Edited by Tanner Simkins
In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google.
LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE
1. It's hard to believe, but we have reached the end of yet another decade. And in the business of sport, it’s been a busy one. Here are Rick Horrow’s top 15 sport business/law trends and issues of the decade just ending. Stay tuned throughout December for his top 15 sports technology and media picks, as well as his most influential philanthropic/corporate social responsibility actions in sports, and an early look at the year and decade ahead.
2. State by state, legal sports wagering outside of Nevada sportsbooks takes hold, with massive business implications. On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Since the ruling, 19 states have legalized the practice, with Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee passing legislation this year. Additionally, 24 states have pending legislation. Legal sports wagering has already had a profound effect on virtually all American professional sports, casting a wider fan base net, spurring innovation in sports media and e-commerce, and birthing an entire cottage industry of related new companies. Sports teams are embracing fans who wager – Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, is only the latest ownership group to install a sportsbook in their venue. And tens of millions of tax dollars on net sports betting proceeds are adding income streams to state and community coffers.
3. College football adds a real playoff. After years of avoiding adding yet another game to the college football season via the auspice of the Bowl Championship Series – a selection system that created five existing bowl matchups involving ten of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision’s top-ranked teams – the NCAA in the 2014-2015 season finally embraced the College Football Playoff (CFP), a bracket tournament between the top four teams in the country as determined by a selection committee, culminating in a championship game at a neutral site. While the payout for the semifinal teams is a modest $6 million, the playoff format delivers tens of millions in additional revenue to the schools, conferences, and contract and access bowl host cities – a handful of which, including New Orleans this year, get to double down on hosting duties and economic impact.
4. After 20 long years, Los Angeles gets an NFL team back in 2016. In fact, it gets two. Largely thanks to billionaire and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles has now positioned itself to be the center of the sports universe for the next decade and likely longer. The two-decade span in which Los Angeles lacked an NFL team was brought on in part by the obsolescence of Los Angeles’s existing stadiums, the unwillingness of the NFL to add expansion teams after 2002 (when the Houston Texans premiered) or relocate any other teams, and an inability to agree on a plan to build a new stadium, despite several proposals that were vetted but never landed a team willing to relocate under the developers’ terms. Kroenke’s privately-funded SoFi Stadium opens next July with a Taylor Swift concert and will house both the Rams and the Chargers. Additionally, the $4.963 billion venue will host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the CFP National Championship Game in 2023, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. L.A. is now synonymous with mega sports events.
5. Rob Manfred became the 10th Major League Baseball Commissioner during a period of labor peace and unrest in almost everything else. At the beginning of the decade, baseball was still healing from its steroid era, a span in the 1990s-2000s where home runs were plenty and performance-enhancing drug testing scarce. Former Commissioner Bud Selig was largely credited with cleaning up the sport, and in 2015 Manfred inherited a league that was in decent baseball shape but desperately trying to stay relevant to the next generation of fans. Slow play was an issue…but a pitch clock somehow made games even slower. PED bats were gone, but the balls appeared to be corked. And Manfred’s decade ends with a nasty sign-stealing scandal involving the World Series champion Houston Astros. One bright spot in baseball continues to be its vast minor league system, which ensures pro baseball is played throughout America’s smaller communities – MiLB saw attendance in 2019 surpassed 44 million fans annually. As baseball’s Winter Meetings convene next week in San Diego, MiLB President Pat O’Connor and industry experts present a solution to improved facilities that rests in three key areas: time, money, and space.