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Sports Business 5 to Watch: Super Bowl Sunday

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Sports Business 5 to Watch: Super Bowl Sunday

1. Super Bowl 50 is set to be a classic matchup of old vs new, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos pitted against hot-handed Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. And if you want to see this game in person, it will cost you. According to VividSeats.com, a secondary market for sports and entertainment, and SeatGeek, SB50 is shaping up to be the most expensive in NFL history. The cheapest ticket available for the Feb. 7 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is $3,224, and the most expensive comes in at a whopping $12,785, as of this past Monday. The website’s median price for tickets sold thus far is $4,180 — the cheapest seat in the house was sold for $3,000 in the upper level corner of the 49ers' home. Of those who have already bought tickets from the website, 37 percent are from California, 8 percent are from Texas and Florida each, and 7 percent and 6 percent are from Illinois and New York, respectively.

2. While a significant portion of NFL fans will never be fortunate enough to see their team make it all the way to the Super Bowl, those who are lucky enough will not be able to follow their team to the big game for nothing. Immediately following their wins this past Sunday, both the Panthers and Broncos posted travel packages for its fans through PrimeSport, a Los Angeles-based sports travel packager. The cheapest option comes in at $180 per person, which merely buys you a ticket to your team’s pregame tailgate in the parking lot. If you wanted to actually go to the game as well, buying the cheapest seat available, that number jumps all the way up to $3,507.50. If you wanted to fly to San Jose, arriving for the pregame and departing immediately after, that number begins to hover are the $6,000 marker — being more expensive for Charlotte fans than Denver fans. Three-night land packages (no flight) at each team’s three hotels ranging from $5,935 to $6,805 per person for Carolina fans at the Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf, Embassy Suites at Burlingame or the Sir Francis Drake on Union Square or $5,795 to $5,995 per person for Denver fans at the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf or Marriott Marquis in San Francisco. No matter how you want to approach the prospect of attending Super Bowl 50, it sure won’t be cheap.

3. With Super Bowl 50 quickly approaching in the next few weeks, the event’s host committee — in collaboration with in/PACT and Citizen Group, has launched “Play Your Part,” a campaign focusing on reducing impact on climate change by delivering a low emissions event and responsibly using materials and resources, all while inspiring fans to embrace sustainability themselves. Prizes will be given out by the event’s host committee to leading fans that enter and engage in the campaign. Sustainability Director for the Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and President of in/PACT Sports & Entertainment Neill Duffy spoke about “Play Your Part’s” course of action leading up to the game. “We’re asking fans to do three things ... take action, choose your cause, win prizes. Fans take action by either: a) taking a pledge to do something sustainable, e.g. host a sustainable SB party, or b) actually do something sustainable when visiting Super Bowl City, e.g. leave the car at home, bring their own reusable water bottle or recycle responsibly.” The Super Bowl’s host site, Levi's Stadium, is the perfect venue to foster this campaign, as it became the first stadium in the United States that is home to a professional football team to receive LEED Gold certification upon construction.

4. Super Bowl 50’s reach is going to span far beyond Levi's Stadium, as events will range all the way from the Embarcadero in San Francisco to Mission College in Santa Clara, hitting various other Silicon Valley hot spots along the way. The area has prepared by already designating a special lane on Highway 101 between San Francisco and San Jose for buses and limousines heading to the game. Meanwhile, the Valley Transit Authority is prepared to transport exactly 12,000 passengers to Levi’s on Super Bowl Sunday via VTA’s train system. A round trip transport to and from the game on these trains will cost a mere $20 and is set to be one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of getting the football’s new mecca. Santa Clara council member Lisa Gillmor spoke of her anxiety and excitement surrounding her city’s hospitality. "I'm nervous but optimistic that Santa Clara is going to come through this with shining colors," she said. "I want to make sure that we showcase our city to the country and the world."

5. With recent hard-hitting storms on the East Coast, more bad weather is expected to make its way to the Bay Area just in time for Super Bowl 50. In a front-page newspaper piece in the San Francisco Chronicle this past week, Alexander & Rubenstein noted the likely chance that the days surrounding the matchup “will be significantly wetter than normal.” But NFL officials were quick to note that they “have contingencies in place for rain, from the new weather-tested turf laid at Levi’s Stadium to plans to keep the microphones dry for Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars during the halftime show.” While there is still a chance that the heavy rains foil out or miss Levi's Stadium and the surrounding area completely, the NFL is preparing for any possible weather pattern that might hit. “The football gods have been with us throughout the history of the Super Bowl. We’ve been fortunate to not have the weather as a factor,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “And if it is a factor, well, that’s football.”

6. There are two reasons why people watch the Super Bowl: for the game itself and for the advertisements that come in between the action. This year, a few lesser-known brands will take their chances, spending big bucks to market their product during one of the world’s most-watched events. Bai, the maker of low-calorie health beverages, will make its first Super Bowl appearance with a 30-second commercial. The commercial will be "a new entry in Bai's 'None of This Makes Sense' campaign." Employing the shop's "trademark absurdist humor, the work presented oddball characters in weird situations asking why Bai — brimming with antioxidants and packing only five calories — tastes so good." Similarly, SoFi, a student-loan refinancing, mortgage and personal loan company, will ramp up “a $20 million TV and digital ad effort with a spot during Super Bowl 50 ... spending about 20 percent of its annual ad budget on the Super Bowl push," noted Suzanne Vranica of the Wall Street Journal.

7. After missing its chance last year, Snapchat has changed its sales tactics in order to capitalize on the Super Bowl’s popularity, according to Garett Sloane of Digiday. With Marriott, Budweiser, Pepsi and Amazon signed on as sponsors, the increasingly popular social media platform has sold out its Live Story with the NFL for Super Bowl 50. Video advertisements for participating companies are set to run in between the game’s Live Story. Budweiser will only be allowed to advertise to users who are 21 years or old, drastically decreasing their reach for the Broncos-Panthers matchup. Financial details have not yet been released for these advertising partners, but the overall revenue for Snapchat is expected to reach the “low seven figures” for the whole offered package. Sources said that Snapchat for this year's game "switched tactics" from targeting a single sponsor and instead "looked for multiple sponsors" in an attempt to bring in more revenue, citing the more sponsors, the more money.

8. Superstition is a real thing in sports, and the Super Bowl is certainly no exception to that. Broncos executive vice president and general manager John Elway is taking no chances of bad luck when his team squares off with the Panthers, hence his decision to wear white vs. the Panthers. Elway spoke earlier this week on that decision, saying, “We’ve had Super Bowl success in our white uniforms, and we’re looking forward to wearing them again in Super Bowl 50.” The Broncos have worn their home orange jerseys on four separate occasions in blowout Super Bowl losses. The last time they won in white was in the 1998 championship — overall in the Super Bowl, Denver is 0-4 in orange, 1-1 in white and 1-0 in blue.

9. While NFL players have been increasingly fined these past few years for excessive celebrations after touchdowns and big plays, one company is actually promoting excessive celebrations in the Super Bowl. This past week, Nestle’s Butterfinger brand announced that it plans to cover “up to $50,000 in excessive celebration fines levied against NFL players through Super Bowl 50” as part of its “Bolder Than Bold” Super Bowl campaign, according to Adweek.com. Former NFL receiver Terrell Owens, largely known for his own planned excessive celebrations, and comedian Billy Eichner were selected to make this announcement on behalf of Butterfinger. Owens and Eichner were seen on the streets of New York City asking people to show off their boldest end-zone celebrations in exchange for a Butterfinger bar. The campaign is certainly innovative, as this marks a first for a company willingly picking up players’ fine tabs.

10. Digital and online advertising has exploded these past few years, as platforms and companies are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate ads all around the web. After hitting a record 840 million minutes of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, the platform has once again elected to bring back YouTube AdBlitz — a YouTube channel and separate website where fans can view and vote for their favorite ads before they air on game day. While this service has been available each of the last seven years, Tara Walpert Levy, managing director of agency sales at Google, said its reach has grown exponentially in recent years. Last year alone, people watched the equivalent of 1,600 years of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, and nearly 40 percent of that viewing time actually occurred before the game itself, with another 300,000 hours of ads watching during the game. With last year’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks being the most-watched broadcast in television history, it makes sense for YouTube to capitalize on this opportunity.

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

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AP

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

There wasn’t a single game Harry Hiestand coached while at Notre Dame — 77 in total — in which he didn’t have a future top-20 pick starting at left tackle. 

Zack Martin (16th overall, 2014) was followed by Ronnie Stanley (6th overall, 2016), who gave way to Mike McGlinchey (9th overall, 2018). Hiestand also developed Quenton Nelson, who went on to be the highest interior offensive lineman drafted (6th overall, 2018) since 1986. Nelson and McGlinchey became the first pair of college offensive line teammates to be drafted in the first 10 picks since 1991, when Tennessee had tackles Charles McRae and Antone Davis go seventh and eighth. 

“It wasn’t surprising because the kind of guys they are, they absolutely did everything the right way, the way they took care of themselves, the way they trained, the teammates that they are and were,” Hiestand said. “They just did it all the way you wanted them to do it. So it was. It was a good moment.”

Hiestand said he had a sense of pride after seeing his two former players be drafted so high, even if he wasn't able to re-unite with either of them. The Bears, of course, didn’t have a chance to draft Nelson, and had conviction on using the eighth overall pick on linebacker Roquan Smith (as well as having tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie in place for the 2018 season). 

Anecdotally, one former Notre Dame player said (maybe half-jokingly) that Nelson and McGlinchey were fighting each other to see who could get drafted by the Bears to play with Hiestand again.

“There’s nobody that I’ve been around in this game that’s more passionate about what he does,” McGlinchey, now with the San Francisco 49ers, said of Hiestand at Notre Dame’s pro day in March. “There’s really only two things that are important to him, and that’s his family and then his offensive linemen. There’s a lot to be said for that. 

“In this game, everybody’s always trying to work an angle to up their own career — he doesn’t want to do anything but coach O-line, and that’s what really sticks out to us as players. He cares for us like we’re his own. Obviously he coaches extremely hard and is very demanding of his players, which I loved — he pushed me to be the player that I am.

“I’m standing in front of all you guys because of Harry Hiestand. But the amount of passion and care that he has not only for his job but his teaching abilities and his players is what sets him apart.”

Hiestand could’ve stayed as long as he wanted at Notre Dame, presumably, given how much success he had recruiting and developing players there. But six years at one spot is a long time for a position coach, especially at the college level, where the grind of recruiting is so vital to the success of a program. It’s also not like every one of the blue-chip prospects Hiestand recruited to South Bend panned out, either. 

So Hiestand knew he wanted to get back to the NFL after coaching with the Bears under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. It’s a new challenge for him now, not only to develop second-round pick James Daniels but to continue the growth of Cody Whitehair and Leno while getting the most out of Kyle Long, Massie and the rest of the group (back during his first stint with the Bears, Hiestand had the luxury of coaching experienced, more ready-made offensive lines). 

As one of the more highly-regarded offensive line coaches in the country, though, Hiestand could’ve jumped back into the NFL whenever, and nearly wherever, he wanted. And for him, coming back to the Bears was the perfect fit. 

“That’s an awesome, awesome place, a great franchise,” Hiestand said. “It was something, I always wanted to go back, I didn’t know where I would get the opportunity. So I’m just very fortunate it just happened to be back at the same place that I was before. There are a lot of things that are different but there’s also a lot that’s the same. 

“But it’s one of the — it is the greatest organization. Historically, this is where it all began, and being part of it — and the other thing, and I told those guys when I got here, when we get it done here, you guys are going to see this city like you’ve never seen it. And I remember that. That’s what we’re after.” 

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Wednesday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.