Pages & Stages: World Congress speakers in the news

Our speakers make news.

Here are some recent mentions of people you’ll at the World Congress of Sports, which will be held April 19-20 at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif.:

Michael Rubin, Fanatics: There was lots of news about Rubin and Fanatics, starting with Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton breaking the news that Fanatics was buying VF’s Licensed Sports Group, which has held exclusive MLB jersey rights since 2005.

As Lefton wrote:

The move continues Fanatics’ rollup of licensing rights, e-commerce operations, along with brick-and-mortar venue sales, and a push into a vertical arrangement, within which it controls much of the sports-licensing business from end to end.

Lefton followed with a report on the implications of the deal. Money quote:

Licensing industry sources today were still assessing the meaning of the deal and had more questions than answers. Fanatics’ already pervasive influence over the licensed-sports industry just increased exponentially with the addition of domestic manufacturing capabilities. However, an industry source said, “The industry just got smaller. Does this mean Fanatics will purchase from fewer licensees?”

Finally, the Daily rounded up reports that MLB will keep work at the Majestic facility in Pennsylvania as part of the deal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the “symbolism” of MLB gear being made in the U.S. is “really important to our brand.” Read the full report.

Rubin will speak as part of the powerhouse opening panel on Day 1 of the conference.

David Levy, Turner: With March Madness just ended, SBJ’s Michael Smith and John Ourand wrote about the unique partnership between Turner and CBS in one of our most-read stories of the week. Levy, from the story:

“I don’t know if there will ever be another event where talent is shared, backroom is shared, production is shared, the trucks are shared. It’s unique. I don’t know if it could be matched.”

Ourand also quoted Levy in a review of Chris Webber calling NCAA tournament games this year. Levy, on Webber:

“I think he is a superstar. He had some challenges, as you know, with the NCAA. It’s nice to see him back and doing these games.”

Levy joins Ourand on stage for a one-on-one conversation on Day 1 of the conference.

Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports & Entertainment: Most of the mentions of Leonsis related to the NHL’s decision to bypass the 2018 Olympics.

There were two that got the most traffic:

Line in the Sand: NHL announces it will not participate in ’18 PyeongChang Games: This was a comprehensive roundup by the Daily of news related to the decision, and including this note from the Post:

Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin has said that he “would represent Russia regardless of if the rest of the NHL joins him.” Owner Ted Leonsis has “backed Ovechkin publicly on more than one occasion.”

That was followed by NHL players speak out against league passing on ’18 Olympics participation, which included this from Ourand:

Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis yesterday said that he has not thought about what he will do if one of his players wants to play in South Korea. Previously, Leonsis has gone on record saying that he would support his team’s superstar, LW Alex Ovechkin, if he decides to play for the Russian team on his own. While Leonsis did not walk back those comments, he said he is more focused on the team’s coming playoff run. The Caps have the best record in hockey and are in line to enter the playoffs as the top seed in the East. Leonsis said, “What the league now does with the IOC, I will wait to see what happens. But I’m not going to spend five seconds thinking about what happened yesterday when the playoffs are a week away.”

Leonsis and his son Zach will be interviewed by Ourand in a session titled, “From the Nation’s Capital: Two Generations of Progressive Thinking.”

Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons: Team owner Blank appeared in several stories this week, the most trafficked of which was Dan Kaplan’s SBJ story about negotiations for a new contract for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Blank is chairman of the owners’ compensation committee, and told Kaplan that the process is just getting started.

Blank will be interviewed by NFL Network’s Steve Wyche on Day 1 of the conference.

Don Garber, MLS: Last week, I included Garber in a roundup with a quote that if St. Louis passed a stadium referendum, it would probably get an MLS team. This time the news isn’t so good. The referendum failed, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminded readers that Garber had said that if the stadium plan was defeated, St. Louis “would not get a team.”

Garber opens Day 2 of the conference as part of a panel titled “The Future of the Beautiful Game.”

Sunil Gulati, US Soccer: Galati was part of a big roundup in the Daily in the wake of US Soccer and the US Women’s National Team signing a new CBA. Quoted in the NY Times, Gulati: “We’ve always had the most highly compensated women’s team in the world, and this puts them at even higher level.”

Gulati joins Garber on the soccer panel to open Day 2, along with …

Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF: Montagliani was quoted by The Guardian about all the positive reaction to the U.S. and Mexico teaming with Canada to bid for the 2026 World Cup. From the Guardian:

Asked if he was referring to Trump’s belligerent rhetoric about building a wall, Montagliani, a Canadian insurance executive elected as the Concacaf president last May, said football has to “rise above” all kinds of political regimes which many people dislike. “It behoves football and leaders of football to deal with it and rise above it,” he said.

Casey Wasserman, Wasserman: Multiple mentions again of the agency and L.A. Olympic bid leader. The most highly trafficked was the SBJ story, “L.A., Paris straddle delicate line with ’24 bid.” From Ben Fischer’s story:

In the last 14 days, Paris and L.A. adopted different strategies.

“There will be no Games in Paris in 2028,” Paris Co-chairman Tony Estanguet told the international media on March 21, the most categorical rejection of a 2024-2028 proposal yet from either side.

Two days later, LA24 Chairman Casey Wasserman sent a single tweet: “At this critical time, IOC’s 24/28 strategy is smart if 24 city provides new ideas, stability & lowest risk for next 7 years. That’s @LA2024.”

Read the whole thing, which includes praise for L.A.’s (and Wasserman’s) softer touch to Olympic negotiations.


Author: Ross

By day, I’m at SportsBusiness Journal, working on web stuff, video stuff, podcast stuff … you name it. By night, I’m watching Netflix. Or playing tennis. Or, if you’re lucky, writing another blog post.

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