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June 29, 2007

Welcoming Oden and Durant

In the Pacific Northwest little time was wasted welcoming the No. 1 and 2 picks in last night's NBA draft.

With Ohio State’s Greg Oden picked first by the Portland Trail Blazers, Nike bought an ad in today's Portland Oregonian showing a chauffeur in the baggage claim area of the Portland airport holding up a sign reading “ODEN.”

Meanwhile, the Seattle Supersonics produced this 60-second spot that ran in the Seattle market to welcome University of Texas star Kevin Durant to their team.

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June 28, 2007

NASCAR Red Sox Nation Style

Carl Edwards is scheduled to drive his No. 99 Ford this weekend in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, but it will bear the Boston Red Sox name on its hood, thanks to Fenway Sports Group's partnership with Roush Racing.

The car will also have a paint scheme that includes baseball stitching and the Red Sox socks logo. The Red Sox will also celebrate NASCAR at Fenway Park at Friday night's Sox-Texas Rangers game. Cars will be displayed at the ballpark and Roush drivers will take part in a pregame ceremony.

The weekend festivities are the largest since Fenway Sports Group announced in February that it was buying 50 percent of Roush Racing and forming Roush Fenway Racing. FSG is a subsidiary of New England Sports Ventures, which includes the Red Sox, Fenway Park and New England Sports Network.

Red Sox owner John Henry is a huge NASCAR fan who recognized the value of teaming with one of the country's fastest-growing and most sponsorship savvy sports.


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June 26, 2007

Huizenga on the Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium

Had a chance to catch up with Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga. Here are his views on some issues facing his team:

On his optimism for the 2007 season: "I was optimistic about last season, too. You get shell-shocked after all. We’re trying hard and I hope this guy’s the guy. I like what I see so far. We haven’t kicked the ball off in the season. I like his thinking, like his style, like his demeanor with the coaches and the players. So as far as I’m concerned he’s been executing his plan perfectly."

On making predictions: "You’d like to make predictions, but you don’t dare anymore."

On complaints about ticket price increases: "Our prices go up every year and they have to go up every year, because of the labor contract. This year, the new labor agreement ... wasn’t a good agreement. It was good for the players, but it was not good for us. The player costs jumped substantially this year."

On complaints about large club seat price increases: "What’s happened is some of these guys had tickets for 20 years. When they got club seats, they had no price increases for five years, then they had minimal price increases. At the end, they were way behind, we re-upped them again, they again got no price increases for five years. So out of 20 years, they only got price increases for 10 years ... They look at it like it’s a big increase, but look they didn’t have an increase for 10 years, so what ... are they complaining about?"

On Dolphin Stadium, which is undergoing a $213 million renovation eventually being on par with Wembley Stadium, which he visited last week during a visit to promote the Oct. 28 game against the New York Giants in London: "When we finish our construction at the stadium, our remodeling, it definitely will be in that class. Right now, what’s happened, we’re working hard on the club level, that’s disrupted the Marlins a little. We can’t start on the 100 and 400 level during Marlins season because that would really be disruptive. We’re working on the club level now. After the Marlins season, we’ll work on the 100 and 400 before the Marlins begin to play again. We’re even going to work on the 100 and 400 during the football season. You play home one week, then away for 14 days in between. You can get a lot of work done then go away for another week. We don’t want to lose that time. We’ll be working during the football season."

On playing the game in London: "The Dolphins have a lot of fans in the UK ... so the league talked to us about going over there, asked if we would do it. One of the reasons they asked and this is a big picture thing for the NFL as much as it is about the Dolphins, it’s not only the NFL. A couple weeks before our game, the NHL is playing regular season games there, before that the NBA is playing. Everybody’s doing it. The NBA is going to China, trying to build their brand. Soccer in England is going to China. Everybody is kind of looking more global than what they did before. We’re not the first one to start it, we’re the last one to do it. Now it’s a fight for who can keep up their brand image on a not only a nationwide basis, but on a global basis. We’re trying to test the waters. Will our game travel? It’s a big step for the NFL. When the NFL asked us, we felt an obligation to do it. I can understand why fans might be disappointed. They can still see it on TV and a lot are going, by the way."

On season ticket-holders, who are upset the NFL is requiring them to pick up tickets in person in London, the week of the game: "The intent is not to have people buy tickets for the game day price and sell to a broker and make a couple of grand. For a fan to complain he can’t broker tickets, that’s not right."

On coach Cam Cameron and the draft: "Our new coach is a great guy ... He’s got the right approach to what he’s doing. On the draft, some people didn’t like the way he handled the draft. I give him 99 percent. He told me on Wednesday [before the draft] what he was going to do and he got 9 out of 10 out of his guys. And the one guy he missed it, he missed by one, the team just before us took his one guy. He got 9 out of 10 guys. So to me, when a guy lays out his plan, you may not like his plan, but I give he and [GM] Randy [Mueller] all the credit in the world."

On Cameron not drafting Brady Quinn: "I knew on Wednesday [before the draft] he wasn’t going to take Brady Quinn. He told me why he wasn’t going to take him, but he said, 'if you tell me to take him, I will.' I said, 'No I’d never do that. You guys pick the guys.' That was their plan. I've got to give him all the credit in the world. They could have taken the easy way out and made the popular decision. He had the courage and nerve to stand up and do it. I think that was an aggressive thing to do. He knew they were going to get bashed. He did the right thing, rather than the popular thing. It takes a lot of courage, I wish some of our political leaders would do that. … I give him all the credit."

On his patience: "I’m very impatient when it comes to winning, but I’m patient with Randy and coach and their plan."

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June 25, 2007

Beckham v. Bush = Futbol v. Football

Adidas is helping to welcome David Beckham to the U.S. for his MLS debut with the LA Galaxy next month by having him team up with New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush.

The two meet on a field to share each other’s sports in the sportswear company’s "Futbol v. Football" campaign. In keeping with the “Impossible is Nothing” brand message, the campaign has the two stars meeting in Madrid, wearing the other’s sports gear and trying out the other’s sports moves. Beckham attempted a field goal with Bush serving as placeholder and Bush worked on free kicks.

According to a press release, Bush promised to attend Beckham's Galaxy debut and Beckham promised to attend some NFL games.

You can watch the video here. Footage of the meeting also will be available this week for viewing at www.futbolmeetsfootball.com.

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Bucs sign StubHub

StubHub, the California-based online ticket marketplace, has forged a multi-year partnership with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, marking the company’s entry into Florida and its most extensive sponsorship and ticket deal with a team.

The deal, said to be in the mid- to high- six figures and more than two years, makes StubHub one of the Bucs’ 15 “Pewter Partners,” an exclusive sponsorship category that includes Coca Cola, Mastercard and Dodge. The deal gives the company prominent signage at Raymond James Stadium year-round for Bucs and University of South Florida football, the Outback Bowl, concerts and other events.

And under the deal, Bucs fans can now re-sell tickets via StubHub.com on the team's Web site. Fans can re-sell their tickets at any price after Florida relaxed its scalping laws last year.

The company has partnerships with seven other NFL teams and a few NBA and college teams.

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June 22, 2007

Tiger, Shaq and the Cubs

Tiger Woods has endorsed Buick since 1999, but did he really seem like a Buick driver?

On Thursday, GM announced that Woods would no longer be the face of Buick, but instead will pitch other GM products, such as OnStar.

"Tiger's a great asset," Mark LaNeve, GM’s vice president of North American sales told reporters. "We can use him in lots of ways. Why shouldn't we use him in ways other than Buick?"

MORE SHAQ FITNESS

Meanwhile Heat center Shaquille O’Neal, who takes on childhood obesity in his new reality TV show, Shaq's Big Challenge, that begins airing on ABC on Tuesday, is expanding his roster of 24 Hour Fitness Shaq Sport Clubs. The developers of Miramar Town Center, a 54-acre, $235 million mixed use project of housing, retail, restaurants and office space, have signed a 15-year lease to operate a Shaq Sport Club.

The 35,000-square foot club, expected to be completed early next year, will feature Shaq-sized amenities, similar to those in other 24 Hour Fitness clubs that bear his name, including in Coconut Grove and Pembroke Pines.

MORE BOBBLED PROMOTIONS

The Chicago Cubs traded catcher Michael Barrett to the San Diego Padres, but the team reportedly plans to keep the Barrett item giveaways on the schedule: a jersey on Tuesday night and a bobblehead on July 1.

There’s plenty of precedent for botched giveaways. The Marlins traded Matt Mantei on Matt Mantei pin night and gave out bobblehead dolls of Ryan Dempster in his Marlins uniform when he was on the disabled list for the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

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June 21, 2007

Dolphins Email Snafu

A Dolphins season ticket sales representative managed to anger season ticket-holders Thursday by sending a mass email asking whether they planned to renew for the 2007 season, but failing to address the email individually or to blind-copy recipients.

The message arrived with hundreds of season ticket-holders email addresses – I lost count, but one recipient put the number at 380 – appearing in the “To” field. That means everyone on the list could view the others’ addresses and potentially subjecting them to spam and unwanted solicitations.

A few of the recipients fired back complaints to the sales rep calling the mass email with addresses exposed a “breach of confidence.” Among the complaints:

“IN THE FUTURE I EXPECT THE MIAMI DOLPHINS TO PROTECT THE EMAIL ADDRESSES OF ITS CUSTOMER BASE AND NOT SEND A MESSAGE WHERE EMAIL ADDRESSES CAN BE SEEN BY ALL!”

“…what is not permissible is that my e-mail went out along with over 380 other peoples. This action is in conflict with your Privacy Statement.”

And this one, in which the recipient is upset about the ticket price increase, is already receiving “solicitations from sellers on E-Bay peddling all sorts of Miami Dolphins paraphernalia” and accusing the ticket rep of being a Nick Saban “holdover”:

“I own my own company and handle the marketing. This is absolutely not acceptable. My email is my livelihood. We are all at risk of being added to spam lists, viruses, and unsolicited advertising. I was unhappy with the rate increases but this is the icing on the cake.”

The sales rep sent out an apology – this time with the addresses concealed -- that read:

“Earlier today I sent you an email with an offer from the Miami Dolphins. By mistake, I did not blind copy the distribution list. I respect your privacy and I am truly sorry for any inconvenience that this mistake may have caused.”

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London-Bound?

The “Passports” began arriving in Dolphins season ticket-holders’ mailboxes this week with options for purchasing tickets and travel packages to the Dolphins-New York Giants game in London on Oct. 28.

While I have heard from a few fans planning to make the trip, many others are still smarting that they’re losing a regular season home game – against the Giants, no less. The confluence of lots of New Yorkers in South Florida and the fact that the Giants play here so infrequently has them particularly steamed.

And now some are even angrier that the NFL has created a policy aimed at preventing season ticket-holders from re-selling the tickets by requiring that they pick them up in London in person with ID the week of the game. Those buying travel packages with tickets do not have to pick their tickets up in London. And Giants fans are not under the same restrictions because they are only being offered a limited number of travel packages, a league spokesman said.

“The twin objectives are to provide fans in the UK and Europe as well as Dolphin season ticket-holders the opportunity to attend the game,” said Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesman.

He stressed that the game is a Dolphins "home game": “We don’t want the potential where you have a mass re-selling of tickets to fans overseas, when in fact this is a Dolphins home game.”

The London game is clearly a popular ticket in Europe: fans snapped up the first 40,000 tickets that went on sale last month to fans who pre-registered at nfllondon2007.com. A second batch of tickets to the game at Wembley Stadium will be released next week. Meanwhile the Web site documents the promotional visit of a group of Dolphins officials, including owner H. Wayne Huizenga, Coach Cam Cameron and defensive end Jason Taylor, to London this week here.

Are you planning to go to London? Were you planning to buy tickets and re-sell them? What do you think of the NFL’s policy to prevent scalping, which is now legal in Florida?

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June 16, 2007

Marlins’ Super Saturdays Boost Attendance

The idea behind the Marlins’ Super Saturdays was to make Dolphin Stadium “the place to be” on Saturday nights by adding more giveaways, pregame parties and postgame concerts followed by fireworks.

The concert lineup has had plenty of critics – and fans – but the attendance boost from last year has exceeded even the team’s expectations, said Sean Flynn, Marlins vice president of marketing.

According to the team’s statistics, through the first five Saturdays this season, the team has sold an average of 26,520 tickets a game up 88 percent from the 14,116 average on the first five Saturdays of the 2006 season. While Marlins' tickets sold still ranks 29th of 30 teams -- ahead of only the Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- the average 18,123 tickets sold per game through the first 33 games this season is up 65 percent from the 10,979 at this time last season.

Super Saturdays have a lot to do with the increase. Saturday nights offer plenty to go along with the game ticket: the first 5,000 cars at Dolphin Stadium get a car-specific giveaway, such as a car flag, license plate or gas can. The first 25,000 fans get a more traditional giveaway as well, such as a T-shirt or a floppy hat. Marlins alumni and celebrities sign autographs before the game. After the game, fans are treated to a postgame concert followed by fireworks.

“The concerts are the strongest element of eventizing Saturday nights,” Flynn said. “Our goal was to make this the place to be.”

Still not sure “eventize” is a word. Have you been attending on Saturday nights? Do you stay for the concerts and fireworks?

Flynn says typically 50 percent to 75 percent of the crowd sticks around for the postgame concert and fireworks.

The rest of the concert lineup for this season is as follows: Jo Dee Messina, June 23; Joan Jett, June 30; Smash Mouth, July 14; Willy Chirino, July 21; Oscar D'León, Aug. 4; Blues Traveler, Aug. 18; Issac Delgado and Victor Manuelle, Sept. 1; Vince Neil of Motley Crue and Quiet Riot, Sept. 22.

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June 15, 2007

Dolphins Visit the U.K.

Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, Coach Cam Cameron and owner H. Wayne Huizenga will lead a contingent of team officials on a promotional visit to London on Monday to lay the groundwork for the team’s game at Wembley Stadium against the New York Giants on Oct. 28.

The group, which also includes Dolphins General Manager Randy Mueller, President Bryan Wiedmeier and Dolphins Enterprises CEO Joe Bailey, arrives in London on Tuesday morning. The group will spend three days meeting with members of the sports and business print, radio and television media. A tour of Wembley Stadium and meeting with the UK Dolphins Fan Club are also scheduled.

David Tossell, director of public affairs for NFL International, said Huizenga will also be meeting with politicians “helping to stress to them the NFL’s commitment to the sport in the UK.”

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Serial Champions

The San Antonio Spurs will appear on their third Wheaties box after completing a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last night. The box will feature Tim Duncan on the front and the team on the back. This marks Duncan's fourth appearance on a box and the third for the team, which has won four NBA titles since 1999. The 2003 and 2005 championship teams were featured on the iconic orange cereal box. The box is expected to be available nationally in three to four weeks.

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June 14, 2007

Major League Bald Star Team

He may have been ejected from Wednesday night’s game, but on Thursday Marlins reliever Taylor Tankersley was in the endorsement game joining three other bald current and former players for Bald Guyz, a New Jersey company that makes grooming products for bald men.

Tankersley joins former New York Yankee and South Florida resident Jim Leyritz, Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Atlanta Braves infielder Chris Woodward on Bald Guyz’ so-called “Major League Bald Star Team," the company announced. The four will be pitching the company’s products, including sunscreen, head wipes, moisture gel and shampoo.

“With Bald Guyz, they will help educate fellow baldies about the need for care and protection of their head while helping us to kill the combover,” Howard Brauner, the company’s founder, said in a statement.

The company expects the players to recruit other Major Leaguers to join the team.

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LeBron James immortalized in Etch-A-Sketch

OK, not really sports business, but this is making the rounds: Etch-A-Sketch artist George Vlosich’s impressive version of LeBron James created in more than five hours. You can watch it on YouTube, in a video presented by the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans, in less than three minutes.

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Lettuce Wrapped Like Baseballs; Tennis Luxury

A California lettuce supplier is trying to boost sales of iceberg lettuce by tying the humdrum veg to Father’s Day and baseball. The lettuces are being packaged in plastic wrappers decorated with red stitching to look like a baseball.

Another tennis star on the beach


Add another name to the list of athletes calling Miami home. Tennis doubles star Leander Paes has purchased a pricey oceanfront condo in Chi Miami in Sunny Isles for $5.2 million, according to a press release, which also dubs the building “uber luxurious.” Russian heiress Anna Anisimova purchased a penthouse in the building earlier this year.

The Chi, expected to be completed in late 2009, is to be 42 stories with 38 one-home per floor units of 4,700 square feet indoors and 1,300-square foot terrace with private mineral water pool. Prices run a cool $5 million to $6 million.

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June 13, 2007

Marketability of the NBA Finals

Bob Dorfman, author of the 2007 NBA Finals Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report, doesn’t see too much marketability out of this year’s Finals. With ratings down and the San Antonio Spurs leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-0, Dorfman, executive vice president and creative director at Pickett Advertising in San Francisco, wonders if a “ho-hum Finals” will affect players’ endorsement opportunities.

He considers only the NBA’s most marketable player, the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, to be a “slam dunk” for continuing to boost his endorsement portfolio, which includes Nike. Dorfman writes: “James’ goal is to become the world’s first billionaire athlete; no wonder he’s befriended Warren Buffet, and is learning Mandarin to prepare for next year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing. How about an ad featuring LeBron reading The Wall Street Journal, headlined ‘King James’ Bible.’ Or a T-Mobile campaign featuring Warren Buffet trying to get into LeBron’s Fave Five.”

He gives a “strong shot” to the Spurs’ Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Dorfman suggests playing up that Parker is French with “Grey Poupon, Evian, Air France, or McDonald’s French Fries” and his engagement to Eva Longoria, “And wouldn’t you love to see Parker and Longoria replace Kevin Bacon and Michael Jordan in those Hanes briefs commercials?”

As for Ginobili, who hails from Argentina and speaks Spanish, Italian and English, he suggests global brands like “McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Armani.” And of course, “Swanson’s ‘Hungry Manu’ dinners.”

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June 12, 2007

Magic Offers Refunds

In a gesture of goodwill, the Orlando Magic has agreed to offer refunds to fans who purchased season tickets following the introduction last month of Billy Donovan as the team’s new head coach, but before Donovan changed his mind and decided to return to UF.

More than 200 season packages were sold immediately following the announcement of Donovan’s hiring. Donovan changed his mind a day after he was introduced as the Magic’s new coach on May 31.

Magic spokesman Joel Glass said the process of informing new season ticket holders of the refund is still ongoing but as of Tuesday afternoon, none had asked for their money back. Glass said those who had been contacted expressed their support for the direction the team was headed and decided “to stick with us.”

The Magic wasn’t required to offer refunds, but the team's decision is an example of good PR that ultimately probably won't cost the team very much. While a few fans may have buyer's remorse and will accept the refund, it's more likely most won't.

The Dolphins declined to offer refunds after individual tickets went on sale the day after Ricky Williams informed then-Coach Dave Wannstedt he was retiring from football - just a week before training camp in 2004. The team didn't reveal Williams' retirement plans -- as executives said they either didn't know or thought Williams could be convinced to return to the team -- before selling more than 15,000 individual game tickets and more than 200 season tickets the first day individual tickets went on sale.

And even though some fans demanded it, the Marlins also refused to grant refunds to season ticket-holders who were angry in late 2005 when players were jettisoned to pare payroll. Some season ticket-holders were doubly annoyed because the team instituted a policy that year whereby season ticket-holders had to commit to buy 2006 season tickets to secure their seats for the 2005 playoffs -- had the team made it -- and that was before several of the team's stars were traded.

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Does Daunte Culpepper Need An Agent?

daunte.jpgThe NFL Players Association has stepped in to help quarterback Daunte Culpepper gain his release from the Dolphins.

But the beleaguered quarterback's decision to represent himself, rather than hire an agent, has some speculating on whether his status with the team and the public relations and public perception could have been better managed by an agent.

The Sports Law Blog offers up this assessment:
"But would he be better off with an agent? In the abstract, without knowing who that agent might be or his/her talents, it's hard to know how he/she would compare to Culpepper acting as his own agent. But it seems reasonable to conclude that an agent would be especially helpful when one finds himself angry with his team. An agent can work to diffuse the tension, acting as an intermediary or buffer between the player and team, and also develop a public relations strategy to deal with media."

And locally, aspiring agent Darren Heitner of Hollywood, weighs in with this on his "I Want to be a Sports Agent" blog:
"My two cents to athletes: Agents make a living off of you. There is no denying that point. But I am not sure that I see a problem in that type of relationship. The sports agent industry is a service industry. Agents make money by giving a service to players that they need. For many, this just means negotiating offers with professional teams. For others, this means a lot more. Even the most simple, basic player should not prevent himself/herself from getting to the next level because he/she does not want to give a small percentage of a paycheck away to an agent. Keep that in mind Daunte, and others."

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June 11, 2007

Kobe Tops NBA Jersey Sales

Kobe Bryant’s jersey was the most popular in the NBA this season based on sales at the NBA Store in Manhattan and at NBAStore.com, the NBA announced today.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade maintained the No. 2 spot he held earlier this year, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James. Bryant, who changed his jersey number from 8 to 24 this year, also holds the top spot in China.

Heat merchandise remains the second most popular, behind only the Los Angeles Lakers and ahead of the New York Knicks. Chicago Bulls’ gear is fourth, followed by the Cavaliers in fifth place. The San Antonio Spurs, who are leading the Cavaliers 2-0 in the Finals, rank ninth.

The NBA also reported the Cavaliers 2007 Eastern Conference Championship locker room T-shirt set an all-time sales record for conference championship gear and that James has had the most popular jersey during the playoffs.

Here’s the list of the 15 top-selling jerseys:

1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
2. Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
3. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Allen Iverson – Denver Nuggets
5. Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns
6. Carmelo Anthony – Denver Nuggets
7. Stephon Marbury – New York Knicks
8. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
9. Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
10. Vince Carter – New Jersey Nets
11. Tracy McGrady – Houston Rockets
12. Shaquille O’Neal – Miami Heat
13. Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
14. Ben Wallace – Chicago Bulls
15. Tim Duncan – San Antonio

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June 10, 2007

NHL in Vegas?

So perhaps the first major pro franchise in Las Vegas won’t be an NBA or a Major League Baseball team, after all.

The SportsBusiness Daily reported last week that the NHL confirmed it has been in discussions with Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer about the possibility of bringing a team to Las Vegas. Kansas City is also in the running for a team, should the league decide to expand, SBD reported.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Daily: "Bruckheimer is one of many people we have spoken to about their desire to own a team in Vegas." Daly added that "no decisions have been made" by the NHL [Board of Governors] about expanding the league from 30 to 32 teams and that "there's no 'agreement' with anyone" to own an expansion team. But he said, "There have been many expressions of interest by a number of individuals and a number of cities," including Las Vegas and K.C.

Daly told the Las Vegas Review Journal that a new arena would need to be built in order to secure a team.

Daly told the paper: "In order for the NHL to ever have a franchise in Las Vegas, they'd have to build a new state-of-the-art arena in Las Vegas. We're talking a couple years away, minimum.”

He also told the paper talks have taken place with a variety of individuals from different markets about expansion teams and that league officials would be updating the NHL Board of Governors about the developments.

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June 7, 2007

Marketing Boobie; Finals in 3D HD

Cavaliers rookie Daniel Gibson, who scored 31 points in Saturday’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 win over the Detroit Pistons that sent the Cavs to the Finals, has his own T-shirt to mark the accomplishment.

Adidas’ “Shoot, Boobie, Shoot” T-shirts are for sale online at NBAStore.com for $19.99. Boobie is Gibson’s childhood nickname.

HD AND 3D

The Cavaliers have been opening up Quicken Loans Arena to fans for watch parties throughout this year's playoffs. On Sunday, fans who want to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Cavs and San Antonio Spurs will be treated to a new type of viewing experience: they'll get to watch the game in 3D High Definition.

Through a partnership of the Cavs, NBA and Pace, a company that specializes in digital 3D, the game will be shown on four screens each measuring 40 feet by 23 feet that will be set up in the Cleveland arena. Fans who attend the free watch party to see the 9 p.m. game will receive special 3D viewing glasses.

The NBA debuted 3D HD viewing during NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in February, for watch parties, but on a more limited, invitation-only basis.

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June 5, 2007

1997 Replica WS Trophies; "Miami" Marlins and Homestead

The Marlins will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first World Series championship in 1997 when the Cleveland Indians, their series opponent, come to Dolphin Stadium for a three-game series June 12-14.

Players, who have been wearing a commemorative patch on their uniforms all season, will don “throwback” uniforms on June 14. Among the souvenir giveaways to commemorate the anniversary is a 5-inch tall replica trophy that will be given to the first 10,000 fans at the June 12 game.

FSN Florida and Sun Sports, which are sponsoring the replica trophy, are also holding a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of 100 additional trophies. The networks will award 10 trophies a night during each of the 10 games broadcast between June 14 and 26.

Fans can register at the Marlins’ Web site or here. Registration is now open and the 10 winners will be announced on air during the 10 game telecasts.

MIAMI MARLINS UPDATE

There’s nothing new to report on a stadium-financing plan, but the full Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday supported the Airport and Tourism Committee’s recommendation last month that if a ballpark is ever built in Miami, the team should relinquish the "Florida" from its name and be known as Miami Marlins. The commission also supported eventually moving spring training games to the Homestead baseball stadium.

Commissioner Joe Martinez cautioned that requiring a move to Homestead could derail a ballpark deal and noted that a number of Major League Baseball teams have moved their spring homes away from South Florida, meaning lengthier travel times for opponents.

Commissioner Dennis Moss, who proposed the idea to begin with, reminded that the Baltimore Orioles play in Fort Lauderdale and that Miami-Dade County helped pay for the Homestead complex, which was going to be the spring home to the Indians until Hurricane Andrew damaged the venue.

“My feeling is if we’re going to build a stadium for the Marlins, it seems to me we should have spring training be in a stadium we aren’t using, rather than to allow the Marlins to play in a place where they are now, where there are two teams, and those folks aren’t paying a penny,” Moss said.

The Marlins share Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter with the St. Louis Cardinals and have a lease there through 2017 with two additional five-year options.

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June 3, 2007

Competition for the NFL?

Today’s story by business writer Joe Nocera in the New York Times’ Play magazine about plans for a new football league, called the United Football League, got a lot of attention last week.

It’s worth looking at because of its backers – successful investment banker Bill Hambrecht and Google executive Tim Armstrong – and their concept: eight teams in large non-NFL cities (so far, plans are to put teams in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Mexico City); relatively small $30 million investments by team owners with a public offering component to build fan loyalty; and Friday night contests. And they’ve already gotten buy-in from their first owner, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Cuban, who is interested in the Las Vegas market, opines about the idea on his blog.

While competing with the NFL is an uphill battle, the idea is interesting and Hambrecht, according to the article, is approaching this in a thoughtful manner. Of all the speculation about franchise fees, public offerings, and television broadcast deals, the most important idea, I see, is this one, which is right from the article:

Hambrecht expects his owners to be wealthy — and patient — enough to absorb losses for up to five years.

Isn’t a lack of patience what has doomed many a fledgling franchise? Or even a professional one? It’s not for us to say how owners should spend their money or whether fans should buy tickets, for that matter. But ask a South Florida soccer fan if the Fusion would have been successful if its owners had been just a little more patient before pulling the plug on a four-year-old team that was one victory shy of advancing to the MLS Cup in 2001, and I think you know the answer….

Here’s the rest of that paragraph:

The league will need a television contract, of course, but its existence is not predicated on a megabucks deal, at least not at first. The U.F.L. is open to making a smaller deal with a cable network like USA, TNT or Comcast’s Versus network (the former OLN). One mistake other leagues have made, Hambrecht believes, is counting on an upfront TV deal — and bringing in owners who expect to make money instantly.

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June 1, 2007

Branding the Panthers

Hoping to create a message that resonates with South Florida sports fans, the Panthers have hired SME to develop a brand strategy that encompasses the team and its mission as a source of entertainment.


SME, a premier branding company that has developed brand messages for dozens of teams, sports organizations and companies, has been interviewing season ticket holders and casual fans, current and former players, and former Panthers general manager and president Bill Torrey to learn what the team means to the community.

“Now is the time to go out and do our research to get a good sense of how people feel about us and blend it with how we feel about ourselves,” Panthers Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said. “We felt that at this time it was important for us to first do some research in the marketplace, talk to our core hockey fans, sports fans and find out what people think about the Florida Panthers. What do they think about the brand and perhaps reposition ourselves and make sure we’re connecting with both our core audience as well as potentially new fans to get a better understanding of what people think about it, about us, about who we should be.”

SME, which created the Panthers’ logo, developed the NHL’s post-lockout theme and new shield logo. It has worked with dozens of teams, including the Boston Bruins, for whom it created “the Hub of Hockey” campaign, and the Detroit Pistons. The company also designed the striped dolphin logo -- that is vastly different from the team’s cartoonish dolphin logo -- for Dolphin Stadium last year.

Using its “Brand-ON” concept, SME will develop a strategy for the team. The company's Web site, describes "Brand-ON" this way: SME Brand-ON empowers organizations by conveying a profound understanding of the building blocks of their brands. This awareness enables them to successfully communicate essential brand benefits to all constituents through times of prosperity, decline and crisis. Brand-ON uncovers values, promise, positioning and dimensions; leading to powerful conclusive brand strategies, mapping out the successful course of a brand for years to come.

SME expects to develop a message the Panthers will use across their business in advertising, on television, and in BankAtlantic Center.

“Everything we do will revolve around this new creative,” Yormark said.

The idea, says Ed O’Hara, SME chief creative officer and senior partner, is “to better define the Florida Panthers’ brand, to sustain growth, success, clarity of message.”

O’Hara said 60 people have been interviewed, including season ticket holders, booster club members and even fans in sports bars, to find out how they feel about the team. Unlike a survey or focus group, those interviewed do not represent a cross-section of the community, but instead people who already have some affinity for the team.

“We were speaking to the already converted so we heard a lot of good things. They say [of the arena] ‘this is my sanctuary, it’s full of fun and love’,” O’Hara said. “We ask them 'if the Panthers went away tomorrow, how would you feel, what would you do?' We got responses that were everything from ‘You see that window -- I’d jump,’ to ‘I’d have to root for the Tampa Bay Lightning’.”

SME is sharing those findings with team officials during a workshop today. Yormark said he hopes the new brand message will be in place in time for next season.

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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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