St. Louis breathes life into XFL

Alabama and Colorado will be playing their spring football games at the exact same time — but ESPN has opted to only televise Colorado’s, while Alabama’s will only be available in streaming. Georgia Spring Games will be broadcast on ESPN 2, all others will be broadcast on either ESPN+ or conference channels.

St. Louis has become the proving ground for the XFL.

The Battlehawks’ first home game against the Arlington Renegades on Sunday at The Dome — where the NFL’s Rams played before moving to Los Angeles — set an attendance record for the XFL with 38,310 fans.

The Rams played in St. Louis from 1995 to 2015.

That’s almost half the attendance of Week 4 with 75,000 spectators in the four games of the league. For the year, the attendance is more than 220,000.

The high attendance doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, which bodes well for the league as a whole. St. Louis has more than 18,000 season ticket holders — more than double the 2020 edition — and has already sold more than 27,000 seats for its second home game on Saturday.

The city is also the leading XFL market by ticket revenue and local partnerships.

League relaunch

After Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital Partners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2020 due to pandemic-related effects, they purchased the XFL from Alpha Entertainment of WWE founder Vince McMahon for $15 million in August of that year .

In May 2022, the league inked a multi-year deal with Disney to show all 43 games on its family of channels, including ABC, ESPN Networks and FX.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the field of 68 sets, both casual and hardcore bettors can turn their attention to March Madness – where they will be part of a massive contingent at the celebrations.

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A new poll by the American Gaming Association found that 68 million American adults — or about a quarter of that population — plan to wager a total of $15.5 billion on the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

Within that number, 56.3 million plan to enter a bracket competition, 21.5 million plan to place a casual bet with friends, and 31 million plan to place a traditional bet online, with a sportsbook or with a bookmaker.

The expanded access to legal sports betting – most recently also in Massachusetts – leads to more new bets:

Three-quarters of the online bettors surveyed say they will be betting online on March Madness for the first time.

The polled bettors are also betting on specific teams to win the national championship: 9% back Kentucky, 8% are on Texas A&M, and 6% are picking either Alabama, Gonzaga, or UCLA.

Given that March Madness is a multi-week event, it should come as no surprise that there are likely to be more bettors than the Super Bowl (50 million).

However, the magnitude of the Big Game brings out the big bets, as the Super Bowl was forecast at $500 million more ($16 billion) than the basketball tournament.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arte Moreno could have set a record for an MLB team sale.

The Los Angeles Angels owner told Sports Illustrated that he has three offers on the table, “well above the Mets’ number.” Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets for a record $2.4 billion in 2020 — at a time when the team was $350 million in debt.

Moreno noted that all three offers were at least $200 million more than what Cohen had paid. Moreno also said he had a fourth request from Japan that didn’t result in an offer.

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Moreno said he plans to keep a 5-10% stake in the team. In the end he couldn’t part with it: “In my heart I just couldn’t pull it off.”

The team first landed on the market after a failed $320 million land deal with the City of Anaheim for the area around the stadium. The deal was canceled following corruption allegations against Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, who resigned amid the scandal.

Moreno was not involved in an FBI investigation into the case, but Sidhu was accused of providing the team with confidential information in hopes of raising a $1 million campaign donation. Sidhu has denied any wrongdoing.

FC Barcelona is pausing a plan to raise $1.6 billion primarily for stadium renovations.

The club reportedly froze when faced with a rise in US borrowing costs and are now considering other options to raise the money, according to the Financial Times.

In February, the Kroll Bond Rating Agency had given Barca’s financial plans for the Camp Nou renovation a triple-B plus rating – but later downgraded it to a triple-B due to a revised financing structure.

Just a week ago it was reported that the club are considering restructuring the plan to repay their loans sooner.

Still, Barcelona plan to move forward and have a full plan by the end of March. The club’s current plans have the renovations completed by 2025 – but that could change given the delay in funding.

The referee scandal

Meanwhile, Barca are still dealing with the fallout from allegations that they bribed referees for several years – and now their biggest rival is piling up.

After the Spanish prosecutor’s office launched investigations and corruption charges last week, Real Madrid have announced that they will take part in Barcelona’s trial.

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“The club has agreed that if the judge opens it up to the parties concerned, it will appear in the trial to defend its legitimate rights,” announced Real Madrid.

Barcelona admitted it paid at least $7.4million to a company owned by former La Liga refereeing committee member Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira – but say it’s all for legitimate purposes such as advice and video was.

Atmosphere Sports is the ultimate streaming destination for businesses that want constant esports news, live scores and highlights, from March’s staple breakers to the magic at The Masters. Learn more.* Colorado will be the only college football team whose spring game will be broadcast on ESPN’s flagship channel. Georgia Spring Games will be broadcast on ESPN 2, all others will be broadcast on either ESPN+ or conference channels. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ High-A affiliate, the Hillsboro Hops, has announced a plan for a $120 million stadium to be built by 2025 not only for Hops games but also for concerts and festivals.

“We have an estimated 68 million bettors in the US making $15.5 billion in bets … that’s a quarter of American adults who are expected to deposit money.”

– Senior Writer Owen Poindexter on the predicted number of players expected to bet on this year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament in the latest episode of Front Office Sports Today.

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