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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Endeavor — the publicly-traded company that owns the UFC, Professional Bull Riders, WME and IMG — is buying nine minor league baseball teams affiliated with MLB's most iconic franchises.

Why it matters: Minor League Baseball was forced to cancel the 2020 season because, unlike MLB, it didn't have media rights to fund games with empty stands. Endeavor, which has experience negotiating large media deals, believes it can change that.

  • The company has formed Diamond Baseball Holdings, which will oversee ticket sales, sponsorships, naming rights, food and beverage, and media rights for all nine teams.
  • Diamond Baseball Holdings hopes to negotiate deals with streaming services, per Bloomberg. It will also book concerts at venues.

Initial clubs: Iowa Cubs (Triple-A Cubs), Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A Cardinals), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A Yankees), Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A Yankees), San Jose Giants (Low-A Giants).

Still being approved: Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A Braves), Mississippi Braves (Double-A Braves), Rome Braves (High-A Braves), Augusta GreenJackets (Low-A Braves).

The backdrop: This comes on the heels of MLB's minor league restructuring, which cut the number of teams by 25%. Starting next season, MLB teams will be required to provide housing.

Go deeper: Minor League Baseball grows con sabor

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2021 - Axios Atlanta

The Atlanta stories that shaped 2021

Courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Y'all, too much has happened in the last 12 months. So we asked ask some of Atlanta's news editors to help us remember the top stories of the year.

Updated 10 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.