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Volume 24 No. 156

Thursday 4:00pm ET....Latest News....Distributors Hold Line On FS1 Fee

  • Sources: Distributors Hold The Line On Fox Sports 1 Sub Fee
  • USTA Formally Announces Plans For Roof Over Arthur Ashe Stadium
  • Bruce Ratner's Nassau Events Center To Renovate Coliseum
  • MLB Will Not Hold Vote On Expanded Replay System Until November

Sources: Distributors Hold The Line On Fox Sports 1 Sub Fee

The frenzied rush that saw several of the country’s biggest distributors agree to carry FS1 at launch occurred only after Fox surprisingly backed off its asking price of $0.80 per subscriber per month, according to multiple high-level sources. Cablevision, Cox, DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable agreed to carry the new, heavily promoted all-sports channel, but only at the same rate they were paying for the previous channel, Speed, which cost $0.23 per subscriber per month. Fox told the distributors that it would convert Speed into FS1 and allow distributors with existing Speed deals to carry it at Speed’s rate, or at least close to it, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

Read the full story.

USTA Formally Announces Plans For Roof Over Arthur Ashe Stadium

The USTA today formally announced its plan to upgrade Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium and the construction of two stadiums. The cost of the renovation is estimated at $550M, including the retractable roof, estimated to cost more than $100M. Construction will commence after this year’s U.S. Open and be conducted in three phases. The project is slated to be completed by the ’18 U.S. Open and the roof operational no later than the ’17 tournament (USTA). The Arthur Ashe Stadium roof, “teflon-coated and translucent in appearance,” will measure 200,000 square feet (REUTERS, 8/15).

Bruce Ratner's Nassau Events Center To Renovate Coliseum

Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano announced that the county has chosen Forest City Ratner over MSG to renovate the Nassau Coliseum. Under the deal, Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner has agreed to pay the county 8% of "all annual revenue generated by the Coliseum each year, including tickets and concessions," and 12.75% of parking. The deal will "provide Nassau initially with a minimum" of $4M a year and $334M over a 49-year period. Mangano: "This plan gives us a clear road to success. ... The proposal has zero expense for the taxpayer" (NEWSDAY, 8/15).

MLB Will Not Hold Vote On Expanded Replay System Until November

A formal vote on MLB's expanded instant replay system will not occur until the next set of owners meetings in November, but the league is moving forward conceptually on a challenge-based system in which managers would be able to ask for video review several times per game. Managers would get a challenge opportunity once in the first six innings of each game, and then two more from the 7th inning to the end of each game. Challenges would be permitted on a long and still-developing list of reviewable plays, estimated to cover about 89% of generally disputed on-field situations.

"This is a historic moment," said Braves President John Schuerholz, part of a subcommittee that has worked for months on the replay issue. "For the first time, managers are empowered to challenge plays that affect them." Schuerholz said a more centralized replay model used in basketball and hockey was actively considered. But he said the new plan "is a happy balance that will retain the uniqueness and charm of baseball." The current, umpire-led format for reviewing home run and boundary calls is being grandfathered into the new system.

MLB Formally Intervening In Talks To Find Rays A New Ballpark

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig today said the league will formally intervene in the long-stalled discussions to find the Rays a new ballpark. The club is locked in its current lease for outdated Tropicana Field until ‘27 and ranks next-to-last in attendance in the league despite six straight winning seasons. Selig declined to specify how MLB will get involved, but signaled that Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg will no longer be seeking a solution alone. "We need a resolution. This is a very troubling situation," Selig said following the conclusion of the owners meetings in Cooperstown, N.Y. "They've been a model organization."

Sternberg added his inability to reach a ballpark deal in nearly eight years of owning the franchise "has reached a boiling point." Sternberg: "Something needs to be done. It's been too long, and there's a frustration at the league level that I haven't been able to get this done." Selig declined comment when asked if relocation out of the Tampa area was a possibility, but Sternberg downplayed that option. "I can't imagine I would move this team,” he said. However, Sternberg did add that even with a new ballpark, the Rays still would not be a top-10 franchise in terms of revenue.

ATP Tour Still Searching For CEO To Fill Brad Drewett's Role

The ATP Tour has retained search firm Heidrick & Struggles in the recruitment process to fill its top position and the tour "did not expect a resolution in the immediate future." The tour said in a statement, "No appointment will be made before the start of or during the U.S. Open."

The ATP has been searching for a new leader since late Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett "disclosed his battle with ALS" in January. Chief Legal Officer & ATP Americas CEO Mark Young "remains a candidate" while Commercial Dir & ATP Europe CEO Laurent Delanney "is no longer in the running" (USATODAY.com, 8/15).

Bears Drop Fanvision Deal, Offering Similar Services On Their App

The Bears are no longer making handheld Fanvision video highlight controllers available during games at Soldier Field. The team said that its agreement with Fanvision “ended after last season and that similar services are planned for the Chicago Bears Mobile App, which the team launched last season.” Fanvision devices cost $199 plus an activation fee per game, “though the team offered the devices to some season-ticket holders at no charge” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 8/15).

Fox Sports Digital Acquires Assets Of Social Gaming Outfit Fanhood

Fox Sports Digital has acquired the assets of Fanhood, a two-year-old social gaming outfit. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal was an acqui-hire in which Fox acquired the company's assets and intellectual property and hired the Fanhood team of employees, including CEO Brandon Ramsey. Ramsey will now be Fox Sports Digital VP/Platform Engineering and report to Senior VP/Platform Development Ben Gerst. Gerst was hired less than three months ago.

Buzzer Beaters....

The Sabres today said that the renewal rate on season tickets is 97% and that the club "was taking on another 600 accounts, bringing the total to 16,000." That marks the "third consecutive season the Sabres have capped season tickets" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/15).

The NBPA has "gained a small victory in the lawsuit filed" by former Exec Dir Billy Hunter after Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch tentatively granted the union's motion to move the lawsuit to L.A. County Superior Court (USATODAY.com, 8/15).

Free agent G and NBA Exec Committee VP Roger Mason Jr. said that he is running for NBA president (TWITTER.com, 8/15).

Former NFLer Brian Jones has joined CBS' "College Football Today" crew. Jones will make his debut when the show broadcasts live from Kyle Field on Sept. 14 ahead of the Alabama-Texas A&M game (CBS).

The Univ. of Memphis and Tiger Sports Properties today announced a renewal with Vivid Seats to be the school's official ticket reseller (Tiger Sports Properties).

Quick Hits....

“This game is as hot, if not hotter, than two years ago. There’s enormous demand” – Michigan AD Dave Brandon, on ticket demand for this year’s night football game against Notre Dame. The game in ’11 drew a Michigan Stadium record of 114,804 (DETROIT NEWS, 8/15).

“We won't be becoming Fulham Jaguars. … We want to look for areas where they can work together and I think most of those are going to be on the business side” – Jaguars and EPL club Fulham Owner Shahid Khan, on his interest in the two clubs collaborating (London TELEGRAPH, 8/15).

"I love this city. I lived here for almost 10 years. I don't know. I wish I could do an event here more, but these guys are making it hard to do" -- UFC President Dana White, on Boston City Council President Steve Murphy proposing a ban on children from attending UFC events in the city (MMAJUNKIE.com, 8/15).

Twitter Me This....

"Dan Patrick Show" producer Paul Pabst: "Only MLB would announce this now and risk a missed call in the 2013 playoffs for something reviewable in 2014."

OaklandClubhouse.com's Melissa Lockard: "A 5th umpire in the booth would be a great idea except they'd never be able to get a feed on their tablets because of MLB.tv blackout rules."

ESPN's Jay Williams: "Random thoughts: every1 defending Johnny Football & I agree but how come no one defended Reggie Bush or Terrelle Pryor. #SamePanSameGreese"

Octagon hockey agent Allan Walsh: "An expansion team in Quebec is inevitable. When building is ready, team will be there. Should have never left in 1st place."

ESPN FC's Jason Davis: "How rich is it that Vergara is invoking 'US laws' re: MLS forcing a sale with two lawsuits filed against the team?"

If you see a tweet we will not want to miss, send it to us at editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

The Starting Five....

The most-read stories today on SportsBusinessDaily.com:

1) FS1 Ready To Launch In Nearly 90 Million Homes After Deals With All Major Carriers
2) Josh Harris, David Blitzer Buy Devils, Prudential Center From Vanderbeek For $320M
3) Predators Introduce Special Ticket Plan Aimed At Keeping Blackhawks Fans Out
4) Longtime WEEI Program Dir Jason Wolfe Fired Amidst Ratings Slump
5) Facility Notes: Red Sox Official Says Fenway Concerts Are Not "Highly Lucrative"

The Daily's Hot Reads....

SPORTING NEWS' David Steele writes the possibility of an NFL stadium in L.A. "has the power to back a city and its citizens against a wall. … And now, it might subject Oakland and its citizens to the indignity of losing its favorite team to the same city twice in barely three decades" (SPORTINGNEWS.com).

Also:
 

See the Hot Reads section for more sports business-related links.

In Other News....

A&E's "Duck Dynasty" kicked off its new season on Wednesday night and drew 11.8 million viewers, "the largest audience ever for a non-fiction cable series." The season premiere set an A&E record "as the biggest telecast in the network's history." The show earned a 5.0 rating in the adult 18-49 demo, which is "a higher rating than any series on television this summer" (VARIETY.com, 8/15).

Headliners....

Here are tonight’s headline guests on the following talk shows:
“Late Show” Jim Parsons (r)
“Tonight Show” Sandra Bullock (r)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” Ashton Kutcher
“Late Late Show” Stephen Fry (r)
“Late Night” Katie Couric (r)
“Conan” Harrison Ford

Daily Digit....

$2,000 – Amount the Triple-A PCL Las Vegas 51s spend on extra police presence for Dollar Beer Night at Cashman Field. The team spends another $800 for added security "to handle any beer-induced behavior problems." The team has run the promotion eight times so far this season (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/15).

Notes & Quotes From This Day In SBD History....

2005
"Some people are trying to suggest a Machiavellian plot here that just doesn’t exist" -- MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on reports that MLB is withholding names of star players who have failed drug tests.