In the wake of EPL club Manchester City's first top division titlein 44 years, “sponsorship experts are in agreement that securing the title will be a significant boon for the club’s sponsorship coffers,” according to John Reynolds of MARKETING magazine. brandRapport Dir Nigel Currie said, “With this Premiership win, Manchester City over the next five years can double their sponsorship earnings.” Sponsorship experts believe that Man City’s “bargaining chips will be improved following its new kit deal with Nike.” Experts believe the “marketing power of Nike will also help Man City boost its overall sponsorship earnings.” Man City’s current partners include Etihad Airways, EA, Thomas Cook, Harvey Nichols, Amstel and Paddy Power (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 5/14). Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN'S Helen Nugent noted “tens of thousands” of Man City supporters yesterday “queued from lunchtime in central Manchester for a chance to see their heroes at a special reception and victory parade on an open-top bus” (GUARDIAN, 5/14).
CASHING IN: The PA notes Man City’s income from EPL broadcast payments for last season “was a record” US$97.3M. Wolverhampton ranked last at US$62.6M. The figures “highlight the money available to clubs in the richest league in the world -- and the fact that compared to many other leagues the split of the cash is not skewed massively towards the top sides.” Half the domestic TV cash and all the overseas rights income “are split equally between the 20 clubs” (PA, 5/15).
Details of a conference call between the L.A. TIMES' T.J. Simers with members of the new Dodgers ownership group are featured under the header, "Dodgers' New Owners Appear To Have Hangups About Full Disclosure." Simers writes, "In what was supposed to be the new Dodgers owners' chance to better explain themselves after a misleading introductory news conference, it was a struggle during Monday's conference call even to get an admission that Frank McCourt is not well-liked around here." Among the highlights from the conference call:
*Simers asked Dodgers Chair Mark Walter, "Did you underestimate how fans feel about Frank McCourt?" Walter said, "I don't know if I really had any sense for how fans felt about Frank McCourt. ... I understand there is a lot of negative, whatever word you want to use, towards Frank in that community. I understand that."
*Simers told Magic Johnson a "number of fans had emailed to express their admiration for him, but they were upset he sat beside McCourt on opening day in San Diego." Johnson said, "That's what you do when you are buying a business and talk to the previous owner to find out about the company. That's business. OK? That's what I did. I took care of Dodger business. ... He explained a lot of different things I did not know. I'm happy I sat next to him to learn Dodger business."
*Throughout the conference call, Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten "frequently interrupted," and "repeated that they're 'not going to reveal personal or private details.'" Kasten said, "T.J. is only interested in Frank; he doesn't care about the Dodgers, the fans or the community."
*Simers noted after "living through Fox and McCourt ... people are very suspicious when it comes to Dodgers ownership." Walter responded, "There is a tremendous amount of positive response outside of you."
Simers noted it appeared Johnson "had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt" as during the ownership group’s introductory press conference, Johnson told the media that McCourt "wasn't going to get a dime." Johnson said yesterday, "I didn't say anything wrong." Walter said, "I believe we said (McCourt) doesn't get any of the revenue from parking, which is completely correct, and he does not get half of that revenue stream. It's just not correct." Simers asked, "So what is correct?" Walter responded, "We're not going to talk about that today. But that's not correct" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).
MAGIC TOUCH: MLB.com's Ken Gurnick noted Kasten on Friday "held his first team meeting since taking charge." Kasten told players that ownership "will make acquisitions to improve the club and is considering a renovation of the clubhouse along with other updates to Dodger Stadium." When players returned from a recent road trip, they "found that the wives and family room had been renovated." When the Dodgers "reported to the clubhouse on Friday, each player and uniformed staff member found a pair of No. 32 Lakers jerseys signed" by Johnson. One was "personalized for each Dodger, the other autographed so each could be donated to the charity of the player's choice." Kasten said, "I told them that what I needed from them was to reach out to the fans and community. We're going to ask more of them in personal appearances and philanthropy. I told them, 'You know how excited you are to get Magic's jersey? That's how everyone feels when you give them your autograph.' I think they're all-in. I hope so" (MLB.com, 5/12).
PERSONNEL NOTES: CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman noted while nothing has been "firmed up yet," signs point to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly "remaining in their jobs ... into next year, and probably beyond that" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/14). Meanwhile, in L.A., Bill Dwyre profiles Dodgers Chief Revenue Officer Michael Young, who was "hired three years ago by the McCourts," and is getting a "chance here because he is smart, articulate and had a successful athletic career." In addition, he is an "interesting story of how a football player can use his brain instead of getting it bashed in." Young said, "I have never seen so many people live and die with a team like I see in Dodgers employees. I'm hooked. This place has a spirit I've never seen before" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).
Padres Chair John Moores said there is “interest at the highest possible level” regarding the sale of his club, according to Nick Canepa of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Moores said, “The interest level is better than you’d expect. I hate to say it, but it pretty much looks like we guessed right.” Among those “said to be interested” are SAC Capital Advisors Founder and Mets investor Steve Cohen, Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, former Dodgers Owner Peter O’Malley and White Sox Special Assistant Dennis Gilbert. Gilbert is “known to be a favorite of Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox boss Jerry Reinsdorf,” however, he “apparently doesn’t have the cabbage of a Cohen or Tull.” While there may have been “ulterior motives in the $2-plus billion paid for the Dodgers” by Guggenheim Baseball Management, it “certainly didn’t hurt the current value of all major league franchises.” Moores said, “I thought I’d live to see a big-market club trade for a billion dollars. But that’s just stunning. And I never really understood what’s going on with TV. That, too, is stunning. I don’t get it. But you have to be optimistic about new TV contracts, and this happened to be the year when our TV contract came up. Obviously, it helps us a lot, lot more.” It is still uncertain whether Minority Owner Jeff Moorad’s group “will remain involved with new ownership,” but one of his partners, Liquid Investments Chair & CEO Ron Fowler, “is involved in the new deal.” Moores said that he “doesn’t expect to own any part of this team” in ’13. He said, “I’m hoping we get it done this season” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/15).
GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE: In L.A., Bill Shaikin wrote any new Padres owners will need to “try to bridge the widening gap between the cuddly little Friars and the newly capitalized Dodgers.” The Angels and Dodgers “each visit Petco Park this week, with plenty of good seats available.” The Padres have sold “fewer than 20,000 tickets to 12 of their first 23 home games” (L.A. TIMES, 5/13).
In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes although Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley broke off negotiations with Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison, “it’s clear that he’d like to sell the team.” Calkins notes, “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a local group takes another run at owning the franchise. Nor would I be surprised to wake up one day and discover that Heisley has struck a deal with some Ellisonesque billionaire” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/15). Also in Memphis, Ronald Tillery writes the Grizzlies “will have to make similar tough decisions on several free agents this summer.” The team has big contracts committed to C Marc Gasol and Fs Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph through the ’14-15 season, while G Mike Conley is “on a modest long-term deal” through the ’15-16 season. Heisley said, “We can't be in the luxury tax business. We've got to make some financial decisions. That's without question. But we have to step away from this a little bit and let this settle down. I'm not going to allow myself to have any feelings about the roster right now” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/15).
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD: In St. Paul, Charley Walters noted after the Twins lost 99 games last season, the team’s season-ticket total “dropped to about 23,000.” Following the Twins’ 9-23 start in ’12, the team “is expected to face a daunting challenge for season-ticket renewals” in ’13. Twins President Dave St. Peter said that the team’s season-ticket total for this year ranks “fourth in Major League Baseball.” St. Peter: “We'll certainly have our work cut out on renewal based on this start. Still, I think we're still delivering a high value, and there's still a lot of baseball to be played” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/13).
SOMETHING TO BUILD ON: MLS Impact Exec VP Richard Legendre said that he was “pleasantly surprised” to see 60,860 fans turn out Saturday to watch an MLS match against the Galaxy.” In Montreal, Pat Hickey notes the turnout at Olympic Stadium represented “a record for a professional soccer game in Canada.” Legendre: “Montrealers love events, but I think you’re also starting to see the development of a soccer culture.” However, as the Impact prepares to “move to its expanded digs at Saputo Stadium, there are also signs that selling the game is a work in progress.” Two other home games at Olympic Stadium -- an MLS game against the Timbers and a Canadian championship series game against Toronto FC -- “drew fewer than 20,000 fans” (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/15).
ROYAL PLAN: The NBA Kings announced yesterday their first-ever NBA Draft Lottery promotion designed to save fans as much as 50% on ’12-13 season tickets. Should the Kings draw a top-three pick in this year’s Draft, season tickets in designated lower and upper level locations will be offered at 50% off. If the team’s draft pick falls in the five to eight range, tickets will be 35% off. These discounts represent the cheapest price for lower-level season tickets in team history (Kings).