SBD/Issue 197/Leagues & Governing BodiesPrint All
George To Remain On IMS BOD,
Continue Leading Vision Racing Team
IRL NOW ON ITS OWN: ESPN.com's Terry Blount reported the moves yesterday indicate the IRL "will have to make it on its own and become financially viable without extensive financial support from IMS." George's three sisters, who are IMS BOD members, "felt it was time for the IRL to make things work without the monetary pillow from the family fortune of Hulman & Co. and IMS." The racing circuit has not made a profit during its 14-year existence, and Blount wrote this is a "defining moment for the IndyCar Series." George's departure "will cause IRL competitors to question where things are headed." The change "will cause some uncertainty about the future," and it "might even push Danica Patrick closer to a move into NASCAR." Meanwhile, the "surprise" from yesterday was that George did not become IMS Chair and replace his mother, Mari Hulman George, who was "expected to retire" (ESPN.com, 6/30).
NO IMPACT EXPECTED ON SPONSORSHIPS: The INDY STAR's Cavin reports George's departure from IRL is "not expected to have an adverse impact on the series' ability to attract additional sponsorship." Just Marketing Founder & CEO Zak Brown, whose company is an IRL consultant, said, "People aren't that close to the sport, so their questions are more marketing- and commercial-related. ... I don't think Tony George leaving his position has an impact on those questions. He doesn't bring a commercial value, if that makes sense." But Brown called George's departure "unsettling for the industry." He added that sponsors "will be eager to hear" from Belskus. Brown said sponsors will "want to know what are the strategic decisions to make the league profitable." Penske Racing Owner Roger Penske said Belskus and Brighton are "good people and capable people, and they represent the family's interest." Meanwhile, IRL Panther Racing co-Owner John Barnes "does not expect IMS Corp. to reduce its commitment to the league." Barnes: "From the league standpoint, IMS and the IRL are hooked at the hip. Only a fool would believe that's not the case" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/1).
Kalkhoven Says People Will Have To Wait
And See What Happens With IRL
LASTING IMPACT: USA TODAY's Gary Graves notes George oversaw the arrival of NASCAR, F1 and Moto GP motorcycles during his 19 years at IMS, the "outer walls of which are lined with padded SAFER barriers George introduced to racing in 2002 to enhance chances of surviving a hard crash." George "modernized other parts of the century-old facility while retaining many of the original touches that have made the Brickyard a destination for racers, fans and tourists." George's contributions to IMS and the IRL "required a huge financial commitment that ultimately factored most in Tuesday's IMS board power shift." Just Marketing's Brown said, "The league was losing a lot of money, and given that and the world economy there was a lot of concern at [IMS]. At the same time he's (nearly) 50 and has a life away from the league, and he probably felt he has done his job and decided to leave" (USA TODAY, 7/1). FANHOUSE.com's Holly Cain noted George "spearheaded the unification between America's top two open-wheel series last year" (FANHOUSE.com, 6/30).
Bloggers Express Unease For IRL's
Future Without George In Charge
TAKING A HIT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Michael Grange writes free agent players like Fs Shawn Marion and Rasheed Wallace and G Allen Iverson are "still potentially effective players with lots of basketball left," but collectively they are "staring at a pay cut in the range" of $30-35M next season. One Central Division exec said, "There's just not any money out there for anybody, they'll be lucky to get the mid-level." Grange notes "just four teams have room under the salary cap to go bidding for free agents." While that means the "other 26 teams can use the mid-level provision to go after players," Raptors President & GM Bryan Colangelo "didn't foresee a rush." The salary cap and luxury tax thresholds are "expected to be flat compared to last year, but that's worse than it sounds." One Western Conference exec said, "This time last year teams were basing their budgets on the salary cap going up to about $62[M] (a team), so that's already a hit" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/1). ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard said NBA agents and team execs are "really wondering what's going to happen in this free agency" period due to the economy. Broussard: "Right now, it looks like a lot of players are in for a rude awakening" ("Outside the Lines," ESPN, 6/30). The WASHINGTON POST's Paul Tenorio added, "It's going to be tough for some of these mid-level players to get any type of big money. … I think you're going to see a lot of guys that maybe in the past would have opted out of their last year going into this summer … stick around and play out that final year" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 6/30).
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? The Bucks earlier this week indicated they would not offer F Charlie Villanueva a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said the reason is "purely economics," as Bucks Owner Herb Kohl "needs to save money." L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "It is about the economy, but it's not just Milwaukee. It’s everywhere. This is the first sign the NBA this summer will be all about people saving money. This is the first example" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/30).
Smith Has Been Meeting With
Players The Past Two Months
PERCY GRANTED NO MERCY: NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported Vikings first-round draft pick WR Percy Harvin was excused from attending the NFL’s Rookie Symposium due to an illness. Wyche: "Harvin tried for most of the day to get here … but was given some medicine and told to stay home and rest. He is excused, but he is going to have to attend the Rookie Symposium next year because this is a mandatory session by the NFL.” Harvin is “very concerned about his image,” and despite his illness, he "thinks people are trying to take some of the things that happened to him at the University of Florida and at the Combine and lump them into a negative light” ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/30).
JUDGE AND JURY: With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly thinking about an indefinite suspension for WR Plaxico Burress for his felony gun charges, PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported there is a sense that QB Michael Vick's possible reinstatement "will hinge primarily if not exclusively on whether he can convince Goodell that [he] deserves a second chance." Florio wrote if Goodell "believes that stiff suspensions for Burress and/or Vick are required, then stiff suspensions will be imposed" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/29). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "This is not about morality police, it's not about trying to be a tough cop. It's about business. At the end of the day it's about business and Michael Vick right now is bad for the business of the NFL." FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti: "The stance he's taking against problem children to me (is) the biggest thing a commissioner has done in professional sports in a long time. He sets his own rules" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/30). Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "Roger Goodell has clearly established himself as a strict law and order commissioner. In his view, playing in the NFL is a privilege" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/30).
Daniel Had Been Serving As Interim
Commissioner Since January
ESPN Sports Poll Says 60% Of NASCAR Fans
Live Outside The South While 41% Are Female
DuPuy Responds To USA Today
Column About Steroids In MLB
ACROSS THE POND: MARKETING MAGAZINE's Ed Kemp notes an interactive NBA van that will begin a tour of London tomorrow includes a Court where fans "can play one-on-one games and can participate in a number of contests." Meanwhile, adidas is launching the adidas NBA 5 United Tour, which will "visit five European cities." Also, Kemp notes the NBA and EPL club Chelsea are "in talks to develop mutually beneficial marketing activity to boost their brands overseas." Chelsea "may make players available for promotional activity ahead of" the October 6 Jazz-Bulls preseason game at London's O2 arena, with other joint promotional activity, "such as videos, online viral activity and social networking opportunities also being explored" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 7/1).
WORK LEFT TO DO: FOXSPORTS.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote MLS has done a "very nice job of building its niche brand," but the problem with the league is that it is "not the best soccer in the world." Many "serious fans would rather follow games played six time zones away than attend a lesser game nearby." There was a "time when the U.S. economy was so strong that one could imagine the best soccer players in the world coming here for the money," but now is "not that time." Soccer is a "growing niche sport here," and "nothing more and nothing less" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/29).
ONE WAGE FOR ALL: NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora noted the UFL is currently offering one-year, $35,000 salaries across the board -- “at least that’s what they are telling agents of prospective players, with an additional $15,000 possible in playing-time incentives.” There is also “some wiggle room” for starting QBs to make a “little more in incentives.” UFL reps previously told agents that they were “toying with the idea of a three-tiered salary scale, and perhaps down the line they could still go with that” (NFL.com, 6/30).
ALL-STAR SELECTION: Women's Professional Soccer yesterday announced that Swedish club Umea IK will be the opponent for the inaugural WPS All-Star Game at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri, on August 30. The season-ending match will air nationally on Fox Soccer Channel and regionally on select FSN affils (WPS).