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Volume 25 No. 27


A crowd of 56,232 was at EverBank Field yesterday for Rams-Jaguars, marking the "smallest announced crowd" since Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan bought the team in '11, according to Phillip Heilman of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. It was "either a show of disinterest in the Jaguars despite their 3-2 start or a show of anger by the fan base for the 15 players who took a knee for the National Anthem three weeks ago in London and Khan’s decision to stand arm-in-arm with the captains at that same game" (, 10/15). Heilman in a front-page piece notes the last time the Jaguars had a "smaller crowd for a home game was Dec. 6, 2009, when 42,079 were in attendance" for a game against the Texans. Jaguars DT Malik Jackson said, "If you don’t want to come support us because of the views we have off the field, that’s your problem and I think you have to look at yourself." Heilman notes every Jaguars player yesterday "stood for the national anthem." Khan, who donated $1M to President Trump’s campaign, has "been a vocal opponent of the president’s comments." Two hours before the game, a plane was seen "pulling a banner that read: 'BE AMERICAN. BOYCOTT THE JAGS & THE NFL' near the stadium, and a large portion of seats in the 400 level went unused." The Jaguars’ lowest home attendance last season "was 59,621" on Christmas Eve against the Titans, when the team had a 2-12 record (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/16).

The Golden Knight’s Twitter account ahead of their game yesterday posted the Bruins' forward lines "with female names rather than the actual lineup," according to Andrew Joseph of On the surface, the Golden Knights' account was "making a lame, sexist joke to imply that the Bruins were inferior to the Knights as if women were inferior to men." But the team "explained that it was a reference to a line" from the movie, "Ted," which came out in '12. It was a joke that "nobody was going to follow -- a random line from a 5-year-old movie -- and was still sexist even with the explanation." Joseph also noted the Golden Knight's Twitter account "spent the rest of the game ignoring the backlash and tweeting in a Boston accent" (, 10/15). THE ATHLETIC's Ruth Kapelus noted the Golden Knights' social media voice, run by Dir of Digital & Social Media Dan Marrazza, is a "lot like their city." It is a "little loud, a little brash and a whole lot of fun." While most NHL teams "employ self-effacing comedy as an element of their social media," the Golden Knights are "using humour and wit to create the brand of what’s essentially a start-up business in a highly competitive market." Marrazza is a "self-professed hockey maniac." He is also an "Emmy-winning digital reporter and web producer with an expansive sports media resume." He has "managed the social media accounts for four professional hockey teams" (, 10/13). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes, "Disparaging women and making jokes at their expense is never OK, and the Golden Knights deserved every bit of condemnation and criticism they got." This "wasn’t about some people failing to get a joke." This was about the Golden Knights "not recognizing casual sexism or their role in fostering it" (, 10/16).

: In Detroit, Helene St. James noted Red Wings players "came away dazzled and impressed" with the hockey atmosphere in Las Vegas after Friday's game against the Golden Knights. St. James wrote Las Vegas is "onto something in its latest attraction." T-Mobile Arena was "packed, and people were in their seats cheering and chanting." Red Wings RW Gustav Nyquist said, "I felt like it was a big party in the stands. The fans were loud. They’ve been able to put together a great product here, it seems like. And a good team, too." St. James noted the "electric atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena befitted a playoff game." Fans in Red Wings gear "were plentiful, and it’s the presence of tourists and transplants that signals Vegas will not suffer the uncertainty of other teams located in markets not traditionally associated with hockey." Red Wings C Henrik Zetterberg said, "I see a future here and especially the fans, they are a big part of it. It was loud. It was probably a lot louder than in many other arenas." St. James noted T-Mobile Arena is "located on the Vegas Strip, all the more conducive to luring tourists." Inside the arena, the "entertainment value comes through." The Red Wings "handed the Golden Knights their first defeat of the young season, but the atmosphere never dulled" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/15).

STICK TO THE PLAN: Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz before Friday's game said that the "invasion of the opponents' fans is hardly a surprise, especially the fans of Original Six teams such as the Red Wings and Bruins." In Las Vegas, Alan Snel noted Bubolz estimated that 30% of Friday’s crowd "were Red Wings fans." Bubolz said that there are "no business plans to try and limit Golden Knights home game tickets from falling into the hands of opponents’ fans." He added that the game plan is to "win over locals who have emotional allegiances to other NHL teams over time and convert them to Golden Knights fans" (, 10/15).

HELPING WITH THE HEALING: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen wrote the Golden Knights are "already big winners because they have done everything right under the most heart-wrenching circumstances." No established NHL team "could have navigated the Golden Knights' situation any better than they did." Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley said, "The team is feeding off the city. I think the city is feeding off the team" (USA TODAY, 10/15). In Las Vegas, David Schoen wrote the Golden Knights' first games in the city are "all part of the healing process for the Las Vegas residents, who have found an escape in the aftermath of the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip through hockey." Las Vegas resident Rich Rodriguez said, "It gets you out of the house, gets your mind off stuff." Las Vegas resident Constant Kern said of the Golden Knights' reaction to the tragedy, "I really truly believe it brought the city together" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/15).

Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is "in talks with multiple suitors" to sell the team -- and he is "pushing for an eye-popping price tag," according to sources cited by Kosman & Lewis of the N.Y. POST. Prokhorov is "demanding a valuation" of around $2B for the Nets -- near the record-setting $2.2B price that the Rockets sold for earlier this month. Prospective bidders have been "pushing Prokorov to sell control of the team immediately, versus his recent pitch to sell an initial minority stake along with the right to take control in three years." A deal -- which would not include Barclays Center -- "could be announced in the coming days or weeks." Prospective bidders are "said to include" at least two N.Y. financial titans, as well as a "Texas-based buyer group that lost" a bid on the Rockets. Sources said that former Knicks and MSG President Dave Checketts leads "another bidding group" connected to the Nets. Checketts is "friendly" with Alibaba Exec Vice Chair Joe Tsai, who has also "expressed interest in buying the Nets." Recently, Checketts and Tsai were "in talks about acquiring an NBA team," but the "current status of those discussions isn’t clear." Sources said that Prokhorov has been offering a 49% stake with the "right to purchase the rest of the team in three years at a valuation that will increase at a set percentage per year for the three years." Suitors are "now pushing further to buy full control right away" (N.Y. POST, 10/16).

The 76ers have "sold a record 14,000-plus season tickets, more than quadruple" their '13 total, according to Frank Fitzpatrick of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. While seats will be "set aside for individuals and groups, the team anticipates sellouts at all 41 homes games." 76ers Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Chris Heck said that demand has been "so strong that for the first time ever, there’s a waiting list, one already several thousand fans deep." Heck: “The only way to get a season ticket is to be on a waiting list. There are only a few NBA teams like that and now we’re in that game." Fitzpatrick wrote Philadelphia has rarely "embraced its pro-basketball franchise with the passionate bear-hugs it routinely gives the Eagles and Phillies." But the 76ers "seem finally to have fulfilled their financial promise." By almost "any off-the-court measure," the franchise has "reached or is fast approaching an unprecedented level of popularity." Dunkin’ Donuts, NFI, and Chadds Ford Winery are "new sponsors to the team." Additionally, thanks to 76ers F Ben Simmons, there is "even a deal in the works with an Australian meat-pie company." Heck said that sponsorships "grew by another '30 to 40 percent' this offseason." In the '12-13 season, the club’s season-ticket total of 3,400 was "among the league’s worst." A source said sponsorships that season were "abysmal." 76ers Dir of Corporate Communications Lara Toscani Weems said of the team's growing sales and marketing staff, "We not only have the biggest staff but we have the highest retention rate. You’d ordinarily think the bigger the staff, the more turnover. But that hasn’t been the case here" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/13).

FAST PASS: In Philadelphia, David Murphy writes under the header, "How And Why The Sixers And 'The Process' Have Captured The City's Imagination." Heck said that by the start of the '16-17 season, the Sixers "sold 11,000 full season-ticket packages," up from 3,000 in '13-14 and 6,000 in '14-15. A month after the Sixers traded up to select G Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick, the team "capped its season ticket sales at 14,300 and started a waiting list." Heck: "I didn't think it was going to happen this quickly" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/16).

News of the WNBA Stars being in negotiations to be sold and relocated from San Antonio to Las Vegas capped an "unimaginable fall for a franchise" that arrived from Utah in '03, according to Terrence Thomas of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The Stars finished last season with the league's "worst record for the third straight year, going a combined 23-79 during the span, and had not been a playoff contender" since '14 or recorded a winning record since '12. Stars coach Vickie Johnson said, "It was probably hard for a franchise to survive that. I just feel bad for the fans, and the city, and also the players. I talked to the players and they're shocked, speechless, angry, mad, everything" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/14).'s Mechelle Voepel wrote in the WNBA's 21 seasons, the places where the league has worked "haven't necessarily been where it was most expected." And other places where it would "seem there is a natural fan base for women's basketball -- the state of Tennessee, for instance -- haven't gotten a franchise." Voepel: "That's because the 'where' of the WNBA has depended on one thing: interested, engaged and financially committed owners." With the WNBA, it is "always about having ownership that really believes in the product -- or at least believes enough to have high-ranking employees who are fully invested." But it has "seemed for a few years now that Spurs Sports & Entertainment ... was losing interest in the WNBA team for a variety of reasons" (, 10/13).

In Cleveland, Terry Pluto noted it took a trip to the '16 World Series "combined with a 22-game winning streak for the Indians to draw 2 million fans for the first time in 10 years." That includes a "summer with zero rainouts and mild weather in April and September." Their season tickets for '18 are "approaching 13,000." That is "up from 12,600" at the start of the season. The Indians have a "very loyal and knowledgeable core group of fans." But the "casual fan base is very fragile." No matter "what anyone says, this is not a baseball town." It is "a football town." Pluto wondered if the Indians will "continue their promising" '18 ticket sales, or if a loss to the Yankees in the ALDS will slow that down" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/15).

SCALING BACK: In Detroit, Bill Shea noted the Tigers are "likely to enter" next season with between $141-157M "committed to player salaries -- a payroll decrease" of up to 30% versus this past season's $200M in roster spending. The decline "could be even sharper if more veteran talent is shed this off-season as part of the team's pivot to rebuilding via less costly, younger talent developed in-house." The Tigers have "just five major leaguers under long-term contract:" 1B Miguel Cabrera, 2B Ian Kinsler, DH Victor Martinez, and Ps Jordan Zimmerman and Anibal Sanchez. Collectively, they are due $99M next season, but "some of the five may not be on the roster" in '18 (, 10/13).

MIDDLE OF THE PACK: In Seattle, Larry Stone noted the Mariners opened the '17 season with a reported payroll of $154M, their "highest ever, which put them in the middle of the pack in MLB." Mariners Chair & CEO John Stanton said that they are "still a few weeks away from setting next year's payroll, but 'there’s room for growth.'" Stanton also said that he did not feel there was a "need to make a big signing to show fans the team was serious in its commitment." Stone also noted the Mariners' farm system "remains in the lower echelon of MLB by almost everyone's estimation." But it is "too early" in Exec VP & GM/Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto’s tenure to "expect him to have fully restocked the mostly empty shelves he was left with" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/12).