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March 30, 2009

Heat honors Alonzo with jersey retirement merchandise

Never one to miss a merchandising opportunity, the Heat has created a line of products it is calling the "Alonzo Mourning Retirement Collection." The items are available in conjunction with tonight’s jersey retirement ceremony -- the first ever in franchise history for a Heat player -- during halftime of the Heat-Orlando Magic game.

The team created a special jersey retirement ceremony logo that is featured on T-shirts for $20 apiece, on 33 limited edition Spalding basketballs for $150 each and on 133 gold-plated coins for $25. The team is also selling mini-basketballs with the logo and a white panel (for autographs, naturally) for $15.

The items were already on display at the Miami Hoops Gear store in AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night. There are lots of other Mourning items, too, including bobblehead dolls. The items are also for sale online.

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174)

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March 27, 2009

March Madness and brackets of doughnuts; burgers

Even with layoffs and fewer people in offices these days, NCAA Tournament bracket pools are thriving and the tournament is still a big draw online.

According to Fort Lauderdale-based, which first launched its March Madness on Demand streaming video online in 2003, traffic was up 60 percent from 2008 during the first four days of the tournament. The company, which made the product free and advertising-supported in 2006 and registration-free last year, 5.6 million unique visitors logged into the video player and users have watched and listened to 6.5 million hours of video and audio – a 71 percent increase from 2008.

Even the “boss button,” which allows office workers to quickly call up a spreadsheet so their bosses don’t know they’re watching the tournament, was clicked 2.5 million times during the tournament's first four days -- that's the same number that clicked the boss button during the entire tournament last year.

The product, which now includes an HD version of the video player, is available across a variety of other Web sites, including YouTube, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, MySpace and Facebook. And advertisers continue to support it in large numbers. Ad revenues in 2006 were about $4 million and rose to $23 million in 2008. expects those figures to rise more than 30 percent this year.

Meanwhile, bracket fun continues. Dunkin’ Donuts announced its ExtraOrdinary Eight donuts this week:

(1) Glazed vs. (9) Jelly
(2) Old Fashioned vs. (10) Coconut
(3) Boston Kreme vs. (11) Blueberry
(13) Strawberry Frosted vs. (5) Chocolate Glazed – Can “The Straw” stir C-Glaze’s drink?

Want to follow the Facebook discussion on this? Find it here.

Those of you who know me well, know I have a giant sweet tooth, but doughnuts just aren’t my thing. However, I’m still stunned that Jelly beat Powdered in the first round. Anyone else with me on this?

And finally, thanks to Toby Srebnik, who came up with Dunkin’s Sweet 16, for pointing me in the direction of another gustatory bracket at – this one pits burger joints.

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), NCAA (38), Promotions (120)

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March 26, 2009

NSU’s Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium

Nova Southeastern University’s Sports & Entertainment Law Society is hosting its second annual Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium on Saturday at its campus in Davie.

Really meaty issues on the agenda: intellectual property as it relates to athletes’ publicity rights, including the fantasy sports case about using athletes’ names and statistics without paying the leagues; legal issues surrounding blogs and other dealings with the media; and new business models for the music industry. MLB Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr is the keynote speaker at lunch.

This is an impressive group of speakers, renowned lawyers and members of the media and the like. And yes, yours truly will be the only non-lawyer on the intellectual property panel.

The symposium starts at 9:15 a.m. Check out this link for more details and to register.


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March 24, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. $633 million (Will you go?)

So, with Miami and Miami-Dade County approvals now in hand, the Marlins finally believe they’ll be able to break ground for their new ballpark perhaps as soon as July. That is if the bonds can get sold and barring any other legal or governmental obstacle.

If the ballpark does get built at the former site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana, will you go? I’ve heard from numerous Marlins fans in Broward and Palm Beach counties that they’ll still follow the team, but they won’t travel to Little Havana. Not at all? Never?

My colleague Mike Mayo wrote a column today, expressing the sentiments of many these days: he’ll wave from his couch. This isn’t just how people are feeling about baseball, but about sports in general. I’ve written about people finding the increase in ticket prices combined with the drop in prices for HD and big screen TVs makes staying at home a more inviting option. Add in the recession and layoffs and it’s no wonder teams are freezing and reducing ticket prices and offering special promotions to get fans in the door.

Have you stopped going to sporting events? Do you miss them?

Also, I'm taking suggestions for update numbers, if you want to weigh in. It was suggested after last night's county commission vote that I start again at 1, since the project has now been approved. Today's figure is the combined proposed cost of the $515 million stadium, $94 million in parking lots and $24 million in street and sewer work. (The figures don't always have a meaning, in case you were wondering). Let me know what you think.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 9-4 (County approves ballpark deal)

Ballpark supporters were all smiles after Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted 9-4 late last night to finance a $515 million ballpark and $94 million in parking lots at the former site of the Orange Bowl.

It wasn’t easy getting there – it took more than nine hours of debate among commissioners and testimony from nearly 80 members of the public. That on top of the numerous years, countless stadium plans and dozens of commission votes.

But the approval, which wasn’t assured even as recently as last week, was all but sewn up Monday, when County Commission Chairman Dennis made it clear he wouldn’t allow any alterations to the deal other than those deemed “friendly” by stadium supporter Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. Supporters clearly didn’t want any changes made that would sink the deal or require it go back for another vote to the Miami City Commission, which approved the plan in a 3-2 vote last week.

With Commissioner Javier Souto on the yes side of the ledger, supporters knew they had the deal approved. That didn’t stop opponents from proposing a number of amendments – many of which Barreiro didn’t even hesitate to reject – aimed at improving the deal for the public.

Moss had outlined the guidelines for the meeting, which also required everyone to ask questions and give answers through him, since he serves as commission chairman, leading to some giddy moments, when commissioners forgot or emphasized the words “through the chair…” before asking a question.

But even long-time stadium supporter Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz acknowledged the county didn’t get everything it needed or wanted in the deal.

“It is not a perfect deal,” Diaz said. “I see more positives than I see negatives with this deal. I will tell you straight out that it will create jobs.”

Commissioner Joe Martinez tried to put a stop to all the talk of the ballpark making Miami a “world class city.” He said it doesn’t make the city world class, it just gives residents more entertainment options.

Long-time stadium critic Katy Sorenson, who opposes public financing for a private enterprise, even offered a tongue in cheek “friendly amendment” suggesting the ballpark be named for Barreiro. Sorenson outlined a number of areas where she thought the public was being taken, including that it loses out on property tax dollars from the stadium land and with the Marlins receiving all the naming rights revenues in a new stadium, that means the team isn’t really contributing to cost of the stadium.

“Not withstanding that my great grandparents got engaged at a Cubs game in the late 1880s,” Sorenson said, “people know where I stand on this issue. I don’t think public money should be used for a private for-profit corporation.”

She added, “When you’re fundamentally opposed to something, it’s hard to propose amendments. It’s kind of like putting lipstick on … a fish.”

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

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March 23, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 323,009.5

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Dennis Moss has just closed the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Nearly 80 people weighed in both for and against the stadium. Just as they did at the city, members of the public framed the discussion as one of creating much-needed jobs and keeping baseball in South Florida versus spending tax dollars on a private enterprise, particularly with no guarantee there will be enough bed tax to cover the project.

The public has jammed the commission chambers and another 60 or so spectators couldn’t even fit inside and instead were moved to the county hall lobby to watch the video feed.

Debate got feisty about halfway through the public hearing, when Reginald Munnings, representing a number of community organizations, reminded commissioners the now-demolished Miami Arena was supposed to bring jobs.

“There’s nothing wrong with saving until you can find a better way to spend it,” he said. “Financial resources should not be used to bail out a private enterprise.”

Munnings walked away with representatives of the Miami Workers Center and others who began shouting “Real jobs now,” and “Shut the stadium down.”

Moss told the group to settle down and ordered the group escorted out of the commission chambers not to return.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 323,009 (County meeting begins)

I’m not the only one who thinks we could be at the Miami-Dade County government center for three days, given how many people are here to speak about the Marlins ballpark issue. Even County Commission Chairman Dennis Moss as he explained the guidelines for the afternoon’s meeting, said somewhat warily: “Hopefully, at some point today we’ll be able to adjourn.”

A group of at least 50 people representing union carpenters crowded outside county hall. They held up signs reading: “We are here, we are ready, we’ll work,” “Unemployed voter,” “Go Marlins, Vote Yes,” and ones in Spanish that read “Stadium equals Jobs,” and “Build the Stadium.” The group cheered loudly, singing and raising their fists in the air.

Meanwhile, members of Coalition Against Marlins Bailout, lined up in the lobby of the government center, waiting to enter the commission chambers. They are wearing shirts representing their workers and community organizations and little signs reading “No Marlins Bailout.” The coalition is concerned about the type of jobs the deal will provide and that the deal is unfair to citizens.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to be allowed to vote on this deal,” said Michael Burnstine, coalition co-founder.

So, far 18 people have spoken with support running two to one in favor of the stadium, but there are many more people scheduled to speak.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. $64 million (Countdown to County meeting)

What’s meant to be the FINAL ballpark vote looms this afternoon at the Miami-Dade County Commission. It’s sounding as if there may be the nine votes needed to pass the plan for a $515 million ballpark and $94 million in parking lots.

With the Miami City Commission’s 3-2 approval Thursday, the plan is expected to get a thorough debate at the Stephen P. Clarke Center at 1 p.m. The five ballpark agreements and accompanying elements, which include waiving competitive bidding requirements to allow stadium construction manager Hunt-Moss to also oversee the adjacent street and sewer work, will be presented to commissioners as one resolution that needs approval of nine of 13 commissioners.

It’s possible the agreements and the bid waivers could be considered individually, if commissioners want to separate them. If that occurs, here’s how the breakdown on what votes would be needed for passage:

The parking, assurance and non-relocation agreements each need a simple majority – or a total of seven votes if all 13 members are present. The construction administration agreement, which spells out the financing, has three elements that need a larger vote. The bid waiver for the infrastructure work needs nine votes and the ones that allow the Marlins Stadium Developer LLC to act as stadium developer and provide a sales tax exemption on construction materials each need a two-thirds vote of the members present. Finally, the waiver allowing Marlins Stadium Operator LLC to be the ballpark’s operator, which is included in the operating agreement, also requires a two-thirds vote of the members present.

Yes, I know, we’re in the weeds here, but that’s partly what these updates are for – so you can keep score.

Which reminds me, here’s some more clarification on the amendments the Marlins agreed to before the city vote:

+ Increased the percentage of profits Miami and Miami-Dade County would share, should the team be sold within 10 years of the ballpark agreement being forged to 70 percent in the first year; 60 percent in the second; 50 percent in the third; 30 percent in the fourth; 10 percent in the fifth; 7.5 percent in the sixth; and then 5 percent in each of the remaining four years.

+ Agreed to contribute $500,000 annually to charities that include youth and community programs, with $100,000 going to the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade County and $25,000 to the City Heart of Our Parks Fund annually during the first seven and a half years of the deal.

+ Agreed to build or improve 39 baseball fields in the county, including two in each city commissioner’s district.

+ Amended the termination clause to allow any party to end the deal by July 1 or before the county completes the bond sale for the stadium, whichever is earlier.

Expect a long afternoon. County commissioners haven't given the stadium a thorough vetting for a year. Commissioners Carlos Gimenez and Sally Heyman have lots of concerns and are likely to vote no. Commissioner Joe Martinez also has questions. Expect to hear the stadium plan mortgages the county’s future, and relies on bed taxes the county isn’t sure will be generated and on general fund revenue as secondary pledge for bond repayment if the bed tax money runs short. Commissioners are also likely to express concern the plan gives too much to a private business and not enough back to the public.

City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who voted against the financing plan Thursday, said county commissioners should think carefully before they vote.

“I’m hoping the county commissioners take a sobering look at what the true income stream of the bed taxes are right now, it’s 22 percent down,” Sarnoff said.

After the city vote, Marlins officials likened their situation to winning Game 6 and awaiting Monday’s Game 7. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria sounded hopeful.

“It’s a very important thing to happen, and as we look back years from now we’ll realize how good this decision was today,” he said.

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

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March 20, 2009

Putting the sweet in Sweet 16

4-Marble-vs2.jpgDunkin' donuts is bringing a goofy new meaning to Sweet 16.

With Miami hosting NCAA Tournament first-round games today and Sunday, the doughnut chain dreamed up a sticky alternative bracket, pitting 16 varieties of its signature baked goods. Among the matchups: No. 3 Boston Kreme vs. No. 14 Baravian Kreme dubbed "A classic, U.S. city vs. German State." No. 8 Powdered vs. No. 9 Jelly is "shaping up to be a battle of the ages," according to a press release.

Dunkin' paired some unusual choices, including No. 6 Chocolate Frosted vs. No. 11 Blueberry. The mismatch of No. 1 to No. 16 is Glazed vs. Guava. Guava was included for demographic purposes, naturally.

Winners will be decided by the votes of 15 Dunkin' store owners across Florida. Voting runs through Sunday for the Sweet 16; March 25-27 for the “Extraordinary Eight,” and April 1-3 for the “Fabulous Four.” The "Florida State Donut Champion" will be announced April 7.

Facebook and Twitter users are encouraged to influence the votes by expressing their support for their favorite doughnuts. Just don't lick your fingers.

POSTED IN: NCAA (38), Promotions (120)

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March 19, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 3-2 (City approves ballpark plan)

After hearing from more than 70 stadium supporters and opponents and debating the project thoroughly, Miami City Commissioners voted 3-2 to finance a new ballpark for the Marlins.

The vote came a month after commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on the project when Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was on maternity leave. Spence-Jones provided the deciding third vote, joining stadium supporters Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez and Commissioner Angel Gonzalez.

Before voting on the plan, Spence-Jones spent considerable time going over everything from the percentage of stadium construction jobs promised to Miami-Dade County residents and concerns that Overtown get its promised aid for development and improvements.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff worried about the current 22 percent decline in bed tax dollars collections and cost overruns.

Miami Commissioner Tomas Regalado voted against the deal because he said the city was not benefiting from it.

“We should do a stadium. We should have the team play in Miami, but we should get something for the city of Miami, we don’t have enough,” Regalado said. “We have done everything, we have given away everything and been given nothing in return.”

In the month since the project stalled, the Marlins agreed to changes, including providing higher percentages of the profits, should the team be sold within 10 years. Instead of 18 percent in the first year, the team agreed to 70 percent, followed by 60 percent in the second year on down to 5 percent. The team has also agreed to contribute $500,000 a year for youth and community baseball programs and to build or improve 39 baseball fields in the county.

The deal was also changed so that it scan still be terminated either by July 1 or by the time the county completes the bond sale for the stadium, whichever is earlier.

The deal, which relies on $310 million from hotel bed tax dollars and a $50 million general obligation bond, now moves to the Miami-Dade County Commission, which is scheduled to consider it at its 1 p.m. meeting on Monday.

The city vote came in a packed commission chambers, where speakers kept lining up to be heard. Residents alternately spoke of their desire to see the stadium built so it creates needed construction jobs, and to see the project stopped because it’s a waste of tax dollars that could be spent on other tourism projects and will create only temporary jobs.

“I’m unemployed, been unemployed for the last six months. I’m living off my credit cards,” said Greg Mikenas, a carpenter from Lake Worth. “I’m not here to ask for a bailout, I’m here to ask for a job.”

Michael Burnstine, co-founder of the Coalition Against Marlins Bailout, said he enjoys going to Marlin
s games, but the ballpark agreement favors the Marlins at the expense of taxpayers.

“It’s an egregious onerous business deal,” Burnstine said.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 400,200,935

The number of speakers has now reached 70 with a few more to go. The sentiment is on both sides of the stadium deal, although if we’re keeping score, it looks like there might be slightly more supporters, but it’s not an overwhelming majority.

Supporters are mainly speaking in support of the jobs they expect the stadium’s construction to create. They include union officials, out-of-work carpenters, and business leaders. There have been fans of the team expressing their support for the extra benefits the team brings to the community, such as its support of community programs.

One union worker quoted Shakespeare, saying “Shakespeare said the world is a comedy to those who feel but a tragedy to those who think.” He asked the commission “to feel” and vote for the stadium.

Barry Johnson of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce followed in support of the ballpark, saying he couldn’t quote Shakespeare, but slightly butchered Mick Jagger with “Sometimes you can’t get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.”

Opponents are adamant the deal is a waste of taxpayer dollars, even though they know the hotel bed tax dollars planned for the stadium can only be used for tourism-related projects. They believe there are better projects that can be funded with the money – convention center improvements, for example. They say the jobs will be only temporary, and not the kind the community needs. They worry about there being enough hotel bed tax and tying up the dollars for generations.

“Stop this foul deal,” said Denise Perry, director of the Power U Center for Social Change in Miami. “This deal is not good for our community. This group of votes does not represent my community,” she said pointing at Marlins brass, including team owner Jeffrey Loria.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 319,200,901.5

Miami City Hall Is packed. Every seat is full and the crowd has spilled out of the commission chambers and almost outside the building.

The meeting has just now begun at 9:50 a.m. Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez is outlining the alterations that have been made to the $515 million ballpark deal and the agreement for $94 million in parking lots.

Among the changes: the Marlins agreed to provide higher percentages of the profits, should the team be sold within 10 years. Instead of 18 percent in the first year, the team agreed to 70 percent, followed by 60 percent in the second year on down to 5 percent.

The team has also agreed to contribute $500,000 a year for youth and community baseball programs and to build or improve 39 baseball fields in the county.

The deal was also changed so that it can still be terminated either by July 1 or by the time the county completes the bond sale for the stadium, whichever is earlier. The understanding is the deal would only be killed if something drastic happens, such as the county is unable to sell bonds for the project.

The deal also aims to ensure construction jobs for Miami-Dade County and city of Miami residents. The agreement says efforts will be made to try to include 50 percent of workers on the stadium be county residents, and 20 percent of those be from Miami.

The public hearing portion of the meeting is about to begin.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 319,200,901 (The scene outside City Hall)

A month after the Miami City Commission deadlocked on the Marlins ballpark deal, the scene outside Miami City Hall is much livelier. Supporters and opponents are surrounding the parking lot holding up opposing signs and trying to drown each other out.

A group of roughly 25 activists and community members representing a variety of organizations, calling themselves the Coalition Against Marlins Bailout, held up signs across from city hall reading “No Marlins Bailout,” “This Deal Stinks,” and “Pork in the hot dogs, OK. Pork to the Marlins, No.”

“Unfortunately the taxpayers are on the wrong side of this deal,” said Michael Burnstine, co-founder of the coalition.

The group also includes art collector and businessman Martin Margulies.

“It’s going to put the taxpayers in hock for the next 40 years,” Margulies said.

“Real Jobs, Strong Miami,” the group yelled.

Across the parking lot next to city hall a group of about 50 union carpenters held up a large Marlins sign and shouted that they want jobs now. The group is wearing stickers from Jobs with Justice saying “Public Good from Public Money.”

“We’re just looking for jobs,” said Greg Mikenas of Lake Worth. “Right now we’d be happy with any kind of jobs. I have a newborn, I need work.”

Inside, people crammed into the small commission chambers. The Marlins have been making adjustments to their deal for a $515 million ballpark and $94 million in parking lots to sweeten it for passage. Among the changes the team has agreed to is increasing the percentage of profit the city and county would receive if the team is sold within 10 years. Instead of 18 percent in the first year, the team would provide 70 percent; followed by 60 percent in the second year; 50 percent in the third year and successively less down to 5 percent.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has said he does not plan to sell the team.

It’s almost 9:30 a.m. and the meeting has yet to start.

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

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Dwyane Wade in NBA’s “Amazing” playoff ads

Wade_Post2.jpgHeat guard Dwyane Wade didn’t play Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics, because of a sore hip, but he’ll debut tonight in the NBA’s new playoff ads in the latest installment of the league’s “Where Amazing Happens” campaign.

Created by Goody Silverstein & Partners and NBA Entertainment, the series of ads ask: “Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?” and feature a number of players in remarkable moments in stark black and white footage. League broadcasters, ABC, ESPN and TNT, are all running the ads that began airing Sunday with ones featuring LeBron James and Joe Johnson.

Spots featuring Wade, James, Johnson, Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili and other current players will run by the first round of the playoffs. Ads starring former stars, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, will air during the conference finals and Finals.

Check out Wade’s spot here:

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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March 18, 2009

More Panthers tickets at deep discounts

They may have just lost four games in a row, but the Panthers are still in the playoff hunt. And there are still ticket deals to be had at BankAtlantic Center.

Online travel deal Web site, Travelzoo, has more deals – including some for more than half off – for tickets ranging from $10 to $50.

The site is advertising tickets for the next four home games at prices such as $11.25 for Terrace Level seats that are regularly $23.50 up to $51.25 for premium upper level and club seats that regularly run $68.50 and $98.50. The deals are available for the following games: Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs; Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets; Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes and March 31 against the Ottawa Senators.

Check out the deals here. Travelzoo also reminds Panthers fans that the “2 for Tuesday” deal, which includes two tickets and a voucher to buy two hot dogs for the price of one, is available for the March 31 game. The package costs $30 for upper level goal zone seats.

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), Promotions (120), Tickets (126)

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March 17, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 868,686

The historic compact the Marlins struck with the NAACP and Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce on Friday to ensure 15 percent of stadium construction and operation contracts go to black-owned businesses was rescinded Tuesday.

The team, NAACP and chamber made the decision to kill the compact after Miami-Dade County attorneys warned the agreement could be unconstitutional and subject the county to lawsuits. Representatives of all three organizations said they were disappointed in the county’s interpretation. However, they did not want to interfere with passage of the ballpark plan.

“We carefully constructed this Compact so as not to violate any existing law,” Bishop Victor T. Curry, President, Miami-Dade County Chapter of the NAACP, said in a statement. “Any time one of our corporate citizens attempts to provide opportunities for all races in this County, I believe the County Attorney's Office should embrace the concept and not obstruct it. We had several attorneys research this issue, and they reached a different conclusion … I look forward to working with the Marlins without political interference to ensure that this community is a place where all people can prosper.”

“We have always believed, and continue to believe, that the Community Compact between three private parties does not conflict with Federal law,” Marlins President David Samson said in a statement. “However, at the urging of the County Attorney, we have agreed to rescind the Compact. The result of this action does not change our commitment to work with the NAACP, the Miami-Dade Chamber and other community organizations to ensure that the ballpark project provides a benefit to all members of our community.”

The Miami City Commission is to vote on the plan to finance the $515 million ballpark at the former site of the Orange Bowl at 9 a.m. Thursday. Miami-Dade County Commissioners are scheduled to consider the plan at 1 p.m. Monday.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 2,424,086

On Friday, the Marlins, NAACP and Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce signed a pact to ensure 15 percent of the construction and operations contracts on the new ballpark go to black-owned businesses. On Sunday, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said the timing for the stadium is perfect because of the jobs it will bring during the recession.

But on Monday, the ballpark project hit another snag. Miami-Dade County attorneys raised concerns that the pact over black-owned businesses could be unconstitutional and said they did not want county commissioners considering the deal with that provision. Team, NAACP and chamber officials worked Monday to modify the language of the deal to maintain its intent.

I'm told the issues should be worked out, but they provided another obstacle as the team and Major League Baseball officials continue lobbying Miami City and Miami-Dade County commissioners to support the ballpark deal. Marlins President David Samson said the meetings on the ballpark deal will go on as planned. The Miami City Commission meets to consider the deal at 9 a.m. Thursday; the county commission is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Monday.

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

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March 13, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 151531309

Exactly a month after the Marlins ballpark got caught in limbo when Miami City Commissioners deadlocked in a 2-2 vote on financing for the $515 million venue, the team forged a partnership aimed at helping to jumpstart the project.

The Marlins, the NAACP, and the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce signed an agreement today to guarantee 15 percent of stadium construction and operation contracts go to black-owned businesses. The deal provides 15 percent of the team’s contribution to the stadium in construction contracts and 15 percent of its contracts for products and services used in the annual operation of the venue to those businesses.

“This is a great day for black business, not only in Miami, but nation-wide. It shows the strength of collaboration between the NAACP as an advocacy group and the chamber of commerce as an effective economic development organization,” Bill Diggs, President and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “This agreement creates a standard for partnerships and how they should work in the Black community across the country.”

"It's important to our organization as a good community partner to guarantee that black owned businesses contribute and share in the ballpark's success," Marlins President David Samson said in a statement. "We look forward to seeing the results of this partnership so that a broad range of people in Miami-Dade County can enjoy the many economic benefits that come from a construction project of this magnitude."

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Miami City Commission, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency Board, agreed to expand the boundaries and extend the life of the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA district to raise millions of dollars for city projects. The decision helps ensure dollars will be used to “eliminate slum and blight in Overtown/Park West,” according to a city press release.

Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones has been seeking additional dollars for her district, before agreeing to support the Marlins ballpark project. It was Spence-Jones’ absence – she was on maternity leave – from the Feb. 13 commission meeting that led to the 2-2 vote.

Miami City Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the ballpark financing plan on Thursday. Miami-Dade County Commissioners are to vote on the ballpark on March 23.

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

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March 11, 2009

It’s Wade’s House

wadeshirt2.jpgIt didn’t take long for the Heat to capitalize on Dwyane Wade’s new signature phrase: “This is my house.” Wade said that after scoring 46 points when the Heat defeated the New York Knicks 120-115 on Feb. 28 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat Executive Vice President Michael McCullough said the team spent the next day working on T-shirts with Wade’s image that say “This Is My House.” The shirts were available for sale at AmericanAirlines Arena in time for the March 2 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The shirts cost $20 with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wade’s World foundation. They’re only for sale at the arena for now.

With Wade’s heroics nearly every night – he’s averaging 29.7 points a game and scored the three-pointer in double overtime as time expired to beat the Chicago Bulls Monday night – McCullough says the shirts are “selling very well.”

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174)

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World Baseball Classic Round 2 minus the Dominican Republic

When tourism officials and World Baseball Classic organizers spoke of Miami as a natural location for second round games in the Olympic-style baseball tournament, they weren't counting the Netherlands among the teams that would attract locals and international tourists to the games that start Saturday at Dolphin Stadium.

"The diversity of Miami corresponds very well to all these teams," Claude Delorme, a Marlins senior vice president who is coordinating the Classic, told me before the WBC started.

USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, even Canada, perhaps. But the Netherlands?

The Netherlands beat the heavily favored Dominican team -- whose roster read like an All-Star lineup, including David Ortiz, the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Miguel Tejada -- last night for the second time in the WBC's first round. Last night's game qualified the Netherlands for a trip to Miami and sent the Dominicans home. The game, which the Netherlands won in the bottom of the 11th inning, is being re-aired this morning on the MLB Network.

The Netherlands joins the US, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan teams for the second round at Dolphin Stadium that includes six games starting Saturday and running through March 18. Tour operators in Venezuela had already purchased hundreds of strips of tickets for the games. Ticket sales should pick up now that the competing teams are known, but how much will the Dominican team not appearing hurt sales? Dominican fans at the Marlins-Dominican exhibition game in Jupiter last week were sure their team would be among those at Dolphin Stadium.

Anyone think there might be an A-Rod curse? The New Yankees haven't won a World Series since Alex Rodriguez has been on the team. Dominican fans told me Dominicans tore down posters of Rodriguez in their native country when he chose to play for the US in the inaugural WBC in 2006. This time he was to play for the Dominican team, but bowed out and had surgery on his hip this week.

Is the Netherlands knocking off the vaunted Dominicans one of those feel-good stories that fans like, even if organizers and broadcasters worry about ticket sales and viewership? Will you root for the underdog?

POSTED IN: Dolphin Stadium (31), Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110)

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March 9, 2009

Sports fans and teams getting social with Twitter

It’s mostly sports fans who are using to update scores, pontificate about various players and plays and trash talk. Some are even “tweeting” live from games and placing friendly wagers. But teams and events are increasingly realizing they need to be tweeting, too.

My story today examines how teams and events are incorporating social messaging system, Twitter, which allows users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters, into their media, marketing and promotions. Teams are posting news stories, updates, scores, ticket discounts, promotions and more.

Reach the Dolphins here; the Heat here. The Panthers are in the process of launching an account and the Marlins are in talks with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which controls the league’s new media rights, about setting up an account.

Even Homestead-Miami Speedway just started using Twitter this month to post news, driver quotes and even responses to Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith’s diatribe against Homestead last week. Check out the speedway’s twitter page here.

Are you talking sports on Twitter? Live tweeting from games? Let me know....

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42), Florida Marlins (193), Florida Panthers (108), Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Heat (174), Promotions (120)

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 31,932,309 (County meeting scheduled)

Now that the Miami City Commission is scheduled on March 19 to vote on the Marlins ballpark and related issues, the Miami-Dade County Commission will meet a few days later on March 23.

Last week, the county commission delayed its meeting indefinitely at the request of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who decried the politics that had surfaced over the issue at the city. Alvarez requested the county commission delay its meeting until the city commission resolved its issues and voted on the ballpark.

The ballpark project has been stalled since the city commission deadlocked 2-2 on Feb. 13, when City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was absent on maternity leave. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff offered three amendments to the deal aimed at providing more protection for the city and county and the commission continued its meeting until this month. Since then Spence-Jones said she would attend the next meeting and has also asked for protections for her district.

Last week, the city commission scheduled its meeting for 9 a.m. March 19. The county commission will meet at 1 p.m. March 23.

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

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Panthers’ parent company launches new media network

When the NHL owners were on the verge of locking out players in 2004, Panthers management didn’t want to be caught without a business plan.

Panthers President Michael Yormark worked proactively to position the team and BankAtlantic Center as more than just a hockey team and an arena. In 2005, the team’s owners and arena’s operators renamed their business units “Sunrise Sports & Entertainment” to reflect better their wide ranging company that includes the Incredible Ice practice facility in Coral Springs, which is completing an expansion; and a publications business that is revamping its Panthers Insider magazine.

“We decided strategically to position the BankAtlantic Center and the Florida Panthers as a year-round sports entertainment and media company as opposed to a seasonal sports company,” Yormark said. “Furthermore, we realized the importance of creating customized and integrated, partnership opportunities across all of our business units, in order to deliver measurable results and a return on investment for our participating partners and it grew from there.”

Last week, Sunrise Sports & Entertainment unveiled its latest venture: the Sunrise Sports & Entertainment Media Network. It’s a way to integrate and incorporate all its business units and media partners to sell advertisers, sponsors and corporations on a one-stop shopping approach to all their media needs.

What it means is SSE will work with companies that sponsor the team or arena to develop advertising, sponsorship and promotional programs across 15 different platforms all brought together under the SSE Network roof. That includes: the team; arena; game program; Panthers Insider magazine; Incredible Ice; TV broadcaster Fox Sports Florida; cable partner Comcast; radio broadcaster 790 the Ticket; outdoor marquees; the team’s YouTube channel; Facebook and MySpace pages; Twitter account and more. Read more about the social networking portion here.

“Tonight everyone in this room must face the built in challenge of these tough economic times, which is why now more than ever we must provide unique marketing and advertising opportunities that drive results for our partners,” Yormark said during the network’s unveiling last week in the arena’s Chairman’s Club.

“The timing is absolutely perfect, in a fragmented marketplace where more than just traditional media outlets are needed to significantly effect your business, we give you fully integrated sports and entertainment programming,” he continued. “Tonight we touch every available media channel through one portal.”

It remains to be seen whether the network will drive more partnerships and foster more comprehensive marketing and advertising relationships, but Yormark says the company is breaking new ground. Check out the presentation here:

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), Florida Panthers (108), Promotions (120), Sponsorship (101), Television (35)

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March 4, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 3192009 (I told you PENCIL)

The Miami City Commission won’t vote this Friday on a new ballpark for the Marlins, but has again rescheduled its meeting – this time until March 19.

The new delay, which comes as tempers have flared between the city and Miami-Dade County over the ballpark issue, will allow city commissioners to consider the ballpark agreements and related issues, including waiving the competitive bidding requirements to allow the ballpark contractor to also conduct adjacent street and sewer work.

On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission, which had been scheduled to vote on the $515 million ballpark next Monday, agreed to delay its meeting indefinitely until the city commission considered the ballpark agreements and all related issues. The delay came at the request of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who on Monday said the issue had become the subject of political grandstanding by some city commissioners.

The ballpark financing plan has been stalled since Feb. 13, when the city commission met to vote on the plan, but deadlocked 2-2 with Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones on maternity leave and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff making three new demands aimed at extracting more from the deal for the city and county. Rather than killing the ballpark deal, the commission chose to continue the meeting this month.

Since then, Spence-Jones has also asked for protections for her district, before agreeing to support the ballpark project.

The city commission will meet at 9 a.m. March 19 at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami.

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

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March 3, 2009

Stephen Ross on Dolphin Stadium, the fan experience and the Marlins

New Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is giving a lot of thought to the ambience at Dolphin Stadium during Dolphin games next season.

“I’m very happy to be the new owner, hopefully you’ll see a lot of new things next year,” said Ross during an appearance to promote the Fin Cup, a new Pro-Am featuring current and former Dolphins players that took place Monday at the Honda Classic at PGA National. “I dream at night about things of how we can really increase the fan experience. And It’s a real privilege to do that.”

But Ross wasn’t giving any hints as to what changes or improvements he might make.

“It’s a little premature to talk about the things we’re planning,” he said, instead encouraging fans to attend games in 2009. “I just say come to the first games and I think you’ll see a little bit of a difference. I don’t want to really telegraph anything at this point, we’re working on it.”

Ross said the main reason fans attend is to see their team win, but he wants to make the game day experience an attraction as well.

“I think just making that experience a little better for the fans and a little more exciting, much like the Los Angeles Lakers, what they are. I think South Florida has a lot of opportunities to do things so I want to really increase that.”

Ross said he has turned for advice to former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The two know each other because Ross serves on the board of the Levin Institute, a school for global education and business, where Tagliabue serves as chairman. But Ross insisted Tagliabue will not join the Dolphins “executive ranks.”

“The opportunity I have to call upon him is something I would be a fool not to take advantage of,” Ross said.

And when it comes to his stadium’s other tenants, the Marlins and University of Miami football team, Ross is watching the Marlins ballpark proceedings. Ross seems to be indicating he’s willing to extend the Marlins’ lease beyond its 2010 expiration, but hopes the team is able to move into a new home in 2012.

“I’d like to believe 2011 will be their last year at the stadium,” Ross said.

POSTED IN: Dolphin Stadium (31), Florida Marlins (193), Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178)

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March 2, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 666 (Political meltdown)

With just a few days until the Miami City Commission is to vote on the Marlins ballpark agreements, things got ugly today.

After Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones released on Friday a list of demands to protect her district before she’d support the ballpark, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez held a press conference Monday afternoon decrying the politics that have consumed the ballpark issue since Feb. 13. That’s when the Miami City Commission deadlocked 2-2 in votes on the stadium, after Commissioner Marc Sarnoff demanded more for the city from the deal. The votes nearly killed the deal, but the meeting was continued until this month.

“Sincere and earnest work and meticulous and deliberate negotiations have been hijacked,” Alvarez wrote in a memo to county commissioners. “The best of intentions have morphed into unreasonable demands that have nothing to do with baseball. Political grandstanding, the dissemination of half-truths and intellectually dishonest assumptions are rampant.”

He continued: “It is wrong to exploit the public’s keen interest in baseball in this way. The politicking on the stadium, frankly, has become a distraction.”

Sounds a little like grandstanding about grandstanding, no?

Alvarez, who has been supportive of the ballpark, called for County Manager George Burgess to suspend ballpark discussions and the county commission to delay its March 9 meeting to vote on the ballpark issue until the city commission has voted on the ballpark agreements and all related issues. That includes a waiver of the competitive bidding requirements to allow the stadium contractor to also do the adjacent street and sewer work. The city commission is to consider the ballpark on Friday, but not the bid waiver.

In response, County Commission Chairman Dennis Moss, too, called for a delay of the county’s meeting. He’ll consider the delay at Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

Meanwhile, Spence-Jones’ office sent out a release saying she’d be hosting a community forum on the ballpark issue Monday night along with a group called Clergy for Change at 93rd Street Community Baptist Church. The Marlins had no comment Monday afternoon, but Marlins President David Samson was scheduled to attend the community forum.

Sarnoff? He met with the media in front of city hall just hours after Alvarez’s press conference. According to the AP’s account, Sarnoff said he thought a ballpark deal could be had, but that it needs to be reconsidered based on economic conditions.

“I think that we need to go back to the drawing board and take a look at this agreement in March 2009 eyes as opposed to February 2008 eyes,” Sarnoff said. “This is a different world economy than existed over a year ago.”

Over the weekend, Bill Madden speculated in a column in the New York Daily News that both the Marlins and Oakland A’s could be candidates for contraction with their ballparks off the table (A’s) and on the ropes (Marlins). In his column, Madden addresses Sarnoff’s demands for the city and county to receive naming rights and the profits if the Marlins are sold. He even invoked a former Marlins owner, who also couldn’t get a ballpark financed, when he wrote: “…and more and more it appears former Florida owner John Henry was right when he said there is nothing more impossible than south Florida politics.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Miami City Commission is still scheduled to meet Friday. That could change. The political thicket could get pricklier.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), 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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