A year after Donald Sun acquired the rights to the AVP, he is "resurrecting the tour with five stops featuring some of the top athletes in beach volleyball," according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The tour will "visit Salt Lake City; Cincinnati; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach, Calif., between August and October." Sun has hired Wasserman Media Group to "manage event operations and sponsorship sales and to do strategic consulting." Volleyball maker Wilson is the tour’s "only existing sponsor." But sources said that the agency is "looking for sponsors in several categories and asking for $200,000 to $400,000 a year." In addition, sources said that AVP organizers "have been in discussions with CBS Sports Network about broadcasts." However, AVP Chair Dick Carle "declined to comment on the AVP’s media plans." The five-stop AVP tour is the "most concerted effort yet to bring beach volleyball back to the U.S." The tour previously folded in '10 and "filed for bankruptcy protection." Sun hosted an event in Santa Barbara last year "after the Olympics and promised to hold six events this year." Carle said that instead they will "start with five and look to double and possibly triple that ahead of" the '16 Rio Olympics. Carle added that the tour will be "offering sponsors 'branded content' opportunities that weren’t available for sponsors of the previous iteration of the AVP" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/22 issue).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on "Live with Kelly & Michael" this morning to promote Heads Up Football, an initiative created by USA Football that is being rolled out nationwide this year pledging to teach a safer form of the game to youth participants. Co-host Michael Strahan, who is part of the program, noted it teaches "different tackling techniques starting from little kids so that they learn from the (grassroots) up." He said, "It's really interesting because so many parents are afraid to let their kids play football now.” Goodell said, "Already 30,000 coaches have signed up to be certified so that they know the proper techniques and they know how to teach young kids." He hopes to have 1,000 leagues "across the country ... signed up for this program." Goodell: "I hope people will let their kids play football, but make sure they're supervised properly” ("Live with Kelly & Michael," 4/23). The AP's Barry Wilner reports the program in addition to teaching proper tackling techniques will emphasize "concussion recognition and response; coaching certifications; properly fitted equipment; and coaches trained to implement Heads Up Football." Nearly 80 former NFLers, including Pro Football HOFer Barry Sanders, are serving as USA Football ambassadors, and they will "work alongside youth leagues, attending practices and games." Each league "nominates a player safety coach who is trained by USA Football in its Heads Up program." Those coaches will "implement the safety practices in their leagues and monitor player safety protocols within the organization." The program was launched in part with a $1.5M grant from the NFL Foundation (AP, 4/23).
In Newark, Alex Raskin noted there are "only two bids" for the '15 NBA All-Star Game, and "they're both coming" from N.Y. with the Knicks and Nets. NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said of the teams possibly sharing the event, "It is possible, and we would divide the events between the two teams." Sharing the ASG "sounds like a compromise that's destined to disappoint both parties." One arena -- "either Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center -- will get the game while the other gets some of the peripheral events such as the Dunk Contest and 3-point Contest." They still would "have to decide where to put the 'Fan Jam' and a host of other details" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/21).
CHANGE OF PACE: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle wrote it is "nice to see a little more variety in the winner’s circle" for the Izod IndyCar Series, with three different winners for the season's first three races. The "change of pace in IndyCar is raising a few eyebrows -- in a good way -- and awakening a few people just in time for the month of May." There has been "a lot of clamoring for more American IndyCar drivers in recent years." But "more than anything, this series needs to be shaken and stirred at the top," as it recently has "really only been contested by a few predictable names" (IBJ.com, 4/22).
U-TURN: In London, Sylt & Reid reported Lloyds Banking Group "has sold" its 25.3% stake in the Marussia F1 team "after it made huge losses and failed to perform on the track." The U.K.-based team "joined F1 in 2010, but has yet to score a single point." Its drivers "finished 19th and 20th in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix and its latest accounts show that in the year ending" Dec. 31 2011, it "made a net loss" of $70.6M (all figures U.S.) on revenue which dropped 5% to $43.6M. Lloyds "invested an estimated" $15.25M in the team in '09 (London TELEGRAPH, 4/22).
POWER SERVE: SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote with Wimbledon becoming the latest Grand Slam event to increase prize money, former ATPers are "kicking themselves for not organizing and extracting similar concessions." Now the "question: What are the players going to do with this newfound power? Was it simply about the money? Or are there other labor battles ahead?" (SI.com, 4/22).