SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: May 6, 2022

Episode Summary

Broncos sale intrigue; RedBird eyes AC Milan; Mr. Sankey goes to Washington and the Miami Grand Prix promises to be a spectacle.

Episode Transcription

This is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, May 6th. Happy Friday. I'm Abe Madkour. I was in New York City for a few days. Great to see so many people and meetings for preparation around our Sports Business Awards on May 18th. Remember, get your seat now, seats are going fast for the Sports Business Awards on Wednesday, May 18th. What an event weekend we have coming up, but let's get right to the news because there is a lot of intrigue around the sale of the Denver Broncos, and it could be coming to a resolution soon. The Broncos are vehemently denying a report by longtime Bronco's watcher, Woody Paige that a successor to the late Pat Bowlen as Bronco's owner could be clear as early as today. He reported that the Bronco's ownership bids had been reduced to two finalists, and one of the prospective buyers spent Thursday at the team's headquarters.

Now Paige reports, which the team denied, that the pair of front running candidates to become the next owner of the Broncos are, one, Rob Walton, and two a group headed by Josh Harris. He reported that Josh Harris and his advisors toured the Broncos complex Thursday and met with retiring CEO Joe Ellis, and other top team officials. Now, Rob Walton is scheduled to visit the Broncos complex next week. This is all according to Woody Paige. He added the bid for the Broncos will likely hit as much as $4.5 billion. He also reported that Rob Walton is the favorite. Now, remember we have talked about Walton before on the Buzzcast. He is a Walmart heir, he's worth approximately maybe more than $60 billion. He is the cousin through marriage of Stan Kroenke, and we know of course, Stan Kroenke's connection to the NFL and to the sports world. Again, this report has been strongly denied by the Broncos, but there could be some more clarity on the Broncos ownership situation shortly.

Let's move on. We have talked a lot on the buzz cast about the concerns of name, image, and likeness within the collegiate ranks. And leaders are ramping up efforts to try and get some help to establish rules and guardrails. So it was notable to me that the most powerful leader in college sports SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey, along with PAC 12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, were in Washington DC on Thursday on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers to discuss the need for federal legislation to help colleges regulate how athletes are handling name, image, and likeness.

The two commissioners were also joined by the CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland. And they met with both Democrats and Republicans. They were asking for college sports to gain some form of antitrust protection. They believe that moving to a more pay for play or professional model around revenue generating sports, such as football and basketball, will lead to fewer collegiate opportunities for Olympic sport athletes, and that's why Hirshland was involved. These leaders, specifically the collegiate sports leaders, desperately want federal legislation around name, image, and likeness. They see name, image and likeness as a train rolling down the tracks out of control. But the question is, will Congress have any interest in taking this up? Right now we have seen no indication that this is high on Congress's priority list of things to do. So certainly an issue to watch.

Let's go back to team deals because another big brand and another big deal that is worth keeping your eye on came up from the financial times who reported yesterday, that RedBird Capital Partners founder Gerry Cardinale, is in talks to acquire the Serie A Club AC Milan. Now RedBird capital, Gerry Cardinale have been very active in the team investment space, including a major investment in Fenway Sports Group. So Gerry Cardinale would look to buy AC Milan from the US hedge fund Elliott Management. This would mark a significant move by RedBird Capital Partners and Gerry Cardinale. And today could mark a key day for Todd Bowley's group to inch, closer to landing to Chelsea, because the groups reviewing the bids for that team will seek formal approval from the British government to make Bowley's group the club's new owners. And we've noted that the final price on that for the team itself could be about $3.7 billion. Today, Friday, marks the end of a five day period of exclusive negotiations between Chelsea and the Todd Bowley led group. And again, that could come to a head today and we could see Chelsea in the hands of a group led by Todd Bowley as soon as Friday.

So let's talk about the big events this weekend. First. Well, I wish I could attend the NWSL's Challenge Cup final. This weekend it's up in Cary, North Carolina, about two and a half hours from my home in Charlotte, but I can't make it, but the NWSL and its new commissioner, Jessica Berman announced today that the league has secured a title sponsorship for the Challenge Cup. Now this is its annual preseason competition. They signed a deal with HR payroll and workforce management company, UKG. It's a multiyear multimillion dollar deal, it will start really in 2023 where the competition will be known as the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup. So we talk a lot on the Buzzcast about increasing pay for female athletes, well, that will be a key part of this deal. UKG and the league will approximately double the total player prize pool to a million dollars in 2023. So a good deal for the NWSL. This will help players. So UKG becoming the title sponsor of the challenge cup Elevate Sports Ventures negotiated the deal on behalf of UKG. Elevate will also assist and strategy and activation for the partnership.

Another event that will be special this weekend that I was scheduled to go to, that is the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. It's one of the most sought after and expensive tickets in F1 history. I spoke to a number of people this week who were all heading to Miami, they're there now. It's going to be quite a race. We've talked about this race since it was announced. And we said it would be a true spectacle and a true experience and uniquely Miami. When you think about what Stephen Ross and Tom Garfinkel and that team has done recently, they had to finish the Dolphin season. Then they had the Miami Tennis Open on the grounds at Hard Rock. And now this F1 race, the idea for a formula, one race in Miami it's been talked about for years. I mean the Dolphins and Liberty Media, which owns Formula 1 made their initial proposal to the city in 2018. But remember it got the go ahead just last year and construction just began on the track nine months ago. I mean, it's really amazing what they've done down there.

This is going to be a hot ticket. We talk about future event of the year candidates, if things go well in Miami, I could certainly see the Miami Grand Prix being one of the biggest events of this year. And this comes as Formula 1 and Netflix confirmed that their Drive to Survive series has been renewed for a fifth and a six season. So filming for season five has already been taking place, and that will air in 2023. So a big weekend for Formula 1 in the United States.

Two other big things starting this weekend, well, the 148 edition of the Kentucky Derby, it'll feel a little bit more familiar on Saturday at Churchill Downs, as they will welcome back a capacity crowd for the first time since 2019. Remember the 2020 event was shifted to September. Last year's event was held in May, but it was held with limited capacity. I think there was only about 23,000 fans in attendance. So expect a far larger crowd on Saturday, north of 100,000 people. Zandon is the favorite to win. Post time at 6:57 Eastern Time, mint juleps for everybody, I look forward to that.

And finally, the 2022 WNBA season tips off tonight as the Chicago Sky looked to defend their title. This is a big time, a big moment in time for the WNBA, remember the league is starting its 26th season and it comes after the league had an equity raise of $75 million. There's a lot of momentum, so let's watch to see if the W can maintain the momentum it's built up the last few years. Let's hope so.

So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, May 6th. I'm Abe Madkour, it's going to be a great weekend. So enjoy it. Until I talk to you on Monday, stay healthy, be good to each other and have a fantastic weekend.