Moag and Company Sports Notes (3 May 2019)

Date: May 2019

Trivia

What three races make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing?

Last Week’s Answer: Boston Bruin great Phil Esposito was the first NHL player to score over 70 goals in a season with his 76 goals in the 1970/1971 season.

Football:

The New Orleans Saints and the state of Louisiana officials are "working toward an agreement" that will keep the team there through '35 and include a "transformative" $450M renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The deal would "extend the Saints' current lease agreement with the state another 10 years and feature the most elaborate and expensive overhaul of the iconic stadium in its 44-year history." Saints and stadium officials said that the renovation is "necessary to modernize the Superdome and extend its life for the team and as a competitive venue to host major events for the next 15 to 20 years." The project is the "lynchpin to a long-term agreement between the state and the team." The costs for the project "will be shared" by the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District ($207M), Saints ($150M) and state ($93M) in a "creative funding plan that still needs to be approved by the state bond commission." The renovation would be approximately $1B cheaper than the market cost of building a new stadium, as officials said that has "little political or public support across the state." The most "dramatic feature of the work would be re-imagined entry lobbies at the corners of the stadium."

Atlanta Falcons fans have "defaulted on payments" for thousands of PSLs since Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in '17, "essentially undoing" about $30M in sales, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, the Falcons said that they "continue to sell PSLs to new buyers and for the third consecutive year have no plans to put single-game tickets on sale to the general public." Days before the first regular-season game was played at the new stadium in September '17, the Falcons "reported they had sold 57,040 seat licenses, which are one-time fees required for the right to buy season tickets." But by September '18 that number had dropped to 50,408. However, AMB Sports & Entertainment Exec VP & COO Greg Beadles said that the latter figure -- a decline of 6,632 -- "reflected defaults after the stadium opened but didn’t include new sales, including seat upgrades, made since then." The Georgia World Congress Center Authority reported the Falcons had sold $273M worth of seat licenses as of Sept. 1, 2017, "not including interest," and some $236M of those sales "remained active as of the end of last month." Beadles said that the Falcons' general policy has been to "not take legal action against account holders who default on seat license contracts".

Baseball:

YouTube has struck a deal with MLB to live-stream 13 games during the '19 season worldwide, which will be "free for viewers to watch and available exclusively through YouTube in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico," marking the service's "biggest swing yet" at the sports-media business, according to Variety. YouTube’s "first-ever exclusive live game distribution partnership with MLB will cover games during the second half" of the regular season. The package of games "won’t be on any TV network" or MLB.tv. Financial terms of the deal "aren’t being disclosed," but YouTube’s pact is "similar to the one Facebook inked last year to carry 25 MLB games exclusively." The YouTube games "will each include pre- and post-game shows and contain MLB- and YouTube-themed content -- including incorporating popular YouTube creators (yet to be named) as part of the broadcasts". The MLB-YouTube deal also could “entice more of the streaming service subscribers to upgrade to the full MLB Network add-on, which was made available last year” alongside the news of YouTube’s World Series sponsorship. The deal is a “big coup for YouTube,” which has been “working to drive consumer awareness to its offerings beyond funny video shorts and clips from TV shows and movies”. It is another “notable pact in the percolating and capital-intensive area of sports rights.” Amazon, Facebook and YouTube have all “entered live sports streaming in significant ways in recent years, with speculation growing that they will end up owning a much larger slice of the sports pie over the next few years”.

Hockey:

The Columbus Blue Jackets are playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time and "not surprisingly, their on-ice success is translating to the bottom line, both for the team and the greater community," according to the Columbus Dispatch. Blue Jackets Owner John McConnell wrote in an email, “I’m not going to discuss our financial situation. But obviously, this gives us a boost in the short-term as we’ve seen a jump in season-ticket sales for next year." The Blue Jackets said that they had sold the equivalent of 350 full season tickets since completing their "stunning first-round sweep" of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That ticket figure is "double the number of new sales from a year ago." The Blue Jackets' "longtime inability to reach the playoffs or advance when they did get there took a toll on the fan base." Blue Jackets Senior VP & COO Cameron Scholvin said that ticket sales were "flat in the first half of the season," which is "pretty typical not only for the Blue Jackets but the entire NHL." However, the "strong finish to the season and the sweep" of the Lightning have "resulted in an unprecedented surge of excitement." Tickets for second-round home games "sold out in about 30 minutes." Ticket sales are an "important revenue stream for a playoff team, but that’s not the only one".

Soccer:

New England Revolution President Brian Bilello "offered some reassurance that the hunt remains very much alive" for building a new soccer-specific stadium for the team, according to the Boston Globe. A team spokesperson "confirmed that the Kraft Group is now willing to invest" as much as $400M in a roughly 20,000-seat venue. “The location? That remains a mystery." Should the stadium project happen, it "appears almost certain that it will eclipse" Gillette Stadium in terms of "construction costs." The Krafts "spent roughly" $350M to open Gillette Stadium in '02. The "biggest variable" the Kraft family faces is "real estate." The Krafts "want to give Revs players and their fans a more intimate experience," and they "hope moving the games out of suburban Foxborough and into an urban setting can draw more attendees".

Other:

Wimbledon organizers have "raised the prize money" to $49.42M (all figures U.S.) this year, an 11.8% increase from $44.22M in '18, according to the London Evening Standard. The increase means the men’s and women’s singles champions this summer will each pocket $3.06M. Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber both earned $2.93M for their title wins in '18. The Wimbledon singles championship money exceeds the $2.59M that the French Open announced for this year’s singles winners at Roland Garros but "remains some way shy of the U.S. Open," which gave winners $3.89M in '18. Wimbledon is also raising singles prize money for "both qualifying and the first three rounds of the main draw" by over $13,000. It means prize money for a first-round loss "has risen" from just under $15,000 to over $58,500 in "just eight years".

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