Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scouts Off-Ice Notes: March, 1976

Way more detail than you need about the Scouts slowly falling apart:

The season ticket drive to save the Scouts “officially launched (March 1st) by Mayor Charles B. Wheeler, Jr., at a breakfast for business and civic leaders at the Plaza Inn…The turnout…was smaller than expected, but several firms pledged to double their season ticket orders and now solicitations will continue on an individual basis.” –Joe McGuff, 3/2 Star

• “I will agree that from the standpoint of sales, promotions and educating the public to the game the Scouts overall have been less than efficient.” –Joe McGuff, 3/2 Star

• On March 10
th came word that the NHL had done an about face and would loan the Scouts money after all. The league loaned $300,000 and the Scouts ownership group scraped together another $100,000 in order to allow the Scouts to finish the season. “The total appearances of the league are best served by the arrangement,” said NHL president Clarence Campbell, meaning they didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment of a team folding mid-season. (3/10 Times)

• By March 11
th, it was already apparent the ticket drive was a mess. Scouts president Edwin Thompson was under the impression that Henry Bloch, president of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, was in charge of the drive. Bloch was not. It turned out no one was running the ticket drive. Joe McGuff wrote, “…the members of the Scouts organization cannot expect someone else to do all of their work while they watch. The drive will not run itself and since the Scouts have the most to gain from it they had better start worrying about such things as having a chairman.” (3/11 Star)

• Lots of good info in Joe McGuff’s March 23
rd “Sporting Comment:” “Edwin Thompson…has said that the present owners cannot operate beyond April 15 without a season ticket sale of 8,000. Yesterday Mayor Charles B. Wheeler, Jr., called on the National Hockey League to clarify the status of the franchise and made it clear that the business community is not going to make a substantial dollar commitment unless there are assurances of stability in the ownership situation. In brief, Thompson says he cannot continue without a major sale of season tickets, the mayor is saying the tickets cannot be sold for a team that may or may not be here. The ticket drive started slowly and has come to a standstill…The Scouts and the business community are blaming each other for the failure of the drive…it is apparent that if the franchise is to be saved for Kansas City new ownership must be developed…The Scouts still owe the league $4,250,000 for the franchise and when the interest is added the figure exceeds $5 million. They owe the St. Louis Blues $800,000 for territorial rights. The Scouts recently borrowed $300,000 from the league, they are not current on the rent at Kemper Arena and they have other debts…the crowd of 16,219 last Saturday was significant. All tickets were priced at $2 so management did not make a profit from the promotion, but the size of the crowd shows that there is a strong base of hockey interest. If the public has no interest a promoter can give away his product and no one will come.”

• On March 24
th the Times published the below look at Scouts fans.

• March 27th brought the first mention of Denver as a potential landing spot for the Scouts. “We have also been contacted by representatives from Cleveland and Miami, Florida,” said Edwin Thompson. (3/27 Times)

• The NBA Kansas City Kings were continually mentioned as a potential buyer that would keep the team in KC: “Of all the parties involved, only the Kings have made an offer, though the Scouts insist it is not a formal legalized bid. In any case, the Kings reportedly are willing to assume the Scouts’ liabilities, approximately $7 million, as the purchase price.” –Steve Marantz, 3/30

• “Denver must be considered the strongest out-of-town contender. The Denver interest is headed by Carl Scheer, president and general manager of the Denver Nuggets basketball team…The likelihood of the Scouts leaving Kansas City increased dramatically when Scheer entered the picture.” –Steve Marantz, 3/30

• The below columns ran on March 31st following the last Scouts home game the night before. Thompson says the previous report that the Kings had made an offer to assume the Scouts debt was incorrect, and that the Scouts had made an offer to the Kings to sell for $5.5 million but hadn’t heard back. He also says, “What’s happened to us is very simple. Salaries have gone up 180 percent (since first applying for a team in 1971), and instead of averaging 9,000 or 10,000 persons a game we’re averaging 6,000 a game.”

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