Moag and Company Sports Notes (30 November 2018)

Date: Dec 2018


What is the oldest continuously run professional football team in the United States?

Last Week’s Answer:  The New England Revolution has the most MLS Cup losses with five (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014). The Revolution are 0 and 5 in MLS Championship games.


After Coming off a strong Thanksgiving weekend where all TV partners saw gains, overall NFL game viewership is up 5% heading into the final five weeks of the season compared to the same point in ’17. The health of star players, particularly at the QB position, has helped the NFL this season, as the league is on a record pace for points scored, TDs scored and TD passes. After a narrative of blowouts in recent seasons, this season also has seen 51 games decided by three points or less, which is tied with ’99 for the NFL record through Week 12. NBC and ESPN continue to see strong gains for their Sunday and Monday night packages, respectively, while “TNF” on Fox/NFL Network is the only package seeing a decline to date (-4%). NBC is averaging 19.6 million viewers, which is the net’s best average since ’15 (23.3 million). There also are some strong matchups coming for “SNF,” including games with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and a to-be-determined game in Week 17. Meanwhile, ESPN (11.8 million viewers) also is having its best mark through Week 12 since ’15 (12.8 million viewers). On Thursday nights, the new combo of Fox/NFL Net is averaging 13.4 million viewers. For afternoon telecasts, CBS is up 5% for its games to date, while Fox is flat. CBS is up for all three of its windows on Sunday afternoons.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "offering season pass members two complimentary tickets each" for Sunday's home game against the Carolina Panthers after the "smallest crowd in more than eight years" at Raymond James Stadium witnessed the team beat the San Francisco 49ers last week, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The tickets are available on a "first-come, first serve basis". Only the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers have a "lower average home attendance than the Bucs this season, who have averaged an announced crowd of 55,181." The "actual attendance recorded by the Tampa Sports Authority was 40,682 for the Bucs-49ers game Sunday, the lowest for any regular-season home game" since November '10, when a "game against the Panthers drew 39,781." Bucs COO Brian Ford said, "We have made similar offers over the years, and the holiday seemed like a great opportunity to thank our loyal season pass members with a special opportunity." Dwindling attendance is "understandable with the Bucs at 4-7 and having not made the postseason" since '07. There is "no word if the Bucs will do this for their remaining home games against the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, but if they’re doing it for a game against one division rival, it makes sense they could do it for the others".


The Oakland A’s are set to "unveil a 'bigger than baseball' mega-ballpark deal that includes a 'jewel box' waterfront stadium at Howard Terminal," according to the S.F. Chronicle. The plan would turn the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site into a "tech and housing hub that would keep the Oracle Arena as is, while stripping the massive stadium there down to a low-rise sports park and amphitheater." A's President Dave Kaval said that the franchise's "call for control of both the 55-acre Howard Terminal waterfront site and 111-acre Coliseum site in East Oakland is essential if the team is to deliver on its promise of a '100 percent privately built ballpark.'" The ballpark will be designed as a "deliberate throwback" to early 1900's parks. It would be "nestled amid wedge-shaped high-rises -- some as tall as 20 stories -- with windows looking directly down on the playing field." The site is "too windy for the ballpark to be open to the water," but it would include a "publicly accessible rooftop park with sweeping views of the waterfront, Oakland and San Francisco." The plan also includes an "aerial gondola to shuttle 6,000 fans an hour from downtown Oakland over Interstate 880 and the railroad tracks to Jack London Square." There also would be "pedestrian bridges over the tracks -- though apparently not an auto bridge." The A’s already have "put in an offer to buy the Coliseum site" for $137M. Kaval said that the offer "isn’t set in stone, and that the team is open to partnering with the city, county or both -- even other private interests -- to develop the site".

The value of MLB's new deal with MGM Resorts making the league's first official gaming partner and an official entertainment partner is for $80M over four years, according to sources. The pact is more lucrative than the three years and $25M that MGM is committing to the NBA. But there are some key differences beyond the dollars and years. MGM in the MLB deal will receive exclusive access to some advanced Statcast data in addition to non-exclusive access to the league’s official stats feed. MGM will also have some international rights with baseball, including an official presence in Japan at MLB grassroots events in that country, historically a key overseas territory for the league. MGM is "seeking to win a gaming license in Japan, which could become one of the world's largest gaming markets" by the middle of the next decade. The MGM-MLB deal "doesn't prevent individual baseball franchises from inking their own marketing deals with operators." Of the eight states that "currently have legal sports gambling, only Pennsylvania has MLB teams".


The Columbus (OH) City Council has "unveiled a revised ticket-tax proposal that would reduce the rate" from 7% to 5% and stipulates that "only the tax revenue from Nationwide Arena events could be used for arena improvements," according to the Columbus Dispatch. The council "tweaked the proposal after hearing from promoters and venue owners" concerned that a 7% ticket tax would hurt sales at the Columbus Blue Jackets' home venue. The two-pronged proposal would implement a 5% "fee on performances and sporting events at venues with more than 400 seats, not including Nationwide Arena, for tickets costing more than $10." It also would implement a 5% "fee on events at Nationwide Arena." That would raise about $3M a year, with 80% -- $2.4M -- "going to the arena and $600,000 for improvements to arts facilities." An analysis of other cities' arena plans show Nashville has a 9.25% admissions tax; Cleveland is at 8%; Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are at 5%; and Cincinnati is at 3%. City Council President Shannon Hardin said that the plan is to "introduce legislation at the upcoming council meeting, with a vote expected at the Dec. 10 meeting." The Blue Jackets were "among the opponents" of the 7% tax.


Rhode Island, once the "epicenter of mob-controlled bookmaking operations across New England," has made its "foray into legal sports betting," according to the Providence Journal. The "much-hyped launch of Sportsbook at Twin River, the only legal sports betting operation northeast of New York," happened and was "firmly embraced by a crowd of gambling sports fans." Twin River Casino VP & GM Craig Sculos said that by mid-December, the sportsbook will "open an area equipped with comfortable seating, tables and about 100 televisions." Twin River spokesperson Patti Doyle said that the Sportsbook Rhode Island will "start taking bets" at Twin Rivers' Tiverton Hotel Casino in December. Reynolds notes Rhode Island projects $11.5M in "new revenue" between now and June 30. About 50 people "lined up during the ceremony to place bets." Rhode Island will receive 51% of the "revenue from sports betting," while the vendor will get 32% and the casino will get 17%. Twin River's two casinos are the "only places where bets will be accepted, for now," as the state "plans to explore ways to expand sports betting in the future." The Rhode Island Dept. of Revenue said that could "entail allowing bets at locations of existing lottery agents, such as places with Keno machines, as well as at sports bars." In Connecticut, a "planned special legislative session to take up sports betting was put on hold in August due to opposition from lawmakers".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; The Athletic;; The AP; Tampa Bay Times; S.F. Chronicle; Columbus Dispatch; Providence Journal

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