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Report: MLB would not charge A's relocation fee for Vegas move....Guardians finalize David Blitzer's minority ownership....HKS to study feasibility of Browns stadium renovations

Report: MLB won't charge A's relocation fee

MLB "doesn't plan to charge" the A's a relocation fee "if the team moves to Las Vegas -- a rare accommodation that shows the league is concerned about the team's ability to find a viable home." It had been speculated that the A's may have to pay a relocation fee "as high as $1 billion." But sources said that when MLB held its owners meetings earlier this month, a relocation fee "was not discussed in an open session." The A's "were hoping to announce a move to Las Vegas, potentially contingent on getting public financing, this month." But sources said that the team "still lacks key assurances from Nevada state officials to take the next step." There is also a vote in Oakland at the end of the month about a new ballpark that could "make it possible to stay" (N.Y. POST, 6/27).

Guardians finalize Blitzer minority ownership

The Guardians and David Blitzer have finalized an agreement for him to join the organization, "initially as a minority investor," but with a "pathway to become majority owner." Sources suggested throughout the last year that Guardians Owner Paul Dolan was "seeking to maintain control for about five more years." Dolan has been "seeking a replacement" for former minority Owner John Sherman, with sources saying that any agreement was "bound to include an eventual transfer of power." Sources said that for now, Blitzer is "purchasing about 25 to 30 percent of the team." MLB owners "approved Blitzer’s investment in the Guardians earlier this month." Cleveland-based businessman Matt Kaulig also will be "part of the minority investor arrangement" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/27).

HKS to study feasibility of Browns stadium upgrades

The Browns have selected HKS to "study the feasibility of major renovations to FirstEnergy Stadium." Sources said that in its early stages, the cost for proposed improvements has "not been determined and who would pay for it." There is industry speculation that upgrading the 68,000-seat venue owned by the city of Cleveland "could run in the neighborhood" of $500M. Sources said that that cost is "similar to the cost of proposed improvements to Paul Brown Stadium." As part of the overall project, the Browns and HKS are "focusing on providing a greater connection between the stadium and downtown Cleveland, tied to mixed-use development." The Browns’ current lease at FirstEnergy Stadium expires in '28 (VENUESNOW.com, 6/27).

Russian court sets July 1 start date for Griner trial

A Russian court today "set the start date of the criminal trial" of WNBA Mercury C Brittney Griner for July 1, "more than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession." Griner also was "ordered to remain in custody for the duration of her criminal trial." She could face 10 years in prison if convicted. A court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki "extended Griner’s detention for another six months after she appeared for a preliminary hearing held behind closed doors." Griner had previously been ordered to remain in pretrial detention until July 2. Russian news media have "repeatedly raised speculation that she could be swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout" (AP, 6/27).

Luke Kuechly joining Panthers radio team in '22

Former Panthers LB Luke Kuechly will be part of the team's radio broadcast for seven games this season, joining play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff and either Jordan Gross or Jake Delhomme, along with sideline reporter Kristen Balboni. Kuechly will be in the booth for six home games (Week 1 against the Browns, Week 4 against the Cardinals, Week 5 against the 49ers, Week 7 against the Buccaneers, Week 12 against the Broncos, and Week 15 against the Steelers), and the road trip Week 9 against the Bengals (Panthers).

Contractor goes after NFL Panthers in filing

The general contractor on the Panthers’ abandoned Rock Hill, S.C., project "suggests in new court documents that the Panthers could be liable for tens of millions of dollars of the project’s debts." In a filing last week in the bankruptcy case of GT Real Estate Holdings -- the company controlled by Panthers Owner David Tepper -- joint venture contractor Mascaro/Barton Malow said Tepper, the Panthers and affiliated business entities engaged in a series of “intertwined and suspicious dealings.” Generally, the assets of separate holding companies are "distinct from those of their owners." But if the real estate company "was not being operated as a distinct business," it "could open up Tepper’s larger enterprise to liability" (CHARLOTTELEDGER.SUBSTACK.com, 6/27).

In other news: SCOTUS rules on coach praying

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington state who was "suspended over his on-field prayers following games." The justices’ decision, breaking 6-3 along "ideological lines," found that the Bremerton School District "infringed on the coach’s religious freedom and free-speech rights by seeking to block him from engaging in public prayers on the field while flanked by student athletes after games." This is "not a major overhaul of church-state legal doctrine," but it is "likely to make government employers more cautious about disciplining employees who engage in religious activity in the workplace" (POLITICO.com, 6/27).

This Week in History: Tyson takes Holyfield's ear

July 1, 1997 -- In a rematch between the two rivals for the WBA world heavyweight championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, boxer Mike Tyson bites off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in what has become one of the most controversial moments in boxing history. There were 1.99 million households tuned in for the fight, which was a record at the time. Tyson was fined $3M for the incident and was later suspended indefinitely by the Nevada Athletic Commission and his $20M purse from the fight was withheld. Holyfield relived the incident yesterday in a SC feature titled, “Tyson-Holyfield 25 Y(ears) Later.”

Also happening this week:

  • June 30, 1965:The Falcons join the NFL as an expansion team after the league offered a franchise to former Owner Rankin Smith Sr. for $8.5M, the highest price for a NFL franchise at the time.
  • July 1, 1859: The first college baseball game is played between Amherst and Williams College using Massachusetts Rules with Amherst winning 73-32.
  • July 1, 1903:The inaugural Tour de France race begins in Montgeron, a southeastern suburb of Paris, with 60 men and six different stages. It has since expanded to 21 stages with the ’22 Tour set to begin July 1.
  • July 3, 1977: Raymond Damadian, Larry Minkoff and Michael Goldsmith perform the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI body scan of a human, which has become a pivotal tool in the modern sports world for athletes.

Speed Reads....

The Bruins signed GM Don Sweeney to a "'multi-year' contract extension." His contract was "set to expire on Thursday" (TWITTER.com, 6/27).

FloSports has signed a five-year partnership renewal with Amaury Sport Organisation to provide exclusive live and on-demand coverage of the Tour de France in Canada from '24-28. The partnership extension also includes other women's and men's competitive cycling events including the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift and La Vuelta (FloSports).

Rutgers has selected REVELXP as the school's official game day experience and hospitality partner beginning with the '22 football season. In addition to tailgating services, REVELXP also will work with Rutgers to create additional premium seating opportunities inside SHI Stadium (REVELXP).

BetMGM will become the exclusive sportsbook of the BetQL Network, Audacy’s suite of sports betting content heard across its broadcast portfolio and digital platforms (Audacy).

Wearable performance tracker Playermaker has signed teen soccer phenom and NWSL Portland Thorns MF Olivia Moultrie as the company’s first official female brand ambassador (Playermaker).

Quick Hits....

"As a result of the combination of reasons, we were left with no viable alternative other than to decline entries" -- All England Club Chair Ian Hewitt, on the decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon this year (ESPN.com, 6/27).

“If China’s shut down, and that’s a big market for Nike, how would you expect them to put up any type of decent quarter?” -- CNBC contributor Steve Weiss, on Nike reporting earnings after markets close today (“Fast Money Halftime,” CNBC, 6/27).

“The money is finally catching up and credit to the sponsors who’ve actually done that” -- Golf Channel’s Eamon Lynch, on the prize purses growing in women’s golf (“Golf Today,” Golf Channel, 6/27).

“She has the ability to be very popular in the U.S. ... somebody that I think people want to root for” -- Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott, on South Korean golfer In Gee Chun, who won this weekend’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (“Golf Today,” Golf Channel, 6/27).

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Daily Download....

MLS compiled some impressive collages from the print coverage of Gareth Bale's landmark signing with LAFC, demonstrating how big of a story this is both domestically and abroad.

Check out Sports Business Journal's weekly issue

Don't miss this week's issue of SBJ. We take a look at the quirky Savannah Bananas and how they're turning the baseball world upside down with their antics. Also, we unveil our 23rd annual class of Forty Under 40 honorees; LIV Golf reaches U.S. shores; and NASCAR sees gains in first-half ratings and attendance.

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Daily Digit....

51% -- Percent of respondents to a YouGov survey who affirmed the following statement: "I believe the winner of the FIFA Women's World Cup should earn the same as the winner of the FIFA World Cup." Among male respondents, it was 49%, but 55% among females. See the full survey via online PDF (YouGov).

YouGov

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