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April 26, 2012

Rose, Bulls top NBA merchandise sales; James, Heat rank 4th

NBA merchandising has taken a bullish turn with the Chicago Bulls and star point guard Derrick Rose ranked No. 1 in sales of team merchandise and jersey sales, respectively.

The Miami Heat and LeBron James rank fourth in both categories, bases on sales at NBAStore.com and the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue from April 2011 to present. Dwyane Wade is sixth in jersey sales. The other member of the Heat’s Big Three, Chris Bosh, is not among the top 15.

New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin, whose jersey rocketed to No.1 at the height of Lin-sanity in February and March, is now No.2. Lin has been sidelined with a knee injury and is questionable for the playoffs.

Rose, whose jersey was No. 5 last year when he won the MVP award, attained No. 1 on the jersey list for the first time in his career and helped the Bulls reclaim the top overall spot in team merchandise sales for the first time since April 2001. The Lakers were No. 1 in team merchandise since the end of the 2008 season.

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who has topped the jersey list six times, is No. 3. James has twice been No. 1.

Additional highlights:

The Mavericks’ first NBA championship resulted in the team and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki (No. 7) both joining the top jersey and team merchandise list (No.5) for the first time since 2008.

The Los Angeles Clippers have two players on the list - Blake Griffin (No. 9) and Chris Paul (No. 15) – for the first time since April 2002 with Darius Miles (No. 7) and Lamar Odom (No. 8).

Most Popular NBA Jerseys
1. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
2. Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks*
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
4. LeBron James, Miami Heat
5. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
7. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks*
8. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
9. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
10. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
11. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
12. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
13. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
14. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
15. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers*


Most popular team merchandise

1. Bulls
2. Knicks
3. Lakers
4. Heat
5.Mavericks
6. Celtics
7. Thunder
8. Clippers
9. Nuggets
10. Magic

* Not on last year's list

Historical Top NBA Jerseys from end of season:

2012 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
2011 – LeBron James, Miami Heat
2010 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2009 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2008 – Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
2007 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2006 – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
2005 – Shaquille O’Neal, Miami Heat
2004 – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2003 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2002 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2001 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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Bus service offers alternative to driving to Marlins Park

Traffic and parking around Marlins Park is proving less of an issue than generally forecast. But the trip to Little Havana is daunting to some in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

One option gaining traction is to leave the driving to Ballgame Express. The upstart bus service is offering round-trip transportation to the ballpark from World of Beer and Hooters locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The ride costs $30, and game tickets can also be purchased, depending on availability. For pricing and schedule, visit BallgameExpress.com.

For this weekend’s series against the Diamondbacks, buses are available only for the Monday game. Pickup and drop-off will be at the Hooters in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines, as well as World of Beer in Wellington and Coconut Creek.

“We anticipate developing a regular route with World of Beer and Hooters going north to south for all games starting with the Mets (May 11-13),” said Mark Lubow, of BallgameExpress. “Our biggest challenge is getting the word out.”

POSTED IN: Miami Marlins (34)

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April 25, 2012

Panthers-Devils Game 7 tickets a bargain by NHL standards

With an average ticket price of $100.85, the Panthers-Devils winner-take-all showdown Thursday is a steal for a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs.

The game will begin at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FSF. The Devils' 3-2 overtime victory Tuesday in New Jersey set up Thursday's finale of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

The Panthers, trying to win their first playoff series since they defeated Pittsburgh in seven games in the 1996 conference finals, have won two of three games so far at BankAtlantic Center.

Two other Eastern Conference quarterfinals have also been pushed to the limit. According to SeatGeek.com, the average price on the resale market for Thursday’s Senators-Rangers Game 7 in New York is $353.78, while tickets to Wednesday night’s Capitals-Bruins Game 7 in Boston are averaging $263.85.

Those prices make the games in New York and Boston the most expensive and second most expensive tickets, respectively, of the first round of the 2012 NHL playoffs.

By comparison, the Panthers-Devils finale ranks as the 30th most expensive ticket of the opening round of the playoffs, said Will Flaherty, of SeatGeek, a ticket search engine.

Nonetheless, it is by far the most coveted for the Panthers all year. The average price exceeds the next closest Panthers game -- regular or postseason -- from this season by more than $20. Game 5 of the Devils-Panthers series and the Panthers’ Dec. 31 game against Montreal each had an average price of $80.

Some Game 7 tickets were still available Wednesday at Panthers.com, but a sellout was expected. Game 5 was the first sellout of the series at BankAtlantic Center.

On the secondary market, there are upper level tickets available for $40 in Section 432, and in the lower level for $95 (Section 125, Row 21). To sit by the glass at center ice will cost at least $250. Check SeatGeek for current availability.

The Panthers game will also be on NBC Sports Network, joined in progress following the Rangers-Senators game, and on radio by WQAM (560-AM).

The average prices for tickets throughout the Panthers-Devils Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, below, are courtesy of SeatGeek.

panther-tix-game7-devils.JPG

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April 24, 2012

Dolphins tickets among NFL's cheapest on resale market

The vital importance of the upcoming NFL Draft to the Dolphins is most evident in their ongoing struggle to sell tickets.

The Dolphins literally couldn’t give away tickets last season. Fan disdain has continued to grow amid reports of season-ticket sales for 2012 at about half the 60,000 level it reached in 2005.

That is also reflected in the ticket resale market. According to the ticket search engine SeatGeek.com, Dolphins tickets are among the least expensive in the NFL for the upcoming season, with only two of the team’s eight home games ranking in the top half of 2012 NFL games in terms of average price.

Will Flaherty, of SeatGeek, provided the following analysis of Dolphins ticket prices for 2012:

Dolphins tickets are some of the least in demand throughout the league. Their most expensive ticket, Dec. 2 against the Patriots, is only the 96th most expensive ticket in the league right now. Also, their four least expensive games all rank in the bottom quartile of all NFL games in terms of average ticket price.

The average price for the visit by the Patriots is $221.

The most expensive ticket in the NFL is for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ game at New England on Oct. 7. On average, tickets to that game have been listed at $486 on secondary markets.

Four of the Dolphins’ home games are priced on average at $135 or below.

The second-most expensive Dolphins' home game is for their other traditional rival, the Jets on Sept. 23. Right now on secondary markets, the average asking price for a ticket to that game is $187, which is almost 20 per cent less than tickets for the Patriots game, SeatGeek found.

The Dolphins' home opener against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 16 ($144), and their game against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 23 ($138) round out their top four most expensive home games, based on resale prices.

The Dolphins are selling season-ticket packages but have not yet made single-game tickets available.

As for the least expensive games, according to SeatGeek,the cheapest ticket right now on average is the St. Louis Rams' visit on Oct. 14, with an average list price of $119. That's in the bottom 30 games in terms of ticket prices this year.

Apparently not much interest in seeing the handiwork of new Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who spurned the Dolphins in their recent coaching search.

Tickets to see the Tennessee Titans play in Miami on Nov. 11 are slightly more expensive, averaging $125 on secondary markets. Home games against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 25 ($129), and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 16 ($134) complete the list of the four least expensive Dolphins home games.

dolphins-tickets.JPG

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April 17, 2012

Lone protester voices dissent of Guillen's return as Marlins manager

MIAMI The mood on the west plaza outside Marlins Park was festive rather than fiery Tuesday as manager Ozzie Guillen returned from suspension for remarks that offended many in the Cuban-American community.

A merengue band played in honor of Dominican Heritage Night. Here and there couples stopped to dance on their way into the ballpark.

The only hint of dissent was from Jay Fernandez, of Kendall, standing casually and alone on the corner across 16th Avenue. His protest sign rested against a bench, facing away so it could not be read.

The concealed message was: “No Apologies Fire Him Now.”

Fernandez displayed the sign along with about 100 others who demonstrated outside Marlins Park a week before while Guillen held a news conference to apologize and explain his comments about Fidel Castro in a Time magazine story.

“I didn’t come to protest. I brought my sign, but I’m just a citizen that doesn’t agree with what he said,” Fernandez said.

Asked if he was surprised more hadn’t returned to reiterate their outrage, he said: “The other day was just people reacting like myself, but I don’t think there’s any organization that is doing it. What we wanted to say was said the other day.”

Guillen was quoted as saying, “I love Castro,” which he amended to meaning that he admired the Cuban dictator for staying in power for more than 50 years.

Fernandez, 68, said he fled Cuba with his family when he was 18.

“It touches your heart because my wife’s family, she lost five people that [were] murdered by a Castro high-up in the army. There was not even an investigation. This guy was drunk out of his mind and killed five people. Nothing happened. … And those things are still happening now,” he said.

“To see a guy come in here and say he admires that guy, it’s hard to take.”

The Marlins plan to donate the salary Guillen surrendered during his five-game suspension, about $150,000, to human rights organizations. The recipients are being determined.

Guillen said prior to the game he understands that people like Fernandez will continue to harbor resentment toward him.

“When you hurt somebody’s feelings you don’t resolve that with money. I don’t expect to resolve this problem with money. I‘m going to resolve this problem with acts,” Guillen said, vowing to be active in community causes.

Fernandez had planned to attend Tuesday’s game. He said he and his brother-in-law had purchased a 20-game ticket plan.

“He’s going to try to return them. I doubt if he gets his money back. We’re not going to be buying anything as long as that guy is here,” he said. “I know a lot of people who tried to get refunds.”

Asked if there was anything Guillen could do to make amends, Fernandez said: “No, because he meant what he said. If you still believe in Santa Claus, then you can believe what he said. He was fearing for his job. He said what he said, but it was just a bunch of lies.”

It would be difficult to gauge the depth of resentment Guillen has stirred. No conclusions can be drawn from Marlins attendance on this homestand. The three games last weekend drew crowds of more than 30,000. Tuesday’s opener of a three-game series against the Cubs, the first weekday game since Opening Day, drew 24,544.

There was no reaction to Guillen’s return from the crowd in the ballpark. Outside, signs being displayed were offering parking spaces. One exception: a man walking a dog on the plaza held a sign that read: “John 3:16”

“It’s a shame that he was not given the same treatment that other public figures have been given [for] sticking their foot in their mouth, like Howard Cosell, Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus,” Fernandez said.

“But here the judge and jury is [Marlins President] David Samson. Even he said some very nasty things not too long ago. He said he didn’t say it, but everybody heard him saying it. Maybe they should change the name of the team to the Miami Misunderstoods.”

It was 45 minutes before first pitch. As fans streamed past on their way to the game, Fernandez picked up his sign, message still turned away from view, and headed for his car.

POSTED IN: Miami Marlins (34)

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Trailer for 'The Franchise' shows Guillen informed of suspension

This is the trailer for the preview of “The Franchise: A Season With the Miami Marlins” that will air Saturday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

The 2-minute, 48-minute clip includes footage of Marlins President David Samson informing manger Ozzie Guillen of his five-game suspension due to his comments about Fidel Castro.

The second season of the Showtime reality series will debut with a one-hour episode July 11, the night after the All-Star Game. Regular half-hour episodes will follow on Wednesday night’s during an eight-week season.

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Marlins donate $155,000 to charities; Guillen's docked pay will go to Cuban rights groups

The $155,000 in donations the Marlins presented to three charities at Marlins Park last weekend well before manager Ozzie Guillen’s infamous “I love Castro” remark upset many of their new neighbors.

With their move to Miami, the Marlins have been reaching out to various organizations in Miami-Dade County through their Marlins Foundation. Contributions presented during the team’s first homestand to Shake-A-Leg Miami, Miracle League of Miami Dade and the Jackie Robinson Foundation were part of an ongoing outreach program that also operated when the team played at Sun Life Stadium as the Florida Marlins.

Guillen’s comments couldn’t have been more ill-advised for a franchise trying to establish itself in an area known as Little Havana. But some groups in the Cuban community will benefit.

Charity-marlins.jpgThe salary Guillen was docked during a five-game suspension will be donated to Cuban human rights groups, team President David Samson said last week. The recipients will be announced soon, Marlins spokesperson Carolina Perrina de Diego said.

Perhaps as soon as Tuesday when Guillen resumes his duties as manager as the Marlins begin a series against the Cubs.

“When you’re talking about an issue like this, whether the ballpark is in Little Havana or not, we want to be good neighbors and a good member of this community. We would have felt the same way if we were still playing at Pro Player,” Samson said when Guillen’s suspension was announced.

“This is not about where the ballpark is. It’s not about the fact we’re now called the Miami Marlins. We’ve been in this community for 20 years, and feel as strongly 10 years ago when we started as we do today that these things just aren’t tolerated and we swiftly moved under Jeffrey [Loria]’s leadership. His extreme disappointment is not about how this impacts the team on the field. His extreme disappointment is a total understanding of this community and the impact those comments, however interpreted, have on the community.”

The Marlins Foundation’s stated objective is “improving the lives of our youth through education, the arts and baseball, with a special focus on children with special needs.”

The Foundation donated $50,000 dollars to Shake-A-Leg Miami on Friday, then $100,000 to the Miracle League of Miami Dade on Saturday.

The Marlins Foundation is working with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade to build the Miracle League of Miami Dade Field “where children can play baseball and know that it was created with their needs in mind,” the Marlins said in a statement. The donation comes as a result of a Marlins Golf Classic fundraiser, co-hosted by first baseman Gaby Sanchez and catcher John Buck.

Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day throughout the major leagues. The Marlins donate $4,200 dollars to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“As Marlins Park rose from the ground, so too, has the Marlins commitment to our community”, said Alfredo Mesa, Executive Director of Marlins Foundation. “We are proud to call Shake-A-Leg Miami and the Miracle League of Miami Dade our charity partners. Both of these organizations provide our most deserving youth with unique experiences and are aligned with our mission- to improve the lives of our youth through education, the arts and baseball, with a special focus on children with special needs.”

Photo: The Miracle League of Miami Dade received a donation of $100,000 for a baseball field for children with special needs in Miami. (Photo courtesy Miami Marlins)

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April 14, 2012

NHL Winter Classic not likely to float in Miami

SUNRISE The NFL is taking a bold risk by staging the Super Bowl outdoors in New York in February 2014.

Why not hold an NHL Winter Classic in Miami’s Marlins Park with the roof open?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been a staunch supporter of hockey in South Florida through the Panthers’ lean years of lousy play and shaky attendance. During Friday’s first playoff game here in 12 years, he lauded the franchise’s resiliency and fan loyalty, and said the future is bright.

But that apparently does not apply to outdoor hockey in South Florida. Bettman virtually melted hope of a Winter Classic next to the Clevelander pool -- even though the league once staged an exhibition in Las Vegas outside Caesar's Palace (video above).

“I think doing an outdoor game based in a warm climate, based on current climatic conditions and technology, is very difficult to be thinking about,” Bettman said. “They’d open the roof and it would be hot.”

On the contrary, the technology is adequate. Tampa has outdoor ice skating, a la New York’s Rockerfeller Center, from early November through Christmas. The Tampa Bay Lightning is one of the sponsors of Tampa’s annual Downtown on Ice.

The University of Central Florida has a 100-foot rink open for skating for 50 days outside its basketball arena as the centerpiece of the Light Up UCF holiday event (video below).

They are set up by Ice Rink Events, which has been building permanent and temporary outdoor rinks throughout the world for more than 30 years, in all climates. They put one in hot, smoggy Mexico City. They’ve done the Winter Classic for the NHL.

“There are some people who suggest that [BankAtlantic Center] is very cold when you’re in here. The reason is it is hard to keep the ice at the levels we need it to be,” Bettman said.

More likely he is concerned about the heat he would receive from the NHL’s traditional hockey markets in the Northeast and Canada if he agreed to set the sacred Winter Classic in the shadow of palm trees. Curious, considering he had just finished praising the benefits the league is receiving from teams in newer markets “making their own traditions.”

An NHL game outdoors in a hot climate has precedent. The Rangers and Kings played an outdoors exhibition in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, 1991. It was 85 degrees at game time. Maintaining the ice was a challenge, but the biggest problem was a barrage of grasshoppers getting stuck to it.

In Miami, the average temperature in January ranges from 59.5 to 75.6 degrees.

The holiday rinks in Tampa and at UCF are covered by tents. At Marlins Park, no sweat. Keep the retractable roof closed until game time, and start it late in the day.

The Marlins have already had to adjust the angle of the air-conditioning vents because fans complained it was blowing too cold on them. It shouldn’t be difficult to keep the ice playable for three hours.

Panthers President and COO Michael Yormark expressed interest when the possibility of the Winter Classic in Miami was raised in December. Bettman reacts to the notion as if it were something he wouldn’t want to step in.

A Panthers-Lightning match-up wouldn’t appeal to the league or television. But Panthers vs. an Original Six team such as the Rangers, Canadiens or Maple Leafs (all three have a sizable fan base relocated or wintering in South Florida) outdoors in Little Havana would seem an intriguing curiosity.

“It would be a novelty, but you have to remember the Winter Classic is two points that matter in the standings. For some teams, including one playing [Friday], those two points could have been all the difference in the world,” Bettman said, referring to the Panthers winning their division by two points.

“We don’t want to trivialize it.”

Seems an odd head-in-the-sand stance for a league hard-pressed to expand from a niche audience.

Perhaps Bettman just doesn’t want to have to watch the Red Grooms celebration sculpture with marlins spinning and flamingos flapping after every Panthers goal.


POSTED IN: NHL (56)

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April 13, 2012

NHL chief Bettman: Good times ahead for Panthers, South Florida hockey

SUNRISE Commissioner Gary Bettman, on hand to watch the Panthers’ first playoff game in 12 years on Friday night, said this turnaround season has shown a resiliency for the franchise and believes “there are good times ahead” for hockey in South Florida.

“The buzz is great. I get down here a lot, and the buzz down here has been great all season,” Bettman said. “I’m happy for the fans down here that have so loyally and spectacularly supported this franchise over the years. … This is a team that through some lean times has gotten really good fan support, and it is only going to increase as the team’s performance increases.

Bettman has been a consistent supporter of the franchise while some factions within the league have questioned the staying power of this and other franchises in so-called non-traditional hockey markets.

“Teams are making their own traditions[through] game presentation, how fans interact. Whether it’s red here or gold, in Nashville. Everybody is doing it different, but the fans are connecting everywhere in increasing numbers, and that’s the positive sign,” he said.

Bettman cited record revenues the past seven years and record attendance six of the past seven years as positive signs league-wide. He said having all first-round playoffs games televised is helpful in showcasing the league at its best, and pointed to strong ratings in the early games.

The NHL will face a challenge later this year with the collective bargaining agreement due to expire Sept. 15. Donald Fehr, former chief of the major league baseball players union has taken over that roll for NHL players. Negotiations have not begun.

“There’s no immediate pressure. We’re ready whenever the unon is ready,” Bettman said.

Not quite full house

The first playoff game at BankAtlantic Center drew an announced attendance of 19,119, falling short of a sellout by “a couple hundred tickets,” said Michael Yormark, Panthers president and COO.
There were scattered empty seats in all three levels. The South Florida sports dollar was spread thin Friday with the Marlins opening their first homestand at Marlins Park, and the Heat also playing at home.
“You’re never goingt to have a 100-percent show rate. But we’re very pleased with the response from the marketplace, and this is something we can build on moving forward,” Yormark said.
“These are all Florida Panthers fans. They’re not rooting for an opponent, they’re rooting for the Florida Panthers. We haven’t had that in a long time.”

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108)

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April 12, 2012

Marlins' Webb runs in Rocky's footsteps

PHILADELPIA -- An indication that manager Ozzie Guillen’s problems haven’t been a distraction to the Marlins was the off-day exploits of a couple of relief pitchers.

On Tuesday, while Guillen was in Miami oding his mea culpa for his “I love Castro” comments, Steve Cishek and Ryan Webb went sightseeing.

The highlight of the day was Cishek filming Webb running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art a la Rocky, while wearing an Abe Lincoln top hat.

“I hit every step,” Webb said. “We saw the Liberty Bell, then went to the gift store and got some hats. Then we went to see the Rocky statue, ran up the steps, looked at some art.”

The art was the Vincent Van Gogh exhibit that runs through May 6.

“It was very interesting. A lot of the same stuff. He liked to paint wheat fields, apparently,” Webb said.

POSTED IN: Miami Marlins (34)

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April 6, 2012

Florida Panthers in the spotlight of TV commercial for Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Florida Panthers are being featured in a television commercial for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that is already grabbing attention on YouTube. And why not, after a 12-year absence the Panthers are the novelty act of this postseason.

The theme is "Because It's the Cup." Variations of the theme were produced for several of the playoff teams.

The Panthers' version:

"... Because they're making everyone believe red. ... Because Florida is only starting to heat up.... because the blueprint can get you there. ... But just getting there isn't enough. ... Because it's the Cup."

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April 4, 2012

Miami Dolphins consider altering logo, look for 2013

Dolphins-logo-jersey-closeup.jpg

The Dolphins may get a facelift for the 2013 season.

Nothing drastic, but team President Mike Dee said the Dolphins are soliciting fan opinion and will consider alterations to their logo and look to take advantage of opportunities under the NFL’s new apparel licensing agreements.

“I don’t think you’d ever see us consider something as radical as Tampa Bay did going from the orange to the pewter gray. … But I think we’re actively looking at ways to keep the brand current while respecting the great tradition and iconic value that we’ve been fortunate to inherit,” Dee said.

“That may result in some change, it may result in subtle change, it may result in no change. It’s too early to tell, but we’re talking to fans and listening to fans.”

For 2012, there was no change in the appearance of the Dolphins’ uniform unveiled by Nike on Tuesday. The differences are in the materials, composition and fit – “purely performance-driven,” Dee said.

“It won’t even be that visible to the naked eye. Perhaps the fit might be,” he said. “It is a matte finish, so if you pay attention to the details it will be a different look.”

The Dolphins have made slight changes to their logo with the dolphin and orange sunburst since the 1966 debut. The most recent variation was in 1997 to the bolder, fiercer dolphin that appears on the side of helmets and jerseys.

“We’re anxious to talk to fans, and whatever we do it is going to be with great reverence and respect for the history and iconic nature of all the marks and symbols fans have come to know and like,” Dee said. “We’re not looking to enact any radical changes. … We will keep great respect of the history and tradition of the logo and the look and feel of the team. That is not going to change under any circumstances.”

Only the Seattle Seahawks requested a redesign for 2012. Their new jerseys are deep blue with silver numbers and wide silver shoulder stripes. Both have lime-green piping. The pants have a stripe of stylized wings down the side.

The Denver Broncos are going back to their roots with an orange jersey after wearing navy in recent years.

The NFL is anticipating a significant revenue boost with the switch from Reebok to Nike and several other companies for league apparel.

Nike is producing all on-field apparel, including game uniforms and base layers, as well as sideline personal apparel and fan gear. New partners include New Era (hats for sideline personnel and fans) and ’47 Brand (hats for fans). Other licensees include Under Armour (sponsor of the NFL Combine), GIII (outerwear), VF (T-shirts and fleeces) and Outerstuff (youth apparel).

It is estimated that nearly half of the NFL’s income is generated by licensed goods, including apparel, video games and novelty items. The new deals are seen as helping offset declining ticket sales.

Fans will have more choices at team stores and online outlets. They will also pay more for some items. The base price of replica jerseys will go from $85 under Reebok to $100 with Nike.

“The appeal of the products is going to be much greater than they’ve been in recent years,” Dee said. “There’s going to be a lot more cool stuff available.”

Pre-order for NFL jerseys on NFLshop.com will begin April 15, and various items will begin showing up in stores this summer.

Photo: The current Dolphins logo was updated in 1997. A new variation may be coming in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Nike)

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April 3, 2012

Nike not radically altering look of NFL uniforms; Dolphins standing pat

unis.jpg

NFL teams are getting new Nike uniforms, but the look is about the same for most teams.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby modeled the Miami Dolphins’ familiar aqua primary jersey at a gala unveiling Tuesday in Brooklyn, N.Y., and it was difficult to discern any difference.

The team had said that no change to the logo or look of the uniforms was planned for 2012. Some tweaks to the logo are planned for 2013, according to a team source.

Dolphins-uniforms.jpgThe big change will be in how the players feel inside the uniforms.

Nike took over from Reebok as the NFL’s apparel maker Tuesday and showcased a new line of high-tech uniforms. Overall the changes were described as more evolutionary than revolutionary.

The hype accompanying the debut of the uniforms created major anticipation and traffic on social media sites such as Twitter.

The status quo was disappointing for some.

“The new NFL Nike football uniforms are the same as the old ones... So pointless,” tweeted Sloobs22. And from Mgray5: “congrats to nike for making every NFL jersey either the exact same or more bland than they were.”

That may be due more to the conservative leanings of the NFL than Nike. Nike brand president Charlie Denson stirred speculation when the deal with the NFL was announced in late 2010, saying, “We plan on changing the NFL jersey dramatically just like we’ve done with the college programs.”

As it turned out, the most significant new look is the addition of the Nike swoosh on the shoulder.

The technology is a departure for all the teams to materials Nike has been incorporating in uniforms for many college teams.

The 32 NFL teams will be wearing the Nike Elite 51 uniform made from state-of-the-art four-way stretch mesh that’s two times stronger than last year’s jerseys. The new jerseys are 30 percent lighter when dry and 50 percent lighter when wet, according to Nike, than those worn by NFL teams last year. They are designed to speed the release of heat and core temperature and promote cooling.

Gloves with the team logos similar to worn by college teams were shown recently at the Pro Bowl.

Nike also displayed new fan gear for each team including T-shirts, hats, jackets and sweats. New apparel will be available for pre-sale at NFLshop.com beginning April 15.

NFL stars modeling the uniforms included Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and Wes Welker of the New England Patriots.

"I love them...The players love them," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the unveiling.

USA Today quoted Victor Cruz, of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, as saying the new uniforms are sleeker and more form-fitting. which should help him elude tacklers better.

The unis "conform and fit your body," said Cruz. "They're tight.

Nike President and CEO Mark Parker said in a recent interview with CNBC's Darren Rovell: "We've innovated at a very high level. The uniforms are lighter, they're faster, they're better fitting. So, the athletes are actually very excited about what we're going to bring to the professional game. People are wondering, 'What are you going to do? Are you going to get crazy with the uniforms?' I think we're actually going to have some fun but respect the tradition of these teams at the same time."

Here is Nike description of the technology: The new uniform focuses on creating a system where the base layer, padding, jersey and pant work in concert. Flywire technology is incorporated into the neckline to reduce weight and provide a lockdown fit over the pads. The uniform also features increased sleeve articulation for better range of motion and the integration of new four-way stretch fabrication to provide a streamlined shrink-wrap fit.

Primary features:

LIGHTER - The Nike jersey and pant, wet or dry are lighter than previous versions

FLYWIRE TECHNOLOGY - Eliminates layers, reduces weight, and provides lockdown fit

ZONED MESH VENTILATION – Provides cooling zones for optimal thermo-regulation.

ZONED STRENGTH - High tenacity, stretch material, for lightweight lockdown strength.

CUT FOR MOBILITY – Four-way stretch, hydrophobic materials enable range of motion wet or dry.

STRETCH TWILL NUMBERS – Four-way stretch even on numbering system.

CUSTOMIZABLE BASELAYER PADDING – Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong baselayer with integrated lightweight, Deflex padding offering customizable flexible protection.

DEFLEX PADDING - Lightweight, flexible impact protection integrated into top “hit zone” areas.

ALUMINUM D-RING BELT - Aircraft-grade aluminum D-ring belt reduces weight.

Photos: Courtesy of Nike

Dolphins-gear.jpg

POSTED IN: NFL (178)

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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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