October 7, 2022

Tonight in Unpacks: A tale of two cities, as LA28 offers the latest on Olympic preparations, while Nashville-based execs tout the city’s rising sports profile.

Other headlines:
In today’s Morning Buzzcast, SBJ’s David Albright looks at the Mountain West losing the only leader it has ever known, Amazon Alexa being ready for “TNF” and DRL landing a new Cloud partner.
The LA28 organizing committee this week wrapped up three days of meetings in L.A. with the IOC‘s coordination commission, led by chair Nicole Hoevertsz, and this morning provided a public update on the state of preparations for the Games, writes SBJ’s Chris Smith. Hoevertsz said Games planning remains on track, and she spoke highly of how the LA28- and IOC-funded PlayLA youth sports program is “already creating a legacy,” and that “was beautiful to see.”
LA28 Chair Casey Wasserman expressed confidence in LA28’s commercial revenue strategy despite growing economic headwinds. “We sit in a very strong position,” said Wasserman, who highlighted existing partnerships with Delta, Salesforce, NBC and Endeavor’s On Location. “The Olympic Games will command the world for 17 days. … We’ve had great success, and I’d say stay tuned because we’ve got announcements coming in the fourth quarter of more partnerships.”
IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi made the case that the L.A. Games offer opportunities for creative cost savings and said those efforts are already underway. “We can do things differently while using less resources — in transportation, in space, in energy — while maintaining what makes the Games a truly great value proposition,” said Dubi. “In every single line item of the existing and future budget, we’re looking into ways and means to do it in a different way.”
This week’s meetings, held almost exactly five years after the city was formally awarded the Games, saw commission members visit planned Olympic facilities including L.A. Live, L.A. Coliseum, SoFi Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park and Banc of California Stadium. This morning’s event was at UCLA, future home of the athlete village, and was attended by LA28 CEO Kathy Carter, Chief Business Officer Brian Lafemina, Chief External Affairs Officer Michelle Schwartz and board member Anita DeFrantz (recently honored as a 2022 SBJ Champion).
Predators President & CEO Sean Henry feels that when it comes to Nashville as a sports city, “Everything we do is bigger and better than everyone,” notes SBJ’s Preston Bounds. Henry, appearing with other area execs during the AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium, admitted to saying that “pretty arrogantly,” but added the city consistently “backs it up.” Henry: “It’s a great live event town. It’s an easy city to operate in. … When it comes to filling up our buildings or talking to people about partnerships, Nashville sells Nashville. We just get to steer it a little.”
Titans President & CEO Burke Nihill, whose team hosted conference attendees at Nissan Stadium on Tuesday, reflected, “Twenty-five years ago, this was not a hot sports city.” That has certainly changed in recent years with the Preds making the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and the city hosting the 2019 NFL Draft, but Nihill said, “This is still the ‘before’ picture of what Nashville can be. … I think we’re just getting started.”
Quick hits:
Titans' Burke Nihill (l) and Preds' Sean Henry (r) noted the rapid growth and upward trajectory of the city as a sports destination
Only about 1% of pro teams and leagues have adequate cybersecurity in place, warned Ekaterina Carayanis, the Director of Cybersecurity & Risk Management for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, notes SportTechie’s Joe Lemire. Speaking at the AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium in Nashville, Carayanis gave a presentation about what teams and venues should do to be prepared while also outlining the prevailing pratfalls.
Privacy protections are evolving, and the backlash of a breach — both in public perception and financial repercussions — can be swift and severe as teams are storing loads of personal information of those who attend their games and buy their merchandise.
“I’m not saying that we don’t want to engage the fan,” Carayanis said. “This is our bread and butter. We want to make it easier. We want to make it better. But how do you make it more secure? And are we prepared for it?” All clubs outsource a number of key functions to third parties, but it is a “you” problem, she said, if any link in that chain falls short.
A slide from Carayanis's presentation, highlighting how cyber risks can accompany innovation
Excel Sports Management has signed boxer Canelo Alvarez for representation, reports SBJ’s Adam Stern, as the fighter looks to grow his business endeavors outside the ring.
The agency will represent Alvarez for his marketing and endorsement work. He already has sponsorships with Hennessy and a handful of companies in his native Mexico.
Alvarez was previously repped by several business advisors who remain part of his personal team, including manager/trainer Eddy Reynoso. The Excel news comes ahead of Saturday’s trilogy bout versus Gennadiy Golovkin.
SBJ Publisher Abe Madkour‘s column this week dives into the plethora of new sports documentaries on offer across platforms. He has three recommendations in which the viewer “may unexpectedly find yourself engaged with a character” — Showtime‘s “McEnroe,” HBO‘s Lions-themed “Hard Knocks” and FX‘s “Welcome to Wrexham.”
Netflix’s Manti Te’o case study, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist,” also received high praise from SBJ staff. SBJ Atlas’ Derick Moss: “I was left pretty sympathetic to the former Notre Dame star, even more than I was in 2013 when the story was all over the media.” But Assistant Managing Editor Betty Gomes did feel the two-parter “could have been one part.”
Readers weighed in with their own feedback, recommending “Fate of a Sport” on ESPN+ about Paul Rabil and the founding of the PLL: “It goes through the struggles of trying to launch a pro sports league.” Another enjoyed the first season of HBO’s “100 Foot Wave” and predicted Season 2 will be “incredible.” A third compared ESPNU‘s “Welcome Home: South Carolina Football” to “Hard Knocks.”
“Welcome to Wrexham," on FX and Hulu, documents actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds taking over a Welsh soccer club
MLB is marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month today with the release of “Fuera del Ballpark,” a new three-film docuseries showcasing Latin American off-the-field baseball stories, writes SBJ‘s Erik Bacharach.
The series It will be available on MLB.TV and MLB’s YouTube channel. The league partnered with Remezcla, a multicultural creative agency specializing in emerging Latin culture, to develop the concept and series.
The first film, aptly named “Clemente x Siempre” with its Roberto Clemente Day release today, follows two Puerto Rican artists who both use Clemente’s legacy as inspiration. The other two films are due out later this month, all under the league’s produced creative content brand “MLB Originals.”
Series' first film, "Clemente x Siempre," follows Puerto Rican artists Don Rimx (l), Carlitos Skills
The San Diego City Council this week voted 7-1 to select Midway Rising as the development team to “lease and redo the city’s 48-acre sports arena site,” reports the San Diego Union Tribune‘s Jennifer Van Grove. This ends a nearly year-long contest and “starts a new phase in the effort to remake the Midway District property.”
Once an exclusive negotiating agreement is signed, the city and the team will have “around two years to hammer out lease and development terms.” Midway Rising’s proposal calls for 2,000 housing units “deed-restricted for low- and very-low-income families,” plus 250 middle-income units, 2,000 market-rate units, a new 16,000-seat arena, a 200-room hotel and 4,500 parking spaces.
The development team includes market-rate housing developer Zephyr, venue operator Legends and affordable-housing builder Chelsea Investment Corp.
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