORTSPRESSNW.com, 2/5).
New WNBA Sparks co-Owner Magic Johnson yesterday said that his investment group "can turn the Sparks into a profitable WNBA team," according to Melissa Rohlin of the L.A. TIMES. Johnson said of his ownership group, which also includes Dodgers Chair Mark Walter, "We know what we're up against and that's OK. We love challenges. We feel, yes, we're going to eventually make a profit, no question about it. That's why we're in business, to make a profit." Former Sparks Majority Owner & CEO Paula Williams Madison said that her Williams Group Holdings had lost nearly $12M on the Sparks "over the last seven years, and was projected to lose" more than $1M this season. Johnson said, "We want to increase the fan experience because that's what we did for the Dodgers, that's why we're No. 1 in MLB in attendance." Johnson also said that the Sparks would "continue to play at Staples Center and all of the team's staff," including Exec VP & GM Penny Toler and coach Carol Ross, "would be retained." Johnson declined to say how much his group paid for the Sparks, but he said that they "assumed all of the team's debt." Johnson: "Both Mark and I have been in deals where businesses have lost money and we turn them around. We know how to do that. That's what we do in our sleep" (L.A. TIMES, 2/6). Johnson said, "The team was leaving. It was very close. We came in at the 11th hour, and I think we were the last ones. If we don’t come in and make a deal, I think it was gone." In N.Y., Joseph D'Hippolito notes the Sparks, Liberty and Mercury are the "only WNBA teams still operating in their original cities" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/6).
LEAGUE'S LINCHPIN: ESPN W's Mechelle Voepel wrote history is "hard-earned in women's pro sports, and the Sparks have had nearly two decades of it" in L.A. The Sparks "hosted the first WNBA game" against the Liberty in June '97. One of the "greatest players in women's hoops history -- Lisa Leslie -- spent her WNBA career with the Sparks." The team also has "had a bit of a 'villain' persona -- especially in places such as Phoenix and Seattle -- that has given the WNBA some enjoyable rivalry drama." The Sparks leaving L.A. "would not have signaled doom for the WNBA, but it would have been a gloomy development," even if they "had a welcoming landing spot in the Bay Area" (ESPNW.com, 2/5).
NOW, FOR THE LAKE SHOW: Johnson recently said that the Lakers "needed a face of the franchise, someone like Jerry West or Phil Jackson, to help sell the brand to free agents during dollar-driven summers." In L.A., Bresnahan & Rohlin note Johnson then "stepped forward" yesterday to fill that role. Johnson said, "I told [GM] Mitch Kupchak that last week. First they have to make up their mind on who they want, and then they tell me, just like I recruited Ron Artest, I talked to Lamar Odom." He added, "I've been in a lot of different things with the Lakers, but it's up to them -- [Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss], Mitch, Coach (Mike) D'Antoni to decide who they want. Once they make their decision, they say, 'Hey, Earvin, can you put in a call to so and so?'" (L.A. TIMES, 2/6).
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday "gave the design for the new Kings arena a ringing endorsement," and said that he has "no doubt the venue will get built despite a possible public vote on the project," according to Dale Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Silver said, “No worries from the league office standpoint." Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive said, "We're going to be on schedule with this arena." Silver, on his "first road trip since becoming commissioner" last weekend, said that he would "see the downtown location on his visit" to the city. Silver added that he and Ranadive "are planning a trip to Ranadive's native India in the spring" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/6). In Sacramento, Tony Bizjak examined the Kings' designs for their new arena under the header, "A Kings' Crown? A Crushed Can?" Bizjak: "Could this be the moment Sacramento shakes loose from its historically conservative approach to civic structures?" The "key to a successful arena in downtown Sacramento will be whether it is designed in a way that helps launch a renaissance in the core area" (SACBEE.com, 2/5).
THE SILVER LINING: Silver said that it has been a "memorable first week on the job." Silver: "My phone is ringing off the hook, although the outpouring of support has been tremendous." He added, "Roger Goodell has reached out to me -- he's been very generous with his time. I've met with Bud Selig, Gary Bettman, I've known for a long time. I mean there really is quite a community of the sports world, where people are all tremendously supportive of each other, even though we're competitors in certain ways." USA TODAY's Sam Amick notes Silver's "early list of priorities" includes the "forthcoming negotiations between the NBA and its digital and television media partners -- ESPN, ABC and TNT -- over their next rights deal." Silver: "It's probably the top business priority right now, only because it is so important for us in terms of it's how our games reach the vast majority of people, through our national partners" (USA TODAY, 2/6).
The Coyotes next season will change their name from the "Phoenix Coyotes" to the "Arizona Coyotes," but Phoenix resident Tony Fioretto "has already registered the trade name with the state and has sought federal trademark protection, although he so far has been denied," according to Caitlin McGlade of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. State records show that Fioretto also has "registered other trade names with the state, including Phx Suns, Phx Cardinals, Phx Coyotes and AZ Diamondbacks." Coyotes officials "would not publicly say whether" they plan to file for a federal trademark, which "trumps state registration claims." Coyotes President & CEO Anthony LeBlanc and other team owners "agreed to pursue the name change after inking a deal with Glendale last year." Fioretto "registered 'Arizona Coyotes'" and the other names with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office in '10. Fioretto "dropped his state registration for Phoenix Open after the Thunderbirds, hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament, sued him" last year. Thunderbirds attorney Andrea Stone said, "It’s analogous to cyber-squatting" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/6).
In Miami, Adam Beasley reported the Dolphins are launching a season-ticket membership program with "discounts and year-round events, based on each individual's lifestyle." This marks the "first big ticketing initiative rolled out" by Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel. The team also has "elected to use variable pricing for their 10 home games for the first time this coming season." The membership plans are divided into the "Finatic, Family, Social and Business" categories. All members will get a dedicated customer service rep and local entertainment discounts, while Cadillac plan members also will get "exclusive access like an invitation to draft and tailgate parties, pre-game field passes, a family day at SeaWorld in Orlando and even a yacht party" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/5).
GRIN & BEAR IT: The Bears yesterday announced ticket prices for the '14 season, with increases ranging from $2-12. The average increase is 4.1%, with 50% of the seating bowl seeing a $2 increase. Non-club season-ticket prices now range from $81-175, with the average non-club price increase at 4.6%. United Club season tickets now range from $275-550, and the average club-seat increase is 3.2% (Bears).
OHIO PLAYERS: In Cleveland, Glenn Moore reported the Browns have "put up a billboard in Columbus featuring new head coach Mike Pettine with the quote, 'We're going to be the toughest team on the field.'" Moore wrote the Browns "tapping into the Columbus market shouldn't be a surprise to fans." The organization has "discussed holding a minicamp, preseason game or scrimmage in the state capital." Central Ohio "represents an NFL battleground market, one within 185 miles" of the Browns, Bengals, Steelers and Colts (CLEVELAND.com, 2/5).
MILE-HIGH EXPECTATIONS: In Denver, Benjamin Hochman writes the "pressure is on" Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway, "perhaps more than ever before, to win a world championship." Elway -- "forever haunted by Super Bowl failures, even after Super Bowl redemption -- was embarrassed Sunday." Elway "feeds off the feeling of being unsatisfied." Hochman: "You have to win a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning as your quarterback. You have to find a way. Time is running out" (DENVER POST, 2/6).