SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: January 10, 2023

Episode Summary

NBA honors its top teams; Bears and Bills near decisions on new stadiums; Kia set to invest big in tennis and Blank plans long-term with staff moves

Episode Transcription

We are pleased to launch SBJ Tech, the new Home of SportTechie, where you'll find the industry's leading daily content dedicated to the intersection of sports and technology. We have a fully dedicated homepage for all of SBJ's sports tech related content. Please check it out today at Meanwhile, in an interesting piece of corporate news, Disney's Bob Iger informed employees that the company will mandate staff return to the company's corporate offices four days a week, starting March 1st. So Disney out front in a very aggressive return to office policy.

And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, January 10th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Five minutes into last night's CFP title game, I received a text from a top ESPN executive who wrote, "Need TCU to keep this close." Well, we know that did not happen, as the CFP championship was a blowout. One of those rare ones that I turned off as early as halftime. It was the most lopsided CFP title game, a big disappointment I'm sure for CFP leaders and ESPN. Georgia just dominated from the start, on the way to winning 65-7, and it showed to me the gap between Georgia and maybe the rest of the teams in college football, even with Nick Saban on ESPN's broadcast. Georgia won its second consecutive national championship. Their back to back titles are the first since Alabama won back to back. That was a decade ago. And Georgia, I believe, is only going to get better with a strong recruiting class. So the curtain comes down on the college football season with Georgia winning back to back titles.

Let's move on to the NBA, because the League awarded its NBA Team Sales and Marketing Awards for the last completed season, 2021 and '22. The awards were presented Monday night at its sales and marketing meetings in Miami. This was the first time the NBA brought them all together in person in a couple of years. These awards are decided by the League, so they really give good insight into which teams are over-performing. And the winners last night for NBA Team of the Year, Golden State Warriors, because the Warriors, they won for their achievement across all lines of businesses. They generated a league record of more than $800 million in revenue according to sources. The team led the NBA in ticketing and in partnerships, and launched a new private events division. The NBA's Inclusion Innovation Award also went to the Warriors, because they created the franchise fund in partnership with United Airlines to support economic development in Bay Area communities of color by providing equitable opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The NBA's Inclusion Leadership Award went to the Toronto Raptors, who were honored for their commitment to inclusion as a business strategy. And the NBA Team Innovation of the Year award, that went to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers launched ClipperVision, that's a direct to consumer streaming platform, the first one to be launched by an NBA team. There were also a number of individual awards handed out, but this year's awards by the NBA show again that the Golden State Warriors are top of the class when it comes to the NBA's business operations.

Let's move on to the NFL. I anticipate some news around the Chicago Bears shortly, both on the team's new president and the prospects for building a new stadium in Arlington Heights. The Bears expect to decide whether to buy Arlington International Racecourse property where the new stadium will be developed in the first quarter of this year. But they've also said the project cannot be built without government help. So that'll be a big issue that will need to be resolved, but that decision is now the Bears' to make to see if they want to buy that land.

Meanwhile, the city of Chicago is trying a last ditch effort to try to keep the Bears, and to renovate Soldier Field. The city has released a eye-popping... It's a very cool sizzle video that details how they would transform Soldier Field into a dome stadium, and to a 365 day entertainment destination. This video pops, it shows retail shops, it shows an outdoor music and concert venue, it shows of course restaurants, it shows a very community feel. It's a great sizzle reel. If you can, check it out. But is it enough to capture the interest of the Bears to stay at Soldier Field? Probably not, but Chicago is making one last ditch effort to keep the Bears. But I do anticipate some news on the Bears coming shortly about their plans to relocate outside of the city.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have really been a pillar of excellent executive leadership this entire season. Look at how they have handled all the challenges that have come their way. They have faced so much adversity, and now we know, and they continue to be one of the most compelling teams in the NFL. While they are also getting very close to landing that final deal for a new stadium, New York governor Kathy Hochul said there will be in an announcement very soon about finalizing the deal for a new Bills stadium. We've talked about this for some time. It has slowed down quite a bit, but Hochul said a deal is close to being done and being formally announced. Remember, the state is contributing $600 million to the project, the county $250 million, and the Bills will contribute $550 million and pay any cost overruns. But a deal is close, and this would be a major move forward for the Buffalo Bills.

Let's shift to tennis, because a massive sponsorship deal around the Australian Open, as Tennis Australia is close to signing its biggest sponsorship deal in Australian sport. This is a deal that will be worth as much as $70 million over five years. It's with Kia. We know that Kia, the auto brand, is well connected to the Grand Slam Australian Open. It has sponsored the Australian Open since 2002. It has Rafael Nadal as a brand ambassador. This deal will certainly help Tennis Australia as it's still looking to rebound from COVID challenges over the past two years. This deal would be worth up to $14 million a year for Tennis Australia and be a major shot in the arm for the Australian Open, and a very good shot in the arm for the sport of tennis.

And finally, I've always felt that Arthur Blank is one of the top operators and owners in sports. He has always taken the long view, and he has one of the best executive teams and one of the best staffs in all of sports. He is again taking the long view and trying to keep that staff together. And these are some names that you should know. Blank has promoted NFL veteran Rich McKay, one of the most respected voices in the league, to CEO of Arthur M. Blank Sports Enterprises. That is the company overseeing all of Blank's sports operations. And meanwhile, he has created a vice-chair role for current CEO. Steve Cannon. Steve Cannon will assist Blank on overall business, real estate, and growth initiatives. Steve Cannon will also oversee the MLS United.

Meanwhile, there are some other executive changes worth noting. Current CRO Tim Zulawski was promoted to AMBSE president. That is a new position. He will report to Rich McKay and oversee operations in finance, sales and service, HR, communications. This is a big job. It's a big move for Zulawski, whose name was often mentioned around C-level openings across sports, but Arthur Blank being aggressive to keep him. Meanwhile, the team will look for a new chief commercial officer shortly. Meanwhile, Falcons executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer Greg Beadles becomes Falcons president, and Chief Operating Officer Dietmar Exler was promoted to executive vice president, and will continue to serve as CEO of the Arthur M. Blank Family Office. So some major personnel changes in Atlanta under Arthur Blank, Rich McKay getting a big role, Steve Cannon getting a big role, Tim Zulawski getting a very big role, and Greg Beadles also becoming president of the Falcons. So some names to know in Arthur Blank's sports organization.

So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, January 10th. Again, we are pleased to launch SPJ Tech, the new Home of SportTechie. Check it out today at I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening. Thanks for spreading the word on the Buzzcast. Stay healthy, be good to each other, I'll speak to you tomorrow.