• SBJ Podcast: A more flexible NBA schedule

    Media writer John Ourand, NBA reporter John Lombardo and executive editor Abraham Madkour discuss what the NBA's TV partners want in their next deal and the difficulty of incorporating a more flexible NBA schedule to accommodate that.

    Tags: NBA, Media, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: News and notes, 4/25/2014

    Financial document outlines Isles’ offer

    The New York Islanders this week released an offering memorandum for majority ownership to potential bidders for the team, according to a source in the finance industry.

    In the memo, Islanders owner Charles Wang offers 75 percent ownership of the club, with a five-year option on the other 25 percent. The memo also states that the Islanders sustained an operating loss during the 2013-14 season of $4.8 million, with the loss minimized greatly by $15 million received from NHL revenue sharing and escrow payments.

    According to the memo, total revenue for the Islanders in the just-completed season was $84 million. That included $22 million in ticket revenue. The Islanders played 40 home games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and one game (as part of the NHL’s Coors Light Stadium Series) as the home team at Yankee Stadium against the New York Rangers.

    The value placed on the team in the memo: $370 million.

    The memorandum was released by the team on behalf of Wang, who has yet to utilize the services of a bank or financial consultants in the ongoing sales talks. Wang’s finances are handled by Islanders alternate governor Arthur McCarthy, who has been an executive with the club since 1985. McCarthy is the chief financial officer of technology company NeuLion, for which Wang is chairman of the board.

    On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed what has been reported in this space over the last two weeks: Although Wang is soliciting and listening to offers for the Islanders, he may not be ready to say goodbye to the team.

    Wang acquired the Islanders in 2000.

    “Charles hasn’t decided whether or not he’s definitely going to sell,” Bettman said on WFAN-AM/New York on Wednesday. “He’s very attached to the Islanders. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. He’s looking forward to the move to Barclays.”

    The Islanders begin play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the 2015-16 season.

    In earlier discussions with prospective buyers, before the offering memorandum was released, Wang was offering between 30 percent and 49 percent of the team at the start, with Wang remaining the Islanders’ majority owner for at least the next two seasons.

    Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway is the lone suitor whose name has been made public. A league source said a finalized deal between Barroway and Wang “is not close,” and that Barroway “does not have a leg up on anyone else interested in buying the Islanders.” Barroway has been in search of partners to help him fund the purchase.

    As reported in The Shift last Friday, there are at least two additional suitors for the Islanders, besides Barroway. Strike one name from that list, though: Brooklyn-born billionaire Nelson Peltz.

    Peltz, CEO of asset management firm Trian Partners, has been linked to bids for the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators in the past, and the 71-year-old Peltz is a hockey advocate: He once described after-school life for his children as “gym, ice and homework,” and he has a rink inside his Bedford, N.Y., home. His son, Brad, also was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL draft.

    However, a source close to Peltz told The Shift on Thursday that he has “no interest” in bidding for the Islanders.

    SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Daniel Kaplan contributed to this report.


    More than $3 million(CAN): Gross revenue, according to an NHL source, for each of two first-round playoff home games of the Montreal Canadiens, who swept the Lightning in four games. That figure will be even higher in the second round, with higher ticket prices.

    3.8 million viewers: The average combined TV audience in Canada for each of the four games of the Canadiens-Lightning series. The games averaged 2.3 million viewers on CBC and 1.5 million viewers on RDS.

    31 of 31: Sold-out first-round playoff games, through Thursday night.

    $378: The most-expensive ticket available on the secondary market for an NHL playoff game this weekend, for Game 5 of the Rangers-Flyers series at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon, according to ticket price aggregator TiqIQ.

    $148: The least-expensive ticket available, for Game 5 of the Ducks-Stars series at the Honda Center tonight.

    500,000: The number of entries submitted by fans on NHL.com for the Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge powered by Can-Am. The grand prize is a choice of a 2014 Can-Am Spyder RS or $15,000. Among those submitting brackets were celebrity hockey fans Jon Hamm, Alyssa Milano, Martina McBride, Pat Sajak and Boomer Esiason.

    205: Consecutive home games sold out by the San Jose Sharks, through Game 2 of their first-round playoff matchup with the Kings. In last Friday’s post, we listed seven NHL teams with sellout streaks of more than 100 combined regular-season and playoff games. Turns out, there is an eighth: San Jose. We apologize to the Sharks.

    Tags: On the Ground
  • American Builders Using Cobb County Ties

    A group of four construction firms calling itself American Builders is competing for the job to build the Atlanta Braves’ new ballpark, and it’s tapping into the loyalties of Cobb County officials.

    Minnesota-based Mortenson Construction, now building the Vikings’ new stadium, and Michigan-based Barton Malow, contractor for Daytona International Speedway’s renovations, joined forces with two Atlanta-based firms, Brasfield & Gorrie and New South Construction.

    The group produced a promotional piece that says it has built a combined 335 sports projects, including 51 facilities tied to Populous, the Braves’ architect. All told, the American Builders group says its projects in Atlanta, including sports, are valued at $8.6 billion.

    But what’s most interesting is that the piece says that 150 employees across the four firms live in Cobb County, where the Braves have decided to build their $672 million stadium, on a site 12 miles north of Turner Field. The team’s research shows most of its fans reside in Cobb County.

    A passage in the American Builders material reads: “This is our home. Beyond working here, it is where our children go to school, our families attend church, shop and dine.”

    The piece, printed in red, white and blue, says the team combines 225 years of construction experience as “privately-owned American firms.”

    Len Moser, Barton Malow’s Atlanta-based vice president, said this about his group’s name: “Our American Builders 2017 team is proud to be American-owned builders, just like the Atlanta Braves are American-owned and often referred to as America’s Team.”

    American Builders’ competition for the project includes Sweden-based Skanska, a construction firm partnering with Clark Construction for the Braves’ job. Skanska in 1994 acquired Beers Construction Co., a firm that built Turner Field and the Georgia Dome.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • 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.


    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.

    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


    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
    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
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