Days after the University of Oklahoma softball squad won their fourth Women’s College World Series there, Oklahoma City-based Fields & Futures announced two major partnerships to renovate youth athletic fields and finish what they started.
For the last five years, Fields & Futures has partnered with the Oklahoma City Public School system to renovate 42 school athletic fields, many in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The organization has finished 20 of the fields, and now, with a partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and $1.5 million matching gift and seven-figure marketing plan investment from Delaware Life, it can not only finish the remaining 22 fields, it is developing a blueprint for a much larger footprint. Already, Oklahoma City has seen grades, attendance, and graduation rates improve at the seven schools where fields have already been built. And as Delaware Life President Dan Towriss adds, “Investing in Fields & Futures provides a solid foundation for our company and a great inspiration and motivation for kids to stay in school, graduate, and thrive in life.”
The world’s top-paid athlete has been accused of $16.6 million in tax fraud from 2011-2014.
According to the Financial Times, Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is “coming into conflict with the country’s tax authorities,” as Spanish prosecutors are coming after yet another high-profile soccer player. Ronaldo’s estimated annual pay is around $93 million; the prosecutors after Ronaldo claim that he “sought to hide at least a part of that wealth from the country’s tax authorities.” They also claim that No. 7’s failure to comply with authorities from 2011-2014 was “voluntary” and “conscious.” “The accused made use of a corporate structure created in 2010 to hide from the tax authority income generated in Spain through image rights,” stated the prosecutors. These claims come on the heels of a similar case, in which Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was found guilty of tax fraud by a Spanish court and handed a 21-month suspended jail sentence. Regardless of who actually designed the tax evasion scheme, “the buck stops here” in Athletes, Inc. The bigger an athlete’s brand, the more policing is required to ensure compliance with multinational authorities.
The Australian government has officially backed the country’s bid to land the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
According to ABC, the government will financially support Football Federation Australia (FFA) to build a successful bid proposal. The federal government will “provide initial funding worth $753,900, with a further $3 million to be made available should it be satisfied the bid has a chance to be successful.” This carefully crafted, two-tier financing system comes as a completely contradictory approach to the one the Australian government took to backing “Australia’s disastrous bid for the 2022 World Cup, for which FFA received A$45.6 million in federal funding.” Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra are speculated to be the planned host cities for the 24-team tournament. The 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada proved so successful, monetarily and image-wise, that governing bodies everywhere now believe that they can profit from hosting the competition.
South Korea is trying to formulate a joint bid with neighboring Southeast Asian countries to attract the 2030 FIFA World Cup, but is expected to face early “road blocks” in doing so.
According to Yonhap, China reportedly wants to stage the World Cup on its own, Japan “has been lukewarm to the joint bid proposal,” and communist North Korea brings a complex set of its own challenges to the table in trying to formulate a partnership for a global soccer tournament. FIFA President Gianni Infantino met with South Korea President Moon Jae-in and Korea FA President Ching Mong-gyu to discuss the initial stages of creating a joint bid for the Southeast Asian region. While there is still plenty of time before the bid will be awarded, the joint bid between Uruguay and Argentina will undoubtedly come in as the favorite to land the 2030 World Cup, which will “mark the centenary of the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.” It looks like the 2026 joint North American World Cup bid shared by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will prevail – and with the cost of hosting such mega-events, joint bids among neighbors are becoming the norm.
The Portland Marathon is facing a serious threat of being canceled after city officials denied a race permit.
According to Willamette Week, city officials cited a strain on police overtime hours as their primary reason for denying the permit. The Portland Marathon has been run for 45 straight years now, but the race set for October 8 appears to be coming to an end this time around. The race is organized by a nonprofit, Portland Marathon Inc. Last year, about “6,000 people ran in the race, and another 3,000 people ran in the half-marathon.” Marathon officials released a statement on the race’s Twitter page, saying, “We’re working with the City of Portland to preserve our traditional, iconic 20-year course and most importantly provide a safe event for all.” The denial of a permit comes as the tipping point in the Portland Police Bureau’s six-month warning to race organizers that the route needs to change to reduce police officer overtime. Unfortunately, big sporting events are terrorist targets now, so adequate public safety and security needs to be firmly in place regardless of additional costs.
The 20-year naming rights deal between the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Insurance is coming to an end after the 2018 season.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the deal will not be extended beyond next year, drawing an end to a partnership that was formulated back in 1999 when the ballpark first opened. The Mariners noted that they have already started “preliminary talks” with potential new partners for a naming rights deal – no partners have been identified yet. Safeco Insurance President Tyler Asher sent an email to all company employees announcing the decision to “give up the naming rights, citing the desire to spread its investment across marketing partners and key growth programs.” Consulting firm Bonham/Wills and Associates President & CEO Thomas Wills yesterday said that he “believes the Mariners’ search for a new partner will be a quiet one that results in a long, lucrative deal, possibly from a local firm.” The naming rights footrace between the Mariners and newly-announced Key Arena redevelopers is officially on. Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Boeing, and other big regional companies take notice – you’re about to be seriously courted.
The snowboarders competing in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics will have a great tune-up event about one month before they compete in South Korea.
According to the Aspen Daily News, Snowmass in Aspen will host a U.S. Grand Prix snowboarding event just prior to the start of the Olympics this coming winter. On the other side of the coin, skiers competing in PyeongChang may not have the same luxury. The U.S. Ski Association has not revealed its plans for its own U.S. Grand Prix around the same time as the snowboarding event. The 2016-2017 U.S. Grand Prix tour season featured events at Copper Mountain, Colorado; Solitude Mountain, Utah; and Mammoth Mountain, California. The possibility of a skiing U.S. Grand Prix was discussed at the bi-monthly meeting of the Snowmass Marketing, Group Sales, and Events board, but an official decision on giving the event the green light is still pending. The Grand Prix tour is a smart product offering. Piggybacking on the Winter Olympics is even smarter.
A week after Oak View Group was selected to renovate KeyArena in Seattle, a group lead by Chris Hansen proposed financing details for a new arena in Sodo.
According to SeattlePi.com, Hansen’s proposal would be completely privately financed and outlines its superiority to a KeyArena renovation in regard to “parking and transportation” while the Sodo plan also “asks for no tax revenue from the city following completion of construction.” The proposal also “claimed they were years ahead of any KeyArena development after years of effort.” Any additional funds needed to build the arena would be financed by J.P Morgan, as explained in a financing letter attached to the proposal. Doubts as to the viability of a Sodo project have remained ever since the departure of Los Angeles Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer, but the confirmation of J.P. Morgan’s presence in the deal silences those. Hansen’s proposed arena would cost more than $500 million. And Ballmer is now focused on a new arena for the Clippers in Inglewood, CA, adjacent to the new Rams-Chargers stadium under construction there.
The Golden State Warriors have not yet decided if they will visit the White House following their NBA Finals triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to the S.F. Chronicle, pending an invitation, the Warriors are unsure what they will do. The team issued a public statement denying any claims that the players “unanimously voted to boycott a visit to the White House,” which has become tradition for the annual NBA champions. Despite that, there is “reason to believe at least some of the players – many of whom publicly have derided President Trump’s administration – wouldn’t…accept an invitation.” Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob responded to the question as to whether or not his team will make the visit very bluntly. “I can’t believe we’re getting this question already,” said Lacob. “That’s something we’ll worry about at the time. That’s a long time from now.” Two major factors favor the Warriors NOT making the trip: President Trump isn’t a basketball guy, and basketball isn’t a President Trump guy.
Despite not going No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft, high school pitcher Hunter Greene is still being heralded as the future of baseball.
According to SportsBusiness Journal, Greene, a product of MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California, was drafted second by the Cincinnati Reds, making him the “highest draft pick of any alumnus from that program.” His fastball tops out at 102 MPH, prompting him to call himself a “monster” at that position; Greene also plays shortstop, and the Reds have not ruled out the possibility of him becoming a two-way MLB player. Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke of Greene coming from the Urban Youth Academy, “This is huge for our game…We hope these programs will continue to produce players like Hunter.” Greene has also participated in several events for the league’s ongoing Play Ball initiative, and said he is “embracing a role of helping spur youth participation in baseball, particularly among African-Americans.” As we saw in the wake of last week’s tragic congressional baseball game shooting, baseball still firmly remains America’s pastime, in spirit if not in actual ticket sales and TV ratings. And diversity, as Greene represents, remains a baseball cornerstone.