PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem yesterday said that there "remains interest" in the PGA Tour and European Tour "working together over the long term," according to Jason Sobel of GOLFCHANNEL.com. This comes after Finchem "previously denied published reports stating the PGA Tour has interest in taking over the European Tour." Finchem: "We recognize that golf is growing, starting to really pick up growth in areas globally where historically where they haven't been, especially on the women's side in some of those areas, like Asia." He added that a strong European Tour "benefits the product domestically, as far as growing interest in the game." Finchem said that the tours "should allow the partnership to grow organically rather than forcing one" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/28).
SLY LIKE A FOX? Meanwhile, Finchem said that Fox' news deal with the USGA is "good for the tour over the long run." Finchem: "There are positives -- a few negatives, but there are positives. To have companies invested in the sport in any way results in more focus on the sport from those broadcast companies." He said the PGA Tour has spoken to Fox "a number of times" in the last 10-15 years. Finchem: "We just never got to an arrangement, but we know they have an interest. We had serious, robust conversations in the middle of two of the negotiations in the last three. One of the main issues with them is scheduling. I mean, they have a lot of baseball. They have a lot of NASCAR. ... We really like our two-network arrangement right now, anyways." Finchem said golf on Fox will be "a work in progress." He added of Greg Norman possibly working as a U.S. Open analyst on Fox, "I don't think he has the interest in doing it, but I think he would be good at television" (AP, 8/28).
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: GOLFCHANNEL.com's Sobel wrote it appears Finchem "isn't overly optimistic about soon finding a title sponsor" for the Tampa Bay Championship in the '13-14 season. Finchem "admitted the Tour is still efforting its search." He said of a rumor that the Tour has a Sept. 1 deadline with the event, "I don't think I want to confirm any deadlines. We're making progress in talking about Tampa" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/28).
No one around the NFL "seems to agree on a solution to the annual disenchantment with the four-game preseason schedule," according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt said, "There are two sides to the coin. For a team like the Chiefs who have gone through a coaching change, having four games is very valuable for the players and the coaches. ... Long term, the move to having more regular-season games and fewer preseason games makes sense from a holistic standpoint, but I can’t predict when that will happen" (K.C. STAR, 8/29). In DC, Mark Maske cites an NFL team owner as saying that he "continues to regard an 18-game season as a non-starter." But the owner said, "As a form of entertainment, the preseason games are a challenge." Maske writes one possible solution is the NFL "could tie a reduced preseason to an expanded postseason." The owner said, "I'm not sure I'd be in favor of expanding the playoffs. How much do you expand them? Two teams? Four teams? There could be a case made for that, I suppose. (But) you’re going to have 8-8 teams making the playoffs on a fairly regular basis" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/29).
As good as "recent times have been" in pro tennis, a debate "continues about how the sport could utilize its current profit windfall to better stimulate growth and develop the next class of superstars who will move the game forward," according to Chris Oddo in a special to USA TODAY. Pro tennis "might have never had it so good in terms of far-reaching popularity and widespread appeal, thanks to global cast of stars that has captivated the imagination of fans, marketers and media." The money "is coming, particularly from the Grand Slams," but how to "distribute the money is a far more complicated question." ATP player council member Sergiy Stakhovsky said, "It's about making the sport vital for all the players. We would like to make our sport bigger so that all the tournaments grow side by side, so there's no gaps. It's going to be extremely hard." Fellow player Rhyne Williams said, "It's one thing if you're paying for just yourself and your meals and your travel, but if you're paying for a full-time traveling coach, and all his expenses too, it can get pricey." Andy Murray also weighed in, "The Challengers and the Futures need to be able to increase their prize money so that more tennis players can make a living. The Slams obviously make a lot of money, and yeah, if there's a way we can sort of filter some of that money down to the bottom end, then I think that would help." Oddo wrote, "It's not just the Challengers that need help, the ATP's smaller events such as the 250 and 500-level events are struggling to stay solvent as well." ESPN analyst Cliff Drysdale: "The 250s are dying on the vine. Look how many tournaments are leaving the U.S." (USATODAY.com, 8/28).
UFC CFO John Mulkey said that the parent company Zuffa "plans to build a corporate base" on 24 acres of land it has purchased for $7.8M along the Las Vegas Beltway, according to Jennifer Robison of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. As Zuffa "expanded over the last decade, it cobbled together space as needed through leases and building purchases here and there," but mostly near the Palace Station casino. Mulkey said, "We've gotten to the point where we needed one solution for our needs going forward." He said that the new site "appealed to the company for its quick access to McCarran International Airport, and to UFC venues such as MGM Grand Garden Arena." Mulkey added that the area around the site is "relatively undeveloped, which will give Zuffa some flexibility in what it builds." While Mulkey did not offer an estimate for construction cost or to set a date for groundbreaking or occupancy, Zuffa real estate broker Kevin Higgins said that a site that size "could accommodate 300,000 square feet of space." Mulkey said that it also is "too soon to say how many employees the headquarters would house over the next decade" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/28).
NYRA's goal of "becoming financially sustainable is proving to be elusive," and its BOD yesterday emphasized that the "red ink cannot continue to flow," according to James Odato of the Albany TIMES UNION. The board yesterday held its "first open meeting ever" in Saratoga Springs. The board indicated that "increasing revenues and paring expenses, perhaps even closing Aqueduct Race Track, have become top priorities." Board members said that NYRA "must not rely on a share of video lottery terminal wagering at Aqueduct." NYRA for the first six months of this year recorded a $10.3M operating loss, "more than double the loss of the same period" last year. The association reported net income of $8.1M in part due to the "infusion of VLT money," a figure that is "slightly above last year's level." NYRA President & CEO Chris Kay said that he "hopes to have a plan put together by next year detailing how NYRA can become a private business again." NYRA Finance Committee Chair Stuart Subotnick indicated that "saving money by closing Aqueduct" is a possibility. He added that NYRA "needs to find ways to get the community and governmental clearances to install wagering machines at 40 restaurants and sports bars"in New York City. Subotnick and other members said that it "is critical" to find new revenue sources through means such as retail expansion of betting outlets. NYRA BOD Chair David Skorton said that he "wants to hold private conversations with board members on the future of the tracks and issues such as adjusting the number of days of racing at Saratoga Race Course." Kay added that he "hopes to retain a consultant later this year" to help the board "better understand where NYRA fits in the sports and entertainment world" (Albany TIMES UNION, 8/29).