• SBJ/SBD's 'NHL Wrap-Around Podcast'

    One week into the NHL playoffs, staff writers Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the latest hockey news in SBJ/SBD's "NHL Wrap-Around Podcast." Among the topics:

    Assessing NBC's coverage of the playoffs thus far.

    The Columbus Blue Jackets' effort to hold down their building against Pittsburgh Penguins fans and whether it was succesful.

    An update on the New York Islanders being on the block and who might be interested in making a bid, as well as who's not interested.

    And the resurgence of the Dallas Stars under owner Tom Gaglardi.

    To listen to the inaugural "NHL Wrap-Around Podcast," click here.

    Tags: NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: That's A Rap!

    ESPN's Bomani Jones said of comments made by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, "People in Brooklyn I'm not sure how much they care about the Nets, let alone caring about what the dude in Toronto has to say" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/21).

    THINKING IT THROUGH: CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto said of the Warriors’ new arena plans, “Why they didn't have this in mind before rather than wasting basically two years sort of punching desperately against this huge Jello bag of resistance and waiting for (S.F. Mayor) Ed Lee to carry their weight for them, that's on the Warriors" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/21).

    OH, MICKY: Heat Owner Micky Arison, on reports Donald Trump might acquire the Bills, "As long as it's football I have no problem" ("The Dan Le Batard Show," WAXY-FM, 4/21).

    TEST OF TIME: NCAA President Mark Emmert said of UConn G Shabazz Napier's comments about starving in school and the NCAA now allowing unlimited food to athletes, "I know people would like to believe that there was some kind of a causal link between his comments and the change in that policy being done this last week. But the reality is, unfortunately, it takes a long, long time to get legislation passed through the membership and the changes in food policy had been in the works for over a year" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/21).

  • TV Timeout: Boston Strong

    Universal Sports’ Paul Sunderland said of the atmosphere before the start of the Boston Marathon, “Even here on Boylston Street, you talk about the energy and it being, it’s in you, it’s on you, it’s palpable. I've tried to come up with a better word, but I can’t. Everybody is very, very excited indeed” (“2014 Boston Marathon Pre-Race Show,” Universal Sports, 4/21). Meanwhile, Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said of the team’s role following the ’13 Boston Marathon, “We did ask David Ortiz to go out and say a few words last year after the bombing suspects were stopped and arrested, but other than that there was a real maturity on the part of our players, a real sincere sense of compassion. They organized themselves. There were days when our players went off to visit survivors and they did it on their own nickel” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/21).

    HUNGRY? N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said, "Amazing isn’t it that (UConn G) Shabazz Napier announced that he was hungry the night UConn won the national championship and all of a sudden the NCAA was practically dialing up Domino's and announcing free pizzas for everyone. It was like a Christmas miracle" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/20).

    IT’S GOTTA BE THE SHOES: Sterne Agee research Analyst & Managing Dir Sam Poser said of Nike getting out of the wearable hardware market, "I think they realized that they're better at making shoes and they've talked about possibly doing some of the software, they're still going to do Nike Plus”  ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 4/21).

    KOHL’S HARD CASH: Detroit Free Press' Mitch Albom said of the Bucks being sold, "Whoever said 'fools and their money are soon parted' never tried to own an NBA team. The terrible Milwaukee Bucks just sold for more than half a billion dollars" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/20).

    FLYING HIGH: Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said, "The NBA is a growth sport. NBA is a global sport, it is being played at a very high level and in major cities around the world. The TV ratings are great, the attendance is great, the virtual consumption through video games, through jerseys and it's making its way around the world with increasingly more international players. So I looked at this as an opportunity to move to a real big growth industry" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 4/21).

  • SBJ Podcast: College deals in the news

    College writer Michael Smith and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour talk about Alabama's lucrative deal with Learfield Sports, as well as Northwestern Mutual's presenting sponsorship with the Rose Bowl — two stories featured on the front page of this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: Colleges, Marketing and Sponsorship, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: News and notes, 4/18/2014

    Sources: Islanders draw new suitors as Barroway continues efforts

    Philadelphia attorney and hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway is no longer alone in his pursuit of the New York Islanders.

    According to a financial industry source, Islanders owner Charles Wang has received interest in his team from at least two other potential buyers.

    “The Islanders are a year away from moving to Brooklyn, and the lease there is good,” said the source. “Once Mr. Wang said publicly that he was listening to offers, it was inevitable that interest would pick up. The Islanders are now an attractive commodity.”

    Barroway continues to line up partners to help finance a deal with Wang. Negotiations are ongoing.


    As previously reported in The Shift, one scenario has Barroway starting out as a partner who holds between 30 percent and 49 percent ownership, with Wang retaining majority ownership for the 2014-15 season (the Islanders’ final year at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) and for 2015-16 (the club’s first season at the Barclays Center).

    Barroway is said to be in good standing with the NHL after he negotiated to purchase the New Jersey Devils last summer. According to a source, Barroway went far enough in the process with former Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek to have made an initial payment of $10 million, but ultimately, talks broke off after additional discovery was done regarding the purchase and ownership costs for the club — costs that would have included more than $30 million owed by the club to creditors.

    The Devils were purchased a month later by Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Nevertheless, Barroway made a strong impression on the NHL and the Devils.

    “He loves hockey and came across as a very likeable, sincere guy,” said a source who was involved in the Devils discussions. “From what I can tell, he wants to be an owner and just hire the best president, general manager, and sales and marketing executives that he can find. He wants to sit in the owner’s suite, enjoy the hockey, and let everyone do their jobs.”

    Barroway was vetted by the NHL during his pursuit of the Devils but was never formally approved by the league because the deal fell through. In any case, the league views each transaction on its own, so if Barroway were to complete a deal with Wang for the Islanders, he would have to go through the league’s vetting and approval process again.


    BY THE NUMBERS

    2013-14 playoff opener / season recap edition

    +53%: The increase in TV viewership for Wednesday night’s opening night of the playoffs compared to opening night last year. The three games across NBCSN and CNBC average 472,000 viewers.

    0-for-3: There were three new ownership groups in the league this season, and all three of their teams failed to qualify for the playoffs. For Phoenix (led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc), New Jersey (Josh Harris and David Blitzer) and Florida (Vincent Viola), there’s always next season.

    3: Gracious gestures on the final weekend of the regular season. The Vancouver Canucks came back onto the ice to shake the hand of Edmonton winger Ryan Smyth, who had just played his last game. The Los Angeles Kings had a brief ceremony to honor Teemu Selanne, a member of the rival Ducks who is retiring after the playoffs. And, after Selanne played his last regular-season game in Anaheim, he invited opposing Colorado Avalanche goaltender J.S. Giguere (a former Duck who is expected to retire after this season) to take a lap around the ice with him and salute the fans. Hockey can be a nasty sport, but moments like these reinforce the notion that it also can be one of the classiest.

    $192,000:
    That’s the value of items the Ottawa Senators gave away in the stands and via social media on Fan Appreciation Night. Prizes included a Dodge truck worth $40,000, 1,500 gift cards from various club sponsors, concession stand food, and dinners at Chek Point restaurants — along with the jerseys off the Senators players’ backs when the game was over.

    21,758,902: The NHL’s total attendance this season, breaking the previous single-season high set in 2008-09. That total includes the combined 376,837 who attended the six outdoor games this season.

    22,201: The largest announced crowd for a regular-season game (not played in a stadium): Colorado at Chicago on Dec. 27.

    7,401: The smallest announced crowd: Nashville at Phoenix on Halloween.

    7: Number of teams with ongoing sellouts streaks of 100 or more regular-season and playoff games as the postseason began:
    Toronto Maple Leafs: 446
    Montreal Canadiens: 401
    Pittsburgh Penguins: 327
    Chicago Blackhawks: 267
    Boston Bruins: 206
    Los Angeles Kings: 108
    New York Rangers: 103


    STICK-TAPS


    Honoring some of the notable achievements of teams and executives during the 2013-14 season

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner: The Lightning played to 97 percent capacity this season and finished third in the Eastern Conference after failing to make the playoffs last year. His $5 million investment in a new scoreboard for the Tampa Bay Times Forum in 2012 continues to draw raves, he donates $50,000 to veterans’ causes on the day of every home game, and he personally participates in team promotions, like teaching a Hockey 101 class to new fans. You couldn’t ask for more from a small-market owner.

    Colorado Avalanche: “Why Not Us?” was the team’s marketing slogan this season, and it sure set the tone for a franchise turn-around. Team President Josh Kroenke appointed Avs legend Joe Sakic as EVP of hockey operations. Sakic hired goaltending great Patrick Roy as head coach, and the results were immediate. Colorado went from the NHL’s 29th-place team last season to a division-winner this year. Average attendance increased a league-best 5.5 percent, up to 16,296 fans per game, and likely will increase further next year. The buzz is back in Denver.

    Maple Leafs sponsors converted dasherboard ads to Chinese for a game last month.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Toronto Maple Leafs:
    In their attempt to become a more global sports brand under the guide of Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of club owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the Leafs reached out to Chinese audiences recently. For a game last month that was televised on CCTV5 in China, 10 Maple Leafs sponsors (including MasterCard and Purolator) converted their dasherboard ads at Air Canada Centre to Chinese. According to the team, the ads reached 300,000 households that were watching the game in China.

    New Jersey Devils: A multiyear sponsorship with PartyPoker signed jointly in January with the NBA 76ers (also owned by Devils owners Harris and Blitzer) drew national media attention for being the first online gaming sponsorships for U.S. major league sports teams. But make no mistake: Since New Jersey is the only state with gaming regulations and a major league franchise (Nevada and Delaware being the others), this was a deal with the Devils. It also, according to a source, is valued around what other teams get for arena naming-rights deals.

    The Rangerstown Hockey House
    Photo by: REBECCA TAYLOR / MSG PHOTOS
    New York Rangers:
    The Rangers have taken a 9,500-square-foot building adjacent to Madison Square Garden that formerly housed a Borders book store and converted it into a fan zone and space for MSG Network’s pregame shows. Rangerstown Hockey House, which debuted before Game 1 of the Rangers’ series against Philadelphia on Thursday, features space for Q&A sessions with Rangers alumni, a Hall of Fame exhibit, an autograph signing station and an accuracy shooting contest.

    Buffalo Sabres fans: The Sabres were last in the league standings from the start of the season until the end, but should the team improve in a few years, you’d never be able to accuse their fans of being bandwagon jumpers. The Sabres finished near the top of the NHL rankings for local TV viewership of their games this season despite all the losses, and attendance at HSBC Arena averaged 18,580 per game — 97 percent of capacity.

    Liam McHugh, NBC Sports Group: It can’t be easy wrangling studio analysts as diverse in style and temperament as Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick, but McHugh does it with poise, intelligence and a sense of humor. McHugh seems destined for a bigger role beyond hockey at NBC.

    Bill Daly and John Collins, NHL: A rich Canadian media-rights deal with Sportsnet. A new single-season high for league attendance. Six sold-out stadium games, including more than 104,000 fans at Michigan Stadium for the Winter Classic. A strong Olympic tournament, with increased access in Sochi for NHL Network and NHL.com, along with the production of the “NHL Revealed” documentary. Commissioner Gary Bettman is ultimately in charge, but it was also a very good year for Daly, the deputy commissioner, and Collins, the league’s chief operating officer.

    Tags: On the Ground
  • TV Timeout: Trump Card

    ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said of Donald Trump potentially owning the Bills: “Trump buying the Bills would be the most interesting thing that’s happened to them, probably since those Super Bowl teams, so I’m all in favor of it and I’d really like to it happen” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/16). ESPN's Tony Reali said, “Thirty years ago he owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL and his plan to go head-to-head with the NFL went over about as well as the bubonic plague.” ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, "You know he wants to one-up somebody like (Cowboys Owner) Jerry Jones. He would probably build an even bigger stadium in Buffalo and how fun would it be when it's about time for him to fire a coach"  ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/15).

    PLAY IT AGAIN: MLB Network’s Dan Plesac, on MLB instant replay: “For the managers it has been difficult. For the players it has been difficult. Change is always difficult. I think over time they will get this ironed out” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 4/15). ESPN's J.A. Adande said it is "too soon to be upset about replay and to render a verdict. It's fine to criticize it, but you can't render a final verdict” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/15). 

    SHOOTING STARS: PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said of Tiger Woods not competing due to injury, "I'd much rather have Tiger playing, don't misunderstand me. But there is that benefit to creating stars and creating stars is our future" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 4/16). 

    HELPING HAND: UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie, on the efforts by college athletes to form a union: "I just think they need a voice, wherever that voice is somebody needs to be talking in their behalf. The NCAA can use your likeness for a lifetime. We have to do something for our student-athletes. We have to change” ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 4/16). 

    EAT FRESH: ESPN's Dan Le Batard said U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps wants to renew his endorsement deal with Subway, and he "can't renew it from retirement. That's right, you've got to keep winning that gold if you want to keep getting those Subway gold cards" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 4/15).

  • SBJ's inaugural 'Hockey Biz Podcast'

    As the NHL playoffs get ready to launch tonight, staff writers Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the latest hockey news in SBJ's inaugural "Hockey Biz Podcast." Among the topics:

    The Canucks and Maple Leafs hiring former players in executive roles, why they might have made the moves and what PR value can be gained from them.

    The latest on the potential sale of the New York Islanders and how their move to Brooklyn makes the team a much more viable property.

    The NHL's average per-game attendance being down from last season's 48-game slate, why that would be the case and what it means.

    And whether the Columbus Blue Jackets trying to ensure that only Ohio residents can buy home playoff tickets is a good idea and will be effective.

    Tags: Hockey, NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • FishBait's Jones Says Fans Often Forgotten In Sports Ecosystem

    Rick Jones, founder and CEO FishBait Marketing, an agency with a sharp focus on college athletics, stopped by the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily offices in Charlotte on Tuesday to share his thoughts on present-day sports marketing and some of the issues facing college athletics.

    Rick Jones formed FishBait Marketing in 2003.
    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF
    Among his discussion points, Jones said fans have been left behind in the triangular relationship between consumers, sponsors and sports properties. He cited rising ticket prices and the ability of TV to control game times as being developments that have been detrimental to fans.

    “The property depends on the fan for television revenue, for ticketing revenues, for licensing revenues — and the sponsor depends on the fan to buy their products,” Jones said. “I say all boats rise with the tide. Don’t worry about how big your boat is. Create a tide, and I think that’s what properties and sponsors have to collectively do: constantly talk about ‘How do we enhance fans?’ And if we do that, we’re going to grow the ecosystem.”

    Jones, an Atlanta native, began his career as a high school and college basketball coach before earning his master’s degree in sports administration and entering the world of sports business. In the time since, he has started several sports marketing groups, including The Strategic Group, CMA and now FishBait.

    He works with the American Football Coaches Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, as well as a range of other entities that include the NCAA, Turner Sports and ESPN.

    Jones said he prefers a glass-half-full mentality when it comes to the future of college sports. While he notes that the consolidation of rights holders can hurt local and alumni business deals, he also emphasizes positive developments in the space, such as the games each year getting a new crop of fans — a freshman class — and college sports having significant female fan support.


    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: You Make The Call

    MLB Network’s Chris Rose, on the future of instant replay: “One year from today, I guarantee you how the system is implemented, what we’re looking for, what’s legal and what’s not will be different, and that’s okay. It’s so hard for us to wait and be patient with change” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 4/14). MLB.com’s Terence Moore said, “This is nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. … Here’s the thing: This is still the second best system baseball could use. The best system, just leave it alone” (“OTL,” ESPN, 4/14).

    ARMOUR ALL:  CNBC's Scott Wapner said golfer Jordan Spieth is "right in the wheelhouse of the target demo that you're trying to reach if you're an Under Armour” ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 4/14).

    CRYSTAL BALL: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, on a lawsuit alleging the league promoted violence, "The fact is a couple of plaintiffs' law firms seem to have cobbled together some lawsuits copying what went on in the NFL. We knew it was coming” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 4/15).

    PITCH MAN: TNT's Shaquille O'Neal said of his philosophy of investments versus endorsements, "I'll do investments, endorsements and partnerships. A lot of times, if I really, really believe in a company I'll say, 'Okay, I'll do an endorsement, but you don't have to be pay me, I want to be a partner in your company. Let me grow with you’” ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 4/14).

    CHA-CHING: Giants P Steve Weatherford said of Donald Trump wanting to own the Bills: “Does he want to win games? Absolutely. But he's really in it to make money and create a powerful business venture" ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 4/15).

  • TV Timeout: Buffalo Soldier

    ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “There would be nothing worse than moving the Bills out of western New York. That would be horrible. … For the people there, the significance of that team to that area, I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but if you move the Packers out of Green Bay, part of the flavor of the NFL is being in these cities” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/14).

    MOTOWN MOTOR: NBA TV's Brent Barry said of Joe Dumars taking an advisory role with the franchise, "Even though he's taking this new role, they're smart enough to know you just don’t let good people go" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 4/13).

    CHERRY PICKING: The CBC's Don Cherry said the Maple Leafs naming Brendan Shanahan team President was a "great move" because MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke "knows soccer, he knows basketball, but he's only a fan of hockey” ("HNIC," NHL Network, 4/12).

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