This year was a challenging one in all sectors, including sports. The rule for surviving? Be creative. Here are my three big predictions in sports business for 2010:
1. Luxury suite downsizing continues.
Things are turning around with the economy, but teams built all these luxury boxes and they’re just not going to fill up. Many teams have begun the process of converting some of their suites into big party rooms that cost less than a suite and more than a seat. Those that haven’t done so yet will start knocking down walls in 2010.
2. Broadcasters, investors make a big bet on 3-D.
For the past five years, Fox’s David Hill has been saying that 3-D, not HD, is the future. Having seen a game in 3-D, I really believe it. With 3-D TVs coming into living rooms next year, I expect big money to be poured into making this a reality for the masses in the near future.
3. Foreign ownership in American sports teams will rise.
This year brought us a Chinese minority owner in the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Jersey Nets are expecting to have a Russian majority owner in place by the end of 2009. With so many teams still for sale, getting top dollar will mean having to accept whatever the world’s millionaires or billionaires have to offer.
Grading my2009 predictions.
I made some risky picks last year. With that in mind, I’m giving myself a B.
1. I predicted the Los Angeles Lakers would win the NBA title and Kobe Bryant would become a marketing king again. I nailed that one.
2. I said that the MLB Network would be the most relevant league network and I think you can easily argue that.
3. I predicted that stadium projects will get held up and that more sports teams would go up for sale than any other year in the last two decades—both of which were right.
4. I said that Brett Favre would come back. Even though I said it would be for the Jets, I should get half credit for Favre returning to the Vikings.
What did I get wrong?
5. NASCAR had a season and didn’t have one race with less than a full field of 43 cars.
6. I was also wrong about a UFC fight taking place in Madison Square Garden.