1. Florence is not a sports fan. While the destruction and loss of life caused by Tropical Storm Florence has thankfully not reached the level of Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina, sports entities in the Carolinas and beyond have felt Flo’s impact. The chaos caused by Florence saw a half-dozen college football games in Mid-Atlantic seaboard sStates canceled or moved, with many decisions made by bottom line implications. Clemson’s 38-7 home win over Georgia Southern came in the face of a reported $2 million loss by canceling the contest, and Virginia chose to move its home game against Ohio 500 miles northwest to Nashville rather than forfeiting a “home game” opportunity. On the NFL front, the Panthers, playing out of harm’s way in Atlanta, are taking a “multi-pronged approach to relief efforts that includes first making contacts with nonprofits,” many of whom owner David Tepper and the team have “worked with in the past,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Meanwhile, NBA Hornets owner and North Carolina native Michael Jordan is “urging the team’s fans to donate to relief funds in response to the impact of Hurricane Florence.” As always, sports teams, leagues, and athletes are there to help in the wake of disaster, providing much needed morale boosters and dollars.
2. Major League Soccer All-Star Game heads to Orlando. MLS has formally announced that its 2019 All-Star Game “will be hosted at Orlando City Stadium,” though an “opponent and exact date for the match are still to be determined,” according to the league. This will be the “second time in MLS history” Orlando will be the event site after it previously hosted in 1998 at “what was then known as the Citrus Bowl” (now Camping World Stadium). The 2018 game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium drew a record crowd of 72,317. The 2019 edition “won’t draw anywhere near that large of a crowd because soccer-specific Orlando City Stadium has a maximum capacity of 25,500.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Pro Soccer USA and assembled media that Camping World Stadium was “never” in consideration. The All-Star Game venue decision mimics the widespread trend of MLS clubs playing in “proper” soccer-sized stadia. Bigger isn’t always better.
3. Set to play its first season in 2020, Nashville’s expansion MLS franchise still lacks an official name. According to the Nashville Tennessean, bringing a new MLS team to fruition takes a significant amount of leg work and takes years in the making, but time is ticking for Tennessee’s first top-tier soccer franchise to finalize business. “We’re trying to be uniquely Nashville, be ourselves and build something that is right for the city and this league,” said Nashville MLS CEO Ian Ayre. The club is hoping to use the downtown Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Titans, in its inaugural season while its soccer-specific stadium is being built. Many expect the club to be named Nashville SC, the current name of the city’s USL club, but that has not yet been confirmed. Entering the league in two years will also be an expensive venture for the ownership group, having to pay a $150 million expansion fee while also funding part of the new $275 million stadium.
4. Building a new stadium from scratch is not a cheap venture these days, but it is costing Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur significantly more than it ever expected. According to The Sun, Tottenham’s new $1.11 billion White Hart Lane is still behind schedule and the team is being forced to play games at Wembley Stadium until construction is complete. In order to expedite the already-delayed building process, Tottenham is paying construction workers as much as $5 million per week — “50% more than the club pays it players.” Just last month, at the peak of the building process, as many as 3,800 workers were at the site around the clock. Industry publication Construction Enquirer calculated that on average, workers at White Hart Lane were being paid $1,305 per week over a period in August. The construction of this facility also impacts the NFL, which has a long-term contract to play at least one game at the stadium going forward; just like Tottenham, the NFL will play those games at Wembley.
5. The Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena is finally open to the public. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the $524 million Fiserv Forum highlights a complete transformation of the downtown Milwaukee arena and will hopefully act as a centerpiece for the city going forward. The grand concourses and “soaring spaces” give the stadium a unique and special feel, while a “21st-century digital aesthetic” shows off the future-oriented approach that architects took when designing the arena. The entire seating bowl is darkly colored, which makes it stand out like Madison Square Garden. The stadium was designed to be multi-purpose, as the $250 million in public funding is expected to be returned through the diverse set of shows, performances, and events that it attracts. This is the NBA’s newest arena and the only one that will open its doors in 2018, coming a year after Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena and two years after Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center came online.
6. The Milwaukee Brewers are already looking toward October as they continue their quest for the playoffs. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, the Brewers’ unexpectedly-good season thus far has left team executives anticipating a “banner year for merchandise sales, season-ticket renewals and keeping fans engaged.” The team’s attendance at Miller Park is set to exceed 2.8 million this season, up 200,000 from last year and the best figure since the club’s 2011 playoff appearance. Despite not having clinched a playoff spot yet, the Brewers have begun selling playoff tickets to “existing season ticket holders who renew for 2019 and to fans who sign up as new season ticket holders.” This year’s performance is that much more impressive when you take into account how strong the NL Central has been all season; the division is likely going to snag both of the NL’s Wild Card spots.
7. As Seattle inches closer to being awarded an NHL expansion franchise, city officials have stated that they will not allow the demolition of KeyArena to begin until they are guaranteed a team. According to the Seattle Times, the $700 million renovation of the iconic arena is expected to make the venue a “top-third” revenue producer for both the NHL and NBA, though the city wants to delay any construction at the site until the league’s executive committee signs off on the new team. December is currently being eyed as the start date for KeyArena’s total demolition, which is speculated to be the latest date possible to allow the renovation to be finished on time by October, 2020. “We are focused on and expect to be ready for the 2020-2021 season should approval be given,” said Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke. “Should that direction from the NHL change, we are prepared to move to 2021-2022.” Just like the American midterm elections, all should be known by early November.
8. MGM Resorts International and new professional football league, the Alliance of American Football, strike a massive transaction.According to Cynopsis Sports, MGM now has a stake in The Alliance and a three-year sponsorship that solidifies MGM Resorts as the league’s official sports betting sponsor and exclusive gaming partner. Since a federal ruling lifted the ban on U.S. sports betting in May, savvy businesspeople have been hungry to capitalize on the money to be made in sports gambling, which is exactly what this league is now doing. “We are excited to team with The Alliance on this unprecedented partnership, which allows us to fully engage with fans and revolutionize the fan experience,” said MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “We look forward to expanding our customer base into this exciting new league and sports betting opportunity.” As NFL ratings continue to decline, an Alliance season that begins directly after the Super Bowl is sure to cause a further ruckus in the football business.
9. The Sacramento Kings are now using RCS texting to send tickets and schedules to fans.2 texting allows the Kings to send tickets, schedules, and other rich info without using outside media such as email or using a specialized app. The club’s feature is available now through the Kings’ toll-free number, but there’s just one problem: since RCS is still a growing field, there’s a good chance you may not be able to use the newly implemented technology. Unless you have an Android phone on a Sprint network, you won’t get to see the power of RCS just yet. Nonetheless, this might be a peek at how sports teams operate in the future if RCS overtakes SMS messaging. Don’t panic, the Kings aren’t about to give up on email or apps. The RCS messaging will act as an aid to transmit information for fans who’d rather not split their attention across multiple platform.
10. Irch Beach Resort and Golf Links hosted professional athletes like NBA All-Star Klay Thompson, Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed, and actor Cris Judd along with members of Linkin Park, Green Day, Of Mice and Men, and Avenged Sevenfold. This year’s record-breaking gala surpassed last year’s fundraising total as it raised $380,000 to benefit the Sheckler Foundation “Be the Change” initiative. The excitement kicked off Sunday with a Mardi Gras-fueled evening with music performed by New Orleans natives Kings of Brass and continued into Monday where celebrities, athletes, and loyal supporters of “Be the Change” arrived at the Fat Tuesday-themed golf tournament. Sheckler highlighted the intersection of sports, politics, and philanthropy and created waves of opportunity for other athletes to rise to the occasion and chair events as a means to give back to the communities around them.