• TV Timeout: For Whom The Bills Toll

    CBSSN’s Jason La Canfora, on the future ownership of the Bills: “Depending on who purchases this team, and obviously nothing’s going to happen until (Bills Owner Ralph Wilson) passes away, and the family doesn’t even want to entertain the prospect of not having the team until Mr. Wilson is no longer with us” (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 12/1).

    TIP OF THE CAP: ESPN's Howard Bryant, who noted since ’80 nine teams have won NBA titles, said, “Salary caps do not promote parity, they benefit owners.  … Baseball, which has no cap, has had 19 different winners. There are two games taking place: One on court and one at the negotiating table” ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN2, 12/1).

    GOING GREEN: Golfer Greg Norman, on the need to build cost-effective, sustainable golf courses: “In the '80s, in America here, we were a creator of our own problems today by building these golf courses with an unlimited budget and that unlimited budget costs so much. … Shame on the architects, shame on the owners in a degree because we didn’t build sustainable golf courses. So a lot of golf courses are closing because of the cost to maintain them” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 12/2).

  • SBJ/SBD Podcast: The college compensation origins

    Reporters Michael Smith and Bill King talk about the origins of their college compensation package. Among the discussion:

    "We started off with some basic ideas and started talking to some smart people and saying, 'Shoot holes in this. What's wrong with it.' And as they would raise things, we would adjust it."

    "How do you know whether you like this if you don't know what it looks like. So, this is what it looks like."

    "I'm still surprised by how much money this is. … What are we at, 40,000 athletes — 31,599 athletes — and you pay all of them and it's still almost $10,000 each. That still blows me away. A year! Per year."

    Tags: ING, GE, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SBJ/SBD Podcast: Analyzing NASCAR's ratings

    Media reporter John Ourand and NASCAR reporter Tripp Mickle analyze NASCAR's 2013 ratings performance and the sport's prospects as it heads into its final year with ESPN and Turner. Among the highlights:

    "There's a sense of acceptance that comes with finding a bottom, if you will."

    "Next year Turner and ESPN are lame ducks. Should NASCAR be concerned about their ratings performance next year?"

    "For me, the bigger concern is the following year."

    Tags: ING, NASCAR, Media, ESPN, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SBJ/SBD Podcast: UNC Charlotte AD Judy Rose

    College reporter Michael Smith talks about Athletic Director Judy Rose, who led UNC Charlotte's football program from the idea phase to the playing field, which is featured in a front-page piece this week.

    Tags: GE, Football, ING, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 11/22/2013

    A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at what’s ahead.

    • The Numbers
    $308: The highest price for a non-suite ticket to either of the two Coors Light Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week. The Rangers will play the Devils on Jan. 26 and the Islanders on Jan. 29. Tickets to the general public went on sale yesterday, and seating in the higher-priced sections was still available as of Friday morning. On a side note, the Rangers will be the visiting team for both of the games, therefore keeping their traditional 41 home games this season at Madison Square Garden — where they play to more capacity crowds than the Devils and Islanders combined.

    $10,000 - $15,000: The price range for the Boston Bruins’ new Garden Greats experience, a single-game suite offering. Buyers receive 20 tickets for the suite, where they can watch the game with former Bruins stars, such as Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Rick Middleton, Mark Recchi and Mike Milbury. The package also includes a pregame tour of TD Garden, parking passes, pucks, food and beverage, and a group photo with an ex-Bruin.

    18,234: In an early-season statistical oddity, that’s the average attendance of the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road — third-highest in the league and 98 percent of capacity for those games. At home, the Blue Jackets are averaging 14,023, just 77 percent of capacity at Nationwide Arena. No, we don’t think it’s the presence of Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky attracting fans to see the visiting Blue Jackets. Rather, it’s a matter of Columbus having had road games against some of the more successful teams in the league, in terms of box office sales: Montreal, Washington, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, Calgary and Edmonton — all playing at 100 percent capacity so far this season. The Maple Leafs and Capitals rank one-two in road attendance.

    100 Hours: That’s the planned shooting time, over two months, for the NHL’s coming documentary series, “NHL Revealed.” The seven-part program, produced in conjunction with NBC and CBC, will follow players from the Coors Light Stadium Series through the NHL’s participation in the Olympics and back for the re-start of the regular season. “It’s not enough to just feed the core hockey fan,” said NHL COO John Collins. “We want to expose the sport to casual fans and continue to grow the game.” Former HBO President Ross Greenburg is serving as the NHL’s executive producer on the project. The series debuts Jan. 22 on NBCSN and Jan. 23 on CBC.

    23 Players: Each roster member of the New York Islanders will visit Long Island schools on Monday to speak with students about the importance of education. Players are visiting nine schools in groups of two or three. One particularly popular assembly figures to be Fayette Elementary School in North Merrick, N.Y., where star center John Tavares will be joined by teammates Travis Hamonic and Colin McDonald.

    14 Years Ago Today: On Nov. 22, 1999, Wayne Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Arguments may persist for generations over whether The Great One was the greatest player in the first 97 years of the NHL. But one thing is inarguable: Gretzky is the league’s all-time most successful pitchman. Fifteen years after his retirement as a player — he was immediately inducted into the Hall, which skipped its usual three-year waiting process — Gretzky has been a spokesman in Canada for Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s, among many others.

    52 Candles: Happy birthday to NHL COO John Collins, who turns 52 on Wednesday. No need to list all of his accomplishments in his seven years since joining the NHL from the NFL. We can just say this: Good sports executive, good man.

    LOOKING AHEAD
    Dec. 9: The NHL’s Board of Governors will convene in Pebble Beach, Calif., for the first of two days of meetings. Among the expected agenda items will be the future of fighting in NHL games and the league’s ongoing broadcast rights negotiations with Canadian networks.

    Tags: On The Ground, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Media, People and Pop Culture
  • TV Timeout: San Francisco Treat

    MLB Giants President & CEO Larry Baer: "I think it's dangerous business to say, 'Okay, we've made this move, what's the Dodgers counter-move?' ... We've got to keep our eye on the ball, where do we want to be coming into spring training, where do we want to be as we go thru the season and maybe add during the season and not be too focused on what the Dodgers do or don't do because we can't control it" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 11/20).

    THE NEXT COMMISH? Baer was asked if he was in line to succeed MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, but said, "I do not believe so." He added the commissioner's position "is not something I'm putting myself out there for" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 11/20).

    COLOR BLIND: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr., on how fans perceive his role as the only African-American driver in a predominantly white sport: "They see me as a driver, as how I want to be perceived. I like to say, once you close the shield on my helmet you don't see who's behind there, a man of color, you don't know" (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 11/20).

    TEE IT UP: Golf Channel's Tripp Isenhour, on the increase in popularity of the World Cup of Golf: "It's going to grow the game around the world, which is awesome, and this format is going to mirror the Olympics. So you're going to see a lot of countries being represented, not only here but in the future in the Olympics" (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 11/20).

  • Lessons from the Road: On Life, Lifestyles and Perspective

    I’m going to be shameless and steal a page from many columnists who write about the people they come across in their travels. Most of my time on airplanes is devoted to catching up on reading, with hopes of dozing off for a few minutes. That was my hope in flying down to the MLB Industry Meetings in Orlando, where I was to be on a panel discussing media coverage of baseball.

    I was in my window seat on the exit row when a young man sat next to me. The first thing I noticed were his hands. Not that I have a habit of staring at the hands of the passenger next to me, but his had dirt deeply embedded in his fingernails, with Band-Aids wrapped around four fingers. I figured he was a worker, or maybe a fighter. I hoped the former.

    My plan of reading and falling asleep quickly materialized, but we were both startled awake when our baggage bin unexpectedly came open. After that we exchanged small talk, and it quickly turned into one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve had. I inquired about his plans in Orlando, and with a big smile, he told me that he and his family — his wife and three children all spread out throughout the plane — were taking their first vacation in more than 11 years. They were dairy farmers, working a farm with more than 200 animals about 25 minutes outside of Harrisburg, Pa.

    Having grown up in Vermont, I am familiar with the brutally hard life of a dairy farmer, and most of the families I knew sold and moved on. My habit of asking questions led to some amazing stories. Joel told me he was the son of an air-conditioner repairman and the family at one time lived on a dairy farm, where Joel fell in love by watching farmers work the land. He went to Penn State for all of five days before leaving to follow his passion of farming. He met his wife at church, and together they rented farmland near Harrisburg before buying their own extensive farm, from which they provide mostly milk to local cooperatives.

    I pressed him on the work hours, and his eyes filled with passion as he described waking up at 4:30 for milking, taking 30 minutes to walk up to the house for lunch, and then finishing up anywhere between 8:30 and 10 p.m., when he sits down for dinner and helps his children with their homework before doing it all over again. Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Hence, the first vacation in 11 years. His wife works the farm with him. His children go to public school and then come home and work the farm from afternoon till dinner. This was their first commercial flight.

    I kept coming back to, “How do you keep this up? When do you take a break?” His smile grew wider, “I love it, we work together as a family and we all love it.” He said they didn’t take time for movies or TV. “Do you ever watch sports?” I asked. “No, not much into sports.” “So on Sunday, you won’t watch the Steelers game?” “No, we’re working right up till around 9 on Sundays. If we get done early, we may have friends nearby come over for a late dinner.” “What about the holidays? What will you do for Thanksgiving?” “We’ll work and have some lunch and then go out on the farm and work again.” I couldn’t fathom this schedule, and said there must be a guilty pleasure, somewhere, somehow, where he treats himself. “Oh sure, every Sunday afternoon I take a 45-minute nap. If I don’t have that nap, I’m dragging the entire week. And, yeah, I’ll occasionally make some of the freshest homemade ice cream you’ve ever had.”

    I was literally in awe of this man’s pride, passion and love of family and life. I pride myself on my work ethic, having watched my parents work in my dad’s dental practice six days a week to get seven kids through college. But even they had a day of rest, or better yet, house and yard work. Joel and his family represent a different type of work ethic.

    I walked off the plane with him and he introduced me to his family, all wide-eyed with excitement and anticipation for their trip to Disney, but with a clear look of fatigue, for they had been up since 3 a.m. to do their farm chores before heading to Harrisburg airport. I doubt I’ll ever see Joel again; I hope I do. I wondered if I could last a weekend on his farm. But for 60 minutes on that Sunday afternoon, few people have made me think more — about life, lifestyles and perspective — than he did.

    Tags: MLB, Media, Baseball, Opinion
  • SBJ/SBD Podcast: The strength of the NFL

    Media reporter John Ourand and SportsBusiness Daily Assistant Managing Editor Austin Karp expand on Ourand's column this week on the strength of the NFL on television. Among the discussion:

    "What's most surprising to me about this is that of all seasons, I was really expecting this season to show a decrease."

    "It doesn't matter what team … it's just market agnostic with the NFL."

    Tags: NFL, Media, ING, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SBJ/SBD Podcast: Turner's unique Final Four plans

    Media reporter John Ourand and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson talk about Turner Sports' plans to have team-focused telecasts for this year's NCAA Tournament semifinals across TNT and TruTV, while maintaining the traditional primary telecast on TBS.

    Tags: Media, ING, TBS/TNT, NCAA, Creative Artists Agency, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 11/15/2013

    A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at the week ahead.

    THE NUMBERS

    “2 to 12”: That, according to a source, is new Sabres President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine’s time frame, in terms of weeks, to hire the team’s next general manager. LaFontaine, the popular former Sabres player, was hired by owner Terry Pegula in a shake-up Wednesday that included the firing of GM Darcy Regier. LaFontaine, whose only team front office experience had been a six-week stay as an adviser to New York Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2006, is expected to be methodical in his approach. His first step will be asking for permission from other teams to interview their executives on his list of candidates. Why a maximum of 12 weeks? The two-week Olympic break begins Feb. 9, so 12 weeks gives the new general manager time to settle into the position before the NHL trade deadline on March 5.

    15: The number of franchises (from the league’s total of 30) that have played to 100 capacity six weeks into the 2013-14 regular season, through last night’s games. Maxing out tickets in the realigned Eastern Conference are Montreal, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and the New York Rangers. In the West: Chicago, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Minnesota and Winnipeg.

    12 – 15 – 20 – 100: Those are some of the positive business metrics for the surging Phoenix Coyotes, who are off to a 13-4-3 start on the ice in the first season under the new ownership of George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and their partners. The Coyotes signed a 12-year broadcast rights agreement this week with Fox Sports Arizona, on the heels of reaching a 15-year concessions deal with Levy Restaurants. According to LeBlanc, the team’s co-owner, president and CEO, ticket sales are up 20 percent, and suite sales are up almost 100 percent. “We’re also tracking towards having the best year in Coyotes history in corporate sponsorships,” LeBlanc said. “Now, of course we started from a lower number, but it’s going great.”

    8,620: The weight, in pounds, of the Minnesota Wild’s new Zamboni once it is filled with 277 gallons of water for ice-resurfacing. The Zamboni, unveiled this week, will be wrapped in advertising by Toyota, the club’s official automotive partner. Officially known as a Model 546, it’s the first new Zamboni purchased by the Wild since the club debuted with the Excel Energy Center in 2000.

    8: Start time for the first originally scheduled prime-time regular-season NHL game on NBC since NBC Sports re-acquired NHL rights in 2006. The Coors Light Stadium Series game from Soldier Field on Saturday, March 1, between the Blackhawks and Penguins was moved this week to NBC from NBC Sports Network, with game time set for 8 p.m. ET. (The 2011 Winter Classic aired in prime time on NBC, but that was after the game was postponed because of rain from its originally scheduled afternoon start.)

    LOOKING AHEAD

    MONDAY: Expect details on the NHL’s upcoming “24-7”-style access show to be divulged. The program, which will run on NBCSN and CBC, will spotlight players from their participation in the Coors Light Stadium Series through the Olympics (SportsBusiness Journal, Sept. 9-15).

    Tags: On the Ground, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Media, Franchises
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