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November 30, 2007

Dunkin’ Donuts partners with the Panthers

Dunkin’ Donuts is expanding its sports sponsorship programs, teaming up with the Panthers to give away a road trip for four fans on the team’s plane.

The contest starts Saturday – and will be announced during that night’s game against the Washington Capitals at BankAtlantic Center -- and runs through Dec. 20. Fans who are at least 21 can pick up a contest code with purchase or by request at participating Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. They then register online at www.floridapanthers.com with the code for a chance to win the trip to the Jan. 9 game against the Thrashers in Atlanta. Contest entrants must be 21 or older, but accompanying fans can be as young as 18.

The sponsorship with the team includes in-arena signage and Dunkin’ gift card, mug and coffee in the team’s “Holiday Pack” mini-season ticket package.

The Marlins forged a partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts last season, in which fans could cash in their ticket stubs for a medium iced tea and two donuts when the team scored at least six runs at home. And Dunkin’ launched the “Magic Wins, You Win” promotion earlier this month in which anyone, even without a ticket stub, can receive a free donut at Orlando Dunkin’ stores the day after the Magic wins.

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November 28, 2007

Rays unveil ballpark plan

The Tampa Bay Rays held their official ballpark proposal unveiling this afternoon with the help of Gov. Charlie Crist, who strongly supports the plan and state money likely needed to help finance it. Watch the video here.

The $450 million plan calls for a high-tech, modern and intimate bayfront building of 34,000 seats with a covering something like a sail that could be pulled over the stadium when it rains. The plan is to build it at the Rays’ spring training home, Al Lang Field, and open it in 2012.

Many questions remain about the financing, which relies in part on a $60 million state sales tax rebate and revenue from a major overhaul of the area where the Rays current home, Tropicana Field, is located. A development company is working on plans to turn the area into a mixed use retail and residential project. Additionally St. Petersburg voters would need to approve the plan since it requires the lease of waterfront property and the team is targeting a November 2008 election.

Meanwhile in South Florida, officials still hope to announce next month a new financing plan for a ballpark for the Marlins at the site of the Orange Bowl.

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November 20, 2007

Rays’ ballpark plan and its impact on the Marlins

With news of the Tampa Bay Rays’ plans for a new $450 million bayfront ballpark that relies in part on a $60 million state sales tax rebate and already has garnered the support of Gov. Charlie Crist, one has to wonder if there will be another push for state money for the Marlins.

It’s too soon to say and, despite Crist's support which also extends to a rebate for the Marlins, it’s pretty clear opponents are already lining up against the idea of putting tax money toward sports venues, particularly in a tight budget year and with such a difficult housing market. This story frames the arguments against such a proposal, but also incorrectly states the Marlins are seeking a rebate, too.

The current negotiations (officials still hope to have a deal in December) to finance a ballpark for the Marlins at the site of the Orange Bowl do not rely on state dollars. After all, the team and/or the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County have failed six times in eight years to gain state money. Among the arguments against helping the Marlins is that former Marlins and current Dolphin Stadium owner H. Wayne Huizenga already received a $60 million rebate to retrofit the stadium for baseball. The law that has provided rebates to eight professional franchises, states the rebate stays with the building and doesn’t move with the team, but lawmakers have been reluctant to grant a second rebate for the Marlins, even for a new building.

So, granting a second rebate to the Rays would open the door for a second rebate for the Marlins and the six other teams that have already received one rebate, and a first one for the Dolphins, who were turned down in their original request for the money. Don’t count on the Legislature looking too kindly at the idea in this economy, especially one that could end up costing $540 million.

In the meantime, some are already concerned the Rays might get a new ballpark before the Marlins. There are still a lot of hurdles facing the Rays' plan, which is expected to be officially unveiled by the team next week. The plan calls for a ballpark to be built at the site of the Al Lang Field spring training complex, with $150 million from the team, $60 million from the state and the proceeds from the sale of Tropicana Field, where the team has a lease for another 20 years. It also requires voter approval for the use of waterfront property long-term and could need voters to approve the selling of Al Lang Field to Pinellas County to make it tax exempt.

Without renderings, the St. Petersburg Times relied on the descriptions of those who’d seen the plans to come up with the rendering shown here.

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November 17, 2007

Office Depot's NASCAR strategy

Nascar_Roush_Mustang2.jpgOffice Depot has been getting a lot of mileage from its sponsorship of the Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion.

The Delray Beach company has devised a series of promotional programs to reward businesses, individual customers and employees. This week, for example, Edwards, who is featured in two NASCAR-themed Harlequin romance novels visited company headquarters with Harlequin author Nancy Warren to autograph the books and meet employees.

Earlier this year, the company awarded its annual “Official Small Business of NASCAR, courtesy of Office Depot” prize to Kentuckiana Engineering Company, Inc. of Louisville, KY. The prize comes with a spot for the company's name on Edwards’ car during one race and a year's supply of business cards and stationery with the “Small Business of NASCAR” title.

And this fall, the company ran a promotion to win a Roush Stage 3 Mustang.

Diann LaGrange of Aurora, Colo., won the prize for entering the company’s loyalty rewards program's Worklife Rewards Sweepstakes. Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush awarded her the one-of-a-kind performance car at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday morning. Edwards, the winner of this year’s NASCAR Busch Series title, gave LaGrange a spin around the track in the car that features his No. 99 logo stitched into the upholstery and a special paint scheme with his and Roush’s signatures.

“Office Depot is always looking to do things for the fans, and I have really enjoyed being a part of these programs. This is one of the coolest programs yet,” Edwards said in a statement before taking LaGrange for her ride. “I’d love to be able to keep this car for myself, but I am really excited to get on the track with Diann and show her what this Roush Stage 3 Mustang can do.”

LaGrange also gets to watch Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup finale, the Ford 400, from a suite.

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November 14, 2007

Dreams Inc. locks up more stars

Dreams Inc., the Plantation-based sports memorabilia and athlete representation company, keeps signing up winning athletes.

Mounted Memories, the company’s memorabilia division, has signed first baseman Kevin Youkilis and rookie center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury of the 2007 World Series champion Boston Red Sox and left fielder Matt Holliday of the National League Champion Colorado Rockies to exclusive autographed merchandise deals.

The trio of World Series performers will sign photographs, baseballs and other memorabilia for the company.

Youkilis was the only major leaguer this season with a perfect fielding percentage. He made headlines this week for shaving off his famous goatee to raise $5,000 for charity. Ellsbury became the first rookie to hit two doubles in the same inning of a World Series game and his stolen base during the series triggered Taco Bell’s promotion for free tacos for everyone in the U.S. Holliday led the National League in batting average, hits, RBIs, doubles and total bases.

The company has a history of signing winning sports figures. In October, Mounted Memories signed a multi-year exclusive deal with linebacker Brian Urlacher of the 2006 NFC Champion Chicago Bears. In 2006, the company signed deals with Bill Cowher, coach of the 2005 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, and his team's quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

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November 12, 2007

Dwyane Wade signs with William Morris

Add Heat guard Dwyane Wade to the list of athletes the William Morris Agency is handling these days. The elite talent agency has signed Wade for marketing work, focusing on deals related to the Beijing Olympics, since Wade is a member USA Basketball team that will compete in the 2008 Games, and for entertainment work.

Agent Henry Thomas, Executive Vice President, Basketball Division of CSMG Sports, will continue to represent Wade and will work in conjunction with WMA on the off-court deals. Thomas has helped secure long-term deals for Wade with Converse, Gatorade, T-Mobile, Lincoln Navigator and Topps.

"Dwyane's combination of performance and personality gives him an undeniable international appeal that is becoming more relevant as the NBA continues to gain fans beyond the U.S.," WMA President Dave Wirtschafter said in a statement. "We look forward to augmenting what CSMG has done for Dwyane and working with them to broaden the scope and breadth of the D-Wade brand around the globe."

According to this week's SportsBusiness Journal, WMA will also explore options for Wade in acting and producing. From the journal article:

The first order of business will be exploring Olympic-related endorsement opportunities for Wade, who is a member of the U.S. basketball team that will compete in the 2008 Olympics. “We have an office in China. Dwyane is not as well-known in Asia as he should be,” Wirtschafter said.

Wade’s connection with WMA, though, came out of his interest in opportunities beyond the typical endorsement deal.

Wade, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, has starred in numerous national commercials, including spots for T-Mobile, Gatorade, Converse and the Lincoln Navigator, and has developed “a taste” for acting, “which is coming, quite frankly, from doing these commercials,” Thomas said. He shot a cameo role in a feature film this summer, Thomas said, although he would not provide details.

WMA’s other athlete clients include Serena Williams, Michelle Wie and Kevin Garnett.

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November 8, 2007

Slater takes on physical fitness

What do professional surfer Kelly Slater and Heat center Shaquille O'Neal have in common? They both serve on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Governor's Council on Physical Fitness.

Slater, a native Floridian who started surfing at age 5 and has won eight world titles, was named to the council on Thursday as an honorary member.

"Kelly is the most successful professional surfer in the history of the sport," Crist said in a statement. "His life-long commitment to excellence, as well as a healthy, active lifestyle makes him a role model for all Floridians."

The council is charged with promoting physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Other members include Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, tennis player Jennifer Capriati and Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.

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November 3, 2007

Shula on Patriots-Colts, Brady v. Manning, competitive balance

With the NFL’s two undefeated teams facing each other Sunday, you have to know that Don Shula, the league’s winningest and only coach to lead a team to a perfect season, is considering the possibility that another team might be … perfect. Shula recently weighed in on Patriots-Colts and other NFL issues.

On another team having a perfect season: “Someone asked me that the other day, they asked me what I thought was tougher going 16 and 0 or 0 and 16? And I said, there’s no question in my mind 16 and 0 is a lot tougher. When you go 0 and 16 you’re not a very good football team. To win them all, it’s only been done once. You’ve got to think 50 years before and 35 years after, it’s only been done one time that’s how tough it is. Losing them all? I don’t even want to think about that.”

On whether the Patriots or Colts will go undefeated: “They’ve got to play each other, we know one of them is going to lose there. The one that comes out of that a winner, I think has got a shot, New England they just looked so awesome, everything they do they look so much better than the competition. Brady is at the top of his game, [Patriots Coach Bill] Belichick, the whole deal, they look strong, but Peyton Manning is very good also. ... [The Colts] won the Super Bowl, so they beat [the Patriots] along the way.”

On whether he’s resigned that another team will go undefeated: “You have to think it’s certainly possible it could happen, to think about how tough it is to do. You only have to look at the history of before and after shows you how hard it is to do. Somewhere along the line somebody’s going to do it. This year, even whoever comes out of that game [Patriots-Colts]… they’ve still got to go to the playoffs. The other thing you have is if you clinch early and you go into the last part of your season, and you don’t need the games, are you going to play Peyton Manning or Tom Brady the whole ballgame, like you would if it were a regular season game that meant something? So if you take them out and give somebody else a chance a play, that’s really what you should do in order to get your team ready for the playoffs, so that’s a big decision to make, I think [Colts Coach Tony] Dungy had to make that decision a couple of years ago when they were 13-0. You’ve got to do what’s best for your team and you can’t play that somebody that should maybe rest a week or so."

Brady or Manning?: “Peyton Manning is unbelievable in what he does in the way that he manages the offense. Tom Brady is more of a drop back quarterback, throwing the football. I like to compare Peyton Manning to a combination of a [Bob] Griese and a [Dan] Marino, two Hall of Fame quarterbacks that were entirely different and Peyton manning seems to be a combination of those two. Brady is more of a Marino type of quarterback.”

On the Dolphins: "The Dolphins are just struggling right now. They’ve got a lot of questions to answer, a lot of rebuilding to do."

On competitive balance: “Everything in the league is set up for competitive balance. The weakest team gets the first draft pick, gets the first player available on waivers. It’s all designed, to help the weaker teams get strong and tougher to stay on top for that reason, because you get the worst draft pick if you win. You win the Super Bowl, you get the last pick in the draft in the first round. That’s been a great formula for the NFL, because every city thinks their team, if they’re not good this year, next year they have a chance to get back into the hunt.”

On a Super Bowl overseas: “I think that would be the last thing I would want to do or do, is to take a Super Bowl out of this country, put it in Europe or Asia or someplace like that. The fans here certainly have earned the right to have the Super Bowl in areas they’ve supported right from the beginning.”

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November 2, 2007

Reaching English NFL fans

Remember how the NFL reported that more than 160,000 people requested more than 500,000 tickets to the Dolphins-New York Giants game in London when the league set up a Web site to gauge fan interest in the game?

The game last Sunday may have attracted a sellout crowd of 81,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, including some 3,500 Dolphins season ticket holders, but according to Advertising Age, the television audience wasn’t exactly overwhelming. The magazine reports that an average of 120,000 watched it live.

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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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