15 to watch (Week of 8.22.16)
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 22.
'I enjoyed the comedy'
14. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is featured in an all-new series of digital shorts from jerky brand Oberto titled “Pence-ive Moments.” According to CBSsports.com, all of the spots are under 15 seconds and “show Pence eating Oberto jerky while his inner monologue ponders what he would bring on a deserted island, being naked in a gym, facial hair and other topics.” The videos will be posted on Oberto’s YouTube and Facebook pages, alongside individual spot launches throughout the rest of the season. "There are quite a few pretty entertaining thoughts,” said Pence. “I enjoyed the comedy, like we were talking about being stranded on a desert island, just thinking about random stuff all while eating beef jerky. It was pretty clever and a lot of fun to do that kind of comedy series." Pence is known around baseball for his atypical interests, making him a perfect fit for Oberto’s digital shorts.
2. Behind gold medal winner Inbee Park of Korea, women's Olympics golf competition featured nine of the top 10 players in the world competing, and clearly had a major championship feel to it that the men’s bracket lacked, with the LPGA star power that chose to compete. The Olympics clearly mean a lot to the women of the LPGA, and as predicted they rose and dominated the medal competition, with Lydia Ko taking silver and China’s Shanshan Feng capturing bronze. What’s more, the event was a high-ratings, international eyeball bonus to the LPGA’s numerous sponsors. After the Games, the International Golf Federation states that it "will study a potential format change" for the 2020 Tokyo Games, instead of the traditional 72-hole stroke-play format offered in Rio – including looking at co-ed rounds. If the federation added a team element to the Games, it would also require additional scheduling, already stretched thin this year by adding the Olympics.
New name in Buffalo
3. The Buffalo Bills and Buffalo-based New Era Cap Company have agreed on a new naming rights deal for the Bills’ home stadium, according to the AP. Financial details on the partnership have not yet been disclosed, but a source close to both parties reported that the deal is worth “well north” of $3 million annually. Sources said that the deal "will run over the remainder of the team's seven-year lease" and that New Era also "has the right of first refusal to continue the agreement once the current lease expires" in 2022, and if the Bills "elect to build a new facility." The Bills currently play in Ralph Wilson Stadium, named after the franchise’s founding owner, and Wilson’s name will still be incorporated around the facility. Prior to being named Ralph Wilson Stadium, it “was known as Rich Stadium from its opening" in 1973 through the expiration of Rich Products' naming-rights deal in 1998.
Hurting the Tech brand?
4. Georgia Tech is currently the "only Power-5 program in the country using Russell Athletic as its official provider of athletic wear," which could be hurting the university’s brand, according to SB Nation. GT’s deal with Russell Athletic is valued at $2.3 million per year, which is the second-lowest among ACC schools and 47th nationally out of the total 65 Power-5 programs. Only two other FBS programs use Russell Athletic, as Coastal Carolina recently made the switch to Under Armour. Outside of collegiate athletics, Russell also outfits the AFL, Harlem Globetrotters, and Little League Baseball. As SB Nation writes, “Maybe the ‘worst part of all of this isn’t the remainder of the 10-year contract with Russell Athletic that Georgia Tech is stuck with’ through the '17-18 school year, but the ‘lack of attention paid to brand’ by the school itself. For collegiate athletic programs, brand has become a key recruiting and awareness tool, and schools ignore it at their own financial and scoreboard peril.
Red Bulls emerging
5. According to the inaugural “Fan Experience Study” from J.D. Power, which measures customer satisfaction of major pro sports teams in several of the country’s biggest markets, MLS teams in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago “are providing an as-good or better game-day experience than competing teams from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.” The study was conducted by asking nearly 6,000 fans in the participating markets about their game-day experience at local pro sports venues over the past 12 months. In New York, the Red Bulls emerged as the city’s top-ranked franchise for overall satisfaction, above the Brooklyn Nets, Rangers, Knicks, Islanders, Giants, Jets, New Jersey Devils, Yankees, and Mets. In Los Angeles, the Galaxy came in second place, mere points above the Anaheim Ducks and one point above the Lakers. And in Chicago, the Fire finished as the city’s top team on the Satisfaction Index, as the Cubs and Bears came in last and second-to-last, respectively.
6. The Indiana Pacers have released “plans and renderings for a newly remodeled section of Bankers Life Fieldhouse,” according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Along with those plans, the Paces also inked a multi-year naming rights deal that is expected to be worth up to seven figures over its duration. The renderings call for the franchise to take seven suites at the south end of the arena and turn them "into a single entertainment area with a club-like feel that could serve as an alternative for fans who want high-end amenities without committing to an entire suite." The new $2.8 million space, "with a capacity for 104 guests, will be called the Sells Group Loft" after a locally-based digital marketing and development firm. While financial details regarding the entertainment space naming rights deal have not yet been disclosed, both sides confirmed that it will last at least five years.
Emirates flying on NBA jerseys?
7. Dubai-based Emirates Airline has a deep portfolio of sports sponsorships, and sources report that it is closing in on yet another lucrative contact. According to SportsBusiness Journal, multiple NBA teams are currently in talks with Emirates about a sponsorship deal that would include the league’s new jersey patch opportunity. In April, the NBA started allowing teams to sell corporate advertising on game jerseys starting in the 2017-2018 season. “How many and which specific markets that would be part of an Emirates jersey patch deal have not been determined, but Emirates flies into 10 NBA markets.” As it stands, Emirates has sports-related deals in place to sponsor Real Madrid, Arsenal and its stadium, 22 international golf tournaments, and is also an F1 global partner. “Any jersey deals with Emirates would last three years as part of the NBA’s jersey advertising guidelines that limit deals to three years and prohibit casino and liquor advertising on the jerseys.”
'Low rise in every way'
8. Wasserman CEO and LA 2024 co-Chair Casey Wasserman emphasized that the Olympics returning to Los Angeles is “low risk in every way,” according to multiple media reports. As opposed to Rio de Janeiro’s situation eight years before its Olympics were set to kick off, 97% of the venues that would be used in a Los Angeles Olympics are built and ready to go. Only “one permanent venue” would need to be built in advance of the 2024 Games if L.A. wins the hosting rights, a significant selling point for the city’s bid. “L.A. has already invested massively in infrastructure and we're Games ready,” said Wasserman. “We think being Games ready means for seven years – if we were fortunate enough to win – we could focus on the experience of the Games as opposed to worrying about constructing and delivering the Games.” A huge cost-saving venture for LA 2024 is the plan to use UCLA’s dorms as Olympic Village, saving the city billions of dollars in infrastructure.
Changes coming to Champions League
9. The Champions League is reportedly set to approve a slightly new qualifying structure that is meant to benefit Europe’s top four soccer leagues. According to ESPN.com, the top leagues in Spain, Germany, England, and Italy will all receive four group stage slots beginning in 2018-2019. UEFA's exec committee is "expected to approve the measure when it meets later this month," part of a set of changes to the European competition that will be implemented for the cycle from 2018-2021. These changes are supposedly in response to “a number of clubs from top leagues who threatened to boycott the Champions League if their demands were not met.” The additional guaranteed slots "will be agreed as a compromise after UEFA was able to stand firm in denying many of those demands, as well as staying away the threat of a breakaway European Super League" at least through 2021.
Scrambling for help
10. Rio de Janeiro Olympic officials and organizers were “scrambling to fill holes” after about 30% of the Rio Games’ 50,000 volunteers didn’t showing up,” according to CBC.ca. Many volunteers are suspected to have skipped their time slots because of switching Olympic schedules and because many had to work consecutive weeks. Kim Brunhuber of the CBC noted that the IOC has made more than $5.6 billion in the last four years, but the organization claims paying volunteers "is against the spirit of the Games." The IOC and ROCOG now face scrutiny over their organizing, planning, and volunteer schedule structure leading up to the Games, as producing the Olympics relies heavily on these workers. IOC Executive Director of Communications Mario Andrada said, "We've got a task force we are working on for volunteers, and in the same way we are now fully focused to fine-tune the volunteer programs." Correcting this Rio workforce error will be critical before the Paralympic Games kick off next month.
Rocking in Miami
11. The Miami Dolphins have signed an 18-year deal with Hard Rock International, giving the Orlando-based company naming rights to their stadium. According to the Miami Herald, Hard Rock Stadium now becomes the eighth official name for the building, which opened in 1987 as Joe Robbie Stadium. Sun Life Financial’s five-year naming rights expired after last season’s Orange Bowl. Financial terms were not revealed by either side, “but the overall value places it among the top three deals in the NFL,” sources said. “The facility is currently undergoing a $500 million renovation to be completed in 2017 and will play host to Super Bowl LIV in 2020.” Hard Rock International currently owns and operates restaurants, casinos, and hotels around the world, and since it is an "entertainment and hospitality company it does not preclude the possibility the Dolphins can add secondary sponsors such as banks, beer, alcohol and soft drink companies and even automotive manufacturers or auto dealers."
Smaller is better?
12. What many might cast as a weakness, officials from Budapest’s 2024 Olympic bid are using the city’s “smaller” size as a selling point. Budapest 2024 bid chairman Balazs Furjes hopes to make the Hungarian capital’s “midsized” status an asset amid a Games known for its traffic and long travel distances between venues. “The question, a theoretical question, is bigger necessarily better?” said Furjes. “What we can propose is a compact, intimate arrangement, in a midsized global city with exceptionally short travel distances…and the whole city turning into one single Olympic Park. I think it makes sense.” Of the final four cities vying for the right to host the Olympics in eight years, Budapest’s roughly 1.7 million residents are far fewer than the populations of Los Angeles (3.9 million), Rome (2.6 million), and Paris (2.4 million). If awarded the rights to host, Budapest would become “the smallest Summer Olympic host since Athens in 2004.”
More controversy for Cubs
13. The Chicago Cubs’ signing Aroldis Chapman initially caused stirs around the city and MLB, though Chapman’s initial play in Chicago subdued critics. But the controversy was “rehashed” when the Wrigley Filed DJ "played an inappropriate song" after Chapman left the mound in the ninth inning of a game, according to the Chicago Tribune. Earlier this year, Chapman was involved in an "alleged domestic-violence incident" in which he was "accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight bullets in his garage." The DJ played a track titled "Smack My B---- Up," by the English band The Prodigy and was subsequently fired by the organization following his poor choice. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said, "It should never have happened…But the organization took today to make sure it will never happen again." Sources said that the timing of the song – right after Chapman’s appearance – was unintentional on the DJ’s part. After his second blown save with the Cubs, Chapman himself is getting a couple of unplanned days off.
14. While few have multi-million dollar endorsement deals, none of the medal winners in Rio returns home empty handed. The United States Olympic Committee pays bonuses — $25,000 for each gold medal, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze — that can be also accepted by amateur students such as Katie Ledecky under NCAA rules. Certain sports federations also pay bonuses to American medal winners. The USA Wrestling Foundation, for example, is handing out a sizable $250,000 for gold medalists in Rio, along with $50,000 for silver, and $25,000 for bronze. Many other countries are far more generous than the U.S. Singapore Olympic officials give gold medal winners $750,000, and Malaysia pays out $250,000. But here’s the real Olympic goldmine: thanks to their Olympic longevity and endorsement deals, Michael Phelps reportedly has a net worth of $55 million; Usain Bolt’s allegedly tops $60 million. In the Olympic world, it clearly pays handsomely to stand atop the tallest podium.
49ers as Super Bowl host again
15. Despite hosting Super Bowl 50 in Levi’s Stadium this past season, San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido said that it is a "realistic goal" for the team to "bring back the Super Bowl to Levi's Stadium" no later than 2024, according to local media reports. Super Bowl 50 was celebrated as a massively successful weekend for both the city and the 49ers, and officials want to build on that momentum. "I look at Arizona as a benchmark,” said Guido. “They did two Super Bowls in seven years. I think if we can do two in 10 years, that would be really great for the city. We have the 2019 college football national championship game, so we can't do it then. But we're really going to be putting in for Super Bowls 56, 57 and 58 is what we're going to be bidding on." Rio may have its gold medals, but in the NFL, the Super Bowl is clearly the gold standard.