RICK HORROW’S TOP 10 SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 8 : Mayor’s Edition
With Jacob Aere
- Cleveland hosting the 2019 MLB All-Star Game is positively impacting the city’s economy. As reported by Fox 8 Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission estimates All-Star Week will generate $65 million in revenue for Cleveland businesses, which includes packed restaurants, sports bars, hotels, and visitors checking out other attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. MLB’s Play Ball Park drew big crowds to the Huntington Convention Center over the weekend. Restaurants are bringing in extra staff, which will also benefit workers who will earn extra tips this week. 2,000 media members are in town giving Cleveland worldwide attention. The huge amount of money being spent in Cleveland, also means the city cashes in with extra tax money which can be used for city improvements, like roads, public transport, and community service programs. Stores like the Cleveland Clothing Company on Euclid Avenue are packed more than usual. “It’s been great for the community and the city,” manager Desiree Moar told Fox8. Cleveland will once again be in the national spotlight when the city hosts the NFL Draft in 2021, and the NBA All Star Game in 2022.
- BofA launches ASG-tied rewards program. As noted by Cynopsis, ahead of the MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland, longtime MLB sponsor Bank of America launched a rewards program tied to ASG festivities. Looking to leverage the drama of extra innings, the “Extra Rewards” promotion offers BofA customers discounts on licensed merchandise at MLB.com, along with some exclusive merchandise. TV ads will support the program, primarily on MLB asset media and in markets where BofA has RSN inventory on local MLB telecasts. Tags supporting the promo will also be read as extra-inning games occur, along with digital and social media. BofA CMO Meredith Verdone said the promotion is designed to enhance customer relevancy and engagement. “The thing we love about the association with extra innings is that there’s always an exciting, emotional ending,” she added. This All-Star Game is especially key to BofA, since it is just entering the Ohio market with retail banking. BofA, an MLB sponsor since 2004, also has deals with the Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Orioles, Red Sox, and Yankees.
- The U.S. women’s national team beat the Netherlands on Sunday to defend their title as reigning World Cup champions. When they get back home, they’ve got a different battle awaiting – their legal fight for equal pay and treatment. In March, the 28 members of the 2015 World Cup-winning team – including current national team stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd – filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination in their treatment versus how the governing body treats the men’s team. “The U.S. women’s soccer team does not need to be the best in the world in order to earn equal pay. The point of non-discrimination law is that employees doing similar work should be paid equally,” Columbia Law School’s Suzanne B. Goldberg told ABC News. The lawsuit also cites the denial of “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; and equal promotion of their games.” Added Goldberg, “In this instance, where the women’s team is outplaying the men’s team, there is an argument that they should be paid more than their male counterparts,“ she said. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson confirmed that the women’s team and the federation tentatively agreed to mediation after the World Cup
- USWNT jersey sales have outpaced all other U.S. soccer jerseys, including those of the men’s team, according to statistics from Nike and Fanatics. As reported by ESPN, Nike said in its earnings report that the women’s 2019 stadium home jersey is now the No. 1-selling soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season. Fanatics said this is the top-selling U.S. Soccer national team, men’s or women’s, of all time. "It’s hard to overstate how important this year has been to the evolution of the women’s offense at Nike,” president and CEO Mark Parker said. The USWNT’s success has helped drive business for Nike even past the jersey, which retails for $90. Parker said the energy around the World Cup, with nearly two-thirds of the teams wearing Nike kits and half the players wearing Nike boots, has pushed the company to the No. 1 position in market share for bras this quarter in North America for the first time in the company’s history. That stat is impressive given the exposure Nike gained in 1999, when Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal against China in a shootout and tore off her jersey, revealing her sports bra – one of the most iconic moments in women’s sports history.
- While it’s long been green, this year Wimbledon is seriously ramping up its sustainability initiatives. Week Two of Wimbledon is underway at the All England Club, and one sight that hasn’t been seen at this year’s tournament is “players discarding the plastic cover from a freshly strung racket.” As the Guardian noted, following a sustainability review, the “removal of plastic bags from the player racket stringing operation means there will be 4,500 fewer plastic bags used” this year. Wimbledon sponsor Evian also launched “its first 100% recycled and 100% recyclable water bottle at this year’s championships.“ Meanwhile, longtime sponsor Rolex ran a full-page ad in the New York Times touting its standing as the official jeweler of Wimbledon: "140 Years of Memorable Performances Ensure Centre Court Will Remain Tennis’s Ultimate Stage.” And timeless tennis superstar Roger Federer has been reveling in a different kind of green: Federer topped Forbes’ list of 2018 athlete endorsement income, at $65 million besting LeBron James ($52 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($47 million), Tiger Woods, and Steph Curry (tied at $42 million)
- IMG is close to signing a ten-year deal worth $1 billion for betting streaming and data rights to the ATP Tour. According to SportBusiness, the partnership being discussed between global agency IMG and ATP Media – the tour’s commercial arm – will reportedly cover the nine ATP Masters 100 tournaments, the Tour 500 series, and a number of the 250 series events. If successful, the deal would add to the agency’s growing portfolio of contracts for IMG Arena, its sports betting and content arm. The division, launched in November, 2018, is already a data partner for golf’s PGA Tour and European Tour, and looking at capitalizing on new U.S. sports wagering laws. IMG’s involvement in tennis is already significant. The agency has representatives on the ATP board, reps elite players including Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, and owns and operates ATP tournaments including the Miami Open and Rio Open. If confirmed, this will be the biggest rights deal in tennis history.
- Major League Soccer will host a new MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by Target at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on July 30. The first-time event takes place during the MLS All-Star break, allowing fans to watch on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS App and streamed live in English, Spanish, and French across the digital platforms of all five MLS domestic media partners – ESPN, FOX, and Univision in the U.S., TSN and TVA Sports in Canada – as well as in more than 170 countries around the world through MLS’ international media partners. Points in each of the competitive skills will be earned based on accuracy, as well as style and include: touch and volley; shooting; and passing. The 2019 MLS All-Star Game Presented by Target will take place in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31 at Orlando City Stadium, which holds close to 26,000 fans. The festivities join the city’s rich tradition of hosting mega events, including two annual college football bowl games, PGA Tour tourneys, and the annual Pop Warner Super Bowl and cheer national championships.
- Universal Tennis releases an app to makes tennis more available to the masses. According to PR Newswire, the UTR app helps to connect the tennis community as it helps to rank the skill level of players across the globe. At the core of the Universal Tennis platform is the Universal Tennis Rating, the global gold standard for measuring tennis skill across age, gender, and geography. UTR and the Universal Tennis platform have been adopted by players, coaches, organizers, academies, clubs, and colleges worldwide to facilitate more connectivity and better competition across the tennis landscape. The new UTR app is free for all tennis players of any age and skill level. In the United States, all USTA and college players already have a rating and profile on UTR, and any player can create their own profile. To celebrate the app’s launch, Universal Tennis will raffle tennis gear for those who post scores, whether professional or amateur.
- Marvel joins the esports world thanks to superheroes. According to Forbes, Team Liquid has announced a new partnership with Marvel that will see its players wear Avengers-inspired jerseys at certain special events. The year-long contract includes inspired jerseys from Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers Endgame, and a collaborative T-shirt between the two parties. The first look at the new gear was in the team’s Captain America jerseys at the EU vs NA Rift Rivals League of Legends competition taking place in Los Angeles last weekend. As Avengers Endgame nearly overtook Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time, Marvel is now expanding its influence into the world of gaming and further building its empire while Team Liquid will garner a new slew of fans.
- The MLB All Star Game auctions off Louisville Slugger and Fender guitars for charity. This year’s All-Star game is taking place in Cleveland, Ohio, and will pay tribute to the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. According to Yahoo! Finance, the location of the All-Star Week makes for an ideal partnership between two manufacturers that are world leaders in their respective areas: Louisville Slugger baseball bats and Fender musical instruments. To celebrate the rock n’ roll history of the city, MLB partnered with the two companies to create a public exhibit featuring 31 pairs of artist-painted Fender Stratocasters and Louisville Slugger baseball bats, one for each MLB team and one for the Baseball Hall of Fame. These bats and guitars will be displayed through July 9 at Cleveland Public Square’s Midsummer Village and will later be auctioned off for charity, with funds raised by MLB Charities to be used for instrument purchases and music program learning resources.