SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: November 7, 2022

Episode Summary

A difficult day for NASCAR; MLS ends its season with eyes on expansion; Breeders' Cup shines in Keeneland; and NYRR executes successful TCS Marathon.

Episode Transcription

Well, congratulations to the Houston Astros, who will be holding a championship parade today, Monday, celebrating the team's second World Series in franchise history. And all 30 NBA teams will play tonight, the night before Election Day, as the league will help promote voter participation and share resources from voting organizations. Remember, the NBA will have no games on Tuesday, in observance of Election Day. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Monday, November 7th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour, hope you're all doing well. Thanks for being with us on the Buzzcast.

In what should have been a day of NASCAR's year-end celebration, it turned very sad, Sunday in Arizona, as Coy Gibbs, co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing and son of team owner Joe Gibbs, and the father of NASCAR driver Ty Gibbs, was announced dead at the age of 49 on Sunday afternoon in Arizona. This means more pain and suffering for the Gibbs family, as Joe Gibbs lost his other son, J.D. Gibbs, in 2019, also at the age of 49, after a long battle with a neurological disease. The cause of Coy Gibbs's death has not been announced, but he died just hours after his 20-year-old son Ty won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship race on Saturday.

Now, Coy Gibbs joined his father's racing team after finishing a college football career at Stanford. Coy and J.D. Gibbs both worked in the front office of Joe Gibbs Racing, and Coy Gibbs also raced for the team. So of course, his death cast a major pall over the entire final day of racing for the season, and NASCAR had a moment of silence in his memory before the start of the season. Everyone here at Sports Business Journal give all their thoughts and prayers with Joe Gibbs Racing and Joe Gibbs today.

But after a day of racing in Arizona, Joey Logano scored his second NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Logano started the season by winning the Busch Clash in Los Angeles, and he ended the season by winning the Championship. I'll be looking to see how all this is presented and portrayed during the final episode of NASCAR's Race To The Championship docuseries when NASCAR ends its season in Arizona.

Let's move on. A number of listeners sent me notes on Saturday commenting on the energy around the MLS Cup in Los Angeles, and the event played to great reviews. LAFC and the Philadelphia Union played a compelling match before a sellout of 22,300. LAFC won on penalty kicks, and looking at the highlights and watching the highlights, it was clear the home crowd for the MLS Cup finals in Los Angeles was one of the most enthusiastic home crowds in MLS Cup history. The place was packed, it was rocking, it seemed like the singing and chanting never stopped. Even local media called this MLS Cup a potential game changer for the league. #MLSCup was the number one trending topic on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, so this event seemed to really resonate.

And looking ahead, there are some big business issues around MLS. Expansion is key for Major League Soccer, and in a real surprise to me, Don Garber, over the weekend, hinted that San Diego and even Sacramento are legitimate contenders for expansion. Most believed MLS would go to Las Vegas; Garber seemed to indicate now that it's not a sure thing, that San Diego has almost pulled even with Las Vegas, and that Sacramento is still in the mix. Remember, Las Vegas seemed to be a sure thing, to land the 30th franchise in Major League Soccer, but it has hit stadium problems. They're still studying a roof-enclosed facility, owners are facing increasing interest rates and construction costs. So right now, the energy and momentum around that Las Vegas bid has slowed. And San Diego has had a real turnaround, especially with the team possibly playing at Snapdragon Stadium, which is on the campus of San Diego State University.

And meanwhile, like I mentioned, Garber indicated that Sacramento is still in the mix, and that remark was one of Garber's first mentions of Sacramento as a possible expansion location since MLS's previous effort to add a team in that market fell through, when lead investor Ron Burkle backed out of the deal. So again, there's a lot at play. Don Garber said the league plans to announce its 30th franchise during the first half of 2023. Vegas, San Diego, Sacramento, all seem to be in the mix.

In addition, Don Garber said that the league has no plans to enact further punishment on Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns owner, Merritt Paulson, who was alleged by the Sally Yates report to have suppressed accusations of sexual abuse against former coach, Paul Riley. Local fan groups have publicly called for Merritt Paulson to sell, but Don Garber feels that the recent personnel moves made by Merritt Paulson are steps in the right direction, and that he has no plans to enact further punishment on the owner.

Let's shift to the NWSL, because the deadline for expansion bids for that league was Friday. And the league is looking to add two expansion franchises in the foreseeable future, and they expected to receive up to 10 significant bids for expansion franchises. They said that more than 80 groups showed interest. We know a group in Minnesota will submit an official bid, as well as a group in the Bay Area. Teams will need a majority owner to take on a minimum 35% stake in the club. That owner must demonstrate a net worth of $40 million, and the ownership group needs to demonstrate a net worth of $70 million. Remember, this process is being held, or being done, in conjunction with Inner Circle Sports, so the NWSL will look to review these bids as it seeks to grow its league.

Let's move on to horse racing, because the Breeders' Cup was at Keeneland Race Course over the weekend. It was a big, big hit for the organizers and the organization. Now, if you weren't aware of the story of Flightline, the horse Flightline, wow, you should be. I was not aware, but Flightline was the talk of the weekend in Lexington. I was fortunate enough to go on Friday and Saturday. Everyone was telling me that this was the best race horse since Secretariat. There was so much pressure on this horse, but boy did it deliver in the Breeders' Cup Classic, winning by eight lengths. The horse has just amazing speed and Flightline showed that Saturday. But Flightline was retired, and will stand at stud after that dominating, unbeaten career. Unbeaten career, and it was capped by this weekend's victory at Keeneland. Now, Flightline is the son of Tapit, and will begin his breeding career at Land's End Farm in Kentucky.

It was a successful two days, like I said. They had a two-day record set on the amount wagered, nearly $190 million over the two days, and combined attendance for Friday and Saturday at Keeneland was north of 85,000. Saturday's races drew almost 46,000 to the track. Looking ahead, the Breeders' Cup is willing to return to Belmont Park if the facility can undergo a renovation, and the surrounding infrastructure could be improved. Belmont Park last hosted the two-day championship in 2005. Interestingly, the upcoming legislative session in Albany will consider authorizing $450 million in state-backed funding for improvements at Belmont Park, so we'll see. The Breeders' Cup returns to Santa Anita next November.

I will say, over the weekend there was a lot of talk about interest in the Washington Commanders, if Dan Snyder does decide indeed to sell the team. Now, some bidders have started to emerge as interested in the Commanders; one bidder is Mat Ishbia. Now, he is United Wholesale Mortgage CEO, he was a bidder for the Denver Broncos. He has, of course, been active in college, I would say, investing. He is an alum of Michigan State, and has been a big supporter of that school. He plans to consider a bid for the Commanders. Forbes estimate his net worth at $4.7 billion. Now, sources said that a partnership of Jeff Bezos and Jay-Z will put an official joint bid to purchase the Commanders sometime early in 2023. Remember, of course, Jeff Bezos, he has $114 billion estimated net worth, so certainly he could afford the Commanders, but some names starting to emerge as bidders for the Washington Commanders, if indeed, Dan Snyder does decide to sell the team.

And finally, congratulations to everyone at the New York Road Runners, as the TCS New York City Marathon returned on Sunday without pandemic restrictions for the first time since 2019, a great day for New York Road Runners. This year's event had about 50,000 runners, after last year just had about 25,000 finish due to COVID restrictions. There were also more than a million fans along the streets of New York City for the race. It begins at 8:00 AM, it's a spectacular event, and it was warm, as New York City saw high temperatures yesterday in the seventies in early November. So, well done to the New York Road Runners. A special shout out to Sports Business Journal's own, Sara Vigen, who finished her first New York City Marathon in four hours and 14 minutes, well done Sarah, we are proud of you here at SBJ.

So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Monday, November 7th. I'm Abe Madkour, thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.