Flyer: How has the move from Vancouver been?
Golub: Were just so excited to be here. Were doing a thousand things at once and running as fast as we can.
Flyer: Youve just unveiled your new season ticket price plan it offers seats cheaper than anywhere in the NBA. Are you trying to get on Memphis good side?
Golub: We are looking at this as a rebirth of the franchise. We are going to be Memphis team and we felt it was not only important but vital to make sure we come out with prices that anybody can feel like they have access to our games. Theres nothing like going to a live NBA game and were convinced that as people experience Grizzlies basketball -- were going to be a fun team to watch with the new faces that we have -- thats going to turn people into die-hard fans very quickly.
Weve come up with a pricing structure that we felt offered the accessibility and affordability to anybody in the region who, for less than a price of a movie, can go to a Memphis Grizzlies game.
Flyer: Is this a one-shot deal or is this a deal unheard of in the NBA, getting people who would never before get into a game?
Golub: This is a philosophy we are going to live with, now and hopefully for a long time. Like most businesses and NBA teams, are price increases possible? Certainly. But what is wonderful about the situation we have now, on every level of the business we are able to create a new foundation. This is going to be Memphis team. Everything we do will lay building blocks for a long term future together. The pricing decision was part of that.
We said that we need to come up with a pricing scheme that lays the foundation for generations of Grizzlies fans in Memphis. So this is a philosophy we are going to keep near and dear for a long time.
Flyer: Does this plan make any of the other NBA owners nervous?
Golub: Its interesting, we [the NBA business offices] are not competitors. Were partners. We have an incredible information exchange among the teams. I was just down in league meetings on Monday with all my counterparts sharing information and there are no secrets here. An idea that the Hawks use, well use if it makes since and vice versa. I think a lot of teams have found that reducing prices is a very advantageous move. Were just very lucky to start with a clean slate and act with the comprehensive approach that we are in terms of pricing.
We work very closely with our counterparts. We hope its good for the sport and good for us. The more people that come to games, the more successful we are. The more people that come to Grizzlies games on the road the more Grizzlies fans well have around the country.
Flyer: Michael Heisley said publicly last year that even if he sold out the GM place, the Grizzlies home in Vancouver, he would not be able to make money. It doesnt seem like he will make too much money with this ticket plan either.
Golub: I cant speak for Mike but I think its a fair characterization that he doesnt want to lose that money again. Whats great here is that were in it for the long term. Our purview and our time frame is in decades, not years, not months, but in decades. Like any sports team in any sport on any level, teams cant compete financially unless they control all the revenues streams from their facilities.
We didnt have that in Vancouver and were not going to going have that in The Pyramid. It will be a challenging financial situation because of that. But we believe if we get the kind of financial support we believe that we can from fans and if we do what we need to do to take care of our customers and give them the service and the entertainment and experience they need, then we feel that when we get to the new arena we will be financially sound.
Flyer: The Memphis Redbirds have changed the sporting landscape in Memphis in terms of how people see what a sports franchise can be. How closely did AutoZone founder Pitt Hyde change the philosophy of the team?
Golub: A few responses to that. What the Redbirds have done and what AutoZone has done has been masterful. We are working very closely with them. We applaud and admire what theyve done. In many ways it has cleared the way for the Grizzlies to come to Memphis.
People saw what good works a sports team can do and what impact a sports facility like Autozone park can have in a downtown area. Its a wonderful model. What we are going to from an arena standpoint is going to complement that, build on that, and enhance what they have down there. Their approach in involving the community looks like our approach has been historically in Vancouver.
One of the wonderful things about sports is that while its a private business, it has an incredibly unique relationship with the community. In our mind, its more than a private business, its a public asset that needs to be nurtured and treated with great care and brought to as many people and in as many forms as possible. So people who cant get to games will be able to listen or watch and kids who cant get to games, maybe theyll meet a player. We take our role as corporate citizen very seriously. We want to make this Memphis team just as the Redbirds made their team Memphis team. If we could achieve what they achieved, we would be very happy.
Flyer: The Grizzlies have their share of supporters. They also have their share of skeptics. Does this organization have an active strategy to bring people over?
Golub: First of all we absolutely respect every persons right to believe in what they believe in. It was a very good, healthy debate. The political process, we think, worked. A lot of peoples hard work and effort went into the successful conclusion of this. We also understand that it has been a long time -- a long struggle -- for Memphis to get a team of its own. We know the history of the several decades of thwarted efforts. We know peoples skepticism.
That doesnt change over night. I think in some respect until some people see their first Grizzlies game live, its not going to hit home for some people. Our belief is to be build the foundation carefully, block by block and slowly -- maybe not so slowly -- win people over.
[NBA tickets can be purchased by calling 888-HOOP or by visiting the Grizzlies Website at www.grizzlies.com.]