Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, June 25, 2021

is there a draft in here
I was hoping my offhand quip about who the New York Islanders should select No. 1 overall in tomorrow’s 2009 NHL Entry Draft would slip past the goalie. But since some other Puck Daddy readers seemed to like it, I’ll reproduce it here, in all it’s crackpot-conspiratorial glory:

The master plan on Long Island: They draft [Matt] Duchene, knowing that the Islander faithful will respond to this anti-[John] Tavares affront by promptly burning down Nassau Coliseum. That will force Town of Hempstead’s hand on the Lighthouse Project arena, and one way or another, the Isles get a new barn!

Probably the most brilliant draft-day maneuvering in the history of the National Hockey League, actually. High time a team fully synthesize its personnel and facility development efforts into one chaos-theory strategy!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/25/2009 02:32 PM
Category: Comedy, Hockey, SportsBiz
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shaq-a-tweet
Only last month, I took note of Bill Simmons’ vision of the future of sports reporting:

…I see a day when the following sequence will be routine: Player demands trade on blog; team obliges and announces deal on Twitter; player thanks old fans, takes shots at old team and gushes about new team on Facebook. We will not need anyone to report this, just someone to recap it. Preferably with links.

No permalinked trade demand from Shaquille O’Neal, but apparently, he did find out about his just-completed trade from Phoenix to Cleveland via his Twitterstream:

That’s what it looks like after a fan Tweeted the NBA superstar to ask about the trade shortly after the news broke late Wednesday night. Within minutes, Shaq replied “I didn’t hear dat yet” to the fan.

The fact Shaq was apparently out of the loop prompted disbelief and e-laughter from his Twitter followers, and Shaq seemed to grasp the weirdness of the situation.

“I kno right,” he Tweeted back.

So I guess the future is now, at least in the NBA. Or, it’s more like a blast from the past: For years, it was pretty common for sports and show biz folks to first hear about trades, TV show cancellations, etc. involving them, not directly from their bosses or agents, but via news reports. The passive-aggressiveness remains, only the medium has changed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/25/2009 11:16 AM
Category: Basketball, Celebrity, Media, Social Media Online
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Wednesday, June 24, 2021

bank shot
The New York Mets balked at buying a matching nameplate for their stadium’s nearby subway stop in Queens, but the New Jersey Nets are game for it in their (hopeful) new home in Brooklyn. The NBA team will cough up $4 million for naming rights to the Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue subway stations.

No, the stops won’t say “Nets” on them, but rather, “Barclays”:

This may seem odd, since Barclays is a bank based in London with offices in Manhattan, and the only Barclay Street on the city map is not even in Brooklyn. (It’s in Manhattan, in the financial district.)

There will, however, soon be a Barclays Center, the sports arena planned as the focal point of the Atlantic Yards project, and the developer, Forest City Ratner, has agreed to pay the transportation authority $200,000 a year for the next 20 years to rename one of the oldest and busiest stations in the borough.

Of course, a soft economy has rendered the Atlantic Yards project very much up in the air now, so there’s a good chance that this deal will dissolve. But that scarcely matters, because the precedent is now set for other companies to plaster their names onto MTA landmarks, for a price.

Not that any of them are rushing forward:

Still, while selling station names could bring the authority revenue it needs, advertising experts say companies may not be as well-served.

“To be effective, the viewer needs to understand the relevance of the ad,” said Allen Adamson of Landor, a branding firm. “To rename the 59th and Lex stop the McDonald’s stop — it ain’t going to work. I don’t think it will stick.”

Indeed, other cities have tried this with little success. Boston, for example, tried auctioning off four historic stations a few years ago and received no bids…

To determine its asking price for the Brooklyn station, the authority studied a few successful efforts, like a monorail in Las Vegas named for Nextel, the communications company, and streetcars in Tampa, Fla., named for a local electric utility. And the popularity of the station — the second-busiest in Brooklyn last year — was taken into account.

I’m not sure I understand the reticence by corporate America. You’re talking about millions of eyeballs seeing, hearing, and talking about your brand every single day — where else can you get that exposure? Diehards are always going to insist on snubbing a name that’s grafted onto an established station, but that’s not going to completely negate the presence. To me, it’s a golden opportunity to grab urban mindshare.

The only way such subway signage rights would be more attractive would be if they were being offered for virgin territory, i.e. the long-planned 2nd Avenue “T Line”. I’m guessing that when/if construction is ever completed on that new branch, every single station on that route will be corporately-monikered, with no arena or other landmark needed for justification.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/24/2009 02:02 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, New Yorkin', Politics, SportsBiz
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Monday, June 22, 2021

ballin'
I guess there’s an appropriate improbability in Michael Lewis’ stats-geek bible “Moneyball” getting optioned for adaptation into a big-budget Hollywood movie, helmed by the likes of Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh.

And that improbable development shifts into reality-checked probability with news that the $50-million production just had the plug pulled on it, mere days before shooting was to begin. The main reason seems to be doubt from the Sony/Columbia Pictures studio over the profit potential of a baseball movie, particularly in the post-theatrical release phase:

But in keeping with [Oakland A's general manager Billy] Beane’s iconoclasm, look beyond the paper. The key is on-base percentage, and outside Field of Dreams doing $20 million abroad two decades ago — still only 25% of its total gross — what baseball film has ever managed to work overseas? Are we to trust Pitt’s ability to hit for average in foreign territories, or trust the numbers that tell us to bench Moneyball against a notoriously tough curveball pitcher? Considering that the baseball film has struck out more often than Pitt has reached base, is it really that hard a call to make in an economic climate like this?

I assume that the main cratering would occur in the lucrative European market, where baseball doesn’t play. I guess any offset from Japan, Korea, and the Caribbean — the main non-U.S. hotspots for the sport — wouldn’t be enough to make a bases-loaded an international hit. Globalization strikes out!

Actually, that $50-million budget figure has a ring of irony to it, as far as the principles behind “Moneyball” are concerned. Six years ago, when the Oakland A’s were first turning heads with their sabermetrics strategy, Billy Beane himself threw some cold water on the ultimate potential of his penny-pinching teambuilding:

Beane actually said this after [Game 5 of the 2003 American League Division Series, versus Boston]: “I’ll tell you one thing, if you want to give me $50 million more, I’ll promise you we won’t blow the 2-0 lead.”

Since then, the A’s still haven’t gotten particularly close to a World Series, so I guess Beane is still looking for that extra $50 million for his payroll. Hey! Maybe Beane can persuade Sony to fork over that now-unused $50 million to him, and have the money go to some use after all.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/22/2009 11:05 AM
Category: Baseball, Celebrity, Movies, SportsBiz
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Saturday, June 20, 2021

cup4gold dot com
No doubt, it takes a load of chutzpah for Cash4Gold to horn in on both the National Hockey League’s and National Basketball Association’s championship seasons by:

- Appraising the Stanley Cup at a “melt value” of $7,500, based on photographic examination and an assumption that it’s made of solid silver. (Obviously, not only did the company not get a hands-on chance to examine hockey’s most hallowed hardware, but it also didn’t bother to do basic research via the Hockey Hall of Fame, which clearly specs the Cup as 34.5 pounds of silver-and-nickel alloy.)

- Similarly valuing the Tiffany-made silver-and-gold Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy at $3,500 in melted form.

Probably the first time in a long while that the NBA came in second to the NHL in terms of financial valuation. At least both leagues know where they could liquefy their fancy assets for some quick cash, should the bottom ever fall out of sports entertainment…

Given these shoddy appraisal methods, I’m not sure I’d trust C4G to give me a fair price for my cast-off jewelry. Still, I’ll admit that they made a decent attempt at manufacturing a little marketing buzz, with a natural synergy between the big-league shiny prizes and the precious-metal salvage game.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/20/2009 07:14 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, Business, Hockey
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Tuesday, June 16, 2021

gold
Your National Hockey League is on a real roll right now: On the heels of a court victory affirming its control over franchise ownership and relocation vis-à-vis the Coyotes and Jim Balsillie, it got confirmation that the just-completed Stanley Cup playoffs this year featured some of the highest television ratings in 36 years.

NBC’s Game 7 broadcast of the Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and the Red Wings on Friday night drew an average of 8 million viewers, the biggest American television audience for any N.H.L. game since the 9.4 million who watched the Game 6 Cup finale between Montreal and Chicago in 1973…

The size of the Pens-Wings audience is even more impressive, Variety reports, because Friday is customarily the lightest viewing night of the week.

And of course, some head-to-head context with the NHL’s sister league:

Sunday night’s ABC broadcast of Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals, in which the Los Angeles Lakers won the title against the Orlando Magic, attracted an average of 14 million viewers. That means the N.H.L. telecast drew an audience 57 percent the size of the N.B.A.’s. Traditionally in the U.S., N.H.L. games draw from 25 percent to 33 percent of the audience that watches N.B.A. games.

Yup, hockey fans can take pride in the idea that their sport is half as popular as pro hoops! But good news on the TV front is rare enough that this counts as a resounding victory. The Friday night result gives a nice boost to the final average viewership of 5.6 million for the five NBC-broadcasted games.

So how can the league and the network sustain this strong showing into next year? Some of the ingredients from this year can’t be pre-determined:

- Detroit in the Finals, which always pulls in eyeballs;
- Star-player power in the form of Sidney Crosby;
- The year-over-year rematch;
- Game 7 suspense;
- An unusually unchallenged programming night, with not only reruns on the other channels but also a night off for the NBA Finals;

But one key decision from Stanley Cup 2009 can be preserved going forward: The series-opening ratings juice that came from playing Games 1 and 2 on back-to-back weekend nights. You can debate how successful that would have been for NBC had it been, say, Columbus versus Florida. But I’m convinced that it’s the right way to kick off the showcase series of the playoffs: No opening-night pomp, followed by a day or two off for casual viewers to promptly forget about the whole thing. Saturday night served as the lead-in for a returning audience on Sunday, and the ratings momentum remained sustained from there, right through to Game 7’s breakthrough. So that two-game opener schedule will remain in place next year (and beyond).

I’d like to think that this Detroit-Pittsburgh showing will defuse the constant fretting over “large market” versus “small market” in championship TV ratings. Neither city can be truly considered “large market”, so you’d think that the raw viewer numbers wouldn’t measure up. Then again, they never do, unless you have the ideal population-intense New York-Los Angeles matchup, so it’s a pointless concern. These two cities are recognized as storied hockey towns, which probably helped sell the series; the challenge is to apply that pitch to non-traditional teams that might reach the Finals next year.

Finally, it’s refreshing to not hear about how hockey in June allegedly doesn’t work for a national audience. Summertime pucks seems to have found fans this time around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/16/2009 11:41 AM
Category: Basketball, Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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Monday, June 15, 2021

no hamilton league
So much for the Hamilton Coyotes. Bankruptcy court rejected Jim Balsillie’s attempt to buy the Phoenix NHL franchise and relocate it to southern Ontario:

[Judge Redfield T.] Baum shot down the claim by Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes and Balsillie that failure to allow the team, over the objection of the NHL, to move would violate antitrust law.

“This court can not find that antitrust law, as applicable nonbankruptcy law, permits the sale free and clear of the relocation rights of the NHL,” Baum wrote.

He added, “It is not an antitrust violation for professional sports leagues to have terms and conditions on relocations of its members.”

An antitrust claim requires a “bona fide dispute,” but there is none because Balsillie only sought the NHL’s permission to relocate the franchise after it was brought up in court, Baum wrote.

“This court is unconvinced that it should order that the NHL must decide the relocation application to meet the June 29 deadline,” the judge wrote.

Baum also rejected claims by Moyes and Balsillie that while assuming the contract the Coyotes have with the NHL, they can disregard the portion of the agreement that requires the games be played in Glendale.

The judge compared that claim to “a purchaser of a bankrupt franchise in a remote location asserting that it can be relocated far from its original agreed site to a highly valuable location, for example New York City’s Times Square …”

Basically, this gambit is dead, despite Balsillie’s posturing for further mediation. Frankly, I’d have been shocked had it gone the other way. The bankruptcy maneuver was an obvious attempt to circumvent league process and approval — and not just for hockey, but for the other three major-league sports as well (indeed, other team sports were primed to take advantage of what would have been a new precedent). No way was the court going to upend standard operating procedure for North American professional franchise sports, just so a BlackBerry billionaire can have a team in his backyard.

I think I pointed this out before, but it bears repeating: I don’t know why anyone would want to engage Balsillie in a National Hockey League team sale again. He’s had three chances to buy a franchise, and has not only flubbed them all, but did so in particularly hamhanded fashion. What does his inability to get into the NHL owners’ club say about his general acumen as a businessman — you’d have to think he’d be a disaster if he ever did become a team owner. Why bother dealing with him if it’s practically dead certain that he’ll never get through the approval process, thanks to his by-now transparent intent to relocate any team he’d buy to Ontario? It’s automatically time wasted.

As for the ‘Yotes, their arena situation not only locks them into the Phoenix-Glendale market, but also holds the longer-term key for their viability. Arena operations is a default condition for major-pro team sports success, and the Coyotes have that. Any new owner should be able to exploit that, and build a successful hockey show in the desert from there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/15/2009 11:01 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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Tuesday, June 09, 2021

stripped gehr
A tanking economy called for a cutback on extravagance in Brooklyn’s proposed Atlantic Yards, and that meant saying goodbye to “starchitect” Frank Gehry and his arresting $1-billion NBA arena design.

So developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner went to Plan B: A basketball barn downsized in pricetag and aesthetics, and already being savaged accordingly:

Whatever you may have felt about Mr. Gehry’s design — too big, too flamboyant — there is little doubt that it was thoughtful architecture. His arena complex, in which the stadium was embedded in a matrix of towers resembling falling shards of glass, was a striking addition to the Brooklyn skyline; it was also a fervent effort to engage the life of the city below.

A new design by the firm Ellerbe Becket has no such ambitions. A colossal, spiritless box, it would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than at one of the busiest intersections of a vibrant metropolis. Its low-budget, no-frills design embodies the crass, bottom-line mentality that puts personal profit above the public good. If it is ever built, it will create a black hole in the heart of a vital neighborhood.

But what’s most offensive about the design is the message it sends to New Yorkers. Architecture, we are being told, is something decorative and expendable, a luxury we can afford only in good times, or if we happen to be very rich. What’s most important is to build, no matter how thoughtless or dehumanizing the results. It is the kind of logic that kills cities — and that has been poisoning this one for decades.

Yes, a good deal of snobbery permeates this critique: Ellerbe Becket’s Kansas City pedigree alone amounts to an affront when considering large-scale development in the five boroughs. Metropolitan propriety bristles at any hint of importing structures that resemble flyover-country landmarks.

Still, it’s not like Ratner didn’t ask for it with this stripped-down shell. There really is nothing distinctive about this proposed facility — it’s just a generic roof to provide a covering for the 20,000 seats beneath it. It’s utilitarian, but obnoxiously so. And it’s certainly not born from a vacuum — a comparison with Gehry’s might-have-been makes the Ellerbe Becket design look that much cheaper (even if “cheaper” still adds up to around $800 million).

At this point, it’s obvious Ratner is merely salvaging the attempt to develop his patch of Brooklyn, with any mega-square-footage enclosure feasible for housing the relocated Nets. Last-ditch effort that’ll probably get ditched altogether.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/09/2021 10:38 PM
Category: Basketball, New Yorkin', SportsBiz
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Friday, June 05, 2021

extra icingfuller court press
If you’ve got more friends-slash-clients than can comfortably fit into a standard luxury box in Madison Square Garden, good news: The arena is super-sizing one of its suites to hold 300 people, as part of a 2-3 year renovation.

[MSG Vice Chairman Hank] Ratner said no decisions had been made on pricing, including for the 20 floor-level luxury suites and the 5,000-square-foot supersuite. But he said the arena is trying to learn from other sports venues in a tanking economy. The Yankees cut the price of over 100 front-row seats from $2,500 to $1,250 last month after seeing empty rows of the top-priced spots game after game.

The Garden officials showed reporters two mock-ups of a midlevel and floor-level luxury suite, which will soon be shopped to corporate sponsors. The suites behind the 23rd row at the Garden included granite-topped kitchen islands behind stadium seating; the floor-level suite featured formal dining tables, full bars and a fireplace.

The Garden abandoned plans for 19 “ledge suites” on the higher levels and combined 10 luxury suites to create the one supersuite since it introduced the plans a year ago.

I’ve gotta hand it to them, I didn’t think there was another significant way to boost in-arena acreage for profit. When you’ve got no other options but to stay put, you get extra-creative.

I guess this means that Cablevision really is backing out of building a new Garden across the street, since this sprucing-up will cost something north of half a billion dollars.

So the Rangers and Knicks get a leg up on facility revenue streams. Not for long, of course: The arms race in other NHL and NBA cities will jumpstart over this. Soon, swarms of hockey/hoops attendees from Atlanta to Seattle will be able to crowd into these supremo suites and party in a less-than-intimate setting, oblivious to the game action below them.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 06/05/2021 11:18 AM
Category: Basketball, Hockey, New Yorkin', SportsBiz
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Tuesday, June 02, 2021

cup-cast
For all the hand-wringing over the unconventional back-to-back gamenights start to this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the strong Nielsen numbers from this past weekend indicate that the format is probably now a permanent feature:

The NBC telecast [of Sunday's 8PM airing of Game 2] drew a 3.4 rating and a 6 share. That’s up from the 2.6 rating and 5 share of Saturday’s Game 1. Detroit beat Pittsburgh 3-1 in Sunday night’s game to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

And those numbers are, indeed, a great showing, even compared to last year.

The stated intent in scheduling the start of the series with back-to-backs was to seamlessly sustain momentum, instead of playing a Game 1 and then taking a night off before following into the second match. The unstated intent: NBC doesn’t want to air hockey during the rarefied weekday primetime hours, so a Saturday-Sunday bloc was the only way to get the broadcast network coverage.

But whatever the machinations behind the scenes, it worked: A build-up in ratings points to the first game being an effective lead-in to draw more viewers the following night. For what it’s worth, Game 2 went head-to-head against this year’s MTV Movie Awards, which presumably would have drained away some of that coveted 18-34 year-old audience; despite that, the NHL increased the number of eyeballs.

Anything that kicks up the ratings isn’t going to be abandoned, so expect this formula to stay in place next year. Let’s just hope the league and the network don’t go hog-wild and extend the logic into unworkable illogic: Back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back for the entire seven-game series, hoping that the Nielsens increase each night.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/02/2021 11:52 AM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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Thursday, May 28, 2021

rematched
Yup, this year’s Stanley Cup round is, improbably enough, a repeat performance between last year’s finalists, right down to home-ice advantage for Detroit. There’s a reason why this hasn’t happened since 1983 and 1984, when the Oilers and Islanders split championships — with 28 other teams in the mix, the odds are pretty daunting against a Cup rematch in back-to-back years.

So that situation alone makes this 2009 Finals worth watching. And if that’s not enough, there are these storylines:

- The eerie parallels between ‘83-84 and now, including the Penguins’ youth versus the Wings’ veteran dominance, the dynastic possibilities, star-player power, etc. The longer-term difference this time around will be keeping the core of this Pens team together long enough to make a run at multiple Cups, with the salary cap working against continuity (sorta).

- The Marian Hossa factor. The defection to Detroit after his Finals run with Pittsburgh last year, specifically to enhance his chance to win a Cup, only to have to face his former team for that trophy, is the most delicious of ironies. It couldn’t have been scripted better.

- While everyone’s anticipating this as the start of an Oilers-like dynasty for the Penguins, I’m more intrigued by the opposite possibility: A Buffalo Bills-like run of four (or more?) championship appearance in a row for Pittsburgh, and coming up empty each time. Not that I wish bad luck to the Pens or their players specifically — but it would be funny.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/28/2009 11:51 AM
Category: Hockey
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Saturday, May 23, 2021

training
Even though it has previously applied the trademarked “Take The Train To The Game” tagline to all the area’s major-league sports venues, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has noticeably ramped up that promotion for the just-completed Metro North Railroad Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station stop.

“Take The Train To The Game” is a catchy little turn of the phrase. Catchier still if you’re a New York child of the ’70s and still remember — no, make that “can’t possibly forget” — the similar “Take The Train To The Plane” jingle in the old JFK Express television commercials.

So why not leverage that old campaign now? The MTA should collaborate with the Yankees to cook up a nostalgic ad or two that repurposes that brain-burrowing two-verse ditty:

A mock-nostalgic sarcastic tone would work well. An inside joke to those of us old enough to get it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/23/2009 10:50 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Baseball, History, New Yorkin', TV
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Tuesday, May 19, 2021

puckpigskinbatshoops
Being a hockey fan, I’m well-accustomed to the denigration of the sport in general and the National Hockey League in particular, to the point where they’re not considered to be on the same relevancy level as the major-league editions of football, baseball, and basketball. So it is that, for instance, a dissection of the identity crisis suffered by Columbus (Ohio) lists as one problem the lack of any major-league sports teams in the city — disregarding the local NHL club and thereby underlining the lack of consideration for hockey as a big-league concern.

But when the sportsbiz calls for some time in front of the judge, it seems that the Big Three consider their on-ice brethren to be cut from the same cloth as they are:

The NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA have lined up in support of the NHL’s court fight to block the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes and move to southern Canada.

The other major sports leagues, including the office of baseball commissioner Bud Selig, filed statements in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday in support of the NHL.

All three statements ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to “respect the National Hockey League’s rules and procedures regarding ownership transfer and relocation.”

The statements of baseball and the NBA ask that the court “not set precedent that could severely disrupt the business of professional hockey,” baseball, basketball and other major league sports.

The NFL statement had similar wording, asking the court to avoid a “precedent that has the potential to undermine or disrupt the business of professional hockey, football or other major league sports.”

Nothing like litigation to bring family members together. Not that the economies of scale, labor issues, and political-economic arena strategies didn’t already make it obvious.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/19/2009 09:24 PM
Category: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, SportsBiz, True Crime
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Sunday, May 17, 2021

puckpigskinbatshoops
Just for fun, here’s a brief league-by-league rundown of the last time (to date) that franchises in the National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association have left one city/market in favor of another:

NBA - 2008: The SuperSonics leave Seattle in July and become the Oklahoma City Thunder

MLB - 2005: The Expos decamp from Montreal in Autumn 2004 and begin the next season as the Washington Nationals

NHL - 1997: The Whalers officially pull out of Hartford in May and commence the 1997-98 season in Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes

NFL - 1997: The Oilers finalize their departure from Houston at the end of the 1996 season and begin the 1997 season in Nashville Memphis as the Tennessee Oilers (and settle into Nashville the season after that, and become the Tennessee Titans)

There’s plenty of context behind each of these moves. I won’t go into detail, but highlights include: OKC hosting the Hurricane Katrina-displaced New Orleans Hornets prior to the Sonics arriving; the Expos being bought out by MLB, considered for franchise contraction, and split-timed between Montreal and Puerto Rico prior to landing in DC; and a spate of expansions/relocations encompassing Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Cleveland, and Jacksonville (among other cities) in hockey and football. Sports leagues don’t function in a vacuum, so all those background circumstances led to the franchise shuffles.

Also note that I didn’t bother to count situations where teams moved into new arenas that remained in their existing market, but just happened to be in a new ZIP code. So, for instance, the New Jersey Devils move in 2007 from East Rutherford to Newark doesn’t apply, as they remained in essentially the same area (northern New Jersey).

And yes, I compile this list with full knowledge that the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes could move to Hamilton, Ontario soon. Although the way that’s shaking out, it doesn’t look too likely that the move will come off; so this post should remain up-to-date for at least another year.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/17/2009 05:10 PM
Category: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Thursday, May 14, 2021

double vision
The Vancouver Canucks are out of the playoffs, so now’s the time for team management to make roster decisions for next season.

Particularly when it comes to star forwards — and twin brothers — Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who are unrestricted free agents come July 1:

What makes testing the open market so difficult for the Sedins is that they travel as a pair - and thus, any team interested in securing their services needs to be in a position to make an offer to both. Considering how many teams are pushing up hard against the salary cap, the idea that somebody has an extra $13-million (all currency U.S.) lying around in available cap space limits their options to a handful of choices - staying in Vancouver, possibly moving to Minnesota or most likely, reuniting with their former boss, Burke, in Toronto.

Early indications are that the twins will stay in Vancouver. But if I were in charge of the Minnesota Wild, I’d be making a full-court press versus their division rivals to swipe the Sedins. Because in addition to the on-ice talent they bring, the marketing potential is just too tantalizing: The National Hockey League’s only pair of twin-brother forwards, starring in the Twin Cities!

It’d be too perfect to not come off. Whoever the Wild pick as their next GM should make the Sedins his Number 1 priority for the offseason. It’d make an instant impression in the State of Hockey.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/14/2009 05:16 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey
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puckpigskinbatshoops
ESPN The Magazine’s Bill Simmons paints a picture of sports journalism without the journalists, and with the athlete’s social media channels:

…I see a day when the following sequence will be routine: Player demands trade on blog; team obliges and announces deal on Twitter; player thanks old fans, takes shots at old team and gushes about new team on Facebook. We will not need anyone to report this, just someone to recap it. Preferably with links.

No need for a superfluous middleman when you can get the soundbites straight from the horse’s mouth. Of course, when the news turns bad, a new filter crops up, in the sense that the horse’s mouth suddenly shuts up.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/14/2009 01:55 PM
Category: Media, Social Media Online, Sports
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Sunday, May 10, 2021

yin-yanni
When criticism hit over a Yanni concert in Pittsburgh forcing the scheduling of uncommon (but not unheard of) back-to-back playoff games this weekend for the Penguins and Capitals in their National Hockey League playoff series, I highly doubt that anyone expected the singer musician himself to weigh in on the situation:

Yanni didn’t express apologies or regrets. He instead cited his experience “as a former national champion swimmer” for native country Greece.

“I empathize with the athletes competing in the NHL playoffs and understand the pressures under which they perform,” the statement said.

Early in the series, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said it was “a shame” that the teams were forced to play back-to-back games, calling it “bad for the league, both fan bases and for the players.”

Of special note: Ted Leonsis just happens to be Greek American (as am I, incidentally). So I don’t know if his team getting bumped by a fellow Hellene had anything to do with Leonsis’ carping.

As for Yanni, any chance of my ability to take his feta-cheesiness at all seriously ended when one of his videos appeared on “Beavis and Butt-head” long ago. The killing stroke: During a tender scene when Yanni’s lover is walking away from him down a sunset-lit beach as he looks on longingly, Butt-head quips, “She’s leaving him because he sucks, huh-huh.”

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/10/2021 10:56 PM
Category: Celebrity, Hockey, Pop Culture
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Thursday, May 07, 2021

some people claim
To hear Jimmy Buffett sing it, he once made enough money to buy Miami, but he pissed it away so fast.

Fortunately, he managed to save enough of that lost grass-stash to buy a small but prominent chunk of the town: The naming rights to Dolphin Stadium, which will soon be known as Landshark Stadium.

Buffett’s Margaritaville enterprise includes Landshark Lager, brewed by Anheuser-Busch.

Buffett and new Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are friends. They plan to unveil a new logo for the stadium at a private event Friday, where Buffett will perform a song inspired by the Dolphins.

For once, a truly synergistic branding of a sports facility. Buffett and south Florida are practically joined at the hip, so there’s no conceptual stretch in this union. True, business is business, and the beer is more the focus of this sell than Buffett himself (or “Fins”, the inspirational song, for that matter). Still, better than some bank or oil company.

I’ll take the opportunity to co-opt some credit for getting this deal done: Three weeks ago, this blog’s traffic logs detected a Google Search visit from Dolphin Stadium, querying “naming rights prices”. So presumably, whatever pricetag the ‘Fins extracted from Buffett was determined, in part, with research from my permalinking fingers — yikes.

Too bad I wasn’t brought deeper into the negotiating process. I’d have pushed for a name like “Buffett Bowl”. Or maybe Parrothead Park.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/07/2021 08:31 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Football, Pop Culture, SportsBiz
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Wednesday, May 06, 2021

nolo relo
Unwilling to let a little thing like the Great Recession keep National Hockey League action out of the Golden Horseshoe, BlackBerry billionaire (C$) Jim Balsillie has pounced upon the Phoenix Coyotes with an offer to buy the bankruptcy-declared team and move it to Canada.

Plenty of reaction since this hit the fan last night. Let me just point out a couple of extenuating circumstances:

- The issue with Balsillie buying the Coyotes out of bankruptcy is key, particularly in this credit environment. Whereas Chapter 11 used to provide a reasonably long grace period for an organization to raise funds while still operating business-as-usual, the current tight lending landscape erases that former advantage. Without money from elsewhere to borrow, the Coyotes had to integrate Balsillie’s rescue plan into their filing, or else risk having their creditors force drastic action, i.e. selling of assets, etc. This doesn’t mean Balsillie automatically wins, but presuming all other options in Arizona and beyond have been tried, he’s positioned very well to have his bid accepted.

Secondarily, Chapter 11 provides a clean exit from the team’s long-term lease situation at Jobing.com Arena, which otherwise would have required a hefty payout to break.

- The league is rightly perceived as being against Balsillie’s latest attempt to muscle into the NHL boardroom. But not so much because of the territorial encroachment that a Hamilton/Waterloo team would represent to the flagship franchise in Toronto (and secondarily, the one in Buffalo). Rather, it’s because of the larger issue of major-league hockey constriction that having three teams (four, if you consider that Detroit’s not that far away) in such a concentrated area creates:

In a nutshell: You don’t tend to the long-term health of a sports league by effectively imploding it thusly. Jim Balsillie’s efforts to move a team north of the border have been seconded by Canadian pundits who argue that hockey’s following is so strong that, not only would a southern Ontario team get support, but so would a second team in Toronto, and so on.

That’s probably true. Just as it’s true that, even today, NFL teams in burgeoning suburban zones would probably do well. But in terms of league macroeconomics, it sets the stage for ultimate constriction of the product. It’s in the same category as league contraction — again, the notion that shrinking the NHL’s footprint would concentrate its energy and revitalize it.

Yes, I know I’ve beaten the no-constriction drum before. My feeling is that if it was a serious enough pratfall for the astronomically-successful National Football League to have avoided three decades ago, then it hardly seems like a good idea for its weak-sister hockey brethren to adopt.

- Finally, assuming that this inside track to relocating an NHL team into the Maple Leafs’ backyard comes off, I’m thinking that there’ll be a unique concession made to the incumbent club: Namely, that the new-look Ontario Horseshoes will be forced to remain in the Western Conference, instead of being realigned to the East. The Leafs are going to want to salvage something of their Greater Toronto monopoly, in the form of being the primary game in town to catch more games versus popular East Coast NHL teams. So they’ll force their new neighbors to stay slotted in the opposite conference.

Which might not be a bad deal for the locals. Remaining in the West would mean that the Western Canadian teams who now visit Toronto only once per season will be scheduled for multiple trips to the area. If the team gets shifted from the Pacific Division to the Northwest, that would mean even more visits from Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton. It would also keep in line the existing consolidation of the Canadian clubs into two divisions. Hockey paradise for those fans situated midway between!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/06/2021 11:29 AM
Category: Football, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Monday, May 04, 2021

Skate Canada has deemed that the flamboyancy that is male figure skating needs some straightening out (pardon the pun):

“It’s just as tough as football,” said Canadian figure skater Jeremy Ten, ranked third in Canada. “We aren’t tackling each other, but we are hitting the ice pretty hard. We’re hitting the boards; we’re scraping our shins and cutting ourselves.”

Along with the more masculine presentation, skating officials say it’s also time to throw away the frilly, sequin-clad outfits in favor of simpler, more uniform looks.

The attempted rebranding of the sport has outraged many gay advocacy groups, who say it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on skating’s sizable gay audience.

Did the sport’s governing body just now figure out that the decades-long standard of multicolored spandex garb might not gibe with male sports fans? What happened, did SC get ahold of a copy of Blades of Glory or something?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/04/2021 11:02 AM
Category: Movies, Other Sports, Society
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Thursday, April 30, 2021

rounded up
I always find the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs (or any sport’s first-round playoff, for that matter) to be the most exciting. With a full field of 16 teams in action, it’s truly got the variety that the subsequent thinning-out by elimination lacks. (On the other hand, I guess quantity gets traded for quality.)

As the Conference Semifinals commence tonight, here’s my brief wrap-up of the noteworthy happenings of Round One, starting with my personal disappointment by the collapse of a certain Manhattan-based squad:

- Yeah, the Rangers performed better than I thought they would versus Washington. And even if they had slipped past the Caps, they assuredly would have gotten swept next round by the Boston Bruins buzzsaw, so really, it’s just as well that they ended their postseason run early.

Still, did they have to implode so spectacularly? Blowing a 3-1 series edge, lapsing back into puck-overhandling instead of shoot-first offense, suffering a high-gloveside chink in King Henrik’s armor, and experiencing a comical meltdown in team discipline from the expected (barely-controllable pest Sean Avery) and unexpected (too-fiery head coach John Tortorella) sources. In some ways, the most disappointing shortcoming in the NHL this year.

- I’m prepared to designate the New Jersey-Carolina series as one of the best ever. The closing-seconds shocker that won Game 7 and the series for the ‘Canes was simply amazing, and will stick in my memory for as long as it sticks in the craw of the Devils and their fans.

- Not one for the ages, but the Chicago-Calgary series was probably the second-most entertaining pairing in this first round.

- Seriously, is anyone at all surprised that San Jose did the early-round bounce yet again? They’ve made an artform out of this. Their season-closing shakiness only reinforced their expected return to form. When the Ducks ticked up as the matchup partner, there was no doubt in my mind that Anaheim would dispatch their cross-state rivals. Frankly, I thought that even St. Louis would have had a fair shot at knocking off Team Teal, had the Blues lost their final regular-season game to land in the No. 8 seed.

- I really thought the Blues would put up a better fight. They gave the Canucks plenty to handle, but not eking out even a single win was surprising.

- I didn’t see anything to unconvince me that the Bruins are going to be lifting the Cup come June. That’s regardless of who comes out of the West.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/30/2009 09:17 PM
Category: Hockey
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