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How NASCAR plans to boost ratings and attendance, plus more top sports business stories

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USA TODAY Sports

How NASCAR plans to boost ratings and attendance, plus more top sports business stories

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST

  • Youth baseball gets a boost from Stadium and Adidas. Stadium inked an exclusive partnership with the 2019 Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series, a tournament of champions for players aged 12 and under. Stadium will air thirty-four live games over eight days, including the International Championship, U.S. Championship, and World Championship on August 10. Similarly, Little League Baseball and Softball inked a multi-year partnership with Adidas that will see the brand become the official uniform, footwear, and coaches apparel supplier for the Little League World Series and a Little League Official Sponsor. Beginning this season, Adidas will design and create all official on-field uniforms for all seven total Little League World Series events throughout the United States. Additionally, Adidas will outfit all teams with cleats, training apparel, and accessories, and all coaches will be supplied with athletic footwear and apparel. To kick off the partnership’s first season, Adidas will design brand and marketing activations at both the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon. Right before school resumes in August, our attention will be riveted on school-age bats and gloves at their annual peak. 
  • NASCAR has a plan to boost attendance and ratings: betting on races. NASCAR has signed an exclusive data partnership with Genius Sports, a deal they believe will lead to an in-race betting product and help battle slumping attendance and TV ratings. According to Hashtag Sports, currently, bets on NASCAR races are few and far between at U.S. sports books, who often only have head-to-head options or odds on the race winner. Genius will use up-to-the-second data points like car speed and track position to build a betting product that the London-based company can sell to sports books. Exclusive access to the data will allow Genius to create a betting platform that provides traditional wagers—like who will win—and prop bets such as the number of lead changes or whether a Chevy will end up in victory lane. Sports leagues and teams typically see increased engagement when live betting is offered. Not only does it attract new fans, but live betting keeps them engaged for longer periods of time. NASCAR is hoping for the same response as support for the racing circuit both in-person and on TV declines.
  • LA 2028 has released its first budget for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games, a $6.88 billion spending plan that includes a $616 million contingency for overruns. The top line is 29% higher than a $5.33 billion budget released in 2017, which has been the most commonly cited price for the Games. However, that figure was calculated in 2016 dollars, and was designed for a 2024 Games. The new 2028 budget reflects the longer lead-time Los Angeles agreed to when it accepted the 2028 hosting duties and ceded the race for 2024 to Paris. More importantly, it is calculated in “real money” terms, adjusted for inflation based on when each dollar will actually be raised and spent. According to LA 2028 Chair Casey Wasserman, the much-discussed $2.5 billion domestic sponsorship revenue goal was already inflation-adjusted and does not change. The new number also includes $200 million in additional IOC funding promised as part of the deal L.A. accepted in exchange for being awarded the 2028 Games. Most of that $200 million will be spent on funding youth sports programs in L.A. and committee operations for an additional four years.

US in the World Cup quarterfinals after 2-1 win over Spain

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US in the World Cup quarterfinals after 2-1 win over Spain

REIMS, France -- Megan Rapinoe converted a pair of penalty kicks and the United States set up a much-anticipated quarterfinal meeting with host France at the Women's World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Spain on Monday.

Rapinoe's first came in the seventh minute to the cheers of the U.S. supporters melting in temperatures that reached nearly 90 degrees at the Stade Auguste-Delaune. They were quieted a short time later when Jennifer Hermoso tied it up for Spain with the first goal the Americans had allowed in France.

Video review was used to confirm a foul on Rose Lavelle that gave the pink-haired captain the game-winner in the 75th minute, spoiling Spain's spirited effort in its first knockout-round appearance at a World Cup.

"That’s World Cup-level grit right there," Rapinoe said on the Fox Sports broadcast. "You can’t replicate it. You can’t teach it. We told each other during the game we needed to go up a level. They (the matches) only get harder and more intense from here. Everybody’s playing for their lives."

The defending champions head to Paris to face France on Friday night. The French defeated Brazil 2-1 in extra time Sunday night, with Amandine Henry scoring the game-winner in the 107th minute.

Italy wins bid to host 2026 Winter Olympics

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Italy wins bid to host 2026 Winter Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Italy will host the 2026 Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, taking the Winter Games to the Alpine country for the second time in 20 years.

International Olympic Committee members voted for the long-favored Milan-Cortina bid over Stockholm-Are from Sweden that also included a bobsled track in Latvia.

Milan-Cortina's jubilant delegation broke into chants of "Italia! Italia!" when the result was announced.

Italy last hosted in Turin in 2006, and the Alpine ski resort Cortina previously hosted the Winter Games in 1956.

Sweden's spirited late campaign effort was in vain, including the mayor of Stockholm appealing to voters from the stage by singing a lyric from Abba song `Dancing Queen'.

A sign of simmering Swedish frustration came minutes later when IOC board member Gunilla Lindberg pushed the limit of Olympic diplomacy ending her team's 30-minute presentation.

Lindberg challenged her colleagues to reward a new kind of creative, cost-effective bid the IOC has said it wanted -- "Or is it just talk?"

Instead, IOC members picked Italy despite a debt-hit economy which faces increasing European Union scrutiny.

"We submit with full confidence to your judgment," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told voters.

Both candidates would likely have failed to get this far in previous Olympic bidding contests.

The IOC has relaxed previously strict rules that demanded financial guarantees and government support earlier in the process.

It was an attempt to revive Winter Games bidding with just two candidates on the ballot paper for the second straight time, since Russia spent $51 billion on venues and infrastructure for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Now, the IOC seeks to avoid costly new venues -- and potential white elephants -- while encouraging regions and multi-nation bids to share the load. Hence, Sweden teamed with Latvia, across the Baltic Sea, rather than build its ice sliding sports venue.

"We have budget problems in Italy but I think that this is something that everyone has," Italy Undersecretary of State Giancarlo Giorgetti said at an earlier news conference, citing the wealth of the Lombardy and Veneto provinces underwriting the games costs.

"They are two of the richest provinces in Europe," Giorgetti said. "They certainly have the capacity, they have the readiness, they have the finances in order to be able to support the event."

The IOC will contribute at least $925 million toward Italy's games operating costs of up to $1.7 billion. Building athlete villages in Milan and Stockholm shaped as the main capital investment and most uncertain ventures in the projects.

Last week, the IOC flagged Stockholm's village as a risk, and asked for more details of guarantees underwriting the project.

"A letter of intent is as important to us as any contract," Volvo chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said in the formal presentation, in what seemed a rebuke to the Olympic body.

The day-long meetings began with each bid in closed-door sessions with IOC members. The Swedish bid was challenged to prove its support from a Stockholm city authority coalition formed last October and a national government only five months ago.

Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he assured voters "it's in the Swedish model, it's in our DNA" to deliver a stable Winter Games.

Still, a big plus for the Italian bid -- uniting Milan, the Alpine ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, and several towns in between -- was the IOC's own polling. It found support from local residents around 85% compared to 60% in Sweden.

The 2026 contest meets the IOC President Thomas Bach's long-stated wish to return to traditional heartlands for winter sports after major construction projects from 2014-2022 in Russia, South Korea, and China.

The signature Swedish feature using the ice sliding sports track in Sigulda, Latvia, that meets the IOC's demand to use established sports venues.

The IOC has praised both candidates for projecting sports budgets "on average 20% lower" than spending on the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and 2022 Beijing Olympics.

During the traditionally slick and emotional pleas to be awarded the games, Stockholm mayor Anna Konig Jerlmyr reminded voters of Sweden's most famous music act.

"Abba is everywhere," she said, before singing the lyric: "You can dance, you can dance, having the time of your life."

With more gravitas, Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikenstein spoke of Olympic values being an inspiration. Olympic leaders have long coveted a Nobel Peace Prize for the organization.

Sweden's heir to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria, joined a 100-plus delegation at the Swisstech convention center though did not take part on stage.

Italy's bid was livened by two Olympic champions, downhill skier Sofia Goggia and snowboarder Michela Moioli, doing a dab gesture and talking of their hopes to compete on home snow in almost seven years' time.

Sweden's wait for a first Winter Games goes on.

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