Branding the World of Sports

Archive for June, 2009

What sports should be in the Olympics?

Posted by ZA on June 20, 2009

There are currently 7 sports vying to be included in the Summer Olympics.  These sports are competing for two available spots that would begin to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games.  The sports under consideration to be added are: baseball, golf, karate, rollersports, rugby, softball & squash.  In order to be voted into the Summer Olympics, these sports will have to receive at least two-thirds majority vote of IOC (International Olympic Committee) members at a vote this Fall.

The IOC wants to add new sports that will appeal to young people and give a shot in the arm to their current lineup. I think the IOC needs to add sports that have potential to attract new sponsors to the games.  The Olympics was already being forced to compete for sponsorship dollars against a growing number of global sporting events; then their job got tougher to land new sponsors (or keep existing sponsors) when the World economy tanked.  So the IOC membership has to consider the sports they are looking to vote in as potential conduits to new sponsorship opportunities.

If they are taking that approach to this voting process than I think it immediately eliminates karate, rollersports and squash.  Those three sports are not big enough in the United States, where the largest pool of potential corporate sponsors are located, to attract much interest.  They also are not huge sports internationally, so they are out of consideration. You could probably also include softball, but I think that might buck the trend.

That leaves baseball, golf, rugby & softball.  As I said I think softball could be a sentimental favorite (like karate), but not a huge money maker by way of landing more sponsorship dollars.  Baseball, golf & rugby all have huge appeal around the globe.  Golf is probably most universally recognized, so I think golf will be the #1 most likely sport to get voted into the Summer Olympics.  The appeal of the sport globally, combined with the huge opportunity to bring marquee names to the Olympics like; Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia, will be too much to pass up.  So golf gets in to the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Deciding between baseball and rugby is probably a coin flip.  Rugby is not hugely popular in the United States, but is intensely popular throughout parts of Europe, the South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand particularly), Africa and even South America.  There would be plenty of new sponsor opportunities for the Olympics by adding rugby.  Baseball is “America’s national pastime” and opens up huge opportunities with the sponsors of Major League Baseball.  It is also a sport that has huge popularity in Central America and the Far East, where Japan & Korea would open doors to more large corporations that could become sponsors.  Baseball (and softball) also were sports that were recently included in the Olympics before being removed, so they might be more familiar to IOC members.

So my final assessment is that golf will get voted into the Olympic Games.  I think that either baseball or rugby will probably get the second spot available in Olympics for new sports.  If you made me choose then I’d probably pick baseball over rugby, but I’m probably a little biased as an American that is not a rugby fan.  Regardless it should be interesting to see how the IOC votes on this in the Fall; if they select any of the sports besides those three (or softball) I will be very surprised.

The sports currently included in the Summer Games:
Athletics (aka: Track & Field)
Field Hockey
Modern Pentathlon
Soccer (aka: Football)
Synchronized Swimming
Table Tennis
Water Polo

If I were asked to modernize the Olympic games and had to select the best sports to include, here are the sports that I would include in the Olympics:

Future Summer Olympic sports:
Athletics (aka: Track & Field)
Auto Racing – One of most popular sports in World would replace Equestrian
Baseball – Would bring huge sponsor opportunities in USA & Japan.
Canoeing – Removed.
Equestrian – Removed.
Fencing – Removed.
Field Hockey – Removed.
Golf – Adding one of most popular sports in the World.
Handball – Removed.
Judo – Would be combined into Mixed Martial Arts category.
Lacrosse – A sport growing in popularity that would offset loss of Field Hockey.
Modern Pentathlon
MMA – Combines all fighting disciplines under one roof.  Sports are still separated out.
Rugby – Popular sport in many parts of World.
Sailing – Removed.
Shooting – Removed.
Soccer (aka: Football)
Softball – Bringing this one back.
Synchronized Swimming – Removed.
Table Tennis
Taekwondo – Would be combined into Mixed Martial Arts category.
Water Polo
Wrestling – Would be combined into Mixed Martial Arts category.

What sports do you think should be part of the Summer Olympics? Which would you add & which would you subtract?

Seven sports pitch for Olympic inclusion

The seven sports vying for addition to the 2016 Olympic programme presented their case to the International Olympic Committee yesterday.

A maximum of two out of baseball, golf, karate, rollersports, rugby, softball and squash will be shortlisted by the IOC this August, with a final vote on their inclusion taking place two months later. The IOC is considering the new entrants as part of a broader goal of attracting younger audiences and refreshing the Olympic programme.

Posted in Olympics | 4 Comments »

Historic Rosenblatt gives way to TD Ameritrade

Posted by ZA on June 16, 2009

Right now one of the best, and least heralded, sporting events in the World is occurring at a stadium in the heartland of America.  The 2009 College World Series is being played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.  The College World Series, or CWS as it is commonly called, is the postseason tournament to decide the NCAA Division I Champion from men’s college baseball.  The tournament brings together 8 of the best teams to compete in a double elimination tournament.  What makes it so great is the emotion these teams and their fans display; the emotions that come out when you have reached your goal (Omaha) and have the championship in sight.

Every division I college baseball player, fan and coach starts the season with one goal in-mind.  That goal is to get to Omaha for the College World Series.  Teams typically play a 40+ game regular season schedule and then a dozen postseason games just to try to earn a spot in the CWS field.  So naturally those fortunate few that make the trip to historic Rosenblatt Stadium are excited to be there.  That excitement comes through as a tangle buzz of emotion that surrounds each game.  And Rosenblatt Stadium is the grand, old ballpark that plays host to that excitement.
For over 50 years the CWS has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium on the outskirts of Omaha.  Rosenblatt is full of stories about great teams, players or moments that occurred on that field.  It is one of those stadiums that you say ‘if these walls could talk’ because you know it would tell a ton of great stories.

But very soon, that is all going to end.  No, not the College World Series.  That will continue on in Omaha through at least 2035, thanks to a new deal with the NCAA.  But the games will no longer be played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.

The City of Omaha is currently building a new $128 million dollar stadium that will become the new home of the CWS in 2011.  The new stadium will be located in downtown Omaha and will more closely resemble a modern professional baseball stadium.  That means the stadium will have higher priced club seating and luxury suites, which bring in more revenue.  Following another tradition common with professional stadiums; the new stadium will have a corporate sponsor paying for the naming rights to the stadium.  TD Ameritrade announced on June 10th that they would be to be the title sponsor of the new ballpark, paying approximately $20 million over the next 20 years.  That means the new home of the College World Series in Omaha will be named TD Ameritrade Park, not Rosenblatt Stadium.

As sad as I am to see Rosenblatt Stadium put out to pasture, I understand this is how sports work today.  Sports are a revenue generating venture, so it is necessary for Omaha (and the NCAA) to upgrade the facility to make more money on the CWS.  Part of that money will be made from the aforementioned venue naming rights.  Although it would be great to still have games played at a stadium named for Johnny Rosenblatt, there is a great opportunity with TD Ameritrade.  TD Ameritrade stepped up to the plate to support this venue and thereby the event that will be played there each June.  They should be commended for their investment, and I believe their $1 million per year will be well worth it in the exposure they receive.  Their name is now linked to one of the best events in college sports and will be on the lips of media around the country.  So it’s easy to see how they will recoup their annual investment in the CWS.

But it will be sad to longer see games after 2010 CWS at Rosenblatt.  Since I was a kid I have memories of games there.  And there are thousands of fans who have great memories of games at Rosenblatt, that will have to remain memories…because the reality is that after next season there will be no more CWS games played at Rosenblatt.  A great legend of sports will be leaving us, but hopefully it will be adequately replaced by the new venue.

New home of College World Series

New home of College World Series (photo from Wikipedia)

Posted in College Sports, Stadium Construction, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does anyone have more sponsors than Real Salt Lake?

Posted by ZA on June 12, 2009

Sponsorship deals are a way for professional sports teams to collect additional revenue, beyond ticket sales and concessions.  Large professional teams can bring in millions of dollars per year from these type of sponsorships.  But not every sponsorship deal is a revenue generator, many today are in-kind deals where a team trades sponsorship rights for services.  For example, a team might receive free, or reduced rate, airline travel by providing a sponsorship package to an airline.

These in-kind sponsorship deals are valuable for teams and the sponsors who receive them, but they are probably not going to get the same level of exposure that cash paying sponsors will receive.  But teams have plenty of sponsorship opportunities to sell, from naming rights deals on their stadium all the way down to logo inclusion in a game program.  With this plethora of opportunities to wheel and deal on trading services for sponsorships, many teams are cutting down on expenses by lining up a multitude of in-kind sponsors to cover many of their team needs (i.e.- expenses).

One professional team that is having success signing these in-kind sponsorships is Real Salt Lake.  Real is an MLS team that has deals with over 20 sponsors, with more than half of those being new for 2009.  Real Salt Lake has divided their sponsors into three categories based on dollars contributed (or traded) for their deal.  Real has landed a few sponsor partnerships which are offsetting costs associated with running a team or stadium.  Waste Management, Xinsurance, Cricket Wireless, Allied Sign and JetBlue are all sponsors of Real Salt Lake who can also provide a valuable service (in-kind) to the club.  By signing sponsors who can do that, the team can reduce their expenses.

These type of exchange of services sponsorship deals are nothing new.  In-fact I’ve traded tickets for sponsorships at events for well over a decade.  But with budgets tight in the current economy it makes a lot of sense for both teams and vendors to look into arrangements like this.

Real Salt Lake sponsorships:
Allied Sign
American First Credit Union
Burger King
Colonial Flag
Cricket Wireless
Fiji Water
Hoopes Vision
Les Olson Co
Mountain American Credit Union
Rocky Mountain Voice
Salt Lake Regional Medical Center
SCA paper
Siegfried & Jensen
Waste Management Inc
Workers Compensation Fund
Zions Bank
[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in Soccer, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing, Stadium Pouring Rights, Stadium Signage, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Golfsmith backing Mickelson & Mediate at 2009 US Open

Posted by ZA on June 10, 2009

Golfsmith is at it again…for the second time this year they are offering a free driver to their customers IF a certain golfer wins a golf tournament.  Back in April the golf superstore offered a free TaylorMade driver if Sergio Garcia won the 2009.  The catch?  You had to purchase the driver prior to completion of the final round of The Masters.  After shooting a 67 in the 2nd round, Sergio eventually faded to finish tied for 38th.  So there were no free TaylorMade drivers.

This time Golfsmith is backing two huge fan favorites, Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate.  Mickelson captured the hearts of the New York crowds at the 2002 US Open when he battled Tiger Woods down to the wire, eventually finishing 2nd.  Rocco achieved a similar feat in the 2008 US Open, by taking eventually winner Tiger Woods to an extra 18 holes of golf to determine the winner.  Both will have a tremendous amount of crowd support at Bethpage Black…and now on TV from golf fans around the country who want to win a free Callaway driver.  Golfsmith will offer a free Callaway if Phil or Rocco wins at Bethpage.

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New Nets arena in Brooklyn already drawing criticism

Posted by ZA on June 8, 2009

The Nets have yet to even set foot in Brooklyn.  Jay Z has not yet played one of his tunes over the PA system.  The uniforms still New Jersey on the front, not Brooklyn.  And the arena has not even been built yet, but that’s not stopping people from lobbing criticism at the future home of the Nets.

A writer for the New York Times says the Nets developer has “betrayed” Brooklyn by dropping the design of Frank Gehry in favor of less expensive plan by another architecture firm.  He refers to the new design as a “colossal, spiritless box” and says it won’t help bring the community together the way Gehry’s design would have done.  He says the decision to drop Gehry’s decision puts making a profit above the “public good”.

I think the writer is right that Gehry’s design would have been more inspiring for the community.  Great architecture can become a boon to a city and much of New York City is full of great styles.  But I think he’s too quick to sweep the economics of the decision under the carpet.  The city, the developer and the organization have to make different decisions in the current economy than they might have a few years ago.  They need to balance form and function, making sure they are equally weighted.  So downsizing the Gehry plan in-favor of something more affordable, that fits their needs, is a responsible choice.  It will not kill the community.  In-fact the author overlooks the fact that the team will become a rallying point for the community once they start playing in the building.  So I think it would have been nice to have the more inspired design, but think the Nets, their fans and City of Brooklyn will all be well served by the current design.

Posted in NBA, Venue Information | Leave a Comment »

Will Dwight Howard be next big sports pitchman?

Posted by ZA on June 4, 2009

AdAge article on Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard says he is already a “dominant force” in the sports endorsement world.  One of the experts interviewed feels Howard’s endorsement appeal ranks just behind of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  They cite his youth, charisma and good character as positive attributes that make him attractive to companies looking for someone to endorse their product.

I agree that Howard brings a lot to the table; his personality definitely stands out in the T-mobile commercials he is doing with Wade and Charles Barkley.  But I think some of the opinions in the article that Howard is the next big NBA endorsement star are a bit premature.  Howard needs to win a championship and become the undisputed star on his own team before I’m willing to put him in the top 3 endorsers in the league.

The NBA is full of young stars that are full of charisma (e.g.- Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose), so Howard is not unique in possessing those traits.  At one point experts were saying that Greg Oden would be the next big star endorser in the NBA, and that has not panned out.  So I’m going to take a wait and see approach with Dwight Howard.  If he steps up during the NBA Finals he has a chance to prove himself the main star on his own team and get a ring.  Both of those things happen and I’m comfortable saying that a (endorsement) star is born.  If Kobe Bryant and his Lakers take down Howard, or Howard is not the focal point of his own team’s efforts, then I think he’s not quite ready for the praise heaped on him by some in the AdAge article.

Dwight Howard endorsement deals:
* Adidas
* DC Comics
* McDonald’s
* Milk Processor Board (“Got Milk” campaign)
* T-Mobile
* Vitaminwater (Glaceau)
* Warner Brothers
* Wrigley

Posted in Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, NBA | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Rich fans should not buy sports teams

Posted by ZA on June 1, 2009

The owner of one of the England’s top soccer clubs is selling the team in a fire sale to recoup some of the money he’s lost.  Mike Ashley is the billionaire owner of sportswear chain, Sports Direct, who bought then EPL team Newcastle United in 2007.  Ashley paid over $200 million dollars for the football club at the time, but now is asking a mere $155 million just to rid himself of the club.

Ashley said his decision to buy Newcastle has been “catastrophic for everyone” and claims to put over $180 million dollars to square their books.  So if he is able to find a buyer at his current asking price, then his total loss will be close to a quarter of a billion dollars.  That’s what happens when a rich fan has the means to buy their favorite club; they make their decisions like a fan would and wind up paying $100 million plus per year to rent the team.

During Ashley’s time as owner, Newcastle fans have revolted at the decision to fire a popular team manager and now they have to watch as their squad gets relegated from the EPL to the lower division.  That relegation removes tens of millions of dollars off the value of the club and punishes the fan base who will now have to hope their team can soon return to the top English soccer league.

So what is Ashley’s reason for why these huge issues have befallen his club?  Ashley said he did “regret” buying the team.  He went on to say that, “I was just a fan…I never said I was an expert in football clubs.

Ashley went on to lament about how much money he has lost in this situation.  But Ashley made the decision to buy Newcastle and the mistakes that cost him that money, so he had choices in this matter.  The other, less wealthy, fans of Newcastle didn’t have a choice in this situation.  They watched a rich guy buy their favorite club, turn it inside out to the point it is now relegated; and now they have to watch him try to sell it off to whomever is willing to buy it.  Who knows what they’ll get with the next owner…things might not get better quickly.

That is why fans should not buy their favorite teams.  They will be prone to act on emotion, rather than make the sound business decisions that the team needs to stay successful.

Posted in Money, Soccer | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »