Sports Finance Report: Indie Wrestling Event to Draw 10,000 Fans, Largest Non-WWE Show Since ‘99
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Indie Wrestling Event to Draw 10,000 Fans, Largest Non-WWE Show Since ‘99
The largest indie wrestling event ever, entitled “All In”, will take place in Chicago on September 1st; when more than 10,000 fans attend a show promoted by Cody (formerly Cody Rhodes, WWE legend Dusty Rhodes son) and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). 10,000 tickets sold represents a significant accomplishment in squared circles (pun intended), as no pro wrestling promotion besides the WWE or WCW has drawn the figure since Lucha Libra in ’93; and there hasn’t been a promotion targeting English speaking fans to fill 10,000 seats since 1984. Sears Centre Arena (capacity 10,218) will host the self-financed event and the card will be comprised of stars from Ring of Honor (ROH), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), National Wrestling Alliance and Impact Wrestling. Tickets went on sale on Sunday May 13th and sold out in just 29 minutes.
Howie Long-Short: This is NOT a Ring of Honor event. Cody and The Young Bucks (stars within the ROH promotion) took all the financial risk associated with putting on the event, a gamble that appears will pay off. While the 3 wrestlers will profit on the event, it must be noted that “All-In” wasn’t designed to be a cash grab (the highest priced ticket was $153). Cody decided to put the event on when Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer tweeted that he didn’t think ROH could sell 10,000 seats. In other words, it was a “bet.”.
Ring of Honor is a subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI). On May 9th, the company reported Q1 ’18 revenue grew 6.1% to $626.9 million. CEO Chris Ripley said, “advertising revenue was soft” (many stations not carry the Super Bowl or Olympics), but because the company’s “distribution revenues ($314 million) now make up approximately half its media revenues ($643 million)” the “business model very resilient to ad market volatility.” Shares are up 12.6% since reporting a “first quarter that came in well ahead of guidance in all key financial metrics.”
Fan Marino: In addition to Cody and The Young Bucks, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, NJPW fan favorite Kenny Omega, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis and former WWE Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio will all be on the card. Rumors are circling that former WWE star turned MMA fighter, CM Punk, could also make his return to wrestling on the card.
Churchill Downs to Launch NJ Online Sportsbook and Casino, PA, MA to Follow
Churchill Downs, Inc. (CHDN) announced two deals on Tuesday with the intention of launching a New Jersey online sportsbook and casino in Q1 2019. CHDN established a partnership with Golden Nugget (Atlantic City), that provides the company with access to an operating license in the Garden State; necessary as New Jersey restricts licenses for online gambling sites to the state’s brick and mortar casinos and CHDN does not maintain a physical presence in the state. The Louisville based racing and gaming company also announced an agreement with SBTech, an online bookmaker and white label operator of sports betting and iGaming platform solutions. SBTech software, which includes a consumer facing site, mobile apps and back-end management systems will enable CHDN to offer and take bets within the state.
Howie Long-Short: While Churchill Downs (CHDN) owns TwinSpires, an online horse betting application, these announcements mark the company’s first foray into online casino gaming and sports betting (hence the need for the SBTech). In addition to New Jersey, CHDN intends on operating an online sportsbook and casino in Pennsylvania and an online sportsbook in Mississippi. The company acquired a land-based casino in PA and 2 more in MS, in anticipation of the SCOTUS decision back in March, so the company will not require a partner (with an operating license) in those states.
New Jersey gamblers are going to have a wide array of mobile apps to select from, as +/- 20 brands are expected to pursue a slice of the online sports betting pie. In addition to the Churchill Downs announcement, Hard Rock online casino and Ocean Resort casino (a Hyatt franchisee, H) have also announced intentions to offer online gaming within the state.
CHDN reported a rise in both net revenue +13% YoY (to $189.3 million) and adjusted EBITDA +36% YOY (to $49.2 million) in Q1 ’18. CEO Bill Carstanjen attributed the growth to strong performance from the company’s casino and TwinSpires businesses. Casino adjusted EBITDA increased $9 million YoY, while TwinSpires’ adjusted EBITDA increased +$3.3 million as the company increased its handle by 20.2%. CHDN shares are up 10% since Monday’s historic announcement, closing on Wednesday (5.16) at $306.40.
Fan Marino: On Saturday afternoon Justify (1/2) will aim for the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown in the 143rd Preakness Stakes (5p EST, NBC). Derby runner-up Good Magic (3/1) will run in the 8 horse field.
Set Your DVR: NBCSN is airing a new documentary entitled “Dark Horses” at 12a EST on Friday evening/Saturday morning. The film tells the story of the 1989 rivalry between Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. For those who aren’t horse racing historians, the 1989 Preakness Stakes (won by Sunday Silence over Easy Goer at the wire) is considered among the greatest horse races ever run on an American track. Here’s a video of the race, it’s a MUST WATCH for hardcore fans.
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