Moag & Company Sports Notes (23 Jun 2023)

Date: Jun 2023


Who has won more tennis grand slam titles, Venus Williams or Serena Williams?

Last Week’s Answer: The Belmont Stakes is held in New York every year.


The Chicago Bears are “not going to Naperville, Waukegan, Rockford or any other johnny-come-latelies” -- the battle for the site of the team's home stadium is “strictly between Arlington Heights and Chicago, and the contest is closer than some people think,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Bears are “not going to any other site within Chicago that planners may offer up,” as sources who have been involved in this process said that the team has “never shown much interest in this option.” When it comes to Solider Field, the “issues with the playing field, the capacity, the concourses and the lack of a dome can be fixed,” and for “less money than it would take to build a stadium from scratch.” Landmark Development President & stadium developer Bob Dunn has been “making that case for months.” Dunn said that “reusing 70% of Soldier Field would save the Bears -- and maybe taxpayers” -- $1B “compared with setting up in Arlington Heights.” His proposal “includes a dome supported by columns built just beyond the end zones,” bringing concessions to the “dead space in the colonnades and adding a concert stage near the Field Museum.” But the Bears have “run into a buzzsaw of criticism over incentives" and have "made no headway with state legislation to reduce its property taxes.” The McCaskey family is “known for keeping its own counsel,” but its stadium decision “will depend on money, ease of access for most fans and how the facility itself increases the value of the franchise.” Forbes said that the Bears “are worth” $5.8B.


After the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have reached an agreement “on one portion of their long-disputed MASN television rights deal,” the road to the sale of the Nationals has had “one significant roadblock removed,” according to Washington Times. Speculation is that though there is a “second five-year span of shared cable money to still be negotiated between the two warring factions.” Still, the $100M settlement should “crack some of the ice on the frozen sales talks for the team.” The Lerners, who “because of the MASN dispute had shut down the sale” after putting the team on the market in April 2022, will “presumably entertain sale talks again once the second part of the MASN negotiations come to a conclusion -- whenever that will be.” Since the team went up for sale, there have been “at least two other baseball franchises that had their valuations set.” The Texas Rangers, “with 10% of their team up for sale,” were “valued” at $3B. A 16.25% stake in the Philadelphia Phillies was “sold recently, putting the valuation” of that organization at $2.8B. The Nationals are “not in the neighborhood” of the New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, Rangers or Phillies. But the Lerners “may not see it that way,” and conceivably could “hold onto the team until they get their price”.

Diamond Sports filed in bankruptcy court a request to "reject the current television contract it has" with the Arizona D-backs to air its games on Bally Sports Arizona. The motion will "go to a June 29 hearing and is requested to be effective June 30." Diamond's next rights fee payment is "due July 1." If approved, the D-backs would either "need to renegotiate a deal to remain on Bally Sports Arizona," or game broadcasts "could be taken over" by MLB, which has already taken broadcast control over Padres games. The current D-backs deal "continues through 2035".


Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is "finalizing a sale" of the team to a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, according to sources cited by Sources said that an agreement is "expected to be signed in the coming days." The valuation of the team is estimated to be $3 billion. Schnall, a minority owner with the Atlanta Hawks, and Plotkin, a minority owner with the Hornets, will "become the franchise's governors once the NBA completes its vetting and approval process." Jordan will "continue to oversee basketball operations through the NBA draft and the start of free agency on July 1." Sources said that once the sale is complete, Jordan is "expected to keep a minority stake and a presence with the franchise." Jordan "has been the league's only Black majority owner”. Schnall is "in the process of selling his investment" in the Hawks. It is unclear "how long the process of selling will take to be finalized" by the NBA BOG Other members of the potential ownership group include are D1 Capital Partners Founder & Chief Investment Officer Daniel Sundheim, Haveli Investments Senior Managing Dir & Exec Chair Ian Loring, hip-hop artist J. Cole, country singer Eric Church and "several local Charlotte investors".


It is believed that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Chair Larry Tanenbaum “isn’t selling the whole piece” that he owns in the organization, as it “might be closer to 10 per cent” instead of the full 25%, according to the Toronto Star. It has been reported that Tanenbaum is close to selling a share of his stake that would value the entire company at $8B. Bell and Rogers have “always had right of first refusal on his shares,” and could “presumably decide to sweep them up into the giant telecom vault.” It Is unclear why Tanenbaum would divest some of his stake, though sources have “long said there was a trigger clause that would allow Bell and Rogers to buy him out.” The potential sale is a “vision of what will eventually be a sad day for the city.” Tanenbaum, who is a "healthy 78," at some point "won’t be part of the ownership group anymore." "When it happens, it will be the loss of the only really human owner in the MLSE machine.” MLSE “runs on a sort of businesslike autopilot,” as there is “no permanent CEO at the organization.” Tanenbaum has “always been the member of the ownership group who cared about being an owner” and sometimes he “cared too much.” He has been the guy “who could create and sustain relationships.” Tanenbaum “didn’t have control, but he had sway”.


The Qatar Investment Authority’s bid to "acquire a 5 percent stake" of Monumental Sports & Entertainment would mark the “first foreign sovereign fund to own a piece of a major U.S. team sports franchise,” according to the Washington Post. An NBA spokesperson confirmed it is “reviewing the investment, which has not been finalized.” An NHL spokesperson said that the investment was “approved by the league’s executive board of governors.” Monumental owns the Washington Wizards, Capitals and WNBA’s Mystics. Last year, the NBA “adjusted its rules” to allow for this type of foreign investment. Despite the “relatively small percentage, the Qatari investment is a lucrative one,” probably in the range of $200M. The deal could also “have ramifications” on owner Ted Leonsis’s bid to purchase the Washington Nationals’ baseball club. MLB “does not have a rule prohibiting sovereign investment in its clubs.” When new groups bid for ownership of an MLB club, those groups are “vetted in their entirety by the owners, who must vote to approve them.” NFL ownership rules “prohibit sovereign wealth funds from being used to purchase part of its teams.” While this would be the first major investment in American sports franchises by a sovereign fund, it is “not expected to be the last”.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; USA Today; The Athletic; Chicago Sun-Times;; Toronto Star; Washington Post; Washington Times

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