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Volume 24 No. 159
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Franchise Notes

ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor wrote if the Yankees sign Japanese P Masahiro Tanaka, which likely would result in “blowing up their plans for fiscal restraint," fans will accept Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner as a "worthy successor to his old man.” Steinbrenner has said that he will “only approve a payroll below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold -- and the tens upon tens of millions in savings such a budget would bring -- if he was confident it would still allow him to field a championship-level team.” If he “loses Tanaka … in the name of staying a few nickels south of the luxury-tax threshold, the move (or non-move) would betray his claim that the pursuit of a title is more important to him than the bottom line” (, 1/7).

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER? The CP’s Neil Davidson noted MLS Toronto FC yesterday “reached out to its ticket base -- months later than normal -- hoping that off-season moves have given ticket-holders a reason to get back on board.” MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke “pushed back the renewal date when he cleaned out the club’s front office Sept. 5 as another failed season lurched to a close.” The franchise is “maintaining the same prices as last year and offering two complimentary lower bowl tickets to a 2014 Raptors game for signing up by the early renewal deadline of Jan. 17.” Fans “have until Jan. 31 to renew seats” (CP, 1/7).

SEEING A NICE UPTICK: CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS's Bill Shea reports Pistons fans are buying logo merchandise at a 70% higher rate over last season "from the official team stores at the Palace of Auburn Hills and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, and to a lesser degree from the team's online store." Palace Sports & Entertainment Exec VP and CMO Charlie Metzger said that transactions at the team retail stores "are up 15 percent" compared with '12. Metzger said that the Pistons "keep the revenue from their own brick-and-mortar store and online sales." Twenty percent of this year's merchandise sales "are of the 80 'Motor City' items introduced in August to celebrate the franchise's Detroit and automotive heritage" (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 1/6 issue).

: The NBA Kings have the second-worst record in the Western Conference at 11-22, and in Sacramento, Marcos Breton wonders if having a bad team is "better than having no team at all." Breton: "Of course it is, but let’s not wallow in cop-outs. Keeping the Kings as a community asset is, was and always has been the right move for Sacramento.” People in Sacramento can “tolerate a bad team for now given the way the Kings business was run into the ground.” Breton: “Right now, the real grit and courage is in the stands at Sleep Train Arena far more than on the court” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/8).