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Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

Will the NBA & NHL be forced to cut teams?

Posted by ZA on March 24, 2009

There is a saying that “once is chance, twice is coincidence and three times is a pattern.”  If that saying is true, then we will soon see a pattern of conversations about the NBA and NHL being forced to shut down teams due to the economy.  That is because a couple of knowledgeable sports columnists have recently written articles about the dire situation for certain teams due to the current economy.  It is only a matter of time until more of the mainstream sports media begin to harp on this subject.


My initial reaction was surprise at reading in Bill Simmon’s “Welcome to the No Benjamins Association” column that he and his sources guess that between “three and eight” NBA teams will be sold, move to a new city or turn over operations to the league.  I had not thought about this possibility because I naively assumed that all of these owners or ownership groups had sufficient capital to ride out the current economic storm.  But I heard a similar story, confirming what Simmons has heard, when I talked to a friend of mine who works in the front office of a prominent NBA team.  My friend specifically pointed to the Memphis Grizzlies as an example of a team that is riding on fumes and said everyone in the league knows it.

Simmons went on to say in his article that the situation in the NHL is probably worse than the NBA.  Simmons writes that contraction of teams in the NHL is likely, whereas NBA Commissioner David Stern will probably refuse to cut NBA teams, even if he should do it.  Simmons said Stern’s stubborn nature that would probably be the reason the NBA doesn’t eliminate failing teams.  Wow that is a lot to absorb; it’s hard to fathom multiple NHL teams closing up and the possibility of the same in the NBA.


But Bill Simmons makes a compelling case in his column; he mentions the declining attendance, corporations who cannot afford their luxury suites and fans that are choosing to stay home.  Combine those factors with the escalating salaries in the NBA and you start to see a recipe for disaster.  And just when I think I’m starting to get my head around it, then another respected media member comes 0ut with a similar story that adds credibility to the dangerous situation the league’s face.

Darren Rovell, who is master of all things sports and business for CNBC, wrote a column about the trouble owners needing to sell might find in trying to locate a buyer.  He says that some of people who own pro franchises are not nearly as rich today as they were when they bought their club.  That downturn in their net worth may cause some of those owners to be forced to sell their team.

Complicating the matter, says Rovell,  is the fact that the days of debt financing the purchase of a professional sports franchise are done.  That means the only people who have the means to buy a franchise are those with loads of cash; like $300 million dollars or more in liquid assets.  Rovell says at this point that it is probably more feasible for a team to be taken over by their league than sold on the open market right now.

The question then becomes how many teams can the NBA & NHL afford to operate on their own dime?  If the rumblings turn out to be true, and there are a handful of teams in each league that cannot afford to continue on their own, then how can the leagues help them?  The simple answer is that they cannot save them; the NBA and NHL would have to instead shut down some of their teams.

I believe it is beyond theory now, it is going to happen.  The NBA & NHL will have to shutter some of their teams, or make otherwise drastic changes in order to save them.  Fans should get accustomed to this idea now, because it is only a matter of time.

Again, if I had just read it once I might shrug it off as a theory that might not come to fruition.  But this story is out there and being told by people who are “in the know”.  So in my mind it is no longer a matter of “if” the leagues are going to shut down teams, it is “when” they make the decision and how many teams will be affected.


Posted in Improve Attendance, NBA, NHL, Sports Brands, Tickets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NBA changes ad decision on liquor

Posted by ZA on January 22, 2009

“Better the devil that you know than the devil that you don’t know.”  I think that expression is apt for this story.

Due to the tough economic times the NBA has decided to reverse its ban against in-stadium liquor signage.  The ban prevented liquor advertisements from being located courtside, or anywhere else in the stadium that could wind up being seen on a television broadcast.  Teams were previously allowed to sign deals with liquor companies, but had to restrict the signage to areas out of view of tv cameras.

The NBA is not the only league to go down this path.  Major League Baseball, Nascar and the NHL all have previously overturned this same regulation in their own leagues.  They now allow liquor advertisers to position themselves so that they will appear on those leagues television broadcasts.

Although these decision are assuredly not popular with organizations like MADD, they are necessary to keep new sponsor dollars coming in during this recession.  Liquor sales are not going to be greatly impacted by the downturn, so that segment is one of the few that has sponsorship dollars to spend.

I can’t blame the NBA, in these tough financial times you have to do whatever is possible to stay afloat.  They are choosing to take the dollars available to them rather than face the unknown consequences of not getting that money.

Posted in MLB, Nascar, NBA, NHL, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing, Stadium Signage | 2 Comments »

How will attack ads shape the sports world?

Posted by ZA on October 27, 2008

Advertising Age posted a great article on the exponential growth of comparative ads in the advertising world.  AdAge says these “attack ads” are becoming a common tactic for the underdog in a given sector.  The success of Apple’s Mac vs PC ads have inspired a new wave of attack ads from companies in a variety of industries.

* Dunkin Donuts is going after Starbucks on coffee.
* Time Warner and Verizon are attacking each other on broadband service.
* Direct TV is attacking Time Warner on the dish being better than cable.
* Progresso is going after Campbell’s on healthy soup.
* Microsoft (aka: PC) is counterpunching Apple (aka: Mac) with their “I’m a PC ad”.

So the question is which sports brands are going to start directly attacking each other in these combative style ads?  There are many companies who spend a lot of marketing dollars in the sports world, who already have a history of attacking each other, including: Coke versus Pepsi, Burger King versus McDonald’s and Miller Lite versus Bud Light.  But what sports brands are going to form the next wave of attack ads:

Under Armour vs Nike vs Reebok/Adidas
* There has already been a history of some attack ads in this space, but look for upstart Under Armour to try to gain market share by tearing down their bigger, richer rivals.  Attacks on Nike are going to be coming from all directions, as Reebok/Adidas will continue to battle Nike for supremacy in different sports categories.  The last few years Nike and Adidas have exchanged a lot of blows as Nike tries to grow their foothold in the soccer world, a previous stronghold of Adidas.

Gatorade vs Powerade evolves to Vitaminwater vs SoBe Lifewater
Again these are two companies that are not strangers to attack ads.  They and their parent companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have battled back and forth for years.  The new battleground will be the flavored water, where Coke brand Vitaminwater will fight against attacks from Pepsi’s SoBe Lifewater.

UFC vs Elite XC
Wait, this battle between rival MMA organizations looks to be already over with the news that Elite XC is going out of business.  Score it a TKO for the UFC and Dana White.

It’s doubtful these two leagues ever take off the gloves and really start bashing each other, but there might be a few jabs thrown.  The two major professional sports leagues compete for dollars, fans, corporate sponsorships and television air time every year.  Both are hurting for revenue, so rather than try to build their own brand they may choose to attack the other brand to try to grab some market share.

These are just a few, surely there will be more big name sports brands that throw down the gauntlet to go after their competitors.  It’ll be interesting to see which of these “attacks” prove effective, and which turn out to be just more noise in the marketplace.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Gatorade, NBA, NHL, Nike, Powerade, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | 1 Comment »

New York icon getting $500 Million facelift

Posted by ZA on April 4, 2008

Madison Square Garden is a landmark in New York City.  The building has been part of the city’s heritage for over a century.  But like any old bird, there comes a time when some maintenance is needed.  So recently there have been plans flying around for how to upgrade MSG.  The two most popular plans have been to renovate the current building or to build a new Madison Square Garden a block from the current, at Penn Station.

It looks like a decision has been reached (at least for the moment) as MSG execs detailed a plan to spend $500 Million dollars on an upgrade to the current facility.  The renovation would be an entire overhaul of the legendary facility, that would add 36 new luxury suites.  The capacity of the Garden would stay the same (20K), but the seating would be reconfigured to provide better sight lines.  The construction on the Garden would take place over the next 3 years, but would not interrupt the schedules of its primary tenants (the NY Knicks & NY Rangers).  It also would not affect the Big East Tournament, which is played at MSG every year.  But the New York Liberty, of the WNBA, would probably need to find some new digs for the next few seasons.  I imagine their fan will be crushed.

The current location for Madison Square Garden opened in 1968.  During its years it has been the home to many great sporting events, concerts and performances.  A few of the most famous were the Ali-Frazier fight, John Lennon’s final concert and The Concert for New York City (after September 11th attacks).

Posted in NBA, NHL, Stadium Construction, Venue Information | 1 Comment »

How many venues for the 4 major US sports?

Posted by ZA on January 31, 2008

Pop quiz: How many venues are there for the 4 major professional sports leagues? How many can you name?
A) 110
B) 111
C) 114
D) 117

A few tips to help you:
* There are 32 NFL teams.
* 30 MLB teams.
* 30 NBA teams.
* 30 NHL teams.

NFL Venues:
Alltel Stadium (Jaguars)
Arrowhead Stadium (Chiefs)
Bank of America Stadium (Panthers)
Cleveland Browns Stadium (Browns)
Dolphins Stadium (Dolphins)
Edward Jones Dome (Rams)
Fedex Field (Redskins)
Ford Field (Lions)
Georgia Dome (Falcons)
Giants Stadium (Giants & Jets)
Gillette Stadium (Patriots)
Heinz Field (Steelers)
HHH Metrodome (Vikings)
Invesco Field (Broncos)
Lambeau Field (Packers)
Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles)
Louisiana Superdome (Saints)
LP Field (Titans)
Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts)
M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens)
McAfee Coliseum (Raiders)
Monster Park (49ers)
Paul Brown Stadium (Bengals)
Qualcomm Stadium (Chargers)
Qwest Field (Seahawks)
Ralph Wilson Stadium (Bills)
Raymond James Stadium (Buccaneers)
Reliant Stadium (Texans)
Soldier Field (Bears)
Texas Stadium (Cowboys)
University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals)

MLB Stadiums:
Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Angels)
At&t Park (SF Giants)
Busch Stadium (Cardinals)
Chase Field (Diamondbacks)
Cisco Field (Athletics)
Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)
Comerica Park (Tigers)
Coors Field (Rockies)
Dodger Stadium (LA Dodgers)
Dolphin Stadium (Marlins)
Fenway Park (Red Sox)
Great American Ball Park (Reds)
HHH Metrodome (Twins)
Kaufman Stadium (KC Royals)
Miller Park (Brewers)
Minute Maid Park (Astros)
Nationals Park (Nationals)
Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Orioles)
Petco Park (Padres)
PNC Park (Pirates)
Progressive Field (Indians)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Rangers)
Rogers Centre (Blue Jays)
Safeco Field (Mariners)
Shea Stadium (NY Mets)
Tropicana Field (Devil Rays)
Turner Field (Braves)
US Cellular Field (White Sox)
Wrigley Field (Cubs)
Yankee Stadium (Yankees)

NBA Venues (Also, dual occupancy venues):
Air Canada Center (Raptors & Maple Leafs)
American Airlines Arena (Heat)
American Airlines Center (Mavericks & Stars)
Amway Arena (Magic)
Arco Arena (Kings)
At&t Center (Spurs)
Bradley Center (Bucks)
Charlotte Bobcats Arena (Bobcats)
Conseco Fieldhouse (Pacers)
Energy Solutions Arena (Jazz)
Fedex Forum (Grizzlies)
Izod Center (Nets)
Key Arena (Supersonics)
Madison Square Garden (Knicks & NY Rangers)
New Orleans Arena (Hornets)
Oracle Arena (Warriors)
Palace of Auburn Hills (Pistons)
Pepsi Center (Nuggets & Avalanche)
Philips Arena (Hawks & Thrashers)
Quicken Loans Arena (Cavaliers)
Rose Garden (Trailblazers)
Staples Center (Clippers, Lakers & Kings)
Target Center (Timberwolves)
TD Banknorth Garden (Bruins & Celtics)
Toyota Center (Rockets)
United Center (Blackhawks & Bulls)
US Airways Arena (Suns)
Verizon Center (Wizards & Capitals)
Wachovia Center (76ers & Flyers)

NHL Venues:
BankAtlantic Center (Panthers)
Bell Centre (Canadiens)
General Motors Place (Canucks)
Honda Center (Ducks)
HP Pavilion at San Joes (Sharks)
HSBC Arena (Sabres) Arena (Coyotes)
Joe Louis Arena (Red Wings)
Mellon Arena (Penguins)
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Islanders)
Nationwide Arena (Blue Jackets)
Pengrowth Saddledome (Flames)
Prudential Center (NJ Devils)
RBC Center (Hurricanes)
Rexall Place (Oilers)
Scotiabank Place (Senators)
Scottrade Center (Blues)
Sommet Center (Predators)
St. Pete Times Forum (Lightning)
Xcel Energy Center (Wild)

The answer is 111.  There are 32 NFL venues, one for each team.  There are 30 baseball stadiums in the MLB, again one for each team.  But there are a combined 49 arenas in the NBA & NHL, because there are 10 venues that have multiple occupants.  Nine of those have an NBA & NHL team sharing the arena, and the Staples Center in Los Angeles is split between the LA Lakers, LA Clippers and LA Kings.

Posted in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Venue Information | 2 Comments »

What’s in a venue name?

Posted by ZA on January 26, 2008

So what matters in a venue name? Does it need to be memorable? Should it be something that helps fans associate it with the team? No, it needs to make the team money. Corporate sponsorships of venues are big business, and that trend is only going to get bigger.

It seems like that just when you get used to the name on your stadium, it changes. It’s Pac Bell Park, right? No. SBC Park? Nope. Try AT&T Park. The cozy baseball stadium that overlooks the bay in San Francisco, has had 3 name changes in 6 years. The stadium opened in 2000 as Pacific Bell Park. In 2004, it became SBC Park. But soon after changed to AT&T Park in 2006. Sounds like Barry Bonds isn’t the only one getting rich out there, the stadium sign makers are making a killing. In-fact, the name changed so much that the California Transportation Authority made the phone company reimburse the state for the cost of changing freeway signs that direct drivers to the ballpark. And all of this change came after the SF Giants had played the previous 40 years at Candlestick Park. Of course, Candlestick Park changed its name to 3Com Park from 1996-2002 and then Monster Park in 2004.

Similarly the Izod Center was Continental Airlines Arena, which was the Meadowlands Arena and Brendan Byrne Arena before that. And Minute Maid Park (aka: “The Juice Box”) was previously named for now defunct energy giant, Enron, and was Astros Field prior to that. And at the University of Minnesota, there are already rumors that the name of their new stadium, TCF Bank Stadium, could change before one game is even played there.

So while there are many stadiums, venues and arenas that will change their name whenever a big corporation opens its checkbook. The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona ($155M over 20 years). Papa John’s Stadium (aka: “The Oven” $15M through 2040) in Louisville, Kentucky. Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. There are also a few hallowed venues in sports that have resisted the temptation of corporate dollars. Some examples of those are below.

So what are the venue names that will never change. Here is the holy grail of stadium names:
* NFL: Lambeau Field, Soldier Field
* MLB: Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field
* NBA/NHL: Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum
* Other: Old Trafford, Wembley Stadium, Estadio Azteca (soccer in Mexico City)
* College football: Kyle Field, Notre Dame Stadium
* College basketball: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Phog Allen Arena

What other venues won’t ever change their name?

Posted in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Soccer, Venue Naming Rights | 3 Comments »