Americas Bulletin: LA’s second chance; big leagues go big; Adidas’ quantum leap 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: LA’s second chance; big leagues go big; Adidas’ quantum leap and more

So there you have it. No sooner had the seed been sown than it took root, sprouted and duly blossomed. Last Friday’s announcement that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to award both the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time in Lima in September confirmed an arrangement many had long predicted. IOC president Thomas Bach called the proposal a “win-win-win”, and the only question now is who goes first: Paris or Los Angeles.

As it stands, the hot money is on the French capital, particularly after a statement issued last week by LA’s bid chairman Casey Wasserman, in which he insisted ‘LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024’, was taken by some to be a concession. Though the suggestion that LA could be willing to accept 2028 was quickly rebuffed by its bid team, the consensus is that the Californian city will be given the consolation prize so that Paris can bask in the glory of its third Olympic Games in 2024.

It remains to be seen how the IOC will ultimately go about deciding which city will host which Games, but with the looming prospect of weeks of horse-trading and backroom dealing the outcome is likely to be a question of leverage. For now, the LA bid team is treading carefully - Wasserman himself said the city wasn’t offering an ultimatum "because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think”. But following Friday’s announcement, that is exactly what Wasserman and his team will try to do as they attempt to negotiate certain financial concessions that will, if nothing else, help them stomach the ingloriousness of hosting an Olympics they didn’t bid for.

Elsewhere, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) both posted big TV numbers for their respective season finales this year. In the NBA, Golden State’s 4-1 revenge victory over Cleveland on ABC averaged 20.84 million viewers per game, confirming this year’s series as the most-watched NBA Finals since 1998 and the most-watched five-game finals ever. Meanwhile in the NHL, Pittsburgh’s six-game win over Nashville averaged 8.09 million viewers, a 23 per cent year-on-year increase. Overall, this year’s NHL playoffs saw a 52 per cent year-on-year increase in national viewership.

Sticking with the NHL, American businessman Andrew Barroway has reportedly taken full control of the Arizona Coyotes this week after buying out the team’s minority owners. The deal remains subject to league approval but it is thought the Philadelphia hedge fund manager, who bought a controlling interest in the Coyotes from the IceArizona group in 2014, will keep the team in Arizona amid speculation they could look to relocate due to an ongoing lease dispute with the city of Glendale.

Elsewhere in the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) are reported to be in talks with casino operator Gila River Gaming Enterprises over a naming rights deal for their University of Phoenix Stadium. USA Today reports that the deal, if confirmed, would raise further questions over the NFL’s “consistently inconsistent” policy on sports betting, which it claims to oppose despite having recently approved the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, and despite several team owners holding stakes in daily fantasy sports companies, which are illegal in some US states.

We’re coming together to test the boundaries of the universe and make quantum leaps in what our future looks like.

Meanwhile, Arizona State University (ASU) and its athletics apparel supplier Adidas are teaming up to create the Global Sport Alliance, a strategic partnership ‘aimed at shaping the future of sport and amplifying sport’s positive impact on society.’ The alliance will bring together ‘education, athletics, research and innovation’ and ‘will explore topics including diversity, race, sustainability and human potential, all through the lens of sport.’

The centrepiece of the project will be the Global Sport Institute, a research laboratory ‘designed to connect people to the power of sport by translating and amplifying complex sports research to broad, global audiences.’ The first of its kind institute, which will be led by Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, already has some intriguing research questions in mind, such as: should LA - or any city, for that matter - bother trying to host the Olympics? Do products like Gatorade or Fitbit actually work? And is walking as good as running?

“Adidas and ASU see the world as a place to be disrupted,” said Adidas North America president Mark King. “When you combine the world-class resources of ASU with the global power of Adidas, extraordinary things can happen. We’re coming together to test the boundaries of the universe and make quantum leaps in what our future looks like.”

Also this week: the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has confirmed Minnesota's Hazeltine National Golf Club as host of the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship; Jamaican sprinting great Usain Bolt is to feature in next year’s edition of the popular Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) video game, as part of a new deal with Konami; and the New York-based Drone Racing League (DRL) raised more than US$20 million during its Series B round of financing, securing big-name backers including Sky, Liberty Media and WWE.