The Cardinals and Red Sox begin World Series play tonight in "a matchup of two baseball-crazed cities," but also of "two of baseball's most distinctly regional franchises," according to Costa & Barbarisi of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Twenty-five percent of Red Sox season-ticket holders are "from outside Massachusetts, including a tiny fraction in New York, and 37% of all tickets are sold to patrons from out of state." The Cardinals "draw roughly 40% of their attendance from out-of-town visitors." Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said, "We use the term Cardinal Nation, which is for a reason. The outlying areas are very supportive." Costa & Barbarisi write that support is "a major reason both teams have consistently outperformed their market size over the last decade." Boston ranks 11th in population among metropolitan areas with MLB teams, yet the Red Sox "opened the season with baseball's fourth-highest payroll." St. Louis is MLB's 19th largest market, yet it "ranked 11th in payroll and second in attendance." Red Sox ownership "traces the explosion" of the team "as a regional and national franchise to the 1960s, and to Boston's status as a higher-education capital." When Fenway Sports Group bought the Red Sox in '02, it "immediately identified the outlying New England states as prime areas for growth." The Cardinals' roots in surrounding states such as Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas are "more residues of history than of recent design." The franchise for the first half of the 20th century was "the westernmost team in the majors and the southernmost." Cardinals games have been broadcast for decades on KMOX-AM, the "iconic St. Louis radio station that by the 1950s reached all of the Midwestern states and many remote, rural areas." MLB expansion has "shrunk the Cardinals' footprint to some degree, but it is still among the largest" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/23).
BACK ON TRACK: In Providence, Bill Reynolds wrote this season was about "changing the culture" of the Red Sox, "resurrecting the brand" and "moving forward." It was about "making all of us forget" about the previous two seasons. Reynolds: "So this season already has been an incredible success." Both the "buzz and the magic" are "back, and the drama all gone" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 10/22).
The death of Titans Owner Bud Adams "leaves many unanswered questions about the direction of the Titans over the coming weeks, months and years," according to David Climer of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Much depends on "how the leadership group is structured in the post-Bud Adams era." Sources believe that a revised organizational chart "will be unveiled within the next two weeks." There already is speculation that Tommy Smith, Adams' son-in-law, "will oversee operations," with Adams' grandson and Titans General Counsel & Administrative Assistant to the Exec VP Kenneth S. Adams IV "taking on a more significant role." Bud Adams "had the last -- and only -- word on all meaningful decisions," but there will now be "more voices." Given the "state of flux surrounding" the Titans, coach Mike Munchak’s future with the team "now seems more secure." Munchak had the "ability to sell Bud on returning the franchise to its past glory," but in this "period of transition, nobody knows how these blasts from the past are going to fly." Adams' heirs are "more likely to be interested in current events than a history lesson." Still, it is "hard to envision that a new ownership group, regardless of how it is structured, will want to fire the coach that was hand-picked by the founder of the franchise" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/23).
The Browns' front office has implemented a variety of "efforts to
gauge the experience of their fans before, during and after" games, according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. Browns President Alec Scheiner, Exec VP & Chief Revenue Officer Brent Stehlik and other team execs made "the rounds in Cleveland's lakefront Municipal Parking Lot before the Browns' Oct. 13 game" against the Lions. Scheiner said, "Part of the reason I do this is just to understand our fan base better." Kleps notes the Browns also employ "secret shoppers at every home game who roam FirstEnergy Stadium, talk to fans and workers, take pictures -- and take in everything." Delaware North Cos. GM Fattar Thomas, whose company is one of the Browns' two main concessionaires, said Scheiner, Stehlik and Browns CEO Joe Banner "leave no stone unturned." Scheiner said that the team has fans "fill out surveys on portable devices provided by stadium personnel during every game." Scheiner: "I have a running spreadsheet of all the things we're trying to address." A vast amount of data is "a must" for Scheiner. His shoppers include "an outside company" contracted by the team, as well as "uniformed personnel who roam the stadium and take notes and Delaware North's secret buyers." The team's new fan experience initiatives include "new gates and screening lines to improve stadium entry, a disc jockey, enhanced cell phone service, banner unveilings, even weiner dog races at the halftimes of one preseason and one regular-season game." Scheiner said that the initiatives have been "very well-received" (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 10/21 issue).
El Paso's new Triple-A PCL team yesterday announced it will be called the Chihuahuas, with "red, black and Chihuahua tan" as its colors and the team logo showing "a snarling Chihuahua dog," according to a front-page piece by Bill Knight of the EL PASO TIMES. The team mascot "will be introduced at a later date." A newly opened official team store had "five different styled caps and various T-shirts and other souvenirs already on sale." San Diego-based design firm Brandiose "helped bring the Chihuahua look to life." The group "met with members of the organization and El Pasoans to get a feel for what might work here." The five finalists in the naming process were "Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Chihuahuas, Desert Gators and Sun Dogs" (EL PASO TIMES, 10/23). MILB.com's Benjamin Hill noted Chihuahuas was chosen in a "Name The Team" contest that "garnered over 5,000 submissions." Chihuahuas GM Brad Taylor said, "Through the entire (branding)process, our focus was on fun and on finding something that could appeal to kids." Hill noted the franchise will use "a variety of 'Chihuahua' imagery, with the primary logo featuring the team name emblazoned in front of the snarling titular canine." The road cap features a "stylized upwards-tilting 'EP' upon a red background, while a more whimsical alternate logo depicts a Chihuahua swinging a bone as though it was a baseball bat." The team is moving to El Paso "after three seasons in Tucson, where they were simply known as the Padres, marking affiliated baseball's first appearance in the city" since the Double-A Texas League Diablos left after the '04 season (MILB.com, 10/22).
The Mavericks have sold out an NBA-high 477 consecutive home games, but Owner Mark Cuban said they have "about a thousand tickets left" for their Oct. 30 home opener against the Hawks. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS notes the streak "goes back to Dec. 15, 2001, and they took the reigns as the longest-active streak in sports" when the Red Sox failed to sell out a game in April. If the Mavericks "do manage to sell out their opener, their struggles in doing so are an ominous sign for keeping the streak alive through the rest of the season" (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/23).
KING ME: In Oakland, Marcus Thompson writes what the Kings "really seem to want that the Warriors have is a speedy transition into relevance." The Warriors only three years ago "were scrubs," but now are "being talked about as contenders." The Kings "are hungry for a resurgence," and the "vibe in Sacramento seems to be anticipating something big" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 10/23). The AP's Antonio Gonzalez noted the Kings are "coming off their seventh straight losing season and are just beginning a rebuilding project that's likely years away from completion." Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive is "trying to lay a solid foundation first -- right down to fixing all the potholes in the parking lot" (AP, 10/22).
WHITE HOT HEAT: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the Heat's Dec. 25 road game against the Lakers "has the highest median ticket price currently on the secondary market at $479." Heat-Knicks on Feb. 1 ranks second at $399, and the Heat are "involved in five of the 10 most expensive matchups of the season" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/23). Meanwhile, ESPN's Darren Rovell notes the 76ers are using Living Social to discount tickets for their Oct. 30 home opener against the Heat (TWITTER.com, 10/23).
CITY OF ANGELS: TNT's Reggie Miller yesterday said of the Clippers covering up the Lakers' championship banners in Staples Center, "I love it! It's about time. You cannot tell me that any Clippers coaches before have not thought about that and gone to management and actually said something." Miller: "I think it's a brilliant move. You are telling your team: 'We're taking over L.A., and we respect the banners ... but this is our time'" (L.A. TIMES, 10/23).