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Volume 27 No. 5
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SBJ Unpacks: All Eyes On Pac-12

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: California Gov. Gavin Newsom seemingly puts the ball in Larry Scott's court to bring back Pac-12 football.


  • Big Ten denies White House helped return to play
  • Islanders reap benefits of deep postseason run
  • Behind the scenes of NBC's U.S. Open takeover from Fox
  • Comcast Spectacor, Riot Games make esports history
  • Fitch report highlights revenue loss for Yankee Stadium
  • CSM Sport & Entertainment's Vanessa Taveras on importance of women's sports



  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom this afternoon said that there is "nothing in the state guidelines that denies the Pac-12" from staging conference football games. Newsom, who spoke this morning with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, said: "There is nothing that denies the games from occurring.” 

  • The San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner notes Newsom's statement "seemingly contradicts his own rules," as state guidelines "clearly prevent players from gathering in cohorts larger than 12, which makes football difficult." But Newsom said the state would be willing “to engage the Pac-12” on the rules governing cohorts -- a development that could allow the teams to practice and compete.

  • Scott in a statement earlier today acknowledged the local restrictions, noting he is "hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition." Sources said that if testing capabilities lead to the "approval for contact practices to begin, the Pac-12 is expected to use a six-week ramp-up period before it starts playing games, leading to a potential start date in mid-to-late-November." 

  • Meanwhile, the office of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has granted both the Univ. of Oregon and Oregon State football programs exemptions to the state healthy authority's sports guidance. However, Brown's office in a statement said they have "received no written plans from the Pac-12 for the upcoming season."



  • The Big Ten has "refuted a White House claim" that President Trump "influenced the conference's return to play its college football season this fall." CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd cites a conference source as saying that the Big Ten "neither requested nor ultimately received help from the federal government to aid their return to play." 

  • Meanwhile, one Big Ten university president told NBC News: "President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations. In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political."

  • Trump this morning took credit for helping the Big Ten return to the football field this year, and the White House later this afternoon claimed Trump's Sept. 1 call to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren was "probably the most pivotal phone [call] in the Big Ten this year."

  • The football season will resume Oct. 23-24 after the conference adopted significant medical protocols to combat COVID-19. All 14 teams will play in an eight-game season, with the championship game scheduled for Dec. 19, the day before the CFP pairings are set to be announced.



  • Columnists across the country today took the Big Ten to task for a dysfunctional six weeks. 

    • Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay: "This story really became a saga -- furious fans, bummed-out players, flummoxed coaches, protesting parents, and, of course, lawyers being lawyers. The Big Ten turned into a national punching bag, pummeled from every direction."

    • Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel: "How much the tumult impacted the reversal is unprovable, but it did rock a league that used to pride itself as the buttoned-up corner of college football’s three-ring circus. Not anymore. The Big Ten is just the SEC, only with far fewer Waffle Houses and modern national champions."

    • SI's Dellenger & Forde: "While other conferences showed patience and expected advancements in testing -- delaying their seasons instead of completely postponing -- the Big Ten pulled the trigger on postponing and then had to reverse course for a public relations nightmare."





  • UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the future home for the Islanders beginning with the 2021-22 season, continues to ride the commercial wave of the team’s deep postseason run, reports SBJ’s Mark J. Burns.

  • The club, which is currently down 3-2 to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals, is projecting that half of its 1,500 premium seats for the new arena will be sold by the end of September. Additionally, over 80% of the Islanders’ season-ticket inventory for the inaugural season have been sold.

  • Isles co-owner Jon Ledecky: “We wanted to make sure we priced the bowl in a way that was accessible to all fans, and so we could reach the entire spectrum of our fan base.”

  • A few more updates on UBS Arena from Oak View Group's Tim Leiweke.

    • There will be announcements in the next "30-45 days" of four new founding partners.

    • Leiweke is hopeful that by the end of 2020, the roof will be completed.

    • There is currently no hard date on when the venue will open, though it’s still projected for next fall. At this time, roughly 40 nights of concerts are pegged for Q4 ’21.



  • With the U.S. Open set to return to NBC Sports tomorrow, Golf Digest's Dave Shedloski goes behind the scenes of "one of the most complicated TV deals in golf history." The story of how the rights changed hands from Fox to NBC in a "gesture of cooperation between competing networks" happened "neatly and quickly and ended up being the kind of win-win-win that left all parties satisfied." 

  • Fox, which began hosting USGA events in 2015 in a 12-year, $1 billion deal, was going to have issues this year carrying the U.S. Open on broadcast TV due to conflicts with college football and the NFL. Fox Sports Exec VP/Business Larry Jones accepted an offer from NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller to have a conversation about options for the delayed 2020 major.

  • Internal conversations at NBC that involved Pete Bevacqua and Molly Solomon, among others, "eventually steered Miller toward seeking the remaining seven years of the Fox deal." 

  • Miller said of Fox, "Golf was not the right fit for them. None of the people who were there now at Fox were involved in the deal when it was done in August of 2013. Interestingly, there are still a lot of people at NBC who were involved with the USGA because we had it for 20 years.”



  • Comcast Spectacor and Riot Games made some esports history over the weekend, as the parties came together to create and fund an all-female remote tournament that was on par with other professional counterparts in prize pool and official designation, TEO's Trent Murray writes.

  • The event was part of Comcast Spectacor's women in gaming initiative, dubbed For The Women (FTW) -- and was the first all-women esports tournament. Riot then raised the stakes when the game publisher made the Valorant tourney an official part of its pro tournament series and committed $40,000 to its prize pool.



  • Fitch Ratings in a new report reaffirmed a BBB+ rating for new bonds on Yankee Stadium, despite the venue missing out on fans in 2020 and expectations of lower revenue in 2021, SBJ’s Karn Dhingra writes.

  • The report noted the Yankees had been expected to host up to 10,000 fans at the ballpark during the middle third of the shortened MLB season, and up to 20,000 fans during the final third. The report also noted that Fitch expects Yankee Stadium in 2021 to take in $115 million in revenue, roughly half of the $231 million that the venue took in during 2019. In 2022, Yankee Stadium is expected to take in $231 million, without taking into account premium seating. 

  • The report noted that through June 30,  the Yankees have received $201 million in ticket and suite revenues for the current season. As of Aug. 13, the team has refunded $74 million to fans for games not played.



  • Sports broadcasting comedy “Now We’re Talking” returns for its second season tomorrow on the CW’s streaming app, reports SBJ’s Chris Smith. The satirical show features creators Tug Coker and Tommy Dewey as a pair of former quarterbacks pursuing a second act in sports broadcasting.

  • “Broadcast teams are an organic setup for a buddy comedy,” said Coker. The show originally debuted in 2016 on Verizon’s now-defunct go90 platform, and both seasons will now be available on the CW’s app. Coker said the show aims to amplify the “grounded absurdity” of some real-life broadcaster storylines, like former ESPNer Ryen Russillo’s 2017 arrest. “There’s a lot of easter egg stuff that’s pulled directly from real life,” said Coker.

  • The show is produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted; the production company got involved through its deal with Warner Bros., which owns the show. Coker says Uninterrupted was central to servicing cameo appearances from athlete and broadcasting talent: “That’s where they showed their mettle. They were able to bring people to guest on the show, and bring a sense of reality to the show.” This season includes cameos from Chris Broussard, Cari Champion, Andrew Hawkins, Olivia Harlan Decker, Ryan Grant and Thomas Jones



  • Tonight's op-ed contribution is from CSM Sport & Entertainment's Vanessa Taveras, who writes under the header, "Pandemic Landscape Reveals Importance Of Investing In Women’s Sports."

  • Taveras, a 2020 SBJ Game Changer, writes, "Failing to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women will dampen the progress on gender equality as well as the continued growth of our economy. And this is especially true for women’s sport, which is not exempt from the undue burden that the global pandemic has placed on women worldwide."

  • To read the full contribution, click here



  • The NFL this afternoon released the latest results of its COVID testing from Sept. 6-12 (ahead of Week 1 of the regular season). Approximately 15,959 tests were administered to 2,511 players, with two positives. 24,520 tests were administered to 4,926 personnel members, with five positives detected.

  • The NCAA's D-I Council voted this afternoon to begin the college basketball season on Nov. 25, sources told CBS Sports's Matt Norlander. That "means full-blown practices can start, per NCAA rules, 42 days prior." That equates to Oct. 14 serving as the start of college basketball's preseason. 
  • ESPN's Buster Olney writes the emergence of Steve Cohen as the likely owner of the Mets is being "treated as great news by player agents, in a year of a lot of bad financial developments" in MLB. One source called it "a godsend." There is a "wide industry expectation that the Mets will finally conduct their business as a powerful big-market team should." Olney: "They should join the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox as possible buyers in most July trade markets and should be in the bidding for the most expensive free agents. It'll be good for the players (and their agents), good for the teams, good for the sport."

  • There are 46 active COVID-19 cases among the Univ. of Memphis athletics department, according to the Shelby County Health Department this afternoon. Of the cases, 42 are "related to the first cluster, which the department has said is related to the football program." 

  • IndyCar and the Music City Grand Prix reached a deal to form a new privately funded downtown Nashville street race that will begin in August 2021, reports SBJ's Adam Stern. This will be the first event added to the series’ calendar under Roger Penske’s stewardship. The race will be part of a three-day festival that will take place Aug. 6-8 next year on a 2.17-mile, 11-turn temporary track where cars are expected to hit up to 200 miles per hour. 

  • Popular esports streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins returned to Twitch last week after exploring possibilities with YouTube and Facebook Gaming. Upon his return, Blevins informed his viewers that part of his new exclusive deal with Twitch requires him to run commercials throughout his broadcast -- a function many streamers elect not to use -- as viewers can simply choose to leave the broadcast during a commercial break and watch another streamer. 








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


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