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Gainbridge extends as Indianapolis 500 presenting sponsor....Judge denies motion to dismiss Jon Gruden lawsuit....Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle, speaks out on her detainment

Gainbridge extends as Indy 500 presenting sponsor

The Indianapolis 500 will be presented by Gainbridge for the next several years in a "multiyear contract extension" with the online investment platform. Gainbridge is an Indianapolis-based company that in '19 became presenting sponsor of the race, and the "initial partnership was a four-year deal." Gainbridge CEO Dan Towriss would not reveal terms of the extension, but said that the "marketing spend has been a worthwhile investment." Towriss: "We have a tremendous partnership with Penske Entertainment." Also in the sport, Gainbridge is the "primary sponsor for Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta." The company also has the naming rights to the Pacers' Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The extended Indy 500 sponsorship "led to a creation of a new logo for the 2023 race that is a representation of the famed oval" (AP, 5/25).

Judge denies motion to dismiss Gruden lawsuit

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the NFL "will continue to be litigated" after a Las Vegas judge today "denied a motion to dismiss the case." The judge also "dismissed a motion from the NFL and Goodell to force the case into arbitration." Gruden sued the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell in November claiming the NFL leaked "racist, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ emails he wrote" in an attempt to "ruin his career and reputation." The league has "denied it was responsible" and has contended it "would have fired Gruden had he not stepped down" in October following the emails becoming public. Gruden "attended court" today but "declined to answer questions following the hearing" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/25).

Brittney Griner's wife speaks on her detainment

Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA Phoenix Mercury C Brittney Griner, spoke with ABC’s Robin Roberts about dealing with Brittney’s ongoing incarceration in Russia. Cherelle said Brittney is a “political pawn." She noted prior to this, Brittney’s experience in Russia had been “great." Cherelle: “They treat them like superstars.” She also said she and more specifically, Brittney, take “comfort” in the WNBA painting “BG” and “42” on their courts to honor Brittney and “it lets her know she’s not forgotten” (“GMA,” ABC, 5/25). 

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson of his efforts on behalf of the Griner family to help secure Griner’s release from Russia said, “I am convinced the Russians are going to ask for something in return because Brittney Griner is very high-profile.” Richardson said he became involved in the case after Griner’s agent and the WNBA “called us and asked us to get involved” (“Real Sports,” HBO, 5/25). ESPN’s T.J. Quinn said the “people I’ve spoken to said the fact that Bill Richardson is involved at all” in the Griner case is “cause for optimism” and the family does “recognize there is cause for hope.” Quinn: “But they also know that there can be many disappointments in a negotiation like this” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/25).

Oakley signs breakthrough deal with Envy Gaming

By Kevin Hitt

Oakley has signed a wide-ranging partnership with Texas-based esports and entertainment organization Envy Gaming. With this deal, Oakley also becomes the exclusive eyewear partner for Envy’s OpTic Gaming brand, and its players will wear its gear during matches and streams. This is the first time Oakley has made such a partnership with an esports organization. Oakley will be featured as a jersey sponsor for both the OpTic Halo and OpTic Valorant teams, as well as OpTic Texas, which participates in the Call of Duty League.

Last March, the Oakley brand was already a part of the jersey on broadcast during record-breaking viewership of the Call of Duty League 2022 Major I tournament, in which OpTic took home the $200,000 championship. The Oakley logo was also on the left sleeve of OpTic Valorant, which claimed its spot as the No. 1 Valorant team in the world, winning the Valorant Champions Tour 2022: Stage 1 championship last April in Reykjavík. Read more here.

Want more esports? Check out SBJ's special esports landing page

Dick's trims FY outlook after Q1 declines

Dick’s Sporting Goods is "trimming its financial outlook for the year amid uncertain economic conditions," but indicated that it "isn’t yet seeing any dramatic shifts in its business." On a call with analysts, DSG CEO Lauren Hobart said that she "had confidence in Dick’s longer-term business strategy and in maintaining profitability." This comes after Dick’s for Q1 reported net income for the three-month period ended April 30 of $260.6M compared with net income of $361.8M a year earlier. Sales fell about 8% to $2.7B from $2.92B in the year-ago period, "but they were enough to top expectations" (CNBC.com, 5/25). 

CNBC contributor Steve Weiss said, “It’s a cheap stock, but name a retailor that isn’t a cheap stock at this point” (“Fast Money Halftime,” CNBC, 5/25). At presstime, shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods were trading at $77.70., up 9%.

Memphis venue eyes esports with 4K display

By Bret McCormick

Landers Center in Southaven, Miss., has installed the largest 4K LED display at an indoor sports venue in North America. The display will feature more than 10 million pixels and will enable the venue to pursue esports tournaments. The new display can show four-player 1080p action within one view, as well as true 4K video for sports, concerts or graduation ceremonies. Landers Center was built in '00 and is home to the NBA G League Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies’ affiliate) as well as a lower-tier pro indoor soccer team, the NISL Memphis Americans. The display was produced by Nashville-based UberDisplays.

Podcast Picks: NFL rookies get that money

“I Am Athlete” discussed financial literacy among the '22 NFL Draft class and how the Rookie Symposium attempts to educate first-year players. Co-host Brandon Marshall said “some dudes be sleeping” during the symposium” but this is “real life.” Co-host LeSean McCoy noted “most of the NFL is dominated by blacks and most blacks don’t really have any financial literacy in their family.” 

HOLDING COURT: The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players -- which then triggered the decision by the ATP and WTA to not award any ranking points to the tournament -- was debated on “Tennis Talk” this week. Co-host Dave Mustard said he was not “so sure everybody’s thought it through,” in terms of how the decision to not award points affects the whole season. Mustard: “It would be pretty sad if the players boycotted, but I can understand in many ways why.”

GENERATION X: The “XFL Week In Review” examined the “huge deal” the league signed with Disney and ESPN, along with the league announcing the date it will resume play. Host Mark Perry: “For those that have been through the 2.0 era and even before the 2.0 era, to have an official date for the second time we have been covering the XFL since 2018, this is welcome, welcome, exciting news.”

Know of a podcast we should keep tabs on? Send an email to pbounds@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Also, check out SBJ's podcast home.

Steelers formally name Omar Khan new GM

The Steelers officially hired Omar Khan as the team's new GM, signing him to a "four-year contract." Khan has "been with the organization for 21 years," and has served primarily as the Steelers’ "lead contract negotiator who manages" the salary cap (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/25). Khan was one of "six finalists for the position" and one of "two in-house candidates under consideration." The hiring of Khan ends a process that began in January when Kevin Colbert "announced he would step aside after the NFL Draft to spend more time with his family." Colbert is expected to "remain with the Steelers in a reduced capacity" (TRIBLIVE.com, 5/25).

SBJ Atlas: Enterprise at full strength with Blues

By Michael Cupello

St. Louis-based Enterprise bet big with the NHL just before the '09-10 season, becoming the league’s official rental car sponsor in North America -- and becoming a partner of each club at the time. The company got a chance to make an even deeper connection locally in May '18, as it signed a 15-year naming rights deal for the Blues’ home arena. It was fortuitous timing for Enterprise, as the Blues went on to win the club’s first Stanley Cup the next season. This season, Enterprise commemorated that '19 Cup win by gifting 12,000 fans replica championship rings at the penultimate home game, which happened to be against the same team they beat for the Cup -- the Bruins.

Enterprise’s deal with the Blues also gives them helmet sponsorship and presenting sponsorship of the team’s website. The brand is active in the community and hosted a vaccination clinic before the '21-22 season, where individuals who received the vaccine were registered for a chance to win Blues and Cardinals tickets. Visit SBJ Atlas for more examples of how brands are partnering and activating with teams and leagues around the globe.

Check out Sports Business Journal's weekly issue

Don't miss this week's issue of SBJ. The exciting, in-person return of the Sports Business Awards highlights this week's issue, as we honor the winners and celebrate the industry coming together to mark the occasion for the first time in two years. Also, Denny Hamlin speaks out on and off the track to reinvigorate NASCAR; the Texas Longhorns and Oak View Group are ready to take their unique Moody Center partnership to prime time; and why new multisport megaplexes are a big draw for youth sports and tourists.

If you’d like to receive the print issue at your home office, update your delivery address at any time within your account settings here. If you have questions about how and where to receive your print copy, email help@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Speed Reads....

Alabama-based HomeTown Lenders has signed a multiyear deal to title sponsor the Bahamas Bowl beginning this season. The postseason game previously was title sponsored by Elk Grove Village, Ill. (’18-19) and Popeyes (’14-16) (ESPN).

The Rays have partnered with mobile ticketing technology company Pogoseat with the intention of utilizing its Seat Upgrade technology to enhance the fan experience at Tropicana Field. Fans can get access via the MLB Ballpark app (Pogoseat). 

The U.S. women's national lacrosse team are dedicating their exhibition game on June 8 against Athletes United to Morgan's Message, a mental health cause created by the family of the late Morgan Rodgers, a former Duke lacrosse player who committed suicide in '19 (USA Lacrosse).

Quick Hits....

“(I am) ambassador for Duke. I’m in my same office. I’m trying to help our university in the same ways that I did when I was coach, except that I don’t have to recruit (and) gameplan” -- Retired Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, on what he is doing now that he has retired (“Today,” NBC, 5/25).

“What exactly are you trying to establish if you are the National Football league? There should only be one thing, and the one thing should be you have impugned the integrity of the league by even having yourself involved in a situation like this” -- ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, on what the NFL is trying to accomplish with its investigation into Browns QB Deshaun Watson (“First Take,” ESPN, 5/25).

Twitter Me This....

Daily Digit....

-- The number of LaLiga clubs that appear on Sports Innovation Lab's list of the "25 Most Innovative Teams in the World." Those clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, finished No. 1 and 2, respectively (Sports Innovation Lab). See the full rankings.

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