SBD/February 7, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert "remains optimistic that not all is lost" in the midst of "this disastrous 16-33 season, even after what he called 'the most challenging time' in his nine years as majority owner" and firing GM Chris Grant on Thursday, according to Jodie Valade of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Gilbert said, "We're focused on the future and the chemistry and the culture and the environment of this team. If we can turn that around, anything can happen. Anything's possible this season." Gilbert "no longer was confident the general manager who put it all together was the one to lead the franchise." He said, "This is really about a directional move in the franchise. The fans deserve more." The Cavaliers head into Friday night on a six-game losing streak, and Gilbert said, "At this point, after the amount of time the former general manager had, we just felt it was time. We needed a shift in certain cultural aspects and a different environment." He added, "We really are solely motivated by one thing around here. It's not the value of the franchise. It's not a profit-loss statement. It's not a spreadsheet. It's delivering to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the fans of Ohio what they deserve. They deserve better than what they've seen this year" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7). In Cleveland, Mary Schmitt Boyer notes Grant joined the Cavaliers as VP/Basketball Operations & Assistant GM in '05 and "was promoted in the summer of 2010 after the resignation of Danny Ferry." Grant "won most of the deals he made," but critics "questioned his drafting." In the past week, there have been "numerous stories about unhappy players and internal conflicts, and the play on the court has been disheartening." Gilbert thanked Grant for his work and called him ''a class act and a class guy" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7).
NEXT MAN UP: The PLAIN DEALER's Valade noted Cavs VP/Basketball Operations David Griffin has been "elevated to acting general manager," and the "former right-hand man of Grant has been with the Cavaliers since September 2010 -- shortly after" Grant took over as GM. Griffin came to the Cavaliers after 17 seasons with the Suns, where he served as Senior VP/Basketball Operations "for three years prior to his departure" (CLEVELAND.com, 2/6). ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted Grant was a "driving force in re-hiring coach Mike Brown last year, and the players have not responded positively to the change" (ESPN.com, 2/6). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto writes it is "hard to separate Brown from Grant when handing out blame for this collapse." It seems "pointless for the Cavs to retain Brown" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7).
WHAT WENT WRONG: In Akron, Jason Lloyd writes the Cavaliers "were expected to win this season," and that "ultimately is the root of the problem in all of this." It "isn't the talent on the roster that's the problem, it's the effort (or lack of) the players are producing." Grant was "an easy target in the media because he was intensely private, shied away from interviews and rarely spoke to many national writers." But he was "brilliant with trades and manipulating the NBA’s salary cap, worked incredibly long hours year-round and tirelessly scouted colleges and the world in an effort to resurrect a franchise that was once the best in the Eastern Conference" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/7). GRANTLAND's Zach Lowe wrote under the header, "Grant Runs Out Of Luck (And Time) In Cleveland." Grant "did some good things" as GM. But the "bottom line is this: You can't have four consecutive top-four picks, use two on big men, and come away with just one player, Kyrie Irving, who is a lock to be an above-average NBA rotation guy." In addition to the front office, the franchise also "should ask itself" whether Brown is the "right coach for this next phase" (GRANTLAND.com, 2/6).
IT STARTS AT THE TOP: In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes Gilbert "should no longer escape culpability for the mess the Cavs have become." Gilbert had the "audacity to say he likes the team’s talent and believes it can succeed with what it has, including Brown." That sounded "delusional and/or like a desperate attempt to sell tickets." Gilbert seems to "foolishly believe that firing Grant will be enough to shock his team back on a path to the playoffs." But with the locker room "fractured and the losses mounting, players might instead be saying Gilbert got it wrong again" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/7).
The Eagles will "raise ticket prices" for 52% of the seats at Lincoln Financial Field for the upcoming season, while 43% of the seats will "remain at the same price," according to Zach Berman of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Prices "will decrease" in 5% of the stadium. The news "came as the Eagles began construction on the second phase of their stadium renovations, which will include 1,600 more seats and new video boards and ribbon boards." Seating capacity "will increase to more than 69,000" from its current 68,532. The team's pricing model has been "adjusted from five categories to eight, with tickets at midfield increasing in value." Prince increases "range from $10 to $25 per ticket," and it is the "second consecutive season" the Eagles have hiked prices. Eagles President Don Smolenski said, "We have kind of taken a step back and looked at how other teams priced their building." Berman notes the Eagles will "not adopt the variable pricing model that other teams have used in which different games are sold for different prices." Smolenski: "We view the season ticket as a package. We sell it as a package." Berman notes the additional seats will "be in the lower bowl, middle level, and upper level." The seats in the lower bowl (about 700) will "require a stadium-builder license." Every lower-bowl seat for a season-ticket holder "still requires a license," which ranges "from $1,800 to $8,000, depending on seat location and excluding clubs and suites." The new seats will "go to existing season-ticket holders wishing to add seats and also to season-ticket holders from a wait list that is at 40,000" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/7). In Newark, Eliot Shorr-Parks notes the Eagles still "remain the cheapest ticket in the NFC East" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/7).
Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy on Thursday "defended the team’s decision to increase ticket prices for the fifth consecutive season," according to Mike Vandermause of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. Murphy said, "It’s really a balancing act. On one hand we want to be affordable, but on the other hand we want to be fair to the other teams in the league. ... Quite honestly, the teams that are last or at the very bottom of the league in terms of ticket pricing aren’t the type of teams we would want to model ourselves after. They’re there because they haven’t had success on the field, or they have terrible stadiums, so it’s a number of factors.” He added that the Packers also "owe it to other teams in the league to provide a fair share of revenue." Murphy: “The concern with the other teams, we’re obviously somebody who over the years has benefited quite a bit from the league, from the revenue-sharing policies, and so we want to be viewed as a good league partner." He also said that the Packers "learned from the mistake of a new no-refund ticket billing policy that was imposed for the playoffs." Murphy: “There’s no question they were not happy with it. We will not do it again. We’re going to move to a pay-as-we-play policy in the future.” He added, "We’ve heard fans pretty loudly so we will not be doing that in the future.” Meanwhile, Murphy said the Packers "have not plans to expand" Lambeau Field." He added, "Where we’re really going to probably focus in the next few years is the premium seats." Additionally, Murphy said that he "hopes the Packers will play in London in the coming years." Murphy: "We would never give up a home game, it would only be an away game" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 2/7).
While the Bucks' front office is "actively watching and participating in the community debate" regarding a new arena, Chief Revenue Officer Ted Loehrke and Exec VP/Business Operations John Steinmiller said that they are "investing on the digital side of the franchise with improvements on the team's website and on social media," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Loehrke and Steinmiller said that group sales also "have been beefed up." In addition, the Bucks "have tried to be clever and creative with various promotions." Steinmiller said that the team has "reached out to the campuses at Marquette, Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the hopes of finding new, young fans." The Bucks said that they will "make lemonade out of a lemon season by generating fan interest" in the NBA Draft lottery. Walker wrote it is a "difficult balancing act for a team with an uncertain future: trying to get fans in the door now and getting ready for the next chapter in the franchise." The Bucks' lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center runs until '17, and Exec VP/Business Administration Ron Walter said that the lease extension signed in '12 is "a bridge to a new facility, and it appears the NBA will hold the Bucks to that" (JSONLINE.com, 2/6).