The Shelby County (Tenn.) Commission yesterday voted "to approve transfer" of the FedExForum lease with HOOPS LP to RJP Group, the entity led by prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera, "although several commissioners protested the lack of financial disclosures" from RJP Group, according to Moore, Morgan, Tillery & Veazy of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. County Commissioner Walter Bailey asked, “Has anybody really delved into the financial stability and solvency of the new owners?” Commissioner Terry Roland added, “I don’t know how I can vote on this, not knowing the financials of the people I’m voting on.” While some commissioners "wanted to defer the issue for two weeks, others thought the commission was simply out of its element." Commissioner Steve Basar said, “The NBA has vetted them, the minority owners in town have vetted them and quite frankly that’s good enough for me.” Commissioner Wyatt Bunker: “These people have plenty of money to foot the bill on this thing. Deferring it would be obstructionist.” The resolution “required the commissioners to change the name on the contract but not the conditions of the city-county agreement with current team owner Michael Heisley’s HOOPS.” The Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority later yesterday "unanimously approved the transfer." Pera is “awaiting approval from the NBA.” The league’s BOG meets Oct. 25, although “a vote on Pera’s bid could be taken by email before then” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/25).
Bruins season-ticket holders have “two options regarding the money they’ve paid for 2012-13 once games begin to fall off the schedule," according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the BOSTON GLOBE. The first option is to “leave money on account, earn 3 percent APR on the value of each ticket as the games are cancelled,” as well as “agree to buy 2013-14 season tickets with prices frozen at this season’s rates.” The second option is to “earn 1 percent APR on games that are cancelled,” and receive “monthly refunds as the lockout progresses.” Meanwhile, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said that the team has “no immediate plans for a reduction in the organization’s work force” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/23).
FAN'S CHOICE: In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues yesterday sent an e-mail “detailing the four options that season-ticket holders now have with money currently being held by the club.” The first option is for ticket holders to leave their payment with the Blues and the team will credit their account with "interest calculated at an annual rate of 5% simple interest on the portion allocable to cancelled games.” Ticket holders also may leave their payment with the Blues and the team will credit their account with "interest calculated at an annual rate of 10% simple interest on the portion allocable to cancelled games." That interest will "be applied toward" ticket purchases for the Peoria Rivermen, the Blues' AHL affiliate. Ticket holders also have the option to “leave their payment with the Blues and elect interest calculated at an annual rate of 1% simple interest,” or to request a "monthly refund for cancelled games” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/25).
THE PLAN FOR NOW: In Dallas, Mike Heika noted Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi and President & CEO Jim Lites are “making the difficult decision of not laying people off while the league and the NHLPA try to sort through their labor issues.” Lites said, “These are good people and we feel good about what we’ve been able to build here, so we don’t want to change anything. If this drags on, we’ll have to reassess, but we are going to attempt to work with the staff we have right now.” Part of the reason for the decision is that Lites “doesn’t want to risk losing the employees.” Lites: “We really felt we made a lot strides forward, so we don’t want that to be wasted” (DALLASNEWS.com, 9/21).
IN THE CONCERT BUSINESS TOO: In St. Paul, Brooks Suzukamo & Melo noted Xcel Energy Center and the adjacent RiverCentre complex “employ 200 full-time workers and 800 part-timers.” Minnesota Sports & Entertainment CFO Jeff Pellegrom, whose company owns the Wild, said, "We have announced no layoffs of the full-timers. We still have concerts that we're running." Regardless of whether the Wild play a single game, the team and Minnesota Sports & Entertainment “still must pay rent to the city for the Xcel Center.” The company “leases the arena from the city for about $8 million per year, on top of operating expenses.” That amount is “among the highest rent of any NHL team, with the funds going toward paying off the bonds that funded the Xcel's construction” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/20).
Nationwide sales of Orioles merchandise “increased 278 percent year-over-year for a period of four weeks spanning late August and early September,” according to SportsOneSource data cited by Chris Korman of the Baltimore SUN. Orioles' gear only accounts for only 2.2% of the MLB market, but that is a “big increase over last year, when that number sagged" to 0.5%. The Nationals also made “significant gains,” up from 0.8% to 3.2% "thanks to their playoff chase." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said, “This is probably what everybody always worried about with the Nationals moving to D.C. They're probably stealing customers from each other, but both are clearly better off." Korman notes the Orioles “do see some direct benefit from the uptick," as the club owns a store in York, Pa., and splits revenue from Camden Yards shops with concessionaire Delaware North.” Sales of Orioles gear on Fanatics.com have “increased 565 percent during the first 18 days of September, with 67 percent of sales coming from outside Maryland.” Orioles merchandise “sold at a higher clip" than all MLB clubs except the Yankees and Giants (Baltimore SUN, 9/25).
GOING WILD: Orioles Communications Dir Greg Bader said tickets are “sold out for possible Orioles home games" in the Wild Card and ALDS. Bader said that tickets for the Wild Card and Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS were “gone within an hour after they went on sale to the public Saturday morning.” He added that tickets for a third ALDS game “sold out by early afternoon Saturday” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/24).
RATINGS GAME: MASN has “seen a 48 percent increase in overall ratings” for Orioles' games on the net. The 4.75 local rating in Baltimore this season to date is up from a 3.2 rating in ’11. In Baltimore, Jack Lambert notes the Orioles are averaging a 1.94 rating among adults 18-34, "a 100 percent jump over last year’s 0.97 mark.” The team's games are also averaging a 2.56 rating among adults 25-54, "a 112 percent increase over the network’s 1.21 rating last year” (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/21 issue).
The WNBA Mystics yesterday “decided not to renew the contracts" of GM & coach Trudi Lacey and her coaching staff following “the worst two-year stretch in franchise history,” according to Mark Giannotto of the WASHINGTON POST. The Mystics finished the '12 season “with a WNBA-worst 5-29 record, including a 13-game losing streak to end the season” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/25). In DC, Carla Peay writes Mystics Vice Chair, President & Managing Partner Sheila Johnson “knows she has angered fans with the organization’s recent moves but hopes to win them back by moving in a new direction.” Johnson said, “We have the most dedicated fan base in the WNBA, and they deserve a team that will be competitive against the best in the league. I want to give my fans and my team a chance to succeed.” Peay notes “many Mystics fans haven’t gotten past what they deem the organization’s biggest mistake -- the dismissal of general manager Angela Taylor and coach Julie Plank following the 2010 season, the best regular season in franchise history.” Mystics attendance “rose to 12,324 in 2010,” but fell in ‘11 to 10,449. Figures have “not yet been released for the 2012 season” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/25).
In K.C., Bob Dutton notes Royals Owner David Glass “sounds like an owner ready to make the necessary financial push in the coming offseason to bolster a suspect starting pitching rotation in order to position the Royals for a postseason run in 2013." Glass said, “What I’ve always said is when we get to the point where we’re competitive, we’ll do what we have to do to improve our position. Yes, we’ll do what we need to do. We are committed to improving our starting pitching.” Glass “indicated a willingness to operate the club at a financial loss in order to improve the rotation." However, he "offered few specifics, saying he has yet to meet” with GM Dayton Moore and other club officials “to prioritize a list of targeted players” (K.C. STAR, 9/25).
MAKING IT AN AFTERTHOUGHT: Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig may have "been delaying" resolving a dispute between the Giants and A's over the latter's proposed move to San Jose “hoping that the two teams will work it out between themselves.” Chass: “That, however, will not happen.” Owners and officials of the two teams “don’t even talk to each other.” The A's “have tried, but the Giants have ignored them.” Chass: “Selig’s treatment of the San Jose dispute is beginning to resemble the way he has treated Pete Rose’s requests for reinstatement from his lifetime ban for betting on baseball." Rose "submits an application for reinstatement, and Selig lets it sit." That is "what he’s doing with the A’s application for relocation." It is a "shameful situation, one that demands that a man being paid $22 million a year make a decision after two and a half years” (MURRAYCHASS.com, 9/23).
FISH TALES: In Miami, Clark Spencer cited sources as saying that “after going ‘all in’ this season with a franchise-record $95 million roster payroll,” the Marlins “will likely scale back in 2013 to a more moderate figure, somewhere in the $70 million to $80 million range.” Multiple sources said that the team “lost money this season due largely to a high payroll and lower-than-anticipated attendance at the new ballpark.” Spencer noted as a result, the Marlins “will not be repeating last year’s buying binge, when they spent more than $190 million on free agents” (MIAMI HERALD, 9/23). MLB.com on Saturday "confirmed reports" that Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria “is not expected to make drastic front-office changes.” However, the status of manager Ozzie Guillen and his staff “remains undetermined” (MLB.com, 9/22).