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Volume 25 No. 177

Franchises

Dolan says he has a responsibility to shareholders to examine potential sales of either the Knicks or Rangers
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

MSG Exec Chair & CEO James Dolan said the Knicks and Rangers are "very valuable assets, and they get more valuable every year," but he dismissed any speculation of a potential sale, noting "nobody in my family wants to sell" either team, according to Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com. Dolan: "It's not just my dad. It's the whole family. It's my (five) brothers and sisters. They like being owners ... They just have no appetite for running the team. That's a different animal." Dolan added he also does not "have any appetite for running the team, either one of them," as that is "not my expertise." Dolan reiterated his love for the Knicks and Rangers, but said he still has a "responsibility" to examine potential sales. Dolan added as the "head of a public company, you can't say you can't sell, because then you're telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money" and they "won't invest with you if you do that." Dolan: "I could never say that I wouldn't consider selling the Knicks. Now, my family ... are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote." On the belief among some high-ranking NBA execs that he has fielded offers of upward of $5B for the Knicks, Dolan said, "No one has come through with a bona fide offer." Dolan: "Yeah, (the feelers are) around that number ($5 billion), but those things, it's like a stock price. It's only important if you're going to buy or sell."

TOUGH SELL: Dolan said the reason why he is selling the WNBA Liberty is because he does not "know how to be successful" with the team. Dolan: "We've always tried to be helpful with the league, and I believe in the Liberty product. If you go to a Liberty game, they're fun basketball games to go to." But Dolan added, "I'll be damned if I know how to get people to go to those games." He noted MSG has "pumped tons of marketing dollars, we've done everything we can to make the team successful, and people don't come." Dolan: "It's the time of year and the perception that the sport is not as good as the NBA" (ESPN.com, 12/17).

A feeling in the NFL office is that the Raiders playing in Oakland in '19 would be best for all parties
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Raiders are now scrambling to find a stadium for '19, but it is "not out of the question" that the team may end up playing next season in Oakland, according to sources cited by Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. Owner Mark Davis is "under a significant time-crunch to work out his locale" for next year. League sources said that he will "face considerable backlash from the NFL office if this is not resolved by the Super Bowl." Sources also said that the Raiders have been "investigating other spots, including San Diego, for months." But as much as coach Jon Gruden "may want to move the team for a year," he is "going to need league approval to complete any arrangement, and there is a strong sense in the NFL office that keeping the team in the Bay Area makes the most sense for all involved" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/16). CBSSN's Amy Trask said of the Raiders suing the city of Oakland, "I'm very, very confident that 31 owners at least have no interest whatsoever in sitting down and being deposed or engaging in discovery. They may be looking to force a settlement or grandstand with their constituents" (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 12/16).

STAYING IN THE BAY? Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said that it would be "challenging to have a second team" at Levi's Stadium. In San Jose, David DeBolt noted Gillmor acknowledged "complaints from stadium neighbors about noise, parking and other nuisances caused on 49ers game days." Gillmor: "We are looking at it in the event it becomes a possibility. I’m not sure if they are interested. ... It’s really a 49ers decision at this point" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 12/14). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote he "would love to see the Raiders become a true barnstorming team next year, playing games in San Diego, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Toronto, St. Louis, San Antonio, London, and Mexico City." But the "most realistic scenario, by far, is for the Raiders to share Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers." It "keeps the Raiders in the Bay Area, allows them to sell tickets to their fan base, and doesn’t force them to move operations for a year or play away from home" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/16). In California, Phil Barber reported Cal and Stanford are not thought to be "interested in opening" their doors to the Raiders, and "even if one of the universities were amenable, the NFL traffic flow would be oppressive." Barber: "Levi’s is the only logical alternative to Oakland" (Santa Rosa PRESS DEMOCRAT, 12/16).

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: CBSSN's Trask said it is too soon to "rule out the possibility" that the Raiders will play in Oakland next season. Trask: "This should be a festival for fans. They should open the parking lots early. They should get most, if not every, local Oakland musical artists. Get all those artists there, have a free concert for fans in the parking lot. I would spend a lot of money on this. I would make concessions free for the whole game, pregame while that concert’s going on in the parking lot. I would have the fans be able to mix and mingle with Raider legends from days gone by and get hugs and autographs. After the game, I would allow the fans to come down on the field and mix and mingle with current players and current coaches. This needs to be a thank you and a salute and an appreciation to the magnificent, magnificent Raider Nation." But CBSSN’s Brandon Tierney said, "The Raiders need to take care of their fans and do the right thing, and that means ripping the hideous tarps off Mt. Davis on Christmas Eve and treating that game against the Broncos as their final home game because it will be" (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 12/16).

Giveaways and promotions aimed at getting "fans in the door" to avoid "swaths of empty seats" have come to the NFL, as evidenced by the Ravens yesterday giving away purple scarves to the first 30,000 fans to enter M&T Bank Stadium, according to Thom Loverro of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Ravens Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Operations Baker Koppelman said of the promotion, "It's a little bit of a test. We wanted to see how people will react." He added, "We got feedback from people asking why don't you do some giveaways? We thought, 'Why don't we try doing a higher-end giveaway and limit it to a certain number?' It is a means to get people to come earlier. We are conscious of getting people in on time and avoiding that crush 30 minutes before kickoff. It's in everyone's best interest to get in early." But Loverro notes with the number of empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium, the scarves "didn't deliver." Loverro: "Then again, given the rainy weather, ponchos might have worked better." The scarf giveaway "wasn't the only test" the Ravens are trying. For their final two home games, the team "offered a two-game package for $44, only available via its mobile ticket app." But under the offer, fans "don't know" their seats until they arrive at the stadium. Koppelman: "It's a test related to a different audience, targeted toward a younger audience" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/17).

Teams can play artificial noise until the play clock hits 20 seconds or the offense gets to the line of scrimmage
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Bears began using an air-raid siren to energize the crowd at Soldier Field "before defensive plays in last week’s victory over the Rams," and the siren made was also used in yesterday’s "high-stakes game against the Packers," according to Morgan Greene of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. While some Bears fans "delighted in the siren and credited the sonic addition with leading the team to two important wins," for other fans it was an "insult to those who know how to show up, support their team and use their voices." In the first half yesterday, when the siren "blared at the packed stadium, thousands of fans screamed, whirling their towels in the air" with the PA announcer saying “I can’t hear you.” When the siren "played in the second half, the Decibel X app clocked its combination with the crowd’s voices at decibels in the upper 90s to low 100s, or close to the sound of the subway." The "majority of fans" at yesterday's game "seemed happy to have a wall of sound backing their screams." After last week’s siren, Bears Senior VP/Marketing & Communications Scott Hagel said that fan response was "fantastic." Hagel: “The goal is to get our crowd energized from the get-go so that when we cut it off, they’re at a high crescendo.” Bears coach Matt Nagy said that siren was "'great' and he was 'ready for the fans to be just absolutely crazy again.'" Greene notes teams are "allowed to play artificial noise until the play clock reaches 20 seconds or the offense reaches the line of scrimmage" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/17).

TWITTER REAX: NBC Sports Chicago's Bears Talk feed tweeted, "Credit the Air Siren for that 3rd down sack. credit the Air Siren for the Bears' good starting field position. credit the Air Siren for it all." Chicago-based journalist Claire Zulkey: "I worry that after too many #Bears games I'm going to hear an air raid siren for real and just feel amped up." The Athletic's Corey Sznajder: "The Bears playing a tornado siren while they’re on defense is very disorienting to our dog." WFLD-Fox' Shae Peppler: "Fans are loud. Sirens are going off. Towels are being waived. ... It gets louder with every game." WBBM-CBS' Matt Zahn: "Surprised they gave the fans towels and not vuvuzelas."