30 Jul

A Look Into The Near Future 7-30-15

A Look Into The Near Future

By Rick Horrow w/ contributions from Jamie Swimmer

7/30/15

This past week has been an eventful one thus far: Boston’s hopeful Olympics bid was dropped, last minute blockbuster trades have reshaped multiple MLB teams before the deadline, and
Roger Goodell surprised many when he appointed former Tampa Bay Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke as COO of the NFL. And those are just a few headlines that took place off of the field.

With that and more, let’s take a look into the near future.

Shots Fired in New England

The Deflategate situation involving the New England Patriots continues to make headlines as the league just announced Tom Brady’s four game suspension will be upheld. Owner Robert Kraft did not take this situation lightly, calling the NFL’s decision to uphold the suspension “unfathomable” and said the league’s handling of the entire Deflategate situation has been “extremely frustrating and disconcerting.” It was expected that Brady’s suspension would be reduced by a game or two as Kraft cited it is “routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal.” The Patriots will be without their franchise quarterback for opening day against the Steelers, following with matchups against the Bills, Jaguars, and Cowboys. Kraft concluded his statement about the league by stating, “I was wrong to put my faith in the league.”

NBA Expands Beyond Borders

The NBA is continuing their effort to expand its reach to parts of the world that is never has before. This Saturday, Team World – consisting of players like Chris Paul, Brad Beal, and the Gasol brothers – will square off against Team Africa – composed of African-born players and second-generation African players – in front of a sold-out crowd at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa. This weekend’s NBA Africa Game 2015 marks the league’s first NBA game to take place in Africa and it will be played in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of

South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. In the United States, the game will air live on ESPN and in Africa it will air on SuperSport.While the NBA Africa Game 2015 is a huge step for the league, nine preseason and two regular season games will be played internationally this upcoming season. Cities such as Vancouver, Milan, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and London will be playing host for the NBA, as a variety of metrics were used in deciding what markets to target. NBA President of Global Operations & Merchandise Sal LaRocca views China, Europe, Canada, and Brazil as emerging markets, noting the heavy presence of European players and an all-time high of 12 Canadian players in the NBA last season as major factors in identifying high-priority markets.

MLS Continues to Draw Big Names

The MLS is finally starting to gain some traction in the international market for high-profile players. With expansion teams such as NYC FC and Orlando City SC being added to the mix, European stars have started to migrate over to the American soccer league like never before. The New York expansion team, which is in its first season of play, has already signed Englishman Frank Lampard, former Italy captain Andrea Pirlo, and Spanish forward David Villa to contracts. Similarly, the Los Angeles Galaxy have been making moves of their own to bring top players to Southern California. The LA club recently signed Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos – a deal many were shocked by – along with former England captain Steven Gerrand, the only player to have ever scored in the finals of the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup, and Champions League. And then come the lowly Montreal Impact, who finally caught their first big fish in the international market by signing the French-speaking Chelsea star, Didier Drogba. With the signing, the team has seen a “flood of callers to the Impact offices seeking tickets to perhaps the best and most famous player acquisition in team history.” All of these player transactions have greatly boosted the MLS’s reputation, and with more big names like PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic stating their interest on moving overseas, the future of the league is looking as promising as ever.

26 Jul

“15 TO WATCH”:  HORROW’S TOP SPORTS NEWS/MARKETING/DEAL-MAKING/ BUSINESS/CORPORATE/ENDORSEMENT ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 26

—-NFL camps open. Packers numbers offer a rare glimpse of NFL economics through public records. As originally reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Green Bay Packers posted record revenues of $375.5 million for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. The Packers reported $226 million of national revenues, up 20.6%, meaning the league distributed $7.2 billion to its 32 teams. Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said that the team ranks ninth in total revenues. The 20 percent increase in revenues is consistent with the new marketing deals, international development, television payments, and the like. Roger Goodell never sleeps, challenging his staff to reach $25 billion in total annual revenues by the end of the labor deal.

—-College football kickoff only one month away! The NCAA will distribute $18.9 million to D-I schools this year to help them pay for cost-of-attendance scholarships, additional food for athletes, or various academic projects. Each of the nearly 350 D-I schools will get an equal share of the money, meaning the schools will receive about $55,000 apiece. Athletic directors, conferences, and school presidents all grappling with the new economic realities: “bidding” for high school superstars while generating enough revenue to support other sports. This helps!

—-NHL in Vegas? After receiving fewer bids than expected, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said league expansion isn’t guaranteed. Sixteen expansion applications were requested from the league, but only bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City were actually submitted. Bidders were required to submit a $10 million deposit, $2 million of which was non-refundable. Many possible reasons for this: Vegas appearing the clear winner, others in line for potential Arizona Coyotes relocation, arena problems in applicant cities, etc.

—-Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson: U.S. Conference of Mayors Chairman, former Phoenix Suns All-Star, Sacramento cheerleader, now arena developer. A Sacramento judge handed Sacramento a resounding victory by rejecting a lawsuit challenging the city’s 2014 deal with the Kings to subsidize a new downtown arena. City officials said that they plan to move forward in the next few weeks on their stalled plans to finance their share of arena construction. As in all sports, leagues are no stronger than their respective weakest arena links. NBA on its way to resolving all problems. Kudos again to Adam Silver.

—-Heading to Whistling Straits and golf’s final Major – two weeks away. While it may come as a surprise that golf superstar and Lagardere Unlimited client Jordan Spieth has not yet cracked the London School of Marketing rankings of the most marketable athletes, don’t shed too many tears for the Texas born golfer. In just four events on the PGA Tour this year— the Masters he won in April, the U.S. Open he won in June, the John Deere Classic he won in July, and the British Open – Spieth had winnings of $4,906,377, sending his prize money for the year to $9,170,215. London School of Marketing top five: Federer, Woods, Mickelson, LeBron James, Kevin Durant. Lagardere’s strategy has been to selectively choose long-term corporate partners – and it is clearly paying off. Jordan Spieth will be a marketing and endorsement force in sports and entertainment for decades to come!

—-MLB diversity and creativity: Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park next year will host a big air snowboarding and freeskiing U.S. Grand Prix tour stop. The event is the culmination of a two-year effort by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to attempt a large-scale urban event. Fenway Sports and the USSA will split the costs and revenue from the event. Key for new or renovated stadiums these days is diversity and creativity – football, concerts, soccer, etc. But skiing???? Kudos to the Red Sox.

—-Protecting the Wildcat image? The University of Kentucky issued Drake a cease-and-desist letter after the rapper’s appearance at the school’s Big Blue Madness event because of illegal contact with recruits. Kentucky’s compliance office self-reported to the NCAA the impermissible communication between Drake and three potential student-athletes. Coach Calipari always is the center of attention (if not controversy). His methods are usually successful, but his “one and done” generates some ire and suspicion (though mostly respect). An example of bending over backwards to be extremely careful to protect and cultivate a positive image inside and outside the NCAA.

—-Arizona Coyotes Band-Aid. As originally reported by the Arizona Republic, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Arizona Coyotes and the city of Glendale agreed to a new lease deal that will keep the team at Gila River Arena through the 2017 season. The deal trims the management fee the city pays annually to the Coyotes from $15 million to $6.5 million and shifts all hockey-related revenue to the team instead of Glendale. Short-term solution may be another reason for only two expansion applications this time around. Word may have been sent that relocating the Coyotes is possible in the near future. Stay tuned.

—-NBA logo and the retired superstar. NBA officials are in discussions with Nike over how the company’s Jordan Brand Jumpman logo will be folded into the league’s new apparel deal, according to John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Journal. The eight-year, $1 billion deal between Nike and the NBA takes effect with the 2017-18 season. The Jerry West silhouette gives way to the Jordan NBA logo – how much is it worth at the league level? I think we will see.

—-Giants and Cubs marketing superstars. San Francisco Giants P Madison Bumgarner tops the list of MLB jersey sales at the league’s official online shop from Opening Day to the All-Star Game. Last season’s World Series MVP appears on the list for the first time, as does Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, whose second-place ranking is the highest of any rookie since the league and MLBPA began releasing jersey sales rankings in 2010. Giants attendance at 99.4 percent capacity and Cubs at 89.2 percent capacity, an ongoing testament to the value of the young and rookie superstar.

—-Jaguars and NFL look to the young fan and Internet future. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the first team in the NFL to launch their own fully functional emoji keyboard. Several players, including QB Blake Bortles and RB Denard Robinson, signed off on the emoji characters in their image. The initiative is part of the team’s #MOREJAX marketing and digital campaign. Hopefully, the emoji keycard can reflect more happy faces than negative faces this year!

—-NHL preparing for international games and corresponding revenue. The NHL and NHLPA reportedly are seeking $8 million for on-jersey ads for all eight teams participating in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Advertisers said that the league and the union also are selling virtual advertising on rink dasher boards for the first time. Everyone thought the World Cup would be a success for all; as the league and NFLPA receive a revenue bonanza, this process should begin to validate Gary Bettman’s vision on this issue.

—-The demise of the “pigeon game?” The Sun Belt Conference wants the league’s football programs to cut back on the number of big money, non-conference games against Power Five schools. The combined schedules this season of the 11 Sun Belt teams include 35 non-conference games against other FBS conferences, with 19 of them against Power Five teams. The huge payday for smaller schools against overmatching Power Five opponents may be coming to an end – even though it meant more visibility, exposure, and revenue for emerging schools.

—-NFL training camps open Part 2: Vikings on the hot seat. Radisson hotels is ending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after suspending its partnership with the team in September following RB Adrian Peterson’s child abuse arrest. Radisson had a one-year deal to put its logo on the Vikings’ press conference backdrop, and is letting the deal expire without renegotiation talks. The remaking of Peterson’s image will be a work in progress through the season – nothing that contrition and 1,500 yards can’t fix!

—-Media increasingly careful about image. Colin Cowherd has been pulled from the air by ESPN for offensive comments he made about Dominican baseball players on his radio show. THE MLBPA reportedly considered withholding support from ESPN if the network didn’t take action against Cowherd. Radio and television superstar “musical chairs” has actually given way to a careful retrospective on image among the major media moguls and networks.

26 Jul

Best, Boom, Hope week of 7/26/15

Bust, Boom, Hope: NFL

Bust: Radisson hotels is ending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after suspending its partnership with the team in September following RB Adrian Peterson’s child abuse arrest.  Radisson had a one-year deal to put its logo on the Vikings’ press conference backdrop, and is letting the deal expire without renegotiation talks.

Boom: As originally reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Green Bay Packers posted record revenues of $375.5 million for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015.  The Packers reported $226 million of national revenues, up 20.6%, meaning the league distributed $7.2 billion to its 32 teams.  Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said that the team ranks ninth in total revenues.

Hope: The Jacksonville Jaguars are the first team in the NFL to launch their own fully functional emoji keyboard.  Several players, including QB Blake Bortles and RB Denard Robinson, signed off on the emoji characters in their image.  The initiative is part of the team’s #MOREJAX marketing and digital campaign.

What it means: While the Packers’ saw an increase in revenue, the team also experienced a sharp increase in expenses.  Expenses jumped 12.7% to $336 million as the club aggressively added to Lambeau Field and an adjacent development dubbed Titletown.  As the only public sports team, the Packers are required to release annual financial statements.

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Bust, Boom, Hope: NHL

Bust: After receiving fewer bids than accepted, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said league expansion isn’t guaranteed.  Sixteen expansion applications were requested from the league, but only bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City were actually submitted.  Bidders were required to submit a $10 million deposit, $2 million of which was non-refundable.

Boom: As originally reported by the Arizona Republic, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Arizona Coyotes and the city of Glendale agreed to a new lease deal that will keep the team at Gila River Arena through the 2017 season.  The deal trims the management fee the city pays annually to the Coyotes from $15 million to $6.5 million and shifts all hockey-related revenue to the team instead of Glendale.

Hope: The NHL and NHLPA reportedly are seeking $8 million for on-jersey ads for all eight teams participating in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.  Advertisers said that the league and the union also are selling virtual advertising on rink dasher boards for the first time.

What it means: Commissioner Gary Bettman said he wasn’t surprised by a lack of bids from Seattle, and he made it clear that the league wouldn’t wait on the city to put together a credible bid.  There’s no known timetable for the league to publicly announce its expansion plans.

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Bust, Boom, Hope: College Sports

Bust: The University of Kentucky issued Drake a cease-and-desist letter after the rapper’s appearance at the school’s Big Blue Madness event because of illegal contact with recruits.  Kentucky’s compliance office self-reported to the NCAA the impermissible communication between Drake and three potential student-athletes.

Boom: The NCAA will distribute $18.9 million to D-I schools this year to help them pay for cost-of-attendance scholarships, additional food for athletes, or various academic projects.  Each of the nearly 350 D-I schools will get an equal share of the money, meaning the schools will receive about $55,000 apiece.

Hope: The Sun Belt Conference wants the league’s football programs to cut back on the number of big money, non-conference games against Power Five schools.  The combined schedules this season of the 11 Sun Belt teams include 35 non-conference games against other FBS conferences, with 19 of them against Power Five teams.

What it means: The pool of money will be in addition to the more than $500 million the NCAA now annually distributes to D-I schools and conferences.  All D-I schools will receive additional money beginning with the 2015-16 school year.  The money is being financed through cuts elsewhere in the NCAA’s operating budget and through reallocation of money that had been going to an NCAA endowment fund.

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Bust, Boom, Hope: NBA

Bust: The NBPA’s inaugural Players’ Awards in Las Vegas drew just seven of the 29 coaches and players expected to attend and few big-name attendees.  The union hopes the awards will become a staple on the league calendar and will hope lure players to future union meetings.

Boom: A Sacramento judge handed Sacramento a resounding victory by rejecting a lawsuit challenging the city’s 2014 deal with the Kings to subsidize a new downtown arena.  City officials said that they plan to move forward in the next few weeks on their stalled plans to finance their share of arena construction.

Hope: NBA officials are in discussions with Nike over how the company’s Jordan Brand Jumpman logo will be folded into the league’s new apparel deal, according to John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Journal.  The eight-year, $1 billion deal between Nike and the NBA takes effect with the 2017-18 season.

What it means: The Kings said they’ve exceeded local hiring and contracting goals for building their new arena.  The Kings and an arena advisory council said 78% of the construction contracts, totaling $280 million, were awarded to local companies.  The $507 million arena, scheduled to open in October 2016, will be called Golden 1 Center.

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Bust, Boom, Hope: MLB

Bust: Colin Cowherd has been pulled from the air by ESPN for offensive comments he made about Dominican baseball players on his radio show.  THE MLBPA reportedly considered withholding support from ESPN if the network didn’t take action against Cowherd.

Boom: San Francisco Giants P Madison Bumgarner tops the list of MLB jersey sales at the league’s official online shop from Opening Day to the All-Star Game. Last season’s World Series MVP appears on the list for the first time, as does Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, whose second-place ranking is the highest of any rookie since the league and MLBPA began releasing jersey sales rankings in 2010.

Hope: Fenway Park next year will host a big air snowboarding and freeskiing U.S. Grand Prix tour stop.  The event is the culmination of a two-year effort by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to attempt a large-scale urban event.  Fenway Sports and the USSA will split the costs and revenue from the event.  

What it means: Could MLB be entering a new golden era?  Six of the top 10 players on the best selling jersey list are 26 years old or younger.  In addition to Bumgarner and Bryant, Nationals RF Bryce Harper ranks 5th in sales while Angels CF Mike Trout is 7th.

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24 Jul

A Look Into The Near Future 7/24/15

A Look Into The Near Future

By Rick Horrow special contributions by Jamie Swimmer

7/24/15

With a temporary lull is sports action on the field, let’s not forget about all the action happening off the field. Sky-high women’s professional soccer attendance numbers, new marketing and sponsorship deals inked with professional teams, and Bill Simmons finding a new home at HBO are just a few of the major headlines leading into the weekend. With that and more, let’s take a look into the near future.

U.S. Open Set Through 2024

With Zach Johnson’s playoff win at the British Open behind us, the UGSA is now back to planning future major events. The association has announced all host sites for the U.S. Open through 2024, with some new and notable courses making the list. The tournament has effectively alternated between the East Coast and primetime TV on the West Coast for the past seven years, and all indications point toward a similar trajectory with the new bookings. The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., is scheduled to hold the major in 2022, the following year the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club will host the Los Angeles area’s first U.S. Open since 1948, and in 2024, Pinehurst will be making its fourth appearance at the U.S. Open in a 26-year span when its No. 2 course will be used for play.

USSA Planning to Bring Big Air to Boston

The United States Ski & Snowboard Association has been making headlines these past couple days, most notably with their recent agreement to host a U.S. Grand Prix at an unsuspecting place: Fenway Park. The USSA and Fenway Sports Management have agreed in principal to place a 100-foot-tall ski and snowboard ramp on the field for big air snowboarding and free-skiing. Both sides of this deal are extremely excited for the upcoming event and have already begun talking to sponsors jointly; the USSA and Fenway Sports management plan on marketing, promoting, and planning this event together, only to then split the costs and revenue. USSA CMO Michael Jaquet commented on the agreement saying, “Our intentions are to stage the biggest and best big air competition in the history of the sport at Fenway Park.”

NBA Summer League Sets TV Marker

In conjunction with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon making her debut as the first woman to be a head coach in the NBA Summer League, NBA TV saw its viewership numbers soar throughout the duration of the league. NBA TV averaged 110,000 viewers for the 68 Summer League games that took place in Orlando, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. This number is a new record for the Summer League and up 9% from last year’s ratings. The Timberwolves-Lakers matchup in Vegas, which pitted number one pick Karl Anthony-Towns against second pick D’Angelo Russell, drew in 277,000 viewers – marking an NBA TV audience record for a round robin game. The league ended in classic fashion with Kyle Anderson and Becky Hammon guiding the Spurs to a championship victory in Sin City.