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Volume 24 No. 181


Coyotes COO Mike Nealy said that the team’s season-ticket renewal rate is “the highest since the Coyotes moved to the Valley more than a decade ago and so far overall ticket sales are up 25 percent from last year,” according to Lisa Halverstadt of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The success comes as the NHL and Glendale “continue to talk to two groups who could buy the team and sign a lease agreement” for the city-owned Arena. Nealy said that he “has encouraged Coyotes staff to focus on what they can control, selling tickets and getting fans excited about the team, rather than the ownership woes.” He said that the team “has capitalized on recent playoff appearances and focused on reducing the number of free tickets per game to increase sales.” The Coyotes in the coming days will launch “an aggressive ad campaign,” with details to be “displayed on billboards and mentioned in TV, radio and print ads.” Coyotes Senior Dir of Media Relations Rich Nairn said, "The focus of the campaign is based on the players' sense of a pack mentality, us against the world, defiance, resiliency, no quit." Nealy said that fans also “will be encouraged to publicly display their devotion to the Coyotes.” The new campaign was created by Fallon Minneapolis (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/1).

Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, presiding over the ongoing Dodgers case, disclosed yesterday he has appointed retired U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Farnan as a mediator in the dispute. Farnan has actually been working on the dispute between the Dodgers and MLB since July 5, about a week after the club first filed for Chapter 11 protection, with a goal of helping reach a settlement. Farnan's role and involvement had not been disclosed previously. Those settlement talks have not advanced significantly, as the two sides remain squarely at odds and a key evidentiary hearing is set to begin Oct. 31. But Gross said Farnan "has the ideal skills, knowledge, experience and the personality to succeed in assisting the parties."

The Pirates have signed a deal with SAS Analytics to assist in analyzing and integrating data in order to improve marketing and operations, as well as build a stronger relationship with fans. Using SAS Visual Data Discovery, the Pirates will attempt to capitalize on the program’s ability to organize customer insights and identify new opportunities to increase ticket and merchandise sales. The club already has begun using SAS to look at season-ticket renewals, examining the likelihood of current season-ticket holders renewing and allocating resources in-season to give their retention staff the best opportunity to bring back those ticket holders who may not have a high likelihood of coming back. Pirates Business Analytics Manager Jason Witzberger said the team wanted to “make sure that we gave ourselves every best possible chance we could to retain as many customers for next year as we possibly could.” The Pirates this offseason will create models that will help predict ticket and merchandise sales, monitor how far in advance tickets are being purchased and assess game-by-game trends. The team will use that data to refine sales processes, promotions and marketing initiatives throughout the season. Pirates Senior Dir of Business Analytics Jim Alexander said, “As we approach the 2012 season we fully expect that each one of those elements that we plan to use the product for is in play and that people have access to that information so different departments can get smarter at what they do.” He added, “It’s not necessarily that it’s going to address anything that we weren’t doing -- it’s going to enhance and refine what we were doing and make our process more efficient, smarter, and the data that we’re pushing out to the different stakeholders be more valuable to them.” The Pirates can renew their license for SAS Visual Data Discovery on a year-to-year basis. SAS’ technology is used by several other pro sports teams, including the Spurs, Magic and 49ers.

Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross yesterday appeared on WINZ-AM yesterday and discussed the state of the franchise after its 0-4 start to begin the season. He said, "I'm very disappointed, to put it mildly, I guess." Ross added, "Everybody involved with this team -- the players, the coaches -- [is] disappointed being 0-4. You can't be any other way. I think we have to stay together and really get behind our coach. I believe that Tony [Sparano] is the right coach." In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino notes Ross "cast his vote for patience, which might not fire up the fan base but is significant because, well, his is the only vote that truly counts here." Ross said, "I really appreciate your fan support. I feel as frustrated as you do. When you hurt, I'm hurting. And I'm dedicated to making sure we turn this around as fast as possible" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/4).

CITY OF ANGELS: In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes the Angels need "some creative tension in the front office, to take [manager Mike] Scioscia's ideas and bounce them off a general manager with the authority to bounce back." Shaikin: "This is about far more than Scioscia, a rock of credibility for a previously wayward franchise. This is about an organization that has struggled to identify Plan B when Plan A fails, and has resorted to taking on money far too often." Shaikin adds if team Owner Arte Moreno "is not going to win bidding wars in free agency -- and he didn't with CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Carl Crawford -- then he needs a strong general manager with a Plan B, C and D ready to go, to avoid another roster overloaded with slap-hitting infielders, old outfielders and middle relievers" (L.A. TIMES, 10/4).

THE LATEST ON THEO: Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts appeared on Fox Business’ “Cavuto” last night, and host Neil Cavuto asked, “Who’s the leadership going to be?" He mentioned Red Sox GM Theo Epstein by name and said, "I’m thinking, ‘That’s a perfect guy.’” Ricketts was noncommittal and said, “There are a lot of good candidates out there” (“Cavuto,” Fox Business, 10/3). Comcast SportsNet New England’s Sean McAdam said there is a "tug" on Epstein between going to the Cubs and staying with the Red Sox. McAdam: "There’s the challenge of going to Chicago and doing for the Cubs what he did for the Red Sox. That makes him an immortal in baseball executives. ... The allure of that has to be undeniable. On the other hand, I think there is a loyalty to (Red Sox Owner) John Henry, who was the guy who made him a general manager here at the age of 28. I think he wants to fix the mess that has been created here" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 10/3).

ON THE PROWL: For the third consecutive season, the Predators will offer single-game ticket discounts on specific days of the week. The team’s single-game tickets average $45 for the upper level and $80 for the lower. For Thursday games, the team will give discounts to college students for $15 upper-level tickets and $25 lower-level seats. On Tuesdays, the club will sell a two-pack of upper-level tickets for $49 and a two-pack lower level tickets for $99. The club will also offer a military discount for all games good for $60 lower-level tickets and $25 upper-level seats (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).