The MLB Giants Thursday launched a waiting list for season tickets at AT&TPark. The defending World Series champs have sold more than 27,700 full season tickets. The newly created Premium On-Deck Wait List will give fans the opportunity to secure season tickets as they become available. Fans must pay a non-refundable $500 per-seat deposit to secure a spot on the wait list, which also offers access to pre-sales for individual, group and luxury suite tickets and coupons for Giants merchandise. The waiting list is the first for the Giants since the ’07 season, when they hosted the MLB All-Star Game (THE DAILY). Giants President & COO Larry Baer Thursday revealed that the team has "already sold 2.6 million total tickets, an increase of around 50 percent from a year ago" (MLB.com, 3/24). The Giants had about 21,000 season-ticket holders last season, and VP/Ticket Sales Russ Stanley said that "about 97 percent of those people renewed for this season." That is the "highest renewal rate since the team moved" into AT&T Park in '00. Baer: "It's been, quite frankly, beyond our expectations." In S.F., Eric Young reported the Giants also revealed that "many major sponsors have renewed and some new sponsors have signed deals with the club." New sponsors include Salesforce, United Airlines, The Sports Authority, Tiffany & Co. and Box.net, an online file sharing company. Renewals included Bank of America, Levi Strauss & Co., Genentech, Safeway, Toyota, StubHub, See’s Candies and Re/Max. In addition, "retail sales have been strong for the club." Sales of Giants branded merchandise "sold from the club-owned stores have tripled from the same period last year" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/24).
IT'S SHOWTIME! Showtime announced Thursday that it will air a 30-minute sneak preview of its forthcoming documentary series, "The Franchise: A Season With The San Francisco Giants," on April 13 at 9:30pm to coincide with the start of the MLB season. The new one-hour series will premiere July 13 (Showtime). Showtime President of Entertainment David Nevins "had hopes that the docuseries would premiere with an hourlong episode around Opening Day in early April, with regular episodes broadcast during the second half of the season." He added, "It’s been a long haul putting this show together" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 3/24).
The Mets "have lost millions of dollars in recent years, including nearly $50 million in 2010," according to sources cited by Schmidt & Sandomir in a front-page piece for the N.Y. TIMES. The team's losses are "projected to hit another $50 million or more this season based on factors including advance ticket sales." The club's "falloff in revenue was the largest year-to-year decline for any major league team in recent years." The Mets in '09, their first year at Citi Field, "took in revenue of more than $350 million," yet sources said that they still lost "close to" $10M. The team "struggled again in the field in 2010, ending the honeymoon for the new ballpark, and attendance figures fell precipitously, with almost 600,000 fewer fans showing up." A source said that as a result, "overall revenue slid by more than $60 million, and net losses, after interest, totaled roughly $50 million." Earlier this week, Forbes dropped its estimate of the team's value 13% to $747M. Furthermore, sales of full-season equivalents are "projected to top out at 10,000 this year, less than half the total sold just two years ago," and "without any major player signings after last season's 79-83 record, there might not be much for fans to root for." However, the Mets said that ticket sales for this season are "up over the same time last year" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25).
DEFINING DEBT: In N.Y., Josh Kosman reports MLB is "working to cut how much debt its teams can carry." Sources said that the move, "aimed at avoiding a Mets-like cash squeeze or a Texas Rangers bankruptcy-type scenario, will be centered on widening the definition of team debt." The new debt rule "would be part of MLB's collective bargaining agreement talks with the players' union -- talks that have just begun." Teams currently are "supposed to adhere to a 60:40 ratio of assets to liabilities, adopted in 1975" (N.Y. POST, 3/25).
Braves Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk Thursday said that he was "not aware of the Forbes' report" suggesting that Liberty Media may sell the franchise, "nor of any plans by Liberty to sell the team," according to Jeff Schultz of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. McGuirk: "I haven't seen the article -- I don't know anything about it. The subject is not something that's even in my thinking right now. We're getting ready for the current season." McGuirk added of a potential sale of the team, "Other than saying I don't know about it, I wouldn't comment beyond it." Schultz noted if a sale occurs, it "almost certainly wouldn't be during this season." Liberty "agreed to own the team through baseball's current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which doesn't expire until December." The Braves' "tight budget has not been met with cheers by a majority of the fan base." Schultz added, "I'm assuming the news that the team may be for sale will not be met with disappointment" (AJC.com, 3/24). Liberty Media "has not announced any plans to unload" the Braves, but Chair John Malone is "famous for making use of tax advantages, and he has said Liberty Media doesn't consider the baseball team a strategic asset" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/23).
Vancouver Southsiders President John Knox said that his MLS Whitecaps supporters group "was 'blindsided' last weekend when it learned Uniglobe Vision Travel had received exclusive access to 500 tickets for Vancouver fans wanting to attend road games in Seattle and Portland," according to Bruce Constantineau of the VANCOUVER SUN. The Whitecaps, Sounders and Timbers "agreed last year to allow 500 visiting fans to attend each Cascadia game this season and Seattle and Portland gave those tickets to supporters clubs, who will sell them and arrange travel packages." Knox believed that the Whitecaps "would do the same but fans wanting to attend the June 11 Vancouver/Seattle clash at Qwest Field will have to buy tickets through Uniglobe." Knox said that Uniglobe "has told buyers that game-only tickets have been sold out and only the more expensive bus packages remain." But Whitecaps CEO Paul Barber said that "no one has to buy a bus package if they don't want one because there is no limit on the number of game-only tickets to be sold." Barber: "The Southsiders are one supporters club and we are simply making our tickets available to all season-ticket holders." He added that "no one ever promised the Southsiders or any other group they would get priority access to the tickets" (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/24). Knox: "We're not making any claims to these tickets, but fans were told they would have access to them at cost and now this whole process has been funnelled through Uniglobe. My members are shocked" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 3/24).
SMART START: Suns G and Whitecaps investor Steve Nash said there is a "very smart soccer community" in Vancouver. He added, "I think the fans really understand the game. This market demands it. The fans don't want you to try and sell them just anything; they want you to put a good product on the field. They love the game as it is. ... We're trying to be as authentic as possible while letting the game speak for itself" (MLSSOCCER.com, 3/21).
In Chicago, Sean Jensen notes Bears Senior Dir of Ticket Operations George McCaskey "will certainly bring a different personality" to the position of Chair when he replaces his retiring brother Michael in May, but President & CEO Ted Phillips believes that the transition "will be smooth." Phillips: "I don't think the organization is going to miss a beat. He's energized, and it'll be a real positive for the whole club." Michael McCaskey added, "I feel like I'm leaving the Bears in very good hands. George is smart, and he's passionate about the Bears and football." He also said that he is "proud of the team he's turning over to his brother." McCaskey: "We've got a lot of very good people, in the right positions." Jensen notes as his tenure as Chair comes to a close, Michael McCaskey's "popularity is difficult to gauge -- many critical fans aren't shy about voicing their displeasure with some of his decisions -- but the Bears' prosperity under his 27-year watch as president or chairman of the board is clear-cut" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/25).
WAR OF WORDS: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reported the City of Glendale and conservative watchdog organization the Goldwater Institute "continued firing at each other on Thursday" over the proposed sale of the Coyotes. The "rockets came in the form of competing frequently-asked-questions memos from each side plus a list of 12 questions Goldwater's investigative reporter Mark Flatten said Glendale should answer about the proposed sale of the NHL team to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer." Shoalts noted there "isn't anything new in the material," and there also is "still no sign Glendale is ready to try and sell $116-million in municipal bonds that are to finance Hulsizer's purchase" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 3/24). FIGHTING FOR THEIR KINGS: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin reports two members of the NBA Kings' "original management group -- architect Rann Haight and executive Greg Van Dusen -- are heading the latest efforts for a sports-and-entertainment facility that would keep the franchise in town." Sources said that it was a "'below-the-radar, grass-roots effort' that has gone on for more than a year." It would "involve both the city and county of Sacramento, perhaps extending to several counties within the Kings' season-ticket base" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/25).
FANS STAND TOGETHER: In London, Jack Pitt-Brooke reports fan group the Manchester United Supporters Trust is "collecting a 'fighting fund' for the possible legal defence of United supporter Thomas McKenna," who has been sued by the club. McKenna "published details online of United's corporate clients and the club" is seeking damages through the U.K. High Court. MUST CEO Duncan Drasdo Thursday said, "United fans have always stood together when one of their number is attacked, and this situation should be no different -- United we stand" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/25).