Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk and the NHL on Friday "shot down" reports that the team is "in financial peril," according to Don Brennan of the OTTAWA SUN. Amid rumors that the team "needed the league to help pay bills last season came a website story quoting a highly-placed league source that the Ottawa franchise has been put on a 'watch list.'" The story was "vehemently refuted by Melnyk." Melnyk in an e-mail wrote, "No chance. It's all B.S. coming from a random useless blogger. All this stuff is nonsense. Kinda annoying as well ... doing just fine thank you very much!" NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail added, "Yes, it's all B.S. There is no 'watch list.' And there is no concern (about the Senators). And you can quote me" (OTTAWA SUN, 8/17).
The NWSL Washington Spirit "succeeded in reintroducing women's soccer" to the DC area, as the team's average attendance of 3,626 at Maryland SoccerPlex "surpassed expectations," according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. While team Owner Bill Lynch did not provide specifics, he said he was "not far off" from breaking even. Goff noted the Portland Thorns averaged 13,320, which is an "outlier in a league that set modest goals and averaged crowds of about 4,300 in the regular season." NWSL average attendance "without Portland’s input" is only 2,900. The Spirit's average attendance is fourth-best in the league, and Lynch "targeted 3,000 fans per game at SoccerPlex" before the season. Lynch said, "It's a great place to build from, for sure. ... I was reasonably convinced the fans were here anyway." He added that he and the league's other owners seven team owners are "committed to next season." Lynch: "I am prepared to ride it until it's successful" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/18).
The Pelicans are "on pace to achieve their highest season-ticket total" since the franchise moved to New Orleans, according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Pelicans Senior VP/Sales Michael Stanfield said that the team has "already sold more than 11,000 season-ticket packages." The franchise's sales record for season tickets came in '08-09 when it "sold 11,800 the season after the team won a franchise-record 56 games." But Stanfield "predicts by October, the Pelicans will have 12,000 season-ticket holders." He added that that all of the new loge box suites in the lower bowl at New Orleans Arena "have been sold." The Pelicans also have "more than 1,000 group sales commitments after having only 500 last season." Stanfield said, "We've been one of the leading teams in the NBA as far as selling seats." Reid noted the Pelicans in February announced that they would "reduce ticket prices" across 81% of New Orleans Arena. The arena is currently undergoing a $50M renovation that will include "improved club locations, an internal bandstand/bar area in the upper deck, a new V-VIP area and entrance as well as a new lobby" (NOLA.com, 8/18).
In Philadelphia, Keith Pompey wrote, “Concerned 76ers fans really need to relax. Although some NBA fans would love for the Sixers to move to Newark, N.J., that's just not going to happen.” Having a franchise in Philadelphia “means too much to the Sixers ownership group and the NBA.” Pompey: “Who in his right mind would move another NBA franchise into a crowded New York market to compete against the Knicks and Nets for fans? And who would move an NBA franchise to Newark?” New Devils co-Owner Joshua Harris "called the rumor floating around Philadelphia and New Jersey a conspiracy theory that he wanted to categorically shut down.” Harris: "The Sixers are staying in Philadelphia” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/18).
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: In N.Y., Marc Berman reports the Knicks' season-ticket renewal rate has risen from last year's 95% to more than 97%, the "highest renewal rate for the club in more than 10 years." The NHL Rangers “also saw gains" with a season-ticket renewal rate of more than 92%, their "highest in five years.” MSG President Dave Howard said that season tickets for both franchises “will sell out shortly” (N.Y. POST, 8/19).
GOLDEN GOOSE: ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell cited a source as saying that the Warriors are "now valued" at $800M, less than three years after team co-Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber paid $450M for the franchise. Rovell noted when Lacob and Gruber purchased the team in November ’11, it was “the highest price ever for an NBA franchise.” The new valuation “comes from the price Silicon Valley venture capitalist Mark Stevens agreed to pay for a share of the team” that was made available when former partner Vivek Ranadive had to sell in order to purchase the NBA Kings (ESPN.com, 8/16).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap addressed Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss saying that Mike D'Antoni was hired last fall instead of Phil Jackson by his father, Dr. Jerry Buss, while he was in the hospital fighting for his life. Schapp asked, "If the Lakers had won the title this spring and the D'Antoni hire were viewed as a stroke of genius, I wonder if Jim Buss would’ve been so eager to deflect credit” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/18).