15 to watch (Week of 4.25.16)
Rick Horrow's "15 to watch"
CSN Bay Area Sports Business Insider Rick Horrow takes you off the field with his 15 top Biz Ball trends for the week of April 25.
Windy City wins NFL Draft
1. Whether the first pick is a quarterback from North Dakota or from Cal, the real winner of the 2016 NFL Draft beginning on Thursday will once again be the City of Chicago. According to a study commissioned by the Chicago Sports Commission, last year’s NFL Draft had an $81.6 million economic impact on the Windy City, including creating 2,095 temporary and construction jobs and 846 new permanent jobs, $456,000 in city hotel tax revenue from 36,500 hotel room nights generated, and $6.5 million in local and state tax revenue. Further, according to Chicago Sports Commission CEO Kara Bachman, hosting the NFL Draft serves as a major milestone toward Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's goal of increasing annual visitation to the city to 55 million by 2020. Comparatively, the Chicago Blackhawks were estimated to bring in $100 million in economic impact over the final two weeks of their Stanley Cup championship run last year. Whether NHL, NFL, or otherwise, it’s clear: sports are a big business in the Windy City.
2. Rukkus, a mobile ticketing application, saw a massive spike in sales via the app for NBA and NHL games after it was updated to provide a 360-degree view of venue seating locations. With the playoffs in both leagues in full swing, fans want the best seat possible – especially with prices rising significantly as teams advance. NBA and NHL fans will now be able to get a more comprehensive feel for the seats they will occupy at sporting events through Rukkus’ new app, which features a virtual reality experience along with ticket-sharing via SMS and 3D Touch on iOS. A customer survey revealed that 81% of Rukkus users prefer a panoramic view – in Chicago, Blackhawks fans receive a virtual view of the United Center for their Stanley Cup Playoffs experience, while in the Bay Area, Sharks and Warriors fans can experience SAP Center and Oracle Arena, respectively, in VR when selecting their seats. One thing Rukkus can’t do: provide a 360-degree view of Steph Curry’s injured knee, currently bearing the weight of these Warriors’ second NBA title run.
3. While the Minnesota Vikings just lost one of their biggest fans – Prince – the Purple and Gold is launching a fan-friendly new app set to coincide with the opening of their new home, U.S. Bank Stadium. The app will allow fans to purchase tickets, enter the stadium via a mobile ticket and navigate through it with turn-by-turn directions, purchase food, drinks, and merchandise, and watch video replays, according to John Penhollow, vice president of corporate and technology partnerships for the team. The Vikings currently operate an app without any of these features – it has amassed 450,000 downloads since its launch in 2012. The new app will also offer fans the Vikings’ first-ever loyalty program: instead of only offering rewards for ticket and merchandise purchases, the new program will also reward fans for any other app usage, such as watching a press conference video on the platform. “We want to put engagement on equal footing with purchasing,” Penhollow says.
Johnny No Business
4. Former Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel’s situation just went from bad to worse. Manziel has been indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on a misdemeanor assault charge, for allegedly attacking his former girlfriend. The charge came on the heels of Manziel losing his biggest marketing deal when Nike elected to drop him; agent Drew Rosenhaus, terminated his contract with Manziel as well. Rosenhaus told CNBC that he "no longer represented Manziel after giving him a five-day ultimatum to seek treatment that went unanswered.” This marks the first player that he has fired in his 27 years as an NFL agent. Further, Manziel’s deal with Panini America has expired, and Nissan and MusclePharm are also no longer promoting any sort of association with the free agent. The 23-year-old was quoted saying he is “hoping to take care of his issues in 2016,” but it’s unlikely his NFL career will continue without a rehab and a major turnaround.
To be in Oakland or not to be...?
5. The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors has voted to "give final approval to an agreement that keeps the Raiders in Oakland next season," according to the East Bay Times. After losing his bid to move the team to Los Angeles, Raiders Owner Mark Davis has "been exploring moving his team to Las Vegas or San Antonio." Davis has said that he is "keeping his options open while also working to keep his team in Oakland.” This year, the Raiders will "pay triple the rent they paid last year and have options to play in Oakland for two additional seasons." The team will pay $3.5 million in rent for the 2016-2017 season, "up from $925,000 they paid last season." Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben said that the rent increase "accounts for increased costs for game day security and other costs incurred by the city and county." While steep, the rent increase will not affect the salary the Raiders might pay to Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, the consensus mock NFL Draft recipient of the team’s 14th overall pick.
6. In their first day of trading on NASDAQ, shares of Atlanta Braves stock fell sharply from their opening price, marking the end of a long process for franchise owner Liberty Media. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shares of Liberty Braves Group’s Series A shares opened at $36 on NASDAQ, but "plummeted quickly" and closed trading at $19.95 per share – down 44.6%. Liberty Braves Group’s Series C shares opened at $27 but closed at $19.14, down 29.1%. The franchise’s stock is intended to reflect the overall economic performance of the team along with the value of the club and the mixed-use complex under construction next to SunTrust Park. This drop in value comes on the heels of Manchester United, another publicly-traded professional sports franchise, revealing that the storied football club’s value dropped by more than $200 million over the past eight months.
Hockey viewership up in U.S.
7. With no Canadian teams in this year’s NHL playoffs, American cable TV viewership has spiked. NBCSN, USA Network, and CNBC combined to average 494,000 viewers for the first 16 games of the 2016 playoffs, up 13% from the same period last postseason. Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers led the way, drawing over 713,000 viewers. According to NBC Sports Group, the first round on NBC Sports Live Extra has drawn 391,000 unique visitors and 46 million minutes watched across all platforms, up 31% and 90% respectively, over last year. In Dallas, the Stars’ series against the Minnesota Wild has averaged a 2.38 rating on the RSN to date, an astounding 272% increase over their regular-season average. However, the San Jose Sharks have been overshadowed in the Bay Area by the Golden State Warriors’ NBA title pursuit. Despite the Sharks dominating the interstate-rival L.A. Kings, San Jose’s viewership numbers pale in comparison to the spike Dallas has seen so far.
Dropping out of the Olympics
8. South African’s Louis Oosthuizen has joined Australian Adam Scott as the most recent golfers to withdraw their names from the Olympic pool. Citing a “busy playing schedule as well as professional and personal commitments,” Scott’s withdraw came right after Fijian Vijay Singh’s, according to The Australian. Despite being an automatic qualifier for the Olympics because of his place in the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Scott started expressing misgivings about the format of the Olympic golf tournament last year. His decision to formally remove himself comes as little surprise to those around him. In golf’s first appearance in the Olympic Games since 1904, the event has continued to have a polarizing effect on some of the world’s top players. Despite Scott, Singh, and Oosthuizen dropping out, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth – the world’s top ranked players – have already declared their availability for the Rio Games.
Friendly Confines of Wrigley
9. Serving as the primary asset in a new sponsorship deal between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago-based Nuveen Investments, the team just installed a 513-square-foot script sign beyond Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The neon “Nuveen” sign is situated between the left field foul pole and the ballpark’s large left field video board. In 2014, the Cubs won approval from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to put up a total of six new outfield signs, including two video boards. The massive Nuveen sign comes in as the third of six to be put up beyond the Wrigley bleachers – the team still has three more to be added. At the start of last season, the Cubs put up a massive 650-square-foot Budweiser sign atop the new right field video board and a 'Wintrust' sign atop a new left field video board. While the signs have been panned by Wrigley traditionalists, they’re really a sign of the flourishing state of affairs in the Friendly Confines.
10. According to the Arizona Republic, City of Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton called for his city to pursue a deal to build a downtown sports and entertainment arena to be shared by the Sun and Coyotes. In his State of the City speech, Stanton said, “I as mayor will do everything I can to pursue a course that makes a new facility home to the Suns, the Mercury, and the Coyotes. Building two new sports arenas in our region simply doesn't make fiscal or common sense." Taxpayers are expected to shoulder a significant part of the financial burden in this new endeavor, but taxes are not expected to be raised in the process. One of the hopes that come along with this new arena is the idea that more people will be attracted to all events downtown – inside and outside of the arena itself. Many Phoenix residents took to social media in an attempt to voice their opposition to another publicly-funded arena, citing Suns’ and Coyotes’ owners as wealthy enough to fund the venture on their own.
11. Fox and the Big Ten are closing in on a deal that would give the broadcast company half of the league’s available media rights package, according to multiple sources. While terms of the deal are still being negotiated, the two sides have agreed in principal. Fox will reportedly receive 25 football games in the fall and 50 basketball games in the winter and early spring; both football and basketball games would be shown on the broadcast channel and Fox Sports 1 starting in the fall of 2017. The deal will last six years, through the 2022 football season, and could cost Fox as much as $250 million annually, depending on the rights fees the Big Ten put in the package. After completing this deal with Fox, the lucrative conference will return to the open market to sell off the remaining rights to 25 football and 50 basketball games. ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Turner are all expected to make pitches for this second package.
Speedo goes all in
12. In an attempt to generate demand for the company’s growing line of apparel and equipment beyond swimsuits, Speedo is launching the brand’s largest campaign in years, according to Ad Age. Ads and online videos feature U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Nathan Adrian, and Cullen Jones working out underwater. Speedo’s reposition attempts to capitalize on the largely untouched “aqua fitness” market and the growing popularity of water fitness. This aggressive approach to marketing and advertising echoes the tactics of Nike and Under Armour. By launching the campaign now, Speedo takes advantage of a new USOC rule "taking effect this year that allows non-Olympic sponsors to run ads starring Olympic athletes" during the Games; Nike is a USOC sponsor, but Speedo is not. TV ads will begin in July and run through August, remaining prevalent during the Opening Ceremony and Rio’s swimming competitions.
'Feel of a state park'
13. MLS expansion club Atlanta United FC released plans for a “world-class” training ground in Cobb County, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The $60 million training complex will comprise six fields – three grass and three artificial turf. While the entire facility will be finished by mid-2017, the fields will be open for part of the team’s inaugural training camp in January 2017. Apart from the fields, a training center will house the team, its youth academy, and the front office. One of the turf fields will be the same dimensions and same turf as its new home field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium; it will also be sunk into the ground, giving onlookers a soft seat to watch select practices and games there. Atlanta United President Darren Eales said that the club wants the complex "to have the feel of a state park." Atlanta United FC is also looking into selling the complex’ naming rights to the right partner.
Basketball around the world
14. Expanding on its commitment to grow the game of basketball internationally, the NBA has opened an office in Manila, Philippines. Appointed NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson will lead a dedicated local staff to assist NBA headquarters in continuing the growth of all of the NBA’s business lines in the country, including TV, digital, merchandising, events and grassroots programs, and social responsibility. Asia has been a hotspot for the NBA as of late, as the NBA hopes to see a large percentage of the billions of people in the region become basketball fans. The NBA currently has relationships with a network of TV and digital media partners in the Philippines, including a partnership of more than 15 years with Solar. With the opening of the Manila office, the NBA now has 13 offices around the world; other office locations include Johannesburg, South Africa; Istanbul, Turkey; Madrid, Spain; London, United Kingdom; and two in China (Beijing and Shanghai).
'I think that the World Cup can contribute'
15. With its economy facing a recession for the second straight year, Russia has seen a lot of skepticism concerning its 2018 World Cup preparations as of late, according to Reuters. Last year, Russia’s GDP fell 3.7% due to lower global oil prices and Western sanctions. But Russian President Vladimir Putin and the rest of the Russian government assured newly-appointed FIFA President Gianni Infantino that the country would not have any problems fulfilling its World Cup obligations. Russia plans on cutting state spending by 10% on average in 2016 and has “repeatedly slashed” and limited its overall World Cup budget – totaling $9.5 billion as of February. Infantino tried to settle the critics, commenting, “Everyone knows, of course, the economic situation and we have received sufficient guarantees that this will not have an impact. I think actually quite the opposite, I think that the World Cup can contribute to boost not only the football movement but the general economy here in Russia."