Amidst a whirlwind of protests and demonstrations during the National Anthem before NFL games these last two weeks, many players around the league expect tensions to settle down going forward.
According to the AP, during Week Three, some teams elected to stay in the tunnel during the anthem, while others linked arms and kneeled. In Week Four, however, teams were more united, with arm-linking common and tunnels largely empty during the anthem. President Donald Trump’s comments were cited as the fire that ignited widespread protests from so many teams and players across the league – and moved NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to convene a watershed meeting in New York with owners on the subject. “Moving forward, we will be on the field,” commented Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn. “We haven’t talked about it further as a team, but my initial response would be it would settle more back down.” Decisions regarding kneeling, standing, or not coming out of the tunnel during the anthem have become team choices, not necessarily individual ones. Many players have noted that they are ready to “focus on football” going forward instead of getting caught up in the pregame drama.
PwC Sports Survey reveals leaders expect sports industry growth to slow.
Sports industry leaders “expect the sector’s growth rates to slow down” from 8% to 6.4% per year, according to ISportConnect. While football “appears to be too big to fail” and esports is seen as a “key growth area,” respondents view the Olympics as having a “less certain future.” These are some of the key results of the 2017 edition of PwC’s Sports Survey. Respondents across the board “still expect the sports industry to continue to grow.” However, they “foresee this growth to slow down” by over 20%. PwC Switzerland Sports Business Advisory Team Director David Dellea said that “the results of the survey confirm that the sports industry is reaching a decisive inflection point, where sustained growth will be the privilege of a few premium properties.” While football and esports were viewed positively, the Olympics and winter sports are “showing signs of slipping,” evidenced by their “apparent decline in TV ratings,” especially among younger fans. More generally, 57% of respondents consider the shift in consumer behavior among younger generations as the “top threat faced by the industry.” Even with a 20% slowdown, a 6.4% annual growth rate is one that most industries would happily accept. Not time to wring your hands just yet.
Working with the NHL, NHLPA, and their Future Goals program, EVERFI is powering the world’s largest digital STEM education program through Hockey Scholar, a web-based course that leverages hockey to teach foundational math and science concepts.
Millions of students build critical life skills through EVERFI’s custom-branded digital education programs. Through partnerships with major sports leagues, teams, foundations, athletes, and entertainers, students thrive by using the game of sport, music, and entertainment to bring the programs to life. As the NHL works through its preseason, the no-cost Hockey Scholar resource covers topics such as rates and ratios, states of matter, force, and energy, and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Today’s students have unprecedented access to the tools of the digital age — computers, mobile devices, and social media — but they are not being taught how to leverage that technology in a responsible and safe way. Upon graduating, these students will compete in an emerging global economy fueled by rapid innovation, but many will be unprepared to pursue STEM-based careers. Partnered with EVERFI, the NHL’s Future Goals program is committed to sparking student interest in STEM topics and helping students become college-ready, career-ready, and life-ready. Now that’s a real-life hat trick.
Phoenix Raceway and ISM Connect, a pioneer in smart venue technology, announced a multi-year partnership that includes naming rights for the Raceway’s modernized venue as well as the installation of a leading-edge digital fan engagement experience.
Beginning in 2018, the venue will be known as ISM Raceway. As part of the naming rights position and in support of the racetrack development project, ISM will serve as an IT consultant as the new business partners deploy technology solutions at the venue through their 360 degree digital engagement venue network. The $178 million modernization of the track will now include the launch of ISM’s interconnected, intelligent venue concept, where technology aspects like Wi-Fi, ISM Vision video boards, mobile, web, social channels, and more are connected and enhance the fan experience throughout the facility, and create a sports and entertainment environment like no other venue in the country. As NASCAR heads toward the season finale and its penultimate race in Phoenix, the Can-Am 500 on November 12, it’s only fitting that Phoenix Raceway has some main-stage news of its own to share, adding to the excitement of the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz are set to welcome the new NBA season with a completely renovated Vivint Smart Home Arena.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the upgraded facility features a J-Note statue in front of it, which team owners “regard as a future iconic spot” for the upgraded, modern arena. Besides the statue, the upgrades include a new box office, team store, and automated ticketing entrances to a “more open arena bowl.” With the renovations, the capacity of the facility has shrunk by over 1,500, from 19,911 to a more intimate 18,200, with all seats being converted from hard plastic green to “upholstered, cushioned blue.” “We wanted to ensure that both [the Jazz and the arena] would survive for many, many generations,” stated Jazz Owner and Chair Gail Miller. “This is a new beginning and we’re proud to say that we’ve accomplished that purpose. The Jazz and the building cannot be separated: They’re here to stay.” With fewer seats in the arena, tickets on StubHub.com should be pricier and harder to get that usual. As Salt Lake’s only pro sports franchise, it’s only fitting that the Jazz put forth a more premium experience for their fans – most of whom are long-time, diehard, and well-deserving of a little more pampering.
NYCFC has started to narrow down potential sites to build a new soccer-specific stadium, with Belmont Park racetrack emerging as a favorite site.
According to Newsday, the MLS club is preparing to submit a proposal to develop a stadium at the racetrack site. If the team officially places a bid for Belmont Park, it would be “in competition with the Islanders’ plans to develop their own new hockey arena” on the same piece of land. Even if both teams submit proposals, a decision on which team is allowed to start building is not expected to come for months. The state-run property in Elmont, just outside the Queens border, is not NYCFC’s first choice for a site to build on due to its location. The team currently plays its home matches at Yankee Stadium, and is looking at a “handful of other spots within the city limits.” New York’s biggest problem: an embarrassment of sports riches, and limited available land to house them. Most cities would consider this a good problem to have.
According to Mlive.com, the Detroit Tigers recently noted that they are currently developing plans to add more netting before the 2018 season, with their ballpark operations department taking the lead.
Season ticket holders have historically been the ones to oppose additional netting, saying that it could obstruct their view of the playing field. The Baltimore Orioles have also stated their intent to add more netting, with team physician Bill Goldiner saying that plans are “being made and that the nets almost certainly will be going up sometime after the end of the regular season.” Additionally, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and San Diego Padres all announced that they would “expand netting” for 2018. Fan safety is paramount – there’s really no such thing as a premium fan experience in an area of the stadium where fans are placed in jeopardy. For their own good, those in baseline seats will need to learn to adapt.
In the wake of the Texas Rangers breaking ground on their new ballpark in Arlington, city council members are highly critical of the stadium’s design.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the $1 billion retractable roof ballpark has drawn criticism for looking “too much like a shed,” among other things. The stadium’s interior design drew positive remarks and praise from council members, but the outside was likened to Lucas Oil Stadium, which looks like “a field house.” “It looks like you hit a home run with your design on the inside, but on the outside it seems that it is wanting some other details,” commented council member Charlie Parker. “I don’t feel like it is giant steps ahead of the old ballpark.” The team surveyed fans about what is most important for them in a new ballpark, and results revealed that “mass transit was key to improving their ballpark experience.” City council members, take note.
Nashville’s MLS bid is moving forward without Vanderbilt University signing on.
According to the Nashville Tennessean, Nashville’s push to land an MLS team requires a soccer-specific stadium; organizers of the bid hoped that Vanderbilt would “join on a proposed shared-stadium concept.” In joining forces, Vanderbilt would have moved all of its football games off campus to The Fairground Nashville – a move the university did not support. Vanderbilt still might play “one or two football games a year” at the stadium if it is built, but that remains up in the air at this point. Even without the university’s support, the city’s MLS bid is not expected to lose traction, though Vanderbilt could have provided an additional source of funding for the stadium. Meanwhile in Cincinnati, USL club FC Cincinnati is continuing its push for a public-private partnership to build a $200 million soccer-specific stadium. Numerous projects are still being floated – the city is far from building anything.
With the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics simultaneously, sponsorships are expected to be more expensive than usual.
According to the Bloomberg, companies usually sign on to multi-year Olympic sponsorship deals without knowing all of the host cities they will be sponsoring, causing some ambiguity for participating corporations. This time around, sponsors know that two lucrative markets will host the 2024 and 2028 Olympics – Paris will host the former Games and Los Angeles the latter. “The presence of Paris and Los Angeles tells Western sponsors that the games are going to be really good in seven and 11 years,” said former USOC CMO and current professor of sports management at Syracuse University Rick Burton. Early bird sponsors are beginning to sign long-term deals now at cheaper rates, for sponsorship prices are only expected to increase going forward. The only big hole in the long-term Olympic corporate sponsorship plan remains the un-awarded 2026 Winter Games – which will likely not be held in the U.S. despite interest from Salt Lake City, Denver, and others.