The Bengals' buy-one, get-one-free promo for season-ticket holders for Sunday's game against the Ravens worked, as the game "will be a sellout” for only the second time this season, according to Joe Reedy of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Bengals Dir of Sales & Public Affairs Jeff Berding said that the team “moved 18,000 seats on Monday and Tuesday” and “some club and single-seat tickets remain available but the team has satisfied the league’s definition of a sellout.” In order for a television blackout to be lifted, “all non-club, suite and non-obstructed view tickets have to be sold.” Berding said, “It was an extraordinary two days with the demand from our season-ticket holders.” Reedy reported demand was “unprecedented as the club set single-day sales records on Monday and Tuesday.” Bengals Exec VP Katie Blackburn in a statement said, “Our fans have made a tremendous response this week to our sales efforts, and we thank the entire community for its support.” Reedy noted through seven home games, the Bengals have drawn “an average of 47,224, which is 72.1 percent of capacity.” And prior to this game, the "only sellout was for the Nov. 13 game with Pittsburgh due to many Steelers fans buying tickets” (CINCINNATI.com, 12/28).
WHO IS TO BLAME? CBSSPORTS.com’s Ray Ratto wrote moving tickets in a tough economy is "tough, and providing years of uninteresting product makes it worse.” The Bengals are “reaping their own whirlwind, and credit goes both to those fans who have stuck it out, and those who have stopped attending, for both groups are voting with their feet, every single week.” If the Bengals “can't convince enough people to attend, that is wholly, solely and completely the fault of the Bengals” and no matter “what happens, that will always be true” (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/28). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote as a football man, Bengals Owner Mike Brown is “incompetent and tone-deaf, a pitiable combination that means Brown has no idea how bad he is at his job -- or why Bengals fans are staying away.” Fans are “staying away because of Mike Brown.” Doyel: “This is not Cincinnati's fault. Bengals fans are not bad fans. … This is a franchise that, until last season, sold out 57 consecutive home games.” Since Brown assumed control of the club in ‘91, the Bengals “haven't won a single playoff game.” Bengals fans have “made a principled stand, but not against the 53 players on roster.” They have made their stand “against Mike Brown, who used this area's passion for football against it, getting a stadium deal that hasn't enriched the area but has helped cripple it” (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/28).
Two West Coast sports execs are suing Comcast-Spectacor “to collect a $2 million finder’s fee that they contend is owed them for helping with the sale of the win-challenged and financially ailing 76ers,” according to Bob Fernandez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Former Trail Blazers President Bob Whitsitt and Reebok Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Tom Shine “filed the federal breach-of-contract lawsuit in Philadelphia on Tuesday claiming they introduced Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and general counsel Philip Weinberg to sports agent Jason Levien, who became part of the group that eventually purchased the Sixers” (PHILLY.com, 12/28). Comcast-Spectacor VP/PR Ike Richman said that the company “challenges the merits of their claims and plans to vigorously defend the suit.” The lawsuit states that Comcast-Spectacor “has previously rejected the plaintiffs' fee demand on grounds Levien is not a controlling owner and that it paid a finder's fee to someone else.” The plaintiffs “call that logic ‘frivolous’ and say it differs from the written agreement.” The lawsuit claims that the agreement “promises a $2 million finder's fee if Shine and Whitsitt find a purchaser to serve as the controlling owner, ‘or another person designated by purchaser with the consent of club owner.’" The suit claims that the NBA “defines a controlling owner as someone with at least a 15 percent equity stake in the franchise who also manages the operations” (AP, 12/28).
The A's Wednesday traded P Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, and in Oakland, Monte Poole writes the A's “are announcing they're packing it in for 2012 and maybe even 2013” by trading the players “who have represented Oakland in the last three All-Star games, all in a three-week span.” The club traded P Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals last week and P Trevor Cahill to the D'Backs earlier in December. MLB “has an ownership team brazenly deciding to ‘throw’ a season three months before opening day,” and the A's are “doing this under [Commissioner Bud] Selig's nose, practically waving the white flag in his eyes.” Poole: "Any high-minded rhetoric about integrity from the commissioner has to be considered disingenuous at best, downright fraudulent at worst. How can such a naked exhibition of surrender not hurt the game?” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/29). San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami said, "They’ve pulled everything off the table, I believe, in a slightly cynical way to say, ‘Hey, if we can't look to San Jose, look how bad we're going to be. Look how much money we're going to lose'" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 12/28). MLB Network's Larry Bowa said, "This team right here, they’re probably going to play in front of under a million people for the entire season. There’s not going to be a lot of people that are going to spend a lot of money to go watch this product." MLB Network's Bill Ripken said, "What we’re seeing right now is just a trailer for ‘Moneyball 2’" (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 12/28).
BARGAIN HUNTERS: In New Jersey, John Brennan wrote fans should not “expect to find a bargain for Sunday night’s Giants-Cowboys game at MetLife Stadium” as this is a “triple-whammy for secondary market buyers.” The game is “effectively a playoff game, with the winner capturing the NFC East title and the loser eliminated.” The Cowboys have “thousands of fans in the New Jersey/New York marketplace, driving up demand.” Sunday is New Year’s Night, but “Monday is the official work holiday,” so for once, most “fans in the stands get to sleep in the next morning without using a vacation day.” Throw in “a decent weather forecast -- low of 34 and only a slight chance of precipitation -- and the elements are there for a bonanza for those looking to sell” (NORTHJERSEY.com, 12/28).
COVERING THEIR BASES: In N.Y., Andrew Keh reports the Yankees asked the team’s Head Physician Chris Ahmad to “research the procedure and the doctor in question, Peter Wehling of Düsseldorf,” from whom 3B Alex Rodriguez planned to receive treatment on his shoulder and knee. Ahmad “also talked to the Lakers’ staff about [G Kobe] Bryant, who was treated by Wehling last summer.” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the team reached out to MLB “to make sure there was a complete comfort level that there was nothing in this process utilized that violated the drug program.” The research and discussions “were sufficient to satisfy the Yankees’ concerns, and Rodriguez traveled to Düsseldorf on Dec. 5.” He stayed “five days for treatment on his left shoulder and surgically repaired right knee.” Afterward, the Yankees received “a signed statement from Wehling assuring them that no substances banned under the drug programs followed by baseball and the World Anti-Doping Agency had been used” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/29).