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Volume 6 No. 212

Events and Attractions

India's Supreme Court agreed Thursday "to hear a petition seeking the cancellation of this weekend's Indian Grand Prix" because organizers have allegedly not paid entertainment taxes for the '12 event, according to the AFP. The Supreme Court, which has exec powers, ordered organizers two years ago to freeze 25% of ticket revenues "until they had settled a tax dispute with the state where the racetrack is located." That ruling came in response to Public Interest Litigation filed by campaigner Amit Kumar, "who is also behind Thursday's petition seeking cancellation of the race on Sunday." Kumar successfully argued in '11 that F1 was entertainment and not sport, "and should not benefit from tax exemptions granted by the state of Uttar Pradesh which borders the capital New Delhi." Entertainment tax, applicable for large-scale shows and sponsored festivals, "has been levied on tickets this year for the first time" (AFP, 10/24).

'RACE WILL GO ON': REUTERS' Amlan Chakraborty wrote Indian Grand Prix organizers have confirmed that Sunday's race "will go ahead even though the country's top court has agreed to hear a petition on Friday seeking its cancellation over tax issues." Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India President Vicky Chandhok said, "The race will go on. There's absolutely no doubt about that. This has happened many times before. You've had people trying to stop cricket matches ... our justice system is pretty strong that no sporting event should be stopped" (REUTERS, 10/24). In New Delhi, Sharmistha Mukherjee wrote the excitement over the Indian edition of the F1 motor race "seems to have dimmed," with only 40% of the available capacity of 100,000 having been sold over the three months up to the event on Sunday. The tepid response is despite the organizers, Jaypee Sports Int'l, "cutting tickets prices for the three-day event" by 30-43% in the current season. Ticket prices for the Friday-Sunday spectacle are between Rs 2,000 ($32.50) and Rs 21,000 ($342), compared to Rs 3,500-30,000 ($57-$488) "charged by the organisers in the previous season." Turnout at the race "has dropped for consecutive years" to an expected 65,000 this year, from 67,000 in '12 and 95,000 in the initial edition in '11. JPSI "is understood to have clocked revenue" of Rs 100 crore ($16M) and Rs 85 ($14M) crore from ticket sales in '11 and '12, respectively. The "gloom over the poor traction in India and the regulatory issues" have resulted in the country being dropped as a host in '14 (Indian BUSINESS STANDARD, 10/24). The AFP reported the Indian GP "has been hit by a troubled economy and sliding rupee, government apathy towards the sport, a lop-sided financial arrangement and the lack of a local driver." The promoters pay about $40-45M to F1 every year as a licensing fee and about $1.6M "to the Indian government for permission to hold the race." With all advertising and merchandising revenue also going to F1, "the only source of income for the promoters is from the sale of tickets, which has dropped markedly" (AFP, 10/24).

WEBBER: FANBASE GROWING: IANS reported Red Bull driver Mark Webber Thursday said India has shown "incredible enthusiasm" for F1 despite cricket being the No.1 sport in the country. Webber: "Obviously the fan base is certainly growing very, very fast. I know cricket is the No.1 sport here by a long way but they've certainly shown some incredible enthusiasm to try and understand and attract some interest in the sport" (IANS, 10/24). The DECCAN HERALD's Roshan Thyagarajan wrote many circuits have been part of the "Survival of the Fittest" trend since the first Grand Prix in history, but no one anticipated that the Buddh Int'l Circuit would ever find itself on this list of potentially "endangered" tracks. F1 has run races in 69 circuits since Silverstone in '50 and they "will barely feel the pinch of losing out on one race be it India or Korea." The Indian motorsport fraternity, however, "can ill-afford to lose out on the one race that has boosted the profile of the sport in the country" (DECCAN HERALD, 10/24).

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Cowboys, Dolphins and Lions will take part in the league’s ’14 Int'l Series. Next year’s series includes Cowboys-Jaguars, Lions-Falcons and Dolphins-Raiders. Dates for the games will be set at a later time (NFL). NFL UK Managing Dir Alistair Kirkwood said, "Having the Cowboys, known as 'America's team,' coming to the U.K. to face London's team, the Jaguars, is a great opportunity for us and an exciting development" (PA, 10/24). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has "wanted to play in London, and it's the most attractive game" on the Jaguars' schedule next year. After this season, in which the Jaguars are 0-7, the NFL wants to match them "with a marquee franchise such as the Cowboys" (ESPN, 10/23). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote the league has been “itching to put” the Cowboys in the Int'l Series because they “remain one of the most popular teams in the NFL.” However, most teams “don't want to give up a chance to host the Cowboys, and the guarantee of a big ticket draw” (STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/24). NFL Network’s Steve Wyche said, “I guess they are trying to make it competitive, but if you look at the opponents, these are national." NFL Net’s Jeff Garcia: “Three games next year, how many games the following year? When is the team just going to land in London and we have eight home games actually out there?" (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 10/24). The BBC reported Jaguars and EPL Fulham Owner Shahid Khan said that "talk of an NFL franchise in London is hasty." He said, "Quite frankly it's very premature. There is, in all candour, a novelty aspect to it" (BBC, 10/24).

DIFFERENT TASTE: BLOOMBERG's Ira Boudway interviewed Coventry University Professor of Sports Business and Strategy Simon Chadwick about the NFL's push into the U.K. market. Chadwick said Brits are "looking to do things that are very different [than] what normal people would do" and the NFL so far "has been part of that experience economy." On why the Brits do not "embrace" the NFL, Chadwick said, "Their strategy seems to be top down. You showcase an elite professional game in the hope that you infuse and engage. You tend to find in sport that you build from the grass roots upwards." Chadwick added, "If you look at the NBA in China, for example, they have their elite professional showcase events with their stars and their icons, but at the same time they are investing in grass roots. The NFL has gone in at the top end. It’s lots of noise and lots of glamor. It’s big, and it’s brash. But that only entertains. It doesn’t engage people on a long-term sustainable basis" (BLOOMBERG, 10/24).

DAILYMOTION DEAL: DIGITAL TV EUROPE reported the NFL has "struck a deal" with video sharing site Dailymotion to bring the NFL to users in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Dailymotion "will provide game highlights, variety content, and streaming of select live matches" for the '13-14 season. The first live stream "is scheduled for this Sunday on the NFL dedicated channel on Dailymotion" (DIGITAL TV EUROPE, 10/24).

Argentine former F1 driver Carlos Reutemann said that bringing an F1 event to Argentina "would require extraordinary economic solvency," according to OLE. Buenos Aires Head of City Government Mauricio Macri has "launched an ambitious project: bringing F1 to Argentina for 2017." F1's last visit to Argentina occurred in '98. Reutemann: "Bringing F1 depends on the economy and the financing. From what I have read and heard from F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, we would need $40 million per year for five years" (OLE, 10/24).

As the world of golf celebrates the CIMB Classic becoming a full-fledged US PGA Tour event, one can already sense the $7M tournament "bringing with it numerous spin-off benefits for the local industry, especially the tourism sector," according to Shaun Orange of THE STAR. But the first and only FedExCup event outside of the United States "is merely part of a grand plan of the PGA Tour to help grow the sport on a global basis" -- in this case Asia -- and also bolster its portfolio and fanbase. This "was the standpoint expressed" by PGA Tour VP of Int'l Business Affairs Paul Johnson. Johnson: "This is not only a huge event on the PGA Tour's schedule, but is also part of our strategy to develop the game by way of making more people aware of it" (THE STAR, 10/24).