Mac the Knife

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Everything posted by Mac the Knife

  1. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    You know, I thought about that as well, but HBO's ubiquitous enough that they could promote it as premium programming - a hook to get subscribers, a la "The Sopranos" or "Game of Thrones." An 8 team league would provide 8 hours of live programming every week in the form of games, plus the potential for an hour long behind the scenes program to air throughout each season. Filling 9 hours a week out of 168 with specialty programming that can't be had anywhere else could easily be worth $100 million a year to a premium subscription service like an HBO or Showtime; they've been known to invest that much in boxing rights in a year and get nowhere near that much programming, to that broad an audience, out of it.
  2. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    You know who would make an absolutely great television partner for a new pro football league, provided it had any interest in doing it again? HBO. And yes, I said "again," because in the very, very early days of HBO's existence, they broadcast WFL games. No one seems to have footage of it, but they did air them. Could you imagine HBO doing it now though?
  3. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    Ebersol couldn't have anticipated the gambling court ruling outcome, nor could McMahon despite the initial pre-launch announcement video referring to "padded roulette." A lot of people (correctly) surmised that PASPA would be struck down, but no one would be foolish enough to start a venture of this magnitude expecting that to be the case. I'm not sure exactly why McMahon's returning the XFL, but he doesn't have the baggage you believe he does. The original XFL was a generation ago, Vince is a sports entertainment impresario, and virtually everyone who remembers the original league, including those involved in its launch, can point to some very specific causes for its failure with 18 years hindsight. The mistakes made in 2000-2001 aren't likely to be repeated. I'm not saying XFL will work, or that AAF won't for that matter; but anyone paying attention to how these guys are going about things is seeing that one is seemingly making the same mistakes made by leagues organized by people who've never done it before - and that the other is doing as much as possible under the radar; the sports promoter equivalent of a kid who knows not to touch the top of the stove. The name coaches help until a ball's kicked off for the inaugural game. They might help sell tickets in some of the markets, and they might impact the quality of play. But ultimately it's up to the quality of the product on the field. We're in agreement vis-a-vis the single entity approach, though I think there's a third way (the first being a traditional franchise model, the second single entity) that would work better than both. Whatever AAF does, they will destroy their credibility if they relocate teams within the first three years. Having franchises relocate after just one or two years makes an entire league look unstable; minor leagues can get away with it to an extent, top-level leagues can't. The only thing I see about AAF that reminds me of the USFL are the coaching hires; and in fact, AAF has already surpassed the USFL with regard to hiring "name" coaches. But that's going to prove a double-edged sword. Because with all these name head coaches, fans and particularly the media are going to be ratcheting up their expectations regarding the quality of the on-field product from the outset. So instead of having a USFL 1983-like launch, where people had nominal expectations and were pleasantly surprised when they learned that guys like Jim Mora, Dick Coury, Steve Spurrier and Rollie Dotsch could coach; they may have a 2019 launch where people have expectations that can't be met, resulting in an XFL 2001-like drop in interest and perhaps even downright mockery. A11 was an interesting case. They contacted me and offered me a slot on their Board of Directors based on my creation of - which by and of itself was an immediate red flag. You don't offer seats on your governing body to someone you've never met, no matter what they might bring to the table. When I declined, they offered to buy my rights to the USFL-related domains I held at the time. They offered me 4 50-yard line, lifetime season tickets for any team in the league. I retorted that if they were serious about acquiring them, they'd come back with a serious offer; I also made three counter-offers, telling them I'd accept any one of them: (i) a straight up, $100,000 payment for each domain they wanted, (ii) a 5% ownership stake in any team they established using one of the domains (e.g., if they launched an Arizona Wranglers team, I'd give them in exchange for 5% of the team), or (iii) exclusive franchise rights in the State of North Carolina, which would've required that anyone desiring to put a team in Charlotte or Raleigh would have to buy an option to do so from me, then get league approval for the franchise. Two of those wouldn't have cost them a dime (and in retrospect, would've resulted in "losses" by me, as I'dve lost the domain and got nothing to show for it); and the one that they should've taken - the $100,000 cash buyout - it was obvious they didn't have the capital to pull off. When they responded that those weren't suitable options for them, that ended the discussion.
  4. Choking / Cursed Franchises

    I've got to agree - in part - with Gothamite here. Designating the team as "Brooklyn" rather than "New York" was a marketing move, and the right one to make; as Brooklyn is one of those unique areas where that level of "drill-down" actually helps rather than hurts. Use of city vs. regional nomenclature is something of a mixed bag in professional sports. In some cases there are perfectly logical reasons for using it, and in other cases it was a marketing decision; sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't... -- The Twins and Vikings went with "Minnesota" because of the relationship between St. Paul and Minneapolis, and opted not to alienate potential fans by becoming the first teams to utilize a state designation. It's proven a good idea for them since. -- When the Angels moved into Anaheim from Los Angeles, Gene Autry wanted to try and promote the team throughout southern California. It didn't really work all that well, but to this day I think of them as the "California Angels." -- When the Warriors moved from Philadelphia they initially went by "San Francisco," but splitting home dates between Oakland and San Francisco plus having fans based in San Jose, Sacramento, Stockton and throughout the Bay Area, changing to "Golden State" was a marketing move. -- When the Senators moved to Arlington, they weren't in Dallas nor Fort Worth, and had the same potential fan alienation prospect. Following the Twins lead, "Texas Rangers" has proven an acceptable solution. The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins are examples of needless regional nomenclature. The most needless, perhaps because I'm most closely exposed to it, comes from the "Carolina" Panthers and Hurricanes. They play on opposite ends of the state, frequently confusing fans as to which plays where; meanwhile no one would be upset if they suddenly became the Charlotte Panthers and Raleigh Hurricanes, because the fan bases are completely different and separated by a 2 1/2 hour drive from one another (it's actually a shorter drive from Raleigh to Richmond than from Raleigh to Charlotte). In short, every case is different. Had I been in charge of choosing the name when the New Jersey Nets were moving, I'd have rebranded completely, probably as the "Brooklyn Knights." But I definitely wouldn't have used "New York."
  5. North American Pro Soccer 2018

    Those paying attention to this process also saw MLS receive a self-inflicted black eye; a product of its own hubris. They made a huge mistake in publicly announcing an expansion timetable which they proceeded to completely miss. When they received applications from ownership groups representing 12 cities, they beamed, publicly crowing about how MLS was so popular that people had literally lined up to commit to paying them $150,000,000 each for the privilege of joining their club. They accepted all those beautifully bound "applications for membership" and their supporting documentation in a public manner that in 40 years of following sports I'd never seen before. Everything seemed glaringly sunny. And then? MLS actually read those applications. 12 applicant markets, and not a single one of them qualified for immediate admission, largely because they had failed to do what MLS coveted most: garner public financing for a brand new, soccer specific stadium in their markets. In almost every case, the prospective owners went to their municipalities hat in hand, looking for help of one sort or another, preaching the benefits of how top tier professional soccer would be a boon to their local economies. And in virtually every case, they were essentially told by those municipalities to pound sand. Instead of what many expected to be a coronation-like admission of Sacramento and one other market immediately into MLS and having two others readily announced, MLS wound up with a show in which they wound up settling for markets that were initially perceived to have virtually no chance - Nashville and Cincinnati - just because their ownership groups were able to jiggle some change out of the government's pockets to partially fund stadia there. And to that I say one thing. GOOD. The new stadium gravy train in professional sports may finally be grinding to a halt for this generation. And it's about damned time. I've no issue with MLS, but given the level of hubris it exhibited in conducting this expansion, this was a major comeuppance which was entirely deserved. While I'm sure Nashville and Cincinnati will be fine markets for MLS, the league has now put itself in a position where they had to dig deep into the barrel to find two expansion candidates who only partially met the criteria they set for this process... and now will have to dig even deeper to find two more, or even more embarrassingly, call a halt to the process without fulfilling its plans to add four new teams. I like soccer. I wish North America had a pyramid system similar to European leagues; if it did, I'd start a pro franchise tomorrow and enter them into a league at the bottom of the pyramid and take my chances. But MLS brought this on themselves. They were smug about this process, they had this end result coming, and I for one am actually happy they got it.
  6. North American Pro Soccer 2018

    Evidently, Cincinnati's a done deal... MLS Coming to Cincinnati.
  7. KC Royals Show Off 2018 Turn Ahead the Clock Uniforms

    I think for the first time in my life, I actually may buy an MLB gimmick hat.
  8. Choking / Cursed Franchises

    Some here are confusing "cursed" or "choking" with just plain "stupid." The Cleveland Browns are not cursed. They do not choke. Their organization, since 1999, has just from top to bottom been plain stupid. The Pittsburgh Pirates are not cursed. They do not choke. Their organization, for most of the past 40 years with brief exceptions, has been plain stupid. The Boston Red Sox? Okay. They were cursed.
  9. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    Syk, I don't think the number's the problem. I think the AAF's time frame is. I'd bet $20 that 20 years from now, when the history of the AAF (and relaunched XFL) are in the past, it'll be common knowledge among sports fans that Charlie Ebersol had no initial plans to launch a league in 2019 until Vince McMahon actually went ahead and announced his plans for the XFL relaunch. That at that point, Ebersol felt a need to pull the trigger and move his timetable way up from whenever it was initially. From there, Daddy DICK set up the pitch meetings to some of his VC buddies, and since Charlie's a likable kid who's got enough bull**** to fertilize the Sinai and indirect connections with the NFL? They figured they'd back him and see what happened. I'm guessing, however, that AAF is nowhere near as well capitalized as Charlie's putting on, and that the "7 to 10 year timetable" he speaks of to the media makes some seriously misguided presumptions that simply aren't going to pan out. Once those presumptions aren't met (a wildly missed revenue projection, failure to land a true network TV deal within a reasonable time frame, something), the VC spigot will be turned off and the league will die a quick death.
  10. Different leagues, different times, different environments and different situations. Seattle could very well end up a doormat to be sure, but it won't be because the NHL watered down the expansion draft because of Vegas.
  11. Yeah, I'm sure. Seattle gets the same terms as Vegas, at minimum. $650 million isn't going to buy a 10-year doormat. They won't get a cup in the first year, but they'll have similar expansion draft opportunities. Vegas gets sellouts for 5 years off of this inaugural season, no matter how bad the team is. They'll just have to carry their own water from that point is all.
  12. For an extra $150,000,000 over what Las Vegas paid? No way in hell. They'll get equal terms as Vegas or there won't be an expansion team in Seattle. Not for that kind of money. Au contraire. Anyone who's seeing the Knights advancing to the Cup Final is a bad thing isn't looking long term. At the macro, league level, this couldn't have played better. Vegas merchandise is flying off the proverbial shelves, the Cup Final's going to have better ratings in the U.S. than if it'd been Winnipeg no matter who comes out of the ECF, and during the entire course of the series the NHL can plant puff pieces and 'feel good' stories about the 'loveable castoffs' from other teams that are vying to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports hockey. It's a PR bonanza; one that immediately shores up Vegas as a market for the next five years, win or lose the cup, and no matter what they do going forward.
  13. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    The USFL did announce markets before they had deals in place for their venues. In fact they didn't have a single lease signed when they held their press conference. It bit them in the ass, big time. I don't blame 'em for not announcing without a lease in place. What I blame 'em for is not having the leases in place. AAF has a WFL air to it in the sense that they're trying to slap it together on an accelerated timetable; trying to get started before another event outside their control occurs. With the WFL it was a likely NFL players strike; with the AAF it's the XFL's launch in 2020. I wouldn't say it's the UFL all over. In the AAF I see shades of every league over the past half century that's started up and failed though, and that's not good.
  14. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    We shall see. Where Memphis is concerned, neither good turnout nor bad would surprise me... but if it's bad, I think I'd blame the Liberty Bowl as a facility far more than I would credit Penny Hardaway. I mean, local legend or not, large numbers of people aren't going to drop money to watch him walk up and down a sideline; which, not coincidentally, is a long term issue I see with the AAF as a whole. Having 'name' coaches gets you sizzle while you're trying to create the steak, but ultimately they're only going to do so much that helps your bottom line.
  15. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    Given the markets they're going into, I think 15,000 a game might be low. Memphis and Salt Lake City will do well, in part because Memphis wants to get back on a par with Nashville and Salt Lake City will see it as an opportunity to be perceived as more "major league." If these people know what they're doing, they'll average 25,000 - 35,000 there. Orlando's a mystery; Spurrier will be a big draw early on, but the secret of the Tampa Bay Bandits success wasn't the on-field product as much as it was everything that went on around it. Atlanta and Phoenix will have decent opening weekends but I suspect their attendance will drop like a stone over time.
  16. NHL Anti-Thread: Bad Business Decision Aggregator

    Y'know, I've got to believe there's something to that, otherwise they'dve joined Vegas this year as expansion brethren. Meanwhile Seattle's going to be a slam dunk to be the 32nd franchise, while Quebec's application remains "pending," seemingly indefinitely. Houston wouldn't be a bad market for the NHL, but if it's Houston vs. Quebec? To me it's a no-brainer: Quebec all the way. On another note, I've tended to jump into VGK game broadcasts after the first puck has dropped, and am just now learning about what these guys are doing during pre-game festivities. Are they not doing some cool **** there or what?
  17. Panthers Price Tag: $2.2 Billion

    There's apparently an agreement in place to sell the Carolina Charlotte Panthers. Price tag: $ 2.2 billion. The buyer is currently a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last Steelers part-owner to buy a majority stake in a team was Jimmy Haslam. Make of these facts what you will.
  18. Corporate Sponsorship Examples

    For reasons that defy common sense, I'm trying to put a list of different ways professional sports teams of all stripes have sold themselves out to corporate sponsors. I've come up with what I think is a somewhat extensive list, but I know it's not exhaustive: -- On ice/field/court advertising. Direct ads (e.g., CFL, NFL) -- Player uniform advertising. (e.g., NBA, European and minor leagues) -- Official Product categories. (e.g., "Massengill, The Official Douche of the NFL") -- Official team sponsorship. (I remember the Chicago Bears did this one year; I'm not sure it went anywhere beyond that) -- Sideline/end line/goal area videoboards/dasherboards. (e.g., NBA, NHL) -- Shot Clock sponsorship. (NBA) -- Special event presentation sponsorships. (e.g., the "State Farm NBA Rookie Game" or whatever) -- League title sponsorship (e.g., Barclay's Premier League) -- Internet website advertising (ubiquitous at league and team levels) -- Dance/cheerleading team sponsorship. (mostly in minor leagues) -- Complimentary item giveaways. ("Pirates Batting Helmet Day sponsored by Heinz;" first 10,000 fans get a helmet) -- In-game "break in action" announcements. (ubiquitous) -- Game programs/media guides/schedules (ubiquitous) -- Scoreboard/videoboard advertising. (ubiquitous) -- T-shirt tosses/cannon (ubiquitous) -- Video "ad landscaping." (NBA/NHL - the practice of darkening the arena and using the court/ice as a giant projection screen for video ads) and my personal favorite... -- Legal disclaimer advertising. ("Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, is prohibited. This legal disclaimer is brought to you by the Nelson Law Firm, with 17 offices throughout southern New Jersey and representing your civil or criminal case needs.") What types am I missing? What types of sponsorship tie-ins have you come across that you've found that, for some reason (good or bad) stuck out in your mind?
  19. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    Perhaps you should re-read this thread from the beginning.
  20. Failed Franchise Expansion & Relocations

    I stand corrected and 5'9". I wasn't aware of just what vagabonds they really were; I just knew that the Dorton Arena used to have "Home of the Carolina Cougars" up on its wall in the concourse back in the '90's. Regional franchises are, however, a bad idea unless you have a real reason for doing it that way. The last one I can remember making any sense was the Packers playing some games in Milwaukee.
  21. Failed Franchise Expansion & Relocations

    Ahem. The "Carolina" Cougars played in Raleigh. Precisely why I can't stand the "Carolina" regional designation.
  22. Failed Franchise Expansion & Relocations

    I'll chime in to agree with B-Rich here... up until as late as probably the mid-1990's, Birmingham was seen to be a market on the upswing in terms of population, business environment and so forth. It just didn't explode in the same way other southern cities did, in large part because it's never erased the redneck, racist image it earned well during the 1960's. Had they landed a team even as far back as the 1970's they'd still have it today, if only because the people of Alabama are absolutely bonkers about football, and they're also dumb enough to be willing to fork over large amounts of public money to build stadia instead of doing things like funding public education.
  23. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    Yeah, the CBS connection is being way, way overblown by anyone who's looking at this objectively. CBS is covering production costs on these broadcasts and maybe - maybe - splitting advertising revenue with the league on a 50/50 basis. They literally have nothing invested in this yet, and what they will put into it will be maybe - maybe - $100,000 a game in production costs. That's covered by five, maybe six :30 ads on CBS Sports Network.
  24. Failed Franchise Expansion & Relocations

    Memphis (i.e., John Bassett) actually sued to try and get into the NFL. Memphis Grizzlies v. NFL. He lost.
  25. Introducing the Alliance of American Football

    I think Salt Lake City's north of the Mason-Dixon Line... Seriously though, this AAF thing is killing me, because having studied every noteworthy pro football league that's launched since the AAFC, I see them making virtually the same mistakes a lot of the others have, almost as if they're following a textbook, "How To Fail At Launching A Pro Football League." AAF can hire all the old, over the hill coaches who've grown tired of working on their golf game they desire. AAF could announce that the eighth franchise will be a traveling team representing the planet Neptune. AAF could prop up the corpse of Vince Lombardi and announce that it'll be on the sidelines of its Milwaukee team. None of that matters right now. None. They're making May announcements that should've been made in March (market cities), and they're making May announcements that shouldn't be made until September (coaching hires). In the meantime, they're not focusing where they need to be: sales, sales, sales, and for good measure, more sales. Instead of announcing all eight cities back in March and spending the past 45-60 days with boots on the ground, pitching the value of AAF corporate sponsorships to businesses in those markets... instead of giving fans in those markets the opportunity to go online or pick up a telephone and buy a season ticket package (not put a deposit on one - but buy)... instead of having local media markets (radio stations, newspapers, TV stations) spearheading your "Name the Team Contest" for each market... these guys are coming into town like a breeze, telling people, "Oh, yeah, we're coming next year," then seemingly breezing out again. Content to tend to the infrastructure necessary in each market as they go along. Will Steve Spurrier's name sell tickets in Orlando? Sure, but they have to be available to purchase, and deposits aside, they aren't. Will Dennis Erickson's name sell tickets in Salt Lake City? Maybe, but again, today would've been the day to sell them, not months down the road. Will they be smart enough to put teams in markets like St. Louis, San Antonio and San Diego? That remains to be seen, but the fact that they're going to try Atlanta and Phoenix, going head-to-head for discretionary income in cities where at least three major-league level pro sports franchises are already present? It's not an indication that all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are lit.