PGA Tour Tries To Explain Its Merger

PGA Tour Tries To Explain Its Merger

Front Office Sports

Just before the big news broke of Lionel Messi’s signing with Inter Miami — after he turned down a last-ditch, $1.6 billion offer from Saudi Arabia — Apple TV announced a four-part docuseries on the Argentine icon with producers from “Free Solo” and “Welcome to Wrexham.”

For the PGA Tour, controlling the narrative will be key to gaining public support for its partnership with Saudi Arabia’s controversial Public Investment Fund.

Since Tuesday morning’s news, headlines have understandably labeled the turn of events as a merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf — but that’s not how the Tour sees it.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has emphasized the importance of remaining a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization while also creating a new for-profit company with the PIF and DP World Tour.

Rory McIlroy echoed that sentiment and explained his frustration with the confusion on Wednesday.

“All the headlines were ‘PGA Tour merges with LIV,’” he said. “And LIV’s got nothing to do with this.” McIlroy noted Monahan would effectively have the final say on all LIV business, adding, “I still hate LIV. … I hope it goes away.”

Monahan isn’t off to a hot start navigating criticism of Saudi Arabia, especially its involvement in 9/11. He stumbled through a question on the matter during a Golf Channel interview on Wednesday.

What About The Shark?

On Wednesday, LIV Golf League commissioner Greg Norman reportedly told employees the tour would be moving forward as its own entity, despite Monahan saying he couldn’t see that scenario unfolding on Tuesday. 

The deal still needs PGA Tour Policy Board approval in the coming weeks — but given that Norman wasn’t consulted, it wouldn’t be surprising if the LIV brand is no longer a priority for the PIF in this new partnership.

Say this much for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ proposed stadium renovation: The team certainly isn’t lacking ambition.

The Jaguars released initial renderings for a large-scale revamp of the publicly owned TIAA Bank Stadium. But rather than merely display a series of images and call the project a renovation, the team also unveiled its dramatic vision with a five-minute video — in which dubbed the initiative “the Stadium of the Future,” and promised a “transformation of downtown Jacksonville.”

A new stadium canopy is a key part of the project, as the Jaguars are angling to bring major events such as the NFL Draft and international soccer matches to Jacksonville. “It all points to better and hopefully our best days just ahead in Jacksonville,” said Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

But pressing questions remain pertaining to the project’s final costs and timeline. The stadium work itself could range between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion, surpassing $2 billion, including related development around the facility, and take as long as four years to complete.

The Jaguars have a memorandum of understanding with the city contemplating a 50-50 split between public funds and the team. Jacksonville’s incoming mayor Donna Deegan takes office July 1 and will have a significant role in any final deal.

It’s also undetermined where the Jaguars will play during construction — and the timetable is directly impacting talks.

In the meantime, the Jaguars will have an unprecedented two-week stay in London during the 2023 season.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

NFL players should take note of their peers’ recent violations of the NFL’s gambling policy.

According to one gambling expert, that lesson could be one silver lining from the news that Indianapolis Colts kick returner/defensive back Isaiah Rodgers is reportedly facing a potential lifetime ban for betting on games that he played in.

Chris Grove — a co-founding partner at Acies Investments, a VC fund that focuses on sports betting — told Front Office Sports that teams should use situations like Rodgers’ as the ultimate education tool regarding the NFL’s gambling rules.

In April, five players on the Detroit Lions were suspended by the NFL for also violating the league’s gambling policy. In September, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley will play in his first NFL game in nearly two years after betting on games in 2021 while with the Atlanta Falcons.

The proliferation of legalized sports betting in the U.S. hasn’t made more professional athletes interested in gambling, Grove says, but simply made it easier for the leagues to track betting activity among its players and employees.

Grove says the betting industry is certainly following cases like Rodgers’ but isn’t worried about any negative impacts on the partnerships with leagues like the NFL.

The NFL has a multitude of sports betting partners, including major sportsbooks like Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel, which originally came on board in deals totalling nearly $1 billion.

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

A federal legislator sees the Oakland A’s relocation effort as an opportunity to call MLB’s long-standing antitrust exemption into question. 

On Monday, Oakland’s Rep. Barbara Lee sent a letter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pointedly asking if the league’s federal antitrust exemption is appropriate in light of the league’s encouragement in moving the A’s to Las Vegas — particularly Manfred’s promise to waive the team’s relocation fee.

Lee cited Manfred’s July 2022 letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she claims he “volunteered that ‘The MLB antitrust exemption helps ensure that MLB Clubs maintain deep and enduring relationships with their fan bases, whereas franchises in other sports regularly relocate from one market to another.’” 

“MLB’s continued active encouragement of the A’s abandonment of Oakland and the East Bay runs counter to the rationale supporting MLB’s century-old exemption from federal antitrust law,” Lee added.

The antitrust exemption has come under scrutiny in recent years. In June 2022, a bipartisan quartet from the Senate Judiciary Committee launched an effort to examine the exemption and if it is still appropriate. 

That was in response to MLB’s termination of 40 minor league teams in 2020. Minor league players have since joined the MLBPA and successfully lobbied for improvements in salaries and working conditions.

  • The NHL is digitally recreating the goals scored during this year’s Stanley Cup Final on Roblox, the online video game platform with over 60 million daily active users. “3D Roblox Highlights” uses the league’s puck and player tracking system, which collects data from sensors and cameras in arenas — and fans can select which goals they want to be rendered.
  • The College Football Players Association is organizing a boycott of the 2024 “EA Sports College Football” video game, per On3, stating, “They should not opt into it. It is just a ridiculously low amount of money.” Athlete payouts are expected to be $500.
  • The Premier Lacrosse League season’s opening game averaged 548,000 viewers this weekend — making it the most-watched outdoor pro lacrosse game ever.

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