Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Top sports issues

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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 7 Football Picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line: Week 7 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.

YTD record: 21-7 against the spread (11-1 in last 12)

New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears 10/21 12:00pm CT

Line: Pats -3
Betting Percentages Split: 76% of the tickets on the Pats
The play: Bears +3

Listen here. I am not being a homer. In fact, I am from the Boston area and have been rooting for the Patriots my entire life. This is simply a great spot for the Bears. You have a Patriots team that is coming off the biggest win any team has had this season, beating the seemingly unbeatable Kansas City Chiefs in primetime. On the other side, you have a Bears team that just turned in one of the most disappointing performances of the season, losing outright to the Miami Dolphins and Brock Osweiler as a 7 point favorite. The Pats have been terrible outside of Foxboro and this is probably the best team they have faced on the road thus far this season. Additionally, this line has stayed firm at 3 and has even moved to 2.5 in some places despite the massive bet discrepancy favoring the Pats. What does that tell us? That the Pros are all over the Bears and refuse to move the line despite the public being all over New England. Ride the home town team catching points at Soldier Field.

Buffalo Bills vs Indianapolis Colts 10/7 1:00pm CT

Line: Colts -7
Betting Percentages Split: 55% of tickets on Colts
The play: Bills +7

If you have been reading my column throughout this NFL season you know I love bad NFL games. Go where nobody wants to go, get dirty and pick gross teams. I also have been pretty successful picking my spots betting on the Bills this year and I love going back to the well here. Simply put, the Colts should not be laying 7 points to ANYBODY at this point of the season. Sean McDermott decided to go with Derek Anderson this week and according to reports, this was to the delight of the locker room as they do not have to endure another Peterman Pix-Six Bonanza. I think this could give the Bills a little spark and anything that Anderson has left in the tank will be on display Sunday against the worst defense in the NFL. Circle those wagons, take the Bills and the points.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs 10/21 7:20pm CT

Line: Chiefs -6
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Chiefs
The play: Bengals +6

Good loses are a real thing in the NFL when it comes to betting perception. Not a single person is knocking the Chiefs for their primetime loss to the Pats in Foxboro. I think Vegas could have set this line at a touchdown and the public would still jump all over the Chiefs. What does that tell you? I think this a questions bettors need to ask themselves more often. What it probably tells you is that Vegas values the Bengals more than the general public does and they aren't as bought into the Chiefs hype. Side with the house, fade the public and take a very solid Bengals team getting 6 points playing a Chiefs team having to get up for two straight primetime games.

New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons 10/22 7:20pm CT

Line: Falcons -5.5
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Falcons
The play: Giants +5.5

I said that week of 10/7 was my grossest set of picks to date. What happened that week you ask? I went 5-0. Pick your spots and bet bad teams in the NFL. It works. This league does not operate the way you want it to and you have to be willing to make picks that feel ‘off’. Here is another example of that. By any eye test, this makes no sense. The Giants are in the running for the worst team in the NFL and the Falcons, while overall disappointing, still have shown flashes of their talented roster that brought them to Super Bowl two years ago. However, when you move past the surface, you see a matchup that actually really favors the Giants. The Falcons are ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball and the Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the league and will not be able to exploit the Giants porous O-Line like other teams have. I think these matchups are why Vegas set this line so low and why it has even moved in the Giants direction despite heavy public Atlanta action. Hold your nose and bet the G-men. 

Bonus College Game

Mississippi State vs. LSU 10/20 6:00pm CT

Line: LSU -6.5
Betting Percentages Split: 60% of tickets on LSU
The play: Mississippi State +6.5 (get 7 if you can)

LSU is the most overvalued team in the country. They have actually been out-gained in 4 of their 6 wins. That is an ABSURD statistic that just screams regression as the year carries on. Mississippi State has a really, really good defense and should be able to fluster Joe Burrow all day long. The Bulldogs put it to LSU last year and I expect them to show up again. Take Miss State and the points. Sprinkle the moneyline while you’re at it.

The Daily Line Podcast: How will Khalil Mack's injury affect the Bears-Pats spread?

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NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line Podcast: How will Khalil Mack's injury affect the Bears-Pats spread?

On this week’s Daily Line podcast, VSIN’s Sam Panayotovich joins Ryan McGuffey and Paul Aspan to take us inside the scene in Vegas as last week’s Bears-Dolphins line jumped from Bears -3.5 to Bears -7 on the news that Brock Osweiler would replace Ryan Tannehill (3:00). We look ahead to the Patriots (-2.5) at the Bears, discuss what kind of impact Khalil Mack’s injury could have on this week’s spread (6:30) and Sam gives us his best bets of the week (7:30). Joe Ostrowski of the Early Odds podcast also joins the show to discuss the how to get the best of the number (14:00) and whether home underdogs will stay hot. Plus, the guys make their picks for week 7 (18:00) and a quick thought on the Bulls over under. (32:00)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: