Moag & Company Sports Notes (08 Jul 2022)

Date: Jul 2022

Trivia

Who was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1996?

Last Week’s Answer: The Avalanche were the Quebec Nordiques before moving to Colorado in 1995

Football:

The Seattle Seahawks released a statement from Chair Jody Allen affirming that neither the Seattle Seahawks nor the Portland Trail Blazers "are for sale," according to the Seattle Times. The Blazers had previously released a statement saying that the franchise was "not for sale in the wake of the team getting a written offer" from Nike founder Phil Knight. Allen's statement did "confirm that, eventually, most of the assets" of her late brother, Paul Allen, "must be sold." Paul Allen died in October '18, and Jody Allen "took over as the trustee of his trust," which includes being Chair of the Seahawks and Blazers. Her statement said that there is "no timeline for any sale." The Seahawks also cannot be sold until May 2, 2024, without "having to pay 10% of the gross selling price of the team to the Public Stadium Authority." It was the "most definitive" statement Allen has made regarding the "future of the team since taking over." She has "given no interviews and has generally had a low profile." However, she has "been more visible in recent months," having released a "strongly worded statement" backing the decision to trade QB Russell Wilson and also attending the first two days of the '22 NFL Draft at the team’s HQ.

The Chicago Bears have explored the possibility of leaving their iconic Soldier Field home, but a city committee may have a solution to ensure the team stays put. The Lakefront Museum Campus Working Group is expected to recommend that Chicago “explore the feasibility” of building a dome atop Soldier Field, the Bears’ home since 1971. The project would allow Soldier Field to host major events, including the Super Bowl. Estimated costs range from $400 million to $1.5 billion, per Sports Business Journal. Plans would include stadium renovations and potentially selling naming rights. The committee, led by Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, wants a dome after the Bears signed a purchase agreement in 2021 for the 326-acre Arlington International Racecourse property. The deal — valued at $197.2 million — would provide a potential site for a new Bears stadium, but it’s roughly 30 miles north of downtown. The Bears have a lease at Soldier Field that runs through 2033, per WGN News. The team would be forced to pay $84 million to the city if the lease is broken before 2026. The sale of the Arlington site is expected to close between this year and 2023. 

Soccer:

City Football Group’s soccer portfolio is now one club stronger. The owner of Manchester City FC purchased a majority stake in Palermo FC. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, though some outlets report it could be around $13.6 million. Former majority owner Hera Hora srl, which is co-owned by team president and chairman Dario Mirri, will retain a 20% stake. Mirri will stay on as the team’s president and chairman. Abu Dhabi United Group owns roughly 78% of City Football Group, American investment firm Silver Lake owns around 10%, and China Media Capital and CITIC Capital own the remaining 12%. CFG also owns New York City FC, Melbourne FC, Yokohama F. Marinos, Montevideo City Torque, Girona, Sichuan Jiuniu, Mumbai City FC, Lommel SK, and Troyes. City Football Group entered an agreement to complete the takeover of Brazilian club Bahia in April. In January, Club Bolivar joined CFG as the latter’s first partner club.

Other:

 CVC Capital Partners’ $150M deal for a 20% stake in the WTA is “expected to be confirmed at a WTA board meeting at the US Open in September," according to the London Times. The CVC-WTA deal is “pretty much done,” though a WTA spokesperson said that “no decision over CVC had yet been finalised." The WTA board has "met at Wimbledon and is in favour of pursuing an agreement with CVC," with $150M buying a 20% share of the WTA’s "commercial revenue.” The other "leading bidders" were the Sinclair Group, which owns The Tennis Channel, and a group led by Israeli businessman and film producer Arnon Milchan, who is married to former tennis player Amanda Coetzer. The WTA “aspires to achieve equal prize money with the men’s tour,” which is something that it “hopes the CVC offer will help with.” The WTA has “suffered from the Covid years" and its income also has "taken a hit from its decision to withdraw all its events from China because of its stance" on tennis player Peng Shuai. The WTA is “being advised” by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who also has been “advising the controversial breakaway LIV Golf series,” which is being funded by Saudi Arabia. Insiders believe that one move the WTA could make would be to “take its end-of-season finals to Saudi Arabia," after the event was removed from Shenzhen due to the WTA's "stance on China." Meanwhile, CVC plans to “focus on a potential deal" with the ATP

Through the first six days of Wimbledon’s main-draw competition at the All England Club, official attendance was listed as 237,927, a “decrease of 7%" from the Week 1 total of 256,808 at the last pre-pandemic edition of the tournament in '19, according to Howard Fendrich of the AP. Removing the past two years from consideration, the ‘22 figure through the first Saturday is the “second-lowest” since ’07. It is “hard to know, of course, exactly what accounts for the decrease.” The pandemic “could be a factor" as "cases are rising in Britain." There also are “big names missing” including Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev. Inflation's effects “might make some people less inclined to spend money on tickets”. In London, Henry Bodkin wrote Monday’s crowd of 36,603 was the “lowest for an opening day since 2007 -- barring the last two years" -- while the attendance figures for Tuesday and Wednesday have "not been this low" since '16. Thursday’s crowd was the “worst since 2004”

Sources: SportsBusiness Journal, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Front Office Sports, The London Times, Associated Press

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