The Jaguars will remove the "last remaining tarps at EverBank Field" for the entire '18 season, according to a front-page piece by Ryan O'Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The addition of 3,501 seats will "bring the Jaguars’ new capacity to 69,132." Introduced in '05 as a way to "limit the frequency of local television blackouts, the tarps quickly developed into a national punchline during the infrequent times the Jaguars were discussed." For their Wild Card against the Bills, the first home playoff game since '99, the Jaguars "received permission from the league and sponsors to remove the tarps to create an additional 3,501 seats, which sold out in six minutes." A key point in removing the tarps for the Jaguars was the "late-season interest." They have 5,000 deposits for new season tickets "compared to 700 at this time last year." The Jaguars had 45,000 season tickets in '16 but 43,000 last year. The Jaguars also announced yesterday that they will have "new uniforms and helmets" in '18, their first redesign since the '13 offseason. They will be "revealed later this spring." Teams are "allowed to change their uniforms once every five years, so the Jaguars’ first available window" was '18. Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that Exec VP/Football Operations Tom Coughlin was "involved with the uniform design." The team also announced that prices of several concession items will be "slashed to $5." Finally, season-ticket prices will increase by an average of nearly 11%, the "first time in 10 years that a majority of the stadium’s ticket prices will increase" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 2/13). ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted the Jaguars' plans for new uniforms means the team is "moving on from its black and gold two-tone helmets." It was "not a secret that the team was going to be ditching its current uniforms" (ESPN.com, 2/12).
The Marlins said that ticket sales for the upcoming season have "increased compared to a year ago and are ahead of last year’s pace," according to Andre Fernandez of the MIAMI HERALD. The Marlins said that 60% of the tickets are "reduced or the same" and 40% have "gone up in price although it wasn’t specified which sections increased or decreased." The team also said that ticket prices "could vary for depending on the opponent." Single-game ticket sales are "ahead of last year’s pace." Heading into Saturday when they went on sale, a Marlins spokesperson said that they had "sold more than double last year’s presale." The Marlins added that sales on Saturday at FanFest were "well ahead of the first day of first day of on-sale last year" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/11).
CAPTAIN'S ORDERS: In N.Y., John Harper wrote Marlins CEO Derek Jeter suddenly "finds himself an unpopular owner" after trading RF Giancarlo Stanton and other Marlins stars, all but "ensuring his team will be the worst in baseball" in '18. It is all "part of his rebuilding plan, but Jeter is already under fire in Miami for the way he's handling things" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11). SI's Tom Verducci writes on the business side Jeter is "reaching out to the community" in ways former Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria "never did." He is turning Marlins Park into an "entertainment venue beyond the Marlin’s 81 home dates." Monster truck rallies and craft beer festivals are "already scheduled." He hopes to "attract more fans with music and a festival atmosphere at ball games, similar to what was seen during the World Baseball Classic last year." The Marlins in January hosted "Dinner on the Diamond," a function for about 150 "potential business partners, sponsors and season-ticket holders." Miami-based UniVista CEO Ivan Herrera, who attended the function, said, "The old ownership didn’t do anything like this. New ownership is reaching out to the community. It’s time for a change, and (Jeter) realizes that" (SI, 2/12 issue).
SPEAK TO US: In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes Jeter should "make himself available daily" at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium during Spring Training "for autographs and selfies." Jeter "shouldn’t be a stranger." He "shouldn’t ask of Marlins fans more than he asks of himself." Meanwhile, the Marlins yesterday announced the hiring of Warriors CMO Chip Bowers as President of Business Operations, and George writes, "I’m guessing [Jeter] would favor this kind of audience engagement over more of those mopey Q&A sessions, where the questions to Jeter are all biting and the answers consistently unsatisfying" (PALM BEACH POST, 2/13).
BUILDING CHARACTER: In Ft. Lauderdale, Tim Healey notes Marlins VP/Player Development Gary Denbo this offseason created Captain's Camp, a "three and a half week leadership seminar that, in short, helps teach the 25 selected Marlins prospects to be the next Derek Jeters." The idea is to "coach up a bunch of great ballplayers to be great people, too." Give them "weeks of instruction -- on the field and in the classroom -- on how to lead and how to set an example for their peers." The Marlins’ inaugural Captain’s Camp began last week at their their spring facility in Jupiter and "will run until the end of the month, leading right up to the start of minor league spring training." Near-daily sessions include a "baseball component" and a "classroom component." Those in attendance are a "mix of Marlins prospects inherited from the previous regime and those who have joined the organization via recent trades" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 2/13).
Spurs Sports & Entertainment Chair & CEO Julianna Hawn Holt has "filed for divorce" from her husband Peter Holt, the club's former owner, and it "likely will have implications for the future of a franchise long viewed as a model of stability," according to a front-page piece by Orsborn & Danner of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Julianna "filed for divorce Dec. 22." She said in a statement, "The franchise is safe. We are dedicated and committed to continued success." Orsborn & Danner note the couple are "believed to own" about 40% of the team. Julianna has "shied away from the media since taking over from her husband" in March '16, allowing Spurs President of Business Operations Rick Pych to "oversee the day-to-day operations of the team" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/13).
Linda Pizzuti Henry, the wife of Red Sox Owner John Henry, now "owns a piece" of the team, according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. In a transaction made late last summer, Pizzuti Henry "acquired a portion of the shares held by former Fenway Sports Group limited partner Arthur Nicholas." Pizzuti Henry becomes the "first woman to own at least a share" of the Red Sox since the death of former team Owner Jean Yawkey in '92. Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy classified Pizzuti Henry's portion shares as a “small interest.” Including John Henry and Red Sox Chair Tom Werner, there are 19 investors "in all." John Henry "holds the largest share," estimated at 40%. Considering Pizzuti Henry became an owner "nearly half a year ago, without any notice or fanfare from the company, her active role with the ballclub is not expected to change after gaining a seat at the owners’ table" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/13).
NHL Rangers President Glen Sather has "agreed to stay with the organization at least through next season" for what will be his 19th with the team, according to Justin Tasch of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Sather joined the Rangers as President & GM in '00 after leading the Oilers to five Stanley Cups over 21 years. He "stepped aside" from his GM post in '15, with Jeff Gorton taking over that role. The Rangers have made the playoffs in 11 of the past 12 seasons, but with a deep run "seeming unlikely this season amid poor play and mounting injuries, Sather, Gorton and Co. are looking to freshen up the roster with youth and speed" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/13). In N.Y., Larry Brooks notes reconstruction of the Rangers "began in earnest last summer." Gorton has "past experience -- and success -- in overseeing an organizational revamp" (N.Y. POST, 2/13). The Rangers are currently two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (THE DAILY).
STANDING PAT: Brooks reports MSG "will not increase prices" for '18-19 season tickets if the Rangers "fail to qualify" for the playoffs for the first time since '10. Renewal notices were "sent early last week to subscribers, who were notified of a new 11-month payment-plan option beginning next month." MSG has "given ticket holders the right to cancel their subscriptions if prices increase" for '18-19 (N.Y. POST, 2/13).
USL Tampa Bay Rowdies Owner Bill Edwards yesterday said that he is "looking to bolster his ownership group," according to Rodney Page of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Edwards said, "We are looking to put together an ownership group and we have five or six groups talking to us right now. We are trying to take it to the next level, which is Major League Soccer. But it takes a lot of money to be in MLS." He added, "I don't plan on walking away from anything. I've poured five years of my life into the Rowdies and look where they've come. Why would I walk away?" Edwards said that his next step is to "bolster his MLS bid by finding investors to form a larger ownership group" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/13). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Ian Thomas reports Edwards "confirmed that the club will be brought to market this week, noting that he’s already beginning to have conversations with potential investors." Edwards said that while he is "shopping the entire team, he is open to staying on in some capacity with a new ownership group." Edwards "declined to say if other minority stakeholders in the team would also be selling." Sources "pegged the team’s value" at more than $25M. Edwards said that the team is "profitable and holds no debt." He added that he has invested more than $40M in the team but "declined to put a price tag on his ownership stake" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/12 issue).