Moag and Company Sports Notes (14 Jun 2019)

Date: Jun 2019


When did the United States women win their first soccer World Cup championship?

Last Week’s Answer:   On January 22, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica, George Foreman beat Joe Frazier by TKO in the second round of their heavyweight championship fight to win his first title.  


Montreal businessman Clifford Starke said that he has "made a new proposal to purchase" the CFL Alouettes after saying earlier this month that he was no longer in the running, according to the Montreal Gazette. Starke first made public his interest in purchasing the Alouettes in April, and said that he "hoped to buy them before the CFL season starts." Starke said that the new proposal he presented to CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie this week commits $35M (all figures Canadian) to the project of "turning the Alouettes around and also shows his proof of funds." He added that he would own 90% of the Alouettes and has "other wealthy investors." Starke was "one of three Montreal businessmen who made their interest in buying the Alouettes public," along with Cinémas Guzzo President & CEO Vincenzo Guzzo and former Alouettes RB Eric Lapointe. Starke at times has "dropped out of contention, Guzzo got fed up with Ambrosie’s handling of the situation and lost interest, and Lapointe also announced his group was out." The CFL is now "believed to be negotiating with only one group," which could be Hollywood producer Peter Lenkov and his brother, Jeff. Whoever takes over the Alouettes "faces an uphill battle." The franchise has "reportedly lost" $50M since former Owner Bob Wetenhall bought the team in '97, including $25M the past three years and $12.5M in '18. The CFL has "steadfastly refused to discuss specifics regarding any proposed sale of the Alouettes." Ambrosie has said that there is "no definite timetable regarding a deal for the Alouettes, adding it’s more important the best agreement be reached and not the fastest".


The Officials from MLB and the MLBPA are "expected to begin discussions on economic issues within the next two weeks," according to The Athletic. These are "discussions the union wanted, so the burden is on the players to bring realistic proposals to the table," as anyone who questions whether MLB is "facing acute competitive problems need only check the standings." This season, the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles are "on pace to lose more than 110 games." The potential "exists for seven 100-loss teams in a sport that only once had as many as four" -- in '02. Negotiations on economics in the middle of a CBA are "virtually unprecedented in nearly a half-century of labor relations" in MLB. A series of "extensive changes conceivably could result in an extension of the CBA, which obviously would be a plus at a time when labor tension is as high as it has been" since the last players’ strike in '94-95. MLB’s "willingness to engage in such talks ... does not assure the owners would significantly alter a deal they agreed upon 2 1/2 years ago." But some owners also "recognize that the large number of non-competitive teams is damaging to the sport". The Wall Street Journal wrote that granting players "access to team equity" should be the MLBPA's "next major campaign." Players at some point in the future "won’t permit the owners to continue to reap all the advantages of team equity while the guys who actually play the game are frozen out by the union structure." One step toward player ownership "would be to allow them a stake in broadcasting assets such as and team-affiliated networks".


Ticketmaster has renewed its sponsorship of the Golden State Warriors in a deal that makes the ticketing company the 10th founding partner of the Chase Center. Ticketmaster will continue to be the team's official ticketing partner, and will handle venue and ticket technology for the new S.F. arena set to open this fall and the G League Santa Cruz Warriors. It also will partner with the Warriors’ esports teams, the Golden Guardians and the Warriors Gaming Squad. Chase Center will use Ticketmaster’s “Presence” software platform, which facilitates ticket sales, exchanges and generates customer data for the Warriors, and will implement its “SafeTix” product after the opening season at Chase. SafeTix generates an original barcode every time a mobile ticket is transferred. Ticketmaster a roster of founding partners that includes Kaiser Permanente, Rakuten, Google Cloud, HPE, RingCentral, Accenture, PepsiCo, United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase. Terms were not disclosed, but the founding level-deals have gone for $1M annually for 10 years.


Entrepreneur Alex Meruelo is reportedly close to purchasing a majority share of the Arizona Coyotes and a vote on the sale is "expected to be on the agenda" at the NHL BOG meeting on June 19 in Las Vegas, according to The Athletic. If approved, the sale would "transfer a substantial majority stake in the team to Meruelo," with current Owner Andrew Barroway "retaining a small minority share." It is "unclear" how the Coyotes' "desire for a new arena fits into the ongoing talks." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the team "must have a new arena to survive in Arizona." Gila River Arena’s Glendale location is "not ideal because the vast majority of Coyotes season ticket holders and premium season ticket holders live on the east side of town." But sources said that for the "foreseeable future, Meruelo’s focus would be on making the team successful in Arizona." If the sale is completed, it is "believed that Meruelo, who is Cuban-American, would become the only majority Latino owner currently in the NHL." His ownership "could open up possibilities in a Latino market that has gone largely untapped by the NHL". It has been "well-documented" that Barroway has been "seeking creative ownership solutions over the past several months." He became the team's majority owner in '15 and bought out his partners in '17 to become the sole owner.


The Immortals Gaming Company has acquired Infinite Esports in what is "believed to be the competitive video gaming industry’s first" $100M deal, expanding its stable of esports teams by "purchasing the parent company for OpTic Gaming," according to the AP. OpTic’s franchises include teams in the League of Legends Championship Series and Overwatch League. It is a "move back into League of Legends for IGC, which lost its top-level pro club when publisher Riot Games moved to a franchising model" in '18. The LCS team will "retain the OpTic name until rebranding to Immortals" in '20. IGC already owns an Overwatch franchise, the L.A. Valiant. The company said that it will "manage OpTic’s Houston Outlaws on an interim basis, with oversight from the Overwatch League, while trying to sell the franchise to another party." IGC also will "take over OpTic’s Call of Duty World League team." However, the company said that it will "divest its Counterstrike: Global Offensive team." IGC purchased Brazilian CS:GO club MIBR last year. Existing Infinite investors, including MLB Texas Rangers co-Owners Neil Leibman and Ray Davis, "will become IGC shareholders, with Leibman joining" the company’s BOD. The acquisition "follows months of uncertainty about the future of Infinite Esports & Entertainment after reports of a potential sale emerged in January." It also comes after the recent announcement of IGC’s $30M Series B raise, along with its "acquisition of Brazil’s Gamers Club matchmaking platform". 

Bleacher Report is on a "path to make north" of $200M in revenue in '19, and CEO Howard Mittman said that total revenue for the WarnerMedia-owned publisher is up 49% year over year, according to Sources said that if BR "continues at its current growth trajectory of 49%, the publisher will surpass" $200M in annual revenue. Earlier this year, Mittman said that BR "makes four or five times the revenue the publisher made when it was acquired by Turner" in '12. At a time when "other big digital publishers have had to cut back," BR is "expanding." The company plans to "continue to invest in more long-form video programming, commerce, events and other business areas." BR is "weaving in commerce with custom apparel and other merchandise that the company sells to fans both online and through its events." For the Women's World Cup, the publisher is "working with female artists to design nine unisex soccer jerseys, which people will be able to purchase on Bleacher Report's site." A BR spokesperson said that the company's commerce business is "still in its early stages, with revenue up 500% year over year." Mittman has said that one area BR "won't be expanding to is paid subscriptions -- beyond what's available through the B/R Live streaming service".

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