The Red Sox on Friday morning announced they will implement dynamic pricing for seats and standing-room tickets atop the Green Monster at Fenway Park. The move comes about four months after the club announced plans to variably price the rest of the ballpark's inventory beginning this season, making the Red Sox among the last in baseball to embrace such a structure. Green Monster tickets, which go on sale Tuesday for games in April and May, will change based on market factors such as game date, opponent and weather conditions. The Red Sox are using Texas-based Qcue and California-based Tixtrack Inc. to aid with its dynamic pricing decisions. Despite winning the World Series last year, Red Sox attendance fell 7.6%, and the club saw its league-record 794-game home sellout record come to an end.
The Jazz enter play Friday with a 23-42 record, tied with the Lakers for the worst mark in the Western Conference, and average attendance for games has "dropped to the lowest the franchise has seen since moving out of the Salt Palace and into the Delta Center" in '91, according to Aaron Falk of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The team is averaging 17,947 fans per game, though there "are often far fewer than that actually in the building." It marks a 4% decline from last year and a 9% drop from a peak of 19,908 six seasons ago when the team made the Western Conference semifinals. However, the drop "was not unexpected," as the Jazz "let four of its five top scorers from last year leave for free agency to make playing time for a younger, developing base." Jazz President Randy Rigby: "We anticipated that we would have a slight decline." Falk reports with nine home games left this season, team execs "have been happy with the numbers they’ve drawn." The Jazz have dropped to 14th in attendance, but are "still above the league average of 17,297." Among teams with losing records this season, only the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics "are drawing more fans." The Jazz have tried to "provide reminders of better times" for fans. A ceremony to honor Basketball HOFer Jerry Sloan earlier this year and the "planned reunion" of the '83-84 Jazz -- the first playoff team in franchise history -- later this month "have not purely been the products of coincidence" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/14).
It has been "difficult" for Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck this season "to watch consistent losses, focus on development more than victories, and cross his fingers for a high lottery pick rather than watch his skilled squad crush playoff opponents, as it did for most of the past six years," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Grousbeck said, "Since 2007 we knew this year was coming. We didn’t know when it would be, probably thought it would be before 2014." He added, "We’ve had three or four true championship-contending teams. We’re totally spoiled. I’m spoiled. Our fans are spoiled. And now we’re not in that position. I will say the fan support has been extraordinary. The attendance, the enthusiasm, and the support for this project has been better than I thought it would be. They’ve been great." Washburn notes the Celtics are 12th in the NBA in average attendance "at a little more than 18,000 per game," filling 96.7% of TD Garden. The fan base has been "subjected to some painful moments this season, but Grousbeck is thrilled by the loyalty." He said, "I’ve got confidence that with all these picks and these young guys and our willingness to spend money that we can get there. We’re a patient group. We will take a multiyear plan if that’s what it takes." The Celtics "will have extensive salary cap space in the summer" of '15. Grousbeck: "There’s money everywhere in the league now. The money is so big in the league that guys will get their money one way or another" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/14).
Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier resort, on Thursday confirmed that the Saints "will split their 2014 training camp" between the team's practice facility in Metairie, La., and the resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., according to Cam Huffman of the Beckley REGISTER-HERALD. Justice said that the three-year agreement, "which he will fund, calls for the construction of three football fields -- two with natural grass and one with artificial turf -- as well as a 55,000-square-foot facility that includes training rooms, lockers for 90 players, showers, dining areas and more." That construction will "have to be completed by May 10." Saints players will "stay at rooms in the resort." Saints coach Sean Payton served as golfer Ryan Palmer's caddie during the PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic last July. Justice said that he had "previously tried to attract" the Redskins, but he "began a dialogue with Payton during The Greenbrier Classic, and after months of discussions ... the plan became a reality this week" (Beckley REGISTER-HERALD, 3/14). In New Orleans, Larry Holder noted the "last time the Saints spent a significant portion of training camp away from the Metairie facility" was in '08, when the team "held the vast majority of camp in Jackson, Miss., at Millsaps College." The Saints trained a total of three seasons in Jackson from '06-08. The Saints also "spent a week in Oxnard, Calif.," leading up to an '11 preseason game with the Raiders (NOLA.com, 3/13).
In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes word "is spreading throughout the NFL" that Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell have "created an environment that makes Jacksonville an attractive option" to free agents. Newly signed Jaguars G Zane Beadles, DEs Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, RB Toby Gerhart, DT Ziggy Hood and LB Dekoda Watson "wouldn’t be fitted for a black and teal jersey had the Jaguars not enticed them with contracts" worth $97M, about $33.5M of it guaranteed. Players "in their prime are likely not taking discounts to play for the Jaguars." However, the Jaguars' carrot, other than money, is "a vibrant, enthusiastic work environment." It "starts with Bradley and his high-octane disposition, and that energy filters its way through the organization" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/14).
STRAY CAT: The Panthers on Thursday official released WR Steve Smith, and in Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes the team has "badly mishandled" the situation "from both a professional and personal standpoint." Panthers GM Dave Gettleman was "almost perfect in his first season" in the role, but "he whiffed on this one." Fowler: "It was never going to be easy to part with Smith, no matter when it occurred." Gettleman's results "have been superb since he joined the Panthers" before the '13 season, but he "has gone astray" in this case (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/14).
WELCOME TO MIAMI: In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey "deserves out-of-the-gate credit for making the Dolphins look good in the early stages of free agency." The team has signed OT Branden Albert, DT Earl Mitchell and S Louis Delmas, while also re-signing key players like CB Brent Grimes and DT Randy Starks. It has been "difficult to think of Miami as an attractive NFL destination (apart from the weather) for quite some time," but the Dolphins "have taken a worthwhile step forward at first free-agency opportunity" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/14).
RAIDERS OF THE LOST LEFT TACKLE: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami wrote under the header, "Reggie McKenzie Is Bombing As Raiders GM." The "latest example happened Wednesday evening, when top Raiders signee Rodger Saffold -- destined to be their left tackle in 2014 and possibly beyond -- failed his team physical and had his five-year deal at a maximum of $42.5 million voided." It is "possible McKenzie just didn't know the extent of Saffold's problem before offering all that money" -- and letting OT Jared Veldheer "walk away." Kawakami: "Or maybe something else happened. At this point, the end result is what matters and that means the Raiders don't have a left tackle and that was one spot they actually had relatively covered a few days ago" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/13).
In Detroit, Lynn Henning writes MLB teams that hold Spring Training in Central Florida are "left to roll their odometers and do the best with an increasingly limited number of Florida-based teams." Braves GM Frank Wren said, "The exodus from central Florida over the last 10 years is worrisome, to say the least. There’s less competition close by for both our (big-league) and our minor-league teams in the spring. We have lost Cleveland, Kansas City, and the Dodgers from the coast, and if Houston leaves (Kissimmee) -- with the potential for Washington to leave, as well -- it will be more difficult for us all.” Henning notes the Tigers for now are "content and committed to Lakeland," where they began training in '34. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski: "Although spring training travel of more than an hour or so is not ideal, it is manageable." However, he added, "You do not want too many long travel days of two hours or more" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/14).
TIME FOR A CHANGE: The HUFFINGTON POST's Jennifer Bendery reported U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said that it is time for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to step in and tell the NFL it "can't keep its registered trademark" for the Redskins. Pelosi, speaking at an event hosted by the National Congress of American Indians, said, "The trademark office has rejected names which are considered offensive and they should do it now. They can keep their name on the team, but when it comes to all the stuff -- that's serious money. So I think that is one path that we can go. It’s time to choose another name. In fact, it’s long overdue" (HUFFINGTONPOST.com, 3/13).
SABRE RATTLING: In Buffalo, John Vogl reports the Sabres "are still in discussions to host the NHL Scouting Combine." The Sabres during the past three springs "supplemented the league’s combine in Toronto with one of their own." However, opposing teams, "especially those in the Western Conference or without the Sabres’ funds, felt this gave Buffalo an unfair advantage." The practice was discussed at the GMs' meetings this week, and the NHL "plans to strengthen the penalties against teams that conduct their own workouts" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/14).
KING FOR A NIGHT: In L.A., Helene Elliott notes NHL Kings broadcaster Jim Fox, who "retired as a player" in '90, was honored Thursday by the team as part of its Legends Nights series. Fox credited Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille "for creating an event that provides links between past and present" (L.A. TIMES, 3/14). The Fox ceremony was "the third and final such occasion this season." Jay Wells was "recognized in October and Larry Murphy was honored in December." Fox also had a bobblehead in his likeness "given to fans attending to the game" (L.A. TIMES, 3/14).