Bust, Boom, and Hope: NHL, MLB, NFL, College Sports, Auto Racing

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek

March 15, 2013


Winner: Carolina Hurricanes attendance at PNC Arena is up 12% over last season. The team’s attendance increase is the best in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and is partially responsible for the league’s overall attendance being up 2% on the season.

Loser: The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to increase this season’s escrow rate to 20%, up from the 10% the two sides agreed to during labor negotiations. The change comes as the league anticipates lower than initially projected hockey related revenues during the shortened season.

What it means: Typically, the league and players union reevaluate the escrow percentage on a quarterly basis. However, because of the lockout, the two sides attempted to project hockey revenues before the season. The players get some, if not all, of their money back in most seasons. At the end of this year, if player compensation exceeds 50% of revenues, owners will be refunded from the escrow account.



Winner: The Cincinnati Reds gave Great American Ballpark a $2 million renovation this offseason in an effort to boost luxury suite renewals and prepare the stadium for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. The Reds also added a 90-seat, outfield bar as part of their new multiyear sponsorship deal with Budweiser.

Loser: The ultimate reckless spenders in MLB, the New York Yankees are trying to move under the league’s $189 million luxury tax threshold next season. The Yankees had a $19 million luxury tax bill last year, and expect to have a $15 million bill this season.

What it means: Though the move to cut payroll isn’t a reflection of the Yankees’ financial state, we’re not used to seeing the Bronx Bombers be frugal… at least by their standards. With New York dumping salaries and the Los Angeles Dodgers adding, 2013 will be the first time since 1998 the Yankees haven’t had MLB’s most expensive payroll.



Winner: The San Francisco 49ers have generated an estimated $800 million in revenue from season ticket and suite sales at their under construction $1.2 billion stadium. The team already has sold 75% of seats at the new facility, and is well ahead of schedule to sell out before the building opens in 2014.

Loser: The Washington Redskins are without $18 million in salary cap space this year as a penalty for frontloading contracts in the uncapped 2010 season. The Dallas Cowboys lost $5 million in cap space for the same violation. Appeals by both teams to have the cap space restored were denied by the league.

What it means: The Redskins-Cowboys case is unique because neither team actually violated a salary cap rule. Instead, the league found both teams guilty of trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Unable to get the cap space back, the Redskins released cornerback Deangelo Hall.


College Sports

Winner: The new Big East Conference, formerly known as the Catholic 7, has reached a 12-year, $500 million TV rights deal with Fox Sports. The deal’s value could increase to $600 million if the conference grows to 12 teams. Big East games will be a primary component of Fox Sports 1’s programming.

Loser: Arizona State University has received backlash from students and alumni over the new Disney-designed costume for the school’s “Sparky” mascot. The new costume is more superhero than Sun Devil, and is meant to appeal to a younger generation of ASU fans.

What it means: The new Big East TV deal averages more than $40 million per season, nearly double what the old Big East, now called the America 12, will make per year from its deal with ESPN. However, to put those deals in perspective, the Big East in 2011 turned down a TV deal from ESPN that would have paid each SCHOOL $11 million annually. Imagine how much different the college sports landscape would be today had the conference taken the offer.


Auto Racing

Winner: Go Daddy received $2.9 million in media value during the Daytona 500 through its sponsorship of Danica Patrick, according to the research firm Repucom. Patrick had more than 971 million Twitter mentions in the eight days from becoming the first woman to capture the Daytona 500 pole through the race.

Loser: The 2013 Izod IndyCar Series season starts next weekend amid concerns that the six-month break cost the series a lot of momentum. Rather than promoting last season’s American-born champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, most of IndyCar’s offseason headlines dealt with former CEO Randy Bernard’s firing.

What it means: Go Daddy’s sponsorship of Danica Patrick has been one of the most successful in sports marketing today. How powerful is Danica? Last year, Daytona 500 pol winner Carl Edwards had 15 million Twitter mentions in the same period Danica had 971 million.

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