The value of a deal can be as much about marketing as the financials. As recently put forth in an article about smart marketing – no massively successful campaign happens without tension. Them versus us, good versus evil. Case in point, the sale of the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers have been officially and unofficially on the chopping block for over a year, even several months before Hicks walked on the debt in April 2009. Until recently there was only one major contender for the team, Nolan Ryan and his backers. Mr. Ryan is the perfect face to put forward for the Rangers. He had recently rejoined the team as GM, he played for the Rangers and he is just a super popular, well-liked guy in Texas and especially in Dallas.
But the sale of the Rangers failed to really generate much excitement until . . .
Mark Cuban announced his intention to bid.
Mr. Cuban’s announcement lit a fire under fans. All of a sudden it became a question of good versus evil. One radio announcer went so far as to describe the event (the actual auction) as Forces of Good versus Forces of Darkness. You might expect discussion of the sale on Sports radio channels, but this was the teeny-bop music station.
Has a pop station ever broadcast the sale of a sports team in bankruptcy court?
The Rangers’ debtors would have been wise to lure Mr. Cuban in long ago so counter parties could get excited and form bids. If your deal is in a lurch, find an enemy and start the PR campaign.
Rangers are being sold, possibly to Nolan Ryan (no one care about the money backers), Fan interest = Level 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Mark Cuban versus Nolan Ryan for the heart of North Texas Baseball, Fan interest = Level 9.
By comparison, Steinbrenner comes back from the dead to buy the Boston Red Sox, Fan Interest = Riot, total destruction, Level 13.
(Full disclosure, my family is a Red Sox family)