Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Top sports issues


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Top sports issues

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.

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