• Barclays Center rep: Seeking ‘strategic partner’

    SportsBusiness Journal reported this morning that Barclays Center is for sale. This afternoon, arena representatives provided the following statement, attributable to spokesman Barry Baum.

    “Our goal is to identify a strategic partner as we continue to capitalize on the great performance of Barclays Center and the promise of Nassau Coliseum. The current management team will continue in its existing role.”

    Baum had previously declined comment. The statement confirms that a sale process will commence but also adds the news that the venue’s current management team, which is led by Brett Yormark, will remain.

    Forest City Enterprises, which is selling the Barclays Center stake, is overseeing the $229 million renovation of Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. That project calls for the arena — home this season to the New York Islanders before they move to Barclays Center — to be redeveloped as a retail and entertainment complex.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Podcast: NBA season preview

    NBA writer John Lombardo and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson discuss how the Cavs are handling LeBron James' return from a business perspective, as well as how the NBA's new breed of GM could change the game, which is the focus of this week's NBA season preview.

    Tags: NBA, NBA Season Preview, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SMS 2014: The Green Scorecard -- Sustainability in Sports

    The Green Scorecard


    Jim Colon, Toyota Motor Sales USA
    Allen Hershkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council
    Omar Mitchell, NHL
    Betsy Wilson, UPS
    Chris Womack, Southern Co.

    While each of the five panelists in the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium’s discussion on sustainability had a slightly different way to define the term, there was a shared sense that sustainability efforts in the sports world will only increase as common sense and good business sense further align.

    “There is significant change on the horizon when it comes to progressing sustainability efforts,” said Jim Colon, vice president of sales at Toyota Motor Sales USA. “How we all adapt to that change is the challenge for all of us.”

    Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist in the urban program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that while there is much momentum around the issue of sustainability, there still could be difficulties finding true cost competitive strategies. However, he noted, even small steps on this front are ultimately big ones. “In the last 10 years, every commissioner in U.S. sports said that global warming matters to us,” he said.

    For the NHL, which recently published its own sustainability report, focus on these issues from sponsors helped to further focus its own efforts, said Omar Mitchell, director of sustainability at the NHL. “When I spoke with Commissioner Gary Bettman, I told him our corporate sponsors are prioritizing sustainability efforts, why aren’t we?,” Mitchell said. “Regardless of what you think of global warming, the mere fact we now have shorter winters impacts the future and growth of our league.”

    That sponsor relationship can also be a big help to get the ball rolling on both sides, said Betsy Wilson, director of global sponsorships and sustainability communications at UPS. “It’s important to our brand to be with a brand that is looking to lead in this space,” she said. “Nobody can solve these problems on their own.”

    Wilson highlighted UPS’ relationship with the NCAA, in which the two have partnered to reduce carbon dioxide output at events like the Final Four.

    Ultimately, said Chris Womack, executive vice president of Southern Co., while sustainability efforts need to have an effect on the environment, they still need to make an impact on the bottom-line. “It’s important to make sustainability-related decisions and do it for the right reasons,” he said, “but at the end of the day, these are not philanthropic organizations, and they need to make good business sense.”

    Quick hits from the panel:

    On new all-electric auto racing class Formula E:
    Hershkowitz: “At some point in the future, we’re not going to have the ability to burn petroleum to race cars.”
    Womack: “There is still uncertainty if it can be sustainable from a business perspective.”

    On what they are keeping an eye on:
    Womack: Carbon capture technology
    Mitchell: Renewal and retrofitting of local hockey rinks
    Hershkowitz: Focus on biodiversity efforts from leagues and sponsors
    Wilson: Formula E
    Colon: Fuel cell technology

  • 2014 Social Media & Sports Series: Digital, Social and Mobile Trends

    Digital, Social and Mobile Trends


    Roland Lange, YouTube
    Vishal Shah, NFL
    Crowley Sullivan, Campus Insiders
    Bret Wilhoite, T3Media

    The challenge of defining an authentic message, a broad plan for programming social media content and the expected launch of more over-the-top networks were the focus of a panel centered on consumer engagement at the Sports Business Journal/Daily Social Media & Sports Series, which launched this year as an additional component to the annual Sports Marketing Symposium.

    The panel included Roland Lange, head of sports content partnerships for YouTube; Vishal Shah, a media strategist for the NFL; Crowley Sullivan, general manager of Campus Insiders; and Bret Wilhoite of T3Media sports operations. A prevailing theme was the need for authenticity in interacting with users. Though the term can be difficult to define, the social audience has made it clear what is not authentic.

    On authenticity:
    Wilhoite: “When you’re having a social message or using a social channel to communicate with your fan base, if it’s not authentic, they’re going to see through it right away and you’re actually going to create a bigger forest fire than what you’re trying to achieve.”

    Sullivan: “Avoiding that advertorial approach is something that I think is really important.”

    On programming social media:
    Shah: “It’s certainly not a broadcast schedule when I refer to programming. It’s almost an ethos. You’re sitting there thinking, what is the best, most recent piece of content for that particular channel and that particular time with the storylines that you have. You have to understand the cadence of each of those networks. ”

    Lange: “We know that a lot of our young users use [social media] in the afternoon. Our older users use it after work extensively. You have to think about their personal schedules and who you are trying to reach.”

    On over-the-top networks:
    Shah: “It’s not just mobile anymore, it’s connected devices, in general. The prolific quantity and installed base is only going to increase. The amount of time spent towards media is only increasing. We don’t find [the NFL’s OTT network] to be necessarily cannibalistic to television. It truly is additive. It enables you to create truly personalized experiences for your fans… It’s not a trend. It’s reality.”

  • TV Timeout: California Dreaming

    MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said of the Dodgers hiring Andrew Friedman, “It’s a good idea to pay the brains of this outfit. If you are the Dodgers and you are trying to pay the best players, why wouldn't you want to get the best general manager?” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 10/14). S.F. Chronicle's John Shea, on the Dodgers: "They have to use smarts a little bit more and maybe dollars a little bit less" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 10/14). MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said, “Now it is time for the Dodgers to listen twice as much as they speak. Listen to what he is saying. Just listen to some plans and maybe Andrew Friedman is going to do the same.” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 10/14).

    GOING SOUTH
    : ESPN’s Taylor Twellman said of the sparse crowd for the U.S. national soccer team’s match at FAU on Tuesday, “I have been skeptical from the beginning about MLS working down here. It already failed. They need a stadium first and foremost” (“Honduras-U.S.,” ESPN, 10/14).

    FAULTY PLANS
    : SNY's Marc Malusis said the Mets moving in the fences at Citi Field shows "just how much they missed originally with the ballpark that they put together" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/14).

    MODERN-DAY LEADER: ESPN's Paul Finebaum, on retiring SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: “I think of him as one of the most influential people in the history of intercollegiate athletics. As we stand today, he's the most influential person in college athletics" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/14). SEC Network's Gene Chizik: "He was so far ahead of his time in terms of being a forward thinker for not just the SEC, but for NCAA athletics … and expanded the footprint of this league" ("SEC Now," SEC Network, 10/14).

    SHORT CHANGED?
    ESPN's Bomani Jones said of the NBA experimenting with a 44-minute game, "Who asked for this? … I have no reason to think this is necessary" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/14).

    NEW ARENA
    : Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer, on competing with the likes of Oprah Winfrey to buy the team: “I wasn't quite sure how to compete with anybody, I'll be honest. On the other hand, I kind of decided what I thought the team was worth" (“Jim Rome on Showtime,” Showtime, 10/14).

    HISTORY LESSON
    : ESPNW's Jane McManus said of potential changes to the NFL’s player conduct policy, "I really do think the NFL needs to be leaning toward transparency with all of this. You really can't move forward without really looking at and addressing what's happened in the past" ("OTL," ESPN2, 10/14).

  • SMS 2014: The sponsor perspective on large global sporting events

    Sponsor Perspectives on Big Events


    Scott McCune, moderator
    Marko Blagovic, Dow Chemical
    Brian Goldstein, McDonald's
    Eelco van der Noll, Anheuser-Busch InBev

    The benefits of investing in partnerships with the Olympics and World Cup, even for brands that aren’t endemic to sports, go beyond just monetary return on investment, according to a panel of sponsors discussing large global sporting events at the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium.

    The panel, one of two devoted to the topic of large events, was moderated by McCune Sports CEO Scott McCune and featured Marko Blagovic, director of sports marketing for Dow Chemical, McDonalds head of the FIFA World Cup Brian Goldstein, and Eelco van der Noll, a global executive for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

    The panelists agreed that signing on to massive global sports events presents unique challenges, such as markets that are tough to penetrate, geo-political issues and logistical struggles. But each believes that the benefit outweighs the difficulties.

    On the benefit of partnering with global sports events:
    Blagovic: “There are important [issues, such as] how do you engage the whole community when you operate in a different place? And how do you get more into the government markets, which is an important segment that we weren’t so successful in before, but the IOC partnership I think has opened so many doors for us.”

    Van der Noll: “[The World Cup] is the biggest drinking occasion in the world. It reaches every corner of the world. It allows us to activate beyond our global brand and catch up.”

    On strategy and ROI:
    Goldstein: “We use this as an opportunity to not drive brand awareness, but to just look at it as an overall branding opportunity to let people see a different side of McDonalds and in many ways change their perception of what they think of the brand… When we do research after the fact and we look at our brand, it’s not about ROI. It’s really hard to define an ROI on something like that. It’s more about a return on our objectives for the changing perception, people trusting our brand and looking at our brand in a different way.”

    On non-partner brands and ambush:
    Van der Noll: “We’re pretty relaxed about it. We don’t care about designations or official sponsors. It’s meaningless to consumers. There’s really not much you can do with it. I think [with] a property like FIFA – our properties are very involved in the sale of assets, rights opportunities that simply don’t come if you ambush. It also goes the other way. I think that consumers sort of understand and have an appreciation that there are bottom-feeders, for lack of a better word, and companies that really make a meaningful contribution to their experience of the World Cup.”

  • 2014 SMS: Faces in the Crowd

    Here are some of the people we spotted during the morning networking break on Day 2 of the 2014 Sports Marketing Symposium.


    Tags: CES, ING
  • SMS 2014: Assessing the value of large global sporting events

    The question of how the World Cup and Olympics can become profitable for everyone involved was at the center of a panel on assessing the value of large global sporting events on day 2 of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium.

    Both panelists – Victor Matheson, an economics professor at Holy Cross, and Terrence Burns, managing director of Teneo Sport – agreed that changes must come to the current model, which heaps massive expenditures on host cities. Oslo’s decision to drop its bid for the 2022 Olympics, leaving only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as potential hosts, is seen as a key indicator of the failures of the current system.

    Assessing the Value Proposition


    Terrence Burns, Teneo Sport
    Victor Matheson, College of the Holy Cross

    On the current system:
    Matheson: “Think of the great deal that FIFA and the IOC have here. They put on an event that someone else does all the planning, pays for putting on the events. Someone else builds all of the facilities so the event can be hosted and all of the athletes come in and participate for free. Yet the IOC then gets to sell Olympic rights for $7 billion to NBC. FIFA over the last four years prior to this World Cup sold their TV rights for $4 billion worldwide. What a great business this is that they’re in.”

    Burns: “Pick cities now. Get them prepared ten years from now, so it’s not an embarrassment, it’s not a joke, it’s not an insane cost. That’s called brand management, and they have to look at bid city selection as the first step in Olympic brand management. You’re seeing what’s happened when you ignore it."

    On the 2022 bid:
    Matheson: “The biggest cost associated with this is not necessarily the running of Games, the operating costs. It’s not necessarily what you need to build. Remember, the biggest cost is, in order to host the Games, you have to win the bid.”

    Burns: “This is a wake up call for the movement. It has to be. It’s really unsustainable. More rationality [is needed] in the process. There should be built-in functionality long term in the bid process. Tell cities you can’t bid on the Olympic Games unless you’ve held ten world championships over the last ten years. You can’t bid on the Games unless you have 60 percent of your infrastructure built and in use already.”

    On proposals to rotate the Olympics between a small group of cities or keep them in Athens:
    Burns: “It would kill the Olympic brand… The Olympics aren’t about sport. Sport is the path that takes you to these values. We talked to people all over the world who aren’t interested in sport, who never watch sport, except for the 17 days of the Olympics on television. Why is that? It’s because it’s about pageantry. It’s about us at the very basic level….[bid cities] get to reinterpret, they get to resurrect the Olympic brand with their own cultural pixie dust.”

    On the ideal host city:
    Matheson: “The most successful Games was the Los Angeles Games. Almost no new infrastructure was used… If you don’t spend billions of dollars building new facilities and, of course, Los Angeles has great airports, a lot of roads and hotels and all this. When you don’t spend that kind of money, you can have a highly successful games, and this is an Olympics that made a huge profit for the organizers, cost almost no investment on the part of the city and, of course, was widely watched.”

  • SMS 2014: Capitalizing on the intersection of sports and entertainment

    The Power of Pop Culture


    Rembert Browne, Grantland, moderator
    Tiki Barber, Thuzio
    Matt Kramer, CSE
    Kristen Ledlow, NBA TV
    Jason McIntyre, BigLead.com

    The intersection between pop culture and sports is tighter than ever, but still fraught with missteps and overreaching ambitions, according to panelists at the 2014 CSE Sports Sponsorship Symposium in New York.

    Thanks to crossover successes such as Shaquille O'Neal, more athletes than ever want to become active in acting, singing, investment and marketing endeavors, in addition to their on-court careers. An active interest among lifestyle publications such as GQ and Esquire in chronicling athletes' lives only expands those goals. But panelists agreed that strategically plotting such desires is critical. "Everybody wants to do everything," said Matt Kramer, CSE vice president of talent representation. “But you have to harness and direct all that. Not everybody should be a rapper or a singer or an actor."

    Still, athlete interests in pop culture represent a potent way to expand their personal brands well beyond the scope of their on-field careers. And for entertainers, getting more involved in professional sports investment represents one of the most potent moves they can make from a financial perspective. "One of the biggest pieces of advice to entertainers is that getting into sports ownership is one of the best things they can do relative to ROI if they are patient," Kramer said.
    Going forward, digital platforms such as mobile and YouTube will represent a particularly fertile ground for athlete forays into pop culture and marketing. "I think we're at just the start of seeing some really interesting things in that area," said Jason McIntyre, Big Lead founder. “The [viral] videos the Manning brothers have done for DirecTV are just the tip of the iceberg.”

    Quick takes from the panel:

    The session was dominated by discussion around NFL, NBA and WNBA athletes, with barely a mention of anybody from MLB. "We've been here for 45 minutes and we haven't talked baseball once. What does that say?," McIntyre said. Kramer responded that marketers increasingly want to tap into athletes' off-field lives, something less possible in baseball given the everyday nature of the game schedules.

    TV dominates. "Media personalities are now bigger than 95, 97 percent of the pro athletes out there. They're in everybody's homes," Kramer said.

    Local marketing is ripe for expansion. "Working a local level with multiple athletes can mitigate the risk from a big, national-level with a single athlete and what can happen if there's an issue with that particular guy," said Tiki Barber, Thuzio co-founder. "But the metrics, and measuring what' s happening locally, is more difficult."


  • SMS 2014: One-on-one with Vice Sports publisher Will Kiersky

    Kiersky: “The best way to grow is by telling really great stories and sharing good content and videos that people will want to share.”

    Even in a crowded sports media marketplace, Vice Sports still sees a clear lane of opportunity ahead. Will Kiersky, publisher of the fledging Vice Sports, was featured in a one-on-one interview to start the second day of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium.

    “On one end of the sports media spectrum, there’s a lot of live event coverage and highlights of that, and on the other side, especially in the digital space, there’s a lot of opinion,” he said. “We saw a lane where we could focus on the athletes and storytelling.”

    Launched in June 2014, Vice Sports has already drawn the interest of some of the biggest names in sports, such as New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony, which has come as a surprise to Kiersky. “We try to give athletes a platform to be as honest as they’d like to be, and give them a comfortable place to speak,” he said. “Carmelo’s people actually hit us up and told us he’d like to get involved, and it led to a different conversation about free agency than having a camera in his face in the locker room.”

    The new venture has attracted another audience that surprised Kiersky, as well: female readers. As with most Vice Media brands, the typical reader has fallen into the 18-35 demographic, but numbers that Vice Sports’ viewers are roughly 55 percent male and 45 percent female, which Kiersky said speaks to the strength of its female writing staff.

    While the site is still new, Kiersky said that Vice is already discussing what is the next big step While some plans include new initiatives, such as a short film series and an international look at the world of sports, he said Vice wouldn’t forget the one key that will continue to make it successful. “The best way to grow is by telling really great stories and sharing good content and videos that people will want to share,” he said.

    Other quick takes from Kiersky:

    On Derek Jeter’s new website, The Players’ Tribune: “I think it’s fantastic that there are new ways for athletes to tell their story. Often we forget they’re regular people thrust into extraordinary situations.”

    On his biggest concern about the launch: “Vice has a great reputation, but we don’t have a lot of currency in the mainstream sports world. We weren’t sure what reaction we were going to get from athletes, but it’s been great so far.”

    On bringing an established personality to the brand: “We like to develop young talent, so I don’t know if right now if that sort of thing would work.”

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