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January 28, 2008

Shaq; D-Wade appear in Super Bowl commercials

shaqbottlefinal2.jpgHeat center Shaquille O'Neal will make his debut in a vitaminwater ad during Super Bowl XLII as a ... jockey. Yep, the 7 foot 1, 325-pound O'Neal sports jockey silks and rides a horse in the 60-second spot, which is being kept under wraps until it airs at the beginning of the third quarter of Sunday's game on Fox. In the meantime, check out O'Neal in his silks, courtesy of vitaminwater maker Glaceau.

O'Neal became a vitaminwater endorser and investor last year, appearing on 32-ounce bottles of power-c flavor. He has been wanting to appear in one of the company's off-beat ads. In fact, he came up with the idea for the spot.

"I grew up in Texas, so I'm no stranger to riding horses, but I've always wanted to try being a jockey in an actual horse race - so vitaminwater and I decided to give it a try," O'Neal said in a statement.

It didn't hurt that Glaceau President Mike Repole is among the top 50 race horse owners in the country.


Meanwhile, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley continue their T-Mobile ad campaign during the Super Bowl. The company is running this teaser ad on YouTube encouraging the public to tune in to find out if Wade will finally make it into Barkley's "Fave 5":

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), Super Bowl (53)

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January 24, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 788,936

It isn't yet clear what auto dealer Norman Braman's lawsuit challenging the wide-ranging plan to fund $3 billion in downtown Miami projects means for the still being negotiated plan for a $525 million Marlins ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl.

Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami, the Marlins and Major League Baseball intend to keep negotiating a Baseball Stadium Agreement.

"I have no reason to believe the deal is in trouble," MLB President Bob DuPuy said. "Stadium deals often engender opposition. I don’t view this as a reason to either delay or be concerned."

In fact, negotiators might be more concerned an agreement still has yet to be reached.

Nevertheless, some believe the suit could spell trouble if Braman prevails in court and a major source of ballpark funding is no longer available. At the very least being tied up in court could make it difficult for the Marlins to meet their April 2011 deadline for opening a ballpark. The team's lease at Dolphin Stadium expires after the 2010 season.

"If I were a Marlins fan, I would be very worried. This is going to push back this stadium, this is going to push back this deal," said Bob Jarvis, a sports and constitutional law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

Braman's suit claims the county's decision to move $50 million in general obligation bond funding approved by voters in 2004 to renovate the Orange Bowl to the ballpark project is unconstitutional. It also says changing the source of funding to repay the bonds on the performing arts center to free up money for the ballpark breaches the contract with bondholders, which include Braman. And that County Manager George Burgess negotiating the overall downtown plan -- and another for the stadium -- on behalf of the county commission in private is a violation of the state's public records law.

The suit stems from the city and county agreeing last month to the plan, which would extend the life and expand the boundaries of Miami's Redevelopment Agencies to generate millions for the downtown projects, including a port tunnel. The agreement would use CRA dollars to pay down the arts center debt, thereby freeing up hotel bed tax dollars -- which have been paying the debt -- for the stadium.

Braman says he is concerned taxpayers have been cut out of the process of deciding whether public dollars should be spent on a private enterprise like the Marlins. "The real issue is the taxpayers and voters that live in this county, I feel should have the right to say yes or no," he said.

A former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Braman has waged successful public battles in Miami before. In 1999, he helped defeat a one penny sales tax measure for county transit projects. In 1982, he led the effort to defeat a Miami sales tax measure to renovate the Orange Bowl for the Dolphins.

"I think that while a ballpark would be nice, while there may be some economic benefits for some from the tunnel, these should be lower priority items and we shouldn't see any questionable switching of designated funds for this project," Jack McCabe, a Deerfield Beach real estate analyst and consultant, said, cautioning that he is not a lawyer. "I would think there probably are a number of other business leaders questioning these moves."

But Jack Winston, a partner at Miami real estate and financial consulting firm Goodkin Consulting, said he thinks the city-county agreement is "an ingenious plan" to use CRA dollars which have grown with condo development in Miami, to fund a variety of projects.

Winston said he doesn't think changing the source of repayment of the arts center bonds is a problem, since the county is guaranteeing they will be paid. And he's not sure moving the general obligation bond funds is an issue either, since the money is still going to a stadium at the same site, even if it isn't the Orange Bowl.

"One's football and one's baseball. What's the difference?" Winston asked. "If it's recreation-oriented bonds, it's for the recreation and entertainment of the public. I don't think that makes a difference. I'm not an attorney, but I think that's going to be an issue that comes up in court."

Jarvis, however, said he thinks the bond arguments are significant, but the public records law arguments might be even more harmful to the Marlins deal. "If the court accepts that, everything they've negotiated goes out the window," Jarvis said. "Even if they do everything again, but this time in public, that would set them back months and months. Every time you get these setbacks, the cost of the building goes up."

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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January 22, 2008

Li Ning entering the U.S. and Why Wall Street is pulling for the Giants

Brent Hunsberger at the Oregonian reports that Li-Ning, the Chinese sporting goods company that sells Heat center Shaquille O’Neal’s Dunkman brand sneakers in China, has quietly opened an office in Portland, near rivals such as Nike.

O’Neal signed a five-year endorsement deal with Li-Ning in 2006 to market his low cost shoes in China, where the NBA has a major presence and just announced the opening of NBA China to conduct league business there. Cleveland Cavaliers and former Heat guard Damon Jones endorses and wears Li-Ning’s shoes on the court.

Meanwhile, CNBC’s Darren Rovell breaks down why a Giants win the Super Bowl could be good for the financial markets. Check out his analysis here.


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January 18, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 51,246

Another week, another delay. Representatives of the Marlins, Major League Baseball, Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami are still negotiating a $525 million deal for a ballpark for the Marlins, but it won’t be ready – again – in time for Tuesday’s scheduled vote of the county commission.

Those involved still believe the outstanding issues can be resolved and the framework of the financing plan is in place. Among the biggest unresolved issues is who will pay for a 6,000-space parking garage.

In an earlier draft of the deal, the city was to be responsible for the parking garage. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, however, has said in order for the garage to pay for itself, there need to be an additional 15 to 20 event dates at the location.

“You need a certain number of events to generate the amount of income you need so it at least breaks even,” Diaz said last month.

That’s one of the reasons Diaz has been pushing for the building of a 25,000-seat soccer stadium for a future Major League Soccer team, next to the Marlins ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl. He’s been in talks with MLS, but there are no guarantees the city will be granted a team.

County Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro said if a Baseball Stadium Agreement is completed soon, the commission could consider it at its Feb. 5 meeting or at a special meeting, if commissioners agree to hold one.


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January 17, 2008

Red Sox Sticker Shock

Want to see the Boston Red Sox versus the Baltimore Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium this spring? It’ll cost you at least four games, if you want to sit in box or reserved grandstand seats.

That’s right: Red Sox Nation is so huge and demand to see the team so high, the Orioles are requiring fans to purchase full spring season tickets (15 games) or a four-game package to get the best seats for the one Red Sox game in Fort Lauderdale this spring on March 7. Fans can choose the other three games to package with the Red Sox game, but they must all be in the same seating area and include only one New York Mets game.

The idea is to ensure the Orioles’ most loyal fans have the best shot of seeing the 2007 World Series champs from the stadium’s best seats.

“Clearly there’s a great demand for this specific game and the Orioles want to reward those fans who are coming to several games with access to tickets first,” Orioles Director of Communications Greg Bader said. “We believe this is the fairest way to distribute tickets to a game that clearly is the most in demand game of our spring season.”

The Orioles are also charging $2 extra for the Red Sox and Mets games. The Mets are charging significantly more when the Red Sox visit the Mets' spring home in Port St. Lucie.

Orioles' spring individual tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. and tickets to the lone Red Sox contest are expected to sell out within minutes. If any box or reserved grandstand seats are not claimed, they’ll be put on sale at a later date, Bader said.

Box seats cost $20 -- and $22 for contests against the Red Sox and Mets; reserved grandstand are $14 and $16 for the Red Sox and Mets; general admission are $10 and $12; and general admission kids (14 and under) are $5 and $7.

Meanwhile, the Mets are charging $35 up from $25 in premium box when the Red Sox come to Port St. Lucie; $30 up from $20 in field level terrace; $30 up from $18 in lower reserved; $25 up from $12 in upper reserved; and even the bleacher/berm are $10 up from $6.


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January 14, 2008

Buy a piece of the Dolphins?

It’s a long shot for sure, but Stan D’Alo, a Dolphins season ticket holder from Coral Springs, is trying to gauge fan interest in purchasing stock in the team.

He’s launched, a Web site where fans can indicate their interest in purchasing a piece of the Dolphins. He’s estimating 10 million shares at $120 to $130 apiece. No one would be allowed to own more than 2 percent of the total shares.

“We’re going to ask people 'if stock was offered in the team would you buy it?',” D’Alo said. “Basically I want to organize people and see how much interest there is.”

D’Alo was inspired to launch the site after word leaked last month that Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga was in talks to potentially sell the team for at least $1 billion. D’Alo figured it’d be worth trying to make the team a community asset, like the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers, who face the New York Giants in Sunday's NFC Championship game, have been publicly owned since 1923. According to the team's Web site, 112,015 stockholders own more than 4.75 million shares, but the stock doesn’t appreciate and shareholders don’t receive dividends. No one is allowed to own more than 200,000 shares. The company is overseen by a board of directors and an executive committee.

The team is so popular that stock sales have helped the Packers out of financial trouble on four occasions, including as recently as 1997, when fans spent $200 a share to raise $24 million for Lambeau Field renovations.

So far, D’Alo says he has about 20 people on the stock-request waiting list. That’s after he held up a sign at the Dolphins final home game last month. He’s encouraging others to talk up the idea and print out fliers to post at their offices.

“The league doesn’t want to have this kind of ownership,” said D’Alo, a season ticket holder for nine years. “[But] If they want the kind of money they will ask for franchises in the future they aren’t going find a lot of people who are going to be able to lay out that kind of money. It’s going to take corporations to buy teams in the future.”

Corporate ownership is prohibited in the NFL.

“I believe that if people want something they should gather and communicate with others who have the same interest and figure out a way to pay for it with private dollars. That is what my Web site is about,” D’Alo said.

“I leave this up to public debate and let the people decide if they would like to take part in communicating with our organization to make this happen.”

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178)

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January 9, 2008

Orange Bowl items up for sale

OK, so not everything’s up for sale. The city of Miami, which owns the 70-year-old Orange Bowl, is keeping the turf, which it plans to put in a park. It’s also hanging onto one set of goalposts, the murals, the giant Miami Orange Bowl letters on the outside of the stadium and the Welcome to the Orange Bowl sign inside the venue.

Gary Fabrikant, the assistant director of Miami's Department of Capital Improvements, says the city is also keeping the scoreboard.

But virtually everything else is up for grabs: seats, light fixtures, trees, urinals, two sets of goalposts, turnstiles, ticket booths, the tunnel Hurricanes players ran through to get to the field. You can order a specific seat on a first-come, first-served basis until Jan. 20, but those will cost you extra. There are a limited number of chairs with backs, including those two rows of white ones that sat closest to the field on the sidelines, the ones that bear an LA Dodgers logo. The thought is that those seats, referred to as the “Dodgers seats,” were installed in the early 1960s when Dodger Stadium was being built.

Sunrise-based Mounted Memories, a division of Dreams Inc. of Plantation, was awarded the salvage contract by the city last month in part because of its track record for producing uniquely packaged products. Orange seats will bear autographs and can be framed or installed in a display case; panoramic photos are paired with a piece of concrete.

Seats uncovered in the west endzone that were installed in 1966 and bear an orange and a seat number are being included in a shadow box frame with a copy of a black and white photo that shows those seats being installed for a price of $199. A set of four of those seats is being fashioned into small benches for $495 each. The company is also going to receive a piece or two of the lattice work from the outside of the stadium that it plans to package with other souvenirs.

On Jan. 26, Mounted Memories is hosting a Farewell to the Orange Bowl from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a flag football game between Dolphins and Hurricanes greats, a small auction and an opportunity to get autographs. Tickets are $20 at Field of Dreams stores and at An auction will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 9 at the Orange Bowl for the larger, one-of-a-kind items: the urinals, goalposts, trees, light fixtures. For more information, visit:

Ross Tannenbaum, president and CEO of Dreams Inc., and Fabrikant said they hope to raise about $1 million for the city to help pay for the stadium's demolition. Fabrikant said the stadium will be turned over Jan. 28 to DEMCO, a New York firm, that will spend the next five months pulling down the stadium for a cost of $1.9 million.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Hurricanes (32), Orange Bowl (45)

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January 8, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 3,899

As alluded to in yesterday's blog item, the Baseball Stadium Agreement isn't ready for a vote of the Miami-Dade County Commission on Thursday. Representatives of the Marlins, Major League Baseball, the county and city of Miami have been negotiating the agreement for days, but there are still issues to be worked out.

County Manager George Burgess is scheduled to give the commission an update on negotiations at Thursday's commission meeting. Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro says he will ask for the item to be deferred until the commission's next meeting on Jan. 22 "so everyone can have enough time to review and analyze the whole package," Barreiro said.

"Even if it gets ready by Thursday, there definitely won't be enough time to review it," he said. "I don't want to take a blind vote."

After all, the city commission was criticized for voting on the "interlocal agreement" -- that paves the way for the ballpark funding -- only hours after having first been presented with it, the evening before their commission meeting. That agreement expands the boundaries and extends the life of Miami's Community Redevelopment Agencies to raise millions of dollars for projects in the city.

The commission delayed a vote on the $525 million ballpark agreement last month to give the sides time to reach an agreement. An earlier draft of the agreement called on the city and county to contribute $370 million in hotel bed and sports facilities taxes and a general obligation bond and for the Marlins to chip in $155 million. Barreiro said he doesn't think the hold up in finishing a Baseball Stadium Agreement is substantive.

"I think they’re very close," Barreiro said. "It’s minor details from what I understand, legalities, stuff like that. The stadium itself, I don’t think there’s a lot of big issues."

If an agreement is ready in time for the Jan. 22 meeting, the county could vote then followed by the city at its meeting on Jan. 24.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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January 7, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 14,774

Norman Braman’s ad campaign hit the radio airwaves Monday.

The auto dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner has formed People Who Demand Honest Government. He's paying for a series of ads over the next three days aimed at building pressure on Miami-Dade County commissioners to vote No on a proposed Marlins stadium financing plan and other projects.

Braman says there are 174 spots running on a variety of radio stations. One focuses solely on the proposed $525 million ballpark project, saying the Marlins should pay for the stadium at the Orange Bowl site themselves, rather than relying on public money. The other mentions the ballpark, the proposed tunnel to the Port of Miami and streetcar project.

What’s raised the ire of Braman is the wide-ranging city and county plan to expand the boundaries and extend the life of Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agencies to fund millions of dollars in projects, including paying off the debt on the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. That would free up hotel taxes to pay for the ballpark. CRAs are designed to collect property taxes in blighted areas to revitalize needy neighborhoods.

“I’m opposed to this whole plan, which is basically a ripoff of the Community Redevelopment Authority, which was established for a different purpose, to utilize it to build a sports stadium, to build a tunnel, a $200 million streetcar, to put $68 million into Bicentennial Park, to stretch the redevelopment area," Braman said. "It’s wrong. It’s wrong morally, it’s wrong legally and sometimes a citizen has to stand up and say it’s enough.”

Braman wouldn't say how much is being spent on the ads. "Whatever is required," he said.

The ads urge residents to call county commissioners before Thursday’s scheduled vote on the ballpark financing plan.

But don’t be surprised if a vote on the plan is delayed – not because of Braman’s ads, but because terms of the deal are still being negotiated. As always, stay tuned…

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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January 3, 2008

Panthers décor

The Panthers are offering up the chance to turn a room in one fan’s house into a Panthers’ lair, known as “The Captain’s Room,” complete with signed memorabilia and other team souvenirs. Through a partnership with Sports Interiors, fans can enter to win the “Ultimate Florida Panthers Room.”

The company creates custom team- and sports-focused offices, bars, and spare rooms, turning them into a sports fan paradise with everything from photos to jerseys to team-logoed furniture.

Panthers Captain Olli Jokinen will appear for the Panthers room unveiling. “Sports Interiors promises that the winner will be the envy of Panthers fans everywhere,” a press release states. Fans must be 21 and live in Broward, Palm Beach or Miami-Dade counties to enter.

Enter at Panthers’ Web site or at

The winner will be announced at the Panthers final regular season home game on March 29 against the Washington Capitals.

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), NHL (56)

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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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