With the history-making $700 million Shohei Ohtani deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers done, the various post-mortem reports are arriving in increasing numbers. One of the most interesting is the claim by the San Francisco Giants that they offered Ohtani a contract identical to the one he signed with the Dodgers, including the massive deferrals, as Ohtani is reported to have taken the unprecedented deal structure to multiple suitors.
For the Giants, though, the situation raises additional questions. After previously losing out on other prime free agents, such as Aaron Judge, the club that won three titles in five seasons – and that was seen as a model MLB franchise – is now the subject of internal debate on its future direction.
— Eric Fisher
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
The NFL’s owners were at it again, making more headlines on Wednesday. Among them: Super Bowl LXI was awarded to Southern California. There could be as many as four more international games in a couple seasons. And São Paolo will host Brazil’s first NFL regular-season game next year.
The NFL meetings, hosted at a resort in Irving, Texas, yielded progress on multiple topics before the owners boarded their private jets — minus Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — and headed home.
The league’s international push, which could eventually lead to a four-team European division, continued to gain momentum as owners voted to nearly double the number of league-operated games played outside the U.S., to eight. That’s not counting the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have played regularly in London for a decade and who will continue through at least next year.
“If you’re serious about international growth, you’ve got to have more [games played abroad],” Jags owner Shad Khan told Front Office Sports. “It’s a step in the right direction, and there’s a huge amount of demand for them.”
As the NFL expanded outside the lower 48, owners awarded another Super Bowl to another West Coast venue, unanimously agreeing to play Super Bowl LXI in 2027 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The schedule now looks like:
- 2024: Allegiant Stadium (hosted by the Las Vegas Raiders)
- 2025: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans Saints)
- 2026: Levi’s Stadium (San Francisco 49ers)
- 2027: SoFi Stadium (L.A. Chargers/Rams)
Super Bowl LIX in New Orleans is the only Big Game over the next four years outside the Pacific time zone.
What Wasn’t Decided
- There was no vote on Tom Brady’s bid to purchase a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders, a source told FOS.
- Owners artificial vs. grass fields was discussed during the meetings, two sources said. The league is still working on guidance as it continues to compile injury data.
- Rules-related issues — including kickoffs, hip-drop tackles and the so-called Tush Push — were discussed, but votes to amend the rule book will have to wait until the next owners meeting, in March.
“I think we all should work to get that out of the game,” commissioner Roger Goodell said about hip-drop tackles.
As the NFL showed improved diversity stats on everything outside of head coaches, Goodell was asked about another leg of the inclusion effort: When will one of the league’s 32 clubs hire a woman as GM?
“I believe that day will come, and it will come soon,” Goodell said at a news conference to close out the meetings.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
While 11 MLB teams are still working through open questions surrounding their local media rights with Diamond Sports Group’s ongoing bankruptcy, and the effects of that on player payroll, the Pittsburgh Pirates have found critical clarity and much-needed revenue.
The small-market club has completed a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins to become part-owner of SportsNet Pittsburgh, and the Pirates will continue to be shown on the regional sports network.
The agreement was always a logical outcome, but had faced some uncertainty. SportsNet Pittsburgh has gone through its own transition, having been acquired earlier this year by the Penguins’ parent, Fenway Sports Group, and the expiration of the Pirates’ prior rights deal with the end of the 2023 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact, which takes effect Jan. 1, is described as a multiyear deal, and FSG’s New England Sports Network will continue to manage daily operations of SportsNet Pittsburgh. The RSN will again have a year-round portfolio of major pro teams with the Pirates and Penguins.
“From the outset of this process, the most important thing to us was to ensure that our fans have the same level of access to Pirates game telecasts and the same high-quality production that they enjoy today,” said Pirates president Travis Williams. “This agreement accomplishes that.”
Had this deal not been completed, the Pirates were candidates to have their local games produced and distributed by MLB.
Aiding the agreement was an existing relationship between FSG principal owner John Henry and Pirates owner Bob Nutting. The new pact does create a unique situation in which the parent organization of the Boston Red Sox will be overseeing the local TV deal of another MLB club. The league, however, did not see this as a conflict of interest.
William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
Following months of relatively little progress on the Kansas City Royals’ efforts to develop a new stadium, the calendar is increasingly becoming a serious issue.
After missing an intended late-September target to name the site of their proposed $2 billion new home, the Royals now face a Jan. 23 deadline to get on an April ballot for public stadium funding in either its current Jackson County or in neighboring Clay County.
The Jackson County vote would allow for the continuation of a current sales tax appropriation and help fund a 27-acre project in Kansas City’s East Village, with a ballpark and mixed-use development. The Clay County vote would be for a new tax to help fund a larger, 90-acre project.
Regardless of location, the core ballpark development would cost about $2 billion, with the Royals looking for roughly $350 million in public funds. The April ballot timing is critical, as it will help the team to stay on its intended timetable of opening a new stadium in 2028.
The Royals’ current Kauffman Stadium, despite a $250 million renovation completed in 2009, is 50 years old and outdated by modern ballpark standards.
Weeks of negotiations, however, have done little to advance the situation and have also included the possibility of a third stadium site option in south Kansas City entering the mix and complaints about public disclosures.
While Jan. 23 is the hard deadline to get on the April ballots, stadium advocates are pressing for an earlier decision from the Royals in order to leave sufficient time to legislative overrides if there is a veto from either county executive.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio holds an estimated net worth of roughly $700 million, and he recently finalized a new stadium renovation deal. But, still he turned this week to one of the team’s major sponsors for additional financial support. How come?
Attanasio completed a deal on Tuesday to add Ralph and Shelly Stayer as new minority owners of the Brewers. The Stayers own Johnsonville, LLC, a prominent sausage brand and the sponsor of the team’s popular Racing Sausages at American Family Field.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the pact gives Attanasio and the Brewers additional financial firepower as they look to compete in MLB’s smallest media market. “Ralph and Shelly are integrated into nearly every part of the Brewers family,” Attanasio said, referring to the couple’s status as season-ticket holders, sponsors, and supporters of team philanthropy.
The agreement arrives at a delicate time for the Milwaukee franchise, even with the stadium renovation deal done after months of back-and-forth negotiations.
The Brewers routinely outperform their market size at the gate and the team’s 2023 attendance of 2.55 million ranked 15th in the league. But the club’s financial margin for error remains smaller than most others’ in the league, and its local media rights situation is particularly unsettled as it is one of the 11 MLB clubs still tied to the bankrupt Diamond Sports Group.
Attanasio has steadily added minority partners in recent years, including Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- The University of Colorado is introducing a new elective course named after football coach Deion Sanders. The class, CMCI 4021: Prime Time Public Performance and Leadership, will be offered through the school’s College of Media, Communication, and Information. If you’re thinking about enrolling, the class meets twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 5 to 6:15 p.m. MT.
- Ernie Johnson has been immortalized in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame for his work that has spanned five decades. Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith — his longtime NBA on TNT co-hosts — presented Johnson with the award. Watch it here.
- There’s a new record-holder for the all-time sales record for a 48-hour jersey release on Fanatics: Shohei Ohtani. The newest member of the Los Angeles Dodgers just surpassed Lionel Messi, according to the online sports retailer.
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