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April 25, 2008

Shaq wants in at the Kentucky Derby

Shaq---Kentucky-Derby2.jpgOK... it's clearly a joke, but in keeping with its Shaquille O'Neal plays jockey theme, vitaminwater has taken out an ad in this weekend's Daily Racing Form that's an open letter from the former Heat center expressing his interest in running in the Kentucky Derby.

The company debuted an ad duing Super Bowl XLII in which O'Neal, who was traded to the Phoenix Suns in February, plays a jockey. The print ad says O'Neal wants to run in the derby.

It begins "dear friends at the national thoroughbred racing association and trainers, roll up your seersuckers, and put down your mint julep because i have some important news...the big diesel wants in the derby!"

O'Neal signed on with vitaminwater as an endorser and investor last year. The company has even created a web page for horsinaroundwithshaq which includes video and photos of O'Neal having fun at the track.

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), NBA (139)

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Time borrows from NBA ad campaign

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the NBA can thank Time Magazine for paying tribute to its playoff ads that are part of the league's "Where Amazing Happens" campaign.

The magazine's latest issue shows a split image of Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sens. Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton and the headline "There Can Only Be One." The NBA ads feature split images of LeBron James and Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan and the same tagline: "There Can Only Be One."

Time contacted the NBA before using its image and credited the league's 2008 playoff ad campaign on its content page with inspiring the cover photo illustration.


POSTED IN: Advertising (79), NBA (139)

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April 24, 2008

Dancing With The Stars raises dollars for Jason Taylor Foundation

The Dolphins may still be dancing around the issue of whether they can trade Jason Taylor for another first round pick in this weekend’s NFL draft, but Taylor’s dancing is netting bucks for his foundation.

In July, the Office Depot Foundation agreed to team up with Jason Taylor’s foundation to provide college scholarships for disadvantaged children, funding for a Miramar reading center named for the Dolphins defensive end, and $1,000 for every sack Taylor recorded last season, up to $15,000.

Now that Taylor is competing on Dancing With The Stars, the Office Depot Foundation has committed $1,000 for each round Taylor advances. So far $6,000 has been donated to Taylor’s foundation. Updates on Taylor’s performance on the show can be found at

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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April 23, 2008

J. Long gets deal with Dolphins; C. Long with Subway

Jake Long may have a reported $57.75 million five-year contract with $30 million guaranteed with the Dolphins, but Chris Long has a deal with Subway.

University of Virginia defensive end Chris Long, who had been mentioned as a potential No. 1 pick for the Dolphins, is being paired with Subway spokesman Jared Fogle and Fox NFL reporter Jay Glazer for a series of Webisodes related to the NFL Draft. Watch interviews with Long and a series of workouts with Long and Fogle at

Long is also expected to make appearances for the restaurant. His partnership with Subway follows deals between the restaurant chain and other NFL first-round picks, New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn, who the Dolphins passed on picking in the first round last year.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sponsorship (101)

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April 21, 2008

What Danica’s big win means for her marketability

It took 50 starts, but Danica Patrick was confident she’d eventually win a race and would not become known as the Anna Kournikova of auto racing.

Now that she won the Indy Japan 300 – becoming the first woman to win an open-wheel race -- will the Indy Racing League’s most marketable star be even more marketable?

After all, her sponsor roster includes Tissot,, Motorola, and she appeared in a bikini in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. AirTran capitalized immediately with a commemorative plane called “AirTranica Won” – that bears her photo and is expected to be on planes through the IRL season.

Bob Dorfman, executive creative director of Baker Street Partners in San Francisco, says her first win could be worth at least $1 million more.

“Her current marketing partners will spend more on her, and new companies who may have discounted her driving talents will now consider her more seriously,” Dorfman said. “This opens her up to more performance-based products, as well as any advertiser to women with an ‘achieve your dreams’ message. It means a marketing portfolio that’s less cheesecake, and more blue chip.”

But Mike Bartelli, president of motorsports for Millsport, isn’t convinced the win will do much more for Patrick or the IRL.

"I believe it will help her marketability some, but given that her success off the track these last few years has been disproportionate to her success on the track, and given that IndyCar is a niche sport and will remain so for the foreseeable future, I don't think it will make a
significant difference to the scope of her appeal," Bartelli said.

"Will she likely see a few more endorsement opportunities? Probably,” he said. “Will this win, alone, translate into substantial growth for the IRL? Probably not."

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42), Sponsorship (101)

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April 19, 2008

The Dancing Banana: Mascot with a-peel

The Panthers missed the playoffs again, but they created another tradition this season: the Dancing Banana. Akin to the Rally Monkey, the inflatable mascot – on loan from the Tampa Bay Rays – performed its unusual dance routine to the Buckwheat Boyz' Peanut Butter Jelly Time at strategic times during Panthers games.

The Dancing Banana thrilled audiences – and the media – and even Panthers staffers, who made sure not to miss its performances. The team brought it out a few times a month to dance with the Sziro Ice Dancers. “We use it in critical games,” team mascot coordinator Kyle Hamsher said. “And we’d throw it into the script on a last-minute call. It was like our secret weapon.”

Anyone catch the performance with the nose mascot, the one representing Panthers' sponsor South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center? Dare I say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen an inflatable banana dance with a giant nose?

A little research shows the Dancing Banana is something of a cult phenomenon – from an online emoticon to an episode of Family Guy, in which Brian dons an inflatable banana costume and dances to Peanut Butter Jelly Time in an attempt to cheer up Peter. You can even buy T-shirts commemorating the episode.

The Rays introduced the mascot in 2006 and reaction was so strong, it now performs at Sunday home games. Kelly Frank, the Rays’ mascot coordinator, who hails from Sunrise, suggested the Panthers try it out. “My scheme to watch hockey for free,” Frank says. Check out her banana myspace page here.

For more on the Dancing Banana check out the Two-Minute Drill on Page 2 of the Sun-Sentinel’s sports section on Sunday. Watch "When Good Bananas Go Bad" - a performance piece filmed in the concourse at BankAtlantic Center. Below watch the banana dance at a Panthers game:

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), Mascots (16)

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April 15, 2008

Howard Schnellenberger’s $1 million smile

CoachPic.jpgFAU Coach Howard Schnellenberger put the school’s money where his mouth is. Sort of.

After teeth whitening dental spa, SmileXpress, pledged $1.25 million to FAU’s athletic department over the next 10 years, Schnellenberger agreed to be the inaugural patron at the company’s East Boca Raton location Monday.

See his new radiant smile in this photo by Caroline Schmitz Williams.

SmileXpress’ donation announced in March includes $500,000 for naming rights to one of the entrances of FAU’s planned on-campus football stadium and $250,000 for a memoriabl at the stadium to honor Schnellenberger’s son, Stephen, who died of cancer last month.

For more on FAU sports, visit Ted Hutton’s blog here.

POSTED IN: FAU (6), Sponsorship (101)

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April 11, 2008

Heat Internet numbers still high

The Heat might be the worst team in the NBA this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not getting any notice.

The Heat ranked fourth in the number of visits to its Web site, according to the NBA, behind only the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics -- and each of those teams is headed to the playoffs. In addition, Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s page ranked 10th in popularity among player sites. For the second consecutive season, Los Angeles Laker guard Kobe Bryant’s page ranked first among player sites and Laker forward Pau Gasol’s page ranked first among international player sites.

Overall, visits to are up from last season. The site averaged more than 5.3 million daily visits during 2007-08 up 57 percent from 2006-07, and 23.7 million daily page views, up 42 percent from the previous year, the NBA reported.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174)

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 5 million something

The Marlins ballpark project has never been simple, but just when people start to believe there will be smooth sailing… well, welcome to Miami.

On Thursday, Miami City Commissioners took what was described as essentially a procedural vote amending the budget of the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency – raising the $1.43 million commitment to Miami-Dade County to pay down debt on the Performing Arts Center to $5 million in the coming year – into a debate about the ballpark and the rest of the $3 billion worth of projects in the city-county plan approved in December. They also raised concerns that Miami police are objecting to a plan to split patrols at the new ballpark between the city and county.

Although city officials took great pains to say the funding change wasn’t needed to pay for a ballpark, commissioners took the opportunity to lash out at the county and the projects in the city-county plan.

“We are not responsible for the debacle that is the Performing Arts Center. It’s not our fault cost overruns went up to $500 million, yet we say this is the jewel of the city,” said Commissioner Tomas Regalado, who opposes the city-county plan. “We have to take the building, the white elephant. Why should the residents of Miami pay for the mistakes the county makes?”

Commissioners Angel Gonzalez and Michelle Spence-Jones also complained about the county taking advantage of the city and both said they felt they’d been misled about the details of the city-county plan.

“Once again the city has to swallow whatever the county gives them,” Spence-Jones said. “I know people may be angry or upset [but] at the end of the day, my constituents elected me to make the right decision.”

But when it came time to vote on the budget amendment, both Gonzalez and Spence-Jones stepped away from the dais so the amendment passed 2-1 with Regalado dissenting.

The city’s vote came just days after several county commissioners expressed concern about the plan to finance a $515 million Marlins ballpark at the Orange Bowl, meaning there is likely to be significantly more debate before the project gets the go-ahead. The Baseball Stadium Agreement approved by city and county commissioners in February is binding – meaning there are financial penalties should the project not go forward -- but that hasn’t stopped commissioners from objecting to elements of the plan. Final management, construction and financing agreements must be approved by July 1, under the terms of the agreement.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, a ballpark proponent, said the city, county and team have agreed to build a ballpark and can do so without worrying whether a port tunnel, museum park and other projects are built.

“The baseball deal stands on its own,” Diaz said late Thursday. He said the city and county agreed to fund a variety of projects that have been discussed for years. “Our goal is to build a great urban core, but each of [the projects] have to be implemented individually.”

As always, stay tuned…

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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April 10, 2008

Sports and political gamesmanship in Tallahassee

For all the tough talk in the state Capitol to save $20 million next year by freezing for one year the state subsidies that help fund stadiums and arenas across Florida, don’t expect the plan to move forward.

Offered up by the Democratic minority in the House on Wednesday, the plan would have the state hold in reserves next year the $2 million most pro franchises in the state receive annually for 30 years for new buildings or renovations and the dollars that municipalities receive to upgrade or build spring training venues. Read my colleague Josh Hafenbrack’s story here.

Fort Lauderdale was granted $15 million to help the Baltimore Orioles overhaul Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Dolphin Stadium receives the sales tax rebate for renovations it made to accommodate the Marlins; the Panthers receive it to help pay for BankAtlantic Center and the Heat for AmericanAirlines Arena.

And there’s the rub. While the rebate program has been controversial over the years, it has helped pay for new sports venues across the state. In many cases, bonds were issued against the rebates to help pay venue construction costs. So there’s a contractual obligation to bondholders.

Josh asked House Speaker Marco Rubio Wednesday night about that very issue.

“That’s a good question. That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross in conference,” Rubio said. “I did think about that today when I heard the amendment.”


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April 8, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 40,808

Miami-Dade County Commissioners signed off on a plan Tuesday to split the police and fire patrols at a new Marlins ballpark between the county and city of Miami, but the heated debate could still spell trouble for a ballpark at the Orange Bowl.

Armando Aguilar, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, objected to the plan and several commissioners still have serious reservations about the financing for the $515 million ballpark and $94 million garage, which relies heavily on tourist taxes. Commissioners voted 7-3 for the security plan, with Commissioners Natacha Seijas, Javier Souto and Joe Martinez voting no and Commissioners Katy Sorenson, Rebeca Sosa and Carlos Gimenez absent at the time of the vote.

The security plan will be part of the ballpark management agreement, which along with the financing and construction agreements must be in place by July 1, under the terms of the Baseball Stadium Agreement approved in February.

Under the security plan, county police will patrol inside the venue while the city handles the surrounding area and the traffic. For eight city events at the venue each year, city police would patrol the venue; likewise, the county would handle the eight county events. Firefighters meanwhile will share responsibilities for each event with equal numbers of units from the city and county.

The city commission is expected to consider the plan at its meeting on Thursday.

But the security agreement stirred little reaction from commissioners, who instead took aim at the ballpark financing plan.

Martinez said he is particularly concerned that general fund revenue, rather than tourist taxes, will be put toward the ballpark under the city-county plan to fund $3 billion in projects, including a port tunnel, museums and the ballpark. The plan calls for the expansion of the city’s redevelopment agencies to generate more property tax dollars so tourist taxes can be used for other projects.

County Manager George Burgess insisted several times the ballpark is not contingent on expanding the redevelopment agencies and that the ballpark does not rely on general fund revenue, but that the additional property tax money will allow the county to fund other projects.

Souto, who opposes the city-county plan, called the whole project “fuzzy math.”

“The whole project is a beautiful project, if we have the monies, but we don’t have the monies,” Souto said.

Gimenez, too, opposes the baseball stadium agreement, over concerns the Marlins’ contribution has been reduced and the funding for infrastructure has not been determined. He and Martinez also expressed concern that there aren’t enough votes on the commission to move the project forward.

The agreement reached in February only required a majority vote of commissioners, but subsequent votes on the final agreements require a two-thirds vote of the commissioners present – or nine if all 13 commissioners are in attendance.

Meanwhile Burgess and Assistant County Manager Ray Baker are traveling to Washington, DC where they will take a tour of the Nationals just-opened ballpark on Wednesday. The Marlins are playing the Nationals Wednesday and Thursday.

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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Wade's continued star power

DWade-cover2.jpgHe’s not playing at the moment, but Heat guard Dwyane Wade is still a draw. That’s why Ocean Drive has made him just the third cover man in the magazine’s 16-year history.

The story about Wade examines his future plans, his thoughts about rebuilding the Heat, his philanthropy and D Wade’s Sports Grill chain of restaurants.

The other men on the magazine’s cover were former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 and Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2006.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174)

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April 4, 2008

Heat dancers go for "Three-peat"

PU6E00752.jpgAt least someone at the Heat is having success.

With his team in the cellar, it probably wasn’t the kind of success he was hoping for. But Heat coach Pat Riley agreed to let the Heat dancers borrow his trademarked term “three-peat” in their quest to win the title of best NBA dance team for the third consecutive year.

The Heat dance team is pitted against the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team in the finals of the league’s Dance Team Competition. Fans can vote until noon today here or at

The dance team bracket competition was launched in 2006 as the NBA’s answer to March Madness. Each team’s dancers “compete” online for votes with bios, photos and videos. This year’s competition has drawn more than 7 million page views — up from last year’s 2.6 million.

Heat dancers have been wearing “Three-peat” T-shirts for appearances, and e-mail blasts reminding fans to vote for the team include the term, which Riley trade-marked in 1988 when his L.A. Lakers were attempting to win their third straight NBA title. But the Detroit Pistons swept the Lakers in the 1989 Finals.

“It was probably not the context he had hoped,” Heat Executive Vice President Michael McCullough said.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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April 3, 2008

The growth of sports in South Florida, collegiate licensing and UFC

A little late, but in case you’re interested, Nova Southeastern University will examine “The Growth of the South Florida Sports Market” at its first Sports Law Symposium on Saturday.

The symposium, being co-sponsored by the Florida Bar’s Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section, will also include panel discussions on licensing in college athletics – including whether college athletes should benefit from royalties colleges receive from athlete names and likenesses; the Florida State Boxing Commission’s decision to grant licenses for Ultimate Fighting Championship; and what can be done to promote athletes who aren’t first round draft picks.

The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at NSU’s Shepard Broad Law Center, 3305 College Ave., Davie. Regilstration runs from $15 in advance and $20 at the door for NSU law students to $30 in advance and $40 at the door for general admission. For more information, call Jesse Feldman, treasure of NSU’s Sports & Entertainment Law Society: 772-349-3378.


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April 2, 2008

Injured Heat players to help sell season tickets

Heat guard Dwyane Wade and a growing list of other injured players will be pressed into service, helping to sell 2008-09 season tickets during halftime of tonight’s Heat-New Orleans Hornets game.

Wade, Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem, Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Marion, among others, will join Heat dancers and season ticket sales staffers in answering phone calls from season ticket buyers.

The effort is being billed as a "rare opportunity" for fans to speak with Heat players and is part of the team’s new brand philosophy “The Heat Experience. Feel It. Live!”

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), Tickets (126)

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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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