Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 06, 2021

I was totally grokking ESPN.com hockey writer Scott Burnside’s column on how everyone — including fans and media — should stop complaining about the money being spent on National Hockey League free agent signings this offseason, since that activity is directly linked to how much money the league is making.

But then, he lost me two-thirds of the way in, when he overextended his point:

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the very fantasy of many hockey fans and observers, the constriction of the NHL’s 30 franchises, came about as a direct result of the very system that was supposed to ensure the health of all 30 franchises?

League officials have quietly said the beauty of the cap is it creates a “survival of the fittest” environment. They were talking about the on-ice product, suggesting that with a narrow gap between what teams must spend to reach the floor ($40.7 million this coming season) and the ceiling ($56.7 million), only the best hockey people will succeed. But survival of the fittest might also extend to franchises themselves. If teams can’t cut it, even with revenue sharing and cost certainty in place, they should be gone. Simple as that. Shut the doors and say good night, Irene.

No, no, and no. Just as companies typically never downsize their way to greatness, neither does a major-league sports league contract its way to relevance. Quite the opposite, in fact.

And, not to be (too much of) a nitpicker, but this is the first instance I’ve seen of the term “constriction” being used to describe what’s actually contraction, i.e. the folding of under-performing franchise to (supposedly) achieve a more concentrated product league-wide. In my mind at least, while it’s related to that concept, constriction is a different ball of wax.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/06/2021 09:38:01 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, Wordsmithing
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Once considered a slam-dunk, the move of the New Jersey Nets from the East Rutherford to Brooklyn is now on shaky ground, thanks to local opposition over Atlantic Yards and a faltering real-estate economy. They could stick it out in the Meadowlands for a while longer, as their lease doesn’t expire until 2012.

Or, they could avoid further lame-duck status in Jersey and go back to where they came from: Nassau Coliseum, to be co-tenants with the New York Islanders.

A refurbished Coliseum is part of the Lighthouse Project, the pride and joy of Islanders owner Charles Wang and his partner, Long Island real estate whiz Scott Rechler. Like Atlantic Yards, the Lighthouse would be a commercial, sports and real estate complex with a strong component of affordable housing. Unlike Atlantic Yards, it is priced at $2 billion.

Granted, it has been years since I was on the junior high math team, but I’m still good enough with figures to know that $2 billion is a lot less than $4 billion. The problem is that the Lighthouse is going nowhere fast, following the glacier’s pace that many Long Island projects take. A commitment from the Nets could give it the oomph it needs.

Probably a longshot. For one, current Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner would sooner sell than shack up with the Islanders as a co-tenant — unless he can engineer a sweetheart land-development deal with the help of Rechler, that would include building a new arena. In that case, the whole deal might turn inside-out, with Ratner not only bringing his hoops team to Long Island, but also buying the resident NHL team, thus relieving it from Wang’s inept stewardship. Stranger things have happened.

But then, Ratner has other options. There’s always Newark and the shiny new Prudential Center, where the Devils would welcome a reunion with the Nets. Again, it’s not likely that Ratner would want to occupy a building he doesn’t own/control, so maybe he sells the franchise to Devils owner Jeffery Vanderbeek.

Or, if he’s going to sell, perhaps a buyer in Seattle would be interested, since there’s now an opening for a SuperSonics 2.0.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/06/2021 07:01:48 PM
Category: Basketball, Hockey, New Yorkin', SportsBiz
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The Hindenburg disaster may have put a permanent chill into the inflatable-airship business, but that’s not stopping a new generation of promoters from trumpeting flights via dirigible and blimp, mainly as a green alternative to planes:

The trend is not entirely new. Zeppelin-Reederei carried 12,000 passengers on sightseeing tours over southern Germany last year. Aerophile, a French company that revived tethered balloons, which compete with dirigibles as carriers of passengers, advertising and scientific instruments, was founded by two young French engineers in 1993.

The aircraft industry is not exactly bracing for a dogfight. [Airship designer Jean-Marie] Massaud says that Emirates and Air France have expressed interest in Manned Cloud. But with top speeds of around 100 miles an hour and a maximum capacity of several dozen passengers, dirigibles are expected by most aviation experts to remain niche vessels for ferrying tourists, advertising and occasional scientific payloads.

It’s okay to light a match these days — these things pack nonflammable helium instead of that “oh, the humanity!”-inducing hydrogen of the 1930s. I wouldn’t mind taking a flight, just for the experience.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/06/2021 05:38:55 PM
Category: Tech
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Burger King’s latest advertising gimmick:

On July 7, it will introduce in an ad a Little King character as the son to its royally silent (and, Ad Team thinks, vaguely disturbing) King spokescharacter. The ad, aimed at moms, promotes a new $3.49 BK kids’ meal of Kraft mac and cheese, low-fat milk and apples sliced to look like french fries.

I’m sure the rules of regal lineage are fast-and-loose in the realm of fast-food. But where I come from, a son of a king would be a prince. So, no “Little King”, but rather “Burger Prince” would be the way to go for enticing the kids.

Those faux apple french fries, by the way, are rather insidious. Make the healthy food resemble the deep-fried crap, so that today’s kids subconsciously think they’re eating right when they down the greasy stuff later in life. With foodstuffs, it always seems to be about planting the seeds for future consumption patterns.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/06/2021 05:12:29 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food
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Between enhanced security checkthrus and compounded flight delays, people are forced to spend more time in airports than ever before. Therefore, the stores and restaurants there are reaping the windfall from wait times, to the tune of $6.5 billion annually.

A big chunk of that is due to the inflation that comes with “airport prices”, right?

While some passengers balk at airport prices, Laura Samuels, director of corporate communications for transportation retailer Hudson Group, said that prices are not inflated at the airports. In an e-mail to CNNMoney.com, Samuels said they reflect the local “street prices” where the airport is located, “in some cases allowing a small percentage above to allow for additional handing/freight costs to airports.”

I wasn’t the only one to scoff at that claim. The retail model for airports is simple: You have a captive consumer that can’t afford the time or risk of going off-base for last-minute purchases. So naturally, the merchant within walking distance of the flight gate can name his/her price, to the tune of a healthy markup.

But is that still true? Some major airports started holding restaurants to street-price limits a couple of years ago, opting to create a true retail-mall experience. While flight passengers are still going to be the bulk of the business, I’d think eateries can still draw people from surrounding hotels and who are dropping off fliers, and thus have a solid secondary market to which to cater.

Not that that disguises the higher prices in a lot of restaurants lately, regardless of location. I’d guess that, when it comes to eats, the street prices have basically caught up to what used to be airport prices.

What about other retailers, like the newsstands, drugstores, and such? I don’t fly nearly enough to do my own survey of how much prices vary in and out of the airfield. I would guess, though, that items that have their suggested retail prices pre-stamped on them — magazines, books, etc. — sell for the regular price. Where the gouging opportunities exist are with unmarked items like bottled water, snacks, and apparel — not so coincidentally, the stuff that people killing time probably need most often.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/06/2021 04:47:40 PM
Category: Business
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