SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: January 24, 2023

Episode Summary

Arte Moreno's curveball; TMRW Sports, PGA Tour and LIV among topics at PGA Show; why 'Bama's new deal with Learfield is telling and Ben Affleck's "Air" debuts in April

Episode Transcription

So after two years of pandemic disruptions, the PGA show begins today in Orlando, it runs all week. It's expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, drawing thousands of PGA professionals, golf leaders, industry executives, retailers. There will also be more than 800 golf brands showcasing product. So it's good to see the PGA show return to the level it used to be at.

And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, January 24th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Let's get right to it. They say it's hard to let go and hard to say goodbye. And that's the case with Los Angeles Angels' owner Arte Moreno, who surprisingly pulled the Angels off the market late yesterday on Monday, and plans to continue overseeing the franchise for the foreseeable future. Just five months ago, Arte Moreno had retained an investment bank to move ahead with a sale. But in a statement yesterday, the 76-year old Moreno wrote, "His family's hearts remain with the Angels."

He bought the team from Disney for $183 million in 2003, and any sale, we've talked about it on the Buzzcast, was widely predicted to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion or more. So that would have been a healthy return for Arte Moreno. And many expected a sale to take place before opening day, but Moreno surprisingly pulled that team off the market yesterday. ESPN cites a source familiar with Moreno's thinking, stating that, "He found it difficult to part with a franchise that he has led for over 20 years." It is also possible that any perspective buyers didn't meet his asking price, although sources disputed that notion. So believing that there is unfinished business, Arte Moreno will hold on to the Los Angeles Angels. And so, that is one fewer team on the marketplace right now.

Let's move on. I'll be going to the NACDA mid-winter meetings this weekend in Marco Island. And if you're going to be there, let me know. I'd love to say hello. And I know how frequently the topic of the challenging collegiate marketplace will be discussed. And the key challenge to me: name, image, and likeness. It is making life so difficult for administrators and coaches, and that's why a new deal announced today between Alabama and Learfield will show another indication of how prevalent the issue of NIL is on campus. Alabama extended and broadened its multimedia rights deal with Learfield. They extended it out 15 years, and the deal includes elements for name, image, and likeness. It also includes new content and more access to data and analytics. Those are the three key takeaways from this extension.

And this is easily one of the biggest, most lucrative deals in the country along with Ohio State and Texas. Both of those schools are also Learfield clients. But Alabama's previous contract with Learfield, which was signed in 2014, ran for 10 years, and it guaranteed Alabama more than $160 million. This deal, of course, will be bigger. We know so much has changed in college sports since 2014, and that is reflected in the content of this new deal.

So the key elements are a new content platform created in collaboration with Learfield Studio, so Alabama can generate and produce and distribute more content. There's new access to data and analytics from Learfield's fan base platform, so Alabama wants to know more and more about its fan base or potential fan base. And finally, there's a dedicated hub called the Advantage Center that's dedicated to name, image, and likeness. That'll be the school's centerpiece for all their NIL activity. And the staff that's dedicated to NIL will work out of this Advantage Center and provide education and resources for athletes and around any commercial activities.

So again, three key points: content, which everybody wants right now, data and analytics, which everybody is starving for right now, and a true center of excellence around name, image, and likeness. Those are the key components, and you could see this type of deal modeled in other deals on campuses going forward.

We led the show around golf, and one of the hot topics at the PGA show in Orlando this week will be the arrival of TMRW Sports. That is the new indoor golf concept. It's developed by Tiger Woods, Roy McIlroy, and former golf channel President, Mike McCarley. It will launch the TGL Golf League in 2024, and that is getting some buzz. It's a new concept. It's got a lot of people talking about a new competition around golf. And TMRW Sports hired CAA ICON to oversee the design, development, and construction of a exclusive venue that will be the home of the TGL Golf League. It'll be based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. So the arena, they'll sell about 1,500 to 2,000 tickets for these events, and the arena is being built on 10 acres in Palm Beach Gardens. The league will only play in this facility for the first year.

And many ask, "What is it?" Well, it'll be a mix of golf simulation. Players will tee off from a stage in a virtual course, and then they will mix in actual shots around a green and they'll be putting. Again, still a lot to learn about this concept, but people are interested in it because of the people behind the concept: Tiger, Rory, and Mike McCarley. So again, they are building this exclusive facility in Florida to be the home of this golf league, starts in 2024, and again, it has some people talking.

Let's stay with golf, because LIV golf released its schedule for this coming season. The second season starts in February in Mexico, and there are some slight changes to the schedule. The biggest is that LIV Golf's team championship at the end of the year will move from Trump National Doral in Miami to Saudi Arabia in November. Overall, LIV Golf said players will compete for $405 million in 14 tournaments. That is $150 million more than they won in eight events in 2022, so the prize money increases. There will be three Trump-owned golf courses part of LIV Golf's schedule. They'll also return to the Centurion Club in London. They'll go to Sugar Grove, Illinois. I found it interesting that the circuit is not returning to Portland, Oregon where they hosted an event, and they're not returning to Boston where they hosted an event last year, and that Boston event was widely seen as one of the most successful events. But LIV Golf gets its schedule for '23 in order, like I said, teeing off in Mexico in February.

No league wants to be in the mix of any polarizing cultural issues. And we're seeing how the NHL is really trying to move beyond the news of last week. I'm sure you all saw it. We know how the NHL was criticized by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a perceived job fair that focused on underrepresented members of the community. DeSantis and others called it discriminatory. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is being very clear that he does not want to get in a back and forth with the Florida Governor. He knows there's no win in such an effort. And of course, the NHL is having its All-Star Game in Florida next month. So again, they're trying to move beyond this issue.

The league is moving ahead with its event. They described it as "an informational career event for those who have not been exposed to hockey." So Bettman did push back saying the summit has been mischaracterized. He stated, "It's not a job fair, but more of an informational session so that people could learn more about the NHL." So the NHL continuing with its Pathway to Hockey Summit in Florida. And again, trying to move on from any type of debate with Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.

We end the Buzzcast a lot talking about people. Let's end this one speculating about people. World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who is very well regarded in the global sports community, may have higher aspirations, as his name was floated this week as a possible successor to IOC President Thomas Bach. Seb Coe is an IOC member. He could become or would become the first British president of the IOC. But Thomas Bach has two years of his term remaining. An election for the next IOC President is expected in 2025. I really don't believe for a second that Thomas Bach has any intention of stepping down or resigning. He is 69 years old. He loves the role. He loves the platform. He loves the reach of the Olympic movement. So we can watch this story unfold, but at least some names are in the news about possible future successors to Thomas Bach, and Sebastian Coe is just the latest name floated.

And finally, here's a film I didn't even know was in production, but Ben Affleck is directing the film called AIR. It's about the birth of the Air Jordan brand and the partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan. It will be released globally on April 5th before it goes to Prime Video. Ben Affleck is starring in the movie alongside Matt Damon, Viola Davis, and Jason Bateman. Count me in on watching AIR. I think that will be a fun, fun watch. And again, launching or debuting in April.

So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, January 24th. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Thanks for spreading the word on the Buzzcast. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.