One of the few great moments in Monday night’s NCAA title game (unless you’re a Carolina fan I guess) was the unveiling of the new basketball Hall of Fame class, which includes Michael Jordan, David Robinson, and John Stockton. Unfortunately, the way things are going, the building in which they’ll be inducted might not be around much longer.
According to SI’s Alexander Wolff, the hoops Hall in Springfield, Mass., is flailing and mired in millions of dollars of debt. While it appears that everything possible will be done to keep the museum open, one option being floated around is selling off the Hall’s memorabilia and essentially shutting down.
It was reported Friday by a website called FINALTERNATIVES that Tom Hicks‘ holding company that owns the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars defaulted on $525 million in loans, but there was no independent confirmation.
Well, there’s confirmation now, and Hicks says that not only has his company defaulted on the loans, but he did it on purpose in order to renegotiate the terms of the loans. Somehow, Hicks maintains that none of this will affect any of his teams in any way, even as word has leaked out that he’s attempting to sell minority stakes in his team.
Hicks of course is well-known for signing Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million contract that resulted in the Rangers still sucking and Hicks having to ship A-Rod out of town three years into the deal.
Buried deep in an excellent column by PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE writer Ed Bouchette, a piece we found via PROFOOTBALLTALK, is one of the best articulated attacks on the NFL in the economic recession, and it’s completely cogent. According to Bouchette, NFL teams are laying off workers to hedge their profits, not because they need to in order to avoid losing money.
(Is this team losing money? Not a chance.)
He’s absolutely right. If teams like the Redskins were really feeling the crunch of the recession, they wouldn’t be spending $100 million on Albert Haynesworth. Instead, the NFL as a whole is trying to paint a dire economic picture as it heads into a standoff with the NFL Players Association because of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement.
The interest is there. The payroll is there. The only thing that isn’t there for the Yankees, it seems, are the fans. According to business of sports writer Richard Sandomir in THE NEW YORK TIMES, the Yankees are struggling to sell any premium seats or luxury boxes … and they’re getting desperate.
(See those empty luxury boxes? They’ll be empty during the season, too.)
It’s probably not too surprising that even the Yankees would have a hard time moving tickets that cost $325-$2,500 in an economic recession, but Sandomir brings up an interesting corrolary, with those seats still unsold, it will be even harder to fill them with Alex Rodriguez out of the lineup for up to four months.
Just when you thought the forthcoming goverment economic stimulus seems to be above the board, digging into the funds finds a pretty ridiculous earmark. According to the Detroit development blog MODEL D, a full $3.8 million in the congressional spending bill will go directly to the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, a group dedicated entirely to making sure they don’t tear down Tiger Stadium, even though it’s not used as a stadium.
($4M of your tax dollars to preserve this. What about Shea Stadium?)
There’s a raging debate about whether part of the government’s massive economic stimulus package should be used to help save stadium projects aimed at giving teams a new home. The theory is that those construction projects will provide good jobs and resuscitate business in oft underused areas. All of that’s valid for stadiums that will be built. But this is a money for a stadium that’s already been built, and left, by its team. And that team isn’t coming back any time soon.
Are the Kings done in Sacramento? It’s looking increasingly likely, as the team is horrible and playing to a sparsely-populated Arco Arena on a nightly basis. It doesn’t help that Sacramento is also one of the hardest-hit areas in the housing crisis, and cities like San Jose and Anaheim that already have arenas are stepping forward as possible destinations.
(It’s a rough time to be a Maloof)
Arco is the second-oldest arena in the league, but finding local funding for a new arena project is proving to be very challenging. There is one avenue that could be pursued, though: What if the Maloofs, the NBA, the city (ex-NBA player Kevin Johnson is now mayor), and the state can convince the federal government that a sports arena is a worthy recipient of stimulus funds?
Everyone has it bad during the current economic downturn, but some may have it even worse than others. That includes professional athletes who made really made forays into the world of free enterprise. If you had Derrick Coleman on the list of former ballers turned failed entrepreneurs that popped into your head, pat yourself on the back; ol’ DC is going out of business, literally.
According to FANHOUSE’s expert sleuthing, the former would-be star turned uber-bust is having to liquidate everything he owns. Yes, everything, at a whopping 75 percent off. It’s like one of those “electronic liquidation events” you see advertised at “Enter Your City’s Convention Center Here” every weekend, except everything was once owned by one of the biggest NBA Draft flops in recorded history. Just think, you too can own the porcelain toilet from Derrick Coleman’s spare bedroom! And it’s 75 percent off! What a steal!
A lot of silly professional sports leagues have come and gone over the past 25 years, which makes it all the more impressive that the Arena Football League has been operating pretty much uninterrupted since 1987 and even rising to the point of having a national network TV deal (even if the deal wasn’t very lucrative).
(This might be the last you see of the AFL Championship trophy)
Famous owners jumped on board, like Bon Jovi and John Elway, and old-school franchises in places like Albany and Des Moines were phased out to expand to bigger markets and become more of a “major” sport. But it looks like it’s all coming to an end, as the AFL is close to becoming the first pro league to fall victim to the current economic crisis, if a couple of reports are to be believed. The league, however, isn’t conceding anything.
If you needed any more proof that the economic downturn is starting to seep into sports, here it is: The Columbus Blue Jackets, who happen to not be one of the professional hockey teams on the verge of bankruptcy (see under: Coyotes, Phoenix) are offering a payment “installment” plan to help fans pay for seats at upcoming games. As the unpronounceable yet terrific Greg Wyshynski writes in YAHOO’s PUCK DADDY blog — which may soon double as the “sad economic news in sports blog” — this just can’t be a good sign.
(Blue Jackets vs. Predators. Actual attendance: 2)
According to the team’s web site, the “payment plan” starts on Dec. 29th after paying the initial $10 when the seats are purchased. And what do you get for your 150 clams? Tickets to three weekend games … in the upper bowl. Lower bowl seats are twice the price. Ouch.
That’s right, it takes installments of $20 just to see a hockey game in Ohio in decent seats. Sure, the Blue Jackets may be paying steep rent for their downtown Nationwide Arena, but there has to be a better way to get people in the door to some of the most attractive games on the schedule (they can’t sell weekend tickets? Really?) than installment plans of $10-20, right? Evidently not.
A true story: a friend was in line at BevMo last week, and was behind someone buying massive amounts of booze. It wasn’t for a party - he had just been laid off, and was stocking up for the holidays. It’s a brutal story, but perhaps also a sign that beer and spirit makers like Diageo, the brand behind Guinness, Smirnoff, and Johnnie Walker, might be one of the few companies to be recession-proof.
Still, it’s a little shocking to read in the TIMES ONLINE (UK) that in a time when sports advertising and endorsement deals worldwide are being impacted, Diageo is planning on going ahead full scale with their deals in 2009. Chief among these deals is one that places the Johnnie Walker logo square on the visor of Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. The cost? Roughly $22 million a year.