15 to watch (Week of 8.29.16)
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 August 29.
1. Oakland A’s owner John Fisher is shopping for a new ballpark site for his club. According to the East Bay Times, “Fisher toured Oakland’s Howard Terminal with local officials for a deeper look at whether the waterfront property could be transformed into a ballpark.” The tour signals “increased interest by the A's in the marine terminal near Jack London Square -- a location favored by [Oakland] Mayor Libby Schaaf but one that comes with its own logistical problems.” Before any real stadium plans can be considered, transit and environmental logistical questions need to be resolved. Fisher is now taking a more hands-on role in evaluating potential stadium sites that would effectively replace the Coliseum. A’s co-owner Lew Wolff is also involved in the process, though he was not present on the tour. Wolff has long been opposed to putting a new ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, instead favoring the A’s current Coliseum location.
Paying their respects
2. As golfers enjoy Labor Day weekend along Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, they will be helping Louisiana flood victims. From September 3-5, the RTJ Golf Trail will donate $10 to the American Red Cross South Louisiana Flood Relief from every round of golf with a green and cart fees paid. "Louisiana golfers have played the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail since it opened nearly 25 years ago and now Louisiana needs our help," said John Cannon, Golf Trail president. "We hope this Labor Day Weekend charitable promotion will provide financial relief to Louisiana residents in need." All 11 Robert Trent Jones sites across Alabama will participate in the Labor Day Weekend donations. The money collected will go to American Red Cross: South Louisiana Flood Relief to benefit flood victims in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. The golfers join other sports figures contributing to Louisiana flood relief, including the New Orleans Saints, Pelicans, and collegiate teams across the South.
3. Bank of California has officially signed on as MLS expansion club LAFC’s first naming rights partner, agreeing to pay the club $100 million over the next 15 years, according to Bloomberg News. At $6.7 million per year, the sponsorship is one of MLS' "biggest naming-rights deals." With fewer than 40 branches and around $10 billion in assets, the bank will become the smallest one to ever put its name on a professional sports venue. It is about "one-tenth the size of BBVA Compass, the bank that holds the naming rights" to the Houston Dynamo's stadium. The deal "may seem surprising given the bank's size…but it reflects a web of relationships the bank's leaders have nurtured behind the scenes with the team's management." LAFC recently broke ground on its new stadium, which will be built on the site of the L.A. Sports Arena and next to the L.A. Coliseum.
4. Fans at this year’s U.S. Open will now have the chance to walk from the locker room onto the court as if they were players – sort of. American Express is using holograms in its latest activation, a four-minute experience it is calling the “Pro Walk,” according to SportsBusiness Journal. AmEx is calling the holograms “immersive reality,” and a “mixed media” experience. “The company built a replica of the players’ locker room, about 18-by-20 feet, where as many as four fans can enter and “meet” holograms of former champs Monica Seles and Pete Sampras. They can then walk down a separate hallway where photographers appear to be shouting at them and taking their pictures. Next, they virtually walk out into Arthur Ashe Stadium, new roof closed, with their names announced as competitors. Last year, AmEx had 8,000 fans come through its VR experience featuring Maria Sharapova, and even more are expected this year.
Lockout on its way?
5. The NFL’s current CBA is set to expire after the 2020 season, and Steelers guard and player representative Ramon Foster is "urging players to save money now in preparation for a lockout with the NFL." According to ESPN.com, Foster is telling players to be more prepared for a potential lockout than they were last time. Among the issues that concern Foster are aspects of the league’s drug policy, including an appeal process “that is often handled by a sole arbitrator, resulting in varied rulings." “You hit them in the pocket,” said Foster. “That way, money always talks. For us to do that, we have to save on our end. We can’t be blowing money and not realizing what’s coming." New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also commented on the relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA. "We as players have always tried to make it more of a partnership than it is an ‘our side versus your side.’” Brees said. “I just think unfortunately that's kind of the way that it's been framed now."
Norman calls out Goodell
6. Outspoken Redskins cornerback Josh Norman let loose on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine. "I get that he makes the owners money, but literally anyone could do that,” said Norman. “A dog could. He's a dog in a suit.” He followed up that remark by saying that Goodell is “horrible,” and that the “NFL is a dictatorship.” The interview drew mass scrutiny all across the NFL and the sports world, with many calling Norman’s comments “out of line” and “inappropriate.” “Will we stop with this ‘Commissioner Goodell is horrible’ talk?” said ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley. “Here's the problem: if he's so horrible, why has he just signed a $27 billion TV deal that allows the NFL to be king of all sports in America?" Norman tried to defend himself by saying that the ESPN interview “happened five months ago” – it actually took place in May.
Welcome to America
7. The Race of Champions, an international motorsports event, is being held in the United States for the first time, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Marlins Park is set to host the even in late January, 2017. Marlins Park Executive Vice President/Operations & Events Claude Delorme was initially taken aback by the idea of hosting the event in a baseball stadium. "When they first approached us and said, 'We want to convert the field to a race track,' I definitely looked at them and said, are you serious?” said Delorme. “The more we started looking at it, we became very intrigued.” The tournament brings top drivers from “various professional circuits” together under one roof, and each driver will race in several different cars throughout the event. Previous venues included the iconic Wembley Stadium, the Beijing National Stadium, and Stade de France.
In honor of Prince
8. In response to a survey the team sent out to season ticket holders this summer, the Minnesota Wild are now planning to change their goal song to the iconic Prince hit “Let’s Go Crazy!” The change is meant to honor the Minneapolis, Minnesota, native and rock and roll legend who passed away tragically this past year. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “fans voted nearly 2-to-1 in favor of changing the song." The team initially played the Prince song during its season-ending postseason loss, right after his death. In 1996, the NHL used "Let's Go Crazy!" in an ad promoting that year's postseason, so this song has been around that league for two decades now. “Let’s Go Crazy!” is set to replace Joe Satriani’s “Crowd Chant” following goals at Wild home games, the song the club has been using since 2005.
9. Celtic’s advance to the Champions League group stage will not only pay off for the club, but all Scottish Premiership sides will benefit from Celtic’s advancement. Each team in Scotland’s top league “will gain over $264,550,” according to STV. Teams in this season's top flight "will benefit from a solidarity payment handed out to leagues with participants in Europe's top club competition after Brendan Rodgers' men beat Hapoel Be'er Sheva 5-4 on aggregate." The money will be delivered to the Scottish teams in September, 2017. But Celtic remains the biggest winner here. By merit of qualifying for the group stage, Celtic will earn a minimum of $28 million over the duration of the tournament “due to vastly increased participation money and TV cash.” Further, the club will also net $1.7 million per win in the group stage and $563,170 per draw. If the team advances beyond the group stage, those numbers will increase drastically.
Largest sponsorship deal
10. French powerhouse Paris St. Germain has elected to continue its partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority after their initial four-year deal recently came to an end. According to Le Parisien, QTA renewed the deal at a price tag of $197 million “for this season.” The sponsorship will be the largest sponsorship deal for club revenues “by far.” The QTA partnership will represent 30% of the 2016-2017 season’s provisional budget. The current contract “will be submitted to UEFA in October for review,” with PSG allowing QTA to access to its image and use players to promote Qatar as a tourism destination. PSG has also signed suit maker Huge Boss to a sponsorship extension. According to the club, all “PSG players, coaches and assistants will all wear Hugo Boss suits during their official appearances for home matches in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.”
New name in Chicago
11. The Chicago White Sox announced a 13-year naming rights deal with mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate, according to the Chicago Tribune. The deal will begin on November 1, as the White Sox’s stadium will be switched from U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field. Sprint "bought U.S. Cellular's spectrum in Chicago" in 2013, and White Sox Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brooks Boyer noted that the team "approached U.S. Cellular to end the deal early and find a new stadium sponsor." Guaranteed Rate was founded in 2000 and is “one of the largest home lenders” in the U.S. Financial terms have not yet been disclosed, but Guaranteed Rate is expected to receive significant signage inside the stadium, including behind home plate, along with merchandising. The company’s local roots contributed to its ability to successfully sign on with the White Sox. News of the name change "triggered immediate bemusement on social media with the hashtag #BetterSoxStadiumNames trending in Chicago."
Rory sticks with the swoosh
12. Despite Nike’s announcement earlier this month that it was stepping out of the golf equipment business, Rory McIlroy made it clear that he has “no plans to sign with a new equipment company anytime soon.” “No reason to start changing just because I can,” said McIlroy. “I'm comfortable with everything. I've got them to save me three years' worth of golf balls, so at least I've got a golf ball that I like and that I know that I can play well with.” The Northern Irish golfer stated that he may not pick another manufacturer for a year or two, noting his comfort with Nike. The news of Nike dropping its golf equipment line came as a surprise to McIlroy. “It was a shock to all of us. I got a call two hours before it was announced,” he said. “We’ll see where we go from here. I’m not going to commit to anything.” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
13. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both committed to play for Europe in the inaugural Laver Cup, according to Tennis.com. The tournament is set to debut in 2017 and will pit Europe’s tennis best and against a World team. The competition will "take place annually except in years in which there is a Summer Olympics," and the format pits singles and doubles players against each other "over three days." Next year’s event will be held at the O2 Arena in Prague. Federer said that he "hoped the Laver Cup would provide a better bonding experience" than the ATP World Tour and the Davis Cup. He also "expressed confidence that the top players – drawn by the Laver imprimatur – would make it appointment scheduling despite its coming after the U.S. Open and an ensuing week of Davis Cup play.” John McEnroe will captain the World team and Björn Borg will head the European team.
14. U.S. Soccer has suspended goalkeeper Hope Solo in wake of her comments toward the Swedish team following an early departure from the Olympic soccer tournament. According to Sports Illustrated, Solo is suspended for six months from U.S. Soccer, and her contract with the national team has been terminated. The move comes after Solo called the Swedish players “cowards” for their defensive style while eliminating the U.S. in the quarterfinals. This does not mark the first time that Solo has had off-field issues, though. She was arrested in 2014 on “charges of assaulting two family members and served a 30-day ban last year after her husband was arrested on drunken-driving charges while he and Solo were in a borrowed team van.” Teammate Megan Rapinoe and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati criticized Solo for her comments, but Solo did not apologize for her remarks.
Land of forgiveness
15. America is the land of second chances. Just ask Ryan Lochte. The U.S. swimmer, who was dumped by Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, and two other sponsors after embellishing a story about being robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics, has been given another chance as an endorser. Cough drop company Pine Brothers will use the 12-time Olympic medalist in print ads and commercials for its Softish Throat Drops, touting them as “forgiving on your throat,” according to ESPN. Additionally, it is rumored that Lochte will appear on the next season of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" – another safe haven for celebrities looking to burnish their image. However, Lochte is not out of legal trouble in Rio. On Thursday, Brazilian police charged Lochte "with filing a false robbery report." A police statement indicated that Lochte would be informed in the U.S so he could "decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil." Under Brazilian law, that penalty carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.