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Volume 24 No. 117


NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said that the Kings have "formally filed for permission to relocate to Seattle," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Stern's announcement marks the "first official confirmation" that the Seattle-based group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer intends to "have the team play in Seattle next fall." Stern called the Seattle group "very strong." The league's BOG will "have final say on the sale and relocation in mid-April." A source said that Kings Owner the Maloof family "filed the petition sometime in the past week on behalf" of the Seattle group. If there was "any surprise to the move, it was its timing." Sacramento officials have said that they thought the Seattle group "might wait until closer to the league's March 1 deadline before filing for relocation." Stern said that the "level of support for the Kings in Sacramento and the likelihood that either city would be able to build a new arena" will be factors in the NBA's decision. Stern: "I don't think it's a bidding war." Buzz Oates real estate company Chair Phil Oates, one of 25 area business execs to pledge at least $1M each in an effort to buy the Kings, said, "Doesn't shake me at all." Sacramento City Council member Steve Cohn said, "I don't think it changes anything in terms of Sacramento's approach, which is to offer the NBA a competing vision of what can happen here in Sacramento with the Kings if they stay. The ball is directly in our court at this point" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/7). Stern said the relocation proposal calls for the team to play in KeyArena for "two years, possibly three" (AP, 2/6).

DECISION BY COMMITTEE: reported Stern "in an unusual twist" has combined the NBA's Sale Approval and Relocation Committees into a single committee. The new committee will "prepare a single report" on the Seattle group's petition to relocate the Kings. Stern said, "I did the sensible thing: I combined the committees and said, ‘You guys figure it out.’ We’ll see how that works" (, 2/6). Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Tuesday announced that the city has "hired arena financing consultant Dan Barrett." In Sacramento, Kelly Johnson noted Barrett "helped Sacramento on its previous arena efforts." Johnson said, "This deal is moving very quickly. We don't want to be caught flat-footed on this" (, 2/5).

The Bears yesterday announced a "price increase for most of the seats in Soldier Field," marking the team's 11th "price hike" in the last 12 years, according to Brad Biggs of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Season tickets will increase by 4.2% on average, after the Bears "missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years." Price increases range from $3 to $10 for 90% of the seating bowl, but in "three sections on the 200 media level at midfield, the tickets spike $30 -- to $165." Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips said, "Here is the reality: Every year, there is going to be some ticket-price increases in different parts of the building." He added that an expansion project at the team's HQs and money the franchise owes former coach Lovie Smith and his assistants will "not affect the football budget in 2013" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/7). Lower-level midfield seating price increases "range from $15 to $30." Non-club season-ticket prices "now range from $79 to $165," while United Club season tickets range from $265 to $540. Bears season-ticket holders will "continue to see a $25 per game savings for each regular season ticket." The team said that season-ticket holders will be "notified shortly" of the price increases (, 2/6). In Chicago, Adam Jahns writes under the header, "Bears Fans Miffed Over Price Jump, But Demand Remains High." Phillips in a letter to season-ticket holders said that the price changes were "based on market research." He also "highlighted the hiring" of coach Marc Trestman. The Bears owe Smith "what is believed to be" at least $5M for the '13 season (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/7).

Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard is "offering select fans the opportunity to learn what it takes to work in an NBA front office," according to Mike Wells of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Pritchard is "hosting a general manager seminar for 15 fans" before tomorrow's game against the Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pritchard said, "The idea completely came from Twitter. There are so many people who try to get into this business. This is an opportunity for me to give back and try to give people some direction on how to get into the sports world, especially the NBA." Pritchard said that "more than 1,000 people signed up to take part in the seminar." Fifteen were selected "by random drawing." Pritchard at the one-hour seminar will discuss "how he got into the business and how the salary cap works, and he will provide an inside look at the duties of front-office officials." He said, "I've got a feeling this won't be the last time I do this" (, 2/6).

While the Warriors have made it to the NBA playoffs "only once in the past 18 seasons," the team is "among just a handful" in the league to average home crowds of 18,000 or more in the last eight years, according to Joel Millman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Warriors VP/Ticket Sales & Services Brandon Schneider has "spearheaded the emphasis on data to tailor marketing pitches." The team looks at data generated by Ticketmaster and resale-market sites such as StubHub, and "pores over weather forecasts and ticket sales from competing entertainment in the Bay Area." For example, the Warriors examine "how much ticket buyers historically paid" for a Tuesday night game against the Rockets versus a Friday night game against the Rockets. This helps the team "predict how much it can charge for tickets without curbing demand." The Warriors also use data when "planning to move the last unsold seats for a game with an online offer." The team will take its 200,000-person e-mail list and "break it into chunks, testing different times, different subject lines and different links in the body of the message to gauge what brings the quickest response." Schneider said, "We'll send 100,000 messages 10 minutes after a victory, and 100,000 the next day." Response time, tickets sold and the price point for each ticket tier "will determine how the team tailors future pitches." NBA Exec VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations Chris Granger said the Warriors are one of the league's "leading teams in terms of using data and analytics to improve their business." He added, "They won't make a move unless there is science to back it up." Millman notes even in the "losing years, the Warriors' ticketing department was successful in retaining and adding season-ticket holders." The Warriors since the start of this season have "added 2,659 prorated season-ticket packages, filling Oracle to 67% of capacity" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/7).

In Miami, Barry Jackson reported Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria in recent months has “rejected overtures from a half dozen people who expressed interest in buying the Marlins," including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. A source said that Bush “made a ‘large offer’ to buy the team this offseason, but Loria told him he’s not selling.” Another source said that Bush had “put together a group of wealthy investors, with Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros among possibilities mentioned.” Cisneros declined to comment (, 2/6).

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: SPORTING NEWS’ Anthony Witrado wrote after the Astros traded SS Jed Lowrie to the A’s on Monday, the team’s payroll to begin '13 now "should shrink closer" to $25M than the "originally reported" $30M. Some fans “might be alarmed by the Astros’ decision to trade away major league talent, thus cutting costs.” MLB has only once “gotten involved with a team doing something similar,” which was with the Marlins in ’10. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow “seems to know what he is doing with the franchise and has a plan for this rebuild," so MLB "doesn’t need to get involved" (, 2/5).

MEET THE BETS: SportsNet N.Y.’s Jonas Schwartz said of reports the Mets are interested in building a casino next to Citi Field, “Major League Baseball wanting to avoid the perception of a cozy relationship with gambling might not love this if it is true.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola said MLB would not have a problem with it because “there’s sports betting that goes on all over the place” and the Mets are “clearly trying to do something with that land" (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 2/5).

ANGEL OF MINE: Angels VP/Marketing & Ticket Sales Robert Alvarado said that the team in its dynamic pricing system “will not set prices for single-game tickets until the day they go on sale.” In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted those prices will be “determined in part by how many seats already have been sold for each game.” Once single-game tickets go on sale Feb. 23, the Angels “plan to constantly adjust prices based on supply and demand.” Alvarado said that the Angels “sold the equivalent of about 24,000 season tickets last season,” and the team “projects a similar number this season” (, 2/5).

A BRONX TALE: In N.Y., John Crudele writes the Yankees “may think they got rid of StubHub by signing a deal with TicketMaster,” but the ticket reseller recently sent out an e-mail offering “plenty of Yankee tickets.” StubHub has “thousands” of Spring Training tickets, and "thousands of other tickets for regular season games at prices below what the Yankees are asking.” StubHub lists tickets for the April 18 game against the D’Backs for $8, but "those same seats are $20” at the Yankee Stadium box office (N.Y. POST, 2/7).