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May 31, 2007

More Dolphins in London

Preparations for the NFL's first regular season game outside North America are in full swing:

The NFL has reportedly hired a marketing partner for the Oct. 28 game between the Dolphins and New York Giants. Fins TV is providing video content for the NFL's London Web site and the league is cracking down on eBay ticket resales.

According to Brand Republic, the NFL has hired Prism, a sponsorship firm, to help market the game.

From the Brand Republic report:

Alistair Kirkwood, NFL UK managing director, said: "To put on a professional game of this stature requires a number of experienced partners and we are pleased to conclude an agreement with Prism. Their extensive knowledge of the sponsorship marketing industry will help us as we pull together all the assets that will make this event a truly memorable occasion."

....
Brian Greenwood, UK chief executive for Prism, said: "Now that the Mayor of London has thrown his full support behind the game, sponsors will have a myriad of exciting activities to become involved and fully leverage this great opportunity.

"While ticket sales, TV coverage and professional management of the game are all important factors that will contribute to the success of this unique event, it is ultimately the NFL UK activities developed from this game with UK fans that will mark its definitive success."

Meanwhile, according to nfllondon2007.com, Fins TV will be available on its and the nfluk.com Web sites. Fins TV will share shows featuring interviews with Dolphins and programming promoting the Oct. 28 game.

The nfllondon2007 site is also reporting that the league is trying to ensure Wembley Stadium is filled with real fans of the NFL and closely approximates the feel of a game in the U.S. With the first batch of 40,000 tickets selling out in 90 minutes earlier this month to U.K. and European fans, who had been randomly selected after expressing their interest in tickets online, I thought I'd find tickets for resale on eBay.com and other auction Web sites. But the league is cracking down on resales.

According to the site:

“We set up the pre-registration in February, the random lottery, and the passcode system to try to ensure that this was a secure sale that stopped tickets being re-sold through the secondary market,” said NFL UK Managing Director Alistair Kirkwood.

“Clearly some people have slipped through the net, but we have a system in place to ensure that they will not be able to benefit from selling on tickets to our game at a vastly inflated price. The Ticketmaster purchase terms and conditions clearly state that tickets cannot be resold, and we are within our rights to withdraw all these tickets and reissue them at a later date.”

Therefore, all people who have attempted to sell tickets on eBay have had their tickets withdrawn from sale, and those seats will be resold in a future ticket sales period.

Although the illegal eBay sellers will be reimbursed for their ticket purchases, they will be removed from the ticket registry of interest, and will not be eligible to buy more tickets for this game in the second batch of sales that will take place in June.

I found only two entries on eBay, where one Dolphins season ticket-holder, who is eligible to buy tickets through the Dolphins, is offering the right to purchase two tickets to the London game and promising to sell the tickets at face value.

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May 30, 2007

Oden Signs Deal with Topps

08TBK-BOX3new.jpgOhio State center Greg Oden, who is preparing for next month's NBA draft, has signed a multi-year exclusive trading card deal with Topps.

Oden will appear with legendary Boston Celtic Bill Russell in packaging promoting the 2007-08 basketball cards, which mark the 50th anniversary of Topps' first basketball card sets. Topps will also help establish Oden's official Web site.

Oden joins other exclusive Topps spokesman, including Heat guard Dwyane Wade, New York Mets third baseman David Wright, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds.


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May 26, 2007

Preserving the OB?

University of Miami officials are reviewing a new proposal aimed at preserving the tradition and history of the 70-year-old Orange Bowl. The idea is a last-ditch effort to try to save the stadium from the wrecking ball -- and perhaps the site from being the future home of the Marlins.

NS-Renderingnew.jpgThe city of Miami's project consultant, Jones Lang LaSalle, is proposing a $206 million renovation that adds luxury suites and club seating to the stadium's south side and new restrooms and concession stands throughout the stadium. The plan envisions a total of 66,736 seats, including 30 suites, 400 indoor club seats, and 2,000 outdoor club seats. There would be a 60-seat president's suite and new scoreboards.

The idea is to keep the Hurricanes' home-field advantage at its long-time home, something it wouldn't get by sharing Dolphin Stadium with the Dolphins, the proposal states. John A. Paccione, Jones Lang LaSalle senior vice president, calls the Orange Bowl "irreplaceable."

"The Orange Bowl has been a point of orientation for that community for decades ... for the Hurricanes for decades," he said. "They get to preserve that point of orientation for the future. There's no dollar figure that can put a value on that."

But preservation comes at a cost. While the $206 million proposal is fully-funded and spreads improvements across the stadium - unlike earlier proposals - and doesn't rely on an up-front contribution from UM, it does put the university on the hook for more of its stadium revenue and doesn't anticipate as much revenue as earlier projections.

The plan calls for $50 million in a Miami-Dade County bond issue; hotel bed taxes; and $45 million in historic tax credits -- those are federal tax credits available to buildings with historic designation. The city has begun the process of applying for the designation. Another $73.3 million comes from bonding against revenue generated in the stadiumOB-Interior-Club2.jpg

Under the plan, UM would contribute $3 per ticket up from the current $1 surcharge; 10 percent of ticket sales; 50 percent of club seat ticket sales and 100 percent of the club seat revenue up from 75 percent in earlier proposals. As such, the proposal estimates UM will increase its revenue in a renovated OB to $2.6 million, but that's down from the $3.4 million to $3.6 million projected in earlier proposals.

But the proposal also details the somewhat intangible advantages to staying at the OB versus a move to Dolphin Stadium: "The Orange Bowl - UM's long standing history-rich and legacy-driven stadium remains the Hurricanes home," the proposal says. "The stadium will continue to be branded for the Hurricanes. ... Improvements made to the stadium are aligned directly with UM's desires - not another primary tenant."

On the Dolphin Stadium side, the proposal raises conserns about game scheduling conflicts with the Dolphins and the Marlins and says: "Larger stadium with UM attendance records will make the games appear unsupported by the fans ... Locationally, Dolphin Stadium is less convenient and more at risk for fan apathy in attendance."

UM offcials said they are reviewing the proposal. Miami City Manager Peter Hernandez said the city gave UM an overview of the proposal this week and he expects a response from the university within a couple of weeks.

If UM decides to make the move to Miami Gardens, the Orange Bowl location has been proposed as a possible site for a ballpark for the Marlins, although both the Marlins and Major League Baseball would prefer a spot downtown. Hernandez said if UM decides to stay at a renovated OB, the city still has the money to help fund both projects. "Both projects have separate financial plans," Hernandez said.

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May 22, 2007

Shaq-sposition Writing Contest; Wade figurines; and More Pressel

Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal has made fighting childhood obesity one of his causes and this summer he’s looking for kids to help out.

O’Neal, who became an endorser of the Mighty Milk nutritional drink in February, will be one of the judges for the Mighty Milk “Be Mighty, Get Active” essay contest. Children ages 7 to 15 can enter by writing essays of no more than 300 words explaining their idea for creating a more active community, whether it be upgrading a local sports field, establishing a recreational program or buying equipment. Entries will be accepted through Aug. 18 at www.mightyfoodz.com.

“While the focus on the battle against childhood obesity (and living a more active lifestyle) is on parents, guardians, schools and other guiding forces in children’s lives, winning the battle is a team effort,” O’Neal said in a statement. “The Mighty Milk ‘Be Mighty, Get Active’ essay contest is an opportunity for kids to get involved, too, in a way that will help the whole community.”

O’Neal and executives with CytoSport, maker of the Mighty Milk, will judge the essays. The first 500 entrants will receive a signed O’Neal Mighty Milk backpack. Ten finalists, who will receive a pair of signed Dunkman-brand basketball shoes, will be chosen in September, with the grand prize winner earning $25,000 for his or her community activity plan and a trip for three to Miami to attend a Heat game and meet O’Neal.

WADE FIGURINES

Meanwhile, O’Neal’s teammate Heat guard Dwyane Wade is living up to his Flash nickname. According to Upper Deck Authenticated’s All-Star Vinyl Web site, it didn’t take long for the 2000 limited edition Dwyane Wade action figures – 1,500 “home” uniform and 500 “road” uniform versions -- to sell out. The company released the 11 inch-tall figures, which sold for $49.99 for the home versions and $99.99 for a dual pack with both the home and road versions, this morning and the Web site says they’re all gone. They’re already selling on eBay.

PRESSEL INSPIRATION

Boca Raton's Morgan Pressel, the youngest woman to win a major in LPGA history, will help "inspire young women to excel in academics and athletics," as a spokewoman for Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks' "Champions" program.

Pressel, 18, will make appearances at Busch Entertainment Corp. adventure parks across the country on behalf of the program, including Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, Busch Entertainment Corp. announced today.

"Any success that I have experienced in my career has its foundation in focus, hard work and discipline. That is what I hope to impart to young women in my appearances in the Anheuser-Busch parks," Pressel said in a statement. "You can do anything in the world if you are dedicated enough and committed to excellence in everything you do."

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May 20, 2007

Shoe Art

It might not meet a precise definition of sports business, but with Puma underwriting artist Federico Uribe’s “Human Nature” art installation, it qualifies in my book.

Uribe, who hails from Colombia, but lives in Miami Beach, has created a whole jungle from Puma shoes and shoelaces that have been stitched and melded together. It’s fascinating: colorful and detailed birds, insects, frogs, trees, a giraffe, a zebra, an elephant, an ostrich, a crocodile, a gorilla, a chimpanzee, and yes, even a puma. It’s described as “a jungle with predatory life size animals in action and surrounded by a forest built out of Puma footwear.” Catch a glimpse of the installation by clicking “installations” under “portfolio” at Uribe’s Web site.

The exhibit runs through Aug. 18 at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York.

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May 18, 2007

Marlins Stadium Update No. 1,021

Growing weary of the years-long effort to try to secure state funding for a ballpark for the Marlins, at least a few Miami-Dade County Commissioners are ready to move ahead without state help. And if Commissioner Dennis Moss has his way, that should cost Florida its name on the Marlins’ jerseys, too.

A name change - to Miami Marlins - has been contemplated for years if a new ballpark is ever built in Miami. Moss pushed for the new name again Thursday during a meeting of the commission’s Airport and Tourism Committee.

Moss also suggested that since the county plans to contribute millions of dollars in hotel bed and sports facilities taxes to the ballpark, which it would also own, the team should hold spring training at the Homestead baseball stadium once its lease at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter expires. After all, Moss said, the county also helped pay for the Homestead ballpark, which was meant to be the spring home of the Cleveland Indians, but was abandoned after it was damaged during Hurricane Andrew.

“I wholeheartedly support this,” Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said. If a stadium is built, Sosa said, “We agree to change the name to Miami Marlins. There’s a commitment with them that it stays. The state didn’t give you a penny, that means you don’t belong to Florida. We are going to build the stadium so you belong to Miami, you belong to Dade County.

Commissioner Carlos Gimenez also said it’s time to give up on state funding and put a ballpark proposal before the commission so it can decide whether to move forward.

“Waiting for this state money has probably cost us a couple hundred million dollars. I think it’s time we move on,” Gimenez said. “Forget the state … if we had just gone ahead and built it, it would have cost a couple hundred million dollars less than now. Forget the state, it’s not going to happen.”

Gimenez suggested the funding gap in the $490 million ballpark plan could be bridged by value engineering or some other method.

“Bring it forward. The final decision will be up to the board of county commissioners,” he said. “We need to move on. The more we delay the more it’s going to cost. Let’s bring something to the table. We need to vote it up or down, then we’ll know.”

A move to the Homestead baseball stadium is unlikely in the near future: the Marlins’ lease at Roger Dean Stadium runs through 2017 with two additional five-year options.

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May 12, 2007

Striking Out Breast Cancer

Major League Baseball players will be swinging pink bats again on Sunday, celebrating Mother’s Day with a program to support the fight against breast cancer.

More than 200 players will use the pink bats – more than twice as many as did last year – which will then be autographed and auctioned off to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization fighting for a cure for breast cancer. Dan Uggla and Alfredo Amezaga are among the Marlins expected to use the pink bats. Pink ribbons will appear on the bases and the lineup cards will also be pink.

Ads promoting the “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” featuring New York Mets third baseman David Wright have been appearing for days in newspapers and magazines.

Major League Baseball has a fund-raising goal of $1 million with its 30 teams aiming to raise $25,000 each. MLB has pledged to make a $50,000 donation as well. Read more about the program at www.komen.org/mlb. Reach the Marlins donation page here.

Fans can also buy limited edition caps and T-shirts with pink team and pink ribbon logos with $1 from each purchase going to Komen for the Cure. Personalized versions of the pink Louisville Slugger bats are available for $69.99 of which $10 will be donated to Komen for the Cure.

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More Radio

Anyone wondering if 790 The Ticket (WAXY AM) needs the Dolphins to stay on air need only look at the ratings from the winter – when the Dolphins weren’t playing – to see the station doesn’t need the team to make ratings inroads against its competition, WQAM (560 AM).

The Ticket topped WQAM overall and in nearly all daytime slots during the winter ratings book -- Jan. 11 to April 4 -- among men ages 25 to 54. Overall, 790 ranked No. 15 between 6 a.m. and midnight, compared to 560 at No. 18. In the fall, when the Dolphins were playing, WQAM was at No. 11, while 790 was at No. 19.

In comparing individual shows, from 7-10 a.m., 790’s Joe Rose was No. 10 in the market with a 3.2 share and 48,600 listeners to 560’s Kenny Walker and Kim Bokamper who ranked 21st with a 1.8 share and 30,300 listeners. (This means that during the time period, 3.2 percent of radio listeners were tuned to Joe Rose versus 1.8 percent to Kenny and Bo).

From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Neil Rogers on WQAM (No. 6 with a 4.1 share) beat a combination of Boog Sciambi and Sid Rosenberg on The Ticket (No. 17 with a 2.2 share), but The Ticket actually had more listeners: 36,100 to 22,900 at 560. That typically means more listeners stayed with Rogers longer.

From 2-4 p.m. Rosenberg on 790 (No. 14 with a 2.7 share and 25,700 listeners) beat Jim Mandich on 560 (No. 19 with a 2.3 share and 20,900 listeners).

And finally, Dan LeBatard and Jon Weiner were No. 5 with a 4.2 share and 48,400 listeners on 790 from 4-7 p.m. against the combination of Mandich and Hank Goldberg in the first hour, followed by Goldberg for the rest of the show at No. 12 with a 3.2 share and 32,200 listeners.

The Dolphins announced last month they are returning to WQAM, after two years on 790. The Ticket secured the Dolphins in 2005 as a way to establish itself in the market against WQAM, but when its contract expired balked at the price tag to keep the broadcast rights. Station officials say without the Dolphins, they’ll have more programming time for other teams, such as the Marlins, whose contract at WQAM expires this season.

“We’re not going anywhere, we’re stronger than ever,” said Howard Davis, 790’s general sales manager and station manager.

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May 10, 2007

More MySpace; Shaq TV

Now the NFL is joining the MySpace craze.

The league is teaming up with Fox Sports, broadcaster of next year’s Super Bowl XLII, and MySpace to create a page on the social networking site devoted to Super Bowl advertising.

The partnership announced today will allow advertisers to post their ads to the Super Bowl advertising page with extras. While Super Bowl ads can be found on a variety of Web sites, the MySpace page will give advertisers additional avenues to reach the public. For example, companies might add online coupons; an auto company could feature an opportunity to “cyber-build a car”; or a movie studio might offer an extended trailer.

Users of MySpace, which like Fox is owned by News Corp., could also add commercials they like to the own MySpace pages. Fox will broadcast Super Bowl XLII from Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 3, 2008.

Super Bowl advertising, television’s most expensive (30 seconds during Super Bowl XLI averaged about $2.6 million), is also the most anticipated of the year. Some of the more than 90 million viewers who watch the game say they do so just for the commercials.

"The Super Bowl continues to provide advertisers an unparalleled stage to reach a massive and passionate audience," Brian Rolapp, the NFL's vice president of media strategy, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Fox and MySpace on this innovative partnership to drive even more value to advertisers who support the Super Bowl while providing our fans another way to interact with the NFL."

THE DIESEL ON TNT

Heat center Shaquille O’Neal, who is typically still in the playoffs at this time of year, will make his debut on TNT’s NBA studio show on Monday. O’Neal will join Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley for the pregame show and halftimes of the network’s broadcasts of Game 4 of both the Cleveland Cavaliers-New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns-San Antonio Spurs series.

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May 9, 2007

NHL and MySpace

The NHL contends its fans are among the most technologically savvy in all of sports.

As a result, the league continues its leap into the 21st century adding an NHL page to MySpace, the popular social networking Web site. The league announced the page this afternoon and says it's the first major pro sports league to enter such a partnership.

The page gives fans access to video clips from games from the 2006-07 season and the ongoing 2007 playoffs. Fans will also be able to add video clips to their own MySpace pages. As of this writing, the page already has nearly 500 MySpace friends or other MySpace users who've added a link between their own pages and the NHL page.

“The NHL fans get more of their information through digital means than any other professional sport,” Keith Ritter, president of NHLInteractive CyberEnterprises, said in a statement. “As the first major professional sports
league to have an official presence on MySpace, we can give the community access to NHL coverage in a very unique environment.”

Locally, the CA Championship, the World Golf Championships event at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in March, experimented with a MySpace page as a way to reach a younger audience and grow golf's fan base.

In November, the NHL became the first sports league to partner with YouTube, the video sharing Web site, to provide NHL game highlights. The NBA signed on with YouTube in February as a way to show game highlights and behind the scenes videos and for fans to share videos of themselves shooting hoops on an NBA Channel.

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May 8, 2007

No Jersey Blues

Dolphins fans who placed orders for Ted Ginn Jr. jerseys when he was wearing No. 11 - as he did during last weekend’s mini-camp - need not worry.

Reebok has yet to ship out Ginn jerseys and is aware the rookie wide receiver has decided instead to wear No. 19 to honor his father, Ted Ginn, who wore 19 in high school. That also means there’s no chance for a collector’s item as there might have been, had No. 11 jerseys actually been sent out.

“There were no jerseys produced with a name and number. None of them were out to market,” a Reebok spokesman said. “Everyone who has ordered one is going to get 19 now.”

Ginn jerseys – replicas for $74.99 and authentic versions for $339.99 – are for sale at NFLShop.com. The replicas show a No. 11 on the Web site, but the customized jerseys appear with a No. 19.

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Sports Represented at the White House

Athletes and figures in sports business were among the guests invited to the White House state dinner in honor of visiting Queen Elizabeth II.

According to the guest list provided by Office of the First Lady and printed in the New York Times, Super Bowl XLI champion Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was among them. Also on the list, golfer Arnold Palmer, 2007 Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel, New York Giants quarterback Timothy Hasselbeck, CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz and Joseph O’Donnell, chief executive of Boston Culinary Group, which operates the concessions at Dolphin Stadium.

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May 7, 2007

Heat Gear Sale; Do-nuts, Do-nuts, Do-nuts

Wondering what the Heat will do with all that White Hot merchandise it stocked for the 2007 playoffs? The team is thanking its fans with a fan appreciation sale on Thursday.

Regularly priced merchandise will be 50 percent off at the Miami Hoops Gear store at AmericanAirlines Arena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free. Heat season ticket holders can also receive a free gift with their purchases, but they need to show their season ticket holder keychain tags.

Season ticket sales representatives will also be on hand for those interested in buying 2007-08 season tickets.

DO-NUTS

The Marlins’ hot bats have sent fans to Dunkin’ Donuts for free donuts and a medium coffee six times during the first month of the baseball season.

Anytime the Marlins score at least six runs at home, fans can turn in their ticket stubs for two donuts and a medium coffee within 24 hours at Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and on the Treasure Coast.

While that amounts to 134,568 donuts and 67,284 cups of coffee – if every ticket stub were turned in - the number is probably closer to 53,040 donuts and 26,520 cups of coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts officials don’t know the redemption number precisely, but estimated that an average of 20 to 30 tickets are redeemed at participating locations among the 221 in the region. Since not all are participating, I used an average of 20 tickets to be on the conservative side.

The Marlins scored at least six runs 21 times last season. This season they’re already on a pace to reach that milestone 35 times.

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May 5, 2007

Marlins Stadium Update No. 645

The Marlins issued a brief statement today expressing disappointment that the Legislature failed to grant a $60 million sales tax rebate to help the team build a ballpark, but vowing to get back to work.

That echoes the thoughts of some Miami and Miami-Dade County officials, who say they don’t want to lose the momentum they’ve built – with Major League Baseball’s help – to solve the ongoing stadium issue. The city and county have approved a $490 million financing plan in concept, but it includes a $30 million gap. It’s unclear how the gap will be filled, but those involved say a plan needs to come together quickly to ensure a ballpark can open in time for the 2011 season.

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May 4, 2007

Marlins Stadium Update No. 106

Florida: 6, Marlins: 0

The Marlins struck out again in Tallahassee today, waiting for their request for a $60 million sales tax rebate to be taken up by the Senate. With property tax reform delayed until a June special Legislative session, the Senate adjourned early – shortly after 4 p.m. – without considering the bill, despite the House’s overwhelming 86-24 vote for the measure last week.

For those keeping score: this is the sixth time a Marlins funding request has died in Tallahassee. Only the first, in 2000, died before the waning days of the session. That effort was ceremoniously squashed on Opening Day when then-Gov. Jeb Bush said he’d veto a tax on cruise ship passengers to help pay for a ballpark. All subsequent requests included a request for a sales tax rebate. Four times the measure has died either on the Senate Floor or with the Senate refusing to hear it. Only last year did the Senate approve the measure only to have the House adjourn before hearing it.

No one would pinpoint precisely what killed the deal this year, other than to say it was a combination of getting caught up in the horse-trading of various projects between the House and the Senate, and squabbling between Senators Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, who both supported the measure, but couldn’t agree on whose name would be on the bill.

Team, Major League Baseball, Miami-Dade County and Miami city officials were hoping this was the year the request would pass and the focus could shift to determining a location for a new ballpark. Instead, local officials vowed to figure out how to fill the $30 million funding gap. The Marlins declined to comment Friday, but are expected to issue a statement on Saturday.

“[Miami Mayor] Manny Diaz and myself and our [city and county] managers will meet next week and pick up the pieces,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said. “We will meet with Major League Baseball and the Marlins to create plan B, to see what we’re going to do. I’m not going to let people down. We’re going to work hard together to come up with a solution. This is too important to our citizens not to have it take place.”

Some state lawmakers said they’re not giving up. Garcia, one of the measure’s senate sponsors, said he’ll continue to press his colleagues to help the Marlins.

“It’s a huge economic impact and keeping them is one of the most important things I can keep working on,” he said. He said the continued rejection of efforts to help the team build a new stadium is “tough on me, but I believe our community deserves tireless work on this issue.”

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May 3, 2007

Baseball Meets Culture; Taco Bell Love

The Marlins and the Carnival Center have teamed up on a ticket promotion.

Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield is the host and narrator of the Play Ball! The Baseball Music Project, which is a celebration of baseball through music, playing Friday at the Knight Concert Hall at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Against a backdrop of baseball images and video, the Florida Classical Orchestra will play songs such as Take Me Out to the Ballgame, You’ve Gotta Have Heart and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.

The promotion allows patrons to buy tickets for $25 using the promotional code MARLINS789 and also get a ticket to a Marlins game for just a $1 service fee. Tickets from The Baseball Music Project can be turned in at Dolphin Stadium for Bullpen Box seats at any Sunday through Thursday home game this season.

And Winfield will be on hand at Saturday’s Marlins-San Diego Padres game at Dolphin Stadium to autograph copies of his new book Dropping the Ball – Baseball’s Troubles and How We Can and Must Solve Them to raise money for the Florida Marlins Community Foundation. Fans, who aren’t attending the Carnival Center show, can guarantee a chance to meet Winfield and get a signed copy of the book by visiting the Community Corner at the stadium during Friday night’s game and making a $25 donation.

SEVENTH HEAVEN

Taco Bell has another unusual baseball promotion. It’s offering fans a chance to post a marriage proposal on the virtual sign behind home plate during a nationally televised baseball game on Fox on July 7. The “official quick service restaurant” of Major League Baseball picked the date because it says it’s “considered by many as one of the luckiest and most romantic days of the century” because of its unique number sequence -- 07-07-07 -- and to promote its new 7-Layer Crunchwrap.

To enter Taco Bell’s “7 Layers of Love” contest, fans, who are at least 18, have until May 27 to submit “seven reasons why your significant other would be lucky to marry you” at www.tacobell.com. The entries will be narrowed to seven finalists and the winner will be determined in time for the game. The grand prize winner gets the virtual proposal and a year’s supply of Taco Bell food. For those who are wondering, that’s $500 in Taco Bell Bucks.

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May 2, 2007

More on Wheaties

With the University of Florida’s first-ever appearance on a Wheaties box, we took the opportunity to explore the history of Wheaties and sports in a story in today's paper.

A reader correctly pointed out that I left out at least one prominent athlete with South Florida ties: Michael Irvin. The sidebar of fun Wheaties facts omits Irvin, who was featured on three Wheaties boxes with the 1993, 1994 and 1996 Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. The St. Thomas Aquinas and University of Miami wide receiver should have made our list.

In studying the one-page promotional proposal outlining UF’s agreement with Wheaties to make way for the men’s basketball team’s appearance on a box, it’s clear these kinds of deals are struck early contingent upon a team winning a championship. UF signed the proposal, which reads: “If Florida wins the 2007 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wheaties would like to feature Florida on a Wheaties Men’s Basketball National Champions box,” in February.

UF also signed off on the artwork, which in this case was a generic piece of art showing hands - and an arm with a blue and orange wristband that UF doesn't wear - cutting down a basketball net on the front and the Gators mascot on the back. NCAA guidelines generally prohibit player images from being used in most commercial endeavors. Under the agreement with Wheaties, UF receives $25,000 for the initial run of 560,000 boxes and another $7,500 for each additional run of 100,000 boxes.

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May 1, 2007

Virtual NBA

The NBA keeps expanding its reach with technology.

In February, the league announced a partnership with YouTube, in which fans are invited to upload videos of themselves shooting hoops onto the popular video sharing Web site.

Now the NBA has joined the popular virtual world of “Second Life” -- an online 3D universe, in which people create their own identities and then socialize, shop, and now, visit the NBA Headquarters. Second Life, which has more than 6 million users, has been described as MySpace meets The Sims.

In the NBA Headquarters, which NBA Commissioner David Stern unveiled in an online press conference inside Second Life with his own Stern avatar (online persona or identity), has plenty of real-world features, complete with advertising and naming rights, including the T-Mobile Arena, where fans can watch playoff and Finals match-ups on the JumboTron and the Toyota Larry O’Brien Trophy Room, where they can take pictures with the championship trophy.

Basketball fans can also visit the NBA Store, where they can pick up jerseys for their avatars. They can also participate in games at the NBA Jam Session.

“Bringing the NBA to the virtual world provides us with a new and innovative platform to reach our fans and the millions of residents in Second Life,” Stern said in a statement. “The NBA headquarters creates an interactive worldwide community where fans can come together, engage with our game, and most importantly, share in their passion for the NBA.”

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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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