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December 20, 2012

Dolphins offer perks for fans at home finale vs. BIlls

The Miami Dolphins will reward fans with several perks of appreciation at Sunday’s season-finale at Sun Life Stadium.

Fans can purchase $1 hot dogs in the Grand Plaza through kick-off.

Throughout the game, fans will receive a 15-percent discount on all merchandise and a 10-percent discount on food and beverage items.

Season-ticket members with their member card will receive 25-percent discounts on merchandise, food and beverage items.

There will also be surprise seat and suite upgrades, and fans in random “lucky rows” will receive gifts including tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Totem, Monster Jam, Sea World, Shula Burger gift cards and other giveaways.

Additionally, the Dolphins will conduct a series of surprise visits to the homes and businesses of season- ticket members to awards gifts from Dec. 23 through the end of January.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (201)

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December 17, 2012

Heat follow Wade in partnering with Li-Ning

The Miami Heat are following the lead of its star Dwyane Wade in entering a partnership deal with Chinese sportswear and athletic shoe company Li-Ning.

The partnership is part of a comprehensive marketing program to support Wade, the new athletic footwear and apparel collection that the guard announced with Li-Ning during the Heat’s recent exhibition tour in China.

Heat executives also took advantage of the exhibition tour to strengthen their marketing ties with China.

“We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the works. It was a productive trip,” Eric Woolworth, Heat president of business operations said after the China tour. “It will end up playing dividends for us for sure.”

The Lin-Ning deal is the first manifestation of that. The partnership provides Li-Ning with in-arena signage at AmericanAirlines Arena and other advertising assets on Heat properties, including Heat.com and the team’s TV broadcasts on Sun Sports. Li-Ning products, including WADE branded merchandise, will be sold at the arena in 2013.

“The Li-Ning brand represents both style and substance and is therefore a welcome addition to the Miami Heat family of partners,” said Woolworth said in a statement Monday. “We’re eager to help introduce Li-Ning to Heat fans everywhere and we are confident their new collection of Wade merchandise will have a very broad appeal.”

Li-Ning. Based in Beijing, is one of the leading sports brand companies in China, mainly providing sporting goods including footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for professional and leisure purposes.
“We are very excited to be the latest all-star to join the roster of the Miami Heat and help support the team’s journey to another NBA championship,” said Brian Cupps, director of brand initiatives for basketball at Li-Ning. “The Heat offer an amazing platform on which to engage with fans who will love our upcoming Wade merchandise.”

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (183)

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December 5, 2012

Hunter-Reay extends sponsorship deal with DHL

hunter-reay-car.jpg

Ryan-Hunter Reay delivered the IZOD IndyCar Series championship this year to Andretti Autosport and his sponsors.

Among the rewards, the Fort Lauderdale driver and the Andretti team received a multi-year sponsorship extension from DHL. The world-wide delivery firm, a partial sponsor of Hunter-Reay’s car the past two seasons, will become the full primary sponsor of the car Hunter-Reay will drive next year.

The new No. 1 DHL Chevrolet that he will he begin defense of his title at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24, was unveiled Wednesday in Indianapolis.

“When Ryan wins we get so many more brand impressions. So it’s wonderful to see our brand so positively connected with speed and reliability, things that our brand stands for,” Christine Nashick, Vice President of Marketing for DHL Express, said during a recent celebration of Hunter-Reay’s championship at DHL’s North America headquarters in Plantation. “It’s absolutely beyond our expectations. Not that we doubted that Ryan could do it.”

Hunter-Reay, who grew up in Boca Raton and graduated from Cardinal Gibbons, is the first American to win the IndyCar series title since 2006. He won four races this season on the way to claiming the $1 million prize for the championship. Fort Lauderdale recently held a day in his honor.

"As a global industry leader, DHL is a brand that we are proud to have in our organization. We look forward to many more wins together,” said John Lopes, Chief Marketing Officer, Andretti Autosport.

Elements of sponsorship continue in 2013 with DHL image and advertising rights as well as VIP hospitality platforms for DHL customers at races in major U.S., Canadian, Asian and Latin American markets.

“Andretti, like DHL, is recognized worldwide as a high performance brand, known for its speed, reliability and the dedication of its team. We look forward to a continuing successful partnership together and an exciting racing season ahead,” Nashick said Wednesday in a statement.

Photo: Ryan Hunter-Reay's new DHL Chevrolet was unveiled Wednesday in Indianapolis. (Courtesy Andretti Motorsports)

POSTED IN: Auto Racing (43)

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Don Shula went from high stakes to high-class steaks

MIAMI GARDENS Don Shula accumulated numerous game-balls while amassing 347 NFL victories.

The one the retired Miami Dolphins coach received Tuesday stands apart from the rest. Shula said he will cherish the ball presented by the Dolphins Business Alliance for success in building his Shula’s Steak House chain of restaurants as much as those signifying his conquests on the field.

“I had all the football honors that a guy could have, but this is something new here. I’m going to put that one right up next to my other game-balls,” he said during a public event at Sun Life Stadium.

The award came one day after the newest arm of the chain opened its fourth Shula Burger, in Kendall. The fast-food concept also has a Fort Lauderdale location on the 17th Street Causeway.

Dolphins media relations director Harvey Greene recalls the surprise of stepping off the 18th green at the golf course in Miami Lakes in 1989 and encountering a steer tied up outside the country club. That was the day Shula put his name on a struggling restaurant there at the urging of members of former Sen. Bob Graham’s family.

“I resisted for quite a while,” Shula said. “We tried it, and the sales jumped immediately about four times what it was. I said ‘This is not a bad deal.’”

There are now 36 restaurants in the chain in six different concepts from formal to casual. They are scattered throughout the nation, including several airports.

“Shula Burger is the new idea that my wife [Mary Anne] came up with,” Shula said. “She’s got a great business mind. When she thinks of something, I say ‘Yes dear,’ and move on.”

Shula, 82, is a big fan of the product but admits he’s not much of a force in the kitchen: “I had trouble warming up a pot of water on the stove.”

He was in his element talking football with a gathering of business leaders and Dolphins fans, who gave him a standing ovation. The former coach is now one of them, a Sunday afternoon fan.

Shula said he believes the Dolphins are headed in the right direction with first-year coach Joe Philbin and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He expressed dismay that New England fans comprised a sizeable portion of last week’s home crowd. But he recalled that the situation was similar at Dolphins home games when he arrived in 1970.

“After we started to win they became Dolphins fans,” he said. “Hopefully our fans are coming back to us.”

There will be more ovations and reminiscing in two weeks when the Dolphins celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Perfect Season. Many of the players from the 1972 team will participate in a weekend celebration culminating with ceremonies at the Dolphins-Jaguars game on Dec. 16.

“Forty years, it’s unbelievable to think that. What we did hadn’t been done in the 50 years before that and hasn’t been done in the 40 years since then,” Shula said.

“We get a rap for, I guess, taking too much pride when that last undefeated team gets beat every year. But we don’t have any big celebrations like people have accused us of doing. One year that last undefeated team got beat, and Dick Anderson and [Nick] Buoniconti [who] live next to each other down in Coral Gables … went in the driveway and popped a bottle of champagne and toasted each other. They were too cheap to invite the rest of us to the party.”

The award Shula received previously went to three of his former players, Bob Brudzinski, Kim Bokamper and John Offerdahl. They have also succeeded in the challenging restaurant business.

“A lot of athletes get into it and like the glitz and glamour but don’t realize how tough it is every day,” said Shula’s son Dave, the former Cincinnati Bengals coach who is president of the steak house chain.

“If you don’t surround yourself with some real trustworthy, knowledgeable people -- I don’t know which word to put first, maybe trustworthy -- you can get taken down the road, and not on the path you want to be on. The failure rate for non-branded restaurants is 95 percent within a year.”

Shula’s has grown impressively from four restaurants when Dave Shula joined the business in 1997, and continues to expand through difficult economic times. Shows his father has reason to be proud of that latest game-ball.

“We’re real proud of the fact that we’ve had that kind of staying power,” Dave Shula said.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (201)

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December 3, 2012

Shula to be honored for business achievements

Don Shula’s achievements as a legendary leader didn’t end when he left the Miami Dolphins after the 1995 season.

The winningest NFL coach’s success in business through his chain of Shula’s Steak Houses will be honored by the Dolphins Business Alliance in an event open to the public at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Sun Life Stadium. There is no charge to attend. Enter Gate C and proceed to the Club Level.

The event will also feature a panel discussion on how athletes prepare for life after football. It will be moderated by Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman of Rakontur, a production company that has created critically-acclaimed documentaries including “Broke”, the highest rated film in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Panelists scheduled to appear include Director of Player Engagement Kaleb Thornhill, Brian Hartline, Richie Incognito and Matt Moore.

Shula, who won 347 games in 33 seasons of coaching, has overseen the growth of his steak houses from the original Shula’s that opened in 1989 in Miami Lakes to a nationwide chain of 32 restaurants, ranging from casual to fine-dining. The newest concept, Shula Burger, recently opened a store in Fort Lauderdale in the 17th Street Causeway.

Past honorees by the alliance include three former Dolphins players who have also excelled in the restaurant business: Bob Brudzinski, Kim Bokamper and John Offerdahl.

“We are pleased to honor Coach Shula for his success off the field with his Shula family of restaurants and also hear from a number of our current players to learn how they are preparing themselves for a successful career after football,” said Jim Rushton, Chief Revenue Officer for the Miami Dolphins.

Dolphins Prime will be activated for this event with a complimentary food and cash bar with cheerleaders and mascot T.D. available for pictures and autographs. The Finsiders radio show will conduct a live broadcast. There will also be 30 trade show booths.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (201)

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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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