Welcome Aboard: New Additions To The Sports Business Landscape This Year
This year saw many new additions to the scene, whether it be teams moving to new markets, inaugural events or stars looking for a change of scenery. Here are a few of the new kids on the block that caught our attention.
NETS GAIN: It took more than a half-century, but Brooklyn finally got another big league team when the Nets moved into Barclays Center this fall, culminating years of work by Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark. The postponement of the planned home opener against the Knicks due to Hurricane Sandy could not dampen local enthusiasm, as writers agreed it was the best thing to happen to sports in the borough since the Dodgers left for L.A. Meanwhile, team merchandise instantly flew off the shelves after the new logo and jerseys were unveiled.
THE ARTFUL DODGERS: The baseball world was rocked when Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Dodgers for a staggering $2.15B. The team’s new braintrust, which included Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, wasted no time trying to make the team the "Yankees of the West Coast," trading for 1B Adrian Gonzalez and SS Hanley Ramirez, among others, while signing P Zack Greinke this offseason. With the smog lifting from the franchise, fans can see a new attitude at Chavez Ravine.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS: The F1 U.S. Grand Prix enjoyed a triumphant debut at Circuit of the Americas, with 117,000 in attendance on the day of the race and over 256,000 for the three-day event in Austin. The success of the F1’s stateside return seemed to catch even Bernie Ecclestone off-guard, as he noted the event was much better than he thought it would be. The London Telegraph’s David Tremayne summed it up when he wrote, "Was the U.S. GP a success? It was a lot more than that."
praised for admitting Condoleezza Rice to the club
INDY SPIRIT AWARD: Indianapolis hosted its first Super Bowl to general acclaim, prompting suggestions the city should become part of the regular Super Bowl rotation. The city was praised for everything from its centrally located layout to the Midwestern hospitality heaped on the visitors. Although city and county agencies reported losing about $1.3M from hosting the game (about $450,000 more than projected), officials in July announced a bid for Super Bowl LII in ’18.
WILD ON: The Wild stunned the hockey world when they signed LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter -- the two top free agents this offseason -- to identical 13-year, $98M contracts. The move instantly rejuvenated Wild fans, as the club sold 2,000 season tickets within a week of the announcements. The fervor was something Wild officials were hoping for, as some apathy was starting to set into the fan base. However, the ongoing lockout means it will be at least six months after the signing before the players could actually put on Wild gear.
KICK IT UP A NOTCH: The MLS Dynamo opened BBVA Compass Stadium before a raucous sold-out crowd in May. The club has long sought a soccer-specific facility after playing for years at the Univ. of Houston’s Robertson Stadium. The downtown venue was also a hit during national TV broadcasts, with NBC’s Arlo White saying it could serve as a “template for the future of MLS,” while analyst Kyle Martino said it “nailed the most important aspect of a soccer-specific stadium: Make it intimate.”
JIM DANDY: The Browns have been one of the NFL’s doormats since returning to the league in ’99, but Jimmy Haslam III has his eyes set on changing that perception. After buying the team this fall, Haslam began a front-office change that saw Mike Holmgren depart and Joe Banner and Alec Scheiner come in. Haslam also has spoken about the possibility of a dome for the Dawg Pound and has made concerted efforts to expand the Browns brand throughout Ohio.