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November 30, 2006

UM Women Turn Back the Clock

A scheduling conflict with “Sesame Street Live – Elmo’s Coloring Book” has forced the University of Miami Women’s Basketball team to move Friday's 7 p.m. game against Jackson State from BankUnited Center to the Knight Sports Complex on the school’s Coral Gables campus.

The move back to the Knight Sports Complex, which was the women’s home from 1985 to 2002, has created a unique marketing opportunity. The team will host a “throwback” night with tickets going for $1, instead of the usual $5.

There will also be $1.25 hot dogs; $1 beverages; and giveaways. The theme will be decidedly 1970s, according to Scott Moody, sports information director for women’s basketball, since the team launched in the early 1970s. Word is coach Katie Meier might add a 70s flare to her wardrobe and a disco contest is planned at halftime.

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Stephon Marbury’s Away Game Shoes

Steve & Barry’s has added a new color to Stephon Marbury’s very low-cost Starbury One shoe line. A black, orange and royal blue version of the shoe has been added to the line that retails for $14.98. The new shoe is the same as the one the Knicks guard wears on the court during away games.

The Starbury One line – now available in kids’ and men’s sizes up to 15 (the shoes, which debuted in August, were previously only available up to size 13) – is available exclusively at Steve & Barry’s, meaning it still isn’t sold in South Florida or online. Steve & Barry’s stores in Florida are in Orlando, Kissimmee, Tampa and Merritt Island. Check out eBay.com, too.

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November 28, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Banks…

Comerica Bank is the naming rights sponsor of the ballpark that is home to the 2006 American League Champion Detroit Tigers. Now the bank is sponsoring some Lions.

The Sagemont School Lions. The Weston school’s 8,000-square-foot athletic dome – billed as the tallest structure in the city – is being renamed Comerica Bank Dome.

The dedication and official renaming is scheduled at 6:45 p.m. Thursday just before the Boys Varsity basketball team plays Horeb Academy. The dome, completed in 2004, is home to basketball and volleyball.

The school’s mascot, Monty the Lion, and cheerleaders will not only be wearing Comerica T-shirts, they will also toss Comerica T-shirts and caps into the crowd.

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November 25, 2006

Sports Rock ‘n Roll

Monday Night Football has Hank Williams Jr., and his cast of country, rock and hip-hop stars who accompany him on a new version of his All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Monday Night intro to the games on ESPN this season.

The Indy Racing League has Gene Simmons, the Kiss founder whose Simmons Abramson Marketing signed on to help market the sport last season. Simmons co-wrote I Am Indy, a rock anthem meant to capture the spirit of the open wheel series. The marketing partnership is expected to continue next season.

And now NASCAR will have Aerosmith. The band recorded a new version of its Back in the Saddle in Las Vegas earlier this month that will be played during broadcasts next year on ABC/ESPN. ABC and ESPN will broadcast the final 17 races of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2007 as part of the sport’s new eight-year television deal estimated at $4.48 billion that spreads races across ESPN and ABC, Fox and TNT. ESPN2 will broadcast Busch Series races.

Aerosmith is no stranger to NASCAR. The band members are said to be fans and in 1999, Kenny Wallace drove the Aerosmith-sponsored No. 55 Chevrolet in the Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Rock on…

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November 21, 2006

Downtown Miami Marlins?

While a decision on the location of a new stadium for the Marlins is far from being made, don’t be surprised if the newest idea – a downtown site just north of the Miami-Dade County government center – ends up the preferred choice.

The location is publicly owned by Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, which would significantly reduce the cost of a ballpark; is adjacent to Metrorail and Metromover and not far from I-95; and there is ample parking nearby.

marlmap.jpg Several county commissioners were open to the idea of the site Tuesday, but said they want to ensure the county finds a good location for the Children’s Courthouse for juvenile and dependency cases that is slated for the area, and that taxpayers don’t end up being unduly burdened with the cost of a ballpark.

“I love it. It’s got great potential,” said County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who as the the former Miami city manager is quite familiar with the ballpark project. Gimenez loves that the property is publicly owned and so close to Metrorail. “I think it can work … It was right under our nose all along.”

It appears that Major League Baseball’s interest in an area south of Miami Arena may have spurred county officials to begin exploring whether other downtown spots might be viable.

While Commissioner Katy Sorenson continues to oppose public funding of sports venues and Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she has questions about the new site, other commissioners, including Sally Heyman, Bruno Barreiro, Javier Souto and Rebeca Sosa, said they were open to the idea, if a suitable location can be found for the Children’s Courthouse.

“I think it’s a good location as long as we can take care of the children’s court,” Barreiro said.

It’s too early, county and city officials say, to talk financial terms for the site, but it’s pretty clear the county, city, and Marlins will all have to participate and all of them hope the state will finally contribute. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz supports bringing a stadium to downtown to help round out what he says is becoming an increasingly dynamic area with condos, restaurants and the recently opened Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

The county has not abandoned discussions with the city of Hialeah for a spot in western Hialeah. And talks among representatives of Broward County, the city of Pompano Beach, and the Marlins about potentially locating a ballpark at Pompano Park Harness Track are also ongoing.

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November 19, 2006

John Henry at Homestead

Former Marlins and current Boston Red Sox owner John Henry was at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday for the NASCAR Nextel Cup finale and because Fenway Sports Group is in discussions to purchase a stake in Roush Racing.

Henry wouldn’t discuss the deal because he said it isn’t completed, but said FSG would like to create a motorsports division. FSG is a subsidiary of New England Sports Ventures, which includes the Red Sox, Fenway Park and New England Sports Network. Roush owns five race teams including the No. 16 National Guard/ Subway Ford driven by Greg Biffle, who won Sunday’s Ford 400.

Henry said he met Jack Roush a few years ago before either had won a world championship in his sport. Roush since had back-to-back Nextel Cup championship winners in 2003 and 2004 and the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. They discovered they had a lot in common, including being from a county with the same name – Adams – but in two different states: Henry from Illinois; Roush from Michigan.

“We struck up a friendship and we’ve discussed ways we might work together,” Henry said.


No Comment on Japanese Pitcher


Henry was even more tight-lipped about last week’s news that the Seibu Lions had accepted the Red Sox’ jaw-dropping $51.1 million bid for the right to negotiate a contract with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. (That’s more than three times the Marlins’ on-field payroll last season.)

“We’re extremely happy to be in negotiations at this point, to be the team that won the bid and we think it’s potentially a great thing for Red Sox Nation,” Henry said refusing to discuss the bid amount. “I think when the deal is final, I think people will be able to understand it.”

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November 17, 2006

NASCAR Headache

With Tylenol becoming the official pain reliever of NASCAR next year, the sport pushes aside its longest-running non-automotive sponsor and a staple of the South, Goody’s Headache Powders.

While NASCAR continues to shed its southern roots by partnering with a well-known national brand, the move wasn’t exactly easy to stomach for a company that has been a part of the fabric of the sport for 29 years. Richard Petty is Goody’s longtime spokesman and Tony Stewart appears in its ads. The company sponsors races and fans can win prizes for voting for the driver who endured the “Goody’s Headache of the Race” each week.

“Let’s just say, while we’re disappointed NASCAR decided to go in a different direction, we’re not upset, we’re not angry,” said Darren Singer, Goody’s vice president of marketing. “The fact that Goody’s will not be the official pain reliever of NASCAR, we will continue to be the favorite of the fans.”

Singer vowed the company will continue to have a presence in NASCAR: “We would never turn our back on our fans.”

Although it loses “official” status, Goody’s can still sponsor cars and recently signed a three-year deal to title sponsor the Goody’s 500, the Nextel Cup race in Martinsville, Va., starting next year.

Tylenol entered NASCAR last year with its Team Tylenol advertising campaign that features drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Elliott Sadler. Now it will be able to use the NASCAR name and logo and will have a presence in the Nextel Cup, Busch, and Craftsman Truck series.

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November 16, 2006

NHL Flagship Style

The NHL announced Thursday that it is partnering with Reebok to open an NHL store in midtown Manhattan next fall.

The NHL store, similar in concept to the NBA’s midtown store, is to occupy 6,700-square feet on 6th Avenue at 47th Street. By contrast, the NBA's store at 5th Avenue and 52nd Street is 35,000 square feet.

The NHL store will be located on the ground floor of a building in which the league intends to move its offices next year.

“We think this will be an incredible branding opportunity,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a conference call with reporters just prior to the start of this season.

“We have wanted to open an NHL store for a long time and now the timing is right,” NHL Executive Vice President Consumer Products Marketing and Retail Operations Brian Jennings said Thursday in a statement. “The store’s location, size and product offering, as well as our partnership with Reebok, all will serve to enhance the NHL brand, promote our players and offer hockey fans a unique multi-sensory shopping experience.”

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YouTube NHL

The NHL has become the first pro sports league to strike a deal with YouTube, the increasingly popular video sharing Web site, to provide NHL content and share some advertising revenue.

Under the agreement, some NHL game highlights will be available within 24 hours of broadcast. The partnership allows the league to protect its copyrighted video, which it can have removed from the site or share revenue from ads placed around it. Soon, the site will debut an NHL link: www.youtube.com/nhl.

Launched in February 2005, YouTube.com has become the must-visit site for a wide variety of video clips that include political gaffes and lots of moments in sports, such as the UM-FIU brawl at the Orange Bowl last month. This week, Google completed its $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube.

Other sports leagues are also exploring whether to partner with YouTube.

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November 14, 2006

Stadium and Naming Rights Envy

While efforts to finance a stadium for the Marlins continue to putter along quietly, the Oakland A’s unveiled plans Tuesday for a new stadium in Fremont, about 30 miles south of their current home.

In a partnership with Cisco Systems, the A’s, who have long sought a new stadium, have agreed to purchase 143 acres in Fremont for a 32,000- to 35,000-seat ballpark to be named Cisco Field that could open in 2011. It is expected to be mainly privately financed.

Meanwhile, in Queens on Monday, a ground-breaking was held for a new $800 million stadium for the New York Mets to be called CitiField. The new 45,000-seat ballpark to replace Shea Stadium, is expected to open in 2009.


More impressive than the ground-breaking might be the whopping $20 million a year the team is reportedly getting from Citigroup for the naming rights. The agreement is by far the richest for a corporate naming deal on a sports venue and is considered great news in an industry that at various times has been deemed at a standstill or declining. The largest previous deal is said to be the approximately $10 million Reliant Energy pays annually for the rights to name the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium.

As for the Marlins, Major League Baseball officials insist helping the team gain a stadium is a priority. They hope the election of Charlie Crist as Florida's governor will help since Crist once served as general counsel to the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league division of the MLB Commissioner's Office. Miami, Hialeah and Pompano Beach are still under consideration as locales for a new ballpark.

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November 11, 2006

NHL Sales...

The NHL reports that merchandise sales during the month of October at NHL.com are up 95 percent from October 2005.

The league attributes much of the increase to the Buffalo Sabres’ new logo and uniform colors and 10-game winning streak. Sales of Sabres’ apparel and other items are up about 1,170 percent compared with last October. Five Sabres players -- Ryan Miller (2), Maxim Afinogenov (4), Chris Drury (5), Jason Pominville (6) and Daniel Briere (9) – recorded jersey sales in the top 10. The top jersey seller is Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

But a total of 28 teams of the league’s 30 teams sold more gear this October, including the Panthers, whose sales are up 62.2 percent compared to a year ago. Other teams recording large increases include the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (433 percent); Edmonton Oilers (336 percent); San Jose Sharks (239 percent) and Anaheim Ducks (235 percent).

...And NHL Wristbands

panbrace101706.jpgMeanwhile, GameWear, which stumbled on the idea of fashioning necklaces and bracelets from game balls after ripping the seam off a baseball and wearing it as a necklace, has expanded its line of sports wristbands. The company has added NFL and NHL teams to its roster of MLB, NBA, and college baseball, basketball and football teams. The bracelets are fashioned to look like they’ve been cut from game balls or hockey pucks and include team logos and player names.

The bracelets sell for $9.99 each and while the NFL versions, including the Dolphins, are at wearthegame.com the NHL ones, including the Panthers, should be available in the coming days. They are also sold at Toys R Us and Foot Locker.

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November 9, 2006

Light-up Ads

The Panthers debuted a new type of advertising at Wednesday's game: LED dasherboards.

The two "Smartvision" LED boards are located on both ends of the ice at BankAtlantic Center on the side of the rink filmed by television cameras. The lighted boards provide a unique way for the team to highlight sponsors’ ad messages during the game. Miami Subs, HealthSouth and Terminix were among the sponsors whose ads appeared on the boards Wednesday. The lighted display makes the ads pop out more than traditional signage.

ledpanth.jpg While the display is still being perfected, the system allows ads to be changed regularly throughout the game – similar to rotating stadium and arena ads – but also during the game, if a sponsor wants to tailor a message specifically to what’s happening on the ice or in the arena.

ANC Sports, a sports marketing company specializing in signage, debuted the system in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Two other NHL teams are said to be using a different company’s LED signage. ANC has signed a multi-year agreement with Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the Panthers’ parent company, for the new signage.

ANC is also responsible for BannerDrop, a system installed at the BankAtlantic Center in October 2005, in which banners can be changed quickly to convert hockey displays to Frank Sinatra Theatre signage, for example. With the push of a button, the banners are lowered from the ceiling, switched out, and then raised back into place.

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November 8, 2006

Riley Meets the Rugrats

Heat Coach Pat Riley has another motivational speaking assignment.

To prove he's not afraid of young talent, Riley's going to the extreme: reaching out to the youth of tomorrow. He's signed on to be the announcer for a Heat-themed DVD called "Miami Heat Baby." The DVD is among the latest entries in the Team Baby Entertainment line of licensed sports-themed DVDs aimed at teaching babies about college and pro sports.

The line, which sells for $19.95 each at teambabyentertainment.com, includes a variety of NCAA-licensed DVDs, for your collegiate fan baby, including "Baby Gator." The DVDs incorporate the color, pageantry and mascots associated with the featured team or sport. Proving its never too early to begin exposing kids to sports, the company's tagline is: "Raising Tomorrow's Fan Today."

Among other celebrity narrators are Mark Cuban for "Dallas Mavericks Baby" and Jay Leno, who has "NASCAR Baby" duties. The Heat DVD will be available starting in January.

Meanwhile, Riley has become Creative Artists Agency Sports division's first basketball client, according to the SportsBusiness Journal. The Hollywood agency launched its sports division earlier this year.

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November 6, 2006

Handheld NFL

Dolphins fans, fresh with new enthusiasm for their team after its upset win over the Chicago Bears Sunday, will have another opportunity next Sunday to try out the handheld Kangaroo TVs that are being tested at Dolphin Stadium this season.

ktvnew.jpgThe device, which can be rented for $39.99 per game or $119 for the remainder of the season, broadcasts DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket allowing fans to watch the local Dolphins broadcast and any other NFL game being broadcast at that time. That means fans can also watch replays of the Dolphins game, which are sorely lacking on the stadium's giant scoreboards.

There are also scores and stats for fantasy players and a scoreboard that even shows when games are in the red zone, so fans can flip to them quickly to see if one team will score. Scores highlighted in green mean a team has just scored.

The technology was pioneered in auto racing, allowing motorsports fans to watch races and listen to conversations between drivers and their crew chiefs. The NFL version is being tested with the Dolphins and the Washington Redskins this season.

The devices can be rented at Gate H or section 131 at Dolphin Stadium or online at www.kangaroo.tv


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November 2, 2006

The Heat Off the Court

The game was a bust for Heat fans, but in true Heat-fashion there were plenty of other items to catch the eye at Tuesday’s opening night ring ceremony and banner raising.

 lebonew.jpg
AmericanAirlines Arena has been decked out in championship fashion with large photos from the team’s playoff run ringing the event level. South Florida artist Lebo (David LeBatard) has brought his playful painting
to “Uptown” the new name for the upper levels of the arena.

The store is stocked with new merchandise with many items featuring the championship trophy.


The NBA also has new items for sale this year, such as bathing suits and board shorts with team logos.
swimsuitsnew.jpg

HEAT IN HD

On television, Sun Sports will begin airing the first of 20 Heat games in High Definition starting with Tuesday night’s game against the Seattle SuperSonics.


Meanwhile, the Heat ranks as only the third favorite NBA team in an ESPN Sports Poll in which 13,843 fans responded. The Los Angeles Lakers were first; the Chicago Bulls, who beat up on the Heat Tuesday, were second.


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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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