Grand Prix Sports, a subsidiary of Grand Prix Entertainment a Los Angeles‐based sports and entertainment enterprise announced today in a press release that AEG Facilities’ Home Depot Center will be the future home of Grand Prix’s rugby world championships as part of Grand Prix’s exclusive partnership with USA Rugby.
“Following Grand Prix's March 12, 2012 announcement of its six year extension through 2018 of our exclusive partnership with USA Rugby, selecting the championship venue was next on our list,” said Grand Prix Chairman Alan Rothenberg.
“Since hosting the iRB Rugby Sevens World Series from 2004 to 2006, staged by Grand Prix’s partner USA Rugby, we are thrilled to welcome back world class rugby sevens and its fans to The Home Depot Center, and look forward to being the home of Grand Prix’s upcoming Rugby Sevens world championships,” said The Home Depot Center General Manager Katie Pandolfo.
USA Rugby had previously awarded Grand Prix the exclusive rights to own, operate and broadcast a professional 7s competition. The details of the agreement aren't clear enough to state how exclusive GPE's deal is - certainly they cannot control whether a club pays its players or whether a tournament or series of tournaments can pay prize money, and history has shown they've had little interest in claiming they can.
GPE Chairman William Tatham said, “America’s entry into world class rugby played by world class teams demanded that Grand Prix kick off with a world class venue partner. AEG is simply the world leader in sports and entertainment, and AEG Facilities’ Home Depot Center is exactly the right United States sound stage off which Grand Prix will domestically produce and globally distribute the richest Rugby Sevens championships in world history. To say the least, I’m grateful that the team at The Home Depot Center shares Grand Prix’s vision that the “Father of American Football” is now about to become the “Sport of the 21st Century.”
No details were given on dates, broadcasters, or other deals.
Tatham offered this:
“Trust me," he said, "we intend on rocking rugby world with the news that the United States, the most powerful sports market with the greatest athletes on the globe, has finally entered the game of major league rugby. No grass roots efforts here, we’re all about starting, and winning, at the top. By 2016, Grand Prix is committed to guaranteeing that USA Rugby fields a Rugby Sevens squad fully capable of successfully defending America as the last winner of Olympic Rugby Gold and taking home the gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. American sports fans deserve no less.”
GPE says their pre-launch phase is complete with the agreement from an as-yet-unannounced broadcaster. Tatham has assembled a team including Alan Rothenberg, one of the driving forces behind Major League Soccer; Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports; Gary Marenzi, former president of MGM International TV; Kelly Crabb, Senior Partner in sports law firm Sheppard Mullin; Rich Rose, former President and COO of Caesars (Palace) World Sports; and Randy Bernstein, co-founder of Premier Partnerships.