Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Cardinals under investigation


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Cardinals under investigation

1. As originally reported by The New York Times, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the FBI is investigating the St. Louis Cardinals for allegedly hacking into the Houston Astros’ computers, compromising internal discussions about trades, proprietary stats and scouting reports. The attack represents the first known case of a professional sports team hacking the network of another. Major League Baseball franchises are worth a record $36 billion collectively as team values hit a record $1.2 billion average. Entrepreneurial and creative, Rob Manfred cannot afford to lose momentum — a rapid, transparent and comprehensive investigation is absolutely necessary.

2. U.S. Bank has signed on to be the naming rights partner of the Minnesota Vikings’ new $1.1 billion stadium that will open in July 2016. The deal for what will be called U.S. Bank Stadium is worth $220 million over 25 years, around the same amount as what Levi’s paid for rights to the 49ers’ stadium. On the other hand, the Philadelphia 76ers have decided to stop referring to the Wells Fargo Center by name in all news releases and on its website because the bank is not a sponsor of the team. Comcast Spectacor owns the arena, and no funds from the naming-rights deal flow to the 76ers. Corporate naming and sponsor partners continue to thrive, as long as the specific benefits are unique, deliverable and highly visible.

3. Corporations are becoming more involved in television and vertically integrated advertising than ever before, according to PwC’s annual global entertainment and media outlook. U.S. advertising revenue is forecast to rise at 3.5 percent, increasing from $193.8 billion last year to $230 billion in 2019. Internet and video game advertising, both forecast to grow at 11.1 percent, continue to dominate the growth landscape. Mobile Internet advertising will likely surge at a 25.6-percent increase. The key takeaway is that large agencies should be positioned to maximize corporate revenue for all vertically integrated platforms in the years ahead. Lagardere Unlimited's acquisition of Akzio Ajoint Group shines the spotlight on the need to expand all types of services for corporations, events and leagues on a worldwide basis.

4. As originally reported by The Sacramento Bee, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, Sacramento-based Golden 1, one of the nation’s largest credit unions, signed a 20-year, $120 million deal for the naming rights to the Kings’ new $477 million downtown arena. At an average annual value of $6 million, the deal is one of the largest naming-rights deals for a single-tenant NBA arena. Another example of a naming deal that fits: local and unique. It also validates the strength of the NBA, new Sacramento Kings ownership and the market.

5. International media growth continues at a rapid rate. Global television and video revenues covering 64 countries will reach $51 billion in 2020, a massive increase from the $4.2 billion recorded in 2010 and the $26 billion expected in 2015. While the U.S. will remain the dominant territory, China’s television video revenues will rocket from $40 million in 2010 to $281 million in 2020. Growth of international television revenues signals growth in the television distribution and service industry. Significant expansion into North America by Globecast and the growth of television and technology distribution and service companies attempts to take advantage of this monumental international growth.

6. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York anticipates at least one NFL team relocating to Los Angeles in advance of the 2016 season. York indicated that the Inglewood site being championed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is further ahead than competing stadium proposals. Stadium proponents in Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis are rapidly striving to finish their “incumbent deals,” while Inglewood and Carson remain significant leverage points as the NFL attempts to stabilize all of their markets by Super Bowl 50.

7. An "Outside the Lines" investigation found that college athletes accused of crimes are likely to avoid criminal charges and prosecution at a rate that far exceeds that of non-athletes. Among the factors contributing to the discrepancy are access to high-profile attorneys, intimidation of witnesses and athletic department officials inserting themselves into the investigation. No surprise that celebrities seem to be treated differently in all facets of life. The real substance arises in specifics of league domestic-abuse policies, college athletic suspension and punishment procedures, and other objective indications that seek to “level the playing field.”

8. Since Charter cable systems have begun carrying SportsNet LA, ratings and viewership for Dodgers games have more than doubled compared with this season’s average. Charter promised to carry the channel in its 300,000 Southern California homes after agreeing to purchase Time Warner for $55 billion. Obvious validation of the significant demand for Dodger viewership as the entities in question strive to increase visibility and exposure as rapidly as possible.

9. A new TV rights contract with ESPN helped the ACC increase its revenue to $302 million in 2013-14, up 30 percent compared to the previous school year. In addition to TV revenue being up 35 percent, the conference experienced 33-percent growth in bowl-game revenue and an 11-percent increase in revenue from the ACC men's basketball tournament. Another example that television revenues continue to dominate conference coffers: Duke’s national basketball championship should continue to help the conference generate even more revenues in the future.

10. The USOC has published new guidelines allowing athletes to endorse non-Olympic sponsors during the 2016 Rio Games. According to the new rule, athletes and their sponsors are permitted to continue “in-market, generic” advertising campaigns so long as the USOC grants a waiver. The U.S. men’s and women’s rugby teams have qualified for the 2016 Rio Games, which will be the first time in 92 years that the sport is played at the Olympics. While NBC’s programming decisions will not be made until early next year, the U.S.’s participation makes it likely that rugby will be prominently featured. The Summer Olympics are less than one year away in Rio. Individual sports are thriving, and individual athletes are seeking to line up their sponsorships for Rio and beyond.

11. The NBA Draft should continue to generate significant interest this week. The NBA and the NBPA in August plan on beginning negotiations for a new labor deal, two years before the union’s opt-out clause in its current agreement will be exercised. Among the most critical subjects for discussion is a range of revenue-sharing issues. The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, a 74-percent increase over last year. Eleven NBA teams are worth at least $1 billion, and the average NBA team had an operating profit of $23.1 million. Total league-wide revenue hit $4.8 billion, or $160 million per team. There is much at stake to keep union and management working hard to finish a deal.

12. The Los Angeles Angels have discussed adjusting the dimensions of Angel Stadium to benefit right-handed stars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Angels officials have not yet sent a request to MLB about adjusting the dimensions, and any change might not come until the team’s outstanding stadium lease issue is resolved. Teams have historically adjusted ballpark dimensions to fit their particular rosters. In this case, the bigger issue is the public/private stadium negotiations with Orange County, the city of Anaheim and the state of California.

13. The New Jersey Institute of Technology, college basketball’s last independent D-I program, is joining the Atlantic Sun Conference. The program has been at the D-I level since 2006-07 and was part of the Great West Conference until the league dissolved in 2013. NJIT replaces Northern Kentucky, which is jumping to the Horizon League. All D-I programs see the benefit of conference affiliations. Kudos to the New Jersey Institute of Technology for creating great stories last year vs. Michigan and otherwise.

14. Boston mayor Marty Walsh said he would not sign any document that makes the city responsible for Olympic cost overruns. If Boston refuses to accept unlimited financial responsibility for the 2024 Summer Olympics, it would significantly decrease the city’s chances of hosting the Games. Boston 2024 public/private partnership plans are significantly creative to allow for substantial corporate involvement, university commitments and other opportunities to generate support. Ultimately, the civic, political and business leadership should see a unique benefit to hosting the Games that should outweigh short-term skepticism on this issue. Time might be running out.

15. The NFL’s gambling policies are being called into question after the league shut down a fantasy football convention that was to be held at a Las Vegas casino. Though NFL rules prevent players from associating with casinos and gambling, there are few limitations preventing teams from doing so. There is a blurred distinction between fantasy and gambling as stadium signage, fantasy and gambling commercials and team sponsorships all are now permissible. Holding fantasy events in casinos might have gone too far and lead to rethinking.

The Daily Line: Week 6 Football Picks


The Daily Line: Week 6 Football Picks

The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.

Eric is traveling this week so Bears producer Paul Aspan will fill in with a weekend of picks. Unlike Eric, he certainly does not have a Masters in Predictive Analytics and his football ‘career’ came to a crashing halt a few Falls ago with the loud pop of a hamstring on a Lincoln Park flag football field. Suffice it to say, you should not expect him to replicate Eric’s 11-1 heater over the last two weeks.

Steelers at Bengals, Sunday 12PM CT

Spread: Bengals -2

Betting Percentage:  62% of bets on the Steelers; 75% of the money on Steelers

The pick: Steelers +2

I just don’t believe in the Bengals. Whether they’re 4-1 this year or 8-0 in 2015, there has to be some psychological impact knowing that your ceiling is the Wild Card game. The Steelers have won six straight games against Cinci, and I’m trying to figure out what exactly the Bengals do well. Yes they score points (thanks for pointing that out).  But their defense isn’t very good, they don’t get off the field on third down and they’re actually middle of the road in every offensive category: passing, rushing, 3rd down…everything outside of the one that matters most – scoring (where they’re 5th) - they’re somewhere between 12th and 23rd in the NFL. It’s not like the Steelers convinced me they’re fixed by beating Atlanta last week, but they do get to the quarterback (they lead the NFL with 19 sacks) and if this is a last score wins game, I’ll take Roethlisberger over Dalton all day.

Bears at Dolphins, Sunday 12PM CT

Spread: Bears – 3.5

Betting Percentage:  61% of bets on the Bears ; 55% of the money

The Pick: Dolphins +3.5

This line jumped from Bears -1.5 to -3 almost immediately, and late in the week it’s creeping higher. Everything points to the Bears this week, which I hate as far as taking their side. The Dolphins offensive line could be down three starters against the best pass rusher in the entire NFL in Khalil Mack. Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil has practiced on a limited basis this week but is in the concussion protocol and watching his backup Sam Young get destroyed by the Bengals late in the Dolphins Week 5 collapse has to have the Bears foaming at the mouth. Home dogs have been hot (4-0 ATS last week), so I’m going back to that well and counting on the hook to make the difference.

Which brings me to a home dog teaser.

Two 12 PM CT games

  • Dolphins +3.5 vs Bears
  • Raiders +3 vs Seahawks (in London)


Two 3:25PM CT games

  • Titans +3 vs Ravens
  • Cowboys +3 vs Jaguars


Tease them all up 6 points at +260 odds (a $10 bet would win $26), and it looks like this:

  • Dolphins + 9.5
  • Titans +9
  • Cowboys +9
  • Raiders +9


Yes, I’m including the Raiders in my home dogs teaser. Who were the original Raiders? Pretty sure guys like Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow were British as hell. Factor in Mark Davis’ Beatles haircut and the Raiders should feel right at home at Wembley. The Seahawks had their Super Bowl last week, throwing everything they had at the Rams. They appeared to get past the Earl Thomas contract / injury backlash and the Russell Wilson favoritism fall out but this feels like a house of cards that might now just fall apart.

The Ravens – as we discussed on The Daily Line podcast – disgust all of us with their inconsistency. They’re currently 10/1 to win the Super Bowl which is insane, and I can’t not take the points against Joe Flacco with a Titans team that suffered a not all that unpredictable letdown in Buffalo after beating the defending Super Bowl champs the week before.

The Cowboys red zone defense balled out against the Texans but once again Jason Garrett’s (lack of) strategy & job security is already a hot topic in Big D. And speaking of QBs you can’t trust, Blake Bortles made sure to remind everyone last week with a nice little 4 INT game in Kansas City.

And I’ll just add this to the Dolphins: they lead the NFL in interceptions (10) as they suit up against young Mitchell Trubisky. Now that I’ve tried to pounce on the hot home dogs trend (16-6 ATS this season), here’s to hoping it waits at least one more week to regress.

Obscure College Pick of the Week:

Middle Tennessee State vs FIU Saturday 6:30PM CT

Total: O/U: 56.5  

Betting Percentage: 37% Bets, 64% of the money on the Over

The Pick: Over 56.5

To be honest I was just looking for a lopsided discrepancy between the percentage of bets (public money) and percentage of money (sharp money). And I knew I didn’t want to take an under because cheering for no points is no fun. So here we are.

The total opened at 58 and dropped to 56.5. Only 37% of the bets are on the over, but 64% of the money is on the over, so count me in on the over. And if that’s not enough of a draw for you, this is a battle for first place in Conference USA’s East division and features a father-son Coach-QB combo of Rick Stockstill & Brent Stockstill for Middle Tennessee State. Just don’t ask me how (or if) I plan on watching this game on Saturday.

The Daily Line Podcast, Chicago edition : Debut episode

NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line Podcast, Chicago edition : Debut episode

On the debut episode of the Daily Line on NBC Sports Chicago, Ryan McGuffey and Paul Aspan are joined by VSIN’s Joe Ostrowski & Sam Panayotovich to take a look at the Bears and the rest of the NFL thru the eyes of the sports bettor.

How Vegas views the Bears after their 3-1 start and heading into Sunday’s game as a favorite in Miami. Is there any value on the Bears at 25/1 to win the Super Bowl or Khalil Mack at 28/1 to win MVP?

Plus NFL teams that are frauds and for real after 5 weeks. And of course a 6-pack of picks to get you thru the weekend. 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below