SBD/Issue 243/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Teams Improving Stadium Experience To Lure Fans Out Of Homes

    New Meadowlands Stadium One Of Several
    NFL Stadiums To Have HD Video Boards

    Watching NFL games at home has "become so attractive" that the league is "increasingly concerned about making sure that fans consider trips to the stadium to be worth the effort," according to Sean Leahy in a cover story for USA TODAY. The NFL saw a 2.4% "drop in attendance last season, the second consecutive year with a small decline." Technological innovations have "made the at-house experience better, and cheaper, than going to a stadium for many." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that the league "helped to create this situation through its much-envied TV promotions." He added, "It is attractive to sit at home with HDTVs. That makes for a great experience. But it's terrific to be in our stadiums. And we have to bring technology to our stadiums and make that experience better." Leahy notes many teams are "getting aggressive about Goodell's directive to make trips to stadiums more appealing." They are "offering handheld mobile units and smartphone applications that deliver replays, the RedZone Channel, broadcasts of other games, fantasy stats and other information exclusively to fans inside the stadium." The Cowboys last year "set a new standard with a massive overhead HD video board" at Cowboys Stadium, and New Meadowlands Stadium opened this season "with HD boards." The Ravens, Patriots and Redskins also "installed giant HD boards this year that cost millions of dollars and will offer fans not just live action and replays but also the Red Zone Channel." In addition, the Ravens are "among several teams wiring their stadium so fans can use Wi-Fi with their cellphones." Other clubs are "testing mobile units that will allow fans to see replays and other games from their seats." The Patriots are "among the teams trying a free smartphone application called YinzCam that fans in club seats can access via a Wi-Fi network," while the Dolphins "use a handheld unit called FanVision that they distribute to season ticketholders." Kraft Sports Productions Publisher & VP/Content Fred Kirsch "oversaw the Patriots' introduction" of the YinzCam app, and he said that he "expects iPad-like tablets to be essential in future years for fans tracking fantasy teams and other games." NFL Senior VP/Digital Media Brian Rolapp said that the league "doesn't feel conflicted as it pursues what he calls a dual-responsibility strategy to enhance fans' experiences outside and inside stadiums." Rolapp: "We aren't just going to invest on new technologies that serve people at home. We will continue to invest to make the stadium experience better" (USA TODAY, 9/1).

    MORE TEAMS ON BOARD: Leahy noted though YinzCam is "only available for fans at Gillette Stadium," Jaguars officials were "on hand to see Yinzcam" during last Thursday's Rams-Patriots preseason game. Kirsch said that "several other teams have asked the Patriots for input about creating their own app" (USATODAY.com, 8/31). Meanwhile, Texans President Jamey Rootes said that his team "hasn't ruled out installing a similar video board" to the one at Cowboys Stadium "that would overhang the field at Reliant Stadium" (USATODAY.com, 8/31).  

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  • Selig Discusses Attendance, Labor, Possible Int'l World Series

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” yesterday and said the league is "going to go over 60 million in attendance today." Selig: "It's really remarkable when I think of the nation's economy and where we are. I want to keep us moving in the right direction." Selig also discussed the league's relationship with the MLBPA, saying, "We've had labor peace for 16 years … which nobody ever believed was possible, including me." In addition, he said, "The game has never been cleaner than it is today." Meanwhile, Selig said a "true World Series" involving international clubs will not likely happen while he is commissioner. But he said, "That is my dream. By the way, the Japanese commissioner and I have had two meetings this year on that subject, but there's a lot of road to walk for both of us. A lot of people don't believe I'm going to leave in 2.5 years, but I have plans to do that, and whether it will be done before then or not, I really don't know" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 8/31).

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  • Strong Nationwide Crowd Adds To Push For Cup Race In Canada

    NASCAR Nationwide Race In Montreal Draws
    70,000+ Fans For Fourth Consecutive Year

    Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve drew a crowd of "70,000-plus" for Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200, and if Montreal "can get 70,000 to buy tickets to a Nationwide Series race, it would have no problem selling 100,000 or more for a Sprint Cup race," according to Dean McNulty of the TORONTO SUN. This year marked the "fourth consecutive year" the race has drawn more than 70,000 fans, a "record that few other NASCAR venues can boast over the same period." McNulty: "In an era where NASCAR has been battered by a bad economy, resulting in shrinking attendance elsewhere, Montreal stands out like an honest banker on Wall Street" (TORONTO SUN, 9/1). RACINTODAY.com's Jim Pedley wrote under the header, "Give Canada A Cup Race" (RACINTODAY.com, 8/30). SI.com's Tom Bowles noted Saturday's event was an "action-packed race that ended with Boris Said nipping Max Papis to the line by .012 seconds." Throughout the race, the "shrill screams of a packed house boomed over the roar of the engines," and "those who watched saw hope for a series struggling to stay on your radar screen." Only "half a dozen well-known drivers were in the field," but at "Monday water cooler talks across the country, the only conversation surrounded the buzz of a finish that kept people wanting more." Bowles: "Great racing takes care of itself" (SI.com, 8/31).

    STUCK IN Neutral: The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Pappone wrote under the header, "Canadian NASCAR Still Struggles To Attract Young Drivers." NASCAR four years ago bought Canada's top stock car series, CASCAR. The purchase was "supposed to make a new era" for racing in Canada, but it "hasn't really turned out that way." During the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series' four years of existence, it has continued to be a "place for rich businessmen to live out their racing dreams or a dead end for drivers who won't progress any farther up the ladder instead of being a development arena for young drivers aspiring to move toward a ride in the Sprint Cup." However, Pappone wrote the "good news is all this might change in a couple of years," as a "shuffle in Canadian Tire's executive ranks over the past 18 months has brought some new thinking and result in the company renewing its focus on and commitment to racing" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/31).

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  • League Notes

    Writer Notes Bernard's Task Of
    Resurrecting IRL "Hasn't Been Easy"

    CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Pistone wrote it "hasn't been easy" for IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, given the task of "trying to resurrect a series that has faded, even after the celebrated open-wheel CART-IRL war ended three years ago.” With new title sponsor Izod “coming on board, there at least is some financial stability, but trying to market IndyCar racing as anything except where Danica Patrick drives has proven difficult, to say the least.” While the IndyCar Series is “filled with personable and talented individuals, there still is a name-recognition void for all but dyed-in-the-wool fans.” Pistone wrote, “If the series can’t build a following with the breathtaking racing that was on display Saturday night in Chicago, what other options are there to get back on the American motorsports map?” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/30).

    FIGHTING FOR Recognition: On Long Island, Mark La Monica wrote MMA promotion Strikeforce “is healthy as ever and remains a legitimate competitor” to the UFC and WEC. With the “backing of Showtime and CBS,” Strikeforce “just needs a few breaks.” In an "era where 'parity' has become the great buzz word of sports, fans still understand and appreciate 'champion.'" Strikeforce “needs established champions, fighters who defend their belts successfully several times, not ones who win it one night and lose it the next” (NEWSDAY, 8/29). 

    STOP THE EXODUS: In Toronto, Steve Sandor writes a "big issue" facing MLS is the "loss of players to lesser European leagues that really aren't any better than MLS." Former MLS players are "littered throughout the Scandinavian leagues." Most European clubs "pay better than MLS non-DP wages, so players make the jump, even though the Scandinavian leagues don't represent a step up in terms of the product on the field." MLS also is "losing players to Mexico." Sandor: "To stop the bleeding, more and more MLS teams are going to need to use the DP spots as carrots. Stay and we'll make you rich" (TORONTO SUN, 9/1).

    SIT THIS ONE OUT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin wrote the NHL "shouldn't go to Russia" for the '14 Sochi Olympics "unless it gets a share of the profits and more influence." The Olympic TV impact is "negligible" in the U.S., the "elite players are exhausted by the travel and it punishes the NHL regional broadcasters who must go on hiatus at a time when hockey has the stage almost alone to itself in February" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 8/29). 

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