Belmont Stakes at starting gate with 18 sponsors


Tonight in Unpacks: The final leg of the Triple Crown is ready to roll, and the Belmont Stakes is sporting 14 sponsors this year. SBJ’s David Broughton has the roster.

  • NBA Finals Game 3 draws 11.5 million viewers
  • Takeaways from the debut of LIV Golf
  • NFL happy with conclusion to Broncos’ sale
  • Call of Duty League event in Canada a success
  • Throwback Thursday: Interleague play begins
  • Op-ed: The growing toxic fandom in American sports

Miss this morning’s Buzzcast? SBJ’s Abe Madkour breaks down LIV Golf going live and what it means, how colleges are staffing up for NIL and Oak View Group launching a division in Canada.

The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, will be run this weekend at “The Championship Track,” in Elmont, N.Y. , with a sponsor roster that includes a mix of new and tenured brands, reports SBJ’s David Broughton.

Mohegan Sun, a partner since 2010, will sponsor five music performances during the weekend and is presenting sponsor of Club 154, a new on-site entertainment space. Caesars Sportsbook, the organization’s newest partner, earlier this month teamed up with NYRA Bets, the official online wagering platform for the race, to launch Caesars Racebook, a mobile betting site for horse racing fans in Florida and Ohio.

This will be NBC‘s 12th straight — and final — telecast of the race, as an eight-year deal with Fox begins with in 2023.

Sponsors for the Belmont Stakes
Coca-Cola Soda 2004
Hill ‘N’ Dale at Xalapa Horse breeding farm 2007
Mohegan Sun Resort 2010
America’s Best Racing (The Jockey Club) Media partner 2012
Longines (Swatch) Watch, timekeeper 2012
Sentient Jet (Directional Aviation) Private jet 2012
Moet & Chandon (LVMH) Champagne 2013
Claiborne Farm Horse breeding farm 2017
Runhappy Stallion* 2017
Molson Coors Beer 2017
White Claw Hard seltzer 2018
Josh Cellars Wine Wine 2018
Gainesway Farm Horse breeding farm 2020
Resorts World Casino Resort 2020
Spendthrift Farm Horse breeding farm 2020
Caesars Sportsbook Sportsbook 2022
Celebrity Cruises Cruiseline 2022
Day Chasers Cocktails Canned cocktail 2022

ABC drew 11.52 million viewers for Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, which saw the Celtics go up 2-1 over the Warriors, and SBJ’s Austin Karp writes there are two ways to look at the number:

  1. The glass is half full. The figure for Game 2 won all of primetime on Wednesday and is up 25% from 9.25 million viewers for the comparable BucksSuns matchup last year, which aired on a Sunday night in mid-July. It’s also up 94% from the least-watched NBA Finals game on record — LakersHeat Game 3 in 2020 — which aired on a Sunday night in early October from the Orlando bubble. ABC is now averaging 11.78 million viewers through three games, up 30% from the same point in Bucks-Suns, and up 76% from the same spot during Lakers-Heat.
  2. The glass is half empty. Excluding the COVID-impacted Finals in 2021 and 2020, the 11.52 million viewers is the least-watched Finals Game 3 since CavaliersSpurs in 2007 drew 9.49 million viewers on a Tuesday night. This year’s Finals is also seeing its lowest three-game average since that Cavs-Spurs series was at 9.08 million in 2007.

The fact is Americans are watching less traditional/pay TV in 2022. The number is down big compared to 2019 — and it means fewer eyeballs on all forms of TV. But the NBA is on the cusp of delivering 35 games this season that drew over 5 million viewers. Only one other TV property (sports or entertainment) delivers those sorts of eyeballs in a given year — the NFL.

LIV Golf‘s debut event teed off from London today. Here are some of the sports business headlines from Day 1 for the new league:

And tonight, reports that Rocket Mortgage has “ended its sponsorship deal with Bryson DeChambeau due to his reported commitment to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series.” A source confirmed to ESPN that DeChambeau is “planning to participate in the second event of the LIV series in Portland, Oregon, beginning June 30.” He has “yet to officially announce the decision.”

In tonight’s SBJ Football newsletter, Ben Fischer breaks down:

  • The rising tide of the Broncos sale, and what’s next
  • How having bid competition was key for the deal
  • There’s a long list of billionaires to draw from for NFL ownership
  • Joe Siclare takes on a new title, and the search is on for the next NFL CFO
  • What’s up with the NFL’s succession plan for Roger Goodell?

In tonight’s SBJ Esports newsletter, the crew looks at:

  • The Toronto Ultra believes it set a “new standard” as host for first Call of Duty League major in Canada
  • Wizards District Gaming rising to the top of the NBA 2K League
  • Riot Games is going with a full audience for next week’s League of Legends event in Berlin
  • While Bobby Kotick has convinced the likes of Robert Kraft and Stan Kroenke to invest in Overwatch League franchises, one billionaire who “didn’t bite” was Elon Musk

Twenty-five years ago, MLB needed an image boost and finally experimented with a scheduling change that would launch a new era in the sport, writes SBJ’s Ted Keith.

On June 12, 1997, The Ballpark in Arlington hosted a RangersGiants game that marked the first regular-season contest between AL and NL teams in MLB history. For their first 96 years of coexistence, interleague play had been confined solely to exhibition games, the All-Star Game, the World Series and the imagination.

The early returns were a landslide. With the novelty of never-before-seen showdowns like MetsYankees and Blue JaysExpos finally taking place, interleague attendance in 1997 was up 21% compared to intraleague affairs.

Eventually, all the profit made a prophet out of then-Commissioner Bud Selig, who had offered a prescient forecast when interleague play was approved: “This will be a tremendous success.”

Read the full story here.

Tonight’s op-ed comes from Cierra Moore, a strategy director at full-service agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Moore writes that after “having fans back at live events for the past several months, we’ve gotten a chance to see with our own eyes how fan behavior has grown more sinister.”

Moore: “To change the behavior of fans, we must see more sports media personalities unequivocally condemning this kind of fan behavior and leading by example by not giving takes that encourage trolling or harassment. It shouldn’t take escalating violence for us to say this is too much.”

Read Moore’s full contribution here.

  • SBJ facilities reporter Bret McCormick and soccer reporter Alex Silverman say five U.S. cities are locks to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026. But they have different ideas when it comes to the rest of the field in North America in four years. Check out the discussion on the latest episode of SBJ Spotlight.
  • Blockchain logistics company VeChain signed up as a UFC global sponsor, marking the brand’s first sports sponsorship play, reports SBJ’s Terry Lefton. A source said the five-year deal was for nearly $100 million, which would make it one of UFC’s largest sponsorship deals on record.
  • Topps, now a part of Fanatics Collectibles, will release its first sets of college football and basketball cards this fall, reports SBJ’s Michael Smith. Fanatics has secured the exclusive rights to more than 35 major programs, giving them the majority of Power Five schools.
  • Chipotle will remain the official Mexican restaurant of the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams under a multiyear renewal of its sponsorship with U.S. Soccer, reports SBJ’s Silverman.
  • CJ McCollum, the Pelicans guard who also is now an ESPN analyst, joins the new “Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast” to discusses his media future, the state of NBA media and why he majored in journalism at Lehigh.
  • Players on the Connecticut Sun will begin offering digital autographs for fans through the WNBA team’s new deal with online event solutions provider Virtual Tables, reports SportTechie’s Andrew Cohen.