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The Business & Pleasure of Sports


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December 28, 2006

TICKET BONUS...

Almost immediately after being named head football coach at FIU, Mario Cristobal offered up a great deal to Golden Panthers fans:

Commit to season tickets for the 2008 season, when the Golden Panthers expect to have completed the first phase of a two-phase stadium renovation and expansion project, and you’ll get the 2007 season free. Yes, that’s free.

"Our team needs your support, and I realize it is our great alumni base, community, and staff, that will help our team be a success on and off the field. Our team will need your help. By creating a home field advantage players will feed off of that extra energy in the stadium,” Cristobal wrote in a note to FIU alumni. “As my first initiative as a Head Coach I am offering you to be a part of this historical moment in FIU history. If you commit to purchasing a season ticket for the 2008 season, in the new stadium, starting at only $100, we will give you the 2007 season absolutely free.”

…AND STICKER SHOCK…

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles, who are hoping the state will grant the city of Fort Lauderdale $15 million next week to put toward an overhaul of Fort Lauderdale Stadium, are hiking prices again for spring training at the aging stadium.

Box seats, which rose to $18 last year, will be $20 for games this March. That’s for games that don’t count. Reserve grandstand are now $14 up from $12 last year. General admission is $10 up from $8 and even kids' general admission tickets are rising $1 to $5.

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December 22, 2006

Arison's Influence

Winning an NBA Championship can help boost your profile off the court, too.

Heat owner Micky Arison debuted at No. 38 on the SportsBusiness Journal’s list of “50 Most Influential People in Sport Business.” Arison, who is chairman of Carnival Corp., has been the chairman of the NBA Board of Governors since October 2005 and has gained the respect of fellow owners and is close with NBA Commissioner David Stern, who is No. 2 on the journal’s list.

“Few garner as much respect as Arison does within the league. His behind-the-scenes style and penchant for privacy as board of governors chairman plays well with his fellow owners, and especially does with Commissioner David Stern,” according to the journal article. “The Carnival Cruise Line chairman is seen as one of the shrewdest business minds in the league, and his expertise will be a valuable resource for Stern & Co. when it comes to many of the league’s upcoming issues, such as a new television agreement, the league’s digital media strategy and a revenue-sharing issue that’s beginning to surface as small-market owners look for their fair share.”

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks who Arison’s team knocked off in the 2006 NBA Finals, is No. 35 -- down a spot from last year. Atop the list is ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.

Shaq-rendering-new.jpgFOR A GOOD CAUSE

The Miami Hoops Gear store at AmericanAirlines Arena is selling Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal wristbands for $3 each with the proceeds going to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The two Heat stars are among 17 NBA players and legends featured in the program, which also includes Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, New Jersey Nets Jason Kid and Vince Carter and Basketball Hall of Famers Jerry West and Kareem Abdul Jabaar.


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December 20, 2006

Lemieux’s Lament: Penguins’ future?

When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visited the Panthers earlier this month, he was asked whether the league might consider moving the team and if cities such as Winnipeg and Quebec City might get a franchise.

Bettman insisted the Panthers weren’t going anywhere and while other cities have expressed interest in a team, the league has “no interest or need for relocation.” He paused and continued, “The only possible team on the horizon would be Pittsburgh, if they don’t get a new building.”

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to award Pittsburgh’s slot machine license to Detroit-based developer Don H. Barden’s PITG Gaming, throwing the Penguins’ future in the city into doubt. The team and the league had been hoping the license would be granted to Isle of Capri Casinos, which had agreed to build a $290 million arena, if it had been granted the license. Isle of Capri also owns Pompano Park Harness Track.

“The decision by the Gaming Commission was terrible news for the Penguins, their fans and the NHL,” Bettman said in a statement. “The future of this franchise in Pittsburgh is uncertain and the Penguins now will have to explore all other options, including possible relocation.”

During his stop at BankAtlantic Center, Bettman said the league was not concerned about slots revenue being used to help pay for an arena. “I think people tend to overstate gambling,” he said. “First of all, it doesn’t involve a sports book and secondly, it’s legal.”

The last time an NHL franchise moved was in 1997 when the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes.

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December 18, 2006

MLB.com hosts Queen Latifah, NYC fashions…

I received an email recently advertising the Official New York City Shop’s line of NYPD sweatshirts and NY Fire Department T-shirts.

Normally I would probably have deleted the item, but I just happened to notice the extension on the sender’s email was mlb.com, which got me wondering…

Turns out MLB Advanced Media, the interactive arm of Major League Baseball, has taken its aggressive web hosting expertise far beyond the walls of Baseball and its Players Association. The NYC shop is just one of a variety of Web sites MLB.com is hosting.

The site counts Major League Soccer and several of its teams, the U.S. Figure Skating Association, and other Olympic sports among its roster. Then there are the musicians’ Web sites, including Queen Latifah, Jimmy Buffett, and Bob Marley, said Jim Gallagher, senior vice president of corporate communications for MLB Advanced Media.

“We’ve been lucky enough over the course of the past six years to build a technological platform to host others’ sites,” Gallagher said.

The site even handled the streaming of the first three rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for CBS SportsLine.com this year, Gallagher said.

With its early foray into streaming live games and offering historical highlights, MLB Advanced Media was able to prove how capable it was at handling large and complex amounts of material. Gallagher said typically the other sports entities and musicians split the revenue generated by their Web sites with MLB.com.

“This is all incremental revenue streams. What it does is bring lots of visitors to these sites," Gallagher said. “We’re most interested in doing work for people who promote their own brand. They come to someone who’s got a proven track record [at web hosting].”

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December 14, 2006

10th Anniversary of the 1997 World Series

newmarlpatch.jpgThe Marlins will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first World Series championship next season by wearing a special patch on their jerseys. The team unveiled the patch at its season ticket holder holiday party Thursday.

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December 13, 2006

It's Always Like This

With another home loss Tuesday night at BankAtlantic Center, the Panthers can’t be too pleased about their ad campaign that reads: “It’s Always Like This.”

It’s Always Like What? Always another loss? Always in last place? Always a less than capacity crowd?

The Panthers (10-17-6) are again in last place in their division with a home record of 7-8-1.

As you might expect, Panthers brass say the ad campaign is about BankAtlantic Center, not the Panthers.

“It really refers to the entertainment experience, when you come to the venue, whether it be for a game or a concert or a show,” Panthers Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark says. “The goal and objective of the campaign is to create something around BankAtlantic Center…We’re selling the experience.”

The Panthers experience isn’t much fun these days if you’re looking for a winning team.

“People are going to read into it,” Yormark acknowledged.

NEW IMPROVEMENTS

Meanwhile, arena officials are working to keep the venue state of the art.

The county commission agreed late Tuesday to loan Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the arena’s operator, $9.5 million to help pay for new signage and club seating. Two LED video panels to hang above the goal areas for advertising and event promotion and two outdoor marquees are planned in the first phase. The second phase includes a second Eastern Financial Club on the 400 level across from the existing one; a “bunker suite” of premiere seating under the lower level that comes with event level seats and a new center-hung scoreboard.

The improvements, expected to be completed by early 2008, are aimed at keeping the building “fresh,” Yormark says, and generating more advertising and sponsorship revenue. The county helped pay for the WCI Club and the LED ribbon board – improvements it says have generated $10.3 million in revenue during the past two years.

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December 10, 2006

Dolphins Holiday

A variety of Dolphins’ holiday merchandise is now available at miamidolphins.com and nflshop.com. The stores and kiosks at Dolphin Stadium were nearly out of the special merchandise on Sunday, but a few Dolphins wreaths, Santa hats ($19.99) and tree ornaments (prices vary depending on style) were for sale. With the team’s next home game not until Christmas Day against the New York Jets, timely shoppers would be wise to check out the Websites.

The winter holiday gear is in keeping with the league’s intention to make the sport top of mind throughout the year. Halloween-themed gear was available in October.

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December 9, 2006

Wade's Kicks Soar

wadenewshoe.jpg Dwyane Wade’s new Converse shoe, the Wade 1.3, was the third best seller among basketball shoes for the week ending Dec. 3, according to SportsOneSource, which tracks the retail sales of sporting goods. The shoe trailed only Nike’s Zoom LeBron IV and the Jordan Laney and was ahead of the Jordan Melo M3.

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Panthers Consider Other Rink Options

The Weston City Commission’s decision this week to halt plans for a recreation center that would have housed two ice rinks and served as a new training facility for the Panthers has forced the team to re-think its plans.

The Panthers were going to manage and sell sponsorships for the ice rinks in Weston, but commissioners killed the deal after objecting to the price tag, which had risen to a projected $27 million from $9 million four years ago.

Panthers Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said the team will now consider whether to expand and upgrade its existing practice facility, Incredible Ice in Coral Springs.

“Maybe we put in a third sheet of ice [at Incredible Ice] or build a new practice facility,” Yormark said.

The team, which believes the region needs more rinks to meet demand and help grow interest in professional hockey, is also waiting to see if the city of Boca Raton moves forward with plans to build a recreation center with two ice rinks.

“Boca is doing their due diligence to make sure if they were to develop a facility with ice, to see if it would be supported,” Yormark said.

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December 5, 2006

Think Orange

It always pleases local tourism officials when the FedEx Orange Bowl game pits two out-of-state teams. Especially if the teams are from cold weather climates. Out of state visitors mean lots of green for area hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

But what this year’s Wake Forest-Louisville matchup on Jan. 2 at Dolphin Stadium brings is some unkowns.

“I don’t know how they will travel,” said Bill Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. That’s the expression used to describe whether lots of fans will accompany a team on the road. Penn State, last year’s Florida State opponent in the Orange Bowl, for example, brought thousands of fans.

Being new to the Orange Bowl and the BCS should help. Wake Forest won its first ACC championship in 36 years and hasn’t been to a major bowl game since 1946. Although Louisville has had nine straight bowl appearances, neither team has been to the Orange Bowl or a BSC bowl game. Nor have they faced each other.

John Webb, vice president of sports development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he thinks the teams’ fans will be out in force.

“I’ve had a ton of calls from the Louisville people,” Webb said. “It’s not marquee names, but those universities are hungry to be part of the BCS System.”

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December 3, 2006

Mourning Pitch

Alonzo Mourning has added Flexofactor, a health supplement that aids joints, to his endorsement roster.

mourningnew.jpgThe Heat center is scheduled to shoot a commercial in South Florida today for the product for its parent company, Vital Basics, which also manufactures Focusfactor.

Mourning, who said he was skeptical of the products’ claims at first, is now convinced: “Flexofactor has made a huge difference for me,” Mourning said in a statement. "It’s like oil for your joints, it helps promote full range of motion and flexibility.”

The national ad campaign, which is to feature 60-second TV and radio commercials, as well as 30-second and 15-second radio spots, is to begin airing early next year.

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December 2, 2006

NBA Team Kicks

heatshoenew.jpg
Adidas just released its Original NBA Superstars Collection, a line of sneakers for each of the 30 NBA teams.

The line is the first featuring versions for every team. The shoes all bear adidas’ signature three stripes and three-leafed logo of the adidas Originals division and come in team colors with team logos. The materials vary – the Heat version, for example, is black suede with stripes in red and yellow. Some feature the team logo underneath or across the stripes. (See Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks versions). Detroitshoenew.jpg

The shoes retail for $100 and for the month of December are available in limited quantities at just one store (seven in New York – one for each borough, the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and adidas Originals in Soho) in each NBA market. Shoe Gallery (244 NE 1st Ave.) in downtown Miami is carrying the Heat version. In two weeks, the stores will have the opportunity to order any of the other 29 versions. In January, the line will be more widely distributed at retailers such as Foot Locker, but adidas says it will still be fairly limited. Atlantashoenew.jpg

Earlier this year, adidas forged an 11-year partnership with the NBA to become the official uniform and apparel provider for the league, as well as the WNBA and NBA Development League.

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December 1, 2006

Chambers' Charity

Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers is joining IceLink Watch’s 10 charities in 10 cities in 10 months campaign. Chambers is serving as the celebrity spokesperson this month for the company’s charity links bracelet campaign to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Miami.

The company is partnering with La Scala Jewelers and other stores and will donate a percentage of national sales of its bicycle bracelet line – it is featuring the new red bracelet this month – in December to benefit the Miami charity, which provides housing for families of seriously ill children being treated at local hospitals.

Chambers joins a variety of celebrities, including Xzibit; Tampa Bay Buccaneer Cadillac Williams; boxers Vernon Forrest and Bernard Hopkins; and Houston Rocket Juwan Howard, who were each featured for one month of the campaign that has benefited the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Las Vegas, the Boy & Girls Club in Philadelphia, and the Detroit Youth Foundation, among others.

Chambers is scheduled to make an appearance on behalf of the campaign at 3 p.m. Tuesday at La Scala Jewelers, 930 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, where he will discuss the campaign, greet fans and sign autographs.


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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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