10 to Watch Week 7/21/17

While the U.S. Women’s Open finished strong, the women’s Major at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey was nonetheless colored by the dubious benefit of being attended by course owner Donald Trump.

The positives: South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park won the event two strokes ahead of amateur sensation Hye-Jin Choi, and Trump became the first-ever sitting U.S. president to attend the national women’s open event. The negatives: After multiple protests throughout the weekend, security detail distractions, and a record media pool seemingly more interested in the President’s disregard of women’s rights than the golf, the overall experience likely gave pause to organizers of the 2019 Scottish Open – which the Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen is thought to be a shoe-in to host – and the R&A, organizers of the Open Championship, this week at Royal Birkdale and likely at the Trump-owned Turnberry in 2022. The Open Championship, whose 2017 purse will reach a record $10.25 million ($1.845 million for the champion), will likely return to St. Andrews in 2021 for its 150th anniversary. Even though it’s highly unlikely that Trump will still be President in 2022, the negatives of the Trump association far outweigh the positives of keeping to the Open’s storied rotation.

NFL training camps welcome rookies starting this week, and football watchers get their best-guess annual peek into the guts of NFL finances, courtesy of the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers, the NFL’s only publicly-held team (thus required to report financials), posted record revenue of $441.4 million, up 8%. That was driven by growth in national TV money. Local revenue also rose 6.1% to $197.4 million, due in part to strong sponsorship and digital revenue growth. According to SportsBusiness Journal, $27.1 million of reported income is from the anticipated relocation fees of the Rams’ and Chargers’ move to L.A., as well as the Raiders, who plan to be in Las Vegas by 2020. The total amount of relocation fees paid by the three teams comes to more than $1.5 billion. The $27.1 million figure is the real-time value of the future fees, which will not begin to be actually paid for three years. Bloomberg News also noted the NFL distributed a record $7.8 billion to its 32 teams in 2016, a jump of almost 10% that “reflects the league’s increasingly rich TV deals.” The NFL continues to be sports’ gold standard: as other leagues’ TV deals erode, the NFL’s only get stronger.

For the first time in company history, ticket sales site StubHub has all 30 MLB clubs signed with it.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, StubHub most recently reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox for the club to “opt back into the ticket resale marketplace’s league-level partnership with MLBAM.” The Red Sox were not included in the deal before because they elected to opt out and “create Red Sox Replay in partnership with MLBAM.” Now that the team is on board, the two ticket resale offerings will exist simultaneously for the Red Sox. Reaching an agreement took a great deal of compromise on both sides, but StubHub executives are excited about having all MLB teams signed. “We were both willing and eager to do what’s right for the fans, to give them choice, and that’s our focus right now,” said StubHub North America GM Perkins Miller. MLBAM and StubHub are currently in talks regarding an extension of the five-year partnership expiring after this season. In the end, the goal for any sports team/ticket vendor partnership should be to make it as easy as possible for season ticket holders to resell the games they can’t attend.

In what is set to be one of the “biggest projects in the facility’s history,” Richmond’s NASCAR venue is planning to receive a major facelift.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the venue will spend $30 million to “improve the fan experience with a modernized infield.” Specifics include a new viewing area for fans to watch the teams work on their cars in the garages and then another viewing area designated for post-race inspections. The renovation will be completely funded with private money, and incite some excitement that will hopefully start filling the stands back up after over 10 years of declining attendance numbers. The entire renovation process is expected to be finished in time for the track’s Monster Energy NASCAR race in fall 2018. On top of these improvements, the venue’s name will be shortened from “Richmond International Raceway” to just “Richmond Raceway.” From Daytona to Phoenix to Richmond, International Speedway Corp., owner of NASCAR’s premier facilities, has literally been paving the way to racing’s future.

The English Premier League truly is in a league above the rest.

According to the Guardian, Deloitte’s annual review of international soccer finances has found the EPL earned “€2B more collectively than those in Europe’s second-richest league, the Bundesliga, in 2015-2016.” On top of earning collectively more than teams in any other league, total earning for EPL clubs are expected to continue to grow going forward thanks to lucrative TV deals. This past season marked the first year in the league’s new TV contract, which is set to run from 2016-2019. The size and scope of the league’s domestic and international TV rights sales, $3.2 billion per season, $9.6 billion in total over three years, “is approximately double that of the Bundesliga’s own improved deals, which are expected to pay around $1.6 billion annually to the clubs in Germany’s top two divisions.” While this past season’s financials have not yet been published by Deloitte, ancillary data indicate they continue to soar.

The Milwaukee Bucks are looking to capitalize on ticket sales with their new facility opening for the 2018-2019 season.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Bucks set a goal of reaching 10,000 full season-ticket sales, with another 16,000 full-season equivalents to complement those. The move to release ticket sales a year and a half in advance of the facility opening for action will hopefully get potential season ticket buyers eager and excited for the state-of-the-art arena. This coming season, the Bucks’ current home, the BMO Harris Bradley Center, is expected to start with about 7,100 full season-tickets, “with full season equivalents of about 9,000.” But with that lofty goal also comes price hikes that have startled some fans. One season-ticket holding group has “two seats in section 209 in the Bradley Center, a lower level corner, at $1,696 each.” The “same seat at the new arena is $2,757, a 63% increase.” The team hopes fans will be willing to pay more for such a nice facility – especially in a market with scant winter consumer competition.

The International Olympic Committee has begun to ramp up its talks with Los Angeles and Paris after its decision to simultaneously award the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics to the two cities.

A decision as to which city will host which Games will not be announced until September, but negotiations have started because each city is certain that it will land one of the two Olympics. With Los Angeles guaranteed to host an Olympics, the year the city is awarded will mark the first Summer Games in the United States since 1996. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo both met with IOC President Thomas Bach in Lausanne, Switzerland, to pitch their respective bids. The three parties – L.A., Paris, and the IOC – will have to negotiate which city will host the first Games and which the latter. Garcetti noted that he prefers the 2024 Olympics, but he will accept either.

The San Francisco 49ers owe Santa Clara over $2 million after being audited.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city-order audit revealed costs owes to the city from the past three years; the team “sharply disputes” these findings. Levi’s Stadium is only a few years old, so the team owes nearly seven figures worth of public safety costs that stemmed from construction. Approximately $894,000 of the construction fund was used during the opening year for public safety-related costs, yet that number was not “included in the budget approved by the city-run Stadium Authority.” On top of that is another $719,000 that the team owes the city to cover “revenue that the city lost by allowing the 49ers to park cars on a city-owned golf course during games and other events.” The most controversial figure is $488,000 worth of expenses for which the city forgot to bill the 49ers at all. You’d think in the heart of Silicon Valley, someone in the city would have an up to date version of QuickBooks or other accounting software. Apparently not.

In its first few years of existence, the College Football Playoff has been considered a massive success, causing cities to fight for the right to host the semifinals and championship game.

According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock confirmed that his organization will host future sites for the playoff in early 2018 while also noting that the field of four teams will not be expanded. This coming year will be the fourth year under the current format; Hancock “reminded everyone there is a 12-year contract in place for a four-team playoff.” In terms of future sites, Hancock stressed the importance of diversifying the geographic location of playoff sites. Hancock, speaking at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, noted that the first six CFP title games “will have been played in six different states.” While trying to avoid lobbying for a particular region or city, Hancock said “bringing the game to other parts of the country is a priority.” In this instance, spreading the wealth is key – even if it means locating the CFP Championship Game in a regional highly unlikely to host a championship contender.

In their first season with MLS, Atlanta United FC is leading the league in attendance.

According to the AP, Atlanta United averaged 46,482 fans through eight homes games through mid-July. That marker is just under 4,000 better than the second-ranking club, the Seattle Sounders, who sit at 42,628. These two clubs are in a category above the rest of MLS, with the third-place club, Toronto FC, averaging 26,765 fans per game. Atlanta United has played its inaugural season’s home games at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium while Mercedes-Benz Stadium is still being built. President Darren Eales has already said that the team has discussed opening Mercedes-Benz Stadium up to its 75,000 capacity for “select games if the demand is there.” The number of seats that will be available next year at Mercedes-Benz Stadium has not yet been confirmed, but the upper deck will initially not be open for seating. Sound strategy: start smaller, then expand. In MLS and elsewhere.

 

 

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