Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger in an e-mail wrote that the reaction so far from sponsors, suiteholders, season-ticket holders and others to the suspension of LF Ryan Braun "has been very supportive," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Schlesinger wrote that the team "does not buy into the theory the suspension will play a role in declining attendance, noting that the team had already telegraphed a drop in turnout this season." Schlesinger wrote, "The response we received from many sponsors was unwavering support and confidence that the Brewers would overcome this admittedly tough period in our franchise's history. We have not had any sponsor request to withdraw their partnership with the Brewers. ... We've experienced much the same in talking with our suiteholders and fans. There was clearly disappointment with Ryan, but the support for the organization was a great lift for us." Asked about Braun-related merchandise, Schlesinger wrote, "We will continue to offer Ryan Braun's merchandise for sale at our team stores at Miller Park. Ryan is a Milwaukee Brewer. It is within each fan's right to decide whether to purchase his merchandise or not. While it has only been a few days since the announcement of Ryan's suspension, we actually have experienced an increase in sales of Ryan Braun merchandise." Schlesinger added, "We don't subscribe to the theory that we will experience an attendance decline due to Ryan's suspension. ... We have not experienced any decline in the volume of daily ticket sales based on the projections we had in place prior to the news. We still expect robust crowds in August and ultimately to reach an attendance level that is above the league average and one that other, playoff-contending clubs would gladly accept" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/26).
TEAM EFFORT: Schlesinger wrote of Braun's future marketing with the team, "We have not finalized our 2014 marketing plans. As we have previously stated, as great a baseball player as Ryan is, we are not defined solely by any one player. We have rising stars such as [SS] Jean Segura, [CF] Carlos Gomez, [P] Wily Peralta, and [C] Jonathan Lucroy who are highly marketable. Our marketing efforts, as in prior years, will celebrate several players and focus on the great Miller Park experience and the affordability of that experience" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/26).
HOLD YOUR TONGUE: In Milwaukee, Haudricourt & Rosiak report Braun confirmed Thursday that he "plans to speak publicly about his drug suspension as soon as 'legally allowed.'" Braun through the Brewers PR department said, "When I am able to, I will speak. I know it was difficult for everybody, but I was not, and still am not, legally allowed to say anything yet" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/26).
The Packers on Wednesday held their annual state-of-the-team report at Lambeau Field in front of approximately 13,000 shareholders, and the "theme that came through over and over again was that this organization is running at full capacity," according to Tom Silverstein of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Those who "filled the east stands" at Lambeau "heard the annual report from president Mark Murphy, general manager Ted Thompson and other corporate officers." Murphy after the meeting said, "From a financial standpoint, I think it was good for the shareholders to hear that we're in good financial shape." Thanks to an "aggressive approach in upgrading Lambeau Field and a favorable" CBA agreement, the Packers have "seen a huge increase in revenue and net income and are estimating an 8% increase in the former next year as the fruit of their labor." The recent financial success has "been a boon to the football operation, which will soon have one of the best training facilities in the NFL." Still, the total corporate reserve "rose to $250.6 million this year." Murphy also "informed shareholders" that Humana Marketpoint Chair & CFO Gerald L. Ganoni and Breakthrough Fuel CEO & Chief Innovation Officer Craig S. Dickman were "voted in as members of the board of directors." Murphy also said that 3,800 people were "taken off the season-ticket waiting list." The average time for those who came off "was about 30 years" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/25).
WAY OF LIFE: In Green Bay, Rob Demovsky wrote Thompson "revealed little or no news" at the meeting, "as has been his custom during this annual address." Each "accomplishment mentioned" by Thompson and Murphy was "met with rousing applause, which showed just how far they have come since the summer of 2008 when fans were discontented over the way the Packers handled quarterback Brett Favre’s exit." Murphy: "I could not be more pleased with the job Ted is doing, and I hope you all feel the same way" (GREENBAYPRESSGAZETTE.com, 7/24). THE MMQB's Andrew Brandt, a former Packers VP, wrote, "The shareholders’ meeting always reaffirmed my belief that the Packers are much more than a football team." They are a "community, a way of life." Many "consider their Packers stock, which isn’t transferable and has no dividend potential, to be one of their most valuable possessions." Brandt: "When managing the Packers’ payroll and contracts, I often thought about what was in the best interest of shareholders. I viewed myself as a steward of a public trust" (MMBQ.SI.com, 7/24).
The ongoing lawsuit filed by former MLS Chivas USA youth coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos against their former team was examined on HBO's "Real Sports" this week. HBO's Bryant Gumbel said, "Players and coaches who have been recently fired, cut or traded away from" the team "claim they were purged only because they don’t have the right ethnic background to suit their owner," Jorge Vergara. HBO's Soledad O'Brien said Calichman and Chronopoulos "had had enough" after Vergara acquired the team and began an attempt to purge non-Hispanic youth players from the organization. Soon after they said that they were "called in to meet separately" with new Chivas USA President Jose David." Calichman said David "proceeded to tell me that Chivas was going back to their Mexican roots and there was really no place for me. ... I sat there in kind of shock and said, 'My God, this is what it feels like to feel discrimination.'" Chronopoulos added they told him their meeting "has nothing to do with your performance" as a coach. O'Brien added both men "received termination letters" and were replaced by two coaches "who could speak Spanish, though neither was Mexican." O'Brien noted, "There weren't just changes throughout Chivas' youth academy. Their professional team was also being overhauled. Out was their American coach. In was a Mexican coach. In 2012 there were just three players of Mexican descent. This year, the majority of the team is either Mexican or Mexican-American." O'Brien noted Chivas USA is "deeply rooted in last place" in the Western Conference and that the team also is "doing badly at the gate." O'Brien said, "MLS declined our request for an interview" ("Real Sports," HBO, 7/23).
GARBER'S TAKE: MLS Commissioner Don Garber in an e-mail wrote, "We are well aware of the allegations made by ex-players and employees of Chivas USA. MLS has zero tolerance for discrimination or prejudice of any kind and have been deeply committed to diversity and fairness on our fields, in our stadiums and in our workplace. ... And although the allegations in this lawsuit raise serious issues, it would not be appropriate for us to say anything more while the litigation is ongoing" (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).
A BAD LOOK FOR THE LEAGUE? In L.A., Kevin Baxter wrote one reason for Chivas USA's "steep decline is the decision" of Vergara to "tie the team more closely to Chivas of Guadalajara." The Mexican Chivas is "best known for having never used a non-Mexican player and Vergara has tried to turn [the] MLS team into a pipeline of talent for that team" (LATIMES.com, 7/24). Also in L.A., Phil Wallace wrote the piece "represented the most publicity that the team has received in years." It also "illustrated the sad state of affairs for MLS' most troubled franchise" (LAOBSERVED.com, 7/24). NBCSPORTS.com's Richard Farley wrote "beyond Chivas USA, who are obviously making this bed for themselves," the report was a "black eye" for MLS. As O'Brien "stood in a production studio, reading the league’s words in front of a televised league logo, you felt the helpless, hapless situation MLS has allowed itself to embrace." Given the scope of MLS in the "broader landscape, this still has the potential to blow over." Ten minutes on subscription cable "isn’t going to define this issue." However, if Chivas USA "continues to flounder, make mistakes, and doesn’t somehow correct course, HBO’s work will be linked to over and over again by people who need examples of Vergara’s misdeeds" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/24).
Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway on Thursday said of the team's tumultuous offseason, "When you have an organization of this size, some people are going to make mistakes. My feeling is face the problems, hopefully get the problem fixed. You want to be human about this, but also make sure people understand this is not what we're about." In Denver, Mike Klis notes initially, Elway said that he would "at least temporarily ... look outside team headquarters to fill the roles" of Pro Personnel Dir Tom Heckert and Player Personnel Dir Matt Russell, who were suspended for DUI charges. But after more thought, Elway said that their responsibilities "would be divvied up in-house" (DENVER POST, 7/26).
JAZZ CLUB: In Salt Lake City, Bill Oram writes the NBA is "moving toward a day when every NBA team has its own affiliate ... but it remains unclear how the Jazz will get there." Jazz President Randy Rigby has "expressed an interest in putting an expansion team" in St. George, Utah. What is "clear at this point, however, is not only that the D-League model is evolving rapidly, but that teams like the Jazz are at a competitive disadvantage." While ideas within the organization differ, Rigby said that the Jazz are "less likely to buy a team outright." Rigby: "The cost is expensive to buy the ownership of the team right now. As we’ve seen the models, it’s a break-even to maybe a losing half a million dollars" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/26).
TICKET MACHINE: In Cincinnati, Steve Watkins noted the Reds’ new dynamic-pricing plan is "already paying off." Dynamic ticket pricing firm Qcue CEO Barry Kahn said that the team’s revenue has "climbed as a result of the plan." He said that the Reds have "adjusted prices for almost every game." A lot of changes "start about two weeks before a game, when officials have a handle on what demand is like" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/25).