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Volume 27 No. 35
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SBJ Unpacks: Can New IndyCar Race Help Boost Nashville Economy?

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: New IndyCar race looks to help jump-start Nashville's economy.


  • NFL sponsors take issue with tarp signage after Week 1
  • Pac-12 leaders expect to reconvene this weekend for football vote
  • Stanley Cup Finals showcases two Sunbelt franchises
  • U.S.-based Krause Group officially takes over Serie A club Parma 


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  • Starting up a new street race is a costly and complex endeavor in normal times, let alone during COVID-19 -- but Music City Grand Prix organizers are looking at it as a way to help jump-start Nashville’s economy in 2021, writes SBJ's Adam Stern.

  • The NTT IndyCar Series announced a new three-year deal with the street race organizers this week, with the inaugural event slated for early August 2021. The race will deeply involve the Titans’ Nissan Stadium, but the early August date has been worked out in part to avoid any conflicts with the NFL team.

  • However, early August is also one of Nashville’s less busy times as a city, and press reports this week indicate that local businesses were supportive of bringing the privately-funded race to town because their businesses have been hampered by decreased tourism amid the pandemic. One restaurant owner was quoted as saying that he’s so desperate for business, he’d welcome an elephant race, let alone an IndyCar race.

  • Event COO Jason Rittenberry touched on that topic in an interview with SBD when asked about trying to set up a new race coming off a pandemic; startup costs for the race should run around, or into, the low eight figures. “This could be an opportunity for Nashville to open back up and have this be one of the first major events showcasing our city and that it’s back after COVID.”

  • The new event marks the first one that has been added to IndyCar’s schedule since Roger Penske bought the series this year. IndyCar has yet to formally announce its 2021 schedule but is expected to do so in the coming month or two.




  • One of the NFL’s biggest attempts to preserve sponsor revenue during the pandemic season is drawing negative reviews after early action, per Fischer & Lefton in next week's print issue of SBJ.

  • In June, the NFL decided to block about the first eight rows of seats in every stadium, ostensibly to keep COVID-19 from spreading between fans and on-field personnel. But it also represented a rare chance for teams to give their sponsors national television exposure by selling logo space on the tarps.

  • Theoretically, that camera-visible signage -- usually strictly limited by league policy -- could make up much of the contract value lost to the pandemic.

  • On opening weekend, television viewers simply didn’t see much of the logos. A few ads in the end zones and the sidelines opposite the main cameras could be seen briefly on some plays, but those on the camera side were virtually invisible. There was no expectation that any changes would be made until every team had hosted at least one home game, which will happen in Week 2. 



  • The San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner reports following this afternoon's meeting of Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, the conference's leaders expect to "reconvene this weekend" for the official vote to green-light the football season. Wilner: "Monday at the latest. -- They are going to vote to play, it's just a matter of 10/31 or 11/7."

  • Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, appearing on the "The Dan Patrick Show" this morning, did say the league has “overcome the major obstacles,” and “we have to decide by next week if we’re moving forward.” Scott: “Our medical advisory committee is much more comfortable with us going forward and it looks like the hurdles have been cleared in terms of the public health authorities in the states of California and Oregon. So things are looking a lot more promising. ... We’ll see if we can align with others in college football still this fall."



  • The Stanley Cup Finals is set, as the Lightning and Stars will start play on Saturday in Edmonton’s Rogers Centre, and this matchup “marks the first time in NHL history that both participants are based in southern U.S. states,” according to the Dallas Morning News

  • The Stars in 1999 were the “first team from a non-traditional, southern market to win the Cup,” but the Lightning, Hurricanes, Ducks and Kings have all won at least one since. However, this matchup will “show a broadening of hockey culture."

  • The Stars are already out in front on Twitter, per SBJ’s Mark J. Burns. Throughout the NHL playoffs, there has been 22% more mentions of the club’s Twitter account than Tampa’s, while the Stars’ Twitter hashtag (#GoStars) has been Tweeted 64% more often than that of the Lightning’s #GoBolts. According to Twitter, since Aug. 1, the Tampa player with the most mentions of his account has been Nikita Kucherov. Forward Jamie Benn has been No. 1 for Dallas. 

  • Meanwhile, it is "likely" that the start of the NHL's next season will be "pushed back to, at the very earliest, early January," according to sources cited by The Athletic. Even that is "marked by a host of qualifiers," and the "sobering reality" for the league is that its return to play in Edmonton and Toronto was a "walk in the park compared to what comes next."

  • Early in the return-to-play proceedings the NHL and NHLPA "tentatively penciled in a Nov. 17 start for training camp and a Dec. 1 start date for a traditional 82-game schedule." But NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on the "Two Man Advantage" podcast admitted that "those dates were in essence very fluid." 



  • Parma today officially became the latest Serie A team to come under U.S. ownership as they were taken over by the Krause Group, the club said in a statement following a deal signed in Milan. The group bought a 90% stake in Parma, "who won three major European trophies during their heyday in the 1990s, were declared bankrupt" in 2015 and returned to Serie A in 2018.

  • Nuovo Inizio, a "group set up by local entrepreneurs which took over the club following its bankruptcy and relegation" to the fourth tier of Italian soccer in 2015, will retain a 9% stake. The remaining 1% will remain with Parma Partecipazioni Calcistiche, a company that "brings together fans as shareholders."

  • Meanwhile, Serie A is "in talks with private equity funds for an investment" in a newly created media rights business unit.



  • Bengals-Browns averaged 6.68 million viewers on NFL Network last night, per SBJ’s Austin Karp, just ahead of the 6.67 million viewers for Buccaneers-Panthers in the same Week 2 “Thursday Night Football” window last season. Two years ago, Ravens-Bengals in the same primetime window averaged 7.06 million on NFL Net. When digital audience is factored in, the game was up 3%. 
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that a "maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend" the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader Oct. 2-3. Fans "will be organized into two 5,000-fan clusters in grandstands near Turns 1 and 4." They "will be required to wear a mask at all times, will undergo a temperature screening to enter and will be given a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entry." IMS will mark individual seats in the grandstands for proper distancing."

  • Whatever the Big East decides to try with its basketball season, UConn “may be forced to work around the state’s travel ban that focuses on so-called COVID-19 hotspots.” The Connecticut Post notes Paul Mounds, chief of staff to Gov. Ned Lamont,  said UConn AD David Benedict has been consulting with the Department of Public Health “in terms of understanding the guideline put forth by the state.”

  • The MLB Cardinals are going through a "fairly extensive round of layoffs" on Friday. Some furloughs and cuts "began Wednesday," with the rest coming on Friday. Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said that the team "eliminated one area-scout position and several part-time positions." Other cuts were "on the minor-league side." The team is "losing two teams next year, which will account for 12 coaching positions."

  • The UMass athletic department announced that 57 staff members "will face a reduction in work hours and/or furloughs." The action is "part of a university-wide workforce reduction announced this week, and is being implemented as part of a detailed analysis of the department’s financial position during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."








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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