Sports Event of the Year
2017 NFL Draft: Philadelphia
More than 250,000 fans attended the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, held in an outdoor theater constructed in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This event cemented the draft’s status as the key offseason spectacle for the NFL, one that is now bid out and moved around the country akin to a Super Bowl.
El Clásico Miami
One of sports’ fiercest rivalries between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona came to the U.S. for the first time last summer as part of the International Champions Cup, taking over Miami with nearly a week’s worth of events including a two-day free public fan fest of music, sponsor activations and player appearances, and a sold-out showdown at Hard Rock Stadium.
Mayweather vs. McGregor
All-time pay-per-view king Floyd Mayweather returned from a 23-month hiatus to defeat UFC superstar Conor McGregor in a crossover event at T-Mobile Arena that generated 4.3 million PPV buys in North America and brought in more than $600 million globally. It also generated the second-largest fight gate ever, at $54.4 million.
Major League Baseball Little League Classic
The new event in Williamsport, Pa., broke down barriers between Little League players and their big-league counterparts with players from the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals appearing at the Little League World Series and then playing a regular-season game at a nearby minor league field for youth players and their families.
The biennial Solheim Cup drew record attendance of more than 124,000 and record TV viewership of 7.3 million on Golf Channel/NBC at last year’s event in Des Moines, Iowa. Revenue nearly doubled from 2013, the last time the event was staged in the U.S., thanks to new hospitality venues and branding efforts.
TCS New York City Marathon
Marathon Sunday in New York is what every sporting event wants to be: A community celebration that reaches far beyond the sport itself, touching fans around the world. In 2017, new sponsor New Balance activated on a Bronx street corner and Beijing alike. To top it off, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the race in 40 years.