SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: October 6, 2022

Episode Summary

Pressure intensifies on Paulson; NYCFC's challenging "home" playoff schedule; Timo Lumme departs IOC and the Eck signs off

Episode Transcription

Well, that's a wrap on the 2022 MLB regular season. It wrapped up last night. Now we see a 12 team postseason begins Friday with the Wild Card Series. And let me just say, it should be a wild, wild ride for baseball and for fans. Great teams in the mix, big markets, great players, should be a lot of fun. Let me know who your series pick is.

And this is your morning Buzzcast for Thursday, October 6th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour. Thank you for listening to the Buzzcast. Let's get right to it. These are intense, difficult days around the NWSL and we don't know where it will all end up, but it's a very important time for the state of women's soccer. The pressure continues to rise around Portland soccer franchises and its owner Merritt Paulson. Two key front office figures for the Timbers and the Thorns, President of soccer, Gavin Wilkinson and President of Business, Mike Golub, were both terminated on Wednesday by the organization. This is after the findings of the Sally Yates report that detailed the pattern of abuse in the NWSL. Now the organization, the Thorns, was a focus of the report for the actions of former coach Paul Riley, who was accused by multiple players of sexual misconduct. So the organization's general counsel, Heather Davis, has been named the interim president of these organizations. She will oversee business operations for both the Timbers and the Thorns. This comes after Merritt Paulson removed himself from the decision-making for the Thorns earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the pressure also is coming from fans of both the Thorns and the Timbers who went on social media and called on sponsors to end their relationship with the teams and they really intensified pressure on Merritt Paulson to sell the teams. Now Merritt Paulson is a key MLS owner. The Timbers and the Thorn were seen as two model organizations for MLS and the NWSL. They were really seen as the gold standards, and so this has been a stunning turn. So we will have to watch to see how Merritt Paulson works with sponsors and community leaders and the players to try to repair this damage and keep the teams, because I anticipate the pressure and the protests against Merritt Paulson's ownership only to increase.

Meanwhile, the other organization in the spotlight, the Chicago Red Stars, could be making a change in its leadership, as the team's board of directors, they want to facilitate a sale of majority owner Arnim Whisler's shares in the team. Now, Whisler has already removed himself from all operational control and he is no longer Chairman of the Board for the team. But now the board wants to really help him move on and rid him entirely of the organization. So again, I'll just say it, these are challenging days for the future of the NWSL and commissioner Jessica Berman will likely make her first public comments on the situation at the CAA World Congress of Sports next week in New York.

Let's move on. LeBron James, well he wants to bring an NBA team to Vegas. He said so pretty emphatically after playing at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night in a Laker Suns exhibition game. After the game, LeBron made a public declaration that he wants to be the owner to bring an NBA team to Sin City. It's not the first time he's expressed interest in owning a team in Las Vegas, but it was easily his most public and forceful statement. He obviously wants to add to his ownership portfolio. Remember, he's a minority shareholder in Liverpool and in the Boston Red Sox. So while NBA expansion is not on the front burner, the two most often mentioned expansion markets are Las Vegas and Seattle. So LeBron James, of course, would have some work to do and some financing to raise, but it's clear he sees himself in team ownership after his career ends.

So how would you like to be in the playoffs and not know where you're going to play your home games? And how would you feel if you were the defending league champions and didn't really know where you were playing your home games? Welcome to the case of NYCFC. As their status as Major League Soccer's nomads became even more evident or will become even more evident during this MLS postseason. So NYCFC, they are the defending MLS Cup champions and they start to defend their title pretty soon here with the MLS playoffs. Yet they don't know where they will play their home games because of the baseball playoffs. Remember, NYCFC plays their home games at Yankee Stadium. Their backup is Citi Field. They don't have their own stadium. So NYCFC expects to host its first round match at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, that's home of the Red Bulls, because of course, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are both hosting playoff games.

So to make matters even more confusing, there is a chance NYCFC may be matched up against the Red Bulls in the opening round, so they would have to find another venue. And the University of Connecticut has even been mentioned as an option. So it's all very difficult for this franchise. Here's hoping NYCFC can finally make some progress in finding a permanent facility and build a new venue because City Football Group is arguably one of the most powerful soccer entities in the world, and it's unfortunate that their Major League soccer squad doesn't have its own facility. So keep your eye on where NYCFC is playing its own home games this post season.

And we'll end the Buzzcast around two names. Here's a name you may not be familiar with, but this person is arguably one of the most influential business executives in the Olympic movement, IOC Television and Marketing Services Managing Director Timo Lumme. He is retiring from his role at the IOC and you may ask, well, why it's this important? Like I said, Timo Lumme, one of the most influential executives on the business side of the Olympics. He has overseen the IOCs commercial business for the last 18 years. So what does that mean? Well he's the person responsible for bringing in all the revenue around the IOC's broadcast and sponsorship deals, and that represents more than 95% of the IOC's total revenue. Under Timo Lumme, the IOC has significantly grown its commercial revenue. And here's the best example I can give you. Earlier this year, the IOC reported revenue of their sponsorship program, which is called the Olympic Partner Program at $836 million.

When Timo Lumme started in 2004, it was $292 million. Now you see the jump, and that's largely the result of Timo Lumme being such a rainmaker. He also oversaw media rights negotiations and the IOC's Global broadcast revenue north of $3 billion last year. He's doubled that revenue since he joined in 2004. Quite a run for Timo Lumme. He was previously at the ESPN, he was at IMG, and then he was at the IOC. He will retire at the end of this year. He will be succeeded by a IOC vice president who works under him, Anne-Sophie Voumard. She's been with the IOC since 2009. So quite a run for Timo Lumme, who's retiring from the IOC at the end of this year.

And finally, I've mentioned it a few times, but Dennis Eckersley signed off for the final time in broadcasting Red Sox games after 20 years on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. At the top of the fifth inning of Wednesday's season finale, the Red Sox played a video tribute to Eckersley that highlighted his time as a player and as the team broadcaster. The fans at Fenway Park gave the a Eck a standing ovation. Players and coaches of both the Red Sox and the Rays emerged from their dugout to honor him and to recognize him and salute him. Eckersley was seen wiping away tears while watching the video tribute and after seeing the salute to him in the ballpark. I said it would be a tough night for Dennis Eckersley, who of course wears his emotions on his sleeve as he signs off from the Red Sox after 20 years and moves to California to be with his family. So, so long Eck, I personally will miss you. You're all class.

So that is your morning Buzzcast for Thursday, October 6th. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Have a great day. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.