Sports Business Stories to Watch in 2010

topstoriesNow that we’ve already review the top sports business stories of 2009 and taken a fun look at “predicting” what may happen in 2010 (thanks Amanda!), let’s build a list of the sports business stories that everyone will be talking about in 2010:

  • Tiger Woods: The top story of 2009 will continue to dominate headlines through this year. We’ve probably seen most of the sponsor fallout already (a few more may bail out later on), but the biggest stories will be his impact on the PGA Tour as a whole, his attempt to rebuild his image, and what sponsors may decide to support him again once he returns to action.
  • Collective Bargaining: Three of the four major U.S. sports leagues (4 of 5 if you include MLS) have labor deals that expire in 2010 and will need to be negotiated. Most of the talk has focused on the NFL labor deal, since their lack of a renewal is leading to an uncapped year for player salaries in 2010, but the impending negotiations for MLB and NHL are also worth watching. These leagues have each suffered from work stoppages in the recent past, so I expect all measure to be taken to prevent another now.
  • The Winter Olympics: Just around the corner from now, the Olympic Games are always a top story when they take place. So many important elements to watch, including athletes that make the leap into public awareness (making them marketable in the future), television ratings and media coverage (seems to be quiet headed into the games), and how sponsors are able to leverage their Olympic partnership leading up to, during and after the Games.
  • The World Cup: The other major international sporting event of the year takes place this spring in South Africa. Like the Olympics, media coverage and ratings is an important story, especially since the World Cup seems to be the one soccer story that generates public interest in the U.S.  This is also the first time that the World Cup will take place in Africa, and with that comes a massive economic impact to the region, along with concerns about the local infrastructure supporting the event.
  • NBA Free-Agent-Palooza: This summer will without a doubt be the highest profile free agent season that the NBA has ever experienced. The biggest story is clearly LeBron James, but throw in the likes of Wade, Bosh, Nowitzki, Ming, Stoudamire, McGrady, Ginobli and Shaq among others, and the market is going to explode. Of course, the timing is also interesting because of attendance and revenue problems that most NBA teams are currently suffering with, which will lead to a smaller cap and luxury tax threshold next season.

There are several other stories beyond these, such as the proposed law against the BCS being a “national championship” game, Danica Patrick’s move to NASCAR, the NBC-Comcast merger, and the NFL vs. American Needle lawsuit (which attacks the antitrust protection that sports leagues currently have). What stories are you going to follow in 2010? Don’t forget to vote in our new poll on the top right of the page!