SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: May 24, 2022

Episode Summary

Commanders eye Va. site; NFL looks to jumpstart fan data; K.C. Current land Allison Howard as new leader.

Episode Transcription

Well, congratulations to Lesley Visser, who will be the first woman to win the Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award tonight at Lincoln Center in New York. What an industry trailblazer in sports. She was a Sports Business Journal champion of Sports Business in 2016. Always gracious. Always great to be around. Congratulations again to Leslie Visser.

This is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, May 24th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour. Hope everybody's well.

We seemingly talk about the Washington Commanders every week on the Buzzcast, and they are in the news again today. There are multiple reports, some with conflicting information, that the team has either an option to pay more than $100 million for land in Virginia, or has already paid more than $100 million for that land. It's 200 acres, and it's a possible next step in building a new mixed use facility that, of course, includes a stadium. A source told ESPN the Commanders paid a little bit more than $100 million for the 200 acres in a deal that was completed late last week. One source called it the team's preferred site for a new stadium, but other options remain open.

So where is this site? It's approximately 23 miles from Washington, DC. It would be right off an exit off I-95 in Woodbridge, Virginia. It would be approximately 80 miles from Richmond, Virginia.

A source said the plan includes a 60,000 seat dome stadium, team's practice facility, an amphitheater, a small indoor music arena, and of course the mix use of retail shops, bars and restaurants, and residential living. One report called the proposed development a $3 billion mini city. So this is interesting. Now this does not mean a deal is done. The team stadium search has seemingly narrowed to five sites that also include the traditional RFK Stadium site in Washington, DC, as well as a site near the current FedExField. But it's clear that the Commanders are moving quickly on options for a new facility.

Let's stay with the NFL, because owners will vote today on a proposal requiring teams to share customer data with the league. This is a move that would help the league's centralized fan database, but it does have some clubs concerned about data privacy and even competition. So the NFL's database already has information on more than 120 million fans, but that's primarily information gathered from league events and through league sponsors, not data gathered by the individual team.

Under this new measure, teams, such as the Carolina Panthers here in my hometown of Charlotte, would have to share their fan data generated by local events and merchandise sales and local sponsorships with the league. NFL officials, of course, believe adding such data would make the league's database that much more powerful as they work to find, develop and monetize fans today and in the future. Of course, that would be a very powerful database.

The measure is likely to pass, but there are club sources who are concerned about their legal liability in case of a breach of the central database. So again, we'll look for more information on this, but this would be a step to really amplify the league's database. NFL owners are gathered in Atlanta today for their one day May meetings. Few other voting matters are on the agenda. We'll have more from these meetings from our Ben Fischer tomorrow.

Yesterday I shared some insights into the judging around the Sports Business Awards. I talked about Team of the Year and League of the Year. And yesterday afternoon, I got an impassioned email from a listener asking to explain the outcome of the Sports Facility of the Year category. Obviously, they didn't seem too pleased with the final outcome. Remember, that category had six nominees. It had Allegiant Stadium, Climate Pledge Arena, Footprint Center, Field, SoFi Stadium, and TQL Stadium.

All I'll share is that it quickly became a debate among the judges for Sports Facility of the Year. It quickly focused on two facilities; Climate Pledge and SoFi. Several judges told their firsthand experiences of being at a number of the venues. SoFi was seen as the facility that will have the most volume, the biggest scale. It will host the biggest events in the future, no doubt. But judges really liked and really focused on, I'd say, the authenticity and the long term sustainability impact of Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

In the end, judges felt that the buildings of the future will all learn from the influential efforts executed at Climate Pledge. I think that was the difference maker in a very close vote that had Climate Pledge Arena winning Sports Facility of the Year, just over SoFi Stadium. But all those facilities, absolutely brilliant and absolutely will have a long-term legacy.

Let's end today's Buzzcast cast like we do around people. The NWSL Kansas City Current have hired Allison Howard as the first president in the club's history. She will oversee business operations, report directly to ownership. Allison Howard, not a new name in the sports business. She spent the past decade with the Lakers. She was most recently Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. I remember her when she got her start in the sports industry. She was one of the earliest employees of Premier Partnerships. She worked with Randy Bernstein and Alan Rothenberg from 2005 to 2012 before going to the Lakers.

Now, this is a very interesting organization. They have a lot of energy. They have a lot of big ideas. Allison Howard will immediately oversee construction of a new soccer specific stadium. It'll be the first ever soccer specific stadium built exclusively for an NWSL team. She'll report to Angie and Chris Long and Brittany Mahomes. And like I said, that ownership group has been very aggressive. They have already broke ground on a $15 million training facility. That's set to open later this year. And again, they're moving ahead for a new stadium that could cost more than $115 million. It will be privately financed. The plans are to open the new stadium for the 2024 season.

But for Allison Howard, she said she was attracted to the ownership group's dedication to the community and to growing women's sports. And spending some time around Chris and Angie Long, I can tell you they are the real deal and they are committed to the NWSL's Kansas City Current. And they landed Allison Howard as the team's first president in club history.

Finally, Time Magazine released its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022, and not surprisingly, a number of athletes made the list. Among the athletes who made the list; I was glad to see Rafael Nadal made the list. Also, tennis player, Peng Shuai made the list. The reasoning behind that, China's treatment of her led to the US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, and also led to the WTA canceling its events in China. Chinese skier Eileen Gu made the list. US figure skater Nathan Chen made the list. WNBA's Candace Parker. And of course soccer players, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn all made the list. Those three for their leadership in pay equity in sports. So Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of '22 certainly had its fair share of athletes, and that's good to see.

That is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, May 24th. I'm Abe Madkour. Hope everybody has a great day. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.