SBJ/December 19-25, 2011/Year End

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  • 2011: The Year In Review

  • Stories of the Year

    Labor pains — and gains

    The NFLPA’s DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announce an agreement to end the league’s lockout.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    It was built up as a watershed year in labor/management relationships, and at the end of it all, the NFL, NBA and MLB all reached new labor agreements, but only MLB reached a deal peacefully. The NFL and NBA talks tested the mettle of owners, lawyers and players, as the back-and-forth often turned contentious. The NFL went to the wire, reaching an agreement barely in time to avoid losing games, with the annual Hall of Fame preseason game the only casualty. However, the NBA was forced to scrap its original calendar, and now is prepared to start a shortened season on Christmas Day.

    Fox scores upset, lands
    the World Cup

    ESPN appeared to be an easy choice to renew its World Cup deal in October. Its top executives, especially John Skipper, are big soccer fans, and its comprehensive coverage during the 2010 event was widely praised. But Fox surprised the industry by paying between $450 million and $500 million for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 events, which will be held in Russia and Qatar. NBC-owned Telemundo agreed to pay $600 million for the Spanish-language rights. Fox’s jaw-dropping bid should help the company’s Fox Soccer Channel, which still has a lot of room to grow.

    The sad decline of the Dodgers
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Last year’s ugly divorce trial between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and ex-wife Jamie turned out to be only a prelude to 2011’s epic battles between the team, MLB and Fox Sports. The cash-strapped club nearly missed several payrolls, briefly had a league monitor assigned to them, and ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. After a fractious summer of legal volleys between the Dodgers and MLB, McCourt struck a settlement in which he agreed to sell the franchise by April 2012. It was a low point for one of the most revered and historic teams in all of sports.

    NBC goes all in with Olympics
    Comcast’s Brian Roberts (left), IOC President Jacques Rogge and IOC member Richard Carriòn celebrate NBC’s winning bid.
    Photo by: IOC / Julliart

    The International Olympic Committee spent almost three years courting networks to bid on its U.S. television rights. Its decision to postpone the process until 2011 because of the economy turned out to be a boon for the organization. Just weeks after losing its top executive and Olympic champion, Dick Ebersol, NBC bid $4.4 billion for the rights through 2020, blowing away its competitors by more than $800 million. The deal gives the IOC financial security for the next decade, and NBC the continuity of keeping the Olympic rings tied to the Peacock. Now, can NBC make its massive bet pay off?

    The growth — and PR problems — of college sports
    Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was hired to mine more revenue out of the conference’s rights, but even he couldn’t have envisioned the record $250 million-a-year haul from ESPN and Fox that vaulted the Pac-12 from a sleepy West Coast afterthought to the leader of the pack. Seeing revenue riches, schools and conferences constantly wrestled with realignment, which fed a damaging public perception that college sports was more about revenue growth than the student athletes.

    Time Warner Cable plants a major stake in sports
    When Time Warner Cable picked off the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers early this year, the cable operator sent a message to every sports right holder in a TWC territory: The company is open for business. Under the direction of Melinda Witmer, the company launched a Time Warner Cable Sports division with high-profile executives David Rone, Mark Shuken and Dan Finnerty. There’s no doubt that the company has a seat at the table. It’s been monitoring the Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcy, talking about buying Cleveland RSN SportsTime Ohio, and helping to launch the Pac-12’s suite of seven channels.

    NFL hits media jackpot
    The NFL revenue machine just keeps on growing. After announcing an eye-popping $1.8 billion per year deal with ESPN in September, the league neared deals with CBS, Fox and NBC that will see each broadcaster renew its NFL package for at least an average of $1 billion per year — an across-the-board increase of more than 60 percent. Look next for the NFL to carve out another Thursday night package to sell. Thanks to the latest deals, the NFL will wind up generating close to $7 billion annually in national media revenue starting in 2014, representing an amazing $220 million payout per team.

    UFC fights to the forefront
    Photo by: Getty Images

    The day before a blockbuster event that drew 55,724 fans to Rogers Centre in Toronto in April, UFC President Dana White sounded like Nostradamus. “By the end of this year we’ll do something even bigger,” White said cryptically. “We’re going to blow you away.” Six month later, “UFC on Fox” promos aired prominently during World Series telecasts and on NFL Sundays, hailing a watershed for the hot property. The network’s financial package, which sources placed at an average of $90 million a year for seven years, more than doubled the reported $35 million a year that the UFC had received from incumbent Spike. Fox’s proven ability to take a fringe sport and expose it to the mainstream was attractive to the UFC, which still sees itself as a property in the early stages of growth.

    Ebersol, Bodenheimer exit stage left
    Bodenheimer
    Photo by: Shana Wittenwyler
    Ebersol
    Photo by: Getty Images

    The year saw two longtime media leaders move on, with Dick Ebersol stepping down from NBCUniversal Sports and Olympics, and George Bodenheimer announcing his decision to step away from day-to-day operations at ESPN. Ebersol, who later returned as an adviser to Mark Lazarus, provided more of a ripple effect on the industry, as the move allowed Comcast to assert its authority over NBC Sports. ESPN should see fewer changes. Bodenheimer’s replacement as president, John Skipper, has pledged to keep the business running the same it has for the past several years.

    Farmers Field takes root
    Rendering by: AEG

    AEG’s proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles, despite being anything but a definite, pulled off a 30-year, $600 million naming-rights deal with Farmers Insurance. Farmers Field still awaits a final funding plan, all the necessary government approvals and, not the least of all, an NFL tenant. But the virtual naming-rights deal helped reinvigorate a naming-rights market that later in the year saw MetLife align with New Meadowlands Stadium.

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  • Newsmakers

    Big Year In Titletown
    Mark Murphy

    Photo by: Getty Images

    President, CEO
    Green Bay Packers

    Murphy’s year to remember began with a Super Bowl victory, followed by a key role in the NFL’s labor committee. Now, Murphy is overseeing a significant renovation of Lambeau Field and directed the fifth stock sale in the team’s history. Could another title be headed to Titletown in February?

    Making A Move
    John Swofford
    Photo by: Shana Wittenwyler

    ACC commissioner

    Swofford pulled off the surprise of the year when he lured Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two flagship schools, out of the Big East. At a time when expansion was in season and the ACC might have appeared vulnerable to the SEC, Swofford went on the offensive and secured a 14-school roster that solidified the conference’s future and enabled it to go back to the negotiating table with ESPN.

    The Negotiator
    Jeffrey Kessler
    Photo by: Gort Productions

    Global litigation chairman
    Dewey & LeBoeuf

    Kessler was a controversial voice of the players in the NFL and NBA labor talks, serving as outside counsel. As a young lawyer, he pioneered the strategy of unions decertifying in order to gain access to antitrust laws as a weapon during labor disputes. That strategy largely played out again with this year’s NFL and NBA talks, and helped push negotiations toward a resolution.

    Big Apple Hangover
    Fred Wilpon
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Owner
    New York Mets

    Wilpon’s Bernie Madoff hangover continues. Wilpon won a legal victory reducing his potential liability from other Madoff victims, but a promising equity deal with hedge fund manager David Einhorn fell apart. Still strapped for cash, Wilpon at once faces declining attendance at Citi Field amid diminished on-field hopes, he’s had to decrease ticket prices for the third straight year, and just saw perhaps his best player sign with rival Miami.

    On the Frontline
    Billy Hunter
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Executive director
    National Basketball Players Association

    Hunter spent much of the year on the defensive as the NBPA battled with the league over a new labor deal. It was a tumultuous process for Hunter, who faced criticism from his own players. Fewer than half of the union’s 400 members voted on the deal, so the jury is still out on just how well the agreement will play out for NBPA members, and what effect it will have on Hunter’s future.

    Stepping Into The Open
    Rick Welts
    Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

    President and COO
    Golden State Warriors

    In May, respected industry veteran Rick Welts grabbed the national spotlight by becoming the first high-profile sports executive to announce he is gay. Later in the year, Welts made more news by leaving his job as president of the Phoenix Suns and accepting a similar post with the Golden State Warriors, saying he wanted to align his personal and professional life. He now looks to create strong business results in a market with great upside.

    A Tiger Will Follow
    Mark Steinberg
    Tiger Woods reverses roles and joins the gallery as Steinberg attempts a putt.
    Photo by: Photo by:US PRESSWIRE / ALLAN HENRY

    Agent
    Excel Sports Management

    Has any agent with one client ever generated this much buzz? Tiger Woods’ representative acrimoniously parted ways with IMG and took his star golfer with him to Excel Sports Management, sending waves throughout the golf industry. He has since added Matt Kuchar, signed Rolex and Fuse Science to sponsor Tiger, and appears well on his way to building a strong golf business at Excel.

    Owning up
    Tony Stewart
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Owner, driver
    Stewart-Haas Racing

    Zero. That was how many wins Tony Stewart had going into NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Three months later, he had five. The fifth and final win came in dramatic fashion, with Stewart making 76 passes to clinch his third NASCAR championship. It made him the first owner-driver to win a title since Alan Kulwicki in 1992, and played a large role in ESPN’s 15 percent increase in ratings for the Chase.

    On The Leaderboard
    Chubby Chandler
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Agent
    International Sports Management

    The engaging and outspoken agent had a roller-coaster year that saw him develop perhaps the deepest roster of global stars and become the talk of golf. Through his ties on the European Tour, Chandler has built a roster that includes Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood. But the usually chipper ISM leader was stung when Rory McIlroy dropped him in October.

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  • 2011 Timeline: The Year In Review

    Jan. 1
    ■ The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins play in front of 68,111 fans in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.

    Jan. 4
    ■ NBC averages a 13.0 final Nielsen rating and 21.8 million viewers for its 18 NFL telecasts this season, marking the network’s best audience figures since it began airing “Sunday Night Football” five seasons ago. That was good enough to make “SNF” the first sports series to be the most-watched TV show in prime time.

    Jan. 6
    ■ MasterCard signs its first naming-rights deal for an arena, the former Wukesong Indoor Stadium in Beijing. The five-year deal has a value of more than $4 million annually.

    Jan. 9
    ■ Altitude Sports & Entertainment announces that it has acquired a 50 percent interest in World Fishing Network USA from Insight Sports.

    Jan. 10
    ■ ESPN averages a 15.3 U.S. rating and 27.3 million viewers for the Auburn-Oregon BCS national championship game, making it the highest-rated and most-viewed program in the history of cable television.
    ■ General Motors and NBC Universal announce a new media partnership tied to NBC’s U.S. coverage of the 2012 London Games. The deal provides GM with exclusive domestic automotive advertising rights during the Olympics.

    Jan. 13

    Matthew Knight Arena
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The University of Oregon opens its $227 million, 12,364-seat Matthew Knight Arena.

    Jan. 14
    ■ Churchill Downs and Yum! Brands announce a five-year extension of their deal for presenting sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby.

    Jan. 15
    ■ The USTA and CBS reach an agreement in principle for the U.S. Open to remain on CBS through 2014.

    Jan. 19
    ■ The University of Texas announces a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN to create the Longhorn Network.

    Jan. 24
    ■ The Bowl Championship Series will distribute more than $174 million from its five bowl games, an increase of 22 percent over what was paid out in 2010.

    Jan. 26
    ■ NASCAR unveils a simplified points system for all three of its top series, which officials hope enables fans to calculate easily what drivers’ results mean for season standings.
    ■ Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick signs a two-year deal with Unequal Technologies, his first paid endorsement contract since his release from prison in May 2009.

    Jan. 31
    ■ AEG announces it has signed Farmers Insurance to a 30-year, $600 million naming-rights deal for a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

    Feb. 3
    ■ Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano announces the sale of the team to East Resources President and CEO Terry Pegula.
    ■ AEG announces it is forming a joint ticketing venture with Outbox Technology and Cirque de Soleil that will create a company called Outbox Enterprises.

    Feb. 6
    ■ Super Bowl XLV, between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers and shown on Fox, becomes the most-watched program in television history, pulling in 111 million viewers.

    Feb. 11
    ■ Platinum Equity Chairman and CEO Tom Gores strikes a tentative deal to buy the Detroit Pistons from Karen Davidson. The deal, which includes the Palace of Auburn Hills, is valued at $420 million.

    Feb. 14
    ■ Under Armour signs former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to a shoe and apparel deal that sources indicate will be the largest deal ever given to an incoming NFL rookie. Sources said the deal would top the $1 million a year that Adidas gave Reggie Bush in 2006.

    Feb. 15
    ■ Time Warner Cable signs a 20-year rights deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that will lead to the creation of two new regional sports networks in the Los Angeles market in 2012.
    ■ NASCAR signs a licensing agreement with Wal-Mart that will enable the world’s largest retailer to source apparel, home goods and other products bearing NASCAR imagery and marks. The deal is Wal-Mart’s first licensing agreement with a major sports property.

    Feb. 22
    NBC runs the table on the Triple Crown.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ NBC Sports Group announces it will own the rights to all three legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time since 2005.
    ■ The NHL signs MillerCoors in the U.S. and Molson Coors in Canada as its newest corporate sponsor in a mammoth seven-year deal across North America that is the league’s most financially lucrative sponsorship ever. Labatt Breweries of Canada later claims that it had already struck a deal with the NHL to renew sponsorship rights in Canada through 2014.

    March 1
    ■ Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume announces a naming-rights and management deal with Quebecor to invest in the city’s proposed $400 million (Canadian) NHL-ready arena. Quebecor will invest between $110 million and $200 million (Canadian) in the project.

    March 7
    ■ Under Armour and Tottenham Hotspur announce a five-year kit supply agreement, the company’s first with an English Premier League club.

    March 9
    ■ The Livestrong cancer foundation and MLS Sporting Kansas City agree to a unique six-year naming-rights deal for the club’s new stadium. Sporting KC will donate a percentage of all sales at Livestrong Sporting Park to the foundation, which will not pay a fee to the club.

    March 12
    ■ NFL team owners lock out the league’s players, shutting down professional football for the first time in 24 years.

    March 14
    UFC buys rival promoter Strikeforce.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ UFC parent company Zuffa LLC purchases rival mixed martial arts promoter Strikeforce, though they will continue to operate as separate entities. Sources value the deal in the $30 million to $60 million range.
    ■ The Big 12 is nearing a cable agreement with Fox that will more than triple the conference’s revenue over its current contract. Sources say the deal will pay the conference more than $60 million a year.
    ■ The Portland Timbers and Oregon-based window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen announce a naming-rights partnership for the MLS club’s stadium, now known as Jeld-Wen Field.

    March 21
    ■ Anheuser-Busch signs a four-year extension to its founding partnership with MLS, but for the first time the beermaker has given up exclusive local rights to MLS teams. Sources value the deal at more than $10 million.

    March 28
    AEG land a major project in Moscow.
    Photo by: Manica Architecture

    ■ AEG is nearing a deal to develop a massive $1.5 billion sports and entertainment complex in Moscow.

    April 1
    ■ A record 12 MLB teams have payrolls of more than $100 million at the start of the 2011 season, with the New York Yankees continuing to lead all other teams.

    April 4
    ■ The Florida Panthers sell the naming rights to the ice floor at their arena to automaker Lexus, the first deal of its kind in the NHL and only the second one in major league sports.

    April 7
    LeBron James aligns with Fenway Sports Group.
    Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

    ■ LeBron James and his marketing outfit, LRMR Marketing & Branding, are now part of the Fenway Sports Group portfolio following the creation of a new broad-based pact. FSG’s Fenway Sports Management becomes the exclusive global representative for LRMR to secure marketing and sponsorship deals for James.

    April 11
    ■ English Premier League club Arsenal announces it has agreed to be taken over by investor Stan Kroenke after he bought out two of his fellow club directors. The takeover values the club at around $1.2 billion.
    ■ The USOC extends its sponsorship deal with Nike, meaning American athletes will wear the swoosh on the medal stand through the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

    April 13
    ■ The Formula One track in Austin will be the host of not one, but two huge international motor races, and the project, now pegged with a $400 million price tag, will include a conference center, a 22-story signature tower and possibly a hotel.

    April 19
    ■ NBC and Versus sign a 10-year, $2 billion deal to renew the NHL’s TV rights.

    April 20
    ■ MLB Commissioner Bud Selig strips Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of financial control of the club, saying he would appoint a trustee to oversee the team’s business affairs. Two months later, the Dodgers would file for bankruptcy protection, and McCourt would later agree to a court-supervised sale of the team.

    April 21
    Laurel Richie hired to run the WNBA.
    Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

    ■ The WNBA hires Laurel Richie as its new president. Richie had been senior vice president and CMO for the Girl Scouts of the USA since 2008.

    April 22
    ■ English Premier Club Liverpool FC lands the biggest kit deal in the history of the league, securing a $41.3 million-a-year contract with Warrior Sports.

    April 26
    ■ The stadium that houses both the Oakland A’s and Raiders will become O.co Coliseum following a naming-rights deal with Overstock.com. Sources say the deal is for six years at just under $2 million per year.

    April 30
    ■ UFC 129 at Rogers Centre in Toronto earns a record gate of $11.5 million (Canadian) and more than 55,000 fans, the largest crowd in UFC history.

    May 3
    ■ The Pac-10 Conference agrees to a massive media rights deal with ESPN and Fox that is worth $3 billion over 12 years, which averages out to $250 million per year.

    May 8
    ■ The Green Bay Packers say they hope to begin construction on an expansion of the south end-zone area at historic Lambeau Field after next year’s Super Bowl in February. The plan calls for adding as many as 7,500 seats.

    May 10
    ■ The Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County (Minn.) announce an agreement to build a $1 billion football stadium with a retractable roof in Arden Hills. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf attends the announcement, a day after no team officials participated in Minneapolis’ unveiling of a plan for a stadium on the current Metrodome site.

    May 12
    The Fiesta Bowl stays in the BCS.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ A special BCS committee decides that the Fiesta Bowl will remain in the coveted Bowl Championship Series but must pay a $1 million fine for financial irregularities and for allowing employees to make potentially illegal campaign contributions.

    May 16
    ■ Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane announces the sale of the franchise to Houston businessman Jim Crane. MLB owners would approve the $610 million deal in November.

    May 18
    ■ ESPN announces plans to hold open bidding for four international X Games events and two domestic events beginning in 2013.

    May 19
    ■ NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol resigns abruptly after negotiations on a four-year contract collapse.

    May 31
    ■ True North Sports & Entertainment Chairman Mark Chipman formally announces the group’s purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers and its intent to move the team to Winnipeg. Sources value the sale at $170 million.

    June 7
    ■ NBC secures the rights to four Olympic Games, from 2014-2020, with a whopping $4.38 billion bid. NBC’s bid is nearly $1 billion higher than the $3.4 billion bid Fox presented.
    ■ Comcast-Spectacor is in talks to sell the Philadelphia 76ers to a group led by Joshua Harris, senior managing director of New York-based Apollo Global Management. The league would approve the $280 million deal in October.

    June 9
    ■ Sporting Kansas City plays its first game at Livestrong Sporting Park in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,925.

    June 10
    ■ Reebok founder Paul Fireman jumps back into the running-shoe business, with an investment of close to $20 million in a Colorado sneaker maker that aims to capitalize on the industry’s biggest innovation in decades: shoes that mimic barefoot running.

    June 13
    ■ The ATP announces that Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant will step down from his position when his three-year contract expires at the end of the year.

    June 16
    ■ NBC earns a 4.8 final Nielsen rating and 8.54 million viewers for the Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup Final Game 7, marking the highest-rated NHL game in 37 years and most-viewed game in 38 years.

    June 20
    ■ NBC Universal bought back a stake in the Dew Tour that it sold to MTV in 2008 in a deal that values the property and its assets at $40 million to $60 million.

    June 27
    New Meadowlands lands a big partner.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ MetLife is in advanced discussions with New Meadowlands Stadium to upgrade its corner sponsorship to a full naming-rights deal. A formal deal would be announced in August that covers 25 years and is worth an average of $17 million to $20 million a year.

    June 29
    ■ GE announces it has extended its IOC TOP sponsorship through 2020 in a four-Olympic Games deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Specific terms were not announced, but TOP sponsorships usually go for up to $100 million for four years.
    ■ The USOC announces it does not plan to put forward a bid for the 2020 Olympics.

    June 30
    ■ Tiger Woods signs a sponsorship deal with Japanese pain relief brand Vantelin Kowa, his first endorsement deal since the scandal surrounding his personal life led to him being dropped by numerous brands.

    July 1
    ■ The NBA officially institutes a lockout after owners are unable to reach a new labor deal with players. The move bars players from using any team practice facilities and arenas or having any other contact with teams.

    July 2
    ■ The New York Times Co. sells more than half of its 17 percent stake in the holding company of the Boston Red Sox to three separate buyers for $117 million in cash.

    July 5
    ESPN acquires Wimbledon rights.
    Photo by: Scott Clarke / ESPN

    ■ ESPN formally announces that it has acquired exclusive U.S. media rights to live action from Wimbledon in a 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, effective next year. The deal, which is worth around $480 million, ends NBC’s 43-year association with the event.

    July 6
    ■ Pyeongchang, South Korea, is selected to host the 2018 Olympic Games.

    July 8
    ■ English Premier League club Manchester City announces a naming-rights deal with Etihad Airways. Sources estimate the deal is worth between $16 million and $24 million annually.

    July 17
    ■ The U.S. women fall to Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

    July 25
    ■ The NFL and NFLPA come to an agreement on terms of a new labor deal, clearing the way for players to report to training camp and prepare to start the upcoming season on time.

    July 27
    ■ The Pac-12 Conference announces the creation of not just one national channel, but six additional regional channels as well that will focus on the largest areas represented in the conference’s new alignment.
    ■ Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials sign a deal making Crown Royal the title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 beginning next year. The pact is financially bigger than any other current NASCAR title sponsorship.

    Aug. 1
    ■ Versus officially will turn into the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2.
    ■ Nassau County residents reject a plan to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena for the New York Islanders and a minor league ballpark.

    Aug. 7
    ■ Alex Meruelo, founder and chairman of Los Angeles-based The Meruelo Group, reaches an agreement to buy a majority ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks. However, the deal would later fall through.

    Aug. 10
    MLS games moving to NBC.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ MLS signs a three-year deal with NBC that will see regular-season MLS games return to English-language broadcast television for the first time since 2008. Sources say the deal is worth $10 million per year.
    ■ The Izod IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway agree to a six-year extension of their broadcast rights agreement with ESPN/ABC. Financial terms of the agreement were not available, though sources said it marks an increase over the $6 million a year ESPN/ABC currently pays for the same rights.

    Aug. 12
    ■ The University of North Texas announces that campus networking firm Apogee is the naming-rights partner for the school’s new $79 million football stadium, in a 20-year deal that averages around $1 million a year.

    Aug. 15
    ■ ESPN plans to launch up to a dozen college-specific websites by the end of the year that will focus on high-school recruiting.

    Aug. 16
    ■ Fox agrees to a deal with the UFC that will see the broadcast channel air as many as four mixed martial arts events per year. The multiyear deal marks the first time the UFC will have consistent air time on a broadcast network.

    Aug. 17
    Broncos sign Sports Authority.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The Denver Broncos and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District approve a tentative deal with Sports Authority for naming rights to the team’s stadium. Sports Authority will pay an average of $6 million a year.

    Aug. 22
    ■ The WNBA and Boost Mobile announce a multiyear marketing partnership making the wireless phone provider the WNBA’s first leaguewide marquee partner. The Boost Mobile logo will appear on the front of game jerseys for 10 of the WNBA’s 12 teams.

    Aug. 25
    ■ Danica Patrick says she will move to NASCAR full time in the 2012 season, driving in the Nationwide Series.
    ■ MillerCoors extends its reach into college sports by striking deals with 23 schools, including blue-chippers such as Arizona State, California, Clemson, Colorado, Penn State and Washington.

    Aug. 26
    ■ The Longhorn Network debuts to approximately 20,000 households as the upstart network continues to try to secure carriage deals.

    Aug. 29
    ■ UPS reaches an agreement with close to 70 schools and a handful of conferences that gives it promotional rights from coast to coast. Sources value the deal at between $20 million and $25 million annually.

    Aug. 31
    ■ Texas A&M notifies the Big 12 that the university will leave the conference effective June 30, 2012, and petition to join the SEC.

    Sept. 1
    ■ The PGA Tour announces a new nine-year TV agreement with CBS and NBC through 2021.

    Sept. 5
    ■ Procter & Gamble signs Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to a seven-figure endorsement deal for its Head & Shoulders shampoo. Phelps is signed through next year’s Summer Games in London.
    ■ News spreads that the NBA earlier this summer quietly signed Sprint Nextel to a new four-year sponsorship deal. Sources said that the $45 million rights fee paid by Sprint was one of the largest ever collected by the league.
    ■ The NFL announces the renewal of its partnership with PepsiCo with a new agreement that will take effect in 2012. Sources said the NFL will receive between $15 million and $20 million a year for each PepsiCo brand.

    Sept. 8
    ■ ESPN and the NFL sign an eight-year extension to their media rights agreement that is worth $1.9 billion a year, a 63 percent increase over the average price of the current deal.

    Sept. 12
    ■ Major League Soccer negotiates to sell an equity stake in its media and marketing business, Soccer United Marketing, to Providence Equity Partners. Sources say Providence is interested in obtaining up to a 25 percent stake in SUM for $125 million to $150 million.

    Sept. 18
    ACC adding Syracuse, Pittsburgh.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The ACC introduces Syracuse and Pittsburgh as conference members. The two schools currently compete in the Big East Conference.

    Sept. 20
    ■ The San Francisco 49ers are investing in a $70 million deal to buy the Great America theme park, bumping out of the way one of its biggest opponents to building its new stadium in Santa Clara: the park’s current owner.

    Oct. 3
    ■ Goodyear Tire and NASCAR negotiate a five-year extension that will carry their partnership through 2017. Sources value the deal at $12 million to $15 million a year.
    ■ Augusta National will roll out a luxurious hospitality clubhouse that’s expected to be among the most lavish in golf. The new permanent structure, which will be called Berckmans Place, will debut at the 2013 Masters.

    Oct. 4
    Mercedes-Benz names Superdome.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The New Orleans Saints and Mercedes-Benz reach a 10-year naming-rights agreement that will turn the 36-year-old Louisiana Superdome into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Sources value the deal between $50 million and $60 million.

    Oct. 6
    ■ ESPN announces it is parting ways with Hank Williams Jr. and will not broadcast the singer’s “Are You Ready For Some Football?” introduction for “Monday Night Football.” The move follows disparaging comments Williams made about President Obama.

    Oct. 9
    ■ The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets play their first regular-season home game, drawing a crowd of more than 15,000 at MTS Centre.

    Oct. 11
    ■ The NFL selects Phoenix to host the Super Bowl in 2015, making it the game’s third visit to Arizona.

    Oct. 16
    ■ IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon dies in a crash during a race at Las Vegas.

    Oct. 25
    ■ Anheuser-Busch InBev announces its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup will extend to include the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

    Oct. 27
    ■ FIFA finishes a bumper week of World Cup business with broadcast deals worth $1.85 billion for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. The deals include an estimated $1.2 billion from U.S. broadcast right sales to Fox, Telemundo and Futbol de Primera Radio.
    ■ The NCAA’s Division I board of directors approves sweeping reforms that give conferences the option of providing up to $2,000 in spending money for athletes.

    Oct. 28
    ■ Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer and the St. Louis Blues sign a purchase agreement. Sources value the deal in the $185 million to $190 million range.

    Oct. 31
    ■ The NBA fines Miami Heat owner Micky Arison $500,000 for comments he made on Twitter that violated the league’s censure on speaking publicly about the lockout.

    Nov. 6
    ■ Penn State is rocked by charges of child sexual abuse against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Athletic Director Tim Curley is placed on administrative leave, and the university fires President Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno.

    Nov. 7
    ■ The Pac-12 Conference completes a complex six-month negotiation to acquire key TV, digital and sponsorship rights previously held by multimedia rights holders IMG College and Learfield Sports. The deal will require the conference to pay IMG College and Learfield roughly $15 million a year for the rights, yet clears the way for the launch of the Pac-12 TV channel next year.

    Nov. 20
    ■ Tom Gaglardi is formally introduced as Dallas Stars owner, after spending more than a year going through the process of completing a deal for the team.

    Nov. 21
    MLB, players come to terms.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ MLB and the MLBPA come to a handshake agreement on a new five-year labor agreement. The deal includes HGH testing for the first time, a new set of cost-controls on the first-year player draft and international free agent signings, hikes in minimum salaries, and the addition of two wild card slots.

    Nov. 23
    ■ The NBA and NBPA reach tentative agreement on a new labor deal that calls for a 66-game season starting on Christmas Day.

    Nov. 27
    ■ Syracuse University fires longtime assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine amid a scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse.

    Nov. 29
    ■ Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver says he is selling the team to Flex-N-Gate President Shahid Khan. Sources value the deal at $750 million.

    Dec. 1
    ■ Newman/Haas Racing, one of the most successful teams in the history of Indy car racing, announces its withdrawal from the IndyCar Series.

    Dec. 2
    Sprint extends NASCAR deal.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ Sprint announces it has signed a three-year extension of its title sponsorship with NASCAR for its Cup Series through 2016. Terms are not disclosed.
    ■ New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in negotiations with Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn to propose a $1 billion casino near Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

    Dec. 5
    ■ The NHL board of governors approves a four-conference realignment format that will create two eight-team conferences and two seven-team conferences.

    Dec. 6
    ■ The launch of the Green Bay Packers’ fifth stock sale in team history is met with enthusiasm, with 28,000 shares sold in the first two hours and 20 minutes.
    ■ MLB becomes the first major pro league in North America to issue dress guidelines for media members. The dress code prohibits beachwear and club outfits, as well as flip-flops.

    Dec. 7
    ■ The Big East Conference formally announces the addition of Central Florida, Houston and SMU as full members of the conference, and Boise State and San Diego State as football-only members.

    Dec. 9
    ■ Bell Media and Rogers Communications announce they have partnered to acquire a majority share of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment for $1.32 billion (Canadian). The two companies will each pay the current owner — the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan — about $533 million (Canadian) for a 37.5 percent share and 75 percent combined. MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, MLS Toronto FC, the AHL Marlies and Air Canada Centre.

    Dec. 12
    ■ Qualcomm Stadium is temporarily replacing its corporate moniker with the name of one of its chip brands, as the venue will be known as Snapdragon Stadium for an 11-day period, from Dec. 18 through Dec. 28.
    ■ The NBA announces it has renewed three of its major long-term partnership deals — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Gatorade and AutoTrader.com.

    — Compiled from SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily archives.

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  • Worth another look

    Fans grill jersey sponsor

    Photo by: Getty Images

    The MLS Philadelphia Union received some push-back when it served up Bimbo Bakeries as the team’s jersey sponsor. The company is pronounced BEEM-bo, but the common mispronunciation of Bimbo caused an initial stir, especially among female fans.
    However, team officials were confident that time, and a little marketing, would correct the confusion. Said Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz: “In the focus groups and discussions I’ve had with women, the vast majority of them think it’s just the coolest thing. They think it’s fun.”

    Stuck on you

    “What we’ve found is that with the colleges, you have a mass of people who are emotionally connected with their school. And the [do-it-yourselfers] have a strong emotional connection to duct tape. With two highly emotional items, you’ve got lightning in a bottle.”
    So said Robert Cuthbertson, the category manager for the Duck brand, while outlining plans for college-themed duct tape.
    And how did the Duck brand celebrate the product launch? With none other than a fashion show featuring cheerleading outfits made from duct tape.

    Body paint doesn’t ring this Bell
    Vancouver Whitecaps jersey sponsor Bell Canada blasted a team marketing video that featured a female model with a Whitecaps jersey painted onto her body, including the Bell logo across her chest. Said a Bell spokeswoman: “We understand that they’re an exuberant new team eager to get the word out, but this marketing effort clearly didn’t fit with Bell’s expectations.”
    To which Kim Jackman, Whitecaps director of marketing, replied: “You could look in a Victoria’s Secret catalog … and see more exposed people.”

    Upon further review
    The CFL Toronto Argonauts replaced a controversial ad for the team’s season home opener after a Toronto City Council member complained the ad might be interpreted as encouraging domestic violence. Posters appearing on Toronto Transit Commission subway cars and stations featured a picture of a tough-looking player with the words, “Home is where the heart is. It’s also where we hurt people.”

    One ‘bum’ deal

    United Kingdom female beach volleyball players Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney rented out their bikinis in an advertising deal that encouraged spectators to photograph their behinds. The QR code, when photographed on a smartphone, took the user to a website sponsored by betting firm Betfair.

    Kids, cover your eyes!
    The NLL Boston Blazers’ halftime show during a January game at TD Garden featured scantily clad dancers competing to see who could give the team’s mascot, Scorch, the best lap dance. The racy stunt made the rounds on YouTube and outraged many fans, forcing the team to issue an apology.

    ‘Kegasus’ horses around

    The Maryland Jockey Club unveiled a marketing campaign for the Preakness Stakes centered around Kegasus, a centaur with a nipple ring, body hair and a beer gut. The campaign sought to reassure young people that infield festivities would be rowdy. The campaign drew criticism for being tasteless and encouraging binge drinking, but the jockey club said Kegasus could deliver young people to the race. Indeed that proved to be the case, as the event enjoyed strong ticket sales.

    College donor wants a refund
    Robert Burton gave the University of Connecticut $3 million to build the Burton Family Football Complex, but this year asked for his money back and requested that the family’s name be removed from the building. Burton cited disagreements with the school’s athletic director over the decision to hire Paul Pasqualoni as UConn’s football coach. Burton, however, dropped his request a couple of weeks later and was back in the fold.

    No donation on beer pong night
    The independent CanAm League Newark Bears scrapped plans to donate $2,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as the team had planned to announce the donation on the same night it was holding a beer pong tournament promotion.

    Team hits targets, exec gets inked
    Photo by: Carl Manteau / Lake Erie Monsters

    Jeff Bowler, director of ticket sales for the Lake Erie Monsters, got an ambigram tattoo after his sales team hit certain goals. A three-month sales campaign put the Monsters among the leaders in new business in the 30-team American Hockey League.

    Not so Spartan effort
    Victoria’s Secret created a Michigan State T-shirt complete with a Spartan logo as part of its Pink Collegiate Collection. However, the front read “Spartans: Hail to the victors,” which is the University of Michigan fight song. The shirt quickly disappeared from the Victoria’s Secret website.

    Stealing gnome
    Photo by: Milwaukee Brewers

    A “Where’s Bernie?” promotion by the Milwaukee Brewers to bring attention to Milwaukee County Parks and the team’s Spring Madness ticket sale turned sour when an undetermined number of collectors grabbed more than their share of the Bernie Brewer lawn ornaments and, in some cases, put them up for bid on Craigslist and eBay.

    Print | Tags: Year End
  • Win, Lose and Draw

    WIN

    MLB Fan Cave

    Photo by: MLB

    Baseball’s social media experiment paid off in a big way, well beyond the 1.3 billion total media impressions the effort collected. The Fan Cave centered around a 15,000-square-foot Greenwich Village space in which a pair of fans watched every MLB game. Dozens of current and former players stopped by, rock bands performed there live, and the effort generated more than 300 online videos. Most importantly, the Fan Cave produced huge buzz for the sport and made MLB more relevant with younger consumers.

    A strong statement
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Sporting Kansas City found a unique way to mix naming rights with doing the right thing, linking the MLS team’s new soccer stadium with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Livestrong is paying nothing for the stadium to be called Livestrong Sporting Park. Instead, the team will pay the cancer foundation an undisclosed percentage of all stadium revenue, including a guaranteed $7.5 million over the six-year term. Beyond the numbers tied to the deal, the partnership brought a fresh approach to cause-marketing efforts.

    Money-back guarantee
    Photo by: Getty Images

    English Premier League club Arsenal gave free tickets to those who attended an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Around 3,000 fans made the 400-mile round trip to Manchester, only to see the team suffer its heaviest defeat since 1896. Yes, 1896. Arsenal offered to cover the cost of a ticket at a future Premier League away game. Ponying up for that stinker will go a long way toward building good will with Arsenal’s fan base.


    LOSE

    Standing room only
    Photo by: Getty Images

    As if a winter storm and lengthy waits in lines didn’t wreak enough havoc on Super Bowl XLV, hundreds of fans arrived at Cowboys Stadium only to realize that their seats weren’t available. The city of Arlington had refused to grant a permit for some of the temporary seating installed for the event. A red-faced Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones apologized, and the NFL offered unseated fans at least $5,000 as compensation for their Super Bowl expenses. Still, at the end of the year, the league faced a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of some of those displaced fans.

    Stuck in traffic
    Photo by: ICON SMI

    NASCAR officials apologized after traffic backups marred the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. Thousands of fans were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 71 and area roads for several hours on race day. When fans finally got to the track, many were turned away either because parking lots were full or because the traffic flow had been reversed to accommodate post-race traffic.

    Rain, rain, go away
    Photo by: Getty Images

    For the fourth consecutive year, rainouts dominated the headlines at the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Players blasted the U.S. Tennis Association’s rain policies, saying the organization made them play in unsafe conditions. Some ticket buyers felt like they got soaked as matches were rescheduled. Once again, the focus shifted to the USTA’s long-discussed proposal to put a roof over the event’s main court. So far, however, the organization has declined to make the investment.


    DRAW

    Uniform standards
    Photo by: Under Armour

    This could easily be called the year of the uniform as many college programs tampered with tradition and rolled out new looks that sometimes shocked, sometimes inspired. Nike led the charge, blowing up the design board with schools such as Oklahoma State and Arizona State. Under Armour created perhaps the biggest stir with its uniform re-do for Maryland. Even tradition-rich programs such as Notre Dame and Michigan got into the act, with Adidas designs that gave a nod to the past.

    No storybook ending
    Photo by: Getty Images

    The U.S. women’s national soccer team captured the nation’s attention as it made a run at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The final between the U.S. and Japan produced ESPN’s highest-rated and most-viewed soccer telecast, ever. But the loss to Japan kept the U.S. team from enjoying a marketing windfall, although standout players Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan landed deals. Supporters of women’s soccer were left wondering about what might have been.

    Introducing the $30 beer
    Photo by: Dan Mendik / Cleveland Indians

    At Progressive Field in Cleveland, Delaware North Sportservice, the Indians’ food provider, developed a new Spirits of Ohio stand featuring beers made in the Buckeye State. That’s a solid idea for marketing homestate brewskies, but while prices started at $6.74, they topped out at a whopping $29.75 for a 22-ounce specialty beer. Nearly $30 for a Hoppin’ Frog Bodacious Black and Tan?

    Print | Tags: Year End
  • Picture the moment: Photos from 2011


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  • In their own words: Memorable quotes

    “You have to look a certain way, you have to be

    Annika Sorenstam
    Photo by: Getty Images
    very feminine, you have to have long hair and nice nails. But then you have to hit it 300 yards. Sometimes it’s a little hard to live up to all those standards.”
    — Retired golfer Annika Sorenstam, on the pressures put upon members of the LPGA tour


    “It won’t be my decision, or solely my decision. But eventually, Major League Baseball is going to vaporize this team. It could go on nine, 10, 12 more years. But between now and then, it’s going to vaporize this team.”
    — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, on the team’s long-term future due to its attendance problems


    “I’m wishing them ill will, let me be clear. We’re wishing them ill will. I told that to the Anaheim mayor in a delicate way last week. I am rooting against him.”
    — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, on Anaheim being a possible relocation site for the NBA’s Kings


    Jered Weaver
    Photo by: Getty Images
    “If $85 (million) is not enough to take care of my family and other generations of families then I’m pretty stupid, but how much money do you really need in life?”

    — Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, on going against the advice of agent Scott Boras before agreeing to a five-year contract extension for $85 million, one year before he reached free agency


    “You’ve got this spectacle of these multimillionaires and billionaires out there arguing about how they’re going to divide it up, and then they come and ask us to bribe them with $4 million to have a scrimmage out here in paradise. We’ve got to get our values straight and our priorities straight.”
    —Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, voicing his opposition to the state’s $4 million subsidy to the NFL to host the Pro Bowl


    “If you thought I was cocky and obnoxious before … get ready.”
    — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, reading from David Letterman’s Top Ten list


    “I had two problems. I had a partner that went
    Oren Koules
    Photo by: Getty Images
    bananas and the second problem is that the economy kicked us in the balls.”

    — Former Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner Oren Koules, on his tenure with the club from 2008-10


    “We should not be in business if we have to make the playoffs just to break even. That’s not fair. That’s your bonus.”
    — Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, on the team breaking even this season even if it does not qualify for postseason play


    “If you’re watching this right now and you’re really hammered on your couch saying, ‘Wait a minute, wow, wow! Wait a minute’ — these highlights are a year old.”
    — ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, while highlights from the 2010-11 NBA opening night aired


    Mike Repole
    Photo by: Equisponse
    “Twenty-five percent and no real voting power, no real control; it’s cheaper to buy front-row tickets. If the deal changes, they know where to find me.”

    — Glaceau co-founder Mike Repole, on not being interested in buying a non-controlling stake in the New York Mets


    “I should probably have another press conference right now to resign. Because my popularity is definitely going to be at an all-time high right now.”
    — Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations, at his introductory press conference


    Print | Tags: Year End
  • Research

    Print | Tags: Year End
  • In remembrance

    Barry Ackerley
    Former Seattle SuperSonics owner

    Seve Ballesteros
    Professional golfer

    Andrew Baur
    St. Louis Cardinals co-owner

    Nick Charles
    CNN’s first sports anchor

    J. Donald Crump
    Former CFL commissioner

    Al Davis
    Oakland Raiders owner

    Ted Forstmann
    IMG chairman and CEO

    Dave Gavitt
    Big East Conference founder and basketball hall of famer

    Bill Hampton
    Under Armour executive and veteran licensed apparel marketer

    John Kerr Sr.
    Former MLS Players Union president

    Harmon Killebrew
    Baseball hall of famer

    Paul Lawrence
    NFL player agent

    Carl Lindner Jr.
    Former Cincinnati Reds owner

    John Mackey
    Former NFLPA president

    Tim McCaskey
    Chicago Bears vice president

    Jim McManus
    ATP co-founder

    Ken Meyerson
    Tennis agent

    Dan Wheldon
    IndyCar driver

    Gary Wichard
    NFL player agent

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