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July 30, 2007

Talalay: Crist on the Marlins (Marlins Stadium Update No. 3,476)

Gov. Charlie Crist has always been supportive of the Marlins’ effort to finance a new ballpark.

On Monday, the former general counsel of Minor League Baseball said the team ought to try asking the Legislature again for a $60 million sales tax rebate to help pay for a new home. In May, the team lost out on state funding for the sixth time in eight years when the Senate adjourned without considering the funding request, which had been approved by the House.

“Things have changed economically, so it might be a little more challenging under the current climate, but I would encourage them to try again,” Crist said during a meeting of the Sun-Sentinel’s editorial board. “I view it as an economic stimulant to any community that has a professional sports team.”

Crist said repeatedly this spring that he views professional sports teams as an engine for economic development and a source of pride for a community. He dismisses the notion of teams not needing help because “it’s millionaire players and billionaire owners.”

“The help in my view comes for two things: people who work at the stadium, people who sell hot dogs, people who work in concession stands, people who work in the parking lots. The dovetail of economic opportunity,” Crist said. “There’s another part I think is important, too, what those teams do to a community, particularly when they win, and sort of a spirit that it develops. Look what happened when the Marlins won the World Series, not once but twice. I was down in South Florida on occasion. It’s wonderful how it lifts the spirit of a community, and sometimes the state. And I think that’s important. I want people to be happy, I want them to enjoy things like that and it can have the added benefit of being a tremendous economic engine for a community. I would encourage them to try again.”


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July 28, 2007

Talalay: Panthers Unveil New Uniforms

spPANREUNION28e.jpgPanthers centers Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton took the ice during the first intermission of Saturday’s “Year of the Rat” alumni game to model the new Reebok uniforms the team will be sporting this season.

The NHL and Reebok spent more than two years designing and testing the new uniforms that all 30 teams will wear this season. Called the Rbk Edge Uniform System, the new uniforms are lighter and feature breathable, moisture repellent fabrics that keep players drier. They are tighter and more durable with the aim of improving both player performance and safety.

The Panthers’ logo is larger and the jerseys feature vertical piping on the chest and sleeves. Click here for more information about the technology behind the uniforms.

Weiss, who wore the blue road uniform, said he likes how the uniforms feel.

“They’re different. They feel a little lighter,” he said pointing out the tighter shin pads. “Hopefully it brings us some luck.”

Season ticket-holders attending Saturday’s Rat celebration game could preorder the jerseys. A presale order form will be available at the Panthers’ Web site beginning Sunday. Prices run $289.95 for authentic versions; $129.95 for the adult replica and $89.95 for youth replica. The general public can place preorders Sept. 1 for the jerseys, which will be available later that month.

Were you among the announced crowd of 11,817 at BankAtlantic Center for Saturday's game? And if so, what did you think of it? The crowd welcomed back the 1995-96 team with so much enthusiasm -- and so many plastic rats -- it was hard to believe it's been more than a decade since the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Did you preorder the new jersey? To read more about the weekend and Saturday's game, check out Steve Gorten’s Panthers blog.


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July 27, 2007

Talalay: Nike and Reebok suspend Vick

Nike suspended its contract with Michael Vick on Friday afternoon, and Reebok has stopped selling his jerseys at retail or through its Web site.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who has been barred from training camp, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal dogfighting charges.

Nike stopped short of terminating the partnership altogether while the legal process plays out, issuing the following statement:

"Nike has suspended Michael Vick’s contract without pay, and will not sell any more Michael Vick product at Nike owned retail at this time. As we’ve said before, Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. However, we do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen in the United States, therefore, we have not terminated our relationship."

Reebok doesn’t have a contract with Vick, but produces NFL uniforms and equipment. Reebok’s statement reads:

"Although Reebok does not have an individual endorsement or marketing relationship with Michael Vick, we are the official supplier of apparel and equipment to all 32 NFL teams and the league’s 1,800 active players. While we respect the legal process we find the allegations against Mr. Vick too disturbing to ignore, therefore, we have decided to immediately suspend selling Vick NFL product, both at retail and on-line through the Reebok website. In addition, Reebok has honored retail cancellations of Vick NFL jerseys."

In addition, CNBC Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell reports the NFL has also suspended sales of Vick merchandise at


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July 26, 2007

Talalay: Fox Sports Promotes "The Simpsons Movie"

Fox Sports in Los Angeles has taken the opportunity to promote The Simpsons Movie, which is being released Friday, during its regional Major League Baseball telecasts.

FSN announcers have been "Simpsonized" with cartoon images that are being shown during the telecasts this week. The Simpsons televsion show airs on the Fox Network.

Here's the Marlins' FSN/Sun Sports broadcast team -- Craig Minervini, Tommy Hutton and Rich Waltz in their Simpson versions:





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July 24, 2007

Boca Raton's Jozy Altidore and Beckham

adidas_bgnew.jpgBoca Raton’s Jozy Altidore had to get permission from his Major League Soccer coach to take his girlfriend to her senior prom in May.

Now the 17-year-old New York Red Bulls’ forward is featured in adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing” ad campaign that even includes promos with him alongside soccer superstar David Beckham, who has just joined MLS’ L.A. Galaxy.

How’s that for reaching the big time?

Adidas launched the multimedia campaign this year as a way to showcase more than 30 athletes worldwide and the types of challenges and struggles they’ve had to overcome to be successful in their respective sports. Among the other athletes featured are Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, swimmer Ian Thorpe and sprinter Allyson Felix.

“People don’t know their challenges and struggles,” said Evan Wiener, adidas spokesman. “We think it resonates well with consumers who have had similar challenges they’ve had to overcome.”iin_josmernew.jpg

The athletes accompany their stories with artwork. Jozy describes how he was too big and strong as a young soccer player to play with his peers, but instead played with older kids. “When I was five, I kicked the ball too hard. Parents were afraid I would hurt the other kids. So I had to play with the eight-year-olds,” he says. “My weapon was gone. I was scared.”

His ad says: “I’m still taking on all the big guys.”

You can watch Jozy’s and the other athletes’ stories here.

Beckham’s and Jozy’s television ads are running now since it’s MLS season.

“It’s an exciting thing for us now seeing MLS be part of a big brand campaign for adidas. The partnership with MLS, the main goal is to build soccer in the U.S., highlighting up and coming players like Jozy,” Wiener said. “We think we can start to create these icons in the league.”

Adidas also has created a MySpace page for the public to tell its own stories.


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July 20, 2007

Popularity of the Marlins

While Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria might have come in second in a ranking of worst team owners in a Sports Illustrated survey of 464 Major League players, the team is rising in popularity among fans, according to a Harris Interactive Poll.

The Marlins tied for 23rd favorite among the 30 MLB teams with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in a Harris Poll of 2,372 U.S. adults in June. That's up from 27th in 2006 when they were tied with the Texas Rangers, and the highest ranking since the team came in at 21 in 2004 -- the year after winning the 2003 World Series, the poll shows.

The New York Yankees came in first for the fifth consecutive year. They were followed by the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. The Toronto Blue Jays ranked last, but the poll was only of U.S. residents. The Washington Nationals came in at 29th and the Kansas City Royals were 28th.


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July 19, 2007

Nike on Vick

In the wake of Michael Vick’s indictment on federal dogfighting charges, Nike decided today to hold off on releasing the Atlanta Falcon quarterback’s fifth signature shoe.

The Zoom Vick V was scheduled to hit retail next month.

Nike issued the following statement:

"Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore, we have not terminated our relationship. We have however made the decision to suspend the release of the Zoom Vick V and related marketing communications. Nike will continue to monitor the situation closely and have no further comment at this time."

But Nike’s actions weren’t strong enough, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which released its own statement this afternoon.

“For a company that claims to be a responsible corporate citizen, Nike has not gone far enough by merely suspending the launch of a new athletic shoe named for Michael Vick. The athletic apparel company needs to go further and halt sales of clothing that calls Vick ‘a hero,’” a release from the Humane Society says.

“Michael Vick is no hero. A string of dead, wounded and suffering animals has been left along the Eastern Seaboard as a consequence of this dogfighting ring. Federal authorities have charged Vick with felony offenses. This is no moment to tell America’s youth to look up to such a man,” Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a statement.

The Humane Society is also urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has said the case should be allowed to make its way through the court system, to suspend Vick.


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The Beckham Hype

Amid the non-stop, super-hyped coverage of David Beckham’s (and his “Posh Spice” wife Victoria’s) arrival in the U.S., have come all sorts of lofty predictions about how he will finally build a real following for soccer in this country where we’re mostly non-plussed about the sport.

There also was that little mention of the “quarter of a million” jerseys that his new MLS team, the L.A. Galaxy, said it has sold since releasing his new adidas jersey last week.

That’s 250,000, folks.

Yes, he’s an international star, but we’re talking about soccer here. Is that like the requests for 500,000 tickets to the Dolphins-New York Giants game at London’s Wembley Stadium in October that the NFL said were received on a Web site asking people to express interest in buying tickets? People don’t believe that number, either.

So I asked Eddie White, vice president of team properties for Reebok-adidas, for some perspective.

White says the quarter of a million is “possible,” given Beckham’s status as an immensely popular, good-looking, international star, but he says it’s also hard to know for sure.

“That number is a pretty high number,” White said. “That would have to take into account adult and children [sizes], authentic and replica and I don’t know if there’s a T-shirt with his name on it they’re counting … Off the top of my head, I think it’s a little high.”

For comparison purposes, White said Beckham would be on par with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade in the NBA or Reggie Bush, Peyton Manning and Brian Urlacher in the NFL. The numbers would not be the same – Reebok, which makes jersesy for both the NBA and NFL, won’t release figures – but the level and popularity of the athlete in his sport is similar. Other factors that need to be considered, White says, are the number of colors or versions of jerseys their teams release; the success of the player and his team; and the size of the market.

For example, New England Patriots fans can get quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey in red, blue, white and silver versions, but Indianapolis Colts fans are limited to Manning jerseys in white and blue, White said.

Numbers rise, White said, when a popular player switches teams, like Terrell Owens moving from the San Francisco 49ers to the Philadelphia Eagles and then to the Dallas Cowboys. The already wildly popular Beckham arriving in Los Angeles would be like Super Bowl XLI Champion Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning -- he of the popular television ads and Saturday Night Live hosting appearance -- moving to New York, White said.

“If Peyton went to the Giants tomorrow, his numbers would be equal to Beckham,” White said. “A popular player with national celebrity moving into a great market.”


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July 18, 2007

Marlins tickets from FDOT; Billy the Marlin Gone Wild

The Marlins and FDOT are putting an unusual twist on “Click It or Ticket,” the Department of Transportation’s campaign to encourage drivers and their passengers to use their seatbelts.

Instead of “ticketing” fans who don’t wear seatbelts, local law enforcement officials will be rewarding random fans who are buckled up before three upcoming Marlins home games. Starting with Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, police will be giving out Marlins ticket vouchers to fans arriving at Dolphin Stadium with their seatbelts fastened -- as a way to encourage buckling up. The other games are Aug. 17 and Aug. 31.

Billy's Escapades

Meanwhile, Billy the Marlin may need some supervision. According to a sign hanging from the roller coaster at Boomers! alongside I-95 in Dania Beach, “Billy the Marlin Survived the Hurricane.” That Hurricane would be said roller coaster. A YouTube page, called BillyGoneWild2007 and aimed at gaining more exposure for the team, has been capturing the wily mascot's escapades since before this season, including scaling buildings, soaking fans with water guns and even trying to work out at Bally’s Total Fitness. And of course, riding the Hurricane.


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July 17, 2007

Office Depot and Carl Edwards

Delray Beach-based Office Depot continues to leverage its sponsorship of NASCAR driver Carl Edwards and his No. 99 Office Depot Ford -- this time offering fans a chance to “Win Carl’s Laptop.”

The office products company recently launched a new commercial featuring Edwards showing off the latest office products and gadgets and nearly driving off with a laptop on his car’s roof. The company is hoping fans can relate, particularly if they’ve ever driven off -- or almost driven off -- with a coffee cup or other item on the top of their car. Watch the commercial at

Fans have until Aug. 5 to enter the contest for a chance to win the Toshiba Satellite notebook computer featured in the ad. The promotion asks: “Would you flip if you won Carl’s Laptop?” – playing on the signature backflip Edwards performs after winning races.


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July 13, 2007

Dunkin’ Donuts refreshes its Marlins promotion

With the mercury continuing to rise this summer and the Marlins beginning the second half of the season against the Washington Nationals at Dolphin Stadium tonight, Dunkin’ Donuts is altering its Marlins donuts promotion to help fans keep cool.

Instead of a medium coffee with two donuts, fans can now get a medium iced tea if the Marlins score at least six runs at home. Fans have 24 hours in which to turn in their ticket stubs (one per customer) at participating Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Treasure Coast Dunkin' Donuts locations after games in which the team scores at least six runs.

Dunkin’ Donuts is using the opportunity to promote its new iced tea, which comes in original, peach and raspberry flavors. So far this season the Marlins have scored six or more runs at home a dozen times. If all fans in attendance at those games had cashed in their ticket stubs that would have amounted to more than 340,000 free donuts.


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July 12, 2007

Dolphins and Sprint Create Fantasy Lounge

Dolphin Stadium officials have promised the venue’s $213 million renovation will vastly improve the fan experience.

Among the new amenities will be the “Sprint Fantasy Lounge,” a specially designated area on the stadium’s club level that will cater to all things fantasy football. Designed like a high-end sports bar with big screen TVs, the lounge will show the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket package. Kiosks outfitted with computers will allow fans to check their fantasy teams and a sports ticker will keep them updated on the latest statistics.

Sprint hopes the lounge will be open in time for Dolphins preseason games, said Nanci Schwartz, a Sprint spokeswoman. Once open, it will also be accessible during Marlins games, she said.

The fantasy lounge, which is a first for Sprint, is the result of a new multi-year “premier” partnership with the Dolphins and the stadium. The Dolphins’ Premier Partnership is an elite level of sponsorship for a limited number of corporate partners who will have individually designed sponsor programs that go far beyond just stadium signage or game program advertising.

“We’re working with Sprint on activation. We’re trying to have experiential programs for fans,” said George Torres, spokesman for Dolphins Enterprises, which includes the stadium. “We want to make it more interactive and more of an experience for them, rather than having just a Sprint banner or logo.”

Other Premier Partners include Wachovia, Publix and Budweiser. Budweiser, for example, will sponsor the Bud Light Deck area on the 400 Level.

The Sprint partnership will also play up the company’s NFL Mobile content available on Sprint cellular phones. At the stadium, fans will be able to learn more about the application, which includes the ability to watch the NFL Network and get NFL and Dolphins updates on your phone. In addition to its partnership with the Dolphins, Sprint, the official wireless carrier of the NFL, has deals with seven other NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins.

Sprint’s NFL Mobile Access Tour, a tractor-trailer with interactive displays, will also make a stop at a Dolphins game this season.


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July 11, 2007

Gator Fund-raising Power

National championships certainly don’t hurt fund-raising opportunities.

The University of Florida, which won this year’s NCAA football national championship (and back-to-back basketball titles), announced this week it has secured a $7 million pledge from James W. “Bill” Heavener, whose name will grace the new football office complex at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Heavener is a member of the Gator Boosters board of directors and a Bull Gator, an elite level of athletics donor, and serves as co-chairman/CEO of Full Sail Real World Education, an entertainment media college in Winter Park.

The renovation project, scheduled to be completed before the 2008 season, will include a 6,815-square foot expansion of the football office area to 12,436 square feet, a new "front door" structure that rises three stories on the southwest corner of the stadium and a new Gator Room for meetings and recruiting functions, according to a UF release.


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Marathon Impact

This year’s ING Miami Marathon pumped an estimated $15.8 million into Miami-Dade County's economy, according to an independent study of the event that surveyed both runners and spectators.

Sport Tourism Event Research Network (STERN), a group of academics in the U.S., including the University of Miami, and Australia, studied the event, which attracted some 30,000 visitors to the Jan. 26-28 marathon, half marathon and health and fitness expo. STERN sent follow-up emails to 9,500 of the 11,656 marathon participants after the event and of those, 36 percent responded. Respondents were asked to provide information about their spending habits as well as those of spectators who accompanied them. The findings showed marathon participants spent $6.4 million; spectators $9.4 million.

More than half – 57 percent – were from outside Miami-Dade County and 20 percent were international participants and spectators. Visitors from the U.S. spent an average $540 on hotels, $380 on food and $200 on other items. For international visitors, those figures grew to $805 on lodging; $570 on food and $945 on other items, the STERN study showed.


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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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