Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Grand Prix Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment company, and USA Rugby, a member of the United States Olympic Committee, announced today the extension of their U.S. Exclusive Sanction and License Agreement for a 2nd six year term through 2018.
“USA Rugby is pleased to see Grand Prix’s progress and is equally excited to continue this exclusive partnership with Bill and his Grand Prix team. Grand Prix has exciting plans; the next six years will be equally exciting times for American Rugby.”
This ground breaking partnership between a national governing body and private enterprise exclusively grants Grand Prix the rights to own and operate USA Rugby sanctioned Professional Rugby Sevens, including the equally exclusive worldwide broadcast distribution rights across all media. The exclusive and extensive sanction rights cover both indoor and outdoor professional rugby sevens leagues and/or tournaments.
USA Rugby is a member of the United States Olympic Committee, governing the new Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens, as well as the U.S. member of the Rugby World Cup’s International Rugby Board.
“To say the least, much as happened since we joined USA Rugby in this crusade to bring the World’s Contact Sport to the World’s Largest Market” said William Tatham, Founder and Chairman of Grand Prix Entertainment. “When USAR initially awarded Grand Prix these unparalleled exclusive, extensive and long term rights in 2005, we decided to honor USA Rugby’s trust and instead of staging “on the field” events prematurely, we wisely committed to a multi year – multi million dollar “off the field” investment focusing on the three critical pre launch start-up phases of planning, protecting and projecting. We’ve been blessed by exclusive rights that are invaluable, a sport that has gone Olympic, and USA Rugby partners that are priceless.”
Newly appointed Grand Prix Chairman Alan Rothenberg said, “The exclusive long term rights granted to Grand Prix Rugby, including global distribution rights, coupled with the mutually beneficial partnership with USA Rugby, provide Grand Prix Rugby with a unique opportunity to develop and grow the sport to its fullest potential.”
USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville concurred, saying “USA Rugby is pleased to see Grand Prix’s progress and is equally excited to continue this exclusive partnership with Bill and his Grand Prix team. Grand Prix has exciting plans; the next six years will be equally exciting times for American Rugby.”
GPE broadcast representative and former President of CBS Sports Neal Pilson echoed the unique opportunity these exclusive and global media rights represent stating, “These live telecast rights to Grand Prix’s exciting rugby sevens tournaments have great value here in the US and abroad. We fully expect to finalize a carriage agreement with a U.S. network partner very soon.”
“On a global basis, these exclusive multi year rights make my job much easier as the ability to deliver consistent major league sports content over a period of years vs. a single season is what international carriers strive to acquire,” said former President of MGM Worldwide Television Gary Marenzi, who now oversees Grand Prix’s international distribution rights.
Tatham and Rothenberg believe that there is overwhelming evidence that the time is right for the launch of major league professional Rugby Sevens in the United States.
From an Olympic perspective, Rugby Sevens was approved by the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport and will be included in the upcoming 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Taking a global view, the international HSBC Sevens World Series and IRB Sevens World Cup continue to break attendance and broadcast records (www.hsbcsevens.com;www.sevensrwc.com); and the 2011 Rugby World Cup was once again the third most watched sporting event in the world (www.irb.com).
In the United States, Rugby Seven’s popularity has seen significant domestic growth as evidenced by NBC’s live broadcast of the February 2012 HSBC Las Vegas tour stop, the USA Rugby hosted USA Sevens, which saw a record paid attendance of over 64,000 in Las Vegas and impressive TV ratings for its national NBC telecast (www.usasevens.com).
In anticipation of the six year extension of this historic partnership with USAR, recent moves by Grand Prix in preparation for a 2012 launch include expanding the Grand Prix Entertainment executive board to include some of most powerful names in sports, entertainment and gaming including former President of CBS Sports Neil Pilson; Olympic attorney Kelly Crabb of the international law firm of Sheppard & Mullin, Rich Rose, former President of Caesars Palace World Sports and William Tatham, Sr., professional sports entrepreneur who owned franchises in the World Football League, the United States Football League, and the National Basketball Association.
Most recently, Tatham and Rothenberg announced the appointments of Gary Marenzi, former head of MGM International Television to head up Grand Prix’s recently formed Grand Prix Studios production unit in Los Angeles and London; and award winning and Los Angeles based Premier Partnerships as GPE’s exclusive sponsor and naming rights agency led by long time Rothenberg partner, Randy Bernstein.
Grand Prix continues to finalize a broad range of pre launch objectives, including the selection of both domestic and international network broadcast partners; live tournament and reality show production teams; final decisions re championship dates and venues; major market franchise offering documents; and a wide array of key sponsor, branding, naming and licensing arrangements.
Tatham concluded stating, “Rugby is not only the “Father of American Football,” but more important is the “World’s Contact Sport.” When the Olympic committee caught Grand Prix’s vision and approved Rugby Sevens for the 2016 Rio Summer Games, we knew the time was right for us to accelerate our launch plans. Grand Prix firmly believes Rugby Sevens has what it takes to be the hottest new professional “Sport of the 21st Century.”
About Grand Prix Entertainment
Grand Prix Entertainment is a diversified multi-media production and distribution company that owns and manages sports, entertainment and gaming properties. In addition to the above, key members of the Grand Prix executive team include general counsel Scott Earnshaw, Bruce Skinner, Bob Finkel, Tom George, Carl McMahan, Jeff Zimmerman, Gino Grajeda and Jamison Davis, Managing Partner of the branding consultancy Davis & Partners Worldwide. For more information about Grand Prix Entertainment, please visitwww.grandprixentertainment.com.
About USA Rugby
Founded in 1975, USA Rugby is an official member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization has approximately 98,000 members and is responsible for the development of the boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club rugby programs, and ultimately all of the national teams representing the U.S. in international competitions. USA Rugby’s national headquarters is located in Boulder, Colo., and is run by full-time staff under the direction of current CEO and President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville. For more information, please visit http://www.usarugby.org.