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Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are projecting 20-25% "increases in ticket and sponsorship sales this year over last," according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said that "expanded activities during May at the IMS will be a major driver for much of the growth." For the "first time, May at the Brickyard will start with an IndyCar road race," and that Indianapolis 500 will have a "new qualifying format." Country singer Jason Aldean also will give a concert the night before the 500. Meanwhile, IndyCar's new title sponsorship deal with Verizon "added another significant bump to Hulman revenue." IndyCar officials said that another "major sponsorship is being finalized this month and should further bolster the fortunes of the series, which hasn’t made a profit since its formation" in '96. Sources said that Miles and his staff are in "serious discussions about a title sponsorship deal for the inaugural road race, Grand Prix of Indianapolis" (IBJ.com, 4/2).
GOING INTO THE GARAGE: Thursday's edition of CBS' "Late Show" featured show intern Todd appearing on-stage to discuss his appearance at the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg last weekend. Host David Letterman said to Todd, "You represent the best of what our internship offers and what we attract as young men and women. How long have you been with the 'Late Show' as an intern?" Todd replied, "I've been interning since 2009." Letterman asked Todd, "Do you know anything about automobile racing?” Todd: “I do now.” The broadcast aired a taped report from Todd who asked Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal about the team's new sponsor, the National Guard, of which Todd said he was "thinking about joining." Rahal: “I think you have to beef up a little.” Todd asked team co-owner Bobby Rahal, “Do you think that I can ever be an IndyCar driver?” Bobby Rahal replied, “Are you old enough to drive?” (“Late Show,” CBS, 4/3).
MLB is "trending younger in the drug-testing era," and a lot of young players are "accepting club-friendly, long-term contracts that delay their free agency, effectively giving teams multiple discounts," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. The latest such deal was signed earlier this week by 25-year-old Rays P Chris Archer, a six-year deal worth $25.5M. The "willingness of so many youngsters to sacrifice dollars for security -- and in many cases accept multiple club options that further limit their earning power -- is disturbing" to many agents. The contracts are so large that it is "understandable that many players find even below-market offers to be irresistible." The MLBPA in '16 could "prefer to avoid a work stoppage rather than fight for a bigger share." However, the union "has to be concerned about losing its edge." Agents also "jump at such deals out of fear -- the fear that they will lose their clients to bigger agencies before ever reaching a substantial commission." Of 31 pre-arbitration deals done since '00 "with multiple club options, 26 were done by smaller or mid-level agencies." SFX/Relativity did the others, including Archer's. Rosenthal: "The problem for the union is that it cannot reasonably advise a pitcher such as Archer to reject a $25.5 million guarantee, no matter how much more he might project to earn year to year. The owners are on the power play. And come 2016, when the labor deal ends, they are not going to let it expire" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/3).