The Gamblers

Fair to assume that both fantasy football and bracket “office” pools are forms of gambling, no?  And as the numbers illustrate every year, March Madness and the Super Bowl are two of the biggest sporting events in the World.

I’m not sure there is a real metric in place that could provide an accurate measure of the value both fantasy football and bracketology carry for each respective mega event, but there is no question they have helped fuel the explosive growth over the years.

The American Gaming Association estimates that 40 million Americans will fill out more than 70 million brackets, more than the number of ballots cast (nearly 66 million) for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.  According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 41.5 million Americans played fantasy football last year.

In the grand scheme of things, for as much as we love the cinderella story, the dominant brands continue to end up on the winning side.  In the NFL, the New York Giants and New England Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl 9 times in the last 12 years.  Since 1992, only SIX teams have won the NCAA men’s bball championship that were not seeded number one.  Of those six, two teams were a two seed, two were three seeds, one was a six seed and last year’s UConn team was the real outlier as a seven.

So, that leaves us to wonder, would the Super Bowl or March Madness enjoy the same remarkable success without a little push from the gambling U.S. public?  Just food for thought as you fill out your brackets…

Stadium Design Contest Winners!

We recently held a competition for students challenging them to design a sports facility or stadium.  The criteria we used to evaluate the designs included:

* Creativity…how unique is the stadium?  Is the architecture unique?  What does the stadium look like?  An image of the stadium design as well as answers to the following questions MUST be submitted to participate!

* Where is the stadium located?  Why?

* Is it in indoor or outdoor facility?

* Who are the primary tenants?

* What is the name of the stadium?  How was the name chosen?

* How will the stadium impact the overal fan experience?

* Will technology play a role?  How?

* How will the stadium design/features/amenities help to attract visitors?

Needless to say, we can’t tell you how impressed we were with the creativity, effort, and attention to detail that the students put forth.  From the integration of social media into a stadium name (hash tag stadium) to amenities impacting the fan experience like batting cages for fans, iPads in seats, special VIP recliner seating and unique sponsorships like a sponsored hot dog bridge, students were able to showcase much of what they have learned about the business of sports and entertainment this year…they were awesome!

Before announcing our winners, I would like to thank our industry panelists for spending the time to review the many submissions for the contest.  Your time and feedback is very much appreciated.  A very special thanks to Heather Lawrence-Benedict, a faculty member with the renowned Ohio University’s Sport Management Program.  She has a lot of facility experience and really helped lead the way with critiquing the designs from an industry perspective.

Ultimately, the response from panelists was consistent as well, there were NO entries that didn’t manage to impress on some level.  I received several comments that it was really neat to see some of the “outside of the box” thinking that went into the student designs.  While many would be impractical if not impossible to pull off, the “above and beyond” mentality is what will help students stand apart from their peers as they pursue a possible career in our industry.

Great job everyone and thanks again to those who participated in the voting process.

So, without further delay, here are our winners!

The top selections for SCC’s stadium design contest:

First Place:  Rio Tinto – Every industry panelist made a point to suggest the 3D nature of the design showed how much time was put into the project, as well as how thorough the students were in describing the thought process behind each aspect of the stadium build.  Integration of naming rights was key for all  industry panelists, but explaining how the partnership tied in with the franchise was crucial for those stadiums who earned the highest ratings.  Rio Tinto’s ability to use creativity in the design yet keep the project realistic helped push this one over the top, in particular the added element of an animal sanctuary fit with the industry’s trend toward building venues that will attract all types of visitors year round, on both game days and non-game days.  Panelists also appreciated the importance of “location” placed on the design, including ideas for accommodating (and limiting) traffic and parking.  Great job!

Second Place:  The Igloo – Conceptually, the Igloo idea rated as the highest among panelists, despite the logistical challenges that would face any builder trying to design a venue like this.  Either way, this was a very creative stadium idea that seemed to jive well with the selected market (Anchorage) for the facility.  The added value of building a second, connected dome to host a variety of additional activities (skiing, sledding, snowboarding) was also a major factor in ranking this design second in the competition.  The addition of a social media lounge (including revenue generated by selling naming rights to the space) provided a first class touch to this outstanding stadium design.  Really nice job!

Third Place:  Guinness Stadium – Guinness Stadium’s recognition of the importance of marketing (the design drew the 2nd most “likes” through the online voting process) helped propel this venue into third place in the competition.  The emphasis on an International venue also scored points among some panelists as the industry continues to grow as a global marketplace.  The naming rights to the stadium provided a great tie-in to the location and the rationale behind it was impressive:  “The name of the stadium is Guinness Stadium. Guinness is currently a well-known sponsor of The IRFU and is exclusive to Ireland. Guinness is a brewing company produced and sold in Ireland and it is available in many other countries. So, this stadium will improve sales due to the familiarity of the beer company.”  As one panelist put it, “It was different than the others as it took business development of the community into account in a major way.”  Very well done!

Honorable Mention:

Nike Field – This design scored well in part because of the selection of Las Vegas which has been a hot button conversation piece in the last few years within the industry  (it should be mentioned that this was not the only design to select Las Vegas as a market), but the creativity in developing a truly Vegas “over the top” feel in conjunction with the stadium (casinos, arcades, bright lights and shark tanks!) , but managed to provide exceptional and valid rationale for why the building would feature such amenities.  Panelists also felt the designer of this stadium provided one of the best, in-depth descriptions for the facility.  Good work.

Big Elk Stadium– Despite some obvious logistical challenges that would be present if they were to actually build, Big Elk Stadium provides another great example of a venue operator who wants to maximize revenue by creating additional revenue streams beyond the game itself.  The idea of a hotel and spa built right in to the stadium is unique with amenities and features that would make it an attractive venue that even out of town visitors would like to see.  Nice job.

Watching National Sports vs. Regional Sports Telecasts

The average sports fan who watches a few games on occasion may not notice any considerable difference between local and national broadcasts of sporting events, but for regular viewers the differences can be stark.

Watching sporting events becomes a ritual for many fans, and any change to that ritual can be unnerving at times. This is one of the reasons that some fans do not like national broadcasts, as they alter the standard ritual of watching the fan’s favorite team play a game. The announcers are different, the graphics are different, and somehow the whole experience seems a little different.

This does not always have to be a bad thing, especially depending on the quality of the usual cable tv deals, but it is certainly a different thing. So, what are the differences between local and national broadcasts, and is one preferable to the other?

Commentary Crews

  • In baseball especially, due to the sheer number of games played each season, the commentary crew for the local team becomes almost like a group of old friends to the fans who watch games regularly. Legendary voices like Vin Scully, Harry Kalas and Ernie Harwell have meant as much to the fans of their respective teams as the players on the field. This can lead to some discontentment for local fans, when they have to listen to an unfamiliar group of commentators from out of town. National commentators are also supposed to be objective in the way they call the game, which can dampen the excitement of the local fan that is used to the excitement of home team commentators.
  • It’s not just familiarity with the commentators, either. Even nondescript local commentators have an advantage over their nationally-based counterparts, since they have a deep, daily knowledge of the team on the field. The best national commentators are able to combat this with careful study of the teams that are playing in a given game, but not every national commentator makes the added effort. This can lead to misstatements which go largely unnoticed by casual fans, but which can drive the hardcore fan crazy. Even in cable tv deals, the quality of commentary varies greatly by market, but the issue becomes magnified during a national telecast.

The next time you find yourself calling the plays before the commentators, consider sports broadcasting as a career. Many affiliate broadcast, and cable tv deals encourage internships as a learning experience.

Production Values

  • Some sports telecasts, both national and local, have moved in the direction of providing all of the information, all the time. This can be grating for fans who just want to sit down and enjoy a game without all the added graphics and statistics. In football broadcasts especially, fans are constantly bombarded with information, social media updates and advertisements. Sports are a big business, obviously, but many fans appreciate the often more toned-down style of cable tv deals.
  • One advantage national telecasts bring is a general increase in production value. cable tv deals have grown by leaps and bounds in this regard, but national networks simply have the money necessary to go the extra mile. The differences are often subtle, but noticeable – more camera angles, better sound quality, improved picture, etc. In a sport like baseball, the differences can go unnoticed, but extra cameras in football and hockey can really make a positive difference in the viewing experience.

Broadcast Extras

  • Every national sports telecast seems to be preceded by a pregame show with a studio full of analysts and former players. These broadcasts are often interesting and stimulating for the casual fan, which can catch up on the latest information about the teams involved before watching the game. For the more dedicated fans, however, these shows can seem like a lot of noise, presenting information the viewer already knows well.
  • Many cable tv deals are also moving toward this model, but with more success in regards to the dedicated fan. The difference between a local and national pre- or post-game show is that the local show focuses in great detail on the local team, leaving out general information and league-wide statistics.

Overall, sports fans will watch sports, no matter what type of broadcast is presented. The differences between local and national telecasts can be boiled down to a matter of preference. Most fans are more than happy with a mixture of both.

Infographic – Sports Franchise Values

As a follow up to one of our previous posts, we commissioned Curvity Design to create an infographic to demonstrate the risk vs. the reward in purchasing a professional sports franchise (including the Forbes’ evaluation of team value at or near the time of the team’s sale).  Hope you enjoy the results!  Thanks to Laura Bennett at Curvity Design for developing the graphic…great work Laura!  Follow her on Twitter at @curvitydesign.  She is also on Facebook at and her website is

Also, many thanks to our blog manager, Griffin Booth, for his efforts in researching data for this infographic.  You can also see his previous post on the topic (“How Accurate are Forbes Franchise Evaluations?”) by clicking here.

Not pictured in the infographic is the current tug-of-war for the rights to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise.  Reports suggest the franchise could be sold for upwards of $500 million, while Forbes currently puts a $525 million valuation on the team.  The current owners of the franchise paid just $156 million for the Kings in 1998.

Griffin Booth is in his first year as Sports Career Consulting’s Blog Manager.  He is a recent Washington State University graduate where he majored in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.  Booth began his career as an intern with sports radio 950 KJR in Seattle where he was responsible for managing the show’s podcasts.  He later gained experience as a news anchor, producer, and reporter for Cable 8 news in the greater Pullman area. In addition to his role with Sports Career Consulting, he is currently an intern with Washington State University’s Cougar Athletic Fund, helping to raise money for student-athlete scholarships.  Born and raised in Seattle, Booth is a huge fan of all Seattle sports. For any questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to contact Griffin by email at  You can also follow him on Twitter @gbooth6.


Super Bowl XLVII by the Numbers

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager.

The infamous “blackout” of Super Bowl XLVII could not keep the game from making history. Besides the drama provided by the game itself, (which included a dramatic comeback that fell just short for the 49ers), many factors suggest the Big Game was a big success. From a very popular halftime performance to an insane amount of money spent at the sports book, the Super Bowl goes far beyond the the game of football. Lets take a look at Super Bowl XLVII by the numbers for some specific examples…

1: According to Nielsen, CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl XLVII reached a total audience of 164.1 million viewers, making it the most-viewed show in U.S. television history, just barely edging out last year’s Super Bowl ratings.

46.67 Million: Number of instances of social media engagement during the Super Bowl. That number is up a substantial amount from last years Super Bowl that counted 17.4 million instances of social media engagement.

24.1 Million: Amount of Tweets alone submitted during the Super Bowl game. However, two of the most trending topics had nothing to do with the game itself.

250%:  The Holiday Inn Express Harvey-Marrero, which is less than 10 miles from the stadium, had last-minute room accommodations available for $510 a night, according to Rooms are available this weekend for $145 per night, a 250% increase for Super Bowl weekend.

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How Accurate Are Forbes’ Franchise Values?

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager.

While sporting events provide entertainment for fans, above all else, it is a business. Owners of professional sports organizations, like owners of any business, have a responsibility to strive for profitability. Unfortunately for many professional teams, turning a profit is extremely difficulty thanks to inflated player salaries.  Why then, would anyone actually want to own a franchise?  Well, good question…until you take a good look at the annual estimates of franchise values published by Forbes each year.  Just out of curiosity, we decided to compare and contrast the published Forbes franchise valuations against the actual recent sale price of sports teams.  The results might surprise you.


In March of 2012, Forbes valued the Los Angeles Dodgers at $1.4 billion.  The owner at that time, Frank McCourt, paid just $355 million for the team in 2004.  McCourt agreed to sell the team in late March to an ownership group that included NBA hall of famer Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten. The reported sale price was $2 billion dollars, shattering the record for the sale price of a professional sports team while allowing McCourt to enjoy a very generous profit.

Despite the large amount of money invested in purchasing the team, the franchise has yet to become legitimate contenders for a Major League Baseball championship. While the Dodgers made a splash at the MLB trade deadline, hauling in the large contract of former Marlins all-star Hanley Ramirez and despite a winning record, the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs last year.

Before the 2012 season began, the San Diego Padres were valued at $458 million dollars by Forbes.  In a season of struggles with the team finishing second to the last in the NL west division, the Padres were sold toward the end of season.  The sale price?  $800 million dollars, paid by an ownership group headed by beer distributed Ron Fowler, nearly twice the amount the previous owners paid just three years earlier.  Prior to that, the team was purchased in 1994 for only $94 million.


In 2012, Forbes listed the Memphis Grizzlies franchise value at $269 million, making it the second lowest valued team in the NBA (only the Milwaukee Bucks had a lower value). Former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley entered into a sales agreement with Robert J. Pera, founder and CEO of the Ubiquiti Networks, in June with a purchase price of around a reported $350 million dollars.  By October 30th, the official sale price was listed at $377 million dollars. Heisley purchased the team in 2000 for $160 million dollars, netting a profit of roughly $217 million dollars.

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Around the Horn: April 5th

For those interested in Masters social media, the folks at Octagon First Call have assembled a “social media guide” to the 76th Masters golf tournament at Augusta.  Great resource for those who want to follow their favorite golfers or get real-time updates on scores.

Need evidence to support your theory that the NBA loves star power?  Look no further than last night’s highlights of the Clippers vs. Lakers game on  Based on the ratio of Clippers to Lakers highlights, one would assume the Clippers won the game (they didn’t).  That said, seeing Blake Griffin dunking on Gasol like that (twice) makes a pretty compelling case for why Kia and Subway seem to think he can help them sell more product.

Brands looking for the next up and coming athlete with real star power don’t need to look any further than Robert Griffin III, better know as RG3, who posted his first tweet to his twitter account this week.  Just 24 hours later, he already had nearly 75,000 followers (and nearly 80,000 at the time of this post).  You think this guy is going to help whichever team drafts him sell tickets?  Adidas also stands to benefit from RG3′s foray into social media because Griffin endorses the brand.  Nike probably isn’t complaining either, knowing the former Baylor QB is likely to sell a LOT of jerseys, and they now have the sacred NFL apparel deal.

Speaking of the NFL’s apparel deal with Nike, I’m still amazed how much hype Nike‘s new uniform “reveal” event on Tuesday generated.  Nobody manufactures buzz like the swoosh

For those wondering how lucrative the digital media market is for the NCAA, AdAge recently reported that digital viewership of March Madness generates $60 million in advertising revenue for Turner and CBS.

In entertainment news, it was announced earlier this week that James Bond (Daniel Craig) will help open the Summer Games in London.  GREAT score for MGM Studios as over a billion people are expected to watch the Opening Ceremonies…

JOB SEEKERS!  Seattle University Athletics is looking for a ticket sales Account Executive & Assistant GM of ticket sales.  For more details, please see the previous post on our blog.

Around the Horn: March 9th

The development of niche sports (I wouldn’t go so far as to refer to them as “emerging” sports) apparently remains a hip, trendy endeavour among the community of alternative sport enthusiasts.  Last week, we mentioned the “sport” of Taser Ball.  This week?  Standup Paddleboard Yoga…what will they think of next?  What’s the most bizarre sport you’ve seen?

Today’s Oregonian featured interesting insight on the development of a new soccer ball for the upcoming Major League Soccer season.  Adidas America, headquartered here in Portland, OR, made a few tweaks to the ball used the past two seasons.  The redesigned ball should help minimize complaints from league goalies who suggested the old ball would “knuckleball” on them, making it difficult to predict movement patterns.

Heard a heated discussion taking place at lunch today discussing the Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning discussion…and not the on-field performance argument either.  The debate was focused on which player would best represent a brand as an endorser.  With questions remaining about Peyton’s ability to bounce back from several neck surgeries and Luck’s “upside” that so many NFL analysts are raving about, which QB would you rather have endorsing your product from this point forward?

Around the Horn: March 1st

Turns out the crash that delayed the Daytona 500 on Monday night gave Tide a great opportunity to connect with the most brand loyal fans in all of sports.  According to a report from, the fire and subsequent cleanup effort (requiring nearly 2 hours in which Tide detergent was used to mop up the spill) provided the brand with $8 million in free exposure.  Why free?  Because Tide has not been an official sponsor of NASCAR since 2006…

As part of the NBA’s “Noche Latina” event (in celebration of Latin heritage), the Orlando Magic will debut “El Magic” uniforms for 3 home games in March.  “Los Bulls”, “Los Lakers”, “Los Suns”, “Los Spurs”, “El Heat” and “Nueva York” are among those also participating in the month-long event.  According to a report last year from, hispanic fans comprise 15% of the league’s overall fan base.

The discussion of emerging sports has been a hot topic within industry the last few years…but Ultimate Taser Ball?  Check this “shocking” story from Huffington Post about a new sport that is apparently gaining steam…

Around the Horn: Feb 29th

Looks as if ESPN “likesFacebook…The sports media giant recently re-designed their “Sports Center” page on the popular social networking site as Facebook continues to roll out the new “Timeline” features.  ESPN integrated their ESPN3 video player within the new page and, on Thursday, will begin streaming coverage of NCAA championship week games.  This marks the first time live sporting events will be streamed directly to Facebook.  Is this the start of a new trend?

I wonder how many sports teams are taking advantage of “Leap Day” as a promotional opportunity… Count Minor League Baseball’s Peoria Chiefs as one of those teams.  They are extending a leap year promotional ticket offer to fans, buy four tickets and get the fifth free.  Tweet us @sportsbized or comment below if you have seen any similar offers from other teams.

There appears to be no end in site for the “Linsanity.”  Jeremy Lin has captivated the NBA audience and brands are taking immediate action to cash in.  The Knicks‘ star’s brand continues its meteoric rise in value while the world continues to watch.  Today, Forbes published an interesting piece online, broaching the Lin subject from a little different angle.  The story, titled “4 Lessons Your Business Can Learn from Jeremy Lin(sanity),” is an interesting read, well worth a few minutes of your time.