CFP expansion talks heat up again, the PGA Tour tables its global series plans and RedBird Capital leads the AC Milan acquisition.
Serena Williams' expected retirement was put on hold yet again after the 23 time major champion pulled off a three set win over number two seed Annette Kontaveit in the second round of the US open on Wednesday night, at Arthur Ashe stadium. With it, the tournament set another milestone for night session attendance, as 29,959 fans entered the National Tennis Center. It was the second such record set in three evenings breaking Monday's mark of 29,402. Williams will play her third round match on Friday evening. But first, Serena returns tonight to open doubles play with her sister Venus.
Good morning. It's Thursday, September 1st. This is your SBJ Morning Buzzcast. I'm David Albright filling in for Abe Madkour.
The College Football Playoffs Board of Managers will hold a virtual meeting on Friday that could accelerate playoff expansion to 12 or even 16 schools as early as 2024 if the 11 presidents and chancellors, who comprise the sports most powerful group, vote on a format and unanimously agree to it.
The CFP's management committee, which is comprised of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, is expected to meet next week to continue its expansion discussions. But the members are waiting to hear what the presidents decide, if anything, tomorrow. If there is movement toward an expanded playoff within the current contract, this meeting would give the commissioners an opportunity to pour over the details of the structure set by the presidents. The CFP is entering the final four years of a 12 year contract with ESPN that expires following the 2025 season. In order to expand before the contract ends, there must be a unanimous decision by the presidents and chancellors. Typically, the commissioners are tasked with figuring out the model and if they can unanimously agree on it, they would present it to the Board of Managers for its approval as the presidents and chancellors have the ultimate authority over the playoff.
In non- Serena tennis news, the US open sold out of luxury suites back in June, earlier than it ever has even with more inventory available. This is a testament to the help receive from Elevate Sports Ventures, but more broadly to the huge demand for premium seating at the Grand Slam. Some suite prices have topped $100,000 for select sessions in Arthur Ashe stadium. To answer that demand, the USTA and Elevate have expanded premium offerings for this year's tournament by taking existing inventory and packaging it with access to exclusive spaces, creating new inventory, including the new front row last year that added 44 premium seats, and by sprinkling in custom and unique experiences like player or legend meet and greets in tandem with those premium seats. Arthur Ashe stadium's premium offerings have not significantly been overhauled in the venue's 25 year existence, and the stadium's 2016 renovation largely focused on the addition of a retractable roof. Recent incremental adjustments to the Open's premium program may hint at larger changes coming down the line.
The PGA tour is tabling its plans to stage a global series of three events that would've included its top players competing for purses worth as much as 25 million dollars according to ESPN. The PGA tour announced August 1st. The top 50 players in the FedEx Cup standings, as well as top performers from an undetermined number of fall events, would compete in three international tournaments that would include limited fields and no cuts. But the tour will instead focus its efforts on 13 tournaments with elevated purses for top players that were announced last week. The global series might be staged at some point in the future, likely taking place as limited field, no cut, non points events.
AC Milan on Wednesday announced the completion of its long delayed sale to a group headed by the investment firm, RedBird Capital Partners, that also includes the New York Yankees. The 1.2 billion price tag represents a major payday for Elliot Management, the US vulture fund that secured the team in 2018 after its former Chinese owners defaulted on a 300 million dollar debt. RedBird has been on a spree of acquisitions paying 735 million for a stake in Fenway Sports Group last year. Elliot seized the team in 2018, and said about repairing its balance sheet, which was one of the most distressed in all of sports. In 2020 AC Milan had losses of nearly 200 million dollars, with that figure being halved a year later as the owners slashed payroll cost. The AC Milan deal is the latest high profile sale of a European sports team to American investors, following the Todd Boehly led takeover of Chelsea this summer. For Elliot, the sale means a tremendous amount of profit from an investment that started out as a 300 million loan.
Daktronics posted a 5.5 million dollar operating loss during the first quarter of its fiscal year 23 as the financial results were released on Wednesday. Reports are Bret McCormick. The South Dakota based scoreboard and digital signage manufacturing design and sales firm booked nearly 172 million in net sales, it's highest quarterly conversion rate since the pandemic began. In a letter to shareholders, unusual shortages for parts, a challenging labor environment, operating disruptions from COVID related absences, and the shutdown of Daktronics Shanghai facility due to China's zero COVID policy, all hurt finances. FY 22 saw record levels of orders, thanks to pent up demand coming out of COVID. But orders during Q1 were down 6.3% compared to the previous year's first quarter. Daktronics's net sales increased 18.8% in Q1 of FY 23, as it converted its backlog of orders into sales.
We'll close on a programming note. ESPN's new Monday Night Football announcers, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman joined the Marchand and Ourand sports media podcast to talk about how and why they moved from Fox to ESPN during the off season. Andrew and John also discuss Amazon's exclusive NFL preseason game, the stunning strength of NFL TV ratings, the future of Sinclair's RSNs, Apple's Friday night MLB telecasts, ESPN's ACC contract, and Pat McAfee's exit from SiriusXM. You can download the new episode on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
And that's your SBJ Morning Buzzcast for Thursday. I hope everyone has a great day and we'll see you back here tomorrow morning.