Every now and then we'll offer a lunch-time gathering of news and links related to sports business:
Jack Lambert of the Baltimore Business Journal wrote last week that the Ravens quietly unveiled a $250,000 makeover of the general concession stand near Section 101 during the team's Nov. 11 game with the Raiders. The new stand, which allows consumers to see food being prepared, is a prototype that could be used as the team seeks to update the first level of the 14-year-old stadium, according to the story.
Team officials will monitor how the stand does before deciding whether to modernize the other 15 "Craven Zone" stands
According to Roy Sommerhof, the Ravens' vice president of stadium operations, the stand saw a 20 percent increase in sales during that first week.
The Ravens footed the bill for the work, which was done by Towson-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. The concept for bringing the food prep to the front of the stand -- since most game goers are understandably reticent to gobble food wrapped in foil and sitting under a lamp -- is modeled after the concession stands at Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Orioles have new ticket vendor
Some Orioles fans were upset when Ticketmaster and the team refused to refund part of the cost of tickets for playoff games that never ended up happening. The costs were associated with producing the tickets -- including printing them on special paper with security features.
Now, the Orioles have signed a long-term deal with Tickets.com, a company that has made its name by pushing mobile technology. They were the first company to allow fans to search for, purchase and have tickets delivered on a mobile device, according to a news release. They worked with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to become the first adopters of the new Apple Passbook application.
The deal was first reported by Lambert of the Baltimore Business Journal last week, and confirmed Monday by the Orioles.
“It is important that the Orioles utilize new and emerging technologies to benefit our customers,” says Neil Aloise, Orioles Vice President of Ticketing and Fan Services. “We have very sophisticated fans in our region, and they request that we deliver content to them in the latest manner. This includes access to their game tickets and will extend to other programs we will be launching in the future, such as stored value programs. ProVenue and Tickets.com are positioned to help us get there quickly.”
Checking in on Towson
Towson University President Maravene Loeschke continues quietly evaluating a proposal to cut the school's baseball and men's soccer teams.
Meanwhile, parents from the baseball team are still trying to find a way to save the team. They've been taking a look at the way the school spends money, and uncovered a $33,000 bill from IMRE, the local marketing and public relations firm, for three months of work. IMRE has been dealing with reporters seeking information on the university's decision.
In light of news that MASN and the Nationals remain hunkered down and far from a deal on how much the team should receiving in yearly rights fees, we thought it'd make sense to look back a few years when MASN was seen as a game-changer for the O's. This is from a Peter Schmuck column that ran on Aug.6, 2006:
The window of opportunity is finally open wide enough that the Orioles will have no excuse if they fail to acquire the necessary help to be competitive in the American League East next year.
The announcement on Friday night that the long-running dispute between the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and Comcast had been settled to the satisfaction of both sides creates the revenue potential that should allow the Orioles to spend what it takes to acquire a power-hitting outfielder and a No. 1 starting pitcher. Now it becomes an issue of front office execution.
At least, that's the way it sounded when Orioles attorney Alan Rifkin told reporters on Friday night that the agreement would have an immediate effect on the operation of the ballclub.
Maybe there is some other way to interpret that, but I can't imagine Rifkin was alerting fans that the Orioles would be using all that expected revenue to pay down debt and upgrade the executive washrooms. Unless he was speaking out of turn - and good lawyers generally don't do that - the message seemed clear that the Orioles now realize that they will need to spend money to make money.
It's all well and good to have the Nationals and Orioles television schedules nailed down for the foreseeable future, but advertising revenues depend on ratings, and ratings depend on the number of viewers who choose to tune in, so it's in the best economic interest of each franchise to put an entertaining product on the field.
Though it will take some time for MASN's full income potential to be realized, the Orioles apparently recognize that their frustrated fan base has reached the tipping point and they need to make a major offseason splash to recapture the market - perhaps something akin to what the Toronto Blue Jays did last winter.
We can only hope.
The thought back then was clear: Now the O's can compete for free agents with rivals New York and Boston. Of course the Orioles never really spent at the level of the Yankees and Red Sox, but that's partly because those teams ended up making even more money from their regional networks. Therein lies the problem: regional networks were once seen as a promising by ancillary way to generate money and have evolved instead into a major way teams cover growing salaries. The Nationals won't be able to compete if, as they claim, they're receiving significantly below market value for their TV rights.
But Peter Angelos has a signed contract in hand, and he believes it clearly lays out a way for determining how much the Nationals should receive.
I discussed this topic on WNST today, and they've archived the audio of that here.