Moag and Company Sports Notes (1 Nov 2019)

Date: Nov 2019

Trivia

When did the Boston Celtics win their first NBA championship?

Last Week’s Answer: Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the first and only World Series perfect game in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series. He threw only 97 pitches striking out 7. The Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in that game 2-0. The Yankees also took the Series 4 games to 3.

Football:

The Arena Football League Chair Ron Jaworski has confirmed that "all six of the league's franchises will suspend their local operations," according to the Press of Atlantic City. The future of the AFL "remains unclear." Jaworski said, "The AFL is not folding. We are ceasing local operations and all teams will be operated through the AFL office as we look to find new investors." According to a report, the league's decision was "prompted by a multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed against the AFL by an insurance carrier that provided workers compensation coverage for the league" from '09-12, before the current league officials, including Commissioner Randall Boe, were involved. Front office staffs, coaches and the players union were "informed of the league's decision". Jaworski: "I wish I had a definitive answer. There are a lot of balls in the air. All I can say is the AFL ownership is exploring every opportunity to keep the League alive". Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair & CEO Ted Leonsis wrote in a Linkedin post the AFL was unable to secure enough additional capital to fund expansion to a national footprint as his plan envisioned. It was reported in July that the AFL was seeking $15M in additional financing. "Unfortunately, the league has struggled to secure enough additional financial investment to execute that plan," Leonsis wrote. That, combined with the lawsuit from a former workers' compensation insurance carrier, forced the shutdown of the team units. "We continue to believe in the AFL product," Leonsis wrote, thinking its fast-paced, high-scoring style would be a good match for the over-the-top and legal sports gambling era.

Baseball:

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has confirmed that the Tampa Bay Rays have "'formally' asked for permission to explore vacating" Tropicana Field for half of the their home games so they can split the season with Montreal at some point "before the end" of their lease in '27, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays would "need the city's blessing to play elsewhere" before their lease of Tropicana Field expires. Rays Owner Stu Sternberg had previously said that he would "like to see that arrangement" as soon as '24. Sternberg and Rays co-Presidents Matt Silverman and Brian Auld have "met at least three times with Kriseman and other city leaders" since announcing their idea for splitting time between Tampa and Montreal. Kriseman said that the request for permission to vacate was "oral and that nothing has been put in writing." The St. Pete City Council would have to "approve any agreement that allows the team to begin negotiations to play in Montreal or elsewhere".

Basketball:

The Orlando Magic have "filed an updated master plan" for their downtown Orlando Sports + Entertainment District that is "expected to more than double" the original $200M project budget, according to Orlando  Sentinel. The mixed-use district will be built "starting next year on 8.4 acres across from Amway Center." Magic Chief Communications Officer Joel Glass said the project will now cost "well over" $500M. The district will "contain nearly 110,000 square feet of retail space, a conference center hotel with 80,000 square feet of event space, offices, apartments and a 2,500-space parking garage." The updated plan maintains the original concept from '18 but "increases the number of hotel rooms by 50 and more than doubles the amount of office space from the original 200,000 square feet to 420,000 square feet." District Dir Pat Gallagher said that the office tower "would now rise to 18 stories, which includes the ground-floor retail, multilevel parking structure and commercial office space." The Magic's new HQ "would occupy 40,000 square feet in the office tower". Glass said that the "next step" will include the "demolition of the former Orlando Union Rescue Mission building" to make way for the project. The team "declined to share any potential office or retail tenants, multi-family developers or hotel flags that it's talking with for the future complex”.

Soccer:

The Columbus Crew pressed the city of Columbus to "pay more than double its initial taxpayer contribution" for additional development around the club's new stadium, causing the affordable-housing component and the projected jobs number associated with the project to be "quietly reduced," according to the Columbus Dispatch. Talking points handed out by stadium backers last December "showed the project creating a total of 885 new residential units near the new stadium with 'a minimum of 20% affordable units.'" Plans then called for "approximately 850 residential units with 'at least 20%' affordable housing." However, during negotiations between the city and club over the next six months, the number of total residential units the team is to build "dropped by about half, to 440," while the requirement for affordable housing was "negotiated out of the contract, replaced with the 'developer's good faith efforts to comply.'" City officials originally had "demanded affordable units in early versions of the contract with the Crew." But documents show that requirement for roughly 177 new affordable units "transformed into an 'effort' to build 88." Meanwhile, what was once "billed as a commitment by the team's owners to construct 270,000 square feet of new commercial space is now listed as 120,000 square feet of office space in the final contract signed by city officials in late September".

Other:

The NCAA's move to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness is a "landmark decision that could dramatically alter the economics of college sports," according to the Wall Street Journal. The move "came amid growing pressure from legislators," a month after California passed the Fair Pay to Play Act. The NCAA's governing board "directed its three divisions to immediately consider changing the rules governing such benefits for athletes, and to make any such changes no later than" January '21. The details of the new policy are yet to be determined, but the NCAA said it must be "in a manner consistent with the collegiate model." The directive "nonetheless paves the way for a scrambled financial landscape in college sports." The NCAA's decision is "expected to create opportunities for financial gain large and small for a wide range of athletes." For a tennis star, it could "lead to giving paid lessons to recreational players." For a gymnast with a "crowd-pleasing floor exercise, it might mean monetizing a YouTube channel." For a football player, it could mean being "featured in a video game." California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who co-authored the Fair Pay to Play Act, said that she "saw the NCAA move as 'great progress' but had no intention of accepting the matter as settled".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; The Athletic; ESPN.com; Press of Atlantic City; Tampa Bay Times; Orlando  Sentinel; Wall Street Journal  

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