15 TO WATCH: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/NEWS/BUSINESS/MARKETING/ENDORSEMENT ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 26
With Jamie Swimmer
—Rome has decided to drop its bid for the 2024 Olympics, leaving only Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest as candidates to host the Summer Games. According to the AP, Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the bid, saying that it would be “financially ‘irresponsible’ to pursue the bid any further given the city is barely able to get its trash picked up.” Raggi went on to bring up facts regarding the massive debts that previous Olympic hosts have incurred among her reasons for the rejection. Rome has notoriously struggled with corruption and poor public services over the past years. This marks the “second withdrawal in four years” for Rome; former Italy premier Mario Monti in ‘12 “stopped the city’s plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial problems.” Raggi, who was elected this past June, ran her campaign on the foundation that an Olympic bid was “unsustainable” and not feasible.
—After beating No. 13 Iowa 23-21, FCS powerhouse North Dakota State University is faced with an unexpected problem: The Bison are having a tough time finding FBS teams that will play them, according to ESPN. The win over Iowa marks “the fifth Power Five conference team NDSU has beaten since 2010.” Head Coach Chris Klieman acknowledged that it is “difficult” to find appealing FBS opponents “with the Big Ten not playing FCS teams anymore.” “We’re going to have to expand a little bit and see if we can find games, whether it’s out west or out east or down south,” said Klieman. The irony of the situation is that as a university, North Dakota State actually fiscally benefits from playing FBS teams. The Bison “earned $500,000” from playing Iowa. The team has no scheduled FBS opponents for the next three seasons, though “Oregon and Colorado have signed to play” in 2020 and 2024, respectively. Number to Watch: $500,000.
—>A full field LPGA tournament will return to Indianapolis next year, an announcement that will be made on Tuesday at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unveiled as the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim, the tournament will debut at IMS’ Brickyard Crossing Golf Course Sept. 4 – 10, 2017. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, CEO of Guggenheim Life Dan Towriss and former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will be on hand for the announcement and represent the partnership responsible for bringing the LPGA back to Indianapolis. Guggenheim will announce its support as title sponsor of the event, with a focus on shining a spotlight on the city of Indianapolis through the LPGA Tour’s national and global reach. The event will take on the unique proposition of providing awareness and funding for specific women and tech initiatives, particularly those focused on robotics, STEM days and career transitioning for those re-entering the workforce. “With our growing presence and connection to the city of Indianapolis, we continue to be committed to the important cause of women in tech but also giving back to the community we live and work in,” stated Dan Towriss, CEO of Guggenheim Life.
—The Las Vegas NHL expansion team announced that it will “stop future sales for its inaugural season” in 2017-2018, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Season ticket demand has surpassed the expectations of many after the team reached 16,000 sold. A waiting list “has been established and fans still may place deposits on season tickets. The brand new T-Mobile Arena right off The Strip, which has 17,500-seats, is set to host the expansion team going forward. The team’s “initial goal was 10,000 tickets,” and 18-months later it has well surpassed that marker. Owner Bill Foley has been pleased with the city’s demand for tickets thus far, but he “now turns his attention toward building a business, marketing and sales staff” for his team. Foley “interviewed six candidates for the president of business operations position and said he is close to selecting that person.”
—The Detroit Redwings made a “bold” investment with their new facility, Little Caesars Arena, but it is nowhere near as “bold an audacious” as the investment in the 50-block downtown development. According to SBJ, “the total investment in the arena and adjacent space was projected to be between $1.5-2 billion,” while the “total amount of investment with the entire 50 blocks will be $4-5 billion.” Olympia Entertainment President & CEO Tom Wilson praised the plans. “This is going to be something that people are going to be writing a thesis on in college because it’s such a renaissance,” said Wilson. The new development will include “six new restaurants, a five-star hotel, Wayne State Business School, a $60 million structure,” and an “outdoor piazza, modeled after the grand piazzas in Italy, that can be programmed 300-plus nights a year with everything from yoga classes to farmers markets to concerts.” Number to Watch: $4-5 billion.
—Gold Medal-winning U.S. skier Bode Miller has sued his equipment supplier, Head, according to the AP. Miller reportedly “wants to resume World Cup racing with a different equipment supplier,” but when he ended his 10-year partnership with Head last year he “signed an agreement not to wear a different ski brand in World Cup or world championship races for the following two years.” Miller wants to wear skis from New York-based Bomber, which he “helped develop” personally. Head made it clear that it does not want the skier representing any other brand on the slopes for the next two years when company CEO Johan Eliasch said, “Head would welcome Bode’s return to World Cup racing, but it has to be on Head equipment.” Miller filed his lawsuit against the equipment outfitter in federal court in Los Angeles, and his legal team is “arguing that Head is preventing the ski racer from doing his job by restricting what equipment he can use.”
—New York Mets prospect Tim Tebow “signed a bridge agreement with the official jersey supplier Majestic Athletic last week” to sell his No. 15 Mets jersey, according to ESPN.com. MLB teams usually are “not allowed to use a player’s name or image until he makes the 40-man major league roster, as those players are not considered part of the union,” but Tebow’s popularity has caused the league to make an exception for the former NFL quarterback. Jerseys and t-shirts are now available on the Mets’ online shop for both men and women with Tebow’s name and number on them. Mets Executive Director of Communications Harold Kaufman said that there are “currently no Tebow items being sold at Citi Field.” Bridge agreements, like the one Tebow signed, are very rare across the MLB and are typically held only for players that are “expected to make a major league roster.”
—English Premier League club West Ham United is notorious for having some of the rowdiest fans in the country, but the team is now resorting to extreme measures to “tackle crowd problems,” according to the London Times. Going forward, West Ham will be implementing new security measures that will “increase segregation distances for rival supporters” and move hundreds of its own fans to different seats after pleas for relocation.” The team is playing its home matches in the remodeled London Stadium, which was used primarily for the 2012 London Olympics. The frequent “violent scenes” at the team’s last home games involved home supporters clashing “both with away fans and each other during the game.” As a result, stadium operator LS185 has “agreed to use new security firms to provide trained stewards after complaints that many of those who have been employed this season were inexperienced at football grounds.”
—Elite Scottish Premiership side Celtic FC recently reported a £500,000 pre-tax profit “for the year up to June 30,” according to the Scotsman. This figure comes just a year after Celtic reported a loss of almost £4 million for the preceding 12 months. For Celtic, this profit can largely be contributed to to the increased income from player sales, since the Hoops banked almost £12 million “after selling defender Virgil van Dijk to Southampton, while the transfers of Teemu Pukki to Brondby and Adam Matthews to Sunderland also generated cash” for the team. Revenue increased by 1.8% to £54 million, but operating costs increased by over 7% to £57.1 million. The half-million-pound profit does not include the projected “windfall” of cash that Celtic hopes to receive. After advancing from the playoff to the group stage in the Champions League, Celtic is expecting to earn up to £30 million. Number to Watch: £500,000.
—Following “months of negotiations, dozens of legal filings and several hearings,” the Minnesota Vikings are allowing Well Fargo to keep limited signage near U.S. Bank Stadium, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The settlement was “mostly confidential” and was filed in U.S. Court District. The designated signage will be elevated, but not illuminated on the rooftops of two office buildings adjacent to the Vikings’ brand new stadium. The case escalated later last year when the Vikings “took Wells Fargo to court,” citing that they were “attempting to photo-bomb the image of U.S. Bank Stadium that would be broadcast around the world, especially during the Super Bowl" in February 2018.” In multiple documents and in the courtroom, the Vikings said that Wells Fargo “was allowed to have painted signs on the rooftops, but they couldn’t be elevated or illuminated.” Those close to the case noted that the Vikings “won outright in court.”
—Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has a “simple and well-known mission: ‘Break another curse.”’ Epstein was the recent subject of a massive profile by ESPN the Magazine, where the magnitude of his baseball obsession was fully disclosed. According to ESPN, Epstein “lost control of his obsession” at the end of his 12-year tenure with the Boston Red Sox, in which Epstein “became a shell of the person…” Epstein has done an exceptional job turning the Cubs around over the past few years, but his lifestyle has made him “something of a junkie, which leads to life without balance.” As chronicled in his profile, “He obsesses over details, from the draft board to the recruiting video he made" while recruiting free agent P Jon Lester in ’14, complete with a “fake World Series call by the real Cubs announcers, to the time he spent trolling taxidermy websites to find the perfect stuffed bear for the players’ cafeteria.”
—The Golden State Warriors spent this past offseason revamping their lineup, most notably with the addition of Kevin Durant, but they also reshuffled their front office through a series of promotions. According to the team, the most notable moves include promoting Bob Myers to “President of Basketball Operations & GM, Travis Schlenk to Vice President/Basketball Operations & Assistant GM, and Kirk Lacob to Vice President/GSW Sports Ventures & Assistant GM.” In his new role, Myers will "oversee the entire day-to-day happenings of the basketball-operations department and report directly” to Warriors Co-Owner Joe Lacob.” Myers is known to be the “architect behind perhaps the most loaded roster in NBA history,” and was named the 2014-2015 NBA Executive of the Year for “constructing a team that won a then-franchise-record 67 regular-season games and an NBA title.” The Warriors will head into the season as the clear favorites to dethrone the Cavaliers as this year’s NBA champion.
—One of the top highlights from this past summer’s Euro 2016 soccer tournament was Iceland’s magical and improbable win over England en route to a semifinal appearance. But the tiny volcanic island-nation will not be featured in the soon-to-be-released FIFA 2017 video game “because of a cash row with developers Electronic Arts,” according to BBC. The Iceland FA (KSI) confirmed this report and noted that EA’s financial offer of $15,000 for inclusion “was below” its expectations. KSI “made a counter offer,” but it was rejected by EA. Governing President Geir Thorsteinsson noted his displeasure with the proposal by EA and why KSI did not elect to accept its offer. “They are the ones buying these rights and they almost want it for free,” said Thorsteinsson. “I really feel if we are giving away rights, or offering rights, it has to be proper negotiations and fair fees. I didn’t feel that this was done in a fair and open manner.” Number to Watch: $15,000.
—This year’s inaugural Phil Knight Invitational will bring many of the nation’s most-elite basketball programs under one roof, and they all have one thing in common: Their Nike sponsorship. According to the Portland Oregonian, the November 17 tournament at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Oregon, will feature “two side-by-side, eight-team tournaments.” Games for the two tournaments will be "played at both the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum simultaneously,” and will be known as PK80 in honor of Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. Among those included in the field are Duke, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas and UConn. Pacific Northwest locals Oregon, Gonzaga, Portland and Portland State will all be included as well. Teams from the same conference "will not be in the same bracket” since NCAA rules dictate that multi-team events “can have a maximum of two teams from the same conference.”
—The Golden State Warriors are finally ready to start building their new arena, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Following a few delays, the Chase Center is “scheduled for construction in the Mission Bay district.” Warriors President & COO Rick Welts is “hoping to break ground early next year and have the arena ready” by the start of the 2019-2020 NBA season. The main delay in the process was the opposition to the arena’s location by UCSF. The university operates three hospitals and a campus close to the facility’s planned sight and is concerned with traffic on game days. “We’re not taking anything for granted. It’s a process. We’re taking it all very seriously,” said Welts. “But one of the important things that happened before (the Mission Bay Alliance) sued us was that we reached an agreement with UCSF…we, the city, UCSF – spent a lot of time negotiating an agreement that regulates traffic.”