RICK HORROW’S TOP 10 SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 7 : MAYOR’S EDITION
with Jacob Aere
- In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act, allowing collegiate athletes to collect endorsement money. The law, which would go into effect January 2023, makes it illegal for schools to prevent athletes from earning money by selling the rights to their name, image, or likeness to outside bidders. The NCAA responded by saying in a statement that the organization would continue its effort to monitor make adjustments to its rules “that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.” At the national level, U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), a standout receiver at Ohio State and in the NFL, is planning to propose a new national law that would give college athletes the opportunity to make endorsement money. U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R., N.C) also proposed in March the Student-Athlete Equity Act that would change the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization under the U.S. tax code. Discussion at the state level also intensifies: nine other states to date have introduced similar legislation.
- William Hill inks new partnerships with the NBA and Monumental Sports. The British bookmaker will become the NBA’s fourth licensed betting operator. In addition, they will be opening an all-purpose sports-betting complex in Monumental’s crown jewel, Capital One Arena. William Hill joins MGM Resorts, FanDuel, and The Stars Group as official partners with the NBA, as the league looks to expand its gambling footprint. The Washington Post and other sources reported that William Hill will crucially get access to official betting data from the league, while the NBA will get a cut of their bets based on volume, a “royalty” of sorts for use of its intellectual property. Also announced last week was a partnership with Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the owner of Capital One Arena which is home to the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics. Executives from both companies said they hope to turn the arena into an all-purpose sports-betting complex where fans can place wagers on their phones while watching from the stands, or stop over at the site formerly occupied by Greene Turtle Bar and Grill. The sportsbook is expected to open as soon as 2020, “depending on regulatory approval.”
- “Power of Sports” Indianapolis episode premieres. This month, the popular show hosted by Rick Horrow and distributed by FOX Sports regional sports networks nationwide returns to Indianapolis to profile the regional impact of sports. A big part of the October episode takes place inside iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but not on the bricks…instead, on the links. 2019 marked the third year of the Indy Women in Tech Championship Driven by Group1001, one of the premiere stops on the LPGA Tour. The best golfers in the world fought it out at Brickyard Crossing with a $2 million purse on the line. Off the course, a full week of events made the most of this community-centered event. The week began with the IWiT Summit, where leaders from the golf, business, and tech worlds came together to discuss the benefits of inclusivity and diversity in their industries. The October episode also profiles philanthropic initiatives by the Indianapolis Colts – who stunned the Kansas City Chiefs in a primetime Sunday upset – and an Indy nonprofit founded by a national champion cyclist who uses an innovative program to share his love of cycling with kids.
- Also on the social good front, for the eleventh consecutive season, the NFL and the American Cancer Society will work together to support the fight against cancer through “Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer.” The initiative kicks off in stadiums this weekend and will run through Week 7 games, addresses early detection and risk reduction efforts for multiple cancers. As part of the campaign, the NFL and ACS will continue encouraging the entire NFL community to complete the Defender, a free digital tool, which provides consumers with a personalized game plan to reduce their cancer risk. Several players will again support the campaign, including Drew Brees, Quinnen Williams, Kyle Rudolph, and the American Cancer Society’s fifteen player ambassadors who have lent their voice. “Crucial Catch” again joins the NFL’s lengthy list of annual philanthropic initiatives, including NFL players’ “My Cause My Cleats” collaboration during Week 13 and its 46-year partnership with United Way.
- In Miami, Super Bowl LIV has already kicked off. Last Saturday, the HistoryMiami Museum opened the exhibit, “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football HOF.” The exhibit arrives ahead of Super Bowl LIV and “will remain there until February 9,” according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The exhibit features 8,000 square feet of “photographs, vintage jerseys, helmets and interactive displays,” along with the Lombardi Trophy on display in a “Champions Theater.” The museum’s “Hometown Heroes” section “celebrates the Dolphins and athletes who played in South Florida during high school and college.” And last Friday, Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel announced that Hard Rock Stadium will "phase out 99.4% of single-use plastics by 2020 – including for Super Bowl LIV.” On December 22, Hard Rock Stadium will become the first venue in the NFL to “feature 20oz sustainable draft cups.” In all, the team will “eliminate more than 2.8 million pieces of plastic annually including over 600,000 plastic bottles.”
- The Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center tenure begins. The Warriors were “happy to get into their new billion dollar home” on Saturday night despite losing to the Lakers during the team’s exhibition opener at Chase Center, according to ESPN. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “The crowd was fantastic. It seemed like everybody was, including the players and coaches and officials, everybody was sort of looking around.” The “cheapest ticket on the secondary market for Saturday’s debut game” was $131, and to get in the lower bowl, fans had to “shell out $300-plus.” The San Jose Mercury-News added that the arena is an "impressive building and a testament to what next-level perseverance, strong vision, and a ton of cold, hard cash can build.” There is “not a thing functionally wrong with this place.” Along with the indoor Jumbotron, Chase Center "boasts a prominent outdoor video screen, the captivating feature of a spacious outdoor area.” Samsung partnered with the Warriors to install the Jumbotron, the largest center hung main videoboard installed in a sports arena — a feature that will make the building a top level concert destination.
- AEG Facilities, SMG officially combine to create ASM Global, the world’s largest venue management company. AEG Facilities and SMG have officially merged to create ASM Global, a new, standalone global facility management and venue services company. ASM’s vast portfolio spans more than 300 arenas, convention centers, and other venues across five continents. ASM will be headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in suburban Philadelphia, the UK, Australia, and Brazil. Former AEG Facilities President Bob Newman has been named ASM President and CEO, effective immediately. Newman spent more than 20 years at SMG prior to joining AEG. Private equity firm Onex, AEG, and their affiliates are contributing their entire equity investments in SMG and AEG Facilities, respectively, into the combined business and are now equal co-owners of ASM Global. SMG is a premier operator of convention centers, while AEG’s background is as an arena developer. This is a merger of extremely complementary companies. AEG owns and operates venues, while SMG primarily provides venue management services.
- LeBron James’ and Maverick Carter’s media company Uninterrupted launches Nike sneaker and e-commerce store. According to Fast Company, the partnership not only includes an Uninterrupted-branded Air Force 1 sneaker but also a new apparel collection that features a hoodie, shorts, hats, and socks, available exclusively on Uninterrupted’s newly launched e-commerce store on October 7. The brand has always been based in athlete empowerment, and the announcement timing conveniently suggests Uninterrupted’s version of empowerment is more than a marketing slogan. On Monday, news broke that California Governor Gavin Newsom had signed a bill on LeBron and Carter’s show “The Shop” that would allow college athletes to hire agents and get paid for endorsement deals. LeBron is standing up for athletes across the globe to be more than one-dimensional, while simultaneously setting himself up in the media and business worlds for life after basketball.
- WWE legend John Cena announces pledge for veterans’ charity. According to FOX Sports, Cena appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last Monday to call on others to donate to FitOps, pledging to match all donations from now through Veterans Day (November 11) up to $1 million. FitOps is a foundation that helps military veterans find stability, success, and community through fitness. The organization helps veterans achieve personal trainer certification, creating a path in life after service. Out of the ring, Cena is known for his charitable endeavors with Make-a-Wish and his receipt of the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award – it seems that even through his busy Hollywood schedule, his philanthropy won’t get lost in the shuffle.
- Tim and Negah Connelly’s Ping Pong charity fundraiser for LuBird’s Light Foundation includes Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. Some of the Mile High City’s biggest athletes and local sports personalities were in attendance at the EXDO Event center in the Rino neighborhood to show their support for the Connelly family and help raise awareness for the LuBird’s Light Foundation. The organization is raising money to create accessible playgrounds for children of all abilities. High-profile athletes ranging from the Colorado Rapids’ Tim Howard and Jamal Murray to several members of the Denver Broncos were on hand. The event raised over $22,000 in less than four hours. According to NBA.com, Jokić plays a ping pong match three hours before every Nuggets home game and almost won the entire competition. Jokić and Murray were joined by 11 other Nuggets players in attendance. By playing a game that levels the playing fields across diverse athletes, the Nuggets have shown unity to rally for children who need greater accessibility on playgrounds.