• Podcast: This week's NHL Wrap-Around

    NHL writer Ian Thomas and Alex Silverman discuss the progress of the Las Vegas ticket-deposit drive, as well as league attendance trends and what the Coyotes' rebuild means for hockey in Glendale, in this week's NHL Wrap-Around.

    Among the comments:

    "If you really look at [Las Vegas], especially the fact that this doesn't include the luxury suites, there's not the commitments from casinos and businesses in the area, it's relatively strong I think to get 8,000 real hockey fans in that community to buy in. I don't think a lot of people would've said there were 8,000 fans in that area to begin with."

    "Some of the Arizona folks in the community would like to see [Andrew Barroway] at more games ... but sometimes the owner's moves with his checkbook can be just as strong as his presence at games."

    "It's a real statement of intent in my opinion that the team decided to hold onto salary for some of their bigger-name players in order to gain a bigger return. In the Yandle trade ... if the Coyotes didn't keep that salary, the Rangers could not have given up Anthony Duclair or those first-round picks because they're strapped cap-wise. ... For Arizona to keep salary on to get that boost coming in, I think that's a good statement of intent on their hope for that market of the future."

    Tags: NHL, Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Executive Decision

    ESPN’s Howard Bryant, on the NFLPA Exec Dir election: “The truth is that players haven't recovered from when their stars sold them out. Joe Montana, Tony Dorsett, (Ed) ‘Too Tall’ Jones and others crossed the picket line in 1987. It’s the stars who run any union, not DeMaurice Smith or his challengers” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/8).

    SWEET SCIENCE: Boxing HOFer Ray Leonard, on the significance of boxing back on network TV: “These boxers, they know the power of the networks. In fact, (Friday) they said they wanted to be a champion, but also famous and that all begins right here, right now” (“Premier Boxing Champions,” NBC, 3/7).

    REBOUNDING NICELY: N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola, on Michael Jordan being named to Forbes’ list of billionaires: “Jordan … amassed his fortune due to his endorsement deals with Nike, which proves there is life after being the guy responsible for drafting Adam Morrison” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/8).

    WHAT A KICK: ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, on the environment at the Citrus Bowl for MLS expansion club Orlando City SC’s first match: “The majority of these fans were here at 11:00 in the morning. This isn't your typical fan maybe just saying, ‘I'm going to come in, watch Kaká one game or two games and then move on.’ You're talking a real fan base here in Orlando” (“NYC FC-Orlando City SC,” ESPN2, 3/8).

  • Champions Podcast: Len Elmore

    Writer John Ourand and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour introduce Len Elmore as one of this year's Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. Elmore has touched virtually all sides of the basketball business, having been an NBA player, an agent, a broadcaster and an executive. This is the fourth in a series of six profiles of the 2015 class of The Champions.

    Tags: Champions, Basketball, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: ESPN wins WC of Hockey rights

    Media writer John Ourand joins NHL reporter Ian Thomas and Alex Silverman to discuss ESPN claiming the U.S. broadcast rights to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast. Ourand shares exclusive details on what ESPN is paying the NHL to air the tournament, and the trio break down what the deal means for the NHL, ESPN and longtime partner NBC.

    Among the comments:

    "This deal was really a surprise to me because NBC is the home of hockey. NBC has had the NHL for many years now and is doing a very good job with it. … Fox was making a very big play to go get it, and part of the reason is because Fox has FS1 and FS2. ESPN, of course, has its 20 channels, and they need live sports rights to go along with them. This is as much about trying to grab as many live rights as they can, as it is an interest in hockey."

    "Every time we go through an Olympics period, hockey gets huge ratings in the Olympics. Everyone waits for the big bump to go and hit the NHL, and that big bump almost never comes. The same thing happens in soccer with the World Cup. The World Cup for a month takes over the U.S. sports-viewing public, the TV-viewing public. MLS never sees a bump from it. It can’t hurt, but generally to depend on a bump for the NHL regular season to come from this event is really asking a lot."

    "The Olympics is an NBC property. If the NHL does decide, ‘Let’s send our players exclusively to the World Cup and not the Olympics,’ not only does NBC lose out on the World Cup rights, but potentially the hockey interest in the Olympics is not as high."

    "The NHL wants to get on another network. I do think that there’s a big marketing might with ESPN that hits the casual sports fan [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman wants to hit. If you were to promote this or promote the NHL regular season during some of ESPN’s highly rated college basketball games or NBA games, that would be great. ... Ultimately, though, usually the company that writes the biggest check would get it, and I would imagine a partner like NBC that has been such a good partner for the NHL for so long, if they had written the biggest check, I find it hard to believe that the NHL wouldn’t go that route."

    Tags: ESPN, Hockey, Media, NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: Assessing college hoops attendance

    College writer Michael Smith and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson discuss college basketball attendance being down for the seventh straight year and how schools such as Nebraska, N.C. State and Syracuse have bucked the trend.

    Tags: Basketball, Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: This week's NHL Wrap-Around

    Alex Silverman and hockey writer Ian Thomas assess the NHL's new statistics offering in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "There’s definitely been a resistance to showcase these stats that we’ve been talking about for a long time if you’re a fan of hockey. … It’s a big step for the NHL to get involved in this sort of thing, and their point of view is, ‘Now we can do it our way, use our stats, make sure it’s accurate.’"

    "Everyone who has been keeping track of these stats for years has called them Corsi and Fenwick. … I think it was a bold decision by the NHL to change them. It shows that they’re trying to put their own stamp on it. … Their rationale for changing those names being that they think it will make the metrics more accessible to the casual fan. But I would like to see them present that breakdown of what each stat is, put that more on the forefront."

    "I think it’s great that hockey fans do have a place to go for this type of information now that is official."

    "The NBA has really been at the forefront of this player tracking movement. … They’ve made a point of making all that data available for free, with the thought process being, ‘Anything we can do to get the fans more engaged in the game is ultimately going to help us because fans that are more engaged are going to go to more games, watch more games, buy more merchandise and be invested in our product.’ I think that ultimately the NHL will adopt a similar mentality."

    Tags: NHL, Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Jacksonville case study: The craft beer effect

    This week in SportsBusiness Journal, we look at some of the trends that executives in the concessions industry are watching. Tom Anastasia, regional vice president for Ovations Food Services, noted how craft beers have become increasingly prevalent in stadiums and arenas.

    Here, he shares an additional story, about what Ovations learned when the company adjusted the mix of taps at a portable stand in Jacksonville — including the financial impact of the change, in terms of fan spending.

    “We performed a case study to verify the popularity of craft beer in a football stadium environment. At EverBank Field in Jacksonville, we added an expanded craft lineup at eight existing draft portables. They weren’t new locations, just a new lineup of flavors to chose from. Initially Anheuser-Busch, our primary supplier at the stadium, introduced some import/specialty brands from their portfolio: Amber Bock, Stella Artois, Negra Modelo and others. Michelob Ultra [also an A-B brand], Miller Lite and Coors Light are also poured at various locations.

    “Previous tap setups had featured standard domestic options along with maybe one craft/import option as a second option. Our research indicates this mix is almost always impacted by product availability. EverBank Field is not different than most venues in the sense that a primary sponsor has more brand selection. While there is no issue with this, it does limit the ability for the consumer to make the choice to trade up to a higher-priced selection.

    “The beers that we placed in the craft designation that really started the shift came mostly from Jacksonville-based breweries: Bold City Killer Whale Cream Ale and Duke’s Brown Ale, Intuition Ale Works’ People’s Pale Ale and Jon Boat, and Green Room Brewing’s Pablo Beach. SweetWater 420 [from Atlanta] and Blue Moon [a MillerCoors brand brewed in Denver] were also added.

    “In our analysis, based on data collected over the course of the Jaguars’ 2014 regular season, we compared the consumer selection at the venue overall versus locations that serve a wider selection of craft beer options alongside the domestic beers. If you take a sample of the entire stadium, the ratio is 84 percent domestic draft beers sold compared to 16 percent craft/premium draft beers sold. This is misleading as a representation of what the consumer would choose if there were more options at more locations.

    “When we look at a prime draft portable location that has domestic and craft/premium options, the mix changes drastically. Given the choice at this location, the mix changes to 61 percent domestic and 39 percent craft. The craft beers are sold at a dollar more per unit for the same size. These incremental dollars add up across many points of sale and over a whole season. This is evidence that given the option to trade up to a premium product, a very large segment of our consumers are willing to pay more for a premium product.

    “It’s important to note that this was not the first introduction of craft beers in Jacksonville. Our lineup for craft beers on our package carts has been extensive for a number of years. This is simply an analysis of the shift when adding these flavors in draft. Very often the focus on draft is geared towards a sponsor product [typically one of the major domestic brands]. The point of the analysis was to show our clients that there is financial benefit to straying outside of the old exclusivity model.”

    Tags: On the Ground, Facilities
  • Champions Podcast: David Falk

    NBA writer John Lombardo and Champions editor Tom Stinson introduce David Falk as one of this year's Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. Most identified as being Michael Jordan's agent, Falk has been a leader in both NBA contract negotiation and the marketing of athletes. This is the second in a series of six profiles of the 2015 class of The Champions.

    Tags: Champions, NBA, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Goodell Runs 40 For St. Jude

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ran a 40-yard dash in the NFL’s New York office (watch video here) as part of a benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, akin to last summer’s Ice Bucket challenge. The video will air on NFL Network’s “Total Access” tonight.

    “He has thrown down the gauntlet to Eisen,” said NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger, referring to the network’s anchor Rich Eisen, who runs a 40-yard dash every year at the NFL combine.

    NFL Network executives would not disclose Goodell’s time.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Podcast: Las Vegas' NHL push

    Alex Silverman and hockey writer Ian Thomas chat with Alan Snel of the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the city's push for an NHL franchise in the wake of Tuesday's ticket-drive launch in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "I think the Foley ticket drive will be an interesting litmus test to see if this market can make the transition from not only being a big sports event town in a major league sense, but now support a major league team for a season that’s more than 40 games. … Las Vegas to me has always been a fascinating wild card of a city because our market is driven more on events than seasons.'"

    "The catalyst in this hockey drive is the new MGM-AEG arena being built right now. … Obviously you’ll have your purists, but I think a big chunk of the fans will be visitors who will be among the 40 million walking up and down the Strip on a typical year and people who want to see the arena. I think the arena is going to be as much an attraction as the NHL team itself."

    "They’re looking at 54 percent of the visitors to the arena being tourists and 46 percent being locals. To have an NHL team you’d hope that the 46 percent locals would be a lot higher.'"

    "Las Vegas reminds me a little bit of the Florida markets in a way – very tourism-based, but not a lot of corporate headquarters. … We probably have, I’m guessing, a half-dozen to 10 gaming industry and casino companies that will probably buy up the suites and a smattering of other local businesses, but Las Vegas is not a corporate-rich community."

    Tags: NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
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