Moag & Company Sports Notes (22 Jan 2023)

Date: Feb 2023


What college football position receives the Jim Thorpe Award?

Last Week’s Answer: The Green Bay Packers scored a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs to score the first points in Super Bowl History. 


Several groups "submitted bids to purchase" the Washington Commanders before a late December target requested by the investment bank handling the sale, but none reached the $7B "mark that owner Daniel Snyder seeks for the team," according to a source cited by Washington Post. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos "sat out this stage of the bidding." Though sources said that it is "unclear whether Bezos’s inaction reflects ambivalence over the price Snyder seeks, represents other misgivings about making a bid or is a ploy allowing him to ultimately outbid the top offer." If Bezos "does not intensify his efforts," those who "stand to benefit could include some of the bidders who last year tried but failed to purchase" the Denver Broncos. A source said that the finalists for the Broncos have been "expected to be contenders for the Commanders." Those include media entrepreneur Byron Allen, Clearlake Capital co-founders Behdad Eghbali and Jose E. Feliciano, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Josh Harris and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly. Boehly is believed to have been "strongly interested" in the Commanders during the bidding process, but it is "not clear whether he remains active in that pursuit." It is also "unclear" whether Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s co-founders "joined forces on a bid or have been pursuing the team on separate tracks". A previous report said that Boehly had pulled out of bidding.

The average NFL crowd grew by 3.25% to 69,442 per game in 2022, the second-largest figure in the last 19 years, according to an SBJ analysis of published box score attendance. The NFL’s post-pandemic surge in attendance nearly wiped out a precipitous decline that began late last decade after the league’s 2016 high-water mark of 69,487. This year’s total attendance of 18.8 million soared past the previous record, but analyzing the per-game averages allows for a better comparison of before and after the addition of a 17th game in 2021, and the uneven distribution of home games in the new schedule. With pandemic restrictions fully gone in all markets and fear of COVID-19 dissipating, the growth was widespread — 24 teams posted increases and only six posted declines. This is the first year since 2019 that an apples-to-apples, year-to-year comparison is possible, both because of the absence of pandemic restrictions and because no new venues opened. Top gainers were the resurgent Detroit Lions (23.1%), Jacksonville Jaguars (10.8%) and Washington Commanders (10.15%). The defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, up 9.8%, were the only team that, for official purposes, had only seven home games because the Jan. 2 matchup with Buffalo was ruled a no-contest in the wake of Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest. The biggest declines for a team that didn’t play a game in an international stadium came from the Bears (-1.7%) and the Panthers (-0.8%). Broad consumer behavior and economic conditions were part of the story. Throughout the league, 96.7% of all seats were sold, up from 95.1% last year and 94.6% in 2019, the last year before the pandemic zeroed out attendance in most markets. Box score attendance figures, not to be confused with ticket sales or revenue, have limitations. They generally include all tickets distributed, whether sold or given away, and not actual turnstile activity. Team and ticketing industry veterans say there’s little rigor or oversight to methodology, which changes from time to time. For instance, this year the Pittsburgh Steelers started including tickets distributed but not used — making their numbers appear larger than in prior years, when they counted actual attendees. Also, this analysis includes five “home games” in foreign neutral sites that affect totals. For instance, the Packers’ average in this analysis declined 2.3% because it included a game at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (62,500 capacity). Counting only the eight games at Lambeau Field, the team’s per-game average increased by 84 fans a game, or 0.1%. The NFL’s 2022 per-game average of 69,442 is just 45 fans short of its the high mark, reached in 2016, since SBJ began tracking the data in 2004. It is only the second time in those years that the average eclipsed 69,000. Growth from 2021 to ’22 appears to be about continued progress coming out of the pandemic. However, in a historical context, experts agree that the openings of SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas continue to be a key factor in boosting numbers higher compared to the 2010s, when the Raiders, Chargers and Rams played in older venues.


The Portland Diamond Project, a movement to bring an MLB team to Portland, is still “stuck in a waiting game with no set end point,” but the "buzz remains" around the effort, according to The Athletic. MLB has “not begun the formal process to expand to 32 clubs,” though it “appears to be an inevitability." Among current MLB markets, Portland would be “21st in media market size, 20th in population and 10th in median household income.” PDP partnered with economic consulting firms Legends and ECONorthwest to “further study the Portland metro market” and “its trends." Legends “surveyed fans and determined that the typical model for anticipated attendance drop-off after the initial honeymoon period for a new franchise may not apply in Portland." Finding the funding for an “expansion fee and stadium construction is a considerably greater challenge,” but, on this, PDP founder Craig Cheek and Managing Dir Mike Barrett “appear unconcerned.” The groundwork for PDP’s efforts was “laid, in a way," when late Oregon Mayor Vera Katz was "making a run at the Expos.” Oregon legislature passed a bill in 2003 to “pay for the construction of a baseball stadium,” setting aside $150M in “state-issued bonds that would be repaid.” That money is “still available,” despite efforts by some in the Oregon State Senate and House of Representatives to “dissolve the stadium grant in 2019.” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said that public money “won’t be used to acquire an MLB team or build a stadium".


LAFC has entered into the "largest naming rights deal in MLS history" with BMO for approximately $100M over 10 years. The club's 22,000-seat home will be "renamed BMO Stadium effective immediately." BMO also has the naming rights to Toronto FC's stadium, as well as being that club's main jersey sponsor. The venue’s first official game as BMO Stadium will be played Jan. 25 when the USMNT faces Serbia, although "much of the Banc of California signage will take weeks to replace." LAFC signed a 15-year, $100M naming-rights partnership with Banc of California in 2016, but the bank paid $20.1M in 2020 to "get out of the agreement, although its name remained atop the stadium as LAFC searched for a replacement".


GF Sports & Entertainment has acquired World Long Drive, and the sport is "set to return to TV on the Golf Channel with bigger purses,” according to Golfweek. The 2023 WLD season will be “comprised of 12 events domestically and more than 30 events internationally,” while players can win more than $1.1M in cash prizes. Players can qualify for the World Long Drive Championship “at eight qualifying North American events.” Long drive competitions were not televised during the pandemic “when Golf Channel postponed and then canceled the season for World Long Drive.” Players then began hosting events, which “blossomed into the Professional Long Drivers Association.” That organization “faced challenges of travel during COVID and finding advertising dollars within pandemic budgets, but it had the goal of keeping the sport alive”.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; Washington Post; USA Today; ProFootballTalk; The Athletic; L.A.Times; Golfweek

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