What teams were the first winners of the AFC and NFC Championship?
Last Week’s Answer: For the first season of Monday Night Football, ABC’s announcers were Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and Don Meredith.
Business and personal finance software company Intuit has "struck a deal to make its TurboTax Live product the presenting sponsor of the AFC and NFC championship games played on Jan. 20," the first time the NFL has "inked a sponsor for both games," according to ADAGE.com. Intuit also formally announced it has become the NFL's "official sponsor for financial and accounting software, as well as tax-preparation services." The NFL "did not previously have a sponsor in the category." Meanwhile, TurboTax will "run a Super Bowl ad for the sixth straight year." The brand last year "ran two ads in the game as part of a campaign that attempted to quell fears about tax preparation by making normally scary things, like spooky attic noises, not so scary." Intuit during Super Bowl LII also ran its "first spot for the corporate brand, a Pixar-style commercial featuring a new character, the Intuit Giant." A source said that Intuit does "not plan to return to the big game promoting the corporate brand" in '19. Including TV ad buys, Intuit's NFL investment is "expected to total" more than $15M annually.
The Tampa Bay Rays have announced a renovation plan for Tropicana Field that will "reduce the seating capacity to about 25,000-26,000" for the '19 season as the club "attempts to improve the game-day experience for fans," according to the Bradenton Herald. The ballpark's seating capacity last season was 31,042. The changes "include the creation of a lower-level Left Field Ledge that features premium seating for small groups and the closing of the upper deck." Other planned changes include "redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gates 4 and 5) to improve the flow of fans through increased access points," as well as "eliminating the upper-deck level, which reconfigures the seating areas to include the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the new GTE Financial Party Deck, and concentrates fans closer to the field of play". The announcement "comes a month after the team announced it was abandoning plans" to build a ballpark in the Ybor City area near downtown Tampa, but "remained committed to remaining in the Tampa Bay area." Season-ticket holders will be "able to preview the changes during Rays Fan Fest on Feb. 9." Those who have already purchased upper-level season tickets will be able to "relocate to a different location".
The Utah Jazz are installing a "rather large" price increase for season tickets for the '19-20 season, updating "most prices to reflect market value" at Vivint Smart Home Arena, according to the Deseret News. Some packages increased as much as 250%, and the price jump particularly hits "fans in the upper bowl hard, with some fans grumbling openly on social media about their tickets going from $12 and $18 per game to $30." The Jazz, who during the '17 offseason spent $125M on the arena renovation, "offered multiple reasons for the changes." The franchise "decided that it was no longer feasible to continue allowing 190 accounts to only pay $6 per seat." That was the "cheapest price in the NBA and had been in place since a $5 promotional ticket price based on the No. 5 pick" in the '14 NBA Draft. The Jazz also "claimed it’s trying to curb gouging on the secondary market by better regulating the price of all tickets." Data reveals that the $6 seats are "being resold for an average of $16 for the lower-tiered games and for $54 on the high-demand games." The Jazz are on a 44-game sellout streak and "rank in the top five for local TV broadcast ratings." That helped convince the team that a "price increase was in order". Tickets in the lower bowl "saw much smaller increases" -- about 4-7% depending on the tier -- than the upper bowl. Junior Jazz ticket prices, which range from $6-12, are "not changing." That "accounts for 2,100 tickets for nearly every game".
MLS reached an agreement with an ownership group that includes Cleveland Browns Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Columbus Crew team doctor Peter Edwards Jr., and the new owners "will keep the team in Columbus and plan to build a stadium near the Arena District," according to the Columbus Dispatch. The city of Columbus and state of Ohio have also "moved to dismiss a lawsuit against MLS and the team." At least one "critical piece to the deal remains unresolved, though: a land deal for the site where the Crew’s new owners plan to build the stadium." Under the proposed plan, the stadium "would sit on a site west of Huntington Park and the Arena District." Nationwide Realty Investors, the real estate arm of Nationwide Insurance, "owns most of the property that is needed for the project." The stadium is "expected to be open" for the '21 season. The deal ends an "ugly fight that had driven a wedge between the team’s fans and the organization -- at the same time it highlighted the power of fan activism in driving the direction of a pro sports team." The agreement is a "triumph for fans" who fought to keep the team from moving. The "yearlong drama surrounding the potential move had been a black eye for the league." Precourt Sports Ventures and its CEO, Anthony Precourt, "appear set to remain in the league" with an expansion team in Austin.
The "Pac-12 NewCo" plan, which would see private investors owning 10% equity in the newly formed entity in exchange for a $500M investment, was "introduced to the conference presidents and chancellors at their mid-November meeting and was subsequently discussed in a conference call in December," according to sources cited by the Portland Oregonian. A six-page document presented by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott to his bosses during the November meeting outlines the conference’s current "lagging media rights projections and introduces an ambitious plan that involves taking on a strategic private investor." The conference’s broadcast rights, sponsorship rights, merchandising and all other commercial assets "would be consolidated under the umbrella of 'Pac-12 NewCo.'" The conference "would retain" 90% of the equity. The document states, "We estimate that a Capitalized NewCo could be valued at approximately $5 billion to $8.5 billion." The projections, however, include $36M in "annual revenue from DirecTV" beginning in '20 and a "one-time payment" in '24 from ESPN in the amount of $347M. "Neither is certain." Also, the plan assumes Fox would "renew its current broadcast contract with the Pac-12 in a 10-year deal" worth more than $2B.