Americas Bulletin: Hurricanes and Rockets; May-Mac scrutinised; NBC’s Olympic play and more

SportsPro’s Americas Bulletin, dishing up a regular diet of news, views and insight from across the business of sport in the Western Hemisphere.

Americas Bulletin: Hurricanes and Rockets; May-Mac scrutinised; NBC’s Olympic play and more

Are the Carolina Hurricanes close to being sold? Peter Karmanos Jr (above), owner of the National Hockey League (NHL) franchise since 1994, has received a formal offer for the team from an undisclosed suitor, three years after beginning his search for a local buyer. Though few details have been made public, a Hurricanes statement said Karmanos ‘intends to evaluate’ the offer whilst assessing his ‘other options, including retaining his ownership of the team’.

Word of the offer followed a Bloomberg News report that said former Texas Rangers part-owner and chief executive Chuck Greenberg was part of a group that was close to agreeing a deal in the region of US$500 million for the struggling, debt-laden Hurricanes. Bloomberg’s report was however contested by a subsequent Forbes article that branded the story ‘fake news’, noting how all Greenberg has right now is a non-binding letter of intent and calling into question the accuracy of Bloomberg's figures. Stay tuned for more on that.

One franchise most definitely on the market is the Houston Rockets, whose owner Les Alexander (left), 74, is seeking a buyer 24 years after purchasing the National Basketball Association (NBA) side for US$85 million. Alexander’s unexpected decision to sell prompted NBA commissioner Adam Silver to issue a statement in which he described the Rockets owner as ‘a true competitor who always searched for the right move to make his teams better’, and quickly fuelled speculation that the team could draw the highest price ever paid for a North American sports franchise.

The Rockets are currently valued by Forbes at close to US$1.65 billion, but their true value could well eclipse that figure. The reason? The Houston franchise are a star-studded, well-run, genuinely competitive big-market team who are hugely popular in China. Couple that with the fact that the NBA’s ultra-exclusive billionaire’s club is currently awash with unprecedented TV money, and it is fair to assume a mega-deal is in the offing.

Speaking of money, in a week in which Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor began a braggadocio-fuelled global promotional tour ahead of their Las Vegas showdown in August, SportsPro editor Eoin Connolly evaluates the commercial and sporting merits of an occasion that promises to be one of the biggest media events of the year and ponders what the rambunctious, trash talk-driven circus already tells us about the sports industry as a whole.

Meanwhile, the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA launched in the US last Saturday, becoming the first national edition of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) global OTT service to take the form of a linear TV network. Following the launch, which was trumpeted by the three parties involved as a “major milestone”, SportsPro’s Americas editor Michael Long outlines the what, the who, and the why of a venture that hopes to reinvigorate the Olympic brand of sport in the industry’s largest media market.

Elsewhere, individuals and organisations from across the world of soccer have been reacting to the death of Chuck Blazer (right), the disgraced former Concacaf general secretary and Fifa vice president who passed away at the age of 72 last week. The colourful administrator’s eventful career was aptly encapsulated in the differing nature of the reactions, which ranged from carefully worded tributes that acknowledged the good work Blazer did to grow the American game, prior to his arrest on corruption charges brought by the FBI in 2013, to brief offerings of sympathies and condolences that skirted his years of misconduct altogether.

Blazer, whose evidence sparked the FBI’s landmark corruption probe in 2015, will be forever remembered for his transgressions and a taste for excess that would define Sepp Blatter’s years of rule at Fifa, but his work in exposing international soccer corruption cannot be overlooked. His candour and assistance to the authorities may have been motivated by self-protection, but few executives have made a more profound contribution to rooting out the bad eggs than the cat-loving former salesman who came to be known in some circles as 'Mr Ten Per Cent’.

'His misconduct, for which he accepted full responsibility, should not obscure Chuck's positive impact on international soccer,’ Blazer’s lawyers, Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan, said in a statement. 'Chuck felt profound sorrow and regret for his action. He expressed sincere remorse towards his former constituents and colleagues, and to all of the soccer players disappointed by his conduct.’

Also this week: Concacaf has announced the opening of a new office in Guatemala City; senior Nascar executive Brent Dewar has been promoted to the role of president at the sanctioning body; and the proposed merger of daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings is officially off the table in the wake of a legal challenge from US regulatory authorities.