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Volume 25 No. 107

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL owners are scheduled to vote at their Fall meeting next week to eliminate the decades-old cross-ownership rule, which prevents owners of other big four sports teams in NFL markets from buying football teams. The rule also prevents an NFL owner from buying a non-NFL big four team in a league market. The rule is in place to prevent NFL owners from competing with their fellow owners in the local sports marketplace. However, with valuations of teams so high, the pool of prospective buyers has shrunk, leading to a rethink of the rule, sources said. Only three bidders emerged for the sale of Panthers, which David Tepper bought for $2.275B in August. While that amount was a record for an NFL team, it still came in under expectations. Sal Galatioto, a sports investment banker, said if the NFL does lift the rule, it would be a boon to the sports mergers and acquisitions market. “It would have a very positive effect on the NFL and other sports assets,” he said. “It opens up the market for an NFL team to a large group of very wealthy people.” The NFL has not always strictly enforced the rule. Stan Kroenke in '10 exercised an option to buy the Rams despite already owning the Nuggets and Avalanche. After a long grace period, he did not sell the Denver teams but moved their ownership to family members. The league several years earlier prevented the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, from bidding on the Dodgers. While at the time there was no NFL team in L.A., the league considered L.A. a league market.

A proposed $250M, 20,000-seat stadium would be "overwhelmingly" privately financed
Photo: MLS FOR THE LOU

The founding family of St. Louis-based car rental company Enterprise is "making a bid for one of the last two planned MLS expansion team slots," according to a front-page piece by Jacob Barker of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Members of the Taylor family are forming the group, which would "make the team majority-owned by women, the first in the league and one of few ownership groups controlled by women in all of professional sports." The Taylors said that a roughly $250M, 20,000-seat stadium "dedicated to the soccer franchise would be 'overwhelmingly' privately financed." Public help would likely come from "dedicated sales taxes on concessions and other merchandise sold to patrons, a property tax break from a city agency owning the stadium site and leasing it to the group, state tax credits and a break on the city’s 5 percent ticket tax." The Taylors are teaming with the family of Missouri-based World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, a former pro soccer player who was part of last year’s "failed bid" for an MLS team and stadium. Kavanaugh also is part-owner of USL club St. Louis FC, which would "serve as a development club if St. Louis lures an MLS team." Because the families are "not seeking any commitment of citywide resources, a public vote like the one that doomed the financing package for the last effort" in April '17 "won’t be necessary." St. Louis aldermen would "need to pass legislation approving the deal." Similar to the last MLS proposal, the new effort is "eyeing the same land." Enterprise Exec Chair Andy Taylor said that a timeline is "still in flux but that he hopes the league could make a decision within months" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).

BRINGING IT BACK TO LIFE: In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon notes the MLS stadium effort was "dead until Andy Taylor approached Kavanaugh to discuss it." Kavanaugh said, "I didn’t know if he was serious. So we met. I filled him in on what needed to be done to really make this work. We continued to talk and the more we talked, the more we collectively got excited about what this could mean for St. Louis." Taylor: "The MLS opportunity really isn’t just about the sport. It’s about redevelopment, and being part of the resurgence that is happening in St. Louis." Gordon writes that if the project "clears all political hurdles, this potential ownership group will have a compelling case to get one of the two MLS expansion teams up for grabs" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).

MUCH MORE PROMISING: In St. Louis, Benjamin Hochman writes, "You thought the Taylors made a splash on the local sports scene with naming rights of the Enterprise Center? This is next-level." St. Louis "deserves MLS" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10). A ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH editorial states that the new proposal has "all the ingredients for success and almost none of the drawbacks" of last year's "failed professional soccer venture." The most "attractive aspect of this new proposal is the absence of requests for citywide tax revenues or tax-increment financing." St. Louis has "tremendous potential to support professional soccer, and there’s every reason to believe the sport would win a wide following here." This new venture "takes those concerns off taxpayers’ minds and places them where they should be -- in the hands of the private investors backing it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).

TWITTER REAX: La Vida Baseball Senior Editor Jose de Jesus Ortiz: "This is should be a no-brainer for MLS and St. Louis, and a much better deal for St. Louisans." St. Louis-based KMOX-AM's Tom Ackerman: "You could have a Cardinals, Blues and MLS game happening within blocks of each other downtown ... on the same street (Clark). St. Louis will not run out of beer. Promise." Downtown STL President & CEO Missy Kelley: "This will be great for the entire region and especially for Downtown St. Louis." World Wide Technology VP/Digital Matt Sebek: "Just can’t say enough about the Taylor family and @jimpkavanaugh. Long way to go, but this doesn’t happen without perseverance and love for St. Louis, plain and simple."

After a win, the Hurricanes skate from their own blueline to the other end of the ice and jump into the boards
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NHLers in this season's opening week have shown off some personality during celebrations and it is "all great stuff and all welcomed," because hockey "needs this kind of stuff," according to Ken Campbell of THE HOCKEY NEWS. The "height of great theatre came Sunday night in Chicago" during the Maple Leafs' "wild 7-6 overtime win over the Blackhawks." With the score tied 5-5, Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews "got what he surely thought was the game-winning goal with 1:02 left in the game and celebrated by doing a bit of hot-dogging, putting his glove up to his ear." But just 33 seconds later, Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane "tied the score and did a bit of tit-for-tat hot-dogging of his own, raising his glove to his ear and chirping the Leafs bench on the way back to his own." Campbell: "It was absolutely wonderful." Meanwhile, a few hours prior to Maple Leafs-Blackhawks, the Hurricanes had "one of the most unique post-win celebrations you'll ever see, applauding the crowd, then skating from their own blueline to the other end of the ice and jumping into the boards." Fans have been "begging for years for players to show their true personalities and having the players do so can be nothing but good for the sport." Campbell: "Let's hope the hockey world doesn't beat this spontaneity and showmanship out ... the way it always does" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/9). 

GET OUT OF YOUR SHELL: In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes the celebrations by Matthews and Kane were "something we don't see enough of in hockey." Players like Predators D P.K. Subban and Sharks LW Evander Kane have "stepped out of their lanes over the past few years, upsetting the conservatives within hockey." Panthers G Roberto Luongo has had "more success being self-effacing on Twitter." Wild RW J.T. Brown and Jets RW Blake Wheeler, both Americans, have "spoken out on political issues." But examples are "few and far between." If Matthews "starts showing more personality ... he could create a safe path for others to follow outside the lane." That the Matthews-Kane thing is "even a talking point speaks to how revolutionary it is" (TORONTO STAR, 10/10). Stars C Tyler Seguin called Matthews' initial celebration "great." He said, "Anything that's going to bring that kind of buzz to the sport is great" (TSN.ca, 10/9).

ROCK YOU LIKE THE HURRICANES: In Raleigh, Chip Alexander writes the Hurricanes' post-win celebration from Sunday is "still the talk of the all-too-staid NHL, which oft times seems stuck in a time warp." Hurricanes RW Justin Williams said that team management had "mentioned doing something a little different after wins at PNC Arena" this season. Williams: "Maybe the stick wave got a little stagnant, a little stale. We're trying to make things exciting here and fun." He added, "We're going to fine-tune things a little bit and make it a little more organized." But Alexander notes Williams "promised the Canes would continue" the celebrations. Williams: "It's fun, doesn't take too long and people seem to enjoy it. We're hoping people stick around at the end of some Canes wins and we can have some fun together" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/10). Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said of the celebrations, "The game should be fun. We want the players to enjoy winning and the fans to enjoy being here. Our owner [Tom Dundon] has been pushing that all the way. Why wouldn't you try something different?" Williams said, "We're trying to rebrand the Carolina Hurricanes into being relevant, I guess. This is one small thing. This is just a celebration after the game. But it means something to us because there hasn't been a lot of success here, and we're trying to show people that we won't stand for it" (ESPN.com, 10/8). The Hurricanes carried out their celebration again last night following their win over the Canucks (THE DAILY).

A new "international motorsport series for women will begin" in May, and the W Series will be "free to enter and aims not only to promote female drivers but also to steer girls and women into engineering and science careers," according to Ian Parkes of the N.Y. TIMES. The series is the "brainchild" of U.K. lawyer/financier Catherine Bond Muir. The W Series will "feature six 30-minute races on some of the most famous circuits" in Europe. In coming seasons, the series will also "include races in North America, Asia and Australia." The cars used in the series will be the same Tatuus model used in Formula 3, a "steppingstone series to F1." The overall winner of the series will collect $500,000 in winnings from a "total prize fund" of $1.5M. The prize money will be "awarded down to 18th place in the final standings." The anticipated field of 20 drivers will be "chosen during a process involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests, fitness trials and media training" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10).

PROS & CONS: IndyCar driver Pippa Mann said the W Series will "segregate" female drivers and is a "sad day for motorsport." Mann: "I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my lifetime" (BBC.com, 10/10). The GUARDIAN's Giles Richards writes Mann is "not alone in this opinion but Muir insisted the longterm goal is to help bridge the gap." Muir said, "The structure of motorsport is not working for women drivers. What ever is happening at the moment isn't working so let's try something new" (GUARDIAN, 10/10). Meanwhile, driver Jamie Chadwick, who this summer became the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race, said, "I will still race against men in other championships but W Series is the perfect supplement to help me develop and progress further through the junior motosport ranks" (LONDON TIMES, 10/10).

TWITTER REAX: Sky Sports' Damon Hill: "Big news for our sport. ... Great opportunity for female aspiring racing drivers." F1 broadcaster Will Buxton: "If women aren’t reaching the top we have to ask why. Option 1 is they aren’t good enough. Option 2 is that the system isn’t working. I don’t subscribe to the first option. Which leaves option 2. The only sensible solution is to try something new." Former F1 driver Alex Wurz: " @WSeriesRacing hopefully accelerates the process of more girls racing." BBC's Brian Moore: "Reading some of the comments on the W Series timeline, it seems that motor-racing is the last bastion of male privilege and denial. Yes, in theory women can drive equally with men but the fact is they aren't given the same opportunity."

FIFA is launching a new global strategy for women’s soccer in an effort to "create revenue streams and increase grassroots participation." FIFA said that it would "work closely with member associations through workshops and special initiatives to 'encourage female empowerment'" through soccer. FIFA added that it would look to "double the number of female players to 60 million" by '26 and "ensure all member associations have developed 'comprehensive women’s [soccer] strategies'" by '22 (REUTERS, 10/9).

RULE CHANGES? LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said that he is "more committed than ever" to taking the UL Int'l Crown event around the world, and that may mean "changing the rules to assure that the host country always has a team in the event." GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell noted the current format "calls for all eight teams to qualify." South Korea was the "first nation outside the United States" to host the event. Whan has "yet to announce who will host" in '20. Whan: "If we’re going to do this event right, it should be about showcasing women’s golf around the world" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/9).

EVEN MORE FOOTBALL: In Daytona Beach, Zach Dean notes the World Professional Football Association will launch the American Patriot League, a spring football league "aimed at giving former college and pro players the chance to play professional football." The "first city in the league will be Daytona Beach." APL Managing Dir Marques Ogden said that the league will be "comprised of 10 teams." He added that "all teams will be located in the Southeast." Along with Ogden, former NFLers Keon Lattimore and Bob Golic also "serve as managing directors" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 10/10).