Tonight in Unpacks: On the heels of the first-ever NBA Con, Fanatics announces the launch of a live events business as sports follows the lead of entertainment, gaming and geek culture with fan conventions. SBJ’s Bret McCormick reports on Fanatics’ plans.
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Nick Faldo set to return to Open broadcast
SRX season starts with new window on ESPN
Six months out from the first Vegas Super Bowl
An inside look at a major sports tech rebrand
Op-ed: Harnessing the power of generative design
Commanders, BidStack team to sell virtual signage
In this morning's Buzzcast, SBJ’s Abe Madkour had a number of issues on his mind, including:
Some bright spots for MLB despite record-low All-Star Game viewership
MLB regular-season viewership is up across the board
Fans are coming into ballparks at a higher clip
Yankees sign a notable jersey patch deal
SRX seeks to build momentum on new night, new channel
Jets get the ‘Hard Knocks’ spotlight, whether they like it or not
Eric Winston becomes president of Winners Alliance
CEO Bob Iger sticking around until 2026 at Disney
Fanatics launching new company for live events
Fanatics is launching Fanatics Events, which will build a portfolio of live events geared around collectors and the company’s various IP, reports SBJ’s Bret McCormick. Content, community, and commerce will be the three basic ingredients of Fanatics Events shows.
The goal is to get Fanatics Events running by the third or fourth quarter of this year, with the first events to be held in early 2024.
Fanatics' events will feature past and current athletes, activations by major brands in the collecting, footwear, and apparel worlds, live stage events, merchandise and apparel for purchase, exhibitions -- especially of trading card and memorabilia collections -- evening entertainment and pop culture guests and content.
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Go back a year ago, and Kyle Busch was truly unsure of whether he would have a NASCAR ride in 2023. He even told NASCAR Chairman Jim France, "Nice knowing you."
That revelation comes near the end of this 1-on-1 interview with Kyle Busch that he did with FOX Sports last Saturday at Atlanta.
He talks about the transition to Richard Childress Racing, working with crew chief Randall Burnett, having driver Austin Dillon as a teammate and how many years of racing he has left in him.
The interview has minor edits for brevity and clarity.
You're halfway through the first season at RCR. I can't imagine that things are going worse than you thought with three wins. So has it gone about what you thought or better?
It's gone about what I thought. I guess the three wins is probably a little bit ahead of where I thought we would be. But some of the consistency that I've not brought to the team of speeding on pit road, or just issues on the racetrack, incidents on the racetrack, mistakes [I've made] have been a lot. And that's kind of set us behind. The team and I have really pushed through and powered through many of those to be able to get good finishes on days that maybe we weren't really seeing the potential for a good finish. If we can clean that up, we can be better than what we are right now. But I think halfway through our first year, we've been strong. And it's been nice to work with Austin and Richard and Randall and all the guys to continue to push and evolve and see any areas of weakness to work on.
The decision of the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee to keep Jimmie Johnson eligible for induction as part of the 2024 class despite his racing a handful of NASCAR events this year is the right and wrong decision.
It's wrong because he isn't retired. A driver who competes in races is not retired. And if the thought is a driver needs to be retired for two years and then put on the ballot in the third year of retirement, he hasn't truly met the parameters since he has raced this year after two years of competing in IndyCar.
But it's the right decision because the nominating committee made the same ruling with Jeff Gordon, who came back and drove when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was out with a concussion. They made the same ruling for Matt Kenseth, who competed in 2020 when Chip Ganassi Racing needed a driver to replace Kyle Larson.
The Hall of Fame needs drivers who are current superstars in order to attract visitors to the shrine. So it makes sense NASCAR would want to get these drivers in as soon as possible. But a driver shouldn't still be planning to do races and get in the Hall of Fame, at least under the eligibility provision on being retired (there is a provision that a driver with 30 years of racing or is 55 years old is eligible).
Have a question? Respond to this Twitter post with your question:
If he could add a track in any city where would it be and what it would it look like? - UVANATSKINSHMS
It would be a Rockingham-shaped and banked track as close to New Orleans as possible. It would put a relative short track in an area with not many short tracks and a city that people would gravitate to in order to see a race.
Bob, how did the "does _____ have lights" get started? - Scott from Texas
This is appropriate this week since New Hampshire Motor Speedway doesn’t have lights. Back when Twitter started in 2009, several tracks didn’t have lights or had just added them in the last four or five years so every week, especially when there were rain delays, I would get questions on whether the track has lights.
They Said It
"I snowboarded my whole career on off-weekends and over the offseason. That, I think takes care of that answer." — Jeff Gordon on whether he is re-evaluating permissible off-the-track activities for Hendrick drivers