Here’s the last of it. It comes back to the financial problems, although I must issue a disclaimer. They talk about salaries going up, and at the time, sitting in that conference room, I didn’t have access to the fact that the Kings’ payroll has dropped significantly since 2004 (although it has raised slightly since 2003). So what follows might seem like something of an incomplete answer. You can be sure this topic won’t just die out though…
I hope everyone found the quotes from this meeting worthwhile…
Question: Going back to the finances for a minute, and the fact that you’re losiing more money than ever… I thought that’s why we went through the lockout, to avoid that.
(Robitaille:) “You look at it from this point of view. Before the lockout, how many teams were above $50 million (in payroll)? I think it was five or so, and there were some in the 60 (million range), or even 70 or 80 with Detroit and the Rangers. Colorado, Dallas, the Flyers. And there were a lot more teams in the 30s. Now, next year, you’re probably going to have 20 teams in the 50s. That’s the biggest difference. The revenues haven’t changed dramatically. The TV revenues haven’t increased. Ticket prices have gone up some. So the revenues haven’t changed but the salaries have gone up. The (salary-cap floor) next year is going to be at 42 (million) next year. You look at a team like Nashville, and I don’t know what they’re going to do to get to 42 (million). For us, we need to adjust our business.”
(Lombardi:) “With what you asked, the whole purpose of the cap was to (make the league balanced), right? Well, what you have now is a two-tier system within the cap. If that thing keeps going up, let’s say to 56 (million), you’ve got a two-market system within the cap. And that’s interesting. There’s this evolution going into the future. I can see it. There’s no way a lot of these teams can go to $56 or $60 million. So where are the Kings? Where are we going to be? Once we have our core, have our team, where are we within that two-tier system?”
Question: There’s no middle class.
(Lombardi:) “That’s what I’m wondering. So now you have the cap, and what’s different, other than that before, the gap was $70 million? But the gap is growing (now). The thing I find interesting about L.A. is, there’s no way in hell we should be like some (small-market) teams. I think that’s what you’re seeing here. How are we going to define our business operation within those two sides?”
Question: That doesn’t sound good though. I’m not asking you guys to explain the league, but it doesn’t sound good.
(Robitaille:) “They’re trying to improve. The league is making strides and I think in the next five years, we’ll see a lot of changes. They’re restructuring their entire business and they’re marketing differently and trying to do different things. They’re going to work on TV, because everyone is asking what they’re going to do with the next TV deal. I think things will change, but it’s going to take time. It’s at least three or four years away, maybe five.”
(McGowan:) “There are some success stories at the league level. They’ve hired some good people and their sponsorships are better.”