Feb 2020 staff moves and industry news in one spot — updated as they happen, so make sure you check back throughout the month.
- Joe Torre moves from Chief Baseball Officer to Special Assistant to the Commissioner
- Morgan Sword promoted to EVP, Baseball Economics & Operations
- Chris Young promoted to SVP, On-Field Operations, Initiatives & Strategy, from VP
- Gregor Blanco and Nick Hundley hired as Senior Directors, Baseball Operations
- Seth Cantor named VP, Business Development
- Julianne Trainor promoted to Director, Brand Marketing
- Heidi O’Neill to President, Consumer and Marketplace from President, Nike Direct (effective Apr 1), replacing retiring Elliott Hill
- Andy Campion to COO from EVP & CFO (Apr 1), replacing retiring Eric Sprunk
- Matthew Friend to CFO from CFO, Operating Segments & VP, Investor Relations
Carolyn Swords retires as Las Vegas Aces player and joins the team’s front office as Specialist, Marketing
BRANDS / LEAGUES / TEAMS / VENUES
Feb 1, 2020
Tribal Sports Network launches, providing coverage of Native American athletes across high school, college and professional sports. The network streams games and content from its website as well as on a dedicated Roku channel.
Feb 4, 2020
Atlanta United and Piedmont Healthcare extend–and expand–their partnership with Piedmont becoming the club’s new kit sleeve sponsor. This is the first kit sleeve sponsorship in MLS. Piedmont continues as the team Official Adult Healthcare Partner and will also become the kit sponsor for the club’s USL reserve team, ATL UTD 2.
Feb 5, 2020
DraftKings Inc. and the XFL partner with DraftKings named an Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner and an Authorized Gaming Operator of the league.
Feb 6, 2020
- Increased investment in player spending
- Greater flexibility for clubs to use those new resources across the entire roster
- Player spending to include a share of MLS’ new media rights deals in 2023 and 2024
- A substantial increase in charter flights by the end of the term
- Expanded free agency
XFL, iHeartRadio and VSiN announce a partnership to bring sports betting content to XFL fans via “BetCasts.” This three-way partnership will create audio BetCasts for two games each week during the 2020 XFL 10-week regular season and two-week post-season. BetCasts will feature VSiN sports betting experts covering XFL games live from VSiN’s studios in Las Vegas, Nev. These digital audio broadcasts will deliver real-time odds, as well as in-depth analysis and be available through the iHeartRadio app.
Chicago Fire FC announces a new partnership with Mercedes-Benz and the Mercedes-Benz Chicagoland Dealer Group. The partnership includes the Ultimate Mercedes-Benz Experiences sweepstakes. MBUSA receives team brand rights for use in dealerships and service centers, while assets include digital LED signage and pre-game activations at Soldier Field.
New York Mets ownership confirms their agreement to sell the ballclub to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen (announced Dec 2019) has fallen apart and they will seek a new buyer.
XFL announces ’47 as the league’s official headwear partner. ’47 will provide headwear and apparel for all eight XFL teams. The company has created three hat styles for each team and the league, with three more styles for coach and player sideline wear, as well as t-shirts, crewnecks and hoodies for men and women.
XFL and FanDuel Group unveil a partnership with FanDuel designated an “Official Fantasy Sports Partner.” The partnership gives FanDuel access to official XFL data, along with league and team marks and logos to create official daily fantasy football contests on FanDuel during the XFL’s 2020 regular season and post-season. The two will collaborate on custom content and special promotions for FanDuel’s fantasy customers, including social giveaways with XFL prizing.
Hercules Tires and Van Wagner announce a “multi-year partnership” spanning eight NCAA conferences and 32 colleges and universities. Hercules Tires will be title sponsor of six Division I Basketball Championships: the America East Conference, Big South Conference, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), Southland Conference and Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Additionally, Hercules will be Official Tire sponsor of the West Coast Conference and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Hercules Tires will also receive “integrated year-round marketing presence across all of Van Wagner’s 38 college and university partners” including title sponsorship of the 2020 Big South Conference Basketball and “Back to School” campus tours activating at all Big South member institutions.
Feb 10, 2020
NBA and Moët Hennessy USA announce a multi-year partnership tabbing Hennessy as “Official Spirit” of the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball. Assets include becoming an associate partner of the NBA Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles and as a presenting partner of the event’s pre-game red carpet.
Yeti named official jersey partner and founding partner of MLS expansion team Austin FC. Yeti also receives designation as official and exclusive outdoor partner, drinkware partner and cooler partner. In addition, the agreement tabs Yeti as a presenting sponsor of Austin FC’s sustainability efforts.
Feb 11, 2020
Penn National Gaming becomes NASCAR‘s first authorized gaming operator. Penn National will offer a mobile sports betting app for NASCAR betting, including in-race bets. The partnership will also see Penn National launch “NASCAR Finish Line,” a free-to-play mobile game that offers the chance to win a $50,000 jackpot every race if users can accurately predict the race winner and the highest finishers across six different groupings of six drivers each. As part of the deal, Penn National also extends Hollywood Casino‘s race title sponsorship and Official Casino Partner designation for Kansas Speedway‘s Hollywood Casino 400.
Major League Lacrosse announces the addition of new franchise for the 2020 season, the Connecticut Hammerheads, who will play on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium (built in 2015; capacity 3,500) at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn.
Feb 12, 2020
Arizona Diamondbacks and Banner Health reach a multi-year agreement for naming rights of the Diamondbacks’ Spring Training facilities at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Pima, Ariz. Renamed the Banner Sports Medicine Performance Center, the facility houses games and functions year-round, including training for prospects and rehabbing veteran players. The team’s Rookie-level Arizona League D-backs and the team’s annual D-backs Fantasy Camp also call the facility home.
NBA and PointsBet announce the Australian sportsbook operator has become the league’s 11th authorized sports betting operator. The deal is PointsBet’s first with a U.S. professional sports league.
Feb 13, 2020
XFL, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the University of Houston announce that Houston’s TDECU Stadium will host the league’s championship game on Apr 26, 2020. The game will be televised by ESPN at 3pm ET.
DraftKings Inc. expands or adds partnerships with three NBA franchises, becoming an official partner of the Boston Celtics (extends partnership in place since Dec 2014), Philadelphia 76ers (DraftKings’ first NBA partner in 2014 adds exclusivity) and Indiana Pacers (new partnership). All three deals include the use of official team marks and logos, in addition to various branding options.
Feb 14, 2020
Already official spiced rum and exclusive spirits partner of MLS (July 2019), Captain Morgan is tabbed “Official Rum” of Nashville SC. The brand also adds partnerships with Inter Miami CF, LAFC and Minnesota United FC including season-long presence with each team and game presenting sponsorships for Minnesota United on April 4, LAFC on September 20, Nashville on September 26 and Inter Miami at a date to be announced.
Feb 16, 2020
MLL announces Atlanta Blaze will cease operations immediately, but will maintain Blaze marks and colors for a potential future return to the Atlanta market.
Feb 17, 2020
MLL unveils the shuttered Atlanta Blaze’s replacement: the revived Philadelphia Barrage. The Barrage franchise played in the MLL during 2004-08 seasons. Players are contracted with MLL, not individual teams, so Blaze players will shift to the Barrage for 2020 season.
New Chicago Cubs-owned Marquee Sports Network announces Hulu as the latest service that will carry the network when it launches Feb 22, 2020. The RSN will be available to Hulu customers via its Hulu+Live TV offering.
Kyrie Irving (NBA Brooklyn Nets) is elected a NBPA executive committee VP at the Board of NBPA Player Representatives annual winter meeting. The 9-year veteran of the NBA replaces Pau Gasol and serves a three-year term.
Feb 18, 2020
Cascade renews with MLL and remains exclusive helmet partner. Cascade has been an MLL partner since the league launched in 2001.
Oakland A’s announce A’s Cast on TuneIn is now the exclusive home of all Oakland A’s audio content. The A’s are the first MLB team to not have a local radio partner after working with KTRB-AM 860 in 2019. The team will still be carried on 12 terrestrial radio affiliates on their radio network. In addition, the A’s will expand their Spanish-language broadcasts on TuneIn to include coverage of every regular season home game. Plus, the team will become the first MLB club to produce one commercial-free broadcast on every homestand.
Feb 20, 2020
DC United announce Caesars Entertainment as the club’s first sleeve sponsor partner and just the second in MLS. The “Caesars Sports” brand will appear on home and road kit sleeves, and Caesars will activate a number of Game Day elements at Audi Field, including promotional giveaways, LED signage, special match moments and suites.
Feb 25, 2020
The Savannah Bananas (Coastal Plain League) announce Grayson Stadium “will become the first known stadium to go completely ad-free,” removing all billboards or signage featured in the stadium for the 2020 season. As part of the team’s “effort to create the most Fans First experience in sports,” Bananas fans will be able to access the right field wall before and after every home game and place their name on a 16’ by 40’ ‘Go Bananas!’ mark.
Feb 27, 2020
NASCAR and Blue-Emu announce a multi-year agreement designating the company as an Official Partner of NASCAR, Martinsville Speedway and Motor Racing Network (MRN). Blue-Emu will also become the entitlement sponsor of NASCAR Cup Series spring events at Martinsville, with the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 debuting under the lights on Sat, May 9.
Nationwide and Columbus Crew SC announce an agreement with the Crew partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital as the team’s kit sponsor for 2020. Then in 2021, Nationwide will become the kit sponsor and Nationwide Children’s Hospital will become a community partner.
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