Moag & Company Sports Notes (28 Apr 2023)

Date: May 2023


What sporting event is held every year on Memorial Day?

Last Week’s Answer: The Cleveland Browns are only team in the NFL to neither host nor play in the Super Bowl.


The Tennessee Titans' new stadium has its "largest public investment yet" after the Metro Nashville City Council "approved by a 26-12 vote" to allow the Metro Nashville Sports Authority to issue $760M in bonds, according to the AP. That investment combines with $500M in state bonds for $1.2B in "public financing committed to the Titans’ enclosed stadium.” That gives Tennessee the “largest public price tag for a stadium,” topping the $850M commitment from New York for the Buffalo Bills new $1.5B stadium. The new stadium’s total cost is estimated at $2.1B and has "hope to open for the 2027 season." The Titans, with "help from the NFL and personal seat licenses, will provide the remaining” $840M. The new stadium will “feature a translucent roof with a capacity of approximately 60,000" and will allow Nashville and the Titans to “bid for a Super Bowl, Final Fours, College Football Playoff games and more.” The deal shifts an estimated $1.8B in "costs for future maintenance and stadium investments up to 2039 from Nashville taxpayers" to the Titans, which “also will be on the hook for costs that go over budget and maintenance instead of local taxpayers.” In the deal, the Titans “agreed to waive” $32M owed by Nashville for “money spent maintaining Nissan Stadium the past four years.” The Titans also will pay off the remaining $30M in “bonds owed for the current stadium”. The new 60,000-seat, 1.7 million-square-foot stadium will “be perched on 15 acres of Metro-owned land near the interstate, bracketed by 20 acres of stadium campus called the ‘Stadium Village.’” A public park that could “serve as a tailgate alternative on game days is planned to stretch from the facility to the riverbank.” The new plans have “5,000 fewer parking spots than Nissan Stadium currently offers.” An estimated $120M “will be funneled to Nashville's general fund over three decades from a 3% ticket fee,” a “diluted version of an earlier council-driven change that would have upped the fee 1% annually until it reached 10%.” Metro will “likely be required to support its bonds with a 'backstop' of between" $150 to $250M of non-tax revenue that would be “used to cover bond payments should the earmarked tax revenue fall short.” The Metro Nashville Sports Authority could issue the city's $760M in bonds for the project "as early as this summer”.


The N.Y. state appellate court "confirmed the fair market value" of the Washington Nationals’ television rights, a step that will "help the team collect tens of millions in missing rights fees," according to the Washington Post. N.Y.'s highest court found MASN, which is controlled by the Baltimore Orioles, has "no right to take the dispute over" $100M in missing rights fee payments from 2012-16 to an independent arbitrator, which they "had been seeking." The court did "not compel a payment of the money immediately," and the two sides "must continue negotiating over the amount of money to be paid to the Nationals." The ruling "likely will provide some clarity on the value of the Nationals TV rights moving forward," as the team "continues to look for a buyer." In March, the two sides "argued their case in front of a panel of justices." MASN argued that the dispute "should be heard by an independent arbitrator" because MLB was "biased in favor of the Nationals". After the 6-0 decision, the Orioles could, in theory, "appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court," but it is "unlikely the court would accept the case." The decision today could "pave the way for the Nationals to receive roughly" $100M that MASN "placed in escrow in 2019." The teams have "disagreed for years as to how much revenue from MASN each team should receive".

A federal judge has ordered Diamond Sports Group to "pay the Guardians 50% of what it owes" the team for April, based on its Bally Sports television contract, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Guardians are scheduled to receive $55M this year, but "exactly how much they receive could be determined in a May 31 hearing in bankruptcy court." U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez also ordered Diamond to make 50% payments to the Twins, Rangers and D-backs. The Guardians, based on Lopez’s order, are "expecting to receive 50% of their May payment as well." Any payments after that "could be affected by the results of the May 31 hearing." MLB, the Guardians and the Twins filed a motion in early April requesting that Diamond "honor its contracts or return the TV rights to the teams." If that happens, MLB said that it "has the capacity to broadcast the team’s games as scheduled" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26).


The question of who owns the Suns and Mercury rights ultimately will be decided by a court. Diamond Sports says that the Suns breached its contract and violated bankruptcy law when it announced a new local media rights deal with Gray Television and Kiswe. “Diamond Sports Group will pursue all remedies against any parties that attempt to exercise control over our property interests while we reorganize. This is an improper effort by the Suns to change their broadcasting partner without permitting Diamond to exercise our contractual rights.” At issue are back-end rights that give Diamond an opportunity to buy the team’s rights if its new deal is worth less than Diamond’s last bid. It is virtually certain that local broadcasters like Gray will pay less for rights than an RSN. The question is how much value does the added distribution add to the deal. Suns and Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein responded to Diamond with a statement of is own: “Diamond’s position is totally inaccurate. We are moving forward with this deal and could not be more excited about what it means for our fans and our future.” LHB Sports’ Lee Berke represented Gray Television and Kiswe. The Suns and Mercury's decision is a “pivotal moment." Part of what made this deal possible is that the Suns and Mercury “have their own in-house production, as well as a commercial sales group,” which will “help simplify the transition from its RSN.” Suns regular season games were “previously available” on Diamond Sports’ Bally Sports Arizona channel. Diamond filed for bankruptcy protection in March. Financial terms of the Suns and Mercury’s deal with Gray and Kiswe “weren’t disclosed.” Overall, Gray and Kiswe will carry the Suns games “for five years,” while the deal with the Mercury “runs for two years.” With this new deal, Suns and Mercury games will be “available to nearly 2.8 million households in Arizona.” The teams will be “able to reach every home in Arizona once Gray launches in Yuma this summer” (, 4/28).


The five groups bidding to buy Manchester United have been "asked to clarify exactly who is the source of their funding" when they submit offers for the club by Friday’s deadline. Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and a Qatari group fronted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani are the two groups bidding for a controlling stake. Ratcliffe’s offer would be "funded by his Ineos petrochemicals company." However, it is "less clear where the backing is coming from" for the sheikh. Both groups, and the three other bidders seeking minority stakes, have also been "asked if any debt will be secured against the club and for further details of their financial plans". The Qatari group led by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani "has been bolstered by fresh assurances" that the government "will not block its proposed takeover" of ManU. If the Glazers finally give the green light to the Sheikh’s offer for 100% control, multiple Whitehall sources "insist the only remaining hurdle will be the Premier League’s strengthened directors' and owners' test".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; USA Today; The Athletic;; Wall Street Journal; The AP; Washington Post; Baltimore Sun; London Times

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