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August 31, 2011

Miami Dolphins must prove prognosticators wrong to spur ticket sales

Prognosticators continue to pile on the Miami Dolphins.

Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk Live on, is the latest to predict the Dolphins to fall to the bottom of the AFC East. He sees the Bills as a team on the rise and – cover your eyes, Dolfans – has the Jets moving past the Patriots to the top of the division.

Florio does like the Dolphins’ defense, and see promise in their success on the road (6-2) last season.

“If they can figure out how to win at home, maybe they won’t be in the basement. Maybe they’ll be a pretty good team,” he said this week on PFT. “I’m going to predict that won’t happen and that they’re going to land in the basement.”

Preseason predictions serve only as a flashpoint to get fans fired up before the games really count. One thing is clear, if the Dolphins are significantly better than most forecasts, they need to show it early.

After going 1-7 at home in 2010, it is critical to impress potential tickets buyers in the first two weeks when they host the Patriots and Texans. Although the opener is expected to sell out, the Dolphins made it known this week that sales are lagging for the Texans game, which could end a more than decade-long streak of avoiding the local TV blackout.

After that, the Dolphins don’t play at home again until Oct. 23 in the meeting with the Broncos that has stirred a hornet's nest of anger and ridicule about the plan to honor the Florida Gators’ 2009 national championship team. That follows visits to Cleveland, San Diego and the Jets.

Anger could quickly turn to apathy if they arrive home looking like the cellar-dweller many are predicting. A few early wins may not appease ‘Canes fans, but could retain the attention of a fan base that doesn’t need much of an excuse to check out early.

Florio and others see the Dolphins’ playoff drought continuing, signaling the end for Tony Sparano as coach, despite the contract extension he received in the offseason. One reason he cites is skepticism about making Reggie Bush the featured running back.

“He has a great decoy value, but I don’t know that he’s going to become that high-end running back, even if he stays healthy,” Florio said.

All of which provides plenty of incentive for Bush, hailed as the hardest worker in training camp, and Sparano. Not merely to make all the so-called experts look foolish. More importantly, to keep Dolphins fans from abandoning ship.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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Miami Dolphins Touchdown Club to honor Jim Mandich; Rose, Bokamper to host Tuesday luncheons at Sun Life Stadium


The late Jim Mandich was the face and the force behind the Miami Dolphins Touchdown Club for a decade.

Tuesdays won’t be the same without the Mad Dog, the popular former Dolphin and media personality who died In April, but the show will go on in a new venue with new hosts. The Touchdown Club will honor Mandich when it begins its 11th season on Sept. 6 at Sun Life Stadium.

Mandich’s “Awww-right Miami” enthusiasm created a Tuesday tradition the brought fans and local sports personalities together during the football season and raised more than $300,000 for former Dolphins players in need.

New hosts Joe Rose and Kim Bokamper have a tough act to follow, but will continue the familiar format featuring current and former Dolphins, media personalities and other guests. The luncheons, noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday throughout the football season, will move from Miami Lakes to the stadium in the club level.

“My father created this event because it was his way of giving back to the community and to the game that he loved so much,” said Michael Mandich. “Continuing this Tuesday tradition will be a special tribute to his legacy.”

For membership information, phone 305-520-5749. Tickets are limited and required with table reservations.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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August 20, 2011

Yormark gives Panthers' view on high-end Club Red seating plan

Imagine learning that your rent is going to increase nearly ten-fold.

That essentially is the shock some Florida Panthers season-ticket holders are facing with the pending plan to convert three sections in the lower bowl at BankAtlantic Center into a high-end premium seating area called Club Red. Seats would cost $20,000 or more a year, and would cover food and beverages in a plush lounge area and provide access to other events at the BAC.

More details about Club Red are in my news story.

Some of those who have tickets in sections 101, 102 and 134 have called and emailed various writers and editors at the Sun Sentinel to express outrage at the plan.

Because those sections encompass some of the best seats in the house, it is the domain of many well-entrenched season-ticket holders. Two who I spoke with are among about 300 remaining original season-ticket holders from the Panthers’ inception at Miami Arena in 1993.

Mickey Kay, of Coconut Creek, who has had seats for 10 years, said, “I don’t care about going to concerts. The only basic entertainment that I really enjoy is coming to the hockey games. They’re driving the good guys away that have been supporting them for years. It seems they’re going to go for the corporate dollar.”

Plans for Club Red haven’t been finalized, but Michael Yormark, Panthers president, said Friday, “We’re leaning toward moving forward.” It would open in July 2012 for other events at BankAtlantic Center heading into the Panthers’ 2012-13 season.

Yormark said Club Red isn’t designed for a corporate clientele and pointed that more than 80 percent of current season-seat holders are individual consumers. But clearly it’s far out of reach of most household entertainment budgets.

“We probably need to sell about 200 memberships, which is not that big a number when you think about the size of the market. We have a lot of confidence that we’ll get this done,” Yormark said. “We’re not creating something that’s never been done before. Many buildings around North America are also moving in this direction as it relates to all-inclusive seats in the lower bowl. Our pricing for these seats will be on the very, very low end of comparable seats in the South Florida marketplace when compared to other venues.”

Clearly, the Panthers are banking heavily on General Manager Dale Tallon’s efforts to quickly end the Panthers’ 10-year playoff drought.

“A year from now, or two years from now when the Panthers are back in the playoffs and we’re selling out every game, to move forward with a transition like this in a situation where you’re already sold out would be very challenging. Now’s the right time to do it,” Yormark said.

Here is more of what Yormark said during a 20-minute interview.

On the motivation for creating Club Red:

“Our responsibility is to continue to find ways to increase our revenue so that we can maintain this beautiful facility and so that we can continue to put a competitive product on the ice. … I had one [fan] ask me today, ‘Does this mean with this program that it protects the future of this franchise, that it will enable the franchise to continue to fund a hockey team that can be very competitive?’ My answer was, ‘Absolutely. Yes.’”

On the reaction of fans who will be displaced from the three sections for Club Red.

“I think the initial reaction is going to be emotional. These are people who have had these tickets for many, many years. These are people who consider these locations as an extension of their home. I’m glad that our fans are so passionate. When they look at the options we’re giving them, most if not all of them are going to be very happy with the solution.”

On how ticket-holders in those sections will be accommodated.

“The reality is we have comparable seats in the building that we can relocate these individuals to if they choose. I can tell you that everybody that we’ve spoken to one-on-one has been satisfied ultimately with the solution that we’ve recommended. … From a customer-service standpoint, we are committed to making sure we find the right solution for each and every one of our season-seat holders so they can continue to enjoy Panthers hockey.”

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108)

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Don King turns 80: Boxing promoter downplays celebration; too busy working

Here’s a hair-raising revelation: Don King turned 80 on Saturday.

The UK’s Daily Mail commemorated it with an expansive feature on King’s career. The British tabloid reported that King, based in Deerfield Beach, is keeping the celebration low key because he is busy working on several boxing promotions he is attempting to arrange, including a possible Dec. 3 rematch of the recent IBF bantamweight title bout in which Abner Mares dethroned Joseph Agbeko by controversial majority decision.

The Daily Mail piece is a classic retrospective of King’s career, which always makes for an entertaining read.

The most interesting item was that the famed Rumble in the Jungle in which aging Muhammad Ali used the rope-a-dope to upset prime-time George Foreman in Zaire was nearly the Brawl in Albert Hall. King told Daily Mail writer Jeff Powell that he wanted to stage the fight in London but couldn’t convince British promoter Jack Solomons to put up the $1.5 million down payment.

King told Powell: “Solomons was bidding for the fight and had the financial backing of Ladbrokes. I told him it could happen at the Albert Hall if he put up the rest, but he talked to his contacts in New York and he didn’t believe Big George had come to an agreement with that big black guy — me.”

Here’s how King ranked the top five fights he has promoted:

1974: Rumble in the Jungle, Ali vs. Foreman
1975: Thrilla in Manila, Ali vs. Frazier
1978: Larry Holmes, most underrated of all boxers, beats Ken
Norton despite crippled jabbing arm
1990: Julio Cesar Chavez K0s Meldrick Taylor in last seconds
when losing
1980: Roberto Duran beats Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal

His favorite fighters:

Sugar Ray Robinson
Joe Louis
Muhammad Ali
Larry Holmes
Julio Cesar Chavez
Roberto Duran

The Daily Mail published some vintage photos from King’s career. View the story and photos here.

POSTED IN: Boxing (1)

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August 16, 2011

BankAtlantic Center to offer daily deals to consumers via The Vault

The owners of the Panthers are about to open The Vault.

But the deals are for their fans and others to make.

Beginning Aug. 22, The Vault will begin offering daily deals on products and services with businesses throughout South Florida. A portion of all sales will be earmarked for local charities.

Conceived as a regional version of daily deal sites such as Groupon, The Vault will be operated by the BankAtlantic Center through Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, also parent company of the Panthers.

“While daily deal sites are a growing trend for consumers and retailers, the point of differentiation for The Vault is its local South Florida footprint and its targeted database of more than 800,000 potential customers,” SSE president & COO Michael R. Yormark said.

The newly formed DCI Cares Foundation will direct a portion of proceeds to a charity of the month. Everyone in the data base of The Vault will be eligible for a chance at an experience linked to the charity of the month.

The first designated charity is the Lauren’s Kids foundation, supported by Alonzo Mourning to help prevent childhood sexual abuse. The initial special experience will be dinner with Mourning and wife Tracy at Mister Collins restaurant at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, and includes a limo ride by Aventura WorldWide Transportation Services.

The Vault was developed for BAC by Direct Consumer Information, a Hallandale-based company that specializes in direct shopper marketing and created the KioCash kiosks at Ventura Mall.

"We are thrilled to be involved with a major entertainment venue like BankAtlantic Center and the Florida Panthers," said Michael Leitman, co-founder of DCI. "Together our teams have the capabilities to create unique opportunities for BankAtlantic Center loyalists while providing regional businesses access to this key demographic. Adding a component such as the DCI Cares Foundation builds a charitable layer to the program that also allows the community to benefit. We're looking beyond the standard retailer/consumer partnership."

Some of the first brands to offer deals through The Vault include Equinox Fitness, GameTime, Revolution Live, America's Backyard, Yes Pasta, Green Room, and Grazie Italian Restaurant. There is no cost to register at

POSTED IN: BankAtlantic Center (30)

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August 10, 2011

Hope Solo's tweets raise hopes of nude appearance in ESPN The Magazine


Hope solo recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. The popular U.S. and magicJack goalkeeper hinted this week that she is about to step up her game with a more revealing spread in ESPN The Magazine.

Speculation that Solo was doing a nude photo shoot for the magazine’s upcoming Body Issue surged through Twitter when she tweeted Tuesday: “Being naked outside is very liberating....atleast I hope it will be @ESPN and @ESPNMAG!!! GAMETIME BABY! Ball up!”

The Body Issue features male and female professional athletes posing naked in a tasteful fashion.

Solo followed up her intriguing tweet a few hours later with, “And that's a wrap!!!!” and included a link to a photo of herself in a white bathrobe frolicking in a fountain.

The 2010 Body Issue featured 40 athletes including NFL linebacker Patrick Willis, skier Julia Mancuso, surfer Kelly Slater, figure skater Evan Lysacek and former NFL running back Herschel Walker, who is now a mixed martial artist. The previous year Serena Williams, Adrian Peterson, Dwight Howard and Carl Edwards were among the notables who posed nude or semi nude.

The 2011 issue is expected in early October.

Solo has been the breakout star of the U.S. run to the Women’s World Cup Finals. She has since signed an endorsement deal with Gatorade reportedly worth $100,000 a year.

She has also been in demand in front of the camera. In another tweet, she said: “What I learned today in my W magazine photoshoot... I aint no model!”

POSTED IN: Soccer (15)

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WNBA gets highest marks among pro sports leagues on gender, racial hiring

The WNBA sets the standard among sport leagues for providing opportunities regardless of race or gender, according to a study at the University of Central Florida.

The league received an A+ for race and an A for gender for a combined grade of A in the latest Racial and Gender Report Card by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

“Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to score a basket and run the team?” Those are the main questions asked in the study, and the WNBA received the highest scores of any professional league, as has been the case for much of the past decade.

The WNBA’s gender grade was down slightly from A+ in 2010 as women lost ground in the areas of head coaches, team senior administrators and team professional staff. People of color increased in the league office as head coaches and as players while losing ground as assistant coaches and team professional staff.

This is the third report card on diversity employment issued this year by TIDES. The NBA received its highest grade in 2011 with an A+ for race and an A- on gender for a combined A. Major League Baseball got an overall grade of B+.

Among the highlights cited in the WNBA report card was Laurel J. Richie becoming the first woman of color of a professional sports league.

The percentages of women and persons of color holding professional level staff positions in the WNBA office increased significantly in 2011. African‐Americans occupied 29 percent of the professional level staff positions, an increase of 5 percent. Women filled 76 percent of the WNBA professional staff positions, up 7 percent.

Four women held majority ownership in WNBA franchises in 2011, one more than in 2010. There were five African-American head coaches (42 percent of the league), also one more than the previous season.

To view the complete report, visit


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Miami Dolphins No. 22 of Forbes' 50 most valuable sports franchises; Heat not on list

NFL owners have to be feeling pretty smug with a new collective bargaining agreement tucked away in their back pockets for the next 10 years.

Not only did they walk away with a bigger slice of the $9 billion in annual revenues, they were already doing quite well indeed, despite claims to the contrary. All 32 NFL franchises made the Forbes Magazine list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world, including 10 of the top 15.

The Dolphins, ranked No. 22 with a value of $1.01 billion, are in the familiar position of looking up at their main AFC East rivals. The Patriots are No. 6 at $1.37 billion, the Jets 10th at $1.14 billion.

In Florida, the Dolphins trail the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 18, $1.03 billion), who are owned by the Glazer family which also owns soccer’s Manchester United, the world’s most valuable team ($1.86 billion).

The Dolphins were the only South Florida franchise to make the list. The NBA barely has a toehold with the Knicks at 47 ($655 million) and the Lakers 48th ($643 million).

Forbes’ annual detailed breakdown of valuations of NFL franchises is expected later this month. Last year the Dolphins were 16th among NFL franchises with an estimated value of $1 billion and were one of only two teams along with the Lions to record an operating loss for the previous year.

Here is Forbes ranking of the world’s most valuable teams:

1. Manchester United, $1.86 billion
2. Dallas Cowboys, $1.81 billion
3. New York Yankees, $1.7 billion
4. Washington Redskins, $1.55 billion
5. Real Madrid, $1.45 billion
6. New England Patriots, $1.37 billion
7. Arsenal, $1.19 billion
8. New York Giants, $1.18 billion
9. Houston Texans, $1.17 billion
10. New York Jets, $1.14 billion
11. Philadelphia Eagles, $1.12 billion
12. Baltimore Ravens, $1.07 billion
13. Ferrari racing, $1.07 billion
14. Chicago Bears, $1.07 billion
15. Denver Broncos, $1.05 billon
16. Indianapolis Colts, $1.04 billion
17. Carolina Panthers, $1.04 billion
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $1.03 billion
19. Bayern Munich, $1.03 billion
20. Green Bay Packers, $1.02 billion
21. Cleveland Browns, $1.02 billion
22. Miami Dolphins, $1.01 billion
23. Pittsburgh Steelers, $996 million
24. Tennessee Titans, $994 million
25. Seattle Seahawks, $989 million
26. Barcelona, $975 million
27. Kansas City Chiefs, $965 million
28. New Orleans Saints, $955 million
29. San Francisco 49ers, $925 million
30. Arizona Cardinals, $919 million
31. Boston Red Sox, $912 million
32. San Diego Chargers, $907 million
33. Cincinnati Bengals, $905 million
34. AC Milan, $838 million
35. Atlanta Falcons, $831 million
36. Detroit Lions, $817 million
37. McLaren racing, $815 million
38. Los Angeles Dodgers, $800 million
39. Buffalo Bills, $799 million
40. St. Louis Rams, $779 million
41. Minnesota Vikings, $774 million
42. Chicago Cubs, $773 million
43. Oakland Raiders, $758 million
44. New York Mets, $747 million
45. Jacksonville Jaguars, $725 million
46. Chelsea, $658 million
47. New York Knicks, $655 million
48. Los Angeles Lakers, $643 million
49. Juventus, $628 million
50. Philadelphia Phillies, $609 million

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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August 9, 2011

LeBron James' Sheets Energy Strips now available in vending machines

It seems everyone is looking for a jolt to get through the day. LeBron James offered his assistance with an energy-boosting product launched around the time of the NBA Finals.

It's performing better than he did against the Mavs. Sheets Energy Strips are a cheaper, easy alternative to the numerous pick-me-up drinks on the market. Just pop a strip on your tongue for a melt-in-your-mouth lift through the afternoon or a workout.


The idea caught on well enough that Sheets are going to be dispensed in vending machines in malls, office buildings and sports arenas throughout the country.

So far in South Florida there are two Sheets machines in the Aventura Mall and one in the Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines. A few will be in BankAtlantic Center in time for Panthers season.

They come in four-packs for $3 or 10 for $6. You can also get a Sheets hat or T-shirt for $20.
Sheets are produced by an ambitious start-up in Boca Raton called PureBrands. James is listed as co-founder along with long-time business manager Maverick Carter and entrepreneurs Warren Struhl and Jesse Itzler.

The company is small but aggressive, driven by a $10 million marketing campaign backed by a number of partners including the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire and the Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari, Ravens running back Ray Rice, and recording artists Pitbull and Drake and Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels (pictured on vending machine). Their pitch is a bit edgy with its “Take a Sheet” slogan.

“We are always looking for unique ways to break through the clutter of traditional marketing campaigns,” said Warren Struhl, CEO of PureBrands. “Sheets are all about convenience and simplicity. Sheets can fit into your wallet, pocket, or purse. Automated kiosks are the perfect way for us to increase awareness of the brand and make it easier for anyone to take a Sheet on-the-go.”

They are offered in multiple flavors. The selling points are: won't spill or melt, no calories, no carbohydrates, no sugar and require no water; simple and fast-acting.

They have drawn some flak for the high caffeine content and potential danger for abuse by kids.

The packaging discourages use by anyone under 12 as well as women pregnant or nursing. The vending machines do make them more accessible. (Sheets are also available at GNC stores).

Caffeine is a key ingredient in many of the energy drinks on the market. Makers of 5-hour Energy do not divulge caffeine content, but estimates range from 60-100 milligrams in a 2-ounce bottle, comparable to a cup of coffee. A can of Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine. Sheets reportedly contain about 50 mg per strip.

5-hour Energy has been my choice for a jump-start before a run. Can't vouch for the effectiveness of Sheets, but will give them a try.

POSTED IN: Endorsements (20)

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August 4, 2011

Florida Panthers' Red Zone seating only for fans cheering home team

For passionate Florida Panthers fans who don’t want to have to sit near anyone rooting for the other team, the newly designated Red Zone seating section is the place to be at BankAtlantic Center.

It’s in sections 105-114, and no opposing infidels allowed.

Not sure if a blood oath must be signed, but tickets start at $25 per game, and must be purchased as part of a full, half or mini-season plan. Those who opt for a full- or half-season plan will have an opportunity to win a red 2012 Ford Focus provided by South Florida Ford. Visit

“The Red Zone is a place for passionate and committed Florida Panthers fans – that may not already be season ticket holders – to be among their dedicated peers and set the tone for every Cats home game at the BankAtlantic Center,” said Panthers president and COO Michael R. Yormark. “The Red Zone is just the latest extension of our ‘We See Red’ campaign and the full-scale red conversion of our franchise including the new red home jerseys, red lower bowl seats, red paint and signage in the arena and the new blood that will be featured on the Panthers’ opening night roster.”

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108)

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Miami Dolphins TV schedule set on CBS4, WBFS

Clip and save: Here is the Miami Dolphins’ TV schedule for 2011 on CBS Channel 4 and WBFS/TV 33 as well as the rundown on weekly features and specials.

“Dolphins Weekly Live Presents The Coach Tony Sparano Show” will begin on CBS4 on Sunday, Sept. 12, and will air on Sundays at 11 a.m. throughout the season. CBS4 Sports Anchor Kim Bokamper will host.

“Dolphins Weekly,” hosted by Jim Berry and Bokamper, airs every Sunday at 11:30 a.m., except for Sunday, Aug. 7. That will be preempted by “Dolphins 2011,” an hour-long special previewing the season, including a spotlight on wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Chad Henne, the team’s offensive and defense lineups as well as a one-on-one with Sparano.

The Dolphins cheerleaders’ swimsuit special airs on CBS4 on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. (it’s in high-def, guys).

The games are on CBS4 unless otherwise indicated:


August 12 Dolphins pregame 7 p.m.
August 12 Dolphins at Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
August 12 Dolphins postgame show 10:30 p.m.
August 19 Dolphins pregame Show 7 p.m.
August 19 Dolphins vs.Carolina 7:30 p.m.
August 19 Dolphins postgame show 10:30 p.m.
August 20 Cheerleaders special 7-8 p.m.
August 27 Dolphins pregame show 7 p.m.
August 27 Dolphins at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
August 27 Dolphins postgame show 10:30 p.m.
September 1 Dolphins pregame Show 7 p.m.
September 1 Dolphins vs. Dallas 7:30 p.m.
September 1 Dolphins Postgame Show 10:30 p.m.


September 12 Dolphins vs. New England 7 p.m. (ESPN)
September 12 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 10-11 p.m.
September 18 Dolphins vs. Houston 4:15 p.m.
September 18 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 7-8 p.m.
September 25 Dolphins at Cleveland 1 p.m.
September 25 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5 p.m.
October 2 Dolphins at San Diego 4:15 p.m.
October 2 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 7-8 p.m.
October 17 Dolphins at NY Jets 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
October 17 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5:00 p.m.
October 23 Dolphins vs. Denver 1 p.m.
October 23 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5 p.m.
October 30 Dolphins at NY Giants 1 p.m.
October 30 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 4-5 p.m.
November 6 Dolphins at Kansas City 1 p.m.
November 6 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5 p.m.
November 13 Dolphins vs. Washington 1 p.m. (Fox)
November 13 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 4-5 p.m.
November 20 Dolphins vs. Buffalo 1 p.m.
November 20 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 4-5 p.m.
November 24 Dolphins at Dallas 4:15 p.m.
November 24 Dolphins 5th Quarter 7:30-8 p.m.
December 4 Dolphins vs. Oakland 1 p.m.
December 4 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5 p.m.
December 11 Dolphins vs. Philadelphia 1 p.m. (Fox)
December 11 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 4-5 p.m.
December 18 Dolphins at Buffalo 1 p.m.
December 18 Dolphins 5th Quarter on WBFS 4-5 p.m.
December 24 Dolphins at New England 1 p.m.
December 24 Dolphins 5th Quarter 4:30-5 p.m.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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August 2, 2011

Florida Marlins' ballpark naming rights deal nearly done

The new Marlins ballpark will soon have a name.

A deal is close to being finalized on principal naming rights, P.J. Loyello, Marlins senior vice president of communications, said Tuesday.

During a media tour of the ballpark in mid-June, team President David Samson said negotiations were down to two companies.

“The end is always the hardest. I wanted an announcement [by] June 1. We are in an area where we’ve narrowed it down considerably and we’re at the final lap,” Samson said at the time. “It’s going to be a very interesting deal when it’s announced. Both companies are international companies.”

Despite the struggling economy, companies remain willing to pour big money into putting their name on stadiums. MetLife is reportedly close to securing rights to New Jersey's Meadowlands Stadium that would average $17 million to $18 million a year. The most paid for stadium naming rights is the 20-year, $400 million deal for the Mets’ Citi Field, according to Forbes magazine.

The Marlins deal will be for more than the name on the ballpark.

“From what I understand there’s several companies that stepped forward, and negotiations were always pretty open and clear about what the economic parameters of the deal would be, and people didn’t shy away. We’re talking multinational companies that are looking to get their name in Miami,” Loyello said, adding that the partnership is going to be “omnipresent from a marketing standpoint, a community standpoint and, obviously, a presence at the ballpark itself.
“We’re trying to get the best deal. We’re at the point that we’re finalizing it.

The Marlins have other secondary sponsors lined up to put their names on the four quadrants of the ballpark. Those will be finalized after the primary naming partnership is announced.

“We’re not going to finalize those until the naming rights deal is done. It’s a much longer partnership, longer in years and more money,” Samson said. “We’ve got to make sure everything is available for what a naming rights partner would like.”

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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Yankees fitting foe to open Marlins ballpark; they helped launch the franchise

The Marlins have lined up the highest profile opponent to open the new ballpark with a pair of exhibitions against the Yankees on April 1 and 2, 2012.

It’s fitting as the Yankees are no strangers to historic openings, and played a notable role in launching the Marlins franchise.

The Yankees took part in the first game played indoors when the Houston Astrodome opened on April 9, 1965 as the “eighth wonder of the world." The Astros won the exhibition 2-1 with Mickey Mantle hitting the first home run under the dome.

More significant to South Florida, the Yankees played two exhibitions against the Orioles in March 1991 at what was then Joe Robbie Stadium after it was reconfigured for baseball. The first was a sellout of 67,654, the latter drew more than 50,000.

H. Wayne Huizenga used it as a signal that South Florida was ready for an expansion team, saying, “It shows the interest and it shows the fans have supported and will support Major League Baseball in South Florida.”

Those words now have an ironic ring, but they had an impact then. The franchise that became the Marlins was awarded that June.

Putting new park to test

The exhibitions with the Yankees will be the last of several dress rehearsals that will open the ballpark. They will be preceded by some college games played to smaller crowds. There will be about 25,000 tickets available for the first exhibition with the Yankees (a 1:10 p.m. Sunday game) and 30,000 the next night for a 7:10 p.m. start. All season-ticket holders for 2012 will get first crack at tickets.

The Marlins will play the season opener against the Cardinals on April 4 to an expected full house of 37,000.

“Finding a team that would draw, you can’t go wrong with the Yankees. It’s the end of spring training, so you know the big players are going to be here,” said P.J. Loyello, Marlins senior vice president of communications. “There are a few ways we’ll have to break open the ballpark and make sure everything works properly from the restrooms to concession and everything before Opening Day.”

As construction nears completion, various sales and marketing events will give fans a chance to look over the ballpark. A select-a-seat day may be set as soon as mid-November, Loyello said.

The unveiling of a new logo and name change to Miami Marlins is slated for Nov. 11.

Work at the site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana is 76 percent complete, with work nearly finished on the retractable roof. With the white, rubberized membrane being installed to reflect heat, the interior of the ballpark has gotten noticeably cooler, Loyello said.

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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