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Volume 24 No. 155


Despite "large clusters of empty seats at Fenway Park and speculation" that the Red Sox' home sellout streak would end, the team yesterday "announced a crowd of 37,506" for their 5-1 win over Royals, according to Dan Duggan of the BOSTON HERALD. It was the team's 782nd consecutive sellout, the "longest streak in major U.S. pro sports history." Red Sox Media Relations Dir Pam Ganley said of the streak persisting despite empty seats, "The tickets were sold, which isn't related to the no-show rate." With the team's on-field struggles this year, "many expected the streak to end, but the team continues to announce sellouts, adding to the record that began in 2003" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy said the “sellout criteria” for a day game was 37,067. Kennedy said, “There’s a big difference between a no-show rate and tickets that are unsold. … We are blessed here in Boston with the fourth or fifth lowest no-show rate in Major League Baseball. I think the industry average is over 20%; we’re in the 10-15%, and even lower in some years past.” He said the Red Sox try to “do our best to make sure that tickets get in the hands of people to use them.” Kennedy: “That’s why we go to great lengths about how we distribute our tickets and putting ticket limits early in the year so they’re not all going into the hands of brokers or scalpers. People for the most part who buy tickets, use them.” He said of empty seats late in the season, “A lot of it is tied to team performance. … When you have a year like (this year), you’re going to have a no-show rate that is a little bit higher” (“Red Sox Gameday Live,” NESN, 8/27). In New Hampshire, Alan Greenwood writes, "The Red Sox brass should quit fooling themselves, and realize that they are fooling no one outside their front office, over the sham sellout streak" (NASHUA TELEGRAPH, 8/28).

END OF AN ERA: In Boston, Gerry Callahan writes of the Red Sox' trade that included sending 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers, "This is only the greatest trade in Red Sox history." With one transaction, with one "misguided trading partner, the Red Sox essentially slammed the door on the [former GM Theo] Epstein era and ushered in a new day." Callahan writes "just like that, everything changed" for GM Ben Cherington. The "toothless Larry Lucchino sock puppet who couldn’t even hire his own manager was suddenly the bold, bloodless triggerman the Red Sox desperately needed" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes wrote, "If we can take Cherington at his word that the Sox are not just intent on shaving payroll and prepared to tolerate a 'bridge year' until their top prospects have ripened, the Sox will have no choice but to spend." If the Red Sox "expect to address their most pressing needs, like the starting rotation, they may have no choice but to target at least one big-ticket player" (, 8/27).

EARNING BACK THEIR TRUST: In Boston, Michael Silverman writes, "As giddy as everybody got, Red Sox fans should keep that 'Mission Accomplished' banner in storage." Fans are "expected to trust and believe the franchise has ... not only repudiated the decision-making process that went into all of those massive deals, but also replaced it with something better." The Red Sox have "a ton of bridge building to do with their fans to make them understand not only what went wrong, but also why the same people who made the mistakes can be trusted to have learned from them" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/28). The NASHUA TELEGRAPH's Greenwood writes, "History will consider it one of the greatest transactions in franchise history." The trade was "cleansing for the front office's collective soul." But the Red Sox "have a few more things they can do to finish wiping their slate clean." Greenwood: "First, give Bobby Valentine a raise and say that he will be the manager of this nine in 2013" (NASHUA TELEGRAPH, 8/28).

SPORTS GUY'S INTROSPECTIVE:'s Bill Simmons wrote of the Red Sox, "We started spending money like the Yankees. Our charming, broken-down, illogically constructed museum of a baseball park was overhauled and turned into a cash cow (same for the streets surrounding it)." The owners "relentlessly pimped the Red Sox brand inside the stadium, on their website, on their 24-hour TV channel, on your street, in your house, on your forehead and everywhere else you could imagine, only we looked the other way because they kept funneling so much of their profits back into the team." Not long ago, the Red Sox organization "ranked among the most thoughtful in baseball." Simmons: "So what changed? Everyone else in baseball started emulating what the smarter teams were doing, leaving [Epstein] without any real market inefficiencies to exploit other than defense and this one: He could simply outspend 95 percent of the league." But after the deal with the Dodgers, the Red Sox front office "might put some actual thought into 2013 instead of settling on being Yankees Farther East" (, 8/27).

The multi-player trade made by the Dodgers with the Red Sox last weekend “offered the latest evidence of the extraordinary rise in the price of sports TV rights and their growing impact on the field and onscreen,” according to Jon Weisman of the DAILY VARIETY. While some took Dodgers Owner Guggenheim Baseball Management's “carefree attitude as a sign of business insanity, others saw simple confidence in the lucrative local cable rights deal the Dodgers are negotiating.” Fox has an “exclusive negotiating window for an extension with the franchise through Nov. 30, along with a right of first refusal after that date.” Weisman wrote all indications are that the “communications lines between the current partners are open.” Estimates for the Dodgers' TV extension “start at $4 billion over 20 years, though that amount could be altered depending on whether the baseball team takes equity in the television business” (, 8/27). ESPN's Jayson Stark said, “One of the big issues for me is they’re spending TV money that they don’t have yet. But it’s the TV money that has driven what they’ve done." The Dodgers owners have committed to $419.5M in salaries "beyond this year, just since they’ve bought the team." Stark: "This is all that drives the negotiations for that TV deal. It’s very possible that the added value of the TV deal now pays for all of it and that’s a big part of their thinking” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 8/28). The Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh said, “You’re also talking about the future of big-market baseball. ... The television revenue created this trade” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 8/27).
MONEY IS NO OBJECT: In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted the Dodgers are “already committed" to a payroll of $192.6M next season, which would “give them a higher payroll than every team this season" other than the Yankees. The money spent by the new owners since they took over the team in May totals $432M, more than former Owner Frank McCourt “paid for the team ($421 million) in 2004” (, 8/27). GRANTLAND’s Jonah Keri wrote, “All the Dodgers did was completely rethink the way baseball teams spend money, and thus run their business.” The Dodgers have “hinted that budget might not matter all that much to them.” The Dodgers “became the most dangerous team in baseball.” Keri: “Dangerous to other clubs in their ability to outspend the competition anytime they want. And dangerous to owners of baseball's richest teams as well as the commissioner's office, who risk having their excellent and wildly profitable scam exposed” (, 8/27).

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT: Dodgers investor Magic Johnson said, “I laugh when people ask if we're trying to upstage the Lakers after they got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but that's what we need here in Los Angeles: stars. This is an amazing time in L.A. with all the great teams and players we have now. Hollywood is the land of stars. L.A. is used to big Dodger personalities, from Tommy Lasorda to all the great players in the organization's history. The Dodgers have always been about winning and stars” (, 8/27).

The MLS Timbers today will announce that they "won't raise season-ticket prices next season," according to John Canzano of the Portland OREGONIAN. Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson said, "Not a single ticket, not a single section." The club had "considered a modest increase (5 percent), especially given that there's a waiting list for tickets that the team says is 7,000 customers deep." Paulson said of the decision, "We're leaving some money on the table, and the business-side people are going to roll their eyes at me, but it just doesn't feel right." Canzano writes raising prices now "would just plain be flat wrong." Canzano: "Never mind that the Timbers' 2011-12 prices put them 12th among 19 Major League Soccer teams. Never mind that the organization could probably raise prices and still sell out Jeld-Wen Field." MLS execs "were surprised to learn on Monday that the Timbers decided against raising ticket prices." Paulson has "never much been interested in doing anything other than holding his own franchise accountable, and being its biggest fan." Meanwhile, the Timbers "drew 14,000 to a game featuring reserves on Sunday" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/28).

Eagles Senior VP/Business Ari Roitman said that marketing deals with several major sponsors “are up for renewal this year and the team spent much of the summer securing long-term pacts with marketing partners Dietz & Watson, Snapple, Amoroso’s, SCA America and the American Red Cross," according to John George of the PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL. While some NFL teams have more than 100 sponsorship deals, the Eagles "limit their corporate partners to 46 in an effort to create more value for the limited supply.” The team does “not disclose specific financial details for their marketing agreements, but most of the major partnerships are believed to be valued at several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.” George notes the “biggest change among the roster of Eagles sponsors is Coca-Cola replacing Pepsi, one of the team’s founding partners when it opened Lincoln Financial Field in 2003.” Roitman said that the only other “major corporate partner who did not renew for this season was 7-Eleven, and the team is in talks with potential new sponsors in the convenience store category.” The team also is “still looking to fill its automobile sponsor category, last occupied by Chrysler Jeep in 2008” (PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24 issue).

ANGRY BIRDS BACK FOR MORE: The Eagles and Rovio Entertainment are launching a new version of the "Angry Birds" game which will be available exclusively on the team’s Facebook page. The game will feature 16 free levels which will unlock one at a time each week during the regular season. The game -- unique to the Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, and Philadelphia -- will officially launch on Sept. 4 and a new level will be available the day after each Eagles game. The game also will introduce a new character, the Mighty Philadelphia Eagle (Eagles).

If the NHL is to miss any time for the '12-13 season, the Stars "can handle another work stoppage because the roots here are deep enough," according to Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi said, "I'm confident in the marketplace for the long term. I wouldn't have bought the team if I wasn't." Stars President & CEO Jim Lites: "We have a great arena deal, we have a great demographic, we have a great marketplace. Look, there were some mistakes made, and we have had some down years, but we're in the process of fixing those mistakes, and we're in the process of coming back. The future is bright." Heika noted in the previous two seasons when the team "was run by lenders, much of the sales and management team left." Because of that, "the push to sell tickets fell flat." The Stars for the '11-12 season ranked 28th in average NHL attendance at 14,227. Even more "alarming was the fact the Stars announced four crowds of less than 10,000 early in the season -- including the smallest crowd to ever see the Stars play in Dallas, 6,306." But Gaglardi and Lites "have pushed sales back up and started distributing either complimentary tickets or good deals." The last nine games of the '11-12 season "all had announced attendance in excess of 16,600, and that included three sellouts." Gaglardi:  "I have to give Jim Lites a lot of credit, because he's done a great job of stopping the negative momentum on the tickets and turning that around into some positive momentum. But even more important, he has really been in touch with the corporate community, and he has made huge strides there. I feel very good about that part of the organization" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/26).

In Cincinnati, Rory Glynn noted with Saturday's crowd of 41,680, "the Reds have drawn 1,934,904” at home so far this season. The team has 15 home games remaining and is averaging "29,768 through 65 dates.” If the Reds average 26,273 in the final 16 games, “they would break the single-season high for Great American Ball Park, currently 2,355,259 in 2003, the stadium's inaugural season.” Keeping that pace with kids back in school “is always a challenge, but a first-place club trying to clinch a playoff spot certainly should help the cause” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/25).

BABYSITTERS CLUB: ESPN DALLAS’ Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote Cowboys WR Dez Bryant “has agreed to a rigorous set of rules designed and implemented by owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to prevent any off-the-field issues.” The Cowboys “informed [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] of the rules being put in place for Bryant, and he decided that was good enough for him” (, 8/27). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes of the new rules for Bryant, “Despite what you think about his chances of being able to get it together, the Cowboys have to try” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/28).

A midnight curfew
No drinking alcohol
No strip clubs; can only attend nightclubs approved by Cowboys and must have a security team with him
Attend counseling sessions twice a week
A rotating three-man security team with one man with Bryant at all times
Security will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions

DECLARATION OF LOYALTY: In Oakland, Matthew Artz writes city Mayor Jean Quan yesterday “declared the second week of September as ‘Oakland Loves its Sports Teams Week’ with events scheduled both for the Raiders Sept. 10 home opener and a Sept. 14 A's game.” A's co-Owner Lew Wolff is “still seeking approval from his fellow owners to move the club to downtown San Jose, while the Warriors need no such permission to make good on their plan to pack up for a proposed waterfront arena” in S.F. The Raiders “want to stay, but haven't disclosed how they would help finance the new stadium they want built at the Coliseum site” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 8/28).

DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP STYLES: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera “didn't technically extend the lease” at FedExForum, “but he bolstered it.” He appears to have “gained something [outgoing Owner Michael] Heisley never had in more than a decade in Memphis: real, committed, enthusiastic partners.” Pera “may or may not be a good owner over the long haul,” but it is “striking, the way he has gone about his business so far, and the way it differs from Heisley” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/26).