Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Golf superstars dominate British Open


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Golf superstars dominate British Open

1. Sports $ across the pond – Part One.

This year’s Open Championship is being held at the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews in Scotland. With the event taking place at such an iconic venue, local economic impact could top £100 million. Last year’s tournament generated £75 million for the Merseyside economy, while the 2013 event at Royal Lytham & St. Annes delivered a £65 million benefit to Lancashire. Scottish tourism promotes the St. Andrews rotation on a five-year cycle, with hotels, restaurants, and other activities booked years ahead. I am staying at the Monarchs House in downtown St. Andrews, providing a perspective of the significant economic impact and unique customs surrounding the “epicenter of golf.”

2. Golf superstars dominate the British Open.

Heading into the Open Championship, no golfer is hotter than Jordan Spieth. Spieth has won the first two majors of the 2015 PGA Tour season, and with Rory McIlroy out with an ankle injury, Spieth is the heavy favorite to capture another victory. While Spieth is on his way to becoming the next big thing, legendary golfer Tom Watson prepares for his 38th, and likely last, British Open. The R&A extended an exemption to Watson to allow him to play one more time in golf’s oldest championship. He’s won the British Open five times in his storied career. ESPN/ABC phase out its coverage of the British Open, with NBC gearing up to take over two years from now. Key is as it always has been: the golf superstar. Tiger and Phil representing the “older guard” as opposed to the newer corporate relationships (the Lagardere-driven Spieth deal with Under Armour).

3. NFL prepares for the 2015 season.

September 10 kickoff just eight weeks away. In training camp news, RC Cola is the new presenting sponsor for the upcoming Chicago Bears training camp in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The brand replaces Chase, which is presenting sponsor of last year’s Bears training camp. On another note, Tottenham Hotspur and the NFL have reached a deal for at least two games a year to be played at the Premier League club’s new stadium starting in 2018. According to the NFL, the Tottenham deal gives the league flexibility in either moving a team to London or simply playing more games overseas. Roger Goodell challenges his staff to produce $25 billion of annual revenue at the end of this labor cycle. Increased training camp and international revenues drive the NFL business toward that goal.

4. Baseball’s All-Star Break and beyond.

Major League Baseball consolidates its business interests in Cincinnati as the Great American Ballpark home for the All-Star Week. Substantial economic impact driven by a 5-6 day celebration (as compared to the previous 1-2 All-Star festival). Additionally, baseball is driven by new and diverse sponsorships. MLB and Beats by Dre unveiled a limited edition line of team branded wireless headphones. The collection includes team-specific sets for the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, and Giants. Each set will cost $379.99. This is said to be the first partnership between Beats and a pro sports league. As Commissioner Rob Manfred emphasized in a recent interview with me, MLB demographics are getting younger and more diverse. Clearly, this corporate partnership serves as an example.

5. Sports $ way across the pond – Part Two.

While England and the rest of Europe dominate the $1 trillion sports business headline, Australia is generating its share. Globecast Australia has enhanced its Online Video Platform, to provide media owners with the ability to charge for content, according to Advanced Television Daily News. Globecast earlier this year helped launch the Australia Channel, which is supported by the company’s platform. As Australia’s first global TV service, Australia Channel offers international audiences live news, sports, and business content. Sophisticated companies like Globecast have the international ability to transcend borders, as well as consolidating efficient television distribution from the mega-challenges posed by the Tour de France to geographical challenges posed by the Australian distance factors. Major challenges call for sophisticated solutions!

6. Sports $ across the pond – Part Three.

Wimbledon winners. Kudos to Novak Djokovich and Serena Williams. Wiliams with her 21st major championship heading to an incredible bonanza at the U.S. Open in her chase for the “calendar slam.” Andy Murray, repped by Lagardere Unlimited, has reportedly turned down millions in endorsement offers since his 2013 Wimbledon win, snubbing all products he doesn’t believe in and any deals that would interfere with his training schedule. Murray has deals with Under Armour, Head, and Standard Life Insurance. Lagardere and other companies understand that bigger is not necessarily better – selectivity may be better for the superstar athlete in the long-term (even though the dollars may initially be less).

7. NBA player bounty.

The NBA announced that the salary cap has increased 11% to an all-time high of $70 million for the 2015-16 season. The luxury tax level also increased 10.3% to $84.7 million next year. The cap is expected jump to $90 million for the 2016-17 season as a result of the NBA’s new lucrative TV contracts with ESPN and Turner. Deals with Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, and others might have been unexpected, but teams are protecting their long-term stability (even if it means overpaying in the near term).

8. Television economics in the new competitive era.

ESPN has lost more than 3 million cable TV subscribers over the last year, leading the company to emphasize cutting expenses. The network in the past few months has opted against resigning high-paid talent Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann. Cord cutting has especially high implications for ESPN, which has by far the highest monthly subscriber fee at an estimated $6.61. The resounding battle focuses on cable subscribers as well as the rush to Internet/video on demand. Both processes will cause tremendous economic turbulence in the years ahead.

9. College sports economics – a new frontier.

As originally reported by the Detroit News, 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 University of Michigan agreed to an apparel deal with Nike that reportedly is the most lucrative in college sports. While terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, the largest known deal is Under Armour’s 10-year, $90 million pact with Notre Dame. Michigan’s expiring deal with Adidas pays the school $8.2 million annually. Mega schools like Michigan generate unbelievable revenue on the heels of CLC’s $100 million guarantee with Alabama for licensing and merchandising revenue. The issues are the same. How do you restock your athletic war chest facing increasing demands for guaranteed scholarships, stipends, and licensing royalty payments to players in the years ahead!

10. NHL expansion process.

The NHL has received five requests for expansion bid applications, with Las Vegas, Quebec City, the Greater Toronto Area, and two from Seattle expressing interest. The league has set an expansion application fee of $10 million, $2 million of which is non-refundable. The eventual expansion fee for new teams is expected to be $500 million. Commissioner Bettman may be looking at an “offer he can’t refuse,” especially with significant financial interests poised to spend well over $500 million in any one of five or six expansion markets.

11. Could the Redskins become the Pigskins?

As originally reported by CSN Washington, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ trademark registrations, which have been opposed for years for being disparaging to Native Americans. The team argued that cancellation of the trademarks could allow for copyright infringement. Owner Dan Snyder admonition that he would NEVER change the name of the Redskins may be revisited (especially if he wants public money for a new stadium, etc.).

12. The highly competitive daily fantasy market.

Yahoo Sports has launched its own daily fantasy games, placing the company in direct competition with market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel. Beginning immediately with MLB contests, Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy will offer cash prizes for one-day and one-week competitions. Yahoo already has significant market share for traditional fantasy sports games. Daily fantasy sports has become the fastest growing sports-related business in entrepreneurial history! Look for more companies to break in to “smaller niches,” expecting to capture some significant market share.

13. NBA franchise musical chairs?

The Milwaukee Bucks are threatening to relocate to Seattle or Las Vegas if a deal for a proposed $500 million arena can’t be reached. The Bucks need to start construction on a new arena this fall in order to have the building ready by 2017, when the team’s current BMO Harris Bradley Center lease expires. Owner Marc Lasry counted on political support from Governor Scott Walker when he bought the team. Walker’s presidential aspirations may shift priorities, and Lasry may be in a race against NHL expansion in either Seattle or Las Vegas. While previous owner Herb Kohl would not use the relocation threat, current ownership may have no choice.

14. NHL in the Valley of the Sun – time running out?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is denying reports that the Arizona Coyotes will relocate to Las Vegas beginning with the 2016-17 season. The Coyotes face uncertainty with the upcoming season as the city of Glendale recently terminated the team’s lease at Gila River Arena. Commissioner Bettman has been an avid supporter of hockey in the region, but time may be running out in this case as well. Time for the politicians to step up and make the next move. Leadership in Houston, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Cleveland all understand how difficult and expensive it is to recapture a franchise once a team initially leaves!

15. Women’s soccer, the next step!

Fox Sports generated $40 million in ad revenue from the FIFA Women’s World Cup, far surpassing the $17 million the network was expecting to bring in. The large total is attributed to the performance of the U.S. team, which boosted interest and viewership. ESPN drew $6 million in ad revenue for its 2011 World Cup coverage. Just like 1999, time is of the essence to evolve the ticker tape parades into tangible corporate commitments – both for superstar endorsements and long-term league stability!

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