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Volume 25 No. 196

Franchises

The MLB Rangers claimed throughout the '18 season a decline in attendance "would not impact the long-term payroll and baseball-operations budget," but the drop in ticket sales ended up being a "bloodbath that will put a strain on finances," according to Gerry Fraley of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The sharp decrease also raises a "question as to whether a disenchanted segment of the fan base can be retrieved." The Rangers finished 19th in MLB for "tickets sold at 2,107,107, a drop of 400,653" from '17. By a "very conservative estimate," that adds up to a "decrease in revenue" of at least $16M this season. The Rangers have "squandered much of the goodwill they generated with strong showings" from '10-13. Coming off of a "second consecutive World Series appearance" in '11, the Rangers "set a club record with 3,460,280 tickets sold" in '12. The sales drop between then and '18 is 1,353,173, the "10th-largest decrease within a seven-season window in baseball history." Using a $40-per-ticket estimate, that "translates to a revenue shortfall" of $54M. However, the Rangers "believe they can win back the block of ticket-buying customers" who have "temporarily turned their back on the team." Rangers Exec VP/Business Operations Rob Matwick said that the team is "encouraged that it has maintained a season-ticket-equivalent base that ranks among the top 10" in MLB. That base was at "about 16,000 this season." Matwick said that the attendance decline over the past few seasons "primarily came from single-game tickets." The Rangers hope that the final season of Globe Life Park in '19 and the opening of Globe Life Field in '20 "spurs attendance" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11).

MLB RANGERS TOTAL ATTENDANCE TREND
YEAR
ATTENDANCE
MLB RANK
'18
2,107,107
19
'17
2,507,760
12
'16
2,710,402
10
'15
2,411,575
16
'14
2,718,733
9
'13
3,178,273
5
'12
3,460,280
3
Download the
Rangers Attendance Trend

GOING OVER BUDGET: Matwick told Arlington city officials that the cost of Globe Life Field "has increased" by about $200M, from the "original target" of $1B to $1.2B. Matwick said that because the project is "not done," that figure is "also not final." Matwick added that the team has "not made a decision whether to go with real or fake grass" in the new ballpark. Matwich also said that the Rangers have "not finalized a new ticket price plan" for Globe Life Field, and that the team plans to reach out this winter to season-ticket holders about "new options that will include the dreaded R word: Relocation" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/11).

Flyers-Senators last night drew an announced crowd of 13,215 to the Canadian Tire Centre
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk took the floor at last week's NHL BOG meeting to let the "rest of the NHL know that he’s not selling the club," according to Elliotte Friedman of SPORTSNET.ca. It is interesting that Melnyk was "given the opportunity to do it in that setting," and it seems he "wanted the other owners to hear it from him -- directly." One governor said that he took Melnyk's message to be that the "downtown building process is going to take a long, long time" (SPORTSNET.ca, 10/10). Friedman over the weekend reported Melnyk "gave an impassioned speech about how he’s in Ottawa for the long haul despite what other governors and owners may have read in the media." Melynk "plans to be there for a long time and he said he ‘relishes the underdog role.’" Friedman: "He’s gonna be there long enough for the Senators to turn around" ("HNIC," Sportsnet, 10/6).

LOOKING FOR SUPPORT: In Ottawa, Don Brennan reports the Senators announced an attendance of 13,215 for last night's game against the Flyers, but that "seemed inflated for the second home game of the season." People within the press box "estimated 11,000-12,000 fans were in the stands" at the game. The capacity at Canadian Tire Centre is 18,652. The team announced a crowd of 15,858 for the season opener last week against the Blackhawks, when season-ticket holders were "offered a pair of freebies as a 'token of appreciation.'" The Senators knew they "wouldn’t be getting a big walk-up crowd for the Flyers game." Expecting a "smaller turnout, the team cut game day staff in some areas." The team also reduced "parking in the 'premium' lots" for last night's game from $30 to $25 and from $35 to $30 (OTTAWA SUN, 10/11).

Lynch's club has averaged about 3,700 fans for home matches, a figure close to the break-even point
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NWSL Washington Spirit Owner Bill Lynch is "in talks about selling a majority stake in the organization" to DC-based data services company Qbase CEO Steve Baldwin, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. A source said that Lynch, who has owned the team since the league launched in '13, would "retain close to" a 50% share in the team. Lynch said it is still "a little premature" for an official announcement. Sources said that if a deal is struck, Baldwin would "seek to upgrade the Spirit's operations" at the Maryland SoccerPlex and "perhaps play additional matches" at DC United's Audi Field. Goff notes the Spirit have has averaged about 3,700 fans for home matches, a figure "close to the break-even point." The team also "runs a substantial youth development program." Lynch has been "actively involved in the team, attending most home games and addressing the players on occasion" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/11). 

In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse reports the T'Wolves "had no idea" an ESPN crew led by Rachel Nichols was in town to talk to disgruntled F Jimmy Butler until they saw the net airing snippets of an interview with Butler as a "set up for NBA shows and SportsCenters that would follow." The fact Butler showed up for practice for the first time yesterday, "went bonkers on everybody, stormed out and was sitting with Nichols for a prearranged interview soon thereafter is not a conspiracy theory." That is "one plus one being two -- that’s a conspiracy, period" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/11).

BACK OUT FRONT: Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston is the "centerpiece of a promotional video tweeted out" by the team yesterday. Winston was "noticeably absent from the Bucs' marketing efforts before the start of the season, most visibly missing from the banners that adorn the four corners outside Raymond James Stadium." It appears that any concerns the organization might have had about Winston seem to have been "alleviated by his return last week from a three-game suspension" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/10).

IS IT OVER? In Dallas, Eddie Sefko addressed the question of whether there is a possibility the Mavericks could receive more punishment from the NBA following the allegations against recently fired team photographer Danny Bollinger and wrote, "The league has had its say. The rest of the punishment will come from within, if anything. The transgressions that keep trickling out -- the news of past transgressions, not any new transgressions -- is of a far less serious nature than what was included in the external investigation. But it's all part of removing bad apples and changing culture" (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/9).