SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: December 15, 2023

Episode Summary

Shohei Ohtani's business impact on Dodgers, CAA Sports to sell naming rights for the A's planned Las Vegas stadium; an expansive NIL deal with Utah student-athletes and MLS Columbus Crew sees boon from winning 2023 MLS Cup.

Episode Transcription

I know I said it yesterday on the Buzzcast, but keep your eye on what U.S. Soccer is building in Georgia, a 200 acre, $200 million national training center and business headquarters. It's in Fayette County, which is about 25 miles south of Atlanta. After seeing U.S. Soccer's plans up close, it's going to be a game changer for soccer in America.

And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, December 15th. Happy Friday. You made it to Friday. I'm Abe Madkour, thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. The Los Angeles Dodgers officially introduced Shohei Ohtani on Thursday. And team president, Stan Kasten, acknowledged the idea for deferring so much of Ohtani's contract came from Ohtani's agent, CAA's Nez Balelo, who proposed the deferred money just last week.

Ohtani's contract calls for an annual salary of $70 million. And of each year's salary, 68 million is deferred with no interest payable in equal installments from 2034 to 2043. Deferring this money lowered the annual charge to the Dodgers' luxury tax, reduced their competitive balance tax.

Ohtani admitted that he figured if he could defer the money, it would help keep the team under that tax and would help the Dodgers sign better players and make the team better over the long-term. And he said he felt that was worth it in the long run.

Meanwhile, multiple reports know that Ohtani can opt out of his deal if either team owner, Mark Walter, or President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, are no longer with the Dodgers. I found that a very interesting detail and it shows how much trust and faith Ohtani has in Dodgers leadership, especially those two individuals.

So the good times are rolling for the Dodgers and they are seeing an Ohtani bounce. Dodger jerseys with his number and name have set sales records for a jersey in its first 48 hours of availability. That beats the Jersey drops for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and that's according to data from fanatics.

But it's not just about Jersey sales. Secondary market ticket prices have risen dramatically for Dodger games. And StubHub said there was a dramatic increase in searches for Dodgers tickets and that they are the most searched team on the StubHub ticket platform this month, twice as much as the Yankees. So clearly, the Dodgers are a hot brand and it's December, so think about that.

While Dodger fans are certainly celebrating, there is less celebration in the Bay Area and there is a narrative that free agents that are being pursued by the San Francisco Giants have been impacted by negative perceptions about the Bay Area. So this is interesting.

Long time Giant, Buster Posey, said he has heard from players and players' wives a sense of uneasiness with the city of San Francisco as far as the state of the city with crime and some homelessness. He said, "The perception is impacting the Giants' ability to sign and attract free agents."

But it just isn't Buster Posey saying that. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, one of the most connected in the business of baseball said, "The Giants have a geography and a city problem, as players do have a negative perception of San Francisco right now and how the city has changed since the pandemic and that's impacted players' interest in playing in that city." So while these things can go in cycles, right now, it seems that the narrative could be hurting the San Francisco Giants and their ability to sign free agents.

Let's stay with baseball. SBJ's Terry Lefton reported that industry sources have told him that CAA Sports has won the rights to sell naming rights and other commercial assets for what is the A's planned $1.5 billion ballpark in Las Vegas.

So the ballpark is scheduled to open in 2028. CAA Sports won a lengthy process and will become the lead sales agency. CAA Icon was hired in September to oversee project management of the entire ballpark development. So, CAA Sports has won the rights to sell naming rights and other commercial assets for the A's new ballpark in Las Vegas. And that'll be very interesting to see the type of brands and the price around these deals. Let's move on.

We talk about some of the most intriguing name, image and likeness deals, and some of them have come out of the state of Utah. Listen to this one. As members of the University of Utah's gymnastics, women's basketball and men's basketball teams will be able to lease a car as part of an NIL deal, the Crimson Collective, that is Utah's name, image, and likeness collective, most schools have them, said that it will pay for the lease and the insurance on the vehicles. So the money is coming from the collective.

This deal is similar to the one the Utah football team received in October. Remember that? Where all 85 scholarship football players could lease a truck if they opted into the name, image and likeness deal. Those leases ran for six months. That was at a cost, overall, for the fleet of trucks available to the football team, at about $6 million.

Now, the Crimson Collective said that the majority of the football players opted into that deal, and that original football deal saw some debate over how Title IX would be applied and the balance with Title IX. And so the Crimson Collective worked on a car deal for the women's basketball and gymnastics teams for several months, and they announced it this week.

So the value of the total deal was not released, but each car was worth about $65,000. There are 40 cars potentially being given out. Now, remember, for the Utah football program, only scholarship football players were offered the opportunity to lease the vehicle. In this latest deal around women's basketball, gymnastics, it applies to all the athletes on the gymnastics, women's basketball team and men's basketball team.

So that is a nice perk, a nice name, image, and likeness deal for those athletes. And again, these collectives have a lot of power in doing these deals and you're going to see more and more of them around the country.

Let's stay with college, because those in the collegiate and sports media space continue to talk to me about women's volleyball. It's one of the hottest sports around and one of the hottest topics in the business around. So don't be surprised if you see more and more women's volleyball events coming into the picture or being created.

Here's one that was just announced, as Fox Sports and Intersport are partnering to broadcast the inaugural college volleyball event featuring Wisconsin, Texas, Stanford and Minnesota, September 1st and 2nd at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Now, two of the four games will be on Fox. The other two will be featured on Fox Sports One. So again, some national exposure. Intersport out of Chicago is always good and smart at creating their own events, and they just did it with the World Champions Cup golf event in Florida just last week.

And with NCAA women's volleyball being such a hot sport, it's smart to create these events to build off that interest. Earlier this year, Marquette played Wisconsin at Fiserv Forum and broke Wisconsin's indoor regular season attendance record with more than 17,000 fans. So there's obviously a market. And so in September, you will have Wisconsin, Texas, Stanford in Minnesota at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee National Games on Fox and Fox Sports One in a new event created by Fox Sports and Intersport.

And let's just think about it, this is a big week for women's volleyball on campus. Both final four matches were on ESPN Thursday night, and the championship game will be on ABC Sunday afternoon. So a great time slot for women's volleyball and it just shows the interest in that sport.

And finally, how important is winning to the business? Well, how about this, the MLS Columbus Crew, they are seeing a big business bounce after winning the MLS Cup just last week. They have sold out, sold out season ticket packages for next year for the 2024 season, completely sold out of season ticket packages. That comes less than a week after winning MLS Cup. So business is strong for the MLS Columbus Crew.

And so that is your Morning BuzzCast for Friday, December 15th. I'm Abe Madkour, thanks for listening to the BuzzCast. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.