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August 27, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 1993-2009 (Time capsule edition)

timecap1.jpgThe Marlins are keeping a part of their history frozen in time in the foundation of the new ballpark. The team buried a metal case full of mementos from the team's inaugural season in 1993, its two World Series championships in 1997 and 2003, and this season.

The case was buried Wednesday inside a wooden support, surrounded with concrete that will serve as part of one of the 12 column supports for the roof structure of the 37,000-seat ballpark at the former site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana. The team is referring to it as building "their foundation on two World Series Championships." (See photos courtesy of the Marlins' Robert Vigon).timecap2.jpg

It began to pour with rain as the case was being buried -- perhaps a spot of good luck for the franchise that has been seeking a new ballpark with a retractable roof for more than a decade.

Team officials weren't revealing specifically what's been included inside the case -- to leave some mystery for when the ballpark's structure is pulled down decades from now and the "capsule" is opened. MLB.com reports only these details about the case's contents: a DVD explaining what's inside and why; a newspaper from Wednesday, and items from 1993, and the 1997, 2003 and 2009 seasons.

What do you think should have been included?

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

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August 26, 2009

More on Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross' limited partners

Another day, another Miami Dolphins limited partner press conference. Well, it only seems that way.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross introduced tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams as his newest limited partners on Tuesday. He gave them Dolphins jerseys – Venus chose No. 11 for her EleVen clothing line; Serena picked No. 89 in memory of the Aug. 9 birthday of her sister, Yetunde Price, who was shot and killed in 2003.

The sisters, who live in Palm Beach Gardens, said they were thrilled at the opportunity to own a piece of the team they’ve followed for years. They plan to attend games when they aren’t away playing tennis, and participate in charity events on behalf of the Dolphins’ foundation. It’s possible Venus’ V Starr Interiors could design a lounge at the stadium and the sisters’ clothing lines might do cross-promotion with the team.

The sisters have won a combined 18 grand slam titles, including this year’s Wimbledon title, which Serena, 27, won by defeating Venus, 29, in the finals.

No financial details were disclosed – as usual – and the stakes are said to be very small. But when pressed on whether limited partners, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony, are making a financial investment, Ross insisted they are.

“They’re limited partners, they’re putting up money, they are investing real dollars,” Ross said earlier in the day Tuesday in reference to the Estefans and Anthony. “They’re also enthusiastic, there’s nothing they have to do to perform or anything like that. They want to. They love it and they’re doing it much like I am, hoping we really are building something.”

Ross paid $1.1 billion for 95 percent of the team and Land Shark Stadium. He says his limited partners are investing based on what he paid for the team, but it's not clear quite how much that would be since his total purchase price includes the stadium and debt.

“They’re investing with real dollars and not discounting. Real dollars, based on what I paid for the team.”

As for other partners, Ross says to expect at least one other partner. As for others going forward, he wasn’t saying.

“ I’m not sure, right now. I have the bulk of money in it," Ross said. "I might bring in somebody for substantial sums, but I will keep at least 60 percent, two-thirds of ownership.”

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186)

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Player Appearance: Meet Hanley Ramirez

Thanks to his partnership with Sharp Electronics, Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez will be stopping at Brandsmart in Miami on Saturday to sign autographs and pose for photos.

Sharp included Ramirez along with a dozen other Major League Baseball players last summer in promotions for its Sharp Aquos, MLB’s “official High Definition television.”

Ramirez will appear from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at Brandsmart, 16051 S. Dixie Highway, Miami. He will only be allowed to autograph signature cards that Sharp will be providing at the event.

POSTED IN: Endorsements (20), Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110)

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August 25, 2009

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross answers fans' questions

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross and CEO Mike Dee met with Sun Sentinel editors and reporters this morning. Here are some of their answers to some of your questions:

Q. A number of fans really don’t like the new fight song, they don’t like the T-Pain version. A lot of people don’t like hearing Jimmy Buffett’s Fins when the team scores.

A. Ross: A lot of people do like the Fins song. The thing is you don’t know what people like and you don’t get a feeling for impact until you try something. We’re experimenting. That ‘s what preseason is for. I think Jimmy Buffett will definitely be part of it, he’s not going away. We happen to like the song, we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of favorable comments with regard to that. I think the T-Pain version was controversial. You have to realize, people inherently don’t like change. Same old, same old.

Q. I’ve never heard so many people love that fight song until you changed it.

A. Ross: Isn't it unbelievable? The biggest surprise I’ve ever seen in my life. You have the same feeling I have, you have to look at change. We’re not done looking at ideas to do that, because there was so much negativity about the existing fight song before.

Dee: Basically T-Pain contributed that song, we played it at the first preseason game. Again it was a preseason game, we were experimenting and continue to experiment there are at least two other people I know of, who want to contribute their own version of the fight song, different than T-Pain’s. It wasn’t the old song out and T-Pain’s in. I think it was hey here’s a version that may appeal to a different listener and perhaps there will be two more that have a different flair as well. I think it’s fair to say we recognize the sacred nature of the original version.

 

Q. Old fight song, it’s not like it’s dead, you’ll still be playing it, but might be interspersing it with others?

A. Dee: It might have a different role. Before it was played exclusively after scores. And we’re still working on how it will be used.

Ross: But we want to start a ritual, we don’t know what song it will be, after the third period, there will be a song we’ll sing on a continual basis. I can’t tell you what that song will be. To inspire people, like the seventh inning stretch, and really inspire the team. You want to start that in football, you want to do after the third period in every game. We’re going to come up with one until we find the right song, that we sing and everybody’s ready for it at the end of the third period, kind of a ritualistic thing that I think will be interesting in football.

Q. Do you have plans to change the team colors and uniforms?

A. Ross: We haven’t even looked at that. I haven’t thought of it.

Dee: Not this year and we just missed the deadline for 2010, so not next year either.

Q. Would you consider selling pieces of the team to retired Dolphins player greats?

A. Ross: No.

Q. Why not sell a one share to the fans or season ticket holders? I don't think you can do that in the NFL.

A. Ross: That isn’t allowed in the NFL, you’re limited to I think 25 owners and it’s not the kind of thing [where] you want a public company. They don’t allow public companies. Someone has to be able to make all the decisions without going to a board or anybody else, which I think is good, because that way you get decisions made. You don’t have fights within different teams which certain sports have, you know divisions. I’m prepared to take all the blame, but still the fans we love them and they’re the most important thing we have. I want to make sure they feel good about the team.

Q. Is there any way you could make ticket prices cheaper? Is there an opportunity to offer a standing room seat? At the Cowboys new stadium, the cheapest seats are $25.

A. Dee: We’re one of the best values in the NFL. Our ticket pricing is in I think the lower third of all teams, we have currently 4,600 seats that cost $31, which is one of the lowest price points in the NFL. That’s per seat, not a standing room seat. We are looking at standing room, kind of irrespective of costs, we think standing room is good and is part of our evaluation of the facility moving forward. We’ll continue to be competitive with the South Florida marketplace and what entertainment experiences are out there and you know overtime we want to make sure we stay competitively priced, given the dynamic of our marketplace.

Q. Is there any ability or talk of moving some seats closer to the field? That’s what people miss about the Orange Bowl.

A. Ross: That’s one of the things we’re looking at. This year with the Sideline Club (passes that allow on-field access throughout the game, new this season) they’re going to be closer to the field. We are studying it. I think when we come up with a total package, I think we can really have a major impact on the stadium.

Q. Is there anything that can be done about the dirt infield, until the Marlins are gone?

A. Ross: We have two more seasons of that. There’s nothing you can do. Contractually we’re obligated.

Dee: We have made the effort over the last couple of years, our grounds crew has sodded the pitcher’s mound area, and we’ve sodded the west endzone corner, which used to be exposed on that terrible rubber warning track, we do that for preseason games, took the turf down. It’s pretty much what it is until they’re gone.

Q. What about a retractable roof at Land Shark Stadium?

A. Ross: We’re studying all that, I don’t think it would be a retractable roof, because I don’t think one, the cost. I don’t think the county, in these economic times has the money and I think the cost of acclimatizing a stadium is so expensive and for the amount of usage it would get it’s probably not feasible. It probably doesn’t need a retractable roof from a football standpoint or soccer. But one thing we’re looking at, is how to do we really improve the stadium and cover some of those issues, not having a roof.

Q. Does that mean some sort of covering over some areas?

A. Ross: Yes.

 

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sports Team Owners (49)

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August 24, 2009

Miami Dolphins holding auditions for A Capella group

The Miami Dolphins are seeking singers for Dolphins Voices -- the team’s new A Capella group, which is to perform the National Anthem at all Dolphins home games at Land Shark Stadium this season.

New Dolphins limited partner and Grammy Award-winning producer Emilio Estefan is helping the team lead the search for the eight-piece group. Musician and arranger Derric Johnson will direct the group. The group is just another of new Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross' plans to enhance the fan experience at games.

Aspiring singers must be 18 and perform a song that reflects their vocal range. They also must be available for all eight of the team’s home games during the 2009 season and for rehearsals throughout the season. The group will also perform at other events.

Auditions are scheduled Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. at Paradise Live at the Hard Rock, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; and Thursday, 4-8 p.m. at Bongos Cuban Café, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

For more information, visit miamidolphins.com/DolphinsVoices or email dolphinsvoices@dolphins.nfl.com.

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186)

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Have a question for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross?

We’re meeting with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross and CEO Mike Dee on Tuesday morning to discuss the changes taking place on the team’s business side and at Land Shark Stadium.

Do fans have any questions for the owner and/or CEO? No promises, but we’ll try to get you some answers. If you have a question, please post it with your name, city you live in and email address, in the comments section below. Also, let us know if you’re a season ticket holder.

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186), Sports Team Owners (49)

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August 21, 2009

Miami still in the running to host future World Cup

And then there were 27… The USA Bid Committee narrowed on Thursday its list of potential U.S. cities to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to 27, including Miami and Land Shark Stadium.

Eleven U.S. communities were stripped from contention. The remaining cities will continue working with the bid committee to develop their local campaigns to host the giant soccer event. FIFA and its 24-member executive committee will spend the fall studying the bids and visiting the communities. The cities the U.S. will put forward for formal bids will be determined in December. The host nations for the two upcoming World Cups will be announced in December 2010.

The group of 27 communities includes 32 stadiums ranging from the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

Miami’s bid was submitted by a group of local leaders that includes the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, retired Heat center Alonzo Mourning, Brightstar Corp. CEO Marcelo Claure, music producer Emilio Estefan, and Bacardi’s Facundo L. Barcardi.

“Miami is proud to be contention for this exciting and prestigious event,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner and Miami Bid Committee Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz said in a statement. “The FIFA World Cup is the most significant international event in the world today.”

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Soccer (15)

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August 19, 2009

Helio Castroneves goes to the (bed) races

bedrace1.jpgThree-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves wasn't quite sure what to think when he was approached about being grand marshal of the Great Grove Bed Race -- the revival of the traditional bed races through Miami's Coconut Grove. It's not as if bed races are a Brazilian custom.

"I didn’t know. Bed race? OK, give me a minute to find out what it is," Castroneves said. "When I spoke to my trainer, he said, it’s pretty cool, it’s pretty famous."

According to organizers, it’s been six years since decorated beds and their riders and pushers have raced through the streets of Coconut Grove. With the help of local businesses, Homestead-Miami Speedway (where Castroneves will compete for the IndyCar Series championship on Oct. 10), and others, the race is returning Labor Day Weekend. There are two days of events planned: Saturday, Sept. 5 will feature a Pajama Pub Crawl with a Pajama Party and the race scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 6.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Alonzo Mourning Charities and the University of Miami Sleep Program (it's a bed race!).

Castroneves was joined at the Mayfair Hotel & Spa in the Grove by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff (in photo from Homestead-Miami Speedway Sarnoff is on the left; Diaz to the right) to announce the driver and Dancing with the Stars Season 5 winner's participation as grand marshal and celebrity judge. Castroneves will judge race entries for theme, decor and overall creativity.

With those duties, Castroneves might be too busy to race. Entries must be twin-sized beds with one participant in the bed and four others pushing it. "I love racing," Castroneves said adding that he's never participated in a bed race. "Certainly it's something different. If you want to win, you don't want to be sleepy."

Sarnoff says he might participate as he did nearly a dozen years ago. He was already musing about Castroneves' chances.

"I’m trying to figure out if Helio is going to run the Posturepedic, or which one he's going to use," Sarnoff said. "I heard he’s going to use the Sleep Number, because it’s lighter and it much more imitates the car that he drives. I don’t know if that’s going to be allowed."

Diaz also had a little fun at Castroneves' expense, reminding that the return of the event is good fun for the community and beneficial for the charities.

"We have such great programs and such great people in Miami like Helio and Alonzo, who are people who are known worldwide, people who serve as role models and inspiration," Diaz said. "They live here in Miami, they call Miami home, they love Miami, and ... they pay taxes in Miami," he said before letting out a chuckle.

Castroneves was acquitted this spring of federal tax evasion charges.

But Diaz doesn't want to stop at bed races.

"Commissioner Sarnoff and I are working on another event," Diaz said, "a Coconut Grove dance-off and we're challenging Helio."

He was just kidding.

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42)

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August 14, 2009

Marlins Stadium Update No. 1 of 450 (Foundation work - UPDATED w/photos)

foundation1a.jpgThe Florida Marlins entered a significant chapter in construction of their new ballpark this morning, when the concrete was poured for the first of 12 super columns that will support the venue’s roof. (Photos courtesy of the Marlins by Robert Vigon).

The pour was the first of a total 450 foundation pours for the $515 million, 37,000-seat ballpark project. According to a release form the team, the concrete was poured over an 8-foot deep, 40 foot by 40 foot hole. About 250 cubic yards was to be poured this morning out of a total 60,000 cubic yards for the project.

“Starting the first of 12 foundation pours means that the super columns that support the retractable roof will be erected by this fall,” Claude Delorme, Marlins senior vice president of ballpark development, said in a statement. foundation2a.jpg

Concrete company, Colasanti Specialty Services Inc., is leading the foundation work.

Meanwhile, the team has awarded the contract for construction of the retractable roof to Structal-Heavy Steel Construction, a business unit of Canam Group. The company has worked on dozens of North American sports venues, including BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise and AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

The team officially broke ground July 18 for the ballpark scheduled to open in 2012.

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

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August 13, 2009

Where do you watch your favorite NFL team on Sundays?

Pittsburgh Steelers fans gather at East Side Pub in Fort Lauderdale to watch their team on Sundays.

Philadelphia Eagles fans in Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale Eagles Army) meet at the Parrot Lounge. The Boyntondelphia Eagles will be frequenting Bru’s Room Sports Grill in Boynton Beach (last year it was Duffy’s Sports Grill, but they need more room, the group tells me).

New York Jets fans head to Gatsby’s in West Palm Beach; Chicago Bears fans to Capone’s Flicker-Lite Pizza and Raw Bar in Hollywood.

So where do you go to catch your favorite hometown or out-of-town team? Let me know -- and please indicate which team you follow and if you join other fans of that team -- in the comments section or email me directly: stalalay@sunsentinel.com

POSTED IN: NFL (178)

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Miami Dolphins add game day bus service from Palm Beach & Treasure Coast

The Miami Dolphins are trying to make it easier than ever to attend home games by expanding the Dolphins Express.

The new bus service unveiled last month to take Dolphins fans from southwest Florida (in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties) to and from Dolphins home games is going to provide service from Duffy’s Sports Grill locations from Deerfield Beach to Melbourne.

“We have a strong base of fans throughout the state of Florida and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to visit Land Shark Stadium,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “To our fans from the Palm Beaches to the Treasure Coast, the Dolphins Express will be leaving from a Duffy's near you in 2009."

To introduce the new service, team alumni, including Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson, and fans took the bus from Palm Beach to last night’s team practice at training camp in Davie.

The service, which begins with the Dolphins’ Sept. 21 Monday Night home opener against the Indianapolis Colts, costs $69 for an upper corner end zone ticket, round-trip bus ride and a take- out Duffy’s meal. The buses leave two and half hours before kickoff and will be available from the following locations:

Duffy’s of Melbourne, 1700 Evans Rd., Melbourne
Duffy’s of Jupiter East, 185 E. Indiantown Rd., Jupiter
Duffy’s of The Villages Inc., 721 Village Blvd., West Palm Beach
Duffy’s of Boynton, 4746 North Congress Ave., Boynton Beach
Duffy’s of Superplay USA, 1608 NW Courtyard Circle, Port St. Lucie
Duffy’s of Royal Palm Beach, 11943 Southern Blvd., Royal Palm Beach
Duffy’s of Jensen Beach, 4179 NW Federal Highway, Jensen Beach
Duffy’s of Deerfield, 401 N. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach
Duffy’s of Delray, 1750 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach

For more information, visit www.DolphinsExpress.com or call 1-888-FINS-BUS.

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186), Sponsorship (101), Tickets (126)

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August 12, 2009

“Sports Professor” Rick Horrow to launch sports business show on Versus

Palm Beach County resident and longtime sports consultant Rick Horrow will debut a new weekly sports show, focusing on the industry’s multi-million dollar business side, on the Versus network on Aug. 25.

The $ports Take to be hosted by Horrow, who is known as “The Sports Professor,” has already secured interviews with top industry executives, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NASCAR CEO Brian France.

The first show is scheduled to include interviews with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Bryan Trubey, HKS architect on the Cowboys’ new stadium.

The half-hour show, being produced by Atlanta-based Career Sports & Entertainment, is scheduled to air Tuesday nights at 6:30 p.m. and re-air on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

Horrow has consulted on dozens of sports construction projects and is an attorney and president of Miami-based Horrow Sports Ventures. He did a stint as visiting sports law expert at Harvard Law School and serves as a sports business analyst. He previously served as executive director of the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, when plans for now-demolished Miami Arena were forged.

POSTED IN: Sports Team Owners (49), Television (35)

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August 10, 2009

Billy the Marlin, not the Tuna, to conduct ballpark countdown ritual

The Florida Marlins called to say information sent in a release this afternoon that Miami Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells would be conducting the ballpark "countdown teardown" on Sunday was inaccurate. It's Billy the Marlin who will be doing the number teardown honors after the fifth inning of Sunday's Marlins-Colorado Rockies game at Land Shark Stadium.

The countdown teardown board is on the left field wall at the stadium. It counts down the number of home games until the Marlins' new ballpark opens, scheduled in 2012. The team is calling on celebrities, fans and current and former players to pull down the numbers.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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Player Appearance: Meet Cody Ross

Fresh off a weekend sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, the resurgent – four games back in the NL East – Florida Marlins return home today and on Saturday, you can meet outfielder Cody Ross.

Ross will be signing autographs – for free, one item per customer – at the “Grand Re-opening” of Dunkin’ Donuts at 1146 N. University Drive, Coral Springs. The store is at the northwest corner of University and Ramblewood drives, just behind Burger King.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Ross appearing from 11 a.m. to noon. Billy the Marlin will also be at the store at the same time as Ross.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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August 8, 2009

Miami Dolphins fight song via T-Pain

2tpain.jpgHip hop artist and Tallahassee native T-Pain mixed it up on South Beach Friday night at Casa Casuarina (formerly the Versace Mansion), backing the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders 2010 calendar unveiling and… drumroll…. debuting a new version of the Miami Dolphins Fight Song.

Traditionalists, purists, historians, fear not… T-Pain has kept the song’s lyrics and tune in tact. He’s just made it a 21st century autotune version. Check it out HERE.

I was standing next to Nat Moore when the song debuted – Moore loved that T-Pain preserved the history of the fight song. Entertainment industry manager Bernie Yuman, who has been helping Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross partner with celebrities, sported a Dolphins T-Shirt under his jacket and sang the words to the song.

Team officials say T-Pain’s version isn’t replacing the fight song, but that both will be played at games at Land Shark Stadium this season.

Don’t forget, we also will be hearing Jimmy Buffett’s re-written version of his hit Fins that honors the Dolphins. Here’s his debut of that song in May:

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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The Miami Dolphins go South Beach

New Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross has added dashes of Key West, Cuba and Puerto Rico to his team. On Friday, he went South Beach.

With Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion, on Ocean Drive as his backdrop, Ross introduced neo-pop artist Romero Britto as the newest addition to help enhance the fan experience at Land Shark Stadium. Britto, known for his bright-colored, playful paintings and sculpture, will add his signature style to the helixes and gates at the stadium. (See photo courtesy of the Dolphins).

1Britto.jpg “It’s fitting that we’re here in Miami Beach, first of all because I’m from Miami Beach, and since the Miami Dolphins really represent the South Florida, South Beach lifestyle,” said Ross, who was dressed more for a team meeting -- in khakis, pink shirt and dark jacket -- than for a night on South Beach. “Today we bring the Miami Dolphins to South Beach and I know we’re going to bring back a lot of South Beach to Land Shark Stadium this year.”

Britto, dressed in a black suit and bright red shirt, said the project will be done in three phases and take three years to complete. But Ross promised some of the work will be in place for the Dolphins home opener on Monday, Sept. 21 against the Indianapolis Colts. Britto thanked Ross for choosing his art to help grace the stadium.

“As you can see here, the Dolphins are going to have my art around the stadium, and this is like a dream come true for an artist to be able to share his art with so many people,” Britto said.

Ross promised his priority is creating a winning football team, but with that, he also reminded that he wants to create “a greater fan experience” at the stadium.

He was also cognizant that people have gotten accustomed to his flashy press conferences to introduce new celebrity limited partners in the team, since he’s introduced Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony in recent weeks. Although not yet a limited partner, Jimmy Buffett has also partnered with Ross: the stadium has been re-named this season for Buffett’s Land Shark Lager and Buffett has re-written his hit Fins in honor of the team.

“The two announcements tonight, deal with really creating a fan experience as opposed to announcing another celebrity limited partner,” Ross said. “I can tell you we have some additional celebrity limited partners and we’ll have an announcement like that in the next two weeks, but tonight I’m really delighted to announce that the world renowned and South Florida artist Romero Britto will be bringing Land Shark Stadium alive through his iconic art.”

2VIP-Lounge.jpgAdditionally, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee announced the creation of the exclusive VIP Ocean Drive Club at the stadium in partnership with Ocean Drive magazine. The invitation-only club is designed for up to 250 members, who will enter it on an orange carpet and will have direct access to the field. The sleek club will have lounge space, carving station, flat-screen TVs and other benefits. It will be housed in the Gate G sub-concourse in 4,500 square feet where the Marlins batting cages are, but will eventually expand to 20,000- to 25,000-square feet, Dee said.

“We’ll see you all around the orange carpet,” Dee said to close the press conference.

After a break, the Dolphins cheerleaders held a swimsuit fashion show – complete with runway and some cheerleaders sporting Britto body paint -- to unveil their 2010 calendar. They were backed by hip hop artist T-Pain, who served as DJ for the event, adding his own commentary such as “I’ll be a fool for you,” as Miss April appeared and “Mother my I?” for Miss May.

And then, T-Pain debuted his updated version of the Miami Dolphins Fight Song. Don’t worry traditionalists – he hasn’t changed the words. Both the new and original versions will be played at games this season.

POSTED IN: Land Shark Stadium (44), Miami Dolphins (186)

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August 6, 2009

So long spring training, so long $47 million

Spring training pumped more than $750 million into Florida’s economy this year – or an average of $47 million per team that spends the spring here – according to a study released by the Florida Sports Foundation.

The study by the Bonn Marketing Research Group of Tallahassee says Florida realized $752.3 million in economic impact from the annual spring influx of Major League Baseball teams. That’s up from the $453 million that was estimated in a 2000 study. This spring, 16 teams trained in 15 venues across the state.

Spring training drew 1.56 million fans – or an average of more than 6,000 fans per game. The study estimated that out-of-state attendees represented 48 percent of the total. Those who came to Florida specifically for spring training spent a total of $571.7 million, the study says.

“Major League Baseball has a following that transcends economic downturns,” Dr. Mark Bonn, president of Bonn Marketing Research Group, said in a statement released by the Florida Sports Foundation. “People make their decisions to travel almost a year out and many of the respondents were repeat attendees at Spring Training Games. Economic conditions have little effect upon their decision to come to Florida for spring training. It’s more about loyalty than economics.”

The new study nearly doubles the estimates of spring training economic impact by tourism officials, who typically say the community realizes about $25 million annually. With the Baltimore Orioles moving from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota next spring, the community will miss out on those extra dollars.

POSTED IN: MLB (110), Spring Training (11)

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August 5, 2009

Minor league hockey team lets fans INSIDE the locker room

My story today about the “Panthers Locker Room” – a new season ticket option at BankAtlantic Center that includes $35 a game seats in the lower bowl along with perks like autograph sessions and skating clinics with players – struck a nerve with the Quad City Mallards.

The Panthers Locker Room includes the 1,100 seats in sections 105 to 114, rows 18 to 28, which are being divided into segments that will be named for five to seven Panthers players, who will hold autograph sessions and skating clinics for fans in their areas. Those seat holders will also get their section namesake's merchandise and birthday and holiday e-mail messages from him. The sections are being decorated to look like the inside of a team locker room.

The Mallards of the IHL, however, say they introduced their “Ice Row Cold Pass Seats” for this coming season a few weeks ago. The seats, which cost $25 a game and are in the first two rows at the i wireless Center in Moline, Ill., include access to the team’s ACTUAL locker room up to 30 minutes before game time.

Here’s how the seats are advertised on the team’s Web site: “The Mallards are the first team in the history of professional hockey to offer the fan an experience like no other. This ticket allows the fan to visit and see the inside of the private team areas prior to battle! ICE ROW Cold Pass ticket holders are allowed into the arena 30 minutes prior to walk up general public admissions, allowing plenty of time to witness the build up. Be there for the coach's comments and the behind-the-scenes experience with your QC Mallards - just don’t stay too long unless you intend to lace them up!”


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

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Helio Castroneves delighted IndyCar to open 2010 season in Brazil

2Helio-%40-Homestead.jpgThree-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves is thrilled the IndyCar Series will open its 2010 season March 14 in his native Brazil. He’s even been lobbying Brazilian President Lula da Silva for the race to be held in his hometown of Ribeirao Preto. A decision on the race's location is expected within the next month.

He expected his meeting with da Silva last month to be 15 minutes but it lasted an hour and 15 minutes, Castroneves said Tuesday during a break testing luxury sports cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Maxim Magazine’s November Dream Cars issue. (See photo courtesy of Homestead-Miami Speedway). The season 5 Dancing with the Stars champion didn’t want to say too much about his hope that his hometown will host the race.

“Well, I’m suspicious to talk about it, but yes, my hometown always gave me such incredible support since I was in go karts,” Castroneves said. “They are part of my dream come true. They helped me to achieve what I achieved, for me I’ll never forget that. So it’d be great to at least be there and able to promote the town because the town is great. I was raised there it would d be awesome, if it works it’d be a dream come true, if it doesn’t work, it would be great to at least be in Brazil.”

Castroneves said da Silva even asked whether he drove as well as he danced. The experience was such a positive one, Castroneves keeps hoping he and his team will have a chance to meet President Barack Obama one day.

“I wish I have the opportunity now to do the same thing in America, because my team is America, I would love them to have the opportunity to meet the president as well, like the previous American drivers did,” Castroneves said of previous American drivers, who have won the Indy 500. "I know I’m not American, but I would love to give this opportunity for my guys because they deserve it.”

Castroneves said other non-American Indy 500 winners have also not been invited to the White House. He hopes to change that, but even if he has to skip the visit, he’d like his team to go.

“I won three times, man. I mean it’s sad because my guys are American, they deserve to be there as well. I’m the driver, I’m the one carrying the car, but they are the ones putting everything together,” he said. “I think it would be fair for them. If they don’t want me there, I want at least my guys there, hopefully we make it happen.”

Castroneves, who was acquitted of tax evasion earlier this year, won the Indy 500 just days after the final count against him was dropped. He missed the first race of the season and thinks it could still be a long shot to keep alive the streak of the past four Indy 500 winners also winning the IndyCar Series championship. But he’s not giving up hope.

“I would love to keep the tradition going, but it’s one of those things, you can’t just rely on the fact it happens in the past, you’ve just got to go and continue working,” he said. “Certainly missing the first race makes it a little bit tougher, but that also brings us a huge opportunity, because it’s tougher, we want to do it more, you want to make it happen … There are still five races to go. Hopefully we can do it.

Castroneves said he’d also like to win a championship at his home track. Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts the IndyCar Series finale Oct. 10 and again next year.

“Bringing the championship down to Homestead, man it would be a lot of fun,” Castroneves said adding that none of the sport’s drivers who live in Miami has won at Homestead. “We have a lot of opportunities, a lot of drivers who live here, so hopefully this year we can make it happen.”

After test driving the Dream Cars (Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette) for Maxim, Castroneves, who drives an Acura RL, is less sure about his choice for an exotic car. He enjoyed driving all of the fancy cars for different reasons.

"I’m shopping for a new car, it’s great to find out, hmmm which one am I going to have here," Castroneves said. "I like all of them, so more doubts here."

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42)

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August 3, 2009

"It's Time" ... to recruit in South Florida

Tennessee Volunteers Coach Lane Kiffin thinks so. The Vols have purchased a billboard on I-95 at Oakland Park Boulevard heading into Fort Lauderdale for the school’s “It’s Time” message. The billboard is going up this week and will stay through Labor Day as the Volunteers look seek out deep high school football talent for their roster.

"We wanted to make an effort to extend our brand beyond the Tennessee geography," Chris Fuller, associate athletic director for sales and marketing, told the Palm Beach Post. "We obviously recognize the value of Florida as it relates to growing and building our program. We just wanted to let people know we're here."

The billboard includes photos of Kiffin and defensive back Eric Berry. The program has also reportedly bought billboards in Atlanta and Memphis.

Rutgers bought billboard ads in South Florida a few years ago.

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

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 188 (Countdown edition)

Former Marlins and current Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper did the honors Sunday. Boog Sciambi and Don Sutton have done it, too. Former Marlins manager Jack McKeon was the first one to do it. It’s also been done by The Village People (see photo by the Marlins' Robert Vigon) and longtime fan Bob Ramer.

IT is the nightly unveiling of the number of regular season home games left until Opening Day of the Marlins' new ballpark, expected in 2012. There’s a Game Countdown board in left field at Land Shark Stadium. The number is pulled after the fifth inning of home games once the games become official. The number is currently 188.

The Marlins are calling on celebrities and longtime fans to help with the new in-game ritual, which started after the team held its official ceremonial ground-breaking for the $515 million ballpark at the former site of the Orange Bowl on July 18.

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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