49ers, Obama and the Cup
Published June 7, 2010
Expect the San Francisco 49ers to win Tuesday’s referendum in Santa Clara, Calif., as voters decide the fate of a $937 million stadium project. The deal for a 68,500-seat stadium to be built by 2014 is far from done, though, because of the significant financial responsibility of the 49ers and the league. The total public contribution is $114 million, with the 49ers, NFL and a stadium authority providing nearly $825 million. While the 49ers have so far done everything right, and Northern California has an attractive corporate base, few details have emerged on how the team can raise such funds even in an improving economic market. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot to be on the hook for.
President Obama proved again that he can more than hold his own talking hoops when he sat down recently with TNT’s Marv Albert. But he dropped the ball when he called for cheaper tickets. The NBA has been one of the more progressive leagues in cutting prices, making at least 500 tickets under $10 available for each game and offering countless promos. We hope the NBA respectfully needled the White House, perhaps suggesting the president study ticket pricing as much as his ESPN game highlights.
Combine ESPN’s all-inclusive programming strategy with the country’s ever-changing demographics, and it’s virtually certain that this year’s FIFA World Cup will set viewership records for ESPN. The network set the bar high when John Skipper predicted a whopping 50 percent ratings jump. That kind of bluster has led to a number of cynics who seem to be actively rooting for low ratings almost as much as a U.S. victory. But with ESPN promoting and over-promoting the tourney, it’s hard to see a scenario where Skipper’s bullish expectations aren’t met.