MLS makes San Diego expansion official…Commanders sale won’t get vote at NFL meetings…Nevada only willing to give $195M for A’s ballpark
Until 2025… stay classy, San Diego. pic.twitter.com/40RI0jlLGE
MLS formally announced that San Diego will be the home of its 30th team, granting an expansion franchise that will begin play in 2025 to a group headed by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour. The ownership group paid an MLS-record $500M expansion fee, according to sources with knowledge of the deal, far exceeding the $325M Tepper Sports and Entertainment paid the league in 2019 for the right to launch Charlotte FC.
The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, a Native American tribe with a longstanding history in the region, is also a limited partner with a significant equity stake in the club. The Sycuan Band is the first Native American tribe to take an ownership stake in a U.S.-based professional soccer team. Other founding investors include Padres 3B Manny Machado, Zephyr Partners co-founder Brad Termini, Right to Dream founder Tom Vernon and Right to Dream board member Dan Dickinson. Former LAFC President Tom Penn will serve as the club’s CEO.
“Cody Martinez, the chairman of the Sycuan Band, made it his mission to put together an ownership group that was going to work for the tribe, for Major League Soccer and, most importantly, for San Diego,” MLS EVP Charles Altchek told SBJ. “He, in partnership with Tom Penn and a few others, were able to do something that none of us expected, which is to create this unprecedented group that is hyperlocal but also global and has soccer expertise.”
The club will be a tenant of San Diego State at Snapdragon Stadium, which opened in 2022 and was designed with both football and soccer in mind. With a capacity of more than 32,000 fans for soccer, it will be among the largest stadiums in MLS. The facility also is home to the NWSL’s San Diego Wave, which is leading the league with more than 20,000 fans per game in its second season, according to Soccer Stadium Digest. The San Diego announcement marks the culmination of a yearslong effort by MLS to bring an expansion team to the market, which MLS views as an ideal locale due to its soccer history, proximity to Mexico and the relative lack of professional sports competition in town following the Chargers’ departure in 2017.
The National Labor Relations Board today issued a complaint against USC, the Pac-12 and the NCAA, alleging the entities have violated a provision of the U.S. Labor Relations Act, in a move that could potentially lead to student-athletes being treated as employees.
The NLRB, in a complaint issued late today, is seeking an order that would require USC, the Pac-12 and the NCAA to:
A hearing is set for Nov. 7 in Los Angeles before an NLRB administrative law judge at which USC, the Pac-12 and the NCAA may appear and present testimony regarding the allegations in the complaint.
“At all material times Respondents, both jointly and severally, have misclassified the Players as non-employee student athletes, including in the USC Athletics Student-Athlete Handbook,” the NLRB complaint states.
“Respondents, both jointly and severally, have maintained the misclassification described above in paragraph … to intentionally deprive the Players of their rights under Section 7 of the (Labor Relations) Act and to discourage employees from engaging in protected concerted activities,” the complaint states.
Section 7 of the Labor Relations Act gives employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” It also gives employees the right “to refrain from any or all such activities.”
The NCAA, asked for comment on the complaint, issued a statement to SBJ from NCAA SVP/External Affairs Tim Buckley: “The Association believes the rules governing college sports must be updated to better meet student-athletes’ needs. The Division I membership recently committed to provide student-athletes with extended healthcare and guaranteed academic resources. The complaint issued by the Region today appears to be driven by a political agenda and is the wrong way to help student-athletes succeed. Many student-athletes are earning real money in today’s world of college sports while also earning a college degree worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some within the NLRB seemingly would replace that system with one that a young adult could get fired from after a few bad games in the middle of the season, all while turning a blind eye to its impact on Title IX and international student-athletes, as well as the instability in college sports that would result by finding only basketball and football student-athletes at private schools are employees. The Association believes student-athletes, school leaders and the people’s representatives in Congress are best fit to make such wide-ranging changes to college sports.”
USC and Pac-12 officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
NFL owners “will not vote” on the Commanders sale during their meetings next week in Minnesota. A vote this month was “considered unlikely.” NFL Exec VP/Communications, Public Affairs & Policy Jeff Miller said that while there would be “no vote when owners convene in Minneapolis on Sunday and Monday,” the league “will provide membership with an update in Minnesota.” Miller: “The league staff and finance committee will continue to review the details of the transaction.” 76ers and Devils co-owner Josh Harris reached a purchase and sale agreement for the Commanders for $6.05B, though some owners and league sources have “expressed concern over the structure of Harris’ bid.”
Meanwhile, Miller said that “nothing has changed regarding the Mary Jo White investigation” into Commanders owner Dan Snyder. Miller reiterated that the NFL “would release the findings once she is done with her investigation,” which began in February 2022 after a “new accusation of sexual harassment levied against Snyder by former team employee Tiffani Johnston” (ESPN.com, 5/18).
Nevada lawmakers are “only willing to contribute” up to $195M in transferable tax credits for funding a Las Vegas ballpark for the A’s, not the full $395M the “team is seeking,” according to sources. The amount the state will offer “depends on how much money Clark County will offer in the form of county-issued bonds paid by taxes generated on the ballpark site.” Sources said that lawmakers are discussing between $150-195M in “transferable tax credits, but nothing is set in stone until the county details are finalized.” State and county sources said that the delay in introducing legislation can be “partially attributed to the A’s flip-flopping on multiple stadium sites,” which has “left lawmakers without a concrete proposal.” Any public money for the project will “need to be approved by both houses of the Legislature by June 5,” or the legislature would “need to deal with the matter in a special session” (NEVADA INDEPENDENT, 5/18).
The Pac-12 will provide “increased access to players and coaches during broadcasts of football games next season,” including “in-game coaches interviews and halftime camera access.” The enhancements will be “implemented throughout football broadcasts on ESPN, Fox Sports and the Pac-12 Networks.” The expanded access also will include “coaches and select athletes wired on the field during pregame activities, cameras without sound in the coaches’ booths and extended handheld camera permission.” Locker room camera access will be “pregame and at halftime” (AP, 5/18). Pac-12 Exec Associate Commissioner/Football Operations Merton Hanks said that there are “additional opportunities for access the Pac-12 would like to pursue,” but they “aren’t currently approved under NCAA legislation.” The additional access is a “step designed to bring college football closer to what other sports” like MLB have “long been doing” (ESPN.com, 5/18).
The Titans have announced that TVS will serve as Architect of Record (AOR) on the new stadium project team. The Metropolitan Sports Authority approved the selection at its board meeting this morning. As AOR, TVS will work in tandem with the Design Architect (MANICA) to lead the design team through the completion of the stadium design and through the administration of construction activity. TVS is responsible for delivering the construction documents that will be used to construct the stadium and will hold all contracts with certified subconsultants necessary to complete full stadium design. TVS will also provide oversight during the construction administration phase. The Titans were assisted by an evaluation committee comprised of Titans, Metro Nashville and Sports Authority representatives (Titans).
Religion of Sports co-founder Gotham Chopra called the debut of his company’s latest project, “McGregor Forever,” a “new level of achievement” that “could unlock some new opportunities” for ROS. The four-episode docuseries, which provides a look into the life and career of mixed martial artist Conor McGregor and debuted yesterday on Netflix, took about four years to develop. Working with McGregor was “hugely challenging, just to be totally candid,” Chopra said. “When you’re with him, which is not always easy to get that time with him, but man, is he present. And he’s really articulate, he’s really smart, he’s really honest.”
Chopra said Darragh McCarthy, who co-directed the docuseries, played an integral role in its development thanks to his long relationship with McGregor, including working with him on a previous documentary in 2017. “Conor is a singular personality and an international icon,” Chopra said. “So to be able to work with somebody of his magnitude, and with Netflix, the biggest platform in the world, it’s sort of like the perfect storm and a big step for us.”
Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, tennis star Rafael Nadal announced he “will miss the clay-court French Open for the first time since making his debut” there in 2005 and also made it known that 2024 will likely be his last year of competitive tennis. Nadal: “You can´t keep demanding more and more from your body, because there comes a moment when your body raises a white flag. Even though your head wants to keep going, your body says this is as far it goes.” He “did not offer a date for his return” to the tennis tour, but said it is “likely to take months.” Nadal: “You never know how things will turn out, but my intention is that next year will be my last year” (AP, 5/18).
Scripps Sports has tapped Playfly Sports as the exclusive national sales arm of the “WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION” broadcasts. Playfly Sports’ Home Team Sports division will handle the partnership development, sales and execution on all in-broadcast advertising for the regular-season games on ION (Scripps Sports).
“People just looked at me with a lot of curiosity, they were paying attention to every move. Everybody called me (crazy) because at the time nobody was doing that” — Former NFLer Brandon Marshall, on coming out publicly about his battle with mental illness during his playing days (“CBS Mornings,” 5/18).
“It is a challenge, of course, but you can clearly accomplish it because our sustainability agenda we’re pushing forward and we’re pushing forward fast and we’re turning a profit and a lot of doing good. Our Formula One team and our racing teams are here to entertain the world, but we’re also here to take our technology and our know-how and how to make the world a better place” — McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, on McLaren’s push to sustainable racing and lowering emissions while still returning a profit (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 5/18).
“The point of Boardroom is to create a brand that could be a voice of this intersection of sports, music and entertainment that I’ve grown up in where I see deals and business partners and collaborations happening and I created a vehicle that we could storytell around this” — Boardroom co-founder Rick Kleiman, on Boardroom and CNBC’s upcoming Game Plan conference (“Squawk Box,” CNNC, 5/18).
“What Disney has to figure out right now is at what point is it financially advantageous to take that content direct-to-consumer. Disney may earn less money from the cable providers if they’re effectively making that bundle less effective. One thing we talk about in the media business is that sports are the glue that holds the cable bundle together” — CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, on Disney’s plans to make ESPN available as a DTC streaming service (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 5/18).
I am excited to extend a warm welcome to our newest owners here in beautiful San Diego as the 30th MLS club. Thank you, Mohamed Mansour & the Sycuan Tribe, for your conviction in this league and helping us finally bring an MLS club to this great city! We can't wait to watch you… pic.twitter.com/kUhqbbjrl7
On first day of NFLPA rookie events in LA, the top 4 QBs drafted – Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis – are instead attending a lunch at Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin’s house with Tom Brady, Travis Scott and Rubin to discuss entrepreneurship and brand building.
For #MentalHealthMonth, @LevisStadium joins over 100 landmarks across the nation in lighting up green to spread awareness and encourage the public to learn about their well-being 💚@MentalHealthAm pic.twitter.com/o6M1hjB8hv
Honoured to be on the list… lunch soon? https://t.co/INMN6oWdPp
Stephen Curry has won the 2022-23 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
The Professional Basketball Writers Association annually honors a player, coach, or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community. pic.twitter.com/Vw8IAmKdjD
SI goes behind-the-scenes with the dedicated team of groundskeepers who maintain Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., 17 days before the 105th PGA Championship.
59,894 — Total attendance for the West Virginia Univ. baseball team this season at its home venue, Monongalia County Ballpark — the highest total attendance figure in program history (TWITTER, 5/16).
It's not that the market isn't any good. I actually think if they could ever get things right from an arena and ownership perspective, that market would be fine.
Why MLS is bullish on San Diego; Why NBA…
Why MLS is bullish on San Diego; Why NBA Con is an intriguing idea and the facility that time may have forgot, but not NASCAR
SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an…
SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with Danita Johnson, president of business operations for D.C. United and a member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2023. Johnson talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about learning how to sell and to not fear change, becoming an effective manager, the importance of empathy as a leadership trait, and what to look for when evaluating job candidates. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.
The NFL’s deal to sell one wildcard playoff game exclusively to the Peacock streaming service for $110 million is a main topic. Hosts Andrew Marchand and John Ourand discuss what the deal means for the league and NBC.
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