Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements Pac-12 Paces Ahead Of Other Conferences In Revenue
SBD/July 28, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III "weighed in on Johnny Manziel's rock-star lifestyle for the first time Saturday and issued a stern warning to his rookie quarterback," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Haslam said, "I don't want to wear this subject out. Johnny said it himself. He made some mistakes. We expect better from him. I'm sure he'll perform now. We're anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts." Haslam said he hopes Manziel can "pattern himself after" pro athletes such as Cavaliers F LeBron James, Patriots QB Tom Brady, Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Yankees SS Derek Jeter, who "make their news on the field not off the field." Manziel said, "I absolutely agree with Mr. Haslam that I can learn from guys like that. ... I need to mature and I have done some immature things but moving forward I'm going to try and mature and get better and handle myself better as a professional." Haslam indicated that the Browns "are working with Manziel to give him the guidance he needs." Meanwhile, Haslam said of his deal with federal prosecutors to pay a $92M penalty in the Pilot Flying J investigation, "It cost all of us dearly. ... We're glad to get this chapter behind us and move on" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/27). Cabot also wrote under the header, "Browns 'Alarmed' By Some Of Johnny Manziel's Behavior, Concerned It's Set Him Back In QB Competition, Sources Say" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/26). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Darin Gantt wrote Haslam's words "should serve as a stern warning to Manziel" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/26).
JOHNNY COME LATELY: The PLAIN DEALER's Cabot reported a crowd of about 4,000 on Saturday "turned out for Manziel's first training camp practice, and many wore No. 2 Manziel jerseys" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/27). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston reported fans arrived at the Browns' practice facility "hours before the gates opened." One fan said, "I got here at 2:30 a.m. I slept in a chair I brought with me" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/27).
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is entering his sixth season as the team's majority owner and turned 74 this offseason, but instead of "contemplating retirement, he went back to school," according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. Ross "learned all he could about science-based ways to coax the most out of his players -- from nutrition to buying a massive cold tub to help prevent injuries." He also "opened up the team vault for free agents for a second straight year." If his offseason "sounds like an owner in it for the duration, it should." Ross "will probably own the team for as long as he lives." He said, "I'd like to own it for 50 years and be alive for 50 more years." Ross added that as long as he is "passionate about the organization and in good health, there will be no change at the top." When asked if that meant being in place for the next 10, 15 years, he said, "I would hope so." Meanwhile, Ross also addressed the upcoming renovations to Sun Life Stadium, and said that "most of the construction" will occur in the '15 and '16 offseasons. He added that fans this fall "will notice no real changes, but a year from now, the entire bowl will be replaced, with the old seats gone." Ross said that in the spring and summer of '16, the canopy "will come on and new scoreboards will come in." Ross: "When we get done, it’s going to be tantamount to a new stadium." Meanwhile, the Dolphins "continue to insist that attendance will improve in 2014." Ross: "You’ll see, this year, a lot more people in the stands" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/27).
TURN THE PAGE: Ross said of expectations for this season, "I don’t think I start any season without planning to make the playoffs. I think if you don’t have those expectations you shouldn’t be in the game." He added, "We’re very excited about the things we’re doing, both from the business standpoint in a lot of things and enhancing the environment for the players, and creating a type of environment that we can really outperform other teams. ... I think (President and CEO) Tom Garfinkel has done a great job as our CEO. ... He’s really been out there in the community." Ross said of the effect of LeBron James leaving the Heat for the Cavaliers, "I think (if) we start winning, we’ll have a lot more support. There will be a lot more enthusiasm because I think, as we all know, football is the number one sport in this country and in this area." He added of changes to the organization's culture, "We’re looking to find every little competitive advantage we can. We’ve hired and set up an analytics department. We’re coordinating an effort involving nutrition with psychology, physiology. In every aspect of it, we’re looking to be state of the art in the NFL" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 7/25). Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey said, "This is a new group of players. Last year was last year. ... There’s been great communication, great respect of our team. ... That’s the group of men that we have here" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 7/25). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote under the header, "Have Dolphins At Top Learned To Lead At All?" Hyde: "The Dolphins have a lot of people who legitimately want to win. But do they know how to win? Do they understand what it takes to build a championship organization?" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/26).
THE HAPPY CAMPERS? In West Palm Beach, Hal Habib writes the buzz at Dolphins training camp "isn't quite the same" as it was last year, "at least not yet." Dolphins camp last year opened to an "overflow crowd of 2,700." Through three practices this year, there has not been "a turnout approaching that." The workouts "began with the stands about one-third full Friday, when attendance was not announced." Saturday’s attendance "was a respectable 1,560." Sunday, the stands "were about one-fourth full as the players took the field -- but the mitigating factor is admission for the day was by invitation only to season-ticket holders" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 7/28).
To the "dismay of many fans, only about 12,000 people will be guaranteed a chance to attend" the Redskins' training camp Fan Appreciation Day -- which will be "about half the size of last year’s event," according to Meredith Newman of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. Tickets are "required to attend" this year’s Fan Appreciation Day and joint practices with the Patriots on Aug. 4-6. The team through a lottery system "picked about 3,000 people per day from an average of 18,000 applications per day." Each person picked "was given four tickets." The Redskins informed fans Saturday evening and Sunday morning "whether they received tickets, which were distributed through Ticketmaster." The lottery "did not let fans choose specific days to receive tickets." Redskins Senior VP/Communications Tony Wyllie said that the lottery system "was recommended by the NFL" and added that tickets "may not be resold and are nontransferable." He said that fans can "still come and be let in as long as there is room." The team wanted to "avoid a situation like last year’s Fan Appreciation Day, which overwhelmed the training facility with more than 25,000 fans attending" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/28). Newman noted about 6,668 fans attended yesterday's practice, "down from the 8,600 and 11,127 people who attended Friday and Saturday's practices, respectively." But the smaller crowd "was probably due to morning rain" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/28).
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE: In Jacksonville, Drew Dixon noted for the "first time in the history of the Jaguars, a pre-season practice is set for fans of the team at Bartram Trail High School stadium." While today's event "is free, the only way fans could get into the practice was to file for a registration" on the Jaguars' website. The "maximum number of reservations, 2,500, was reached Wednesday and the team’s administrators say they simply have no more reservations available and warn that fans without proof of reservations will not be allowed into the stadium." The growing concern "about an overflow of fans has become so profound, the Jaguars are urging fans without reservations to stay away from the practice event in St. Johns County" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 7/25). Meanwhile, THE MMQB's Peter King writes if there is "any question about America's appetite for pro football, consider this: The Broncos got 21,933 to watch an early-camp practice Sunday, and the Patriots got a total of 25,000 over the weekend for two practices" (MMQB.SI.com, 7/28).
With Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen stepping down due to his battle with Alzheimer's disease, "there is emphasis on which progeny will emerge to serve the Bowlen Family Trust" as his successor, and Bowlen's seven children have now been "thrust into public spotlight and scrutiny," according to Woody Paige of the DENVER POST. Bowlen has two daughters by former wife Sally Parker. Beth Bowlen Wallace serves as Broncos Dir of Special Projects & Events, while Amie Bowlen Klemmer "lives in Hawaii and is married to a prominent doctor." Pat and his current wife Annabel Bowlen have two sons: Patrick Bowlen III and John Bowlen Jr. Patrick serves as Broncos Dir of Facilities, while Johnny Bowlen was recruited to the Univ. of San Diego as a defensive back but "gave up football because of an injury." Johnny received an MBA in sports and entertainment from the Univ. of Denver and is in "executive training with the Broncos." Pat Bowlen also has three daughters with his current wife: Brittany Bowlen "works in the 'junior rotation' at the NFL offices" in N.Y.; Annabel Bowlen is in college; and the youngest, Christianna Bowlen, "attends a suburban Denver high school" (DENVER POST, 7/27).
MUM IS THE WORD: The DENVER POST's Greg Moore offered insight on how the paper secured the "super scoop" on Bowlen's announcement. People in the Broncos organization "privately acknowledged" to the Post that Bowlen "was ill, but insisted it was up to Bowlen and his family to reveal what was going on and implored us to respect his privacy." Moore: "I don’t want to get into exactly what the trigger was for the team to reveal his condition and the change of management. But I believe that the respect The Post showed for Bowlen’s privacy helped the family decide to release the information to The Post exclusively." The Broncos, "in addition to wanting to reward the Post for its determination and discretion, also wanted to control the news cycle." Rather than "have that story break at 10 p.m. Tuesday night and by the next morning the story would be focused on what this meant for the Broncos, the team wanted the moment frozen in time" (DENVER POST.com, 7/25).
GENERATION NEXT: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said that with the recent turnover of ownership in the league, it is a "'critical' time for the NFL to make sure the right people are running teams." Kraft: "Right now, the only thing that can mess up the NFL is ownership. You have to be very conscious of people we bring in, and they’re people that are passionate about their franchise the way Pat was, about winning and doing it the right way." He added of the Bills' ownership changing hands after the death of Ralph Wilson Jr., "I think we’d love to see someone really strong who wants to keep the team in Buffalo. That’s a tremendous fan base up there that is deserving of a good owner who understands how important the franchise is to the region” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/28).
The Rockies on Saturday "gave away 15,000 Troy Tulowitzki jerseys" that all featured his name misspelled, according to Nick Groke of the DENVER POST. The jerseys showed his name as "Tulowizki." The team in a statement said, "Acknowledging that many fans came to the game for the jersey, rather than disappoint them, we decided to go ahead and hand them out. We have made plans to reproduce the jersey and fans wishing to exchange will be able to do so at a future date." The statement also said the team wanted to "apologize to longtime corporate partner King Soopers, who was not involved in the production of the jerseys" (DENVERPOST.com, 7/26). YAHOO SPORTS' Mark Townsend wrote the Rockies "attempted to do something nice for their fans on Saturday," but given their "recent history, we shouldn't be a bit surprised that they failed." Townsend: "Maybe next time they should just stick to Tulo, since that's almost impossible to screw up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/26). In Denver, Terry Frei wrote the Rockies "are evolving from inept to farcical, from mile-high quirkiness to becoming the butt of national derision." It is "not their fault that on back-to-back days, the jerseys handed out were those saluting injured stars." But when bad luck or ill fortune "happens to savvy organizations, the damage at least is mitigated rather than contributing to unmitigated disaster." If someone "like a $28,000-a-year promotions assistant is made the scapegoat" of the jersey incident, that "would be unfortunate." Frei: "I hope the ownership is as supportive and loyal to that person as it has been to the baseball front office" (DENVER POST, 7/28).
A ROCKY ROAD: The Rockies are 43-61 and in last place in the NL West, and in Denver, Mark Kiszla wrote the problem "is the management culture of the Rockies." Kiszla: "It settles for mediocrity. It makes excuses. It stinks." Rockies Owner Dick Monfort is "reluctant to fire anybody." While he "regards that attitude as compassionate," it is "also a cop-out." A winning organization "demands accountability and places respect for fans' hard-earned dollars ahead of friendships within team headquarters" (DENVER POST, 7/27). Also in Denver, Patrick Saunders wrote Monfort "is extremely loyal and can be stubborn." That "will be a factor in October when the Rockies evaluate their season." Saunders: "I only hope the front office faces as much scrutiny as the players." Major decisions "are still made by a committee," with Monfort, Senior VP/Major League Operations & Assistant GM Bill Geivett, Exec VP, Chief Baseball Officer & GM Dan O'Dowd and others "sitting at the table." But if you are "looking for a pecking order, Monfort is at the top, followed by O'Dowd and then Geivett" (DENVER POST, 7/27).
The Indians, coming off their "surprising run" to the playoffs last year, rank 29th in MLB attendance this season, and the team's "analytically inclined front office is trying to tackle the problem," according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The team has "numerous methods it's using to study its fan base." Indians Manager of Business Analytics Gabe Gershenfeld has "developed a program the Indians use to predict attendance." The formula "takes historical data into account and weaves in such critical factors as the weather forecast, opponent, team performance, night of the week and time of year." It "doesn't get fans through the gates, but it does give the Indians a much better idea of how to best serve their audience." Indians Senior VP/Strategy & Business Analytics Andrew Miller said, "It's certainly helpful information to have. If you're ordering food, you have a certain amount of lead time. If you're calling up staff members to work the game, you have a certain amount of lead time, but there are still things we're changing on the fly. If we get to the last day or two and expect a big walkup, we need to be prepared for that." Miller added Gershenfeld's attendance forecast prior to the '13 season "wasn't that far off" the 1.57 million fans the Indians ended up drawing last season. The Indians now "have a much more concrete idea of which games are most likely to produce last-minute buying sprees, and which ones will be a friends-and-family type of gathering in which the staff size should be reduced and less food needs to be ordered." Gershenfeld "begins forecasting the Tribe's attendance as soon as the schedule is released, then continues to update it as the season advances" (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 7/27).
THE THIRD WHEEL? In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes wrote under the header, "How Do The Cleveland Indians Compete With Glare From Browns, Cavs?" Indians President Mark Shapiro said, "It's not good for us to react to what other teams and organizations do. We have to focus on our situation and what we need to do to win as many games as possible and enhance our fans' experience." He added, "I think LeBron coming back and the Browns commitment to building a winning organization can only help get more people downtown and create a more vibrant sporting scene in Cleveland. We have a lot of Browns and Cavs fans working for the Indians" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/27).