Eric Woolworth Press Conference

NBAE
MIAMI, June 15 - Opening Statement:

This is a very exciting time for us. I know all of you want to know about the business aspect of acquiring Shaquille O’Neal, but it is a little premature to answer your questions because the trade is really only 24 hours old. It has been very exciting and great business, but I’ve never really publicly talked about big numbers. Things are definitely looking up and really exciting, we were having a good summer anyway. This is the best sales summer we have had since I’ve been with the organization for 10 years. This is just bringing us to a whole new level. The sales are really high, sales people are extremely happy, the phone is ringing and we are having a lot of fun.

Q & A with Eric Woolworth

Do you have any idea where you were at before acquiring Shaquille in terms of tickets?
We know both sides of the proverbial point. In the late 90’s we constantly were in the top 10 in the league, then after our superstar player was struck by tragedy the team took a step back, we really struggled with our attendance. Last year we had a little resurgence, particularly at the end of the year. I would say that little resurgence we had last year will be taken to the next level this year.

On a scale of one to 10, how big is this?
A twelve.

Do you have a cap on season tickets?
The league rule is 300 tickets available on game day sales. And that is the cap.

Are you at that point now?
No. Actually contrary to published reports, we still have good tickets to sell in the lower and upper bowl. They are moving quickly, but we still have them.

How good are they?
In the upper bowl you can still get great sideline seats. In the lower bowl you are now behind the basket, which are by the way great seats in this arena.

Because of the arrival of Shaquille, are ticket prices going to change?
We are not raising our season ticket prices, they have been published since February when we did our residuals and we are not going to go back and raise those ticket prices. We have not yet published our individual game prices, the rates were going to go up a bit anyway.

What has the last 24 hours been like for this organization?
It has actually been more than 24 hours. The phones starting really ringing at the end of last week with all the rumors. The sales floor has worked all weekend long. The sales force has really been here 24 hours over the last several days.

How has the buzz been since the playoffs last season till now?
During the playoffs it was great, better than it has been for a while.

What kind of Shaq merchandise is coming out?
As of last night, Shaq jerseys were available on our web site. In the first two hours we sold 400.

How much are they?
55 dollars.

Are the mini-plans still available?
At the moment we are just selling season tickets.

How do you make money off of the Shaq merchandise?
The way the merchandise works is that if we sell it in our building, the revenue is ours. If we sell outside the building, the revenue is shared with the other 29 teams in the NBA.

What about the concession stands and parking?
The more people that are in the building, the more concession and parking revenue there will be.

Have there been any cancellations because of the trade?
No.

What was your reaction to Shaq?
My reaction was, um really? It is still hard to say that Shaquille O’Neal is a member of the Miami HEAT. It is incredibly exciting.

What are you doing with the ticket scalpers trying to buy large quantities of tickets, and what have you done with that?
We have limited it to 20 season tickets per buyer, because we have had buyers asking for 400 tickets in a package.

Are there plans to open the upper balcony seats for every game?
If the demand is there, then the balconies will be open.

Could you just sum up how things are going to be for the average Joe?
I think that everyone is excited. This is a huge thing, not just for us but for the town, Shaquille O’Neal is a force. He is a sports and entertainment force.

The parking fluctuates for premier games, do you have any influence on that?
No, we only have 1,000 spaces and that is all we have.

How is the national TV coverage going to change?
The schedule is coming out the first week of August and until then we will not know. I think that we will be on national television more this year than we were last year.

How do you think celebrity row will change?
We have less seats available for the celebrities, I don’t know what it will look like. Celebrity row has always been a hit down here.

When will the jerseys be available besides on your website?
They will not be available in Miami until mid September.

What is the sell out number now with the top seats being uncovered?
19,600.

Can you sell standing room?
Yes, the highest number we have had in the arena is 20,286. It seats 19,600 with the balconies open and 16,500 with them closed.