Moag and Company Sports Notes (28 Feb 2020)

Date: Mar 2020

Trivia

Who was the last MLB player to record 150 or more RBIs in a season?

Last Week’s Answer: The NBA has been awarding Rookie of the Year honors since the 1952/1953 season. The first winner was Don Meineke of the Fort Wayne Pistons. The Fort Wayne Pistons were moved to Detroit in 1957 to become the Detroit Pistons.

Football:

The NFL CBA ratification vote of all players "could be a week or two off" while the formal document is drafted first, according to the Washington Post. The NFL board of player reps voted to send a proposed 10-year CBA to its full membership, and a source said that the league and union are meeting to "decide operational rules" such as franchise tags, in the meantime "pending the players' final vote". ESPN's Domonique Foxworth, who served as NFLPA President during his playing career, said sending the vote to the full player membership means it is "likely that it’s going to pass." However, he said the "fact that there is still some time and the fact that they have extracted more ... might encourage some of the players who are willing to take some risk to be like, ‘Hey, this isn’t the 11th hour. We can say no again and maybe they’ll give us a little bit more.'" The proposed new NFL CBA is "creating plenty of division among the players," as many veterans and stars appear against the deal while the league's "rank-and-file players seem to be for it," according to the Boston Globe. One reason many younger players may be in favor of the terms is because they call for "immediate increases of $90,000 or more to minimum salaries." The "problem with the NFLPA in these negotiations is the player body is so diverse and fractured." Most players "don't really care about the long-term future of the league, they just want to play a few years in the NFL and make a little money".

NFL teams will now be permitted to sell full-fledged sportsbook sponsorships following a change in policy by the league. After months of study and approval by its Sports Betting Committee, the NFL is advising clubs that they can now sell official sportsbook sponsorships within their home markets. Rules on activating those sponsorships have also loosened up, so teams can now sell venue signage to sportsbooks and accept sportsbook advertising on team websites. Teams also now will be able to designate companies as their “official sportsbook partner.” The league still will not allow betting windows, parlors or betting kiosks in stadiums. The league also will prohibit sportsbooks from doing naming rights on stadiums or team practice facilities, and advertising on team-controlled broadcasts and shoulder programming. Active coaches and players also will not be allowed in sportsbook ads. The league is also not permitting lower-bowl signage in an attempt to prevent TV visibility. Sportsbooks will be able to have team-branded areas away from the stadiums.

Baseball:

Atlanta Braves parent company Liberty Media reported that the team finished out '19 with a record $476M in "total revenue, which is up 8%" from '18 when it brought in $442M, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The Braves earned $438M in baseball revenue last year, with the other $38M coming from development revenue. While the development revenue "remained flat over a year," the $438M in baseball revenue is an 8% increase from the $404M the team earned in '18. Q4 is "usually a low-revenue period but not for playoff teams." The Braves’ baseball revenue in Q4 saw a "slight boost" thanks to the team hosting three NLDS games at Truist Park, instead of two like they did in '18. Liberty Media attributes the "strong turnout from their fans as one of the reasons for the increase in revenue as they finished the season with over 2.6 million in attendance." The company said that the growth in their broadcast rights deals also "helped the team reach a new high in terms of revenue." The Braves saw a 28% increase in operating expenses from '18 to '19 which "stems from construction at the ballpark and developments around the Battery Atlanta".

Texas Rangers co-Chairs Ray Davis and Bob Simpson have not said or suggested that they are "going to sell" the club, but the "signs are there that such a move is coming," according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Of the six groups to own the Rangers, the duo of Davis and Simpson "now have the second-longest tenure behind only Tom Hicks." Other than winning a World Series, there is "not that much left for this current ownership group to achieve." Davis and Simpson have "followed the standard ownership timeline." They "spent a lot of money early on player acquisition, and then slowed down when the spread sheet doesn't justify it." The ownership group has 11 other members, including Neil Leibman, who was part of the original ownership group that bought the team in '10. His role, and stake in the team, has "steadily increased over the years." He is "open and receptive to taking on more" responsibilities.

Basketball:

The Cleveland Cavaliers' on-court play has "been a mess the last two seasons," but the business side of the team "seems to be doing OK," according to Crain’s Cleveland Business. The Cavaliers' average attendance is down 7.3% from 19,349 to 17,935. That was "to be expected" after LeBron James' departure in '18, and it is "not nearly as dramatic as the second-year gate numbers after James' initial exit" in '10. The Cavs have "about 10,000 Wine & Gold United members, the team's year-round season-ticket club." Cavs President of Business Operations Nic Barlage "thinks the group will grow heading into next year." Barlage said the season-ticket renewal percentage is "in the 90s" since the process started in January. The Cavs now are "allowing Wine & Gold United members who aren't able to attend a game in their season package to exchange that contest for another game that's in the same tier." The Cavs also "instituted a monthly membership program that they say has been successful." Each month there are $49 tickets for upper level sideline seats and $89 lower-level tickets, "options that guarantee fans access to every home game." The subscription program has "brought in younger customers, and a sizable majority of fans who hadn't purchased tickets in the past couple years".

Soccer:

DC United signed a one-year broadcasting deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group, "returning to a local platform after a disastrous partnership" with national streaming service FloSports last season, according to the Washington Post. The 27-game package will "begin next Saturday with the season opener" against the Colorado Rapids on WJLA-ABC. Most if not all of the matches will "land on the secondary platform" while the club's "other seven matches will appear on national TV." The rights fee with Sinclair was not disclosed, but sources said that DC United "will not profit much off this arrangement." This winter, the club "seemed close to striking a deal with NBC Sports Washington," but the outlet "apparently could not guarantee live coverage of every United match, in part because of its long-standing commitment" to the Washington Capitals and Wizards in the spring and fall. DC United terminated its four-year, $12M deal struck in '19 with FloSports after a "season of technical issues that affected viewing".

Other:

Maryland lawmakers are "considering an ambitious" $389M plan to “renovate Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Laurel would be “renovated first, and would continue to be the focus of year-round thoroughbred horse racing in Maryland.” It would get “new track surfaces, a new clubhouse, improved stables and better housing for track workers.” While Laurel is renovated from ‘21-23, all racing "would be held at Pimlico.” Then, Pimlico “would get an overhaul” in ‘23 and ‘24. Pimlico would be “renovated into a multiuse facility that would be used most of the year for youth sports events, festivals and the like.” Each spring, the Maryland Jockey Club would use Pimlico to “run a short racing meet with the Preakness Stakes as the centerpiece.” The Maryland Jockey Club would “build temporary seating and tents each year to accommodate the large Preakness crowd.” The first Preakness at the rebuilt Pimlico "would be held” in May ‘24. The Stronach Group, which owns the jockey club and the tracks, would “give up ownership of Pimlico by turning it over to Baltimore City or an entity designated by the city.” For Laurel, Stronach would “enter into a ground-lease arrangement with Anne Arundel County or a county-designated entity that would run for at least 30 years.” The company would have the “option of regaining full ownership of the property at the end of the ground lease".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN; NFL Network; Washington Post; Boston Globe; Atlanta Business Chronicle; Ft. Worth Star-Telegram; Crain’s Cleveland Business; Baltimore Sun

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