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July 28, 2010

Chris Bosh makes the rounds, pledges dollars for rebounds to After-School All-Stars

Since agreeing to join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on the Miami Heat, Chris Bosh has been a busy man. Just this week alone, he’s appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and helped ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

You can watch his Late Night segments, including one in which Fallon tries to shoot baskets over the 6 foot 10 forward, here.

This morning he joined executives from After-School All-Stars to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. After-School All-Stars, founded in 1992 by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, raises money for after-school enrichment programs for at-risk kids in 13 cities.

Bosh was recently named a celebrity ambassador for After-School All-Stars, and he joins an “All-Star” group that also includes new teammate LeBron James. Bosh has pledged $20 to the organization for every rebound he records this NBA season.

Bosh is no stranger to publicity. He appears to relish it. He tweets from @chrisbosh, has his own channel on YouTube.com and you may recall the campaign he launched to get himself to the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. Check out one of those campaign ads here:

And don’t forget to follow me: @sarahtalalay

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

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July 27, 2010

Tim Tebow to sport Jockey

Jockey International announced today that former Gator and current Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has signed on as the underwear company’s newest spokesman.

Tebow, shown here in a Jockey Classic T-shirt, will promote several of Jockey’s lines, including the “Staycool” collection that is scheduled to be released in the spring. He’ll also be in the company’s catalog, TV, print and online ads.

"I'm excited to represent the Jockey brand,” Tebow said in a statement. “I've long been a fan and consumer of Jockey and I'm looking forward to a great relationship with such a respectable and innovative company."

Added Jockey Chairman and CEO Debra S. Waller: “Tim is a highly gifted athlete with a positive attitude and an admirable character. We at Jockey see a very bright future with Tim, and believe that he is an excellent representative for the brand. Tim is genuine, smart and driven and those qualities align well with Jockey. We look forward to building a long and collaborative relationship with him in the coming years.”

jimpalmer1.jpgI'm guessing Tebow isn't likely to model -- or pitch -- his Jockeys in quite the same manner as Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Don't forget to follow me on twitter: @sarahtalalay

POSTED IN: Advertising (79), Endorsements (20), NFL (178), UF (18)

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July 26, 2010

ESPN report: Sun Life Stadium, AmericanAirlines Arena among worst in food safety violations (UPDATED with stadium response)

Florida's pro sports venues -- particularly those in South Florida -- scored record high numbers of food vendor safety violations, according to ESPN's Outside the Lines’ exhaustive report that examined the health inspection records of all 107 pro sports venues in North America.

Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and University of Miami Hurricanes; and AmericanAirlines Arena, the Miami Heat’s home, were tied for third worst with 93 percent of vendors scoring critical violations.

Only St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center, which is home to the Washington Wizards and Capitals, scored worse. Both showed 100 percent of vendors with critical violations.

An excerpt from the inspection report for Sun Life Stadium says: In June 2009, an employee complained anonymously that small insects and other debris were blended into frozen alcoholic beverages at a stand where equipment wasn't being cleaned. When inspectors checked, they issued a critical violation for a buildup of slime inside the frozen drinks machine.

Centerplate, the stadium's food concessionaire released the following statement:

"Centerplate takes the topic of food safety and the well-being of our fans seriously, and works with the local health department to actively manage safe food service operations. Employees are trained and operations are routinely inspected to ensure that they meet standards for safe operation. Any deficiencies that are identified during the course of an inspection are immediately corrected, usually in the presence of the inspector," Bob Pascal, Centerplate senior vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

"The Florida state health department system has a rigorous and stringent approach to inspections, and evaluates stadiums based on whether they have met standards for safe operation--which Sun Life Stadium has done in 100% of its inspection reports for 2009 (ESPN's sample) and to-date in 2010."

The stadium, too, addressed concerns fans might have:

"It is important to note that the stadium has passed every health and safety inspection," Todd Boyan, the stadium's senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. "In fact, because the State of Florida is more strict than most states and demands more detailed and frequent testing, the stadium and its concessionaire are required to be more publicly diligent in meeting safety requirements. Any past inspection infraction has been corrected and we expect our concessionaire to meet every health and safety recommendation made by the appropriate local and state inspectors. Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety, and entertainment experience at Sun Life Stadium."

Meanwhile, the AmericanAirlines Arena report says: Critical violations included several safety issues related to electrical wiring and such equipment as gas boilers.

Just 67 percent of the vendors at the Florida Panthers' BankAtlantic Center recorded critical violations. The report said: Inspectors issued several violations for soiled ice bins and coolers.

Read ESPN’s full venue rundown.

According to the report, Florida’s venues “scored among the worst when it came to violations cited by inspectors. Inspections are performed by a state agency, and officials say that makes their standards more uniform and stringent.”

POSTED IN: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Marlins (193), Florida Panthers (108), MLB (110), Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Heat (174), Miami Hurricanes (32), NBA (139), NCAA (38), NFL (178), NHL (56), Orange Bowl (45)

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Miami Dolphins individual game tickets on sale Saturday

Individual game tickets for the Miami Dolphins 2010 season go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, but fans can get a jump on the on-sale time by stopping by training camp at 9 a.m. for a special one-hour pre-sale.

Individual game tickets start at $45 a game and can be purchased through MiamiDolphins.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000 or 1-888-FINS-TIX.

Fans who stop by training camp in Davie can buy tickets there between 9 and 10 a.m.

“We welcome our fans back to football and invite them to bring their families this Saturday for a special family day at Dolphins Camp,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “For the first time ever, we’re also offering our fans an on-site pre-sale opportunity to buy single game tickets to any home game before they go on sale to the general public.”

The Dolphins home opener is against the New York Jets on Sunday, Sept. 26. In addition to games against the other division rival New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins also host the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

Season tickets are also still for sale and start at $34 a game.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Tickets (126)

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July 23, 2010

First James, Bosh Miami Heat cards at sports collectibles show

Wrapper_Lebron2.jpgThe first time the public saw LeBron James and Chris Bosh in their new Miami Heat uniforms was during the Heat’s welcoming party at AmericanAirlines Arena on July 9.

Next month, Panini America, the exclusive manufacturer of NBA trading cards, will release the first basketball trading cards featuring the pair in their new unis, Panini marketing manager Scott Prusha says. The limited edition cards – there will be just 500 of the first cards made – will be inserted randomly into special 50-card sets available only to visitors to the National Sports Collectors Convention from Aug. 4-8 in Baltimore.

Visitors have a chance at the cards if they stop by the Panini booth at the Baltimore Convention Center to open card packs. They’ll then receive the special sets that are also to include Heat guard Dwyane Wade as well as other NBA, NFL, NHL and college baseball players, Prusha said.

Obviously, Panini, which also has a partnership with the Heat, will be making other James cards in the future, but the ones released at the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention will be the first.

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

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Chew on this: D Wade scores with Big Red

When Dwyane Wade appeared on the Tonight Show on Monday, Jay Leno asked if the Miami Heat guard had any pregame rituals.

Wade, who’d already performed his “kiddie rap,” revealed that his rituals all revolve around his number, 3, which he wears for “the holy trinity.”

“I try to do everything in threes before the game,” Wade said. “I do three pull ups on the rim, trying to work on my physique as well.”

Then he added: “I chew three pieces of gum.”

Naturally, Leno asked whether it had to be a specific kind.

“Big Red,” Wade replied and then made a face to demonstrate the punch the cinnamon gum provides.

“You know you just got a free case,” Leno said.

How about a locker?

“We were ecstatic to hear Dwyane Wade chews Big Red as part of his pre-game ritual, especially since we don’t have a formal relationship with him,” a Wrigley spokesperson told me. “It’s not every day that we learn a superstar like D-Wade chews our gum before every game, so we’ll be sure to thank him with a locker full of Big Red.”

Wrigley does not have an endorsement or sponsorship deal with Wade. It has previously had agreements with the NBA and sponsored the New Jersey Nets’ off-season in 2008.

Wade went on to explain that he drinks three different types of Gatorade before, during and after games to stay hydrated. Wade’s already got a deal with Gatorade.

POSTED IN: Endorsements (20), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Sponsorship (101)

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July 22, 2010

Dueling athlete $$ lists: James, Wade in SI top 10; top 30 in Forbes

They left millions of dollars on the table to sign with the Miami Heat, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made the top 10 in Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50 ranking of the highest earning American athletes.

The list takes into account salaries, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees for the athletes’ most recent playing year.

Tiger Woods tops the list with $90.5 million. New Miami Heat star LeBron James ranked 4th with $45.8 million. Wade rounds out the Top 10 with $27.8 million.

Up the road in Orlando, Magic star Dwight Howard is 12th with $27.2 million.

Other athletes on the list with South Florida ties – having played here previously: Shaquille O’Neal – No. 6, $36 million; Jermaine O’Neal – No. 22, $23.3 million; Vince Wilfork – No. 38, $18.9 million; Josh Beckett – No. 43 $17.5 million; and A.J. Burnett – No. 50, $16.8 million.

Meanwhile, Forbes released a list of the world’s 50 top-earning athletes with slightly different figures because they take into account different time frames. Woods tops that list at $105 million.

James comes in at No. 7 with $42.8 million, and Wade at No. 28 with $26.8 million.

Forbes also ranked the world's 50 Most Valuable teams with Manchester United topping the list. The only South Florida team to make the rankings is the Miami Dolphins at No. 23 and $1.02 billion.

POSTED IN: Endorsements (20), Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), NFL (178)

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July 21, 2010

Miami Heat gear and Three Kings jerseys are top sellers

The Miami Heat has been the top-selling team and its Three Kings’ jerseys rank Nos. 1, 2 and 5 for the two weeks since LeBron James and Chris Bosh said they were joining a returning Dwyane Wade on the Heat, according to the NBA.

The league measures sales at the NBA Store and on NBAStore.com. Those figures show James’ new No. 6 Heat jersey as the top seller, followed by Bosh’s new No. 1 Heat jersey. Jersey sales for Kobe Bryant, of the 2010 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, rank third, followed by Amar’e Stoudemire, who signed as a free agent with the New York Knicks. Wade’s jersey rounds out the top 5.

SportsOneSource is reporting that at large sporting goods retailers, the Heat ranks second in jersey sales among NBA teams. Last week, Heat jersey sales represented 15.3 percent of the overall NBA jersey sales market, behind only the Lakers, and representing a 142 percent increase from a year ago. Lakers jersey sales represented 28.26 percent of the market share last week – up 26 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, rather than burning James’ Cleveland Cavaliers jerseys, Ohioans are collecting them and sending them to South Florida homeless shelters.

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

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July 20, 2010

Serena & Venus Williams maintain top spots in fave sports star poll

Miami Dolphins limited partners Serena and Venus Williams are again No. 1 and 2 in The Harris Poll of favorite female sports stars.

New Miami Heat star LeBron James ranks 6th among male sports stars – down from third last year, but keep in mind the poll was conducted before James announced he was leaving Cleveland and joining the Heat. At the top of the list of male sports stars is a tie -- Tiger Woods – despite his troubles – and Kobe Bryant of the 2010 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The Harris Poll was conducted online between June 14 and 21 when 2,227 adults were surveyed. According to the poll results, men chose Woods as their favorite, while women chose Bryant. Bryant was also favored by African Americans and Hispanics. Men and women bothered favored Serena Williams, as African Americans. Hispanics favored Venus Williams.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Sports Team Owners (49)

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South Beach hotels look to capitalize on Miami Heat’s Three Kings

There are still three and a half months until the new-look Miami Heat takes the court for the 2010-11 season, but South Beach hotels are already offering up specials in honor of the Three Kings – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Gansevoort Hotel in Miami Beach (2377 Collins Ave.) has created a “Heat Suite” to give high-end guests a chance to experience life like a superstar basketball player. For a mere $2,500 a night, the suite package includes a one-bedroom suite with an ocean-view balcony; use of a Ferrari F430 for a day; and a private VIP cabana at Plunge, the hotel’s rooftop lounge; the Three Kings’ jersey of your choice; and passes to David Barton Gym.

There’s more: get snacks endorsed by James – Sprite, Powerade, Lightning Lemonade Bubblicious gum; and an iPod outfitted with James’ favorite music, including by his pal Jay Z. The suite includes “Heat”-style candies such as Hot Tamales and Red Hots, natch.

For more information, visit the hotel’s website.

Meanwhile, the Hotel Victor is offering the public a shot at its penthouse “Fit for a King” – with a retail value of $10,000 a night – for $163 for one night – in honor of the jersey numbers of the trio (Bosh 1; James 6; Wade 3).

All the hotel at 1144 Ocean Drive is asking is for fans to “like” its Facebook page – Facebook.com/HotelVictor for a shot at the special penthouse deal.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Promotions (120)

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July 16, 2010

Player Appearance: Meet Cody Ross

Florida Marlins outfielder Cody Ross will be dropping by Dunkin’ Donuts in Lauderhill on Saturday to sign autographs and pose for photos.

As part of a summer spectacular “Open House,” fans can also get a free doughnut. Billy the Marlin will be there, too, to accept a $500 donation to the Marlins Community Foundation.

Autographs are free, but only one item per fan. Free travel mugs to the first 200 customers.

The “Open House” runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ross is scheduled to attend between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Billy’s appearance is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon. The Dunkin’ Donuts is at 7340 W. Commercial Blvd., Lauderhill.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Promotions (120)

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July 15, 2010

Sun Sports to rebroadcast Heat Three Kings welcome

Couldn’t get enough of the Miami Heat’s Summer of 2010 Welcome Event for LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the return of Dwyane Wade on Friday? Or missed the hastily arranged event at AmericanAirlines Arena entirely?

Sun Sports is broadcasting a condensed one-hour version of the welcome spectacle. Broadcast times are: Saturday at 6 p.m.; Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.; and July 23 at 1 p.m. And starting on Saturday at 6 p.m., fans can also watch the show online at FoxSportsFlorida.com.

Sun Sports is also producing a 30-minute special from this weeks’ Summer Groove presented by Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade. The first airdate is Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.

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

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Marlins reiterate plans to bid for 2015 MLB All-Star Game


As he helped lead a tour of his team’s ballpark construction site on Thursday, Florida Marlins president David Samson reiterated the team’s desire to host a Major League Baseball All-Star Game in the new venue as soon as 2015.

“We’re going to submit a bid for the 2015 All-Star Game,” Samson said from a spot on the construction site overlooking home plate and with a view of downtown Miami. “We firmly expect it to be awarded because our bid will be so persuasive, given what’s going on in Miami, given what’s going on in this new ballpark. The Marlins had a game taken away and it’s time to get it back.”

The Marlins had been scheduled to host the 2000 All-Star Game at what was then named Pro Player Stadium, but in 1998, Commissioner Bud Selig moved the game to Atlanta’s Turner Field. The reason given was the region’s lack of a new, modern baseball-only ballpark. But the region was also still stinging from then-Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga’s decision to dismantle the Marlins after the team won the 1997 World Series.

Samson said he’s convinced the new ballpark will be awarded the sport’s Mid-Summer Classic.

“We feel more confident than ever that putting an All-Star game in Miami under the air conditioning, will be a win for baseball and we feel the commissioner will agree.”

Ground was broken a year ago for the new ballpark and construction on the former site of the Orange Bowl stadium is more than 40 percent complete. The media was given its quarterly tour of the construction, which included stops at different levels behind home plate with views toward the outfield and downtown Miami.

Concessions stands are already taking shape – complete with the bright-colored tile that is part of the ballpark’s signature style. There will be four color quadrants – blue, yellow, red and green – borrowed from Spanish painter Joan Miro’s palette that will easily help fans identify where they are in the ballpark. Already, blue tile has gone up in concession areas.

The seating bowl should be completed by the end of August.

The Marlins have completed priority ticket sales for existing full-season ticket holders and are opening up full season ticket sales to the public – starting with premium seating – on Monday. Samson said 97 percent of existing full season ticket holders have committed to buying seats in the new ballpark, which is scheduled to open in April 2012.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), MLB (110), Marlins Stadium Updates (112), Tickets (126)

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July 14, 2010

Dolphins owner Steve Ross could get tax breaks

While the Miami Dolphins’ quest for public dollars to upgrade Sun Life Stadium is considered an uphill battle, team owner Steve Ross might be getting a tax break … in New Jersey.

As he continues taking on distressed and complicated development projects, Ross could be in a position to benefit from the equivalent of a sales tax rebate from the state of New Jersey, according to the Bergen Record.

Ross’ Related Cos., is working on how to salvage the stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Related began negotiating to become a partner in the project earlier this year. Related has already changed the complex’s name to Meadowlands.

According to the Record story, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is examining the possibility of granting the project $180 million in taxpayer dollars that would come from allowing the project to keep 75 percent of the sales tax revenue from the project for up to the first 20 years it’s open. The report even speculates Ross might give up on the project without the state tax incentive.

Meanwhile, last month, a panel of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee recommended the Dolphins pursue public money to help upgrade Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls. The Dolphins are working on a plan to pay for renovations and expect to unveil it later this year.

In January, the team revealed renderings of possible upgrades, including a partial roof canopy covering the seats and a new seating bowl. The work is estimated to cost $187 million. The team said it cannot make the investment alone, but needs some help from the public.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178), Sports Team Owners (49), Sun Life Stadium (24)

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July 13, 2010

Timing of Steinbrenner death could save heirs millions

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was all about revenue streams. Looks like his family could be the beneficiary of his largest one.

With his death at age 80 on Tuesday, Steinbrenner likely saved his family millions in estate taxes. Due to Congressional dallying, the estate tax expired this year.

Were it still in place, it could have cost Steinbrenner’s family 45 percent of the value of his estate, which Forbes values at $1.15 billion. The estate tax is scheduled to return next year at a whopping 55 percent.

“Even though we’ve not been advising people to die in 2010, or commit suicide in 2010, there’s no estate tax,” said Martin Press, a tax lawyer with the Gunster law firm in Fort Lauderdale.

“There has been some talk about bringing back the estate tax this year on a retroactive basis,” Press said, “but if that happens, there’s going to be all sorts of litigation.”

Estate taxes have been a huge burden for heirs. After original Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie died in 1990, his family was forced to sell the team because of a $47 million estate tax bill.

POSTED IN: MLB (110), Sports Team Owners (49)

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July 11, 2010

Additional sports business thoughts on Miami Heat landing James-Bosh-Wade

More random thoughts on the Miami Heat’s big free agency coup, in no particular order:

+ The LeBron effect: In Cleveland, LeBron James made the perennial cellar dweller Cavaliers relevant. The arena sold out. The team had the NBA’s best regular season last year. Television ratings about quadrupled since before his arrival.

While the impact of James playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is immeasurable at this point, it’s clear it can’t be quite as dramatic as what occurred in Cleveland. Cleveland had much farther to rise. Although the Heat didn’t sell out last season, attendance was at 90 percent of arena capacity and the team did go to the first round of the playoffs.

heattix1.jpg+ Since most people didn’t think it was possible James would join the Heat, the price of Heat season tickets on the secondary market remained fairly steady for the first week of free agency. The day after James announced? The price went up 2.5 times, according to ticket search engine FanSnap.com, which reported sales rose from $3,238.61 on Thursday to $8,249.99 on Friday. Check out FanSnap.com’s chart showing season ticket package prices from July 1-9.

+ Joe Johnson is getting the maximum. The trio isn’t.

+ The Heat’s decision to halt season ticket sales on Thursday was a strategic one. Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said it helped that the team had the history of trading for Shaquille O’Neal in July 2004. The trade had an instant impact, including selling out season tickets.

“We learned a lot of lessons both good and bad,” Woolworth said. “We certainly enjoyed the status of having the most season tickets in the league, but in retrospect, it wasn’t the best thing we could do. The more season tickets you have the more you have to service, the more you have to renew every year. Certain locations are great locations but not great season ticket locations.”

Woolworth said that means team staff has to spend time working to renew season ticket holders in the least expensive seats.

That’s part of the reason for deciding to hold back a quarter to a third of AmericanAirlines Arena’s 19,600 seats – including all of the 400 level – to sell in the future in season ticket mini-plans and to groups and individual game ticket buyers. Woolworth said the team also wants to have inventory so more fans can attend games.

“There is community aspect to it,” he said. “When you sell out almost of all of your season tickets, you start playing to almost an exclusive audience. There aren’t as many people in the community who can see games. We want to make sure there are tickets available to every game.”

+ With all this talk of Pat Riley impressing free agents with his championship rings, I share some insight he gave me about using the rings as motivation. This comes from a story about championship rings I wrote in 2004, just as the Marlins were to receive their 2003 World Series championship rings, and two years before Riley’s Miami Heat picked up their first rings in 2006. Here’s the beginning of that story:

Pat Riley keeps five of his championship rings in a small velvet bag and occasionally as a coach he'd bring them to practice and jingle them in his pocket.

The Heat president wears only his sixth ring -- commemorating the historic 1985 Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Boston Celtics in Boston Garden. He had that ring altered to make it a more manageable size like a class ring, but the others he uses to remind players of sports' holy grail.

"I'd let players wear them for like a week just because it's what we all play for. It's a symbol of absolute professional significance. The worst thing as a player is to retire and know they never won a championship." said Riley, who won two as a player and four as coach of the "Showtime" Lakers. "It's a very, very significant achievement, despite all of the negative things we read about professional sports ... This is what it's all about, when you're part of a team and win a championship, it's something that really matters and counts."

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @sarahtalalay

POSTED IN: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Tickets (126)

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July 9, 2010

Welcomes for Heat's James, Bosh, Wade pouring in: free pest control

A New York strip club offered LeBron James a lifetime of free lap dances if he played for the New York Knicks. But Truly Nolen knows while South Florida may offer paradise (and lap dances and no state income tax free), it does have its insects.

That’s why the company is offering five years of free pest control to James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Because, well, you know, that thing about defense. That’d be free service through July 8, 2015.

“Like these three superstar players, our company believes the best offense is the best defense,” Michelle Senner, Truly Nolen’s director of marketing and philanthropy said in a statement. “Whether LeBron or Chris block shots or Dwyane steals the ball, they remind us of our tenacious technicians.”

It was one of the company’s technicians who suggested they offer the service since, well, the players have plenty to pay attention to on the court.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Commissioners, who renamed their county “Miami-Wade County” from July 1-7 for the first week of free agency, voted Thursday to keep the Wade name at least until Wade signs his new contract.

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

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James, Bosh, Wade gear for sale plus Miami Heat season tix waiting list

Talk about a “Hot Market.” Better yet, a “Heat Market.”

Printing machines were working overtime overnight to ready name and number Heat T-shirts for sale today. LeBron James No. 6, Dwyane Wade No. 3 and Chris Bosh No. 1 Tees are available.

Jerseys will take a little bit longer, but you can pre-order at heat.com. And apparently, fans were ordering even before they knew which players would actually land with the Heat, says Andy Montero, Heat senior director of retail operations.

The Heat doesn’t release sales figures, but Montero said the orders placed since James made it official last night he was coming to Miami, were equivalent to a typical two months of sales.

“It’s like getting Elvis,” Montero said. “It’s hot market, it’s code blue, whatever you want to call it. One of the key things it is helping the local economy.”

That’s because printing is taking place in South Florida.

5th & Ocean Clothing of Hialeah, which specializes in women’s merchandise, is making shirts with the names and numbers of the Heat’s big trio on the front. The items are expected to be delivered to the Miami Hoops Gear store at AmericanAirlines Arena this afternoon, said Robert Fonseca, 5th & Ocean director of sales.

The arena store is open today starting at 10 a.m. until at least 4 p.m. Merchandise is also available at the Hoops Gear Store in Dolphin Mall in Miami.

“This is huge and I think it’s going to be for a while,” Fonseca said. “It’s a big thing, the next Michael Jordan. I think it’s good for sports licensed business, it’s good for the league, for the NBA, which has been a little weak as far as sales and attendance and good for the economy.”

When Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Heat in 2004, it was big, but this – this is different.

“You’ve got three of top five players in the league on the same team and then you’ve got the mastermind of Pat Riley putting this deal together, preparing for this for x amount of years.”

So much that the team has sold out of its available season ticket inventory. But fans who want to get in are being encouraged to call 786-777-HOOP to be placed on a waiting list because some tickets should become available “in the near future,” Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said in a statement.

The Heat won’t release sales figures, but Woolworth said,” the sale of premium seats and season tickets over the last couple of weeks has been extremely brisk, peaking in a new intensity the last couple of days.”

The team has raised prices for any future season ticket sales.

POSTED IN: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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July 8, 2010

Florida Panthers try to capitalize on LeBron joining Heat

kingseats1.jpgEven before LeBron James officially announced he was "going to take my talents to South Beach," the Florida Panthers were trying to appeal to fans' excitement about the prospect of James joining the Heat.

The team announced a "Seats Fit For A King" ticket promotion -- a limited offer of lower bowl Panthers season tickets at BankAtlantic Center for $23 a game -- for James' original NBA jersey number -- and upper level ones for $6 a game -- for James' most recent jersey number. The promotion available by calling 954-835-PUCK runs until 5 p.m. Monday.

“Based on the hype surrounding rumors of a new King headed to South Florida, we wanted to remind our fans that we want them to feel like royalty,” Panthers President Michael Yormark said in a statement. “Certainly, it’s an exciting time to be part of the South Florida sports industry and we’d like our fans and our staff to embrace it.”

POSTED IN: BankAtlantic Center (30), Florida Panthers (108), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), NHL (56), Tickets (126)

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How valuable is LeBron James: MSG stocks tumble

With news that coveted NBA free agent LeBron James was likely headed to Miami and not the Big Apple to play for the New York Knicks, investors got a jolt.

Read my colleague Harriet Brackey’s entry on her It’s Your Money blog about the impact of James not going to New York. It seems investors were betting on Knicks' owner Madison Square Garden, well, until James wasn’t. Brackey tells us stocks slumped 5.5 percent -- $90 million in stock market value today.

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

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July 6, 2010

D Wade and custody issues

While much has been made of NBA free agent Dwyane Wade saying his decision about where to play rests in part on what's best for his family, the custody of his two sons isn’t expected to be a deciding factor.

On Saturday, Wade told Chicago’s NBC TV affiliate: "At the end of the day, your decision goes on what's best for you and your family. I think that the organizations I've been brought in to meet with are all good organizations. And all can add something to my life, and not just basketballwise.”

For those worrying that Wade’s bolting the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls because that’s his hometown and where his two young sons are living, hold on.

Sun Sentinel Heat beat writer Ira Winderman included this in a story reported yesterday: Concerns of a potential departure, however, have increased amid speculation that family issues, notably a July 19 custody hearing in Chicago regarding his two young sons, could have Wade suiting up for the Bulls next season.

However, a party involved in the current round of negotiations said Wade has assured suitors that his domestic issues in the wake of his recent divorce would not be the overriding factor in any decision.

And Wade’s Chicago divorce attorney, James Pritikin, doesn’t sound concerned either.

Pritikin said attorneys have researched the issue of whether where Wade plays is tied to his gaining sole custody of his two sons. Wade’s divorce was finalized last month in Chicago.

“While it is an issue, it’s one we’ve researched and don’t think it will be a major issue for us to deal with,” Pritikin said. “One of the main reasons is Mr. and Mrs. Wade were living in Pinecrest [near Miami] and after the divorce was filed, Mrs. Wade moved [the children] to the state of Illinois.”

In Illinois, Pritikin said, the parent granted sole custody can move children with permission of the courts.

Asked what might occur if Wade isn’t granted sole custody, Pritkin said, “I don’t contemplate that happening.”

While Illinois law wouldn’t prevent Wade from moving his sons to Florida, if he’s granted sole custody, “He can’t just go,” said Sarane Siewerth, who heads the appeals and research department at Chicago family law firm Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, which is not handling Wade’s case.

“Illinois has a pretty rigid removal statute that makes the party who wants to remove the children from Illinois to any other place have the burden to prove that move is in the best interest of the child,” Siewerth said.

The primary custodian would need to prove that in a court hearing, she said. If Wade is granted joint custody, he’d also have to explain in court any reason for moving the children out of state, she said.

Courts in Illinois consider 11 factors when determining who gains custody of a child, including the child’s connection to his school and community, the child’s wishes, and which parent “is more likely to foster the relationship of the child with the other parent,” Siewerth said.

And if Wade were granted sole custody, his ex-wife Siohvaughn, would get visitation, which varies but typically includes every other weekend and one evening during the week, Siewerth said. “Long range truckers, for example, who are gone for two or three days at a time, the other parent might have the child for that period of time,” Siewerth said. “That would sort of be similar to what might be applicable to Dwyane Wade.”

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

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July 4, 2010

More fun with NBA free agency: taxes, jerseys & a camel named for D Wade

We make a big deal of Florida being one of the few states without an income tax. It’s one reason lots of wealthy athletes make their homes here.

While it’s doubtful any of the top free agents, including LeBron James, still mulling where they plan to play for the next several years will make their decision solely based on the potential tax savings, we still wondered how much that savings could mean.

Martin R. Press, a tax attorney, and Brandon L. Chase, a summer associate, at the Gunster law firm in Fort Lauderdale crunched the numbers for us. Of course, there are a number of caveats, but Press and Chase looked at last year’s Miami Heat schedule and figured James’ max free agent salary next season – expected to be $16.6 million – and compared that to the tax rate in states the Heat visited last year. They excluded the two games in Toronto and didn’t figure in credits, deductions, real estate taxes and other sources of income, such as endorsement deals, which would also be taxed in tax-levying states.

Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, but states that levy taxes may tax them for the days they work there. If James were to play for the Heat – he’d likely pay other states $436,818 in state income taxes. Play in New York for the Knicks, and that number, which includes the New York City tax, rises to $1.45 million. It costs more than a million in New Jersey to play for the Nets, too: $1.16 million, Press and Chase figured. Find the chart that compares playing in Florida versus Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and New York here.

The $16.6 million salary works out to $202,439 per game. There would be no state income tax implications for the 41 games played at AmericanAirlines Arena, two games in Orlando and three played in Texas, which also doesn’t have a state income tax. The state on the Heat’s schedule with the highest tax rate appears to be Oregon – the one game played there would cost $21,863 in state taxes. Four games in California cost $77,236; two in New York $31,783 and so on.

+ Meanwhile, decisions are yet to be made as to which free agents will actually play for the Heat, but the team is already prepared and selling jerseys.

Of course, right now the jerseys are listed at heat.com with a question mark, but you can place a pre-order.

They’ll be shipped out 14 business days after the new players choose their numbers. You’ll then need to email or call the team with your preference. The items include this description: “Your Miami HEAT is set to rock the NBA world with blockbuster player moves during the HEAT Summer of 2010. Be among the first HEAT fans to sport the jersey of our next new superstar!” Replica jerseys are $55, shooting shirts $65, authentic jerseys $170.

+ And while Burnie continues his vigil atop a ledge at AmericanAirlines Arena until Wade signs with the Heat, "We Want Wade" week continues Monday with fans encouraged to wear Wade gear. Jungle Island is celebrating Wade too, naming its new camel “Flash” after the superstar Heat guard.

Jungle Island is calling Monday “Wild for Wade” day and inviting fans to have their photos taken with the new camel. If you’re wearing Wade gear, you can get the photo for free. The event is all day, but photos with the camel will be taken from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Heat dancers and the Heat Banana Man will appear from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

POSTED IN: AmericanAirlines Arena (35), Apparel (55), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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July 1, 2010

Miami Heat launches online season ticket system to meet anticipated demand

Expecting an uptick in season ticket sales once this summer’s NBA free agents decide where they will be playing, the Heat has officially launched a new online season ticket sales system.

Called Heat SeatPick, the system -- designed by the team’s information technology department -- allows fans to check seat availability in real time and purchase tickets without needing to speak with a sales representative. The system also includes a 3-D seat viewer that shows views from the AmericanAirlines Arena stands.

“In recent years, consumers have become increasingly comfortable with the secure online purchase of big ticket items, so we designed Heat SeatPick with this trend in mind,” Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said in a statement. “Season tickets are a substantial investment often accompanied by questions about seat locations, sightlines and inventory, and we believe the platform directly and thoroughly addresses these concerns.”

The system can be accessed at Heat.com where it says Heat SeatPick – you choose your price level, number of tickets and the system shows you how many seats are available and where. The 3D viewer shows your view from that section.

Fans have already begun purchasing tickets through the system and Heat officials say sales have picked up since free agent rumors heated up over the weekend. The team has also created this introductory video to explain how the system works – makes me want a cup of diner coffee and a slice of pie:

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