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Volume 24 No. 159

2013 Year In Review

THE DAILY continues our look back at the sports business year of '13. Today, we offer the remaining top stories of the year and five more names that were in the headlines. We also present some highlights from the year in media and some of the more forgettable moments of the year. Additionally, we conclude our annual review of the best quotes of the year.

The SBD/SBJ editorial staff compiled the top sports business stories of '13, in no particular order. Today, we present five of them. See yesterday’s issue for five other top stories.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has overseen
three lockouts over a two decade span
GETTING BACK ON THE ICE: Perhaps the only thing more resilient than hockey players is the NHL itself. In January, the league returned after its third lockout in two decades and did not appear to sustain serious financial injury. Television ratings for the playoffs were strong and, this season, more than half of the league’s teams were playing to 100% capacity into December. The NHL wants to increase its revenue by $1B within the next three years and received a boost toward that goal with a 12-year, $5.2B Canadian media rights deal.

HITTING IT OUT OF THE PARK: When Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Dodgers 19 months ago for a record $2.15B, the purchase price was premised significantly on striking a local TV rights deal that also would make history. But even the most aggressive of external expectations were blown away when the club announced a 25-year deal with Time Warner Cable worth an estimated $8B. The deal promises to shake up the market for sports media rights, cost structures in the cable TV business and revenue sharing within MLB.

O'Bannon first filed his lawsuit against the NCAA
in '09
THE NCAA’S IMAGE ISSUE: Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA, first filed in ‘09, picked up steam in ‘13 as the case moved into class-action status. The case over whether college athletes should own the rights to their likenesses is scheduled to go to trial in the summer of ‘14, but the momentum it gained this year for the first time made administrators wonder if the NCAA’s amateurism rules will hold up in court.

AGENCIES IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AEG was put on the market in late ‘12, poised to be the biggest sports deal of the decade, but it will be remembered instead as the $9B blockbuster that never happened. Chair Phil Anschutz never got the price he wanted, pulled AEG off the market and parted ways with longtime CEO Tim Leiweke. Then just this week, William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners acquired IMG from Forstmann Little for an estimated $2.4B.

MLS HITS SOME BIG GOALS: MLS added its 20th and 21st franchises, both set to begin play in ‘15. The owners of the Yankees and EPL club Manchester City paid $100M -- MLS’ highest expansion fee in history -- and are looking at a potential stadium site adjacent to Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, in Florida, Orlando City FC is building a downtown stadium after paying MLS $70M to join the league.

Many brands, execs and ideas caught our eye in ’13. Here are five that, for better or worse, made an impression this year. See yesterday’s issue for five more newsmakers from this year.

Ranadive has plans for a new downtown arena
following his purchase of the Kings
The NBA Kings faced an uncertain future and a possible move to Seattle until a group led by Vivek Ranadivé stepped forward and purchased the franchise for $534M. Ranadivé’s commitment to Sacramento, with plans for a new downtown arena and adjoining mixed-use development, fired up the fan base and brought new hope to the Kings faithful.


The eyes of sports media were trained on Brian Rolapp in July, when the NFL announced that he would be replacing Steve Bornstein as the league’s top media exec in the spring. One of Rolapp’s first responsibilities will be to figure out what to do with the NFL’s Thursday night package. Given his background with digital media, Rolapp also will be looking into how the league deals with over-the-top providers and social media companies.

A slip of the wrist sent Clint Bowyer’s car spinning just before the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond. The intentional move changed the outcome of the race and put Bowyer’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr., into the Chase. But it proved costly. NASCAR penalized the team $300,000, NAPA dropped its sponsorship of the team, and Waltrip, who appeared complicit in the scheme, was left apologizing and seeking to regain the trust of fans.

Schuerholz helped lead the drive to get the Braves
a new ballpark in suburban Cobb County
The Braves, led at the negotiating table by senior club execs John Schuerholz, Derek Schiller and Mike Plant, stunned the greater Atlanta area and the sports industry at large with their plans to leave Turner Field and build a new ballpark and mixed-use development in suburban Cobb County. The team’s bold plan, valued at more than $1B, seeks to take advantage of both population and economic migration patterns, as well as ancillary development projects that have become increasingly important in baseball.

MSG completed a three-year, $1B renovation to bring a fresh look to the 45-year-old arena. MSG President Hank Ratner spearheaded the massive redevelopment, topped off by the Chase Bridges -- the project’s signature feature. Architect Murray Beynon designed the bridges, which hold 433 seats at the top of the arena and provide spectacular views of the action on the court and on the ice.

Here are some of the highlights from all things media we have seen over the past year.

DENIAL OF SERVICE: ESPN makes the decision in August to back out of its partnership with PBS over the “Frontline” documentary “League of Denial.” The move immediately causes critics to assail the net for what they perceive as a capitulation to the NFL, as the league was not happy with how it was being portrayed. ESPN President John Skipper vehemently denies the charges and says the move was merely about a lack of editorial control over the doc. The headlines created by the decision has the unintended consequence of raising the profile of the special, as it winds up rating much higher than most “Frontline” segments.

THE 1 TO WATCH: After months of heavy build-up and marketing, FS1 makes its much ballyhooed launch on August 17. The channel’s heavy emphasis on being the “fun” alternative to ESPN is exemplified by moves such as having Regis Philbin host the panel show “Crowd Goes Wild” and by the hires of comedic-yet-cogent hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole for its flagship “Fox Sports Live” highlight show. While ratings have been meager during the net’s first four months, Fox execs have repeatedly stated launching the project is a long-term play.

* The USGA shocks the golf world by signing a 12-year deal with Fox that moves the U.S. Open off NBC.
* ESPN brings Keith Olbermann back to the net after a 16-year hiatus to host a late-night show.
* SI's Peter King launches The MMQB, an NFL-focused website that brings in several pedigreed writers.
* Longtime MLB analyst Tim McCarver leaves the national broadcast booth after calling 29 World Series.
* Deadspin breaks the story that the dead girlfriend of Manti Te'o did not really exist.
* Another Grand Slam tennis event is set to move exclusively to cable as ESPN gets the entire U.S. Open package.
* Brent Musburger's on-air comments about Katherine Webb largely overshadow the BCS title game.
* The N.Y. Times runs a blank page to represent the fact that no players were inducted into the Baseball HOF.

No year is complete without a few scenarios occurring that people would like to have back. Here are some of the things that made us say, "Really?"

PRISON BREAK: Saddled with debt on its $70M football stadium, plus conference exit and entry fees, it makes sense Florida Atlantic Univ. would look for a naming-rights partner for the venue. However, the school’s choice of the GEO Group, a private prison operator, proves to be both fodder for comedians and an issue for human-rights organizations. Within days, critics of the deal begin call the stadium Owlcatraz and FAU’s Board of Trustees comes under fire for entering into a deal with a company marred by a reputation for abusive treatment of its prisoners. The company ultimately pulls out of the deal after myriad protests by students and community members.

MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU: The Flyers post images online of Ilya Bryzgalov’s new “Star Wars” mask featuring Yoda, Darth Vader, and R2D2. However, fans of the movie franchise are miffed because Yoda was seemingly holding a red light saber, traditionally a symbol of the Sith Lords. Like, duh! The artist says he was simply going for an orange-ish color as a hint of the Flyers’ colors. Lucasfilm Ltd. gets in touch with the Flyers as well and asks that the colors be changed to match the original look of Yoda in the “Star Wars” movies. The changes are eventually made to give Yoda the proper green-colored saber.

* The Mercedes-Benz Superdome goes dark during Super Bowl XLVII, leaving the CBS broadcast crew on air but unable to get many updates for a painstaking 34 minutes.
* Chevrolet at the 11th hour nixes a "Silverado Strong" promotion during the World Series, realizing it could be deemed insensitive following the Boston Marathon bombings.
* The Sabres' new third jersey -- featuring a gold front, blue back and silver numbers -- debuts to a decidedly negative reaction due to the design.
* The NBA's regular-season game in Mexico City is postponed after smoke billows into the arena prior to tipoff.
* The NHL Rangers' website publishes an article entitled "A Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers," which is called sexist and condescending.
* The Twins are forced to backtrack on plans to allow select fans to watch batting practice for $15.
* CBS' Doug Gottlieb makes his NCAA tournament debut with a poorly received, racially based remark.
* The IOC votes to drop wrestling from the Olympic program beginning in '20 before reversing course seven months later.

What’s next, Moscow? Cape Town? It’s ridiculous with this situation. We have too many bowls.
-- ESPN’s Mark May, on the possibility of postseason college football games being played in international locations like Ireland, the Bahamas and Dubai.

We've had to explain to our international audience that the boo is an American sign of respect.
 -- NBA Commissioner David Stern, on the constant reception he received from the Barclays Center crowd during this year’s Draft.

They knock on the same doors. They go to Nike, they do the contract and they sit back. They've been sitting around for 20, 30 years just not doing anything. So me coming is a problem for them because now they have to go to work, now they have to wake up, now they have to do things.
-- Jay Z, on how Roc Nation Sports differs from traditional sports agencies.

I read that the Fox guys think happy days are here again and I’m happy that happy days are here again for them. Sorry they were not happy before because the days at ESPN have been happy for quite some time and this is another happy day for ESPN.
-- ESPN President John Skipper, referencing a promo for FS1 while announcing Keith Olbermann’s new show on ESPN2.

You can’t just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open. I guess the money was more important than the performance. No way they can step in and do the job we were doing.
-- NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller, on Fox landing the rights to the U.S. Open and other USGA tournaments beginning in '15.

Hold out for what? How many of them have time to hold out? That clock is ticking on these guys lives.
-- Retired NFLer D'Marco Farr, on why the former players agreed to a concussion settlement.

I love the fact that we're going to go to war with Syria and it's like a little note in the corner.
-- CBS' Doug Gottlieb, on Time magazine putting Johnny Manziel on the cover of its Sept. 16 issue.

This is when you don't want naming rights to a stadium.
-- ESPN's Buster Olney, on the continuing sewage problem at Coliseum.

We were as surprised as everybody. We got a call from our editors telling us that this decision had been made to pull out of the partnership. A lot of it didn't really make much sense to us.
-- ESPN’s Steve Fainaru, on the net’s decision to cut ties with Frontline’s “League of Denial” documentary.

There's not enough guys who have the balls to stand in front of a group of 60 other men to say, 'You know what? You guys are wrong. This has to stop.’
-- CBS analyst and former NFLer Rich Gannon, on hazing and bullying in NFL locker rooms.

My personal opinion, I think Arthur Blank sucked up all the money that the city would have had to do anything to fix the stadium that it needed and there just wasn't anything for them to do so they left the Braves out to dry.
-- Georgia state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, on the new Falcons stadium that will be built in Fulton County, forcing the Braves to look outside downtown Atlanta.

From what we see at the league standpoint, we can pretty much build any night as NFL night."
-- Chiefs President Mark Donovan, on the possibility of making Thursday another night for appointment NFL viewing.

Adweek released its list of the top advertisements for the year, with several sports-related spots cracking the top 10. At No. 2 on the list was a two-minute spot from Dodge Ram -- with creative from The Richards Group, Dallas -- that broke during the Super Bowl and ended up ranking third on USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. The spot featured images of farmers and farm-related work against an old commentary from late radio host Paul Harvey. Ranking No. 3 on Adweek’s list was a spot from Guinness dubbed “Basketball,” with creative by BBDO, N.Y. The spot features six friends playing wheelchair basketball, revealing in the end that only one of them really needs the chair. The men then go into a bar for some postgame beers.

FROM SPORTS BRANDS: Dick’s Sporting Goods had the No. 5 spot on Adweek’s list with a spot entitled “Every Pitch,” via Anomaly, N.Y. Shot in light fog, the spot features a brief baseball game sequence shown through a single camera. Nike also had a spot crack Adweek’s top 10, with its “Possibilities” ad ranking No. 6. The spot, from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, was aimed at celebrating the 25th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan and features several amateurs stepping up the level of their competiton (THE DAILY).