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June 30, 2010

We Want Wade Week: Let the free agent festivities begin

MWLogo.jpgWith politicians, schoolkids, Miami Heat officials and fanfare, Miami-Dade County was officially renamed “Miami-Wade County” this morning – through July 8 -- in honor of South Florida’s favorite NBA (imminent) free agent, Dwyane Wade.

And so begins “We Want Wade Week” – coinciding with the first week of NBA free agency, which officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. With the richest free agent class in years and the potential to vastly re-shape a team’s and its city’s fortunes, the Miami Heat has been making sure the community shows Wade some super love.

The We Want Wade campaign was launched last month, complete with wewantwade.com website, fan kits with stickers and souvenirs, opportunities for fans to send Wade messages and upload videos. The team hoisted a billboard with just the signature portion of a contract awaiting Wade’s autograph near his Miami home. It gave out We Want Wade T-shirts at the NBA draft party at AmericanAirlines Arena last week.

This week, the campaign goes full force:

The county’s been informally known by Heat fans as “Wade County” for years, but the county’s proclamation at the county government center this morning made it official for this week. The logo is even in the Heat's black and red colors, rather than the usual blue and green.

Wade now appears larger than life -- along with his highlights -- on AmericanAirlines Arena’s MediaMesh marquee overlooking Biscayne Boulevard.

Burnie the Heat mascot plans to live on the ledge of the arena’s main entrance for the week, with his living arrangements on view 24 hours a day online, much like the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

Staring Friday, Wade highlights will be all over Heat.com. On Saturday from noon to midnight, Sun Sports will replay four of Wade’s most notable games (Heat v. Hornets, playoffs, April 18, 2004; Heat v. Knicks, March 15, 2005; Heat v. Mavericks, Finals, June 13, 2006; Heat v. Bulls, March 9, 2009).

For July 4th on Sunday, the Heat Street Band entertains people around AmericanAirlines Arena. Fans are encouraged to wear Wade gear on Monday. On Tuesday, at 3:33 p.m. – in honor of Wade’s No. 3 jersey – fans are encouraged to write messages on Wade’s Facebook wall – at facebook.com/dwyanewade. And on July 7, the team launches a social media scavenger hunt for five oversized No. 3 figurines that will be hidden around South Florida. Finding the figurines gives fans entry into a VIP event at the arena.

POSTED IN: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), Mascots (16), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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June 29, 2010

More on the economic impact of Super Bowl XLIV

The news from last week's release of the economic impact from this year’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl was that the Miami Dolphins plan to continue pursuing public dollars for renovations to Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls.

Even though the economic impact study by West Palm Beach-based Sport Management Research Institute showed the two games this year generated less for local businesses than the 2007 Super Bowl alone, Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials still said they were pleased and will use the figures to help bolster their argument for public support.

According to the SMRI study, the two games this year pumped a total $333 million into South Florida businesses. The 2007 Super Bowl, held when the economy was healthy, brought local businesses $463 million, SMRI’s study of the 2007 game showed. Differences were blamed on the economy and that the Indianapolis Colts were the AFC team in both the 2007 and 2010 games, meaning the novelty had worn off.

That figure was also markedly less than the $396 million SMRI said the 1999 Super Bowl generated for the region.

SMRI studies show direct spending by Super Bowl visitors was $141.5 million this year; $279 million in 2007 and $239 million in 1999. Direct spending is what visitors actually spend in hotels and restaurants and on other goods and services. The larger figures include indirect spending – the dollars spent for businesses to prepare for the game – and induced spending or the re-circulation of dollars made from the Super Bowl back into the economy.

This year’s Super Bowl drew 109,059 visitors – down from the 112,403 in 2007. They spent less -- $401.44 per day down from $668.60 a day in 2007, according to the study. They also stayed a shorter time -- 3.12 nights this year, compared with 5.11 in 2007 – which also reflects that some New Orleans Saints fans drove -- rather than flew -- to the game. The visitors reported an average annual income of $220,323 down slightly from the $222,318 reported in 2007, but significantly higher than typical non-Super Bowl visitors, who average salaries of $46,000 to $80,000. Room rates fell this year, but hotel occupancy rates rose.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said Kathleen Davis, SMRI president. “We didn’t do anything different from the last time we did this. The story is the consumer sentiment is not where it was.”

Davis said she thinks the study shows South Florida was a successful host for the Pro Bowl, since that generated a total of $99.3 million, including $59.9 million in direct spending.

The SMRI study also bears out that Broward County serving for the first time as host location for the NFL headquarters and Super Bowl media center, meant a greater economic impact than for Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Broward realized direct spending of $57.6 million compared with $39.6 million in Miami-Dade and $12.2 million in Palm Beach, the report shows.

Critics routinely say Super Bowls generate far less than impact studies report because they don’t take into consideration many of the dollars don’t stay in the community, but instead go the corporate headquarters of local hotels, and fail to consider that Super Bowl visitors displace tourists who would otherwise come to destinations like South Florida.

But South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials said the fact that this year’s figures for two games are considerably smaller than for one game in 2007 should prove the numbers are genuine

“This came at a really good time,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said of the two games. “The fact it was less, for those who think those numbers are fuzzy, these numbers are real.”

Dick Anderson, the former Dolphin who chaired a panel studying whether the region should host future Super Bowls, said the numbers should show the event is valuable to South Florida.

His panel's study shows stadium improvements are “absolutely necessary for future Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and other large scale events that differentiate the South Florida region from other regions throughout the country." The report goes on to say: "Each year that improvements are not made makes them more urgent and more expensive in the years to come as the community competes for future Super Bowls…Engaging the public in a meaningful dialogue to demonstrate the economic and ancillary benefits to our community is important in this effort.”

In January, the Dolphins unveiled renderings of potential renovations that include a canopy-style roof covering seats, but leaving the field open to the elements, replacing the lower bowl and moving seats closer to the field. The work is expected to cost $187 million.

Team officials are working on plans to finance the improvements and expect to unveil them later this year. Among the arguments for public financing are expected to be that the Sun Life Stadium has received no public dollars for football. A recent $300 million upgrade was paid for by the team.

Anderson’s panel’s research shows that since 1995, 25 NFL stadiums have either been built or renovated – not including the New York Giants and Jets New Meadowland Stadium, which opens this year – to the tune of $8.8 billion. The public portion of those dollars varies from team to team, but averages 63 percent of the total. Sun Life Stadium is the only one that has not received public dollars for football.

Expect to see those figures repeated.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sun Life Stadium (24), Super Bowl (53)

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June 28, 2010

So. Fla. child abuse survivor among MLB/People All-Stars

Lauren Book-Kim of Aventura will be on the field at Angel Stadium in Anaheim prior to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 13 representing the Florida Marlins as one of 30 “All-Stars Among Us.

The program, launched by MLB and People Magazine last summer, recognizes individuals making extraordinary commitments to their communities: feeding the hungry, assisting the deaf and elderly, helping critically ill children.

Three extraordinary citizens representing each of MLB’s 30 teams were competing for a shot to be “All-Stars.” Fans cast 1.7 million votes – more than double last year’s figure – for the 30 finalists. One will be featured in a People Magazine article during All-Star week.

Book-Lim’s story is well-known locally. The daughter of prominent South Florida lobbyist Ron Book, Book-Lim was abused by a live-in nanny from age 10 to 16. She and her father have fought for tougher state laws to protect children from predators. Her Lauren’s Kids Foundation works to prevent sexual abuse and help survivors, through a hotline, counseling, and a curriculum to help kids learn how to prevent abuse.

In April, Book-Lim led a 500-mile walk from South Florida to the state Capitol in Tallahassee called “Walk in My Shoes” in recognition of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.

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

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Miami Dolphins & Sun Life team up to provide student scholarships

When Toronto financial services and insurance company Sun Life agreed to put its name atop the Miami Dolphins’ home stadium in January, the company also agreed to donate to the team’s foundation. Together, the company and team also vowed to work to benefit the community.

They’ve agreed to provide $50,000 grants to four local non-profit organizations that work with needy youths and another $5,000 each in scholarship dollars to a high school senior involved with those organizations.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is accepting applications through July 23 from the local organizations, which are also to nominate a deserving high school senior active in their program, who plans to continue his or her studies after high school and shows leadership qualities. The non-profits must work with children under 21 and to improve education for at-risk children.

Sun Life has launched the program in six other cities – Detroit, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia – and plans to award $1 million in grants and scholarships to a total of 22 organizations and 22 students. Those winners will then compete for an additional $50,000 grant and $50,000 scholarship that will be awarded to one of the organizations and one of the students.

The South Florida applications are to be judged by a group that includes Dolphins limited partners Venus and Serena Williams; Jeanette Sparano, wife of head coach Tony Sparano; wide receivers Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo; and Sun Sentinel’s Society Scene Publisher Stacy Ostrau. For more information and an application, visit sunlifestadium.com/risingstar.

The winners will be announced later this year.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sun Life Stadium (24)

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June 25, 2010

Miami Dolphin Karlos Dansby buys Southwest Ranches home


New Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby has purchased a house in Broward County from Indianapolis Colts wide receiver and former UM Hurricane Reggie Wayne.

According to Broward County property records, last month Dansby and his wife Tynesha paid Wayne and his wife Peta Gay $3.4 million for the house in Landmark Ranch Estates in Southwest Ranches. Dansby, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004, signed a five-year, $43 million contract with the Dolphins in March.

Wayne purchased the home on Stratford Court for $4.1 million in 2007.
Read more about the specifics of the home purchase in the South Florida Business Journal.

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

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YET Center in Miami gets new wing as part of Super Bowl legacy

BrianHartline1.jpgBeyond the millions of dollars organizers and tourism officials say the Super Bowl bring a community, the NFL promises a legacy, too.

The NFL’s Youth Education Town (YET) centers are one of the NFL’s major Super Bowl legacy initiatives. YET centers are designed to provide academic and recreational programs for area youth. South Florida, which has hosted a record 10 Super Bowls, has two – one at Gwen Cherry Park in Miami and one at the Lester H. White Unit of the Boys and Girls Club in southwest Fort Lauderdale.

Rather than build new YET centers each time the league’s championship game comes to town, the NFL has been adding to the existing ones.

On Wednesday, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline along with team and Miami-Dade County officials and kids who attend the center broke ground on a 5,000-square foot annex to the center in Gwen Cherry Park. (See photo by Kelly Gavin, Miami Dolphins)

The annex will include two classrooms, media rooms, and offices. The project’s $1 million cost is being covered by grants from the NFL and county’s Safe Neighborhood Parks interest fund.

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

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June 24, 2010

Miami Dolphins address not addressing player conduct

With four players arrested this offseason, the Miami Dolphins have been facing the “character” question a lot lately. After all, it was Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells who said during his first press conference when he was hired by the Dolphins in 2007 that “character” was one of three criteria he uses to evaluate players.

So it’s not a surprise that people are wondering about that criteria after two DUI arrests (Will Allen and Ronnie Brown) and two for domestic battery (Tony McDaniel and Phillip Merling).

In March, prior to Merling’s arrest, team owner Steve Ross said: “You certainly don’t want to see it happen. It doesn’t make us happy. It’s a concern. The coaches and Parcells are disappointed, and concerned, and they are addressing it.”

The situation with Merling, who was charged last month with aggravated battery against his pregnant girlfriend, was muddied when he was back on the practice field in mini-camp a day after posting bail.

At the time, Coach Tony Sparano acknowledged frustration over the four arrests, but didn’t address questions about Merling’s return to the field head-on. Instead, he deflected the issue to the NFL.

"We're going to let the process play itself out and see what the league decides down the road," Sparano said at the time.

None of the other members of Dolphins brass has addressed the question of player conduct since Merling’s arrest. Attempts to ask team owner Steve Ross were quashed on two occasions during the Dolphins Foundation’s FinsWeekend of charitable events – one colleague was told he was not allowed to ask about the issue; I got the question out, but before Ross could answer, a team spokesman said, “we’re not dealing with that.”

Attempts to reach Ross’ limited partners, including Gloria Estefan, Venus and Serena Williams and Fergie, either went unanswered or were referred back to the Dolphins. A further request to the Dolphins to speak with the limited partners, was answered by Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, who said he and Ross speak for the team.

Dee said he couldn’t speak to the specific arrests: “It’s a league matter or a legal matter.”

As for the team, he said, Parcells, Sparano and General Manager Jeff Ireland do keep player conduct top of mind.

“We have great guys on this team, They do a lot for the community both on their own and on behalf of the franchise,” Dee said. “Bill, Jeff and Tony put a tremendous emphasis on character and makeup when they put this roster together. We’re proud of the team that we have and I know it’s an important priority as we move forward as well to continue to put the emphasis on the character and makeup of our guys. We’re really happy with the team that we have, and think they represent this franchise well in the community.”

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sports Team Owners (49)

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June 22, 2010

2014 Super Bowl fix was in post-mortem

South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto’s glib pronouncement last month that he wasn’t surprised the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey was awarded the 2014 Super Bowl didn’t go unnoticed, but committee members are trying to move on.

“I was not surprised,” Barreto told reporters at the time. “I think the fix was in for New York.”

Barreto was called out by members of his own committee and even caught the attention of some media, including ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, who wondered how NFL owners will feel the next time South Florida bids for the game.

“The NFL gets uncomfortable when terms like that are bandied about, even if it’s true. The fix can be in. They can do whatever they want to do,” Florio told Joe Rose on WQAM (560-AM) last month. “If 17 owners were bound and determined to give this thing to New York, it doesn’t matter what Miami does, and sometimes you’ve got to be discreet about that and depending upon when Miami makes another bid, they’re going to have to do some serious tapdancing to get past those comments that were made.”

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau President Nicki Grossman called Barreto’s words “inappropriate” and said she was “embarrassed” by them.

Barreto, who calls himself a "blunt guy," said it might have been “a poor choice of words,” but otherwise stood by what he’d said. He said he thought a preference for the New Jersey bid was shown when NFL owners waived the daily temperature requirements so the New York Giants and Jets could bid. Barreto said he spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the vote and congratulated the Giants on the winning bid.

On Monday, when the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee held its final meeting, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee tried to put the comments to rest, saying executive committee members had differing views on the 2014 bid.

“You obviously heard Rodney’s the 'fix was in' comment that was splashed all over the newspapers,” Dee told the group. “I respect that point of view.”

Grossman, however, said she wanted to make clear South Florida’s bid was genuine.

“When South Florida gets [the Super Bowl], it isn’t because the fix was in and when we don’t get it, that doesn’t mean the fix was in,” Grossman said. “It was a tough sledding … We had a decent shot at it. I hope we didn’t just go through the motions.”

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

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June 21, 2010

Catching up: Panthers rename practice facility, Blackhawks ice for sale & more

Catching up after vacation:

+ Last week, Florida Panthers’ parent company Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced Saveology had won the rights to name the team’s practice facility. SSE launched a contest last fall for businesses to get a shot at naming Incredible Ice for a season by buying four lower bowl season tickets for the 2009-10 season. Incredible Ice, which underwent a $10 million renovation that included adding a third NHL-sized sheet of ice, will now be known as the Saveology.com Iceplex. SSE values the name at more than $300,000. Saveology is a comparison shopping service and already a Panthers sponsor. The company already agreed to extend the deal through the 2011-12 season, too. Saveology will get exposure through a variety of advertising platforms and will pay for new signage at the practice venue, where employee uniforms will also bear the new name.

MM2.jpg + Plantation-based Dreams Inc.’s Mounted Memories division has created special limited edition Chicago Blackhawks collectibles to commemorate the team’s first Stanley Cup win in nearly 50 years: a shawdowbox with photos and some of the ice from the Stanley Cup finals. “This is a new product from our innovative line of memorabilia,” Mounted Memories President Mitch Adelstein said in a statement. “As an NHL licensee, we worked closely with the National Hockey League who was supportive and cooperative with our needs, and we captured portions of the ice from the arena. Our designers created an exciting way for hockey fans to recall this victory for which Chicago fans waited almost half a century.”

+ The New York Times’ piece on Dolphins limited partner Marc Anthony, although it mentions nothing about his sports investment.

+ People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on the Marlins to reconsider their plans to install two-custom designed saltwater aquariums on either side of home plate in the team’s new ballpark.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Florida Panthers (108), MLB (110), Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), NHL (56), Sports Team Owners (49)

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June 13, 2010

Will Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross benefit from NJ Super Bowl?

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross’ habit of investing in distressed and complicated properties continues.

Ross’ Related Cos., is working on how to salvage the massive stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Last month during the annual International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas, Related invited potential tenants to view renderings and videos of and talk about taking up residence in the $2 billion, 2.3 million-square-foot complex.

The Mills Corp. planned the complex to contain 200 retail tenants and attractions, including movie theaters and an indoor snow park, but the project ground to a halt after payments were missed and funding ran out.

Related began negotiating earlier this year to become a partner in the project. Already Related has planned a big move – changing the complex’s name from Xanadu to Meadowlands.

Related developed the Time Warner Center residential and retail complex in Columbus Circle in Manhattan and has the development rights to Hudson Yards on that city's west side.

Ross, CEO of Related, hasn’t said much publicly about his involvement in the Meadowlands project, but confirmed his company is seriously investigating how to make it successful.

“We’re right now working on the feasibility and trying to put it all together to make sure it works,” Ross told me. “But we have a deal to really be the developer of Xanadu and now it’s a question of how we put it together and get it financed.”

If his company can pull it off, the complex could open well before the neighboring New Meadowlands Stadium hosts the Super Bowl in 2014. Ross' Sun Life Stadium was an unsuccessful bidder for that game, but Ross could still benefit from the NFL's first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl. A completed formerly-named Xanadu could see a windfall with so many visitors in the area for the NFL’s championship game.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sports Team Owners (49), Super Bowl (53)

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June 11, 2010

Player Appearance: Meet Helio Castroneves

At 35, three-time Indy 500 champion and Season 5 Dancing With The Stars winner Helio Castroneves has already had a pretty full dance card.

Castroneves shares the remarkable story of his life in auto racing, DWTS, his tax evasion trial, and being a new father in his book “Victory Road, the Ride of My Life.”

The South Florida resident will be making appearances locally on Saturday and Wednesday to promote the book. On Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., he’ll be at Costco North Miami, 14585 Biscayne Blvd. On Wednesday at 8 p.m., he'll be at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.

Here’s how Castroneves describes his book on his website: “This is a book about a DREAM. This is a story of UPS AND DOWNS. I tell of my early racing days, my time on Dancing with the Stars, my most thrilling wins and worst defeats, the trial, and off course, the birth of my daughter.”

Castroneves is scheduled to compete in the IndyCar Series championship on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (42)

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Dunkin’ Donuts celebrates the World Cup

DDWorldCup.jpgCount Dunkin’ Donuts among the bars, restaurants and hotels inviting fans in to watch the 2010 World Cup, which kicked off today in South Africa.

Dunkin’ Donuts is welcoming soccer fans with World Cup afternoon specials at locations across Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Every day through July 11, the local stores will host a “Happy Hour” from 1 to 4 p.m., during which customers who buy medium or larger beverages will get one beverage of the same size free. Another special: two dozen doughnuts for $9.99 during the same hours.

Meanwhile, locations with TVs will show the 2 p.m. matches each day and Dunkin’ Donuts employees will be wearing special World Cup shirts with the logo above.

POSTED IN: Promotions (120), Soccer (15)

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June 10, 2010

Marlins Stadium Update No. 600 gallons

Aquarium1.jpgWhen Herman Russomanno takes his seat in the Marlins new ballpark in April 2012, he’ll have a view of the action from behind home plate and an eyeful of one of the venue’s most unique features: two custom-built saltwater aquariums that will serve as the home plate backstop.

Yes, aquariums. Two-way aquariums – meaning their swimming inhabitants can be seen from throughout the ballpark both inside the stadium and from the field.

As construction of the $515 million venue on the former site of the Orange Bowl continued across the street on Thursday, Russomanno officially signed his contract to purchase four Diamond Club – the new version of the Batter’s Box at Sun Life Stadium – seats in the new ballpark. He was the first season ticket holder to pick his seats in the ballpark’s new sales headquarters, which officially opens next week. When you say you want to be in the first row behind home plate, you get to be first in line to buy your seats, Marlins President David Samson said.

“Spectacular view,” said Russomanno, a Miami attorney and original Marlins season ticket holder. “Beautiful vista.”

Russomanno’s seats cost $325 apiece per game, but would have been $395 if he’d waited three months. Season ticket prices start at $10 a game. The ballpark is to have slightly more than 37,000 seats, including about 1,000 designated as standing room. Check out marlins.com for more information.

The aquariums are designed by Living Color Enterprises of Fort Lauderdale. One measures 34 feet long, 3 feet high and holds more than 600 gallons of saltwater. The other is 24 feet long and holds 450 gallons of water. They will be positioned on either side of home plate to prevent disruption in play and will be constructed of durable, bullet-proof materials to prevent shattering by foul balls and errant throws.

The team’s 1,800-square-foot ballpark sales center sits at the corner of Northwest 14th Avenue and Northwest 7th Street across the street from the ballpark construction site – so you can actually monitor construction from its outdoor plaza. The sales center includes giant renderings of the new ballpark, seating charts, a scale model with roof that opens and closes and video scoreboard that works, and a full scale suite with modern white furniture and wood paneling, just like the ones that will be in the new ballpark.

Fans can take a virtual tour of the ballpark, getting to see what the view from the future seats will look like. Two images side by side, show the same view of downtown Miami from the site – one with the Orange Bowl and the other with the ballpark under construction. “The Tradition Evolves” reads a sign over the images.

The Marlins are scheduling appointments with their 5,000 season ticket holders to visit the center and choose full season ticket plans in the new stadium. The team is not yet making partial and mini-plans available, but has promised to work with fans looking for smaller plans by pairing them with other fans seeking similar packages, said Sean Flynn, Marlins vice president of marketing.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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Almost perfect memorabilia

Plantation-based Mounted Memories has inked a deal with “Almost Perfect” Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, who was one out away from the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history, when umpire Jim Joyce admitted botching the call.

Through the agreement with Mounted Memories, a division of Plantation-based Dreams Inc., Galarraga will sign baseballs and photos with the date of the game -- June 2, 2010 -- and the phrase "Almost Perfect" or "Nobody's Perfect." He'll also make personal appearances.

“Armando is a terrific person, and June 2, 2010 displayed two extraordinary performances – his pitching and his poise," Mounted Memories President Mitch Adelstein said in a statement. "We are thrilled to work with Mounted Memories to celebrate this unprecedented event.”

POSTED IN: MLB (110)

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June 9, 2010

Harlem Globetrotters pursuing D Wade, LeBron

As if this summer of superstar NBA free agency couldn’t get any more bizarre, the Harlem Globetrotters have stepped into the fray.

The Globetrotters are pursuing Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and have even made Globie jerseys -- D-Wade # 3; King # 6 – available for preorder on their website for $75 apiece. “Coming Soon?...We’ll find out July 1,” the site says.

Now, as unlikely and implausible (and all the other no it’s not going to happen synonyms you can supply) as it seems, consider what the Globetrotters are prepared to offer: part ownership in the team (that’s prohibited in the NBA) and 51 percent of revenue from sales of licensed merchandise with their name and likeness, a Globebtrotters source says. There are no salary cap restrictions either.

And perhaps most important of all? Especially if Wade and James are only concerned about winning?

The Globetrotters have an unrivaled winning streak that dates back nearly four decades. The last time the Globetrotters lost to the Washington Generals was in 1971.

The Globetrotters were expected to contact agents for Wade and James, but it’s unknown if they’ve connected yet. No word yet from Wade’s agent Henry Thomas on the unusual offer.

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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June 8, 2010

Florida Panthers get break on arena debt payments

The Florida Panthers’ parent company reached out to Broward County last year, seeking some relief from its annual debt payments to cover the loan to build county-owned BankAtlantic Center. The idea, Sunrise Sports & Entertainment explained, was to reduce the team’s payments in the short term to free up much-needed cash for the struggling hockey team, and then increase the payments down the road.

SSE’s Arena Operating Co., which operates the home of the Panthers, sought to cut its annual payments by $2.5 million annually through 2016, and then raise them by about $1 million a year starting in 2017. The restructuring was expected to cost $23 million more over the life of the loan, which would also be extended a year. SSE insisted it, not the county, would cover the additional payments.

The proposal, according to Broward County Finance Director Dinah Lewis, potentially put the county at risk by boosting the costs and extending the life of the loan. If SSE were not able to make its payments, the county would have to step in and cover them.

So, today, rather than restructure the loan, county commissioners agreed in principle to provide a short-term “internal loan” of $7.5 million over the next three years ($4 million this year, $2.5 million next year and $1 million in 2012) to be repaid along with the county’s loss of interest between 2013 and 2015.

The loan would be covered by the over-collection in Tourist Development Tax (hotel bed tax) dollars that were raised 2 percent to help pay for the arena. Those dollars are typically used for beach renourishment, but the county commission determines annually what to do with the money.

“This would provide the cash flow relief sought by the [Arena Operating Co.] without the expense and risk of a full restructuring,” Lewis wrote in her memo to commissioners.

The arena was financed through the 2 percent county hotel bed tax and a state sales tax rebate, which covers $10 million of the annual $14 million debt service payment. The team picks up the rest.

As a requirement of the loan, the Panthers agreed to reduce the profit level needed for the arena profit sharing arrangement to take effect, from $14 million to $12 million. That means that any dollars in profit more than $12 million, which is kept by the team, are split with the team receiving 80 percent to the county’s 20 percent. So far, the profit sharing agreement has kicked in just once – in the first year, when the county received $364,000.

Additionally, the team will need to provide annual consolidated operating budget and financial statements for the team and Arena Operating Co.

County staff is scheduled to bring a more detailed plan back to the board at its Aug. 10 meeting.

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), NHL (56)

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June 7, 2010

Miami Heat seeking D Wade signature

WWWboard2.jpg



The Miami Heat is continuing to ramp up pressure on its superstar guard to re-sign with the team through its We Want Wade campaign.

The team has put up a billboard with the signature portion of a contract on the 79th Street Causeway hoping to capture Wade’s attention. It simply includes the dotted line with an X, Wade’s name and an arrow indicating where to sign. Check out the photo by Brentan Debysingh, Miami Heat.

If Wade does re-sign, the team is exploring having Wade actually sign the giant billboard.

The team launched the We Want Wade campaign and its accompanying wewantwade.com website last month. Billboards and banners have been going up across “Wade County” and fans have been posting messages and videos to the site encouraging Wade to stay with the Heat. Fans can also order a We Want Wade fan kit, which includes window clings, bracelets and stickers, or download a digital version.

Wade is expected to exercise his option to become a free agent by July 1 and he has said repeatedly he would like to remain with the Heat.

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

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June 5, 2010

(Steve) Ross Field; 2010 Miami Dolphins season expectations

Two giant puddles covered much of the practice field at Miami Beach Senior High School Saturday morning, underscoring the need for refurbishments that are coming thanks to $164,000 in donations from the Dolphins and team owner Steve Ross.

Ross took the official ground-breaking for the field, which was officially named Ross Field, as an opportunity to put his team on notice that he’s expecting a big year in 2010.

“I think in February we’ll be playing in the Super Bowl,” Ross said.

When it was suggested he might be putting pressure on head coach Tony Sparano, Ross said, “Put it this way, he thinks that, too. So does every player on that team. I don’t think there’s any pressure on it, we’ve just got to go out and do it.”

He also told the crowd at the field ground-breaking that he hopes Chad Henne “goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphins history.”

With training camp still ahead before the 2010 season’s start, the Dolphins tried to focus on FinsWeekend – three days of golf, fishing, and awards dinners that benefit the Dolphins Foundation.

Ross, a 1958 graduate of Miami Beach High who played tackle for the school at Flamingo Park, said after he purchased the Dolphins, he received a letter from Miami Beach High Principal Rosann Sidener asking if he’d help with the field. The request perfectly matched Ross’ desire for the Dolphins to be more involved in the community. He donated $82,000, which was matched by the Dolphins.

“It was really a no brainer, I had just bought the team, got this letter, knowing we want to participate in the community and be very active,” Ross said. “Coming from your high school, is something I couldn’t say no to as being the first one. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of letters from almost every high school and I’m sure we’ll do our share. We want to keep active in South Florida.”

The field refurbishment is to be completed in September.

“I look at the field now and say 'hey it really does need a little bit of rehabilitation.' But I also remember when I was playing football, down in Flamingo Park, and I couldn’t wait for those days to have the field flooded so we didn’t have to practice,” Ross said with a chuckle.

Ross was joined by Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, team executives and players, including Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and his wife Jeanette; quarterback Chad Henne, running back Tristan Davis, safety Nate Ness, fullback Rolly Lumbala, defensive back Ross Weaver and cornerback Nolan Carroll; and Dolphins alumni, Nat Moore and Dick Anderson.

“It’s pretty exciting," said Ross, who was given a red and white Beach High jersey. "It’s something I never would have anticipated in my life."

Ross wore No. 71 at Beach High, when the uniforms were black and gold, not red and white. No matter, his heart is still with his high school, but he cautioned that the field naming had nothing to do with his success at the school.

“They didn’t name the field after me for my athletic feats or my scholastic feats,” he said.

Ross was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame last year. The University of Michigan's Business School was renamed for Ross in 2004, after he made a $100 million donation to the school.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sports Team Owners (49), Super Bowl (53)

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June 4, 2010

Florida Panthers “Came To Play”; host first 2010 Cats Cookout

The Florida Panthers have unveiled their marketing slogan for the 2010-11 season. Be ready to be underwhelmed:

“We Came To Play”

Seriously.

“We Came To Play.”

As opposed to what?

Developed by Hi-Voltage Advertising of Boca Raton, the campaign is meant to invoke the “passionate and emotional experience and party atmosphere of Panthers home games at the BankAtlantic Center,” according to a team release. Radio ads called “Playground” were to begin airing yesterday.

Here the Panthers and Hi-Voltage weigh in:

“Florida Panthers hockey at the BankAtlantic Center is unique in that it captivates fans through both the action on the ice and the excitement of the in-arena experience,” Panthers President Michael Yormark said in a statement. “There is no doubt that Cats hockey provides the best entertainment value and most fun sports atmosphere in South Florida. During the 2010-11 season, the real party is at the BankAtlantic Center.”

Hi-Voltage President Pete Gary adds: "Our goal at Hi-Voltage was to create a commercial featuring the entertainment experience for the first-timer to the diehard hockey fan. We wanted to showcase the fun, excitement and party atmosphere of being at the BankAtlantic Center for a Panthers game, whether it was with your family or with your friends for a night out.”

As you might imagine, the slogan has already generated jokes and detractors. It’s like it’s ripe for an insert joke here: “We Came To Play.” Uh, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

Some comments about the campaign on The Litter Box Panthers fan discussion blog include: “I don’t want to root for a team that just comes to play. I want a team that wins!” And “I appreciate the effort, but it leaves room for comments to follow it. We came to play, but we weren’t ready.We came to play, but we didn’t feel like it.”

As luck would have it, the campaign includes a ticket deal: “The Panthers are encouraging fans to bring their friends to party” with a “Buy One, Get One Half Off” offer on full season ticket plans through the NHL Draft on June 25. See ad for the ticket offer with new slogan below.

Meanwhile, new GM Dale Tallon – the news of his arrival has caused some fans to party – and Coach Peter DeBoer are scheduled to attend the first Cats Cookout of 2010 next Thursday, June 10. The free barbecue that includes live music and a chance to meet Tallon, DeBoer, Panthers broadcasters and alumni. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at BankAtlantic Center. RSVP at 954-835-PUCK.


POSTED IN: Advertising (79), BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Panthers (108), NHL (56), Tickets (126)

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June 2, 2010

Brandon Marshall has 16th top selling jersey in the NFL with … No. 19

Brandon Marshall’s Miami Dolphins jersey with a No. 19 on it was the 16th best-selling jersey in the NFL for the past two months, based on sales at NFLShop.com.

As recently as two weeks ago, Marshall said the No. 19 he was wearing at OTAs was only temporary and he hadn’t yet settled on an official number.

“This’ll be my number for now,” Marshall said on May 19. “We'll have one in stone before camp.”

At the time, fans could order Marshall’s jersey online, but it wouldn’t be shipped until the number was official. A disclaimer on NFLShop.com read: “The player's number is subject to change and the jersey will not ship until the official number is issued.”

According to both the NFL and the Dolphins, Marshall is wearing No. 19 – yep, Ted Ginn’s old Dolphins number. That’s the number Reebok is printing and NFLShop.com is shipping. The online listing now reads that the jersey is in stock and ships in one to two business days.

“As of this point, he’s wearing No. 19,” Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said.

Players can, of course, change their numbers.

Marshall had hoped to secure No. 15 – the number he wore with his previous team, the Denver Broncos, but his new teammate wide receiver Davone Bess, who wears No. 15, has told Marshall the number isn’t for sale. Bess reiterated his plans to hang onto No. 15 as recently as Friday.

The NFL sales rankings are based on sales at NFLShop.com from April 1 to May 31. Denver Broncos quarterback (and former Gator) Tim Tebow still has the top-selling jersey, followed by Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

The Dolphins ranked ninth in team merchandise sales. The Broncos were the top-selling team, followed by the Super Bowl Champion Saints and the Dallas Cowboys.

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

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June 1, 2010

Unused tickets to Halladay’s perfect game v Florida Marlins more keepsake than cash cow

The Florida Marlins are putting unused tickets to Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Marlins on Saturday up for sale. So, yes, for the face value of the ticket, you can say you were there – even if you weren’t among the 25,086 listed as attending the game.

Major League Baseball counts attendance as tickets sold and has agreed to amend the attendance for Saturday’s game, if the team sells any of the unused tickets. Baseball seating capacity at Sun Life Stadium is listed as 38,560.

Isn’t the point of having the ticket, though, that you were actually there?

Chris Amoroso, vice president of Steiner Sports Memorabilia, said he expects the market for the unused tickets to include fans of the Phillies and Halladay, as well as collectors of perfect game memorabilia. In addition, companies like Steiner could buy some of the tickets to package with other items such as photos.

He called the Marlins’ decision to sell the unused tickets “very unique,” but he said the tickets are more about having a keepsake rather than a priceless piece of memorabilia.

“It’s very unique for someone who collects those types of things. If you’re a fan of him, it’s a nice add on,” Amoroso said. “The value I think it comes when and if Halladay will sign them. Then there will be value. Perhaps a few hundred dollars with a signature depending on how many will be out there, how many he’ll sign.”

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Tickets (126)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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