The Cowboys will host the '18 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium, marking the "first time in league history that the draft will be staged at an NFL stadium," according to a front-page piece byDavid Moore of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The Cowboys "intend to convert AT&T Stadium into an indoor/outdoor venue for the event that will flow into the plazas and parking lots and take on the feel of a spring festival." Cowboys Exec VP & Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson said, "We have come up with an incredible idea and concept that will make AT&T Stadium shine, but also will deliver a unique experience that is unlike anything you have seen thus far at the NFL draft." Moore notes last year's draft in Philadelphia "drew universal praise." Philadelphia was "regarded as a finalist to host the draft again this year." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "thanked Chicago and Philadelphia for breathing new life and excitement into the event" the past three years. Moore notes the Cowboys' preference was to "host the first two days of the draft in Arlington then move the third day" to The Star in Frisco. The fallback option was to "host all three days at AT&T Stadium." It became "clear in the NFL's final site visit" that the league was "focused solely on AT&T Stadium" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote the Cowboys were "always the favorite," but they "wanted to hold it" at The Star. It is a "nice place, home to a 12,500-seat indoor stadium." But Philadelphia last year drew "250,00 over three days" and the "environment was electric." The Star in Frisco was "no longer going to cut it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/18).
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart said that the league's plan is to "rotate the draft's venue each year because up to 20 teams expressed interest in hosting it." Lockhart said there was a "strong bid from Philadelphia" to host in '18 because Chicago hosted consecutive years in '15-16. Lockhart: "Philadelphia's strong push was based on Chicago's second year being better than the first year. But we were heavily influenced by the fact that so many of the clubs want to do it. Moving it one year at a time makes more sense for now" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/19). Meanwhile, in L.A., Sam Farmer notes the crowd in Philadelphia last year "vigorously booed Goodell." But the reaction could be "more vehement in Texas, in light of Goodell's on-again, off-again suspension" of Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (L.A. TIMES, 10/19).
The PGA Tour will be "making a regular stop in Central Kentucky when the Barbasol Championship begins play next year at Keene Trace Golf Club’s Champions Trace course in Nicholasville," according to Jared Peck of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Coming into its fourth year, the purse has been "one of the smallest on tour" at $3.5M. Its placement on the calendar opposite the Open Championship means some of golf’s "top stars will be across the ocean." Coordinating the event will be the Bluegrass Sports Commission and BD Global, a company founded by that commission’s Chair, Brooks Downing. Downing had "developed a relationship with the PGA in winning the rights for BD Global to coordinate two events in the Bahamas on the smaller Web.com Tour." Terms of the deal "were not disclosed." However, Downing said that the event was "secured for three to five years, with intentions of making Nicholasville a permanent stop." Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville has "long been the site of some of men’s golf’s biggest events, including the Ryder Cup and three PGA Championships," but Kentucky has "not hosted a regular PGA Tour event since the Kentucky Derby Open" in the late '50s. Since '15, the Barbasol Championship has been "played at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Grand National Course in Opelika, Ala." As recently as July, RTJ’s management company "expressed confidence the event would return for the final year of its contract" in '18 and would soon be "renewed for several years beyond" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 10/19).
SURPRISE MOVE? In Lexington, Jared Peck writes Tour officials "would not say specifically" why the tournament was moved, but the fact that Lexington "offers a larger and largely untapped market likely played a major factor" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 10/19). Auburn, Ala., Mayor Bill Ham said the decision to move the tournament was "somewhat of a surprise" but said that it was "ultimately one the PGA Tour made." Barbasol Championship Tournament Dir Jonathan Romeo said that the original Barbasol agreement "called for the tournament to be held at the Grand National for four years, but was renegotiated to three" after the '15 tournament (OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS, 10/19).
IF YOU BUILD IT: In California, Larry Bohannan notes because of the new contract with tournament operator Lagadere, the PGA Tour CareerBuilder Challenge gives fans who buy tickets the "choice of not one but two post-round concerts during the week." Bohannan: "Which all begs the question: when did golf stop being enough at a golf tournament?" Musical acts have "become not just popular at golf tournaments, but practically a stable of such events." The tournaments understand these acts "aren’t trying to fill a 30,000-seat arena, just keep some people from leaving the golf course and get other people who wouldn’t go to the golf course any other way to show up and buy a $30 ticket." If the CareerBuilder has gone from one concert in '17 to two in '18, fans "have to wonder" what '19 might bring. In '17, fashion shows and art displays were also "part of the plan." Bohannan: "It would be good to see the La Quinta Arts Festival involved in the event, or fashion shows or other non-golf activities" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/18).
Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson said that a subcommittee is "investigating various options" for the '20 men's basketball tournament, one of which is bringing it to San Diego State's Viejas Arena for "one and possibly three years," according to Mark Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The MWC's contract to play the tournament at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center expires in '19. Thompson said that Phoenix also has "shown interest as a neutral site, but it is 250 miles" from the closest MWC school. Another option is "moving the tournament a week earlier to avoid CONEXPO-CON/AGG, an international trade show for the construction industry held every three years in March in Las Vegas." But holding the tournament a week earlier "would force the regular season to start before Christmas -- something coaches are not keen to do." Thompson said that surveys of MWC fans "found they take vacation for the conference tournament and they want to go somewhere warm." So the "three options" are San Diego, Phoenix or stay in Vegas. Thomas & Mack has "hosted the tournament" for 15 of the MWC's 18 seasons. The other three were "played on a neutral floor in Denver, but attendance was so low it returned to Las Vegas" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/19).
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany this morning at the conference's basketball media day said that he would "like the league tournament sites to have about an '80/20 split' between the Midwest and East Coast." In Omaha, Jon Nyatawa notes that means MSG "is a possibility" to host the Big Ten Tournament again following this March's edition. The tourney already has been pegged for Chicago in '19 and '21 and Indianapolis in '20 and '22 (OMAHA.com, 10/19).