Moag and Company Sports Notes (06 Mar 2020)

Date: Mar 2020

Trivia

Who was the last player to win back-to-back NL MVPs?

Last Week’s Answer: The last MLB player to record 150 or more RBIs in a season was Alex Rodriguez (156 RBIs for the New York Yankees).

Football:

Player voting on the tentative 11-year CBA between the NFL and NFLPA opened and will run until 11:59pm ET on March 12, the union said, with a result expected to be announced March 13. If the players ratify it, the deal will take effect before the start of the '20 league year on March 18, a key factor in free agency decisions. There had been some speculation that the owners and players might agree to short-term delays to the league year to facilitate a vote as they did in '06. If approved, the NFL postseason would expand with two wildcard teams this season, and owners would be permitted to add a 17th regular season game as soon as '21. In exchange for the added work, players would see their share of all revenues increase from 47% to 48% in '21, with the possibility of it increasing to 48.8% if the NFL grows media revenue by 120%, along with a shorter preseason, boosts to minimum salaries, better healthcare for retirees and relaxed drug rules.

Baseball:

Officials overseeing the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field project "declared the venue to be 98% complete, as a crew of about 1,700 workers continue to work feverishly inside, outside and on top of the 40,300-seat complex," according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The "final sections of seats in the lower bowl down the left-field line were being installed". The "synthetic grass field has been installed and it will be protected under special flooring" for the ballpark's inaugural event, a Chris Stapleton and Willie Nelson concert on March 14. Manhattan Construction, the firm hired to build the ballpark, said that it "hopes to open and close the roof every day until March 14 to test the mechanism and finalize the controls and communication with the roof control room." Meanwhile, the flooring on the main concourse is "expected to be finished this weekend." More than 75 trucks are "unloading furniture, which will be used from luxury suites to field-view restaurants and lounges," while "landscaping and hardscaping around the exterior of the ballpark is nearly complete." IT infrastructure, including "wireless access points and broadcast equipment in the television and radio booths are currently being installed and tested".

The Cleveland Indians have "remained solid in key business metrics" despite experiencing a season-ticket decline of around 2,000, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business. The club has gone from 13,000 to 11,000 full-season equivalents, which is "sizable, but predictable." Missing the postseason last year and "frustrations about payroll" are "obvious reasons for the drop." Cleveland last summer hosted the MLB All-Star Game, and access to the event gave the Indians a "season-ticket boost." The season-ticket tally peaked in '18 at 13,800, and the current tally of 11,000 is still "almost 3,200 above the Indians' FSE average" from '10-16. Execs "often point to the 'strong support' the club has received from its fans the past few years." Meanwhile, the Indians ratings on SportsTime Ohio have "ranked in the top three in MLB in each of the last three seasons, and the club led all" of MLB last year with an average 7.18 primetime rating. The Indians also "topped baseball in Twitter engagements for the most recent-one year period." Meanwhile, the All-Star Game contributed to a "record year for corporate partnerships." The Indians have "passed the 1-million mark in tickets sold" for this season. New this year, the Indians for the first time are making special promotional items "available for single-game ticket purchases." The club also has "added home-plate boxes -- three eight-person areas that follow an open-suite concept that has gained popularity in sports -- to the first-base side of the Lexus Home Plate Club".

Soccer:

LAFC's ownership group has "partially bought out a stake held by Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan in a deal that values the club" at more than $700M, a record for any MLS club, according to Bloomberg News. The sources said that several team owners have bought half of Tan's 20% stake in the club, with "plans to buy the other half internally as well." Tan has been "looking to scale back his soccer portfolio," which also includes English Championship League club Cardiff City. LAFC's ownership group is comprised of "business executives, athletes, celebrities and private equity managers," though the club is "controlled by a trio of owners" -- Larry Berg, Bennett Rosenthal and Brandon Beck.

Hockey:

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league's salary cap next season is "projected to be between" $84-88.2M, an increase from the $81.5M salary cap this season, according to NHL.com. The range in the projection is "dependent on the maximum 5 percent inflator" the NHLPA "could trigger after negotiations with the NHL to increase the cap figure." Correspondingly, the $84M projection is "with a zero percent inflator," while the $88.2M projection "would comprise the full 5 percent." The salary cap figure is "not expected to be finalized until late June." However, Daly said that he told the league's GMs part of the ongoing discussions with the NHLPA toward a new CBA is to "derive a formula that will enable the NHL to furnish GMs a cap figure earlier than they receive it now." The NHL and GMs "have not come up with a specific date or time period that would be ideal to have a final cap figure for the next season". Many GMs at the meetings in Boca Raton said that they "planned to be very conservative with that projection," because this season’s $81.5M cap figure ended up being $1.5M lower than the projection NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave to the group at these meetings last year. To that end, Daly said that the NHL is "negotiating with the NHLPA -- as part of collective bargaining talks -- on a system that would set a schedule of future seasons’ salary cap numbers".

Other:

It has been "business as usual" for NBCUniversal's ad sales team while there is still "uncertainty about the likelihood of the Olympics going off without a hitch" as the coronavirus spreads, according to Anthony Crupi of ADAGE.com. NBC Sports Group Exec VP/Ad Sales Dan Lovinger said, "We have sold nearly 90 percent of our Tokyo Olympic inventory. ... We recently surpassed $1.25 billion in national advertising for Tokyo, which exceeds our sales total for Rio 2016 and is a new Olympic record." Lovinger noted that the advertisers who "may have been spooked by news of the outbreak had better move fast if they wish to reserve any of the last remaining spots" for Tokyo. Lovinger said inventory is "growing scarce," and the Paralympics are now completely sold out. Meanwhile, Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts said that he is "optimistic that the Summer Games would be held in Tokyo." Roberts added that Comcast and NBCUniversal are "covered in the event of an Olympics cancellation." Roberts: "We have insurance for any of the expenses we make. So there should be no losses should there not be an Olympics. But, again, we're optimistic the Olympics are going to happen and I'm looking forward to being there". Roberts said, "Should there be some disruption, as others have said, we anticipate these kinds of things in big contract language. We try to anticipate for big events what might happen so that we're protected there".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN; Ft. Worth Star-Telegram; Crain’s Cleveland Business; Bloomberg News; NHL.com; ADAGE.com

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