Braley Wants to Sell Lions

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squishy35
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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

BC 1988 wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 1:01 pm
SammyGreene wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:56 am Regardless, the new owners are going to have to come in with deep pockets and a helluva a business plan especially with a stadium that offers no additional revenue.
BC Place is a big factor--I'm sure Aquilini would have bought the Lions by now if there was a way to scoop up the venue cheaply (like Rogers did with Skydome). Tom Mayenknecht speculated about that possibility a few years ago.
The current GreeNDP government will never allow such a deal to take place... unfortunately...


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

squishy35 wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 6:07 pm
BC 1988 wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 1:01 pm
SammyGreene wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:56 am Regardless, the new owners are going to have to come in with deep pockets and a helluva a business plan especially with a stadium that offers no additional revenue.
BC Place is a big factor--I'm sure Aquilini would have bought the Lions by now if there was a way to scoop up the venue cheaply (like Rogers did with Skydome). Tom Mayenknecht speculated about that possibility a few years ago.
The current GreeNDP government will never allow such a deal to take place... unfortunately...
No major political party is ideologically opposed to a sports team. Pavco negotiates the lease with the tenant. They can't just give away public resources without a really good reason. Personally, I wouldn't want to see the Aquilinis get such a benefit, but I guess it comes down to negotiations and what makes business sense for Pavco.

BC Place hasn't made sense for the Lions for many years. But it is the only stadium available, so too bad!


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

what would be wrong with the aquilini's owning the stadium?

or would that assume they own the land and can do what they want with it? that's a big problem.

maybe make them own the team/stadium (as is) for a minimum number of years. and supply an alternative stadium later.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

cms22 wrote: Sat Dec 28, 2019 1:49 pm what would be wrong with the aquilini's owning the stadium?

or would that assume they own the land and can do what they want with it? that's a big problem.

maybe make them own the team/stadium (as is) for a minimum number of years. and supply an alternative stadium later.
I may have a faulty memory but it seems to me that in the distant past Braley wanted to do some sort of deal where he managed the stadium.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

If I recall correctly, Braley already tried to buy the stadium or take over management of it several years ago and was turned down.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

A group fronted by Woodall and Moray Keith, both longtime Lions supporters, will form a consortium of local business people similar to the group that bought the Edmonton Oilers in the late 1990s. In the Woodall-Keith plan, 100 shares will be sold at $200,000 a pop, raising $20 million. Eight to 10 million of that will go toward buying the Lions from current owner David Braley. The remaining $10 million or so will be plowed into the team’s operation.

Woodall believes the broad base of local ownership will help energize the Lions. In a purrfect world, the CFL franchise would be sold to one big wallet who’d cover costs the way Braley has covered them since ’97.
I was skeptical when Ed Willes first reported this but not as quite anymore as this has no end in sight. A Braley type deep pocket owner would be ideal but not sure what local businessman is going to step up willing to absorb the initial financial losses with a stadium lease deal that offers no kickbacks.

At least the consortium would be passionate about the team and would use half their money to put into the franchise.

If Braley pulled a Wetenhalls and walked away would the league have accepted this proposal? Pretty sure the answer would be yes.

The Lions problems in this market are a whole lot deeper than the product on the field. The 2016 season was proof of that when the team could not have been more entertaining but attendance remained flat.
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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

We as fans look at attendance and judge the success (or failure) of a football club. Everyone's guilty of it. But there are so many metrics to consider than just bums in seats that should be accounted for when determining the financial health of a franchise that, unfortunately, we will never be privy to. For example:

* Paid attendance vs papering (we seem to lag behind most of the rest of the league here, but by how much, we don't know. How does our walk-up attendance compare to other clubs? How much are we spending versus other clubs to market this team? How many page views does the club's website get?).

* Revenue from BC Place suites (are they paid for, occupied or vacant? By what %?).

* Season ticket base (full season, packs etc. The club is always fairly quiet on this front which is never a good sign).

* Sponsorships (Skulsky used to crow about "corporate partnerships being up" but who cares? It's YOY sponsorship revenue that really matters. Gross volume really means nothing if they're not paying much).

* Licensing, merchandise (while business at BC Place kiosks always seem to be quite brisk at half-time and pre and post-game, we are likely hurt by not having a dedicated team store at BCP or anywhere on the LM for that matter. Also, what kind of numbers does the club's website do for apparel etc? This would be of prime interest to me).

* TV numbers (this might be our best metric. I can never seem to find our local BC Lions viewership data, but national games involving the Leos always seem to draw quite a large number of eyeballs. Local interest in the club can at least be highlighted to potential new owners as a sign of life and low attendance can be somewhat mitigated if people are viewing through other means).


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

For your question regarding a dedicated Team Store David is that the right route to go? The brick and mortar retail business is in steady decline due thanks to the internet, Amazon etc. The Riders have 5 retail outlets; their stadium store plus 2 mall locations in Regina and 2 mall locations in Saskatoon. The Bombers did have a Bomber Store at old CanadInns. Not sure if they do at IGF as unlike Polo Park there would be no other retail outlets nearby. The Esks also operate a Team Store at Commonwealth with regular Monday to Saturday hours. Everybody else I think just relies, like the Lions, on game day stores at the stadium and their own "stores" on their websites.

Even the Riders are not as profitable in recent years as in the past. Their retail outlets come with considerable overhead and I can imagine retail space in Saskatchewan is considerably less expensive than in Vancouver. In 2019 they registered $6.8M in revenue but also $6.4M in expenses for net profit of $400K. 2018 was similar with $6.76M revenue and $6.33M expenses. For 5 outlets that's not much return especially given the rabid Rider market where everybody wants to be dressed head to toe in Rider gear. One would think at least 1 or 2 of those outlets are barely breaking even or would be at the point where any other retail company would close the doors on some locations.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

I agree, brick and mortar stores face their own set of challenges but I am thinking more in terms of a "Lions Den" store at the Terry Fox Plaza entrance to BCP, more or less where the BC Sports Hall Of Fame is right now....getting all those fans filing into the stadium on game days. All teams seem to have one. In fact, I was in Hamilton yesterday and drove right around Tim Hortons Field and they have a nice sized retail presence.

Sure, an off-sight location would be great, I don't think the demand would warrant it (save perhaps somewhere in Surrey). The Whitecaps do have a team store on Water Street in Gastown but I can imagine rents are eating into profits. Every time I walk past it seems pretty dead.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

I think a big difference between a Lions Den with access say from TF Plaza and what Riders, Bombers, Esks and Ticats do is those other teams usually have their stadium team stores literally next door to their team offices to the point they can almost run them with multi-tasking front office staff. Ticats should also benefit from the presence of the CFHOF being at THF. Those teams also tend to practice at the same locations so probably pick up some non game day traffic the Lions wouldn't enjoy due to having all of their operations etc out in Surrey. They'd likely have to staff a BC Place location with 2 people in store for all hours.

It would be interesting to know how those teams do with sales on game days versus non-game days. I'm sure all the teams are always communicating with each other to get numbers, ideas etc and find out what might be working and what might not be. Eskimo numbers a few years ago showed similar profits to the Riders but on approximately $1.2M revenue but only $800K expenses.

When it gets down to game day I'd think BC would do just as well if not better with their 4 or 5 concourse locations as anything outside. As you say business always seems brisk and people can shop quite casually pregame, during the game, halftime or postgame. That as opposed to jamming into a single outside store on level 3 pregame and maybe postgame. Maybe the answer to that is to work a deal with BCSHOF to operate a retail corner in there similar to the way Nevada Bob's retail outlets operate out of Sportchek stores although I believe Sportschek owns the Nevada Bob's brand in Canada.

For now I guess Ric's in Chilliwack is as close to a Lions retail outlet as there is.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

I can't see a fixed retail outlet doing much of anything useful. They have booths in the concourse where you can buy gear during game days so how does a fixed space improve the situation? It is damn hard finding any store that carries a lot of Lion's gear as it is. There just isn't that rabid a demand for it. The reality is that any market is driven by interest. If the Lion's were selling gear in droves, there would be more than enough retailers happy to supply that market and turn a $. The fact that this isn't the case is a symptom of the bigger problem that the Lions have had for decades now; that being a shortage of local interest. Fix that and the rest will follow along nicely. The problem is how to fix??? The cost, the on field product, the hassles associated with a downtown venue and the fact that most folks don't really consider the CFL sexy enough to proclaim fandom and there are a lot of obstacles to not only selling the LIon's, but even casts doubts as to their long term existence. I love the game but I can't help but feel concern for the product long term. It has almost been relegated to a "quaint Canadian thing". There is almost no interest in the league outside of this country, there always seems to be a few franchises limping along from year to year. We have seen teams fold, restart, fold again and the failure of any one always puts the league at critical.

I don't know how to fix it. I would probably put the team closer to where most people live and that isn't the core. I would work to make it less challenging for people to come to the game by car. Transit is nice but frankly, given a choice between the comfort of my own vehicle and a bus or Skytrain, I will take a car if it is any way reasonable. I would develop a better fan experience at the game buy promoting tailgating type experiences and I would strongly consider focusing game days to increase the habit quotient of watching fans. This has already been thought of and I sure don't have the magic bullet so this can all be taken with a grain of salt. Sadly if owning a CFL franchise were all that desirable, there wouldn't be issues finding qualified buyers for this team. They'd be lined up.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

It's kind of hard to create a tailgate experience with the lack of open air parking lots adjacent to the stadium. Having said that they've been doing a pretty good job IMO with the beer garden, music and other entertainment and things for kids all on Terry Fox Plaza. It makes for a really good pregame atmosphere.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

Sir Purrcival wrote: Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:54 pm The fact that this isn't the case is a symptom of the bigger problem that the Lions have had for decades now; that being a shortage of local interest. Fix that and the rest will follow along nicely. The problem is how to fix??? The cost, the on field product, the hassles associated with a downtown venue and the fact that most folks don't really consider the CFL sexy enough to proclaim fandom and there are a lot of obstacles to not only selling the LIon's, but even casts doubts as to their long term existence. I love the game but I can't help but feel concern for the product long term. It has almost been relegated to a "quaint Canadian thing". There is almost no interest in the league outside of this country, there always seems to be a few franchises limping along from year to year. We have seen teams fold, restart, fold again and the failure of any one always puts the league at critical.

I don't know how to fix it. I would probably put the team closer to where most people live and that isn't the core. I would work to make it less challenging for people to come to the game by car. Transit is nice but frankly, given a choice between the comfort of my own vehicle and a bus or Skytrain, I will take a car if it is any way reasonable. I would develop a better fan experience at the game buy promoting tailgating type experiences and I would strongly consider focusing game days to increase the habit quotient of watching fans. This has already been thought of and I sure don't have the magic bullet so this can all be taken with a grain of salt. Sadly if owning a CFL franchise were all that desirable, there wouldn't be issues finding qualified buyers for this team. They'd be lined up.
Turn 55 next month so definitely part of the aging fan base. Getting a pulse of the casual fan's interest in the Lions is a challenge to say the least although David is right in saying the TV numbers have been pretty solid and steady over the years. It's getting their interest level to the point of committing to tickets that's the huge hurdle to overcome.

Football is my favourite sport so easy for me to follow the two pro leagues closely as well as university on both sides of the border. Same way the soccer fanatics follow leagues around the world.
My take on the casual Vancouver sports fan is hockey will always be their first choice. They like football but perhaps not to the level of following 2 leagues closely. Hence the trend in recent years is the Seahawks over the Lions. (Can't count how many times I see a twitter profile in my feed that will list their favourite local team and its the Seahawks not the Lions). Even people I follow involved in other sports such as basketball will randomly tweet about a Seahawks game.
This has come during a great run for Seattle with a star and very likeable quarterback. I walked into 5 Guys in South Surrey near Hy 99 about a month ago on a Sunday around 7 pm and there were 3 separate tables of fans in Seahawks gear that obviously were on their way home from the game.

But we saw the casual fans show up in droves during the 1980s, disappear for much of the 90s then return in solid numbers during the mid-2000s under the Ackles resurgence only to disappear again. Can they be won back again with the ever changing LM demographics only adding to the challenge?


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

Well, if there isn't a chance of winning them back, we might as well close the shutters now and go home because as it stands, this franchise cannot go on like this indefinitely. Braley is either going to sell (best scenario) or pass away. The latter is going to create a huge problem for the Leo's. If that happens, then is the league going to manage this franchise too until a suitable owner is found?

There are 3 things that drive most people's leisure time. It is a variation of the 33% rule. It has to be fun, easy to do and not too expensive. Lose any of those 3 things and you are audience hurting. And frankly, I think the Lions have challenges in all 3.

The frustration with this franchise off and on over the last decade has made in "not so fun". In person attendance can be tedious and uncomfortable. Sitting for 3 hours needs more than a cumulative 5 minutes of excitement to keep people involved and interested and you need some hope that your team is going to perform. Unfortunately, too many times in the last few years, there have been huge nagging doubts on that score coupled with a lack of faith in those actually pulling the strings.

Getting to and from games is not a pleasant experience much of the time. The distance, the traffic, the parking or crowding on transit doesn't add to the vibe. I get the notion that young hip people might want to bleed into the downtown after a game for a night of clubbing or pubbing. Problem is most of them would rather go straight to it and not burn 3 plus hours at a game. Most people simply want to get out and go home at the end of the night. Some have to work, some have kids, some are older folks who enjoy a sporting pastime but none of those things have much to do with downtown which can be challenging just to get out of the parking lot. I have literally spent 30-40 mins getting out of some parking garages on game nights. I am often reminded of the movie line from The Last Crusade where the Knight Templar famously says "He chose poorly".

And lastly, while I think the cost of the actual tickets are reasonable, the add ons can kill. Fuel, parking, drinks, food or transit can add up very quickly. While 2 duckets might set you back a C note, you can easily tack on 20$ for parking. 30$ for food and drinks and so on. Relatively speaking, it doesn't have to be an expensive night but while some might be willing to pony up money that may be a bit scarce for an event, that event has to have the promise of being entertaining and exciting. It isn't something that the CFL generates...at least not in this city. Young people would much rather pay huge dollars to go see a big name concert than modest dollars to see the Lions. The former promises to be an event, a memory of a lifetime. Perhaps it might not be the fairest of comparisons, big name acts might get "tired too" if they performed in the same city 10 times a year. However with limited $$$ to go around for most normal folks, it is easy to see how the Lions on balance, just don't provide enough return on investment to actually make the investment.

Nope, you really have to love this game to go see it in person right now under this scenario and it isn't going to get better it is going to get harder. I know more people who would rather make a day of it and go to a Seahawks game than would go to a Lions game. It is a difficult truth for me that many people would rather cross an international border, deal with the increased cost of the US greenback and spend even longer in transit rather than attend a home grown product that can be very exciting at its best.


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Re: Braley Wants to Sell Lions

I agree with you on a lot of points Sir P, particularly the last one when it comes to the Seahawks. They have become the football club of choice for many in this town and it burns me to no end (which is why I always cheer against them. About time they experience a down cycle to empty out some of the bandwagon).

The problem with the Lions is perception. So much is made of their struggles at the gate that BCP has become an undesirable destination. The media (especially Ed Willes) repeatedly reports on the lack of fans at games. People then read this and think "that's not a place I want to spend my money" and it becomes self-perpetuating. The prospect of a half-empty stadium becomes a deterrent and virtually "hype proof." We need to win and score a lot of points in 2020 to at least generate excitement so the hype is organic and not manufactured. That may at least bring fans back and then work on the casuals. A good marketing/advertising campaign couldn't hurt either (Rhymes With Orange was a disaster).

The paradox (and where I disagree) is the fun part. Despite low numbers, the ones who do attend seem to have a great time. You would think that if so many people are smiling and laughing and dancing and clapping and generally having a great time, they would tell their friends or come back but the numbers are similar each game. I do agree the games need to be about 20-30 minutes shorter in length.

Your parking comment highlighted an issue that I raised with Rick LeLacheur in my meeting with him some time ago. As an urbanite, I can assure you there are dozens of parking options within a 5 block radius of the BCP. Problem is, people from Surrey and Langley head to the biggest and most expensive ones (read: hardest to leave) closest to the stadium. I implored him to research and create a map to show fans their options. Make it easy. I park at Richards and Robson for $15. There are always tons of parking spaces available there. Same for food. Plenty of cheap eats for the budget-conscious along Robson Street. It doesn't have to be an expensive night out. Hell, you can even walk to Costco for a $1.50 hot dog and soft drink!


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