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NEWS REAL

• Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Miami Open (March 23) due to knee issues.

• Picking up the mantle of National Women’s Month, and anticipating what next year will be its 70th anniversary, the LPGA has unveiled “Drive On,” a multi-platform refined brand position. According to the LPGA, “Drive On is clearly rooted in golf, but it's a bigger idea. It captures the power and potential in each of us and celebrates the hard work, focus and tenacity that it takes to achieve our goals.” Full story here.

• The NBA said that the Chinese and Croatian National Teams would join all 30 NBA teams to compete at MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2019 in Las Vegas, marking the first time that the league will feature two international teams, with 83 games over 11 days (July 5-15).

• The 2019 Alliance of American Football Championship, originalluy scheduled for April 27 in Las Vegas, will be played in Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas., which is owned and operated by Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.

• MLB and the MLB Players’ Assn. have unveiled numerous changes to the game to be installed over the next two seasons that will impact game length, marketing broadcast partners, the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. Full story here.

POLL POSITION

Top Ten Most In-Demand MLB Tickets (based on total ticket sales on StubHub thru March 14):
1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Chicago Cubs
5. St. Louis Cardinals
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
7. Philadelphia Phillies
8. Texas Rangers
9. New York Mets
10. Houston Astros

SOURCE: STUBHUB

KEEPING SCORE

The Most-In-Demand MLB Home Openers
(based on total ticket sales on StubHub thru March 14, all on March 28):

• Arizona Diamondbacks at the Dodgers (average ticket price $229.
• Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (average ticket price $202)
• Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (average ticket price $84)
• Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers (average ticket price $254)
• Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds (average ticket price $122)

BUY SELL

Weekend Box Office March 15-17
1. Captain Marvel $69.3M
2. Wonder Park $16M
3. Five Feet Apart $13.2M
4. How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World $9.4M
5. Madea Family Funeral $8M
6. No Manches Frida 2 $3.9M
7. Captive State $3.2M
8. Lego Movie 2 $2.1M
9. Alita: Battle Angel $1.9M
10. Green Book $1.3M
Source: Box Office Mojo

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COLLEGE

BodyArmor Into NCAA
No. 1 Colleges Since '92
Notre Dame Builds Brand
Cancer Drives Home
Men's Hoops Are 'Toxic'

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
SUPER BOWL LIII

Wednesday
Mar062019

AAF’s Bill Polian Sees Strength In Numbers, Talks Rosters, NFL, TV, Manziel, Marketing 

By Barry Janoff

March 6, 2019: It is not unusual for a first-year organization to face such problems as finances, logistics, employee relations and credibility.

But the Alliance of American Football has also had to deal with tornados.

‘We have franchises such as San Antonio and Orlando that have been really remarkable at the gate,” said Bill Polian, co-founder and head of football for the AAF. “Other franchises, Birmingham, for example, which has a really good team, but has had a slew of bad weather — tornados, which obviously affects the (size of) the crowd.”

Almost as surprising as the unpredictable weather: The eight-team league’s early, strong TV ratings.

“The television numbers have surpassed anything we would have remotely dreamed about for a new endeavor,” Polian said today (March 6) during a media conference call. “Our first week was a huge success and it continues to grow. We are holding (the numbers) on our ratings, which is something that other leagues have not done.

Opening weekend games Feb. 9-10 on CBS attracted an average of 2.9 million viewers.

Subsequent weekend games on Turner Sports’ TNT and NFL Network, though lower, were solid and consistent, averaging between 400,000-525,000.

TNT was so pleased with the results it added two more games to its planned AAF regular-season schedule (March 9, March 23).

In its short life, the AAF has already had a serious financial situation, facing player payroll problems (blamed on a computer problem) after Week 1 games, then receiving an infusion of $250 million from Tom Dundon, who owns the NHL Carolina Hurricanes.

The AAF said the two were not related.

Dundon has since been named AAF chairman.

Shaquille O’Neal said he has invested in the AAF, but did not disclose finances.

Polian (pictured) discussed a variety of AAF topics, including the status of Johnny Menziel, a high-profile but beleaguered quarterback who, if signed, would arrive with serious baggage, having just been released by the CFL for reason(s) not-yet made public.

“We’ve had what I would characterize as feelers from people close to him,” said Polian, the long-time NFL executive who joined with Charlie Ebersol to launch the league in February.

“We are in the process of going through our due diligence. I would say it’s probably 50% done. We don’t intend to comment on anything that has to do with Johnny personally for reasons that are legally obvious.”

Still in its infancy, the AAF, while focusing on Season 1, is confident enough to be looking ahead to Season 2 in 2020, but not thinking about expansion.

“Expansion is not on the front burner,” said Polian. “We still have lots of work that we need to do to solidify our league and solidify our teams in the local markets. Expansion is not a high-priority item at this time.

“And we haven’t even given a thought to relocation. We really don’t have a firm handle of what many of the markets are like because of the weather that’s affected the southeast. That’s an incomplete picture at this point.”

“The television numbers have surpassed anything we would have remotely dreamed about for a new endeavor."

MGM Resorts International is listed as a founding partner, and the AAF’s proprietary technology — including The Alliance App — is supported by MGM Resorts.

Partners also include Aramark, Riddell, Starter, New Era and Topps, which has been creating weekly series of Topps NOW cards from the previous weekend of action.

Based on the NFL landscape, where sponsorship spend was nearly $3.4 billion this past season, the AAF still has a long way to go in marketing and sponsor deals.

“We’re still scratching the surface on the marketing side,” said Polian. “It’s a little to early to look at having an official auto or other official categories the way the NFL does. The fact that we got up-and-running in nine months, we put our focus almost entirely on getting the teams onto the field and giving the fans authentic and exciting football.

“So the marketing side, while they are going really hard at it, is somewhat behind the product on the field. That will pick up over time. But it’s not an area that we have spent a lot of time on at this point.

“But our marketing and TV partners have been phenomenal,” said Polian. “They’ve really been great.”

Seen as what could become a developmental league for the NFL rather than a rival, Polian inferred that day was closer than many anticipated, saying, “There have been informal discussions” with NFL people about potentially loaning players from “the bottom half of their rosters” to the AAF.

“Lots of NFL people have bandied about that thought with us.”

The reverse is expected, with AAF players — some of whom already have been on NFL rosters —  being signed by NFL teams. According to Polian, ”Our players are under contract until the end of (our) season, but that gives them plenty of time before (NFL) OTAs. So rosters will be in flux as they are every season in every football league.

“We’re beginning to look at next season and start to plan for recruiting efforts, signing players. There’s always a lot of movement of players during the off-season and I suspect there will be a fair amount going to the NFL.”

Unlike this past season, Polian said that every team will have a home, an office and a practice facility; a swell as such league dynamics as an off-season league meeting.

“Once NFL camps begin, we begin to do our own scouting in the camps since that’s the principle source of players for us. And that will lead right into mini-camp in the late fall,” said Polian.

Just a month into its life, the AAF still faces challenges and growing pains. But Polian appeared confident that the league was here for the long-haul.

“I wouldn’t say what has happen so far is surprising. Our hope was that we could put a product on the field that would be real football by real football people for real football fans. No gimmicks. No out-of-this-world promotional plays and formations. We have some different rules from the NFL but it looks basically the same."

Polian said that one innovation, the added referee known as Sky Judge who sits in the press box and oversees all playes, has been a success to date.

“The use of the Sky Judge and the officiating has been better, honestly, than I thought we could possibly get. That’s a tribute to Mike Pereira (officiating consultant), Dean Blandino (officiating consultant) and Steve Stripling (coordinator of officiating) and the staff they’ve put together.”

“What is so gratifying is that these guys play as hard as they can all the time. These are hard-hitting physical games. This is professional football. These guys are men playing professional football. We hoped that would be the case but you never know until you finally see it.

“The fans have seen that from Day 1. They’ve seen the intensity, the physicality, the competitiveness. That’s what wee were striving for and trying to present, but you never know until you snap the ball. It’s been gratifying.”

The eight AAF cities, stadiums/head coaches:

Eastern Division
• Atlanta Legends: Georgia State Stadium / Brad Childress
• Birmingham Iron: Legion Field Stadium / Tim Lewis
• Memphis Express: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium / Mike Singletary
• Orlando Apollos:: Spectrum Stadium / Steve Spurrier
    
Western Division
• Arizona Hotshots: Sun Devil Stadium / Rick Neuheisel
• Salt Lake Stallions: Rice-Eccles Stadium / Dennis Erickson
• San Antonio Commanders: Alamodome / Mike Riley
• San Diego Fleet: San Diego County Credit Union Stadium / Mike Martz

NHL Owner’s $250M Support Of AAF In Fledgling First Season

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