SBJ Unpacks: Arte Moreno takes Angels off the market – Sports Business Journal

 
Tonight in Unpacks: Arte Moreno has decided to hold onto the Angels after all, announcing this afternoon that he was no longer pursuing a sale and that his family has “unfinished business” with the club. 

Other headlines: 
In this morning’s Buzzcast, SBJ’s Abe Madkour opens with the NFL and then touches on the firings at the Pac-12, the boo birds showing up at the Red Sox fanfest and Warriors coach Steve Kerr lobbying — yet again — for a shorter NBA season to counter load management of star players. 
Arte Moreno has put the brakes on selling the Angels, per a team Twitter post. Moreno cites “unfinished business” and that his family believes they can “make a positive impact on the future of the team and the fan experience.”

The post also cites the team’s highest payroll in franchise history following the acquisitions and signings of Brandon Drury, Tyler Anderson, Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela. The Angels haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014 despite having Mike Trout and two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, who avoided arbitration with a one-year, $30 million deal this offseason.

The Angels in August said that the team would be exploring a sale, working with Galatioto Sports Partners.
The NBA and Meta signed a multiyear extension of their virtual reality relationship, writes SBJ’s Andrew Cohen, and the most intriguing aspect of the deal delivers on one of the key promises of VR that CEO Mark Zuckerberg keeps highlighting in keynotes and interviews: Watching sports with others.
The agreement includes the licensing of 52 regular season games that will steam live in VR through NBA Arena, a new virtual fan environment in Meta’s Horizon Worlds. WNBA, NBA G League and NBA 2K League games will also stream in Horizon Worlds. People’s avatars can appear in the Arena and not just watch games but also play minigames such as pop-a-shot and dunk contests.
The extension also includes NBA and WNBA hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and other clothes for your VR avatars.
It seems like a quixotic journey. Ian Ayre went from running one of the most historic teams in all of professional sports (Liverpool) to … signing on with a club that didn’t exist yet, in a market with almost no previous relationship with soccer — Nashville, Tenn. And in a league in which he’d never watched a game.

Ayre has supervised the construction of the largest soccer stadium in the U.S. and a team that made the MLS playoffs in its first three seasons. He served as a sounding board to MLS Deputy Commissioner Gary Stevenson when the league was considering a partnership for a worldwide subscription service. And it appears that Nashville is fitting Ayre “like a glove,” as he’s known for moving on whenever the going gets good.

It’s a long way from running a digital sports marketing business from his pool in Costa Blanca, Spain. In this week’s SBJ cover story, Bruce Schoenfeld tells the story of how Ayre left Spain’s Mediterranean coast to become ensconced with the Nashville SC.
Full Swing plans to debut its Pro 2.0 Simulator at the PGA Merchandise Show this week, and it’ll be able to tout two more pro golfers using its infrared and blue light LED simulators to potential clients: No. 5-ranked Patrick Cantlay and No. 6-ranked Xander Schauffele, writes SBJ’s Tom Friend.
The simulator company already counts Jon Rahm, Gary Woodland, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth as clients, and not only is Tiger Woods a client, he’s also an investor in Full Swing.
It’s also expanding into football, working with Drew Brees, and it’s working on arcade games as well.
Full Swing is pushing into entertainment with its golf simulators.
Esports tourney organizer ESL FaceIt Group and new virtual racing platform Rennsport are creating a racing league dubbed ESL R1, and they have already secured participation from some of the biggest names in esports and motorsports, reports SBJ’s Kevin Hitt. The league will have a collective prize pool of $500,000.
The roster for the first season includes eight partner teams and four wild card teams. Esports organizations like FaZe Clan and Furia — who have previously competed in ESL-organized esports competitions — will compete in R1 alongside the likes of F1 teams Williams Racing and Mercedes-AMG Petronas. Other brands participating include BMW and Porsche.
 
Rennsport, part of Munich-based publisher Competition Co., is not yet available to the public. Each team will field four drivers competing over eight regular season rounds with seven races — four quarterfinals, two semifinals and a final. Each race will be preceded by a qualifying session to determine the starting position of each driver. After the initial spring season launch at the IEM Expo in Katowice, Poland, on Feb. 11-12, qualifying rounds will be held online on Fridays and Mondays.
The spring season concludes with a major at the Rennsport Summit from May 27-28 in Munich before a summer break. The series returns in August for the fall season with online competition, then has its fall major from Nov. 23-25 in Jönköping, Sweden, around DreamHack Winter (an ESL event).

ESL will play the league on Rennsport, a new sim racing unit not yet publicly available
The Bengals’ 27-10 win over the Bills nullifies the need for the NFL to use its neutral site plan. But the league is mulling the concept over for the future, as SBJ’s Abe Madkour discusses on the Buzzcast today.
With the league selling 50,000 tickets in 24 hours for a possible Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game, the NFL sees a potential new revenue stream. This could include rotating games through different cities, something team owners had talked about before, with SI.com’s Albert Breer noting that this concept “hasn’t yet gotten to the point where it’s ready” to be voted on by owners.
Even though the NFL is the most popular sport in the U.S., dominating TV ratings and mindshare, it looks at college football with an envious eye for the atmosphere and potential 50-50 fan split that show up to bowl games. The idea is to make the championship games into “mini-Super Bowls.”
Tonight’s op-ed comes from Ed Pagano, Casey Higgins and Taylor Daly of the Akin Group.

“As a result of the current F-1 visa rules, certain athletes on the same team have vastly different opportunities available to them. While international students are allowed to work in on-campus positions, such as those in the college dining hall or campus bookstore, they, unlike their teammates, are ostensibly unable to earn a profit from their NIL by appearing at events like autograph signings.

International student athletes have, however, found a workaround — traveling home or elsewhere abroad to engage in NIL activities. Their participation in NIL deals should not run afoul the current F-1 visa rules as long as he conducts his activities while abroad, because only U.S.-based employment activities are regulated under U.S. immigration laws.”

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