Welcome to SportBusiness Group’s US Digest, rounding up the news and developments coming out of the world’s biggest sports market
Tepper wins race to take over Carolina Panthers
After a five-month search for a new buyer, hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper will purchase the Carolina Panthers for $2.275bn, of which $2.2bn will be in cash up front. The deal is poised to be ratified by NFL owners next week and closed in July. It’s the most ever paid for an NFL team, eclipsing the $1.4bn paid for the Buffalo Bills in 2014. Tepper, who must give up his minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers, is committed to keeping the team in Charlotte.
Supreme Court rules in favour of sports betting
Three talking points from the Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for sports betting across the US. 1) The NBA and NFL have called on Congress to establish a national framework to avoid “a hodgepodge of regulations”. 2) Major leagues have reduced their demands for “integrity fees” to 0.25 per cent per bet after pushback from state legislators. 3) The first legal sports bet in New Jersey remains on hold after Monmouth Park’s planned Memorial Day launch hit a brick wall.
NBA play-off ratings continue to soar
There is no stopping the NBA . Monday’s Warriors-Rockets clash on TNT averaged 8.8m viewers, making it the most-watched Western Conference Finals Game 1 since 2002. The asking price for secondary-market tickets to see the Warriors in Oakland also topped $1,000 each. Meanwhile, ESPN’s coverage of the Celtics-Cavaliers match on Tuesday was the highest-rated Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 since 2012 and up 71 per cent on last year’s equivalent game.
Fifa allows US territories to vote for 2026 World Cup hosts
North American World Cup bid organizers have defended the right of four US-governed territories to vote for the 2026 hosts after a complaint by rival Morocco over a conflict of interest. The complaint was rejected by Fifa. South Africa, meanwhile, has been urged not to break ranks with its African colleagues and back Morocco, which unveiled details of its bid last week.
NASL lawsuit against USSF/MLS proceeds
The NASL continues its fight with the US Soccer Federation after being denied division two sanctioning last year. Its antitrust lawsuit against USSF and MLS has proceeded towards the discovery phase after the defendants declined to file a motion to dismiss. The league is also seeking support from Concacaf members outside the US. A $500m offer by New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso to fund a revived NASL has reached an impasse, however.
DAZN shakes up US boxing with $1bn streaming deal
Boxing in the US faces a shake-up after news that international streaming service DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) is coming to the States. Parent company Perform Group has signed an eight-year, $1bn deal with British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn’s company Matchroom Boxing, which will bring 16 fights per year to America. Selling via an “affordable” monthly fee is shift away from top boxing’s usual pay-per-view model.
Also this week
- The Baltimore Ravens are following in the footsteps of the Atlanta Falcons by reducing concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium.
- ESPN reportedly expanded its coverage of the NFL Draft in order to keep hold of its play-off game, which was rumoured to be going to Fox.
- Nashville has emerged as the leading contender to host the 2019 NFL Draft. A decision is expected next week.
- The Oakland A’s have been given permission to study both the Coliseum and Howard Terminal as potential new stadium sites.
- NBC has hit the ratings jackpot with the continued NHL play-off success of expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights.
- LA FC’s Banc of California Stadium and Minnesota United’s Allianz Field are among the venues for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
- FC Barcelona will try to raise awareness of their brand in the US with a series of interactive leisure parks in city centres.
- The LPGA Tour has announced its first official team event: the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, which will be held in July 2019.
- Rugby union news: Ireland will face Italy at Chicago’s Soldier Field in November while Washington DC will host a Major League Rugby team “no later” than 2020.
- Formula One’s plans for a grand prix in Miami were unanimously approved by local politicians.
- Memphis is the latest city to be awarded an Alliance of American Football team.
- How facial-recognition technology could revolutionise stadium ticket sales.
- The Golden Knights have given Seattle’s imminent NHL team something to aim for.
- The lack of a commissioner is holding back the NWSL.
- Why the PGA Tour is poised to announce a dramatically altered schedule.
- How the Nashville mayoral election affects the future of the city’s MLS franchise.