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nhlvegas10 TO WATCH WEEK 10/17/16

PUBLIC SECTOR SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT ISSUES OF THE WEEK

 

  1. The Las Vegas Raiders are looking more likely. On Monday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will sign into law an “increase in Clark County’s hotel room tax to help finance a 65,000-seat domed stadium, clearing the path” for the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A supermajority of Nevada lawmakers passed the bill on Friday, which “includes a separate hotel room tax increase to help fund” $1.4 billion in Las Vegas Convention Center improvements and a domed stadium for the Raiders. The bill will boost the room tax rate by 0.88% to finance $750 million in “general obligation bonds over 30 years.” A separate provision will add another 0.5% “increase to fund” $400 million of the convention center upgrade. To justify this tax hike, bill proponents pointed to the nearly $620 million in “annual economic activity the stadium is projected to generate, along with thousands of jobs it’s expected to create.”
  1. The NHL is starting its new season without some of its star players, and concussions are to blame. The league and Commissioner Gary Bettman have been scrutinized as of late for their concussion protocols in games and practices. According to TSN.ca, four Democratic members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce have asked Bettman about the league’s specific concussion rules, including the “average length of time a player diagnosed with a concussion is benched before returning to play, and how concussed players are monitored over time.” The politicians wrote a direct letter to Bettman and asked for a response by October 24 answering all of their questions. Relatedly, Pittsburgh Penguins standout Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion just before the start of the season, ruling him out indefinitely. Last time Crosby was concussed, he spent months off the ice, which could be the case again now, affecting local ratings and national programming decisions.
  1. Donald Trump’s past disparaging comments about women may also soon affect the bottom line at golf courses he owns. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said that the LPGA Tour “will back golf authorities no matter what decision they make” about hosting the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at a Donald Trump-owned course amid a “storm over sexually aggressive comments” from the Republican Presidential nominee, according to Reuters. The USGA is “facing calls to move the event” from Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. Whan said, “In a strange way, I’m lucky that the LPGA has no direct dealing with Donald Trump or Donald Trump properties….All I’ve said to the USGA is this, ‘You have long since proven you support women’s golf so if you tell us this is the right place to play then we’re right there with you.’” The European Tour’s R&A is likewise facing pressure to remove the Trump-owned Turnberry resort in Scotland from the Open Championship rotation.
  1. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred finally placed a “vague timeframe” for a new ballpark in Oakland for the A’s, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. While the Raiders are largely looking to leave the Bay Area, the Athletics are trying to find a new home within the area. The search for a new stadium began 11 years ago, but now Manfred hopes to have a plan within a year. “I hope in the next year we will have a good idea about how the project’s going to proceed,” said Manfred. “We will stay engaged with the A’s. We will not have somebody here full-time on the ground. The A’s project is a project that will involve a very substantial commitment from local ownership.” As it currently stands, the team’s first choice is to rebuild a stadium on the Coliseum site, but is open to searching elsewhere in the region.
  1. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests garnered national attention weeks ago when he was a backup, but now, as the 49ers’ starter, his protests will be front and center. According to USA Today, it is “one thing taking a stand, or a knee in this case, as a backup.” It is “quite another to do so as one of only 32 men handed the steering wheel of an NFL franchise and its fan base’s hopes and dreams each weekend.” Quarterbacks have always grabbed the spotlight, even when it comes to off-field issues. New England QB Tom Brady’s four-game suspension to start the season made international headlines, and it had nothing to do with his on-field performance. Now, as the point man for the 49ers, Kaepernick’s protests, whether speaking out during a press conference or kneeling during the National Anthem, will be echoed louder across the country.
  1. Rutgers University is receiving more money from the Big 10 than it would if it was still in the AAC, but is it worth it? Since joining the league in 2014, the university has struggled to keep up with the quality of Big 10 football on the field, winning only four Big 10 games in its first two years competing in the conference – lowlighted by its 78-0 loss to Michigan the other week – which begs the question whether or not it truly deserves to be in the Big 10. As it currently stands, Rutgers is earning about $10 million in annual conference revenue. By contrast, had RU stayed in the AAC, it would “claim just a few million dollars a year in conference revenue,” according to the N.Y. Times. Despite the financial gains, Rutgers is consistently being trounced on the field, which has to be demoralizing for their fans and players alike.
  1. Northwestern University’s players are back in the spotlight for protesting the student athlete experience. In 2014, the NU football team attempted to form a union, which was subsequently rejected, but now the National Labor Relations Board has declared that the university “must eliminate ‘unlawful’ rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves,” according to ESPN.com. Under the new ruling, players are now “freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.” This comes as a big win for Northwestern and the other 16 private FBS schools, but public universities will not have to adopt this ruling. Northwestern once “barred players from talking to any media not approved by the school,” but it is “no longer allowed to do so,” and the players at this elite university have finally done something to successfully combat the institution and its student-athlete policies.
  1. Brexit is going to affect more than just the British and European economies, as Premier League academies are already preparing for the backlash. According to the London Independent, “life after Brexit” is going to look a lot different for EPL academies, which have historically been allowed to sign 16-year-olds from Europe under FIFA’s Article 19. Had this article not been in place, the league’s top clubs would not be allowed to sign a player until he turns 18 – which is what they are all preparing for now. It is often advantageous for elite academies to sign ripe talent at the tender age of 16 and invest in the player until he is mature enough to compete at the top level. Many of England’s top academies have focused on that marketplace over the last 10 years, although 85% of 16 to 18-year-olds in Premier League academies are British. Going forward, European soccer’s competitive balance should level out if Brexit-caused restrictions prove as tough as many expect.
  1. Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios embarrassed the ATP after he appeared to tank a match in the Shanghai Masters, resulting in a $16,500 fine. According to the London Times, Kyrgios put in “minimal effort” during his match against world No. 110 Mischa Zverev, barely exerting himself on his serves and blatantly not trying to return Zverev’s serves. The umpire told Kyrgios during the game, “Nick, you can’t play like that, okay?” Not only did Kyrgios ask the umpire to “call time so I can finish this match and go home,” he got in an argument with a spectator toward the end of the match. Kyrgios further fanned the fire in his post-match interview, saying, “I don’t owe [the fans] anything. It’s my choice. If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave…You want to buy a ticket? Come watch me. You know I’m unpredictable. It’s your choice. I don’t owe you anything. Doesn’t affect how I sleep at night.” If the ATP wanted a bad boy headline magnet, they’ve got one now.
  2. The Arena Football League may soon be coming to an end after both the Orlando Predators and Jacksonville Sharks announced departures. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Predators are suspending operations, while the Sharks are electing to join another indoor football league. The Predators in a statement said their decision was “due to the reduced number of teams remaining” in the AFL, as well as “pending disagreements with the League.” Season-ticket holders will receive full refunds. The team had unparalleled success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when it made an AFL record 19-straight postseason appearances and drew an “average attendance of 15,638, a team record, in 1995.” Sharks Owner Jeff Bouchy said, “Now was the right time to move the Sharks into an exciting new league that will become the premier league in arena/indo