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SBD Global/March 14, 2014/Events and Attractions

Wasserman Says Global Cities Are Best Bet For Olympics, Lauds NBA's Int'l Reach

L.A., Chicago, N.Y. and San Francisco are the only U.S. cities that should be fighting it out to host the 2024 Olympics, according to Wasserman Media Group Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman, who also diplomatically questioned whether Jay-Z will be in the sports business for the long haul. Wasserman said that a U.S. bidding city for the 2024 Olympics must boast a global reputation -- seemingly questioning the credentials of cities like Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, which have expressed interest in bidding for the 2024 Olympics. Wasserman said, "L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, New York are much more interesting." He added that rival U.S. cities "may be capable, but aren’t as interesting on a global scale" and would not give the Olympic movement a big enough platform. In a wide-ranging interview at a SportsPro Live conference in London on Thursday, Wasserman also appeared to question the long-standing commitment of Jay-Z to the sports industry, following the high-profile launch of his sports management agency, Roc Nation Sports, last year.

THE LONG HAUL: Questioned about the launch of Roc Nation Sports and its possible impact on Wasserman Media, Wasserman said, “Look, he [Jay-Z] is entitled to start a business in sport if he wants. We can sustain a very large meaningful influential business. There will always be competitors, some will come and some will go. We have not seen a meaningful impact on our business.” Likewise, Wasserman played down the impact of William Morris Endeavour’s purchase of IMG Worldwide on Wasserman Media, stressing that the deal had benefited the overall sports industry. Wasserman: “We compete very well with IMG, so I am confident in our ability to compete in the marketplace. Frankly, success in our competitors is good for the industry. The truth is, we don’t actually compete with IMG that much. In actual day-to-day business we don’t. They have moved away from what I would call the representation business almost entirely.”

'VALIDATION' OF VALUE: In his view, Wasserman said the acquisition of IMG Worldwide represented both the “validation of the value of the sports world” and an indication of the challenge the “entertainment industry is facing." Asked about his thoughts on the past 10 years and the sports organizations that have particularly stood out, Wasserman pointed to the NBA "as positioning itself as a truly global sports brand." He also cited the Bundesliga. He asserted that new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was the perfect candidate to replace David Stern. Wasserman said that the skill set of an NBA commissioner was not changing and that they still needed to be the face of the league, in light of constant media scrutiny. But Wasserman stressed that the skill sets of sports organizations, like the NBA, were quickly changing and the roles of sales, marketing and managing intellectual property within those organizations were much more nuanced today.
John Reynolds is a writer in London.
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