15 to watch (Week of 8.8.16)
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 8.
'We got our swag back'
4. The University of Michigan finally unveiled their new Jumpman uniforms ahead of the college football season. The uniforms look similar to their old Adidas ones, especially the all-white road uniforms, according to the Detroit Free Press. Though the traditional helmet returns, it "now has a matte rather than glossy finish." The university held an extensive introduction ceremony for the Jordan Brand uniforms, as the school now becomes the only one in the country to wear Jordan football uniforms. Popular alumni players returned for the ceremony, including NFLer and Michigan alumnus Charles Woodson. "We got our swag back,” said Woodson. “It’s all about looking good and feeling good. That’s what having Jumpman on our jerseys means to us.” The team did not introduce any alternative jerseys yet, but Head Coach Jim Harbaugh entertained the idea by saying, "We'll definitely keep an open mind."
No Hall of Fame Game
2. We’ll have to wait a few more days to watch some live NFL Football. On Sunday, the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio was cancelled due to poor field conditions, a move that will cost the NFL Hall of Fame at least $4 million in lost revenue, according to media reports. Because of fears for player safety, the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers on a newly-renovated artificial turf field was called off. The field was part of a $24 million renovation to the Canton facility, which hosts only one football game each year. Not included in lost revenue estimates were the costs of team transportation and “make goods” with broadcaster ESPN, which could be considerable – last year’s Hall of Fame Game between the Vikings and the Steelers earned a 6.9 overnight rating, making it the most-watched show on any network at the time and the highest-rated NFL preseason game in three years.
3. Nike's announcement that the company was shuttering its golf equipment division caught the industry by surprise. While there was general awareness that Nike Golf's numbers were down, earning $63 million less in fiscal 2016 than in 2015, there were no blatant signs that it was ready to shut the clubs and balls division down. If you look closely, however, there were hints. Nike had already laid off most of its top hard goods staff in Portland and Fort Worth, and a golf course contact noted "something was fishy when they started consolidating the Nike sales reps in his area this summer." Nike's exit from golf equipment will be especially disruptive for Tour players because of its position as the game’s biggest spender, at least on individual endorsement deals. There are immediately less sponsorship dollars available for all Tour players, and that’s likely going to be the longest-lasting impact of the exit. Golf’s financial landscape just shifted dramatically.
Putting the focus on the athletes
4. While the buildup to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics was marred by countless problems Brazil faced, from an impeached president to a defunct economy to infrastructure breakdowns, NBC’s coverage, starting with Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies, is "focused more on the athletes and competition, and not on all the other issues plaguing Rio." NBC’s Bob Costas addressed the onslaught of problems in the Brazilian city, “It's going to be impossible in some cases not to address issues that have come up before the Olympics, because they will intersect with the competition. Every competition that takes place on open water, you've got to talk about the conditions of the water." Problems always arise throughout the Olympics, but NBC tries its best to keep the audience’s attention on the action. Nonetheless, NBC drew only 26.5 million viewers for Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, a steep 35% drop from the 40.7 million who saw the 2012 opening night from London, an all-time record.
5. As global interest in sport reaches its four-year peak thanks to the Rio Games, MEASAT Satellite Systems has announced an agreement with satellite communications leader Globecast and BBC Worldwide to distribute four BBC channels via the MEASAT-3 satellite. The channels are: BBC Earth HD, BBC Lifestyle HD, CBeebies HD and BBC Entertainment. “MEASAT is excited to partner with Globecast and support the distribution of these channels via the MEASAT-3 distribution platform,” said Yau Chyong Lim, Chief Commercial Officer, MEASAT. “The addition of these channels strengthens the MEASAT video neighborhood and MEASAT’s position as the satellite provider of choice.” Recently, Globecast also announced that state-owned Greek national broadcaster ERT – The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation – has selected the global media solution provider to deliver ERT World and five radio channels to the Greek diaspora across Europe.
Upping the ante
6. MLS is preparing to up its expansion fee to a remarkable $200 million price tag, increased from the $110 million marker that LAFC recently paid to join the American soccer league, according to Bloomberg News. The expansion process and potential bids were discussed at the league’s All-Star Break; MLS is no longer seen as "one of the last affordable investments in pro sports." The league currently has 20 members, but has franchises in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Minnesota set to join in the coming years. Elsewhere, David Beckham’s ongoing saga to build a stadium and bring a team to Miami is seemingly never-ending, as he hopes his Southern Florida franchise will round out the league’s 24 teams. However, MLS "wants to add four more teams for a total of 28 in the long term." It "remains to be seen" if the proposed increase "will affect the crop of ownership groups that have been vying to be next in line."
'Made contingency plans'
7. AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco has stated that the conference “expects to lose” some schools to conference expansion and realignment, but reiterated that the ACC “has made contingency plans,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Big 12 recently made it clear that it plans on increasing its list of members in the hope of ultimately adding a conference network, and multiple AAC schools appear to be on the Big 12’s shortlist of potential suitors. The University of Cincinnati, University of Houston, University of Memphis, and UConn are “believed to be among the top choices.” Aresco reaffirmed his conference’s national reputation despite chatter of some of his top schools jumping ship. "We're an elite conference playing the highest level of competition. The competition for dollars is real, but while revenue is important, competitive success should matter the most. Sometimes revenue and success are related, sometimes not.”
8. The NHL’s newest franchise in Las Vegas “opened its doors” to its new fan base, giving fans a sneak peak at what they will be paying for in coming years. The unnamed Nevada franchise gave its 15,500 season-ticket holders “their first look at the rink” at the brand new T-Mobile Arena right off The Strip, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Despite it being the middle of summer without a team fielded yet, the ice was set, the boards, protective glass, and netting were in place, and the lines on the ice were painted. The sneak peak gave fans a glimpse at where in the arena they would potentially choose their seats. Former NHLer Murray Craven, one of the franchise's top executives, "knew many season-ticket holders wouldn’t make it to the arena, but said they would be able to choose their seats off a virtual-reality ticketing website the team is finishing up."
'Surge in viewership'
9. The Miami Marlins are now one of the MLB’s hottest teams, putting themselves well into the playoff picture thanks to their recent winning stretch. The team’s on-field success has given them a “surge in viewership of their games on FS Florida,” according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. July marked the Marlins’ most-watched month on the team’s RSN since July 2012, an incredible statistic for the franchise. Games ranked No. 1 for "prime-time cable television viewing" in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, averaging a 2.1 local rating. Highlighting those games and giving the team an ever bigger spike in ratings is pitcher Jose Fernandez. Average viewership "has been up" nearly 20% when Fernandez starts on the mound. The Fernandez factor may also be "evident in average viewership among Hispanic households in the market," increased by 30% compared to 2015 numbers.
10. English Premier League clubs went on a spending spree this past month. According to Deloitte business analytics and reported by the BBC, EPL teams spent $634 million “in the month since the summer transfer window opened” on July 1. That number does not even include the $49 million transfer fee paid by Manchester City for Leroy Sane, confirmed just after the month ended. Deloitte said that "gross outlay could rise" above $1.3 billion for the first time before the window closes on August 31. Manchester United pushed the needle with its record-shattering $133 million payment for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. Manchester United also paid $74.7 million combined to bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund and Eric Bailly from Villareal. Deloitte Senior Manager Alex Thorpe said, "The prospect of increased revenue from the new broadcast deals next season has encouraged Premier League clubs to invest in this window in order to be as competitive as possible."
Glimpse at the future
11. Tennis media got its first glimpse at the new roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the USTA unveiled the retractable roof, “though it took three tries to reopen it after it was closed initially.” National Tennis Center COO Danny Zausner reaffirmed that a specific engineering team will be on hand during the U.S. Open to address any issues that arise with the roof throughout the tournament. In its entirety, the roof took two full years to construct, and the upcoming U.S. Open will mark the first time in tournament history that a roof will be in place over center court to protect against inclement weather. Peter Bodo of ESPN.com reported that the new $150 million roof can be operated in a “maximum wind speed of 50 miles per hour,” and the “roof’s total size is the equivalent of 17 Olympic swimming pools.”
12. Elite German soccer club Bayern Munich is reportedly “considering teaming up with a Major League Soccer franchise to support (soccer’s) growth in the U.S.,” club CEE Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. The Bundesliga champions recently embarked on an American tour, playing games at Solider Field in Chicago against AC Milan, at Bank of America Stadium against Internazionale in Charlotte, and against Real Madrid at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Rummenigge noted the club’s responsibility to develop the sport in the United States, “Maybe we have to think about how we can partner with U.S. teams from the MLS, to support them and show them how business is run in Germany and at Bayern." The German club expressed no interest in operating a “satellite” club anywhere around the world, though it wants to follow a similar model as Manchester City does with its club partnerships in Australia, Japan, and the United States.
'Deserving of the position'
13. New San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly has an old friend joining him among the elite ranks of the franchise, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Tom Gamble, who has a “close relationship” with Kelly, was recently promoted from Senior Personnel Executive to Assistant GM. The duo worked together for two seasons in Philadelphia with the Eagles, where Gamble was Kelly's "only ally in the building" in Philadelphia, and became part of the "splintered relationship" between Kelly and the Eagles. 49ers GM Trent Baalke said that it was "his idea to promote" Gamble, and he "knew the move would invite speculation about his job security." "I understood exactly what was going to happen,” said Baalke. “And that should show you even more that I don’t care. In all honesty, (Gamble is) deserving of the position.” Baalke further noted that Gamble was actually in line to become assistant GM of the 49ers before his “two-year stint with the Eagles.”
14. Kuwait finally lost its ongoing Swiss court case against an IOC ban just ahead of Friday’s Opening Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, according to Reuters. The failure to lift the ban now means that Kuwait’s nine eligible competing athletes will “compete at the Rio Games in shooting, fencing and swimming” as “neutral athletes” under the Olympic flag. The Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland "rejected Kuwait's case against the IOC," resulting in the ban of the country’s flag in the Olympics. The IOC said that a new sports law will undermine the autonomy of sport in the country, while Kuwait argued that the law will strengthen the independence of sports bodies. “The court also ordered Kuwait and its Public Authority for Sport (PAS) to pay the IOC about $NZ 15,000 in fees and expenses. Kuwait can appeal to the Swiss Federal court within 30 days.”
State of the art
15. The Minnesota Vikings and Twin Cities Orthopedics are teaming up on a 20-year deal for the naming rights to the team’s new training facility in Eagan, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The facility is set to open in March, 2018, and will act as the Vikings’ HQ going forward. The agreement "calls for the facility to be known as the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, and it will be alongside TCO Stadium." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "took part in the groundbreaking ceremony" along with Vikings COO Kevin Warren, GM Rick Spielman, Coach Mike Zimmer, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and other dignitaries. The grounds sprawl over 40 acres and are set to include “the 6,000-set TCO Stadium, four other outdoor practice fields, an indoor practice facility, a team auditorium, meeting rooms, an expanded locker room and weight room, and some high-tech training and recovery rooms.”