wings_arena_plan_rendering10 TO WATCH WEEK 11/01/16


  1. Incomprehensible civic support – Chicago gets its first World Series home games since 1945. Ticket prices for games at Wrigley Field have been compared to Super Bowl tickets, but they aren’t the only expensive seats in Chicago. According to DNA Info, some Wrigleyville bars are charging up to $250 per person for an indoor seat during games. Other bars are charging comparable amounts for drinks and a buffet, but won’t even guarantee you a seat. “To guarantee a four-seat table, that’ll cost you an extra $500 at bars like Old Crow Smokehouse, Deuces and The Diamond Club and John Barleycorn.” One of the most extravagant packages in Chicago was HVAC Pub’s $1,250 all-you-can-eat pizza and wings, plus beer, wine and seating for six during the game – with a bottle of Grey Goose and champagne thrown, too. Apart from bars charging excessive fees, many are charging a cover of $50-$100 for standing room only space. “I was outraged at this apparent monopoly situation that was occurring before us,” noted one unhappy Cubs fan. When a mega event like the World Series comes to town, many businesses stand to capitalize – a key reason why cities continue to bid on such expensive undertakings.


  1. The New York Giants and NFL recently came under heavy scrutiny from media members in regard to their handling of the Josh Brown domestic violence scandal. The kicker, who was place on the Commissioner’s exempt list following domestic violence charges, was finally released from the Giant, and team President and CEO John Mara “rightly is second-guessing himself and his organization for failing to grasp the implications of what it would mean to re-sign Brown to a two-year contract earlier this year,” according to Newsday. Brown’s “lengthy history of domestic violence” has come front and center ever since the Giants tried to give him another chance at keeping his NFL career alive. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly did not speak to Mara or anyone else at the Giants while Brown’s investigation was going on. Mara owned up to his mistakes, saying, “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility.” The Brown incident is one of many factors cited by fans in a growing decline in NFL viewership. To preserve its brand, the NFL must be even more mindful of the balance it maintains between the world’s standards and its own standards.


  1. The weekend return of the World Series to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1945 focuses on the compelling nature of baseball in a major market – one of the significant reasons why the average value of MLB franchises has increased to over $1.3 billion – 59 percent over three seasons. In another major market, Yankee Stadium is set to “undergo its first series of major design enhancements since the ballpark opened” in 2009, according to the N.Y. Daily News. The construction is set to begin immediately and will be ready for next season. Upgrades will include “seven new social gathering spaces as well as additional food and beverage areas,” costing the Yankees an expected $20 million, which will all be privately funded by the club. One of the biggest additions will be the Sunrun Kids Clubhouse, set to be installed on the ballpark’s 300 level. The 2,850-square-foot area will be Yankee Stadium’s first-ever children’s zone and will include a mini-baseball field. The team is also “adding a MasterCard Batter’s Eye Deck located on the 200 level in center field, Bullpen Landings on the 100 level in left and right field, an AT&T Sports Lounge featuring DirecTV service in Section 134 and Budweiser Party Decks in Sections 311 and 328 featuring shaded stand-alone bar areas.” Facilities enhancements such as these are – besides stellar pitching and hitting – the best way to improve the game day experience for fans and strengthen the Yankees brand for generations to come.


  1. MLS and USL are booming these days, expanding consistently year-over-year and adding new franchises all around the country. But they are doing so at the expense of the NASL, according to Soccer America. Both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC have announced their departure from NASL for USL, and Minnesota United FC is joining MLS as an expansion club. The three clubs’ departures would “reduce NASL membership to nine teams,” but the league is adding the S.F. Deltas “as an expansion franchise next season.” Like every other pro sports league, having multiple leagues representing multiple levels of play is only going to grow the game in the long run, for fans and for the next generation of players alike. Both MLS and USL have indicated a coordinated approach similar to the first and second divisions of top level soccer all over the world.


  1. Merger headlines are currently dominated by AT&T’s quest to acquire Time Warner, and what that $85.4 billion takeover would mean to the media business and consumers. Equally important in a smaller ecosystem is Dick’s Sporting Goods’ acquisition of bankrupt Golfsmith for $70 million. According to Reuters, Dick’s plans to keep at least 30 Golfsmith stores open, out of 109. Dick’s already operates its own golf chain, Golf Galaxy, so the remaining Golfsmith stores will likely reopen under that brand. For consumers, clues to what benefits from this tie-up might lie ahead can be found in bookseller Barnes & Noble’s 2011 takeover of Borders’ intellectual property. B&N is the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., with 641 stores – almost exactly the same footprint as Dick’s, which has 649. B&N’s acquisitions have resulted in lower prices, more choice, and convenience for consumers, including such benefits as same-day delivery. While Dick’s already offers customer perks, look for the benefits to rapidly accelerate within their expanded golf space. Expanded access and economies of scale are good for golf. The Tiger Woods “evaporation” has led the uninformed into a cynical prediction of golf’s demise. Completely untrue – look at the Golfsmith evolution as an example – Dick’s should “blow this out” into a larger consumer brand that reflects an ongoing support of the sport.


  1. Hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen is personally trying to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. According to the Seattle Times, Hansen wrote a letter to Seattle-area officials offering to privately fund a new arena for more than $500 million. Hansen’s group “needs to prod the Seattle City Council into changing its mind and giving him part of Occidental Avenue South for the arena,” and Hansen viewed forgoing up to $200 million in municipal-bond funding “as a necessary step toward that deal.” Hansen’s group of co-investors include former Sonics President Wally Walker and retailer Nordstrom’s co-Presidents Peter and Erik Nordstrom. Opponents of the plan stated that a new arena would “threaten freight mobility and jobs,” as well as worsen the already bad traffic in the Sodo District. Aside from attracting an NBA team to the newly-proposed arena, Hansen hopes to bring an NHL team to town as well. Why let the Seahawks have all the fun? Hansen is offering the city a sweet deal by essentially assuming all the risk. Taxpayers – many of whom were rabid Sonics fans back in the day – should recognize this and give Hansen his shot. Frankly, the NHL and NBA would both be interested in the Seattle market – given its previous support of minor league hockey and NBA basketball, large corporate base, significant population growth, etc. Look for the Seattle “rebound” (as it were) very shortly.


  1. Booming sportswear company Under Armour “reported its slowest quarterly sales growth in six years,” according to Reuters. The Baltimore-based sportswear maker saw its sales slow due to the underwhelming performance of the North American market, its biggest one. Under Armour still exhibited a net sales growth of 15.6% in Q3, but that number comes well under the 20% marker the company has become accustomed to. The bankruptcy of Sports Authority, a significant UA customer, in July did not help the company’s sales, either, nor did its over $1 billion long-term outfitting deals with top college programs, which are beginning to impact profits. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal noted that apparel sales increased 18% to $1.02 billion for the quarter, “led by growth in men’s training, women’s training, golf and team sports,” while footwear sales increased 42% to $278.8 million. UA for Q3 reported a profit of $128.2 million, up from $100.5 million a year earlier. Bottom line on UA’s bottom line: it’s not smart to bet against Founder, Chair, and CEO Kevin Plank, who is putting the right infrastructure in place for the company to be a $10 billion brand, and counting. In addition, UA is growing its diverse portfolio – athletes, international outreach, baseball sponsorship, etc. All of it is good for sports – especially “retail wars” competition.


  1. Alisports, the sports division of massive Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, is taking another stake in professional sports. According to the South China Morning Post, Alisports is “set to invest $100 million over the next 10 years in an effort to popularize rugby in China.” The cash will be used to set up the first professional rugby leagues for men and women across the country, including national sevens programs. And a “massive” mass participation program “will be launched in 10,000 universities and schools” in an effort to attract 1 million new players over five years. Alibaba currently holds a 40% stake in the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club, known as the Southern China Tigers, of the Chinese Super League. The Tigers are currently valued as the league’s most-valuable team, and Alisports is hoping for a similarly lucrative and successful result with its rugby venture. The more valuable international franchises become, the larger the positive ripple on American sports values – even rugby (over time).


  1. The Detroit Redwings are getting a new arena, and the Pistons are looking into a new home as well. Little Caesars Arena is set to open in less than a year, and talks “have continued” between the Pistons and Olympia Entertainment on moving the team to downtown Detroit for the 2017-2018 season, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. The move is just speculative at this point, with no timetable set on a decision moving forward. A potential deal is complicated by the fact that it would involved the reshuffling of the “entertainment and broadcast rights portions” for both sides, which is usually an exhausting process. Any Pistons relocation deal will require formal approvals from the NBA and from Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority, which “owns the new arena and must sign off on modifications to the facility.” If the Pistons ultimately make the move, the team would not only benefit from a state-of-the-art facility, but it would avoid paying for it. At the very least, the new NHL arena should give the Pistons some leverage in assessing its long-term alternatives – “fan-friendly” suburban Detroit vs. a further commitment of downtown development.


  1. Social media has been incredibly important for teams, leagues – and “athlete corporations.” New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has become one of the most active voices in NBA in regard to social divides. Now, ‘Melo is bringing fellow players on board, urging them to speak up and use their power as professional athletes to help right injustices around the country and world. According to the AP, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver, Chris Paul, and Anthony spoke in a “video where the league and its players continue trying to address the divide in many communities throughout the country.” The video features images and graphics of “multiple interactions with children – including one where uniformed police officers play street basketball with them – and ends” with Celtics players “linking hands and arms in a show of unity.” Wade, Korver, Paul, and Anthony narrate the video. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently spoke about his desire for players to remain standing for the National Anthem, hoping the NBA avoids the divide the NFL and other leagues are currently experiencing. Obviously, the First Amendment is alive and well (especially as a contrast to this turbulent, debilitating election rhetoric). The issue should legitimately only focus on workplace limitations and standards.