LVSportsBiz.com’s High Five: 5 News Items That Got Us Thinking

By ALAN SNEL

 

— Forbes reported last week that brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta cashed out their final stake in UFC to complete a deal valued at FIVE BILLION DOLLARS in the sale of the Las Vegas-based fight promotion organization to entertainment powerhouse WME-IMG. Yes, folks, $5 billion. That’s more than twice what cousin Tilman Fertitta of Houston spent to buy the Houston Rockets of the NBA ($2.2 billion). I get that UFC puts on a great fight spectacle, produces an entertaining combat show, owns an impressive headquarters off the 215 and creates its own programming that’s typically more polished than any network content. But $5 BILLION? Looks like someone has some cash to buy an NBA team for T-Mobile Arena. The Fertittas bought UFC for $2 million back in 2001. Nice little ROI.

 

—  Please, ESPN, for the love of Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell, please cut Rex Ryan immediately. His Monday Night Football color commentary during the Broncos-Charges game was lame. In the first half, a drowsy-sounding, low-key Ryan sounded like he consumed too much Sominex. In the second half he uttered mostly cliches during his MNF debut. Tony Romo, in his CBS debut broadcasting the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders-Titans game, sounded like the president of the local Mensa club compared to Ryan. May Don Ohlmeyer, Monday Night Football’s first producer who died Sunday, rest in peace.

 

— If you are a Golden Knights fan and have Cox cable, it’s my opinion that I don’t think it looks very promising that you will have VGK games on your TV screens. I doubt Cox Communications will reach an agreement with AT&T SportsNet before the NHL season starts when AT&T’s subsidiary is DirecTV — Cox’s competitor in the Las Vegas market. This will be a giant problem for the Golden Knights. Imagine a fan base in Las Vegas that can watch the Coyotes on their Cox cable package in LV but not the hometown Golden Knights.  I wish owner Bill Foley focused on making the Golden Knights the team of Las Vegas (not Vegas) instead of making it the team of Whitefish, Montana and the Rockies. It looks like we will have to rely on the Golden Knights’ Twitter guy to tweet out the play-by-play without the chance to watch the hometown hockey club on local cable or maybe a friend can Facebook Live the VGK games from T-Mobile Arena. A Cox PR guy wanted to let me know that nothing has changed since he gave me a company statement Aug. 29 — “We have begun discussions with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain about the possibility of adding the network in our Las Vegas market. We hope that we can come to an agreement that allows our customers to watch the Golden Knights, but at a reasonable cost. We know that many Las Vegas viewers are enthusiastic about the Golden Knights debut, but sports programming comes at an extremely high price. As we continually adjust our channel line-up, we must consider the needs of all our customers, not just sports/Golden Knights fans, and protect the value of the products and services we provide.” Translation: Pro sports are expensive and it’s not our fault if we don’t carry Golden Knights games.

 

—  The Raiders Stadium Authority board is technically a public body, but you get the sense that a private entity — namely, the Raiders — is calling the shots. The Raiders received a land use approval from the Clark County Commission last week even though they are 13,000 parking spaces shy of meeting code and the stadium board members have neither asked pointed questions nor acted as a watchdog on behalf of the public at its previous stadium authority meetings. There are some key issues facing the board such as  the UNLV lease agreement at the Raiders stadium and whether there will be minority hiring goals as part of the community benefits plan (the only legislative mandate is that 15 percent of the businesses hired for stadium work be Nevada-based small businesses). The next stadium board meeting is 1 p.m. Thursday at the Clark County Commission chambers. See you there.

 

— I thought it was newsworthy that the first business to spend money on a sponsorship deal with the Raiders was neither MGM Resorts International (they’re working on bringing the NBA to T-Mobile Arena) nor Findlay car dealerships (big UNLV sponsor) nor a national brand such as Coca-Cola. It was the good ol’ Raising Cane’s chicken fingers fast food chain. Cane’s knows this market because it’s a UNLV sponsor. And speaking of UNLV sports, I would love to see UNLV football marketers build a campaign around quarterback Armani Rogers. I realize the 6-foot, six-inch 200-pounder from Los Angeles is only  freshman, but he has the talent and the charisma to be the face of UNLV football.

 

Contact LVSportsBiz founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com 

 

Alan Snel

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to LVSportsBiz.com. Snel covered the business side of sports for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle. In 2000, Snel launched a sport-business website for FoxSports.com called FoxSportsBiz.com. After reporting sports-business for the RJ, Snel wrote hard-hitting stories on the Raiders stadium for the Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent. Snel is also one of the top bicycle advocates in the country.

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