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March 31, 2008

Opening Day … Blues and new Dolphins ownership

OK…of course, there was the outcome, but for me the blues have to do with missing the game altogether. I know – I get paid to attend, but there’s just something about Opening Day, even if the home team loses. I haven’t missed an opener in eight years.

Instead, I was at the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, where the owners unanimously approved the sale of 50 percent of the Dolphins to real estate mogul and part-time Palm Beach resident Stephen M. Ross. It’s no surprise Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., was approved, except perhaps the dispatch with which owners made the decision on Monday morning.

Ross, who’s tried to purchase a team in the past, said he's been in discussions with Huizenga for several years about investing in the team. Ross is interested in team ownership for the challenge.

"This is a great opportunity to get in because there's nowhere to go but up," Ross said of the franchise, which finished the 2007 season 1-15, prompting a shakeup to the front office and coaching staff. "And what better place to own a team than South Florida."

Meanwhile, did you attend Opening Day? How was it? What did you think of the new entertainment…the Marlins Minnows, the new youth dance team, and the Marlins Manatees, the heavy men’s dance troupe that’s been getting more media attention than the team?

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178)

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March 30, 2008

Jerseys and sponsor logos

To celebrate the first decade of the NBA Store, the NBA has released a list of the store’s Top 10 most popular jerseys. Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s jersey ranks seventh – not bad for a guy who’s only in his fifth year in the league. Michael Jordan ranks No. 1, natch. See the full list below.

And speaking of jerseys, NBA Commissioner David Stern didn’t rule out the possibility of NBA players wearing sponsor logos on their uniforms during exhibition games in Europe this fall that will feature the Heat, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards. The Heat will play the Nets in Paris and London.

“We're mindful of the fact that baseball just did it,” Stern said in a media conference call last week. “Our history has been we've tended to do things that have honored the local venue where we're playing with sort of modifications in uniforms, but we're mindful that in Europe sponsorship on uniforms is more common than it is here, and it's something we would consider but we're not planning.”

The Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s, who opened the 2008 MLB season with two games in Japan last week, wore sponsor logos on their jerseys and helmets. According to Joyce Julius & Associates, a Michigan firm that measures the impact of corporate sponsorship, the jersey logos – EMC on Red Sox sleeves; Pepsi on the A’s -- generated $851,000 in media exposure during the two game and two replay broadcasts.

The company figured the logos got more than 28 minutes of broadcast time and multiplied that against the estimated cost of commercial time during the broadcasts. Ricoh, the sponsor of the games, got exposure on both teams' batting helmets, worth a total of $498,000 from more than 16 minutes of screen time during the four broadcasts, the company said.

Here’s the NBA’s list of most popular jerseys sold at the NBA store, 1998-2008:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Allen Iverson
4. LeBron James
5. Shaquille O'Neal
6. Tracy McGrady
7. Dwyane Wade
8. Jason Kidd
9. Vince Carter
10. Tim Duncan

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), MLB (110), NBA (139), Sponsorship (101)

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March 28, 2008

Yormarks: the marketing twins on TV

yormark06a2.jpgIf you’ve been reading my stories or followed this blog, you already know that super high energy Panthers President Michael Yormark has an identical twin brother Brett, who happens to be CEO of the New Jersey Nets.

The two are so much alike they finish each other’s sentences and take credit for each other’s creative marketing ideas. In this item from December in an unusual moment, Michael actually gave Brett credit for coming up with a mini-mascot.

But it’s difficult to capture in print how fast paced the brothers are. CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell says he’s done that in Friday’s installment of CNBC's “High Net Worth.”

“The truth is their lives have been one big competition and so we’ve told it that way,” Rovell told me. “The piece is basically one big competition from who sold the most creative sponsorship to who wakes up earlier to who works out harder to who’s the best dresser.”

In a story I wrote about them in 2006, Michael insisted he was in the office by 4 a.m.; Brett by 5:15 a.m. This is also from that story:

The pair share business strategies, and occasionally take credit for the other's idea. For example, did "Pancakes with the Panthers" come before "Pancakes and Hoops," which both involved inviting lapsed season-ticket holders to breakfast with players and team executives to encourage them to renew?

Brett, who says he's three minutes older than Michael, launched a series of "Influencer Parties," in which Nets season-ticket holders host potential ticket buyers at catered cocktail parties at their homes. Next month, the Panthers will begin "Hockey House Calls," in which season-ticket holders will host block party-style gatherings for friends, family and neighbors who might be interested in Panthers tickets.

What Rovell says his piece is able to capture is their energy. “We try to open them both up and show people these guys are impossible to walk with, the speed, the pace of their walk. I mean you need a trainer to keep up with them,” Rovell says with a chuckle. “They tell us that one day they might foresee at the end of their careers, opening up a consulting firm together. You kind of wonder what client would attend a 6 a.m. meeting.”

The show airs tonight at 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), NBA (139), Promotions (120), Sponsorship (101)

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March 27, 2008

Women love the Red Sox, too

Just in time for Opening Day – OK, Opening Day, in the U.S. – comes word of a Web site just for women who love the Red Sox: girlsoxnation.com.

The Boston Herald reported the story of the two female Sox fans who started the site to recognize that not only do women love baseball, too, but they appreciate more than just the play on the field.

Here’s what the site says in the About Us section:

Our company, while founded by two women fans in particular, is really an entire community of women and girls who love baseball. The framework was built in a website form, but girlsox nation is YOU. It’s for every woman who enthusiastically shared an insight about a player and received only a blank stare and this comment, “Wow, you know a lot about baseball for a chick”.

There’s plenty of gossip and photos, and poll questions such as “Would you or have you ever dated a Yankee fan?” but the women also answer baseball questions.

POSTED IN: MLB (110)

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March 25, 2008

Marlins seeking public’s help with bobblehead

The Marlins want your help choosing which player’s likeness should grace a bobblehead doll to represent the franchise’s 15 years.

The team is choosing one player to represent each year of the team’s existence – Brian Harvey for 1993; Gary Sheffield for 1994; Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine for 1995 and so on. The team is announcing a new player each day through Sunday and then will ask fans to vote beginning Opening Day, March 31. Voting takes takes place at the team’s Web site until June 1, the winning player will be announced June 6. The bobblehead of the winning player will be given out at the team’s Sept. 19 game against the Philadelphia Phillies during Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Who will you choose? Is it possible, it won’t be Jeff Conine? Could it be Dontrelle Willis or Miguel Cabrera, who were traded away this offseason, but were a huge part of making the Marlins matter again in 2003, when the team won its second World Series?

And speaking of Willis and Cabrera, have any Marlins fans received an email from team sales representatives mentioning the two players as the team tries to get you to buy season tickets this year?

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Promotions (120)

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March 20, 2008

March Madness in the workplace

Every year for the past half dozen or so, Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has estimated lost worker productivity from time spent paying attention to the NCAA Tournament – watching games, filling out brackets and trash talking. This year’s figure? $1.7 billion.

But the study, some argue, presumes that office workers spend every moment focusing on work and conversation never strays to current events, American Idol, or surfing YouTube to watch videos. My story today looks at companies that have decided to join the March Madness hoopla and allow bracket pools and in some cases, TVs will be tuned to games. Plenty of workers will be checking out CBSSports.com’s March Madness on Demand streaming video of all the games online.

Is your office joing the fun? Or have pools and game watching been banned?

POSTED IN: NCAA (38)

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March 18, 2008

Florida Marlins Stadium Update No. 911,000

OK, it’s not much of an update, but it’s almost the deadline for an agreement on which police and fire departments will patrol a new Marlins ballpark. Among the items raised during last month’s seemingly endless Miami-Dade County Commission debate over the ballpark was whether county or city police and fire would patrol the venue.

County officials promised to resolve the contentious issue within 30 days – or risk derailing the plan to build a $515 million retractable roof ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl.

On Tuesday, county commissioners extended the deadline for the law enforcement issue to be resolved until April 8 – the next scheduled meeting of county commissioners. I’m being told the issue of which jurisdiction will win the coveted patrol – more than likely it will be a blended patrol – will be resolved and will not prevent the ballpark agreement from moving forward.

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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March 13, 2008

Minor League team holding Eliot Spitzer Night

Start spreading the news… The minor league Macon Music of the South Coast League has scheduled an “Eliot Spitzer Night” on June 13 complete with invitation to the disgraced former New York governor to throw out the first pitch.

In true minor league fashion, the promotion has a number of elements that play on the story of Spitzer, who resigned his post Wednesday after being linked to a high-priced prostitution ring.

The team plans a New York vacation giveaway; a Music prize package for Client – or fan – No. 9; and a gift certificate to the team store for fan No. 871, a reference to Spitzer’s room number at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Fans named Eliot, Spitzer or “Kristen” get $1 off admission, as does anyone who has resigned his position.

Frank Sinatra’s music will be played throughout the evening at Luther Williams Field in Macon, Ga. And the ballpark’s ATMs will not dispense more than $5,000 an hour.

POSTED IN: Promotions (120)

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Heat debuts anti-litter ad

The Heat got help from some politicians Wednesday night in debuting a new public service announcement aimed at keeping South Florida litter-free.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss were on hand for the debut of the county's “SLAMIT JAMIT STUFFIT” ad, which was shown during halftime of the Heat-Knicks game. The campaign, which shows Heat coach Pat Riley; players including Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem; and a dancer exiting a bus and shooting bottles, foil and other bits of garbage into a trash can, is being accompanied by in-arena anti-litter messages and contests.

The ad by Beber Silverstein Group was shot before the 2007-08 season started. That meant there had to be some re-shooting and a little creative editing after Shaquille O’Neal was traded last month to the Phoenix Suns. Watch the ad:

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), Miami Heat (174)

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March 11, 2008

Marlins adding All-You-Can-Eat seats

Following in the footsteps of other pro teams, the Marlins will offer an all-you-can-eat ticketing option at six Friday night home games this season.

The all-you-can-eat section will encompass about 400 seats on the club level down the leftfield line at Dolphin Stadium and tickets will include unlimited hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and soft drinks. All tickets will be sold in advance and cost $45 for individuals; $40 each for groups of 20 to 99; and $35 for groups of 100 or more.

The games will be the last Friday home game of each month: April 18; May 23; June 27; July 18; Aug. 29; and Sept. 19.


“We’ve committed to six nights,” said Sean Flynn, Marlins vice president of marketing. “It’s a test that could be expanded if we have success. That could happen later this year or obviously next year, if these seats sell as well as we think they will. Some teams have gone out with a broader approach all season or more dates than six. We felt comfortable trying it at six.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers spurred the latest enthusiasm for tickets that include food when they opened 3,000 bleacher seats as the All-You-Can-Eat Right Field Pavilion last year. The seats included Dodger dogs, peanuts, popcorn and soft drinks and ran $20 for group tickets to $40. They sold 70 percent of capacity for the season. A number of other teams followed suit and according to USA Today, at least 13 teams will have an all-you-can-eat-option this season.


POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Tickets (126)

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March 5, 2008

Hurricanes promote tonight’s men’s basketball game

Joe Zagacki called my cell phone yesterday. Twice. OK… it wasn’t just me, nor was it actually Zagacki.

But the voice of the Hurricanes had recorded one of those promotional phone messages that get blasted to a particular phone list, to encourage University of Miami fans to pack tonight’s UM-Boston College men’s basketball game at BankUnited Center. The calls went out to season ticket holders and individual ticket buyers. Full disclosure: I share general admission season tickets with some co-workers and have purchased single game tickets this season.

The team is hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 season and could be in with one more win in the next two games. Tonight’s game is the last home game for the Hurricanes this season and Zagacki wants to make sure there’s a full house – he left the Web site address and the phone number for tickets.

We know this isn't a hotbed for college basketball, but given the losing going on among South Florida's pro teams, are you supporting the Hurricanes? Have you gotten these kinds of promotional calls from UM or the pro teams? (I hear Dolphins coach Tony Sparano recorded a message just in time for Dolphins season ticket renewals). Do they convince you to buy tickets?

POSTED IN: Miami Hurricanes (32), Tickets (126)

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New NFL-logoed merchandise: talking pizza cutters; forest faces

Do you really need a New Orleans Saints pizza cutter that plays When the Saints Go Marching In? How about that Indianapolis Colts figurine soap dispenser? A super ball that plays the Monday Night Football theme song when bounced?

Or Footjoy’s new line of golf shoes – with or without spikes – in NFL team colors with logos that you can even print your name on? That’ll cost you $155 to $200 a pair, starting in April.

NFL licensees certainly hope so. The NFL Hardlines VI Trade Show – featuring 86 NFL licensees showing off hundreds of non-apparel items at Dolphin Stadium Tuesday – was a football fan’s smorgasbord of items you never knew you needed. But it was just for the industry, so the league and its 32 teams can pick out items to sell at stadiums, outfit suites and give as season ticket renewal gifts this year.

Talk about creative: Dolphins recliners complete with cup holders; Dolphins pool tables, bar stools and Tiffany lamps. A computer mouse. A collapsible table with four chairs attached that pops open easily for your tailgate. Candles and air fresheners. Sippy cups with little team mascots on top.

And even Forest Faces with team caps. That’s right – those resin faces that you nail into a tree will begin coming out with NFL team caps come May 1 for $19.95. “You animate the tree,” says Mike Sockel, senior vice president of Team Sports America, which makes the NFL Forest Face.

The show started six years ago in Green Bay as a way to showcase innovative products. Previously the NFL had been attending sports industry-wide shows that either disbanded or were held during football season when many officials couldn’t attend, said Leo Kane, league vice president of consumer products.

“We decided we wanted to control the message as well,” Kane said. “We talk about the NFL and our 32 clubs, as opposed to other sports. As important to us is that we see the new product and it’s important that all our licensing partners know where we’re going with Super Bowl logos and season-long themes.”

Of particular interest this year, Kane said, are women’s and children’s products. But there’s something for everyone, he said.

“Hopefully there’s something new in every booth,” he said. “New product innovation is really the lifeblood. We want all of our licensees, new and existing, to reinvent themselves every year, because that’s what the fans have come to expect from us. If you build it they will come.”

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

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March 4, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 29,034

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier D. Souto, who ceremoniously ripped up his copy of the Marlins Baseball Stadium Agreement during the meeting last month in which his fellow commissioners approved the deal, commissioned a poll that shows voters overwhelmingly oppose funding a ballpark.

Surprise. No, not really.

“It’s very consistent with public opposition to using public money for baseball stadiums,” said Dario Moreno, director of FIU’s Metropolitan Center, who conducted the survey.

Among questions posed about the economy, county services and job security, the poll also asked voters about their support for a ballpark, a port tunnel and a museum park. The poll of 842 registered voters in four districts in western Miami-Dade County showed more people support the ballpark than the tunnel or museum park.

While 24.9 percent support the tunnel and 24.7 percent support the museum park, 29 percent said they support a publicly funded ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl. Another 60.9 percent oppose the stadium.

Souto, who spent $16,000 on the telephone survey, plans to post the results on his Web site, said his senior assistant Bernardo Escobar.

Meanwhile, county commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday requiring that county police and fire officials patrol county-owned venues - except where contracts with other jurisdictions already exist - meaning that the commission wants county officials guarding a new Marlins ballpark. Miami City Commissioners want city officials patrolling the new baseball venue. The sides must come up with a solution in the next two and a half weeks.

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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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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