Connect with us

Business

Minor League Baseball’s Merchandise Enjoys Major League Sales

Minor League Baseball announced record-setting merchandise sales for 2017, with licensed goods surpassing $70.8 million for the first time in history.

John Collins

Published

on

merchandise

Earlier this summer, Minor League Baseball announced its record-setting merchandise sales for 2017, with licensed goods surpassing $70.8 million for the first time in history. This milestone marked a 3.6 percent rise over 2016 sales, which hit record-setting levels as well.

The tremendous popularity of MiLB merchandise is certainly understandable, given many of the unique names and creative logos you come across when canvassing teams around the league.

As MiLB Chief Operating Officer Brian Earle noted, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority.”

He attributed much of the league’s record-setting merchandise sales success to the teams themselves, as they “have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

If there’s one man qualified to speak about Minor League Baseball and its remarkably effective branding — which is what’s ultimately driving these record-setting merchandise sales — it would have to be Paul Caputo.

Not only is Caputo a regular contributor to the website SportsLogo.net, which covers a variety of leagues, teams, their logos, and branding, he’s also the author of an entire book devoted to sharing the stories surrounding the compelling identities of these Minor League Baseball teams.

Entitled “The Story Behind the Nickname: The Origins of 100 Classic, Contemporary, and Wacky Minor League Baseball Team Names,” Caputo’s book is basically a compendium outlining the success and effectiveness of Minor League Baseball’s branding and marketing that continues to drive fan interest and merchandise sales.

With unique names, fun logos, and an emphasis on creativity, teams throughout MiLB have been lauded over the years for their originality. Many times, as Caputo mentioned, fandom and merchandise purchases have absolutely nothing to do with any sort of team, franchise, or even location allegiance.

“By its nature, Minor League Baseball is less about the product on the field and more about the brand and fan experience. People are more likely to buy something fun and interesting without regard to the team affiliation or location.”

On a personal level, Caputo noted he owns “a handful of Las Vegas 51s gear, which I bought when they were a Dodgers affiliate and kept when they became a Mets farm club — even though I live in Colorado and root for the big-league Phillies.”

Yet, interestingly, it turns out the majority of these names and identities aren’t just concocted out of thin air. When Caputo first became interested in MiLB names and logos, he couldn’t help but think many of them were simply designed to be outrageous. As it turns out, when he started looking into it, the curious logo-hound discovered that he was “pleasantly surprised that not only did they have significance, they have a very particular meaning specific to the local community.”

Proving just how carefully conceived MiLB team identities are, Caputo explained the origins of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, pointing out that “the steel mills of eastern Pennsylvania forged pig iron and a team with a gritty, metallic logo is perfect for the area.”

Not only did the Lehigh Valley IronPigs capitalize on a clever name and cool logo, they made sure it had meaning and was designed with intention to really “forge” an effective identity.

Turns out other teams like the Akron RubberDucks and Binghamton Rumble Ponies have some interesting, compelling stories behind their branding and identity as well. The RubberDucks play in an area where the tire industry is prominent; the Rumble Ponies play in the Carousel Capital of the World. As Caputo pointed out, “every new Minor League name means something to the local community. For that reason, I do find them more interesting than MLB team names and logos.”

Each team’s identity and brand is designed with a very specific, deeply-rooted intention. It’s that strategy that makes the branding so effective, and merchandise so compelling. MiLB team names and logos really tap into fan passion and enthusiasm. Caputo recognized Jason Klein of Brandiose and Dan Simon of Studio Simon as the designers behind many of the league’s coolest logos.

Now, MiLB branding and marketing was obviously particularly salient and effective this year, driving a whopping total of merchandise sales across the league. Brian Earle credited much of that to Minor League Baseball’s licensing partners, such as New Era Cap, 47 Brand, Bimm Ridder, Majestic, Original Retro Brand, Nike, and others. As he stated, they’ve “continued to support the MiLB’s growth through innovative designs and a high-quality product that meets consumer demand, and has provided MiLB with a vehicle for current and future growth.”

In addition to that, 2017 saw an influx of what Caputo termed the “Whacky Era,” where teams are adopting temporary brands with food-based nicknames or connections to some sort of cultural heritage. Those temporary identities, like the Fresno Tacos, Staten Island Pizza Rats, and Trenton Pork Rolls, lend themselves to the creation of additional lines of merchandise enabling fans to express themselves.

There has also been the Spanish-language Copa initiative that saw many teams temporarily rebrand with a more Hispanic identity, like the Durham Bulls becoming the “Toros,” and Albuquerque Isotopes the “Mariachis.” These temporary rebrands and promotional uniforms create an additional sales stream for MiLB merchandise.

Looking at the list of the Top 25 teams leading the way in sales published by MiLB, there are some interesting notes to point out.

  • Six teams have made the list every year.
  • They seem to have been able to capitalize on team history, nostalgia, and established brand passion.
  • Eight teams made the 2017 list after not making it the previous year; many of which include rebrands like the creation of the Hartford Yard Goats and the Jacksonville Suns becoming the Jumbo Shrimp. 
  • Four major league teams had two affiliates reach the Top 25. No word yet on whether or not that success has any carryover to the minor league farm system. 

Below is the list in its entirety in alphabetical order, as MiLB does not provide order by rankings:

Top 25 MiLB Merchandise Sales

Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies, Triple-A)

Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays, Triple-A)

Charlotte Knights (White Sox, Triple-A)

Columbia Fireflies (Mets, Single-A)

Columbus Clippers (Indians, Triple-A)

Durham Bulls (Rays, Triple-A)

El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres, Triple-A)

Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres, Single-A)

Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers, Double-A)

Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies, Double-A)

Indianapolis Indians (Pirates, Triple-A)

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins, Double-A)

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies, Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds (Athletics, Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes (Marlins, Triple-A)

Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals, Triple-A)

Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox, Double-A)

Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies, Double-A)

Rochester Red Wings (Twins, Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats (Giants, Triple-A)

Salt Lake Bees (Angels, Triple-A)

South Bend Cubs (Single-A)

Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners, Triple-A)

Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers, Triple-A)

Trenton Thunder (Yankees, Double-A)

A Communication major from the University of Southern California, with eclectic experience in the sports, business, and the entertainment industry, John Collins is the baseball writer at Front Office Sports. An avid sports fan and highly opinionated writer, John is of the firm belief that Bull Durham is far superior to Field of Dreams and looks forward to you telling him otherwise. Reach out: John@frntofficesport.com any time!

Business

How Gateway Motorsports Park Involved Loyal Fans for Its Latest Upgrades

In partnership with Maryville University, Gateway surveyed its most passionate fans on what they wanted to see improved at GMP.

Kraig Doremus

Published

on

Gateway Motorsports Park - Racing - Sports

With a desire to offer the best fan experience in all of motorsports, Gateway Motorsports Park has taken a unique step to find out what fans want to see improved at GMP.

Gateway, which hosts NHRA, INDYCAR racing and a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event, worked with Maryville University to determine a wide range of questions to ask the most important person that steps foot on track property: the fan.

Gateway first conducted a survey following its 2017 INDYCAR events and had worked with the NHRA on general surveys about race day experience, but Owner and President Curtis Francois and his team wanted a survey that the fans could complete right after a major event.

“After we saw feedback from our 2017 survey, we knew we should do more surveys for our events,” said Francois. “We want the fans to have a voice. Many are very loyal and email at least once a month. We got a lot of ‘thank yous’ from our fans for allowing their voice to be heard and ideas processed.”

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

The goal of the surveys? Not only to determine what Gateway Motorsports Park does well, but to take a look at what they need to improve so that fans attending an event at GMP can have the best race day experience in motorsports.

“The surveys gave us a direct line to know what the fans are thinking about Gateway,” Francois said. “We are not afraid of criticism. We want the truth and to be able to fix problems. Anything we can control, we’ll fix. Our fans are some of the most loyal in racing, and at Gateway, the grassroots fan rules. We want to make sure our spectators have as good an experience at Gateway as at another facility.”

Among the major points that the fan surveys took the leadership at GMP was that spectators wanted simplicity when it came to seating levels and pricing.

“Our premium seats that are located right at the start-finish line are now checkered, while our general admission seats are gray. It’s much easier for the fans to distinguish between seating levels. General admission is gray on our seating map because it’s a gray bench seat. It’s very user and fan friendly. The fans can look at our map and see the different colors, which correspond to a different price and purchase what they want.”

Purchasing tickets was another big item that the fans brought to Francois’ attention through the surveys.

“We gave our fans options with ticket packages, including our new checkered-flag club,” said Francois. “We noticed that the majority of fans who buy seats in our checkered-flag area were buying every add-on possible.”

With the addition of the checkered-flag club, instead of having to buy a seat and wait for upgrades to come out at a later date, fans may purchase everything from parking, a grandstand seat and upgrades all with one click.

It was not an overnight process for Gateway Motorsports Park to redevelop its seating levels and ticket packages. It took time for the track leadership to figure out the best way to package everything, but Francois believes it has been a hit.

“This year, we were able to finalize a seating layout for INDYCAR and NASCAR and lock things down to make a great ticket package for the fans,” said Francois. “In the first two years, it was a bit of a puzzle to figure things out. Fans love having a chance to buy things in bulk and not only get the best deal, but also get a wider seat this year. The response has been great.”

One of the final changes to GMP was moving the video screen more than 300 feet closer to the grandstands, so that the fans can have a better look at the on-track action.

Francois and company worked with Screenworks during its second INDYCAR event in 2017 to take measurements of the boards and look at locations. Four weeks later, the Screenworks team finalized a location for a screen that moved closer to the start-finish line.

“All of our video boards are portable,” Francois said. “We used a lot of trial and error and spent ample time with the Screenworks crew analyzing the decision.”

An avid NASCAR fan is probably wondering if Gateway Motorsports Park has its eye on receiving a date on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

WATCH: Inside Toyota’s Massive Daytona Activation

While coy on the subject, Francois and his team have seen that Gateway can host successful events at the highest level. Whether it’s an INDYCAR event with 40,000 fans or a sold-out NHRA event, the St. Louis community supports all types of motorsports, including the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event that takes place at GMP each year.

“Certainly, if a Cup race came to Gateway, we would be able to host it,” said Francois.

Francois and his team refuse to settle and have a “can’t stop, won’t stop” attitude when it comes to making Gateway Motorsports Park one of the best facilities in the country.

“Every day, I come to my office at GMP and take personal pride in making sure that the facility is as good as it can be. We’ve become a trendsetter with renovations and upgrades because we never stop. I drive the facility, talk to our fans and stakeholders. We listen and implement changes that address any concerns. The net effect of that, over seven years I’ve owned Gateway, has been that we are setting the trend right along with the biggest facilities in the country. We have local ownership and a great relationship with fans and media. We want the track to be the best it can be. That’s the driving force behind the improvements. We will do what it takes.”

Continue Reading

Business

One of Next Year’s Biggest NFL Free Agents May Not Be a Player

David Mulugheta is only 35, but has negotiated in excess of $500 million in contracts.

Scot Chartrand

Published

on

David Mulugheta with clients – (l to r) Deshaun Watson, Landon Collins, Quinten Rollins, Quandre Diggs, agent David Mulugheta, and Bobby Wagner (Photo via David Mulugheta)

David Mulugheta (@davidmulugheta) is only 35 years old, but he’s already earned his way atop the NFL agent business.

In eight short years representing players, he has already developed a roster of 30 of the league’s most exciting stars, including All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, three-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, All-Pro cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Casey Hayward, All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele, All-Pro safety Landon Collins, Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Thomas and second-year star quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Collectively, Mulugheta has negotiated in excess of $500 million in contracts, with roughly half his roster poised to sign massive second deals in the coming years.

Mulugheta has spent his entire career as a member of industry powerhouse Athletes First (A1) and confirmed that he is engaged in negotiations with Athletes First to potentially become an equity partner as opposed to experiencing his own free agency for the first time in his career.

The Path to Becoming an Agent

Mulugheta’s path to success has been anything but conventional.

As the son of Eritrean immigrants who fled a war-torn country in search of a better life, Mulugheta learned through his parents’ struggle and sacrifice that hard work and dedication were the keys to success.

Neither of his parents spoke English when they arrived in the states and were forced to take jobs that required them to work incredibly long hours for very little pay in return.

Mulugheta’s father worked as a taxi driver by day and as a gas station attendant by night, while his mother cleaned homes and took care of the children.

Given that both parents worked full-time and were unable to afford childcare, Mulugheta’s father occasionally had his sons ride along in his cab, making for a unique babysitting arrangement.

And while his parents were proud of the opportunities they were able to provide their family, they wanted more for Mulugheta and his siblings, so they prioritized the importance of education above all else. They saw it as the key to the American Dream.

To illustrate his parents’ focus on academic achievement, Mulugheta recalled a time his eighth-grade teacher paid his parents a visit at the family’s home in Dallas.

Get the FOS Daily Newsletter! Subscribe today!

His father was asleep, during a rare break from work, and woke up to Mulugheta’s teacher sitting in the family’s living room. The teacher had made an in-person trip to inform Mulugheta’s parents that he had been disrupting the class.

“So, what’s his grade in the class?” his father asked bluntly. “A ninety-nine,” the teacher responded.

Mulugheta’s father, impressed with his son’s accomplishment and not concerned with nonsense, casually turned around and left to go back to sleep.

He cared that his son got the job done. He wasn’t preoccupied with the style points.

Along with Mulugheta, each of his siblings met the high academic expectations set by their household and received the education that their parents had always envisioned.

His older and younger brothers earned an MBA and J.D., respectively, each from Southern Methodist University (SMU); while his sister attended Harvard University, which led to a unique opportunity.

In the midst of her undergraduate studies, Mulugheta’s sister took a year and a half leave of absence to work for President Barack Obama’s administration at the White House. As both her service and the Obama presidency concluded, the family was invited to take a photo with the 44th President.

David Mulugheta and family with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office (Photo via David Mulugheta)

From a small village in Africa, to an invitation to meet the President of the United States in the Oval Office, Mulugheta’s parents personified the American Dream. As a constant reminder of how far they’ve come, the picture of the family standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama sits on Mulugheta’s desk.

Similar to his sister, Mulugheta’s time in college led him down a unique path. At the University of Texas at Austin, Mulugheta developed friendships with, and earned the respect of, a number of football players, including running back Jamaal Charles, who was preparing to enter the NFL at the time. Having just applied to law school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mulugheta planned to study corporate law, however, during a trip to visit Charles in California in advance of the NFL Draft, Mulugheta met agent Andrew Kessler and everything changed.

Kessler, who was one of Charles’ agents at Athletes First (A1), asked if Mulugheta would be interested in an internship at the agency. Instantly attracted to the opportunity to not only represent athletes like his friend Charles and help them maximize their potential but also to work in an industry that he loved, Mulugheta began to imagine a new career path upon graduating from law school.

Mulugheta with Earl Thomas (left) and Jamaal Charles (right) (Photo via David Mulugheta)

Hitting the Ground Running

Mulugheta began his career by signing future hall of famer, Earl Thomas. With over 800 certified agents competing to represent the best talent entering the NFL, Mulugheta’s ability to sign Thomas, immediately made him a viable player in the industry. Eight years later, Thomas is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion who has earned in excess of $50 million on the field.

Following Thomas in 2012, Mulugheta continued to sign big names, including current Raiders All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele and former Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson.

Once Mulugheta’s breakout draft class of 2013 was announced, NFL insiders and key industry stakeholders began to take notice.

After landing first-round safety Kenny Vaccaro as a client, he also signed additional draft picks Marquise Goodwin, Alex Okafor, and Brandon Jenkins.

Mulugheta believes that Earl Thomas’s success on the field and his status as a former Longhorn was one of the keys to recruiting other Texas Exes (Vaccaro, Goodwin, and Okafor all attended UT).

Mulugheta’s success continued, as he secured first rounder Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama in 2014, followed by first-round pick Malcom Brown (DT) and fellow Texas alumni Quandre Diggs, and Malcolm Brown (RB) signed on two years later in a class along with second-round safety Landon Collins and cornerback Quinten Rollins of Miami University (Ohio).

Mulugheta with Jalen Ramsey (right) and Corey Coleman (middle) (Photo via David Mulugheta)

First round picks continued to come Mulugheta’s way — Jalen Ramsey and Corey Coleman joined Mulugheta’s roster in 2016. Deshaun Watson, Malik Hooker, Charles Harris, Budda Baker and Montravius Adams headlined an impressive 2017 NFL Draft class.

Add in several star veteran signees, and his current client list becomes unprecedentedly stacked for such a young agent.

Most recently, Mulugheta landed projected 2018 first round pick, Florida State safety Derwin James. Coupled with the fact that he and his wife welcomed their third child, 2018 is shaping up to be another good year for the Mulugheta family.

All told, Mulugheta’s roster includes:

  • 9 total 1st Round draft picks
  • 7 total 2nd Round draft picks
  • 25 combined Pro Bowl appearances
  • 3 Super Bowl championships

Mulugheta’s 2017 Draft Class – (l to r) Charles Harris, Budda Baker, Deshaun Watson, agent David Mulugheta, Montravius Adams, and Malik Hooker (Photo via David Mulugheta)

The 2017 season was particularly successful for Mulugheta’s clients. A whopping nine of them were selected to the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and a tenth (Deshaun Watson) almost certainly would have joined them if not for a season-ending knee injury.

“Because of what my parents had accomplished, I grew up knowing the only limits that exist are the ones we set,” Mulugheta noted looking back on the unprecedented success from 2017.

Only in his mid-30s, it’s incredible what he’s been able to achieve in a business where the vast majority of elite agents have 20+ years of experience under their belts.

Mulugheta with Deshaun Watson (Photo via David Mulugheta)

Keys to Success as a Rising, Young Agent

How has Mulugheta been able to gain such significant success? He attributes it to his commitment to building and maintaining genuine relationships.

Handling 30 clients while attempting to create a 1:1, relationship-based experience for each individual is no small task in his business.

In order to preserve the level of personal attention and connection with his players, Mulugheta has been thoughtful about how to effectively grow his clientele.

“You have to be tactful and critical. You want good players, but more importantly, you want good people,” Mulugheta said.

Since Mulugheta prides himself on his hands-on approach to representation, maintaining a selective client list is pivotal.

“Small, but powerful,” Mulugheta pointed out. “The important thing is that you work with quality players that share your values and inspire you. It makes taking those 2 am or 3 am calls a lot easier.”

To Mulugheta, his players are more than just clients, they are family. He treats them as younger brothers and believes that it’s his responsibility to ensure they reach their full potential, both on and off the football field. Not satisfied with only being the man who helped his clients get good contracts, Mulugheta strives for deeper, lifelong connections with them. He serves as a godfather to some of his clients’ children and acted as best man at a number of their weddings.

This approach has fostered a number of strong bonds, not only between Mulugheta and his clients but also among his clients themselves.

Mulugheta with Jalen Ramsey (left) and Derwin James (right) (Photo via David Mulugheta)

For instance, leading up to this April’s NFL Draft, Mulugheta’s newest client, Florida State safety Derwin James, has been training out west in Orange County, California.

Fellow Athletes First safeties Earl Thomas and Landon Collins both flew out to Southern California to work with James at Mulugheta’s request.

“We are a small family, and we look out for each other,” Mulugheta said.You have guys who are interested in mentoring others. That’s a big plus, to have guys who really want to be successful, and at the same time willing to help one another. Men who truly personify the proverb, iron sharpens iron.”

Mulugheta believes his family-oriented style has created an environment where players have high expectations for success and hold each other accountable, not wanting to let the other members of their family down.

A cursory look at Mulugheta’s Instagram feed (@davidmulugheta) shows you how much he values these relationships. You’ll see picture after picture of Mulugheta spending time with his clients on and off the field.

Mulugheta with Kenny Vaccaro (left) and Rafael Bush (right) (Photo via David Mulugheta)

Mulugheta remembered one unique example where Kenny Vaccaro advised him to pursue a college senior as a client, based on Vaccaro’s film study. Mulugheta noted, “My guys want me to succeed just as much as I want them to.”

Mulugheta’s colleagues at Athletes First have also witnessed Mulugheta’s interest in maintaining genuine relationships.

Brian Murphy, the [President] of Athletes First, described Mulugheta as, “the same person, no matter who he is around. His clients – and our A1 family – know exactly what who David is – a passionate advocate who makes all of our lives better professionally and personally and who does so with absolute conviction.”

In response to the compliment, Mulugheta noted, “All praise is short-lived. And although it is humbling when good work is noticed, next year someone else could take your spot. Like many of my clients, where I came from, you had to fight for success— it was never guaranteed.”

Mulugheta’s clientele and their performance speak the loudest in endorsing his work, but the difference he has made for them in their careers on and off the field goes beyond that.

Mulugheta with Earl Thomas at the 2018 Pro Bowl (Photo via David Mulugheta)

For Seahawk Earl Thomas (@earl) the Longhorn bond is strong as well as the bond he has with the entire family of fellow clients.

“The most important thing to me when I was deciding on agents was working with someone that I could put my total trust in. To be successful in the business of football, you have to put your all into the game, and I wanted to make sure whoever I chose as an agent was doing the same thing for me off the field. David has done that and more for me, and I couldn’t have made a better decision. You always hear the saying that someone is like family, well David is family.”

Mulugheta with Kevin Byard at the 2018 Pro Bowl (Photo via David Mulugheta)

Titans All-Pro safety Kevin Byard (@kb31_savage) entered the league with the Tennessee Titans in 2016 but only signed on with Mulugheta this past season.

He requested a meeting with Mulugheta, made the switch, and hasn’t looked back since. For him, the difference in representation made his life easier on the field by eliminating worries off the field. This past season, his career reached a peak after being named to his first Pro Bowl as well as being recognized as first-team All-Pro.

“I made the switch at first because I knew that David had some of the top DB’s in the league, and I wanted to be a part of that brotherhood. A year later, I continue to see that he fights for his guys to get everything they deserve and more. What’s more impressive, David really develops friendships with all his clients that will last a lot longer than our football careers will.”

However, Mulugheta’s successful track record has also been met with a fair share of obstacles.

Throughout the years, Mulugheta has had to overcome challenges on the recruiting trail based on his age and ethnicity. Like many industries, the sports agent business has been historically overrepresented by middle-aged white men. During recruiting meetings, Mulugheta has had to deal with parents looking to see if “the real agent” would be joining the meeting. Or while backstage at NFL drafts and other special events, Mulugheta has often been mistaken for a player’s family member. His youth, complexion, and background are a rarity in the industry, yet have also served as an asset, helping him connect with his clients.

Mulugheta understands the racial biases that come along with the job. An attorney by trade, he operates in statistically one of the least diverse fields in America. Mulugheta appreciates his responsibility in helping other young, black men to succeed, stating, “I refuse to change my behavior or hide my identity for anyone. I just hope that my path can inspire other young, black men to stay true to themselves, work hard and pursue their dreams, even if those dreams don’t occur on a field or court.”

In the relatively short time, Mulugheta has been a certified contract advisor, he has been a part of negotiating some of the NFL’s largest contracts. On three separate occasions, Mulugheta’s clients have become the highest paid player in the history of the NFL at their respective positions.

  • Earl Thomas signed a contract making him the highest paid safety in NFL history as a 4-year extension in 2014 with the Seahawks for $40 million with more than $25 million guaranteed.
  • Bobby Wagner inked a contract making him the highest paid middle linebacker in NFL history in 2015 as a free agent with the Seahawks for $43 million over four years.
  • Kelechi Osemele signed a contract making him the highest paid guard in NFL history, back in 2016. The 5-year deal with the Raiders is worth up to $60 million.

Results like those can grab attention and change stereotypes in a hurry.

Mulugheta with Bobby Wagner (Photo via David Mulugheta)

What’s Next

The 2018 season will mark Mulugheta’s final year on his contract at Athletes First. While the odds are he stays put at A1, he is sure to have a number of agencies trying to poach him, offering long-term deals akin to those received by his clients. This year, the recruiter becomes the recruited.

“A1 is a great company,” Mulugheta commented. “They have given me every tool to be successful. Ownership allowed me to flourish and didn’t keep their thumb on me.”

One principle Mulugheta will certainly continue to implement is his hands-on approach with his clients. From booking flights to organizing offseason camps to assisting with family vacations, and helping with special moments, Mulugheta will continue to remain a staple in the lives of his clients.

In an effort to give back to the community they call home, Mulugheta and his wife founded the Fair Catch Foundation.

The organization is planning its second annual bowling event this summer to help underserved populations in the greater Austin community. Last year, they partnered with a number of Mulugheta’s clients and former Longhorn players to host the inaugural event.

The goals for the foundation include creating “generational change” by investing in vulnerable families. Having come from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum, Mulugheta understands how helping an individual gain an education and employment can change the trajectory of that family and their community.

Mulugheta’s work stands out at every level, including through his authentic commitment to his clients.

His journey has been anything but traditional.

The unique aspects of his upbringing, his genuine nature and deep connection with his clients, and his interest in being more than just an agent have redefined his role and should serve as a model for the next generation of sports agents.

Continue Reading

Business

How the Upcoming Midterm Elections Could Affect the Sports Industry

The sports industry may be affected by various candidates and ballot measures ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Blake Yagman

Published

on

midterm - elections - content

In a democracy, few acts are as consequential and important than the act of voting.

While it may be easy to choose not to take 15-20 minutes to cast your ballot, the decision not to vote becomes more difficult when you reflect upon the last hundred years of voting rights in the United States. The right to vote and the accessibility of voting has improved substantially but not enough; from gerrymandering to voter ID laws, minorities and different protected classes of people still struggle against institutional methods of voter suppression borne out of the days of reconstruction and Jim Crow.

There has never been a more important time to exercise your right to vote; so, when you exercise your right to cast a ballot in November (after first checking to make sure that you are, in fact, registered to vote on Vote.Org), educate yourself and keep an eye out for the issues and candidates that are important to you.

SEE MORE: Former NFL Player’s New Political App Aims to Instill Change

Seeing that, by virtue of reading this article, you are a sports fan, it would be pertinent to know how the sports industry may be affected by various candidates and ballot measures ahead of November’s critical midterm election.

Alex Howard, who runs political campaigns across the country for people aspiring to serve, elaborated on why candidates with sports backgrounds and sports-related referenda are so popular ahead of this year’s midterm elections:

“Historically, sports have always played a role in the fabric of American culture; more so now with the dialogue about sports and social justice issues which even the President of the United States inserted himself into. Candidates with professional sports experience —like Colin Allred and J.D. Scholten — prove that there is so much more to an athlete than just the sport they play.”

SEE MORE: Cardinals Lead the Charge In the Future of NFL Coverage

“The American political system was designed to be run by normal citizens; and there is nothing more representative of the citizens of the United States than those who represent the sports industry: a key component of the American economy and a reservoir of inspiration for Americans seeking to overcome adversity.”

When it comes to sports at the ballot, Front Office Sports has you covered:

CANDIDATES

Colin Allred is an impressive candidate running for the United States House of Representatives in Texas’ 32nd Congressional District. Allred is a former Tennessee Titans linebacker who left his career in football to attend law school and become a Civil Rights attorney. In addition to his accomplishments as a football player and as an attorney, Allred worked in the White House under former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

J.D. Scholten is a former minor league baseball player running for the United States House of Representatives in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. Scholten, who was endorsed by former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ Political Action Committee Our Revolution, is a fifth-generation Iowan. The 6-foot-6 Scholten touts his desire to “stand tall” for the people of his district.

REFERENDA

MIAMI: The Miami Referendum regarding the approval of the MLS/Melreese-site stadium is a complex and controversial one. Read here for more information.

FLORIDA: In Florida, a Referendum regarding Dog Racing would allow voters to ban gambling on dog races in the state of Florida. This referendum is one that is long overdue as gambling on dog racing is banned in 44 states.

Dog racing is extremely deleterious to a dogs health and owners of racing dogs frequently force them to compete with injuries; according to the ASPCA, “Injuries common to [racing dogs] forced to race include severed toes, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, broken necks and cardiac arrest.

Also, Florida’s ballot will feature an anti-casino gambling measure; it is an amendment that expressly bans casino gambling and would need to be undone by either a successful lawsuit/Constitutional challenge or through a subsequent ballot measure. “The “Voter Control of Gambling Amendment,” largely bankrolled by a Disney company and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, would require voter approval for any form of casino gambling, an issue now largely controlled by the state Legislature.

SAN DIEGO: The San Diego referendums regarding the approval of proposed stadiums is a complicated one; San Diego apparently has two competing ballot measures which both propose sports stadiums on the same exact plot of land.

San Diego’s city attorney filed emergency petitions to stop both from appearing on the ballot in August but ultimately failed. The panel of judges who ruled on the emergency petitions stated: “We decline to eliminate the right of the public to express its views on the competing initiatives.” For clarity on these measures, read here.

SPOKANE: In Washington state, the citizens of Spokane will get the opportunity to voice their support or opposition to a proposed high school stadium constructed on behalf of Spokane Public Schools.

This ballot measure, however, is not binding on the school district; it is merely advisory. The city council voted to oppose this measure before sending it to the ballot for the advice of its’ citizens.

MARYLAND: Citizens of the beautiful state of Maryland will get the chance to vote this November on whether their state should adopt sports gambling.

After the Supreme Court struck down PASPA for being violative of the 11th Amendment, states became free to choose how they would proceed with sports gambling within their borders. If Maryland chooses to legalize sports gambling, it will become the sixth state to implement full-scale legalized sports betting.

So, how will the sports business industry be affected by midterm elections? We’ll find out. Stay tuned as we’ll be updating this voting guide through the coming weeks.

Continue Reading

Trending