10 to Watch Week of 08/14/17

The Oakland A’s are in serious talks to find a new ballpark site, and one of the three candidate sites just picked up a big piece of support.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s just earned the support from the chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, which controls the 13-acre site “between Laney College and Interstate 880.” The site is very appealing to team executives because of its views of Lake Merritt, “proximity to BART and just enough land to create the vibrant, urban ballpark village” that team President Dave Kaval envisions accompanying a new stadium in the Bay Area. In order to build a stadium at this site, the Peralta Community College District would need to be persuaded to sell or lease the piece of land, as well as “uproot its district offices.” The team expected to face more opposition from Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, but the chancellor is more in favor of the plan now that he knows the campus would not have to move. The A’s have been looking for a new site for months now that the Raiders are officially moving to Vegas. Finally, some promising news for a club that has been struggling as of late.

 

It’s not every day that a professional sporting event is playing in an intimate, historic setting.

According to the Buffalo Agency, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates will square off at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and will be labeled as the “Little League Classic.” BrightView, MLB’s sports turf consultant, employed Sports Tuft Managers Association (STMA) earlier this year to renovate the field at BB&T Ballpark. In total, 4,500 tons of sand and root-zone material were laid out to prepare the natural grass surface; the teams also “removed 1.5 feet of physical mass, constructed the playing surface and set infield and outfield sod the week of May 30.” The ballpark’s renovations had to meet MLB specifications, while also suiting the needs and likes of the Williamsport Crosscutters, the inhabiting team. It’s great to see professional sports being played on a smaller stage sometimes, giving fans a more intimate look at our national pastime.

The New England Patriots are flying in a class of their own, both on and off the field.

According to ESPN.com, the Patriots have become the first NFL team to buy their own plane to fly to games. But the defending Super Bowl champions not only bought one Boeing 767, they bought two. The Pats now boast two wide-body jets and “retrofitted them with all first-class seats, some of which recline completely.” Team officials denied commenting on this purchase, declining to say whether the planes are new or not. Depending on “miles flown and condition,” a Boeing 767 can cost anywhere between $5 million and $65 million, while a new jet could cost up to $200 million. NFL teams only play 10 road games a year typically – two preseason, eight regular season – so franchises have not necessarily had the incentive to invest in planes. When you win Super Bowls at the rate that the Patriots do, buying your own 767’s to fly to games is a luxury that Robert Kraft and Co. can afford.

University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk just celebrated his one-year anniversary of the job in grand fashion.

According to The Rolla Daily News, the Mizzou athletic department has been experiencing record donations in the short time that Sterk has been at the helm. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Mizzou brought in $50.7 million for the Tiger Scholarship Fund, which “more than doubled the amount raised in the previous fiscal year.” The boost in donations work well with Sterk’s plan to renovate the south end zone, which has an estimated price tag of $96.7 million. One big hurdle for Sterk is still to turn around the success of the men’s football and basketball teams though – the most profitable NCAA sports. Those two teams “had a combined winning percentage of 0.273.” On the other hand, Sterk noted that Mizzou’s “nonrevenue sports” helped the university finish 33rd in the Director’s Cup, the highest spot ever achieved. The numbers came back good for Sterk, but if his football and basketball programs do not start performing on the court, the funding could stop before he knows it.

The Seattle Sounders of the MLS have teamed up with WME-IMG to help them land a new naming rights partner.

According to SoundersFC.com, the club is looking to find a new partner for an “assets package” that includes putting the company’s name on the front of their jersey, match day pitch and training facility. The team currently has a deal in place with Washington-based Xbox, though that engagement is set to expire at the end of the 2018 MLS season. The club hired WME-IMG because of the company’s past success in helping its clients land lucrative jersey sponsorship deals – most notably the new jersey patch deals in the NBA. WME-IMG “helped lead naming rights deals for the Boston Celtics,” which resulted in a deal with General Electric for $7 million per year. SportsBusiness Daily noted that “the package valuation could be in the eight-figure range,” further stating that most clubs “generate $3-to-$4 million per year on jersey sponsorship deals.” This strategic partnership could pave the way for other franchises to engage in such talks with companies like WME-IMG if their “assets package” turns out to be as lucrative as the Sounders hope it will be.

 Becoming the first Major League Soccer team to employ an official team tattooist, the Philadelphia Union have a new CTO.

According to Philly.com, the team’s CTO – Chief Tattoo Officer – is Jay Cunliffe, the owner of Aston’s Bonedaddys Tattoo. You might think this is some big joke for the team, team Vice President of Marketing Doug Vosik defended the move: “The CTO will be another professional resource for our players, just like trainers [and] … nutritionists. If a player wants a tattoo, now they know they can call an artist who can work to their tastes and their specific schedules.” The team initially announced the position back in February and began fielding applications; more than 150 candidates from around the country and world applied before the pool was cut down to the final 13. In the end, the portfolios were turned over to players and staff to make the final decision. Interesting, fun and innovative move from the Union to bring on a CTO; hopefully, the team will start selling more tickets via StubHub.com now that it is engaging the community and accommodating players simultaneously.

The PGA Tour is set to experience a major shift in its schedule for the 2019 with the PGA Championship moving to May in two years.

According to News10, the total shift is still being determined, but it is expected to be “the biggest change to the golf schedule in more than a decade.” The PGA of America confirmed its major will move from its mid-summer date that it has occupied for “some 50 years.” Now the PGA Championship will be played a week after Mother’s Day, in between the Masters and the U.S. Open. “We feel May is a far more powerful date for us to contest our major championship,” said PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua. Moving the tournament out of August, the Tour wants to finish the FedEx Cup before the NFL season kicks off to limit scheduling conflicts that could divert fan attention away from the sport.

Despite the proposed merger between FanDuel and DraftKings falling through earlier this year, both companies are pushing ahead to unveil new fantasy football games ahead of the upcoming season.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, FanDuel is introducing a new season-long format called “Championship Leagues,” which allows users to pay a one-time entry fee, much like a traditional fantasy football league, yet operators will “complete weekly redrafts of team rosters.” The focus on season-long games is a big change from the traditional model of daily games that resulted in the company and industry receiving heavy scrutiny. “This is our big jump into the season-long fantasy market,” said FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles. On the other side of the industry, DraftKings is about to roll out a massive new marketing campaign in wake of the upcoming NFL season. The company confirmed that it “will be aggressive, but still nowhere near the levels seen in 2015.” Both companies are looking to rebound and grow business in wake of the failed merger earlier this year. The arms race to control the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is back.

CBS is continuing its push into sports streaming as the network recently hinted at an upcoming service that it plans to unveil in the near future.

According to Ad Age, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Les Moonves told investors that “a 24/7 live-streaming outlet devoted to sports was in the works.” The future offering is still in the early stages of development and does not yet have a name, but it is expected to be modeled after CBSN, the streaming news service. CBS currently plays a pivotal role in the sports media and broadcasting world, with deals in place with the NFL, the PGA, and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. “We are going to look to differentiate ourselves from the ESPNs and the Fox Sports, and, well, we think we have a great opportunity for success,” said Moonves. CBS already has an online sports group “in place down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.” Streaming around the clock continues to evolve for all major networks – CBS already has the infrastructure in place to make this successful.

Disney is making some serious moves behind the scenes regarding its streaming services.

According to The Verge, Disney’s previously-announced ESPN streaming service will be launched next year. The streaming service will host a broad spectrum of sports and events, but will also include “purchasable add-ons for those who closely follow individual sports like baseball, hockey, and soccer.” The new streaming service will not be its own application. Rather, it will be available inside the already-existing ESPN app. “The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer a robust array of sports programming, featuring approximately 10,000 regional, national, and international games and events a year…” as written by Disney in an official statement. This news comes on the heels of the company ending its licensing deal with Netflix and after purchasing a majority stake in BAMTech, “the MLB-founded video juggernaut behind many of the most popular sports and TV streaming services.” Investing in BAMTech gives Disney a competitive advantage over other players due to the service’s expansive steaming capabilities. This could be just the start of a streaming revolution for Disney, as confirmed by Everfi, a leading technology company on the front lines of education’s evolution.

 

 

 

 

on through 2024

 

Coming on the heels of a successful MLS All-Star Game in Chicago, MLS and Adidas have reportedly signed a six-year contract extension through 2024. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the two sides have agreed to keep the partnership alive, as adidas will continue to outfit all MLS clubs. On top of outfitting all teams, adidas will provide the league match ball. Financial terms to the deal have not yet been disclosed by either side, “but industry sources said that the extension is valued at $700 million.” The partnership between MLS and adidas began at the league’s inception in 1996, “when three clubs had deals with the brand.” This partnership is unique when compared to the other soccer leagues of the world, since each team typically picks its own jersey and apparel outfitter instead of being assigned one by the league. The adidas extension also confirms the ever-growing impact of MLS on the world soccer stage, as adidas has similar relationships with top-tier leagues around the globe.

 

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars have played an International Series game in London every year since 2013, and now the team has signed its first United Kingdom-only sponsorship because of that. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the NFL franchise is reaping the rewards of competing overseas as it announced a partnership with London-based investment management firm LGT Vestra U.S. The firm targets “Americans living in Europe, plans a variety of year-round joint B2B activities, including at the Jaguars’ annual game at Wembley Stadium.” The Jaguars are not given any signage during NFL International Series games, so the firm will not get any, though it will receive in-game recognition. This sponsor piggy-backs on the Jags’ two U.S.-based sponsors for the abroad series game, Visit Florida and insurance firm U.S. Assure. Jags Senior Vice President, International Development Hussain Naqi wrote, “…The fact LGT Vestra U.S. is committed to growing the game and further raising the profile of the Jaguars brand in the U.K. is great news for our team.” As futbol expands to the U.S., via increasing numbers of “friendly” matches and international player transfers, so too is the NFL digging deeper into U.K. soil.

 

Despite the passing of longtime Owner Dan Rooney the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise will not see an ownership overhaul or restructuring.

 

Despite the passing of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers Owner Dan Rooney earlier this year, the franchise will not see an ownership overhaul or restructuring According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, two high-ranking NFL officials confirmed this news, stating that the Steelers’ “family ownership” is expected to continue on for “many, many, many years to come.” The franchise was started by the Rooney family and has stayed within the family’s control ever since. Since Dan Rooney’s passing, the only ownership change has been the addition of Dan Rooney, Jr. to the “public list of Steelers ownership group on Page 8 of the team’s 2017 media guide.” Of the 19 men listed as part of the Steelers ownership group, five of them are Rooneys. There have been multiple “restructurings” of the team’s ownership over the years, but one thing remains constant through them: The Rooneys are the face of the franchise. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones received own star on Saturday when he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, but while the Jones family continues to impress and astound, there’s no question: the Rooneys are the NFL’s First Family.

University of Texas historically one of the strongest collegiate football programs in the country, but recent lackluster Seasons Over the Past Few Years is nearly 3,000 season ticket sales short of where it was a year ago in 2016

 

The University of Texas historically boasts one of the strongest collegiate football programs in the country, but lackluster performances over the past few years have driven ticket sales down. According to MyStatesman.com, ticket sales for this coming season are down thus far, despite circling buzz and excitement around new Head Coach Tom Herman. As it currently stands, the university is nearly 3,000 season ticket sales short of where it was a year ago in 2016, sitting at 52,979 currently. One of the biggest contributing reasons to this trend is speculated to be a “lackluster home schedule,” as the “most high-profile home opponents are Maryland (September 2) alongside Big 12 rivals Oklahoma State (October 21) and Texas Tech (November 24).” Coming off an a dismal 5-7 season, with a 3-6 Big 12 record, the Longhorns are looking to turn things around this coming season, regardless of how many people pack the stands. Tickets for all games should be available on StubHub.com throughout the season, much to the university’s chagrin. Another factor contributing to empty seats in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and elsewhere across the U.S. – declining student interest in attending live games, a disturbing trend the NCAA needs to rectify ASAP.

 

Boston College Considering Adding Wine And Beer Options To All Concessions Stands at Alumni Stadium

A hot topic over the past few years has been the question of whether universities should make alcoholic beverages available to all fans at college football games; Boston College might be the next Power 5 school to start doing so. According to the Boston Globe, new BC Athletic Director Martin Jarmond is seriously considering adding wine and beer options to all concessions stands at Alumni Stadium this coming season. As it currently stands, only fans in the stadium’s 60 boxes or suites have access to alcoholic beverages – a trend that is common across a number of bigtime college football programs. About one-third of “colleges nationwide are selling alcohol during games,” according to university spokesman Jack Dunn. “We are looking to file an amendment to our entertainment license that would enable us to expand distribution of beer and wine at locations throughout Alumni Stadium this coming season,” said Dunn. The issue is fairly black and white – should schools embrace a multi-million dollar revenue stream, or take a stand against college alcohol abuse? There’s clearly a way to do it right, as long as stringent measures are taken to not sell to minors.

Owner Glen Taylor not interested in Selling in his Stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves Franchise

Minnesota Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor is not interested in selling his team, at least now right now. According to SportsBusiness Journal, Taylor, who owns about 70% of the NBA franchise, noted that he will not be selling any of his stake in the club, despite two of the team’s minority owners revealing that they are interested in selling their shares. The team recently underwent a massive rebranding campaign and is looking forward to having star forward Jimmy Butler on the court with the team this coming season. “We’re running through terrific times not only for the owners and the players, because of the interest, but just the value that has been put on the franchises that have been sold,” said Taylor. The impending sale of the Houston Rockets is thought to play a role in increasing the franchise value of the Timberwolves, since Taylor thinks the Rockets “will go for a lot of money.” They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and in the case of pro sports franchise sale prices, a lot of zeros behind a number for one team usually means a lot of zeros for others as well.

UFC President Dana White Hopes Popularity of Upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor Showdown Positively Affects New Media Rights Deal

UFC President Dana White could not be happier about the timing of the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor showdown, as the organization is shopping for a new media rights deal. According to the Hollywood Reporter, WME-IMG is currently “in the midst of negotiating new TV rights deals for UFC and banking on a hefty premium over the $115 million that Fox Sports” pays annually. WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel will be the point man in charge of negotiating the rights deal. One potential bump in the road that could impact a huge deal is that PPV typically has the best UFC bouts, taking away business from a new TV partner. Asked about this, White said: “I built this business from the ground up. We continue to innovate. I don’t ever want to be in a position where guys who didn’t believe in this sport 15 years ago are telling me what to put on PPV. But if you go into a negotiation, I’d say everything is on the table.” All you have to do is look at Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, and other digital and social powerhouses to know that the sports media rights landscape has shifted to the degree there’s no going back. The PPV position is not a deal breaker.

 

David Beckham’s MLS Bid Closer to Approval and MLS will Announce New Expansion Teams at Summer’s End or Early Fall

 

David Beckham’s MLS bid is finally pushing forward toward winning approval. According to the Miami Herald, Beckham won permission “for formal talks on launching a Miami franchise that will have a billionaire financier as the majority owner.” The former English soccer star brought new investor Todd Boehly to Chicago for the MLS All-Star game to meet with league officials. Beckham was granted a significant expansion fee discount nearly 10 years ago, back in 2007; he has an option to purchase an MLS expansion franchise for $25 million, “while the league now requires $150 million for new teams.” League Commissioner Don Garber was a bit skeptical about the vote passing with the owners. “I had some concerns they wouldn’t get past today,” said Garber. “We’re not announcing MLS Miami today, but I am confident we’ll be able to do that, perhaps by the end of the summer.” You can bank on an announcement at summer’s end or early fall, as MLS will couple that with its announcement of new expansion teams. Good times

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