Americas Bulletin: St Louis’ NFL beef; IOC rallies for Peru; CAA wins F1 agency race 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: St Louis’ NFL beef; IOC rallies for Peru; CAA wins F1 agency race and more

The National Football League’s (NFL) approval of three controversial franchise relocations in less than two years continues to receive the inevitable blowback from angered public officials and fans in St Louis, San Diego and Oakland. Last week, the city of St Louis resorted to legal action against the league and its 32 teams, filing a lawsuit in which it alleged the NFL violated its own relocation guidelines and breached its contractual duties when it approved the Rams’ move to Los Angeles 15 months ago.

Attorneys for the St Louis officials are now seeking punitive damages, claiming they lost millions of dollars in net revenues as a result of losing the Rams, and that league and team officials, including Rams owner Stan Kroenke, made false statements, failed to act in good faith and unjustly enriched themselves by approving the US$550 million relocation. The NFL is, however, having none of it, raising the likely prospect of a lengthy legal battle. “There is no legitimate basis for this litigation,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “While we understand the disappointment of the St Louis fans and the community, we worked diligently with local and state officials in a process that was honest and fair at all times.”

Elsewhere, September’s IOC Session will go ahead as planned in Lima despite concerns over the city’s readiness following devastating floods in Peru. The news comes after the Peruvian government confirmed its commitment to staging the event, where the host of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be announced, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a solidarity donation of US$600,000 to aid the recovery effort. “The eyes of the world will be on Lima and we believe that hosting the IOC Session will send a vital message to the world and to Peru that we are ready to welcome the world after the emergency situation,” said Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Meanwhile, the LA-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has made significant announcements on opposite sides of the planet. In a week in which it partnered with China’s CMC Capital Partners to form CAA China, a new venture that expands on CAA’s existing operations in the Asian market, the company also struck a deal with Formula One’s new American owner, Liberty Media, to exclusively sell sponsorship rights to the series on a global basis. 

CAA, which already represents Red Bull Racing, will work alongside Formula One's new commercial chief Sean Bratches (right) and incoming global head of sponsorship and commercial partnerships Murray Barnett to build out an international sales team and add new sponsors to a portfolio they believe has been underexploited and undervalued. CAA’s head of global sponsorship sales Paul Danforth, who originally met with Bratches in London earlier this year, has identified the technology category as a priority, and said talks with companies in Silicon Valley have begun in earnest, largely off the back of the company’s existing partnerships with the San Francisco 49ers and the Golden State Warriors.

Former Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes and six of Brazil’s 2014 Fifa World Cup stadiums have been named among the growing number of individuals and properties under investigation by Brazilian federal police as part of Operation Car Wash. Local media reports say Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court (STF) is looking into possible criminal activity relating to the construction contracts awarded for the Arena Corinthians, the Maracanã, the Mané Garrincha, the Arena Castelão, the Arena da Amazon and the Pernambuco Arena. Meanwhile Paes, who is currently residing in New York City, has been forced to deny claims he accepted bribes from executives at Odebrecht, the construction firm at the heart of the corruption scandal, for favourable contracts tied to the Rio 2016 Olympics. A spokesperson for Paes labelled the allegations as “absurd”.

In other news, the dead cert that is the US-led three-way bid for the 2026 Fifa World Cup received a further boost on Tuesday when the 11-member Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) voiced its collective support for the bid, with OFC president David Chung (left) expressing his personal backing for a proposal that “makes sense on a number of fronts”. The OFC’s support follows a request by the US, Canada and Mexico for an exclusive negotiation window in order to freeze out any prospective rivals and ensure their joint bid is approved by Fifa, possibly as soon as next year.

Also this week: the National Hockey League (NHL) has acquired the trademark rights in Canada to the Seattle Metropolitans, the long-defunct winners of the 1917 Stanley Cup, just days after two proposals to renovate Seattle’s KeyArena were entered, partly with the aim of attracting an NHL franchise to the city; in baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has launched its new player and fan-focused social networking app called Infield Chatter, with more than 1,000 players having signed up to communicate and deliver personal content directly to fans; and Amazon’s deal to stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games next season includes up to US$30 million in marketing and promotional spend on top of the US$50 million the company agreed to pay for the ten-game package earlier this month, according to Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick.