SBJ Unpacks: Big Ten Ready To Take The Stage
Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: The Big Ten becomes the fourth Power Five conference to begin its season this weekend.
- NBA thinking about options for season start by Christmas
- SBJ Betting looks at record handles in September
- Football Bowl Association rebrands under Bowl Season name
- USTA waiting on Cincinnati tournament director
- A-B InBev cutting Super Bowl hospitality
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KEVIN WARREN CONFIDENT BIG TEN READY FOR FOOTBALL SEASON
- As the Big Ten readies itself for the much-anticipated kick-off of its football season this weekend, Commissioner Kevin Warren said the conference is "cautiously optimistic" about the season amid the health and safety protocols the league has implemented.
- Warren, appearing on ESPN this morning, noted the football schedule does not have any bye weeks, and “one good thing about not having any bye weeks is that you don't have any breaks. You don't have to worry about student-athletes traveling during the bye week.”
- Meanwhile, Warren said the Big Ten is “in regular contact with all the other (Power Five) commissioners." Warren: "We’re all pulling for each other. We’re in this together. We’re playing football in a global pandemic. We have great communication, and we’re working in a collaborative manner to make sure that we can share different things with each other."
NBA WORKING ON SCENARIOS TO START SEASON BY CHRISTMAS
- Sources told The Athletic that the NBA’s league office informed the BOG on Friday that it is "targeting to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas Day, and would like to play a 72-game campaign." Sources added that this would mean a "return close to the NBA’s normal schedule, significant financial ramifications to start early, a potential finish before the 2021 Summer Olympics, and allow a window for stars to play in the Olympics."
- This came as ESPN sources said that the NBA's BOG met Friday to discuss "possible changes to plans for the 2020-21 season, including starting as quickly as possible, playing fewer than 82 games and not waiting for fans to be permitted to all league arenas."
BUSY SEPTEMBER SCHEDULE BRINGS RECORD BETTING HANDLES
- Boffo is an apt description of the latest results from sportsbooks in New Jersey, which in September had a second consecutive record-setting month, this time attracting $748.5 million in wagers, writes SBJ's Bill King. That topped August’s $667.9 million, which then was the busiest month ever for any state.
- It’s not just New Jersey. September brought record handles in Pennsylvania ($462,787,392), Indiana ($207,042,428), Iowa ($72,397,241), West Virginia ($63,468,831), Oregon ($26,174,303), Delaware ($12,439,302) and D.C. ($12,186,041). More records will fall as Illinois and Colorado report in the coming days, putting September on pace to surpass the $2.1 billion wagered at U.S. books in August. I’m making the over/under $2.6 billion.
- New Jersey differs from other states materially. Most are earlier in their opening of betting, so growth can be attributed to more sportsbooks entering the fray. New Jersey isn’t a mature sports betting market, but it’s farther along than the rest. And it is not just breaking, but obliterating, the numbers it put up pre-COVID. How much of that is a product of the unprecedented wedging of the NBA and NHL bubble-seasons into the August and September calendars? And is it sustainable once schedules return to their traditional cadence?
- For more on the record handle numbers and all things sports betting, check out the debut issue of our latest newsletter, SBJ Betting.
BOWL SEASON: COLLEGE FOOTBALL POSTSEASON GETS REBRAND
- The Football Bowl Association is undergoing a major brand overhaul and will be known as Bowl Season to give college football’s postseason a new logo and visual identity, reports SBJ's Michael Smith.
- The new name, logo and website, BowlSeason.com, was unveiled today under the direction of FBA Executive Director Nick Carparelli, who was hired in December 2019 and almost immediately began working on the rebranding campaign. The Bowl Season’s mission will be different than the FBA. Carparelli has evolved the association into a consumer-facing promotional body.
- The tagline “A celebration of college football” accompanies the new name. Bowl Season will work with all of the existing bowls to promote the entire bowl system. The new branding was developed by Connecticut-based 1919 Productions and Joe Bosack & Co. Dallas-based Tony Fay Public Relations has handled communications for the initiative.
- Make sure to check out next week's issue of SBJ for more on the development of the new Bowl Season brand identity.
USTA IN NO RUSH TO FIND NEW CINCINNATI TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
- The ATP/WTA Western & Southern Open is likely to operate again in 2021 without a new full-time tournament director, reports SBJ's Bret McCormick. After Andre Silva resigned from his position running the USTA-owned event in June, USTA Managing Director for Major Events J. Wayne Richmond served as the interim tournament director for this year’s tournament in August and is likely to serve in that role again next year.
- USTA Chief Executive of Professional Tennis Stacey Allaster told SBJ, “We are in a good position with in-house resources to be able to serve that role for 2021 and, again, based on the pandemic we’re just going to see how this all unfolds. We’re looking at continuing to use J. Wayne in 2021. I feel really strong and good with my team there, Katie Haas, our chief operating officer who is based in Cincinnati, is doing a great job of operating the business."
- The Cincinnati-based tournament is planning to return home in 2021 after being held this year at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as part of a multi-week bubble with the U.S. Open. Silva left the Western & Southern event when he accepted a job as tournament director of the PGA Tour’s Players Championship.
A-B INBEV CUTTING SUPER BOWL LV HOSPITALITY PLANS
- A-B InBev will cut its major hospitality programs at Super Bowl LV in Tampa in light of the pandemic uncertainty, a senior exec has confirmed. SBJ's Ben Fischer writes other sponsors are likely to follow.
- The brewer will cut all private parties and the Bud Light Hotel, where hundreds of sweepstakes winners, wholesalers and other guests typically enjoy hospitality during the week leading up to the game, said A-B InBev VP/Partnerships, Beer Culture & Community Nick Kelly. Instead of having nearly 600 guests, the plan will call for between 35-50 essential employees to go to Tampa, Kelly said.
- A-B InBev will maintain its robust retail and out-of-home advertising presence around the city and still serve at Raymond James Stadium and other NFL activities, Kelly said. “We’ll have a limited number of executives in market to help support the Tampa efforts with our local wholesaler, but it’s essential employees only,” Kelly said.
- Read more on A-B InBev's plans in today's Sports Business Daily.
- Big Ten football is back, and the Lincoln Journal Star felt the moment was impactful enough to warrant an editorial today on the start of the season: "Through last week, coronavirus outbreaks have caused 10.6% of scheduled FBS games to be postponed or cancelled. … If there’s an outbreak that affects games -- the percentages say that about six of the Big Ten’s 56 contests will be hit -- they’ll be cancelled. The league’s tight schedule, designed to get in nine games for each team before the College Football Playoff, won't allow makeup dates."
- Chip Ganassi Racing and Jimmie Johnson have found a new primary sponsor for their IndyCar venture next year, sources tell SBJ's Adam Stern, completing the final step they needed to seal his move. Johnson announced in early September that he was planning to compete for Ganassi next season to race in the NTT IndyCar Series after completing his full-time NASCAR career for Hendrick Motorsports this year. However, at the time, Ganassi said that sponsorship still needed to be sorted to make the move official for the seven-time Cup Series champion.
- The Army-Navy football game “will not be played in Philadelphia on Dec. 12 as planned” but will move to Michie Stadium for just the second time in history, according to the Annapolis Capital Gazette. The only other time the game was played on the West Point campus was in 1943. The relocation was caused by “attendance limits placed on outdoor events in the state of Pennsylvania.” Less than 10,000 fans would have been allowed in Lincoln Financial Field, which “would not accommodate both the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets.”
- Racing Point F1 Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer confirmed that driver Lance Stroll "will travel to Portugal for this weekend’s Grand Prix in Portimao" after contracting COVID-19 following the Eifel GP. Szafnauer issued a statement "clarifying the timeline of events, in which he also revealed that all members of the Racing Point team had tested negative" in their pre-Portugal tests. See more in SBD Global.
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