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Sports Business Update: February 10, 2014

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek


NFL Awards Thursday Package
The NFL awarded its eight-game Thursday night TV package to CBS in a one-year deal worth an estimated $300-350 million. The eight CBS games will be simulcast on NFL Network, allowing the league-owned cable channel to continue receiving a $1.20 monthly subscriber fee. The league has the option to renew the deal for an additional year.

CBS definitely comes as a surprise winner, beating out ESPN, Fox, and NBC for the rights. The deal is a big win for the NFL, which will keep a season’s worth of games on NFL Network and is having CBS cover all of its production. The NFL was intent on putting the games on a broadcast network, not cable.

Awarding the Thursday night package isn’t the only big media news for the NFL. The league announced that this summer it will release a new app called “NFL Now,” a personalized video service providing fans with news, analysis, and highlights on their mobile devices. While the NFL Now app will be made available at no charge, fans have the option to purchase additional premium content.

NASCAR Unveils New Format
It’s not very often that a major pro sports entity dramatically changes its postseason, but that’s exactly what just happened. NASCAR unveiled a major overhaul to the Chase for the Sprint Cup, increasing the postseason field to 16 drivers, and then eliminating 12 through three elimination rounds. The new format puts an emphasis on winning, guaranteeing that four drivers will compete in a winner-take-all race to end the season at Homestead Motor Speedway.

The new Chase for the Sprint Cup format is almost certain to increase interest and TV viewership in NASCAR’s season finale, which has been plagued by unexciting races in recent years. Additionally, an unintended benefit of the new format is the effect it’ll have on Miami. Since the season champion won’t be determined until the last week, Miami should expect to see a rise in economic impact and direct spending from fans more inclined to travel for the race. Ultimately, the change is a smart one for NASCAR because it makes the playoffs much easier to understand for the casual racing fan.

Stadium Naming Rights
It’s time to remember new stadium and arena names because two teams have signed a new naming rights partner. We start with the Texas Rangers, who announced a 10-year sponsorship with Globe Life Insurance. The deal’s term coincides with the Rangers’ remaining lease at the ballpark, and is the stadium’s first naming partnership since Ameriquest backed out of its $75 million sponsorship in 2007. Though not contractually obligated, the Rangers pushed to keep “Arlington” in the title, and the stadium now will be called Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the Pelicans reached a deal with Smoothie King for a 10-year sponsorship of their arena. The deal comes just as New Orleans prepares to host the NBA All-Star Game. To activate at the sponsorship, Smoothie King will put two 20-foot cups at the arena’s entrance. Before signing the deal, Smoothie King went through its menu to make sure all of its ingredients were compliant with sports league regulations. Smoothie King’s corporate headquarters are in New Orleans.

El Paso Jersey Unveiled
It’s all good in El Paso, as the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas move one step closer to beginning their first season of play. The team last week unveiled their 2014 inaugural uniforms, which include five variations: white, gray, black, red and the traditional pinstripe. The jerseys, made by Russell Athletic, feature Dri-Power technology that helps to keep the athlete’s skin drier and more comfortable.

The white jersey, considered the home jersey, features the Chihuahuas wordmark across the front with the Chihuahuas Crossbones logo on the left sleeve. The gray road jersey has the word mark and showcases the Chihuahuas head logo on the sleeve. The red alternate jersey features the Swinging Chihuahua logo on the left chest, paying homage to the team’s Major League affiliate, the San Diego Padres. Not surprisingly, jerseys have been flying off store shelves. It’s all good in El Paso.

The Cliffs Communities
Last month, the internationally investment firm Arendale Holdings acquired 100% of The Cliffs Communities. Among those happy to see The Cliffs Communities promising outlook are golf icon Gary Player and Black Knight International, as Black Knight International’s headquarters are located adjacent to The Cliff’s Communities’ Cliffs at Mountain Park.

The Cliffs at Mountain Park is a Gary Player Signature Design golf course, and was one of only a handful of courses opening in North America by any design firm in 2013. Mountain Park has already received rave reviews since opening last September, including being named one the Best New Courses of 2013 by Golf Digest. Mountain Park is just one of the recent course openings added to the international portfolio of Gary Player Design that includes over 300 courses across the globe in over 35 countries.

The Cliffs at Mountain Park provides a perfect client showcase for Black Knight International and its various businesses. Best of all, clients are able to experience where Black Knight International works, plays, and lives all in one location.

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