PUBLIC SECTOR SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT ISSUES OF THE WEEK
- The Las Vegas NHL expansion club finally has an official team name, but nobody will know what it is until next month. According to Yahoo Sports, team Owner Bill Foley has “decided on a team name,” but “hopes that the team will have an announcement in early-to-mid November.” The final three candidates are the Desert Knights, Silver Knights, and Golden Knights, but the “holdup now has to do with the team’s color scheme and how Foley’s vision will look on a jersey.” “I just want it to reflect kind of the culture of the team and that’s probably why it’s taking longer,” said Foley. “I’m probably the hang-up. Just trying to get it as close to perfect as I can.” The would-be Knights will begin play at the start of the 2017-2018 season at the brand new T-Mobile Arena off The Strip in the heart of Las Vegas.
- The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have signed a colorful new arena naming rights deal. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the facility is set to be renamed PPG Paints Arena for the coming year, replacing Consol Energy as the Pens’ title sponsor. While no financial details have been revealed for the 20-year deal, SportsCorp estimated that the deal “could be worth” $4-$9 million a year. Consol Energy “gave up the naming rights six years into a deal slated to run 21 years.” The company “will remain as a corporate sponsor under a restructured agreement that will run 14 years and cost less money.” Consol recently reported losses in Q1 and Q2, noting that it has struggled “with low natural gas and coal prices” across the industry. “Four or five” other companies approached the Penguins to discuss a potential deal, but PPG Paints was the only one to make a firm offer and serious commitment.
- The Chicago Cubs’ new plaza outside Wrigley Field has a new name: the “Park at Wrigley Field,” according to Crain’s Chicago Business. WME-IMG “has signed a long-term deal with Hickory Street Capital” to obtain naming rights for the plaza. The company will “brand and produce content” for the 50,000-square-foot plaza, which is set to officially open next summer. The naming-rights package “does not include the ballpark but covers the Cubs’ new six-story office tower next to the park, which includes the team’s new headquarters plus restaurants and retail.” Reporter Danny Ecker noted that this deal to give WME-IMG the plaza’s naming rights “stands to be as close to a stadium naming rights partnership” as fans will see at the ballpark. And because the naming rights area is technically outside the ballpark, all financial proceeds from the deal will “not be subject to MLB’s revenue-sharing rules.”
- The Sacramento Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, officially held its first event – a Paul McCartney concert – and team officials were “pleased with the pre-concert traffic and logistics,” according to the Sacramento Bee. The 100% sustainable energy-powered arena welcomed thousands of fans through its electronic “smart turnstiles” ahead of the concert. Fans said that the experience at Golden 1 Center was “worlds apart” from what they became accustomed to at the Kings’ previous facility, Sleep Train Arena. With the so called “Grand Entrance Doors” opened, an event has the ability to “accommodate 15,000 seated in the bowl, with another 5,000 in the plaza with the doors open, watching on large screens and hearing the same music that the people inside are hearing, similar to an amphitheater experience.” Basketball games could potentially be played with the doors open as well, depending on the “on-the-court temperature, humidity, and wind.”
- With the MLB Playoffs in full swing, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is hoping that the league can play its first-ever regular season games in London in 2018, according to the AP. MLB had “hoped to play at Olympic Stadium next season,” possibly with the Yankees and Red Sox. But in July the league said that it “ran out of time.” The NFL has had tremendous success hosting games in London as part of its International Series, which is pushing the MLB to follow suit. If this idea is to become a reality, both league executives and players would need to agree on the follow-through. Manfred addressed this, saying, “It’s an important thing for us to do. I think it’s feasible in terms of facility. That’s always question one, do you have someplace to play? I think we would be popular in London. I think we could sell the games. I think we could make money with the undertaking. So it’s something that we’ll continue to discuss with the players’ association.”
- MLS has seen tremendous growth in the United States over the past few years, but it lags behind other domestic professional sports in one respect: it “is the only major professional sports league in the U.S. whose teams do not fly charter.” According to the L.A. Times, league Commissioner Don Garber continues to “cite competitive balance to explain why it limits teams to four charter flights a year,” an exemption most clubs, including the L.A. Galaxy, reserve for the playoffs. But with more new teams popping up around the U.S. and Canada, MLS teams are being forced to travel more than ever. The Galaxy’s 17 regular-season road games will “require the team to fly more than 38,000 miles” in 2016, “farther than 22 MLB teams traveled – on charter flights – this year.” Galaxy forward Landon Donovan commented, “If we want to be Major League Soccer, not minor league soccer…eventually we have to get there.”
- The Buffalo Bills have signed a five-year agreement to continue holding training camp at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester, according to the Associated Press.
The Bills first made the training camp move to St. John Fisher in 2000. They previously held camp at Fredonia State University which is nearly an hour’s drive south of Buffalo. The switch and now the contract extension aims at expanding the team’s market into a centrally located and more populated region.
- The Los Angeles Rams’ Inglewood stadium will have a role to play in Los Angeles 2024. The Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid is continuing to develop, and that means new venues are entering the mix as potential event sites. According to the Orange County Register, the bid’s organizing committee revealed that the city is planning on using Anaheim’s Honda Center to host the volleyball competition, “Long Beach would be home to six sports,” and Riviera Country Club would host the golf competition. Lake Perris is being discussed as a possible site for rowing and canoe events. Many speculate that the L.A. Rams’ new Inglewood stadium “will also be part of the final bid.” The revised plan “focuses on four Olympic sports parks and emphasizes the proximity to public transportation” and the L.A. and Orange County region’s “wealth of world class facilities.”
- San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has endorsed a controversial ballot measure that would give the San Diego Chargers a $1.1 billion public handout to help pay for a new downtown stadium. Faulconer says he gave his endorsement only after the team agreed to concessions that protect the city, according to the Associated Press. Opponents of the measure that would raise the hotel occupancy tax by four percent, feel it will fail to get the two-thirds vote necessary to pass. The city’s powerful tourism industry is a leading force of opposition to the measure. The Chargers are threatening to join the Rams in their new Inglewood stadium if the measure fails. The Raider push to move to Las Vegas also must go through hotel tax and the tourism industry. Nevada state legislature appointed a special session to consider raising hotel room taxes in the Las Vegas area to help pay for a $1.9 billion NFL stadium that could attract the Oakland Raiders to the city. Tourism officials in Nevada have already recommended $750 million in public money be used toward a stadium.
- Basketball National Champion Villanova University plans on using its $22.6 million donation from an alumnus to renovate its Pavilion, according to the AP. As a result, Villanova will be forced to play a season away from its home court during construction, which is meant to give the old school gym a “contemporary feel.” Suites, concession stands, and other amenities are all expected to be added as part of the renovation. Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright said, “Earliest would be next year. It could be [a] year after that, year after that. But it’s inevitable. And I think inevitable within the next two, three years.” As it currently stands, the Pavilion holds a mere 6,500 spectators. The AP added, “Courtside seats are filled with aging, deep-pocketed alumni instead of passionate students that would create a big-game atmosphere. It is “not a great venue to watch basketball.” Villanova is proving the time-tested equation stands winning championships = new revenues = better venues.