Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pitino Pulls Fast Break from Boston Celtics' Fiscal Cellar

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pitino Pulls Fast Break from Boston Celtics' Fiscal Cellar

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics hired Rick Pitino to pull the team out of the cellar and eventually bring new championships to the Fleet Center. And although the team will not make it to the playoffs this season, an early look at the Celtics' finances shows he has produced a turnaround.

By a few key indicators -- attendance, the sale of seasons tickets and television ratings -- it is clear that Pitino and his team stanched the bleeding. The patient, the publicly traded Boston Celtics LP, is feeling better.

"Rick Pitino's impact has been absolutely incredible," said Stuart Layne, the Celtics executive vice president for marketing and sales. "He's taken charge. He's reawakened fan enthusiasm in the Celtics and it's beginning to show in every piece of business that we do." While the precise picture of the Celtic's financial performance will not officially be reported until September, it is clear that while he was acquired at considerable cost -- $60 million to $70 million over 10 years -- Pitino has already revved up the revenue. "When we signed Rick, certainly, a lot of people said, `What are you doing?'" said Richard Pond, the Celtics' chief financial officer. "But we took a very hard look at it and from a business perspective. We considered a lot of factors. "We said, `What are the possible increases in attendance?' `What's the possible impact on seasons ticket sales?'" explained Pond. "It really wasn't just a matter of seeing Rick and enjoying what he has done everywhere he has coached and saying, `Let's get him!' It was very much a business decision, and it was given just that sort of evaluation. And I think we are seeing that it is going to work out." Pitino, who speaks frequently before Fortune 500 corporations, has clearly been a boost for the franchise. * Average game attendance has increased by 13.6 percent this year, from 16,196 to 18,400, according to Layne. …

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