In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes in a "single golden season," 49ers President & CEO Jed York, "the unproven heir to the dynasty has suddenly proved so many things." The team is one game from the Super Bowl, QB Alex Smith is a "national sensation, the defense is ferocious, and the 49ers have financing in place for a new Santa Clara stadium." York is "not so young and untested anymore; he's just a winning NFL chief executive -- albeit still a fairly young one." York said, "It's been fun. It's been a great year. Everything we've done on and off the field has been fantastic" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/20).
CHOICE OR NECESSITY? In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes the Red Sox' '11-12 offseason "hasn't done much to boost fans' hopes." GM Ben Cherington said Thursday, "There’s been significant commitments made the last two offseasons which pushed our payroll further north, and we made those decisions knowing that it wasn’t going to continue to go further north at the same trajectory forever. At some point, there’s a limit. There’s no marker necessarily on where that limit is, but we made decisions over the last two offseasons knowing we were going to be closer to where that threshold is." Shaughnessy writes the Red Sox "charge fans a ton of money for tickets," and NESN "makes a bundle." Owner John Henry "and friends have demonstrated a willingness to spend in commensurate fashion during their 10-year stewardship." But now it "feels like they are pulling back, holding the line, worrying about luxury tax, and (gulp) monies spent on Liverpool soccer." Red Sox "spinmeisters need to cease promoting the notion that the ball club is tapped out and can’t spend more." Shaughnessy: "The money is there. Holding the line on spending is a choice, not a necessity" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20).
PAYROLL ON THE RISE: In Phoenix, Nick Piecoro notes the D'Backs have "found themselves with a payroll they say will be north of $79 million, putting them in position to potentially lose money if things don't go according to plan." D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said, "That's a credit to (Managing General Partner) Ken (Kendrick) and ownership. We now have some pressure to increase revenues, but we think we can." Hall added, "I think revenues will naturally go up after the season we had last year and the investments we made this off-season. With that, it's a bit of a roll of the dice, but we're just trying to break even, as you know. Do we think we can break even with an increased payroll? We certainly hope so, because our team is that much better." Hall said that the club's season-ticket "renewal rate is about 87 percent and added that the team sold 1,400 new accounts, which he said amounts to 'over $1 million in revenue right there'" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/20).
WHERE IS EVERYONE? In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted it is "still early in the season, but home attendance for Milwaukee Bucks games is down markedly." Through the team's "five home games so far, attendance has averaged 13,757, the third lowest in" the NBA. Only the Rockets, "with 13,474 fans per game, and the Detroit Pistons, at 11,719 fans per game, are lower." Last season, the Bucks "averaged 15,412 fans per game, finishing 23rd in the league" (JSONLINE, 1/18).