15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BUSINESS/
MARKETING/TECH ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 19
with Jamie Swimmer & Ron Socash
Women in Tech Championship and Women in Stem
MLB hosting Hailey Dawson to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 4 of the 2017 World Series
Zack Veach becoming a part of Andretti Auto Sports Racing
Interview Intro of Mae Jemison
Interview with Mae Jemison
Olympics returning to the United States in 2028
Possible US cities to serve as venue sites for the 2028 Olympics
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee increasing sponsorship revenue
Calgary Flames new arena public funding dispute
Pittsburgh Penguins grassroots community involvement
Seattle's effort to attract both an NHL and NBA franchise to their city
Golden State Warriors' jersey patch agreement with Rakuten for $20 Million annually
NBA changing their draft pick lottery system to avoid teams tanking
Kobe Bryant partnership with NBA China
NFL Franchises, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, stepping into the International Market
NFL Game Pass extending their features for subscribers
Oakland Athletics may have found a location for their new stadium
The Triple-A Durham Bulls will host an ESports tournament at their ballpark
Tease for next week
The Olympics are officially returning to the United States with the announcement that Los Angeles won the bid to host the 2028 Summer Olympics. The IOC just cemented the announcement in Lima, Peru, weeks after the story first broke that Paris was awarded the 2024 Olympics. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, an instrumental figure in bringing the Olympics back stateside, called this a “huge win” for the United States. “L.A. has the Olympics in our blood, in our DNA,” boasted Garcetti. “Casey [Wasserman] and I were kids in 1984 when we hosted the Olympics…and we want to reignite the movement.” The U.S. has bid for the Olympics “more than any country” over the past few decades, yet has not been able to win as many of those bids as it would like. What makes the L.A. Olympic bid so special is that “it’s the first time in an Olympic Games” that not a single new venue will have to be built. The 2028 Games will undoubtedly prove to be an economic boon to L.A. just like the 1984 Games before them. Even better, brands looking to hitch their wagons to the Games will have a decade to watch opportunities unfold.
In the middle of ongoing Ezekiel Elliott legal battles, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has allegedly “slowed down, if not impeded, contract talks regarding a potential extension for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell,” according to sources cited by ESPN. Jones is not a member of the NFL’s compensation committee, but he is a “de facto seventh member and Goodell became aware that he was brought into the process about the time he was making a decision on Elliott’s six game suspension.” According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Jones “believes he’s representing the other owners and he believes this thing needs a lot of discussion before they just give him a contract. It’s got to be a big reduction. He’s made almost $200 million since he’s been commissioner since 2006 and Jerry wants something cut. He thinks other owners are on board with him.” On the legal front, the NFLPA and Elliott have "filed their response to the NFL's motion for an emergency stay in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Meanwhile, the NFL "added" former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement to its legal team. The NFL is hoping for a stay decision by September 19. Whether the compensation committee gets in the middle of the Cowboys vs. the NFL, via Goodell’s extension, remains to be seen.
As the MLB regular season winds down and the postseason beckons, the Red Sox were “fined an undisclosed amount” by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last week for “improper use of an electronic device in the dugout.” When confronted by MLB officials earlier this month, the Red Sox admitted they were using Apple watches in a scheme to steal signs and gain an edge at the plate. According to the Boston Globe, the Yankees were “fined a lesser amount when an investigation determined they committed a similar violation prior to this season.” Money collected from both fines will be “donated to hurricane relief efforts in Florida.” Manfred in his ruling noted "all 30 clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.” The Red Sox will “take their punishment, happy it wasn't more severe.” Technological advances are impacting every aspect of sport, from football chips to smart helmets to more accurate replay calls. It was only a matter of time before wearable technology was brought into play – illegally.
Zach Veach completes the ladder with Andretti Autosport. Starting in 2018, Zach Veach will take the wheel of the No. 26 Honda Indy car as the fourth entry in Andretti Autosport’s Verizon IndyCar Series team. Veach has raced in every step of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder with Andretti Autosport, including a career-best Indy Lights championship finish of third in 2014. “We are excited to give Zach the opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level, and I’m looking forward to welcoming him home, so to speak,” said Michael Andretti, CEO, Andretti Autosport. “He’s put the effort in, found success at every level and now his dream has come full circle.” The 22-year-old American driver made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut April 23 at Barber Motorsport Park and his Indy 500 debut at this year’s 101st Running. “I've been thinking about this day since St. Petersburg in 2010 when I sat beside Michael Andretti announcing that I'd be competing in USF2000 for his team," said Veach. “To be driving in the Verizon IndyCar series with them is a dream come true and I can't wait to get started.” Veach is the fourth driver confirmed to an All-American Verizon IndyCar Series field for Andretti ahead of the 2018 season opener in Florida, March 11.
The Oakland A’s have finally picked a site for a new ballpark. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the franchise selected a patch of land by new Laney College as their “preferred spot for a 35,000-seat, privately financed ballpark” to replace the rundown Coliseum. The site is approximately 13 acres and under the most optimistic projections, construction would begin in 2021 and be completed in time for the 2023 season. The other sites that were considered were the current Coliseum site and another parcel on the waterfront northwest of Jack London Square. In total, the cost of the stadium is expected to surpass $500 million. The A’s hope to then convert the current Coliseum site into a “community sports park and urban youth baseball academy in partnership with MLB.” After negotiating with the college district to buy or lease the land, the team will have to complete an environmental impact report. At long last, and after many false starts including a San Jose ballpark “tech laboratory” backed by Cisco Systems, it appears the A’s hunt for a nicer new home may be drawing to a happy conclusion. Stay tuned.
Oak View Group is forging forward with its plan to renovate KeyArena in Seattle. According to the Seattle Times, OVG is set to shell out $600 million by October 2020 as part of the renovation process, all with the hope of luring an NBA and NHL team to the Pacific Northwest city. As part of the arrangement with the city of Seattle, the group would commit “$40 million to improve traffic, transportation and parking beyond any requirements stemming from a mandatory environmental impact review.” The 55-year-old facility with its iconic design has been a hotly-debated facility, as multiple financing groups initially placed bids to land the renovation rights. With the renovation’s current timeline, officials hope that an NHL team could start play by the 2020-2021 season. OVG has “partnered with billionaire investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to be Seattle owners of an NHL franchise.” From the Super Sonics to the Seahawks and the Sounders, Seattle has long been a great sports city, and it’s only fitting that the city and backers are gearing up for not one but two additional pro sports teams.
Initial talks are beginning to take place out West, where Salt Lake City and Denver officials are contemplating bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics. According to the Associated Press, no American city has hosted the Winter Olympics since Salt Lake City did back in 2002. Park City and Salt Lake City have hosted about 75 winter championships and World Cup sport events since 2002, so the area is well-equipped to host the mega sporting event again. Sources close to the USOC noted that the committee is focusing on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles for the time being, but that could all change on behalf of IOC President Thomas Bach, who is leading a “streamlining of the bid process.” In doing so, Bach hopes to avoid a similar situation to the one that arose for the 2022 Winter Games bidding process, when China and Kazakhstan were the only bidders. In the modern era, it’s clear that the only cities that can truly afford the Olympics’ multi-billion price tag are ones with a majority of infrastructure already in place. As such, we’re seeing “everything old is new again” in Beijing, Paris, and Los Angeles. Utah may indeed be next.
Sponsorship space for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics is in hot demand. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the Tokyo organizing committee has sold 43 domestic sponsorships worth a staggering $2.8 billion, “blowing past the prior sales benchmark for a single Games.” Making this marker even more impressive is that sales are still underway, as confirmed by Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Moto. “This is a record number of local sponsors,” commented Moto, “We are aiming to increase the value of the Games through sponsorship activations through partner companies, and securing even more local sponsors.” Some of the more unconventional sponsorship deals have come about thanks in part to the “nationalistic business culture and robust interest in the Games.” While this paints a rosy revenue picture, expenses will likely continue to rise. The Games currently has a $12.6 billion operating budget – more than double its original bid projection.
He may be retired from the NBA, but that does not mean that Kobe Bryant is done having an impact on the global basketball community. According to the South China Morning Post, Bryant has “joined forces” with NBA China and Chinese resort Mission Hills to set up the country’s first-ever NBA Basketball School. Mission Hills released a statement with details on the school, noting that it will be open for both males and females at the “sprawling resort on China’s holiday island.” The school is set to start construction this year with the goal of completion by 2019. “The Chinese youth will benefit from a complete approach to player development that combines NBA-quality coaching with NBA-level training,” commented Bryant. This development is only the most recent sports engagement for the resort, which has a partnership with FC Barcelona for a similar arrangement as well as a tennis academy in association with Boris Becker.
In an interesting twist to the competition, the Giro d’Italia cycling race will begin in Israel next year. According to the AP, this will mark the first time that any leg of cycling’s “three Grand Tours will take place outside of Europe.” Details regarding the exact route of the first three stages being held in Israel have not yet been confirmed, though officials did say that the race would begin in Jerusalem. While the Giro has started outside of Europe 11 times in its historic 101-year history, it has not ventured into the Middle East before. Past locations outside of Italy include Monte Carlo; Athens; and Belfast, Northern Ireland. In hosting the early stages of the race, Israel is preparing to host the country’s biggest sporting event in history, which is expected to draw “tens of thousands of tourists to the country.” With the historic 2018 race will no doubt come historic levels of security that require the utmost in creative planning, as race routes are exponentially harder to secure than stadia.
The back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the community to thank their fans in a unique way. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins have employed some of their best players yet again to “deliver season tickets to select fans.” Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were two of the players to hop houses in Pittsburgh, making several stops across the city area. “It’s fun to see the kids’ reactions,” said Crosby. “This is really a nice thing that the team does because you get to meet the people. When you play, it’s just a mass of people, but you don’t meet anyone one-on-one.” This move continues an annual tradition for the Penguins, who have been doing this for years now to generate some excitement in the streets about hockey’s return. Fifty lucky season-ticket holders are chosen at random and are informed that a player is coming, but do not receive any notification as to who that player will actually be. This is grassroots activation at its best – and including young hockey fans is a great way of building a next generation fan base.
Despite the Calgary Flames stopping talks about a potential new arena, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi continues the push toward building a facility for the team. According to the Canadian Press, Nenshi is working toward finding a solution that the team approves of while not impacting peoples’ taxes – a tricky task to say the least. The office of the Mayor is set to release financial details in the near future regarding a potential entertainment district in Victoria Park. Tensions between the Flames and Nenshi first began when the mayor “downplayed the economic benefit of a new arena.” Current proposals call for both the city and the Flames to pay about $550 million, approximately one-third of the total cost for each party involved; a ticket surcharge is expected to cover the remaining third of costs. Sources close to the deal blame Nenshi “for talks on a new NHL arena going sideways.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars have adopted London as their second home. According to Yahoo Sports, the Jaguars are set to play a regular season game in London for the fifth year, and that relationship might still be expanding. Team Owner Shahid Khan was quick not to rule out the possibility of playing a second London game in the same season going forward. “We’ve talked about that,” said Khan. “There might be a time where it would make sense to play more than one game.” Under the current arrangement, the Jags “keep the gate from the London game, and Wembley Stadium at capacity bring in a lot more revenue for a home date than Everbank Field,” factoring in the stadiums’ 80,000 seats all selling at a higher price than in Jacksonville. At first glance, this move might come as a surprise, but from a financial standpoint it makes sense considering almost 20% of the team’s revenue comes from that one London game.
The Golden State Warriors continue to excel at everything they do, on and off the court. This time the Warriors are in the news for the jersey patch deal they signed with Japanese tech holding company Rakuten. According to ESPN.com, the reigning NBA champions have signed the “largest of the NBA ad patch deals,” with sources noting it to be worth up to $20 million annually. That number is nearly double the next-largest patch deal, which the Cavaliers signed with Goodyear. Rakuten’s red and black logo is set to appear on the left breast of the Warriors’ jerseys this coming season. Shockingly, the $20 million annually that Rakuten will shell out is not even the most the Warriors were offered. “We actually had multiple finalists,” said Warriors CMO Chip Bowers. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered.” Rakuten is making a splash in the sports world, as this deal comes on the heels of signing a $235 million kit deal with FC Barcelona. And the Warriors are in the enviable position of not having to accept an offer from the highest bidder, but rather seeking to find a good fit for their team philosophy and brand.
A potential NBA lottery structural reform is facing some opposition among team owners. According to USA Today, the NBA’s competition committee is currently discussing if and how to potentially change the NBA lottery, but adopting a new proposal is “not a slam-dunk.” Mid- and small-market teams are arguing that a new policy to discourage tanking would directly hurt their chances of landing a “franchise-altering player through the draft.” A similar topic was discussed in advance of the 2014-2015 season, though no changes were adopted then. While 17 owners voted in favor of lottery reform, it “requires three-quarters of a vote to pass a proposal.” There were “mitigating factors” in 2014. The NBA strongly discourages teams from adopting a mindset at the beginning of any season that their best chance of exceling in the future requires an intentionally poor season or two. The league will do everything it can to advance this position into “law.”
Five Top Tech
1) For NFL fans, Thursday Night Football used to be something that one could only watch on NFL Network. But according to Businessinsider.com, with Amazon’s recent acquisition of streaming rights for 10 NFL Thursday Night Football games on Amazon Video for Prime members, fans now have an alternative to watching games on NFL Network. For fans that don’t have access to NFL Network but own an Amazon Prime account, this is a great way to efficiently spend money while also getting prime football games right to their tablet or laptop. Brian Finegan, head of Marketing and Product Management for Amazon, said this of his company’s newest expansion: “I think it’s an opportunity we’ll definitely explore. We’re now expanding into live streaming sports. I don’t know if you guys saw the Thursday Night Football deal that came out, first game is 9/28 — Bears/Packers. You can watch via desktop or mobile.” For the 2017 season, we will see how this addition to the Amazon universe affects consumers. If this venture is successful, we may continue to see more and more sporting events available on streaming services. This new level of accessibility could be a win for all parties involved.
2) The Durham Bulls, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will become the first minor league baseball venue to host an E-Sports tournament this fall. Between September 29 and October 1, the Bulls will host the first-ever DBAP Gaming Challenge. The games played during the competition will include MLB the Show, Call of Duty, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, and others. Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said this about his organization hosting the event: “We’re extremely excited to host the inaugural DBAP Gaming Challenge. Esports is an industry that continues to grow at a rapid pace, and we’re looking forward to beginning the DGC and making it an annual event in Durham at our stadium.” A grand total of $5,000 will be doled out to contest participants. First place winners will receive $250, second place will receive $150, and third place will get $100. With the growth in popularity of ESports, an increase in events such as these will come as no surprise in the near future.
3) As the NFL grows as an organization and American football grows as a sport in Europe, NFL Game Pass is looking to provide more to its customers overseas. Already streamable up to five devices, NFL Game Pass will start giving its users live statistics, and access to archived games as well. NFL Game Pass is working with Overtier, a content venture, to take the ability to stream these games to Europe. Overtier CEO Sam Jones said this of the new venture: “We surveyed 5,100 GamePass subscribers across Europe and we spoke to many in the U.K. and Germany, and we tried to build up an understanding of what they love about any existing services they used, and also what they were looking for in the next generation of GamePass.” As the NFL continues to grow globally, the infusion of technology continues to play a huge role in this expansion. With new and more convenient forms of accessibility available through technology, organizations such as the NFL are able to grow their brand in ways they may not have thought possible just a few years ago.
4) The NBA has partnered with Nike on an eight year global merchandising and marketing agreement that will make Nike the “official on court apparel provider” starting this 2017-2018 season. The most interesting feature of the new uniform is that each jersey will be equipped with sensors that will track player information to help give fans and coaches alike a better idea of exactly what players physically experience during games. Wondering about the comfort of the new uniforms? Here is what Minnesota Timberwolves star player Karl Anthony Towns had to say: “Even in practice jerseys and T-shirts you can feel the difference. Just the quality of it is at a whole other level. There is so much more breathability and it’s just more comfortable and I’m confident with the equipment. We should feel just as confident in our skills as we do in the equipment that were in.” With the new technology helping coaches, organizations, fans, and players, this is truly an innovation that helps all sides involved.
5) A seven- year-old girl born with Poland Syndrome, a rare disease that caused her to lose the three middle fingers in her right hand, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 4 of the 2017 World Series. The girl, Hailey Dawson, has been equipped with a robotic hand that will enable her to throw out the first pitch. Before the start of this season, Hailey’s mom, Yong Dawson, told SportTechie that she was hoping to get Hailey into as many games as possible. Now with the regular season winding down, SportTechie has confirmed that she’ll pitch at one of the most pivotal games of the season: the fourth game of the World Series on October 28.
“We are overwhelmed but humbled by the response. It is amazing,” Yong said in an email to SportTechie.” Hailey is an inspiration to anyone born with or experiencing a disability. Thanks to the new robotic limbs available to doctors to use on their patients today, Hailey’s story has been made possible.