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Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

NFL Jets Chair & CEO Christopher Johnson yesterday said that he will "make all football decisions" while his brother, Jets Owner Woody Johnson, "serves a four-year term as the U.S. ambassador" to the U.K., according to George Willis of the N.Y. POST. Those decisions will "include whether to retain" coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan after what is "shaping up to be a horrendous season." The Jets are 0-2, and Johnson "vowed he wouldn’t decide on the two most important jobs on the team until after the season and that the Jets’ won-loss record won’t be a factor." Johnson: "My brother once said he wasn’t judging the guys on the won-loss record, but on their progression, and I agree with that. This is a team on the rise. There’s some growing pains right now, but we have a great plan and I’m going to do everything I can to support the people in this building." Johnson "feels qualified to handle his new position, saying he was present for all the major football decisions for the last 16 years and was a sounding board for his brother." He said, "It’s not like I’m a neophyte in the building. ... I bleed green like they do." He added, "I want to see this team progress every game. I'm not happy with losses. I'm not happy with mistakes" (N.Y. POST, 9/21). Johnson praised both Bowles and Maccagnan, saying he is "really impressed" with Bowles and calling Maccagnan an "extraordinary talent evaluator" (ESPN.com, 9/20). 

GOING ALL IN: On Long Island, Calvin Watkins notes a "major point" Johnson made yesterday was that the Jets "are not tanking." Johnson: "It couldn't be further from the truth." He added, "The real way to judge this team and the people on it, me included, is are we getting better." Any major deals by the Jets now will be done with "no input" from Woody Johnson. Christopher Johnson said, "He really has a full-time job over there. We are not discussing football. He's out of it" (NEWSDAY, 9/21). Watkins wrote, "Woody Johnson is out. Really out" (NEWSDAY, 9/21). ESPN.com's Rich Cimini wrote Christopher Johnson was "realistic about the present state of the team and hopeful about the future." He "exuded confidence." Cimini: "Brilliant. Where has this guy been hiding?" Johnson "looks like his older brother and sounds like him at times, but their personalities and approaches are different." Johnson "won't be an every-day-at-the-office owner" like the Giants' John Mara and Patriots' Robert Kraft, but he is "planning to be around as much as possible" (ESPN.com, 9/20).

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday "confirmed the possibility of the All-Star Game returning to Seattle," according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. Manfred said Mariners Chair & CEO John Stanton "has made me aware that Seattle is interested in an All-Star Game." Dutton notes Seattle "twice previously" served as host city for the game: in '79 at the Kingdome and in '01 at Safeco Field. A possible timeline for the ASG returning to Seattle is "murky, and there is little to suggest the Mariners have done more at this point than express interest" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/21). Manfred said, "John Stanton has become a really important addition to our ownership group. Unbelievable insights with respect to the media portion of our business in particular. He's become an important member of the business and media board that oversees the operations of MLB.com and oversaw the BAMtech transaction. It's particularly good to spend time with a newer owner that has brought a lot to the game." In Seattle, Ryan Divish notes Stanton "confirmed the conversation with Manfred and Seattle's interest, which goes beyond the one conversation." But he "admitted that their interest isn't in the immediate future." Unlike past decades where there was "more of a rotation of the host sites, and a reward for organizations with a new stadium, the process now is more like a presentation of why the city and stadium would provide optimum success for the events and fan interaction." MLB wants places that "best showcase its marquee midseason event that is now a three-day affair" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/21).

A recent NBA-commissioned survey ranks the Pelicans No. 1 in "season ticket holder satisfaction," thanks to an "array of personal touches and added perks for ticket holders," according to Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. The Pelicans have "already sold more than 10,000 season-ticket equivalents" for '17-18, despite only making one playoff appearance since '11. A four-person business analytics team "conducts a variety of surveys throughout the season, drawing feedback from a variety of customer demographics on their experience in and around the Smoothie King Center, to get a feel for areas of improvement." Pelicans Senior VP/Sales Mike Stanfield said, "There are no decisions based on gut decisions anymore. ... The analytics brings an element of educated decision making." Stanfield said that the Pelicans have "been able to maintain a solid base of season ticket holders by offering each account a specialized representative with whom they communicate their needs." There are also "added perks, like a complimentary beer garden before games" and a 15% discount on concessions. They have also "fine-tuned their approach around the secondary market, limiting the amount of seats brokers are able to gobble up." Sources said that the team "sells about 2,000 season tickets to a single broker, and all other seats placed on the secondary market come from individuals." Stanfield: "We limit ourselves on what goes to the secondary market. ... Four years ago, we sold to anybody and anywhere, and it was a mistake" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 9/20). In New Orleans, William Guillory cites a source as saying that the team's success in fan experience came from the "unveiling of new video boards at the Smoothie King Center" in '16-17, "along with the team's continued efforts to improve in-arena Wi-Fi, mobile ticketing and other features" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/20).

The Titans have been awarded a SAFETY Act designation from the Department of Homeland Security, the government’s second-highest award, for its security practice at Nissan Stadium. Designation is a prerequisite for certification and gives the team a significant level of liability protection through September '22 if an incident at the site is deemed by DHS to be an “act of terrorism.” Officially known as the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, the program promotes the creation, deployment and use of antiterrorism technologies and practices. It was enacted in '02 in response to the multibillion-dollar lawsuits filed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. N.Y.-based Petrone Risk served as the team’s consultant for the lengthy process. The venue is the eighth NFL stadium to receive SAFETY Act protection. However, Kathy Lupia, the attorney at Petrone who helped the Titans navigate the process, said that because Nissan Stadium was built before Sept. 11, there were more hurdles than usual in implementing the necessary technology to comply with the Act’s requirements. “'Industry standard' is implemented in different ways, depending on the stadium,” she said. “But the newer or updated buildings automatically are already close to ‘industry standard’ when they open.” Lambeau Field and FedExField are older than Nissan Stadium, but each have received major infrastructure changes since '01. The NFL in December '08 became the first league to be awarded SAFETY Act protection for more than a single event. The league’s current designation and certification expires in November '18.

In N.Y., Nicholas Parco notes the Titans and Broncos yesterday on Twitter "attempted to show their support" for Mexico in light of the recent earthquake, but they "failed miserably." The teams each sent a tweet with an image of the Mexican flag but did not notice that "replacing the crest with their respective team logos ... made it look like they were showing their love for Italy." The White Sox also sent their "best wishes and thoughts" to Mexico and Puerto Rico. While the White Sox "got the flag of Mexico correct, the team accidentally sent out a photo of the Cuban flag instead of the Puerto Rican one." The club later corrected the mistake (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/21).

POOR SHOWING: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes the biggest ovation Tuesday at Tropicana Field "was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon," who was returning for the first time since leaving the Rays, but rather when Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber "blasted a home run in the second inning." Most of the 25,046 in attendance "went bonkers." Apparently if fans are motivated, they "will find a way to get to the Trop on a weeknight -- regardless of traffic, regardless of location," regardless of the ballpark. Jones: "Tampa Bay looked bad. It looked small-time. It looked rinky-dink" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/21).

FRONT AND CENTER: In Chicago, K.C. Johnson writes Bulls Senior VP/Basketball Operations John Paxson "sits atop the basketball-operations hierarchy." And by title, it "always has been so." But it is "also clear Paxson has returned to replace" GM Gar Forman's "brief run as the public face of the franchise, taking center stage at several straight news conferences." Nobody is "losing a job here," but Paxson's is "as powerful as ever" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/21).