Folks at 501 Broadway probably aren't shedding too many tears over today's news out of Canada:
Under intense pressure from a group of shareholders, Research in Motion Ltd. is preparing to unveil a corporate shakeup at the beleaguered BlackBerry maker that could see co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie relinquish their titles as co-chairmen of the board, according to sources.
Balsillie — who famously, of course, made a play to buy the Nashville Predators and went so far as to accept season-ticket deposits for a team he didn't own under the presumption he'd be moving it to Hamilton, Ontario — and Lazaridis reduced their salary to $1 last month. But even their peppercorn gambit doesn't look like it will save their jobs.
Foremost of the criticism of Balsillie was that he was unable to adapt to the changing landscape of the handheld market with the emergence of Apple and seemed repeatedly unaware of how to stay competitive.
And what else? Ask Barry Richards, an analyst at Paradigm Capital:
It doesn't help matters that both executives are incredibly busy. Lazaridis is involved with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Balsillie with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Balsillie's intense focus on buying an NHL franchise in recent years likely diverted his attention, too. "Those guys are phenomenal, but they try to do too much, and there's not enough depth in the senior management around them," says Richards, who supports the company with a Buy rating on the stock.
The Nashville Sounds have hired Jeff Hem to be the play-by-play broadcaster for every game of the 2012 season. Hem, 29, comes to Nashville from the Kane County Cougars, the single-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
During baseball off-seasons, Hem gained additional experience behind the mic while broadcasting high school football and basketball for schools in the greater Chicagoland area. In addition, he co-hosted a two-hour radio sports show, “The Big Sports Report,” which discussed the Chicago sports scene and included interviews with various athletes, media, and sports personalities.
The owners of the Nashville Sounds may no longer have the Thermal site as a candidate for their future stadium, but they showed enthusiasm Thursday morning for a faciltiy on the East Bank of the Cumberland River, Joey Garrison reports. Populous, the firm that led the study analyzing potential stadium locations, identified sites on both the west and east sides of Korean Veterans Boulevard. (Get the full report here.)
“The possibility of a site on the east bank of the river is clearly the site that has the most interest by the Sounds,” said Sounds attorney and lobbyist Tom White, adding that the Sounds must now look at financing possibilities, with help from Metro, for a new ballpark to replace outdated Greer Stadium.
“There is extremely limited interest by the Sounds in the other two sites,” White added.
The Mayor's Office will today release a report from stadium designers Populous that is expected to highlight three sites on downtown's fringe that could become home to a future Nashville Sounds stadium. Not expected to make the list is the former Thermal Plant property on the Cumberland River's west bank.
“That’s the first step — to determine what’s the right location or locations to build a baseball stadium, and then there’s lots of steps after that,” Riebeling said Wednesday. “There’s details on financing. There’s working out an agreement with the Sounds.
“I’m sure every site has unique issues that will have to be worked through,” he added. “It’s a long process from here, but this is a good first step.”
Forbes' annual list of the value of NHL franchises is out. The Nashville Predators' total value is $163 million, according to the magazine, good for 25th in the league but down $11 million from the purchase price paid by the current ownership in 2007. The team's revenue was $82 million last season, 23rd in the league. From the magazine:
The Predators are losing money and trying to find investors to pump in about $25 million to shore up the team's finances. In early 2011 the team secured a $75 million credit facility led by Regions Bank to replace the $75 million loan from CIT Group used to finance the purchase of the team. The team has plans to renovate 15-year old Bridgestone Arena by adding a Fan Zone on the upper concourse and upgrading 72 suites. The Predators have a lot of debt and have been in the bottom-third of the league in attendance for six consecutive seasons.
The $7.5 million annual operating loss is the second-largest for the team since the lockout and, coincidentally or not, is identical to the arbitration-awarded salary of superstar Shea Weber.
The good news is Forbes says the Predators are worth 10 percent more than they were last year. Twelve NHL teams showed a profit last year — noteworthy with the league's collective bargaining agreement expiring next summer.
The fine folks at Fan Cost Experience are working through their annual Fan Cost Index rankings — which calculates the price for attending games in each of the major sports, using ticket prices, hot dogs, beer, soft drinks, programs, gear and the like.
The NFL rankings came out back in September [PDF with methodology here]. The Titans came it with a total of $370.20 — the 24th most expensive experience in the NFL. It was up less than 1 percent from last season, mostly due to a slight increase in ticket price. The league average is $427.42.
The NHL rankings came out this week. The Predators have the 20th highest FCI in hockey [pdf here]. The ticket prices are among the league's cheapest — averaging out at $51.04 (no change from last season), about $6 below the league average. But it's the Bridgestone Arena beer prices that are a head-scratcher. The average brew comes in at $6.75. Per ounce, that's the second most expensive in the league, trailing only Montreal. Why the pricey suds? PostBiz — forever in a quest to answer the hard questions — called the Preds front office, but has yet to hear back. We'll update you. Anyway, the total FCI was $288.67, unchanged from last year and a good $38 below the NHL average.
The good news here is, all told, it's comparatively cheap to root, root, root for the home teams.