Welcome to SportBusiness Group’s US Digest, rounding up the news and developments coming out of the world’s biggest sports market
NBA Finals tickets are cheapest in four years
Is interest in the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry finally waning ahead of a fourth consecutive NBA Finals match-up? It looks that way based on the average “get in” price – a metric ticket sites use to aggregate the cheapest prices to all matches in the series. They’re $390, the lowest in the past four years and 23 per cent off the 2016 peak of $502. Even in the lead-up to Game 1 of the series on Thursday ticket prices have fallen, with the exception of a potential Game 7 decider.
FC Cincinnati to join MLS in 2019
FC Cincinnati has been confirmed as the latest MLS expansion franchise. The USL team will join the league in 2019, ahead of the already-announced Nashville and Miami, and will continue to play at Nippert Stadium while their new stadium is being constructed. MLS commissioner Don Garber insisted Cincinnati’s arrival would not affect the future of fellow Ohio team Columbus Crew, whose owner faces a legal battle to move the franchise to Austin, Texas. Sacramento and Detroit remain favourites for the next two MLS spots while Garber also listed San Diego, San Antonio and Las Vegas as cities in the running.
Twin Cities ‘netted $370m from Super Bowl’
Super Bowl LII brought $370m to the Minneapolis-St Paul local economy – $50m more than pre-event projections – according to a specially-commissioned report. Super Bowl visitors in February spent an average of $608 per day in the Twin Cities during an average stay of 3.9 days, compared to typical tourism spending averages of about $124 a day. Two out of every three Super Bowl visitors had never been to the region before and 83 per cent of first-time tourists said they plan to return to Minneapolis in the future. That said, one leading economist says Super Bowl figures should always be met with some skepticism.
Seattle NHL decision due in autumn
The fate of Seattle’s NHL expansion team will be decided “in the fall, or early winter at the latest”, according to commissioner Gary Bettman. There had been suggestion that an announcement would happen in June. “There is no delay,” Bettman said. “We just haven’t gotten the train to the station yet.” Meanwhile, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Washington Capitals and Las Vegas Golden Knights, drew impressive ratings – it was the most-watched since 2015 – despite going up against Game 7 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals on TNT.
Fifa holds last-minute meeting with 2026 World Cup bidders
Fifa officials met with organizers from the United 2026 and Morocco bids in Zürich on Wednesday, ahead the publication of an evaluation report that will determine whether the North African country will go on the ballot for the June 13 vote. “It was a very constructive meeting,” Hicham El Amrani, chief executive of the Morocco bid, told Reuters. In an attempt to land late votes, El Amrani this week said a Morocco World Cup would be “almost European”. An in-depth article by the Financial Times shows the Donald Trump factor continues to harm North American chances of victory.
New York sports betting bill refers to integrity fee as ‘royalty’
So much for ‘integrity fees’. New York’s proposed sports betting bill, which legislators want to approve before the current session expires on June 20, makes a noted reference to a “sports wagering royalty”. The terminology sheds much light on the actual motives of major sports leagues’ desire for a cut of all stakes on their games. “I’m not sure I buy the term ‘integrity fee’,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said early this week, while adding his view that leagues nonetheless deserve to be paid for the intellectual property used in sports betting.
Also this week
- NBA sponsor spend has topped $1bn for the first time, largely thanks to the success of jersey patch deals.
- The Bundesliga will follow in the footsteps of Bayern Munich by opening an office in New York City in October.
- ESPN+ will stream League of Legends esports competitions this summer after a multi-year deal with Riot Games.
- ABC’s final Indianapolis 500 broadcast draws its lowest rating in over 30 years…
- …while ESPN’s telecast of Monaco Grand Prix earns F1’s largest cable audience since 1995.
- The Alliance of American Football has announced a franchise in San Diego.
- WNBA team New York Liberty are courting potential new owners.
- How a mended relationship between the Cardinals and city of Glendale helped return the Super Bowl to Arizona.
- MLB attendance is headed to its lowest average in 15 years.
- How Fox bodyslammed its rivals to win WWE rights.
- ESPN flagship show Get Up faces changes if ratings do not improve.
- Could David Beckham’s MLS team be called Miami Freedom?