1. Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Major League Baseball announce plan to build Youth Development Parks in 10 Major League Baseball markets. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and Major League Baseball are teaming up to bring synthetic turf Youth Development Parks to 10 Major League Baseball cities throughout the country over the next five years thanks in part to a $5 million donation. Each field will support an MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, MLB’s initiative to provide baseball & softball league-play for underserved youth. The first three markets where the Youth Development Parks will be built include Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and the Washington D.C. area. The Ripken Foundation’s Youth Development Park Initiative creates clean, safe places for kids to play on multipurpose, synthetic surface fields that promote healthy living in an outdoor recreational facility. In 2017, the Ripken Foundation impacted nearly 1.4 million kids nationwide through its Youth Development Park and mentor programs. Stay tuned for more exciting news around this announcement throughout the week.
2. U.S. Club Soccer, the leading organization developing soccer clubs across America, estimates an $8 million direct economic impact for Aurora, Colorado from its 2018 league-based and cup-based national championships. The 2018 Girls NPL Finals, held July 12-16, featured top teams from 19 regional NPL member leagues across the country in 13-U through 19-U age groups. The Elite National Premier League (ENPL) Finals took place July 13-14, and features 16 teams in 14-U through 17-U age groups that qualified from the ENPL Eastern and Western playoffs. Occurring July 20-24, the National Cup XVII Finals is the culminating event of US Club Soccer’s cup-based countrywide championship series, welcoming 13-U through 19-U boys and girls squads. Located in suburban Denver, the Aurora Sports Park is a 220-acre site that hosts major local, state, and national competitions, and offers 23 soccer fields. This year marks the third time US Club Soccer will host championships in Colorado, after a successful debut in 2013 for the 2013 NPL Finals and National Cup XII Finals, and then again three years later for the 2016 NPL Finals and National Cup XV Finals. In total, more than 300 teams and 8,000 of America’s top youth players will participate in these prestigious youth soccer competitions at Aurora Sports Park, a testament to the economic benefit of sport well beyond the professional level.
3. Americans score major upset in international beach volleyball. In under 60 minutes of the Swatch Major Gstaad pool play of the FIVB World Tour’s Beach Volleyball Major Series, two results sent shockwaves throughout the Swiss Alps. Reigning Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and last year’s World Champion Andre Loyola were humbled by Italian qualifiers Andrea Abbiati and Tiziano Andreatta in straight sets. And Brazilian Evandro Gonçalves and partner Vitor Felipe, the top seeds in the mountain tournament, were beaten by American wildcards Sean Rosenthal and rookie Chase Budinger. Budinger, who played in the NBA for eight years, was in impressive form, even though his last pro beach volleyball outing was in 2011. “It’s an incredible start. A year ago I would have never have thought I’d be blocking a world champion of beach volleyball at the net at a Major,” said Budinger. If team Budinger/Rosenthal continues to play this way, we will for sure see them next year on the South Florida sand at the Fort Lauderdale Major season opener February 5-10.
4. In Las Vegas, NBA Summer League players get a crash course on sports business. The Sports Business Classroom is in its third year at the NBA Summer League, and players will hear about “social branding, broadcasting, video, and scouting in addition to the high-profile salary cap and analytics topics,” according to LVSPORTSBIZ.com. Students in the program “get a crash course on understanding the ins and outs of the complex salary cap world; networking opportunities with NBA team executives; hear from NBA experts on hot topics such as analytics; and immersion into the NBA Summer League.” This year’s class had 61 students and is run by UC-Irvine computer scientist Larry Coon, “who is an NBA salary cap expert.” Coon said that the students “will hear from 60 NBA execs, mentors and industry players throughout the week.” One thing the sports business program “won’t promise is a job with an NBA team.” As the NBA contemplates lowering the minimum age for players once again, helping to educate them on the business basics of their careers and life after basketball becomes even more critical.
5. In North Carolina, Charlotte Motor Speedway locked in its race name and distance for its NASCAR playoff race for the September 28-30 Bank of America ROVAL 400 race weekend. The event will mark the first playoff road course race in NASCAR history. “This is history in the making, and it marks the next chapter in our legacy of providing innovative, show-stopping entertainment that’s never been seen before,” said Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “Like NASCAR’s first 600-mile race and the first superspeedway race at night, the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 is going to be a can’t-miss event that fans will remember forever. We’re about to witness a dramatic, historic, unforgettable race weekend September 28-30.” In a season in which NASCAR revenues and attendance are down yet again, the new road race format marks a welcome lane change for the racing circuit – one that may attract younger motor sports viewers and crossover fans from IndyCar. The move parallels similar innovations brought to the PGA Tour during the Zurich Classic in New Orleans – those golf change-ups have resulted in increased attendance and viewership.
6. As L.A. Live celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, AEG along with its private and public partners has proposed a $1.2 billion expansion of “some of the surrounding facilities,” including the Los Angeles Convention Center and the JW Marriott. According to the Orange County Register, the proposed expansion includes an “additional, 40-story tower at the JW Marriott that will include” 850 hotel rooms, a 109,700-square-foot meeting space and a 51,300-square-foot ballroom and an expanded L.A. Live parking garage. Staples Center and L.A. Live President Lee Zeidman said the proposal was in the final stages of “crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.” The expansion would also upgrade the Convention Center to “include a 90,000 to 100,000-square foot multi-purpose space, a 20,000-30,000-square foot meeting space and 180,000-200,000-square foot new exhibition hall.” With the 20th anniversary of Staples Center rapidly approaching, Zeidman said that AEG and its partners are in the “midst of interviewing architectural firms for an update of the sports arena and live concert venue.” Some of those upgrades include “adding premium clubs and opening up the upper concourse to give patrons a great view” of downtown L.A. or “premium seating with a view of players taking the ice or the basketball court.” All of this would be done “without ever fully shutting down the venue” – an amazing feat.
7. As the 2018 World Cup packs up its bags, FIFA may be open to expanding the 2022 Cup to 48 teams. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that the governing body “remains open to expanding the number of teams in the World Cup” by 50% in 2022, four years “earlier than planned.” Infantino told the Washington Post that FIFA will “continue discussing the matter with the host country, Qatar, and ‘calmly and quietly’ decide whether to grow the tournament to 48 teams.” Infantino also confirmed that the 2022 World Cup “will begin on November 21, with the final being played on December 18.” Infantino “did not directly answer a question about how he reconciles his tight relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the political and human-rights issues dogging the host country.” Infantino also said of video review, which was used in the World Cup for the first time, “It’s accepted. It’s working … making football more clear, more transparent.” Another thing that is crystal clear – as it will be played in direct competition with college and NFL football, the 2022 World Cup will face a massive challenge in maintaining high tv ratings – especially if the American team fails to qualify once again.
8. Boston Marathon raises $36.6 million for charity. Boston Marathon runners raised an all-time high of $36.6 million for charities in the 2018 race. The total for more than 260 non-profits was $2.4 million more than last year. The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon, sets aside entries for runners who promise to raise money for charity. Race sponsor John Hancock also provides bibs for charity runners. American Desi Linden and Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi won this year’s race in April in a torrential downpour and near-gale force headwinds, leading a field of more than 30,000 people from Hopkinton to the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square
9. George Springer holds inspirational charity event. George Springer of the Houston Astros is the spokesperson for SAY, the Stuttering Association for Youth, and he’s helping to make a big difference in the lives of children with stutters. Springer held his fourth annual bowling charity event for the organization last Sunday night and participants raised over $50,000. All benefits from Springer’s event are donated to help children attend Camp SAY, a two-week camp for children who stutter, like Springer once did. Springer was very interactive with the children at his event and thanked everyone in attendance, telling them to keep pushing and accept what comes throughout their journey. During the interview portion of the evening, some of Springer’s attendees with stutters were so inspired by him that they gave talking to the press on camera a shot.
10. BJ’s Wholesale partners with Red Sox Foundation for sweepstakes. BJ’s Wholesale Club, the leading operator of membership warehouse clubs in the Eastern U.S., has teamed up with the Red Sox Foundation to host an exclusive sweepstakes that provide members with the chance to win Red Sox Foundation prizes, including tickets and VIP game day experiences. The official team charity of the Boston Red Sox, the Red Sox Foundation has donated to over 1,680 organizations since its creation in 2002, and focuses on making a difference in the lives of children, families, veterans, and communities in need by improving their health, education, and recreational opportunities. Through partnerships with best-in-class organizations in healthcare, the Red Sox have helped raised over $135 million for cancer treatment and research for The Jimmy Fund, supported more than 15,000 veterans and their families suffering from the “invisible wounds of war” with the Home Base Program, and helped the Dimock Center serve over 17,000 patients annually with health and human services. The Foundation’s self-run education and youth baseball programs have helped 274 Boston Public Schools students with college scholarships, and promote healthy choices and valuable life skills to more than 700 urban youth annually through its RBI baseball and softball program.