1. The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics are officially underway. After months of headlines and drama leading up to the Opening Ceremony, the Olympic torch was finally lit at the new Olympic Stadium. According to WalletHub, the estimated cost of this year’s Olympics is $13 billion – four times less than what the Russian government paid to host the most expensive Olympics ever four years ago in Sochi. In hosting the Games, PyeongChang has become the smallest city to host the Olympics since Lillehammer, Norway, did back in 1994. This also marks the first time that the Olympics are back in South Korea since Seoul held the Summer Games in 1988. Extensive hotel arrangements had to be made by the organizing committee to accommodate more than 80,000 foreign tourists in PyeongChang County, population 43,700. In total, 42,000 hotel rooms were made available within an hour of the Olympic venues, and a new speed rail was constructed to connect Seoul to the host region in 69 minutes. So far, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee has received nothing but glowing praise from the world’s journalists assembled there – a gold medal-worthy feat in itself.
2. The United States will likely elect to wait until the 2030 Winter Olympics to place a bid to host, passing up the chance to win the right to the 2026 Games. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the IOC recently discussed four potential cities that could bid on the 2026 Winter Games, and no American city was included. The exploratory groups from Calgary, Stockholm; Sapporo, Japan; and Sion, Switzerland, “have all begun talking details of a 2026 bid with the IOC prior to officially bidding, as they are permitted under a more flexible process adopted by the IOC in 2017.” In terms of a potential 2030 bid, three American cities have expressed interest in hosting: Salt Lake City, Denver, and Reno/Tahoe. If the USOC wants to put forth a bid for the 2026 Winter Games, the USOC board of directors would have to meet at least twice to select one of the three potential host cities as the official national bid by March 31; thus far, there are no board meetings publicly scheduled before the end of March. Complicating the issue: The Los Angeles Host Committee for the 2024 Summer Games is allowed to weigh in, and will likely reject any move that removes focus or revenue from their event.
3. A study done by The Boston Consulting Group estimates that hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup could generate more than $5 billion in short-term economic activity across North America. The report, done on behalf of the United Bid Committee representing the national federations of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., said that the overall net benefit to the region would be between $3-4 billion, with individual host cities seeing a net benefit of approximately $90-480 million after accounting for potential public costs. The 2026 World Cup will be the first since FIFA announced it would expand the number of the matches in the tournament from 64 to 80. FIFA is set to vote on the host on June 13; the only other bid for the event is from Morocco. United Bid Committee Exec Dir John Kristick said that the models the bid group is using suggests that 5-6 million tickets may be available for the entire World Cup, with the average stadium having 70,000 seats with the expectation that every match will be sold out. Shoulder revenues — fan fests, hotels, concessions – are also big factors as to why cities are heavily motivated to host some part of the World Cup.
4. Los Angeles’ inclusion in the North American 2026 World Cup bid is up in the air after officials gave contradicting statements regarding the city’s plans to participate. According to the Los Angeles Times, an aide to L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson noted that the Southern California city would not make a bid “because of concerns about the financial liability it would have.” Los Angeles was one of 25 U.S. cities cited in the joint bid from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, with multiple venues being considered within the city area. The new NFL stadium being built in Inglewood and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena were expected to be included in L.A.’s bid, which had the potential to win the right to host the championship game. After Wesson’s decision was made public, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he would ask the UBC to “extend its bid process so the host city contract could continue to be reviewed and discussed.” Again, Los Angeles’ hosting of the 2024 Olympics will play a role in this decision, with the host committee firm in its position of “no distractions.”
5. The NBA All-Star Game media day is set to be open to the public for the first time this coming weekend. According to the Los Angeles Times, tickets for the February 17 event at the L.A. Convention Center are on sale at NBATickets.com for $10, giving fans “autograph and photo opportunities with former players and yet-to-be-announced celebrities.” All ticket proceeds will go directly toward select nonprofit journalism organizations that will be selected by the NBA and a panel of media members coming from the Association for Women in Sports media, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Another well-publicized change coming to All-Star weekend is that the 2018 All-Star teams “will play for charity.” Team LeBron (James) is representing After School All-Stars of L.A. while Team Stephen (Curry) will be playing for Brotherhood Crusade. Both teams will be able to donate a significant sum of money regardless of the outcome; the winners will donate $350,000 and losers will donate $150,000.
6. Carlos Cordeiro has been elected to replace Sunil Gualti as the President of the U.S. Soccer Federation. According to the New York Times, Cordeiro had recently served as Vice President of the USSF under Gulati, but will now assume the top spot following three rounds of voting. In the first two rounds of voting, no candidate received the required 50% plus one vote “necessary to win on the first two ballots.” Cordeiro received 36% of the vote in the first round, and SUM President Kathy Carter followed closely behind with 35% of the votes. In the following round, Cordiero’s number was pushed up to 42% while Carter’s fell down to 33%. In the third and final round, MLS “switched its votes to Cordeiro, setting the stage for his victory in the third round, when he received 69%.” The vote to make Corderio the president came after three months of dramatic campaigning, and follows two years of uncertainty and upheaval in global soccer due to widespread corruption charges. Cordeiro will be tasked with helping to keep the beautiful game clean, in the U.S. and elsewhere.
7. The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for more money from the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority after only receiving $2.6 million in reimbursements for a set of PNC Park upgrades. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates recently completed a “host of capital improvements” to their ballpark on the North Shore and believe that they are owed $4.5 million for the work. Among the improvements are a “new out-of-town scoreboard, seating replacements, and new field lighting, plus upgrades in suites and Lexus Club.” Pirates Senior Vice President/Business Affairs & General Counsel Bryan Stroh said that the club spent more than $10 million in total on improvements for PNC Park, which is owned by the SEA, and that “the team believes all $4.5 million in renovations qualified for a reimbursement under the current PNC Park lease.” Stroh further commented that the Pirates would “seek the remainder in court if necessary.” Double check that contract. If the Pirates, as tenant, went above and beyond agreed-upon upgrades, then said tenant will be on the [Captain] Hook.
8. As the PGA Tour wraps up the West Coast Swing at Riviera and heads to Florida, the United States Golf Association has announced the launch of Driving Golf Forward. The multi-year campaign is “focused on four key impact areas and designed to help fund cutting-edge innovation and industry-leading research to help golf facilities reduce their reliance on resources such as water, nutrients, chemicals, and energy by 25% by 2025. The planned increases in investment include the development of global forums to better connect the worldwide golf community and produce positive, collaborative change. “Golf has an active community of individuals who support efforts to grow the game and we’ve heard they want to do even more,” said Sarah Brady, head of the USGA Foundation. “Driving Golf Forward provides an opportunity to play a direct role in the future of golf and invest in important programs that will make a difference.” The Honda Classic, the first stop on the Florida Swing, has long been an industry innovator as well – look for more on the leadership behind this tourney next week.
9. The NFL Foundation and Minnesota Vikings refurbished youth fields in Minneapolis before hosting the Super Bowl. Safe spaces to play are not only good for kids, they’re good for communities. A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concludes that activity-focused spaces in neighborhoods have a significant impact on mental health and violence prevention, lowering the risk factors for chronic disease, and achieving higher graduation rates, more cooperation among neighbors, and other benefits. The Vikings contributed $1.6 million toward the most recent local efforts in Minnesota in advance of this year’s Super Bowl, helping to refurbish athletic fields and recreational areas such as the Jimmy Lee field where St. Paul’s new mayor, Melvin Carter, used to play as a child. The much-used field, built in the 1960s, had fallen into disrepair, but was renovated in 2012 with Astroturf, lighting, landscaping, additional fields, and a play area for smaller children. In another local neighborhood, students at Como Park Senior High had never been able to host a varsity football game. Now they have a field where they can host home games for the first time ever. The positive change in not just the facilities — but in the players and community — could be felt almost immediately.
10. The MLBPA will conduct a spring training camp for unsigned players at IMG Academy. According to the Washington Post, this is set to be the first MLBPA-run spring training camp since 1995, when the camp was opened at the end of the players’ strike. IMG Academy has world-class facilities in Bradenton, Florida; the camp will tentatively run through March 4. Participating players will be provided with workout gear, and the union is working to arrange liability insurance, travel vouchers, and housing for them as well. Several scouts, baseball analysts, and coaches have voiced concerns and mixed thoughts about the camp. “It’s great for the second tier of free agents because it gives them visibility, said MLB Network’s Ron Darling. “I would be really afraid, if I was the top echelon free agent, of getting hurt and some team dismissing me and that contract going away.” The IMG camp, however, is no more or less dangerous to players than the grapefruit and cactus leagues. Look for lower-tier players to jump at the chance.