Monday, March 30, 2009

Bust, Boom and Hope: A Sports Biz Trifecta

As you know, I have talked about the "Sports Bubble" for some time now. Maybe the dynamics are far different from "real" economic bubbles like real estate or dot-com, but I do think that the entire house of corporate cards that pro sports have been built on for 20 years now is crumbling.

My main man Rick Horrow - aka The Sports Professor - has been a weekly contributor on my Fox Sports Radio show the last few years. Rick also runs a sports biz website, and sends out a weekly newsletter hi-lighting the latest sports biz trends.

This week, Rick delivered a very intriquing 3-list trifecta of gloom, hope, and creativity in the sports biz marketplace. Enjoy the list, and visit Rick's site for more.


1. The MLBPA is challenging a clause in 109 player contracts that requires them to donate money to charitable causes. The grievance is aimed at the 22 clubs with players in question, and seeks to have money that has already been donated refunded by the team.

2. Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks has confirmed that he will be taking $20 million off the team’s payroll for 2010. Hicks is also looking to add investors for both the Rangers or Dallas Stars.

3. This year’s Forbes billionaire list includes 30% fewer names. Among those dropping off the list are Browns Owner Randy Lerner, Pacers co-Owner Herb Simon, and SMI Chair Bruton Smith.

4. The Skins Game is at risk of not being played in 2009, and according to execs at ESPN, will need major changes in order to survive. The event has had low ratings and little interest in recent years, and now that LG is no longer the title sponsor, one is desperately needed to help keep the Game alive.

5. First and second round tickets for the NCAA Tournament were down 5-10% from last year. In Miami, American Airlines Arena was at only 50% of capacity.

6. Yates Racing has suspended the operations of Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 car because of a lack of sponsorships. RFR President Geoff Smith is not optimistic that sponsors will come for Kvapil this season.

7. Although 90% completed, the opening of Xanadu, a retail and entertainment compound at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, will again be delayed. In addition, construction of the last 10% of the facility is being slowed.

8. Gary Bettman has confirmed that the Phoenix Coyotes are struggling financially and seeking new investors. A recent polling of 300 Glendale residents indicated that 72% of people asked do not care if the team leaves.

9. Montreal Canadians owner George Gillett has retained BMO Capital Markets to look into selling the team. Like many other recent "busts," Gillett is citing the economy as the reason he is considering a sale.

10. Florida International University is cutting their athletics budget by over $1 million, and the cuts will include significant layoffs within the department.


1. The Miami Dade County Commission approved the Marlins’ plans for a new baseball stadium, with construction is set to begin this summer, and the team taking the field in 2012. Ironically, this is 70 years after the WPA funded the Orange Bowl (on the same site) as part of a stimulus package to end the Great Depression.

2. MLB Network is on track to meet Q1 ad revenue projections despite having not received support from any of the league’s 18 official sponsors. MLB partners are expected to contribute financially in the near future.

3. Final figures from the World Baseball Classic showed an 8.7% increase in attendance and 14% more TV viewers than the 2006 event. Critics mostly praised the Classic, especially after Japan’s thrilling 10th inning victory to claim the title.

4. DirecTV has renewed its deal with the NFL to serve as the exclusive satellite provider for out-of-market games. Signed through 2014, DirecTV will give the league $1 billion a year.

5. The USOC and IOC have reached an agreement to negotiate a new revenue-sharing deal. The two committees had been at a stalemate in recent years over how to divide TV and sponsorship money.

6. Despite current economic conditions, Sprint will remain committed to NASCAR through the duration of their contract that ends in 2013.

7. MLS’ Houston Dynamo recently secured 25% of the $80 million necessary to build a new stadium. The new financing will clear the way for the Houston City Council to put the issue on their agenda.

8. The New York Giants are sold out of non-club level PSLs at their new stadium. In all, over 70,000 PSLs have been sold at the New Meadowlands, which is slated to open in 2010.

9. Despite not receiving one of the new MLS franchises, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has confirmed that he will continue to seek a club as the league ponders future expansion. The extra time should allow Melnyk to secure a new stadium deal.

10. Even though the Capitals have increased next year’s ticket prices by 7%, they have still sold 3,500 new season ticket packages. The team has also added 25 new sponsors and expects to make their first-ever profit next season.


1. The Yankees are selling officially licensed sod at NY-area Home Depots. The large patches will put you back $7.50.

2. Rogers Communications is seeking the opinions of fans in deciding whether to play three more Bills games in Toronto. If they move forward with the plan, one additional game will be played in each of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.

3. Bermuda has signed a $650,000 promotional deal with the Boston Red Sox to increase tourism to the island. They had a similar (yet less expensive) deal with the Mets last season.

4. Coca-Cola has unveiled a new green initiative for the 2010 Vancouver Games. One aspect of the plan includes having workers wear uniforms made from recycled bottles.

5. The NFL is exploring the possibility of allowing sponsor logos on team practice jerseys. The issue was brought up at the NFL owners meetings and further discussions will be held at the league’s May meetings.

6. Golf retailer Golfsmith is promising to refund the price of a Taylor Made driver if Sergio Garcia wins next month’s Masters. The company bought an insurance policy against the odds of Garcia winning the tournament.

7. The NFL is offering Sunday Ticket’s Red Zone Channel to cable providers with the hope of leveraging companies to provide NFL Network to subscribers. The league owned and operated channel is currently available in less than 40 million households.

8. The PGA Tour and NBC will experiment with putting microphones on caddies at this week’s Shell Houston Open, to test audio quality and see if any conversations are TV worthy. None of the test audio will be aired on TV, but if the experiment is deemed a success, the practice could be put into effect soon.

9. Women’s Professional Soccer will allow players to post to their Twitter accounts from the sidelines during the season opener.

10. High-end watchmaker Nubeo has teamed with Kobe Bryant to create a line of “Black Mamba” watches. They will retail from between $21,000 and $285,000.

1 comment:

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