Sports Business Analyst Rick Horrow joins CNN's Don Lemon Sunday at 6:45 p.m. ET. Leave your comments here and then tune in to be part of the discussion. Here's what he has on tap:
From Sports Business Analyst Rick Horrow:
Doing the right thing in sports is often much more difficult to accomplish than a tournament-winning 14-foot putt or a March Madness buzzer-beater.
On Friday, golf’s Champions Tour announced that professional golfer Ken Green, whose world was turned upside down last June when he lost his brother, his girlfriend, and his right leg to a freak motor home crash, was denied a request for a major medical exemption to gain back the year of eligibility he had lost while mourning his family and learning to walk – and play – on a prosthetic. Champions Tour brass claimed the exemption was only available to players in the top 30 money winners from the previous season and tournament winners from the current year – clearly heights Green hadn’t yet been able to achieve down one brother, one lover, one leg.
Not quite as shocking but equally as wrong-minded in these hard economic times, even as the NCAA ponders whether to expand the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from its current 65 teams to 96, an acknowledged boon for smaller programs and NCAA/conference TV rights payments alike, NCAA leaders fail to take into consideration a city or region’s economic need when doling out regional tournament sites.
Communities hosting early round games definitely see a positive impact from energized fans. In upstate New York, the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the economic impact from games at well north of $5 million, boosted when the nearby Syracuse Orangemen were selected to play at HSBC Arena. Across the country in California, San Jose expects to reap a $20 million windfall from its first and second round games, the fourth time that Bay Area city has hosted a portion of the men’s tourney since 1997.
In Milwaukee, Bradley Center suites were full as local firms hosted events for employees and customers during early round games. The event was expected to bring more than 20,000 fans to Milwaukee and generate more than $2.2 million in economic impact and 3,500 room nights.
NCAA Tournament regional sites admittedly need a minimum number of hotel rooms and a functional airport. But too often, proactive, centrally located, and otherwise sports-mad smaller cities (Little Rock, Arkansas, comes to mind) are overlooked because their arenas are too old, lack modern luxury amenities, and don’t provide enough marketing opportunities for Corporate America, the backbone of big time sports, to sell their stuff. While the NCAA does a good job of educating communities on what is needed to host one of their big events, they seldom take the next step in helping to create, or at least identify, financial incentives for these cities – especially communities reeling from job losses and a resulting plunge in tax income.
They could call it Stimulus Madness.
Rick Horrow, also known as “The Sports Professor,” is a regular contributor to CNN as a sports business analyst and co-author of the just released Beyond the Box Score: An Insider’s Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports (Morgan James, March 2010)
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