SBJ: ESPN, NFL seek changes in CFP calendar SBG: ManU's Ed Woodward EPL's Top Paid Exec SBJ: Jets, FanDuel deal starts at Super Bowl SBJ: Changes pay off for Sporting KC SBJ: What makes a great Super Bowl party? SBD: Baseball's Popularity Closing Gap With Football SBJ: ‘What is the Big East?’ SBD: Executive Transactions SBJ: Sports Media: Rothman to stay SBJ: Retreat introduces IMG to WME
April 11, 2014 10:07 AM
A look at the past week in the NHL:
News from New York, Part I: Rangers opening ‘Hockey House’ for playoffs
The New York Rangers are planning to host an indoor fan festival during the Stanley Cup playoffs every day the team plays, whether at Madison Square Garden or on the road.
The Rangerstown Hockey House will be a 9,500-square-foot building adjacent to MSG that was the former site of a Borders books and music store. When the Rangers are at home in the playoffs, the Hockey House will be open from 2 p.m. that day until 30 minutes before opening faceoff. When the team plays on the road, it will open at 5 p.m. and close at the end of the game.
Road games will be shown at the Hockey House, which is sponsored by Chase and is open to all fans.
Scheduled activities include the Blueshirts Live stage for Q&A sessions with Rangers alumni (sponsored by Time Warner Cable); an exhibit of Hockey Hall of Fame artifacts and Rangers memorabilia; autograph signings (sponsored by Celebrity Cruises); and a shooting accuracy contest (sponsored by Delta Airlines). MSG Network will broadcast its pregame shows live from the facility.
“The house is an extension of ‘Welcome to Rangerstown,’” said Michael Guth, MSG Sports executive vice president, marketing, referring to the team’s marketing campaign this season. “The idea has been to make the Rangers feel a part of your home. Now, we’re welcoming the fans into ours, whether they have tickets to the game or not.”
The “Welcome to Rangerstown” campaign was created by MSG Sports with the New York-based marketing agency NSG/SWAT.
“The campaign has really registered with what we call ‘true-blue’ Rangers fans and, we believe, with new fans,” Guth said. “The goal is to build our base of fans, and there’s no better time to do that than during the excitement of the playoffs.”
News from New York, Part II: Islanders sale talks continue
Negotiations continue in the potential sale of the New York Islanders from owner Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway. According to a person who was invited to join Barroway’s ownership group as a minority investor, the total valuation of the Islanders has been outlined as being $370 million — broken down as $100 million in cash/equity, $125 million in senior notes, $85 million in seller paper, and $60 million in preferred equity.
A league source said Wang continues to discuss a sale with Barroway only, with no other serious bids having been formally taken to Wang yet.
Howard Dolgon, a Long Island resident who owns the AHL Syracuse Crunch, is interested, according to a separate source, but he has yet to line up partners and make a bid.
From 1992 to 2008, Barroway was a partner in the law firm Schiffren Barroway, based in Radnor, Pa. His focus was on securities fraud claims brought against public companies. One of those claims, in 1998, was against Computer Associates, a company co-founded by Wang. Barroway was the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit that was settled in 2003.
By the Numbers
4 days: The length of the exclusive window for Ohio residents to purchase tickets to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ first two home games of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The club is trying to ensure that tickets, which went on sale this morning, go to supporters of the Blue Jackets — not to fans of potential first-round opponents, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nationwide Arena is only a three-hour drive from Pittsburgh.
$25: The cost of one seat in the upper-level end zones for the first-round home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the least-expensive face-value price that Shift found in a search for playoff tickets. The next-cheapest seat located: $40 in the upper tier for Minnesota Wild games.
8.35: The rating in Pittsburgh for this week’s NBCSN “Wednesday Night Rivalry” telecast of Penguins/Red Wings, making the net the top-rated cable network in the Pittsburgh market during the game’s time period that night. Nationally, the game drew 717,000 viewers, the third-highest mark this season for NBCSN’s Wednesday franchise.
1984: The year of the Olympic gold medal victory in men’s figuring skating for Scott Hamilton, who is joining with the Nashville Predators to open a skating academy bearing in his name in August. Hamilton resides in Franklin, Tenn., and has been a Predators season-ticket holder for the last eight years. According to the team, he will be an “active principal” in the academy, hiring coaches and developing curriculum.
0: The amount of team front-office experience of Trevor Linden and Brendan Shanahan, who were hired for major roles with NHL franchises this week. Neither is without credentials, however. Linden, named president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, is a former president of the NHL Players’ Association and former Canucks captain who played 16 seasons for the franchise. Shanahan, the new president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been a vice president in the NHL’s hockey operations department since 2009 and was a highly-respected, hall of fame player for 21 seasons on league ice.
To Steve Griggs — whose promotion to president of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Times Forum did not make headlines like the Linden and Shanahan hires did but was good news for a long-time sports executive. Before joining the Lightning in 2010, Griggs spent three years with the Orlando Magic, eight years with the Minnesota Wild, and five years with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment — all in leadership positions in sales and marketing.
Tuesday: Before the start of the playoffs on Wednesday, the most meaningful night of April for this season’s worst teams is Tuesday — when the NHL Draft Lottery is conducted in Toronto.
April 10, 2014 03:25 PM
The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami said of the Warriors Owner Joe Lacob’s interest in the A’s, “If you think you can get the stadium situation settled, in the East Bay without going against those Giants territorial rights … (and) you put those things together and you just want to be part of that fraternity, you want to get a piece of that huge pie that's growing more and more every year, the digital media rights, all of these things are exploding” ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/9).
PLANNING COMMITTEE: Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts said of selling shares in the team, “Most baseball teams have several dozen limited partners. I think if we can find a handful of guys that are great partners and value added people in the organization that'd be the best answer for us. But it's really early. We don't know how exactly it's all going to go down or what the plan is. But we do know that we've got to start planning for it” ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 4/10).
GAME BOY: TBS’ Conan O'Brien, who last week played a video game on the big screen at AT&T Stadium: "I highly recommend that all of you watching go out and rent an NFL stadium, clear it of all personnel and play videogames on the giant Diamond Vision screen. If you can't afford that, you could try getting a basketball arena. I wouldn't go smaller than a basketball arena" ("Conan," TBS, 4/10).
April 9, 2014 03:20 PM
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said of on-jersey ads, “In this day and age where on non-live programming where people are using their DVRs and skipping through commercials, to me it's that much more of an opportunity for our sponsors to get closer to our game and to be closer to our athletes. I mean the sleeve jersey issue, for example, I mean I get that one, whether it's superstition or players just don't like it or they're sensitive to feeling sleeves when they're shooting. That's something we have to tread very carefully on, especially long-term, if there's any suggestion that it impacts the competition or the field of players. But when it comes to advertising on jerseys, I do think it's inevitable" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/9).
UCONN SAY THAT ON TELEVISION: ESPN's J.A. Adande, on UConn G Shabazz Napier's post-championship comments about the NCAA: "I love the fact that he called out the NCAA right in the midst of its biggest event, its biggest revenue generator for sure, and he just called them out on the hypocrisy of trying to pretend that this is about academics in any way.” N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said, "He kind of had a Richard Sherman moment in my opinion afterwards with the microphone" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/8).
BRANDED STATEMENT: ESPN's Suzy Kolber said Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's logo is "catchy, creative (and) of course it sparked some conversation about RGIII as a brand beyond being part of a team" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 4/8). Redskins SS Ryan Clark said, "He created a logo. So what? It just gives people things to talk about" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/8).
HITTING THE BOOKS: Univ. of Delaware President Patrick Harker said of college athletes unionizing, "If there's a crisis, I think it's a crisis, in losing sight of the fact that the most important part of the phrase 'student-athlete' is student … and I really worry that starting with middle school all the way through college we've lost sight of the fact that students need an education to be successful, even if they have a pro career” ("NewsHour," PBS, 4/8).
April 8, 2014 03:32 PM
We promised a look at some of the new delicacies at MLB ballparks, and today we deliver: Feast your eyes on menu items from concessionaires Aramark and Centerplate.
We’ll be back again with food from other MLB concessionaires.
Citi Field (Mets)
Pat LaFrieda's meatball sliders at Citi Field are from a family recipe.
Fenway Park (Red Sox)
Wake up with a breakfast burger, topped with a fried egg, fresh mozzarella cheese, sauteed onions and chipotle sauce. $10
PNC Park (Pirates)
The Closer is an overstuffed grilled cheese sandwich with four slices of thick-cut sourdough, nine cheeses, candied bacon and a leek, plus Granny Smith apple compote. $14.50
Minute Maid Park (Astros)
Texas Hold ’Em is a barbecue chicken sandwich with cheddar cheese, tomato, fries and slaw crammed between Texas toast. $9
Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)
The Philly cheesesteak dog is a no-brainer at this ballpark. Hot dog topped with Philadelphia steak, melted cheese, “wit’ or wit’out onions.” $7.
Rogers Centre (Blue Jays)
The Muddy York Market fish taco is named after the city’s famed farmer’s market. Crusted tilapia served in a flour tortilla, mixed with red cabbage slaw, chili-lime sour cream, pico de gallo and cilantro. Two for $11.
Coors Field (Rockies)
A twist on the traditional Reuben sandwich. Pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese on a pretzel bun. $10.
Tropicana Field (Rays)
Bangin’ shrimp ($11), fried bologna sliders ($5), housemade smoked beef jerky ($6) and old-fashioned deviled eggs ($3) are all served at the new Everglades Brewhouse.
Fans can wash them down with Everglades Moonshine, a mix of bourbon and lemonade served in a Mason jar with a house-smoked bacon strip swizzle. The drink costs $14, and you get to keep the jar.
The crab sandwich is served on the club level at Safeco Field.
The ’Pen, the stadium’s outfield food court, remains one of the best experiences in baseball four years after the space underwent a retrofit. Swingin’ Wings, a new stand at the ’Pen, offers classic Buffalo-style, honey serrano and barbecue sauce chicken wings for $9.
The same stand sells Dirty Tots, tater tots topped with Beecher’s flagship cheddar, Carlton’s Farm pork belly and Bay Valley picked peppers. Those three brands are local companies.
On the club level at Safeco Field, the crab sandwich ($13), oysters and chips ($10) and applewood smoked salmon chowder ($7) are new items.
Click on any image below to begin a slideshow of images from Aramark and Centerplate.
April 7, 2014 03:22 PM
Analysts from numerous media outlets have voiced their opinion on Golf Digest’s decision to use Paulina Gretzky on its most recent cover. Former PGA Tour Senior VP/Strategic Development Donna Orender asked, “Why is it that the only women who seem to grace their covers in the last eight years or so are women that either are half-dressed or models? What is that greater message to women, to young girls who want to play this game, and to men?” Golf Channel's Gary Williams: “You don’t think there is any merit to having somebody who is the daughter of one of the most famous athletes that the sports world has known in the last 50 years?” Orender responded, “Will that make me interested in the game, seriously? No, I’m going to look at it and say, ‘Whoa, she is really a beautiful young woman. Wow, Dustin Johnson is lucky. Let me go back and do my other stuff,' but it is not going to get me in the game.” Williams asked, “Do you understand that they are in the business of selling magazines as much, if not more so, than growing the game of golf?” Orender replied, “We all understand that. … But I do believe in the creative good. I do believe in quality, and good and thoughtful and moral business decisions here. And I believe that there is a great disservice being done to an audience that clearly does want more information about the best athletes in the world, and we are not seeing that.” Orender: “If Golf Digest does not grow the golf business, and if they really don’t see that, then they are going to have a shrinking business. So when young girls all over the world can’t see role models, then what are we saying to them? Go play another sport” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/5).
DRIVING HOME THEIR POINT: ESPN’s Jemele Hill said, “So I guess Beyonce will be on the cover of a fishing magazine sometime soon" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 4/6). The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay: "There is a media deficit in terms of attention paid to women's professional athletics and it's not just exclusive to this cover" ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 4/4). ESPN’s Pablo Torre said Golf Digest “can do whatever they want. It’s a capitalistic enterprise, freedom of speech. But we can evaluate them on how honest and forthright they’re being about their intentions and to get more new people interested in the game is a farcical explanation” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/4). ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “So you’re telling me somebody who actually plays the game can’t get on the cover of your magazine but you can put a woman who dates a golfer and say she’s giving golf advice. That’s the most ridiculous part” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/4).
BE-LABORING THE POINT: ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said of the NCAA, “I’ve noticed them working very aggressively to realign conferences to make more money. … I’ve never seen them working very aggressively to address any of the points that the Northwestern kids are bringing up” (“Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 4/7).
OUT OF SIGHT: CBS’ Clark Kellogg, on TNT’s Charles Barkley calling fans idiots for their criticism of the net’s Teamcast, “Well, he’s not on Twitter, so he doesn’t care” (“Kentucky-Wisconsin,” TBS, 4/5).
REPORT CARD: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, on Saturday’s Final Four: “It wasn’t so much about straight A’s as it was about straight cash” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 4/6).
LOVE IT LOUD: ESPN’s Bram Weinstein said of the AFL L.A. Kiss’ home debut, “Thank you, Anaheim. We are going to rock and roll all night, and party every down” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/6).
April 7, 2014 02:51 PM
The Charlotte Knights will christen BB&T Ballpark on Friday night with the first of three consecutive sellouts at the $54 million stadium.
The team’s move back to Charlotte’s downtown has generated excitement in town. The Knights played the past 24 years in Fort Mill, S.C., where they of late had drawn meager crowds at Knights Stadium and finished last in International League attendance for the 2013 season.
BB&T Ballpark has dramatically changed the team’s situation. The stadium has 8,800 fixed seats, and with standing room and outfield lawn space, it can fit 10,200 fans. One week before Opening Day, season-ticket sales represent 45 percent of the stadium’s fixed seats, said Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski, the manager of ballpark development for team owner Don Beaver. Those figures include the stadium’s two clubs, the Budweiser Home Plate Club and the Diamonds Direct Luxury Lounge on the upper level, which have both sold out.
Most of the 18 suites are sold for the season, some divided as “time shares” among multiple companies, he said. Suite prices run $15,000 to $50,000 a season depending on location tied to seven- and 10-year leases. They all have 12 fixed seats and can accommodate 20 people.
Two dugout suites sit at field level behind home plate, a design similar to Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., home to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. At BB&T Ballpark, those suites are reserved exclusively for single games. The $1,975 cost per game covers 25 tickets and food and drink, but no alcohol.
The Carolinas HealthCare System Home Run Porch in right field on the ballpark’s second level was converted to a standing-room-only space after the Knights could not agree to terms with a potential restaurant partner. Standing-room-only tickets cost $10, and the team has capped sales at about 300 for each of the first three home games. The Knights anticipate a nearby bar will become a hangout for the singles crowd over the summer months, Rajkowski said.
Underneath that space on the first floor are concession stands tied to local and national restaurant brands such as Queen City Q, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, Fuzzy Peach and Just Fresh. Ovations Food Service is the Knights’ official concessionaire.
Toshiba produced the left-field video board at BB&T Ballpark, which at 82 feet long is the widest screen in Minor League Baseball. The ballpark’s tight footprint on less than nine acres has led to Knights players hitting the video board in batting practice, which has forced the club to attach a protective surface, Rajkowski said.
Chick-fil-A sponsors both “fowl” poles, among the park’s branded spaces.
Future development plans beyond the outfield walls includes a hotel and office space, Rajkowski said. For now, fans can sit in those grass areas.
Click on any photo below to see full-screen images. All photos by Tiffin Warnock / Staff
April 7, 2014 09:00 AM
April 4, 2014 11:44 AM
A look at the past week in the NHL:
As Sale Talks Continue, Islanders Valued at $370 million
The value of the New York Islanders in the club’s reported sale negotiations by team owner Charles Wang has been put at $370 million, according to a source in the financial industry.
Talks between Wang and a group led by Philadelphia-based hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway are said to be ongoing. According to the source, Barroway’s group is short of the funding necessary for the acquisition but is looking for additional partners. The group is seeking to raise another $30 million to $50 million in order to complete the deal.
A league source said that, should a deal be finalized, there is a chance Wang could remain majority owner of the team at the outset. One scenario being discussed involves Barroway and his partners buying between 30 percent and 49 percent of the team by this summer, with the opportunity to increase their stake in subsequent seasons, eventually taking majority ownership.
The Islanders begin play in Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the 2015-16 season.
Wang has said that he will continue to listen to serious offers, and with word getting out last Friday that the Islanders are available, Wang is likely to hear from other interested parties.
BY THE NUMBERS
744,000 viewers: That was the audience for NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game between Detroit and Boston this week, making it the second-most watched “Wednesday” game and third-most watched game overall on the network this season. Only a season-opening Washington-Chicago game (Oct. 1; 935,000 viewers) and a “Wednesday” Philadelphia-Pittsburgh matchup (Nov. 13; 759,000) drew bigger audience this season on NBCSN.
20 years: That’s the tenure of Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, who is expected to retire at the end of the season. Rutherford, 65, started with the franchise in 1994, when it was the Hartford Whalers. He may stay with the Hurricanes as team president.
11,812: Since the Olympic break in February, there has been only one announced crowd of less than 12,000 fans at an NHL game. That game was Tuesday night, when the Islanders hosted Florida in a game between two teams out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The home team has been without star John Tavares, injured during the Olympics.
-2 percent: That’s the meager drop-off in average attendance from last season (18,970) to this one (18,570) for the Buffalo Sabres, an impressive feat considering the team has been at the bottom of the league’s standings since the beginning of this season. The Sabres, with one of the most passionate fan bases in the NHL, are in the early stages of a rebuilding program.
0: Number of NHL teams with as many Twitter followers as TSN analyst Bob McKenzie, who has 697,000 — the most of any hockey reporter.
THE LIST: NHL teams on Twitter (ranked by number of followers)
1. Toronto Maple Leafs: 552,000
2. Montreal Canadiens: 540,000
3t. Boston Bruins: 521,000
3t. Chicago Blackhawks: 521,000
5. Vancouver Canucks: 502,000
6. Pittsburgh Penguins: 492,000
7. Detroit Red Wings: 406,000
8. Los Angeles Kings: 325,000
9. Philadelphia Flyers: 323,000
10. New York Rangers: 307,000
11. Edmonton Oilers: 286,000
12. Washington Capitals: 215,000
13. St. Louis Blues: 212,000
14. Calgary Flames: 210,000
15. San Jose Sharks: 203,000
16. Minnesota Wild: 202,000
17. Winnipeg Jets: 200,000
18. Buffalo Sabres: 196,000
19. Ottawa Senators: 193,000
20. New Jersey Devils: 183,000
21. Colorado Avalanche: 167,000
22. Dallas Stars: 165,000
23. Columbus Blue Jackets: 153,000
24. Tampa Bay Lightning: 151,000
25. Anaheim Ducks: 148,000
26. Nashville Predators: 135,000
27. Carolina Hurricanes: 120,000
28. New York Islanders: 113,000
29. Phoenix Coyotes: 110,000
30. Florida Panthers: 104,000
THE PLAYLIST: A look at some of the songs played in-arena during an NHL game
Game: Boston at Detroit
Date: Wednesday, April 2
Location: Joe Louis Arena
In-charge: The Red Wings’ Integrated Media Department, with a little help from Hockeytown: Some songs are submitted by fans using the team’s Twitter page.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” — Journey
“Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” — Fedde LeGrand
“Detroit Rock City” — Kiss
“Raise A Little Hell” — Trooper
“Last Man Standing” — Pop Evil
“Welcome 2 Detroit” — Trick Trick/Eminem
“Can’t Hold Us” — Macklemore
“All I Do Is Win” — DJ Khaled
“Jump Around” — House Of Pain
“Best Day Of My Life” — American Authors
“Animals” — Martin Garrix
“I’m The Man” — Aloe Blacc
“Lonely Boy” — Black Keys
“Slow Ride” — Foghat
“Sweet Caroline”— Neil Diamond
“Counting Stars”— One Republic
April 4, 2014 11:07 AM
Behold "The Closer," being served up by Aramark at PNC Park.
Over the past five years, food vendors have done their best to top one another by introducing oversized portions such as 2-foot-long hot dogs and massive burgers, meant to be shared by several fans. Some dishes sound pretty tasty; others border on belly bombs.
But food providers must also remember to keep their core items on track, said Carl Mittleman, newly appointed president of Aramark Sports and Entertainment. For Aramark, a firm running food at nine MLB parks, 70 percent of its general concessions sales are tied to hot dogs, beer, salty snacks and nonalcoholic beverages. It’s been that way for more than 100 years in baseball, Mittleman said, so vendors must be conscious of getting the basics right before expanding their menus to meet more exotic tastes.
Some of the “Man vs. Food”-style feeding frenzy is still trending. This year, Levy Restaurants debuts a new $25 corn dog at Chase Field in Phoenix, an 18-inch-long corn-battered hot dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon. Belly up.
Levy, also the White Sox’s premium dining partner in Chicago, rolls out a $17 sundae in the suites at U.S. Cellular Field, a stomach-churning 12 scoops of ice cream served in a plastic batting helmet.
Otherwise, the focus continues to be on bringing well-known local brands into the ballpark and expanding craft beer selections tied to new bar destinations.
Coors Field, Great American Ballpark and Tropicana Field all debut new bars devoted to serving craft brews, such as the Reds Brewery District in Cincinnati (SportsBusiness Journal March 24-30).
In the Pacific Northwest, where Seattle teams set the tone years ago for serving microbrews in sports facilities, Centerplate has pushed the trend further by introducing cask-conditioned ales at two Safeco Field stands. Cask ale is an unfiltered beer that completes its secondary fermentation in the container from which it’s served, according to Centerplate officials. At Safeco, there are limited supplies for every game and the vendor is serving 20-ounce pours for $9.75 until the taps run dry. All told, there are 50 craft beer brands available at the home of the Mariners.
The local trend extends to sourcing food and going organic on site. This season, Aramark opens its second ballpark garden at Citi Field, in the Pepsi Porch in right field, after launching the concept last year at Coors Field.
The herbs and veggies harvested last season in Denver were served to patrons in the ballpark’s Mountain Ranch Club and Coors Clubhouse spaces. The goal there is to expand from two to five harvests this year, Mittleman said.
Want to digitally sample some of the latest ballpark fare? Check back in this space to see what concessionaires are offering at MLB parks.
April 3, 2014 01:01 PM
MLB analysts continue to laud the league's new replay system this week, with ESPN's Aaron Boone saying, "The system has worked. It has been efficient. It hasn’t held up the games a bunch and we are now getting more and more calls correct because of the technology that exists" (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 4/2). MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal: "I have loved it so far. Very few things you can point to and say, 'That is a problem.' ... All of the fears we had, 'Oh my gosh, it is going to slow down the game,' not really happening" (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 4/2). Meanwhile, MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark said, "I'm surprised at how often it has been used thus far. I think as you guys have said and heard, and even as we sat down with players this offseason or this spring training, we had concerns. We liked the idea. You knew despite trying to cover all the bases, there are going to be some challenges along the way" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/3).