SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 28, 2023

Episode Summary

Messi Mania arrives in Times Square, an apparel partnership extension for the world's number one in tennis, and Deion Sanders' impact on University of Colorado.

Episode Transcription

Sports Business Journal is taking submissions for our inaugural SBJ Best Places to Work in Sports 2023. We are looking to honor the best organizations for their leadership and unwavering commitment to their employees. Learn more and nominate your organization today on or let me know if you have any questions. Also, I'll be out at the US Open Wednesday and Thursday of this week for the day sessions. If you plan to be at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, please let me know. I'd love to say hi. And this is your morning Buzzcast for Monday, August 28th, the last week of August, hard to believe. I'm Abe Madkour.

Let's start with tennis, since we're talking about the US Open, which does start today. In my Saturday tennis group, I bet about half of the 12 players that play regularly are playing with Babolat rackets. It's always surprised me to see the market share for this company. It was made big by Rafael Nadal who played with Babolat. Most of the players I see are playing with that Pure Aero frame or model. That actually was the number two bestselling racket of the year. Now the current men's world number one, Carlos Alcaraz, also plays with Babolat and he will continue to do so as he signed an extension with the company for 7 years through 2030. Alcaraz who plays with the Pure Aero VS signed his first contract with Babolat at the age of 10.

I think this is a big move for Babolat as this is how casual, serious, or weekend tennis players identify with the pros: by their racket. I remember growing up and needing to buy my Donnay Borg Pro so I could try to emulate my hero, Bjorn Borg, and I'm sure a number of players are going to go into their tennis shop and ask for Alcaraz's frame or model, just as they did around Rafa and Babolat. So a big, big win for Babolat. Alcaraz extension with the company comes as the Open starts today, which Alcaraz won last year at the age of 19, and he's certainly a favorite this year. But Alcaraz and Babolat, a relationship in tennis that will be lasting for a while.

Messi Mania continues as a record crowd of more than 26,000 fans filled Red Bull Arena as Messi made his MLS regular season debut Saturday night as Inter Miami beat The Red Bulls two to nil. Messi did not start for Inter Miami, but the sellout crowd kept chanting, "We want Messi," and he entered the game in the 60th minute and scored a late goal. Yes he did. You know where else this match was seen? Yes, in Times Square. The match was streamed on Apple TV, but it was also shown on a large screen in Times Square Saturday night in the heart of New York City. That is Messi Mania for sure. Game tickets on Friday, a day before the game, were going for a range between $400 to more than $5,000 on the secondary markets. The AP reported the streets around Red Bull Arena were packed two and a half hours before the match filled with scalpers and people selling unlicensed Messi jerseys.

Now we have seen how teams are taking advantage of having Messi in their building. SBJ's Alex Silverman reported that the Red Bulls were able to require ticket buyers for the Inter Miami match to commit to additional matches this season. So yes, fans had to step up. Individual buyers had to purchase tickets for the Messi match on Saturday as part of a 4 game pack, while group buyers of 10 or more tickets had to purchase the same number of tickets for 1 additional match this season for the Red Bulls. So more than half of the 25,000 fans in attendance on Saturday night purchased their tickets via one of those two options.

So this is a way to get a big lift from Messi's arrival and presence in a home market. Also, these fans will try a product and go back and experience the product again. The Red Bulls also added 25% more guest services staff at the stadium, they opened the gates an hour earlier on Saturday to allow for a more staggered ingress. In addition to having more fans on onsite than usual, they certainly had more media. The club receives generally about 70 requests for a Red Bulls match. On Saturday night, how about more than 400 media requests? About six times the number of requests it typically receives. So there you see the Messi lift impacting the Red Bulls.

I wanted to watch some football in Ireland on Saturday. The energy and the pageantry of the Notre Dame Navy game and the Aer Lingus College football classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, it was noticeable, a great presentation. Seemed like a great fun crowd. It was sold out, just under 40,000 fans, thousands of Americans making the journey to Dublin. Notre Dame reportedly brought more than 30,000 fans to Ireland for the game. One report estimated the fan base was 90-10 in favor of the Irish. It was a week-long affair. As the schedule was full of events, there were business summits, there were academic meetings, there were a number of things taking place during the trip to Ireland for the Notre Dame Navy contingent, and I'm sure it's something that fans and players had a great experience and would like to see happen again.

If you want another example on the impact of Deion Sanders on the fan base and interest at the University of Colorado, just look at this. An estimated 1,600 fans attended the Boulder Chamber kickoff luncheon at the University of Colorado's indoor football practice facility. That was on Saturday. Guess what? That is more than double the estimated attendance from the event last year. So Deion Sanders having such an impact on Colorado, now we'll have to see the impact he can make from the sidelines on the team's performance.

And finally, we'll end with this. Many of you know her from her company, Sports Innovation Lab, which works with a number of teams and leagues, but now Angela Ruggiero is finding another way to spend whatever spare time she may have. The New York Rangers hired the Hockey Hall of Famer as a hockey operations advisor. Now Ruggiero, she knows the game. She won 4 Olympic medals for the US team, she played 15 years on our national team, and she was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. Now, Angela Ruggiero continues to give to hockey, serving as an advisor for the New York Rangers.

And that is your morning Buzzcast for Monday, August 28th. I'm Abe Madkour. Again, if you'll be out at the US Open on Wednesday or Thursday, let me know. I'd love to see you. In the meantime, stay healthy, be good to each other, and I'll speak to you tomorrow.