SBJ/Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • Under Armour will outfit NLL

    Under Armour has enjoyed a strong presence in youth lacrosse for years, and now the apparel and shoe brand is moving into the pro game.

    The National Lacrosse League has struck a three-year deal that will make Under Armour the league’s official apparel, footwear and equipment provider. Under Armour replaces Reebok, which had held that position with the NLL for the past eight years. The league is expected to announce the new arrangement this week. Financial specifics were not available.

    In addition to outfitting the players with Under Armour gear, the brand will have a significant sideline presence. The deal does not include actual uniforms, but it does put the brand on padding, sticks and other performance apparel, giving Under Armour the most significant position in the league.

    “Under Armour is a powerful brand that we’re excited to work with,” said NLL Commissioner George Daniel.

    The Under Armour news caps off a busy offseason for Daniel. He negotiated a new collective-bargaining agreement with the players for seven more years, which included expanding the regular-season schedule from 16 games to 18.

    One of the league’s nine teams, the Washington Stealth, relocated north from Everett, Wash., to Vancouver. Everett proved to be too remote and the Stealth’s attendance average of 4,184, the lowest in the league, reflected it, Daniel said. The franchise will play at the Langley Events Centre, about 20 miles east of Vancouver.

    With what Daniel considers to be a strong base of established teams — Philadelphia, Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., have been around for 20-plus years — and a new CBA, the NLL will keep its eyes open for expansion opportunities. Daniel has mentioned Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York as attractive markets for the league.

    “We’ve got some stability now and it’s a good time to be active and expand the league,” he said.

    Daniel sees expansion as a key to attracting more sponsors and perhaps a new TV deal. The NLL’s package with CBS Sports Network was not renewed, and the league will rely on regional networks to carry its syndicated package of games in the U.S. All games will be streamed on the Lacrosse Network on YouTube as well.

    The 2013-14 season begins on Dec. 28 and runs through May.

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  • Contrast in revenue for tennis tours

    Revenue for the ATP World Tour surged in 2012 and was flat for the WTA Tour, according to the most recent tax returns filed by the circuits.

    At the men’s tour, revenue jumped 12 percent to $91 million, leading to a nearly $16 million surplus for the organization. Meanwhile, the WTA’s revenue inched ahead by about $100,000, to $61.4 million, with the WTA’s year-end surplus shrinking by 16 percent, to $3.6 million.

    Sponsorship revenue at the WTA dipped to $22 million from $26.4 million, according to its return. The tour avoided an overall revenue decline with increases in fees assessed on tournaments and players, and a $2.4 million jump in TV rights to $15 million.

    The tours principally take in money from sponsorships, assessments on players and events, and their respective year-end championships. The tax-return figures do not reflect revenue from tournaments.

    The annual filings also outline executive compensation for the groups.

    DREWETT
    HELFANT
    Stacey Allaster, CEO at the WTA, earned $1.15 million in 2012, according to that group’s return. The ATP paid its top executive in 2012, Brad Drewett, $1.5 million. Drewett died in May of this year, and Chris Kermode last week was selected to replace him, with a three-year deal taking effect Jan. 1.

    Drewett’s predecessor, Adam Helfant, continued to earn pay from the ATP in 2012. Helfant served three years as executive chairman but left at the end of 2011 after the ATP board declined
    ALLASTER
    SMITH
    his contract requests. In 2012, Helfant still earned $421,649, which made him the fourth-highest-paid executive at the ATP in that year, according to the tour’s return.

    An ATP spokesman wrote, “That payment relates to the previous year in 2011.”

    Helfant had a contract that paid him large commissions on sponsorships, a structure the tour board did not want to repeat with him and which led to his departure. It’s unclear if the 2012 compensation is commission or something else. Deferred pay is usually noted on tax returns, and it is not uncommon to see former executives listed on tax return compensation tables. Helfant’s number on the ATP return, however, is not designated as deferred pay.

    The ATP spokesman did not offer further comment on the compensation or answer when asked if Helfant is also getting paid in 2013.

    The U.S. Tennis Association, which owns and operates the U.S. Open, reported $25 million of surplus in 2012, while the National Tennis Center, which files separately, reported a $1.7 million loss. USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith earned $1.27 million, according to the governing body’s return. The next-highest-paid executive was Patrick McEnroe, who earned $875,000 as general manager of the USTA’s player development program. His pay is listed in the tax return for USTA Player Development Inc.

    The WTA’s tax documents also show that it paid the ATP $1.06 million in 2012.

    “The WTA pays the ATP via a Shared Services agreement across all of our IT and Live Scoring needs,” said WTA Treasurer Matthew Cenedella via email. “Basically, think of this as the infrastructure costs behind our product.”

    That payment placed the ATP at No. 2 on the WTA’s list of outside contractors, in 2012, behind IMG, which the women’s tour paid $1.7 million in sponsorship commissions. The WTA’s 2011 return does not show a payment to the ATP.



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