Top Prospects Prepare for NFL Combine Experience
With the NFL Combine just around the corner, top prospects are getting ready to prove their value to executives and scouts and fans are getting ready to enjoy the NFL Combine Experience. According to InsideIndianaBusiness.com, the NFL announced last year that it would keep the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis through 2020, and the city is getting ready to put on the show. With interactive games, access to drills, and autographs, this year’s revamped Combine could generate up to $10 million in economic impact alone for the city. This positive impact is a key reason that the NFL was so willing to hand the event to Indy for five years. The March 2-5 event will be the 31st anniversary of the Combine being held in Indianapolis. Top prospects such as UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, who could be the No. 1 overall pick, stated that he plans on throwing at evaluation. Long-term stability leads to enhanced economic impact for Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Colts. While the draft, Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl continue their national rotations, look for the Combine to solidify its strong roots in Indiana.
NBA and Lakers legend Magic Johnson Named President of Basketball Operations
The Los Angeles Lakers are making big moves, but this time it is not on the court. According to the L.A. Times, the team had one of the “most drastic days in the history of the Lakers” after President Jeanie Buss fired Executive Vice President/Basketball Operations Jim Buss, who is also her brother, General Manager Mitch Kupchak, and Vice President/Public Relations John Black. Going forward, the team will be led by NBA and Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who was named President of Basketball Operations shortly after the front-office reshuffling. Speaking to his reputation as a control freak, Johnson said, “I’m going to make sure I set the strategy and set the tone. This organization is going to be about excellence on and off the court…Everybody will have a clear role.” These moves by Jeanie Buss represent drastic changes to the team’s internal organization, and also reaffirm her power. Short-term turbulence will hopefully lead to long-term gain, at least in Jeanie Buss’ mind. Forbes pegs the Lakers’ value at $8 billion, up 11% from last year, and #2 in the league. Obviously, much room to prosper.
San Diego Hopes to Attract MLS Team by 2020
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, officials unveiled San Diego’s proposed $1 billion-plus “Soccer City” project. The project “would include up to 4,800 homes, more than 3 million square feet of office and retail space, 55 acres of parks and nearly as many parking spaces as currently exist” at the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site, where the Chargers used to play. This is all part of a plan to win an expansion team for the 2020 MLS season; San Diego is one of 12 competing cities. The proponents will now “present their plan to San Diego city voters in the form of a ballot initiative that will require about 72,000 registered voters to become valid.” The City Council will need to approve all this by June if it wants to meet MLS expansion deadlines. Clearly, the key is to maximize the economic feasibility of a multipurpose stadium – using the opportunity to attract other major events and college programs. Also, it will be important to capitalize on the political and civic momentum generated by leaders who want a quick deviation and replacement from the vagabond Chargers.
Chinese Super League World’s Best-Paid Player Offer Not Enough for Manchester United Striker Wayne Rooney
To some people, money isn’t everything. For Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, a move to the Chinese Super League would make him the “world’s best-paid player,” but he is reportedly uninterested in the potential shift. According to Sky Sports, Rooney has offers of up to $934,100 a week to play in China, but he “unlikely to leave.” The two clubs that have serious interest in Rooney are Guangzhou Evergrande, which is managed by Felipe Scolari, and Beijing Guoan, which “finished fifth in the CSL last season.” Chinese Super League clubs are only allowed to have three foreign players in their starting lineups, meaning that clubs are willing to pay hefty sums for select international players. Three clubs “still have a slot available for a foreign player” — Tianjin Quanjian, Jiangsu Suning and Beijing Guoan.” Rooney, who became United’s all-time leading goal scorer earlier this season, is speculated to be at the tail end of his career in Manchester. China — making an incredible economic and social push and attempting to quickly dominate the sport of soccer. Money does not always buy happiness, however.
Hungary’s Withdraws Budapest’s 2024 Olympics Bid
According to Reuters, the Hungarian government formally announced the decision, citing a “lack of political and national unity behind the application that it blamed on the opposition.” Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos had suggested the city “might quit the race” after local opponents of the bid “submitted a quarter of a million signatures in a petition demanding a local referendum in Budapest on the issue.” Now only two “powerhouse” candidates remain: Paris and Los Angeles. Rome was one of the final candidates but elected to withdraw its bid months ago; Hamburg withdrew back in 2015. A formal decision on the host city is set for September. As it currently stands, “bookmakers have Paris as the favorite but rate Los Angeles as a close runner-up.” The choice now comes down to a philosophical one between a city that has proven its ability to host an Olympics with minimal disruption and maximum long-term legacy (Los Angeles), compared to a city boasting a romantic return to Europe and a celebration of economic tradition and history (Paris).
E-sports Arena To be Built in Las Vegas
E-sports have become increasingly popular in recent years, and now they will have their own arena. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Toronto-based Millennial Esports is “set to open a 15,000-square-foot e-sports arena” in Las Vegas. The facility will open with a three-day “Halo” tournament. The arena, which is a first of its kind, “features a 200-seat arena with stadium-style seating and a main room for up to 500 people with a stage, a green room and a VIP room.” Basketball stadiums and other indoor arenas have recently been converted into e-sports stadiums for tournaments, but this move to open a sport-specific facility signifies to increasing interest in the professional gaming world. Audio and visual components “include an LED video wall with theater lighting and sound, plus cinema projectors in the arena.” The facility also “has a concession stand and a merchandise area where fans can purchase tough-to-find video game-related items.” E-sports is now reaching tens of millions of people, and becoming the fastest growing sport on the planet. Cynics who predicted its niche demise are now attempting to hop on an ever-expanding bandwagon.
House Bill 2 Continues to Makes ACC Reluctant to Award Championship Games to NC
With House Bill 2 in place, the ACC is still reluctant to award any championship games to North Carolina. According to ESPN.com, the ACC plans on announcing future conference championship sites in May, and North Carolina remains “in limbo.” The ACC in September “pulled all its conference championship games” from North Carolina for the 2016-2017 season in the wake of HB2’s instatement, just as the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game and moved it to New Orleans. “We won’t be in a situation like we were last year – with September decisions, in terms of our championships going forward…” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. The NCAA removed all championships from North Carolina as well for this year, but it is in the process of evaluating North Carolina’s fit for events between 2018-2022. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper last week said that he “needs House Bill 2 to be repealed by the end of February so the state doesn’t lose out on future NCAA championship events.” After the successful New Orleans All-Star weekend, North Carolina should clearly understand the necessity of political changes to continue to attract all industries (not just sports).
MLB Makes Intentional Walks Automatic As the Future of the Game Discussions Continue with MLBPA
According to the Tampa Bay Times, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to make intentional walks automatic and are discussing several other changes to the game. Despite Commissioner Rob Manfred publicly criticizing the player’s union, talks between both sides are “ongoing.” Among the leading topics of discussion are “putting a two-minute limit on replay reviews” and implementing a 30-second limit for managers to decide whether to challenge calls or not. Players believe that new rule changes to speed up games will “cause so much collateral damage to the sport that the game will become unrecognizable.” “If you put a clock on baseball, you take away the sanctity of the game and the character of it,” said Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. “I understand trying to speed up the game to create more action, but this isn’t football.” Rob Manfred attempts to put his immediate stamp on the future of the game – armed with studies and focus groups featuring preferences for millennials.
Facebook To Live Stream One Game per Week During MLB 2017 Season
Major League Baseball might have found itself a new streaming partner: Facebook. According to Reuters, MLB and the social media site are in talks to “live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports.” Over the past few years, social media platforms have significantly increased their sports streaming involvement, including Twitter’s deal with the NFL. Facebook “pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience” that other social media platforms are currently trying to tap into as well. The two sides are still in preliminary talks and it is unclear which games or what teams would be streamed via Facebook in 2017. If an MLB deal is struck, it would complement Facebook’s live streaming of Liga MX matches, global basketball games, and table tennis. Facebook continues to increase its product line, market reach, and global penetration. Look for more international live stream deals in the years ahead.
L.A. TV Market Fans Might Miss Lakers, Dodgers’ Game Broadcasts Due to Local TV Rights Case
As one of their primary investors turns his attention to the Lakers, Dodgers’ game broadcasts for the fourth consecutive season “could go unseen by a majority of fans” in the L.A. TV market, according to the L.A. Times. Charter Communications confirmed that it “does not anticipate reaching agreements with DirecTV or any other cable or satellite provider to carry the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA channel by the time the regular season starts.” The Times notes Charter “inherited the channel last year in its merger with Time Warner Cable,” which agreed to pay the Dodgers $8.35 billion over 25 years for exclusive local TV rights. In November, the Department of Justice sued AT&T, “alleging its DirecTV subsidiary had violated antitrust law by sharing information about SportsNet LA negotiations with other carriers.” If the case is thrown out — a hearing is set for March 13 — AT&T would “appear to have little incentive to pick up the Dodgers channel.” Wild card: whether new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will support the DOJ in pursuing the suit.