10 to Watch Week of 08/29/17

More change is coming to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – and we don’t just mean the gradual approach of Fall.

Tennis fans flocking to the 2017 U.S. Open, both in person and via television, can gauge whether modifications made to dampen sound under the $150 million retractable roof that debuted over Arthur Ashe last year are working, as well as witness progress on the complex’s next major project, the construction of a new 14,000 seat Louis Armstrong Stadium scheduled to open in 2018. And in July, the USTA announced that total player compensation for this year’s Open will top $50 million “for the first time,” with a record $3.7 million going to “each of the singles champions.” The total purse will be $50.4 million, a nearly 9% “increase from last year.” Not as welcome are ticket price increases for fans. While the $60 daily grounds pass remains one of the best values in sports, many already-pricey seat packages have seen a double-digit increases over 2016, such as fourth-row tickets cited by Sports Illustrated that went from $17,560 to $23,960. Like all mega events, basic principles of supply and demand reign at Flushing Meadows – especially in the “twilight years” of tennis’ reigning global ambassador Roger Federer.

StubHub Signs 8 New NCAA Properties.

As the 2017-28 NCAA football season gets underway, StubHub ups its collegiate partnership roster to 50+, signing 8 new properties and renewing ten with Power 5 and mid-major conference schools. Through StubHub’s strategic partnership integration with industry-leader Paciolan, season ticket holders for the following eight schools will access StubHub as the athletic programs’ official ticket marketplace: University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University, Northwestern University, University of Cincinnati, University of Houston, University of Memphis, and University of Tulsa. Among renewed schools are University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of Oklahoma, Florida State University, and University of Pittsburgh. Together, StubHub and Paciolan offer partners proprietary ticketing integration technology that provides buyers and sellers an intuitive, industry-leading ticketing experience. They also provide a wealth of analytics from StubHub’s 16+ years of operation for every partner – by far the most robust in the industry. Coupled with the ever-growing appetite for properties to better understand its consumer by leaning on StubHub’s breadth and depth of data, the long list of these new and renewed deals is a signal that the StubHub-Paciolan partnership is something that no one else can offer in the ever-competitive, ever-changing collegiate market.

Protesters recently gathered at the NFL’s HQ to support free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

 According to USA Today, The United We Stand Rally Coalition organized the gathering. Protesters were heard shouting “Boycott, Boycott” and “Stand with Kaep, Stand with Kaep” in front of the building. Rally organizers requested a meeting with NFL officials to “discuss potential policy changes and methods to support and protect players who are socially active.” The organizers further noted that if they are not granted a meeting by September 7, they will boycott the NFL “and singled out Verizon as a league sponsor, urging those in attendance to potentially change their service provider to competitors.” The NAACP also requested a meeting with the NFL to discuss the current handling of the Colin Kaepernick situation. While these meetings might be productive, Commissioner Roger Goodell is not the person who would sign Kaepernick to a contract – a team owner would. While including Verizon in the protest may improve short-term leverage, long term NFL policy change will need to come from within, and earn the 32 owners’ support.

 

Barely a year after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Brazilian government is stuck at another roadblock.

According to Bloomberg, the Brazilian government is trying yet again to sell Olympic Park after a failed attempt last year. The government is pushing forward with its Investment Partnership Program (PPI), which includes “multi-sport arena 1, 2, and 3, the velodrome, the tennis center and the car park.” The government is aiming to finish the sale “by the end of next year,” relieving itself of the significant maintenance costs the facilities incur. So far this year, the government has paid $14.2 million to maintain Olympic Park, though the facilities are mostly abandoned, damaged, and breaking down. A fire recently destroyed part of the velodrome roof, meaning a potential buyer would have to spend money to fix the facility despite it only being a year old. The Rio Games will end up being the latest cautionary tale for cities vying for Olympic hosting honors, in line behind Montreal, Athens, Sochi, and others.

 

Even with the Chargers leaving, San Diego State University is still in the hunt for a new stadium.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, SDSU AD John David Wicker confirmed that the university is working with the city to find a potential stadium site near campus. As of now, Mission Valley remains the most promising area in which to build. With the Chargers in Los Angeles, the Aztecs are now the main tenants of Qualcomm Stadium, although facility officials recently announced that the stadium will be closing its gates for good on December 31, 2018. This does not change SDSU’s plan to land a new stadium, though it does put a hard deadline on the date they need to move out. One of the main reasons that the Chargers left San Diego was their inability to work with the city to build a new stadium. But unlike a professional sports team, a university cannot just uproot and move. Since no other existing facility in the region satisfies SDSU’s stadium needs, a new solution needs to be reached pronto.

 

Despite officials claiming recently that the roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be ready for opening day, problems ensue.

 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the sunflower-shaped roof has required “more money, time, steel and stress than anyone involved expected.” The roof is still not ready to open completely and properly, meaning all games and events will have to be run under a closed stadium roof for now. Over the past few months, Atlanta Falcons officials have listed multiple dates when they expect the roof to be ready to operate; now they say that they do not “know exactly when they’ll be able to open the roof for a game.” Architectural firm HOK, which won the $35 million assignment, is responsible for the roof design and implementation. Firm Senior Vice President Bill Johnson said that the difficulties “had a lot to do with the fact that this roof [design] has never been done before.” Innovation always breeds risk, and while the Mercedes-Benz roof design was heavily vetted, simulated, and tested, real world conditions can never be duplicated 100%. Expensive lessons learned.

 

In wake of the Manchester Arena attack and other acts of terrorism across Europe these past few months, English Premier League clubs have started to consult with counter-terrorism police.

 

According to the London Daily Mail, EPL clubs have started to worry more that their stadiums will be targeted by terrorists, prompting them to take proactive steps to stop this from happening. Manchester United was the first club to employ a counter-terrorism chief, but others are now following that club’s footsteps. Recently, “a summit was held with every top-flight head of safety and security” in attendance to ensure safety at all matches this season. The counter-terrorism experts not only spoke about what preventative safety measures to take, but also what to do in the event of a terrorist attack during a game. In Manchester and across the country, “rings of steel have been put in place around a number of top-flight grounds including Old Trafford and the Etihad.” While it’s numbingly sad that such measures have to be taken, “better safe than sorry” has never taken on such importance. One more life lost to terrorism is one too many.

 

Athletes such as LeBron James have openly condemned President Trump and the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. But Buffalo Bills wide receiver Anquan Boldin has taken his disapproval one step further.

 

According to the AP, Boldin has decided to hang up his cleats and pads and retire in wake of the Charlottesville conflict. The 14-year veteran was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2015, and this act only exemplifies how worthy he is of the award. “There’s not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread,” said Boldin. “Anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing.” Boldin further stated that not only players need to use their platform to speak out against social injustices, but coaches, GMs, and owners need to use their status to push for change. While there’s not a straight line between Charlottesville and Boldin’s decision to step down, he act may inspire many more high-profile athletes to speak out, and take specific, concerted action to correct social injustice and affect needed change.

 

Expanding its portfolio yet again, Manchester City’s parent company, City Football Group, has made another club acquisition.

 

According to the London Guardian, City Football Group purchased a major stake in La Liga side Girona. The 44.3% share the company bought in Girona equates to the share that Girona Football Group owns, “the agency owned by Man City Manager Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere.” After being promoted to La Liga last season, Girona is playing in Spain’s top flight for the first time in the club’s 87-year history. Negotiations for the takeover were said to have begun last year, with City Football Group citing the Catalan club’s “on- and off-field potential, together with a positive academy track record” playing a major role in validating the purchase. City Football Group now has stakes in Manchester City, Girona, MLS club New York City FC, Australian club Melbourne City FC, Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos, and Uruguayan Club Atletico Torque. Five continents down. Only Africa and Antarctica to go.

 

As reported by Everfi, Riddell Sports has created a new “Speed Flex” helmet that could change the way the public views the danger of playing football today.

 

In the past few years, a bevy of research has been conducted implicating playing football with severe head trauma. This head trauma has taken the name of CTE, short for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE has tilted public opinion and youth players away from football. As parents look to keep their children safe from lasting negative effects, youth sport participation numbers have increased in both baseball and basketball in the last three years. In Nebraska, Omaha public school football players will be equipped with the high-tech helmets in order to better protect players during their games. The helmet has built in sensors that detect exactly how hard each player gets hit, and will alert the training staff during an especially hard hit that causes concern. OPS supervisor of athletics Steve Eubanks had this to say of the implementation of the new helmets: “We really have one shot to get this right, so we’re taking our time.” If the use of Speed Flex helmets works in Omaha public schools, we could see a change in the way the public views the safety of football. Only time will tell if this new technology could help save football in the long run.

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail