Yankees and Devils and Jets, Oh My
When you hear numbers like $635 million for the Jets (the amount coughed up by Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV last week) and $175 million for the Devils (the amount the newly formed YankeeNets monstrosity is prepared to pay), you know it can only mean one thing: Hold onto your wallets. Inflated purchase prices have to be recouped by the buyers somehow, and the likely shakedown target is John Q. Fan.
If you’re a sports owner looking to boost income, there are only two columns on the ledger sheet worth your attention: those marked “Venue Revenue” and “Media Revenue.” The quickest way to boost the former is to have the public build you a brand-spanking-new facility with enough luxury suites to choke a corporate client. (Building it yourself dirties up that “Expenditures” column too much.) If the polls look good following his State of the City trial balloon last week, figure on Rudy making one last-ditch effort at a West Side stadium before his planned ascension to Washington.
For the YankeeDevilNets, stadium subsidies would be less of a concern, since a combined basketball-hockey arena in Newark could conceivably be built mostly with private money. (Note that “mostly”: The public tab could still run as high as $100 million—plus the inevitable ticket price hikes that a Taj Mahal-on-the-Passaic would bring.) The real gold mine for the combined franchises would come in cable TV money, where the YankeeDevilNets would form a monolithic bloc that could either extort a lucrative contract from Cablevision (which owns both MSG Network and Fox Sports New York) or go out and form its own cable channel—perhaps in alliance with fellow new-monopoly-on-the-block AOL-Time Warner. It’s one case where media competition might not be good for consumers, as cable companies would pass along the increased rights fees to consumers—as the Post‘s Phil Mushnick says, “I’ve never been in a position to root for [Cablevision boss and failed Jets suitor] Chuck Dolan before, but at this point I’d rather have one dictator in town than two.”
Fortunately for our local billionaires, they’ve gotten a boost from the local news media, which have been mostly unconcerned with the effects of the sales on anyone whose surname isn’t Parcells. Last Wednesday, the Daily News ran the headline “Jets Need to Land New Stadium” without any indication of who would be expected to pay for it. Would you believe, Band-Aid pixies?
With the Atlanta area being the South’s fastest-growing migratory destination for immigrants (including John Rocker‘s “Asians, Koreans, and Indians” [sic]), the Braves still face a PR nightmare of Custer proportions. The best thing that’ll come out of this sorry-ass choad’s racist, xenophobic, antigay tirade: Five gets you ten that the Atlanta Braves drop their idiotic Tomahawk Chop in a desperate attempt to put out some cultural sensitivity spin. The Atlanta Native Americans, anyone?
The Passing of a Pioneer
Jockbeat mourns the loss of Robin Romano, one of the first women sportswriters to cover the World Series and NBA playoffs. Romano, an assistant sports editor at The Boston Globe, died of colon cancer last week at the age of 45. She began her journalism career in 1973 as she was attending Northeastern University, where she played both basketball and softball. She started out at the Patroit Ledger, in Quincy, MA, where she broke ground by covering the 1975 Fall Classic and 1976 NBA postseason. Later moving to The Washington Star and then The Dallas Morning News, Romano was an inspirational figure whose love for sports was nurtured by her father, Anthony Romano, a staple at The Salem Evening News for 50 years until his retirement in 1984. She will be missed.
CONTRIBUTORS: NEIL DEMAUSE, JEFF YANG, HOWARD Z. UNGER
SPORTS EDITOR: MILES D. SELIGMAN