Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Maple Leafs hire Mike Babcock


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Maple Leafs hire Mike Babcock

1. As originally reported by ESPN, 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 NFL has rejected the NFLPA’s request to have Commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself from hearing Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension.  The NFLPA wanted a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator since Goodell was the one who levied Brady’s penalty.  Overwhelming pressure from all sides to move on – certainly before training camps start.  Robert Kraft puts the league first; Tom Brady has legitimate interests in protecting his reputation (from his perspective); regardless of the substantive outcome, Roger Goodell reemerges as the “on-field integrity” Commissioner.

2. The NFL could begin hearing relocation requests as early as late in the 2015 regular season with a vote of the league’s 32 owners coming a few weeks later.  Rams, Chargers and Raiders officials in June will make presentations on the progress of their respective projects to the NFL’s L.A. committee.  The NFL process anticipates leverage from four or five additional sites complementing the three locations for long-term processes.  NFL attempting to resolve all relocation issues by Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

3. As originally reported by the Toronto Star, 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 Toronto Maple Leafs made Mike Babcock the highest-paid coach in NHL history with an eight-year deal worth $6.25 million annually.  Babcock was the subject of a bidding war between the Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, and Detroit Red Wings, whom he coached for the past 10 seasons.  NHL coaches finally get their economic due.  The inevitable “semi-shock” about the high salaries permeates sports – college coaches, NBA, etc.  People forget that CEOs make substantial money, but are also entitled to stock options if a public money.  None exists here.

4. The French Open tennis tournament heads into its first week, with over 150 million Euros of economic impact and the epicenter of the tennis world for 15 days.  Globecast is the technical provider for French and European distribution.  In addition, during the event, Globecast in cooperation with France Television will do a 4K/UHD demo live from Roland Garros on May 29th.  Superstars, corporate marketers, mega-agencies, and opinion leaders in the tennis business gather for the annual “clay rite of early summer.”  Tennis business better than ever and as Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer continue to hold off the next level of male superstars.

5. Golf season continues to feature new names challenging the old guard.  Chris Kirk wins in Ft. Worth.  PGA Tour getting an unexpected boost with the hoopla surrounding Jordan Spieth and his Dallas homecoming.  Lagardère Unlimited generates substantial revenue with Under Armour, AT&T, and other “mega-sponsors.”  Spieth’s character, credibility, and likeability helps all golfers and athletes; Lagardère avoids over-exposure; corporations more than satisfied, leading to longer term and bigger deals for all.

6. FIFA sponsors Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa have expressed concerns about the safety of migrant workers at stadiums being built for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.  Since the 2010 vote that awarded the tournament to Qatar, FIFA has faced allegations of corruption and calls for improved labor conditions.  International soccer events culminating with various European and world championships; overriding concerns are the perceptions concerning Qatar and the 2022 World Cup.  As we know, perception is incredibly difficult to change (especially with the intensity surrounding the initial selection process).

7. MLS expansion team LAFC announced plans to build a privately financed, $250 million soccer stadium.  When the building opens in 2018, the 22,000-seat stadium will be the first open-air professional sports venue built in L.A. since Dodger Stadium in 1962.  Originally identified as the Chivas Los Angeles entry, a second MLS club has “rebranded” under the marketing expertise of Peter Guber and others.  Long overdue.

8. San Diego’s proposal for a new football stadium includes funding from the city, the Chargers and the NFL.  Under a plan released by the city’s stadium task force, the league and team would contribute a combined $500 million to the $1.1 billion project.  The plan also calls for the Chargers to pay $10 million in rent each year.  Predictably, we will see the best proposals each “incumbent city” has to offer – San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis.  In that context, Inglewood and Carson are effective “leverage alternatives.”  Note the NFL included Los Angeles in their Super Bowl candidate mix once again – the signal is unmistakable.

9. The Pac-12 topped all college conferences by generating $374 million in revenue during the 2014 fiscal year.  The total revenue includes income from the conference-owned Pac-12 TV network and the conference's marketing and media division.  The conference distributed $21 million to each member school.  Power 5 conference benefits begin with revenue collection – each conference ultimately will attempt to “out-recruit” high school superstars with promises of scholarships and other benefits.  As the free market takes over, college student-athletes will be the well deserving beneficiaries.

10. David Beckham is in talks with the University of Miami about partnering on a stadium for both college football and professional soccer.  Beckham has had trouble finding a stadium site for his MLS expansion team, while UM would like to play football in a venue smaller than Sun Life Stadium.  As we have experienced, South Florida stadium solutions do not happen overnight.  University of Miami clamored for a new stadium even in the glory days of the 1980s.  However, Dolphins interests were always larger and north.  In fact, this could be an interesting fit.  Watch the politics, however.

11. The NBA is expected to approve Tony Ressler’s ownership of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena by the end of next month.  Ressler’s $730 million purchase is contingent on approval by the NBA, which will vet all aspects of the transaction before submitting it to the BOG for a vote.  NBA seems enamored with the new Hawks ownership, regardless of their on-court performance against the Cavaliers.  While nowhere near the $2 billion that Steve Ballmer paid, the Atlanta Hawks look stable for a long time.

12. The Pac-12 is considering forming its own in-house, multimedia sales team, which would cut out rights holders such as IMG College and Learfield and generate an extra $2 million per year per school.  It’s uncertain how long the conference will take to determine whether or not to pursue the model.  As conferences generate additional comprehensive revenue streams, each is faced with a decision on how to nurture and protect them.  Always the case of allowing an outside agency to take the risk as compared to hiring inside staff to generate incremental sales.  Stay tuned.

13. Verizon is not renewing its naming rights sponsorship of the Washington Wizards and Capitals’ D.C. arena when the deal expires in 2018.  Verizon inherited the entitlement in 2006 after it purchased previous sponsor MCI out of bankruptcy.  Naming should proceed at a high value – Washington market; premier location; Capitals and Wizards playing well; Leonsis’ enlightened stewardship, etc.

14. The University of North Carolina has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding the re-opening of its academic fraud investigation.  UNC has 90 days to appeal the notice of allegations, after which they would await a hearing before the NCAA.  The case originally began in 2011.  Seems that the Tar Heels case may finally move toward conclusion; rampant academic concerns transcend sports in this particular case.

15. A coconut water brand created by a Chicago Blackhawks staffer is gaining popularity throughout the NHL.  Coco5 was created in 2009 as an alternative to Gatorade.  At present, 18 NHL teams or their minor-league affiliate buy the drink for their players.  Interesting niche marketing opportunity that may be sweeping the NHL by storm.  Key for marketers these days is to generate a unique opportunity amongst the clutter of larger sponsorship deals.  This may be one of those.

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