Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Royals are world champs


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Royals are world champs

1. KC Royals Win World Series; Host Cities Win as Well. Regardless who wins, there’s no denying the economic boon to host cities from mega events. While financial giant Citi, repped by Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, has earned terrific brand exposure from the New York Met’s World Series run, thanks to its long term naming rights deal at Citi Field, the Big Apple has clearly benefitted too (despite hosting only three World Series games). The New York City Economic Development Corporation estimates the MLB postseason economic windfall at $69 million. In Kansas City, each post-season game played at Kauffman Stadium was expected to generate around $5 million to the community, according to Kansas City's Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many more millions will come in merchandise and related sales in the wake of the Royals’ first World Series win in 30 years.

2. Despite massive public scrutiny from the FBI, NCAA, and others, DraftKings is still betting on its own future. The Daily Fantasy Sports company is quietly raising another $200 million in funding – after receiving $300 million from Fox Sports, the Kraft family, and other enterprises. Data from Seattle-based venture capital research firm Pitchbook shows that the upcoming funding round, not officially closed, would bring total investor funding to about $630 million since the company was founded in 2012 and would put DraftKings at an estimated $2 billion valuation. This valuation is an incredibly impressive marker for a company and industry that has been under fire as of late, with its future up the air as investigations and inquiries loom.

3. After winning nine of his 11 career starts, American Pharoah is retiring. After winning this past weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Classic in record-setting fashion – becoming the first horse to win the Grand Slam – American Pharoah will begin a new career as a breeding stallion at a farm in Kentucky bluegrass country near Keeneland. The young colt earned a total of $8,650,300 for Egyptian-born owner Ahmed Zayat, who originally questioned his decision to buy the horse. To celebrate the horse’s magical career, Breyer, the company known for creating plastic horse collectibles, unveiled a series of collectible products just in time for the holidays at the 32nd Breeders’ Cup. Breyer will ship American Pharoah models to retailers once they arrive at warehouses. The soon-to-be legendary horse deserves a long and bountiful requirement – the most important four-legged athlete in the last 50 years!

4. It may not be the EPL, but the Chinese Super League (CSL) – China’s top-tier pro soccer league – is cashing in on a massive deal to give China Sports Media Co. Ltd. its TV rights. The deal, planned to span the next five years, is worth a whopping $1.26 billion. The number is astounding considering that the CSL is nowhere near a top global soccer league. Its 2015 TV rights fetched only $7.8 million, so signing this deal is extremely good fortune. CSL Chair Ma Chengquan said that "the increased revenue will be put into youth training programs, improvement of club facilities and the upgrading of broadcasting technology to improve every aspect of the league." This is the first major step in a long process to make the CSL competitive on a global stage. China remains incredibly significant in the trillion dollar sports business. Importantly, companies like Globecast and other worldwide media transmission, content, and distribution companies will play an incredibly significant role in revenue generation in years to come.

5. Some sponsors spare no expense to honor their talent. This past weekend, AT&T proved just that when they constructed a mosaic of the 2015 PGA Tour Player of the Year, Jordan Spieth. The mosaic was placed in downtown Dallas and comprised 24,152 golf balls teed up on the grass. A 25-member team constructed the masterpiece, made to honor Spieth and the incredible year he just completed – winning multiple majors and capping his year off with a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. AT&T, which expanded its relationship with Spieth to include golf bag branding last year, also filmed content for a national ad on Tuesday. The company on Wednesday posted a time-lapse video of the mosaic installation on its YouTube channel. Large corporations spare no expense in creatively activating their brands, messages, and endorsers. Kudos to AT&T, Jordan Spieth, and Lagardère Sports and Entertainment for the creative “honor.”

6. The debate continues: which NFL franchise will relocate to Los Angeles, and when? Of the three teams vying to move – the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders – the Rams’ situation seems to be the most complex, if last week’s NFL Town Hall meetings in the three cities are any indicator. The divide between the fan base and owner Stan Kroenke is tangible, but city efforts may not be enough the keep the team rooted in the Midwest. San Diego fans lustily booed Chargers representatives, but turned out in smaller numbers than their peers. Raiders owner Mark Davis was the only owner to attend, and was rewarded for his presence by a standing ovation from Raider Nation. Will fan passion and input help sway the NFL? We’ll have to wait ‘til next month’s owners meeting – or longer – to find out.

7. The Sacramento Kings may not be the most successful team on court, but they are working to be the most lucrative team off it. Since Vivek Ranadive purchased the team in 2013, the franchise has witnessed exponential economic growth thanks to the new ownership group’s technological and marketing know-how. The Kings are scheduled to move into their new $507 million downtown palace next year (the City of Sacramento provided a $255 million subsidy), named for Golden 1 Credit Union after they offered the team $6 million a year. The Kings also signed a new regional broadcast agreement with Comcast SportsNet that pays a reported $35 million annually, more than triple their old deal. These factors have helped the Kings to become one of the NBA’s more profitable teams despite not having a winning season in nearly a decade.

8. The NHL season is off to a rapid start, but action off the ice may be more significant. Las Vegas may be pushing hard to get an expansion team and the Phoenix Coyotes are looking to move their home venue elsewhere in the Valley of the Sun. One other NHL business story stands out: The Florida Panthers have reportedly suffered more than $150 million of losses over the last two decades. Since the 1997-1998 season, the Florida-based hockey franchise has lost an eye-popping $154 million, with their worst financial season coming last year, when they lost $36 million. What’s more, the team is projected to lose $24 million this season. Attendance wise, the Panthers may be turning things around. They’ve averaged 14,628 fans in their first three home games, a significant boost from last season’s 11,265 average. The small fan spike will not resolve the team’s massive financial problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.

9. MLSE has named finance expert Michael Friisdahl President and CEO, effective in December. Friisdahl previously successfully served as President and CEO of Air Canada’s Leisure Group and succeeds Tim Leiweke. Leiweke is now being linked to David Beckham’s effort to bring an MLS team to the Miami area. Friisdahl has no prior sports experience and enters a massive year for MLSE – the company is preparing for the NBA All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre in February, the World Cup of Hockey will be there later that year, and BMO Field will also host the Grey Cup in 2016. Additionally, Raptors 905, the Toronto Raptors’ D-League affiliate, will begin their inaugural season later this month. Even though the company’s new president may have no prior sports experience, MLSE was looking for a seasoned business executive to lead the way for them, and Friisdahl is just that.

10. After five years of preparation, ESPN has decided to delay the planned launch of an ACC-specific network. Many speculated the network would go live in 2017, but Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson revealed that ESPN has asked for the delay, in order to create a system that wouldn’t lose money out of the gate. The ACC is locked into a partnership with ESPN through 2026-2027 – the deal started in 2012 – so the ACC Network will absolutely come online during this span. The ACC reportedly received $197.2 million in TV revenues 2013-2014, but the average $19.3 million distribution "lagged behind" the Big Ten's $26.4 million, Pac-12's $21 million, SEC's $20.9 million, and Big 12's $19.8 million. The disparity is a significant reason why the ACC and member schools are interested in their own network.

11. Advanced statistics and analytics are prevalent in pro sports – now including golf. The PGA Tour just signed a three-year deal with Microsoft that will create an advanced tier of golf analytics to be used across all of the Tour’s broadcast outlets and digital devices. The new tech platform will incorporate the Tour’s video library and ShotLink statistical data, creating a new bag of relevant stats. The deal makes Microsoft the official operating system, analytics partner, and office productivity software partner of the PGA and Champions tours. The new product should be up and running by the middle of the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season. While the Microsoft partnership will generate substantial revenue for the PGA Tour, look for new technological experiments and innovations to benefit golf in years to come.

12. The ongoing FIFA scandal involving top officials taking bribes, most notably President Sepp Blatter, continues to take a toll on the international soccer federation. Top sponsors are beginning to distance themselves from FIFA in order to preserve their own name and brand. The most recent example of this is Visa, as the major sponsor told FIFA that it "could cut ties" with football's scandal-tarnished governing body if the credit card company "is not satisfied with the reforms being implemented," according to Rob Harris of the AP. This threat follows similar ones from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Anheuser-Busch executives; all top FIFA sponsors. Corporate accountability may be the quickest and most efficient method of insuring long-term structural reform.

13. MLS has become one of the hottest soccer leagues in the world with its ongoing expansion, top talent imports, and multiple new state-of-the-art soccer-specific venues. A marker of the league’s success came this past weekend when the MLS saw strong viewership numbers for the 2015 regular season, a first under a media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports. ESPN and ESPN2 as part of the deal received more late Sunday afternoon matches, including many premiere matches moving to the flagship net. That change helped ESPN and ESPN2 combine to average 249,000 viewers for 34 matches, up 4% from last season, when coverage was boosted by the FIFA World Cup. In its first season broadcasting MLS matches, FS1 averaged 197,000 viewers for 32 matches. On the digital side, MLS saw an all-time high of 3.2 million average monthly unique viewers, also up 20% from 2014. These numbers are a great sign of growth for the league.

14. For the first time in nearly 20 years, USC is planning its first major renovation of the iconic L.A. Coliseum. The university plans to spend $270 million in the upgrade process. Every seat will be replaced, as well as new handrails, added leg room, and a new south side structure that will include suites, loge boxes, and a new media center. Most notably, the Coliseum will see a significant reduction in seating, from nearly 93,000 to about 77,500. USC officials admitted the project is not yet funded, but clarified that they planned to pay for it through donations, sponsorships, and naming rights. The project should begin after USC’s '17 football season and be finished in time for the '19 home opener. Creative and entrepreneurial facility modernization plans will undoubtedly be coupled with on-field stability – the next coaching hire is critical!!

15. The Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion, known commonly as Pauley Pavilion, could be getting a name change in the near future. As part of a 10-year, $144 million extension of its multimedia rights partnership with UCLA, WME-IMG is searching for an affiliated naming rights partner for the historic UCLA basketball arena. Pauley Pavilion will still be part of the facility’s official name. Many suspect this new deal could be worth as much as $5 million per year, and that price would make it the richest naming rights deal in college sports. Ultimately though, UCLA "has the right to reject any corporate sponsor, from a naming-rights seeker to any company wanting an advertisement on the school's website." The name of Pauley Pavilion ranks up there with iconic venues like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field – business folks should take significant care in ensuring that the name and brand survives and thrives.

NBC Sports Chicago provides extensive coverage of Bulls and Blackhawks drafts

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago provides extensive coverage of Bulls and Blackhawks drafts

Chicago, IL (June 19, 2018) – With the Chicago Bulls holding the #7 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft and the Chicago Blackhawks holding the #3 overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - is set to provide fans with extensive multi-platform coverage of both drafts on Thursday, June 20 and Friday, June 21.  Please note NBC Sports Chicago’s draft coverage details below:


THURSDAY, JUNE 20 -- BULLS/NBA Draft coverage

  • 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM CT -- “The 2019 NBA Draft Preview Show” - NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) previews the upcoming draft featuring NBC Sports Regional Networks NBA experts from coast-to-coast, including NBC Sports Chicago’s Mark Schanowski. Hosted by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool, “The 2019 NBA Draft Preview Show” will be presented in two live airings this day and fans can submit their draft questions to the panel by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #NBAdraftNBC (NOTE: This digital-exclusive presentation will stream live on and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app; fans located anywhere in the U.S. can download MyTeams for free on iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.)
  • 6:00 PM -- “SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado” - Special NBA Draft preview edition LIVE from the Bulls/NBA Draft headquarters at the Advocate Center. (NOTE: Live stream available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at
  • Between 7:30-8:30 PM (time approx.) -- Live #7 pick reaction/commentary from NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls experts Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue via an extended Periscope segment on the network’s dedicated Bulls Twitter handle (@NBCSBulls), which will include the trio’s responses to fan questions and comments.
  • 10:30 PM -- “Bulls Draft Special presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois” - Featuring Schanowski, Gill, and Perdue live from the Advocate Center, the Bulls Draft Special will dive into detailed discussion surrounding the Bulls first and second round picks, along with showcasing podium moment highlights/interviews featuring the new Bulls rookie from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, an overview of every trade made throughout the evening, plus, post-draft press conference coverage featuring Bulls Executive VP/Basketball Operations John Paxson, along with a post-draft recap interview with Haberstroh. (NOTE: Live stream also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.)
  • 11:00 PM -- “Bulls Outsiders: Draft Special” - Hosts Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine recap the NBA Draft from their perspective, along with their thoughts on how the Bulls first round pick will impact next season’s roster.  In addition, the Bulls Outsiders: Draft Special will also emphasize heavy viewer interaction via fan engagement on a number of the network’s social media platforms including Twitter (@NBCSBulls; fans urged to utilize the Twitter hashtag #BullsOutsiders in their posts) and Facebook Live ( (NOTE: Live stream also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.)
  •”MyTeams by NBC Sports” app – NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls digital reporter/producer Mark Strotman will also provide fans with thorough digital coverage of the NBA Draft from the Advocate Center on Thursday night, which will include real-time coverage/commentary throughout the night via @NBCSBulls and on the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.  In addition, “Sights & Sounds” moments from the Advocate Center will be provided from ‘NBCSChicago’ through Instagram and Instagram Stories. For full NBA Draft content and videos, fans are urged to visit the network’s dedicated Bulls section at  
  • “Bulls Talk PODCAST presented by Coors Light” - Bulls fans can also download NBA Draft preview/recap editions of NBC Sports Chicago’s “Bulls Talk PODCAST” throughout the week. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.


FRIDAY, JUNE 21 -- BLACKHAWKS/NHL Draft coverage

  • 6:00 PM CT -- “SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado” - Special NHL Draft preview edition featuring on-site, pre-draft reports from NBC Sports Chicago Blackhawks expert Pat Boyle and Blackhawks digital reporter/producer Charlie Roumeliotis LIVE from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. (NOTE: Live stream available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at
  • 6:30 PM -- 2019 NHL Draft (LIVE on NBCSN) – NBCSN will provide live first round coverage of the 2019 NHL Draft from Rogers Arena, which will feature in-depth player profile coverage of the Blackhawks #3 overall pick (live stream available via and the NBC Sports app). Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will host coverage alongside Emmy Award-winning analyst Pierre McGuire and NHL Insiders Bob McKenzie, Craig Button, and Darren Dreger.
  •”MyTeams by NBC Sports” app (Blackhawks draft coverage presented by Elgin Hyundai/Dundee Ford) – Boyle and Roumeliotis will be on location in Vancouver throughout the weekend providing fans with thorough digital coverage of the Draft, which will include draft capsules of every Blackhawks draft pick, along with scheduled interviews featuring Blackhawks SVP/GM Stan Bowman and VP/Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley. NBC Sports Chicago will also deliver up-to-the-minute coverage/commentary throughout the weekend via NBC Sports Chicago’s dedicated Blackhawks Twitter handle @NBCSBlackhawks and on the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app. In addition, “Sights & Sounds” moments from Rogers Arena will be provided from ‘NBCSChicago’ through Instagram and Instagram Stories. For full NHL Draft player profiles, content, and videos, fans are urged to visit the network’s dedicated Blackhawks section at    
  • “Blackhawks Talk PODCAST presented by” - NBC Sports Chicago will also deliver NHL Draft preview/recap editions of its “Blackhawks Talk PODCAST” featuring Boyle, Roumeliotis, along with special guest interviews. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.



NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears postgame coverage, local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform,, the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.  


NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago/NBC Sports Chicago+, and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit




Both Illinois House and Senate pass bill to legalize sports gambling

Both Illinois House and Senate pass bill to legalize sports gambling

When the Supreme Court lifted the federal restriction on legal sports betting outside of Nevada in May 2018, it was off to the races to see which states would legalize sports betting and how it would happen.

Illinois is on the verge of that happening following a legal sports betting bill getting passed in both the Illinois House and Senate. It passed 87-27 in the House on Saturday and passed 46-10 in the Senate on Sunday. All that is missing is governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature, but he is expected to sign given he has been a proponent of legal sports betting.

The bill would allow for betting in sports venues such at Soldier Field or the United Center, but it isn’t yet clear how that would be implemented. Betting on Illinois college teams would be banned as part of the proposal.

Sports betting would be taxed at 15 percent.

Additionally, the bill includes casinos that would be built in Chicago as well as Waukegan and the south suburbs. The bill would also make it possible to have slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports.

It is not clear when the bill would take effect.