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The NFL will mandate next season that teams install cameras in home locker rooms, and the teams will have the option to use the video in the stadium during halftime and other breaks in play, as well as on team apps. The move is part of an effort to improve the experience of attending NFL games by providing fans with footage and entertainment they cannot get at home. NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman today during the opening panel at SBJ/SBD's World Congress Of Sports said the rule was made by the NFL Competition Committee and debated extensively before the league decided to go forward with it. Grubman said, “The content will be available only in stadium and the content will be available only of the home team. You can show it or not show it.” Grubman said that the committee debate came down to two owners. One owner asked the league to make installing the cameras optional. Another asked for the mandate so that he would not have an issue with a coach. There also was concern that if some teams opted to show the video, it would expose teams that did not show the video. Grubman: “You can see the thinking and tension that goes on. At the end of the day, we talked to everybody and we’re going to move forward. We’re going to mandate a number of things. We’re going to mandate cameras. The league also plans to mandate teams show replays in the stadium of important plays during a game such as fumbles and interceptions. Grubman: "We’re going to mandate replays, not just after a disputed call but after a whole series of important plays, fumbles, out of bounds. Now it doesn’t matter if you want your technician to favor the home team. You’re not going to have a choice. Why? Just listen to the fans.”
The NBA hopes to hold a vote to approve the sale of jersey sponsorships this month, but Warriors President & COO Rick Welts thinks it will be at least another year or two before owners approve the proposal. Welts, on the opening panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports, said, “Money is holding this up. The problem is that at a lot of levels, the local franchise levels, we are creating a disparity in revenue from big markets to small markets, and teams look at this as magnifying that (disparity) even more. So should we share that money? That’s a hard discussion to have with a brand new source of revenue.” The league last July began weighing a plan that would put a 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch logo patch on uniforms for the '13-14 season. Small-market owners are concerned the value of the sponsorships will be greater in large markets and that will allow those teams to pad their revenue and potentially help big-market teams pay players more and improve their rosters. Welts said team presidents think there is a “middle ground” where 25% of each team’s jersey sponsorship revenue goes into a shared pool. But he is not optimistic an agreement will be reached in the next year or two. Welts: “Everyone knows there’s a big pot there. It’s not uncomplicated, but the idea that we have hundreds of millions of dollars sitting out there and we can’t figure out a solution to bring it into the league, shame on us.”
AROUND THE LEAGUES: IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne said that his experience at NASCAR, where he worked for 10 years, showed him the importance of having sponsors' logos featured prominently on athletes' apparel in competition. He expressed hope that the NBA would find a solution because it could help the sport. Pyne said, "It gives an emotional connection between the fan and sponsor. It works internationally in [soccer]. There’s an incredible amount of value.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that there was no way college sports would have sponsorship logos in the future. Scott: “There’s a saying in college: 'It’s about the brand on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back of the jersey.' It has got to be a clean pristine brand around the schools on the front of the jersey. You’ll see college resist that move to commercialism.” NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said he believes the league will explore the idea of selling jersey sponsorship in the future, but he doubted the NFL would ever allow teams to do it. Grubman said, “I don’t necessarily see that the value difference compared to the current model would make that much of a difference from what we have right now. Different things work for different sports in different markets in different countries at different times. We’ll watch what other people are doing but it’s not on the top of my list right now."
Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles is “revving up an ambitious plan to overhaul the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway management team,” according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Miles “wants to develop a revenue-sharing plan that assures the series and the tracks that host its races are motivated to roll in the same direction.” He said that his “first order of business is finding someone to replace” former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. Instead of “merely naming a replacement, Miles intends to create a new position, CEO of Hulman Racing, to oversee both the series and IMS.” He “hopes to decide on the structure of his management staff by late April and hire a CEO or CEOs by the time the green flag drops on the Indianapolis 500 May 26.” The “first priority for the new CEO would be to improve fan engagement -- including better marketing of drivers.” Miles wants to “create revenue pools that can be shared by the series and tracks, lifting all boats -- including teams and drivers.” He also is “considering selling sponsorships and signage across all the series’ races and sharing that money among the tracks.” A marketing campaign could include “broadcast ads and track signage that give the series’ marketing a uniform feel.” Schoettle notes while Miles is “still working out staff-restructuring details, it is clear that” IMS President & CEO and interim IndyCar CEO Jeff Belskus will be “less involved in the company’s on-track racing product.” He said that Belskus will “remain part of the management team, including maintaining his position on the Hulman & Co. board.” Miles added that Belskus will “oversee Clabber Girl and the company’s real estate interests, as well as technology, human resources and financial services for IndyCar and the IMS” (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue).
SI.com's Lars Anderson wrote five weeks into the season, it is "clear that the buzz is coming back to NASCAR because the close, compelling racing on the track has ramped up the intensity of the drivers and led to feuds like" that between drivers Tony Stewart and Joey Logano at Auto Club Speedway on March 24. However, there are "other reasons why TV ratings, which have been falling for years, have been up in four of the five races" of '13, including the "curiosity about" driver Danica Patrick. NASCAR also has "benefited from the continued emergence" of Dale Earnhardt Jr., as it is "always good business for NASCAR when there's an Earnhardt running near the front." But the "biggest reason why NASCAR is surging right now is because of the high quality of the racing" (SI.com, 3/29).
LUCK OF THE IRISH: In Dublin, Greene, Crowe & Ryan noted although NFL U.K. Managing Dir Alistair Kirkwood was "reluctant to commit to playing an NFL game" in Ireland, he "didn't rule it out if the fan base grows." For now he would "like to have more TV exposure in Ireland and hopes to develop better broadcast relationships with Irish TV stations in the near future." The NFL "rolled into town" March 25 "complete with" three Vikings players and a couple of Sky Sports analysts. It was a "fact-finding mission" for Kirkwood (INDEPENDENT.ie, 3/31).
TENNIS, ANYONE? In London, Neil Harman noted tennis is "preparing to go Twenty20 with a blast of quick, made-for-television sets starring the best players in the world." The event is "backed by the wealth of princes and governments across the Middle East and Asia and is to be installed by the end of the year." The inaugural league will "be played from late November until just before Christmas, with players criss-crossing Asia, as matches are played on a home-and-away basis." The "salary band for each team is likely to be set between" US$4M-$10M (LONDON TIMES, 4/1). The London DAILY MAIL noted Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are "among the leading players being lined up." Roger Federer "cannot take part this year due to a clash with his exhibition tour in South America but could sign up next year if the league proves to be a success" (London DAILY MAIL, 4/1).