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Volume 27 No. 5
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SBJ Unpacks: MLB Plays The Long Game

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: MLB and the Players Association agree to updated safety protocols to ensure the postseason is completed.

Also:

  • USGA Chief Brand Officer on the logistics at Winged Foot
  • NCAA vote to bring clarity to hoops schedule 
  • Wisconsin chancellor pours cold water on rumored Big Ten decision
  • Roundup of NFL Week 1 viewership across Fox, CBS, NBC
  • Krause family eyes acquisition of Serie A club Parma
  • Int'l Tennis HOFer Donald Dell gives credit to USTA for successful U.S. Open

 

MLB PLAYOFF HOPEFULS TO ENTER QUARANTINE BEFORE SEASON ENDS

  • Beginning next week -- the last of the MLB regular season -- all players on contending teams "will move into hotels to create a quarantine-like situation before the playoffs," per sources cited by the N.Y. Post's Joel Sherman.

  • That was the "most difficult detail that needed to be worked out" between MLB and the union "before the sides reached an accord Monday night on how to try to complete this season." 

  • Some players "fought against the concept, believing that the sport has done well in the last month in minimizing COVID-19 cases and were concerned that teams that went into the quarantine in late September and reached the World Series could be away from families for a month or more."

  • But MLB has "strongly expressed a fear of coming this far and not concluding the playoffs and pushed hard for the safest possible protocols to finish out the year."

  • All players on the 40-man roster and Injured List "will be asked to join that quarantine because once it begins, clubs can no longer summon a player from the alternate site to join the 28-man roster -- it will only be those who are in the quarantine."

 

USGA CHIEF BRAND OFFICER TALKS U.S. OPEN, NEW HQ IN PINEHURST

  • For the USGA, putting health and safety first this week at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck necessitated what Chief Brand Officer Craig Annis called a “pretty dramatic” drop in those allowed on site. Just how dramatic? Annis indicated that at certain U.S. Open sites, the number of fans, volunteers, players and officials approaches upwards of 40,000.

  • But for this year’s most unique 120th installment? Around 2,000 will be allowed. Meanwhile, Annis indicated that the N.Y. market in the past has brought some 900 credentialed media for the event. This go around? Just 40 are credentialed.

  • Annis also addressed the event’s return to NBC after the net picked up the remainder of Fox’ rights in late June. “Going back to NBC is a bit like going home,” he told SBJ’s Andrew Levin. “NBC, obviously, golf is a significant part of what they do. They’ve got announcers and talent that have been involved in the game for decades.” Annis added NBC connects broadly with the core golf audience, and that is a “really important part for us.”

  • Annis discussed news of the USGA’s plans for a second headquarters in Pinehurst, N.C., a key component of which being Pinehurst serving as a U.S. Open “anchor site” moving forward. On the possibility of other anchor sites forming a rota similar to that of the British Open, Annis said, “That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be able to introduce some new courses to the golf world. We will be able to do that.” But he added as the USGA looks forward, there exists a real emphasis to “define where we go, when we go.” More Annis: “Look by the end of the year to the first quarter (of 2021) for us to be in a position to certainly share more.”

  • For more from Annis, check out the latest “SBJ Unpacks: The Road Ahead” podcast.

 

 

NCAA VOTE SHOULD GIVE SOME CLARITY ON HOOPS START

  • NCAA basketball programs will find out much more about the upcoming season tomorrow when the D-I Council votes on a new calendar, per SBJ's Michael Smith. The season was expected to start on Nov. 11, but it likely will be pushed back to later in the month. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) has been a popular pick.

  • It’s important to get a start date on the books because several bubble-style events are in the works. Once dates are established, conferences will start making scheduling decisions. For example, will they play conference games only or will they permit schools to play non-conference events.

  • ESPN Events is already placing eight of its early-season college basketball tournaments in the Orlando bubble at Disney Worldper sources cited by Jon Rothstein. The Champions ClassicJimmy V ClassicPreseason NITOrlando InvitationalMyrtle Beach InvitationalCharleston ClassicWooden Legacy and Diamond Head Classic will all be played there, and no fans are expected to be in attendance. 

 

WISCONSIN CHANCELLOR SAYS BIG TEN DECISION REMAINS ON HOLD

  • Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank said today that Big Ten football "will remain on hold until there are answers to questions" about COVID-19 testing, tracing and long-term health effects, per the AP.

  • Appearing at a U.S. Senate committee hearing on NIL, Blank said once those concerns are addressed, ''we will try to plan a delayed season.'' There were "weekend meetings on a plan to begin play as soon as mid-October," but "when the next decision comes from the Big Ten was unclear." Blank "would not predict which way a vote to return to play would go."

  • Stadium's Bret McMurphy on Twitter late this afternoon wrote, "When (if?) Big Ten announces plan to play football, 1st option is to play 8 games in 9 weeks, starting Oct. 16-17. ... Title game would be Dec. 19, day before @CFBPlayoff final rankings. If can’t start Oct. 16-17, B1G would push back to following weekend."

  • Meanwhile, Nebraska President Ted Carter was on a hot mic caught indicating that the Big Ten will "soon announce the return of football season this fall," per the Omaha World-Herald. Carter this morning said, "We're getting ready to announce Husker, Big Ten football tonight." A moment later, Carter added the decision was a "good move in the right direction." When asked about the audio later in the day, Carter said his comments were "picked up a little out of context."

 

FOX SEES VIEWERSHIP GAINS FOR BRADY'S BUCS DEBUT; "SNF" DOWN

  • The first Sunday of the NFL season was a mixed bag for league viewership, per SBJ's Austin Karp.

  • Fox led the way with 25.8 million viewers for a national window that featured Tom Brady’s debut with the Buccaneers against the Saints. That surprisingly was up 8% from a popular Cowboys-Giants game in the same window last year, and the best audience for any TV telecast since the Super Bowl (topped the Oscars). 
     
  • NBC averaged 18.9 million viewers for its “SNF” opener featuring Cowboys-Rams and the debut of SoFi Stadium, a 15% drop from Steelers-Patriots in the same window last year. This is the lowest Week 1 “SNF” audience since Bears-Colts averaged 18.4 million in 2008 (another election year). 

  • Sunday’s singleheader window on CBS averaged 13.6 million viewers, down 12% from the start of 2019. Not helping matters there was Raiders-Panthers, the first game for the team in the Las Vegas market. The telecast was down sharply from what the Las Vegas market averaged in 2019 for neutral games. Jets-Bills also hurt CBS, as that game was down 31% from the same matchup last year.

 

SERIE A CLUB PARMA IN CLOSE TALKS FOR SALE TO KRAUSE FAMILY

  • The U.S. billionaire Krause family is "nearing an agreement to acquire a majority stake" in Italian soccer club Parma, in a move that would make it the latest American investor in Serie A, per the Financial Times. 

  • A deal valuing the club at more than US$118.5 million "could be reached by the end of the week," according to sources. The Krause family would control up to 60% of the group "after eclipsing a bid by a Qatari investor," the sources said. Existing investors, including Italian billionaire Guido Barilla, would "retain a stake for at least five years." 

  • The Krause family’s attempt to buy Parma follows last month’s $700 million acquisition of AS Roma by Texas billionaire Dan Friedkin and last year’s purchase of Fiorentina for an "undisclosed sum" by Rocco Commisso

  • See more on the sale in SBD Global.

 

OUTSIDE CONTRIBUTORS: JOB WELL DONE

  • Tonight's op-ed contribution is from Int'l Tennis HOFer Donald Dell, who writes under the header, "Thank You For the 2020 U.S. Open."

  • Dell, a former SBJ Champion, writes, "I’m not sure the general tennis fan understands what an enormous undertaking this was -- bringing more than 150 players from more than 60 countries and their entourages to New York, establishing a testing program, reimagining every inch of space at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to create additional player areas and having only a handful of positive tests is a modern day miracle. I have been an occasional critic of the USTA for not better promoting and building grassroots tennis to develop future champions, but the organization deserves unlimited credit and appreciation for their outstanding organizational ability to make the 2020 US Open not only possible but highly successful as well."

  • To read the full contribution, click here

 

SPEED READS

  • Camping World is returning as the entitlement brand of the NASCAR Truck Series after a two-year stint under the Gander Outdoors moniker, reports SBJ's Adam Stern. Camping World Holdings, which operates both brands, has been with NASCAR for more than a decade dating back to 2009 as part of a deal that reportedly costs around $5 million annually, and it has promoted multiple brands, including Good Sam and Overton's

  • Bundesliga fans will be "allowed back into stadiums when the new season kicks off" with Bayern Munich hosting Schalke on Friday. Following a virtual meeting today, home fans will be allowed back in stadiums, with "no away fans present, no alcohol allowed and a ban on standing," per ESPN.

  • Elevate Sports Ventures is partnering with St. Louis City SC to assist the team with sponsorships -- including kit and stadium exposure -- as well as premium and ticket sales. The club will begin MLS play in 2023. 

  • USA Swimming today announced the creation of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council and the Black Leadership in Aquatics Coalition, two  groups designed to provide guidance on questions of diversity and inclusion, reports SBJ’s Chris Smith. The DEI Council will initially be comprised of 22 members, including athletes, swim club coaches, volunteers and non-members. The council is intended to “bring together a group of diverse individuals to consult, deliberate and provide strategic DEI feedback to USA Swimming.” The Black Leadership in Aquatics Coalition, which will be abbreviated as Team BLAC, is comprised of former and current national team members.

  • NFL Panthers Spanish-language radio announcer Luis Moreno Jr. walked away from the job in the offseason because he said that he has been "openly supportive" of President Trump, and the Panthers "didn't approve," according to the Charlotte Observer. Moreno's uncle and co-broadcaster Jaime Moreno was still in the booth for Sunday's Raiders-Panthers opener.

  • Pennsylvania-based Yuengling announced a joint venture with Molson Coors to begin distributing beer to the West Coast for the first time since the brewery was founded in 1829. Molson Coors owns two West Coast craft beer companies -- Hop Valley Brewing Co. (Eugene, Ore.) and Saint Archer Brewing (San Diego) -- and 7 brewing facilities in the U.S. The self-proclaimed “America’s Oldest Brewery” is located about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia and 250 miles east of Pittsburgh and sponsors the Phillies, Pirates, Flyers, Penguins and 15 other pro teams and venues, according to Sports Atlas. Molson Coors boasts approximately 50 sports sponsorships, including the Phillies.

 

NEWS YOU NEED FROM SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY



SBJ UNPACKS -- THE ROAD AHEAD

 

 

 

--- AXS SPORTS FACILITIES & FRANCHISES & TICKETING SYMPOSIUM ---

Sept. 22-23, 2020

Virtual Program

Announcing the 2020 AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises & Ticketing Symposium agenda.  To view the agenda or to learn more, visit www.SportsFacilitiesandFranchises.com.

 

Something related to coronavirus and sports business catch your eye? Tell us about it. Reach out to Austin Karp (akarp@sportsbusinessjournal.com) and we'll share the best of it.