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January 29, 2007

Just in time for Super Bowl

Just in time for Super Bowl comes the Beerbelly, a sort of sleek backpack device worn on your front under your clothing to conceal the 80 ounces of beer – or other beverage – that you are trying to sneak into a stadium. OK, so it isn’t completely new, but Super Bowl seemed as good a time as any to mention it.

Known as a “stealth beverage” system, the Beerbelly is designed to allow you to bring beverages into stadiums, the movies, or concerts without detection. It comes with a straw for easy dispensing. It costs $34.95 for the basic version and $49.95 for the deluxe package with cleanser and extra hot or cold pack.

My favorite line on its website at thebeerbelly.com is “Seriously, this is a real product. You need one now…”

It’s not clear if the device is covered by Dolphin Stadium’s list of prohibited items.

MEANWHILE

If you’re not going to the game, which most of you aren’t, there’s always that leather recliner with your team’s logo on it. The Dreamseats recliner costs $1294.99

In the meantime, check out our Super Bowl blog.

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January 25, 2007

Tennis UpClose

Talk about up close and personal.

The Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, which begin Sunday, are offering fans a chance to get closer to the action than ever before with a dozen on-the-court seats at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

The seats, naturally, are called “Best Seats in the House.” The marketing tagline promoting them is: “There’s courtside, then there’s ON-COURT – When only the ultimate experience will do.”

The seats, which cost $6,700 for four or $3,500 for two, are in three locations on the court: four each beside each player and one at the end of the photo pit on the opposite side of the court. The tournament, which runs through Feb. 4, launched the on-court seats on a limited basis last year as a way to stretch its seating inventory for the most popular matches.

The tournament is also offering “Ultimate Experiences,” a series of special packages that include the on-court seats and other benefits, such as invitations to a player’s party; private tennis clinics; a player escort to Stadium Court; and a Mercedes-Benz tournament vehicle to chauffer you to and from the tournament.

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January 19, 2007

Mavs Interactive

With the Dallas Mavericks, who lost to the Heat in the NBA Finals in June, returning to AmericanAirlines Arena to play the Heat on Sunday, it seemed like a good time to mention Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s latest innovation.

The Mavericks have launched MavsWiki, a website that allows fans to add information on team history, records and individual games, along with reminiscenses and photographs. The site will be moderated and operates like Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute facts and descriptions.

Said to be the first of its kind in professional sports, the site offers yet another way for fans to be connected to their team. It also doesn’t hurt that enthusiasm is high with the Mavericks holding the best record in the NBA.

“This site will provide fans a great way to share their Mavs experiences with us and other fans,” Cuban said in a team release. “It will also give new fans a chance to catch up on the history of the Mavs.”

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January 16, 2007

Wade Chips

Continuing the trend of adding extras, such as swatches of game-worn uniforms, to sports cards, Topps is capitalizing on the NBA All-Star Game being held in Las Vegas on Feb. 18 with Chip Cards.

Wadechip.jpgA chip featuring an NBA player, including Heat guard and Topps spokesman Dwyane Wade, will be embedded into the limited edition cards. The cards will only be available at the Topps booth at the 2007 NBA All-Star Jam Session for fans who purchase three packs of Topps basketball cards at Jam Session, open them and turn in their wrappers for a Chip Relic Card. Other players appearing on chips include Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and Adam Morrison.

HEAT CASHES IN

Meanwhile, launching throwback uniforms, adding retail stores, creating a popular color-based playoff theme with lots of new merchandise, and of course, winning the 2006 NBA Championship, helped earn the Heat the title of NBA Retailer of the Year for 2006.

The award is given to the NBA team with the most successful merchandise sales. The Heat now has three Miami Hoops Gear stores beyond its store in AmericanAirlines Arena at Dolphin, Sawgrass Mills, and Dadeland malls. Floridians throwback jerseys and the “White Hot” playoff theme helped the team record a 175 percent jump in sales over the previous year. The Heat also received the honor, created five years ago, in 2003.

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January 15, 2007

Top 10

With all this talk of the Davie Brown talent index, a few of you have asked which athletes make up the top 10. The index, which is something of a modern version of the Q score, is based on consumer research used to determine an athlete's or celebrity’s awareness along with a number of characteristics, including appeal and trustworthiness. Corporations use the list to consider potential celebrity endorsers. Here are the top 10 sports celebrities:

1. Tiger Woods
2. Michael Jordan
3. Muhammad Ali
4. George Foreman
5. Lance Armstrong
6. Magic Johnson
7. Shaquille O'Neal
8. Joe Montana
9. Terry Bradshaw
10. Andre Agassi

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January 12, 2007

Hockey or Football…or both?

The Panthers are trying to accommodate football fans.

The team announced today that it has arranged to tune televisions around BankAtlantic Center on Saturday night to the NFC divisional playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints at 8 p.m. In fact, the team will keep the Patron Tequila Platinum Club and the Budweiser Terrace open with sets tuned to the football game until its conclusion.

Is that to prevent fans from skipping Saturday’s Panthers-Washington Capitals game at 7:30 p.m. at the arena in favor of a second round playoff game? This isn’t even the NCAA Tournament or the Super Bowl.

“We understand that many of our loyal Panthers fans are football fans as well,” Sunrise Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said in a release. “Our goal is to provide them with the best of both worlds. If you come to the BankAtlantic Center on Saturday, you can watch the NFL playoffs in a festive atmosphere and not miss out as the Panthers take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals.”

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January 11, 2007

Beckham Bonanza

Could Major League Soccer make a bigger splash than luring soccer superstar David Beckham to its ranks? Probably not.

"David Beckham is a global sports icon who will transcend the sport of soccer in America," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

The 31-year-old midfielder is scheduled to join the L.A. Galaxy after his contract with Real Madrid expires June 30. Beckham, who previously played for Manchester United, said he was excited about a new challenge.

“I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world's most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own,” Beckham said.

Beckham has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal worth a whopping $250 million in salary and endorsements. The dollar figure is twice as much as the - at the time - record-breaking $252 million, 10-year contract New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez signed when he was with the Texas Rangers in December 2000.

Beckham ranks behind only Mia Hamm among soccer stars in Davie-Brown Entertainment’s celebrity index, which measures athletes and celebrities on awareness, appeal, and other attributes that companies consider when choosing potential endorsers. Beckham ranks 875th in the index of 1,400 athletes and celebrities; Hamm is 740th.

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January 10, 2007

Wade’s Jersey

Dwyane Wade’s top is no longer tops.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s jersey is now No. 1 in sales and Wade’s has slipped to second place, according to the NBA, based on sales from the start of the 2006-07 season through the end of last year at NBA.com and the NBA store in Manhattan.

Bryant changed his jersey number this year from 8 to 24. The Lakers also retained the top spot on the list of most team popular merchandise for the fifth consecutive season. Despite its struggles this season, the 2006 NBA Champion Heat moved up one spot to second place. The New York Knicks rank third, followed by the Chicago Bulls.

SportsOneSource, which tracks sales of sporting goods at retail, still finds Wade’s jersey in the top spot.

Here’s the list of the top-selling jerseys according to the NBA:

TOP 15 PLAYERS
1. KOBE BRYANT – LOS ANGELES LAKERS
2. DWYANE WADE – MIAMI HEAT
3. LEBRON JAMES – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
4. ALLEN IVERSON – DENVER NUGGETS
5. CARMELO ANTHONY – DENVER NUGGETS
6. STEVE NASH – PHOENIX SUNS
7. VINCE CARTER – NEW JERSEY NETS
8. GILBERT ARENAS – WASHINGTON WIZARDS
9. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL – MIAMI HEAT
10. STEPHON MARBURY – NEW YORK KNICKS
11. DIRK NOWITZKI – DALLAS MAVERICKS
12. TRACY MCGRADY – HOUSTON ROCKETS
13. PAUL PIERCE – BOSTON CELTICS
14. CHRIS PAUL – NEW ORLEANS/OK CITY HORNETS
15. TIM DUNCAN – SAN ANTONIO SPURS

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Cal's Fame

It wasn’t a surprise that Cal Ripken made the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot Monday. A variety of products are already available to celebrate his induction, along with Tony Gwynn’s, scheduled in July. The MLB Shop is selling 2007 Hall of Fame T-shirts to honor Ripken, who played a total of 21 seasons, all with the Baltimore Orioles, including 16 years in which he played every day.

Ripken’s own Ironclad Authentics, a division of Ripken Baseball that specializes in hand-signed collectibles and licensed merchandise, is offering both Ripken and Gwynn gear at www.ironcladathletics.com.

Ripken ranks in the top 10 in the trust and appeal categories among 340 celebrity-athletes, in Davie Brown’s talent index, which uses consumer research to measure celebrities’ awareness and other attributes such as appeal and trust, to help brands and companies make decisions about potential endorsers. Of the index’s 1,400 members, Ripken ranks 489th; Gwynn comes in at 1,005.

XM Satellite Radio, which in 2004 signed an 11-year deal to broadcast every Major League Baseball game, marked a first with Ripken’s induction by taping the call he got from the Baseball Writers Association of America informing him of the vote, and then subsequently broadcasting it.

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January 9, 2007

Chompionship Gear

University of Florida Licensing Manager Debbie Gay said last month that several of the school’s licensees were asking if they could make dual national championship items, if the Gators won the BCS National Championship Game. The Gators won the men's basketball Final Four in April. Gay said the gear couldn’t be produced unless the Gators took the football title.

With the Gators' decisive 41-14 win over Ohio State on Monday, UF becomes the first school ever to hold both the football and basketball titles within the same year. Check out the shirts , which are already on sale, to prove it.

The school, which receives an 8.5 percent royalty on the wholesale cost of merchandise – typically half the retail price – had a record-breaking year in 2005-06, pulling in $3.2 million in royalties, including about $500,000 in basketball national championship merchandise. That's up 43 percent from $2.2 million in 2004-05. The school will increase its royalty rate to 10 percent in March.

UF is expecting about $2.24 million of the $17 million the SEC receives for the Gators' appearance in the BCS National Championship game – the remainder of the bowl payout is split among the rest of the schools in the conference. But most of UF’s take is covering the cost of transporting, lodging and feeding those that made the trip to Glendale, Ariz. According to Steve McClain, Florida’s sports information director, that included a projected $915,000 in transportation costs; $251,000 for hotels; $205,000 for meals and incidentals; $240,000 for the band; and $4,100 for the cheerleaders, with the total cost coming to about $2.16 million. That leaves just $78,500 to be pumped back into the athletic department budget.

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January 4, 2007

Buckeye Scarlet; Gator Blue

College sports fans love their team colors. No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Florida are No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in The Home Depot’s ranking of Team Colors paint sales.


The home improvement retailer launched the Team Colors line of Glidden paints last April, offering nearly 600 paint colors representing the precise shades of more than 170 teams, including NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, and Major League Soccer teams, and NASCAR drivers. For example, you can buy the Home Depot orange that represents Tony Stewart’s No. 20 car.


The line also includes 44 colleges and universities. Rankings through Oct. 31 – the most recent results available recorded before the Buckeyes and Gators were headed to Monday’s BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. – put Ohio State’s official scarlet and gray at No. 1 and UF’s blue and orange at No. 4. Georgia ranked second; Michigan was third. Florida State was eighth and Miami 14th.

Sales of the college colors represent more than 25 percent of all Team Color paint sales, the company reported.

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San Antonio still striving for another pro team

Buoyed by their flirtation with the Florida Marlins last year, San Antonio officials are again exploring ways to bring a Major League Baseball or NFL team to their city.

Among the communities hoping to the lure the Marlins from South Florida, San Antonio had the most serious discussions and made an offer to raise $200 million for a ballpark. But San Antonio officials pulled the offer last May after Major League Baseball said it wasn’t ready to allow the Marlins to move, and instead would focus on completing a stadium deal in South Florida. However, MLB praised San Antonio for positioning itself as a viable relocation market, particularly if a stadium deal couldn’t be reached in South Florida.

Talks for a stadium deal in Miami-Dade County are ongoing.

San Antonio's Alamodome was a temporary home for the New Orleans Saints in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

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January 3, 2007

Dwyane Wade Pitches Staples…

wadenew.jpgDwyane Wade might be on the bench, but he hasn’t stopped making business deals. Staples, the world’s largest office products company, announced a two-year agreement today with the Heat guard to help support its major push into the South Florida market.

The company has 13 stores in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, and is planning several more in Broward and Miami-Dade by the end of the year.

Wade will be featured in in-store promotions and an interactive Staples Web site. The company also plans to partner with Wade on projects that benefit local youth and to support his Wade’s World Foundation.

…Maria Sharapova Expands Her Portfolio

Meanwhile, tennis star Maria Sharapova will join Wade as a Gatorade endorser. PepsiCo International announced today that the U.S. Open champion has signed a new three-year agreement, estimated to be worth $1 million annually, to promote the Gatorade and Tropicana brands internationally.

A new Gatorade ad featuring Sharapova will break early this year. She will promote a global hydration education program and will appear on Gatorade packaging in Italy and Australia during the Australian Open later this month. She will pitchTropicana around Europe.

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January 2, 2007

Owners Making Pitches

So Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t the only sports team owner appearing in national advertising. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis joins Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin in an amusing spot promoting the NHL that is breaking during tonight’s Chicago Blackhawks v. St. Louis Blues game on VERSUS.

OK, Cuban was pitching Samsung’s Blackjack phone, rather than the NBA, but there are still only a handful of owners appearing in ads these days.

leonsis.jpgThe new ad, which is part of the NHL’s “Just Like You and Me,” campaign aimed at showing players as regular guys, shows Ovechkin getting help from Leonsis in trying to free a bag of chips trapped in a vending machine. The ad will also air later this week on TSN, the NHL Network, Comcast SportsNet and on NBC on Jan. 13, according to the NHL.

…AND COMPANIES TOO

Also breaking tonight during the FedEx Orange Bowl are the express delivery company’s ads promoting the FedEx Cup, the PGA Tour’s new playoff point system format that begins this season.

A series of seven ads promoting the new system have been created, with the first airing during BCS games, a FedEx spokeswoman said. One shows a mannequin standing in at a videoconference meeting for an office worker who has cut out early to play golf; a second features an office worker getting coaching on office small talk from a caddy.

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January 1, 2007

BCS On Demand

Can’t get enough college football?

College football fans can preorder DVD copies of the on-air broadcasts of BCS games or can download full-length or condensed versions, as well as highlight packages and preview shows.

Fort Lauderdale-based Collegiate Images has licensed the DVD rights of four of five BCS games to Team Marketing, which produces sports-related home videos, in partnership with Lulu, a digital publishing marketplace. DVDs of the Fox Sports broadcasts and extra features start with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl tonight and also include the FedEx Orange Bowl on Tuesday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, and the Tostitos BCS National Championship game on Jan. 8.

The DVDs, which are $25 apiece, will be available at retail in mid-February or can be ordered at www.bcsfootball.org.

Fans also have the option of downloading those four BCS games and the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, and highlight and preview packages at a variety of Web sites, thanks to a partnership between Fox Sports and the BCS.

Downloads are available at sites including foxsports.com; direct2drive.com; Amazon’s Unbox, AOL Video, CinemaNow and Instant Media.

Most games will be available for download within 24 hours of the end of the game. The condensed versions of games, or “Short-Cuts,” reduce the games into 20-minute versions. Short-Cuts and highlight programs are $1.99 with the full-length games costing $2.99. Some sites offer each game along with previews and highlights for $6.99. The full package of all the bowl games, previews and highlights costs $19.99.

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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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