10/30/17: Las Vegas’ newest team owner talks building communities

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday October 30, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Capping a run the included the introduction of the NHL’s Golden Knights and the NFL’s Raiders to Las Vegas, the city also landed its first-ever professional soccer team in August, which will play in the United Soccer League. The squad will be the third USL expansion franchise to join the league for the 2018 season, playing at Cashman Field in Downtown Las Vegas. The new franchise, which will be known as the Las Vegas Lights FC – will unveil its logo and other branding elements this week.
 
Team owner Brett Lashbrook – already a Vegas resident – brings a resume that includes serving as Chief Operating Officer to Major League Soccer’s expansion team in Orlando where he oversaw the Club’s transition from USL to Major League Soccer. In addition, he also previously served as legal counsel and special assistant to the Commissioner’s office at Major League Soccer for seven seasons. Cynopsis spoke with Lashbrook about his preparations and plans as the team gets ready for its first season.
 
Lashbrook on Las Vegas: Las Vegas is my home. My mother has lived out here for almost 20 years and I came out about 2 and a half years ago. I had been COO down in Orlando and we got them from USL to MLS and got the shovel in the ground. During that process, the team was sold and it was one of those teams where it made sense to transition out as my mother was going through some health challenges. So I came out thinking I would be here for 6-12 months to focus on family, and I started to fall in love with Las Vegas.
 
On launching a team: I am fortunate that my family has capital to do a project like this and, all of the sudden, it was like life had come full circle given that I had spent the last 20 years working on soccer. In Orlando, I started to see that MLS was only capturing a certain part of the market. Soccer is growing by leaps and bounds but MLS is only in 17 US markets. It became very clear to me in Orlando that there was this whole slot of 50-70 communities that could support professional soccer so I decided to put my investment hat on as the pyramid continues to grow out of the ground.
 
On keys to success: To succeed, you need a market and a stadium, which is actually the toughest part of the process, nine times out of ten. So here I am, I have 20 years of experience, I have access to the capital, my hometown is the second largest market without a professional soccer team, and wouldn’t you know, there is a 10,000 seat stadium available in the heart of downtown Las Vegas in a redevelopment area that is 100% already paid for. Everything fits perfectly.
 
On the big picture: We want to provide fans with an authentic soccer experience and what I mean by that is that in soccer, it is the fans who are bringing the energy with 90 minutes of non-stop action. It is the dancing, cheering, marching, the drumming, etc. and that is what we are going to create. The more I look at the demographics and potential here, the more I am convinced we can become the next Cincinnati, Sacramento or Orlando when it comes to the USL. When you look at MLS, we can become the next Portland, Toronto, NYCFC. All the piece are there and we just have to tell the write story and provide the right experience. I just need people to give us one shot because I am convinced that if I can get them to the stadium once, I can get them to the stadium multiple times.
 
 
ON THE AIR

What a weekend for FOX Sports. Game 4 of the World Series saw the Dodgers win to tie the series hand FOX with the top metered market rating for a Game 4 since 2009. The matchup delivered a 10.6/20 in metered markets to top last year’s equivalent contest. That score is also up 14% over 2015 numbers and up 49% over Game 4 in 2014. Through four games, the 2017 World Series is averaging a 10.9/19 which is off from last year’s Cubs run but still ranks as the second best since 2009.
 
Meanwhile, FOX’s coverage of a terrific Penn State/Ohio State college football battle set a new high mark for the channel’s regular season coverage, hitting a 6.4 in overnight metered market Nielsen numbers. That’s the network’s best-ever in the category and second-best college football score of any network so far this season.
 
The Sporting News reports that ESPN is preparing for another potential round of layoffs before the end of the year, writing that the next round of cutbacks could come down in late November or early December, with 40-60 positions potentially being dropped. According to the report, the layoffs could hit both on-air TV/radio talent and behind-the-scenes production staffers.
 
FIFA is upping the ante for the 2018 World Cup, announcing that the 32 national teams competing at next year’s tournament will share $400 million in prize money, marking a 12% increase over the 2014 payout. In addition, the org locked in dates for several upcoming FIFA tournaments, including next year’s Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (running Dec. 12-22) and the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France (from June 7-July 7).
 
Joseph Tsai, vice chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, reached a deal to purchase 49% of the Brooklyn Nets, according to Reuters. The deal values the NBA team at around $2.3 billion and give Tsai the option to buy a controlling interest in the next few years.
 
ESPN is partnering with Australia’s Seven West Media to bring the X Games to the country next year. X Games Sydney will run Oct. 19-21 and feature Skateboard, BMX and Moto X competitions at Sydney Olympic Park. The event will mark the first time in the event’s more than 20 year history that it will take place in Australia. Seven West Media will air the competitions in Australia, while in the U.S. ESPN’s coverage will be distributed on ESPN3 and as part of its World of X Games series on ABC. In addition to the content on ESPN’s U.S. media, X Games Sydney will be televised globally on ESPN International networks and distributed to other international media outlets and television broadcasters via ESPN’s media distribution business.
 
Elektra Records partnered with MSG Networks on this season’s Friday Night Knicks telecasts, with music from a featured Elektra artist intertwined throughout each of the offering as well as in promotional spots leading up to the game. Upcoming “Friday Night Knicks” programs will feature music from Fitz and the Tantrums (Nov 3 vs. Phoenix Suns), Kaleo (Nov. 17 at Toronto Raptors), Zac Brown Band (Nov. 24 at Atlanta Hawks), and Anderson East (Jan 12 at Minnesota Timberwolves) with more to be announced.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

FOX Sports lined up plans to showcase nine six-second ads during its Thanksgiving Day NFL matchup pitting the Vikings/Lions. The accumulated time of the shortened commercials would replace one standard commercial block, which typically last two minutes and twenty seconds and “be seamlessly incorporated into natural breaks in the flow of the game and will appear in a unique double-box format that allows viewers to follow all the action while the six-second ads run.”  “FOX broke the mold as the first broadcast network to air six-second ads, and working alongside our partners at the NFL, and in an effort to help them continue to improve the game viewing experience, we are doing it again by maximizing the efficiency of brand messaging while delivering an even more immersive experience for fans,” said Fox Networks Group President of Advertising Revenue Joe Marchese.
 
Audi is down for another run as title sponsor of the International Ski Federation World Cup, inking an extension that runs until 2022. The deal guarantees extensive branding for the car brand at all races in the FIS Ski World Cup calendar, including on the starting gates, the podium and interview backdrops in addition to the title sponsorship.
 
Mountain Dew has seemingly found its replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr., announcing “Dewey Ryder” as the new face of the beverage brand. Ryder, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Danny McBride, will “chug that bold, citrus nectar” stated in the announcement that “While I have never actually driven a stock car, I know enough to be dangerous. Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘Aren’t you Danny McBride, the world’s funniest actor? What are you doing racing cars?’ To which I say, ‘Pfft. I’m Dewey Ryder, the rightful heir to this throne.”
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Ticketing platform SeatGeek locked in a deal with Facebook to serve as a distribution partner, allowing fans to buy tickets directly through the world’s biggest social network. The first team to leverage the partnership will be Sporting Kansas City. “Through our open API approach, an open ticketing ecosystem will create opportunities to increase distribution, empower teams and artists to sell on the platforms of their choice, and eliminate fraud through a process of barcode verification,” the company said in a statement. “At the end of the day, our goal is to increase discovery of live events by using the power of the open web, putting tickets where fans are already spending time online.”
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
The best in digital are gathering in NYC…Will you join them?
The Annual Cynopsis Digital Luncheon: Awarding Model D Winners and “It List” Honorees
NOV. 10 | 12pm – 2pm | TriBeca’s ThreeSixty° in NYC
 
Tomorrow is the deadline to register for the ultimate celebration of digital execs and top industry innovators. 41  Digital “It List” Honorees,  71  Model D Finalists and  7  celebrity presenters make for a one-of-a-kind Digital Awards Reception with UNLIMITED networking opportunities.
 
 

ESPORTS

EA SPORTS and FIFA announced the launch of the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series on The Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018. The new competition will expand the global competitive audience and feature football leagues and football clubs around the world with competition running Nov. –Aug. and Stage 1 allowing players to qualify by participating in a series of online and/or live events, including the FUT Champions Cups, FIFA eClub World Cup, Licensed Qualifying Competitions and Official League Partner Qualifying Competitions. “Last year was a pivotal achievement for competitive FIFA, engaging millions of competitors and spectators through world football and global competition,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA. “In partnership with FIFA, we’re accelerating the growth of competitive gaming through the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series on The Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018, producing more competition, attracting more competitors and connecting with more fans than ever before.”
 
Just ahead of BlizzCon, Blizzard announced a slate of upgrades designed to improve the esports viewing experience. In the game’s developer update, Jeff Kaplan announced features viewers will experience during the Overwatch World Cup broadcast at BlizzCon that will include: team uniforms/team color palettes; a top down interactive map; third person smart camera; kill feed replays; automated tournament interface; and auto-pauses during disconnects. The action gets underway on Nov. 3.
 
Meanwhile, the upcoming Overwatch League locked in another team title, announcing the official name of the Seoul, South Korea franchise, which will be known as the Seoul Dynasty. The logo features a tiger – a national symbol of South Korea, representing strength, courage, and good fortune – while the team’s golden color emphasizes the connection to royalty.
 
The IOC detailed its views toward esports at the sixth Olympic Summit, announcing that members had agreed that: esports are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement; competitive esports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports. In order to be recognized by the IOC as a sport, the org stated that the content of esports must not infringe on the Olympic values and that further requirement for recognition by the IOC must be the existence of an organization guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement (anti-doping, betting, manipulation, etc.).
 
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus revealed a deeper dive into the esports industry, locking in a sponsorship of a new League of Legends team which would be known as Out of the Blue. The company previously announced a partnership with ESWC.
 
FACEIT announced that the Season 4 Finals of ECS will take place December 15-17, live from the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun. The initiative is supported by YouTube and host CS:GO players for the second ECS finals of the year. The top four qualifying teams from both North America and Europe will compete for a prize pool of $750,000 on top of participation fees.

THE MAIN EVENT

New York Red Bulls/Toronto FC on FS1 at 7p.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Craft your campaign strategy with Cynopsis’ Digital’s latest webinar:
Monday, NOV. 13 |12:30PM ET
 
According the IAB, last year was the first time digital ad spend totaled $72 billion, surpassing that of TV at $67 billion. But although usage is on the rise, management of digital ad growth is complex and confusing. Which is why Cynopsis’ newest webinar is here to illuminate the media measurement ecosystem with insights that will give you an efficient and powerful strategy.
 
 

ON THIS DAY in 1954: The NBA plays its first game with the 24-second clock.
 
In the Know: What is the name of the trophy now presented to the winner of the MLS Cup? (Email Chris-Sports@Cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the only woman to reign as WWE’s Intercontinental Champion? Answer: Chyna. Kudos: Art Salisch-Hearst Television/NY; Matthew Willence-ITN Networks/NY; Lou Vazquez-Zenith/NY; Maxine Dillon-Spark Foundry/NY; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Synda Kollman/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria; David Westberg-SAG-FTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

Later – Chris
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