The Business & Pleasure of Sports


Category: Golf (13)

Sony Tennis founder Buchholz jumps to golf's Cadillac Championship


Buchholz-sony-sm.jpg

The man who made Key Biscayne a force in the tennis world is bringing his creative expertise to golf.

Butch Buchholz, founder of the Sony Open Tennis tournament, has been named tournament chairman for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral on March 6-10.

"I am thrilled to be associated with a world-class event like the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and look forward to reconnecting with South Florida business and golf communities,” Buchholz said in a statement. “The Cadillac Championship is truly a jewel of an event featuring one of the best fields in golf and one of the game’s best and most recognizable title sponsors in Cadillac.”

Buchholz, 72, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, played on the U.S. Davis Cup team and rose as high as the No. 5 amateur player in the world. But he is best as an event organizer.

In 1985, he founded the Lipton Championships in Delray Beach and built the event, now known as the Sony Open Tennis and staged on Key Biscayne, into the largest tennis tournament in the world outside of the four Grand Slam events.

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Broken Sound, Allianz Championship show what it takes to be green


BOCA RATON Success in golf tournaments center on the greens, and golf courses depend on maintaining a lush, green landscape.

To do so stresses the enviroment. So the sport hasn’t been able to claim to be all that green in the that regard.

Broken Sound Club and the Allianz Championship have undertaken an admirable effort to do something about that through various recycling energy conservation initiatives. The tournament and the club were lauded Saturday with a citation from the Golf Environment Council and a Florida state Senate proclamation praising their green energy initiatives.

Continue reading "Broken Sound, Allianz Championship show what it takes to be green" »

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Broken Sound, Allianz Championship show what it takes to be green


BOCA RATON Success in golf tournaments center on the greens, and golf courses depend on maintaining a lush, green landscape.

To do so stresses the enviroment. So the sport hasn’t been able to claim to be all that green in the that regard.

Broken Sound Club and the Allianz Championship have undertaken an admirable effort to do something about that through various recycling energy conservation initiatives. The tournament and the club were lauded Saturday with a citation from the Golf Environment Council and a Florida state Senate proclamation praising their green energy initiatives.

Continue reading "Broken Sound, Allianz Championship show what it takes to be green" »

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History of South Florida sports focus of documentary


Rick Horrow, veteran of numerous sports financing deals, is behind a new documentary that traces the history of South Florida sports from the Miami Dolphins' 1966 inaugural season to LeBron James’ July 8 “Decision” to change the face of the Miami Heat. And pretty much everything in between, including the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers.

The “Birth of South Florida Sports” debuts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on WPEC Channel 12 in West Palm Beach. It includes interviews with legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, former Dolphin Dick Anderson, Dolphins owner Steve Ross, and golfer Jack Nicklaus, among others.

Horrow, CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures, also interviews former Senator and former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, who spearheaded the movement to create sports authorities and give them the authority to oversee the building of sports venues. Horrow, who served as founding director of the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority, and oversaw the building of Miami Arena, said Graham understood the importance of sports teams to a community.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in half an hour, but Horrow said it’s supplemented with podcasts and the release of an updated version of his book When the Game Is On The Line.

PBS’ Nightly Business Report now includes Horrow’s "Beyond the Scoreboard” series on Monday nights. Horrow also hosts “Beyond the Game” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays on WPEC.

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LeBron, D Wade, Williams sisters make Forbes best-dressed list


We’re already well aware of Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s fashion sense – he’s been applauded for it repeatedly and was included in Esquire's Style Blog last month.

Now Forbes has included Wade in its list of Best-Dressed Athletes that includes the likes of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, soccer star David Beckham, tennis stars Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones (who makes his own bow ties).

Wade’s teammate forward LeBron James also made the list.

As did Miami Dolphins limited partners and tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

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Edwin Watts Golf partners with Sears, including Pembroke Pines store


ewgsshop1.jpgFort Walton Beach-based Edwin Watts Golf announced this week it is partnering with Sears and opening a dozen “store within a store” locations across the country, including one at the Sears in Pembroke Pines.

The partnership allows Edwin Watts to expand its reach to more customers through a national retailer both in store and online. The Edwin Watts sections of the stores are expected to be 2,700- to 3,000-square feet and be modeled on the company’s free-standing stores. They will be staffed by Edwin Watts Golf associates and will feature a variety of brands of equipment and apparel, including Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and FootJoy.

“We chose to partner with Sears based on our strategic need for a mall-based retailer with a national footprint, as well as affiliations with leading brands such as Craftsman Tools and Nordic Track, which strongly align with the golfer demographic,” Edwin Watts Golf Shops CEO John Watson said in a statement.

The first Edwin Watts Golf within a Sears is scheduled to open May 31 at the Murray, Utah Sears. The Pembroke Pines location is expected to open in mid- to late July.

“We believe they are the perfect complementary retailer to our expansive sporting goods business and we look forward to seeing them surprise and delight customers with their first-class array of products and customer service,” Jeff Stollenwerck, Sears Holdings president of real estate, said in a statement.

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CBSSports.com broadcasting Tiger Woods’ Masters action


As Tiger Woods played a practice round with Fred Couples at Augusta National and prepared for his 2 p.m. press conference, just a reminder that Fort Lauderdale-based CBSSports.com (and Masters.com) will be the only place you can catch all of the Masters’ first and second rounds -- or Woods’ return to pro golf.

ESPN will be able to break into programming Thursday for Woods’ first round tee shots from the first hole. But other action will have to wait until ESPN’s 4 to 7:30 p.m. time slots on Thursday and Friday.

CBSSports.com in conjunction with Masters.com, meanwhile, has beefed up its coverage of the Masters significantly since last year. The site will feature all four days of the tournament, including more than 86 hours of live video – up more than 50 percent from the 2009 Masters.

The company has also added the Featured Group channel, which will show live video of selected pairings on holes 10 through 18. After CBS’ television coverage of action on Saturday and Sunday, CBSSports.com will show a Masters Live recap show.

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The Tiger Woods announcement


With so much attention being paid to the announcement of Tiger Woods’ controlled “non news” conference, does the philandering golfer really need to make an announcement at all?

What could he possibly say – beyond when he plans to return to the PGA Tour – that would be newsworthy?

Pundits, PR and image consultants, golf writers and other members of the media have all been weighing in on what he’ll say, how he’ll say it, why he’s saying it on Friday and why at the TPC Sawgrass. I’ve gotten at least a half dozen releases pitching professionals to comment before and after the statement, scheduled to be made at 11 a.m. in front of a small, select group of media, friends and associates.

Among the comments already being shared:

Ron Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, says in a statement that Woods breaking his silence “is the first step towards healing his image.” Torossian says Woods “won’t solve everything in one press conference and shouldn’t try to.”

But why not?

Robert Tuchman, Executive Vice President of Premiere Global Sports, also calls this a beginning, but he wonders about the strategy.

“Most likely reading a prepared statement is going to make Woods come off much less remorseful then is needed to appease fans who will want to see some real emotion. It’s a PR control strategy,” Tuchman said in a statement. “Tiger really can't gain much since questions will not be asked but he also can't have a disaster. Eventually he will have to take questions on this but this is a first step.”

“Tiger is going to have to face the music eventually and most likely will be heckled by fans until he answers those questions,” Tuchman adds.

Yep.

There are even odds on what he will say and how he’ll say it.

From Bodog.com: Will wife Elin be in attendance (yes -150; no +120); the over/under on how many times he’ll use the word “sorry” (5.5); will he wipe a tear during the statement (yes +200; no -260).

From RJ Bell of Pregame.com: Even on whether Elin will attend, and whether he’ll use the word “sorry” or “family” most. Over/under on number of times he’ll use of the word “sorry” (4.5). Odds of officially retiring (200 to 1).

Tiger Woods Bingo, anyone?

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A decade of South Florida sports business stories


The end of the decade also corresponds with my first decade as the Sun Sentinel’s sports business writer. When I first got the job in September 1999, people would congratulate me and then ask: “What are you going to do with the rest of your time?” As if this somehow wasn’t a full-time job!?

Just in case those people are still wondering what I do with my time, here’s my $2 added to the end of the decade lists with a by the numbers sampling of South Florida sports business stories. (Disclaimer -- this does not purport to be a full or complete list):

5 NEW TEAM OWNERS: Alan P. Cohen and his group bought the Panthers from H. Wayne Huizenga in 2001. Jeffrey Loria took ownership of the Marlins from John W. Henry (by way of Major League Baseball) in 2002. Steve Ross completed his purchase of the Dolphins from Huizenga in 2009. And Cohen’s partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel (I’m counting them as two) took over majority ownership of the Panthers this fall.

5 (at least) TEAM MOVES: The Heat moved to AmericanAirlines Arena in 2000. Hurricanes football moved to Dolphin Stadium in 2008. FAU moved from Dolphin Stadium to Lockhart Stadium. FIU football moved into a new stadium. The Baltimore Orioles ended their spring training run at Fort Lauderdale Stadium and are moving to Sarasota next year.

10 (and counting...) TEAMS LOST: Miami Fusion (Major League Soccer); Miami Sol (WNBA); Miami Tropics (Spring Football League); Miami Manatees (minor league hockey); Florida Bobcats (AFL); Florida Pitbulls (ABA); Miami Morays, Palm Beach Phantoms and Florida Frenzy (all of the National Indoor Football League); Miami Diamantes (baseball); and others too numerous to count…

2 VENUES BUILT: UM opened BankUnited Center in 2003; FIU opened its new football stadium in 2008.

2 TORN DOWN: Both the Orange Bowl and Miami Arena came down in 2008.

4 TEAMS STARTED (and still exist in some form): Miami FC (soccer), Miami Caliente (Lingerie Football League); Miami Fury and Palm Beach Punishers of the Independent Women’s Football League.

NAME CHANGES get their own section: In 2001, Sports & Sponsorships President Scott Becher was more prophetic than he might have imagined when he told me this for a story about the golf tournament at Doral changing its name to Genuity:

"You're going to start to see names change for a second and a third time," Becher said. "I think by and large, fans get it, but from the sponsor's standpoint, it's like buying a used car. The car is never going to smell like new. The value of the sponsorship is diminished when you have to untrain fans to think of it as one name and reteach them a new name."

3 (Three-way tie) – Dolphins’ home stadium: Started the decade as Pro Player, then Dolphins Stadium, followed by Dolphin (no s) Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium. It’s set to become Dolphin Stadium again in January.

-- Key Biscayne tennis tournament: Lipton became Ericsson Open then Nasdaq-100 Open. Now it’s Sony Ericsson Open.

-- Golf tournament at Doral: Doral Ryder Open became Genuity Championship, then Ford Championship, and now it’s CA Championship.

2 (two-way tie) – Panthers home arena: National Car Rental Center became Office Depot Center and is now BankAtlantic Center.
--
FIU’s basketball arena: Golden Panther Arena started the decade as Golden Panther Arena, became Pharmed and is now U.S. Century Bank.

1 ZILLION Marlins ballpark plans: But the ballpark is under construction and scheduled to open in 2012.

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South Florida teams, events create 10-event Super Pass


In a highly unusual collaboration, 10 South Florida sports teams and events have banded together to sell a package of tickets to 10 different sporting events that saves fans $150 to $550.

The South Florida Super Pass, being sold in limited numbers through Oct. 30, costs $330 for regular seats and $1,125 for premium seats to see the region’s four pro sports teams, NASCAR finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, horse racing at Calder and Gulfstream, soccer, and attend the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament and the World Golf Championship event at Doral.

Getting all the teams and events to agree wasn’t simple. But Aaron Davidson, chairman of the sports committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, which is selling the ticket, said everyone saw the benefit.

“The economy probably helped. Our South Florida sports market is a challenging one in general,” said Davidson, who is also president of Miami FC soccer team. “Everyone realizes we’ve got to promote our South Florida sports. I hope this joint initiative is the first of many.”

The Super Pass can be purchased at sportssuperpass.com.

Each event works differently and the revenue is shared based on the team or event’s cost, Davidson said.

The Miami Dolphins, for example, are providing a 400 level seat with a food voucher or a Hall of Champions suite seat with food and beverage to the Dec. 27 game against the Houston Texans. The Florida Panthers are offering a goal zone ticket or an ADT Club ticket with food and beverage to any home game this season. Homestead-Miami Speedway is offering a reserved grandstand or Speedway Club seat to the Nov. 22 NASCAR finale.

The idea is to give fans a discount and encourage them to attend an event they might not have considered. Other teams and events have teamed up to sell a joint ticket, but those partnerships typically involve two events or teams. For example, the World Golf Championship and Sony Ericsson Open sold a joint ticket that allowed fans to attend both events, when their schedules overlapped in 2007. This summer, the Cleveland Browns and Indians sold a suite package together that included two Indians games and one Browns game.

Bill Sutton, associate director of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida, applauded the South Florida ticket plan, which he compared to an entertainment book of vouchers and discounts.

“It makes sense,” Sutton said. “It’s one of the hardest hit regions by the economy ... It gives people value and a sampling opportunity.”

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Dolphins-logoed golf bags now available


NFL_Carry_bag_AFC_Dolphins-.jpgWilson Sporting Goods has produced the official football of the NFL since 1941. Now you can buy Wilson golf bags in NFL team colors featuring team logos.

The bags come in cart and carry versions and are selling for $199.99 and $159.99 respectively. They’re available for all 32 NFL teams.

“As a nearly century-old American brand, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. has a rich history in both football and golf and a strong connection to fans across the sports spectrum,” Wilson Golf General Manager Tim Clarke said in a statement. “The partnership of Wilson Golf and the NFL is a natural fit and we’re thrilled to offer the official logoed bag to devoted NFL fans.”

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Stanford Financial’s local sponsorships include Heat, tennis, golf, polo


It’s unclear what effect the Securities and Exchange Commission charging R. Allen Stanford with fraud this week will have on the dozens of sports sponsorships held by Stanford Financial Group, including several prominent ones in South Florida.

Stanford Financial’s name covers the VIP lobby at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. It’s the title sponsor of the No. 1 field at the International Polo Club of Palm Beach and one of the host sponsors at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne. The company has sponsor relationships with prominent golfers, including Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas and Boca Raton’s Morgan Pressel.

The SEC’s complaint alleges Stanford was involved in an $8 billion scheme centered on certificates of deposits that promised unusually high rates. The SEC froze the assets of Houston-based Stanford Group Co.; Stanford Capital Management, also of Houston; and Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.

It doesn’t appear that Stanford Financial Group, which is the arm of the company with the sports sponsorships, is a target of the current investigation, but that doesn’t mean those sponsorships aren’t in potential danger. Team and sporting event officials contacted said it’s too early to say, and they’re waiting to learn more, too.

The Heat is believed to have a multi-year deal with Stanford Financial at AmericanAirlines Arena. For now, it appears the entrance lobby the company sponsors will continue to bear Stanford’s name. Eric Woolworth, Heat president of business operations, said: “We don’t know anything, therefore it would be inappropriate to comment.”

At the International Polo Club of Palm Beach, Stanford has been a sponsor of “Stanford Field” for three years and recently renewed for another three years, starting this year. “They paid up through this season, 2009, which ends in April,” said John A. Wash, president of club operations.

“Just as things progress in the news, we’re watching it closely,” Wash said. “We have sponsors come and go all the time. We hate to see this situation happen. We’re waiting to see how it all plays out.”

But Wash assured “polo will continue.”

He said sports don’t have control over corporations’ business operations. He reminded that the Houston Astros ballpark was originally known as Enron Field, until the Enron collapsed and it’s now known as Minute Maid Park.

At Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne, Stanford Financial is now in its fifth year as a “host” sponsor for the Sony Ericsson Open. The company has court signage, display booths, a hospitality suite.

Tournament Director Adam Barrett said he isn’t sure what the SEC investigation will mean for the sponsorship, which runs another two or three more years.

“We hope it means very little, not as much for the tournament, but for anyone who has investment dollars with Stanford,” Barrett said adding the tournament will not be dramatically affected should Stanford’s contract end early.

“There’s not much we can do about it, we can’t really control the outcome of it,” Barrett said. “It’s more about you hope it’s not true, not because of our sponsorship, but because as a country, we can’t use another major fraud or fallout from our financial sector. That’s the bigger picture than our tennis balls going over a net.”

Stay tuned…

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Doral golf event teams up with charities


The World Golf Championships-CA Championship officially kicked off its Tickets Fore Charity program today.

The program is already under way. The golf tournament, scheduled at Doral Golf Resort & Spa March 9-15, is offering charities a chance to sell reduced price weekly and daily grounds passes and weekly clubhouse passes as a way to benefit their charities. The proceeds from the sales will be split with 75 percent going to the charity and 25 percent to The First Tee, the World Golf Foundation’s charity aimed at providing golf facilities and education for young people.

So, the program helps in two ways: discounted tickets and dollars for charity, both of which are welcome during the recession.

“In these tough economic times, the CA Championship is more committed than ever to assisting local organizations with their fundraising efforts,” WGC CA Championship Executive Director Eddie Carbone said in a statement. “We’d like to invite charities throughout South Florida to join us in enhancing and enriching our local communities by participating in Tickets Fore Charity.”

Already several charities are selling discounted tickets, including Take Stock in Children of Broward, Kids in Distress, American Children’s Orchestra for Peace, and the Florida State Golf Association. There is no limit on the number of charities that can join.

The CA Championship is the first PGA Tour event to feature the program that was first started on the Nationwide Tour at the Albertsons Boise Open in 2001. Expect to see more PGA Tour events adopt the program this year.

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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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