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Thread: Pacers finances baffle me

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Stern is negotiating a new contract with the largest category of expense (player salaries), not filing a 10-k under GAAP. I'd be skeptical... very skeptical.
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by cordobes View Post
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    I wouldn't put much stock in what Stern is saying about the NBA economic situation while the table for the CBA negotiations is being set. That's a projection and they often get projections wrong. For example, in the off-season they were projecting ticket revenue to be down by 7% this season; by January the ticket revenue was down by 1.7%.
    .
    If I recall correctly, the articles from that time actually referred to the ticket sales (i.e. number of tickets sold) as opposed to revenue from those sales, which likely presents an entirely different picture due to the virtually league wide promotions that have been going on this year that probably are more significant, on average, than even what was seen last year, and definitely more significant than they had been for many years prior to that. I believe a thread we had here actually determined that league revenue has declined this year by quite a bit, not just 1.7%.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    Stern is negotiating a new contract with the largest category of expense (player salaries), not filing a 10-k under GAAP. I'd be skeptical... very skeptical.
    Can you elaborate?

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Its not GAAP. There are a wide variety of ways the numbers can be manipulated.

    The easy one to think of is for franchises that record depreciation on the arena. Not a cash expense. Not even consistently an "expense" of the franchise (again, it could be the arena holding company.)

    Businesses that have been sold in the past few years might also be carrying amortization expense for assets such as player/ coach/ front office contracts, season ticket holder and advertiser relationships, favorable arena lease terms, etc.

    Again, non-cash expenses, but if player contract intangible asset is, say, $60 million, amortized over the first four years after the acquisition, that is $15 million of expenses that are non-cash, and might even be non-GAAP (an expense for tax purposes only.)

    These numbers aren't GAAP. Be careful.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad8888 View Post
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    If I recall correctly, the articles from that time actually referred to the ticket sales (i.e. number of tickets sold) as opposed to revenue from those sales, which likely presents an entirely different picture due to the virtually league wide promotions that have been going on this year that probably are more significant, on average, than even what was seen last year, and definitely more significant than they had been for many years prior to that. I believe a thread we had here actually determined that
    league revenue has declined this year by quite a bit, not just 1.7%.
    I see your point, because the initial NYT article isn't clear, but I think the comparison is valid - ticket revenue to ticket revenue or volume of tickets sold to volume of tickets sold. For example:

    http://www.bizofbasketball.com/index...news&Itemid=54

    NBA Ticket Revenue Down Less Than Expected.

    Written by Matthew Coller
    Monday, 25 January 2010 06:02

    The New York Times reported this Sunday that the NBA’s ticket revenues have not dipped as much as the league had projected pre-season. The NBA’s ticket revenue is down 1.7 percent, far less than its predicted a 6 to 7 percent drop in sales. Most of the loss, the league says, is due to major declines in New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons attendance. The league said arenas have been 89 percent filled to capacity so far this season.

    “The fact that we’re only down roughly 1.7 percent going into tonight’s games, I’m pleased about,” said NBA executive Chris Granger.

    Before the season, the NBA sent a memo to teams warning of a possible decline in the league’s salary cap, which currently stands at $57.7 million. The league had originally thought the cap could drop to between $50.4 million and $53.6 million for next season, but if decline in ticket revenue remains limited, the cap could be around $54 million.
    I think that the fact that the league offices actually revised their projection for the cap suggests the decrease in revenue wasn't as steep as they initially projected, no? And in any case, the less the revenue, the less the players salaries, which makes things not as bad as they apparently look.

    Now, I have no doubt that the revenue league-wide will decrease this year and probably by more than 1.7%, but the $400 millions in losses Stern mentioned is just too far-fetched and more of a way of inducing panic. It's a non-credible threat, more directed towards the public (and the public favour) than exactly the players union. In last season's awful economy, the average operating income was $7.8 million per team. A $400 millions loss would imply a $640 millions turnaround. That would be amazing. It'd mean that the teams started spending money like drunken sailors during this season (and not in players salaries). Do you really believe that's what they're doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    I guess there's no sense in our trying to agree on the details if we don't agree there is a fundamental problem.

    I respect the heck out of your understanding, but in this case I'm going to remain skeptical.
    Yeps, agree to disagree on this issue - although it seems to me that the fundamental disagreement is about the existence of a mechanism that makes players salaries a function of the revenue generated and the importance of that mechanism in terms of cost control/economic flexibility.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    By the way, I strongly approve of the Simons. I hope you didn't call them "evil, greedy, self-serving" in parody of me.
    No, not you - I still have a bug up my bumper over the reaction to the CIB renegotiation and the general public slamming of the Simons as opposed to the elevation to sainthood of the Irsays.


    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    Finally, I don't know why we're arguing about this. David Stern says costs are out of whack and the league needs an overhaul.
    Agreed. I think any business where selling the product itself can't pay the basic costs is doomed to have problems.

    I think what might be best is to change ALL contracts to include a base salary portion and a revenue-sharing portion, where the individual player contract (and salary caps and luxury tax, if you stick to the current system) are adjusted WAY downward to reflect a more logical number for ticket revenue. You then have a standard percent that is based on league revenues that is added. This can be set up to vary by player, so a "franchise" player gets a higher percentage than the 15th man but it totals up to a specific number per team. You base it on league revenues because it means a player isn't punished for playing for a "poor" team, and also so that there are still incentives for teams to draw fans and manage their money wisely.

    That plus making contracts non-guaranteed after a very small number of years would help immensely.
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    I guess there's no sense in our trying to agree on the details if we don't agree there is a fundamental problem.

    I respect the heck out of your understanding, but in this case I'm going to remain skeptical..
    So does your argument reduce to "there's a fundamental problem regarding the league's cost structure" because David Stern says so?

    One point of consideration should be that if there's a single individual most responsible for the league's cost structure, wouldn't it have to be David Stern?

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    I think what might be best is to change ALL contracts to include a base salary portion and a revenue-sharing portion, where the individual player contract (and salary caps and luxury tax, if you stick to the current system) are adjusted WAY downward to reflect a more logical number for ticket revenue. You then have a standard percent that is based on league revenues that is added. This can be set up to vary by player, so a "franchise" player gets a higher percentage than the 15th man but it totals up to a specific number per team. You base it on league revenues because it means a player isn't punished for playing for a "poor" team, and also so that there are still incentives for teams to draw fans and manage their money wisely.
    How would that help teams controlling costs more than the current system?

    League-wide, all salaries can't exceed a percentage of (part of) the league revenues. The Pacers players won't really make $66 millions this season if the ticket revenues are indeed sinking.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by cordobes View Post
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    How would that help teams controlling costs more than the current system?

    League-wide, all salaries can't exceed a percentage of (part of) the league revenues. The Pacers players won't really make $66 millions this season if the ticket revenues are indeed sinking.
    What it does is aligns individual contracted salaries with revenue, so when there is a revenue drop payments to players go down automatically instead of staying the same and putting the team into an economic situation like they are now. It gives players a bit more of an direct incentive to work together get people in the door and increase other revenue rather than just focusing on their own contract and hoping BRI goes up so their contract can be bigger next time.

    I think it also makes salaries look more understandable to a lot of people.
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    What it does is aligns individual contracted salaries with revenue, so when there is a revenue drop payments to players go down automatically instead of staying the same and putting the team into an economic situation like they are now. It gives players a bit more of an direct incentive to work together get people in the door and increase other revenue rather than just focusing on their own contract and hoping BRI goes up so their contract can be bigger next time.

    I think it also makes salaries look more understandable to a lot of people.
    But isn't that exactly how things are now?
    Players get 57% of BRI. A big chunk of their salaries are held in escrow, and if the salaries are too high compared to revenue, that chunk of salary is paid back to the teams.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    I'd rather salaries be tied to W/L%. But that will never fly with the NBPA.

    In general, the move has been to get away from incentive-based (statistics) contracts as they don't produce desired behaviors (they create ballhogs.)
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
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    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeDC View Post
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    But isn't that exactly how things are now?
    Players get 57% of BRI. A big chunk of their salaries are held in escrow, and if the salaries are too high compared to revenue, that chunk of salary is paid back to the teams.
    I guess it just seems like that is not only hidden, it isn't like the teams get credit against the cap/tax for what will be coming back. It'd make more sense if the base pay went to them and the revenue portion came after the season.

    What I'm hoping for is something that more directly ties an individual salary to revenue, not the overall league salary (or team salary) total to revenue. Kind of the equivalent of "Base Pay plus Profit Sharing" that a lot of companies in the Real World have gone to.
    BillS

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeDC View Post
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    So does your argument reduce to "there's a fundamental problem regarding the league's cost structure" because David Stern says so?
    No.

    My point is what BillS says here: " . . . any business where selling the product itself can't pay the basic costs is doomed to have problems."

    Does anybody think the IndyGo bus system is a brilliant commercial success? It is subsidized by the city because the money it raises on fares doesn't come close to covering the operating costs. It must adhere to a schedule and much of the time buses are almost empty, but nothing can be done in the short-term to correct the inefficiency. Most buses have advertisements on them and inside them to help defray the cost of operation which fares alone cannot cover. But I don't consider that ads for Kaplan College is anything the bus company should boast about having. From a business standpoint, there's a strong argument for not having buses at all in Indy, but we continue to have them because there is a vague notion that a first-class city ought to. A few thousand people derive a great benefit from the bus system, while to the larger community the bus company makes no sense.

    Sound familiar at all?




    (Yes, I am being harsh about the Pacers business model as a business model. As I've already said, the NBA provides good entertainment, so its just as a business that I'm faulting it. What I'm saying is really no worse than saying the defrag utility on my computer isn't very entertaining though I admit it does speed things up. It does something very well, but it doesn't do everything very well.)
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    No.

    My point is what BillS says here: " . . . any business where selling the product itself can't pay the basic costs is doomed to have problems."
    I'd certainly agree with Bill's point, but it's not apparent to me that the business can't pay its basic costs.

    I mean, in this day and age, you can't separately look at the player salaries as they are and not look at the league's revenue streams as they are.

    Salaries are high because a big share of the league's basic revenues derive from its television revenue. Gate receipts are perhaps still the biggest single source of income, but the television, radio, internet, merchandise and marketing revenues the league (and the Pacers) generate certainly aren't ancillary in the way ads on the side of buses are.

    Fundamentally, the Pacers are selling an entertainment service, and something like TV rights and product endorsements are part and parcel of that. It's a way to enlarge their audience beyond what they can fit in the stadium every night.

    And here's the major point I'd like to get to. I don't know, for example, what the Pacers share of the league's TV contract is, but I know it'd be very difficult for the league to be losing money based on overall numbers. Look at the CBA FAQ and it shows the league had $3.6B in BRI for last season and only $2B in player salaries. So take that remaining $1.6B in BRI and split is 30 ways and you get approximately $51M per team. Even if you give something like 2/3 to the biggest 10 teams, the remaining 20 smaller teams would still get something on the order of $26M each.

    $26M seems like a fairly reasonable amount of revenue to cover the remaining costs and still have room for profit. It's certainly not so much that I can't imagine a particular team would lose money, even repeatedly, but as a whole, the basic business model of the league seems in order, at least until the next TV contract is negotiated (and when it is, I'd expect things to go down across the board, so again, I'm not really sure it affects the Pacers per se).

    Does anybody think the IndyGo bus system is a brilliant commercial success? It is subsidized by the city because the money it raises on fares doesn't come close to covering the operating costs. It must adhere to a schedule and much of the time buses are almost empty, but nothing can be done in the short-term to correct the inefficiency. Most buses have advertisements on them and inside them to help defray the cost of operation which fares alone cannot cover. But I don't consider that ads for Kaplan College is anything the bus company should boast about having. From a business standpoint, there's a strong argument for not having buses at all in Indy, but we continue to have them because there is a vague notion that a first-class city ought to. A few thousand people derive a great benefit from the bus system, while to the larger community the bus company makes no sense.

    Sound familiar at all?
    Well yes, but I'm actually an economics professor.

    More seriously, I think the bus analogy is wrong in that TV revenues, ads and merchandise licensing are a big and legit chunk of NBA money.

    I do think the bus analogy is a good one in another way though. If you think about buses, the real problem, and the reason they need subsidies, is that routes inevitably get overextended beyond the profitable ones. I see plenty of folks riding buses downtown. If you cut back from the 30 or so routes to maybe 20, and ran less frequently but at peak times that might lead to more few buses and less empty ones, an Indy bus system might make a profit.

    On the other hand, it might not, because you might make it impossible for a critical mass of people to conveniently get on the bus

    I think the NBA can be seen in a similar light. The really big market, popular teams are like the few central, popular bus routes. In many respects, you could look at that situation and say it doesn't make any sense for, say, the Lakers, Knicks, Bulls and Mavericks to be subsidizing the Pacers' existence if, in fact, they don't make money.

    But there are some legitimate reasons to do it. First, if you confine the big leagues to the top 10 or 15, or even 20 markets, you miss out on a whole lot of fans. Maybe they don't become fans of the NBA at all. Second, I'm not sure what the optimal number of teams is, but it's self-evident that if the league is too small, you it'd be kind of boring to see the same teams, filled with the same players, playing over and over.

    So maybe you could cut a couple small market teams and be fine, but it's hard to say. You'd lose some unknown level of revenue and long-term goodwill that ultimately translates into revenue in entertainment industries.

    (Yes, I am being harsh about the Pacers business model as a business model. As I've already said, the NBA provides good entertainment, so its just as a business that I'm faulting it. What I'm saying is really no worse than saying the defrag utility on my computer isn't very entertaining though I admit it does speed things up. It does something very well, but it doesn't do everything very well.)
    I guess I see it the opposite way. I think the NBA's basic model as a business is fine, but if I have a long-term concern about it, it's that the entertainment level it provides isn't what it could be.

    That's a problem because, if you think about it, there's a lot of competition for our entertainment dollars out there. Other sports, games, movies, the internet, doing things ourselves. There's a lot of ways to spend our money out there. And when I see the NBA, I see a league with a lot of really perverse, uncompetitive, and unentertaining incentives out there. The same teams win over and over and it's hard as hell for teams to change their direction. The Pacers are great evidence of that. It's basically going to be a 2-3 year process just to get out from under a set of bad decisions, never mind actually building back to something better.

    That's just way too freaking long. And it kills entertainment from the top down. The fans know we're not going anywhere and the players know they're not, and so they play like it. To a large extent, I think team management coasts for these reasons too. On another note, much of the basketball management in the league is just terribly unprofessional. Guys get hired into executive level positions with very little experience. They were players or color commentators, and suddenly they're coaches and GMs. It's worth noting that you almost never see stuff like that happen in the NFL. Because, basically, they've got their **** together and the NBA often doesn't.

    OK, I've kind of veered off into a general rant. But I think my basic position is these guys are just not great business people. They're sitting on a goose that lays golden eggs and quite frequently, they for some reason try to strangle the goose.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    As for the bus, is it a business or a service? If its a service, the subsidies are quite rationale. There's no doubt that professional sports are a business, but fans don't measure the success by the owner's profit margin either. Donald Sterling really is a good owner of a business, folks. But it makes it hard to root for his team on the court because its 100% business and he's not in it to win but to own a profitable team.
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    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
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    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    I have to say I'm really enjoying this thread...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeDC View Post
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    More seriously, I think the bus analogy is wrong in that TV revenues, ads and merchandise licensing are a big and legit chunk of NBA money.
    This is very true, but my train of thought comes from the amount of control the decision maker has over the revenue stream. I've talked in the past about local merchandising and local advertising being part of the local revenue stream, but it is odd to think that the league as a whole gets a TV contract with revenue while the Pacers (if I remember correctly) have to pay for the privilege of being broadcast on FSN. If that is correct, it would be interesting to know the amount and how it compares with our revenue from the shared TV income (especially after subtracting the payoff to the Spirits...)

    I'd count any "team generated" income (not just local, for instance, in the case of jersey sales of your player in a remote location) for the fixed funding, I only mentioned ticket sales as an easy shortcut.

    In general, you'd like your fixed costs to be able to be covered by revenue streams you have control over, and you'd like those revenue streams that could vary to have the associated costs drop if the revenues drop. That's an ideal, sure, but a real world example exists - sales commissions aren't just an incentive for the sales people, they are a way to make sure you aren't overpaying them in a time of low sales.
    BillS

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    As for the bus, is it a business or a service? If its a service, the subsidies are quite rationale. There's no doubt that professional sports are a business, but fans don't measure the success by the owner's profit margin either. Donald Sterling really is a good owner of a business, folks. But it makes it hard to root for his team on the court because its 100% business and he's not in it to win but to own a profitable team.
    If the bus lines are a public service that requires a subsidy, it's a good indication the costs of providing them outweigh the benefits. If they can be profitably run, meaning that they provide more value to willing customers than the cost it takes to make it, a business should be willing to provide it. If we have to subsidize something, generally speaking it means the operators can't recover their cost on their own.

    But if that's the case, is it really sensible to subsidize them?

    Sterling is an interesting case. I'd agree Sterling is a good businessman, but only to a degree. He's got a profitable operation because he's extremely risk-averse and because, as I said in my prior post, having an NBA team is damn near a license to print money.

    That being said, he's also not spectacularly successful either. I mean, the Clippers are in a huge market and yet, compared to many teams, even in worse markets around the league, they're in the upper echelon on valuable teams. What this tells me is "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

    In the NBA, an owner can run a profitable business by playing it safe. On the other hand, if you want to really grow your brand, you're going to have to take risks or get extremely lucky (like having Duncan, Lebron or Derrick Rose or maybe John Wall bounce your way in the lottery).

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    I have to say I'm really enjoying this thread...

    This is very true, but my train of thought comes from the amount of control the decision maker has over the revenue stream. I've talked in the past about local merchandising and local advertising being part of the local revenue stream, but it is odd to think that the league as a whole gets a TV contract with revenue while the Pacers (if I remember correctly) have to pay for the privilege of being broadcast on FSN. If that is correct, it would be interesting to know the amount and how it compares with our revenue from the shared TV income (especially after subtracting the payoff to the Spirits...)

    I'd count any "team generated" income (not just local, for instance, in the case of jersey sales of your player in a remote location) for the fixed funding, I only mentioned ticket sales as an easy shortcut.

    In general, you'd like your fixed costs to be able to be covered by revenue streams you have control over, and you'd like those revenue streams that could vary to have the associated costs drop if the revenues drop. That's an ideal, sure, but a real world example exists - sales commissions aren't just an incentive for the sales people, they are a way to make sure you aren't overpaying them in a time of low sales.
    In jobs where commissions work well, there are generally pretty good metrics for it. Out of every 100 folks that walk through the door, X% should buy a car. So your good sales people are the ones who make or exceed that percentage. And more importantly, the salesman's pay is directly attributable to his production. If he sells more cars, he gets more money. It's easy to see.

    I think it's really tough to figure in the NBA because in many respects their product (compelling basketball?) is dependent on factors out of their control. To take an absurd example, suppose the Pacers got to play the Nets 80 times a year. If they end up 70-10, it's gonna be nicer than 10-70, but it'd still not be very compelling. It'd be downright boring, and it's kind of hard to separate the Pacers' responsibility for the total product from the other teams'.

    To put it more simply, even if we're looking at local revenues, the Pacers sell more tickets when the Lakers are coming to town than when the Clippers are coming to town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    I've talked in the past about local merchandising and local advertising being part of the local revenue stream, but it is odd to think that the league as a whole gets a TV contract with revenue while the Pacers (if I remember correctly) have to pay for the privilege of being broadcast on FSN. If that is correct, it would be interesting to know the amount and how it compares with our revenue from the shared TV income (especially after subtracting the payoff to the Spirits...)
    FSN pays to show the games. The Colt's didn't pay for the Superbowl to be broadcast. Same thing. The networks make money from advertisers. Advertisers pay more for a larger audience. I have no idea what the Pacer's TV audience numbers are but a live broadcast from a professional team should draw higher ratings than other shows that FSN could show during the same time slot. If a team that FSN pays to broadcast does very well and more people watch, then they get lucky and can charge more for advertising. FSN shows games for many teams so while some markets like Indy might have low ratings, their other markets make up the difference.

    FSN also makes the calls on broadcasting games in HD. It must not make financial sense to show all Pacer games in HD because of the ad revenue the network makes from the games. They pick the games that most people will be watching, not to please the fans, but to make more from advertisers.

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    Running with the Big Boys BillS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by AG77 View Post
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    FSN pays to show the games.
    Do you have numbers or a reference? As part of the discussions about why they are on a cable-only station some time (like possibly multiple years) ago, I seem to recall pretty definitive statements that it was not the same as it used to be, that many teams were having to pay for the broadcast rather than the other way around.

    That's an individual team thing, not a network thing or league thing and certainly not the case for the big $$ teams that everyone wants to watch. I'm not looking for comparisons to NFL teams or even to other teams, just a hint from someone as to what the FSN contract is and is worth.
    BillS

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    sweabs
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

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    Last edited by sweabs; 08-07-2010 at 06:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Thanks, Sweabs. I wondered when you were going to weigh in on this.

    Richard Peddie has worked on creating the ultimate fan experience from an entertainment standpoint.
    Explain how he does this, please. And is there is lesson there for the Pacers?

    Could the Pacers organization achieve the same entertainment/business success in Indiana? What would the ultimate fan experience for Hoosier basketball look like?


    .
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    I think it is probably more similar to the Cubs or the Knicks than anything that could be done for the Pacers.

    Once a Tradition is established, it takes MORE than simply losing to devalue both a franchise and the experience of being at a game.

    The Leafs (and the Cubs and the Knicks) are more of an Institution than a Sports Franchise. That makes them extremely durable, attendance-wise.
    BillS

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    - Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh

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    Last edited by sweabs; 08-07-2010 at 06:01 PM.

  27. #74
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    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    I'd rather salaries be tied to W/L%. But that will never fly with the NBPA.

    In general, the move has been to get away from incentive-based (statistics) contracts as they don't produce desired behaviors (they create ballhogs.)
    I agree with you 1 million % on both counts.

    I wish players were paid a nice salary sort of like they are now, (but a lot less) and then paid huge bonues for winning

  28. #75

    Default Re: Pacers finances baffle me

    I do not believe these even matter for the Maple Leafs fanbase. It has almost become a 'status symbol' to get a Maple Leafs ticket, where you can brag to your friends.

    "Once I was the king of Spain
    Now the Leafs call me up to drive the Zamboni."
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

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