1. NFL camps open. Packers numbers offer a rare glimpse of NFL economics through public records. As originally reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 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 Green Bay Packers posted record revenues of $375.5 million for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. The Packers reported $226 million of national revenues, up 20.6%, meaning the league distributed $7.2 billion to its 32 teams. Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said that the team ranks ninth in total revenues. The 20 percent increase in revenues is consistent with the new marketing deals, international development, television payments, and the like. Roger Goodell never sleeps, challenging his staff to reach $25 billion in total annual revenues by the end of the labor deal.
2. College football kickoff only one month away! The NCAA will distribute $18.9 million to D-I schools this year to help them pay for cost-of-attendance scholarships, additional food for athletes, or various academic projects. Each of the nearly 350 D-I schools will get an equal share of the money, meaning the schools will receive about $55,000 apiece. Athletic directors, conferences, and school presidents all grappling with the new economic realities: “bidding” for high school superstars while generating enough revenue to support other sports. This helps!
3. NHL in Vegas? After receiving fewer bids than expected, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said league expansion isn’t guaranteed. Sixteen expansion applications were requested from the league, but only bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City were actually submitted. Bidders were required to submit a $10 million deposit, $2 million of which was non-refundable. There are many possible reasons for this: Vegas appearing the clear winner, others in line for potential Arizona Coyotes relocation, arena problems in applicant cities, etc.
4. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson: U.S. Conference of Mayors Chairman, former Phoenix Suns All-Star, Sacramento cheerleader, now arena developer. A Sacramento judge handed Sacramento a resounding victory by rejecting a lawsuit challenging the city’s 2014 deal with the Kings to subsidize a new downtown arena. City officials said that they plan to move forward in the next few weeks on their stalled plans to finance their share of arena construction. As in all sports, leagues are no stronger than their respective weakest arena links. NBA on its way to resolving all problems. Kudos again to Adam Silver.
5. Heading to Whistling Straits and golf’s final Major – two weeks away. While it may come as a surprise that golf superstar and Lagardere Unlimited client Jordan Spieth has not yet cracked the London School of Marketing rankings of the most marketable athletes, don't shed too many tears for the Texas born golfer. In just four events on the PGA Tour this year — the Masters he won in April, the U.S. Open he won in June, the John Deere Classic he won in July, and the British Open - Spieth had winnings of $4,906,377, sending his prize money for the year to $9,170,215. London School of Marketing top five: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, LeBron James, Kevin Durant. Lagardere’s strategy has been to selectively choose long-term corporate partners – and it is clearly paying off. Spieth will be a marketing and endorsement force in sports and entertainment for decades to come!
6. MLB diversity and creativity: Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park next year will host a big air snowboarding and freeskiing U.S. Grand Prix tour stop. The event is the culmination of a two-year effort by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to attempt a large-scale urban event. Fenway Sports and the USSA will split the costs and revenue from the event. Key for new or renovated stadiums these days is diversity and creativity – football, concerts, soccer, etc. But skiing?? Kudos to the Red Sox.
7. Protecting the Wildcat image? The University of Kentucky issued Drake a cease-and-desist letter after the rapper’s appearance at the school's Big Blue Madness event because of illegal contact with recruits. Kentucky's compliance office self-reported to the NCAA the impermissible communication between Drake and three potential student-athletes. Coach John Calipari always is the center of attention (if not controversy). His methods are usually successful, but his “one and done” generates some ire and suspicion (though mostly respect). An example of bending over backwards to be extremely careful to protect and cultivate a positive image inside and outside the NCAA.
8. Arizona Coyotes Band-Aid. As originally reported by the Arizona Republic, 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 Arizona Coyotes and the city of Glendale agreed to a new lease deal that will keep the team at Gila River Arena through the 2017 season. The deal trims the management fee the city pays annually to the Coyotes from $15 million to $6.5 million and shifts all hockey-related revenue to the team instead of Glendale. Short-term solution may be another reason for only two expansion applications this time around. Word may have been sent that relocating the Coyotes is possible in the near future. Stay tuned.
9. NBA logo and the retired superstar. NBA officials are in discussions with Nike over how the company’s Jordan Brand Jumpman logo will be folded into the league’s new apparel deal, according to John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Journal. The eight-year, $1 billion deal between Nike and the NBA takes effect with the 2017-18 season. The Jerry West silhouette gives way to the Jordan NBA logo – how much is it worth at the league level? I think we will see.
10. Giants and Cubs marketing superstars. San Francisco Giants P Madison Bumgarner tops the list of MLB jersey sales at the league's official online shop from Opening Day to the All-Star Game. Last season's World Series MVP appears on the list for the first time, as does Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, whose second-place ranking is the highest of any rookie since the league and MLBPA began releasing jersey sales rankings in 2010. Giants attendance at 99.4 percent capacity and Cubs at 89.2 percent capacity, an ongoing testament to the value of the young and rookie superstar.
11. Jaguars and NFL look to the young fan and Internet future. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the first team in the NFL to launch their own fully functional emoji keyboard. Several players, including QB Blake Bortles and RB Denard Robinson, signed off on the emoji characters in their image. The initiative is part of the team’s #MOREJAX marketing and digital campaign. Hopefully, the emoji keycard can reflect more happy faces than negative faces this year!
12. NHL preparing for international games and corresponding revenue. The NHL and NHLPA reportedly are seeking $8 million for on-jersey ads for all eight teams participating in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Advertisers said that the league and the union also are selling virtual advertising on rink dasher boards for the first time. Everyone thought the World Cup would be a success for all; as the league and NFLPA receive a revenue bonanza, this process should begin to validate Bettman’s vision on this issue.
13. The demise of the “pigeon game?” The Sun Belt Conference wants the league's football programs to cut back on the number of big money, non-conference games against Power Five schools. The combined schedules this season of the 11 Sun Belt teams include 35 non-conference games against other FBS conferences, with 19 of them against Power Five teams. The huge payday for smaller schools against overmatching Power Five opponents may be coming to an end – even though it meant more visibility, exposure, and revenue for emerging schools.
14. NFL training camps open Part 2: Vikings on the hot seat. Radisson hotels is ending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after suspending its partnership with the team in September following RB Adrian Peterson’s child abuse arrest. Radisson had a one-year deal to put its logo on the Vikings' press conference backdrop, and is letting the deal expire without renegotiation talks. The remaking of Peterson’s image will be a work in progress through the season – nothing that contrition and 1,500 yards can’t fix!
15. Media increasingly careful about image. Colin Cowherd has been pulled from the air by ESPN for offensive comments he made about Dominican baseball players on his radio show. THE MLBPA reportedly considered withholding support from ESPN if the network didn't take action against Cowherd. Radio and television superstar “musical chairs” has actually given way to a careful retrospective on image among the major media moguls and networks.