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May 28, 2010

Tony Stewart Memorial Day promotion supports military families

In honor of Memorial Day, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart and co-primary sponsor Office Depot along with Lexmark International are helping military families keep in touch with their loved ones who are on duty.

Buy a Lexmark printer at an Office Depot store or online at between this Sunday and June 5 and Office Depot and Lexmark will donate a new Lexmark printer to Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization that aids military families. Boca Raton-based Office Depot and Lexmark hope to donate more than 4,000 printers, which typically start at $199.99.

To promote the partnership, Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet will sport a rear TV panel at Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the Office Depot, Lexmark and Operation Homefront logos and the message “Buy A Printer, Support Military Families.”

“For any NASCAR fan who needs a new printer, now is the time to visit your local Office Depot store. Your purchase of a Lexmark printer will directly benefit a military family, and that is a great gift,” Stewart said in a statement.

The companies have also included a social media component, encouraging fans to support individual members of the military by sending them messages via Twitter with the #OperationShoutOut hashtag. Tweets sent through June 5 make the messengers eligible to win one of 10 Lexmark printers.

Meanwhile, a separate Stewart promotion in which Miami-based Burger King invited fans to place their autographs on Stewart’s Chevrolet at the Coke Zero 400 on July 3 at Daytona International Speedway, was so popular that within 48 hours nearly 25,000 fans signed up. The plan for the BK Sign & Race” promotion is to try to include more than 18,000 names on Stewart’s car.

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

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May 25, 2010

New York/New Jersey gets 2014 Super Bowl

It took four ballots, but New York/New Jersey prevailed. The New Meadowlands Stadium is to host the first ever northern cold weather Super Bowl in February 2014.

NFL owners eliminated South Florida on the second ballot leaving New York/New Jersey and Tampa to fight out on the last two ballots. With no region receiving 75 percent on each of the first three votes, New York/New Jersey won with a simple majority on the fourth ballot.

POSTED IN: NFL (178), Super Bowl (53)

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South Florida out of 2014 Super Bowl host bidding

South Florida is out of the bidding for the 2014 Super Bowl in the second round of voting among NFL owners.

None of the three bidders - New York/New Jersey, Tampa or South Florida -- got a 75 percent majority in each of the first two rounds of voting. But with South Florida getting the lowest number of votes in the second round, the region was dropped from the voting.

NFL voters are considering New York/New Jersey - considered the favorite - and Tampa in the third round of voting at their meeting in Dallas this afternoon.


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May 24, 2010

US Supreme Court ruling against the NFL could impact labor negotiations

The NFL disagrees, but experts say the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in the American Needle case could bolster the NFL Players Association in its ongoing labor negotiations with the league.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously the league could not be considered a single entity, but rather must be treated as 32 separate competing businesses when it comes to the licensing of branded products, such as caps and jerseys. The court agreed with American Needle, an Illinois hat maker and former NFL licensee, which sued the NFL claiming the league violated antitrust laws when it gave Reebok an exclusive 10-year license for hats in 2000.

“Although NFL teams have common interests such as promoting the NFL brand, they are still separate, profit-maximizing entities, and their interests in licensing team trademarks are not necessarily aligned,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision sends the case back to the district court.

The NFL downplayed the decision.

“The decision will simply result in American Needle’s claim being sent back to the federal district court in Chicago, where the case will resume in its early stages,” the league said in a statement. “We remain confident we will ultimately prevail because the league decision about how best to promote the NFL was reasonable, pro-competitive, and entirely lawful. The Supreme Court’s decision has no bearing on collective bargaining, which is governed by labor law.”

The Players Association, however, lauded the ruling. In a statement, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith called it, “not only a win for the players past, present and future, but a win for the fans.”

While the league says the decision has no bearing on labor negotiations, experts disagree.

Barry University law professor Marc Edelman said while bargaining is governed by labor laws not antitrust laws – if workers are represented by a union – the ruling strengthens the players' argument, if the union were to decertify and challenge the league under antitrust laws.

“If they decertify, they can’t be a union. If they decertified, the NFL would be allowed to put in place any terms they wanted,” Edelman said.

If the union decertified, and the league set wage and draft rules players didn’t like, players could challenge the league under antitrust laws. “The Players Association now has this sitting in their back pocket, the threat of decertification,” Edelman said.

Some observers suggest the decision may increase the pace of labor negotiations, which the players association says have been going slowly.

Gary I. Blackman, a partner in the sports law practice at Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC in Chicago, said in a statement that the ruling affects “all dealing by the NFL and leaves open the possibility of an antitrust claims and the scrutiny that follows in whatever it does, including in its dealings with its players. Antitrust laws have been a tool for the unions. The players union has always had the threat, for example, that it would disband and sue the league if ever it was locked out. Now, that tool is still in the toolbox."

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), NFL (178)

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Plantation sports memorabilia co. extends memorabilia deal with Peyton Manning

Plantation-based Dreams Inc. announced today that its memorabilia manufacturing division, Mounted Memories, has extended its exclusive autographed memorabilia contract with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The deal has been extended for another three years and Steiner Sports, of New York, will help manage the marketing of Manning-signed items.

“Peyton Manning is the most recognizable face in the NFL today,” Dreams President and CEO Ross Tannenbaum said in a statement. “He is a gem, both on and off the field. We are thrilled to be continuing this important business relationship with him.”

The news is an opportunity to share my favorite Manning skit from Saturday Night Live:


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May 20, 2010

Florida Panthers shrinking arena seating capacity; exploring dynamic pricing for popular games

To create a more intimate setting at Florida Panthers' games next season, the team is reducing capacity by nearly 2,500 seats at BankAtlantic Center.

The change, which will be accomplished by covering 2,458 seats in the arena’s last six rows in the upper level, will drop capacity from 19,250 to 17,040 for hockey games. The coverings will be Panthers blue and sponsored by a business. But the coverings also mean capacity can be increased, if there’s demand for tickets. The Panthers ranked 25th in attendance in the NHL this past season with 15,146 a game.

Panthers President Michael Yormark said BankAltantic Center is the NHL's fourth largest arena, so reducing seating capacity will put the venue on par with other hockey arenas.

The team is also planning a new pricing scale for 2010-11 individual game tickets that will have prices rise along with demand for particular games. The idea is to reward season ticket buyers and others who buy early with lower ticket prices.

Individual game tickets will be divided into four categories: Bronze (the least expensive and a reduction from last season’s prices); silver (similar to this past season), gold and platinum (highest-priced). Each game will be assigned a category, but could move into a more expensive category the closer to the game date, if demand builds.

Individual game ticket prices are scheduled to be released in September, but an example of the dynamic price structure could work like this: A lower bowl endzone seat that cost $75 this past season would fall to $40 for a bronze game, $65 for a silver game, $70 for a gold game and $90 for a platinum game.

“Both the reduced seating capacity and the dynamic pricing structure were implemented based on the feedback from our fans and our season ticket advisory board,” Yormark said in a statement. “That said, we feel strongly that both changes will contribute to more excitement and intimacy at the BankAtlantic Center for Panthers home games, while greatly increasing the overall fan experience.”

The Panthers tried in the 2008-09 season to charge individual game ticket buyers an additional $25 a game for contests against popular opponents, such as the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, but ended up dropping the plan midway through that season.

POSTED IN: BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Panthers (108), NHL (56), Tickets (126)

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Marlins Stadium Update No. 24,000

marlsteel.jpgThe Marlins announced Wednesday they'd crossed another hurdle in the ongoing construction of their new ballpark on the former site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana: the first piece of structural steel to support the roof has been put in place. Weighing 24,000 pounds, the beam is the first of 13 that will make up the fixed steel roof structure on the ballpark's west side. It is scheduled to be completed in July.

Claude Delorme, the team's executive vice president of ballpark development, said in a statement the venue is more than 34 percent complete and that much of the next 13 months will be focused on the roof.

The full fixed canopy for the roof -- including the east, south and north sides - is scheduled to be completed in January.

marlscoreboard.jpgMeanwhile, still missing the out-of-town scoreboard at Sun Life Stadium? The new ballpark will offer out-of-town scores and much more under a contract announced this week with scoreboard giant, Daktronics Inc.

The contract also includes video display board, digital ribbon boards, pitchers stats and ticket window displays. Installation is scheduled to begin in fall 2011.

“With their broad product line, control system with superior data integration capabilities, and their experience working new construction projects, Daktronics was clearly the best choice," Delorme said in a statement. "I know Marlins fans will absolutely love the new ballpark. The digital display technology will be a huge part of the game day presentation.”

The displays include a custom-shaped display board that's 101 feet wide at the top and 51 feet tall. There will be six ribbon boards in the seating bowl and at the ballpark's gates.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112), Orange Bowl (45)

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May 19, 2010

Brandon Marshall’s Miami Dolphins jersey number still a mystery

While the big news out of OTAs today was new Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s surgery for an undisclosed injury, Marshall’s jersey number also remained undisclosed.

There was some hubbub that Marshall had settled on Ted Ginn’s old No. 19, which he was sporting in Davie today, but he says that’s not a certainty.

“This'll be my number for now,” Marshall said. “We'll have one in stone before camp.”

Davone Bess, who wears Marshall’s favored No. 15, didn’t stop to talk to reporters, so no word yet on whether negotiations for No. 15 are continuing.

Fans can order Marshall’s jersey now – it’s for sale at for $79.99 for replica versions – but it won’t be shipped until he has his official number. The items listed online come with a disclaimer that reads “The player's number is subject to change and the jersey will not ship until the official number is issued.”

Neil Schwartz, director of business development for the SGMA or Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association in Jupiter, said Marshall waiting to pick a number isn’t likely to cause a dip in jersey sales.

“I don’t think these OTA situations necessarily represent a huge selling opportunity," Schwartz said. "I think once camp starts, I think then if he hasn’t settled on a number, he might be missing a little bit of sales momentum.”

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178)

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May 18, 2010

Florida Panthers try to capitalize on new GM hiring

tallon1.jpgThe Florida Panthers introduced their new General Manager, Dale Tallon, this morning and promptly went about trying to attract new season ticket holders.

A special offer was emailed from BankAtlantic Center offering anyone who purchases a season ticket for the 2010-11 season TODAY, an invitation to a barbecue with Tallon later this summer. “Peter DeBoer and I look forward to seeing you!” Tallon says of the Panthers coach in the ad promoting the ticket special.

Go to for more information.

POSTED IN: BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Panthers (108), NHL (56), Promotions (120), Tickets (126)

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May 14, 2010

Some Friday links: Sounders give fans a refund; Cleveland hearts LeBron and more

+Gotta love it when a team takes one for its fans: The Seattle Sounders after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the LA Galaxy at home announce they are giving season ticket holders a one-game refund – good toward season tickets next year.

+ The Field of Dreams film site – well part of the Iowa cornfield from the 1989 movie anyway -- is up for sale. Scant details here.

+ We have, but LeBron James has a group of politicians, officials and other Cleveland fans serenading him to the tune of We Are The World. If you can stand it, click here.

Hartford2.jpg+ Pompano Beach Paralympian Bradley Johnson joined The Hartford for the insurance company’s 200th anniversary at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Johnson is the guy on the left side of the net, helping to demonstrate sit volleyball. The Hartford is founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Promotions (120), Soccer (15), Tickets (126)

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May 13, 2010

Miami Heat asks fans to lobby to keep Dwyane Wade

As Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat in a Miami-Dade Circuit courtroom for a second day in a trial on a lawsuit in which he is accused of breaching his contract in a failed restaurant endeavor, the Heat kicked off a fan campaign to keep him in on the team.

Although he has said he would like to stay in Miami, Wade is expected to exercise his option to become a free agent on July 1, and so the Heat has launched its “We Want Wade” campaign complete with its own website, advertising and fan messaging. includes video highlights, updates on the campaign and a place for fans to leave messages expressing their desire to keep Wade a member of the Heat. There are also tips as to how to treat Wade if you see him out in public – such as chanting “We Want Wade” or sending a dessert to his table if you see him at a restaurant. South Florida fans can also order a We Want Wade fan kit that includes window clings, bracelets and stickers. Out of town Heat fans can download a digital version from the site.

Billboards and other advertisements are going up around South Florida and across what’s been dubbed “Wade County.”

“The goal is to create an affirmative, positive campaign that allows the community to let Wade know that they want him to stay in Miami and what they are willing to do to make sure Wade ‘feels the love’,” according to a team release about the campaign.

During a break in the trial, Wade said he was surprised by the campaign, but pleased.

“I just found that out,” he said of the campaign. “I thought it was hilarious. But I appreciate it. I do, I really do.”

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

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Things I learned behind the scenes in sports

In another plug for my stories on going behind the scenes in a variety of sports jobs, here are some details that didn't make the package:

Pit crew: Hours spent at the track go by in a flash – there’s so much work to be done. Constant work on the cars, meeting race fans, signing autographs, cleaning the trailers, and, of course, keeping the frigs stocked with water and Gatorade and snack trays filled with chips, granola bars, fruit. Seconds really do make a difference - as I learned the hard way. Everyone has a job. The time between pit stops gets filled with snacking and watching the race on pit box monitors. As the “deadman” you really are thatclose to the gas – you’re standing under a 55-gallon drum suspended on a metal scissor stand. I just didn’t think about my proximity to the gas.

Grounds crew: What this very busy crew at Sun Life Stadium does can’t be overstated. These people work hard to create a pitch perfect field for both baseball and football. As one of only two professional stadiums left in the country that host both football and baseball on natural grass, these people are busy. The grass gets mowed every day. There are the summer rains. The endzone and center logo replacements between Dolphins and University of Miami games. Lowering and raising the pitcher’s mound when football and baseball overlap. And the difference between football and baseball is stark, head groundskeeper Alan Sigwardt explains: football is all about the grass and how it holds up against the different players – the 350-pound lineman versus the speedy receivers. Meanwhile, baseball is about the dirt – with only three players doing their job on the grass, the vast majority of the work is done on the infield dirt. “It’s two totally different sciences,” Sigwardt says. Watch video of my turn at the job below.

Zamboni driving: Top speed is 9 mph, but you’re typically driving slower than that. In a giant contraption with a sensitive turning radius. The red line at BankAtlantic Center is dotted with prints of Panthers paws – which you can see when you’re on the ice, but they’re difficult to make out otherwise. Driving the Zamboni satisfies both sides of head ice technician Graham Caplinger’s brain. He’s a perfectionist, fascinated by the science and math of the job. But he’s also a musician – a drummer – so he has learned to let go. He knows he creates a perfect sheet of ice only to see the players mess it up with their skates. “Everything’s as best as I know how to do it, I’ve checked and checked and rechecked and checked and checked, then it’s up to the players, the artists, if you will, to go out carve up their masterpiece,” Caplinger says. He also says the iPod is the greatest invention – it helps him pass the time spent on the slow-moving Zamboni.

Mascots: It takes a special person to be a mascot. There’s a mascot creed and rules. Never reveal your identity. No talking. Don’t seek permission – ask forgiveness later. Have fun. Grown-ups become big kids as soon as they see a mascot – they cheer, they yell, they pose for photos, they high five, they act silly. And the mascot loves it – he, too, acts silly with no – or few - consequences. “It’s like Batman Superman status. Nobody knows who you are. They think they’re laughing at me, but I’m actually laughing at them. I’m getting them out of their character,” Burnie the Heat mascot says.

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42), BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Marlins (193), Florida Panthers (108), MLB (110), Mascots (16), Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Heat (174), Miami Hurricanes (32), NBA (139), NFL (178), NHL (56), Super Bowl (53)

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May 12, 2010

New York-area Super Bowl in 2014 looks stronger than ever

The New York-area has been the favorite to land the 2014 Super Bowl for weeks now - and that effort gotten even stronger today when New York Giants and Jets representatives signed off on their bid and held a press conference embracing the prospect of cold wintry weather, rather than worrying about it.

It was cold enough today too – overcast and in the mid-40s – when the press conference that featured Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez kicked off.

The teams made their bid public – and details included the possibility of the commissioner’s party being held at the American Museum of Natural History and a Super Bowl float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

South Florida and Tampa are also bidding for the game, but their bids have clearly taken a backseat to New York/New Jersey. South Florida isn’t conceding defeat, but without the promise of renovations at Sun Life Stadium, locals knew their bid could be in jeopardy. The Dolphins put the potential renovations on hold, rather than rush to try to gain public funding for the improvements in the still slow economy.

It’s unclear when a push for renovations will resurface. In the meantime, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee officials are scheduled to make the trip to Dallas for the May 25 vote of NFL owners on the 2014 game site.

“I take the position, you’ve still got to be in it to win it,” South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto said. “We could still win by default. Remember, you’re invited to bid.”

Barreto reminded that South Florida was awarded the 2010 Super Bowl – even before it had hosted the 2007 game -- after the game was initially promised to New York contingent on the New York Jets receiving government approvals to build a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side. When state funding didn’t come through, the NFL put that game back up for bid.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Super Bowl (53)

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May 11, 2010

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross tops real estate “Power 100”

Last year, Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross came in at No. 2 on The New York Observer’s "Power 100" ranking of "The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate" behind only President Barack Obama.

This year he’s got top billing on the list released today.

That’s because Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., shows no signs of slowing down in real estate despite the economy, the Observer report said. CityPlace Partners, which owns the retail portion of CityPlace in West Palm Beach, may be seeking to restructure a loan on the complex for flexibility, but that hasn’t stopped Related from seeking out other projects. Related is one of several partners in CityPlace Partners.

The Observer notes Ross is not only eyeing distressed and difficult properties, including the Xanadu project in New Jersey, but is also working with Related partners on starting a bank and is constructing a hotel and apartment tower in midtown Manhattan.

The list include developers, politicians, and just-approved principal New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Reminder: follow me on Twitter @sarahtalalay

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NBA (139), Sports Team Owners (49)

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May 10, 2010

Orange Bowl could be named for Hershey’s Reese’s brand

ESPN is in serious negotiations with Hershey’s for the chocolate giant’s Reese’s brand to become the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl college football game, according to a report in today’s SportsBusiness Journal.

After 21 years, FedEx has bowed out as title sponsor of the BCS game played at Sun Life Stadium. FedEx had the longest reign as sponsor of a BCS game, but the company said it wanted to focus on its other sports marketing properties, including partnerships with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, the NFL, NBA and NASCAR’s Joe Gibbs Racing.

The SportsBusiness Journal report says ESPN is negotiating with Hershey’s on a four-year deal worth less than $20 million a year. ESPN will begin broadcasting BCS games, including the national championship, next year under a four-year contract that runs through 2014.

Hershey’s declined to comment.

"We believe the Orange Bowl is a premier property and a tremendous marketing opportunity. We are in active discussions with advertisers,” ESPN spokeswoman Amy Phillips said in a statement.

The Orange Bowl Committee, which hosts the game, isn’t negotiating the sponsorship deal, but is aware of the discussions.

“We are in regular discussions with ESPN regarding the title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl,” Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms said in a statement. “There are active conversations in the marketplace around the title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl.”

The Orange Bowl next hosts the national championship game in 2013.

POSTED IN: NCAA (38), Orange Bowl (45), Sponsorship (101), Television (35)

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May 7, 2010

Jacksonville Jaguars hold conference calls with season ticket holders

Almost all of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games were blacked out on television last season because they didn’t sell out. At 7-9, the team didn’t make the playoffs.

Perhaps that’s why the team did something unusual: it invited season ticket holders to two fan forums – one with GM Gene Smith before the draft and a second post-draft with Coach Jack Del Rio.

Season ticket holders were told they’d receive a call at a certain time and they could choose to listen in on the conference calls – and ask questions – and they were also given a phone number to call in.

“These were part of our efforts this offseason to strengthen the connection with our fans and reach out to season ticket holders,” team spokesman Dan Edwards said in an email.

Edwards said about 9,700 fans total participated in the two calls and another roughly 3,200 followed the second forum on a webcast on the team’s website. Read about this week's call here.

That’s a pretty bold move, especially given how secretive some teams can be and how much criticism there was of some of the team’s draft picks.


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May 6, 2010

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross: CityPlace finances unrelated to team

News that the owners of the retail portion of CityPlace, the shopping and residential complex in West Palm Beach, are seeking to restructure a loan on the project and speculation they could be in danger of defaulting, has some Miami Dolphins fans wondering about the financial health of team owner Steve Ross.

Ross is CEO of Related Cos., which developed the complex, but is just one of several partners in CityPlace Partners, which owns the retail complex. Details of the loan restructuring are far more complex than need to be addressed here, but CityPlace Partners insists the loan payments are current and the restructuring is aimed at providing flexibility at a time when market conditions are difficult.

Ross was unequivocal that his real estate business and his Dolphins ownership are separate.

“The actions taken by CityPlace Partners in regards to the CityPlace retail, of which Related has a membership interest, have absolutely no impact on the Dolphins. My ownership of the Miami Dolphins is as an individual and Related Companies has no interest in that investment,” Ross said in an email. “As evidenced by our off-season acquisitions, my focus as an owner remains on building a first class team both on and off the field.”

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), Sports Team Owners (49)

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Florida Panthers trying to generate revenue, excitement for NHL draft

panthers4thlogo1.jpgAs full regular season team sponsorships are becoming more common, so, too, are off-season ones. Last fall, the Miami Heat unveiled its 2009-10 season was being sponsored by travel insurer Assist-Card.

This off-season, of course, the Heat is focusing on what it’s calling the “Heat Summer of 2010,” when we’re waiting for news of superstar guard Dwyane Wade’s future and the roster re-vamp.

Up the road in Sunrise, the Florida Panthers, however, are getting an assist from Lexus. The luxury auto maker is sponsoring the team’s summer under what the team is calling “Florida Panthers 4th Period Driven by Lexus.”

There’s a special 4th Period logo that’s going on all news announcements, advertisements, and promotions this summer.

“We are thrilled to announce longstanding partners Lexus as the first presenting sponsor of the Florida Panthers offseason,” Panthers President Michael Yormark said in a statement.

It’s Yormark’s twin brother, New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark, who in 2007 introduced basketball’s first offseason sponsor, signing up Wrigley to help underwrite the team’s summer activities.

Among the first summer activities is the team’s “You Make the Pick” Promotion – in partnership with JetBlue -- in which fans are being invited to enter a contest to win trips to the NHL Draft in Los Angeles on June 25. The idea is to have fans choose who they think should be selected by the Panthers in the third spot in the draft.

While all fans are eligible to participate in the online contest, only fans who become season ticket holders by May 31 can win one of the grand prizes, which are the trips to the draft that include meetings with team officials and the prospect chosen in the third spot. Other prizes include trips to LA and autographed merchandise.

“We want Panthers fans and the South Florida community to feel excited and involved in the process leading up to our first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft,” Yormark said in a statement.

To learn more and enter, visit

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), NHL (56), Promotions (120), Sponsorship (101)

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May 5, 2010

Dillard High grad’s team wins NASCAR promotions contest

Stephanie Lockhart’s dedication to NASCAR has paid off. The Fort Lauderdale native and 2006 Dillard High grad and her fellow Howard University students have won the NASCAR Kinetics program’s Spring 2010 Case Study Competition.

The contest pitted teams in the NASCAR Kinetics program -- which is akin to an internship in which they learned about promoting and marketing the stock car racing circuit -- at six universities with the grand prize being a trip to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star week next month in Charlotte, including garage tours, pace car ride, and pre-race and victory lane access. The competing colleges were Howard in Washington, DC, Notre Dame, Coastal Carolina University, Clark Atlanta University, Central Michigan University and Winston-Salem State University.

The students worked on case studies all involving NASCAR promotion and marketing with the final project being holding a race-viewing party. With help and goodies from M&Ms, sponsor of Kyle Busch's No. 18 M&M's Toyota and creator of M&M's Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR contest, the students were to arrange and promote the viewing parties on-campus. The groups were judged on their success and creativity at hosting their parties.

The Howard group managed to win, even though the Texas race scheduled for April 18 was delayed a day due to rain.

NASCAR said the Howard group stood out for incorporating M&Ms eating and colorful fan face painting contests, a NASCAR educational component and live entertainment.

They encouraged students to attend their party with this commercial.

Here you can watch video footage from their party:

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), Auto Racing (42), Promotions (120), Sponsorship (101)

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May 4, 2010

NBA charitable arm using social media to support D Wade and other player-backed charities

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is looking for some love.

No, not that. Love for Project Medishare, a non-profit organization raising money for medical assistance in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. It’s an organization Wade is supporting as part of the NBA and State Farm’s NBA Cares Charity Challenge. Wade and former Heat star Alonzo Mourning, who is now the team’s vice president of player programs, formed the “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” through which they raised $1 million from professional athletes.

The challenge is a contest pitting four players and charities they are supporting. Fans are asked to vote for their favorite pairing – the one with the most votes will get $10,000 for that charity. The other three charities will get $5,000 each. The other players and charities are: the Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony and the Special Olympics; the Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol and UNICEF; and the Phoenix Suns Steve Nash and Educare, an organization of schools for at-risk newborns to 5-year-olds.

Fans have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to view videos of the players discussing their charities and vote for their favorite. Fans can view the videos and vote on the league’s Facebook page at

The contest provides an opportunity for the league to tap into its vast and growing social networks. The league has more than 2 million fans on its Facebook page and more than 1.8 million followers on Twitter at @NBA.

Watch Nash’s video here; Gasol’s here and Anthony’s here.

Wade’s is here:

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

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May 3, 2010

FedEx drops title sponsorship of Orange Bowl game

After 21 years – and the longest reign as title sponsor of a BCS game -- FedEx is dropping its moniker from the Orange Bowl college football game.

Kevin Demsky, FedEx Director of Sponsorship Marketing, said the express delivery and logistics company decided it was time to focus on its other sports marketing partnerships, including the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, and relationships with the NFL, NBA and NASCAR's Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Obviously it was a very difficult decision, one we labored over long and hard,” Demsky said. “We made the decision it was probably best for us to begin focusing on some of our other investments.”

ESPN, which will begin broadcasting BCS games in January under a four-year contract that runs through 2014, is working on finding a new corporate naming partner for the game played at Sun Life Stadium.

"We are in active discussions around the Orange Bowl, which is a premier property and presents a tremendous marketing opportunity,” ESPN's president of customer marketing and sales Ed Erhardt said in a statement. “FedEx remains an important client and we continue to be engaged with them in other areas."

ESPN declined further comment.

The Orange Bowl Committee, which promotes the game and its surrounding events, is not involved in title sponsorship negotiations, committee spokesman Larry Wahl said. The network and the BCS are responsible for bowl payouts, not the committee, he said.

“We’re going to fulfill our BCS agreement commitment and continue to work with BCS leadership and ESPN,” Wahl said. “We’re confident the network will secure a name sponsor that’s beneficial to all of us. What we do know is ESPN had an exclusive period to negotiate with FedEx. That exclusive period recently expired and ESPN has now actively expanded its conversations with other interested parties.”

Demsky said the decision to drop out as title sponsor was made earlier this year and the company is not sure if it will continue as a more limited sponsor of the Orange Bowl.

“Obviously, the Orange Bowl has been a long time partner and friend and we have some very deep seated relationships. From that perspective I think the Orange Bowl and the entire Orange Bowl festival and all the events that surround that BCS game are a very important part of the community for South Florida," Demsky said. "We’ll look at opportunities that might be available, but for right now, it’s probably much too early to speculate.”

Demsky said the decision had nothing to do with the matchups in recent Orange Bowl games, which have been criticized for their lack of luster, when the Orange Bowl isn’t hosting the national championship game.

“We don’t really get too involved in game matchups, that’s something that has to be worked out by the BCS and the bowl committees," he said. "Our focus has always been creating marketing programs around us that promote the Orange Bowl.”

The Orange Bowl committee announced FedEx as its game title sponsor in 1989 for the 1990 game -- before the Bowl Championship Series was formed in 1998. The Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls each host a BCS bowl game and the fifth BCS game is the national championship game, which rotates among the four bowls. The Orange Bowl next hosts the national championship game in 2013.

POSTED IN: NBA (139), NCAA (38), NFL (178), Sponsorship (101), Television (35)

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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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