Moag & Company Sports Notes (12 Aug 2022)

Date: Aug 2022

Trivia

What is the only sport to be played on the moon?

Last Week’s Answer: Wrigley Field opened on April 23, 1914.

Football:

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has taken steps to notify the league of his intention to change his successor from limited partner Bruce Beal to his daughter, Jennifer Ross, sources said. Such a move would keep the franchise in his family after his death as he now wants -- but it would also forestall the awkward step of Beal seeking approval to ascend to controlling owner after being punished for tampering. Ross circulated a draft document with the league at some point in the past few months, sources say. The process has not actually been completed, and it’s not clear whether it will be. But regardless of where the process stands, multiple sources say Ross has told NFL executives of his desire to pass on the team to his children. Ross and Beal jointly declined to comment. Ross’ evolution on estate planning is not related to the recent tampering/tanking investigation, sources said, with one source saying it predates the investigation entirely. On Aug. 2, both Ross and Beal were suspended and fined for tampering described by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as “violations of unprecedented scope and severity” in their pursuit of Tom Brady and Sean Payton. Beal was found to have had “numerous and detailed discussions” with Brady while he was a member of the Patriots and Buccaneers. In 2016, the league approved a plan giving Beal the first right to buy the Dolphins in the event of Ross’ death or a sale. But owners would have to vote again to make him controlling owner, and insiders say the tampering investigation would have been a material challenge to that step. Jennifer Ross already has an ownership stake in the team.

The new Broncos ownership group led by Rob Walton made clear its motives "won't be any different than that of the previous regime” after being unanimously approved by the NFL, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Walton said, "Putting a winning team on the field is our No. 1 priority.” He also said that purchasing the Broncos was something they had "discussed doing 10 years ago,” knowing the team might be up for sale in the future. And when the opportunity presented itself in January, the family “jumped at the opportunity.” Walton, who has never owned a pro sports team, said, "The Broncos are the one sports franchise we considered buying.” A change the Walton-Penner group has already started to make is “putting together an impressive list of team shareholders.” Starbucks Chair Mellody Hobson, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton have already joined the group. These additions to the group come after the league “strongly encouraged the new owners be diverse,” as the league has few minority owners. The NFL and the Broncos's trustees wanted diversity to “be a priority.” It is unclear what other changes the Walton-Penner group intends to make, but facilities “will likely be high on the list.” It has been speculated that a new stadium “may be built,” as Empower Field at Mile High is now 21 years old. But the new owners “weren't ready to make a commitment to a new home for the Broncos just yet”.

Baseball:

At least “five interested parties” have looked through the Nationals financial reports and met with team personnel, "and the Lerner family will seek initial bids before the end of the regular season for a potential sale of the team,” according to the Washington Post. According to a source, the Nationals’ recent trade of RF Juan Soto to the Padres “was an unusual complexity," but the team’s sale process "did not directly dictate the decision.” According to another source, the Lerners “did not seek input about Soto from any of the potential bidders.” But even if the Nationals “had wanted to cater to the whims of a likely buyer, they are not far enough along in the sale process to know what such a buyer might want.” If any of those interested parties decides to bid on the Nationals, “they will craft that bid based on their sense of the franchise’s value -- not based on a specific asking price from the Lerners.” So whether any of the potential buyers “will offer an acceptable bid and emerge as a front-runner remains unclear, as does exactly how much the Lerner family will deem sufficient.” People around the team “expect the process will reach a resolution by the beginning of next season.” The Lerners should “get a sense of how others value their franchise within a month or two as potential bidders decide whether to bid and how much”.

Basketball:

WNBA teams are discovering Seattle Storm G Sue Bird’s season-long goodbye is "good for business at the turnstile," according to the Seattle Times. Four of the six games in which she played her final road regular-season game in that market "attracted the largest crowds of the season for the host teams," including a "whopping 14,162 who packed the Footprint Center in Phoenix" for the July 22 game against the Mercury. For context, the Mercury’s home attendance average is 7,719. It is "not surprising" that the Storm have "attracted relatively large crowds" for road games against the Liberty and Sun considering Bird grew up in Syosset, New York and played at UConn. Bird drew 6,859 to the Barclays Center, which exceeded the Liberty’s season attendance average of 5,195. The Liberty "went all out in their appreciation for Bird." During warmups, Liberty players wore T-shirts that read "Thank you Sue," and the team "compiled a video montage." A season-high 9,137 fans were on hand at the Mohegan Sun for her final regular-season game against the Sun. The WNBA has not "seen anything like Bird’s farewell tour in a long time." Bird’s popularity -- her jersey ranked among the top 10 in the WNBA in sales last year and she ranks sixth in the league with 1 million social media followers -- in part "explains the outpouring of love and adulation she’s received on the road".

Soccer:

Premier League club Manchester United's value has "slumped" by more than US$318M in the "decade since the Glazer family sold 10 per cent of their shares on the New York Stock Exchange because of a drop in the price," according to the London Times. The Glazers have taken more than $122M in "dividends since then," but the share price of $11.35 was 19% "lower than when it was launched at $14." ManU sources argue that while they are "disappointed with the shares’ recent performance," the market is "volatile and the share price was at an all-time high of $26.20 four years ago." But finance analyst Kieran Maguire believes that the "low price reflects investors having a negative view about the management of the club from the owners downwards." Club insiders said that the payment of dividends every year since 2016, while "unpopular with fans," is regarded as an "indication of a company’s financial health and that, until the pandemic, United delivered profits almost every year, as well as setting the bar in terms of commercial growth".

Other:

Overtime co-founder and President Zack Weiner said that the company has “raised $100 million in series D funding,” according to AXIOS.com. A source said that the latest round "values the six-year-old company at over $500 million.” The series D round is being led by Liberty Media Corporation. Growth equity firm Winslow Capital is "joining as a new investor," while existing investors, including Jeff Bezos' personal investment company, Blackstone and Sapphire Sport, also are "participating in the new round." The funding will be used to “grow Overtime's new sports leagues," Overtime Elite (OTE) for basketball and OT7 for football, and "create more leagues for other sports down the line.” Overtime currently produces over 50 digital shows about "sports lifestyle and culture across its massive online footprint,” which includes more than 65 million followers across all of its 80 social media channels. In 2021, Overtime grew its base of followers from 45 million to 65 million, had 20 billion views of its video content across all platforms and began working with 89 new brands including Apple, Gatorade, Google, Meta and State Farm. Overtime completed the first year of its Overtime Elite basketball league with its own tech-laden Atlanta training and game facility. It recently partnered with free agent NFL QB Cam Newton on the new OT7 football league.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN.com; Colorado Springs Gazette; Washington Post; Seattle Times; London Times; AXIOS.com

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