04/11/17: Trio eye World Cup split; NHL Playoff lineup; Michelob’s big wave


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Good morning. It’s Tuesday April 11, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

CONCACAF member nations – the US, Canada and Mexico  – made it official, announcing their intention to formally submit a unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which would mark the first time that three nations would jointly host a FIFA competition. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first with the expanded 48-team format, “requiring facilities and infrastructure that these countries are uniquely suited to fulfill,” according to the release, with the US hosting 60 games (including all games from the quarterfinals on) while Mexico and Canada get 10 each. 

"This is a milestone day for U.S. Soccer and for CONCACAF,” said U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati. “We gave careful consideration to the prospect of bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and ultimately feel strongly this is the right thing for our region and for our sport. Along with our partners from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America. The United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events. When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike.”


With NHL Stanley Cup Playoff pairings locked in, NBC Sports Group detailed plans to run games side-by-side in local markets with regional sports network game telecasts as well as stream every first-round game, which begin Wednesday. Matchups on Wednesday include NY Rangers/Montreal opening on NBCSN at 7p; Boston/Ottawa on NHL Network at 7p; Columbus/Pittsburgh on USA at 7:30p; St. Louis/Minnesota on NBCSN at 9:30p; and San Jose/Edmonton on USA at 10p. Thursday’s action includes: Toronto/Washington on USA at 7p; Chicago/Nashville on NBCSN at 8p and Calgary/Anaheim on NBCSN at 10:30p.

The NFL’s preseason television line up is in place, with eight nationally televised games set with its television partners and a 65-game preseason slate overall. Coverage begins Aug. 3 on NBC at 80 with the Cowboys/Cardinals in the NFL/Hall of Fame Game. The network also carries the 49ers/Vikings on Aug. 27 at 8p. ESPN will feature the Bucs/Jaguars on Aug. 17 and Giants/Browns on Aug. 21 with both games at 8p. CBS’ pair of contests come on back-to-back nights starting Aug. 25 with Chiefs/Seahawks, followed the next evening by an all-LA battle with Chargers/Rams, both games at 8p. FOX, meanwhile will feature a doubleheader on Aug. 27 with Bears/Titans and Bengals/Redskins starting at 1p.

Jack Nicklaus continues to deliver for the golf world, as Sunday’s first episode of docu-series Jack drew a .24 overnight rating for Golf Channel, matching two of three episodes of the channel’s acclaimed series Arnie. This makes Jack the highest-rated Golf Films project in three years, exceeding 4 other projects in that span.

CBS Sports Network has its teams in line for the 2017 Veterans Classic, announcing that Alabama, Memphis and Pittsburgh will join host Navy in the college basketball showcase. The fourth annual event takes place at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, starting Nov. 10, the opening day of the 2017-18 college basketball season. Alabama will play Memphis at 6:30p, followed by Pittsburgh/Navy at 9p.

Speaking of CBS Sports, the company will carry Making Cancer History presented by MD Anderson Cancer Center on April 15 at 20. The hour-long special, produced by PGA TOUR Entertainment, will document “the courage of those on the PGA TOUR and throughout the golf community who have been impacted by cancer,” focusing on the stories of Stewart and Lisa Cink, Russell Knox, Sean O’Hair and Chris Logan, Bill Harmon and more.

FOX Sports unveiled its broadcast roster for UFC Fight Night: Johnson vs. Reis on FOX and FOX Deportes this week as Daniel Cormier will work as desk analyst with Dominick Cruz for Friday and Saturday’s coverage. Curt Menefee hosts the FOX broadcast network shows, while Todd Grisham joins the desk as host for the FS1 and FS2 programs. Reporter Megan Olivi interviews fighters on-site. Meanwhile, Brian Stann joins blow-by-blow announcer Jon Anik to call the fights live from Kansas City.

MY Entertainment signed on NBA All-Star Tyson Chandler to develop a new reality television series that examines the world of fashion in sports. Chandler will serve as an executive producer and make appearances on the show, which will focus on his design stylist and fashion consultant, Browne Andrews. “Fashion has become an outlet for me and a lot of other athletes to creatively and stylishly convey our personalities off the court,” said Chandler. “Browne has been instrumental in helping me find my personal style and I am excited to partner with MY Entertainment to give people an inside look at what it takes to be a top stylist dressing some of the most stylish NBA players.”

GF Sports is now partnering with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to bring the Memphis Open men’s tennis tournament to NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The venue will host the tournament for the first time from February 10-18, 2018, ending Memphis’ 41 year run with the event. “We are proud to partner with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to bring the historic Memphis Open to the new Coliseum,” said Gary Fuhrman, Managing Partner at GF Capital and Board Member of GF Sports. “The spotlight of New York will help to elevate this important tournament and this move is part of GF Sports’ larger goal of re-establishing American tennis as a global powerhouse withinthe sport.”


Entries are now open!
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Michelob ULTRA locked in a deal to become the Official Beer Sponsor of all World Surf League events in the US, including WSL’s staple event, the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. According to the company, the alliance spawns from “Michelob ULTRA’s strategy of driving continued growth by engaging drinkers who embrace and prioritize an active, balanced lifestyle.” As part of this new sponsorship, Michelob ULTRA will create VIP hospitality areas and branded-lounges on-site at U.S.-based WSL events, and will host a series of after-parties. Michelob ULTRA will also utilize WSL content across social media channels to further drive excitement among the surfing community.

Dover International Speedway inked an agreement with Sea Watch International that will see Bar Harbor Foods serve as the entitlement sponsor for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on June 2. The Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race serves as the sixth race of the season for the series.

Playtex Sport and gymnast Aly Raisman are collaborating for a "Try It. Trust It. Play On." video where the Olympian introduces the Playtex Sport Compact line and shares tips to help a young gymnast. The brand will be donating $10,000 to the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation to assist in the organization’s efforts to inspire underserved youth.


WWE is tapping streaming service DAZN to carry WWE’s flagship programs Raw and SmackDown, among other programming. Shows will be available live in Japan with Japanese commentary for the first time ever. "Our new partnership with DAZN will enable WWE to engage with fans in Japan like never before," said Ed Wells, WWE Executive Vice President, International. "DAZN will provide WWE fans with a destination to watch Raw and SmackDown live and in Japanese on the device of their choice and follow WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura as he continues his WWE journey."


Fnatic became the latest team to see an influx of investment money, receiving a $7 million financing round with a board of investors that include the likes of Raptor Group, which owns AS Roma and the Boston Celtics; Hersh Interactive Group, co-owners of the Houston Astros; Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Hannes Wallin, CEO and Founder of Fractal Design. “There has been strong growth in esports, which has accelerated in recent years, but the major shift has been in the acceptance and inclusion by sports franchises, media companies and high profile individuals who have entered and advanced the industry rapidly," said Fnatic Founder Sam Mathews, per Forbes. "We’re incredibly excited by the opportunities available within esports, and having world class investors and advisors only enhances our ability to address these opportunities and continue to innovate."

Meanwhile, Swiss Football Club FC Lausanne-Sport has added esports team Qualitas Helvetica to the roster. The org will now operate under the moniker Lausanne-Sport eSports. The deal will also see Lausanne create an eSports academy for French speaking players, according to Esports Insider.


Juventus/Barcelona on FS1 at 2:45p.


Congratulations to our eSports Awards Finalists!

We are thrilled to announce our nominees for the 2017 Cynopsis eSports Awards, which will take place during lunch at the World eSports Summit.

Among the finalists are Activision Blizzard, Anheuser Busch, Arby’s, Turner’s ELEAGUE, Intel Extreme Masters, MLG, Mountain Dew, Playstation, Riot, XFINITY Comcast and more.

ON THIS DAY in 2004: Phil Mickelson wins The Masters.

In The Know: Which goaltender has appeared in the most NHL Playoff games? (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: In tribute to Joe Louis Arena, which US President was formally nominated at the venue by his party to run as its candidate? Answer: Ronald Reagan. Kudos: Mark Burns-SportTechie/NY; Ken White/Charlotte; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Brad Brown-Nevco, Inc./St. Louis; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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