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Sports News/Marketing/Business/Deal-Making Issues for the Week of 12/23/13

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek


1. The University of Central Florida has sold just 5,000 of its allotted 17,500 tickets for the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor. The school is on the hook for $5.3 million in expenses associated with the game, including $3.4 million for tickets and $1.9 million for travel.


2. A Washington car dealership is paying out $420,000 after the Seattle Seahawks shutout the New York Giants. Jet Chevrolet promised $35,000 to 12 different customers if the Seahawks held the Giants scoreless. In hindsight, the promotion might not have been the best idea, given the Seahawks have the NFL’s best defense and the Giants have one of the league’s worst offenses.


3. The PGA Tour’s tax-exempt status is being called into question because of proposed legislation that would prevent sports leagues from operating as non-profits. Economists estimate that lost tax revenue from the Tour over the last 20 years tops $200 million.


4. Formula 1 will not hold a race in New Jersey next year despite the hopes of CEO Bernie Ecclestone. The race, which originally was announced in 2011, has twice been delayed because of financial setbacks. Organizers now are aiming to stage the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey in 2015.


5. Attendance struggles have resulted in the St. Louis Blues pacing well below their 2013-14 revenue projections. Despite having one of the best records in the NHL this season, the Blues’ average home attendance is down 5% compared to last year.


6. Alabama football coach Nick Saban agreed to a contract extension that will increase his salary from $5.4 million to $7.5 million per year. The deal is by far the most lucrative in college football history, and marks the fourth time Saban’s contract has been extended since he arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007.


7. Thanks to deals with several new partners and extensions with existing ones, NASCAR in 2013 saw its sponsorship revenue increase 5-10% over last year, according to Tripp Mickle of SportsBusiness Journal. NASCAR chief sales officer Jim O’Connell called it the circuit’s best business year since 2007.


8. With a month-and-a-half until the actual game, ticket demand for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium is at a record high. Tickets for the game on the secondary market range from $2,200 to $12,000, representing a 15-20% increase over other Super Bowls.


9. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy says he’s spoken to several groups interested in buying and relocating a NHL franchise to Hartford. The city has been without a NHL team since 1997, when the Whalers moved from Hartford to Raleigh and rebranded as the Carolina Hurricanes.


10. AT&T has extended its title sponsorship of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for an unprecedented 10 years. The agreement, which runs through 2024, is worth an estimated $6-8 million annually. AT&T has been the tournament’s naming rights sponsor since 1986.


11. Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are among the major New York retailers that are marketing around February’s Super Bowl. Macy’s will install a 50,000-square-foot NFL shop at its flagship location, while Bloomingdale’s is partnering with the Council of Fashion Designers of America on 48 custom-designed Super Bowl helmets.


12. A Syracuse football blog is raising money to send 400 underprivileged kids to the school’s bowl game in Houston. The blog came up with the idea to send youths from the Houston YMCA after an online poll indicated few Syracuse fans planned to travel to Texas for the game.


13. Dow Chemical and General Mills have signed on to sponsor the No. 3 car driven by Austin Dillon. The No. 3 car hasn’t been featured in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since Dale Earnhardt was killed in an accident in 2001. Neither Dow nor General Mills is worried about the potential backlash in sponsoring the car.


14. Several golf insiders think the sport could be nearing a “World Tour” within the next five years, possibly as soon as the 2016 Rio Olympics. The World Tour’s structure hasn’t been determined, but likely would involve more travel outside of the U.S. and could be similar to soccer’s World Cup.


15. The NHL is giving fans that purchase tickets to the Stadium Series games in New York or Los Angeles a $50 gift card to The NHL this season is hosting six outdoor games, and critics worried that the influx of outdoor games would result in fans losing interest in the product.

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