21 Aug

15 to watch + tech week of aug 21 2017

  1.  There’s no doubt that Saturday’s fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather is going to be huge.And if you ask UFC president Dana White, it’s also going to be record-setting. During a media call last week, White predicted that the fight will generate well over the Las Vegas over-under line of 4.9 million Showtime pay-per-view buys. "This is the biggest fight ever. It’s tracking right now to be the largest commercial pay-per-view ever done,“ White said. His expected total would shatter the previous non-heavyweight PPV record of 4.6 million buys ($437 million in revenue) set by the 2015 fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather estimates he’ll earn $350 million from the fight, and while McGregor hasn’t provided specifics about his cut, White says it will be "a lot of life-changing money." White has been synonymous with hype before, but this time around indications are strong that the bout will KO revenue records.


  1. Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim tournament officials have announced they will reroute the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course for the inaugural LPGA event in Indianapolis.The reroute of the early September event, which will feature 144 of the world’s best female golfers, will see traditional holes 7-10 inside the track become tournament holes 15-18; the remaining hole order will also change. Organizers rerouted the course to create a more impactful experience for players, spectators, and TV viewers. “We can’t wait to see one of the world’s best female golfers holing a putt on the new tournament hole 18 to win $300,000,” said Harry Hardy, Tournament Director. Eleven out of the 12 U.S. Solheim Cup players have confirmed, including World No. 2 Lexi Thompson and KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Winner Danielle Kang. “We are delighted with the strength of the field and the support from top players for the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship,” said Dan Towriss, President and CEO, Guggenheim Life and Annuity. Innovation is key for a tournament week highlighting women and technology, and Guggenheim is proving to be a worthy steward.
  1. In the Charlottesville aftermath, figures such as LeBron James are using their platforms as professional athletes to speak out against President Donald Trump. According to ESPN.com, James, who has emerged as one of sports’ most high-profile voices on social issues, “called for a hearing in wake of last weekend’s violent protests.” James spoke at his annual charity event, the LeBron James Family Foundation celebration at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio, saying that we have to love each other if we ever want to improve as a society. “It’s not about the guy that’s the so-called president of the United States,” said James. “It’s about all of us looking in the mirror and saying, ‘What can we do better to help change?’” This is not the first time that James has spoken out against hatred and discrimination – ever since the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012 he has used his stardom to create positive change. While some fans wish that athletes would stick to sports talk, leaders like LeBron clearly have the ability to positively influence the greater dialogue, and should continue to do so.


  1. The concussion problem is sports is starting to expand beyond the NFL and the United States.According to The Age, the Australian Football League is ramping up its efforts to fight concussions by designing new, custom-built helmets for all players. These helmets, described as “revolutionary,” are being designed and funded by the AFL. AFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Harcourt recently declared that the league has “barely scratched the surface in understanding concussion.” To really put the AFL’s progress on concussion research and protocol in perspective, Dr. Harcourt noted, “If you were thinking in terms of our understanding of concussion, if it’s a 100-kilometer journey, we’re probably 15 kilometers down the road. So, we’ve got a long way to go.” Two different helmet designs are in the process of being developed, with one of them already having been presented to league representatives. It doesn’t matter from which continent concussion research springs – cumulatively, the studies have the ability to keep tens of thousands of athletes safer.


  1. Mario Sharapova is set to compete in her first major since 2016 after receiving an invite to compete in the U.S. Open.According to the Washington Post, the USTA granted Sharapova a wild-card entry into the tournament. Following her year-long drug suspension, the tennis star did not play in either the French Open or Wimbledon; her presence in New York is expected to boost the ratings of tournament broadcaster ESPN. Adding Sharapova to the field should provide some more excitement for fans, since Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Stan Wawrinka will all be missing from action. Sharapova reportedly “volunteered to speak to young players at the USTA national campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the responsibility each player has to comply with it,” thus exemplifying her commitment to a clean return to tennis. 


  1. Get ready for “The Meet.”According to the London Daily Mail, an innovative new track meet between the U.S. and Great Britain is in the works for next summer. The two track powerhouses will square off at London Stadium on July 21, 2018, competing in a series of events that include running, jumping, hurdles, and relays. Specifics as to every event and competition that will be included have yet to be finalized. The event is expected to be “fast-paced” and will last only two hours, keeping fans engaged instead of dragging out events across a whole day. “The Meet will provide audiences with a fantastic head-to-head match between British Athletics and USA Track & Field, and promises to be one of the biggest events in athletics in 2018,” commented UK Athletics CEO Niels de Vos. While it’s hard to imagine a “speed sport” would need hurrying up, virtually every sport is examining pace of play issues in light of our ever-shortening attention spans. Track is no exception.


  1. After multiple delays, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is almost ready for action.According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Falcons’ new home remains on track to open August 26 for a preseason matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. The sunflower-shaped retractable roof has caused multiple delays due to the complexity of the shape; the roof will remain closed from now until August 26, with the plan being to “slowly open and re-close the roof in the days after that to continue testing.” AMB Group Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mike Egan said that engineers are “still working out some bugs to ensure the roof can be opened or closed in 11 minutes.” Despite opening for action in a matter of weeks, stadium officials confirmed that it will take until at least October “before the roof is sufficiently automated to be opened for events.” Upon opening, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will house both the Atlanta Falcons and MLS expansion club Atlanta United FC. A popular “Brady Bunch” episode had a female client of architect Mike Brady wanting a building that could open like her compact – soon, that might be achievable. 


  1. Seattle city officials are hoping to finalize a deal to renovate KeyArena before the year’s end.According to the Seattle Times, a draft agreement to renovate the arena for NBA and NHL teams is expected to be completed by September 12. Los Angeles-based Oak View Group is proposing a $564 million renovation of the iconic arena, competing against a bid from entrepreneur Chris Hansen to build a privately-funded arena from the ground up. One knock against Hansen’s bid is that the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders have “complained that Hansen’s group has yet to negotiate a binding event scheduling deal with them.” Some city council arena committee members are concerned about being able to meet the quickly-approaching deadlines; the council has “engaged its own consultant to review the city’s draft Memorandum of Understanding with OVG after September 12, but that bumps up against the start of a two-month period typically used by staffers to help finalize the city’s budget.” In order to avoid a “Build It and Nobody Will Come” scenario, both competing groups need to solicit full input from the local teams ASAP. Otherwise it’s just idle talk.


  1. The joint World Cup bid between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is taking a step forward, as potential host sites have been announced by the organizing committee.According to SI.com, 44 cities are contending to host the record 80 matches that will comprise the 2026 World Cup. Of the cities and sites on the list, every NFL stadium was included except the Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field. Even Lambeau Field, which has never hosted a soccer match in its storied history, was added to the list over New Era Field. Los Angeles boasted three different stadiums on the list – the Rose Bowl, City of Champions Stadium, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – while Mexico had only three potential sites noted. Morocco submitted a last-minute bid to vie against the North American joint bid, meaning FIFA will not be able to expedite the voting process as U.S. soccer officials had hoped. The Morocco bid is likely just a speed bump – for both practical and political reasons, the North American bid has strong backing and should prevail.


  1. With the Chargers officially moving to Los Angeles, the City of San Diego is preparing to close Qualcomm Stadium in 2018.According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, city leaders intend to close the facility on December 31, 2018, though there are still 568 events scheduled at the stadium up until that point. The Chargers “reported an operating deficit of about $8.7 million” from the stadium in Fiscal Year 2017; the number is expected to be around $6.6 million in FY 2018. Surprisingly, only two full-time staff members have lost their jobs at the stadium since the Chargers left town, causing stadium expenses to remain higher than preferred.  For FY 2018, the personnel budget is listed as $3.6 million, up $12,716 from last year “due to higher pay and fringe benefits.” Former City Manager Jack McGrory said, “Are you kidding me? It seems like you’d have bigger, deeper cuts in operating expenses.” Left in limbo at present are a long-term home for San Diego State University’s football team and the popular Holiday Bowl, which may end up following the Chargers north. 
  2. The English Premier League has experienced quite a shift in its sponsor demographic over the past decades.According to the London Independent, shirt sponsors have “changed beyond recognition since the days when Queens Park Rangers promoted Classic FM and Blackburn Rovers McEwan’s Lager.” Instead of bearing the names of alcohol brands, an influx of foreign money has seen bookmakers take over a significant share of kit sponsorship deals with EPL clubs. This season, nine bookmakers are signed on as jersey sponsors, “one down from last season’s record of 10.” When the EPL started in 1992-1993, the “biggest sectors for shirt sponsorship were consumer electronics, with six deals, and beer, with four.” Electronics and beer held a “steady presence” through the 1990s before falling off in the 2000s. Last season, there was “just one beer sponsor,” Chang Beer, on Everton’s shirts. Changing times beget changing logos, but while the EPL has embraced bookmakers, it will be many years before American pro sports leagues do so, if ever.


  1. This coming year’s NBA schedule is emphasizing “player rest and health.”According to USA Today, the league’s 2017-2018 slate will start one week earlier than it typically does, while simultaneously eliminating “scenarios in which teams play four games in five nights.” Over the past few years, players have been quick to blame a brutal travel schedule as the primary reason for a lot of unnecessary injuries due to wear and tear. This move is also in the best interest of the league to protect its TV ratings, for there were “multiple nationally televised games on ABC last season” that were marred by All-Stats sitting out to rest. No team will have to travel more than 3,500 miles in the seven days prior to a “marquee” nationally televised game. ABC is really trying to bolster its rating this season; “none of the ABC games for the Golden State Warriors this year are coming in back-to-back….”


  1. Ticket sales for the NHL expansion club Las Vegas Golden Knights have been solid thus far.According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, team Vice President/Ticketing and Suites Todd Pollock called single-game ticket sales “brisk.” The team is set to play its first NHL home game against the Arizona Coyotes on October 10 at the brand new T-Mobile Arena right off of the Strip. At the close of the first day of online single-game ticket sales, seats remained for all 41 home games as well as the preseason matchups, though “some games only had single seats available near the glass and at center ice.” The team employed a dynamic pricing model, with opponents being one of the largest reasons for price fluctuation. Glass and center ice seats remain for most games because of their asking price, which typically starts at around $2,000 per ticket. Premium pricing policy “was instituted because of supply and demand.” So far, enthusiasm for the Golden Knights has exceeded NHL expectations. Of course, the only way to sustain this demand is a winning product on ice.


  1. In a perfect world, sponsors hope to ride on the coattails of their athletes’ success, and that is exactly what is happening for South Korea-based Hanwha.According to the Korea Times, business conglomerate Hanwha is gaining significant exposure from the success of its sponsored female golfers. Hanwha’s name was written on the cap of In-kyung Kim’s hat when she raised the trophy at the Women’s British Open, while also appearing on the hat and orange jacket of Korean-Japanese golfer Haru Nomura when she won the Texas Shootout this past May. But Hanwha, Korea’s eighth-largest conglomerate, has not been the only company to benefit from the success of homegrown female golfers. Korean firms have “already sponsored 10 Korean female golfers who have gained victories this season.” Industry officials said that golf deals “allow companies to make huge profits with relatively low investments,” as exemplified here. Korean women dominate the LPGA, and the men’s side of the sport is fast trying to play catch up, as a handful of Korean golfers are beginning to make their mark on the PGA and other tours.


  1. The Nashville MLS bid took a big step forward by releasing initial stadium renderings for a soccer-specific facility.According to the Nashville Tennessean, the group trying to land an expansion bid unveiled the designs for a 30,000-seat stadium that would “transform the aging Metro-owned Fairgrounds Nashville.” A huge gap in the plan at this point is a cost figure and financing plan, but those elements are expected to come in the near future; Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s COO Rich Riebeling said that the mayor’s office hopes to have these financial negotiations in 45 to 60 days “and file legislation for a stadium deal in October.” The proposed stadium site is on 117 acres south of downtown. Nashville Soccer Club Holdings Chair John Ingram spoke at a special Metro Council committee meeting to present the stadium renderings, “Having a stadium that is approved by MLS is an absolutely essential part of ultimately being successful.” Ingram first made his mark in the book world via publishing’s biggest wholesale business. Now, he’s trying to balance Nashville’s soccer books.