The Browns are "among the teams that won't take advantage of the NFL's new relaxed blackout policy," according to Nate Ulrich of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Browns VP/Media Relations Neal Gulkis said, "It’s a non-issue for us. Our fan support has been tremendous, and we fully expect that all of our games will be sold out and televised locally.” Ulrich notes the Browns “have not had a home game blacked out since the finale of the 1995 season, after the franchise’s move to Baltimore was announced, but there have been some close calls” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/17). Meanwhile, in Tampa, Stephen Holder asked of the Bucs decision to adopt the new blackout rule, "Why did no other team take advantage of this change?" There are "financial implications here that haven't been taken into consideration by fans." Other teams "rejected this opportunity simply because it could cut into their bottom lines, something they say they can't afford." Holder: "This clearly was something that had to be decided on a case-by-case basis," and the Bucs "chose an option that benefits the fan base" (TAMPABAY.com, 7/16).
The Canadiens “are now in the condo business,” as team President & CEO Geoff Molson yesterday announced a C$175M “skyscraper that is to be built on what currently serves as the team’s Centennial Plaza,” according to Sean Gordon of the GLOBE & MAIL. The new building “will have 500-odd units and at 48 storeys will be the tallest residential building on the island of Montreal when completed.” The Canadiens are “partnering with Cadillac-Fairview, which owns most of the land surrounding the Bell Centre.” With the “cheapest units” going for C$250,000, the team is “clearly taking advantage of an opportunity to add revenues” (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/17). In Montreal, Allison Lampert notes the Tour des Canadiens condo project has been "sized down from 700 to 500 units, in part to accommodate the two-storey sports bar, modeled on Toronto’s Real Sports bar and grill, and nine stories of indoor parking" (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 7/16). Also in Montreal, Mike Boone notes the development "is going to be constructed at the southwest corner" of Ave des Canadiens-de-Montreal and De la Montagne St. The west side of the condo tower "is decorated with the familiar CH." The Tour des Canadiens logo "is symmetrical red and blue hockey sticks arrayed to represent the peak of a tower" (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/17).
Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino recently sent a letter to season-ticket holders addressing the team's first-half struggles as well as his optimism for the remainder of the season. Lucchino wrote, “As we cross the midpoint of our 2012 season, we thank you for your loyal support thus far.” He added, “Our play on the field has at times tested the mettle of the faithful. It could be maddening one day, enthralling the next day. … The one constant on the field has been our beloved Big Papi, David Ortiz.” Lucchino: “As we begin the second half, we look forward to the return of the ‘varsity,’ including Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, and the ever-dirty Dustin Pedroia. ... While this infusion of such talent in late July may make other General Managers green with envy, you can be sure that Ben Cherington and his Baseball Operations Staff will approach the July 31 trading deadline with their tireless work ethic. If someone can further help this club, and if the deal makes sense, we will be aggressive. We want to play October Baseball this year” (Multi., 7/13).
BEANTOWN BLUES: A BOSTON.CBSLOCAL.com report asked, “Was this really the best idea for Lucchino and the Sox?” WBZ-FM broadcaster Scott Zolak said, “Don’t you lay low if you’re him. Just try to sneak back into this thing?” WBZ's Andy Gresh said that “all the names Lucchino used for his players ... [were] pretty corny.” Gresh: “It’s like bad wrestling gimmick names. I’m sure the ‘inspired’ Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik and all the people who have held down the fort through the injuries are happy to hear the management say ‘the return of the varsity.’ That’s nice” (BOSTON.CBSLOCAL.com, 7/13). Comcast SportsNet New England's Rich Levine wrote of Lucchino’s praise for Ortiz, “Vintage Lucchino. Over-the-top to the point of insincerity. ‘What? What do you mean Big Papi doesn’t like the way we treat him? Didn’t he see my letter to the Season Ticket Holders?!’” (CSNNE.com, 7/13). Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote, “Lucchino has been in Boston too long (11 years) to think he can bamboozle Red Sox fans, but that doesn’t stop the team’s president and chief executive officer from trying” (MURRAYCHASS.com, 7/15).
A group advising Robert Pera through the process of his bid to buy the Grizzlies will be in Memphis “this week to meet with team and business leaders,” according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Sources said that “at least three people in Pera's inner circle plan to spend the next several days meeting with Griz executives, the team's recently formed advisory board and prominent Memphians in the business community.” Pera will “not travel to Memphis this week.” A source said that the “goal of the trip is to help Pera better understand the organization and the community.” Members of Pera's team “also reached out to the Grizzlies' local limited partners," but it is “not known yet whether Pera will seek to establish a local ownership group” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/17).
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has been told by the team that his summer of attending events and doing things that “seem un-Patriot-like ... is over,” according to a source cited by Shalise Manza Young of the BOSTON GLOBE. Gronkowski recently has co-hosted “Access Hollywood Live,” appeared on Fox’ “The Choice,” posed nude for ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue” and partied “at events for the issue and the ESPYs.” Manza Young: “Don’t be surprised if he lays low for the next couple of weeks” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/15). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said the Patriots asking Gronkowski to calm down is "irony” after the recent audition video featuring Patriots Owner Robert Kraft with his bikini-clad girlfriend. Le Batard said, “What were they mad about? That he was shirtless on a magazine? … He looked better shirtless than Kraft would have looked shirtless.” Le Batard: “I love the idea of the Patriots calling in Gronkowski and wagging a parental finger at him and yelling at him. But then [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell’s got to call in Kraft, right, because you can’t have your owner doing videos with bikini models” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 7/16). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Tell the owner and the tight end, ‘Chill out. We’re in July, fellas, it’s almost time for football.’ But don’t tell one and not the other” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/16). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “These guys play with helmets all year long, he can have fun in the summer. People get to see who they are.” SB Nation’s Bomani Jones: “There’s a limited shelf life for what Rob Gronkowski’s doing and it won’t be compelling for long” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/16).
World TeamTennis Washington Kastles matches have “become one of the go-to social scenes" in DC this summer, according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Kastles Owner Mark Ein bought the team five years ago as an expansion franchise, "paying an expansion fee and investing a few million on start-up costs.” He named it for “his Rosslyn-based electronic security badge company, Kastle Systems.” Ein said that he is “not in it for the money.” He said, “As I dug into (researching the economics), I thought generating lots of profits on an annual basis would probably be tough. But if you could build audience and a brand, you might build franchise value.” Ein’s strategy is to “create buzz through winning and drawing bold-faced spectators” like First Lady Michelle Obama. Heath wrote, "To that end, he pays big bucks -- I estimate well into six figures -- for single-game appearances by tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.” The 1,000 “devoted season ticket holders” fill about “40 percent of the 2,600-seat stadium.” Season-ticket prices range from “$150 for all seven games to $6,000 for a courtside dinner table, which includes four tickets and catered dinner.” Individual game tickets “range from $15 to $85.” The team takes in roughly $2M a year in "ticket sales and other revenue, which produces a manageable cash deficit in the low six figures.” Many of the sponsors -- including “Cadillac, SunTrust, Geico, Bloomberg, Capital Party Rentals, Residence Inn Marriott, Pepco, Qorvis and Comcast SportsNet -- also provide in-kind services such as food, transportation and tents, which help cover costs.” The WTT also “shares some national sponsorship with the Kastles” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/16).