Many middle-class 49ers fans who "stuck with the team through its awful stretches now say they are being priced out of the team's forthcoming stadium in Santa Clara," according to a front-page piece by Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The team last month "assigned current holders of some of its best season tickets 9,000 much costlier club seats in the new stadium -- and if they don't buy them by March 16, they lose the seats that in many cases have been in their families for generations." For a spot in the new $1B stadium, fans must "first pay a one-time fee for the rights to a seat -- club seats range from $20,000 to $80,000 each -- then buy the actual tickets, which for the club section run $3,250 to $3,750 each season." Team President & CEO Jed York said that the franchise "decided not to sell seats in the six-figures ... even though the 49ers could have done so in this market." He added that he "expects to sell out the stadium, and that despite the prices expects it to be packed with 'working-class families.'" Rosenberg noted several fans "spoke of disappointment" in the franchise, as they "thought they had a special bond that transcended the normal relationship between business and customer." Fans who "can't afford club seats can put down a $500 refundable deposit and get a shot at the remaining 50,000-plus seats in the stadium after season-ticket holders currently in Candlestick's upper deck and near the end zones get first crack at them later this year." It is "unclear how expensive those seats will be" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/31).
ON THE BALLOT? A SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL editorial states it "seems the fight for the proposed" 49ers stadium "isn't quite over yet." The editorial: "Or that is how a small but well organized group that opposes the project sees it." They "vow to block the project, by ballot or lawsuit, for as long as it takes." It is a "shame the stadium, which most in Santa Clara have already supported in a ballot measure and their elected officials have repeatedly approved, needs to be endlessly debated." The editorial: "Particularly when petitioners, who say they are looking out for the city's financial well-being, are instead creating threats to a very beneficial project and are seeking to spend municipal funds on needless elections" (SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/27 issue).
Today is the deadline for the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission to tell the Rams its plans to upgrade Edward Jones Dome, and several ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH writers discussed the topic of Rams Owner Stan Kroenke potentially relocating the team to L.A. if the dome renovations do not meet the terms of the team's lease. Roger Hensley asks, "Given Kroenke’s new interest in the Dodgers and his silence on the Dome issue, what does your gut tell you: Will the Rams remain in St. Louis for the foreseeable future or do you see the franchise relocating in a few years?" Jim Thomas wrote, "It comes down to how committed Stan Kroenke is to this market, and I don’t have the answer to that. Because there is, in fact, no realistic way that St. Louis can meet first-tier requirements, you might as well talk about building a new stadium for those kind of dollars. The other factor is how ready really is Los Angeles to build a new stadium for an NFL team?" Tom Timmermann wrote, "What I see is another team moving to Los Angeles and while the league probably wouldn’t object to two teams there, being Team 2 isn’t as good as being Team 1. If by the time the Rams’ lease is up and no other team has moved to the City of Angels, I think the Rams will head back home." Kathleen Nelson wrote, "Stan is just being a good businessman, getting his ducks in a row and using his considerable leverage to get as much as he can from whomever. The city fathers already lost one NFL franchise. The damage to the city’s reputation if it lost a second would be devastating." Joe Lyons: "Above all else, Kroenke is a businessman and I’m afraid it’s going to take some hefty incentives to keep [him] here" (STLTODAY.com, 2/1). In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote Kroenke is "not the bad guy, just the one with most of the leverage -- and he's not afraid to use it." This issue really is "less about Kroenke and the Rams and a lot more about someone making a great decision that will transform the St. Louis region back into a blue-chip municipality again." It is "not about 2012 or 2014, and anyone who thinks that way is lost." This negotiation is about St. Louis "10 years from now, 15 years from now, 25 years from now" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/31).
KROENKE'S DODGERS BID ALL ABOUT L.A.: In L.A., T.J. Simers writes if outgoing Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt picks Kroenke as the Dodgers' winning bidder, McCourt "does something that Eli Broad, Ed Roski, Mayor Riordan, Peter O'Malley and so many others could not do." He "not only brings the NFL back to town, but he gives fans here the Rams again." There is "no other reason for Kroenke to bid on the Dodgers, even though there are NFL rules that prevent an owner from owning a baseball team in one city and a football team in another." Kroenke is also friends with AEG Chair Phil Anschutz, who is "working on a plan to open a football stadium here [in L.A.] in time for the 2016 season" (L.A. TIMES, 2/1).
NBA Kings co-Owner Gavin Maloof said that any "reports the team is considering replacing basketball president Geoff Petrie are 'totally false.'" Maloof said, "Geoff's always been a part of the family. We're in a rough stretch, but so what? Things will turn around." He added, "We love the direction we're going. I know it's not translating into wins, but eventually it will" (SACBEE.com, 2/1).
READY TO WEAR: NFL Panthers PR Dir Charlie Dayton yesterday said despite slight alterations to the team's logo, "I don't anticipate any changes at all in the uniforms." In Charlotte, Scott Fowler noted the logo "will be incorporated into the helmets and jerseys, of course," but that is "about all" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/31). Meanwhile, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that the team is "not planning on changes" to its logo or uniform in '12. He added that teams "have been instructed to not disclose specifics of the Nike gear until after the Super Bowl, the last NFL game in Reebok attire" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/1).
BIRD'S THE WORD: In Indianapolis, Mike Wells noted Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird's "patience is finally paying off." He has "slowly rebuilt the roster the way he wants it, and in turn, the Pacers are off to their best start in eight years." The Pacers will be "about $20 million under the salary cap next summer before they try to re-sign soon-to-be restricted free agents George Hill and Roy Hibbert." Wells noted the team has a "bright future, but it's uncertain if Bird will be making the decisions from his office at Bankers Life Fieldhouse." As was the case "last season, Bird is not sure if he will remain team president beyond this season." Bird and Pacers Owner Herb Simon "have a year-to-year handshake agreement," though Simon has said that Bird "can stay in the organization as long as he wants." Bird: "I will decide that in July" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/27). SETTING THE PACE: The Bobcats are "averaging close to 17,000 fans per game at 19,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena this season," though team execs acknowledged that the pace "could be difficult to maintain." Nineteen of the "remaining 24 home games are in March and April." The club last season averaged 15,846 fans per game (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/27 issue).