Moag and Company Sports Notes (8 March 2019)

Date: Mar 2019

Trivia

When was Arnold Palmer’s first PGA Tour victory?

Last Week’s Answer: Bobby Orr became the first hockey player to receive the prestigious honor when Sports Illustrated named him “Sportsman of the Year” in 1970, the same year in which he was named league MVP and led the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship. Orr was also the first (and to date, only) defenseman in history to lead the NHL in scoring when he scored 120 points in the same 1969-1970 season.

Football:

AAF co-Founder & Head of Football Bill Polian said that there have been "informal discussions" about the possibility of NFL teams loaning younger players to the AAF in the future, according to the USA Today. While there have been no formal talks, Polian said "lots of NFL people have bandied about that thought with lots of us." The idea would be for NFL teams to "assign their No. 3 quarterback and other players from the bottom half of the roster and developmental squads to gain more playing time under quality coaches." This "would be similar" to young MLB players "going down to a Class AAA affiliate to gain a few more at-bats." Polian "didn't speculate whether an arrangement with the NFL could happen by the AAF's second season". Any formal agreement between the NFL and AAF "would have to be accepted" by the NFLPA, which "could raise concerns about issues such as compensation, injury settlements and service-time accrual." However, competing in the AAF "presumably would mean extra paychecks for NFL players, which could appeal to the NFLPA". Everyone involved "stands to win" from an AAF-NFL partnership. San Antonio Commanders GM Daryl Johnston said that partnering with the AAF "appeals to many NFL men who complain to him that the current labor pact has reduced developmental time for NFL players".

Baseball:

The New York Yankees have repurchased YES Network from Disney for $3.5B in a deal that is expected to close soon, according to Fox News. The Yankees "will be the majority owner" of the net. Sources said that the team "will partner with other companies, including Amazon, Sinclair and Blackstone." YES was "considered the prize jewel" of the 22 Fox RSNs being sold by Disney. The Yankees are "hoping Amazon will stream some of the team's games to a national audience, although details of how that would occur are unclear". The bid will be for the 80% of YES that the Yankees "don't already own." The net was valued at $3.9B in '14 when Fox paid for an 80% stake -- "leaving the Yankees with the rest." But the value of RSNs "generally have been declining as cable subscribers jump ship." YES is also "under contract to pay the Yankees broadcast fees" until '42. While Amazon, Sinclair and Blackstone will play a "strategic long-term part in plans for the network," the Yankees are "expected to retain say over what actually appears on the programming end, including announcers".

The San Diego Padres have generated close to $3M in "additional ticket revenue in the two weeks" since Manny Machado announced he was signing with the team, according to ESPN.com. Padres President of Business Operations Erik Greupner did not say how many tickets have been sold, but said that it was "'at least double' what is normally projected for that time of year." He compared this sales spike with that of '15, after a "flurry of offseason trades and free-agent acquisitions," and '16, with the team "set to host the All-Star Game." Greupner: "It's been maintained for a longer period of time so far than some of the spikes we've seen in the past. So we're encouraged that it's really setting a new trend line for us this season in terms of demand for tickets and merchandise". The Padres announced the March 28 home opener against the San Francisco Giants has sold out, and while it will be the 16th straight sellout for a home opener, it is "one of the earliest" sellouts in recent team history. Some seats are still available through season-ticket sales, which continue until Saturday.

Basketball:

The Philadelphia 76ers are leading the NBA in attendance this season, "averaging 20,414 fans per game -- which is slightly more" than 100% capacity for basketball at Wells Fargo Center, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. Ahead of Saturday's sold-out game against the Golden State Warriors, the Sixers were "fielding a bevy of calls from fans scrambling for tickets." The Sixers have "more than 14,000 season ticket holders." CRO Jake Reynolds said that the waiting list "has grown to 12,000 names." The sales staff at HSBE has "grown to 115 people -- the largest of any sports organization in the country." Reynolds said that during the team's rebuild earlier this decade, the front office "consistently challenged itself to be '50-win ready.'" He said that the team also "invested heavily on data analytics on the business side." Reynolds said of data on fans, "We try to learn everything from where they like to sit to what concessions they like to who their favorite player is. We want to know who our fans are and what matters most to them".

Hockey:

New York Islanders co-Owner Jon Ledecky said the team's proposed new arena at Belmont Park remains "on track" for the '21-22 NHL season, according to Newsday. Ledecky: "We’re keenly focused on making sure the project stays on track, and I’ve been assured by many parties that is the case." The project is "going through a lengthy environmental review stage," which should be "completed by the end of June." Ledecky previously said that the arena’s groundbreaking could occur "as early as May." Asked for an updated construction timeline, he said that the development team is "mindful to not interrupt the Belmont Stakes on June 8." He also noted that recent new NHL arenas have been "built in a 20-to-24-month window." Ledecky said the arena's developers "know how important it is for us to be in there" for '21-22. Meanwhile, BSE Global CEO Brett Yormark last week reiterated he is in favor of moving "as many games as possible" from Barclays Center to Nassau Coliseum until the Belmont site opens. But he also "acknowledges that the ultimate decision" is up to the Isles and the NHL, and neither is "in a rush to do that".

Other:

The Big3 has "added two new big-money players" to its bid for 21 of the 22 Fox RSNs, teaming up with investment bank Macquarie Group and entrepreneur Carolyn Rafaelian "thanks to Ice Cube," according to the N.Y. Post. Sources said that the two new investors, along with previously announced Centerbridge Partners, are "backing Big3" for at least $1B apiece. Sources also said that the total backing "gives the group enough equity to raise whatever debt required" to cover the $10B the RSNs are expected to fetch. Behind the Big3's bid are "plans to create a single new network." The Big3, which would then have to "name the planned network, wants to create 24/7 content that appeals to young people by emphasizing culture and diversity in addition to sports".

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