Moag & Company Sports Notes (24 Feb 2023)

Date: Feb 2023


The first NHL All-Star game was held as a benefit for what injured star?  

Last Week’s Answer: LeBron James is youngest player to score 10,000 points in NBA history.


The return of the XFL on a crowded holiday weekend was lower than the debut/return of other spring football leagues in recent years. ABC, ESPN and FX averaged just under 1.3 million viewers for Week 1 of the XFL on Saturday and Sunday (doubleheaders both days). That figure is down 58% from the four games that started XFL 2.0 back in 2020 in early February. That iteration also began with games on ABC, Fox and ESPN (also two primetime games in 2023 vs. no primetime in Week 1 in 2020). The top game was St. Louis Battlehawks-San Antonio Brahmas on Sunday afternoon up against the Daytona 500 with 1.57 million viewers. That figure is better than any college basketball game on any network last week. Week 1 for the XFL was 17% lower than Week 1 for the return of the USFL last season in mid-April, which debuted to 1.6 million viewers across NBC, Fox, USA and FS1(also two primetime games, including one on a Monday night due to weather delay). Back in 2019, the Alliance of American Football had two games for its Week 1, averaging 1.9 million viewers across CBS and NFL Network.


Since St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch announced last month that he had picked the Rays/Hines group as his choice for the estimated $5B redevelopment of the Rays’ Tropicana Field site, team officials have “expressed reluctance to rush into any commitment contractually to St. Petersburg,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred “showed up last week and made a point of saying there are viable sites across the bay in Tampa.” But the reality is, the momentum “still resides in this wide expanse of parking spaces Welch is staring at.” The Rays met with city officials on to “start hammering out a timeline for a term agreement and to begin exploring their differences on various issues.” Neither Welch nor Rays President Brian Auld “wanted to talk in detail about the coming negotiations,” but both “seemed more upbeat and optimistic than any elected official or ownership representative has in the past decade of proposed stadiums and shattered ambitions.” However, that “doesn’t mean this plan will work.” There are “countless details and disagreements that will have to be resolved.” Figuring out the proper split for the cost of the stadium amongst the city, county and the team “remains a tricky proposition.” The “real challenge” will be “deciding the how/when/what of the redevelopment.” Because of the “past attendance struggles” at this site, the team is “emphatic that a new complex needs to be structured perfectly to attract businesses and fans to 7 p.m. weekday games.” The team “isn’t going to commit to a stadium until the city commits to a master plan.” While the Rays/Hines proposal “included concepts about a museum, hotels, affordable housing, green areas, restaurants and retail spaces,” the exact details are “still open to discussion”.


MLS and Adidas agreed to a "multiyear extension of their partnership" valued at $830M, which represents Adidas’ "largest-ever investment in North American soccer," according to Under the terms of the new agreement, Adidas will "continue to supply the league with branded apparel, footwear, training gear and the official match ball." The company also will "work with MLS on various initiatives and financial investments to grow the sport and business on and off the field ahead of the 2026 World Cup" being held in North America. Their current contract, set to expire next year, was signed in 2017 and valued at $700M. At the time, it marked a "record-breaking deal for North American soccer for Adidas." Adidas has been through a "tumultuous year," with the company expecting $1B in "losses after dropping" musician Kanye West. A source said that these issues "didn’t affect the negotiations, which took a year," as MLS was "confident that Adidas would properly resolve" them.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that Las Vegas and San Diego are “the front-runners" to get the next expansion franchise, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Echoing what he said late last year, Garber said that he “would like to unveil the league’s next franchise this year.” Garber also mentioned Detroit, Phoenix, Sacramento and Tampa as cities “in consideration.” In January 2022, MLS entered into “an exclusive negotiating agreement” with Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens and Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris to “potentially land a team in Las Vegas.” They filed to “trademark ‘Las Vegas Villains,’” which is noted to be “associated with a professional soccer franchise.” The two would “tentatively look to build a soccer stadium.” San Diego “came into the fray last year,” with Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour “entering into talks regarding expansion.” The city “has a soccer-ready stadium” in Snapdragon Stadium, which opened less than a year ago and seats 35,000.


Live Nation reported strong FY22 financial numbers, including annual revenue up 44% to $16.7B. Ticketing revenue increased 45% versus 2019, to $2.2B, and ticketing fee-bearing gross transaction value (GTV) increased 54% to $27.5B. Live Nation continues to ride the wave of concerts, with more than 121 million fans attended 43,600 events, a 24% increase compared to 2019, and per-fan spending grew, too, up at least 20% at all major venue types. On the flip side of the live touring equation, Live Nation says it spent $9.6B putting on artists’ shows in 2022 and shifted $700M to artists by using more market value ticket pricing, though that tactic led to plenty of public outcry during on-sales for the Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen tours. Live Nation announced that they’ve launched the FAIR Ticketing Act, which would declare that artists decide ticket resale rules for their tours, would illegalize selling speculative tickets, expand the scope and enforcement of the BOTS Act and require industry-wide all-in pricing upfront. Live Nation President & CEO Michael Rapino wrote in his letter to shareholders that accompanied the SEC filing that, since Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, the ticketing industry is more competitive than ever and that because of competitive bidding processes, venues are regularly taking more of the economics on every renewal by setting and keeping most of the service fees. "Since signing the extended consent decree related to the Ticketmaster merger,” Rapino wrote, "we remain in constant conversation with the Department of Justice’s monitors, and do not believe there have been any violations."

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; USA Today; The Athletic;; Wall Street Journal; Tampa Bay Times;; Las Vegas Review-Journal

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