Sunday, September 07, 2008


Weekend Wonderings: Teddy's Angry

by Jes

Caps owner Ted Leonsis has never been one owner who is afraid to speak his mind, and he's one of the rare sports owners who talks publicly at all. Most owners are content to sit in their country clubs sipping expensive wine and laughing at how many people they laid off this week.

Ted? He's ANGRY!!! and he takes a nice shot as some idiot in the MSM.

From time to time, you have heard me rail against media pundits for their lack of criticality; original thinking; creativity; and basic non-understanding of what they are writing about.

Well here is another rant. This time against Ross McKeon and his blog post mentioning contraction of six NHL teams including the Washington Capitals.

First, the throw away notion of shuttering six major league teams is just mean-spirited. Those six teams employ thousands and thousands of people and support tens of thousands of families. I guess Ross wants us to lay off all those people in the toughest economy ever. And those teams generate dollars for their cities in taxes and they generate dollars to hundreds and hundreds of small businesses as vendor/ suppliers. All of that would go away and the benefit and glow of a major sports team franchise would leave those cities marked as second rate for a long, long time.
For the most part, I agree with him. However, invoking the lost jobs argument, especially from a rich multi-millionare, comes across as disgenuine. People lose jobs all the time, and they can gain jobs just the same. It's not like jobs disappear into a black hole. Besides, most people who work at sporting events are part-timers: the concession peeps, the ushers/hosts, ticket takers, etc...

Southern Correspondant Wayne chips in: While I doubt Leonsis' claim about "thousands and thousands" losing jobs, I do see his point: a few of the new arenas are hockey only (Phoenix, Miami, Nashville, Tampa), and don't have an NBA team to fall back on (I would make the joke that Atlanta doesn't have an NBA team, either, but I'm keeping my mouth shut for now, as they were the ONLY Atlanta team to make the playoffs in a year), with millions of $ to pay in municipal bonds...


Over at ESPN, the Worldwide Leader of Slam-Dunk clips, columnist Terry Frei opines that attendance will decrease greatly if NHL teams continue to charge higher ticket prices.

Will they? Perhaps in some American markets. The Canadian economy is still in fairly good shape and the dollar is fine.

The NHL has always had a risky model based on low TV ratings and high ticket prices. The NHL knows it can get away with charging its hard core of fans high ticket prices because they are willing to pay. The NHL also gets a lion's share of its revenues from ticket prices, and not ancillary sources like TV and merchandise.

One could say the NHL has always been teetering on the ledge when it comes to its revenue strategy, and eventually the league will come to a point where the teams will be charging too much for fans to justify the expense.

Still, it's up to each individual team to set their ticket prices, and some of the Atlanta's of the league may very well have a much lower ticket range than the Minnesota's. It may be that the Minnesota's and such subsidize the Atlanta's even more than they do now. That's the price of revenue sharing.


1) We guess that Ted's take' that this is the 'toughest economy ever' might be a bit of an exaggeration? We suppose Ted forgot what it was like in the late 1970's, and didn't recall his history of the 1930's??
2) Anyway, while we agree that its silly to talk 'contraction' of any team right now, we find it curious that Ted had to lash out so vociferously. "Does thou protest too much", Ted? Are you feeling a tad bit sensitive about your team and its division?
3) Using Ted's own language, before the first season after the lockout he said even with the salary cap and his teams league low payroll he'd still suffer a "gentleman's loss" (never said what that meant). Now that his team will be spending at the cap limit(more than double the payroll of 3 years ago) and ticket prices remaining static how much $$ is he set to lose this year? If what he says is accurate about losing money and the economy, isn't it a valid opinion that 'contraction' may occur at some point of the lower revenue franchises
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