Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

LeBron James, Online Gambling & The Bleacher Seats

Business of LeBron James

Lebron James

Over the past couple days, there has been much ado about Creative Artists Agency buying Leon Rose, agent of LeBron James, among others. If CAA thinks LeBron is coming along for the ride, I’d be very surprised. Buying Rose would technically mean that CAA would represent James for contract negotiations, but he is signed through the 2009-10 season and his marketing is exclusively done by LRMR Marketing, run by one of his best friends Maverick Carter. So that means that there would be no new money until at least 2010. Complicating things is the fact that, as reported by Sports Business Journal, Carter is shopping around his business to others and I’d give Carter the benefit over Rose in terms of where LeBron would wind up if LRMR isn’t bought out by CAA. Here’s the interesting tidbit that hasn’t been brought up by anyone yet. LRMR isn’t just LeBron’s marketing arm. Sources tell me that they’ve started to recruit other players and recently lost out on inking Phillies MVP Ryan Howard. Here’s the low down - if CAA wants to buy LeBron, they better buy LRMR too.

Is Online Sports Gambling Dead?
I never thought I’d write this, but over the past year, the U.S. government has really managed to cripple the online gambling business. First, goes, after its CEO David Carruthers was arrested at an airport. Last week,, the site known for the biggest limits and the quickest payouts, voluntarily closed up shop in the U.S. And now, we’re just waiting for NETeller to fall. NETeller, an online money transfer system, became huge in the online sports gambling industry, when credit cards bowed out and other systems like PayPal decided to no longer deal in the business. Well, yesterday two of the NETeller founders were detained and today its stock was halted on the London Stock Exchange. If NETeller is out, how long will it be before every method of payment is cut off? Some people will say never, but I know enough people that are scared enough that they’ve pulled all their money out and are just going the traditional route -- back the corner bookie!

Cashing In Off Obesity
I’m sure you’ve heard it by now. The Dodgers are opening up some bleacher seats and charging $35 instead of the usual $10, but they’re making them all-you-can-eat. About 3,000 fans will have the opportunity to shove their faces with as many hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and sodas as they want. This is absolutely brilliant and I’ll tell you why. Both the fan and the team leave the ballpark as big winners. The fan figures he eats three hot dogs ($4.50 x 3 = $13.50), has two sodas ($4 x 2 = $8) and a peanuts ($5) and he’s covered his cost. The Dodgers figure that most people won’t even eat this much, so they’ll easily make their margins. I’m surprised by this, but maybe they’re wrong. In 2006, Men’s Fitness called Los Angeles the third fattest city in America behind Chicago and Las Vegas. And let’s hope that institute that “No Kobayashi Rule!”

Endorsement We Don’t Like
Matt Leinart and Polaroid. Yes, there’s something to be said for helping a company with its turnaround. But it might not be the best for a guy who is in the midst of a branding crisis himself -partying with Britney Spears, while he has an infant son with his USC girlfriend.

Odds & Ends…
The Chicago Bears are currently the second best selling team in the NFL behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, but an NFL source tells us that if they win the Super Bowl, they will be the best selling team this season ...

I’d like to give the nod to Janko Tipsarevic, who I think is the first guy to ever wear a Breathe Right strip during a tennis match. Tipsarevic was still outlasted by David Nalbandian in five sets in his first round match of the Australian Open

Oklahoma State’s well-heeled boosters are single handedly giving NCAA president Myles Brand a headache. As if Boone Pickens’ humungous donation to the athletics program wasn’t enough, his former fraternity brother Sherman Smith donated $20 million last week for an indoor practice facility.

Questions?  Comments?