Start your morning with Buzzcast: BioSteel makes a major move with the NHL, while the USFL looks for additional investors.

Disney extends Chapek's contract by three years

Disney’s BOD unanimously voted to give CEO Bob Chapek "three more years atop the company, citing strong leadership during the pandemic." The board pointed to Chapek’s "navigation of the company during the heath crisis, business results and a successful transformation strategy as reasons for extending his contract." Chapek’s leadership "has come under scrutiny after a series of missteps, including a legal battle with star Scarlett Johansson and more recently a public spat with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis." Nonetheless, the Disney+ streaming service has "thrived despite intense competition, growing to 138 million subscribers in less than three years, alongside strong attendance at its parks and to its movies" (L.A. TIMES, 6/28).

Endeavor combines IMG Events, On Location

By Bret McCormick

Endeavor has combined IMG Events and On Location into a new division led by Paul Caine and Jon Lavallee. Caine and Lavallee most recently served in the same positions for On Location, the premium experiences provider that Endeavor fully acquired in early '20. On Location curates and organizes over 900 premium experiences annually, including exclusive rights for the Super Bowl, UFC, WWE and upcoming Paris ('24), Milan ('26) and L.A. ('28) Games. IMG Events owns the Miami Open, HSBC Champions, Frieze Art Fair, N.Y. Fashion Week, among others. It also operates events for third parties, including the AIG Women’s British Open golf tournament, and commercially represents many more.

Endeavor, which went public last year, has three reportable segments: Owned Sports Properties; Events, Experiences & Rights; and Representation. The new IMG Events falls under Events, Experiences & Rights, which accounted for 40% of the company’s revenue in FY '21 (just over $2B). Sam Zussman and Adam Kelly served as co-Presidents of IMG Media & Events. Kelly is now President of IMG Media, while Zussman recently left IMG/Endeavor after 16 years to become CEO of BSE Global.

Kim Pegula "progressing well" amid medical issue

Bills and Sabres co-Owner Kim Pegula "is 'progressing well' while rehabilitating from a health issue she experienced earlier this month," the family indicated in a statement yesterday. The family "would not say whether Pegula remains in the intensive care unit of a Florida hospital or specify the medical issue in asking to continue respecting their need for privacy." This is the "first update on Pegula’s health in two weeks" (AP, 6/28). Kim Pegula "entered a hospital in Florida some time in the first full week of June." The Bills, Sabres and Pegula Sports & Entertainment "informed their full staffs on June 14." Team officials have offered "no details about the specifics of Pegula's condition" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/28).

NHL lands licensing deal with Mitchell & Ness

By Alex Silverman

The NHL reached a licensing agreement with Mitchell & Ness that will see the Fanatics-owned sports lifestyle brand produce apparel, headwear and accessories for the league and its 32 teams. The deal marks the first major licensing agreement for Mitchell & Ness since Fanatics and a group of celebrity investors purchased the brand in February at a reported value of $250M. Mitchell & Ness has previously worked with individual NHL teams but has not had a league-level deal with the NHL. The league negotiated the deal directly with Fanatics and Mitchell & Ness. The NHL’s agreement with Mitchell & Ness is coterminous with the long-term e-commerce and licensing partnership the league signed with Fanatics in '16. Terms of that deal, including the specific end date, were not disclosed.

Separately, Mitchell & Ness reached licensing agreements with the NHLPA and NHL Alumni Association that will allow the brand to produce merchandise featuring the names and likenesses of both current and former players. As a result of the agreements, a new collection featuring fan jerseys, outerwear, fleece, headwear, tops and bottoms will launch in November. Products will be available via the NHL’s Fanatics-operated online shop, on Mitchell & Ness’s website, in select arenas, at the NHL Shop NYC store and from other national and local brick-and-mortar retailers.

Sources: NFL calls for indefinite Watson suspension

The NFL's disciplinary hearing on Browns QB Deshaun Watson will continue today in Delaware, and Watson is "scheduled to be there for the duration." Two sources in attendance said that the NFL "insisted on an indefinite suspension," while Watson’s legal team "argued there’s no basis for that punishment." Both sides presented their cases in front of independent disciplinary officer Sue Robinson yesterday. The proceedings are "expected to conclude Thursday but it’s not known when a ruling will be made." It is also "unknown how long it will take" for Robinson to make a decision, but the Browns "should know Watson’s availability before training camp" (AP, 6/29).

MLB, Dodgers swing into All-Star legacy projects

By Erik Bacharach

MLB, in conjunction with the Dodgers and the club’s charitable foundation, are unveiling the '22 All-Star Legacy initiative, which seeks to address homelessness, sports-based youth development, education and military veterans’ issues. Local beneficiary groups include Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro L.A., Volunteers of America L.A. and L.A. Regional Food Bank. MLB VP/Social Responsibility April Brown called the All-Star Legacy initiative an “essential component of our year-round efforts to reduce equity gaps for underserved communities.”

Though the All-Star festivities planned for '20 were canceled due to the pandemic, the league maintained its commitment to the legacy program; MLB said in a release that it and the Dodgers have contributed more than $6M to benefit nonprofit organizations throughout L.A. since '20. Brown said since '97, MLB and host All-Star cities have contributed approximately $100M to similar efforts.

MLB adopts RealResponse's anonymous text system

By Erik Bacharach

MLB has begun implementing RealResponse’s anonymous texting system to identify and prevent misconduct issues among players, staff and employees. MLB’s Department of Investigations will leverage RealResponse's platform to receive and respond to messages with its anonymous texter, which will enable the individual to remain anonymous as long as they would like while they can continue to provide information and assist with investigations. David Chadwick, founder & CEO of the Charlotte-based risk management platform, said the tech can help identify and potentially prevent issues before they arise.

In a statement, MLB Senior VP/Investigations & Deputy General Counsel Moira Weinberg said: “The addition of RealResponse to our existing reporting channels will provide another option to encourage the reporting of misconduct by ensuring that people have a variety of pathways to make a report so they can use the method that they are most comfortable with.” This marks RealResponse’s first foray into pro baseball; it also has deals with more than 100 colleges and universities, as well as the Broncos, Chiefs and other sports properties.

Puma will pay double to AC Milan under extension

Under new deal, Puma will have naming rights to AC Milan's youth sector and women's sport centreGetty Images

Puma will now pay a "higher price" in an extension of its deal to provide uniforms to Serie A club AC Milan, according to a source. No financial details were given in a joint statement, but a source said that Puma "will pay just above 30 million euros [US$31.5M] per year under a new five-year contract." Puma had been paying a "yearly fee of around 14 million euros" (US$14.8M) as AC Milan's technical supplier since '18. As part of the new deal, due to start from January '23, Puma "will have naming rights to AC Milan's youth sector and women team's sport centre" (REUTERS, 6/29).

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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Speed Reads....

FIFA said that 1.8 million tickets have been sold for this year's World Cup in Qatar “ahead of the next round of ticket sales that opens on July 5” (REUTERS, 6/29).

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch gave himself a June 30 deadline to "select a developer to redevelop Tropicana Field," and his administration has "announced a news conference Wednesday morning, teasing a 'major announcement' regarding the Tropicana Field site redevelopment process by the mayor" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/29).

The Western & Southern Open will introduce a new fan experience area called the Grand Courtyard on the event grounds of the tournament that will take place Aug. 13-21 in Mason, Ohio. It will be located just inside the south entrance, adjacent to the Grandstand Court (Western & Southern Open).

Grand Courtyard is the latest addition to the Western & Southern Open grounds at Lindner Family Tennis Center outside CincinnatiWestern & Southern Open

Quick Hits....

“That’s three championships, one owner, six months. That’s what I’m talking about. Now that’s elite ownership” -- ESPN’s Jalen Rose, on Stan Kroenke winning a championship as owner of the Rams, Avalanche and NLL Colorado Mammoth in the past six months (“Jalen & Jacoby,” ESPN2, 6/28).

“After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it will provide financial support for employees who need to travel out of state for abortion access. Dick’s: the problem and the solution” -- NBC’s Seth Meyers (“Late Night,” NBC, 6/29).

Morning Hot Reads: The impressive Sashi Brown

The WASHINGTON POST goes with, "With an unmatched résumé, Sashi Brown finds stability with the Ravens." The new Ravens President is a "rare figure among North American sports executives." Even in an era when the people in front offices are "just as likely to come equipped with an alphabet soup of degrees as a professional playing career," Brown’s résumé "stands out." He has been lead counsel and a GM in the NFL and a lead exec in the NBA, "earning admirers and detractors along the way." As Brown ascended, he was often "surrounded by few non-White faces," which "placed on him a hidden burden."


Twitter Me This....

Final Jeopardy!

Last night’s “Final Jeopardy!” category was “Poets’ Corner At Westminster Abbey.”

“At his 1892 burial, fit for a baron, the organist put music to his words, ‘I hope to see my Pilot face to face, when I have crost the bar.’”

Today's Back Pages....

The Morning Buzz offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News