Sports Business

Sports Business 15 to Watch: New food options at Wrigley Field

Sports Business 15 to Watch: New food options at Wrigley Field

1. Shortly after midnight Monday in the United Kingdom, The Masters got a new champion, and Britain celebrated its first green jacket since Sir Nick Faldo last donned it 20 years ago. Four-time European Tour winner Danny Willett joins two-time winner Faldo as the only Britons to ever win at Augusta National. Willett, OWGR No. 12 before his Masters victory on Sunday, turned pro in 2008 and claimed $12,271,943 in career earnings before his Masters payout of $1.8 million and his second win of the year following Dubai Desert Classic, pocketing over a half million for the win. Willett almost didn’t even attend The Masters due to the birth of his son, but it’s a good thing he did for agent Chubby Chandler of ISM and sponsors Callaway, Audemars Piguet and Malaysian hotel chain Saujana. After his obligatory round of American talk show interviews, Willett plans on joining the PGA Tour next year. Willett stemmed a British golf drought that pales in comparison to tennis, where it took Andy Murray 77 years to follow Briton Fred Perry’s Wimbledon win.

2. Last week, Las Vegas’s newest attraction opened: T-Mobile Arena. The state-of-the-art arena played host to The Killers, Wayne Newton, Shamir and more than 20,000 fans on its opening night of action. Designed by Populous, T-Mobile Arena is a joint venture between MGM Resorts and AEG. The arena has the largest arena capacity in all of Vegas and is looking toward attracting an NHL and/or NBA team to the city. Dan Beckerman, AEG President and CEO, spoke about the potential for such a venture, saying, “We are confident that T-Mobile Arena will transform the entertainment landscape in Las Vegas, further elevating the city's status as one of the iconic sports and entertainment destinations in the world.” While the NBA has no plans to add a franchise anytime soon, the NHL is currently exploring expansion or relocation options in Quebec and Las Vegas.

3. Fans flooded to Tampa to experience this year’s edition of the Frozen Four. With star-studded Boston College and North Dakota squaring off against Quinnipiac and Denver, respectively, ESPN set up for what promised to be an epic weekend of hockey. John Buccigross and Barry Melrose called all three games, with Quint Kessenich reporting from between the benches. ESPN 2 televised both semifinals, with the finals switching over to ESPN in primetime. On the production side of things, innovations aired throughout the duration of the weekend-long broadcast. Despite Quinnipiac coming into the tournament with a No. 1 ranking as the top seed in the field and the most wins of any team this year, it did not have nearly as impressive of a resume as the other three finalists: Denver, North Dakota and Boston College had combined for 62 Frozen Four appearances, 19 national championships and 92 NCAA berths. Make that 20 championships, after North Dakota’s resounding win.

4. Noting the social media stalwart’s widespread reach to sports fans and its international presence, the NFL chose Twitter for its “Thursday Night Football” streaming package. Contrary to most deals nowadays, Twitter did not win the rights by offering the most money to the league. NFL Executive Vice President/Media Brian Rolapp commented on the unique decision to the Boston Globe, saying, “This is not a deal where we took the highest check; we had other things we wanted to accomplish here. We wanted to bring in a new audience and make it complementary to television, not disruptive.” Twitter’s strong international presence goes hand-in-hand with the NFL’s expanding International Series. The successful shift toward NFL games streamed digitally was first seen this past year when Yahoo streamed the Bills-Jaguars game live online. Twitter will try to expand on Yahoo’s success in streaming’s NFL debut.

5. You can't break curses on an empty stomach. The culinary lineup at Wrigley Field this season is looking like a home run. The folks providing the concessions at Wrigley — like the team — didn't sit back and bask in the on- and off-field glory of last year. So what new food can baseball fans expect at The Friendly Confines this year? The Gilbert's Grill Cart is new on the stadium's main concourse where they'll serve three new sausage selections from suburban Wheaton. Fans in the Budweiser Bleachers can try a twist on the Bloody Mary with a celery salt and poppy seed rim. The fun's with the skewer, which features a mini Vienna Beef red hot and garnishes, served in a souvenir mason jar. Finally, Chicago chocolatier Fannie May is now the sponsor of the area formerly known as the Budweiser Bleacher Suite, targeting corporate groups, with all-inclusive food and beverage package. We have only two words: sweet suite.

6. After realizing that 55 percent of rookies on NFL rosters are actually undrafted, the NFL has decided to put an end to the league’s annual rookie symposium, replacing it with a more inclusive alternative. In the past, only drafted players were included in the preseason rookie meetings, but this new program will be hosted and customized by each team, allowing undrafted players to get the same education as their drafted counterparts, according to USA Today. NFC rookies will go through the new program from June 20 to 22 and AFC rookies from June 22 to 24. The NFL "will work with team player engagement directors and provide outlines, content, presenters and an expense budget to cover mandatory topics." Those topics include "social responsibility, benefits, mental health and respect at work." Teams will also have the option to discuss “flex” topics if the league signs off on them beforehand. This new model will allow each team to accurately pinpoint its needs and address those of its new hires — a better model all around.

7. The Kansas City Royals are finally looking royal after receiving their 2015 World Series rings. Sparing no expense, the franchise chose a ring featuring two types of gold and nearly 10 karats of gemstones, according to the Kansas City Star. Custom-cut blue sapphires were used to create the KC logo, outlined in yellow gold; the words “World Champions” appear at the top and bottom of the ring in yellow gold, and a cluster of round diamonds are set on a field of 14-karat white gold that make up the ring’s facade. Each player received a customized ring with his name featured above a silhouette of Kauffman Stadium and its Crown Vision board, along with MLB and Royals logos. About 700 rings were distributed. Players, coaches, field staff, full-time front-office members, scouts, minor-league instructors and staff were among those fortunate enough to bring the gems home, according to Royals Senior VP/Business Operations Kevin Uhlich.

8. Pending a league Board of Governors vote, the Toronto Raptors plan on implementing jersey advertisements for the 2017-18 season. MLSE executives have set a $4 million to $5 million target price for companies interested in taking out jersey space. The vote is expected to take place among the BOG later this month, and if successful, ads the same size as the Kia ad that appeared on the NBA All-Star Game jerseys will adorn Raptors jerseys. During their sales pitches, MLSE staff "discussed prospect ads of about two-and-a-half inches in diameter," but MLSE has made the case that the ads are valued to be as much as $5 million per season "because officials are concerned that marketers might try to use contract values secured by smaller-market teams as comparables." If approved, this would mark a first for the NBA. Despite soccer leagues across the world using ads as jersey centerpieces, the “Big Four” American sports leagues have been unwavering in their resistance to putting ads on regulation game jerseys.

9. With golf set to makes its first appearance in the Olympics since 1904, the leaders of golf’s major championships announced that gold-medal winners at the men’s and women’s Olympic golf tournaments in Rio this summer will receive exemptions in their respective major championships the following year. The gold-medal winner on the men’s side will get a one-year exemption to qualify for the Masters, U.S. Open, The Open and PGA Championship. The silver- and bronze-medal winners will be exempt from local qualifying for the U.S. Open. Golfweek noted that this move to “create additional invitations or exemptions seems more symbolic than substantive, because most of the Olympians will be determined off the world rankings, the same rankings that already are used to determine exemptions into golf's top events." Despite that claim, golf’s Olympic return is set to dramatically elevate the sport on a global platform.

10. Despite Sepp Blatter’s permanent ban from international soccer, investigations into some of the world’s top soccer-organizing committees have not subsided. The Swiss police, unannounced, raided UEFA HQ, according to the London Telegraph. The raid was motivated by the suspicion of criminal mismanagement relating to the sale of TV rights by Europe’s top soccer-organizing body. While no individuals were targeted in the raid, the Swiss police seized details on a contract signed by UEFA’s former general secretary. UEFA recently sold rights for Champions League match to an Argentinean pair of men who own Cross Training, only to see those rights “allegedly resold to Ecuadorean broadcaster Teleamazonas for three times as much.” The new allegations follow Amnesty International’s report on the inhumane conditions of migrant workers preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and on the heels of new FIFA President Gianni Infantino being dragged into the Panama Papers corruption scandal claims.

11. The Oakland Raiders are in the market for a new home, and team owner Mark Davis’ visit to Las Vegas further demonstrated that need. Davis toured UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium to evaluate if the facility “could serve as a temporary home” for the team, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The stadium opened in 1971, but underwent a significant renovation in 1999 to install a new press box, luxury suites, club seats and other amenities. Despite the stadium’s current capacity of 35,000 — a number far too small to ever host an NFL team for an entire regular season — that number could be boosted by as much as 10,000 if the north end zone were to be expanded. This visit marked Davis’ second trip to Las Vegas in the past three months, as pressure is mounting for the Raiders to find a new stadium in the face of little progress at home. Las Vegas has received "mixed sentiments" as an NFL option. Some owners "seem in favor of that market, while others say that moving there would be difficult."

12. With another victory for the history-chasing Golden State Warriors, beating the 1995-96 Bulls' marker of 72-10 is now looking like promising for Steph Curry and Co. On the heels of a 125-117 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors saw their chances of reaching 73 wins take a big hit. What used to stand at over a 55-percent chance of reaching the historic win total shrunk to a mere 13.4-percent likelihood. However, after defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, the Warriors tied the Bulls with 72 wins. The big question now is whether the Warriors will pursue the record full bore or rest their players for another championship run. On Wednesday, the Warriors face Memphis at home and face history.

13. Deloitte has renewed its sponsorship of the USOC, staying on as the official professional services sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams through the Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Deloitte, regarded as one of the top consulting firms in the world, has and will continue to help the USOC set long-term strategy, promote sport and field the strongest Team USA possible during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Across advisory, tax and consulting platforms, Deloitte helps the USOC on a multitude of levels. Diana O’Brien, chief marketing officer for Deloitte, commented on her company’s sponsorship, stating, “Our ongoing sponsorship helps athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games successfully compete on the global stage. It’s why we are passionate about our continued support of the U.S. Olympic Committee.” The partnership began back in 2009, when the USOC signed Deloitte on as a trusted advisor.

14. In its sixth-annual edition, LeBron James came out on top of Horrow Sports/MVPIndex Power 100 — a list of the 100 most powerful athletes on and off the field. For 2015-16, on-field attributes comprise 50 percent of the athletes’ power. The other 50 percent is based entirely on a key off-field attribute: social-media presence. Combining on-field and off-field attributes yields the power score. Athletes are then ranked based on power to find the top 100. Rounding out the top five are Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (No. 2), world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic (No. 3), tennis superstar Serena Williams (No. 4) and Oklahoma Thunder forward Kevin Durant (No. 5). The 2015-16 POWER 100 focuses on long-established sports and the U.S. market specifically. Key indicator statistics were used as predictors of performance per sport, and statistical weight varied with impact. For sports lacking indicator statistics, such as tennis and golf, relevant rankings were used. In the current sports marketplace, such sophisticated metrics are critical to major sports business decisions.

15. Coordinated by Israel Bonds Insurance & Real Estate Divisions, Guggenheim Insurance and Horrow Sports Ventures, the Sports Panel Discussion and Luncheon brings together some of the most prominent names in sports business under one roof in Chicago. Headlined by keynote speaker Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of USA Basketball, and Israel Unity Award Recipient Dan Towriss, Senior Managing Director of Guggenheim Insurance, the panel will discuss key sports industry issues and how they impact our community, all themed around a major challenge: Within the embarrassment of sports riches that is Chicago, how do teams attract fans to live sports and entertainment events? Disparate voices chiming in together to discuss major sports issues of the day can only mean one thing: progress.

Kaplan: Chet Coppock's impact on my career

Kaplan: Chet Coppock's impact on my career

The death of legendary Chicago sportscaster Chet Coppock has stoked many memories for me because of the lengthy history he and I had, particularly the huge role he played in my life. I would not be writing this nor would I be broadcasting on radio and TV without him taking me under his wing and giving an inexperienced kid from Skokie a chance to be on the air in Chicago.

Prior to entering the broadcasting profession I was a college basketball coach at Northern Illinois University from 1982-86. Like so many in the coaching profession, I lost my job when my head coach lost his job and I wondered aloud what the heck I was going to do with my life. I knew I had to be in the sports world and I knew deep down that I wanted to be on air. I started a college basketball recruiting newsletter that coaches and fans subscribed to and as I tried to market it I sent a letter to the biggest name in Chicago sports broadcasting that I could think of, Chet Coppock. He was a fixture on radio five nights a week in CHicago.

I distinctly remember walking into my house and seeing the message light blinking on my recorder. "Hey David, okay kid I'll give ya a shot! Tonight, let's talk college basketball. Bring your 'A' game! This is Chet Coppock from Coppock on Sports. Call me back!"

Wow! I was actually going to be on with the one and only Chet Coppock? The Big Rock Candy Mountain himself? I knew it was a big opportunity but I had no idea at that time that that phone call would change my life forever. Chet Coppock gave me a shot and he would become the single biggest professional influence in my career. Regularly he would have me on to talk about college basketball and the recruiting world. DePaul and Illinois basketball were hot topics.

It was always a huge thing to be on his show.

Fast forward to March of 1989. It is a Tuesday night, two days before the start of the NCAA Tournament, and I get a call from then-University of Arizona assistant basketball coach Kevin O'Neill, who was then and remains one of my closest friends in the world. K-O, as he is known, calls me in the early evening to tell me he has a great source telling him then-Michigan head basketball coach Bill Frieder is going to be named the new head coach at Arizona State the next day.

After I make a handful of phone calls to confirm the story, I call Chet.

He is on the air hosting the Doug Collins show, the head coach of the Chicago Bulls at the time. Chet comes to the phone during a commercial break and I tell him my scoop.

"I'll put you right on but if you're wrong I will bury you in this town and you will never get a broadcasting gig," Chet said. "Do you still want to come on? Do you feel confident enough in your story?"

Yes, I told him.

I go on the air, reveal the news and Collins tells me no way that is going to happen. He is a former assistant coach at Arizona State and he, like many others, did not believe the story was accurate. 

The next day the story breaks and the USA Today credits "Coppock on Sports in Chicago."

From that day forward Chet was a huge influence on my broadcasting career and he opened doors for me that I would never have been able to open myself.  Without him I would never be doing what I am doing today.

Rest in peace my friend. You will always be remembered as a legend.

NBC Sports Chicago announces multi-year media rights deal with White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago announces multi-year media rights deal with White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks

STAMFORD, Conn., and CHICAGO, Ill. – January 2, 2019 – NBC Sports Chicago and the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks today announced a multi-year media rights deal that provides NBC Sports Chicago with exclusive local, multi-platform media rights to present game coverage of all three teams starting with the 2019-2020 season. The deal is subject to formal documentation and pending MLB, NBA and NHL approval.

NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago+ will be the exclusive regional home for all regular season games, pre-season/spring training, and the first round of post-season coverage for the Bulls and Blackhawks. This new agreement also enables the continuation of all games to be streamed on NBCSportsChicago.com and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

“The Chicago White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks have provided countless memorable moments for this city’s fans, and NBC Sports Chicago has been dedicated to immersive coverage of each and every one,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks and Platform & Content Strategy. “This is a significant agreement, and we are proud to continue to provide the most comprehensive, multi-platform coverage of these historic franchises.”

“We are very pleased to extend our relationship with our partners at NBC Sports Chicago,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls/White Sox Chairman. “In addition to being the experts in consistently delivering the finest game and surrounding game coverage in the business, it is their year-round commitment to providing our fans with innovative and entertaining multi-platform content that makes NBC Sports Chicago among the very best in the regional sports industry. Chicago sports fans are the greatest, and we are pleased that this agreement allows for the very best access to Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox live action and content.”

“Blackhawks fans should be very excited that we are continuing our partnership with NBC Sports Chicago. In addition to raising the bar on our game day broadcasts, NBC Sports Chicago has elevated non-game day television coverage and evolved their digital and social media platforms into some of the most viewer-friendly in the industry,” said Rocky Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks Chairman.