1. This coming weekend’s Kentucky Derby unfortunately will not feature Gronk the horse, but it is still sure to be packed with excitement and drama. The “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” is more than just a mere horse race, it plays a significant financial role in Louisville, the area surrounding Churchill Downs and Kentucky as a whole. According to a study conducted by University of Louisville MBA students, the Kentucky Derby and its accompanying festival provided a positive economic impact of $127.9 million in 2011, but that number is up to $217 million today. The return on investment for the organizing committee has proven to be as equally impressive. “For every dollar spent by the festival and introducing this event, 22 dollars is generated for the community,” said Kentucky Derby Festival President Mike Berry. Statewide, as confirmed by the Kentucky Derby Museum, the “equine industry has a $3 billion impact, generating over 55,000 jobs.” The annual Run for the Roses is more aptly an elegant Run for the Revenue.
2. Merely two years ago, it was reported that the Philadelphia 76ers had largely contributed toward a $7 million loss for the city and state thanks to the team’s on-court struggles. The lack of fans filling the seats meant big losses in revenue for local businesses, restaurants, tourism, and hospitality groups. Now, as the Sixers head into the conference semis as one of the NBA’s hottest teams, the financial situation could not be any more different. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, “The Process” has paid off, with the team cracking the $1 billion valuation mark for the first time in this year’s franchise valuations by Forbes. The incredible success on the court this year, headlined by budding stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, has resulted in a 48% spike in value year-over-year, going from $800 million last season to $1.18 billion this year – the biggest jump of any team in the league. It’s no surprise that “The Process” is now being emulated by other pro sports franchises across the U.S.
3. Despite stadiums often being criticized for failing to serve as financial anchors in cities they are built in, the Oakland Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas has the potential to flip the script. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Robert Land, a leading urban growth researcher and Executive Director of Brookings Mountain West, believes that Las Vegas and Orlando are two cities that have the potential to utilize sports stadiums in a more effective way to bring positive economic impact to a region. Because of the strength of Las Vegas’s tourism economy, the new 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion stadium being built just off of the Strip is set to boost the already-vibrant tourism sector in the Nevada city. The Raiders are planning their move from the East Bay to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season, when they would begin play at their new stadium. The Raiders also have the NHL Golden Knights to thank when looking for a blueprint on how to effectively integrate a pro sports team into the Vegas community.
4. The Dodgers and Los Angeles County have proposed building an aerial tramway connecting Union Station with Dodger Stadium. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that a 1.2-mile tramway or gondola system would “whisk fans high over Olvera Street and directly into Dodger Stadium premises.” He added that the project “would be paid for” by the Dodgers and “could be operational” by the 2022 MLB season. The proposed system designed and built by Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies “could move more than 5,000 riders per hour in each direction,” and it would “get fans from downtown to Dodger Stadium in about five minutes.” The Los Angeles Times also notes former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s investment firm would “fund a portion” of the project’s estimated $125 million cost. ARTT would “seek private financing for the remainder.” Officials said that operators would “charge a fare that would be cheaper than parking at Dodger Stadium.” This is a great example of sports creating infrastructure innovations that positively impact the surrounding community.
5. The 2026 joint World Cup bid between the United States, Canada, and Mexico is becoming more controversial after one of President Trump’s recent tweets. According to The Hill, what was initially seen as the clear favorite to land the 2026 World Cup, the joint bid has since lost a significant amount of momentum thanks to the political climate in the United States. President Trump warned allied nations not to oppose the bid, tweeting, “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why would we be supporting those countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” The North American bid is only competing against a bid from Morocco, with an official vote coming from FIFA on June 13. President Trump would not be in office at the time of the World Cup were the U.S. to win the right to host, even if he wins a second term, though that has done little to persuade nations to vote for the joint bid. From supporting “a travel ban against mostly Muslim countries” and reportedly calling “unspecified African states ‘shithole countries,’” the North American bid could be in peril.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan confirmed that he is intent on buying Wembley Stadium in London. According to the Florida Times-Union, Khan’s purchase of the iconic stadium would be made to help boost the Jaguars’ revenue and to potentially bring an NFL team to England. The 92,000-seat venue in North London is currently owned by the Football Association, English football’s governing body, and is used primarily for cup and national team matches as well as massive concert tours. Khan’s bid is for $835 million in cash, up from the expected $600 million that sources thought he would offer. The Jaguars have tried to make Wembley their second home over the past years, having played five games in the last five years there, with an upcoming match against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 28 coming at the North London stadium this season. Said Khan, “Today’s announcement is additional evidence that we are committed to create and enhance new revenue streams to boost the Jaguars.” Ever an astute businessman, Khan no doubt realizes Wembley’s year-round revenue potential even if the NFL never imbeds a team in London.
7. WE ARE GOLF – a coalition of the sport’s leading associations and industry partners – just released its new U.S. Golf Economy Report. According to the study, which was conducted by TEConomy Partners, golf directly drove $84.1 billion in economic activity, marking a 22% increase from the $68.8 billion that was listed in the 2011 report. The study further found that the U.S. golf industry supported $191.9 billion in total annual activity, “including 1.89 million jobs and $58.7 billion in wages and benefits.” Philanthropically, the industry raised an impressive $3.94 billion from golfers’ and businesses’ commitments to charity though 2016 tournaments and activities. “The many positive trends show how golf is vital to the prosperity of America’s economic and social well-being,” says Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation and administrator of WE ARE GOLF. “Increases in so many categories signify the health of golf has far-reaching influence across many sectors of the U.S. economy.” The sport as a whole in this country has grown markedly over the years, contributing more significantly to the greater American economy on an annual basis.
8. Despite golf’s national upswing, Florida municipalities are losing money at a breakneck pace in the golf industry. There are 1,100 golf courses in Florida, all competing for a declining market share. According to TCPalm, local and county governments have lost approximately $100 million over the last five years supporting publicly-owned golf courses. The investigation by USA Today Network – Florida found that only a handful of municipals courses are self-sufficient. Of the $100 million in losses, $64.9 million were covered by subsidies from the town. The other $30 million came from one-time revenue sources at those courses. The losses have many questioning the role of city and country government in owning and managing golf courses. Many of the courses have accumulated large debt obligations that will weigh on the municipalities for years. There is also a decline in participation at many of the golf courses while local governments continue to spend big on capital improvements. As the golf world focuses on The Players Championship in Jacksonville this week, Florida remains a golf hotbed, but the total number of muni course rounds played per year per person has decreased in recent years and put stress on cities and taxpayers.
9. Turner, CAA create NFL vs. NBA charity golf tournament. Turner Sports and CAA Sports are teaming up on a charity golf tournament that will pit top sports stars against each other. The two-day golf event, hosted by Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will follow a common international team format pitting a group of current and past NFL greats against NBA all-stars and legends. “Golf is a favorite sport of mine and I’m thrilled to be hosting this unique tournament where NBA and NFL athletes will trade the court and field for the green,” said Paul. “I couldn’t be more excited for ‘The Showdown’ this summer,” said Rodgers. “While the NFL and NBA are home to many of the greatest athletes in the world, a golf course is an entirely different battlefield. I look forward to assembling a team of the NFL’s top golfers to determine, once and for all, which league is truly top on the links.” Turner Sports will offer multimedia coverage of the tournament, which will be held at Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Connecticut June 27-28. TNT will televise a one-hour, all-access show in August immediately following the network’s PGA Championship coverage.
10. The Stanley Cup Playoffs have gotten off to a hot start, with the NHL and NBC Sports each seeing their best viewership numbers for the first round since 2012 – the first season that all conference quarterfinals aired nationally. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the average viewership for the games on NBC, NBCSN, USA Network, Golf Channel, CNBC, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports mobile app averaged 769,000 viewers. One of, if not the biggest highlight of the playoffs thus far, is the first-year Las Vegas Golden Knights’ remarkable success. After sweeping the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and burning past the San Jose Sharks 7-0 in their opening matchup of Round 2, the club now sits as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Across the country, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals meet yet again in the Conference Semis. The back-to-back champion Penguins are an amazing 9-1 against the Caps in postseason series, having beaten their rivals in all five of their Stanley Cup-winning seasons. While the rivalry has been a bit lopsided in the postseason, it’s a great economic engine for Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. and corporate backers of the teams in each region.