Moag and Company Sports Notes (5 March 2018)

Date: Mar 2018

Trivia

Who was the first major league baseball player to earn the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in both the American League and the National League? 

Last Week’s Answer: The Chicago Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the 1908 World Series.  The Series was a rematch of the 1907 World Series which was won by Chicago four games to none. The Cubs also won the 1908 World Series besting the Tigers four games to one.   

Football:

The bidding process for the sale of the Carolina Panthers "hasn't officially begun" and "could take months," according to ESPN.com. Sources said that the bidding "likely will begin in March and could conclude" by the May 21-23 owners' meeting in Atlanta. Outgoing Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson can "accept or reject any bid, and the process could take several rounds of counter-bids before both sides reach an agreeable price." As it is now, there are "only two real bidders" – Pittsburgh Steelers investor David Tepper and Sherman Financial Group Founder & CEO Ben Navarro. Among the potential bidders reported so far, Tepper "appears to be the most solid in terms of having the capital to put up" the required 30% of the possible $2.3B sale price. There appears to be a "lack of other solid bidders." Sources said that Navarro's assets are "liquid enough to satisfy" the 30% outlay. Navarro "could be a solid candidate from a financial standpoint, but he is not ideal from a sector standpoint." Sherman Financial and its affiliated companies "buy delinquent consumer debt, mostly from credit card bills, in hopes of collecting what is owed and taking a cut." While Navarro has built the business to more than $2B in annual revenue, sources said that the "litigious nature of the debt collection industry has NFL owners concerned about having an NFL owner's name affiliated with such a business." Some of the potential bidders for the Panthers have "already taken themselves out of the equation," including former UFC Owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. The brothers "expressed initial interest in buying the Panthers." However, sources said that they are "now out".

The Dallas Cowboys will opt out of their primary ticketing deal and shift to SeatGeek, according to sources, a move that further shakes up the already changing NFL ticketing landscape. The Cowboys will join the New Orleans Saints among NFL teams serviced by N.Y.-based SeatGeek, just months after the NFL agreed to a pair of five-year large-scale ticketing deals with Ticketmaster and StubHub covering the '18-22 seasons. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Cowboys are expected to receive an undisclosed equity stake in SeatGeek, which has received more than $150M in venture capital funding from a group of investors including Causeway Media Partners. Not only is the deal in keeping with the maverick ways of Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, it also contrasts with a large-scale partnership that Legends Hospitality, partially owned by the Cowboys, has with Ticketmaster parent Live Nation.

Baseball:

The Atlanta Braves' revenue during their first year at SunTrust Park in '17 increased by $124M compared to '16, according to Liberty Media financial results cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Liberty said that the Braves generated revenue of $386M in '17, a 47% increase from $262M in '16. Liberty Media President & CEO Greg Maffei "described the increase as 'astounding.'" The Braves saw a 76% gain in ticket sales, 31% gain in concession sales and 45% gain in retail sales "compared with their final year at Turner Field" in '16. Attendance increased by 23%, while the opening of mixed-use development The Battery Atlanta "provided a new revenue stream." Liberty said that the Braves had an "operating profit before depreciation and amortization" of $7M. That compared with a loss of $16M in the same measure the year before. However, the revenue increase has "not spawned a boost" in the Braves' payroll, which will be "lower at the start of this season than it was at the start of last season, barring major acquisitions in the next month".

The Tampa Bay Rays are in discussions on a "long-term extension with Fox Sports Net that will lock in the team’s local media rights for at least the next 16 years," according to the SportsBusiness Journal. The deal, which "still has hurdles the two sides have to overcome, could be finalized before the start of the baseball season." Sources said that the team is "due to receive" close to $35M this season, which is the last year under the current deal with FS Sun. Fox’ payout is "expected to increase" to around $50M in '19 under the new contract. Sources added that over the 15-year life of the deal, which would run through the '33 season, Fox "would pay, on average," around $82M per year. The "hefty increase in revenues would come at a time the Rays are seeking to get a new stadium built in Tampa, with a combination of team, private and public contributions." It also "comes after a series of recent trades aimed at reducing payroll" from their '17 season-ending total of around $80M. While it was "known the Rays have been working toward a new deal, the immediacy and size of the pact -- as reported -- are staggering." The reported terms "seem to make the deal a game-changer." A lot of teams are also "getting more -- and significantly more than the Rays will -- from new TV deals, enough so that the Rays could still be in the bottom half overall".

Basketball:

The Golden State Warriors said that there are 43,000 "potential season-ticket holders on the wait list" for the new Chase Center set to open in '19, according to the S.F. Chronicle. Three weeks into their sales campaign, the Warriors have "made their in-house sales presentation to about 200 groups." Warriors Senior VP/Business Development Brandon Schneider "declined to provide numbers." However, a source said that the Warriors’ renewal rate is "significantly higher than what the 49ers experienced" when they moved to Levi’s Stadium. There is "much curiosity over how much tickets will cost" at Chase Center. The Warriors "aren’t releasing those numbers, but some info has leaked out." The Warriors, who are selling some seats as PSLs, are "believed to be the first team to structure the fee as a loan to the team, to be repaid in full, albeit 30 years later with no interest." A $35,000 membership for $600 seats at the new venue will be an $8,000 discount "over the fee first-time ticket buyers will pay for that same seat." The Warriors said that for "more than half the seats in their new home, the membership fee will be less than $15,000, and payment of that fee can be financed".

Hockey:

The group trying to secure an NHL team in Seattle surpassed 25,000 season-ticket deposits in "just more than an hour" and plans to "shut things down by the end of Friday," according to the Seattle Times. Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, who is spearheading the ticket drive alongside potential team owners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, said that the total was at "about 29,000 by mid-afternoon." Leiweke: "The NHL is surprised, very pleasantly surprised. And so I think they’re very happy. We still have work to do. But I think it sends a great message to the league and it’s what we’ve been telling them about Seattle." An online submission portal went live at 10:00am PT, and the goal of 10,000 tickets sold had "already been surpassed" within 12 minutes. Fans actually "crashed the system" set up through Ticketmaster. Fans reported "long delays in processing requests, while some said the system hung up and forced them to retry several times." It took the Golden Knights' initial season-ticket drive "about six weeks to reach 10,000 commitments." The $500 deposits were for "general season tickets while another 5,000 'club' seats in the lower center ice level between the two bluelines quickly got snatched up for reservations of $1,000 apiece." Full refunds on deposits can "still be obtained once pricing becomes known." Leiweke said that they will "cap the drive by Friday simply because 'we don’t want to be sitting on people’s money beyond a certain number'".

Soccer:

Columbus Crew Chair Anthony Precourt "delivered a bold statement to Austin-area residents, touting benefits that he said could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars if a suitable stadium is built" to house an Austin MLS club, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Precourt said, "With the right site, we can build a world-class, privately financed $200 million soccer park and grounds." He added, "A public-private partnership of this nature could deliver community benefits in excess of $400 million in the club's first 25 years, in the form of community investments, park improvements, soccer wellness and programming." Precourt's statement "represented a major blow to Columbus' hopes to retain the Crew." Precourt Sports Ventures has made "no such financial promises" to Columbus. In the 4 1/2 months since PSV "set its sights on Austin, the group has suffered setbacks, such as losing its most-desired site, Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, to push-back from neighborhood groups, activists and some city council members." But Precourt said that his group "continues to study a variety of sites, both city-owned ones and private parcels." Precourt: "We are not in a position to move to Austin if the right site is not identified". Meanwhile, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board "unanimously passed a resolution" that is the "first step in removing Roy Guerrero Metropolitan Park as a potential home grounds" for an Austin MLS club. The vote asks City Council to "direct the city manager to eliminate the 400-acre Southeast Austin park from the dwindling list of city-owned sites that city staff offered" to PSV for consideration.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN.com; NFL.com; Atlanta Journal-Constitution; S.F. Chronicle; Austin American-Statesman;  Seattle Times

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