SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: April 26, 2022

Episode Summary

A new leader in women's hockey, the Florida Panthers' power play continues, college leaders more concerned than ever on NIL and State Farm Arena's sustainability hits a new level.

Episode Transcription

Is Barcelona the women's sports capital of the world? Well, it's certainly one of the most supportive markets for women's sports. On Friday FC Barcelona set yet another world attendance record for women's soccer. As more than 91,600 fans turned out to Camp Nou for Barca's five to one victory over Wolfsburg in the first leg of the woman's Champions League semifinal. The previous record, we mentioned it on the Buzzcast, again, just over 90,000 fans was set only 23 days ago at the same venue. The support this woman's club is getting might be one of the most overlooked stories in all of sports business. It took FC Barcelona only 24 hours to sell out those 91,000 tickets. An amazing story. FC Barcelona's woman's team breaking another record.

And this is your Morning Buzzcast. It's Tuesday, April 26th. I'm Abe Madkour, hope everybody is doing well. Let's start with golf because after months of laying low, Phil Mickelson is back in the news. As he has officially requested a release to play in the first LIV golf invitational event, which will be held in June outside London. Now, Mickelson has not played a tour event, really any golf since January now, Mickelson also registered to play the PGA Championship, he is the defending champion and the US Open. Now his agents, Steve Loy was clear that asking for a release doesn't mean that Phil Mickelson and has decided where he will play or when he will play, but he's keeping his options open.

Now, timing will be interesting because a new book on Mickelson by author Alan Shipnuck will be released in May, and it will surely amplify some of the attention around Phil Mickelson. Remember excerpts from the book shows that Mickelson criticizes the PGA Tour. He said he was involved with the planning around LIV Golf, which of course is being financed by Saudi Arabia's public investment fund. After his comments were made public, several of Nicholson's longtime sponsors, including Amstel Light, KPMG and Workday ended their relationship with him. Callaway also paused its relationship with Mickelson. But perhaps Phil Mickelson, ready to begin to reemerge from that controversy.

Meanwhile, the news on Mickelson requesting a release to play comes as Sergio Garcia's name has emerged as a name that may play in the LIV Golf first invitational series, like I said, in June. You'll begin to hear more and more names of players who agreed to play, Monday was the last day for PGA Tour players to apply to play. And it was reported that as many as 20, including at least three major winners, have already applied for permission to play in the LIV Golf invitational first event in June. So again, we'll see more and more names starting to emerge there as the first event around LIV Golf begins to take shape.

Let's shift to some news around hockey because the Premier Hockey Federation has a new commissioner. As former USA hockey director, women's ice hockey, Reagan Carey, will take over the role on May 10th. They will announce that news this morning. Reagan Carey will be the third commissioner in the league's seven year history, succeeding outgoing commissioner, Tyler Tumminia who announced her resignation in February. Now Carey joined USA Hockey in 2010, she has led the women's national team. They got a gold medal in 2018. They got a silver medal in 2014. So she has a real track record of putting together strong and successful women's hockey teams. She left USA Hockey in 2018, serving as a consultant and a speaker on both and corporate leadership. Now, that search by the Premier Hockey Federation was handled internally. They did not use a search firm and Carey's hiring comes on the heels of the board of governors of the Premier Hockey Federation committing to invest 25 million dollars in the league over the next three years. The league also retained Octagon to advise on strategy and growth opportunities. So a lot of energy right now around the Premier Hockey Federation and they have a new commissioner as Reagan Carey comes aboard.

Let's stay with hockey because as the NHL regular season comes to a close don't overlook, the successful business year the Florida Panthers have had. And it's been a nice turnaround story under owner Vinnie Viola and team president, Matt Caldwell. Remember the Panthers were one of the first US pro sports teams to get into the NIL sponsorship space last August, they have the best record in the Eastern Conference. They are drawing well over 14,000 fans a game, that's their best attendance in years. And SBJ's John Ourand reports that the team has signed a new media deal with Bally Sports Florida, that more than doubles the amount they've been getting from their current deals. So the team's current or previous deal was a 10 year deal that averaged just about $6 million year. And that was among the smallest local rights fee for any major protein in the US. The new deal, the new average annual value, is valued in the high teens. So you're seeing a very nice bump, a very nice increase for the Panthers. The Panthers were able to convince Sinclair Broadcasting and Bally, that it its rights fee should be more in line with NHL teams in similar sized markets like Nashville.

Bally Sports Florida has carried Panther games since 1993. Team President and CEO, Matt Caldwell led the negotiations for the team alongside alternate governor Michael Viola, Endeavor's Karen Brodkin, and Hillary Mandel advised the Panthers as well. So a big deal for the Florida Panthers who continue to string together a very nice run of business wins.

A power five athletic director recently told a colleague that if they could quit their job today they would. And they cited all the uncertainty facing college sports, especially around name, image, and likeness and how it's gone fully unregulated and really out of control. It's all I hear about from college officials. And here's an example just happened yesterday, a Florida business executive, LifeWallet owner, John Ruiz says his company has signed Miami guard, Nijel Pack to an $800,000 NIL deal that includes a new car. Now Pack transferred from Kansas State to play basketball at Miami. Now this marks the biggest offer yet to a player from John Ruiz, whose deals with Miami athletes have gotten national publicity. Now Pack at Kansas State had some small name image and likeness deals, but he goes to Miami and gets $800,000 in just one deal.

Now that's the type of recruiting and the kind of specter a pay for play that college leaders were afraid of, and more and more examples like this are showing up every day. There is no regulation on the horizon and that's what has college institutional leaders very, very nervous. Nationally college leaders want Congress to step in, but that doesn't seem likely at all. So you're going to see a very dynamic wild marketplace for the foreseeable future and most leaders in college sports don't believe this is a healthy environment at all for the athletes or the institutions. I'll just say it's one of the biggest stories in sports business that we are keeping our eye on.

And finally, a hat tip to the ownership and leaders of the Atlanta Hawks as State Farm Arena took another step in being a leader in sustainability. State Farm Arena received TRUE Platinum Certification from Green Business Certification. Now TRUE means total resource use and efficiency, so that's the certification the area received. The arena is the world's first sports and entertainment venue to receive that level of certification. So this issue of sustainability is of growing importance and many organizations and venues will look to learn from what State Farm Arena is doing so successfully in the important area of sustainability. So again, congratulations to the Hawks, State Farm Arena and their leadership for receiving this latest, very high level of certification from TREU Platinum and Green Business Certification.

So that is your Morning Buzzcast, Tuesday, April 26th. Hope everybody has a great day. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.