Who was the world’s first player in professional team sports to receive a million-dollar-a-year contract?
Last Week’s Answer: The first draft by the Basketball Association of America (BAA – the precursor to the NBA) was held in 1947. In that year the Pittsburgh Ironmen drafted Clifton McNeely out of Texas Wesleyan. However, McNeely never played for the Ironman or any other BAA team, opting instead to coach high school basketball in Texas. The Pittsburgh Ironmen’s only BAA season was the 1946/47 season.
NFL viewership in Week 1 was up 5% compared to the opening games in '18 despite many lopsided scores in some marquee windows. Fox featured New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys in the NFL national window in Week 1, and the 23.9 million viewers for the telecast marks the best audience for anything on TV since the Oscars back in late February. "Fox NFL Sunday" also averaged 5.2 million viewers, the pregame show's best start since '16. "Fox NFL Kickoff" in the 11:00am ET window averaged 1.43 million viewers, the show's best start yet. Meanwhile, NBC, which had Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears in the NFL Kickoff game and Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots in the opening "SNF" telecast, averaged a total audience delivery of 22.7 million viewers for the two games, up 8% from last season's Week 1 doubleheader. Included in those numbers was an average minute audience of 523,000 viewers on NBC digital platforms for Steelers-Pats, marking the best streaming figure yet for an "SNF" telecast. With CBS airing two blowouts to half the country in its singleheader – Tennessee Titans-Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs-Jacksonville Jaguars -- the net was down 10% compared to Week 1 last season, when the net aired a competitive Patriots-Houston Texans game. ESPN had its best Week 1 "MNF" doubleheader since '15. The New Orleans Saints' comeback win against the Texans averaged 13.08 million viewers, up 27% from Detroit Lions-New York Jets last year. In the late game, Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders drew 10.62 million viewers, up 11% from Los Angeles Rams-Raiders last year.
The Atlanta Braves are "on track for a 12-year high" in attendance through 75 home games, as attendance at SunTrust Park has "topped 2.45 million, an average of 32,706 per game, up 3% from the same point last year," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With six home games remaining, the Braves are "on pace to surpass 2.6 million in attendance" for the '19 season. They "haven't reached that level" since '07. The Braves drew 2.51 million in '17, SunTrust Park's inaugural season, and 2.55 million last year, when they won their first division championship since '13. Among MLB teams, the Braves rank 12th in average attendance per home game. As of today, the Braves have a 9.5-game lead in the NL East.
Houston Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta said that he "hasn't given up on his dream to bring an NHL team to Houston," according to SPORTSNET.com. Appearing on KUHF-FM's "Houston Matters," Fertitta said, "There's not a month that goes by that we don't have some type of talks about the NHL. And it's definitely something that one day I look forward to bringing to Houston." He added, "The studies we have done, it's a little harder below the Mason-Dixon Line. It's a little harder to put butts in the seats. And we've got to find the right team, and then we have got to just make sure that we can put the butts in the seats." When asked if a team in Houston would be an expansion franchise or a relocated club, Fertitta said that he "didn't know but he would be open to either option".
Sacramento representatives and soccer officials have "agreed to the framework of a deal that would bring" an MLS club to the city in '22, and the two sides are now "sewing up final details," according to the Sacramento Bee. USL club Sacramento Republic FC said that the two sides are "working tirelessly on a deal." Two weeks ago, Republic President Ben Gumpert said that the process is "nearing the end line." If the deal is finalized, Sacramento would be the 29th team to join the league, "following quickly in the footsteps of St. Louis." Pittsburgh Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle, investor Matt Alvarez and Republic Chair & CEO Kevin Nagle "head an ownership group that is proposing to replace" the Republic team with an MLS franchise. The new team "would also be called Republic FC, and would play in a 20,000-plus seat stadium to be built by team investors in the downtown Sacramento railyard". Sacramento's "legitimacy has taken a much-needed boost." The ownership group is "required to commit to lavish financial undertakings, with the expansion fee" recently being bumped up to $200M.
MLS expansion club Austin FC CEO Anthony Precourt and Austin Mayor Steve Adler celebrated at a groundbreaking ceremony for the team's 20,500-seat, $242M soccer-specific stadium, which will be "privately funded and built" on city land, according to PROSOCCERUSA.com. Precourt and Adler were joined by MLS President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott, as well as club investors Matthew McConaughey and Pixiu Investments Managing Partner Eddie Margain, before the "actual shovels-in-dirt moment." McKalla Place is the 24-acre "tract of land in north Austin where the stadium will be constructed." Precourt said that the club will be "prepared to take the initial part" of its inaugural '21 season "on the road, similarly to LAFC prior to opening Banc of California Stadium last year." About 2,000 fans "have joined" the Austin Anthem supporters' group, and "nearly 50 of its most active members came to the groundbreaking to showcase a few of their fledgling chants".
Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; The Athletic; ESPN.com; Atlanta Journal-Constitution; SPORTSNET.com; Sacramento Bee; PROSOCCERUSA.com