The Brewers had "by far the lowest opening day payroll of the teams still playing baseball in October," despite boosting their payroll "about 50%" in the offseason, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. When last year's team "fared much better than expected, falling just one game shy of the playoffs," Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio and GM David Stearns decided it was "time to spend" for the likes of CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Christian Yelich and P Jhoulys Chacín, among others. The team opened with a payroll just north of $90M, which has increased to about $110M with "late-season acquisitions, call-ups, etc." Meanwhile, the Dodgers, who play the Brewers in the NLCS this year, began the season at about $187M. The Red Sox "led all 30 teams at the start of the season with a payroll" above $233M. The Astros also are "among the top 10 spenders" with a payroll just below $173M. But the Brewers, playing in the "smallest market in the majors with the lowest television/radio revenues, operate under a budget that other teams dwarf." Attanasio: "We’ll never be at the top of the payroll lists. But it’s more about the process rather than trying to get to a certain number. We’re very pleased with how our process has worked" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/12).
SHIFTING ATTENTION: In Milwaukee, James Nelson noted secondary ticket prices for Dodgers-Brewers NLCS Game 1 on Friday at Miller Park "dipped Thursday, from a 'get-in' price of about $130 to about $115 Thursday night." That is for "standing-room admission." StubHub said on Thursday afternoon that about 3,300 tickets were available (JSONLINE.com, 10/11). In Green Bay, Richard Ryman notes ticket prices for Monday night's 49ers-Packers "remain in free fall as fans shift their attention" to the Brewers. The "MNF" matchup will go head-to-head on TV with Brewers-Dodgers Game 3 in L.A. The "lowest get-in price for Packers tickets on the secondary market Thursday was $79, $30 below face value of the least expensive Packers tickets, and $28 less than standing-room-only tickets which the Packers are making available to the general public for the first time this season" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/12).
ROOT, ROOT, ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM: In Milwaukee, James Nelson notes the Bucks have "saluted the Brewers on their huge digital display on the new parking structure" in downtown Milwaukee. All Brewers championship series games will be "shown on large screens inside the new beer garden that connects North Old World Third Street with the plaza outside the new Bucks arena." Bucks Senior VP/Communications Barry Baum said, "We're all in on the Brewers. The beer will be flowing." Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said, "The Bucks recognize that the Brewers are the ones capturing peoples' attention right now" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/12).
The Islanders and LGBT Network are "joining forces to launch an anti-bullying partnership" in more than 200 local schools, according to Joie Tyrrell of NEWSDAY. Team officials on Thursday during National Coming Out Day said that this initiative that will "set an important example for LGBT youth." The Isles also announced this season’s “Pride Night” for Jan. 13 against the Lightning, with a "portion of ticket proceeds supporting expansion of the LGBT Network’s anti-bullying programs." Isles co-Owner Jon Ledecky said that the partnership was "developed through the network, along with support from the NHL." He also noted last year's pride night "went well" (NEWSDAY, 10/12).
MAY TARGETED FOR ARENA WORK: Islanders co-Owner Jon Ledecky said that he "expects construction on the team’s arena at Belmont Park to begin in May while adding that he is taking the community’s concerns 'very seriously.'" Ledecky said, "When you’re building a project of that scale, you want to make sure all the different groups have input, whether it’s business groups, community groups, residents." He added, "I’ve worked with the mayors and I’ve been meeting with my colleagues and them. I feel very positive about the support that we’re receiving." Ledecky said that he "expects shovels to be in the ground" in May and the arena to "open on schedule" in October '21. On Long Island, Gross & Baumbach note Empire State Development officials have indicated that an "environmental impact report is due out before the end of the year and that residents will have a chance to comment on it." Isles President of Hockey Operations & GM Lou Lamoriello this summer hinted that the arena "could be ready sooner than expected." Ledecky: "If you think about the way the NHL works, the way the schedule works, I think it’s good to point to October 2021. I don’t see how we can be playing before then" (NEWSDAY, 10/12).
The Buccaneers have gone from taking QB Jameis Winston "off any promotional material for the team to now solely featuring" him in a new campaign, according to ESPN's Molly Qerim Rose. The move comes after a "lot of questionable behavior" by Winston, including the assault of a female Uber driver that led to a three-game suspension at the start of the season. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said that he "doesn't mind" Winston being the face of the team again because "long-term money ain't attached to it yet." Smith: "Let's put him in the lion's den, let's put him in the eye of the storm. Let's sit up there and say to Jameis Winston, 'We believe in you. Here's the football and the marquee. You're all of it for us, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We ride and die with you. This is your future on the line right here.'" ESPN's Max Kellerman said it is "fine" that Winston has the starting job, but he "would not promote him as the face of the franchise because of his behavior off the field." Kellerman: "You start to glorify that or at least you don't punish it." Kellerman added the Bucs are "glorifying" Winston by promoting him. Kellerman: "Considering the way he's behaved off the field, you have to consider what kind of a message that sends" ("First Take," ESPN, 10/12). ESPN.com's Jenna Laine noted Winston was "left out of the team's marketing campaigns in July" after receiving his three-game ban. Sources said that the decision to initially leave him out of the marketing campaigns was "two-fold." The team was "concerned about optics, and they wanted the focus to be on the players who would be playing." At the time, the Bucs said that there was a "possibility" that Winston could "participate in later campaigns" (ESPN.com, 10/11).
Hornets execs are "feeling much better as change sweeps through" the organization, all the way "down to the hot dogs and sodas sold" at Spectrum Center, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Hornets Exec VP & COO Pete Guelli said ticket sales have been "better than anticipated." Spanberg noted "subtractions and additions to the season-ticket rolls left the Hornets with 11,000 full-season buyers," which is in line with the past several years for the team. Smaller ticket packages of 8, 12 and 23 games will "combine to add the equivalent of about 1,000 full-season plans, which also "matches recent sales figures." NBA teams "consider 10,000 full-season equivalents a benchmark of financial stability." In the past year, the Hornets also have "struck several sponsor agreements that are key to long-term stability or reflect interest among corporate backers to expand existing contracts." Spectrum falls into the latter category, as the cable company has its "name on the arena and, this year, became title sponsor" of the Hornets' 30th anniversary season. Spectrum is paying an "estimated $200,000 to $500,000 for those rights." Guelli also said the better-than-expected financial performance is due to the "massive changes on the basketball side." He added that "nostalgic interest driven by an aggressive marketing and sales campaign around the 30th anniversary season" has helped. However, Spanberg noted the Hornets are still asking fans to "be patient (again)" for a team that has "reached the playoffs a grand total of three times in 14 years since the NBA returned to Charlotte" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/11).
EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY: In Nashville, Jonathan Garcia noted the Predators on Tuesday raised a Western Conference regular-season championship banner, which caused them to be "eviscerated across the hockey-sphere for raising a superfluous non-achievement." Garcia: "Let's be more clear: Nashville isn't the only hockey team to have or have had a banner to celebrate being a regular season conference champion. But doing something dumb isn't justified just because other people have done it before" (TENNESSEAN.com, 10/11).
SUNRISE & SHINE? In Miami, Greg Cote notes the NHL Panthers' crowd for their home opening Thursday at BB&T Center at "no time was full, with hundreds of empty seats scattered throughout." The Panthers "must win back some of their own fans as well as South Florida at large" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/12).