1. The Washington Capitals are the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions, beating the Las Vegas Golden Knights in five games. A team that has been on the cusp of greatness yet unable to get over the hump for so long has finally come out on top, giving Washington, D.C. its first professional sports championship since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1992. Caps Owner Ted Leonsis was quick to state that the team’s parade is going to be huge. “I think it’s going to be a lot bigger than everyone is expecting,” said Leonsis. “My goal is to create something that elevates and unites all of the people in our community, so people think happy thoughts about Washington, D.C.” While Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps get to celebrate their triumph, the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals was nothing short of spectacular. The expansion franchise came into the season at 500-1 odds of winning the Cup, and they almost did. Had the team won, Vegas sportsbooks would have had to pay out around $5 or $6 million in wagers. Despite the loss, the Golden Knights cemented themselves in their new city, gave people in the desert a reason to like hockey, and gave the popular destination yet another tourist draw. For Washington, the “happy thoughts” generated by the Caps’ win will also smile on regionally-based businesses like Edelman Financial and EVERFI, who stand to benefit from the positive publicity.
2. Even before the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals yet again, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Warriors publicly stated that they would not visit the White House were they to win the series. According to the Akron Beacon, players from both teams have continually voiced their disapproval of the current president since he came into office, with star players LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Warriors Coach Steve Kerr being some of the most politically outspoken people on the topic. “The president has made it pretty clear he’s going to try to divide us, all of us in this country, for political gain,” said Kerr. “So it’s just the way it is.” As opposed to the situation with the Philadelphia Eagles, where President Trump canceled their celebratory visit within 24 hours of the event, the Warriors and Cavs made their respective stances clear before the title was even awarded. Warriors guard Stephen Curry said that he had “no interest in going” a year ago when they won; the Cavaliers pushed up their White House date two years ago to visit before Barack Obama left office. As long as the president continues his divisive dialogue, the obligatory White House visit for champion teams, once considered an honor, will just be a burden for many.
3. This year’s rendition of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills is estimated to provide a positive economic impact of around $120 million to Long Island. According to the USGA, the $120 million expected will be primarily driven from the 200,000-plus attendees expected and 8,000 hotel room nights booked in the area during the week of June 11. This year’s tournament should turn out similar impact numbers to past U.S. Open’s – Erin Hills in 2017 delivered $120 million for Wisconsin, Oakmont in 2016 provided $120-135 million to Pittsburgh, and Chambers Bay in 2015 resulted in a $140 million boost for Washington. As a whole, these impressive numbers have been driven by the golf industry’s continued growth. The $84 billion industry is up an impressive 22% in the last five years and impacts nearly two million jobs across the country, “supporting $58.7 billion in annual wage income.” Many people forget that this “country club sport” is actually a major economic driver nationwide, and significant source of jobs, consumer spending, and tax revenue.
4. Justify won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, becoming the 13th horse to pull off the feat. According to Newsday, a crowd of 90,327 “rocked Belmont as jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bob Baffert tried to let the ultimate New York moment sink in.” Just before post time, Burger King “announced another partnership with Baffert,” just as it had done in 2015 with American Pharoah. Total betting on the Belmont this year was $79.7 million, according to the Daily Racing Form, a 68% “gain on handle for the race last year but short of the amount of money bet three years ago” when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown. However, total handle of $137.48 million on the 13-race card was “slightly better” than the 2015 card and a 46.6% “gain on the total handle for last year’s 13-race Belmont Stakes card.” The $79.7 million figure this year was the “third-best of all time for the race.” Handle on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness “set records this year.” Justify’s Triple Crown win at the Belmont Stakes also drew an 8.1 overnight rating for NBC, down 34% from a 12.3 from 2015, when American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. The big question now is not when America will have another Triple Crown winner, but how racetracks nationwide might be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports betting.
5. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports betting last month, Delaware has become the first state outside of Nevada to launch a full-scale sports betting operation. According to the Wilmington News Journal, Delaware’s casino industry has struggled to stay profitable in recent years, prompting the state to move quickly and efficiently to make sports betting accessible across the state. The state is holding onto hope that the legalization of such activity could provide a lifeline to its three casinos – Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. Within the first three hours of allowing sports betting, the three casinos combined for nearly $170,000 in wagers. While such a number might be “routine” in Las Vegas, it was a very big deal on the East Coast. The casinos now have the flexibility to extend their hours to bring in more business, hoping that the legalization of sports betting will not only help their personal business, but will bring an economic boost to the entire state. Next up, presumably, is New Jersey – which could have begun taking sports bets as early as this weekend if its governor hadn’t balked like a spooked horse in the gate.
6. As FC Cincinnati prepares to join MLS in 2019 as the league’s 26th franchise, team owners are getting ready to write some massive checks to finance the transition. According to JohnWallStreet, the club will privately finance the majority of the proposed $212.5 million, 21,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in downtown Cincinnati. The city and state have committed $34.8 million and $4 million, respectively, to help cover infrastructure costs for the project. Goldman Sachs could loan Managing Owner Carl Linder III and co. the necessary capital to build the stadium, as the New York-based investment bank has provided funding to four MLS clubs that have built new stadiums in recent years (LAFC – $180 million, Orlando City – $120 million, D.C. United – $100 million, fourth is undisclosed). On top of the cost to build a new stadium, FC Cincinnati will have to pay a $150 million expansion fee – a number that continues to increase by $10 million per year. The rising cost is not expected to plateau anytime soon, a sign that bodes well for a growing league.
7. Less than 24 hours before the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were scheduled to take a trip to the White House, President Donald Trump canceled their visit. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, President Trump cited the team’s intent on sending a smaller delegation of players as one of the reasons for canceling the visit. A source close to the team noted that “fewer than 10 players planned to attend” the celebration of their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots at the White House. Trump also reignited the national anthem debate in cancelling the visit. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country,” said Trump in a statement. “The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.” Trump failed to note, however, that the Eagles had no players kneel for the National Anthem this past season.
8. The reboot of the XFL just gained some serious credibility with the addition of Oliver Luck. According to SportsBusiness Journal, after serving as a key figure in the NCAA over the past few years, Luck will become the CEO and Commissioner of Vince McMahon’s XFL. “I love college sports, but this is a special opportunity,” said Luck. “I have a real passion for football and the opportunity to collaborate with Vince is awesome.” The new XFL is planning to begin play in early 2020 with eight teams competing in a 10-week regular season. Though host cities for franchises have not yet been selected, the league recently sent out RFPs to 30 cities. Luck has extensive experience working in entrepreneurial roles within sports, having been the first President and General Manager of the MLS expansion club Houston Dynamo before playing an instrumental role with the World League of American Football, serving as Frankfurt GM in 1991 before pivoting to serve as the NFL Europe President. Boosting the fledgling league even more than Luck’s experience, however, is his sterling reputation and the widespread respect he’s earned.
9. Univision to deliver tech-infused World Cup coverage. Univision Deportes will infuse its coverage of this year’s World Cup in Russia with technology ranging from augmented reality to teleportation. With tech, the sports network is promising to “own the Spanish-language conversation.” Incorporating teleportation technology, Univision will be bringing prominent players and coaches into the studio, virtually, for in-depth interviews. Univision began doing this for last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Spanish-language sports network will also be making use of augmented reality, an increasingly popular tool for many broadcasters and leagues. Univision will use AR to enhance game breakdowns and analyst predictions. “Univision is the ‘Home of Soccer’ in the U.S., bringing the beautiful game to fans with passion and expertise that no one in America can match,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision Deportes. “We’re excited to deliver award-wining commentary and super-serve fans with around-the-clock insight and entertainment—making Univision Deportes the home of ‘the game around the game’ throughout the tournament.”
10. Discovery has signed a massive 12-year, $2 billion deal for the TV and online rights to the PGA Tour beginning next year. According to SportsPro Media, the U.S. media giant is planning to develop a Netflix-style video service to deliver the coverage to consumers across the globe while also showing tournaments on its regular list of TV channels. In signing the deal, Discovery will now control the rights to more than 140 tournaments annually, including about 40 PGA Tour events. This marks the latest step in Discovery’s push to become a major player in global sports broadcasting, coming three years after it agreed to pay $1.5 billion for the European rights to the 2018 and 2024 Winter Olympics. Discovery could look to sublicense select tournament rights in certain markets, allowing various major broadcasters to hold onto their current PGA Tour rights. The deal excites the PGA Tour, which recently opened offices in London, Tokyo, and Beijing and is looking to expand its brand internationally.