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1. Coming off All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, the city of Sacramento and the Kings are in the process of finalizing a bid to host the NBA All-Star Game in either 2022 or 2023. According to the Sacramento Bee, Kings Owner and Chair Vivek Ranadive will present the team’s bid to the league on February 23 with the hope of securing the right to host. Despite NBA Commissioner Adam Silver saying back in October, 2016 that he was “determined to bring the All-Star Game to Sacramento,” Silver followed up those comments by noting that the city lacked thousands of hotel rooms that would be needed to accommodate all of the visitors. One potential way that Sacramento is trying to solve that problem is by accommodating fans on cruise ships docked in the Port of Sacramento in West Sacramento. The Kings have one of the league’s most cutting-edge arenas in the two-year-old Golden 1 Center – expect Silver to make good on his word and place the All-Star game there soon.

2. The NFL has narrowed its list down to five cities that are competing to host the NFL Draft in either 2019 or 2020. According to the Denver Post, Cleveland-Canton, Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Nashville have been announced as the finalists, with a decision expected to be made in May during the league’s spring meetings in Atlanta. Up until 2015, the NFL Draft had never been held anywhere outside of New York City. In 2015 and 2016 the draft was held in Chicago, where it was deemed a big success. Last year it was held outdoors in Philadelphia, and in 2018 it will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. One potentially interesting outcome would be if Las Vegas were awarded the right to host the draft in 2020, right before the Raiders’ arrival in Las Vegas. Raiders President Marc Badain thinks that Las Vegas has an edge over the other cities because “it is a notable visitor destination.” The NFL has traditionally awarded Super Bowls to teams after they open new stadiums, so awarding the Draft before the Raiders play their first game in Vegas would be a clear departure from protocol. Look for longstanding NFL cities to prevail.

3. Sacramento is trying to boost its chances of landing an MLS expansion team by adding more money to its ownership group. According to the Sacramento Bee, the group leading the city’s bidding effort recently “held serious conversations with several billionaires interested in becoming investors in the bid.” Sacramento is currently competing with Cincinnati and Detroit for the 26th spot in MLS, coming on the heels of Nashville and Miami both being awarded MLS franchises in the past months. The “several billionaires” would not only add financial backing for the $250 million in stadium construction costs and $150 million expansion fee that USL club Sacramento Republic would have to pay if awarded a MLS berth, but the investors would “solidify the team’s long-term viability as a major league franchise.” Sacramento was an early front-runner, but the city’s bid lost momentum late last year after it was revealed that the group lacked the “financial heft MLS wanted.”

4. As MLB spring training gets underway in Florida and Arizona, former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is claiming a $0 net profit on the sale of the team. Loria has claimed a $141 million loss on the $1.2 billion sale of the Miami baseball team, a claim that nullifies a profit-sharing agreement with Little Havana (Miami) and Miami-Dade County, the entities responsible for financing most of the development associated with the construction of Marlins Stadium. A 2009 financing agreement between the Miami, Miami-Dade County, and Loria required the wealthy art dealer to return 5% of the sales’ proceeds (less deductions) to the local governments, in the event he sold the team within 10 years. However, Loria’s accountants have provided documentation claiming $0 in net proceeds after deducting $280 million in debt, $297 million in income tax on the sale, $375 million in franchise value appreciation, and $30 million in advisor fees. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says the County will contest the accounting, as it considers legal action to recoup a portion of the proceeds. Gimenez estimates Loria placed “hundreds of millions in (to) his pocket.” This is only the latest chapter in the long saga of questionable accounting that is the tale of Miami pro sports teams, as I have recounted time and again.

5. More and more NBA players are starting to focus on entertainment ventures off the court, following the trend that Michael Jordan started years ago. According to SportsBusiness Journal, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant are just three players who are trying to “tap into the billions of dollars that Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are pouring into original programming.” More recently, Tony Parker, Blake Griffin, and Steve Nash have all either produced or developed scripted projects. James’ SpringHill Entertainment and Bryant’s Granity Studios are considered the leading examples showing how serious players are taking their entertainment ventures. “LeBron has done such a great job so far,” said Durant. “It’s like, wow, this can actually be done.” The ease of content creation and distribution coupled with the increasing demand from fans around the world has created the perfect storm for more NBA players to take a crack at their own entertainment ventures.

6. As MLB spring training gets underway in Florida and Arizona, former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is claiming a $0 net profit on the sale of the team. Loria has claimed a $141 million loss on the $1.2 billion sale of the Miami baseball team, a claim that nullifies a profit-sharing agreement with Little Havana (Miami) and Miami-Dade County, the entities responsible for financing most of the development associated with the construction of Marlins Stadium. A 2009 financing agreement between the Miami, Miami-Dade County, and Loria required the wealthy art dealer to return 5% of the sales’ proceeds (less deductions) to the local governments, in the event he sold the team within 10 years. However, Loria’s accountants have provided documentation claiming $0 in net proceeds after deducting $280 million in debt, $297 million in income tax on the sale, $375 million in franchise value appreciation, and $30 million in advisor fees. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says the County will contest the accounting, as it considers legal action to recoup a portion of the proceeds. Gimenez estimates Loria placed “hundreds of millions in (to) his pocket.” This is only the latest chapter in the long saga of questionable accounting that is the tale of Miami pro sports teams, as I have recounted time and again.
7. Details are finally beginning to emerge around the University of Texas’s new basketball arena. According to the Austin American-Statesman, UT plans on building a smaller facility than the Frank Erwin Center, which has a capacity of 16,734. The move to build a smaller arena is carried out in the hope of delivering a better home court advantage, and to decrease the ease for walk-up sales on game days. The new proposal calls for a maximum of 12,000 seats in the arena, a decrease of over 4,000 from the Frank Erwin Center. University Athletic Director Chris Del Conte noted that specific arrangements for the size of the building are “still in the discussion stage, but he smartly prefers smaller over bigger.” Building a smaller facility might help create a bigger home court advantage, but it could also hurt the arena’s chances of hosting big concerts and shows. Major music acts would likely pass over Austin to play at the 18,581-capacity AT&T Center in San Antonio.

8. Nevada’s new sports teams may help boost philanthropic numbers. Speaking on a panel last Friday, Executive Director of the Raiders Foundation Chairman Chris Mallory said he anticipates a significant amount of fundraising in 2018. “All of that fundraising we’ll be doing in Las Vegas will stay in Las Vegas,” he told a crowd of about 400 business leaders involved with philanthropic giving and corporate social responsibility. “It is extremely important for us to give out as much as we can so when the team gets here in 2020, it’s just icing on the cake.” Mallory addressed a crowd at Las Vegas City Hall at the seventh annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit, hosted by Las Vegas philanthropy consulting firm Moonridge Group. “What has surprised me the most is youth and veteran homelessness,” he said. Among major cities, Las Vegas had the third-highest number of unaccompanied homeless youth (2,052) in 2017, according to a December report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “What we would look to do is help with that in terms of funding, as well as to let people know that this is going on,” Mallory said. John Coogan, president of the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, echoed Mallory’s sentiments regarding Las Vegas’ number of homeless people.

9. TSA Pre✓ adds Fast Pass entrances to Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center. IdentoGO by IDEMIA, the exclusive provider of TSA Pre✓, has announced a new partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment that will establish “fast pass’ entrances at the venue, which houses the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and NHL’s New York Islanders. As part of the deal, IdentoGO will offer enrollment into the TSA Pre✓ program from a retail location within Barclays Center that’s accessible from both the street and the arena’s main concourse. The two will also work together on developing future security enhancements at the venue. “Stadium and arena security as well as fan experience are important to us,” Ed Casey, Chief Executive Officer of IDEMIA Identity & Security USA, said in a statement. “We are excited that Barclays Center is the first arena to have a permanent IdentoGO retail location in it.” This partnership builds on similar initiatives IdentoGO launched last year with the NFL’s New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. The Jets’ multi-year deal made the TSA Pre✓ parent the official identity security and biometric partner of the team, and enabled the two to collaborate on other ways to improve safety and fan engagement at MetLife Stadium through biometrics.

10. The United States is on track to record its worst Winter Olympics performance in two decades with its current showing in PyeongChang. According to Yahoo! Sports, through one week of events, Team USA had already fallen far behind the likes of Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada in the overall medal race. Back in 1998 at the Nagano Games in Japan, the U.S. finished sixth in the medal table after claiming “just 13 in 68 events,” good enough for 6.4% of available medals. Since then, Team USA has never finished outside the top two in the race for glory and has “never claimed fewer than 9.5 perfect of podium spots.” A few notable American athletes, such as Mikaela Shiffrin and Nathan Chen, were medal favorites heading into their respective competitions but delivered disappointing performances. This has resulted in the U.S. being on “an even lower pace than seen at Nagano.” The lack of medals also means a dearth of emerging stars – expect brands to fight long and hard for deals with U.S. snowboarders Chloe Kim and Red Gerard and women’s hockey team captain Meghan Duggan, among the brightest standouts in an otherwise lackluster American effort.

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