• Top Minor League Markets: Rankings through the years

    SportsBusiness Journal this week spotlights Toledo, Ohio, for taking the No. 1 slot in our 2013 study of the country’s Top Minor League Markets.

    This is the fifth time SBJ has produced a Top Minor League Markets ranking, and the markets we’ve researched have seen their ranking fortunes rise and fall through the history of our survey. That includes Toledo, which was No. 9 in our first survey in 2005, fell to No. 77 in our 2007 study, but rose all the way back up to No. 1 this year. Following is a look at the top 10 from each year’s survey and where those respective markets fall in the 2013 ranking.

    2013 2011
    Rank Market (2013 rank)
    1 Toledo, Ohio  1 Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)
    Rochester, N.Y.  2 San Bernardino County, Calif. (4)
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.  3 Providence-Pawtucket, R.I. (12)
    San Bernardino County, Calif.  4 Reading, Pa. (34)
    Springfield, Mass.  5 Portland, Maine (13)
    Syracuse, N.Y.  6 Syracuse, N.Y. (6)
    Fort Wayne, Ind.  7 Charleston, S.C. (11)
    Des Moines, Iowa  8 Modesto, Calif. (14)
    Spokane, Wash.  9 Idaho Falls, Idaho (19)
    Sioux Falls, S.D. 10 Spokane, Wash. (9)

    Market (2013 rank)
    Rank Market (2013 rank)
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)  1 Fort Wayne, Ind. (7)
    Fort Wayne, Ind. (7)  2 Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)
    Tulsa, Okla. (NA)  3 Oklahoma City (NA)
    Billings, Mont. (129)  4 Rochester, N.Y. (2)
    Spokane, Wash. (9)  5 Reading, Pa. (34)
    Peoria, Ill. (55)  6 Quad Cities, Ill.-Iowa (48)
    San Bernardino County, Calif. (4)  7 Boise, Idaho (116)
    Bossier City-Shreveport, La. (228)  8 Tulsa, Okla. (NA)
    Idaho Falls, Idaho (19)  9 Sioux Falls, S.D. (10)
    10 Rochester, N.Y. (2) 10 Stockton, Calif. (186)

    Market (2013 rank)
    Rochester, N.Y. (2) 
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (159) 
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3) 
    Providence-Pawtucket, R.I. (12) 
    San Bernardino County, Calif. (4) 
    Oklahoma City (NA) 
    Fort Wayne, Ind. (7) 
    Dayton, Ohio (32) 
    Toledo, Ohio (1) 
    Fresno, Calif. (222) 

    NA: Not applicable. Market is no longer eligible for ranking as a minor league market because it now hosts a major league club: Oklahoma City with the NBA Thunder, and Tulsa with the WNBA Shock.

    Tags: IBL, NBA, WNBA
  • USGA Awards Fox Rights To U.S. Open, Women's Open, Senior Open

    Fox Sports, never much of a player in the golf space, has won the rights to the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open in a stunning deal that takes those majors away from NBC, Golf Channel and ESPN.

    The U.S. Golf Association awarded Fox a 12-year multimedia contract that begins in 2015 and runs through 2026. NBC has broadcast the U.S. Open since 1995, meaning the 2014 broadcast — its final one — will be the 20th edition of the U.S. Open that the network has televised.

    Fox will pick up rights the following year with Fox’s broadcast network and the soon-to-launch Fox Sports 1 serving as the principal domestic partner. Financial terms were not available.

    The first two rounds of U.S. Open will include two hours on the broadcast network and rest of the day on Fox Sports 1.

    USGA President Glen Nager acknowledged that the new arrangement with Fox is “a game-changer for our organization and for the game of golf.” Added Fox Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks: “We’re looking forward to Fox Sports becoming home to the pre-eminent golf championship in the world.”

    In addition to the three majors, Fox also will broadcast the USGA’s national amateur championships, which had been a staple of Golf Channel’s coverage.

    The deal represents a significant boost in coverage hours for the USGA. Fox’s deal will increase the total hours of coverage from 90 to 146 overall, and the number of hours devoted to the 10 amateur events jumps from 30 to 76.

    Tags: USGA, Fox, U.S. Open
  • Texas A&M’s revenue not a one-Manziel show

    Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    A Wall Street Journal story this week made the claim that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has “helped generate tens of millions of dollars for his team, athletic department, university and conference — without himself receiving any of those proceeds.”

    That’s not an unusual claim to hear these days, what with all the discussion about the O’Bannon lawsuit, the NCAA’s amateurism rules, and reports that Manziel demanded payments from a broker in exchange for autographing hundreds of photos, helmets and other memorabilia.

    But do the facts support the belief?

    The WSJ story doesn’t try to build a case for the claim, other than referring to a Joyce Julius study showing that Manziel generated $37 million in media exposure for the school between Nov. 10, 2012, and Jan. 6, 2013.

    But media exposure is not revenue (though it can certainly help increase it), and, anyway, most people aren’t thinking of media exposure when they think of the money being generated by college athletes. They think of ticket sales, jersey sales, alumni donations and maybe dollars distributed to schools and conferences in media rights deals.

    None of which can easily be tied to any individual player. The fact is, Texas A&M sold out its season tickets the year before Manziel turned into a star. The school’s licensing was up 22 percent this year, but it was up 23 percent last year, before Manziel’s No. 2 jerseys started flying off the rack. Donations had already been on the rise since the school announced its move to the SEC.

    When it comes to Texas A&M, you can probably make a stronger case that changing conferences provided more of a financial windfall than the exploits of any one player.

    Maybe that’s why the WSJ included the word “helped” in that sentence, as in, Manziel “helped” generate tens of millions of dollars. Because, in reality, the difference that any one college player can make in the overall intercollegiate sports landscape is a small one.

    That’s not to downplay the contributions of Manziel, or any other player, or to argue that they shouldn’t benefit from whatever contribution they do make. If the sales of Manziel’s jersey generated a few hundred thousand dollars, there’s a good case to be made that he should share in the proceeds.

    But with all the heat being generated in the arguments about college sports, let’s not lose sight of the fact that, like every other college athlete, Manziel didn’t do it all himself, either on or off the field.

    Tags: Colleges, People and Pop Culture
  • TV Timeout: Battle Of The Big Apple

    The NBA released its schedule for the '13-14 season and Avery Johnson discussed the games in the New York area over Super Bowl weekend. Super Bowl XLVIII is set for Feb. 2, with the Nets hosting the Thunder and the Knicks welcoming the Heat into MSG on back-to-back days leading up to the NFL's season finale. Johnson: "It's great for the NBA because even though the Super Bowl is going to be drawing millions and millions of fans from around the world, the NBA is still going to be front-and-center." Johnson added the Nets and Knicks are "going to draw a lot of fans and a lot of VIP clientele from all around the sports (world), and actors and actresses. So it's going to be great for the NBA to be on center stage prior to Super Bowl Sunday" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/6).

    : A musical titled "The Lockout," loosely based on the '11 NBA labor stoppage, is set to open in Chicago later this month. Newsday's Bob Glauber said, "If that makes it to Broadway I will join the Naked Cowboy in my underwear in Times Square" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/6).

    MODERN MEDIA'S ROLE IN PEDs: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said that one “can’t underestimate the level of the effect of the communications revolution” on the Alex Rodriguez suspension. Crasnick noted MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner made a point of “all the leaks that came out and how it undermined the process” of Rodriguez’s appeal. Crasnick: “I think that’s another thing that we have to take a look at because, obviously, these things are being done with a purpose and just the reporting on this and the way things came out, obviously, somebody had an agenda that they wanted to fulfill by getting this stuff out there" (ESPN.com, 8/6). 

    LATINO DILEMMA? Crasnick said the Biogenesis suspensions could be a “watershed event” in that there were “so many Latin players yesterday who got busted and I think that’s a real unexplored facet of this that we really need to pay attention to.” Crasnick said that a “big issue that needs to be addressed” with the Biogenesis suspensions is the “availability and the legality of some of these substances in Latin countries and the culture and maybe, I don’t want to say desperation, but the sense for players to want to play in the Major Leagues and maybe the availability and the willingness to use this stuff” (ESPN.com, 8/6).

  • TV Timeout: Unwanted Distractions

    With nearly half of the 30 MLB teams still in contention for a spot in this year's postseason, NBC News correspondent Ron Mott summed the short-term damage of the Biogenesis story, as it takes the average sports fan's attention away from the action on the diamond. Mott said the "media spectacle A-Rod's contentious return sparked" last night in Chicago "threatens to overshadow the game during its most important stretch, the pennant chase" ("Today," NBC, 8/6).

    Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Tom Verducci echoed yesterday's comments from Buster Olney, saying, "I spoke with a veteran player, very active in the union, a few days ago and he said he fully expects this issue to come up within the union in the offseason to talk about stricter penalties" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 8/5). ESPN's Curt Schilling: "I think we're going to see a 'Two strikes and you're out' policy at some point in the near future" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/5).

    TRUTH VS. PERCEPTION: Longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said with John Henry buying the newspaper, the "perception is always going to be there" that the Globe is providing skewed coverage of the Red Sox, and its "sports department is on the defensive forever and ever now" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/5).

    ORANGE YOU GLAD? ESPN's Michael Wilbon on the Dolphins' new uniforms: "Where's the orange? It's almost gone. The green is different. This was a major thing to me. They have been the same uniforms essentially for 40-some years" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/5).

    Tags: MLB, Miami Dolphins
  • TV Timeout: MLB To Increase PED Punishments For '14?

    An interesting tidbit came out of today's ad nauseum discussions about the MLB player suspensions and the fallout of the Biogenesis scandal. ESPN’s Buster Olney said he "talked with an influential player" in the big leagues that told him "he would be shocked if the drug testing rules are not strengthened during the offseason" in light of the suspensions of Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and others (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 8/5).

    Meanwhile, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said of Bud Selig's stance on the anticipated punishment of Alex Rodriguez: "This is a vindictive thing on the part of the commissioner, who is trying to protect himself and clean up his own legacy because he's responsible for what happened in the nineties." Ryan said Selig is "going to make A-Rod the example" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/4).

    NOT FIT FOR A KING? ESPN’s Howard Bryant on the idea that Heat F LeBron James could be the next president of the NBPA: "He did not even for one day attend college, and yet thinks he should represent his fellow players in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. This has disaster written all over it. Baseball historically has had the best union ... because it never allows an active player to run it." Bryant added, "It’s admirable that James may be thinking beyond himself. But wanting the job is one thing, being over-matched at the bargaining table is something else" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/4).

    Tags: MLB, NBA
  • Fans flock to Cosmos’ “first game back”

    The sold-out crowd was mostly in place at the start of the national anthem.
    “We’ll always be able to say we were at the first game back.”

    That refrain was heard often Saturday night, during the New York Cosmos’ return to North American Soccer League action for the first time in almost 30 years. The setting was more modest than in the club’s heyday in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when it drew crowds of more than 70,000 at Giants Stadium. Still, the Cosmos’ “reboot” (the club’s preferred term in its promotional materials) was seen as a successful one.

    Business at the Cosmos’ merchandise tent was brisk before, during and after the game.
    Bleacher-filled Shuart Stadium, on the campus of Hofstra University, was packed; the Cosmos announced a sellout crowd of 11,929. A brief opening ceremony that included former Cosmos stars Pelé and Carlos Alberto generated a loud standing ovation. Team jerseys (featuring the mark of sponsor Emirates Airline), T-shirts and soccer balls were flying off the merchandise shelves.

    And oh, by the way, the Cosmos defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1.

    The game was telecast live on ONE
    The supporters section, featuring about 300 fans in the Cosmos’ attacking zone in the first half, included groups The Borough Boys and The Five Points.
    World Sports, a service available on Google Fiber, Dish Network, Cablevision’s Optimum TV and Mediacom Communications. The network is producing the Cosmos’ seven home games in NASL’s fall season. But since many viewers in New York and New Jersey do not get ONE World Sports, the seven games also are being made available on SNY, which reaches more than 13 million homes. J.P. Dellacamera is the play-by-play announcer; Janusz Michallik is the analyst.

    One advantage of having the games televised is that most of the local 11 p.m. news programs on Saturday
    Cosmos TV announcers Janusz Michallik (left) and J.P. Dellacamera
    picked up coverage and showed highlights — important publicity for a club in a crowded New York market.

    The challenge now facing the Cosmos will be getting fans to return to Hofstra for the team’s next home match, Aug. 24 against San Antonio, and for the ones after that. The NASL ranks a rung below MLS among U.S. soccer leagues; Shuart Stadium has little charm, few amenities and no videoboards for replays; and Pelé is not currently scheduled for an encore wave at a future match.

    The novelty of fans being able to say they were at the first game back is over. As the club is well aware, the true test of the Cosmos’ reboot will be over the next three months.

    Tags: On The Ground, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Franchises
  • TV Timeout: More Than A Poor Choice Of Words

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed Eagles WR Riley Cooper's recent racial slur on this morning's "Mike & Mike" on ESPN Radio. Goodell said he is "glad to see the club stepped up and took decisive action quickly," but the NFL "does not penalize at the club level and the league level for the same incident." He added the league "will not be taking action separately from the club," but it will "go through some (sensitivity) training" with the Eagles ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 8/1).

    But ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Cooper "has to be suspended" by Goodell, "not maybe, he has to be suspended" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/31). SI's Chris Mannix said it is a "perfectly valid argument" to say Cooper should have been suspended and/or cut by the Eagles. But he added, "From a PR perspective, this was handled about as well as it could possibly be handled" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 8/1).

    Meanwhile, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio noted the Cooper story "led every local newscast" in Philadelphia, so it was "treated very seriously" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/31). PFT's Mike Florio: "Usually the league is tight-lipped on matters of this nature when the player apologizes, but I got an e-mail from NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello" ("PFT," NBCSN, 7/31).

    WORKING ON DEADLINE: ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said of the relatively quiet passing of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline: "The second wild-card has kept a lot more teams in the race so instead of selling off players, they're all looking to buy players and there simply were not very many good players available. ... So many teams have understood that the best way to build your team is to keep as many of your prospects as possible, go through the draft. So therefore, the days of the four-for-one trade, they're not over, but they're pretty close to being over" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/31).

    ALOHA, KICKOFFS? CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce asked if Roger Goodell is "testing out the no kickoff format" with the changes to the '14 Pro Bowl, "because we've heard him, in the past, say that he's considering that for the normal NFL season." CBSSN's Doug Gottlieb: "I don't think that will ever be part of the NFL, the no kickoff format." Gottlieb added the NFL is "actually able to make more money because they're going to televise this draft" ("Lead Off," CBS Sports Network, 7/31). ESPN's Marcellus Wiley: "Once again, they're putting lipstick on this pig. ... Not one single player in this world wants to play another game of football after the season" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 7/31).

    Tags: NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, MLB
  • TV Timeout: Eighteen & Life

    Channel surfing in the last 24 hours has seen plenty of reaction to the speculation that Alex Rodriguez could be banned for life from MLB. CNBC’s Jane Wells: "Why do these threats always come down when a player's best money-making days are behind him? A lifetime ban on Ryan Braun? That would scare players" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 7/29).

    ESPN's Tony Kornheiser asked, "Am I the only one troubled with the fact that we have known for months now that these suspensions are imminent and only one guy, Ryan Braun, has been kicked out so far? They have the cooperation of Tony Bosch, they have records, there's a list of about 20 people. Why is Ryan Braun the only one out?" Columnist Kevin Blackistone: "Because it's been poorly handled by MLB once again. They said a few weeks ago they wanted to take care of this in the summer. Now they're taking care of it piecemeal" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/29).

    But SNY's Jonas Schwartz notes MLB may not have an easy path to a life sentence for A-Rod: “I cannot imagine Michael Weiner and the players' union is ready to rollover on a lifetime ban for a guy who has never tested positive once." N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman added, "I don’t see the players association abandoning him" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 7/29).

    SWEET 16: SI’s Andy Staples reacted to the spate of injuries during the first week of NFL training camps, and opined on why the league should stick to a 16-game schedule, as opposed to expanding to 18 games. Staples: “You can’t do it. You can’t make yourself more liable when that lawsuit finally gets to court. You cannot press this issue anymore if you're Roger Goodell” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/29). 

    LIFE IN THE VALLEY: CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said of the 49ers potentially offering apps that allow fans to see the lines at concession stands and restrooms, “If you're in Northern California you have to have the next level stuff. Silicon Valley is right there, that’s who’s coming to this game. People who work for Apple are coming to your games, you got to have next level apps. … I’m going to be impressed, kind of, with the next level ingenuity to it and especially considering how long they’ve wanted to replace Candlestick” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/29).

    DADDY DEAREST: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke, on whether golfer Hunter Mahan's sponsors are comfortable with him withdrawing from the Canadian Open while leading after two rounds to attend the birth of his child: "It makes him even more endorsable" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/29).

  • TV Timeout: From Biogenesis To The Legacy Of 'JerryWorld'

    The MLB PED scandal involving the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic remained a hot topic, with many analysts discussing the scandal’s impact on MLB and beyond. Appearing on ESPN’s “Around The Horn,” Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the NBA is the “next big steroid busting” sport because “you see every four years at the Olympics all these players lose weight … because drug-testing is so much more difficult at the Olympics.” Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “I always wonder about the NBA and how it kind of skates in this process because … what players looked like just 15-20 years ago and what they look like today and you’re thinking, ‘Is that protein shakes? Is that what happened?’” Cowlishaw said “it’s all about star power” in these PED revelations and “in baseball, it’s MVPs, it’s Cy Young winners, it’s home run kings. That’s why baseball has been killed in this process.” Cowlishaw: “People always ask, ‘Why is baseball the sport that gets killed in this?’ One of the reasons is their commissioner goes out of the way to make this stuff giant headlines while the other ones shy away from it.”

    ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “Unlike Major League Baseball, nobody else is going to go out of their way to talk to this man (whistle blower Porter Fischer) and say, ‘Hey, could you please give us a scandal that will mire us in the news and we won’t be able to do anything about it?’ Why would you do that? Only baseball has an incentive to do that because of its history” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/26). NBC’s Jay Leno noted Brewers LF Ryan Braun has been suspended by MLB for the rest of season for cheating using PEDs. Leno: “You know what’s the sad part? The Brewers are already 19 games out of first place. That’s with performance-enhancing drugs. How bad are they going to be now?” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 7/26).

    THE PATRIOT WAY: New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said the Patriots “have become the bad karma capital for all their success since the last time they won the Super Bowl.” The Patriots have had Spygate, lost “two unbelievable Super Bowls, a lot of stuff has happened” but the “machine keeps rolling along and it seems like every time you look up they’re 10-2” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 7/28). NBC’s Leno asked “SNF” announcer Cris Collinsworth, “The Patriots are always sort of the straight-laced team, right?” Collinsworth: “They are and it’s not good. There’s nothing good about it but they got Tim Tebow so maybe that will straighten them all out a little bit” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 7/26).

    HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS? ESPN's Skip Bayless said the comment by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that the newly named AT&T Stadium will be “more familiar than the White House” was “over the edge.” Bayless: “This was a 70-year-old Jerry Jones who has built a monument to himself, JerryWorld, who’s saying, ‘I want my monument to become more familiar to people in this country than the most important edifice in this country, the White House.’ Are you kidding me, Jerry?” Bayless said it has “become more about Jerry promoting Jerry than winning football games.” ESPN's Jemele Hill said the “reason that people don’t know how smart” Jones is because “he does stuff like this.” He is “always talking at the wrong time saying the wrong thing.” ESPN’s Michael Smith said, “I don’t think he literally thinks that the most important building in the country is going to be second to JerryWorld. But if you’ve been to JerryWorld … impressive doesn’t do it justice” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 7/26).

    • ESPN’s Zubin Mehenti said of NCAA reform, “You think conference realignment is a big deal. That’s going to be nothing compared to this if this goes down” (“College Football Live,” ESPN, 7/26).

    Tags: MLB, ESPN, NBA, Olympics, Baseball
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