10 TO WATCH 07/09/18
1. To prevent “summer slide,” online education leader EVERFI activates with MLB and Summer Slugger. EVERFI will man a Summer Slugger booth at the MLB All-Star Fan Fest at the National Convention Center in D.C. next week, and will also participate in National Summer Learning Day on July 12. Players from the San Diego Padres and Baltimore Orioles will meet with Summer Slugger participants at local libraries on those days. In Baltimore, the Orioles will celebrate National Summer Learning Day at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, kicking off their second season of the Baltimore Orioles Summer Slugger Program, the club’s baseball-themed educational course. Summer Slugger is a digital course that reinforces foundational math and literacy skills with students, helping to prevent the “summer slide” and reengaging students at the start of the school year. Through the Orioles Employee Volunteer Program presented by Bank of America, members of the club’s front office will be visit Enoch Pratt Free Library for the day to play math and reading games with local patrons. Volunteers from the Orioles will be in attendance along with The Oriole Bird. Events such as these give off-field substance to All-Star Games and other such events, and help cement sports franchises’ and their partners’ leadership roles in communities.
2. MLB is on pace to average fewer than 30,000 fans for the first time since 2003 as the league turns toward the second half of the season. According to SportsBusiness Journal, attendance across professional baseball is down around 5% from last year. At the start of the season, attendance figures were low due to widespread record-low temperatures and rainouts. With warm weather finally here, the league is hoping to turn this trend around. Through the beginning of July, average attendance for all clubs was 28,210, down 5.3% from the same time last year. Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins tallied the worst overall attendance through the first half of the season, drawing a mere 9,978 fans per game on average, down an astounding 52.3% from last year’s number of 20,904. Leading MLB are the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals, while the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers have drawn 21.3% more fans compared to last year. While this likely won’t be addressed head-on during Commissioner Rob Manfred’s annual address at the MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., next week, you can bet it will be a constant topic at the business meetings surrounding the All-Star break.
3. International Speedway Corp. (ISC) has issued its financial report for Q2 covering March-May and disclosed a 10.4% “drop in admissions revenue” for the three months. That includes race weekends at Phoenix, Fontana, Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega, and Kansas. According to the report, the drop is down 6.3% for the December-May period. Overall revenues for ISC during those six months are up 2.3%. Income from standard operations are up 22.3% from the same time period in 2017. Net income was $186 million, including a $143.9 million benefit “from tax law change.” In a lesser NASCAR defection, the Haas F1 team has announced that Old World Industries — through consumer-facing brands Peak and BlueDef — has signed on as a new partner of the team, marking the first time that a NASCAR industry sponsor not owned by Gene Haas has aligned with the team. New blood will clearly benefit this old sport, and NASCAR execs continue to put their faith in a young crop of new drivers alongside sponsor and fan experience innovations.
4. Big things are on the horizon for DC United: former Manchester United player and England international Wayne Rooney is expected to make his MLS debut with the opening of Audi Field on July 14. According to the Washington Times, DC United is intent on ushering in a new era of success after on- and off-field performance has continued to drop over the past years. United GM & VP/Soccer Operations Dave Kasper noted that United’s “long-term strategy was always to pair the stadium with a new elite arrival or arrivals.” “In the first meetings I had with the ownership back in 2012, with [Managing General Partner & CEO] Jason Levien, the number one priority was to build a stadium, and once we built a stadium we were going to add world-class talent,” said Kasper. One of the main reasons that the Rooney signing worked out so well for the Washington club is Rooney’s distaste for cities like Los Angeles and New York, noting that they are both “too hectic” like London. While Rooney may change his mind about D.C. after a few bouts with Beltway traffic, it’s clear the U.S. capital is on a sports high this year, after winning the Stanley Cup and hosting the MLB All-Star Game.
5. The International Olympic Committee has agreed to commit nearly $1 billion to the host of the 2026 Winter Games as part of its “new host city contract operations requirements.” According to SportsBusiness Journal, the IOC is seeking to make good on its commitment to increase transparency and reforms for all future events. In addition to the estimated $925 million that will be given to the host of the 2026 Olympics, there will be another $500 million “in potential savings for future hosts of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.” Calgary, one of the leading candidates to land the hosting rights for the 2026 Games, has estimated the cost of hosting the mega event to be C$4.6 billion, with “Games revenues covering almost half the cost.” In comparison, hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver cost the western Canadian city about C$7.7 billion. The IOC’s commitment to deliver on this promise show the organization’s true intent is ensuring that hosting the Games isn’t an undue financial strain for any city.
6. FOX Sports sees World Cup success on social media. FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Snapchat and Facebook was a success through the first half of the tournament. The broadcaster, which has the exclusive rights as the English-language World Cup broadcaster, says its World Cup coverage on Snapchat attracted 20 million unique views in the U.S. through the group stage, with more than 70% of that audience clocking in under the age of 25. The broadcaster has partnered with both Snapchat and Twitter to create content tailored toward each platform’s specific audiences. On Snapchat through the “Publisher Stories” feature, FOX Sports chronicles the day-by-day action through broadcast-level highlights, previews, recaps, and analysis. Its coverage has included video, text, artwork, and motion graphics. On Twitter, FOX Sports is exclusively live-streaming 27 shows from its studio in Moscow’s Red Square. Earlier in the tournament, on June 21, Rachel Bonnetta’s “World Cup Now” show on Twitter eclipsed two million total views.
7. France star donating World Cup bonus to children. Kylian Mbappe will be donating the entirety of his World Cup earnings to the Preiers de Cordees association, a charity that aims to organize sports activities for children with disabilities. Mbappe earns around £17,000 per game, with bonuses added. But Mbappe, who is a patron of the association, is donating anything he earns. The donation will include the reported £265,000 bonus that the star is in line to earn should France win the tournament. Mbappe’s generosity has caused some of his fellow Frenchmen to follow suit, with Samuel Umtiti emphasizing that representing the national team had nothing to do with the money. Now that France has earned a spot in the World Cup semifinals, Mbappe’s and other players’ donations will only increase.
8. Eleague to host e-sports tournament for cause. Turner and IMG will host the Eleague Street Fighter V Invitational 2018 Celebrity Showdown for a second time. Celebrities including NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, former wrestler Natalie Eva Marie, World Series champion Jimmy Rollins, and former NBA player Baron Davis will play in a single-elimination tournament on TBS. The winner will get the majority of the prize money for their charity, with the other players getting a smaller portion for their charities. This year’s competition will see the return of O’Neal, who narrowly beat Marie in a controversial win at the first Celebrity Showdown when game coach Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott took over for O’Neal. O’Neal is playing for the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which helps provide scholarships for people looking to study nursing. Rollins is playing for the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation, which helps children in need in the Philadelphia area. Davis is playing for the Drew League, helping youth in South Central Los Angeles, and Marie is competing for A21, which works to stop slavery and human trafficking around the world.
9. Kevin Durant wins NBA Cares Community Assist Award. Back-to-back NBA Champion Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors received the 2017-18 NBA Cares Community Assist Award, presented by Kaiser Permanente, at the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia in Santa Monica. With this honor, Durant’s charity of choice, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, will receive $25,000 from Kaiser Permanente and the NBA. The award, which recognizes Durant’s outstanding efforts in the community and his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work, was determined by fan vote on social media and a distinguished panel of NBA judges. Durant joins Stephen Curry, who won the season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award in 2013-14, as the only Warriors to receive the honor. During the 2017-2018 season, Durant pledged more than $13 million to numerous organizations with a dedicated emphasis on education.
10. Cavs raise $500,000 for charity. The Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans combined to generate a huge win for the Northeast Ohio community during the recently completed 2018 NBA Playoffs, once again raising funds to benefit local charities. Admission proceeds to the road game watch parties held at Quicken Loans Arena during the 2018 NBA Playoffs raised over $500,000 for Cleveland Say Yes to Education scholarships and Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The Cavaliers covered all expenses of the watch parties and donated 100% of the admission charges to charity. The Cavs have now generated more than $2.5 million dollars for Cleveland-area non-profit organizations and charitable programs over the last four years of the NBA Playoffs and Finals. “Being able to combine the excitement of the playoffs and game experience at The Q while supporting two very impactful local groups serving our local children and families is something very special for our entire organization,” said Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena CEO Len Komoroski.