Penalties before extra time??

March 30, 2010

Liam Lenten of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, presented a fascinating paper in Birmingham yesterday on whether the traditional penalty shoot out should be moved to before extra time begins.

If you haven’t heard the idea before, you heard right: Instead of the current penalties after a level extra time period, instead penalties are taken before extra time begins, after 90 minutes. The winner of the shoot out then has something akin to an away goal, and should extra time remain goalless, they will win. On the other hand, should the team that lost the shoot-out score just once without reply in extra time, they will win.

It’s being pushed by some chap who resides in Bristol in the UK, and has been patented as The Advantage, with a nice bit of manipulated footage of the 2006 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and West Ham (which Liverpool won on penalties).

Lenten and co-authors empirically assess whether this new idea might lead to more goals by considering matches where there is a goal in the first 5 minutes of extra time, and consider whether that causes there to be more goals in the remainder of extra time. They find a powerful effect, and hence argue that this idea is at least worth trying, and I’m inclined to agree.

It’s not a method that will distort things too much, offering perverse incentives to players (such as the classic Golden Goal, which just led to players becoming more defensive in extra time). The only concern apparently is that players will get cold waiting for penalties to be taken (initially the suggestion was just 3 pens a team but now apparently the patent owner believes it should be straight to sudden death in the shoot out – i.e. if a team misses and the other team scores, the shoot-out is over).

I have my own slight tweak of the idea that I think would get around that getting cold problem. But in the true spirit of things, I’m going to get on the phone to FIFA and see how much I can extract for them in return for the idea…


NBA Labor Update

March 29, 2010

Ken Berger at CBS Sportsline had an article 10 days ago regarding the NBA Players Association response to David Stern’s initial labor proposal. A quick review of Stern’s proposal can be found here.  The big picture is Stern claims that the league will lose about 400 million this season and radical changes must be made to control costs for the owners.  The Players Association believes this figure is inaccurate.  The head of the Players Association, Billy Hunter, said:

“The basis of our objection is just when it comes to general accounting principles,” Hunter said. “We think that there’s been an overstatement, that some of the things that they discount should not be discounted because they relate to non-operating expenses and related parties.”

This should come to no surprise to people studying the business of sports.  As Brad posted last year, Paul Beeston has been quoted as saying:

“Anyone who quotes profits of a baseball club is missing the point. Under generally accepted accounting principles, I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss and I could get every national accounting firm to agree with me.”

If this is true, the players would seem to have the upper-hand in the labor negotiations.   It will be interesting to see the results from the Players Association investigation of the league’s finances and what their counter proposal will be.

Butler and the Economic Impact of the Final Four

March 29, 2010

When Butler beat Kansas State Saturday afternoon, it almost certainly had an effect on the economic impact of the Final Four.  Butler University is located in Indianapolis, so most, or all the Butler fans who attend the games will represent local spending, not tourist spending.  Any net economic impact from the Final Four in Indianapolis comes from “export tourism” spending.  That’s all spending on hotels, meals, drinks, car rental, etc. made by visitors from outside Indy who would not have otherwise visited Indy.  My guess is that the majority of Butler’s fans live in the metro Indianapolis area.  So most or all the economic activity undertaken by Butler fans is money that would have been spent on entertainment in the Indy area anyway.

CNBC has an article about this effect.  The usual suspects (me, Vic Matheson, Andy Zinbalist, Mark Roesntraub) have been rounded up for quotes.  Although I dispute the estimate of $50 million in economic impact attributable to the Final Four in the article, the impact of Butler clearly has to reduce the size of the impact.  I would be interested in hearing the reasoning behind Professor Zimbalist’s quote.

International Bowl Canceled

March 26, 2010

An article on yesterday stated that the International Bowl has been canceled. The International Bowl was the only bowl game played outside of the United States and had been part of the bowl menu for four years. It was played in Toronto and matched the Big East against the Mid American Conference where the Big East had dominated all four games.  This year’s bowl game attracted the lowest attendance at just over 22,000 fans.

I am not surprised by the cancellation of the bowl game. With the Big East Conference being one of the representatives in the new Yankee Stadium Bowl, sending a lower Big East team to the International Bowl just did not make sense.  In addition, I do not think a game against two non-BCS teams would attract many fans from Canada in the middle of hockey season.

I personally did not think it would last four years.   The article does state that the bowl could be resurrected in the future, but I see that as being the distant future.

Thanks to Jimmy Smith who sent me the article.

More on Losses in the Women’s NCAA Tourney

March 25, 2010

Here’s an interesting follow up to Nick’s post about losses incurred by the hosts of subregional games in the women’s NCAA tournament.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the University of Pittsburgh lost quite a bit of money hosting subregional games last weekend.  The Pitt women’s team was not seeded in Pittsburgh, and Pitt sold only 5,000 tickets to the games.  In addition, the article reports that 11 of the 16 subregional sites in last year’s tournament lost money, and the losses were between $20,000 and $50,000.

That’s quite a racket that the NCAA has going.  They have figured out how to get cash strapped university athletic departments to subsidize the costs of hosting the women’s tournament.  Given the huge value of the NCAA contract with CBS to televise the men’s tournament ($6 billion dollars over nine years), you would think that the NCAA wouldn’t have to nickle and dime hosts like this.

Edmonton Arena Update

March 24, 2010

As you may recall, Edmonton Oilers owner Darryl Katz has been trying to get the city of Edmonton to build him a new, publicly financed arena downtown.  Rexall Place, current home to the Oilers, was built in 1973.  Katz has been getting quite a bit of push back from local taxpayers, who don’t seem particularly interested in footing the $400 million plus bill of a new arena.  Local TV affiliate CTV recently commissioned a public opinion survey of Edmontonians about this subsidy.  The results were surprising, to say the least.  55% of residents disagreed with the statement “Should the City of Edmonton build a new arena for the Oilers?”  Worse, only a plurality (44%) of Oilers season ticket holders agreed.  If there is one group of taxpayers who stands to benefit substantially from a new arena, it is hard core Oilers fans. Of course Katz and the players will also benefit, but they will pay only a fraction of the bill.

I was on CTV in Edmonton last night discussing the results of the poll.  Here’s a link to video of the segment. As you can see, I have a face “made for radio.” Here’s a link to some of the survey results.  This appears to be a setback for Katz’ attempt to get a new, publicly financed stadium in Edmonton.

Women’s Basketball Tournament Finance and Buying Home Court Advantage.

March 23, 2010

While the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is hosted in “neutral” sites away from campus, the Women’s NCAA tournament is hosted by Universities, who must bid in order to host games for the first two rounds.  In later rounds, the games are moved to neutral sites.  A recent ESPN article noted that there is a big financial risk for those schools who host NCAA women’s basketball tournament games.  As part of hosting these games, the schools are required to make a commitment to bring in a certain amount of revenue which will be given to the NCAA.  If this amount isn’t reached, the school (or rather its athletic department) must make up the difference.  In other words, if no one shows up to the games, not only will the school have to pay all of the expenses, they will also have to pay money to the NCAA for not having people show up.

The article points out that there is often uncertainties among host schools about how much money should be allocated to various finances, and that of six sites which hosted games and did not have their home team play, five of them didn’t make enough money to cover the guaranteed money to be given to the NCAA.  Some schools have lost between $30,000 and $40,000 in hosting this event, but it is noted that schools like Michigan State have accepted these losses in order to bring their team home court advantage.  While the school posted a $30,000 loss in hosting the Women’s NCAA tournament last year, the gamble did pay off on the court, as the home court crowd helped boost the team to an upset victory.  Notably, Rutgers also pulled off an upset by “buying” themselves home court advantage, despite being a lower seed.

Things are quite different in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tournament, and it seems like several schools are taking big hits in the checkbook because of the way the women’s tournament is run.  The question is, if the NCAA hosted the first and second round Women’s NCAA games at a neutral site, would they bring in as much revenue, and would as many fans come to games?  I’d be interested in seeing if such a comparison exists.