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1.11.19: Rick Horrow talks with Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin

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USA TODAY Sports

1.11.19: Rick Horrow talks with Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

1) The NHL wraps another big Winter Classic and prepares for its All-Star Game in San

Jose later this month. NBC Sports’ presentation of the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter

Classic across all platforms averaged a Total Audience Delivery of nearly three million

viewers, making it the most-watched Winter Classic in four years and up 20% compared

to last year’s game, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. Additionally, nominations

are officially open for the fifth year of Kraft Hockeyville USA, as hockey communities

look for an opportunity to host an NHL Pre-Season Game, receive up to $150,000 in rink

upgrades from Kraft Heinz, and $10,000 worth of hockey equipment through the NHLPA

Goals & Dreams program. And the league has unveiled its touchstone events for the

2019-2020 season, including the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic October 26 in

Saskatchewan; 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and

the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks ready

their SAP Center for the second time, after a successful All-Star event in 1997.

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2) NTT Corp. could soon take over as IndyCar title sponsor. According to SportsBusiness

Journal, IndyCar has been in advanced talks with NTT Corp., the Japanese parent

company of NTT Data, about taking over as title sponsor. IndyCar has been searching

for a replacement for previous title sponsor Verizon for more than a year, and the

hunt is coming down to the wire as the 2019 IndyCar season begins in St. Petersburg

on March 10 and features 17 events in the circuit’s first full season with NBC Sports

Group. IndyCar CEO Mark Miles has said to expect an announcement this month.

NTT Data, a longtime sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar program, is one of the

largest IT services companies in the world with more than $16 billion in annual

revenue. Having a global tech conglomerate as a title sponsor would only benefit

IndyCar drivers like Zach Veach, who is sponsored by Group1001 and recently

launched a STEM education program with online education leader EVERFI.

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3) IMG College and Learfield finalize merger. The merger of Learfield and IMG College is

now complete, according to multiple sources. The two sports marketing giants begin the

New Year as one fully merged company, signaling a new era in collegiate marketing and

media. Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown will oversee Learfield-IMG College going

forward. The company will be based in Plano, Texas, where Learfield is headquartered.

The merger is a 50-50 deal between Learfield, which is owned by Atairos Group, and

IMG College. Combined, Learfield-IMG College owns multimedia rights to 55 of 65

schools in the Power Five conferences and more than 200 schools in all, giving one

company an unprecedented bundle of rights to sell in the college space. The closely

watched blockbuster deal originally was signed in October 2017, but a longer-than-expected 

merger review by the Department of Justice left both businesses operating

separately until now. Brown will run the merged business and sit on a board that will

have representation from Atairos and Endeavor. The merged company is believed to be

valued at more than $2 billion, and will wield an outsized influence in collegiate sports

media rights deals for many years to come

Listen to the full podcast here.

D.C. City Council votes to legalize sports betting

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USA Today Sports Images

D.C. City Council votes to legalize sports betting

WASHINGTON (AP) -- City lawmakers in Washington have voted to legalize sports betting, making the nation's capital the first U.S. jurisdiction without casinos to authorize sports books.

The D.C. Council voted 11-2 on Tuesday to authorize betting on professional sports at the city's stadiums and arenas, private businesses like restaurants and liquor stores, and within the city limits on a mobile app.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser supports the bill, which needs her signature to become law. It would also need to survive a review by Congress, but with Democrats taking over the House in January, the law from the Democratic-dominated city is almost certainly safe. Supporters hope bets could be taken in the city within months, although there is no firm timetable.

In May, the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned sports betting in most U.S. states. Since then, several states have authorized betting on sports. The closest place to Washington with legal sports betting is a casino in Charles Town, West Virginia. Sports gambling is also legal in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Because Washington lacks casinos, the D.C. Lottery would oversee sports betting, an arrangement that makes the nation's capital an outlier. Athens, Greece-based Intralot is the city's current lottery vendor. The lottery would sell licenses to sports books at arenas and stadiums for $250,000 over five years, and retailers would be able to purchase a two-year license for $5,000. There is no cap on the number of licenses.

Casino industry groups had a measured reaction to the bill's passage, saying that handing over control of sports gambling to the lottery could stifle competition.

"While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market," Sara Slane, a vice president at the American Gaming Association, said in a statement. "Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations."

Operators would be taxed at 10 percent of revenue, and city officials have estimated that legal sports gambling will bring in $92 million over four years. Critics said that figure was overly optimistic, particularly if neighboring Maryland, which has several casinos including the massive MGM National Harbor just over the city line, legalizes sports betting.

Washington Overwatch League team reveals name, logo

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AP Images

Washington Overwatch League team reveals name, logo

Washington's new esports team in the Overwatch League is out to bring justice to the District. The team announced its new name and logo, the Washington Justice, on Monday.

“Justice is a universal value and the perfect name for a franchise that we hope will inspire and united both our Washington area community and fans around the globe," said Mark Ein, the owner of the team, in a statement. "There is no region in the world that attracts more people to serve the cause of justice in our government, philanthropy, academia, military service and the private sector than Washington."

The team's logo is a shield with red and white stripes and a white star set on a blue background, which is meant as a nod to the American flag.

The Washington Justice will compete in the 2019 season of the league, which began as a 12-team league in 2018.

The team is one of eight additional teams competing in Overwatch next season. Competitors, according to the league's website, earn a minimum salary of $50,000 and are provided with housing, healthcare and retirement savings to allow them to compete in the first-person shooting game.