Moag and Company Sports Notes (22 Nov 2019)

Date: Nov 2019


When were the NFL’s first Thanksgiving Day games played?  

Last Week’s Answer: As the Chicago Blackhawks, they won their first Stanley Cup Championship in 1934 for the 1933/34 season. They defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3 games to 1 to win the cup.


The Oakland Raiders have brought in nearly $400M in "personal seat license fees" for Allegiant Stadium ahead of their move to Las Vegas next season, according to the Las Vegas Sun. The PSLs are "required for the right to purchase season tickets" at the new stadium, and the team already has accounted for $399.3M in license sales. The team's initial stadium budget called for $200M in PSL revenue, but the added funds "allowed builders to increase the project" by $90M to a total of $1.97B. Raiders President Marc Badain said that less than 2% of the "available PSLs for the new stadium remain". The Raiders "hit the jackpot" with their PSL sales, about 30% of which came from buyers "outside Las Vegas." Badain said that "game ticket sales" also will be completed in the next few weeks. He added that event organizers are "contacting the Raiders to stage events at the stadium". Allegiant Stadium "continues to be on time and on budget, even though completion of the cable net to support the translucent polymer roof won't be completed until mid-December." Allegiant Stadium COO Don Webb said that the project "remains on track for substantial completion on July 31".


MLB is proposing to "sever its parent-club ties" with 42 MiLB teams, which would "allow baseball to increase the salaries of players on affiliated teams -- an issue that has recently been contended in court," according to the N.Y. Times. The 42 teams under the proposal would be "welcome to join a lower-quality Dream League populated largely by undrafted and released players, a plan one minor league official called a 'death sentence' for the clubs." Another minor league official "estimated that of the 42 teams targeted, fewer than 10 would be able to survive." MLB Senior VP/League Economics & Operations Morgan Sword said that several factors had "determined which teams would retain major league affiliation." One was a team's "proximity to its parent club and to potential opponents." Another was the "condition of the facilities." A third focused on "hotel availability and general security." Sword "rejected the suggestion that the proposal represented a contraction." He said that MLB would "subsidize the Dream League, though exactly how is open to discussion." Sword also "played down the importance of parent-club affiliation to a minor league team's success, citing MLB research that indicated fans care more about affordability and proximity to the ballpark." He said, "The fact that they have affiliation is not high on that list. Our objective is not to preserve minor league franchise value. Our objective is to preserve each minor league club's ability to operate". Details of MLB's proposal have been "slowly leaking out," the spin from the league being it is "designed to (1) upgrade all the minor league facilities and (2) improve 'wellness' for the minor leaguers in terms of travel and living conditions." Meanwhile, the "repercussions from this contraction plan are going to be enormous." MLB itself "conceivably will be hit with an avalanche of lawsuits from communities that have built new ballparks on taxpayers' money." It has been estimated that $300M in equity "will be lost by the minor league owners whose teams are being eliminated."

Orlando Magic co-Founder Pat Williams started his bid to bring an MLB team to Orlando by "unveiling a potential logo and a potential name -- the Orlando Dreamers," according to the Orlando Sentinel. The name is a "tribute to Orlando visionaries like Walt Disney, Arnold Palmer and astronaut John Young -- men who made their wildest dreams come true" in central Florida. Williams at a press conference "quickly made his real intentions known when he talked about baseball's failed attempts in two other Florida markets -- Tampa Bay and Miami." Williams said, "Baseball hasn't worked in either city. I'm convinced this market is different." He "made it clear" that the DeVos family, who owns the Magic, has "nothing to do with his current baseball effort." He also "admitted that luring the Rays or being awarded an expansion franchise is a years-long process -- if it happens at all." Williams said that before he begins the "massive undertaking" of building a ballpark and putting together an ownership group, he "first wants to know if Orlando sports fans are truly ready to step to the plate". Williams also "unveiled a red baseball cap with a black 'O' as the logo, as well as a website." MLB VP/Communications Mike Teevan said that the league "didn't have an immediate comment" on the situation. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said repeatedly that expansion "won't be considered" until the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Rays "get new ballparks".


Chesapeake Energy Arena is "running on outdated technology," and a series of upgrades proposed by Oklahoma City's Metropolitan Area Projects 4 program are "necessary for the arena to keep up with the times," according to the Oklahoman. The $115M project requested for the arena and the Oklahoma City Thunder's practice facility is the "second largest of the MAPS 4 project budgets." Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said that because Chesapeake Energy Arena is publicly owned, it is the "city's obligation to keep the arena up to national standards." It has been 11 years since the last initiative of $121.6M was "passed by citizens to upgrade" the arena and practice facility. The home of the Thunder was built in '02 for less than $90M, but it was "obsolete before it was completed." While the arena has "hosted major concert series" and the Thunder since '08, a "span of 17 years is a good life for most event venues." That is a "lifetime for one built with limited amenities from the onset because of cost concerns." The Thunder's lease runs through '23 and Holt said the city "shouldn't go to that negotiating table with an arena that is below national standards".


The demand for NHL Seattle season tickets is "so strong," the expansion club's ownership group is "considering doing away with traditional 82-game commitments and offering mini packages instead," according to NHL Seattle GM Ron Francis said, "The league said, 'You get six weeks to get 10,000 season-ticket deposits,' and they did that in 12 minutes. They got 25,000 the first hour. They got 32,000 the first day. And it's my understanding, there's another list of 30,000 that want to get on that list of 32,000." Francis added NHL Seattle President & CEO Tod Leiweke and his staff are "looking at a lot of different ways to make as many people happy as possible." On an official name for the team, fans should "expect a finalization of a nickname in the early part" of '20. Francis said, "They have a few selections left, and it's a question of trying to come up with a logo to match the names and see what everybody's comfortable with. Once they get to that point, then they'll trademark it and make sure we're protected." In addition to leaders of other startup businesses, Francis has "sought counsel" with Las Vegas Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations George McPhee and GM Kelly McCrimmon, as well as Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations & GM David Poile, on "how they built successful hockey clubs from scratch".


NFL Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper is "confident about Charlotte's bid" for an MLS expansion team, but Bank of America Stadium will first "need some major renovations," according to the Charlotte Observer. Tepper met with local media and said that the stadium will "need specific updates to support a soccer team, including outfitting for soccer camera angles, a center tunnel and two new locker rooms." He said that he "hopes to hear a decision from MLS soon." MLS Commissioner Don Garber earlier this month said that Charlotte had "done a lot of work to move its bid to the 'front of the line.'" Tepper has been "pushing for an MLS team after the league announced in April it would expand to 30 teams". Tepper is "concerned that if Charlotte doesn't land the next expansion team, there may not be another chance for him or the city." He also "believes it's unlikely Charlotte will ever" have an MLB team. For that reason, he "believes MLS can fill the void of top-level sports entertainment in the summer".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; The Athletic;;Las Vegas Sun; N.Y. Times; Orlando Sentinel; Oklahoman;; Charlotte Observer

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