Once upon a time, there was a TV Channel called The Weather Channel. What it did was to present current weather conditions and weather forecasts for the entire USA on a 24/7 basis. People loved it because it provided them with something they needed even if no one ever sat down to watch it for an hour at a time. The Weather Channel got so popular that one of the mega-networks bought it out for umpty-billion dollars and proceeded to change what it put on the air. Now they have studio shows and multi-hour feature shows such as Extreme Weather and When Weather Changed History. You get the idea.
By the way, in case you wonder how these sort of feature shows about the weather might be interesting for more than about 5 minutes at a stretch, the answer is that they are not. Infomercials about a new colon cleansing concoction are more interesting.
I mention all of this because if you believe reports, The Weather Channel can do a segment on one of its When Weather Changed History shows about how the weather changed the NFL’s scheduling plans. According to reports, the highly unusual amount of rain in Southern California has delayed construction of the new mega-stadium in LA that will house the Rams and the Chargers to the point where the stadium readiness has been pushed back from 2019 to 2020.
The reality here is that the Rams will need to stay in the LA Coliseum for an extra season. It is hardly an ideal stadium but it is large enough that if – I said IF – the Rams became playoff contenders soon, the Coliseum could handle the sorts of crowds that the team might draw. Such may not be the case for the LA Chargers who are going to play in an expanded soccer venue called StubHub Center in Carson CA. In its expanded state, this venue will have 30,000 seats and some have said it could add another 5,000 if push came to shove.
The Chargers are going to have to charge extreme prices for their tickets to generate “NFL-levels” of stadium revenues. This is not only important to the Chargers’ owners, it is also important to all the NFL owners who are scheduled to play the Chargers in LA because the visiting team gets one-third of the stadium revenues for the day of their visit.
In an effort to make chicken soup out of chickens*it, the Chargers’ President of Business Operations, A.G. Spanos, told ESPN.com:
“Construction is our family business, so we understand the challenges that come with a project of this magnitude. At StubHub Center, we are creating an unparalleled environment for watching NFL football, and considering that no other venue in the league brings you closer to the action, we think Chargers fans will enjoy our three years in Carson.”
Chargers’ fans may indeed be closer to the action than fans anywhere else in the NFL. One thing is for sure however, there will be fewer fans in attendance for Chargers’ home games from now until 2020 than there will be for any other NFL teams.
The NFL owners will be meeting soon and this issue will certainly be a topic of conversation at the meeting – as will the construction of the new stadium for the Raiders in Las Vegas. There will be another issue for discussion among the owners about the Raiders’ stadium. In the past week or so, the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority reached an agreement as to the terms of the Raider’s lease for the new facility once it is built. According to a report at ESPN.com, the lease contains this language to prohibit:
“…any Gaming or Gambling, the maintaining or operating of a Gaming Establishment and/or sports wagering or any wagering on racing or other non-sports events.”
However, in that same report, ESPN says that the Nevada Gaming Commission – the body that regulates gaming/gambling for the State of Nevada – believes that clause in the lease agreement does not prohibit fans in the stadium from using their cell phones and gambling apps on those phones to place wagers – even in-game wagers on the Raiders’ game being played in front of them – with any of the sportsbooks in Nevada who routinely offer such mobile wagering opportunities.
This may sound like a huge hurdle for the NFL to get over. For decades, gambling has been demonized by the NFL as a plague that can only destroy the league. In 2020, not only will they put a team in the “Den of Iniquity”, they may be allowing fans to wager on the game they are attending. Somewhere in the cosmos, George Halas just shuddered… However, this is not a big deal at all for the NFL if it would only come to grips with reality.
The NFL has been playing games in London for years now and continues to expand their presence there. This year, there will be four “London Games” and here is reality for the stadiums the NFL uses in London:
- They all have betting kiosks in the stadium operated by the licensed bookmakers in England. For NFL gamedays, the league requests that the operators shut down those betting windows and the bookmakers agree.
- However, bookmakers in the UK have been using mobile betting apps for several years now – pre-dating any such activity by the sportsbooks in Nevada. So, the reality is that the NFL has already played games under those wagering conditions without suffering any damage to their games. Moreover, the NFL has been expanding the number of times per season that they play games under those conditions.
- Reality: There will be four NFL games this year where in-game wagering using mobile gambling apps is going to happen. In 2020, there will be eight games played in Las Vegas where in-game wagering may happen if the owners ratify the lease agreement in front of them now. It is not nearly as big a deal as one might make it out to be.
Finally, the America’s Cup Qualifiers are about to begin and then the Finals are less than a month off in the future. [Quick Quiz: Where are these events being held this year? No peeking.] Greg Cote had these items in the Miami Herald over the past couple of weeks regarding the America’s Cup:
“Sailing’s 35th America’s Cup begins in one month. It’s a wind-wind situation. Sorry.”
“America’s Cup sets sail in five days: Biggest event in sailing, the month-long America’s Cup, begins this coming Friday in Bermuda. Weird choice for host, no? Ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Stay out of it, fellas!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………