Sharks Unveil Renamed SAP Center; New Owner Plattner Admits Club Is Struggling
SAP and Sharks Sports & Entertainment yesterday formally unveiled the newly named SAP Center at San Jose (SAP). In San Jose, David Pollak noted this is the "third corporate name" for the venue. Sharks Majority Owner and SAP co-Founder Hasso Plattner was "on hand for the occasion, his first public appearance here since taking over as face of the shrinking ownership group in late January." Plattner said, "We're struggling. You know the other teams in the league are struggling, Phoenix and others. We have to find a way out of this. We cannot continue as usual. It is a serious problem. We tried to fix it." He added, "The fans should not suffer. We want to give them a good show. We still want to win the cup. Our top players are getting a year older every year, but they're still very competitive. We had a good run in the playoffs. Let's see what we can do next year" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 7/9).
WHAT IS IN A NAME? Plattner noted the name change "grew out of a conversation he had" with HP CEO Meg Whitman, "whose company was looking to cut expenses." Pollak notes HP's contract was set to expire in '15 and the annual $3.25M for naming rights was "divided evenly between the city and the hockey team." Under a new contract approved by the city last month, SAP will pay $3.35M "annually for the next five years -- also equally divided between the same parties." About half of SAP's 3,500 Silicon Valley employees were "looking on from the arena's lower bowl" during the unveiling. Plattner "made it clear that although the building opened two decades ago, he doesn't see it being replaced anytime soon." He said, "This is an unbelievable arena here. Look how good it looks and it's 20 years old. It looks [like] it opened last year. It's like brand new. Everything is fresh, everything works." For now, improvements "on tap are technology driven." The Sharks are "evaluating new SAP scouting software designed to break down player statistics and analytics to give management a new way of assessing player productivity." Arena officials are "aware that the pronunciation of SAP Center could be an issue for a while." It is the "S-A-P Center, with each letter spoken in full." It "doesn't rhyme with gap or trap." SAP Center Dir of PR & Fan Development Jim Sparaco said, "There's going to be an education process over the next few months or years to get people in tune that it is SAP. But that will happen. It's just a matter of repetition" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/10).