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October 31, 2006

World Series Not a Marketing Bonanza

So few of you watched last week’s lowest-rated World Series that it’s unlikely its players are going to garner much interest on Madison Avenue.

At least that’s the thinking of Bob Dorfman, executive vice president and creative director of Pickett Advertising in San Francisco. Dorfman’s typically playful and irreverent report on the marketability of the World Series participants finds few winners.

Dorfman says St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is the only seriously bankable player in the Series. “As one of the game’s most powerful hitters, he could sell power tools, muscle cars and trucks or PowerBar,” Dorfman writes in his 2006 World Series Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report.

Dorfman suggests soap or hand-cleaning products for Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers, who was accused of having pine tar or another substance on his hand when he pitched during the Series. Ray-Bans for sunglasses-at-night wearing Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa. And perhaps a tire, auto or oil company for Cardinals infielders Scott Rolen and Aaron Miles.

And he’s not a fan of the Cardinal Scott Spiezio’s bright facial hair: “Time to introduce his red soul patch to the miracle of Gillette Fusion.”


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October 26, 2006

R3ADY for Wade?

Dwyane Wade’s new Converse ads, directed by Spike Lee, begin airing today. Described as something of a fireside chat between the famed director, who is heard off-screen, and star Heat guard, they’re aimed at giving a glimpse of the real Wade. The theme is “READY?” but spelled R3ADY? to incorporate Wade’s No. 3. Check out a behind the scenes view from the commercial shoot that took place in the gym at LaSalle High School in Coconut Grove last month.


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October 23, 2006

Tacos All Around

This time, fans might get to cash in on a Taco Bell World Series promotion.

If any Detroit Tigers or St. Louis Cardinals player hits a home run to left or left center field during Tuesday night’s World Series Game 3 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, all U.S. residents will have the opportunity to get a free taco at the fast food chain.

If the feat is accomplished, one free Seasoned Beef Crunchy Taco (retail value approximately 77 cents) will be available per person between the hours of 2 and 5 p.m. (local time) on Nov. 1. It's only one taco, regardless of the number of left or left center home runs hit.

“We can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate America’s Favorite Pastime than by giving fans a chance of winning America’s favorite taco,” Bill Pearce, Taco Bell Corp.'s chief marketing officer, said in a press release. “Since we haven’t given away a free taco in previous World Series promotions, we felt this was the perfect time to ‘think outside the bun’ and open up the offer to include any home run over left or left center field.”

The company really could have to pay up this time. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the majority of home runs at new Busch Stadium this season – the stadium’s first – were hit to left field: 94 to left field; 17 to center field and 65 to right field.

Previous Taco Bell World Series promotions have included requiring players to hit a certain target with their home runs, including a floating one outside San Francisco’s AT&T Park during the 2002 World Series.


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Wade's New Kicks

New season; new signature shoes.

Dwyane Wade’s new Converse shoe, the Wade 1.3, will be available in stores starting Nov. 3. Ads shot by famed director Spike Lee supporting the new shoe begin airing Thursday.

wade13.jpg The new shoe is made of soft black nubuck leather, embossed with a crocodile pattern and feature a white patent leather toe. Triangular patches on the shoe’s ankle bear the initials “FC” that stands for “Flash Crew,” which according to a Converse press release refers to “the name adopted by Wade and his inner circle of friends and family.” The tongue also includes Wade’s No. 3.

But Wade won’t be wearing the new model during the Heat’s first game of the 2006-07 season against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 31 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Instead, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP will wear a limited special edition model befitting the Heat’s championship ring ceremony, which will take place that night.

For that special occasion, Wade will wear a black and gold version of the new shoe with the "34.7" on the triangular patches signifying the average number of points Wade scored each game of the Finals. The sockliner bears the expression “Any More Doubters?” an expression Wade uses as a motivator.

That special model will also be for sale Nov. 3.

The Wade 2.0 and a new Wade apparel line will be unveiled at the NBA All-Star Game in February in Las Vegas.


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Ringing Endorsement?


The South Florida Super Bowl XLI Host Committee is getting a branding boost: The committee’s logo of a palm tree sprouting footballs appears on the cover of the BellSouth Yellow Pages currently being distributed to Miami-Dade County customers. The Yellow Pages are the “official directory” of the Host Committee, which is preparing for the Feb. 4, 2007 game.


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Dolphin Stadium Update

In the weeks between the final Marlins game of the 2006 season on Oct. 1 and Sunday's Dolphins-Green Bay Packers game, lots of progress has been made on Dolphin Stadium's massive $250 million renovation project.

All the scaffolding on the stadium’s north side and much of it on the south side has been removed to reveal the completed concrete work that composes three levels of platforms adding more than 100 feet of space on both sides of the stadium. The platform areas will eventually house restaurants, clubs and other amenities.

Team and stadium officials have not formally announced their plans while they finalize the details of what will be included in the improved stadium. But fans can get a good sense of the scope of the project, particularly when viewing the additions from the club level.

The platform areas will eventually be enclosed, but will remain open for Super Bowl XLI in February.

In the meantime, the team keeps adding activities to try to improve the game day experience for fans. On Sunday, Miami Dolphins PhotoTicket debuted. Kodak photographers roam the parking lots and stadium taking photos of fans, who then receive a card with instructions on how to order the photos online.


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October 21, 2006

Ballpark Series

Call it the first all modern era ballpark World Series.

OK, so ballparks don’t face each other, but the ones in this World Series mark the first time two stadiums built since Baltimore’s ground-breaking Camden Yards are featured in the Fall Classic.

Fifteen new ballparks have been built since Camden Yards, which opened in 1992, kicked off the nostalgia-ballpark building boom and changed the way baseball teams viewed and designed their homes. With the exception of the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates, the 10 other teams with post-Camden Yards stadiums have hosted some postseason games. Even the Orioles hosted playoff games at Camden Yards way back in 1996 and 1997.

The new Busch Stadium didn’t have to wait long to host the World Series – the St. Louis Cardinals’ new home opened in April. The series shifts there on Tuesday. The Tigers’ Comerica Park opened in 2000.

And speaking of this World Series, did you notice that ad for Papa John’s? That might not qualify as ambush marketing, but Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch owns Little Caesars.


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October 19, 2006

Samson’s Ironman Media Tour

So, why is the only MLB team president to participate in the Ford Ironman World Championship getting so much media attention? That’s in part because Marlins President David Samson didn’t actually qualify for the grueling endurance event that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run that must all be completed within 17 hours.

He’s what’s known as a “media athlete” – one of a select group of up to six special invitees, who are asked to participate based on their position, background, or condition, according to Blair LaHaye, a race spokeswoman. For example, Jon Blais was an invitee who competed last fall, despite having Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The special invitees do not impact the number of athletes who qualify for or win a lottery slot in the race, LaHaye said.

They are chosen, LaHaye said, because they can help bring exposure to the event and the Ironman brand. Samson is also competing to raise money for two charities: the Florida Marlins Community Foundation and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Invitees must “validate” their spots by competing in at least one Ironman event of 70.3 miles or greater. Samson completed two 70.3 events before heading to Hawaii for Saturday’s Ironman competition.


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Comerica Cash-in

While the Detroit Tigers wait to find out their opponent in the World Series, Comerica Bank could be counting its pennies. Well, at least the anticipated value from having its name atop the Tigers’ home stadium, Comerica Park.

According to Front Row Marketing Services, a naming rights marketing and sponsorship research firm, the bank’s partnership could result in at least $21.4 million worth of media exposure from stadium signage, graphics and verbal mentions on television broadcasts of the postseason games.

Not bad for a company that agreed to pay $66 million for 30 years for the naming rights to the stadium, starting in 1999 when the Tigers’ on-field performance could best be described as lean.

“In one year, we could see half of that returned in media value because of the success of the Tigers,” said Wayne Mielke, Comerica vice president of corporate communications. “One of the benefits of having a 30-year agreement, is just like the economy goes in cycles, so does the baseball season. You never know which team will be on top.”

Front Row measured per game exposure against what it would cost to air 30-second commercials during the different rounds of the playoffs, with the per game value during the Division Series measuring about $1.36 million and a World Series game rising to about $6.6 million. But those calculations, Mielke said, don’t even include all the extra exposure from media coverage of the team and the city of Detroit.

The Tigers took four games to beat the New York Yankees in the best of five Division Series, but swept the Oakland A’s in four games in the American League Championship Series. The lack of the maximum number of home games for the team doesn’t bother Mielke.

“The bigger picture here is the impact this has on the city and the region,” Mielke said. He said before the naming rights partnership people were unfamiliar with the bank’s name. He said the Tigers’ run should help the bank gain exposure in its growth markets of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. “So if the Tigers sweep their way to victory, it’d be perfect.”


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October 18, 2006

All-Star Tuneup

Was in Las Vegas over the weekend, where I attended the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns exhibition game at the Thomas & Mack Center, the arena on UNLV’s campus that will play host to the NBA All-Star Game in February.

Although quite a bit larger, the arena is a little like the old Miami Arena with its no frills décor and tight concourses. It is likely to require a little dressing up to meet the needs of the NBA’s midseason showcase. Of course, many of the events surrounding All-Star will be held at other glitzier venues on the Strip.

(Meanwhile, Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade shares the cover of Sports Illustrated with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in three regional covers for the magazine’s NBA Preview.)

Oh and speaking of Las Vegas’ strip, on a quick tour through New York, New York Hotel & Casino, some souvenirs were conspicuously absent: plenty of New York Yankees’ gear, but nary a Mets T-shirt or cap anywhere. No, they weren’t sold out – there merely weren’t any items representing New York’s other team, which still happens to be playing postseason baseball.


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October 11, 2006

Game time brought you by 7-Eleven

You’ve got to love a sponsorship that’s so simple you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

When BankAtlantic signed on as a sponsor of the Panthers last year, the bank promoted its 7-day-a-week service with the team’s new 7 p.m. start times. Game start times have since returned to 7:30 p.m. this season and making the connection might have been a stretch for some fans.

But getting the Chicago White Sox to change their game start times from 7:05 p.m. to 7:11 p.m. is a much easier way to get 7-Eleven’s name top of mind. The convenience store company is reportedly in talks with other baseball teams.


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Heat Thank You

Over the summer, Heat Coach Pat Riley issued each player another “15 Strong” motivational card made famous during the team’s championship run, but this one included the player’s targeted weight and body fat for the start of camp.

At the time, Riley told my colleague, Ira Winderman, “Fifteen strong will be used the rest of my career.”

It’s also being used as a thank you to the Heat’s most loyal fans. Season ticket-holders were sent one of the yellow cards that features a picture of the NBA Championship trophy on one side and “15 Strong” on the other encased in a small Lucite container.

Along with the card is a note from Riley thanking fans for their support. The note closes with: “While there will be much more to come during this celebration of our first NBA Championship, I wanted you to have one of these much-talked-about “15 Strong” cards. This is an authentic card straight from our locker room, because I recognize the important role you played during this magical Heat championship season.”


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October 9, 2006

Wringing out more revenue

As teams look beyond their already sponsor-plastered venues for more ways to generate revenue, the idea of individual games or full seasons being underwritten by corporations is becoming increasingly common.

The Panthers opened their 2006-07 season on Friday with the help of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which will also sponsor the next two Panthers’ seasons. This is nothing new – last season was sponsored by ADT.

This season is being presented by the tribe’s Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The casino’s name will be included in the team’s advertising and on signage throughout BankAtlantic Center. The casino is also considered the “official Florida Panthers Post Game Party Spot.”

The casino connection is OK by the NHL because the gambling venue does not have a sports book, according to Panthers Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark. Additionally, Isle of Capri Casinos, which owns Pompano Park Harness Track, has a bid in to finance a new arena for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, if it can secure the license to operate slot machines in the city.

Season and Indian gaming sponsorships are not new: in 2000, the Sycuan Tribe, which runs a casino in San Diego County, paid more than $1.5 million to be the title sponsor of the San Diego Padres' season.

And even the Boston Red Sox, who have sold everything from the grounds crew and lineup card exchange to sponsors, are considering a season sponsor. After all, it was Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who engineered the Sycuan sponsorship while at the Padres.


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October 5, 2006

Global NBA

The NBA continues barnstorming the globe with its NBA Europe Live Tour in which four teams are holding training camps in Europe for the first time and will play international games against Euroleague teams in seven cities in five countries.

The San Antonio Spurs are in France; the Philadelphia 76ers in Spain; the Phoenix Suns in Italy; and the Los Angeles Clippers in Russia. The Suns and 76ers will also play exhibition games in Germany against Euroleague finalists.

The idea is to continue to expose the NBA to basketball fans around the world and to televise international games on NBA TV. Eight games will be televised on the league’s network beginning with this afternoon’s contest at 3 p.m. between the 76ers and FC Barcelona and followed tonight at 9 p.m., by a tape-delayed version of the San Antonio Spurs versus Adecco ASVEL Lyon.

The tour also includes a number of NBA Cares community events, including the upgrading of four basketball courts in Barcelona, Rome, Lyon and Cologne and establishment of an NBA Cares Reading & Learning Center in Moscow.


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Pompano Beach Marlins?

It’s looking like a long shot that a deal will be made to finance a stadium for the Marlins at Pompano Park, but serious conversations have gone on for some months. We might not have known about the talks, which may never result in a deal, if Broward County Commissioners hadn’t received heat for pledging to help the Baltimore Orioles with their plan to overhaul Fort Lauderdale Stadium for spring training.

Marlins fans called and sent emails to commissioners criticizing them for offering to help the Orioles, who hold spring training for six weeks a year, to the tune of $800,000 a year for 30 years, while the hometown Marlins languish without a completed stadium deal.

County Mayor Ben Graber said he was honest with his constituents. “I told some people we were having negotiations with the Marlins and to be patient,” said Graber, who still hopes to be able to announce a deal before he leaves office Nov. 7.

Other issues to consider:

+ While Pompano Park Harness Track officials are open to the idea of adding a ballpark to their 223 acres, which are soon to be home to a racino with 1,500 slots, bars and restaurants, it’s unclear if Major League Baseball will allow a stadium on track property or for gambling (in this case slots) revenue to be used to finance the venue. MLB has said it would need to “closely review” any such proposal.

Gambling is a big issue for baseball, but the industry has allowed casino and Indian tribe sponsorships of teams in the past. In 2003, the Marlins and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida struck a deal for the tribe to put up an ad that covers half of the outfield wall at Dolphin Stadium. And in 2000, the Sycuan Tribe, which runs a casino in San Diego County, paid more than $1.5 million to be the title sponsor of the San Diego Padres season. MLB did not object to those deals because the tribes’ casinos do not have sports-book betting.

+ Meanwhile, officials remain tight-lipped about the status of talks in both downtown Miami, where MLB has contracts to purchase property south of Miami Arena, and in Hialeah, where Miami-Dade County, the city and Marlins representatives have been focusing their attention. A meeting of representatives of the three sides and MLB was postponed because of MLB’s labor talks, but the sides are working to reschedule the meeting. And Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said he’s not concerned about talks occurring in Pompano Beach.

“That other folks are looking at ways they might be able to come up with a workable arrangement for a stadium doesn’t concern me at all. No more than the whole San Antonio discussion did,” Burgess said. “Whatever will be will be. It doesn’t slow us down or accelerate us.”


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October 1, 2006

Samson Pays Up

With the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts officially open, Marlins President David Samson has lost his bet with Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association CEO Stu Blumberg.

In March 2004, Blumberg placed a bet with Samson that the performing arts center would open before a new ballpark for the Marlins. Samson took the ballpark. The wager? $1.

“I am planning to go to the bank and get a roll of pennies and deliver it in person,” Samson said. “I will leave it on his personal special table at Joe’s Stone Crab,” where Blumberg lunches regularly.

Actually, according to Blumberg, Samson already paid the debt a few weeks ago.

“He Scotch-taped four quarters on a note and mailed it to me,” Blumberg said. “He said ‘Congratulations.’”


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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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