Evan Weiner, Sports Columnist and Journalist
The Business & Politics of Sports
From locker rooms to boardrooms to hearing rooms, Evan Weiner has covered the gritty, pragmatic, dollar driven sports industry since 1971 by asking consistently probing, difficult and controversial questions. He is among a very small number of people who cover the politics and business of sports and how that relationship affects not only sports fans but non-sports fans as well. Along the way he has won two Associated Press awards for News Coverage, as well as the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award and its Distinguished Service Award for Journalism in 2003.
The Second Edition of the Business & Politics of Sports (available at this website at TBE Bookstore and also on Amazon as a Kindle book) contains over 100 of Evan Weiner’s columns written between 1998 and 2010. They describe the power plays, players, media and political (federal, state, local and global) connections, which rule the multi-billion dollar a year global business of sports. At the heart of Evan Weiner’s writing lies his belief that "it’s great to watch a game and report on it, but democracy deserves more than a box score when it comes to scrutinizing the business of sports." As the worlds of sports, politics and business rapidly change and coalesce, Mr. Weiner, on a daily basis, speaks with the owners, players, lawyers and broadcasters responsible for this steamroller synergy.
He contends that the mindset of newspaper and magazine editors, along with radio, TV, and cable programmers, is that sports are merely games, the toy store of life. He disagrees, "More than ever sports is a multi-billion dollar business with global implications. General Electric has spent billions of dollars so that its NBC-TV network can broadcast the 2010 and 2012 Olympics. Communities all over America have created special tax districts, raised hotel, motel rent-a-car, restaurant, cigarette and beer taxes to fund stadiums and arenas. Congress could change tax exemption laws as they apply to companies that are Olympic sponsors, could force college football to hold a championship game, and could legislate the boxing industry. The House Committee on Government Reform has held hearings on sports leagues’ drug testing, specifically testing for anabolic steroids. Those issues aren’t found in the sandbox or the playground."
In The Business & Politics of Sports, Mr. Weiner’s columns are divided into fourteen thematic chapters entitled Business, Colleges, Labor, Events, The Economy and The Recession, Politics, Katrina, New Orleans and Mississippi, Media, Stadiums & Public Policy, Globalization, Olympics, Women, Fans, and Miscellaneous Columns the Publisher Loves. Laid out in an easy to read format, they progress in chronological order from 1998 to the present, showing the fascinating evolution of sports business.
Evan Weiner has spoken at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas and before sports management programs including those at Columbia University, Central Michigan University, Iona College, Ithaca, Sacred Heart University, SUNY at Cortland, Temple University, St. Joseph's University and Rutgers and has also been a long distance learning instructor for Oregon State University, University of the Pacific, and Eastern Oregon University. A graduate of Ramapo College, Mr. Weiner resides with his wife Brenda in Mount Vernon, New York. They are the parents of two grown children. A thought provoking speaker, he regularly speaks to colleges, universities, civic organizations and senior groups - and from time to time on cruises.
Evan Weiner was a contributing columnist for New York Newsday (2001-05); AM-New York, the New York Press, the Bergen (New Jersey) Record, the Philadelphia Metro, Washington Examiner, Orlando Sentinel, Rhode Island's Sports Journal, and for The Chicago Tribune's Spanish Hoy! newspapers in NY, Chicago and LA between 2002.
Mr. Weiner has also appeared on programs on the former WBIS, Channel 31 (New York, NY), RNN (New York), the History Channel with Al Michaels and Frank Deford, as well as ABCNews Now's Politics Live TV show with Sam Donaldson, and the BBC Radio Documentary Sports and Sponsorship.
Evan also lectures at colleges and universities about the business and politics of sports, including the globalization of North American sports and how technology is changing sports. His book, The Business and Politics of Sports, has been critically acclaimed by academic journals and is used as part of a number of sports business management courses at schools throughout the United States.
The Business & Politics of Sports has received wide critical acclaim.
"Evan Weiner’s columns are essential public policy reading for those trying to make sense of what is happening with American cities."
Fred Siegel, author of The Prince of the City, Giuliani.
"Evan Weiner is a uniquely talented writer with an amazing ability to put everything together for the reader. With his astonishing knowledge of and insight into the sports marketplace, he is able to investigate and simplify complex story lines through his award winning journalism. He is a strong voice and an expert in his field."
Thomas P. Rosandich, Ph.D., president & CEO,
United States Sports Academy
"A bagel, cream cheese and an Evan Wiener column are my breakfast fare. Evan’s wit and cynicism give an offbeat perspective to the rigors of each day. For me, he’s a "must read."
Sheldon A. Saltman, former president FOX Sports
"Evan Weiner understands the nexus between politics and the sports industry unlike anyone else. Evan is able to stir the pot and get at students' passions and emotions about sports, policy, regulation, and politics. His columns and articles are an invaluable resource for any course or program in sport management."
Daniel A. Rascher, Ph.D., Director of Academic Programs,
University of San Francisco
A few articles from The Business & Politics of Sports, Second Edition:
Black athletes faced a very different America before Civil Rights Act of 1964
May 26, 2010
Intentional or not, Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Dr. Rand Paul has opened the door to a new discussion over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This column is not about Dr. Paul, his candidacy and his beliefs. He will have a thorough chance between now and November's election to go over every issue. This though is about people who played sports before the legislation was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The names of two African-American basketball players, Lebron and Kobe, today rank right up there with the Babe, as in Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the 1920s and 1930s. Lebron James is the focus of sports and business journalists everywhere as they try and figure out what National Basketball Association team is the perfect fit for him as he mulls what contract offers may come his way on July 1. Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates are trying to win another title. But back on the Fourth of July, 1947, when Larry Doby was heading up to the Major Leagues there was trepidation. Whether Doby liked it or not, he was going to be a civil rights trial blazer.
The then 23-year-old Doby from Paterson, New Jersey was about ready to join the Cleveland Indians and would break the color barrier in the American League just three months after Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, a 23-year-old African-American player joining a Major League Baseball team is not big news. It happens a lot but in 1947, Larry Doby made history.
Doby and a good many "Negro" or "black" or African-Americans who went through both the college and professional ranks have a lot of stories about their pre-Civil Rights Act of 1964 America and not being able to stay with their teammates in the same hotels or motels or eating in the same restaurants or even using the same water fountains. They may have been sports heroes but that didn't mean a thing off the field in some areas of the country, particularly the South. Major League Baseball though was not a "Southern" sport and a lot of the problems happened in the North as well. There was not much to distinguish between spring training in the South and playing in the North during the season.
Major League Baseball owners didn't want black players nor did the National Football League. Boston's George Preston Marshall entered the NFL in 1932 and moved the team to Washington five years later. Thirty-nine years later, 1961, Marshall still had not hired a black player.
Doby was "selected" by Indians owner Bill Veeck to join the Cleveland team because he was a good Negro League player and attended Brooklyn College. Veeck saw Doby as more than just a talented player and Veeck ended up having a lifelong baseball relationship with Doby as a player in Cleveland then in Chicago and eventually Doby coached and managed Veeck's White Sox in the 1970s.
Doby might have been a great baseball prospect when he was 18 in 1942 but both the American and National League and a predecessor called the American Association along with minor leagues like the International League had a color barrier between 1890 and 1946. There was never any formal decree banning African-Americans from "Organized Baseball" but African-Americans were clearly not wanted on the field or in the stands. African-Americans ended up in the Negro League or barnstorming or in Mexico or Cuba. Officially the American Association's Toledo Blue Stockings catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker was the last African-American to be in the "Major Leagues' in 1884. It was Toledo's only season in the American Association.
In 1945, the Brooklyn Dodgers' President and General Manager signed Jackie Robinson and assigned him to Montreal of the International League. In 1946, Robinson officially became the first African-American player in "Organized Baseball" since 1890 although there were whispers that some players were of "mixed" race. Baseball wasn't the only sport denying opportunities. The National Football League stopped hiring black players after the 1933 season. A new football league, the All-America Football Conference, signed black players in 1946, the same year as the NFL but the only reason black players were allowed in the NFL had nothing to do with the league.
When the Cleveland Rams moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum, the lease agreement between the team and the stadium required the Rams to hire Negro players. The new Los Angeles Rams signed Woody Strode and Kenny Washington. The AAFC's Cleveland Browns signed Marion Motley and Bill Ford because Coach Paul Brown wanted football players.
There was a professional basketball league in the Midwest, the National Basketball League, which employed African-Americans but the new Basketball Association of America that started in 1946 did not. The merged National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America became the National Basketball Association in 1949 and did not hire black players until 1950.
College football teams like Penn State and the University of San Francisco turned down games and bowl bids because they were asked to leave their black players home. Penn State did play SMU in the 1948 Cotton Bowl and brought with them two African-American players, Wally Triplett and Dennie Hoggard played in that game but the team stayed at a naval air base near Dallas because local hotels refused to accommodate the Penn State squad if Triplett and Hoggard were part of the team.
It was in this environment that Doby made his debut.
Doby was a Negro League player with the Newark Eagles. He hit .341 in 1946. Veeck bought his contract from Newark and he was the first player to go straight from the Negro League to Major League Baseball.
"Mr. Rickey, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Veeck gave me an opportunity to be in the American League," said Doby in an interview in March 1997. "So I have to say that had Jackie not made it, I probably would have not been given the opportunity. When you talk about what goes through your mind 50 years ago, you first have to think of Mr. Rickey, who had the courage to do it and you think about Mr. Robinson, who had the courage to do it, and you the think about Mr. Veeck, who had the courage to do it and me who had the opportunity to do it."
It seem rather strange that Doby used the word courage three times in describing his chance at playing in "Organized Baseball" yet from all accounts it seemed to take a lot of courage to play a simple game back in the 1940s, 1950s and into the 1960s.
"A lot of people ask me, Jack gets a lot of the headlines and you don't get too much headlines," said Doby in the 1997 interview on the pressures he had to succeed. Both Robinson and Doby were in the same boat. They both were verbally abused and had to live a separate life on the road from their teammates, almost always in the poorer side of town in certain cities.
"When the guy is first, he should get the headlines," he said. "I know myself, my friends; my friends know I was involved in the same type of thing he was involved in. I am not going to be going around asking for publicity, politicking for publicity but I know what I have done and I know I have helped some people to accomplish what they have done in terms of coming into the American League and it makes you feel good being a part of it, that is one thing nobody can take away from me.
"I think a lot of people think because I was 11 weeks behind Jackie, it made it easier for me and that is not true. We (Robinson and Doby) talked about it. I would not say we were close from a social standpoint but we barnstormed for about four years for 30 days, I would see him at certain functions but we stayed away from the negatives. The only thing we talked about there were certain guys who gave him a tough time and I had certain guys in the American League that gave me a tough time. You see the focus was trying to be the best ballplayer you can be and you had to be because when you are talking about eight teams (eight in the American League and eight in the National), you know, you get hurt and you might get back. You had to concentrate on playing the game as well as you can.
"And one of the other things and I think he felt the same way I felt. Why stir up things, it is tough enough going through the summer going through what you are going to go through you don't want to go through to talk about the same thing during the winter. Let's talk about something positive, let's be comfortable, let's be happy."
Robinson and Doby faced segregation.
"They say Mr. Robinson and you were picked because you could deal with the segregation. I had a situation growing up in a town where there were mixed neighborhoods. I know that on that side of the track, it was better than my side of the track to a certain degree, people say could I deal with it better or could Jackie? Of course we had both been to college and we were never separated from our teammates during the college time we played," Doby stated. "When you say that he could or I could handle it better than Satchel (Paige) or Josh (Gibson), I sometimes question that because I feel this way about that.
"If you have never been on the other side, you don't know what it is like. But once you have been on the other side and you see it is more comfortable over there than it is over here and all of a sudden you are going to transfer from that side other here while the guy who has never been over there and doesn't know what it is over there. So it was just as easy for him to deal with the situation as have as segregation is concerned."
Doby, a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame, passed away in 2003 six years after this interview. He said nothing changed in baseball during the 11 weeks between Jackie Robinson's April 15, 1947 debut and Doby's first game on July 5 and that in his opinion, there were still racial problems that existed 50 years after Robinson's debut.
Dr. Paul gave recent two interviews on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one in a Louisville newspaper and another on a cable TV news channel. The dialogue has opened up a new discussion on an old subject that was supposed to have been settled 46 years ago. The issue has not faded from the American conscience. In July 2009, the college sports' Atlantic Coast Conference pulled the 2011, 2012 and 2013 conference baseball championships from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina because the Confederate flag flies at a soldier's monuments near the state capital in Columbia.
The NCAA has had a moratorium on awarding predetermined championships to South Carolina since 2001, the year after the NAACP began a boycott of the state because of the Confederate flag flying issue. Both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the South East Conference have followed the NCAA's lead over the years. Sports and politics go hand in hand even if people view sports as the sandbox of society.
Talking Sports with Malaysia Prime Minister Najib
April 17, 2010
(New York, N. Y.) --- When you talk about sports with Malaysia Prime Minister H. E. Najib Tun Razak, baseball and American football don’t come up in conversation. There weren’t any basketball brackets to talk about either. Malaysians have different sports likes than North Americans. Najib has a large interest in sports as he was Malaysia's Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and then the Minister of Youth and Sports. Malaysia is working with the Mobile, Alabama-based United States Sports Academy and T. J. Rosandich to position the country into a more visible role on the global sports stage.
Malaysia lost to New Zealand 2-1 last November in the qualifiers final for the 2010 (Field) Hockey Finals. Malaysia also failed to make the cut in 2006. Hockey is one of Malaysia's major sports. Malaysia also failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup (in soccer). There is a 13-team Malaysia football (soccer) league. Formula 1 racing is a major interest for the government and for Malaysians. The Malaysian government is pouring a lot of money into Formula 1.
Upgrading Malaysia's sports program is a priority for Najib.
"We didn't qualify for the (FIFA) World Cup, so we will follow," said Najib. "We have a lot of soccer fans in Malaysia; in fact soccer is the most popular sport in Malaysia and the people are eagerly awaiting for the World Cup."
The FIFA World Cup is the world's most important sporting event, far eclipsing the Olympics. In 1969, a qualifier for the World Cup sparked a four day war between El Salvador and Honduras. The World Cup is a life and death experience.
In Malaysia, it is no different than most of the world. The World Cup takes on urgency even if Malaysia is on the sidelines. Malaysia has never qualified for World Cup play in the country's history. The national team has not done well in recent international matches.
"I guess we are realistic and our standards have not reached a level," said the Prime Minister. "But we are hoping that one day we will qualify."
This year's team lost a qualifier for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup to the United Arab Emirates in January and in three friendlies this year, the team won one, lost one and had a draw in another match.
Building a national football team that qualifies for the World Cup may take some time and require money. A bribery scandal in 1994 hurt the sport and it appears that Malaysians like watching European teams on TV. But there is more to Malaysia sports interest than World Cup.
"Football, badminton, hockey, golf and some of the other individual sports like archery, cycling, contact sports," said the Prime Minister."
Malaysia has a Ministry of Sports which falls with the policy of most countries in the world. The United States is one of the few countries without an "official" sports office. Funding for Malaysian sports comes from a variety of sources however it appears that the Malaysian government is the primary source of revenue for sports in the country.
The Ministry of Sports predates the 1963 formation of Malaysia.
The official history according to the Malaysian government explained the need to have an office overseeing sports. "The Ministry of Youth and Sports was incorporated in 1953 with the formation of the Culture Division under the Department of Public’s Welfare. The Culture Division was given the responsibility to handle all matters pertaining to Malaysia’s youth.
"Later in 1964, the Culture Division was transferred under the Ministry of Information. At the same time, a Youth Division was formed under the same Ministry to handle and encourage the growth of associations involving youth activities. A Sports Division was also formed under the Ministry of Information.
"The Ministry of Youth and Sports was only formed on May 15, 1964 in conjunction with the National Youth Day of that year. In 1972, the Culture Division was established and Ministry Youth and Sports was changed to Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports until 1987, when the Culture Division was transferred under Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism. With the transfer of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports reverted to its original name of Ministry Youth and Sports until today.
Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) was given the mandate to implement the policies of the Malaysian government, particularly in the areas of Youth and Sports development."
According to the official website of the Ministry of Tourism for Malaysia, "Malaysia is increasingly and actively promoting itself as an organiser and host to various world-class sports events and recreational activities with the aim of becoming a major sports tourism destination in the Asian-Pacific region."
Malaysia hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Formula 1 Championship, the F1 Powerboat Championship and the La Tour de Langkawi. There are about 250 golf courses in the country. The plan is to build on those events.
"(Sports is funded) partly from the government, partly from sponsorship and partly from the general public," said Najib. "Every sport is considered high priority in a sense, if you are likely to win medals, then the level of support from the government is higher. If a sport is not doing too well then it is lesser. So we got three sources: One from the government, one from sponsorship and one from the general public."
Malaysia's annual budget puts millions of dollars aside money for sports. Najib is hoping the investment will pay off by making Malaysia a world sports destination.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski challenges NCAA to do something for 'student-athletes'
May 17, 2010
After a Philadelphia policeman tasered a teenager running around the outfield during a Phillies home game on May 2, there was a suggestion that perhaps the Phillies and the other 29 Major League Baseball franchises should just go out and hire college football players and have them near the field in the event someone decides to trespass during a baseball game and that a beefy college football player would know what to do with an interloper and would deliver the same sort of punishment to the person as a running back looking to pick up a few yards.
It was a better alternative than tasering a teenager looking for a moment of fame.
But there is a major problem with the hiring any athlete from a big NCAA sports playing school for an 81 game baseball season even at minimum wage. You can only pay that athlete up to $2,000 a year, anything more and that athlete risks losing his or her scholarship. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, an organization that runs commercials talking about how much they care about "student-athletes" and education, is so concerned about the welfare of athletes that they impose a limit on an athlete's wages during the calendar, not the school year from any line of employment.
The term "student-athlete" was invented by the NCAA after the University of Denver lost a workman's compensation case in 1953 in the University of Colorado v. Nemeth. A Colorado Supreme Court determined that a full-time enrolled student and football player was an employee injured in the course of his employment and was therefore entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The NCAA thought a subtle change in nomenclature to "student-athlete" would shield schools from claims by injured students who were hurt while playing sports.
There are major differences between athletes on scholarships playing sports at big time schools and the rest of the student body, even those on other types of scholarships.
If someone in the school band, who is attending a college on a band scholarship, wanted to work during the school year and was able to pick up paying gigs or got a job giving music lessons there would be no cap on earned income.
The stars of the sports shows, the athletes - who play the games and get a scholarship which pays for school, room and board and incidentals like books - cannot even get a part time job that pays more than an average of $40 a week during their years of sports eligibility. On the other hand, big time college sports programs have invested huge sums of money for tutors and academic advisors to keep the students eligible with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.
Those are the rules and Duke University's Men's Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski cannot even let his players coach and speak at his basketball camp unless they make under $2,000 in salary for the year.
Everyone gets a shot at big money at big time college sports schools except the athletes.
Sumner Redstone's CBS television network, the Disney Company (the ones that make family friendly programming for TV and the movies) and the Disney operated ESPN and ABC television networks, General Electric's NBC TV, Rupert Murdoch's FOX over-the-air and regional cable TV networks and Time Warner's Turner Sports are forking over billions of dollars for rights fees, marketing partners are handing colleges who engage in big time sports hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships, sneaker companies are buying off schools with multimillion dollar contracts which outfit the coaches and the school teams in that label's products and boosters are flooding the market with dollars. The players are glorified in video games, although not named, with their images complete with their number of their nuances. The players get no compensation in return (there are two lawsuits dealing with college players, their images and who controls a players likeness before the courts now).
The NCAA allows the schools to literally sell the shirts off the backs of the superstars in football and basketball and the superstar does not see one cent of the revenue derived off of his talent.
The real stars of the show - the athletes - play under a salary cap in their off time.
"There are still are (restrictions)," said Krzyzewski picking up on a conversation that started about a decade ago when he complained that he could no longer hire Duke Blue Devils basketball players at his camp. "I don't think the NCAA has kept up to date with what we do for the student athletes. I think we should do more for the student athlete, especially the student-athlete in revenue sports.
"They have more asked of them. They have more commitments made for them. But that could be done in certain allowances without actually paying a student athlete like just giving them money. There is a thing called the scholarship-umbrella where you have benefits whether they be books, board, tuition or whatever.
"We have to look at that and see how we are able to help them and to unveil some summer opportunities. For the last 15 years or more, our kids can't go and speak in camps. I think it is a bad thing."
The NCAA is raking in billions to run programs and there is no thought of paying "student-athletes" for their time for practice, sports classroom study and games not to mention the "involuntary" voluntary practices in the off-season. But the NCAA doesn't even want "student-athletes" to get a job and earn money because the august body that supervises the college sports industry is afraid that some appreciative booster will take care of a player with a cushiony no-show job with a satchel filled with cash that no one knows about except the booster and player.
Krzyzewski is of the opinion that paying players at his (and others) camps would accomplish two things.
"That is a way they can be missionaries and ambassadors for our sport while actually earning money and being able to speak publicly. But because there was one abuse or two abuses then all of a sudden, it was just taken away," the coach explained. "To keep looking for ways to help the student-athletes, I am in favor of it.
"A kid cannot actually work during the school year. We should not have it where kids try to make money during the school year because going to school and doing your sport is work enough. But during the summer months and sometimes you have as many as four months, you can make some money and get good experiences."
Krzyzewski can get his players at his camp but he isn't paying them enough money so they can do things paying for a date. Krzyzewski is not the only big-name coach who has even voiced an opinion that the NCAA has to back off the salary cap. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and long time college basketball coach Rick Majerus have been openly vocal about the NCAA's draconian rule.
"We can hire our players to work our camp if they are paid at the same amount as another high school coach but you don't make much money doing that and it is tough to do that while they are in summer school but speaking at camps would be a better way of doing it."
The NCAA is the overseeing body on all that encompasses college sports. But there are so many fiefdoms within the college sports structure that the NCAA President does not have the final say in what is a de facto salary cap. Do coaches lobby the NCAA President or do they lobby college presidents and chancellors or do they go to the conferences. When it comes to making TV deals, there is the NCAA and then the conferences. There are a lot of turfs that are being defended within college sports.
"Who do you go to?" said Krzyzewski. "There is a maze of how to get things changed in the NCAA and a coach does not have a vote and most of the time doesn't have any voice. So somebody has to take that who is at an administrative level, whether it be a conference, a conference commissioner and stuff like that to be an advocate. For coaches to change things, it would be impossible."
College sports is constantly under the scrutiny of either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Most of the recent Congressional hearings dealing with sports have centered around how the Bowl Championship Series is executed and how BCS teams get big dollars for being within that exclusive group and that the rest of the college football playing schools are on the outside looking in when it comes to generating the same revenues as BCS schools and playing for a national championship.
Congress will probably also bring up the topic of why there is not a college football championship again while deftly forgetting a number of topics that relate to the "student-athlete" including the salary cap for outside work.
Congress has held periodic college sports hearings even though the United States is fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the unemployment rate is high, the economy nearly melted down in September 2008 and immigration was left on the table during the Bush Presidency.
"I wish, Congress should be running our country and we should do a better job of running college basketball. I think if there was a single entity in charge of college basketball---there is none. Like who is in charge of college basketball? It is a committee, we need somebody who is following it on a day-to-day basis where you have pinpoint responsibility, this is happening in this sport what about it Mr. So and so or Mrs. So and so and we don't have that and as a result, it gets diluted and you go through a maze.
"It is a maze.
"Our sport is a billion dollar sports which funds over 90 percent of the activities of the NCAA and it should be run by a group under the NCAA umbrella and have a person who is totally in charge. Football has a different, their rules are governed by the NCAA but the money is all with the BCS. So they have a greater chance at changing rules because you can pinpoint who is in charge of the BCS right now and they are kind of running college football, you cannot do that with men's college basketball.
The money train is picking up steam as conferences make plans to grow in size and hand out big fees to people like Paul Tagliabue and entertainment companies like Creative Artist Agency to come up with strategy so that they can generate even more TV, broadband, marketing and sponsorship dollars. Everyone gets a shot at money except the entertainers - the "student-athletes" - the real stars of the show.
Sports and Arizona's Relationship is Going to Become Quite Complicated Soon
April 24, 2010
(New York, N. Y.) -- Has Arizona once again risked losing the Super Bowl?
No, this is not about the Arizona Cardinals football team bowing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 Super Bowl and returning to the "Big Game". That is merely a game on the field. But off the field there is now a big question.
How will the sports world react now that the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the state's two legislative bodies have passed a tough immigration law? Could Arizona lose major sporting events like the Super Bowl? The National Football League is in the midst of the league's draft and probably will not get around to comment on the new Arizona law but given the very political nature of the league and how the league is very sensitive to the NFL's image, it is probably a good thing that Glendale, Arizona is not in the running for the 2014 Super Bowl.
The new Arizona law will go into effect sometime this summer assuming that there are no court orders to stop it.
The National Football League has a history of pulling a Super Bowl from Arizona and putting the political weight of the entity known as the NFL into a lobbying position. Arizona "celebrates" Martin Luther King Day as the result of direct intervention by the National Football League in terms of dangling a Super Bowl in front of voters. In 1987, newly elected Arizona Governor Evan Mecham's first act in his new job was to erase Martin Luther King Day from the Arizona calendar as an official state holiday. That decision set off a boycott of the state with entertainers like Stevie Wonder refusing to perform in any venue in Arizona.
Governor Mecham's reasoning was simple. The Arizona legislature in 1986 and Governor Bruce Babbitt, in Mecham's opinion, created the holiday illegally.
The National Football League, in an attempt to help the Phoenix Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill to sell more seats after he misread the Phoenix-area market following the move of his Cardinals from St. Louis to Tempe in 1988, awarded Tempe the January 31, 1993 Super Bowl. But Mecham's decision created a number of problems for the league, specifically the National Football League Players Association was not too keen on playing the NFL's showcase game in a state where a governor took away the holiday and the action was supported by Senator John McCain.
In 1989, the Arizona state legislature approved a law making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday but voters needed to approve the measure. In 1990, Arizonans went to the polls and rejected the making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday. Shortly after the voters said no, the NFL said no to Arizona and pulled the January 31, 1993 game from Tempe.
The Super Bowl allegedly pumps money into the local economy although in the Phoenix-area's case it is not as much as say putting the "Big Game" in Pontiac, Michigan or Detroit or Minneapolis since a good number of "snowbirds" vacation or spent winters in warmer climates like the Phoenix-area, South Florida or the Tampa, Florida area. What the Super Bowl does do is bring "high rollers" into town and the local community hopes that the "high rollers" such as corporate CEOs like a local area and will leave a piece of their business in the area and open up a local headquarters and create jobs.
That rarely happens but it is a selling point for the local group hoping to land a Super Bowl.
The National Football League after pulling the 1993 game went back to Arizona and laid the cards out on the table telling voters if they approved the holiday in a November 1992 vote, the NFL would award the next available Super Bowl to Tempe. Arizona voters approved the 1992 ballot initiative and five months later the NFL lived up to their part of the bargain and granted Tempe the January 28, 1996 game.
The next available Super Bowl is the 2014 game but Glendale and Arizona officials are not bidding for that event which is probably a good thing for everyone involved at this point. The NFL also holds a spring meeting once every four years or so at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
There is another real sports prize that could be impacted by the new Arizona law. The Glendale, Arizona stadium, that is the home to the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and hosted the 2008 Super Bowl, is one of the 18 cities that has been proposed for use by USA Bid Committee in an effort to win the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sports event on earth.
The new law will not play well with the FIFA delegates or some of the members of the USA Bid Committee which include Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, comedian and Seattle Sounders FC part-owner Drew Carey, former Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman (Asia) Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. Men’s National Team player Landon Donovan, Executive Director David Downs, U.S. Soccer CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer Foundation President Ed Foster-Simeon, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. Soccer President and USA Bid Committee Chairman Sunil Gulati, U.S. Women’s National Team former player Mia Hamm, Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, New England Revolution and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Motion Picture Director Spike Lee, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, University of Miami President Donna Shalala, ESPN Executive Vice President for Content John Skipper, Univision CEO Joe Uva and Washington Post CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth.
The Glendale stadium hosted the highest attended soccer match in the state of Arizona on February 7, 2007 when 62,462 fans watched the U.S. National team defeat Mexico, 2-0. Will the new Arizona law put a halt to international football "friendlies" in Arizona featuring Mexican teams?
Major League Baseball might be keeping a close eye on the developments in Arizona. The Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers are looking for improvements at spring training bases in Mesa and Maryvale for their teams. Naples, Florida officials have made an offer to Cubs ownership to relocate the team's spring training facilities from Mesa to Naples.
If the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes remain in Glendale, the franchise's new owners could be to host the 2012 or 2013 NHL All-Star Game. Glendale was supposed to venue of the 2011 event but the club's bankruptcy filing and financial uncertainty forced the league to move the game to Raleigh, North Carolina.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association held a "March Madness" men's basketball tournament event in Glendale in 2009. Will the NCAA bypass Glendale because of the new law?
Then there is another issue. Will athletes speak up either in favor or against the new law? Athletes now tend to shut up on issues with the exception of a handful of performers like then Dallas Mavericks basketball player Steve Nash who spoke out against the Iraq War. Wayne Gretzky supported the Iraq War. Ironically Nash now plays in Phoenix and Gretzky coached in Glendale.
Arizona is a hub of sports activities. Glendale is the home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. The NBA Suns and Major League Baseball's Diamondbacks reside in downtown Phoenix. There is a NASCAR event along with golf and tennis events. Fifteen Major League Baseball teams hold spring training in the Phoenix area, there are major college football, basketball and baseball programs along with minor league baseball and hockey teams scattered throughout the state. The United Football League holds training camp in Casa Grande.
There is a belief that sports is the "toy store" of life and that it is just a game, an entertainment diversion. The truth is that the toy store yarn that is constantly spun is a lie. The NFL proved that in 1991 and 1992 in Arizona. There will be a sports reaction to the legislation signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, it is just a matter of time before a powerful sports group reacts and it just might cost Arizona a big event if history is any indication.
Is the NHL a trendsetter?
Washington Examiner, Thursday, February 3, 2005 1:28 AM EST
Sports commentary by Evan Weiner
Just in case you haven't noticed, there is a seismic shift taking place in the sports world and its aftershocks may be extraordinary. People better get used to long work stoppages in sports because of a fight over money.
The five-month old National Hockey League lockout has ushered in a new age of sports reality and sports economics. Owners have decided to flex their collective muscle and drive down salaries and the NHL is the first on line. The National Basketball Association could lockout its players next July 1 and Major League Baseball may do the same in 2007.
The National Football League has an owner-friendly salary cap system and is also at the crossroads. The players want changes in the system and it already has become a sticking point in preliminary collective bargaining negotiations.
The NHL lockout was caused by owners who could not say 'No' to players' financial demands. Now the owners want the players to protect them from making bad financial decisions. If NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't get a salary cap, Edmonton's owners are ready to suspend operations and other owners may declare bankruptcy.
In the 1990s, as the salaries increased, the owners were able to cover the costs with national TV deals, expansion fees (the NHL went from 21 to 30 teams), a rise in ticket prices, new buildings opening with more luxury boxes and club seats and monies from new technologies like cable and satellite TV.
In 2004, all of that enhanced revenue was gone. Ticket prices are too high for the average person. NHL owners want cost certainty because their revenues aren't going up as quickly as the players' salaries are.
But does cost certainty work?
Apparently it doesn't in the NBA. In 1999, after an owners lockout, the players and owners came up with a new revenue sharing system, which is not working as well as Commissioner David Stern and his owners want. Part of the problem was caused by a loss of a significant chunk of cash from TV rights as the present deal is worth far less than the previous deal. Stern will push to limit guaranteed contracts down and raise the luxury tax as a way to control costs. That push will lead to a July 1 lockout.
If Major League Baseball is played in 2007, it may depend on the kind of deal that the hockey players accept. Major League Baseball owners have been handing out huge contracts this off-season and it has caught the eye of Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy. McClatchy is blaming his fellow owners, not the players, for overspending. That is why McClatchy is rooting for the NHL. An NHL owners victory may go a long way in determining just how far baseball owners are willing to going an effort to achieve their own cost certainty. The NHL maybe the least watched of the four major sports, but its lockout will have major ramifications on the other three.
Evan Weiner is a radio commentator on the business of sports.
Cable helps Mets reach for the stars
by Evan Weiner
New York Newsday, February 3, 2005
'Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets!" should be the name of a new television series, because the New York Metropolitans are hotter than a reality TV show - especially when you consider what's going on behind the scenes.
As everybody knows, when you produce a TV show, you gotta have stars, which is why the Mets have shelled out almost $200 million to bring in Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and re-up Kris Benson, or rather his wife Anna, a popular Howard Stern guest. (Last December she was voted FHM magazine's sexiest baseball wife.) How convenient that Anna Benson also wants to be the star of her own reality-TV series.
The Mets ceased being just an overpriced baseball team last spring when owner Fred Wilpon terminated his cable-TV contract with Charles Dolan and Cablevision's Madison Square Garden Network and decided to put together his own deal. In 2006, Wilpon, along with Time Warner and Comcast, will debut a Mets regional sports network.
Ironically, this year Dolan will be the beneficiary of the Mets' hiring Martinez and Beltran, because his network figures to pick up a significant number of viewers - at least early in the season - and he can raise his advertising rates accordingly.
Dolan won't get any additional fees from cable subscribers. He gets that money whether one person or 500,000 people watch Mets games on MSG or Fox Sports New York. It doesn't matter because the Federal Communications Commission and Congress won't let cable subscribers choose what channels they do or don't want - and that won't change in George W. Bush's second term.
Cable TV makes strange bedfellows because Wilpon's new television partners are involved with rival baseball teams. Time Warner owns the Atlanta Braves, the Mets' National League East nemesis, while Comcast Cable is TV partners with the Philadelphia Phillies, another perennial competitor. Does that mean that Time Warner, which now has a significant interest in the Mets, wouldn't mind seeing the Braves' domination finally end? After all, the better the Mets are, the more advertising money flows into Time Warner's wallets.
Comcast doesn't own the Phillies - it just cablecasts some of their games - but it is a full partner with the Tribune Company's Chicago Cubs, the White Sox, the Bulls and the Blackhawks in a Chicago regional sports network. What would be better for Comcast's coffers? A stronger Mets team, a winning Cubs team or a tougher Phillies team?
At least George Steinbrenner doesn't have that problem with the YES Network. He has sole star power all right, but he only has distribution partnerships with Comcast and Time Warner. Still, that brings up an interesting question. What if Steinbrenner's costs become out of line for Comcast and Time Warner and the two companies, as owners of the new Mets network, decide to pull Steinbrenner off their systems? That would kill his golden goose and probably threaten the Yankees' dominance.
Oh, what a tangled web.
These days Major League Baseball is less about sports and more like a series of complex business transactions. Take New York's second or third most compelling team (depending on who you root for), the Boston Red Sox. The Sox, partly owned by The New York Times, are also in the cable-TV business, thanks to the Red Sox New England Sports Network, one of Comcast's offerings in New England.
As the Mets are about ready to enter the stratosphere, Fred Wilpon will join George Steinbrenner in acting like a New York baseball owner with money to spend. The Mets organization needs big names, big stars, to move its product in this media market - something Steinbrenner learned a long time ago.
So, life won't get any easier for small-market baseball franchises like Kris Benson's old team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. They will still have to find talented young (cheap) players, develop them and hope they can hang onto them for five years before trading them to teams like the Yankees and Mets for future prospects. And, if you are Steinbrenner and Wilpon, who needs scouting? They have cable TV and can buy just about any player they want. Especially if they need to give their "reality baseball show" a boost.
West Side stadium heats up the state
By Evan Weiner
New York Newsday, December 2, 2004
Evan Weiner is a commentator on "The Business of Sports."
The West Side stadium proposal doesn't seem to be the type of issue that would resonate either upstate or out on Long Island as there is no statewide referendum planned for the Manhattan project - and nobody outside the five boroughs will be voting in the next New York City mayoral race.
But there I was in a Cortland hotel recently, eating breakfast, when a commercial came on a Syracuse television station asking local residents to let Mayor Michael Bloomberg and their legislators know that they want no part of the West Side stadium plan. Later that day I ended up in Niagara Falls and there was the same commercial on a Buffalo TV station.
Opposition to the stadium is being partially funded by Cablevision CEO Charles Dolan and his son James and their subsidiary, Madison Square Garden. Obviously a new facility suitable for National Football League games and other big events - especially if the roof is retractable - would compete with their 36-year-old arena. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is ready to invest $800 million into the $1.4-billion stadium. The state will pick up $300 million and the city will pay the other $300 million. But even that $1.4 billion figure is not set in stone. So New York's taxpayers could be looking at a higher bill down the line.
The West Side stadium, which plays a big part in the city's bid to host the 2012 Olympics, is on a wish list that includes getting George Steinbrenner a new Yankee Stadium, Fred Wilpon a new Shea Stadium, Bruce Ratner a new Brooklyn Arena for the New Jersey Nets and a renovated Madison Square Garden for the Dolans (although they claim they'd pay for that themselves, no doubt from cable fees).
As the 2005 mayoral race heats up, the West Side stadium has become a bone of contention between those who claim building the facility is really corporate welfare and those who say it will spur the kind of economic development that, according to Bloomberg, will bring about $12 billion into the city and create 135,000 jobs. Those kinds of figures, if true, would be great, but in actuality stadiums and arenas have never proven to be the economic engines that their proponents claim.
Bloomberg does have a major playing card that can put a halt to James Dolan's designs. Madison Square Garden doesn't pay city property taxes. In 1982, Mayor Ed Koch and Gov. Hugh Carey signed legislation that gave then-Garden owners Gulf & Western a tax break in exchange for a promise not to move the Knicks to the Nassau Coliseum and the Rangers to the Meadowlands. The city loses about $11 million in annual revenue. What happens to the Dolan's Garden renovation if Bloomberg and the City Council decide to take away the exemption?
Dolan does bring some ammunition of his own to the table. He has former Sen. Alphonse D'Amato working as one of his lobbyists, and D'Amato could cause Bloomberg more problems than his potential Democratic rivals, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn-Queens), City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and other players to be named later.
Weiner is against the West Side plan but not necessarily spending tax money for stadiums, as he favors a Queens Jets/Olympic Stadium. Miller isn't against building the West Side facility, but the City Council speaker has problems with the mayor's spending plan - and he has one other major point worth considering.
Miller is concerned that if the city manages to get the 2012 Summer Olympics, both city and state taxpayers will be on the hook for billions of dollars in cost overruns. The International Olympic Committee requires host cities to pay off debts that accrue from hosting the Games. At last look, Greek officials have estimated that they are facing $3 billion worth of cost overruns following last summer's Athens Olympics and that figure could grow.
But like it or not, sports spending has become a political football from Niagara Falls to Montauk Point, and many egos are on the line. We haven't seen the last of it. The stadium issue may be great for selling ad time to both sides, but watching these commercials is a lousy way to start the morning.
Philadelphia Metro, December 2, 2003
"Pa. could pay more for stadiums"
By Evan Weiner
I recently pulled into the Holiday Inn off of Route 28 in Pittsburgh and asked the question that has become commonplace for me. "How much of the 14 percent room tax is going to the stadiums?" The clerk behind the counter pleasantly responded, "I really don't know but the Pennsylvania sales tax is six percent and the local hotel tax is five percent. When I started it was nine percent. They said they needed for the stadiums and the Pirates started out well but then they got rid of their players and I lost interest."
Both Pennsylvanians and non-Pennsylvanians are paying a variety of taxes for a private industry, or two private industries in Pittsburgh, the baseball Pirates and the NFL's Steelers. Pennsylvanianâ€™s maybe paying for another Pittsburgh team shortly, the NHL's Penguins, who according to team owner Mario Lemieux need a new arena to survive. Some of the seed money for the Penguins new place will come from the old reliable source, state legislators who have passed on stadium and arena costs from sports facilities in Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Harrisburg, Hershey, Pittsburgh and other areas around the state onto taxpayers in a variety of ways from hotel/motel, car rental, sales, restaurant and water taxes to name a few.
The struggling, Midwest-based, Frontier League is interested in putting a team in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and contacted state Sen. Allen Kukovich's office to see if Harrisburg had any available money to build a stadium. A Frontier League franchise needs about a 4,000 seat facility and those cost at least $6 million to build. But that's the way sports franchises operate. If a franchise owner cannot get the government to provide a facility and get lion share of the revenues generated by the facility flowing into the team, there will be no team. Lemieux's new arena may come to pass if the Harrisburg legislators and Gov. Rendell come up with a gaming law that allows horse racetracks to install slot machines which could lower property taxes statewide. Rendell thinks he will have the legislation on his desk and signed by Christmas.
The slot machine legislation is an essential part of Lemieux's and the Penguins plan. If slots are placed in the tracks, then a West Virginia racetrack owner Ted Arneault plans to go ahead and try to win support to build a racetrack near Route 28 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Exit 48, 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. If Arneault gets the track, he plans to give Lemieux some $60 million from slots revenue as part of the $275 million project. Rendell would release some $90 million in state money, the Penguins would kick in another $47 million, there would be $11.6 million coming in from federal sources, another $3 million from the Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority and $53 million from the Regional Asset District.
By the way, the voters have no say in stadium and/or arena decisions. In Philadelphia deals were worked out between team owners and city and state lawmakers. In Pittsburgh, voters said no to the Pirates and Steelers new stadium proposals only to see Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Harrisburg lawmakers overturn their decision. Lawmakers never say no to sports team owners because pro sports is more important than funding education or snow removal.
Views expressed are not necessarily those of Metro.
"The Fight Over Cable Sports Is Getting Batty"
By Evan Weiner
New York Newsday, November 4, 2003
Evan Weiner is a commentator on "The Business of Sports" for Westwood One's Metro Networks.
It's too bad that the Yankees didn't face the Cleveland Indians in the American League playoffs. Then George Steinbrenner could have challenged Cleveland owner Larry Dolan and Cablevision to a winner-takes-all competition: If the Indians lose, then the Dolan family would agree to leave the YES Network alone and place the rookie channel on Cablevision's basic roster.
And if the Yankees had played the Atlanta Braves in the World Series, then Steinbrenner could have challenged its owner, Time Warner, to leave the YES Network alone and place it on its basic lineup.
Of course, had Steinbrenner lost either series, he would have had to allow those cable television operators to do whatever they wanted with YES, which would have meant letting cable subscribers choose whether they even wanted YES.
But blame it on the Marlins, if you will. Now lawyers from Steinbrenner's YES Network will be slugging it out with Time Warner's attorneys. YES is contending Time Warner violated terms of the YES-Time Warner agreement by giving Time Warner cable subscribers a choice.
Time Warner had decided to make YES an option for its customers after Cablevision reached a truce with Steinbrenner. During the summer, a year and a half after Time Warner rolled out YES (and conveniently forget to tell its subscribers that YES was being added - or that it was raising its rates by $3.04 a month for a service that was costing them $1.82 per subscriber), the giant media company informed its customers that they finally could say no to YES and get a dollar a month off their bill.
The Time Warner decision came after various New York City and state elected officials, along with those in New Jersey, pressured Steinbrenner and the Dolan family into a temporary solution that let Cablevision subscribers choose whether they wanted to watch the Yankees' 2003 season. But neither the YES Network nor the Dolans have budged from their positions, so the battle will continue before an arbitrator.
Meanwhile, another new front in the sports war has opened down south that bears watching up here. The chief executive officer of the country's fourth biggest cable operator, Cox Communications out of Atlanta, has apparently grown tired of paying 32 percent of his programming costs to the Walt Disney Company's ESPN and Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports Net, which are only watched by just 8 percent of Cox's subscribers. Jim Robins wants to hold down costs for his customers and put the sports networks on a high-end premium channel.
Right now, 100 percent of Cox's basic cable subscribers are subsidizing what a fraction watches - at $2.61 a pop, roughly what New York area subscribers pay for the same ESPN privilege. In fact, some 76.7 million cable subscribers nationwide fund ESPN whether they want it or not.
Welcome to the multi-billion-dollar world of Cable-TV Socialism. We, the cable subscribers, are all paying for what few of us watch - ESPN, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and others - so that cable operators can hold down the costs of programming for those interested in watching those particular channels. In America, we do not collectively pay to keep down the cost of prescription drugs or health care for those who need it, but we do for those who want ESPN or Fox News.
At this point, Cox has no intention of accepting the latest demands from Disney, which include annual 20-percent rate hikes, nor from Fox, which wants a 35-percent increase. Cox wants to shift both channels to a pay tier and give all their customers a choice. Those wanting ESPN and Fox would have to reach into their pockets and pay a hefty price for them. No more subsidies.
Needless to say, the Cox plan is not being welcomed by ESPN and Fox because those networks stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if cable companies change the way they offer sports channels. Believe it or not, there is not much of a market for cable-TV sports. In fact, most cable networks get poor ratings but are financially successful because of cable-TV socialism. (As a point of reference, the combined ratings for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are less than PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," meaning Bill O'Reilly is far less a factor than Lehrer when it comes to presenting news.)
It's time the Federal Communications Commission and Congress re-regulate the cable-TV industry. Give us fair and balanced choices and let us - the subscribers not the cable operators or the networks - decide what sports, if any, we want to pay extra to watch.
"Games reveal political posturing"
By Evan Weiner
Philadelphia Metro, November 5, 2003
The race for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games started on July 15 and the nations who want the event range from the United States with New York City as the nominee to England, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Russia, Brazil and Cuba. Hungary dropped out because it couldn't swing the $21 billion cost for staging the Games, but money seems to be no object for the other countries.
The list of countries is both interesting and intriguing. The United States and the United Kingdom were, of course, the only coalition partners who fought in the Iraq War. President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair are close allies and partners but on this one, the two countries will go their separate ways.
France, Germany and Russia opposed the Iraq military action which didn't exactly please the Bush administration. Paris was an International Olympic Committee favorite before the Iraq action and remains that way. The most curious bid comes from Havana.
How can one of the world's poorest countries bid for an Olympics that will cost billions upon billions of dollars? Cuba's bid may signal that Fidel Castro wants to get involved with the world's business community even though the Cuban dictator drew the world's ire by cracking down on dissidents in April.
There is no way that Cuba can win the bid, but Cuba could be using the Olympics as a negotiating ploy to get the United States to drop economic sanctions against the country. Castro continues to draw President Bush's wrath. In October, Bush announced that he was seeking regime change in Cuba and wanted to tighten sanctions on the Castro government with the hopes of toppling the Cuban dictator.
The Olympics are more than an athletic competition. The Olympics are a corporate bazaar where multi-national corporations show off their products in a 17-day advertising campaign that is televised worldwide. The Olympics also provide a political platform for many groups who are looking to move up in the world order or air grievances.
So there are a few ways of looking at the Cuban decision. Cuba wants the Games for whatever prestige it would bring. But more importantly, politically and economically, Cuba wants to join the rest of the world. The Havana Government may be using China as an example. China is hosting the 2008 Games and has to open its borders and its government to the world. China is also investing billions to put its best foot forward.
The International Olympic Committee will take two years to sift through the various bids and this could be a highly charged and emotional decision because of the Bush Administration's dealings with Iraq. There was a huge split in the United Nations' 15-member Security Council about disarming Iraq with force. A good many of those countries along with the other governments who were opposed to military action in Iraq are International Olympic Committee members and will vote in this process.
The New York Olympic Committee may feel its has the best chance of landing the Games, but it may find out that politics and diplomacy, not a strong bid is more important when these Games are awarded.
"Let's Field a Third Major League Ball Club"
By Evan Weiner
December 5, 2001
LET ME GET this straight. There is an international business based in New York that claims to have lost $500 million in the past calendar year and that 25 out of its 30 outlets are money losers. It contends that the outlook is so bleak that two of its franchises need to be shuttered immediately. Yet, this company has just given its CEO a three-year contract extension as a reward for doing a good job, and one of its division leaders is ready to give an employee a reported seven-year, $120-million contract.
Welcome to the world of Major League Baseball. An often confusing world where Commissioner Bud Selig, the one-time owner of the Milwaukee Brewers (his daughter now owns the business), will go to Congress tomorrow and, with a straight face, ask a House panel to embrace the idea of eliminating two teams for the betterment of the product.
Getting rid of two teams reduces the industry's losses, which means that the owners would split national revenues 28 ways instead of 30. But it is not the national revenues that causes the gap between big- and small-market teams. It's local TV revenue.
So why is Selig in front of Congress pleading poverty? Baseball has an anti-trust exemption. It also lives off the public, considering how many of its ballparks have been built with taxpayers' money.
The House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings to make sure Major League Baseball tows the line and keeps its 30 franchises going. Congress wouldn't fret too much about eliminating the Montreal Expos but folding the Minnesota Twins does present a problem.
Minnesota Sens. Mark Dayton and Paul Wellstone have said they want to hold Senate hearings on baseball's anti-trust exemption. They may want to punish Major League Baseball for daring to junk Minnesota by stripping the industry's protection in retaliation for contraction. But why not really put a scare into the Lords of Baseball by threatening to dismantle the 30-team cartel? All they have to do is follow the breakup of AT&T. Major League Baseball has been a monopoly since the Supreme Court granted it an anti-trust exemption in 1922. Because of the major leagues' power, New
York doesn't have three major league teams today. New legislation could remedy that. After the Dodgers and Giants announced their move to the West Coast in 1957, the National League would not allow teams from Cincinnati or Pittsburgh to move to New York.
In fact, Major League Baseball had no intention to return National League baseball to New York until it was pushed by the formation of the Continental League in the late '50s. That league never got off the ground. The threat of competition, however, forced the National League to recognize that it had to offer New York baseball fans a new team.
A third New York team would have what it needs to be successful: government support; lucrative local TV rights (the Madison Square Garden network needs summer programming since it lost the Yanks); a huge corporate base and thousands of fans. The recent stunning success of the short-season minor league Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees is enough evidence that the city has an appetite for more baseball. Considering the potential revenue, it would be better to be the third most popular baseball team in New York than to be the only baseball team in towns such as Kansas City or St. Petersburg.
There have been reports that Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria would like to relocate his team to our area, but he can't because existing baseball rules limit the New York territory to George Steinbrenner and Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday. Loria, a native New Yorker, is a Manhattan art dealer. Moving the Expos to New York makes sense for baseball, for New York and for him. Adding a third Major League team would certainly mean cutting into the Yankees' and Mets' revenues but they could afford it. And besides, it would level the playing field by bringing the finances of the Yankees and the Mets closer to the more cash-strapped teams. And it's doable. The Yankees shared Shea Stadium with the Mets in 1974 and 1975. Both the Yanks and the Mets would be hard-pressed to say no to a business willing to pay money to use a city-owned facility.
Major League Baseball officials and those connected to the Yankees and Mets may argue that having three big league teams in New York would saturate us with baseball. But the National Hockey League has the Devils, the Rangers and the Islanders, three New York-area teams that coexist in the market with heated rivalries. There have been nights when all three played at the same time before sold-out crowds. Congress should take a major step and strip Major League Baseball of its anti-trust protection. Then, New York can get its third team and possibly recreate the Golden Age of Baseball of the late 1940s and '50s, when all three city teams were regulars in the World Series.
Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.
"This Race Will Get Us Moving Again"
By Evan Weiner
October 11, 2001
SURE, THERE are a few people running for office today but in a month the city will be filled with thousands of runners - and their race could be the emotional and economic starting point of our road to recovery.
The New York City Marathon could do more for the city's morale and its coffers than any Yankee playoff game, no offense Bronx Bombers. This event is probably much more important to our fiscal health than getting the 2012 Summer Olympics, let alone the 2002 Super Bowl.
The 30,000 runners, the 2 million or so spectators on the streets, the volunteers and everyone else connected with the Nov. 4 event can show the world that New York is putting its best feet forward.
The five-borough marathon got started in 1976, just in time for our nation's bicentennial. New York needs this marathon more than ever before. Marathon organizers understand that the date of this race has put them and the city in a unique position. The marathon will be the city's biggest international event since Sept. 11, and that is why the New York Road Runners have to go ahead with the race. Besides, the Road Runners have heard from runners from the tri-state area, from around the country and from around the world that they want to run.
Last year's women's champion, Ludmila Petrova of Russia, is coming to defend her title. The men's champ, Morocco's Abdelkhader El Mouaziz, is not going to make it because he thinks he's not in top shape. The club has not seen a drop-off of international runners. Indeed, people seem to want to run this year to make a statement, and now the marathon is giving slots for the 2002 race because this year's roster is full.
The pre-race support is encouraging. New York needs the runners and their money. During the week leading up to the 2000 Marathon, the runners, their friends and families spent $114,693,883 in the city, according to a Road Runner spokesman. That's a huge economic impact.
This year, about a third of the runners are coming from other countries and another third from outside the tri-state region. No matter where they're coming from, you can bet they'll be using planes, trains, buses, cars, taxis, hotels, motels and restaurants.
You can also add the contributions of 12,000 volunteers. Then there's the security detail. In the past, more than 2,000 police officers have been assigned to work the race. The Road Runners maintain that security has always been a top priority, but it will indeed be heightened this year. Marathon officials are working with city, state and federal authorities to secure the 26.2 miles of streets that will be used for the race.
New York needs those people to come to the city and show that life exists only eight weeks after the horrific attacks. The Marathon has designated 21 "official" hotels and has engaged three airlines as corporate partners. The international media will also be in an ideal position to show the city for what it is: the financial, arts and cultural capital of the United States.
The point of the New York City Marathon has always been inclusion. Look at the race participants, look at the neighborhoods the runners pass through. Look at the spectators lining the streets, giving out water and offering encouragement to people they don't even know. They show the spirit of the Big Apple at its best.
The New York City Marathon is more than a major race to bring the city and its people together. It's an international athletic event. It's also a big chance for New York to show off and tell the world we may have been knocked down, but we're back on our feet and running as fast as we can.
Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.
"Is Bush a fiscal conservative or liberal spender?"
By Evan Weiner
(Special To Houston Business Journal)
Does Texas Governor and Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush believe in his party's position of smaller government by the reduction of agencies and a reduction of taxes? One of the planks of Bush's 2000 platform is a call for smaller government and a tax cut. But when it comes to pro sports, Bush does not exactly practice what he preaches.
Bush, whose family has been in the business of government for three generations -- his grandfather Prescott was a U.S. senator from Connecticut, his father George was president from 1989 to 1993 and had a long career in big government including a stint as CIA director, and his brother Jeb is Florida governor -- owned a piece of the Texas Rangers between 1989 and 1994. He put the club in a trust after being elected governor of Texas and finally sold the team to Thomas O. Hicks in 1998.
Hicks was a big-pockets contributor to the Bush gubernatorial campaigns.
In 1989, Bush invested some $600,000 to control 2 percent interest in the Rangers. The ownership group went to Arlington Mayor Richard Greene in 1990 and told Greene a new stadium was needed or the team would move, possibly to St. Petersburg.
Arlington residents eventually passed a referendum that raised the local sales tax by 0.5 percent to fund up to 70 percent of the cost of the stadium. The Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994. Bush and his partners not only had a new park, but they controlled 270 acres of land surrounding the stadium -- land which they got from Arlington through eminent domain. The stadium and the 270 acres of land cost $196 million, with about $135 million coming from the sales tax.Bush sold the team and the rights to land around the park in 1998 and received $14 million for his share. The total purchase price was $250 million for the team, the ballpark -- which was built by Arlington residents -- and the land.
Businessmen are entitled to profits and can use whatever legal means to forward a business. But Bush's call for fiscal responsibility, tax cuts and small government by having fewer government agencies smacks of hypocrisy. His wheeling and dealing in sports was because of government largesse.
In 1997, the Texas Legislature was faced with numerous stadium and arena problems in Houston and Dallas. Astros owner Drayton McLane told Houston officials that he was going to follow the lead of Oilers owner K. S. "Bud" Adams and move from Houston without a new stadium. Hicks, owner of the NHL Stars, and the Dallas Mavericks were looking for a new arena.
The Legislature put together a big government package for sports and other cultural projects. Local municipalities could raise hotel/motel occupancy and car rental taxes by as much as 2 percent to fund arenas, stadiums, museums, libraries, convention centers, concert halls and other venues.
Gov. Bush signed the bill into law while he still owned the Texas Rangers. The law ensured government involvement in private enterprise and would raise taxes if voters approved referendums.
The new law helped Hicks immediately, and Dallas voters passed legislation to build a new arena. McLane got his new stadium in Houston, and the NFL will be getting a stadium for the new Houston expansion team. Voters in San Antonio/Bexar County approved raising hotel and motel tax rates along with car rental taxes for a new indoor arena for the Spurs.
Voters turned down a new basketball arena in Houston, but arena proponents plan to raise the question again in 2000 as Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander's lease winds down at Compaq Center.
Alexander can become a free agent in 2003.
Bush also approved legislation in 1999 that paves the way for Houston and Dallas to seek the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. In another government move, the Texas Legislature passed a bill allowing either city to guarantee its bid with sales tax revenue generated from Olympic-related items.
Houston and Dallas voters would have to approve of the idea of hosting the Olympics and allow the tax. The sales tax would meet the U.S. Olympic Committee requirement that the host city's state would pick up the costs of Olympic-related overruns.
The Houston 2012 Foundation would like to get the referendum before voters in November when presumably the Texas governor is the Republican candidate for president.
So is George W. Bush a fiscal conservative who wants to cut back on "big government" and government spending? Or is George W. Bush a liberal spender who endorses government help in private enterprises like sports?
It's a question Bush should answer.
Copyright © 2000 American City Business Journals Inc.
Subject: WESTWOOD ONE/METRO COMMENTARY 2-04 (#691)
IS ESPN HEADED FOR SOME TROUBLE IN CONGRESS? I'M EVAN WEINER
WITH THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS. THE RECENT ESPN-NBA AGREEMENT MAY EVENTUALLY COME UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF CONGRESS. CABLE OPERATORS ARE APPARENTLY GETTING TIRED OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY'S HEAVY SPENDING ON SPORTS PROPERTIES AND ARE READY TO ASK CONGRESS TO FORCE ESPN FROM BASIC CABLE TO A PREMIUM CHANNEL.
RIGHT NOW SUBSCRIBERS ARE UNAWARE OF HOW MUCH MONEY THEY PAY MONTHLY FOR ESPN BECAUSE CABLE COSTS AREN'T ITEMIZED ON BILLS. CONSUMERS NEED TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT THEIR BILLS.
ESPN IS CHARGING EACH ONE OF THE MORE THAN 80 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS A $1.20 PER MONTH. ON TOP OF THAT, ESPN HITS SUBSCRIBERS WITH ANOTHER 50 CENTS PER MONTH SURCHARGE FOR THE NFL SUNDAY NIGHT PACKAGE. ADDITIONALLY ESPN HAS WORKED OUT DEALS WHERE THEY CAN RAISE RATES AS MUCH AS 20 PERCENT ANNUALLY. THE CABLE OPERATORS PASS THE ESPN COSTS ONTO SUBSCRIBERS. IN 2001, ESPN ATTRACTED LESS THAN A MILLION VIEWERS DAILY, WHICH MEANS MORE THAN 79 MILLION PEOPLE ARE PAYING FOR SOMETHING THEY DON'T USE AND THAT MAY BECOME ESPN'S BIGGEST PROBLEM. WHY SHOULD ALL PAY FOR WHAT A RELATIVE FEW USE?