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Bill Simmons: Bob Iger Return Comes After Being Rebuffed As Potential Suns Owner

“Maybe I’m reporting this — Robert Sarver, the Suns owner, said flat-out ‘I’m not selling to Iger or a group that includes Iger’.”

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Bob Iger made his return to Disney as the company’s CEO in a shocking announcement Sunday night. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons believes it’s not a coincidence Iger has returned to replace Bob Chapek after being told he wouldn’t be part of a new ownership group of the Phoenix Suns.

“I think one of the things that’s been interesting about him the last couple of years is we always heard his name floated around for different things…Would he be involved with the Phoenix Suns? That seemed to be the latest thing,” Simmons said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “‘Oh, Iger’s got a group.’ I know — and maybe I’m reporting this — Robert Sarver, the Suns owner, said flat-out ‘I’m not selling to Iger or a group that includes Iger’ because he blamed Disney for the ESPN story that took down Sarver and led to him selling the team.

“I think once Iger realized he didn’t have a chance with the Suns, maybe that heated up the Disney thing.”

Simmons equated the return of Iger to that of an NFL quarterback he’s quite familiar with.

“There’s some Tom Brady elements to this,” Simmons said. “He leaves his dream job. Didn’t want to stay too long. He’s very wary of anyone who loves the Disney history and has read all the books. He was the guy Michael Eisner just refused to turn Disney over to for years and years, and Iger was very worried about not being that guy and stay too long, but he also wanted new challenges.”

Simmons began his podcast by calling the news one of the more seismic he’s seen.

“One of the biggest Hollywood stories of the past — I would say — eight to ten years happened tonight,” Bill Simmons said. “Bob Iger, who retired from Disney triumphantly, wrote a book, rode off into the sunset, named this handpicked successor — Bob Chapek — and a couple of years later reveals he’s returning as the CEO of Disney.”

Iger was the CEO at Disney from 2005-2020. Simmons worked at Disney-owned ESPN from 2001-2015.

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Dave Portnoy: I Trust Penn Entertainment as Much as Ever

“Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.”

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Dave Portnoy may have had some public disagreements with Penn Entertainment, but he says that he still trusts the company to run Barstool. He took to Twitter earlier this week to dispel the myth that he is in a feud with the company.

“By the way everything I say or do nowadays is construed as me having beef with @PENNEntertain I 100% do not. Most of my net worth is still tied to $penn. The corporate woke overlord narrative is bullshit. They woulda never bought us in 1st place if that was true. I trust them now as much as when they bought us.”

Portnoy has not been shy about criticizing the company’s decision to fire Ben Mintz after Mintz said the n-word while reading rap lyrics. Several supporters, including Dana White, noted that it is the kind of decision that only happens when corporations take over creative enterprises.

Earlier this week, Dave Portnoy announced that he had hired Ben Mintz as the first employee of Brick Watch Company. Mintz was emotional in making the announcement. The decision was not made to stick it to Penn Entertainment according to Portnoy. 

Penn first acquired a stake in Barstool in 2020. It invested $163 million at that time for a 36% stake. Earlier this year, it completed its acquisition, investing an addition $388 million for the remaining 62% of the company.

Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.

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Multiple State Regulators Push Back on Effort to Legalize Gambling on WWE

“In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.”

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Despite speculation over allowing sports bettors to wager on WWE, there doesn’t appear to be much support at the state level to add it to sportsbook offerings.

Earlier this year, WWE officials had discussions with accounting firm Ernst and Young to secure pre-determined match outcomes in order to allow betting on events. But many states where sports betting is legal have restrictions on wagering on scripted events.

In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.

“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards,” Shannon Gray of the Colorado Division of Gaming told Sports Betting Dime.

In Ohio, the same rules apply. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has not fielded any requests to add WWE. Officials in Kansas haven’t received requests either by their residents.

Elsewhere, Maryland sees keeping WWE out of betting offerings as a way to keep the integrity of legal sports betting.

“Maryland’s sports wagering law and regulations prohibit forms of wagering that are contrary to public interest or unfair to bettors,” Seth Elkin of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency added. “We’ve determined that it is unfair to bettors and therefore not in the public’s interest to accept wagers on sports entertainment events that have scripted or predetermined outcomes, like professional wrestling.”

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Former Twitter Sports Boss TJ Adeshola Joins Arctos Partners

“We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

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Less than two months after TJ Adeshola announced his exit from Twitter, he has resurfaced. Arctos Partners, a firm that he had been advising, named Adeshola an operating partner on Thursday.

In the new role, Adeshola will be much more hands-on with the firm, a private investment company that focuses its investments in the sports world. The firm says it focuses on unlocking “non-obvious opportunities long before others have noticed the market need or opportunity”.

TJ Adeshola’s digital sports marketing expertise will certainly come in handy with that.

“We believe TJ is an innovator in emerging digital and sports media trends, and his wealth of knowledge is a tremendous resource for our Arctos Operating Platform, the value-added capabilities we provide to our franchise partners,” Arctos’s Jordan Solomon said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

During his decade with Twitter, Adeshola served as the Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships. His title was Head of Global Content Partnerships at the time of his exit.

He is credited with securing broad strategic partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and MLS as well as NASCAR, esports, college, and high school sports. He helped the platform grow the engagement and audience for those entities.

“I’m thrilled to expand my role with Arctos as an Operating Partner,” Adeshola added. “As the first investment firm to invest across multiple North American sports leagues, Arctos is an innovator and disruptor in the sports landscape. And true to form, the Arctos team recognizes the power of digital media as a tool for growth and an opportunity to drive value for its franchise partners.”

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