The Orioles with eight home dates remaining are "currently on pace to draw about 2.4 million fans, which would be the highest season total" since '05, when the team drew 2.6 million to Camden Yards, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore SUN. The Orioles' home attendance is up 15% from last season, and their percentage increase is "second highest in the majors" behind the Blue Jays. In terms of "total attendance numbers, the Orioles’ attendance increase is third among all major league clubs, trailing only" the Blue Jays and Dodgers. The Orioles reported through 73 home dates that they are "averaging 29,216 fans per game, which is still in the bottom half -- 18th of 30 major league teams -- of baseball, but that’s still up from last season’s 26,611 average, which ranked the Orioles 20th" (Baltimore SUN, 9/12). Meanwhile, the club also said that merchandise sales were up 89% in '13, the "largest increase" among MLB teams. Data from the team's RSN MASN showed that the team is "averaging a 45 percent increase in ratings." In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow noted the Orioles are "averaging a 6.5 household rating through August games," which is up from a 4.49 rating from the same period last year. MASN said that that is the "second-highest growth among all MLB teams," trailing only the Royals, whose ratings are up 84% (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/11).
TRIBAL QUEST: In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes notes Indians CF Michael Bourn with six home games left has "asked fans for some help." Bourn said, "We would like to be supported a little bit more if we could. We're two games out at the most (in the wild-card race). We're fighting for the second wild card." The Indians "drew 12,085 fans" for yesterday's afternoon game against the Royals. During the "just completed nine-game homestand in which the Indians went 5-4, they drew the two smallest September crowds ever (9,794 and 9,962) at Progressive Field." Their "biggest crowd was 21,453." The Indians started yesterday "ranked 13th in the AL in attendance at 1,426,120" and are "averaging 19,536 fans per home date." Only the Astros, who have already been eliminated, and the Rays "have drawn fewer fans in the AL" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/12).
Phillies President David Montgomery "endorsed" GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and said that he "harbored no regrets about the way" manager Charlie Manuel's firing was handled, according to Matt Gelb of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Montgomery added that "no further changes are required in the front office, even after two straight failed seasons." He said that Amaro is the exec "who will lead a renaissance" with the Phillies. Montgomery stated, "Ruben is our general manager." He "cited Amaro's willingness to consider a variety of opinions before making a decision." Montgomery added that "discussions continue with Manuel about a potential front-office job." But Gelb writes even if Manuel "lands elsewhere, Montgomery thought it important to preserve a relationship with the deposed manager." Montgomery said that Amaro "kept him informed during the days leading up to the managerial change," adding that team ownership "was not involved." Montgomery: "I'm a chain-of-command person. I believe the clubhouse is the manager's. He should be the presence there. Ruben's responsibility is all of baseball operations, including the decision on the manager. My role as president and CEO is to make the global decisions, including the GM decision and other senior personnel. If you get out of that chain of command, you can have problems." Meanwhile, Gelb reports negotiations with Comcast on the team's "momentous" TV contract "have begun." The team's current TV deal expires after the '15 season. The Phillies for now are "contractually limited to talks with Comcast," but will "have an opportunity to solicit other offers later." A "reunion with Comcast is expected." Montgomery: "We are having some discussions. I don't know how fruitful they will be" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/12).
Former Toronto Mayor and "rabid Toronto FC supporter David Miller is giving away his season tickets" after he "expressed concerns about the future of the team and the possibility that the natural-grass field at BMO Stadium might be removed to accommodate" the CFL Argonauts, according to Tu Thanh Ha of the GLOBE & MAIL. Miller did so in an "impassioned public letter" posted yesterday on his Facebook account. He wrote, "I am so frustrated with the latest management missteps that I am returning the remainder of my season tickets to you: it is the only way I can emphasize how serious the situation is for those of us who support TFC. Please donate them to an appropriate cause. There once was magic at BMO Field. The latest reshuffle has made the possibility of that magic returning almost certainly disappear." The letter was released a week after MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company owns Toronto FC, said that renovation of BMO is "being considered to accommodate football." Miller: "You risk losing the most committed supporters of TFC if the venue is changed to accommodate Canadian football." Ha wrote Miller "played a key role in ushering professional soccer into the city" when he was mayor. The club responded to Miller on its official Twitter account, "Tx for the feedback Mr. Miller. We look forward to setting up a time for u to discuss w/Tim Leiweke in person" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/12). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes, "Miller has long been the club’s highest-profile supporter and he stayed loyal through all of the stumbles, until he finally had enough." He "provided advice for Leiweke and whoever takes over as general manager, but didn’t seem all that confident that it would be heeded" (TORONTO SUN, 9/12).
LEIWEKE LAYING IT ON THE LINE: In Toronto, Dave Feschuk reports Leiweke yesterday "threw an employees-only celebration of his company’s future at the Air Canada Centre." He "promised he was done hastening big-named exits like the ones inflicted" on former Raptors President Bryan Colangelo and former MLSE COO Tom Anselmi. Leiweke also repeated the "vow he’s been spouting since he arrived in one of North America’s bleakest athletic landscapes: MLSE ... will make it a primary mission to build victorious clubs to match its vats of lucre." Leiweke said, "We want to stop the spin and the B.S. and just say, 'Let’s go win some things'" (TORONTO STAR, 9/12).
The Coyotes after four years of uncertainty surrounding the franchise are ready to focus on the future, and the team is launching a new ad campaign called “Hungrier Than Ever” to promote its future in the Phoenix area. The campaign, via Cramer-Krasselt, Phoenix, debuted with a 60-second spot airing locally during the Cardinals-Rams game last Sunday. The effort builds off the team’s recent “Here To Stay” campaign and includes creative in TV, radio, print, digital and social media. The campaign will run on network and cable TV, including during D-Backs games, “MNF,” and “SportsCenter,” among other shows. It also can be seen on digital billboards around Phoenix. Financials of the campaign were not disclosed, but Coyotes VP/Marketing Ted Santiago in an e-mail wrote he expects the team to increase its marketing budget for ’13-14. “Our hope is that this campaign gets fans and sponsors in a forward thinking mindset, forgetting about the past and eager to be a part of what we are building here,” Santiago wrote. The initial spot features RW Shane Doan sitting alone in a dark locker room preparing for a game, as well as highlights from the team’s success in recent years. “The past is the past and it is time to focus on the present and the future of hockey in the desert,” Santiago wrote. “This team is not just content to still be here.”
TOUGH SELL IN RECENT YEARS: Santiago noted the Coyotes were a tough local sell under NHL ownership the last four years. “Put aside the financial commitment we were asking fans to make, getting fans to make an emotional investment in the team was the tougher sell,” he wrote. “It was definitely not the best environment to try and build a loyal fan base. We were a quality team fighting a negative perception based on the off the ice issues.” Santiago noted the August sale of the team to IceArizona provided much-needed stability, and the Phoenix market now is “receptive to what we have to say and this campaign is the start to building a brand that our fans can be proud of.”
Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk while appearing on Toronto-based CJCL-AM on Tuesday "let loose with his opinions" on the Rideau Carleton Raceway, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches, according to Zev Singer of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. Describing the process by which Ottawa’s city council recently turned down his request to compete for the opportunity to build a casino at his Canadian Tire Centre, Melnyk said that the Rideau Carleton Raceway, the casino site chosen by council, "is a third-class race track in the middle of nowhere." Melnyk: "I don’t mind losing, but these guys didn’t even give me a shot. Then you’ve got the mayor -- I don’t know what planet he’s flown in from -- but he then turns around and says, ‘No, no. This is the only place we’re going to do it.’ His deputy mayor, Steve Desroches, says in the meeting, this big, big meeting you know ... ‘There’s too much competition in the world right now.’ I said, ‘You know what? They should have named Neptune after you. That’s where you belong. Because what did you just say? Tell me again how you got elected?’” Asked whether the issue was now dead, Melnyk answered: “No. You kidding? We’re just getting warmed up" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/11).
DO OR DIE? In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch noted Melnyk's words "came only 24 hours" after Senators President Cyril Leeder "resigned from four city committees because of a decision by council" to ask the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp to "put a casino at Rideau Carleton Raceway." Melnyk said that the club "needs another revenue source to help with its survival." He maintains that he has lost C$95M "since purchasing the club 10 years ago." Melnyk: "I don't care if I win, lose or draw, just do it right. Do a competition. You're not the only guys in the race. Let's see if you can stand on your own. If I lose, I lose, I'm OK. I go home and come up with a Plan C. Right now, there's no Plan C. Can we survive? You know what, it all depends on how the team does. It all depends can we find a third revenue source." Melnyk added that he "didn't like the process of losing" a bid to build a soccer-specific stadium near the Canadian Tire Centre. Melnyk: "I tried to build a soccer stadium. They all say you're out in the boonies in Kanata. I say, 'Well, yeah, because I've been trying to build for 10 years now.' (MLS) says 'You get a stadium in there, you got a team.' I propose that. (The city) says no. They're going to bring CFL football back to Ottawa and they gave a $400 million gift of insiders there and that was it" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/11).
The Seahawks yesterday announced that undercover police offers will wear opposing team jerseys at games this season as a way to further guard against unruly behavior. Fans who have been asked to leave the stadium for violations of the Seahawks Fan Code of Conduct will be required to complete a four-hour online educational course focused on fan behavior before being allowed to return to the stadium (Seahawks). The team said that the goal is "to ensure a safe environment for all fans, including those supporting the visiting team" (ESPN.com, 9/11).
ARROWHEAD APP: The K.C. STAR noted the Chiefs are "launching a free mobile app and wireless network inside Arrowhead Stadium" in time for Sunday's home opener against the Cowboys. Fans inside the stadium who are connected to the Chiefs’ wireless network also will be "able to access live video and other features on a free mobile app available through Apple or Google Play." The Chiefs Mobile app "offers live streaming video of players entering the stadium, the locker room and every play of the game, plus instant replays from multiple camera angles and 'under-the-hood' replays that officials see on the sideline." The app also "includes access to the NFL Red Zone channel" (KANSASCITY.com, 9/11).
NATIVE SCENE: In Green Bay, Paul Srubas reported protesters will be on hand at Sunday's Redskins-Packers "to remind football fans that 'Redskins' is considered by many to be a derogatory term for Native Americans." The National Indian Education Association is "hosting a session" on Friday at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay on the issue, and several members expect to be on hand for the game to "hold signs objecting to Washington’s team name and logo." The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin is one of the Packers’ "major sponsors, with the entry gate on Lambeau Field’s east side named for the Oneida Nation" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/10).