July 18th, 2012, 1:43 pm
First of all, listen to the podcast if you haven’t already.
Kevin Kurz has a post about a Q&A session Kevin Compton and Stratton Sclavos (two of the Sharks owners) had over the weekend about the state of the franchise. They revealed some (alleged) information about the Sharks’ financial situation, stating that they lost around $15M last year. In fact, here are the main points of the article as I read them:
- The Sharks owners lost money last year, even through every home game sold out.
- The Sharks consider themselves at about the midpoint of teams in terms of market size and revenues.
- The cap has gone up a lot since the cap was first put in.
- The Sharks owners don’t care about making money, they just want to win.
Reviewed in this easy, albeit jaded format, this could be a blueprint for the PR strategy of any ownership group in the NHL this summer. We lost a lot of money, even though we are doing everything right. We sell out the building, we work hard to ice a competitive team, but our P&L looks like a horror show. But hey, that’s ok, we just want to win. It looks like this is the owners doing what owners have always done when labor negotiations happen, cry poor, but save personal face with their customers by saying it’s all just part of the deal, and they’re fine with it. In this context, the headline (“Should Sharks owners be allowed to profit?”) and the first three points are brilliant in serving those purposes. This makes me want to launch into a whole argument about the nature (and type) of profit the owners are in fact making, but that will have to wait for another day.
Frankly, I have no concrete reason to doubt Mr. Compton’s and Mr. Sclavos’ sincerity on any of this. However, it’s worth mentioning that only statement #3 above is proven. All the others either burnish the owner’s own reputations, or further the NHL’s bargaining position. It think it goes without saying that these points should be taken with a grain of salt. Plenty of the commenters on the article noticed correctly that this loss number is not audited, and not present in any public disclosure statement, because SS&E (Sharks Sports & Entertainment, the entity that owns the Sharks) is not a publicly traded company, and therefore not required to release any such numbers. In fact, during the lockout in 2005, there was quite a row made over the players’ claims that they wanted to see the real financial statements of the teams, and they were not being provided the information requested.
The fact that this conversation took place less than a week after the owners submitted their initial bargaining position is not a coincidence.