The Business & Pleasure of Sports


Category: Miami Heat (184)

Heat Fan Express good deal for group outings


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For anyone arranging a group outing to a Miami Heat game, getting the gang to the arena just became easier via a bus service operated by Fox Sports Florida.

The Heat Fan Express, which debuted earlier this month, carries groups of up to 55 to AmericanAirlines Arena in a luxury motorcoach decked out with Heat graphics and branding. When a group purchases a block of tickets from the Heat they get the ride on the bus at no additional charge.

“Who wouldn’t want to go to the game with group of people and pay the regular cost of tickets without parking,” said Jason Finder, Fan Express coordinator for FSF.

The maiden voyage carried 36 kids and adults from Holy Temple Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale to the Heat-Bobcats game on Feb. 4.

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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.

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Championship rings, collectibles offered for Miami Heat fans


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The Miami Heat received their championship rings on opening night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Their fans can share in the title bling from the fan collection created by Jostens, which produced the rings for both of the Heat’s championships.

The fan collection, available for a limited time at Jostens.com/MiamiHeat, includes 22 items ranging in price from a $25 key ring to the $3,900 Ultimate Fan Ring. The items are modeled after the rings Heat players and staff received Tuesday night.

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LeBron a marvel in comic-book quest for eight rings


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LeBron James’ infamous prediction of “not one, not two … not seven” championships at his coming-out party in Miami two years ago would have been comical if the rest of the country hadn’t taken it so seriously.

Fitting then that Marvel and ESPN have collaborated on a limited-edition comic book to explain how the Heat star will accomplish the unlikely feat. “LeBron: King of the Rings” will be out Friday in ESPN the Magazine’s NBA season preview edition, but you can get a peek of it online.

The highly inventive (farfetched?) scenario tells how LeBron will actually attain his seven titles, culminating in the 2028-29 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers aided by a cast of gray-beards including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and a 67-year-old Dennis Rodman.

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Dwyane Wade's new Li-Ning sneakers revealed


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The big splash announcement of Dwyane Wade’s new deal with Chinese sneaker company Li-Ning is expected Wednesday during the Miami Heat’s exhibition tour of the company.

But photos of Wade’s new signature shoe are already popping up around the Internet after Chinese sneaker site Kenlu posted them over the weekend. The shoe, mostly black with touches of white, are unlike Li-Ning’s other basketball models.

wade-ning2.jpgAlso, no Li-Ning branding is visible. The lacing system forms a distinctive W for Wade. Li-Ning, who lured Wade away from Jordan Brand, will be counting on the Heat star to help rescue its brand which has struggled against Chinese-rival Peak as well as Nike.

Photos: Posted by Chinese sneaker side Kenlu.net

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Heat championship gear on sale and various locations


Heat championship merchandise went on sale immediately after they claimed their second NBA title late Thursday.

Additional retail locations have been created both inside and outside AmericanAirlines Arena to accommodate more fans looking to purchase Championship merchandise.

Here are the locations:

Inside AmericanAirlines Arena
Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
AmericanAirlines Arena - Mezzanine Level

Miami Hoops Gear Concourse Locations
Sections 110 and 122

Outside AmericanAirlines Arena
adidas Trailers
N.E. 8th Street & West Plaza Ramp (between Gates 1 and 2)

Miami HEAT Championship Tent
Southeast Side

On Friday the following retail locations will also be open.

Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
AmericanAirlines Arena - Mezzanine Level
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
786-777-3008

Miami HEAT Championship Merchandise Tent
East Plaza at AmericanAirlines Arena (behind the Arena; access via Gate 6 or the Southeast side of the Arena).
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
Dolphin Mall
1401 N.W. 12th Street
Miami, FL 33172
10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
305-470-1114

2012 NBA Championship merchandise can also be purchased online at MiamiHoopsGear.com (786-777-3004).

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Heat's Wade writes the book on fatherhood


Sunday will be significant to Dwyane Wade on two counts: Game 3 of the NBA Finals and Father’s Day.

The Heat guard’s life on the basketball court is an open book. He will offer insights on fatherhood in a book due out Sept. 4: “A FATHER FIRST: How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball”

In the book, Wade reveals his thoughts on fatherhood, detailing personal experiences as a parent, as well as his transformation from being the child of a single parent to a single parent himself.

“As a child, I grew up with aspirations to one day be a professional basketball player, and I am living that dream every day as a proud member of the Miami Heat,” Wade said in a statement from the publisher. “However, the daily role I play in the lives of my two children is the single most significant undertaking of my life, and the job I take most seriously.”

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Bacardi's Mo-Heat-O helps fans get in spirit of Game 7


Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals presents a challenge to Miami Heat fans as well as the team.

Bacardi, a major sponsor of the Heat, has a special recipe for fans to fuel up and get in the spirit of the showdown finale with the Celtics.

Voila, the Mo-Heat-O.

Here are the ingredients of the spicy concoction:

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Bacardi Gold Rum Infused with Red Chile
Strawberries
Thai Basil
Fresh Lime
MARTINI Prosecco

Cheers! If all goes well, LeBron and Co. can join in the post-game toast.

Bacardi has been one of the Heat’s most visible sponsors, more so since the NBA changed its policy to allow liquor advertising signage at courtside in 2009. The Heat was the first team to take advantage of the lifting of the 18-year ban, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.

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Vegas still sees hope for Heat's Big Three


Gloom and doom is resonating coast to coast about the Heat and the future of their Big Three.

Vegas isn’t writing them off quite yet.

LeBron, Wade & Co. are in a dill of a pickle after Tuesday’s loss at home left them on the brink of elimination with a 3-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Will one more loss mean the end of the Big Three as we know them?

Odds-makers say there is still a 78 percent chance LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be playing together in Miami next season, according to gambling guru RJ Bell of Pregame.com. If you believe a playoff failure will lead to a breakup of the gang and are correct, $100 will win you $300 based on current odds at Vegas sports books, Bell said.

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Heat-Celtics Game 4 a ratings bonanza for ESPN


The Celtics were the big winner of Sunday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but nobody benefited more than ESPN.

Not only was Miami and Boston hanging on every shot, but a record-setting overall audience was tuned in on ESPN. The 7.9 overnight rating is the highest for an NBA playoff game on cable television, according to the network.

It was the highest-rated NBA game ever on ESPN in Boston (20.7), the third-highest in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale (19.7) market.

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Heat fires back at claims of discounting tickets to online retailer Goldstar


A member-based website this week began offering tickets at half price for South Florida sporting events and other live entertainment events.

It has already stirred the ire of the Miami Heat, who took exception to a media report that they have partnered with Goldstar.com to unload excessive ticket inventories and compete with other secondary ticket brokers.

Heat President of Business Operations Eric S. Woolworth, who normally plays public comment close to the vest, called the claim “nonsense” in a written response posted on the Heat's web site. He went on to term as “idiocy” a contention in the article that demand for tickets in Year 2 of the Heat’s Big Three has fallen to the point that the team is having to offer tickets a bargain-basement prices.

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Linsanity evident in ticket prices for Heat-Knicks on Thursday


Interested in witnessing South Florida’s only brush with Linsanity during this regular season, be prepared to pay prices approaching playoff caliber.

“We’re not yet there. I imagine if things continue at this pretty fervent pace over the next couple of weeks we could get there. It’s not quite in that same realm because there’s less implications, there’s less at stake,” said Joellen Ferrer, a spokesperson for ticket reseller StubHub.com, but she added, “All these games surrounding the Knicks are starting to volt up to some of the top NBA events of the season thus far.”

Prices on StubHub.com are about twice what would have been expected pre-Linsanity, Ferrer said.

Continue reading "Linsanity evident in ticket prices for Heat-Knicks on Thursday" »

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Heat help NBA celebrate Chinese Year of the Dragon


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It’s New Year’s all over again for the Heat in Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers.

The Heat, who already played on Christmas and Jan. 1 this season, will take part in a league-wide observance of Chinese New Year’s. The game will be televised in China.

To help usher in the Year of the Dragon, fans arriving at AmericanAirlines Arena will be greeted by a Chinese New Year message, and courtside advertising will be in Mandarin for several sponsors, including Chinese companies Peak and Tsingtao beer, the latter a new Heat partner. Heat Dancers will incorporate Chinese dance into their routines.

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Miami Heat get funky for throwback tribute to ABA's Floridians


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That may look like Lebron under the big shades and ‘fro, but for this weekend he’s Clarence “Shonuff” McGee, who rocks out to Marvin Gaye on the 8-track in his Plymouth Barracuda on the way to games.

The Heat are taking their game back to the days of big hair and disco as part of the NBA’s Hardwood Classics Nights and will masquerade as the 1971-72 Miami Floridians for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia and Sunday against Milwaukee at AmericanAirlines Arena.

To get into the spirit, Heat players adopted persona of ’70s ABA stars for a promotional photo and video shoot.

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Heat to give away 20,000 Back In Black T-shirts at Thursday's game vs. Lakers


Fans attending Thursday’s Heat game against the Lakers will have a chance to join the team in getting back to its Back in Black mode.

The Heat will distribute 20,000 Back in Black T-shirts at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The promotion will sync with the Heat unveiling at special Back in Black uniform that will be worn Thursday and at five other games this season. The all-black uniform with modest white trim is a tribute to the genesis of the team’s nationally recognized color-themed playoff campaigns.

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Heat giving away window decals Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena


Any Heat fans who want to pimp their ride in support of the team can wheel over to AmericanAirlines Arena before or after work Tuesday for a free decal.

They’ll slap a “Let’s Go HEAT!” decal on your window if you stop by between 6 and 10 a.m. or between 3 and 7 p.m. (while supplies last).

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Miami Heat offers meet-and-greet, partial ticket plan


After months dormant under the restraints of the NBA lockout, the Heat has begun rolling out the promotions.

Latest offerings include a partial ticket plan and a meet, greet and eat with a couple of Heat legends.

Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway are the main attractions for Eat with the HEAT at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Having name on Miami Heat's arena benefits American Airlines even in bankruptcy, but court must agree


Among the many issues left up in the air, so to speak, by the Chapter 11 filing this week by American Airlines are the naming rights deals for the arenas where the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks play.

Early indications from American Airlines are the names will remain on the arenas, but ultimately the bankruptcy court will have to sign off on that.

A solid case can be made that the investment is an asset to the ongoing operation of the airlines, particularly in light of the teams that play in the arenas.

Continue reading "Having name on Miami Heat's arena benefits American Airlines even in bankruptcy, but court must agree" »

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Dwyane Wade's new product endorsement helps players get a grip


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When athletes endorse products, often they are merely attaching a famous name to boost sales.

Dwyane Wade can actually speak with a high level of expertise about his latest endorsement venture. MISSION Court Grip, which went on sale Wednesday at Foot Locker stores, is scientifically designed to combat the age-old problem that plagues gym rats everywhere: slippage.

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LeBron, D-Wade fall out of top 10 most marketable NBA players; Dirk tops Nielsen list


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The nationwide disdain directed toward the Miami Heat as they lost the NBA Finals led to a steep decline in the endorsement potential of their biggest stars.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have fallen out of the top 10 most marketable NBA players since the Finals, according to a Nieslen/E-Poll. Dirk Nowitzki, who led the Dallas Mavericks to the championship to the delight of most fans outside of South Florida, ascended to the title of most marketable man in basketball with an N-Score of 132.

Continue reading "LeBron, D-Wade fall out of top 10 most marketable NBA players; Dirk tops Nielsen list" »

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Nick Arison looks like heir apparent to Pat Riley as Heat president


The Miami Heat’s big personnel move of the summer didn’t come with the fanfare of last July’s Big Three.

No introduction amid a cloud of smoke, no pep rally, no grandiose pronouncements.

Nick Arison, named Friday at chief executive officer to oversee the day-to-day operation of the Heat, isn’t even doing interviews beyond the statement issued by the team, a spokesman said.
Like father, like son. Micky Arison, team owner and managing general partner, is media shy in the extreme, the anti-Mark Cuban. The CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, he prefers to assemble a good crew and let them run the ship.

Nick Arison, 30, appears to be following his dad’s example in operating under the rader. That is not to say this is an insignificant move by the Heat. Nor is it unexpected.

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Miami Heat launches fan zone on 300 level


kumho.jpgThe Miami Heat and Kumho Tire USA are adding to the activities for fans at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Kumho Fan Zone opened on AmericanAirlines Arena’s 300 level last week during the team’s game against the New York Knicks. A gaming wall includes four 60-inch HD-TVs, Sony Playstation and game software. Fans can compete with one another and participate in contests and giveaways. Kumho will also offer special snack deals at concession stands.

Check out the photo by David Alvarez of the Heat.

In other news, if you haven’t heard, I’m signing off from the Sports Business blog and beat at the Sun Sentinel. I’m headed for a new adventure, starting a career as a Foreign Service Officer working for the State Department overseas.

Thank you, dear readers for your support, comments, suggestions and most especially for reading. Please contine to follow me on Twitter where I’ll be a recovering sports business writer: @sarahtalalay


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Stanley C. Panther listed as day to day


stanley1.jpgAccording to a release from the Florida Panthers, the team’s mascot, Stanley C. Panther, is on injured reserve. The team wouldn’t release the details of Stanley’s “undisclosed” injury, but said he suffered it “while attempting to hurdle a folding chair” on Dec. 17, during the game in which the Panthers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-2.

Stanley, who is in a wheelchair, is listed as day-to-day. While he will be in attendance at tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins at BankAtlantic Center, so will his South Florida mascot brethren, including Billy the Marlin, Sebastian the Ibis, Burnie the Heat mascot, and the Dolphins’ T.D. (Having played Burnice – Burnie’s wife – in a game last season, I think it’s remiss not to have included her).burnice1.jpg

Feel like sending Stanley good wishes? You can sign a giant “Get Well” card on the JetBlue Tarmac on the arena’s front plaza on game days, bring your own cards, or starting on Jan. 3, send e-cards through FloridaPanthers.com.

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D Wade must foil more foes in new Jordan Brand ad


DWadenew.jpgThis time Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s super hero Agent D3 is late for practice in the second installment of Jordan Brand’s “Dominate Another Day” ad campaign.

Called “Escape,” the new ad shows Wade trapped in the Zen Master’s Lair, while ‘H’ (Kevin Hart) enjoys a holiday party. Instead of battling the streets of Miami as he did in the ad’s first installment, Wade uses a basketball to help fight enemies –- snakes, ninjas -- in the ad that gives nods to Indiana Jones and James Bond.

The new ad breaks during the Heat-Los Angeles Lakers Christmas Day game at 5 p.m. Saturday.


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LeBron 8 Christmas Day version debuts Saturday


LBJxmas1.jpgMiami Heat forward LeBron James is set to debut the newest version of Nike’s LeBron 8 on Christmas Day during the matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. This one, called Lebron 8 V/2, is a very bright red called “Run On Red,” but still features James’ signature lion face on the tongue.

The $160 shoes launch at retail on Dec. 26. Additional colors are to be released Jan. 8.

Meanwhile, James’ shoe isn’t the only brightly-colored shoe to debut on Saturday as part of Nike’s stoplight set.

Across the court from James, we’ll see Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sporting the Nike Zoom Kobe VI dubbed “Green Means Go.” The bright green shoe features red laces. The shoes cost $130 and will be at retail on Dec. 26.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will sport the yellow shoes in the set. He’ll be showing off the KD III “No Yield for Yellow” in the Thunder’s game against the Denver Nuggets. This one includes five lightning bolts, piano keys representing Durant’s love of music, and “BF62” for Durant’s 62 points scored at Barry Farms in his native Washington, DC. Durant’s shoes cost $88.

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New D Wade Charles Barkley T-Mobile ads break Christmas Day


dwade1.jpgIn addition to those five NBA games on Christmas Day, fans watching the games on ESPN and ABC will be treated to a couple of new T-Mobile ads featuring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley.

The entertaining and splashy ads keep giving. These are directed by Spike Lee and include appearances by Lee, Steve Nash and Cool and Dre. They target T-Mobile’s 4G devices.

Wade stars in one called “Outta Here,” in which a misunderstanding turns into a modern day version of “telephone” with the sports world suddenly believing Wade wants to be traded from the Heat. Gasp.

The other, called “Chuck’s Remix,” mixes some of Barkley’s commentary into a viral musical video sensation. Just imagine Barkley’s reaction.

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Miami Heat-New York Knicks in 3D


ESPN is broadcasting its first NBA game in 3D tonight when the Miami Heat visit the New York Knicks.

ESPN 3D has carriage agreements with AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable and is available to about 62.5 million households.

It’s not the first 3D broadcast for the NBA, which broadcast NBA All-Star Saturday Night in Las Vegas in 2007 and in Phoenix in 2009 in 3D.

ESPN 3D is also broadcasting more upcoming NBA games, including the Christmas Day matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Knicks. Check out ESPN’s full 3D schedule here.

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Bulls fans create Let’s Beat The Heat campaign (with video)


LeBron James hate is well-documented. So is the target on the backs of the Miami Heat – after all, Sports Illustrated included the team among its 25 Most Hated Teams of all time back in July, before James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had even played a game together.

So it isn’t strange that a “Let’s Beat The Heat” campaign has emerged online (letsbeattheheat.com) complete with theme song, promotional products, and ring tone. This campaign, however, takes a playful approach to the Heat being the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys of the NBA.

Warren Avery and his brother Acarren, who run Avery Marketing, are behind “Let’s Beat The Heat.” Acarren Avery, you see, is a huge Chicago Bulls fan, who took it somewhat personally that both James and Wade seemed to toy with Bulls fans' hearts and spurned his hometown team for the Heat, his brother Warren says. Yes, the brothers believe there was inappropriate conspiring that went on to bring the Big Three to Miami and they hope to rally other like-minded NBA fans across the country.

“My brother turned to me and said, ‘we might have a market here, we’re not the only ones upset,’” Warren Avery said.

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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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Miami Heat launches shop on Facebook


The Miami Heat’s “12 Days of Heat” holiday shopping experience kicks off today on the team’s brand new shop on Facebook.

Starting today, the special online shop will feature special deals and promotions that include game ticket giveaways and other items.The team is the first in the NBA to have a retail store on Facebook.

Visit facebook.com/MiamiHeat and click on the “shop” tab. Products are specially tailored to an online audience and include designs by Miami artist LEBO, whose paintings appear on the walls at AmericanAirlines Arena.

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Miami Heat using digital courtside signage


ANC1.jpgWhether you’re live at AmericanAirlines Arena or watching Miami Heat games on TV, you’ve likely noticed the new courtside digital signage that changes frequently and can be altered during games.

ANC Sports Enterprises, a sports marketing company specializing in signage, produces the technology the replaces static or rotational signage under the scorer’s and broadcaster’s tables courtside. The technology gives teams and sponsors more potential advertising inventory and allows them to tailor messages specifically to game results and statistics. For example, if a player records a triple double, a pizza parlor could advertise a two-pizza deal with three toppings, an ANC spokesman said.

“We are committed to providing our partners with different courtside signage options which create marketing opportunities based on each team’s objectives,” Jerry Cifarelli, ANC Sports president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “ANC’s state-of-the-art digital signage applications and patented software solutions generate new creative opportunities courtside while transforming the event experience throughout an arena.”

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Heat tickets hot for tonight, not so much for Saturday


As you might imagine, tickets for tonight’s Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics game at AmericanAirlines Arena are in demand much the way tickets to the Heat’s home opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 29 were.

StubHub reports tonight’s game is the most popular NBA game this week on the secondary -- or resale – ticket market.

The average price for tickets sold by resellers on StubHub.com for tonight’s game is $212 with a low price upstairs of $49. Of course, there was the courtside seat that sold for $9,000, the site reports. And there are still 125 tickets listed for sale on the site.

Continue reading "Heat tickets hot for tonight, not so much for Saturday" »

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Miami Heat offers twHEATup ticket deal for upcoming games


The Miami Heat continues to increase its social media presence through Facebook and Twitter and is offering a special $50 twHEATup ticket to four upcoming games.

The $50 ticket is in the 400 level at AmericanAirlines Arena and includes a T-shirt, Papa Johns arena pizza, and a postgame meet and greet with a Heat player.

The twHEATup games are Nov. 17 against the Phoenix Suns; Jan. 18 versus the Atlanta Hawks; Feb. 25 against the Washington Wizards; and March 16 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tickets are selling fast. Go to twheatup.com to purchase tickets, promotion code: twheat.

The team hosted its first-ever twHEATup during the playoffs this year that included a halftime meet and greet with Heat Dancers and a postgame meeting with Tim Hardaway.

Don't forget to follow me: @sarahtalalay

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Heat rewards fans in jerseys with Bosh album cover at game tonight


boshjersey1.jpgThe Miami Heat kicks off "Saturday Night Jersey Night" tonight at the Heat-New Jersey Nets game by rewarding fans in Heat jerseys with a placard shaped like an album cover featuring forward Chris Bosh.

The album covers feature Bosh in his jersey on one side and Bosh in a suit on the other. The Jersey Night promotion, sponsored by adidas, rewards the album covers to fans sporting any type of Heat jersey and anyone who purchases a new Heat jersey Saturday at the Miami Hoops Gear store at AmericanAirlines Arena. Fans wearing Heat jerseys can pick up their album covers (one per fan while supplies last) outside section 102.

The album covers were Heat Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael McCullough's idea. McCullough has a voluminous collection of albums and decorates his office with the covers, changing them up periodically.

“This is the fourth year we’ve hosted the Saturday Night Jersey Night program presented by adidas, and we think fans will love this year’s gift, the HEAT player album covers,” McCullough said in a statement. “Having thousands of fans wearing HEAT jerseys creates an intense atmosphere of love and support inside AmericanAirlines Arena, which is noticed by and motivates our players. This initiative is another way to reward our HEAT fans for their loyalty.” boshsuit1.jpg


The promotion offers a different player album cover at each Saturday night home game. The schedule going forward: Nov. 13, Udonis Haslem; Dec. 4, LeBron James; Jan. 1, Dwyane Wade; Jan. 22, Mario Chalmers; March 12, Carlos Arroyo; March 19, Mike Miller.


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Miami Heat’s DJ Irie and Levinson Jewelers launch jewelry line


Peace%20Thru%20Music%20Jewelry%20copy2.jpgAdd yet another talent to DJ Irie’s bursting resume. The DJ for the Miami Heat and for nightclubs and private events, DJ Irie has partnered with Fort Lauderdale-based Levinson Jewelers on a jewelry line called “Peace thru Music.” Irie will also serve as one of Levinson’s celebrity ambassadors.

“Peace thru Music” features a peace sign pendant on a black or white leather cord and a black and white bracelet with the same “Peace thru Music” charm. Both cost $395 with proceeds benefiting the big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami-Dade.

“I’m honored to be the brand ambassador for the luxury jeweler, Levinson on Las Olas," DJ Irie said in a statement. "Mark & Robin Levinson have been exceptional friends over the years and now I am so excited that we have designed the “Peace thru Music” jewelry line for those who are stylish and believe in giving back."

The line will be sold at Levinson Jewelers and through djirie.com. A launch event will be held at Levinson Jewelers on Nov. 16.

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Miami Heat home opener: arrive early, wear black, buy a license plate & more


The Miami Heat’s highly-anticipated home opener against the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday is expected to have a little bit of everything. As a result, the team is encouraging fans to arrive early to avoid traffic and a protest rally planned nearby the arena on Biscayne Boulevard by Miami police and firefighters upset about paycuts.

Black is back. Again. The team wants fans clad in black and is giving out 20,000 black “I. Was. There.” T-shirts (courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines) and commemorative programs. (“Yes. We. Did.” was the slogan for the team pulling off the free agency bonanza in getting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade on the Heat. The team handed out “Yes. We. Did.” signs at the welcoming event July 9).

“Wear black or shop black,” said Andy Montero, the Heat’s senior director of retail operations.

Merchandise: A merchandise tent – typically reserved for the playoffs – is expected to open for business in front of the arena at 3 p.m. Gates to the arena’s east plaza open at 5:30 p.m. for the T-Mobile Tip-Off celebration. T-Mobile, which just entered into a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Heat (it has had a partnership with Wade since the 2006-07 season), is holding a pregame celebration on the plaza for fans with game tickets that includes a performance by Miami rapper Pitbull. DJ Irie and the Heat dancers will entertain and T-Mobile will show off its newest smartphones.

Tickets/Doors/Pregame: Tickets are still available at heat.com. Doors to the arena open early -- 6 p.m. Security could take longer because of the large crowd, but fans can enter at Gates 5 and 6 on the northeast and southeast sides of the arena – not just Gates 1 and 2. Even fans sitting upstairs can go courtside pregame to watch the teams warm up.

Get a Heat license plate: A kiosk outside section 102 will allow fans to purchase or renew their license plates with specialty Heat tags. The tags costs an extra $25, which is tax deductible and goes to charity. To get the license plates, you must have a driver’s license, proof of registration and insurance and cash or check.

Fan Up, Miami!: Fans are being encouraged to get to their seats in time for pregame ceremonies, which will include the debut of the team’s new player introduction video. Read about it here. At halftime, a video highlighting the summer’s events will be shown. A new song celebrating the new-look Heat, called “Celebrate” and written by Emilio Estefan will be officially unveiled. Estefan has created a percussion group called the Miami Heat Rhythm Section to perform at select games. Listen to the song here.

Oh, and there’s a game too. Starts at 8 p.m. on ESPN and Sun Sports.

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LeBron James: new team, new number… new website


The new LeBronJames.com is up and running. Launched Tuesday night, in time for the start of the highly-anticipated 2010-11 NBA season, the site offers information on the new Miami Heat forward’s Ohio background, basketball, training, lifestyle and community and charitable activities. It’s got great illustrations and plenty of photos and videos and even his music playlists.

“This website is very important to me, and I had a lot of ideas and provided feedback every step of the way,” James said in a statement. “My goal was to create a site that stands out visually and provides useful and interesting content. I am very excited to give my fans the opportunity to learn about my life both on and off the court, and to offer them tips on how to live a healthy, active life and give back to their community in different ways.”

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Dwyane Wade stars as Agent D3 in new Jordan Brand ad


Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s new Jordan Brand commercial is decidedly different from new teammate LeBron James’ new Nike ad.

“Dominate Another Day” shows Wade as super hero Agent D3 starting his quest for another NBA championship. “Time to bring the rings back to Miami,” he says. With Miami as his backdrop, he flies through the air, he rides a motorcycle and defies all sorts of obstacles.

(The ad is not for a specific shoe -- in case you're wondering, Wade is wearing the Jordan 2010 Team shoe to start the season).

It's an installment in a season-long campaign. The ad ends with: To be continued….


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LeBron James addresses summer controversy in new Nike ad


A new Nike ad featuring Miami Heat forward LeBron James called “Rise” begins airing Tuesday night in conjunction with the start of the 2010-11 NBA season and the launch of the Nike LeBron 8 shoe at retail.

James is shown in a variety of situations, speaking his mind about his controversial decision this summer to join the Heat and his future. It even includes a segment with Don Johnson a la “Miami Vice” and features James saying “I am not a role model.”

The ad will air during TNT’s broadcast of the Heat’s highly-anticipated opening game against the Boston Celtics and during sports and entertainment programming across national networks into next month.

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Sn’eads features LeBron James and D Wade in latest comic



Way out of my league here – in sneaker culture -- but check out the newest Sn’eads by Ree comic strip titled “South Beach Player.” It’s the work of Tyree Dillihay, sneakerhead comic, and features the Miami Heat's LeBron James and D Wade and is so current it includes Wade’s sore hamstring and the South Beach edition of the Nike LeBron 8 shoe.

Check out the full strip on nicekicks.com and sneakerobsession.com.


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Car decals, happy hour, opening night watch party and more highlight Miami Heat Week


As if any more build up were needed before this highly-anticipated Miami Heat season, the team is keeping with tradition hosting community events and giveaways leading up the 2010-11 home opener Oct. 29.

Heat Week kicks off Friday with a free Heat car decal giveaway at AmericanAirlines Arena. For more information, visit heat.com. Here’s what’s scheduled this week:

Friday: Heat car decal giveaway from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at AmericanAirlines Arena, while supplies last.
Then join the Heat for Happy Hour, 5 to 7 p.m. at Brickell Irish Pub, 1471 S. Miami Ave., Miami, along with Burnie the Heat mascot, Heat dancers and the Xtreme team.

Saturday: Feel like a pizza? Order from Papa John’s in Broward or Miami-Dade counites between 5 and 7 p.m. and you might just get it delivered by a Heat player, dancer, Burnie or Xtreme team member.

Sunday: The Heat’s Fireball Express bearing giveaways will visit local bars in downtown Miami starting at 4 p.m.

Monday: Fans 18 years or older can participate in a pickup basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena during Heat After Dark, 7 p.m. to midnight. It’s free and participants get a Heat After Dark T-shirt.

Tuesday: Join other fans for the Bacardi Road Rally at AmericanAirlines to watch the Heat’s opening game against the Boston Celtics on the road. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free, but parking in the arena lot costs $5.

Wednesday: Watch the Heat’s second game of the season against the 76ers at the Bacardi Road Rally at Sandbar Sports Grill starting at 7 p.m., 3064 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove.

Oct. 28: Burnie will be giving out free tickets to the team’s home opener on Oct. 29 at AmericanAirlines Arena at various spots around South Florida. You’ll get clues to his location by being a friend on Facebook and checking out details at Facebook.com/MiamiHeat.

Oct. 29: The home opener against the Orlando Magic will include commemorative game programs and 20,000 “I. Was. There.” T-shirts for those in attendance. And the debut of the team’s new player introduction video. The game begins at 8 p.m., but doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the Heat’s encouraging fans to arrive early.
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Miami Heat wants fans to Fan Up, be in their seats


FanUpDicountCard1.jpgIt’s not exactly a secret that South Florida sports fans are a little lax about arriving for the start of games.

Late-arriving crowds are the norm at Miami Heat games and the team has tried for years to coax fans into their seats in time for tipoff with little success. But the team’s blockbuster free agency spoils this summer has given it new impetus to try again.

The team launches “Fan Up, Miami!” at tonight’s exhibition game against the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena. The idea is to remind fans the new-look Heat is the kind of team most cities – despite their griping – would be thrilled to have. Rather than letting television viewers see empty seats, the Heat want fans occupying those chairs.

“We want to understand, especially now, why any fan would want to miss even a second of action that could take place with this team in place,” said Michael McCullough, Heat executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Just like the players are using the target on their backs as motivation, so, too, should fans, McCullough says.

"There are a bunch of media and commentators and fans around the country making comments about Miami not deserving this windfall of players, that if this would have happened in Chicago or New York, that would have been more fitting,” McCullough said. “We took offense at that. We want our fans to take offense as well.”

Tickets to see the Heat play other NBA teams around the country are among the highest priced on the secondary market, so the Heat want its fans to show they are deserving of this team.

“We want our fans to wear this as a badge,” McCullough said. “The organization stepped up and put a team together that every other team wants. Let’s show we’re worthy.”

The team is using that criticism to encourage fans to arrive early – you can watch the teams warm up courtside before the game, even if you’re sitting upstairs -- and exit the bars and balconies (they’ll help by putting drinks and snacks in to-go cups and containers) early enough to get to their seats on time.

Among the tenets of Fan Up, Miami: “Fan Up… means being in your seat for tipoff … and staying there until the final buzzer.”

Other admonishments? “Fan Up … means there is nothing fashionable about showing up fashionably late… it’s just late.”

Fans arriving early will be rewarded with discount cards (like the one above) good for merchandise and concessions. Fans in the arena concourses and clubs will notice the sound getting louder as game time approaches.

“We want to get the message across, it’s time for game time,” McCullough said. “Right when that ball goes up, something’s going to happen right away. That’s really the message.”

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LeBron James to launch new shoe at Dadeland Mall


New Miami Heat forward LeBron James will launch his new signature Nike shoe, the LeBron 8, at the opening of a new House of Hoops by Foot Locker Store at Miami's Dadeland Mall on Saturday.

James will be speaking to 100 local student athletes about preparing for the upcoming season, his new shoe, and of course, "achieving success on the basketball court," a release on the appearance states. After his talk, James will debut a South Beach edition of the LeBron 8. (Previously referred to as the Pre-Heat LeBron 8, the shoe is decidedly South Beach with aqua and pink).

The appearance is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. at House of Hoops by Foot Locker at Dadeland Mall, 7535 Dadeland Mall. There will be only limited access to the public while the event with James is occurring.

The non-South Beach edition -- that's red and black -- is scheduled to be released at retail on Oct. 26. The shoe costs $160.

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LeBron James hits Fortune list of most infuential people in business under 40


Superstar Miami Heat forward LeBron James can add yet another unusual accolade to his resume: Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Most Influential People in Business.

James, 25, is the only athlete to appear on the list – now in its second year – and is ranked 20th. The list is topped by Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, Opsware and other software companies; and includes the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone; and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Fortune describes the list as “youthful movers and shakers. They're innovating, they're expanding, and they're not really thinking about the recession.”

James, who is new to the list this year, was singled out for being able to “stop the pulse of a country,” with his nationally broadcast “Decision” to join the Miami Heat this summer. The magazine says James’ LRMR has brokered business deals with blue chip companies and Sports Illustrated places him fourth among top-grossing athletes with an estimated $42.4 million this year.

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Warren Henry snags Chris Bosh as its latest brand ambassador


BoshWarrenHenry.jpgMiami Heat forward Chris Bosh is racking up endorsement deals. He’s become the newest Brand Ambassador for Warren Henry Automobiles, joining Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was added to the company’s roster in August.

Bosh will appear in ads and make appearances on behalf of the company. He is already driving a 2011 Land Rover Range Rover from Warren Henry, which he dubbed “the ultimate in sport-utility luxury.”

“I am very excited to partner with Warren and his family of dealerships,” Bosh said in a statement.

Added owner Warren Henry Zinn, “Adding Chris Bosh to the Warren Henry Automotive team is synonymous with winning. Chris brings an element of prestige, excitement and unbeatable success that can’t be matched.” (See photo of Bosh and Zinn, courtesy of Warren Henry).

Legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula is also an ambassador for the company. Over the years, Warren Henry has partnered with a number of South Florida athletes, including Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Dolphins running back Ricky Williams and speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez.

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LeBron 8 to be at retail Oct. 26


LeBronshoe1.jpgNew team, new season, new shoe.

The Nike Air Max LEBRON 8 – Miami Heat forward LeBron James’ newest signature shoe is scheduled to be in stores Oct. 26.

It’s built on a basketball specific Max Air 360 unit, but “is classically crafted and modeled after the shell of a dress shoe,” so says a release describing the shoe.

The black, white and red shoe features a multi-directional herringbone pattern and the lion’s face on the tongue “represents LeBron’s ravenous nature – like that of a hunter on the basketball court. And the numbers 828 are for the 82 regular season NBA games and 28 playoff games.

The shoes cost $160.

The shoe’s design is expected to be adjusted during the season, according to LEBRON 8 designer Jason Petrie. Watch a video of Petrie describing the shoe below. Not sure I’ve ever heard a shoe described so lusciously:

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LeBron James partners with Dr. Dre on new headphones


lebronheadphonesnew.jpgContinuing to show his varied contacts and business relationships, superstar Miami Heat forward LeBron James has partnered with Dr. Dre on a new series of headphones aimed at sports enthusiasts and athletes.

“PowerBeats by Dr. Dre” are performance headphones designed to allow active people to get good music quality while they’re busy exercising and playing sports. They feature an adjustable bendable ear hook with a flexible arm to keep the headphones in place while exercising.

James and Dr. Dre are friends – they were at Fenway Park together at the Boston Red Sox home opener this year – and often work out together. James wears Dr. Dre’s high-end headphones during pregame warmups, as do other NBA players. (Watch a video below about the collaboration showing James and Dr. Dre and their trainer -- there's even some poking fun at James' "The Decision" press conference).

“Music has always been an important part of my life and a crucial element of my training regime. It helps me achieve a higher level of focus that ultimately helps me win,” James said in a statement. “I needed a headphone that would fit securely while working out, but it had to have the best sound quality. I know my friends and fellow professional athletes will love PowerBeats as much as I do.”

Dr. Dre added, “We worked with LeBron to make sure these would be the ultimate headphones for athletes. I'm always about the performance, the sound, and LeBron brought what he needed in terms of function to the table. I've been wearing the prototype for Powerbeats in the gym every day for the last few months so I can honestly say they're the best headphones for working out.”

Beats Electronics was founded by Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine in 2006. The company partnered with audio-video accessory company Monster in 2008 to develop the Beats by Dr. Dre line of headphones.

PowerBeats by Dr. Dre, which can be ordered here are expected to be available at Best Buy in mid-October for $169.95. And they come in red, black and white. Heat colors, natch. Actually, the colors are just a coincidence, I'm told, because they're trendy.

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Dish Network customers could miss Miami Heat games


A carriage dispute between Dish Network and Fox could result in South Florida Dish Network customers missing Miami Heat games, which begin airing on Fox-owned Sun Sports on Tuesday with the team’s first preseason game against the Detroit Pistons.

If a new carriage agreement is not reached by midnight Thursday, Dish Network customers will lose access to Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida.

The also means Orlando Magic games -- and the debut of the team’s brand new Amway Center – would be missing for Dish Network customers in central and northern Florida. Oh, and Florida Marlins fans with the Dish Network could miss the team’s final homestand of the 2010 season on Fox Sports Florida this weekend, too. Same goes for the Rays' final series on Sun Sports.

There’s still time for a resolution, but the fight’s gotten nasty enough that Fox is placing ads in area newspapers Thursday about the dispute and directing fans to a website for details called getwhatipaidfor.com. The site explains the issues from Fox’s point of view.

Fox says it has made numerous proposals on subscriber fees, but Dish has not agreed to any of them.

Tuesday’s Heat preseason game is being aired nationally on NBA TV, but is blacked out per NBA rules in South Florida, where Sun Sports will be airing it exclusively.

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Miami Heat individual tix on sale Tuesday


Individual tickets to see the new-look Miami Heat go on sale to the general public starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the team announced today.

There will be a four-ticket limit for each game and tickets can be purchased at Heat.com, ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX. Tickets will not be sold at AmericanAirlines Arena's ticket office on Tuesday, but will be available thereafter. Ticketmaster retail outlets will begin selling tickets on Thursday. Tickets start at $10, but vary depending on location and opponent.

For example, tickets in the front rows of the 400 level of AmericanAirlines Arena are running $167 ($150 for the ticket and $17 for fees) for the home opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 29. Seats for the Heat versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 15 in the 400 level are $88 ($75 for the ticket and $13 in fees).

Most of the seats are in the 400 level, but some scattered singles may be available in other locations throughout the arena. The team is encouraging fans to purchase tickets early, as prices are likely to rise closer to the games. It is also possible that some tickets may be available on game days, depending on whether tickets are returned by the opposing team.

There will be some tickets available to all home games, because the team held back some seats, even as it sold out its season ticket inventory and gave season ticket holders, those on the "Heat Hopefuls" season ticket waiting list, and on a LiveWire email database first crack at individual game tickets this week.

Meanwhile, you can already buy individual tickets on the Sun Sentinel's ticket broker site here.

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Miami Heat individual game tickets to go on sale next week; presale this week


Individual game tickets to see the new-look Miami Heat are expected to go on sale next week – the team has yet to release the date – but season ticket holders and others are getting a first crack at the coveted tickets this week.

Season ticket holders, followed by fans on the team’s season ticket “Heat Hopefuls” waiting list and then those from a LiveWire email database are each getting a 10-hour window in which to purchase individual game tickets ahead of the general public.

There are only a limited number of tickets available and the price varies depending on the location and opponent.

And they are not inexpensive. For example, tickets in the front rows of the 400 level of AmericanAirlines Arena are running $167 ($150 for the ticket and $17 for fees) for the home opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 29. That’s the high end, obviously. You can catch the Heat versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 15 in the 400 level for $88 ($75 for the ticket and $13 in fees).

Should know about general public on sale date soon.

Meanwhile, you can already buy individual tickets on the Sun Sentinel's ticket broker site here.

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Using the Three Kings to market your business


bsgbubbles1.jpgBeber Silverstein Group has used the iconic thought bubbles on its Coral Way office façade to promote its marketing and advertising business with a variety of messages that reflect current events, fund-raising for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, holidays, and even its Twitter feed @thinkbsg.

For example, a holiday one in 2009 read “Madoff is in Prison, Healthcare is in Debate. 2009 is almost over… Happier Holidays, from Beber Silverstein.”

Since last month, BSG has been using the Miami Heat’s offseason acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade to gain attention.

One bubble says “If you had Wade, Bosh & James on your team, you could sell out without advertising” and the other points out “But you don’t, so call 305-856-9800."

A clever message considering the Heat sold out its season ticket inventory hours before James even announced he was definitely coming to Miami.

“We’ve certainly gotten a lot of attention to it. More compliments than on any in a while,” said Joe Perz, the company’s executive vice president, creative director. “I like that it was a little arrogant. Everybody was talking about the dream team coming here.”

The bubbles have also spurred some business, Perz said.

The company changes the message every few months, which isn’t easy to do these days. In the era of digital signage and laser printing, BSG still has the signs hand-painted by a Miami man who works from a cherry-picker and only on weekends.

Mike LaMonica, BSG’s senior vice president business development and director of social media, says the company has become known for its bubbles, which were started in the early 1990s.

“Our clients love them. Prospects who come and visit us love them,” LaMonica said. “People who drive by love them. We’ve gotten many compliments on our Facebook page, on our Twitter page. I’ve gotten many phone calls with compliments, also many phone calls with submissions. I’ve also gotten many phone calls from people who wanted to advertise there.”

The company has yet to allow anyone else to advertise there or taken submissions, although it might consider submitted suggestions in the future, LaMonica said.

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Taxpayers on hook for sports teams’ former homes


A front page story in today’s New York Times details how New Jersey taxpayers are still on the hook for $266 million in bond payments that remain on the Meadowlands Sports Complex, despite the fact that Giants Stadium has been torn down and the New York Giants and Jets have moved into their new $1.6 billion new Meadowlands Stadium. The debt includes what’s left on the Izod Center, which is no longer home to the New Jersey Devils and Nets.

The bill comes to $35.8 million this year, and the bonds won’t be retired until 2025, the article says. The piece goes on to detail a number of locales where taxpayers are still paying off bonds on buildings that no longer exist: Seattle residents in King County still owe $83 million, scheduled to be repaid in 2016, on the Seattle Mariners’ former home, the Kingdome, which came down in 2000.

South Florida taxpayers seem only to be on the hook for sports venues in use – even though at least two – the Orange Bowl and Miami Arena – have been torn down in the past couple of years. The city of Miami made sure Miami Arena was off the city’s tax rolls in 2004 when it sold the pink oval arena – where the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and UM men’s basketball team once played -- to Glenn Straub at auction for $28 million. And a $50 million general obligation bond approved by voters in 2004 to renovate the Orange Bowl has instead been applied to the Florida Marlins’ under-construction ballpark.

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Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall new Warren Henry spokesman


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Add new Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the list of famous Warren Henry Automobiles spokesmen.

Marshall’s now an “Official Brand Manager” for the luxury car dealerships, meaning he’ll appear in ads and will make appearances for the company. He’s also driving a new gray 2011 Jaguar XJ from Warren Henry Jaguar in Miami. (See Marshall above with a 2011 Jaguar XJ, photo courtesy of Warren Henry).

“I am thrilled to partner with Warren and his family of dealerships,” Marshall said in a statement. “The Jaguar XJ that I am now driving is super hot, super charged and I can’t wait to ‘Unleash the Best.’”

Over the years, Warren Henry has partnered with a number of South Florida athletes, including Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Dolphins running back Ricky Williams and speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez.

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Miami Heat players, Office Depot & Tony Stewart’s car welcome kids back to school


pittman1.jpgStudents at Miramar Elementary got a special star-studded welcome back to school on Monday morning.

Miami Heat center Dexter Pittman and guards Kenny Hasbrouck and Patrick Beverley helped Heat sponsor Office Depot distribute some 900 backpacks filled with school supplies.

In a rare convergence of sponsorees, the event also included the No. 14 Office Depot show car. The Boca Raton office supply company is also a co-primary sponsor of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart's No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet. Stewart wasn't at the school this morning, but he did carry the Back to School paint scheme on his car in Chicago in July.

Hasbrouck checked out the inside of Smoke's car this morning. Photos courtesy of Office Depot. Above, PIttman helps hand out supplies.

The players addressed the students during morning announcements and the Heat Dancers, Xtreme Team and Burnie the Heat mascot were also in attendance.
Hasbrouck1.jpg

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Chris Bosh gets Milk Mustache


boshmilk.jpgMiami Heat forward Chris Bosh has hit the big-time: he’s featured in his own Got Milk? ad.

In the Body by Milk campaign, Bosh is wearing his USA Basketball uniform sporting the signature milk mustache, but he’s pitching the health benefits of chocolate milk.

It’s part of milk’s “Refuel America” program that seeks to inform the public about the benefits of “refueling” during the two hours after exercising. Lowfat chocolate milk has the components to help rebuild what exercisers lose during their workouts, the campaign says.

"Lowfat chocolate milk is an important part of my recovery plan – plus it tastes great," Bosh said in a statement. "I'm excited to be part of this important campaign to help teach athletes the importance of fitness and nutrition, and how drinking chocolate milk can help them refuel after exercise."

Learn more and see behind the scenes photos from the ad shoot here.

The Milk deal is a huge boost for Bosh’s marketing portfolio. He didn’t get nearly as much exposure when he played for the Toronto Raptors. Apparently, he’s fielding a lot of offers from potential sponsors these days.

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Miami Heat are one hot ticket


OK, several hot tickets. Not exactly a newsflash here, but with the full NBA schedule now released, there’s even more evidence of what a popular ticket the Three Kings-led Miami Heat have become.

According to ticket search engine, FanSnap.com, the average ticket price on the secondary market for last year’s Heat home opener against the New York Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena was $116.

This year’s Oct. 29 opener versus the Orlando Magic? Try $805.

The website says the average price for the highly-anticipated Christmas Day matchup when the Heat travel to Los Angeles to take on the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers is already at $717. And the team’s season opener at the Boston Celtics on Oct. 26 is averaging $545 a ticket.


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Carlos Arroyo’s new single and other Miami Heat tidbits


Returning Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo has his own theme music accompaniment at AmericanAirlines Arena – El Gran Combo’s “Fiesta de Pilito.”

Now he has a new single out with reggaeton recording artist and fellow Puerto Rican, Yomo. You can listen to the song called “Se va Conmigo” (“She comes with me”) below and purchase it at iTunes.

You can also watch a photo shoot of the pair here.

Arroyo, who is a reggaeton fan, released “Oculto Secreto” (“Hidden Secret”) last year – you can watch it here.

+ With the release of the full NBA schedule today, the Heat has just 29 nationally televised games this season. The team can have a maximum of 34 on national TV. Fans can vote on NBA.com for games they want to see broadcast nationally on “Fan Night” – Tuesdays on NBA TV.

+ And with the release of their schedule, the Heat reminded that fans still seeking season tickets for the 2010-11 season, can sign up for the Heat Hopefuls Waiting List for a non-refundable $100 per seat. Those on the waiting list will be given the first shot at partial season ticket plans. Email seasons@heat.com or visit heat.com. Details of the plans are scheduled to be released next week.

+ And according to TMZ.com, LeBron James has sought business assistance from a higher power. The website carries an exclusive photo of James meeting “today with Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto, ... a man known around New York as the 'Rabbi to the Business Stars.'" Sources told the website James consulted Pinto for guidance on business matters relating to some merchandising deals.

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Monday links: Catching up, more Heat hotel deals, radio interview, junk food & more


+ Perhaps it’s not enough these days to live like a “king” in a Miami hotel. Kimpton’s EPIC Hotel is getting in on the excitement of new-look Miami Heat, offering “king-sized savings” as well as “king-sized accommodations” to season ticket holders. Season ticket holders, who book through heat.com can take advantage of the savings during the 2010-11 season, and receive a free appetizer at the hotel’s Area 31 restaurant, and a complimentary upgrade when available with proof of season ticket holder status. EPIC, at 270 Biscayne Blvd., and not far from AmericanAirlines Arena, has 13 rooms featuring extra-long beds for its especially tall visitors. I’m told that even those season ticket holders who live nearby might want to take advantage of the offer. And if you’re not a season ticket holder, you can also book through the Heat’s website for 20 percent off the best available rate.

+ More on the business of the Three Kings: A little late, but here’s a link to a radio interview I did on the business of the new-look Heat with Greg Linnelli at Fox Sports Radio WBGG-970-AM in Pittsburgh. The interview starts after the commercials.

+ As Dallas gears up for the 2011 Super Bowl next year, two South Florida businesses that got contracts from the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee are being recognized in Texas for being part of the Super Bowl’s Emerging Business program, which gives a boost to local small, minority- and women-owned businesses: Coral Springs printing company TypeStyles Inc., and McCray’s II Backyard BBQ in West Palm Beach. Read more here.

+ Love this ode to junk food from Sunday’s New York Times, with stadium staple Cracker Jack being first on the list. I’m not sure the Big Gulp qualifies, but in my book, a Slurpee definitely does.

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

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Dolphins & Heat try to assure season ticket holders their venues' food is safe


Since ESPN's Outside the Lines’ exhaustive report on food vendor safety at North America’s 107 pro sports venues was released last weekend, the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat have sent letters to their season ticket holders ensuring their venues’ food is safe.

Executives from both the Miami Dolphins and AmericanAirlines Arena took pains to point out what they say are inaccuracies in the ESPN report. Despite scoring among the worst percentages of vendors with “critical violations” in the report, the executives say none of their vendors failed any of their inspection tests and none was shut down.

Our followup on the ESPN report, which you can read here, detailed the state of Florida’s strict food safety inspection standards and assured that none of the concessions stands at South Florida’s three venues – including BankAtlantic Center – had failed inspection tests.

The Dolphins called the reports “misleading and inaccurate.” Calling the report and subsequent stories “inflammatory,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said Sun Life Stadium has passed all of its inspections and its food is safe.

The Dolphins' note also included a link to a letter from Centerplate, the concessionaire at both Sun Life Stadium and BankAtlantic Center.

AmericanAirlines Arena pointed out – just as we did – that their violations were not related to food preparation, but had to do with equipment issues, such as wiring, and all were fixed immediately. “Fans can be assured that when they visit our venue for a sporting or entertainment event, all of the food is prepared within the cleanest, safest environment possible,” the note said.

Read the full AmericanAirlines Arena letter from arena general manager Kim Stone, here.

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


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

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

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

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

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

And don’t forget to follow me: @sarahtalalay

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stadium, too, addressed concerns fans might have:

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

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

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

Read ESPN’s full venue rundown.

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

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First James, Bosh Miami Heat cards at sports collectibles show


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

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

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

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

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Chew on this: D Wade scores with Big Red


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about a locker?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Miami Heat gear and Three Kings jerseys are top sellers


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

For more information, visit the hotel’s website.

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

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

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Sun Sports to rebroadcast Heat Three Kings welcome


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Florida Panthers try to capitalize on LeBron joining Heat


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

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

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

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How valuable is LeBron James: MSG stocks tumble


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

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

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D Wade and custody issues


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Miami Heat launches online season ticket system to meet anticipated demand


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

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

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

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

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

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We Want Wade Week: Let the free agent festivities begin


MWLogo.jpgWith politicians, schoolkids, Miami Heat officials and fanfare, Miami-Dade County was officially renamed “Miami-Wade County” this morning – through July 8 -- in honor of South Florida’s favorite NBA (imminent) free agent, Dwyane Wade.

And so begins “We Want Wade Week” – coinciding with the first week of NBA free agency, which officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. With the richest free agent class in years and the potential to vastly re-shape a team’s and its city’s fortunes, the Miami Heat has been making sure the community shows Wade some super love.

The We Want Wade campaign was launched last month, complete with wewantwade.com website, fan kits with stickers and souvenirs, opportunities for fans to send Wade messages and upload videos. The team hoisted a billboard with just the signature portion of a contract awaiting Wade’s autograph near his Miami home. It gave out We Want Wade T-shirts at the NBA draft party at AmericanAirlines Arena last week.

This week, the campaign goes full force:

The county’s been informally known by Heat fans as “Wade County” for years, but the county’s proclamation at the county government center this morning made it official for this week. The logo is even in the Heat's black and red colors, rather than the usual blue and green.

Wade now appears larger than life -- along with his highlights -- on AmericanAirlines Arena’s MediaMesh marquee overlooking Biscayne Boulevard.

Burnie the Heat mascot plans to live on the ledge of the arena’s main entrance for the week, with his living arrangements on view 24 hours a day online, much like the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

Staring Friday, Wade highlights will be all over Heat.com. On Saturday from noon to midnight, Sun Sports will replay four of Wade’s most notable games (Heat v. Hornets, playoffs, April 18, 2004; Heat v. Knicks, March 15, 2005; Heat v. Mavericks, Finals, June 13, 2006; Heat v. Bulls, March 9, 2009).

For July 4th on Sunday, the Heat Street Band entertains people around AmericanAirlines Arena. Fans are encouraged to wear Wade gear on Monday. On Tuesday, at 3:33 p.m. – in honor of Wade’s No. 3 jersey – fans are encouraged to write messages on Wade’s Facebook wall – at facebook.com/dwyanewade. And on July 7, the team launches a social media scavenger hunt for five oversized No. 3 figurines that will be hidden around South Florida. Finding the figurines gives fans entry into a VIP event at the arena.

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Harlem Globetrotters pursuing D Wade, LeBron


As if this summer of superstar NBA free agency couldn’t get any more bizarre, the Harlem Globetrotters have stepped into the fray.

The Globetrotters are pursuing Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and have even made Globie jerseys -- D-Wade # 3; King # 6 – available for preorder on their website for $75 apiece. “Coming Soon?...We’ll find out July 1,” the site says.

Now, as unlikely and implausible (and all the other no it’s not going to happen synonyms you can supply) as it seems, consider what the Globetrotters are prepared to offer: part ownership in the team (that’s prohibited in the NBA) and 51 percent of revenue from sales of licensed merchandise with their name and likeness, a Globebtrotters source says. There are no salary cap restrictions either.

And perhaps most important of all? Especially if Wade and James are only concerned about winning?

The Globetrotters have an unrivaled winning streak that dates back nearly four decades. The last time the Globetrotters lost to the Washington Generals was in 1971.

The Globetrotters were expected to contact agents for Wade and James, but it’s unknown if they’ve connected yet. No word yet from Wade’s agent Henry Thomas on the unusual offer.

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Miami Heat seeking D Wade signature


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The Miami Heat is continuing to ramp up pressure on its superstar guard to re-sign with the team through its We Want Wade campaign.

The team has put up a billboard with the signature portion of a contract on the 79th Street Causeway hoping to capture Wade’s attention. It simply includes the dotted line with an X, Wade’s name and an arrow indicating where to sign. Check out the photo by Brentan Debysingh, Miami Heat.

If Wade does re-sign, the team is exploring having Wade actually sign the giant billboard.

The team launched the We Want Wade campaign and its accompanying wewantwade.com website last month. Billboards and banners have been going up across “Wade County” and fans have been posting messages and videos to the site encouraging Wade to stay with the Heat. Fans can also order a We Want Wade fan kit, which includes window clings, bracelets and stickers, or download a digital version.

Wade is expected to exercise his option to become a free agent by July 1 and he has said repeatedly he would like to remain with the Heat.

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Some Friday links: Sounders give fans a refund; Cleveland hearts LeBron and more


+Gotta love it when a team takes one for its fans: The Seattle Sounders after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the LA Galaxy at home announce they are giving season ticket holders a one-game refund – good toward season tickets next year.

+ The Field of Dreams film site – well part of the Iowa cornfield from the 1989 movie anyway -- is up for sale. Scant details here.

+ We have WeWantWade.com, but LeBron James has a group of politicians, officials and other Cleveland fans serenading him to the tune of We Are The World. If you can stand it, click here.

Hartford2.jpg+ Pompano Beach Paralympian Bradley Johnson joined The Hartford for the insurance company’s 200th anniversary at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Johnson is the guy on the left side of the net, helping to demonstrate sit volleyball. The Hartford is founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics.


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Miami Heat asks fans to lobby to keep Dwyane Wade


As Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat in a Miami-Dade Circuit courtroom for a second day in a trial on a lawsuit in which he is accused of breaching his contract in a failed restaurant endeavor, the Heat kicked off a fan campaign to keep him in on the team.

Although he has said he would like to stay in Miami, Wade is expected to exercise his option to become a free agent on July 1, and so the Heat has launched its “We Want Wade” campaign complete with its own website, advertising and fan messaging.

WeWantWade.com includes video highlights, updates on the campaign and a place for fans to leave messages expressing their desire to keep Wade a member of the Heat. There are also tips as to how to treat Wade if you see him out in public – such as chanting “We Want Wade” or sending a dessert to his table if you see him at a restaurant. South Florida fans can also order a We Want Wade fan kit that includes window clings, bracelets and stickers. Out of town Heat fans can download a digital version from the site.

Billboards and other advertisements are going up around South Florida and across what’s been dubbed “Wade County.”

“The goal is to create an affirmative, positive campaign that allows the community to let Wade know that they want him to stay in Miami and what they are willing to do to make sure Wade ‘feels the love’,” according to a team release about the campaign.

During a break in the trial, Wade said he was surprised by the campaign, but pleased.

“I just found that out,” he said of the campaign. “I thought it was hilarious. But I appreciate it. I do, I really do.”

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Things I learned behind the scenes in sports


In another plug for my stories on going behind the scenes in a variety of sports jobs, here are some details that didn't make the package:

Pit crew: Hours spent at the track go by in a flash – there’s so much work to be done. Constant work on the cars, meeting race fans, signing autographs, cleaning the trailers, and, of course, keeping the frigs stocked with water and Gatorade and snack trays filled with chips, granola bars, fruit. Seconds really do make a difference - as I learned the hard way. Everyone has a job. The time between pit stops gets filled with snacking and watching the race on pit box monitors. As the “deadman” you really are thatclose to the gas – you’re standing under a 55-gallon drum suspended on a metal scissor stand. I just didn’t think about my proximity to the gas.

Grounds crew: What this very busy crew at Sun Life Stadium does can’t be overstated. These people work hard to create a pitch perfect field for both baseball and football. As one of only two professional stadiums left in the country that host both football and baseball on natural grass, these people are busy. The grass gets mowed every day. There are the summer rains. The endzone and center logo replacements between Dolphins and University of Miami games. Lowering and raising the pitcher’s mound when football and baseball overlap. And the difference between football and baseball is stark, head groundskeeper Alan Sigwardt explains: football is all about the grass and how it holds up against the different players – the 350-pound lineman versus the speedy receivers. Meanwhile, baseball is about the dirt – with only three players doing their job on the grass, the vast majority of the work is done on the infield dirt. “It’s two totally different sciences,” Sigwardt says. Watch video of my turn at the job below.

Zamboni driving: Top speed is 9 mph, but you’re typically driving slower than that. In a giant contraption with a sensitive turning radius. The red line at BankAtlantic Center is dotted with prints of Panthers paws – which you can see when you’re on the ice, but they’re difficult to make out otherwise. Driving the Zamboni satisfies both sides of head ice technician Graham Caplinger’s brain. He’s a perfectionist, fascinated by the science and math of the job. But he’s also a musician – a drummer – so he has learned to let go. He knows he creates a perfect sheet of ice only to see the players mess it up with their skates. “Everything’s as best as I know how to do it, I’ve checked and checked and rechecked and checked and checked, then it’s up to the players, the artists, if you will, to go out carve up their masterpiece,” Caplinger says. He also says the iPod is the greatest invention – it helps him pass the time spent on the slow-moving Zamboni.

Mascots: It takes a special person to be a mascot. There’s a mascot creed and rules. Never reveal your identity. No talking. Don’t seek permission – ask forgiveness later. Have fun. Grown-ups become big kids as soon as they see a mascot – they cheer, they yell, they pose for photos, they high five, they act silly. And the mascot loves it – he, too, acts silly with no – or few - consequences. “It’s like Batman Superman status. Nobody knows who you are. They think they’re laughing at me, but I’m actually laughing at them. I’m getting them out of their character,” Burnie the Heat mascot says.
 

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Florida Panthers trying to generate revenue, excitement for NHL draft


panthers4thlogo1.jpgAs full regular season team sponsorships are becoming more common, so, too, are off-season ones. Last fall, the Miami Heat unveiled its 2009-10 season was being sponsored by travel insurer Assist-Card.

This off-season, of course, the Heat is focusing on what it’s calling the “Heat Summer of 2010,” when we’re waiting for news of superstar guard Dwyane Wade’s future and the roster re-vamp.

Up the road in Sunrise, the Florida Panthers, however, are getting an assist from Lexus. The luxury auto maker is sponsoring the team’s summer under what the team is calling “Florida Panthers 4th Period Driven by Lexus.”

There’s a special 4th Period logo that’s going on all news announcements, advertisements, and promotions this summer.

“We are thrilled to announce longstanding partners Lexus as the first presenting sponsor of the Florida Panthers offseason,” Panthers President Michael Yormark said in a statement.

It’s Yormark’s twin brother, New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark, who in 2007 introduced basketball’s first offseason sponsor, signing up Wrigley to help underwrite the team’s summer activities.

Among the first summer activities is the team’s “You Make the Pick” Promotion – in partnership with JetBlue -- in which fans are being invited to enter a contest to win trips to the NHL Draft in Los Angeles on June 25. The idea is to have fans choose who they think should be selected by the Panthers in the third spot in the draft.

While all fans are eligible to participate in the online contest, only fans who become season ticket holders by May 31 can win one of the grand prizes, which are the trips to the draft that include meetings with team officials and the prospect chosen in the third spot. Other prizes include trips to LA and autographed merchandise.

“We want Panthers fans and the South Florida community to feel excited and involved in the process leading up to our first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft,” Yormark said in a statement.

To learn more and enter, visit floridapanthers.com.

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NBA charitable arm using social media to support D Wade and other player-backed charities


Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is looking for some love.

No, not that. Love for Project Medishare, a non-profit organization raising money for medical assistance in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. It’s an organization Wade is supporting as part of the NBA and State Farm’s NBA Cares Charity Challenge. Wade and former Heat star Alonzo Mourning, who is now the team’s vice president of player programs, formed the “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” through which they raised $1 million from professional athletes.

The challenge is a contest pitting four players and charities they are supporting. Fans are asked to vote for their favorite pairing – the one with the most votes will get $10,000 for that charity. The other three charities will get $5,000 each. The other players and charities are: the Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony and the Special Olympics; the Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol and UNICEF; and the Phoenix Suns Steve Nash and Educare, an organization of schools for at-risk newborns to 5-year-olds.

Fans have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to view videos of the players discussing their charities and vote for their favorite. Fans can view the videos and vote on the league’s Facebook page at facebook.com/nba.

The contest provides an opportunity for the league to tap into its vast and growing social networks. The league has more than 2 million fans on its Facebook page and more than 1.8 million followers on Twitter at @NBA.

Watch Nash’s video here; Gasol’s here and Anthony’s here.

Wade’s is here:

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Friday links: Heat twHEATup, Jason Taylor merchandise purge; and more


+ The Miami Heat's first twHEATup sold out -- 50 tickets for $50 each to sit in section 307 at AmericanAirlines Arena during the team's Game 3 first round home playoff game against the Boston Celtics a week ago. TwHEATup attendees got a halftime meet-and-greet with the Heat dancers and postgame meeting with Tim Hardaway. Read more here. Yes, the team plans future twHEATups. Stay tuned.

+ Fans have unusual ways to show love for their favorite players. The "Paul & Young Ron Show," heard on BIG 105.9 and The Gater 98.7 FM hosted a funeral of sorts at Clear Channel South Florida in Miramar on Monday for Miami Dolphins Jason Taylor memorabilia. Now that Taylor has signed with the arch-rival New York Jets, the station sealed up and buried a “time capsule/casket” stuffed with JT-signed jerseys, photos, footballs and other items. “The items will stay forever buried, or at least until Taylor is no longer with the Jets and is inducted into the Dolphins "Ring of Honor." (When/if that happens, the casket turned time capsule will be unearthed and people can get their stuff back),” a release announcing the event said.

+ Meanwhile, fans have pledged more than 25,000 volunteer hours to the Dolphins’ new Special Teams volunteer corps.

+ Topps announced a multi-year licensing agreement with the NFL and NFL Players Association this week. The first Topps 2010 NFL product is to launch just before the season starts and is to include opportunities to win prizes.

+ Even if it’s not clear where it came from – is it a ripoff of Maryland’s "Fear the Turtle"? – gotta love the first-round playoff leading Milwaukee Bucks’ “Fear the Deer” slogan.

+ Gregory A. Jones Architecture in Boynton Beach has been advertising that the firm along with B&M Building have been hired by Heat forward Udonis Haslem and former Heat guard Keyon Dooling, now with the New Jersey Nets, to provide architectural services for their homes in Southwest Ranches. This follows, naturally, since my colleague Ira Winderman wrote a story last weekend about several Heat players moving to Southwest Broward to shake the South Beach nightlife.

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Kobe Bryant again tops list of most popular NBA jerseys; D Wade is 6th


Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant’s jersey was again the most popular in the NBA for the second consecutive season, according to sales figures from the 2009-10 season at the NBA Store in Manhattan and NBAStore.com.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade's jersey ranked 6th most popular. Heat gear ranked eighth among the league's 30th teams, with Lakers gear also registering as the most popular.

The Boston Celtics - who knocked off the Heat on Tuesday in the first round of the playoffs - had four players' jerseys among the top 15 best-selling jerseys. Here's the list of the top 15 selling jerseys, followed by the top 10 best-selling teams for the 2009-10 season:

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
4. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
5. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
7. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
8. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
9. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
10. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
11. Nate Robinson, Boston Celtics
12. David Lee, New York Knicks
13. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
14. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
15. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Top 10 selling NBA teams

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Boston Celtics
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Chicago Bulls
5. New York Knicks
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Orlando Magic
8. Miami Heat
9. San Antonio Spurs
10. Phoenix Suns

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Player Appearances: Meet Glen Rice, Tim Hardaway


Two former Miami Heat stars, Glen Rice and Tim Hardaway, are making appearances at Office Depot stores in Miami-Dade County on behalf of the HP and NBA “Make the Smart Play Sweepstakes.”

The sweepstakes grand prize winner gets a trip for four to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, an HP TouchSmart computer, HP wireless printer and $2,500 in Office Depot gift cards for an office makeover. Office Depot customers can also win prizes and meet players during the sweepstakes.

Rice will be at Office Depot at 17801 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Hardaway will be at the Office Depot at 2690 Coral Way, Miami, from 2 to 3 p.m. on Monday.

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Miami Heat giving out playoff gear kits, holding first twHEATup


blacktee.jpgIn Miami Heat fashion, the team wants to make sure fans are not only appropriately attired and excited for the 2010 Back is Black playoffs, but also keeping up with these social media-centric times.

This afternoon, the team is giving away “Black is Back 2010 Playoffs Kits” containing a Black is Back T-shirt and clacker, team poster and Dwyane Wade “This is My House” placard, to fans who stop by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming between 3 and 7 p.m. The Xtreme Team and Burnie will also be in attendance. Tim Hardaway is scheduled to sign autographs and pose for photos between 4 and 6 p.m., when the 2006 Larry O’Brien championship will also be on display. Miccosukee Resort & Gaming is at 500 Southwest 177th Ave., Miami.

Tomorrow, the “Heat Experience” visits Lincoln Road Mall on South Beach from 6 to 7 p.m. for festivities that include a playoff parade and ticket and prize giveaways.

And during Friday’s first 2010 Heat home playoff game against the Boston Celtics, the team is holding its first-ever Twitter gathering with a nifty name – twHEATup. For $50, you can sit in a special twHEATup section at AmericanAirlines Arena for the 7 p.m. game and will be treated to a halftime meet-and-greet with the Heat dancers and a postgame meet-and-greet with Hardaway. The seats are in section 307 and the $50 price represents a discount of $8 to $20 off the regular individual ticket price. Check out more information here.

Meanwhile, the team just changed its Twitter handle from @MHEAT to @MiamiHEAT.

And don’t forget to follow me @sarahtalalay

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D. Wade limited edition headphones in honor of NBA playoffs


HeatMixMaster1.jpgSkullcandy, maker of high end headphones, partnered with the NBA at the start of the 2009-10 season, releasing a line of player-specific headphones with team logos. The headphones, made for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, as well as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala and Deron Williams, sold for $49.95 on NBAStore.com, at Best Buy and other retailers.

The company then made a limited edition of NBA All-Star headphones.

On Tuesday, the company is releasing a special limited edition of NBA Mix Master headphones in honor of the NBA playoffs, dubbing them “the greatest professional DJ headphone ever.” There will be just 100 pairs of the headphones – for $299 each – available for each of six players: Wade, Bryant, James, Garnett, Rose, and David Lee.

The headphones are each numbered – you can find the number where you adjust them to fit your head – and come in a fancy case with team colors. There will be just 20 pairs of the headphones for each player sold at Skullcandy.com and 80 for each player exclusively at Apple stores in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

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Some Sunday links: skybox tax breaks, locals sports figures sell real estate and more


Catching up on last week:

+ Duke law professor Richard Schmalbeck and Rutgers Business School professor Jay Soled had an interesting Op-Ed in the New York Times last week suggesting it’s time to retire tax deductions for businesses that buy suites and club seats at sporting events. The professors say the deductions have led not only to skyrocketing ticket prices but also a squeezing out of the non-corporate fan in favor of building ever more revenue-generating luxury suites. It makes me wonder, too, if all those deductions led in part to all that extra entertainment – the frills such as dance teams, contests, djs and the like -- to keep all those people who’ve spent that big money occupied.

+ Former Miami Dolphins majority owner H. Wayne Huizenga, who sold the team and stadium to Steve Ross last year, quietly sold the Floridian Golf and Yacht Club for $25.6 million, the Palm Beach Post’s Jose Lambiet reports here.

+ Ever feel like the Black Eyed Peas have become the soundtrack to life? Might be onto something. The Wall Street Journal’s piece on the band, including Miami Dolphins limited partner Fergie, as a brand is here.

+ Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sold his home…at a loss. Read more here.

+ Here’s the video to go with Creed singer Scott Stapp’s “Marlins Will Soar” – a rewriting of his song “You Will Soar” that honors the Florida Marlins and is shown on the scoreboard at Sun Life Stadium:

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Catching up: Tuesday links


It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to catch up -- March is a busy month, as always -- so here are some current links, as well as some I should have posted a while ago:

The Real Deal details Miami Heat radio broadcaster and former player John Crotty’s success in the real estate business with Colliers Abood Wood-Fay. Check out the story here.

Three locals were among the SportsBusinessJournal’s Forty Under 40 business executives honored in Los Angeles earlier this month: Miami Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt, who calls becoming AD at The U his “greatest achievement”; Florida Marlins vice president and general counsel Derek Jackson, who labored with others to get the team’s ballpark financed; and Max Eisenbud, vice president of IMG Tennis, who is agent for tennis star Maria Sharapova.

UM TV’s Sports Desk held a panel discussion during Communications Week called “Miami – A Sports Media Haven” - and included Emmanuel Munoz, Florida Marlins director of broadcasting; Jason Jenkins, Miami Dolphins director of media relations; Joe Pujala, Miami Heat and Miami Hurricanes Spanish language broadcaster; and me. We covered a number of topics, including the fickle nature of the South Florida fans and Miami’s role in sports. The piece aired March 12. If you want to check it out, It’s here.

From last week’s NFL owners meeting in Orlando, my colleagues who attended told me it looks even more likely the New York region will be awarded the 2014 Super Bowl over South Florida and Tampa. We’ll find out for sure at the owners meeting in Dallas in May.

dolphgameday1.jpgAnd a little more on Dolphins owner Steve Ross pitching his “GameDay” Vision handheld TV device to the rest of the league’s owners: The SportsBusiness Journal reported Ross quietly purchased Kangaroo TV in December and not only is he expanding the number of Dolphins fans who will get the devices for games in the upcoming season (one for every two tickets in each season ticket holder account instead of just club and suite holders), but he’s offering devices to the other 31 team owners. In return, the Journal story explains, the teams would need to market the devices to their fans.

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Player Appearance: Meet Michael Beasley


Want to go shopping with Michael Beasley?

The Miami Heat forward is trading in his NBA uniform to dress like a Champs Sports employee on Friday. He’ll be manning the cash register and working as a personal shopper to help a few fans pick out adidas NBA duds at the Champs Sports location at Aventura Mall.

Beasley is appearing from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. to help promote the new Official NBA Shop at Champs Sports. The NBA announced last month that it was partnering with adidas and Champs stores to add the NBA Shop-branded sections starting in 69 stores, including in Miami, and then rolling out to the company’s other 468 stores by the start of the 2010-11 NBA season.

Fans who attend Beasley’s visit can enter raffles to win prizes including adidas gear and Champs Sports gift cards. The store is located at the mall at 19575 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura.

More information at heat.com.

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Player Appearance: Meet Carlos Arroyo


Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo is making the rounds of Kia dealerships.

He’s scheduled to appear at Esserman Kia on Saturday, where he will meet with fans, sign autographs and pose for photos.

Arroyo, who also attended FIU, is scheduled to be at the dealership from 4 to 5 p.m. at Esserman Kia, 10455 NW 12th St., Miami.

Arroyo’s appearance is also to promote the “Heat Ultimate Flyaway Driven by Kia Motors," which is a sweepstakes in which fans can win a trip to see the Heat play the New York Knicks in New York on April 11. Kia Motors is the Heat’s “official vehicle” sponsor. To enter the sweepstakes, visit: heat.com.

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Miami Heat, Florida Marlins celebrate Latin heritage


Starting with tonight’s game, the Miami Heat is being prominently featured in this season's NBA’s “éne•bé•a” “Noche Latina” tribute to Latin heritage.

ElHeat2.jpgThe Heat isn’t pulling out the “El Heat” jerseys again until next week’s games at AmericanAirlines Arena – on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs and Thursday against the Orlando Magic – but the Chicago Bulls will be “Los Bulls” at AA Arena tonight.

The NBA launched a comprehensive Hispanic marketing initiative last fall with the creation of “éne•bé•a,” – the Spanish pronunciation of NBA. This month’s Hispanic Heritage/Noche Latina celebration is aimed at celebrating the league’s Latin players and more than 16 million Hispanic fans across the country.

Celebrations are taking place at games this month in nine NBA markets – Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, New York and Orlando. Noche Latina was first held during the 2006-07 season.

The special nights include the uniforms with team names in Spanish, musical performances, giveaways and other activities. The uniforms and other products with the teams’ Spanish names are for sale at the NBA store in Manhattan, Champs stores, NBAStore.com and at the in-arena stores for the participating teams. The Miami Hoops Gear store sells a variety of El Heat items.

LosMarlinslogo1.jpgMeanwhile, the Florida Marlins this season are dubbing Friday night home games at Sun Life Stadium as “Fiesta Fridays” replacing “Fish Fridays.” Fiesta Fridays will have a heavy Latin flare, says Sean Flynn, the team’s vice president of marketing.

Hispanic baseball legends will sign autographs and salsa and pleneros bands will perform before games. And with the exception of Opening Night on April 9, the Marlins will be known as “Los Marlins” at Friday home games and will wear a Los Marlins patch on their uniforms.

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Cooking Miami Heat style


With the massive popularity of cooking shows, why not cook with the Miami Heat?

The team, broadcast partner Sun Sports and AmericanAirlines Arena concessionaire Levy Restaurants have teamed up to create a cooking show of sorts called “Recipes for Success.” The show pairs Heat players, coaches and broadcasters making some of their favorite dishes with arena executive chef Eric Chopin. The show is airing during halftime at Heat home games this month, during the Heat Live post-game shows on Sun Sports and on heat.com and FoxSportsFlorida.com.

The series started on Saturday with forward James Jones preparing curry chicken and curry shrimp enchiladas and spinach salad. You can watch the first part of the video below – the second part is at heat.com, as are the recipes.

Meanwhile, fans who eat in the Flagship and Dewars’ 12 lounges at the arena during games can sample that night’s featured recipe.

The rest of the schedule: tonight forward-guard Yakhouba Diawara is dishing up tilapia and steamed vegetables. On Friday, guard Daequan Cook makes pasta salad, steak and potato. On Sunday, guard Mario Chalmers serves jambalaya and garlic bread. March 16 brings broadcaster Tony Fiorentino’s calamari pasta, calamari salad and appetizers. On March 20, Joel Anthony makes oxtail with black eyed peas and plantains. The March 28 game will feature assistant coach David Fizdale’s macaroni & cheese, pork chops and string beans.


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Player Appearance: Meet Udonis Haslem


Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem will appear at the Miami Hoops Gear store at the Dolphin Mall on Wednesday as part of the Panini Adrenalyn Tour.

Panini, the NBA’s trading card partner, has launched an interactive trading card game and will be distributing up to 4 million packs of Adrenalyn cards and game boards across the country.

Panini will arrive with the Adrenalyn Bus, which bears photos of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki, and will travel more than 12,000 miles in support of the game, which is geared to children ages 6 to 11.

Haslem will be coaching kids on their free throwing on an NBA half-court, and playing the Adrenalyn game.

Haslem is scheduled to be at the store from 5 to 7 p.m., at Miami Hoops Gear at 11401 Northwest 12th St., Miami. Learn more about the game at paniniadrenalyn.com.

Meanwhile, the Heat announced a multi-year partnership with Panini America today and will host "Panini Adrenalyn Night" at Thursday's Heat-Los Angeles Lakers game at AmericanAirlines Arena. The team will give out 12,000 packs of cards and game boards to fans attending the game. Each pack will contain a Dwyane Wade All-Star card. The Adrenalyn Bus will also be at the arena Thursday, so fans can play the trading card game and participate in basketball skills contests before the Heat game.

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Miami Heat freezing season ticket prices, holding scavenger hunt for prizes


The Miami Heat is freezing prices for returning season ticket holders, who renew for the 2010-11 season by March 19, and including credits for food, beverage and tickets and merchandise discounts.

The team is trying to make it even easier for loyal fans to save money and stretch out payments. Renewing fans can pay in seven interest-free monthly installments, but they can stretch that to 10 payments – and get a limited edition Dwyane Wade bobblehead – if they pay by March 5.

“While we are seeing light at the end of this tunnel of economic recession, we recognize our fans are still struggling,” Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said in a statement.

The team is also adding credits for food and beverages and tickets and merchandise discounts. The longer you’ve been a season ticket holder, the larger your credits. For example, “Rookies” – fans who have been season ticket holders for one to four years receive $50 in food and beverage credits; $250 in ticket credits, which are for select games determined by the Heat; and a 10 percent discount at the Miami Hoops Gear store. That rises to $100 in food and beverage credits and $500 for tickets, along with the 10 percent merchandise discount for “Veterans” who’ve been with the team five to 10 years. “Legends” – season ticket holders for 20 or more years, get $200 in food and beverage credits, $1,000 in ticket credits and 15 percent off merchandise.

In addition, Veterans, “All-Stars” (11 to 19 years), and Legends will have their names displayed on the My Heat House Wall of Recognition outside section 115 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Meanwhile, the team is also offering up prizes, such as free Carnival cruises and American Airlines tickets, in a Heat Renewal Booklet Scavenger Hunt. During each home game between tonight’s (Feb. 23) and March 18, clues will be given out on HeaTV and on the My Heat Season Tickets website that relate to items in the renewal booklet. Fans write the answers in their booklets and submit them at the end of the renewal period for a chance to win prizes. More information at heat.com.


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Champs Sports stores to feature NBA shops inside


NBA-Shops1.jpgChamps Sports retailers have typically featured a limited inventory of NBA jerseys for a couple of the local team’s players and perhaps some T-shirts. The stores, known for featuring “lifestyle” sports apparel, launched a line of black on black adidas jerseys for a handful of star players at the start of the 2009-10 season.

Now, the NBA and the athletic retailer are teaming up to feature dedicated Official NBA Shops inside Champs stores that will include a broader selection of jerseys, on-court apparel and fashion clothing. There will be shooting shirts, shorts, hats and track jackets.

The partnership was announced Monday and will roll out in 69 stores this month, including in Miami Champs locations. The other initial markets include Orlando, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Portland and San Antonio. The company’s other 468 stores will have NBA Shops by the start of the 2010-11 season.

“The NBA Shop at Champs Sports provides us with a terrific opportunity to engage our fans year round with a wide selection of the newest and most popular NBA adidas products,” Chris Brennan, NBA senior vice president sales development and retail marketing, said in a statement.

The NBA shop areas will feature between 8 feet and 10 feet of wall space and will be between 80 and 100 square feet. They will be decorated with a replica NBA backboard and hardwood floor graphic. South Florida stores will carry Miami Heat items, but also gear for other popular NBA players.

The gear in the Champs NBA shops will all be made by adidas and different products will be featured year-round, including a special white on white line for this spring.

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Player Appearance: Meet Carlos Arroyo


Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo is scheduled to visit Kendall Kia on Sunday to meet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos.

Arroyo, who also attended FIU, is scheduled to be at the dealership from 4 to 5 p.m. at 17120 South Dixie Highway, Kendall.

Fans who test drive a new Kia will receive two free tickets to a future Heat game at AmericanAirlines Arena. Kia Motors is the Heat’s “official vehicle” sponsor. More information at heat.com.

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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.
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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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Miami Heat designs ticket package around Dwyane Wade


Calling it “Buy One Get One Three,” the Miami Heat has designed a ticket promotion around star guard No. 3 Dwyane Wade.

If fans buy a ticket to one of four remaining games at AmericanAirlines Arena that the Heat has deemed its “hottest” games, they can get a 300 level ticket to one of six games the Heat has dubbed as simply “hot.” The promotion works so that for every ticket you buy at full price to one of the hottest games, you can get an equivalent number for $3 to one of the hot games.

These games are the hottest: Jan. 6 against the Boston Celtics, Jan. 25 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, March 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers, and March 18 against the Orlando Magic.

These six are the hot ones to which the $3 tickets are available: Jan. 19 against the Indiana Pacers, Feb. 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Feb. 9 against the Houston Rockets, Feb. 23 versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, March 2 versus the Golden State Warriors and March 10 against the LA Clippers.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit heat.com.

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Miami Heat and NBA teams unveil player shooting shirts on Christmas Day


Wadeshootingshirt1.jpgAnother Christmas Day, another merchandising opportunity for the NBA.

With another slate of five Christmas Day games, NBA players, including the Miami Heat, will get a lot of exposure on Friday. That’s when the NBA will officially unveil new shooting shirts bearing players’ names.

When the Heat faces the Knicks at Madison Square Garden at noon on Friday, they’ll be sporting the new shooting shirts. So will the rest of the players performing on Christmas Day. The other teams will unveil theirs over the weekend during their first games after Christmas. They’re actually already for sale at NBAStore.com, JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods. They’re $59.99 for adults, $49.99 for kids at NBAStore.com.

There’s a charity component to the holiday, too. Spalding has created a “snowflake” basketball that each team’s players will autograph that will be auctioned off starting Friday to benefit NBA Cares partners. Local kids at the five games will receive basketballs – without autographs – as part of a gift exchange.

And in New York, the court will look festive as well with the Heat wearing their red uniforms and the Knicks their green St. Patrick’s Day ones.

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New D Wade T-Mobile ad and All Wade (almost) All the Time


Dwade1.jpgThe latest installment in T-Mobile’s advertising campaign featuring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley breaks tonight during TNT’s T-Mobile (natch) Halftime show during the Heat-Orlando Magic game.

This one focuses on T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G – well, Wade’s anyway. And there’s still plenty of playful repartee between Wade and Barkley. Watch the video below.

Another T-Mobile ad featuring Barkley and Magic center Dwight Howard (who have both appeared in a previous T-Mobile ad with Wade) debuts on ABC during the Magic-Boston Celtics game on Christmas Day.

And if you can’t get enough Wade, No. 3 will be the first athlete featured in the new “Ustream All Access” online show this Saturday. Starting about 2:15 p.m., you can log on and watch Wade’s day as he begins his “3 Under the Tree,” charity efforts joining children for a holiday event. He’ll also show off his shoe collection during the day. Visit www.ustream.tv/dwyanewade to watch. Ustream All Access launched earlier this month with a visit with Will.i.am and another with Snoop Dogg.

The New York Times reports today on how Wade’s sponsors have stuck by him even as he’s weathered an ugly divorce.

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Florida Marlins, Miami Heat and Florida Panthers holiday ticket deals


It’s not unusual for teams to offer holiday ticket package specials, but the Florida Marlins are offering a holiday deal aimed at filling the stands for lots of games.

Not a surprise, of course, but this deal includes tickets to a game at every home series in 2010 or 26 games for $150. Yes, that’s $5.77 a game. While the tickets are on Land Shark Stadium’s lower level, they’re in right field in what has been the picnic area. But still – that’s less than parking. Find out more here.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat’s deal allows you to craft your own holiday three-game pack starting at $99. The team has divided up games ranging from $33 a game to $65 a game. Check it out here.

The Florida Panthers, too, are offering a holiday deal starting at $99 that includes two to four seats at up to seven games, and a David Booth autographed puck. The number of games and prices depends on the seat locations: The $99 pack, for example, includes two upper level seats; get four lower level seats for $499. More details here.

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AmericanAirlines Arena holds contest for tickets to all 2010 events


AAA-10-Ann-Logo2.jpgTo celebrate its 10-year anniversary, AmericanAirlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat, is inviting fans to sit down.

Well, sort of.

The arena is hosting a “Sit-In” contest on Dec. 4 to win four tickets to every event – Miami Heat games, concerts and family shows – at the venue in 2010, starting with the Phish concert on New Year’s Eve. (If a show has multiple dates, the winning team wins four tickets to one of the dates). The package of tickets is valued at about $35,000. Parking, however, is not included.

Teams of four are to compete by sitting in every seat for no more than five seconds each in the 19,600-seat arena within 24 hours. People who sit for longer than five seconds will be disqualified.

Teams must include at least two people, but no more than four. Only one team member can do the sitting at one time, but is able to tag the next sitter on the team when he or she is ready to switch. Arena staff will monitor the participants. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 70 teams had signed up.

If more than one team completes the task, a Heat trivia contest will determine the grand prize winner. A trivia contest will also be held if no team completes the task. Eligible teams at the end of the contest that don’t win the grand prize will receive six-game partial Heat ticket plans for the 2009-10 season for each team member. And team members that sit in every seat in at least three pre-determined sections will receive two tickets to a Heat game this season.

To compete, teams must register by Dec. 3 at AAArena.com. The contest begins at 8 a.m. Dec. 4.

The arena opened with a Gloria Estefan concert on Dec. 31, 1999.

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Player Appearance: Meet Carlos Arroyo


Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo will be appearing at the Miami Hoops Gear Store at Dolphin Mall on Saturday to meet fans and sign autographs.

Arroyo, who attended FIU, will be at the store from 3-4 p.m., at the mall, 11401 Northwest 12th St., Miami.

Customers who buy an 8 x 10 photo ($10); Spalding Basketball ($35) or adidas Swingman jersey ($80), will receive a free autograph on that item. One autograph per customer. More information at heat.com.

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Michael Jordan taps Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade as heir to Air Jordan; discusses comparisons


nikejordan2.jpgA select group of media was invited Wednesday night to Temple House -- at 16,000 square feet, the largest single family home on South Beach -- for the unveiling of Michael Jordan’s newest shoe. We gathered in a white room with a concrete floor, where Jordan Brand logos were projected on white curtains. A video of Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade being interviewed for a spot on the Brand Jordan team was shown and it even poked fun at the spelling of Wade’s first name.

And then, we got to see the Air Jordan 2010. The 25th anniversary shoe in the popular Jordan Brand line is constructed for performance, but also pushes the envelope of design as the brand’s been doing now for more than two decades. Even Michael Jordan seemed a little stunned at the brand's longevity.

This one’s even got a hole – a window, if you will – in the side that allows sneaker fans and shoe aficionados into the Jordan Brand world. But only a little bit. Jordan Brand is calling it the “first see-through performance basketball shoe featuring a unique thermoplastic urethane window.”

That hole gives fans a glimpse into the line, but “doesn’t take away from the performance of the shoe,” Jordan said of the shoe designed by Tinker Hatfield, Nike vice president of special projects/design, and Mark Smith, Jordan Brand creative director. “We want to be trendy, we want to be stylish yet we still want to be a high performance shoe,” Jordan said.

The shoe will be released on Feb. 13 and is expected to retail for $170.

While other NBA players have worn Air Jordans on the court, the 2010 is being released with the idea it will be worn by a current player. Jordan Brand tapped Wade this summer for its elite brand that also includes Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Wade had been the face of Converse for six years, but relished the idea of joining the brand and its already established team. It's expected he will eventually have his own signature shoe in the Jordan Brand line, but for now, he's honored to be heir to Air.

Jordan was asked about Wade being compared with him. He cautioned that he and Wade didn’t play at the same time.

“Two individuals that never played in same era,” Jordan said. “Yes, we’re very, very similar. Yes he has characteristics that I have … Is he Michal Jordan? No. Am I D Wade? No.”

Jordan went on to say his brand had been interested in Wade for years, but the Heat guard was already tied up with Converse. That changed this summer. Both Converse and Jordan Brand are owned by Nike.

“He has similar passions for basketball,” Jordan said of Wade. “I played in Chicago, he grew up in Chicago … I was very happy we had an opportunity to work with him. “

Jordan also said while comparisons are entertaining to debate, they’re not fair given how times have changed.

“I would give my one leg to be able to go out and play with today’s athletes,” he said. “Yeah, I’d love to play with Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James. You sit there and think what if, what if … I didn’t have a chance to play with Jerry West, I’d love to play with Jerry West or Elgin Baylor. And today’s athletes didn’t have a chance to play against myself or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. That’s just the way things happen … We get caught up in these debates. And we live through them.”

And then he added with a chuckle, “But he is wearing my shoe, I’m not wearing Dwyane Wade’s shoe.”

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Miami Heat's Micky Arison: ticket sales down; sponsor sales better than anticipated


Knowing it was going to be a challenging year on the business side, the Miami Heat has made upgrades at AmericanAirlines Arena to increase sponsor and advertising opportunities. The team’s new MediaMesh – the giant LED marquee on the front of the arena – was unveiled in May. New high definition television screens and menu boards have been installed for this season.

In a meeting with reporters Tuesday, Heat owner Micky Arison said the innovations appear to have made a difference, although he can’t say for sure what’s helped drive sponsorship sales during the recession.

“On the cruise side, one of our brands recently did a consumer survey, trying to find out if people will buy vacations this year. The questions dealt with what will consumers cut back on next year, and sports was number one in the answer of cutting back. This is a national issue, probably a global issue,” said Arison, who is also chairman of Carnival Corp.

In the NBA, Arison said, “The league is dealing with significantly less ticket sales, but … sponsorship has held up better than I would have expected. We’re in a very tough market, because it’s very real estate and banking oriented. We’ve also had some sponsors like Stanford Financial, and others that have failed on us, so there’s no question this is going to be a tough year and a tough period, financially for the franchise. But I don’t think that’s unique to us. It’s a national and global problem.”

Stanford Financial had signage across the Heat’s VIP lobby entrance until earlier this year when R. Allen Stanford was charged with fraud. The signs were pulled from the lobby after the company missed a payment. Meanwhile, with law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler now in turmoil since Scott Rothstein’s alleged involvement in what federal authorities are calling a massive fraud scheme, RRA advertisements are no longer appearing in the Heat’s game program.

But the team’s sponsors sales, including signing Assist-Card to the team’s first-ever presenting sponsorship this season, have been healthier than he anticipated.

“We’re in good shape with sponsorships, surprisingly good shape, but really struggling with ticket sales,” Arison said.

As for why sponsor sales have increased, Arison pointed to the new inventory such as the MediaMesh and speculated that some companies may be excited about the Heat’s young team.

“Because it’s such a banking, real estate oriented community, I thought it would be really murder. And last spring it looked that way,” Arison said. “As the summer progressed, it came around. Where we’re struggling is premium seating and ticket sales, which is really hard right now. People can watch it at home and consumers are very, very price conscious. It’s a unique product, you can sit at home and get it for free. You can’t do that with a cruise.”

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Player Appearance: Meet Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem


Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers and forward Udonis Haslem will be visiting fans and signing autographs in the Cubavera section at Macy’s at Dadeland Mall on Saturday.

The Heat stars will appear from 5 to 6 p.m. at the mall, 7303 SW 88th St., Miami. One autograph per customer. Fans who make a Cubavera purchase of at least $50 will be escorted to the front of the autograph line. And two free Heat tickets will be given to the first 50 fans who make a $50 purchase (clearance items excluded).

For more information visit the team’s Web site.


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Scott Rothstein's (and RRA's) sports connection


If you’re a sports fan in South Florida, chances are you’ve seen RRA’s logo. Or heard of one of the companies Scott Rothstein’s invested in. That’s because Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler has been rapidly racking up sports sponsorships and teaming with local athletes and their charitable organizations.
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Remember those billboards featuring Rothstein with Dan Marino, promoting RRA’s partnership with the Dan Marino Foundation? RRA served as a presenting sponsor of The Summer Groove, hosted by Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade, held in July at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.

Ten days ago – not long before it became public Rothstein was under investigation -- RRA was the sponsor of the Miami Dolphins 2009 Alumni Weekend. RRA sponsors the Heat and messages promoting the firm's connections with Marino’s and Mourning’s charities have flashed from the giant MediaMesh LED marquee on the front of AmericanAirlines Arena that overlooks Biscayne Boulevard. There’s even an RRA ad in the Miami Heat’s opening night program.

RRA has a sponsorship deal at BankAtlantic Center with the Florida Panthers. Three other companies in which Rothstein has an investment -- Bova, Renato and V Georgio Vodka -- also have sponsorship agreements with the team and arena. Bova sponsors the Panthers' Ice Dancers.

The Heat, Panthers and Dan Marino Foundation all declined to comment Tuesday. But don't be surprised if RRA's logo is no longer included as part of the Panthers' game presentation.

The Florida Marlins are the only one of the four major pro sports team in South Florida that doesn’t have any sort of partnership with RRA or Rothstein-connected company.

In January, attendees at a VIP party before the BCS National Championship Game received a football-shaped luggage tag featuring the BCS and RRA logos.

On Monday, Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown broadcast his weekly radio show, “The Ronnie Brown Show,’” on WQAM-560 AM from Bova Prime in Fort Lauderdale, just as he's done all season.

Last month, Rothstein announced the formation of RRA Sports & Entertainment, a division to handle marketing and endorsement deals for athletes. Its first clients are Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder and junior tennis player Sachia Vickery.

Rothstein is also a member of the corporate marketing committee of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, but so far has been missing in action, host committee chairman Rodney Barreto said Tuesday.

“I did have lunch with him to discuss the Super Bowl and if he wanted to get involved with us. He’s involved with a lot of great charities. He agreed,” said Barreto, who met with Rothstein a few months ago.

“He’s attended no meetings, participated with no referrals or anything to date. As far as I’m concerned, he hasn’t done anything with our committee yet. I wish he would have,” Barreto said adding he thought someone of Rothstein’s stature and connections could help the host committee.

“He was a force, don’t kid yourself,” Barreto said. “It was brought to my attention, why don’t we consider having him help open doors for us, to help find potential sponsors. It didn’t work out.”


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Miami Heat tries to create "buzz" with billboard campaign


MHdoubters1.jpg

Anyone else wonder what the “DOUBTERS” billboard on I-95 southbound just north of Miami was all about?

Clearly the idea was to catch your attention. A black billboard with just the word "DOUBTERS" in white and some birds perched atop it doing their business directly on the board. No word of whom or what had placed the ad.

As days went by successively more birds appeared atop the board and with them, more droppings. So that by this week, the droppings were covering the board, close to obliterating the "Doubters." And then a few days ago, the Miami Heat tag advertising 2009-10 tickets for sale appeared below the billboard.

MHdoubters2.jpg

Last season’s Heat ad campaign took aim at the doubters, too. Guard Dwyane Wade opened one of the team’s Something2prove ticket campaign ads by saying: “To the doubters…”

Soon the billboard message should change to this year’s tagline:

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Miami Heat season tickets go green


When Miami Heat season ticket holders arrive at AmericanAirlines Arena for tonight’s 2009-10 season home opener against the New York Knicks, they won’t be carrying traditional stock tickets with them.

Instead, they’ll have the print-at-home variety. The team has chosen not to print up ticket booklets to “reduce environmental contamination from harsh inks and chemicals used in the printing process,” according to a message sent to season ticket holders.

“What I hope is it’s one more step towards new technology that’s coming out hopefully in time for next year, where we can embed the bar codes into credit cards, licenses, whatever, so you don’t even need anything,” said Eric Woolworth, the Heat’s president of business operations.

Meanwhile, the Heat's also promoting recycling, by having the plastic bag that wraps the Miami Herald serve as a tool for getting ticket discounts. Bring the bag to the arena's ticket office for discounts of $10 off 300 level tickets ($30 or higher) or $15 off 100 level tickets ($85 or higher). That's the bags with the Heat ad on them that look like this:


The Phoenix Coyotes became the first NHL team to go to a paperless ticketing system and are using a swipe card for entry to games. Read about it here.

Read about the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers experimenting with paperless ticketing here.

And here’s a story I wrote last year about sports – from golf courses to teams – making environmentally friendly changes in the name of going green.

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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade on Jordan Brand, making movies and the Miami Dolphins


Dwyane2JB.jpgMiami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is appearing in an ad for the Jordan Brand that broke on Sunday. Wade, who had been the face of Converse, signed a new shoe deal with Michael Jordan's shoe company this summer.

Last month, Wade held a "brand summit" with his endorsement partners to plan his advertising and marketing messaging for this season. Read more about his evolving business side in a today's piece here.

The Heat's 2009-10 season starts Wednesday, when the team plays the New York Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Here are some more of Wade's answers to questions about his off-the-court endeavors:

On moving from Converse to the Jordan Brand:

It’s a great decision. I need you to understand, Converse is under the Nike umbrella, so it was a decision from Nike, not only to put me into the Jordan Brand, where my individual things could be seen more, but also to help the brand as it continues to grow. So it was a corporate decision, and I just reaped the benefits from it. I had a great team at Converse, but I think it was time to move on from both sides, so it was great.

On whether he had concerns about moving from being the star of the Converse brand to one of several elite athletes at Jordan Brand:

When I was 24, I probably have thought about it, I probably wouldn’t have wanted it to happen. Being 27 and being smart and understanding that everyone has a place, I kind of relish it, I kind of open my arms to it. When I was 24 I would have said No, I would have said ‘I want to be the face of this brand, I want to be the all.’ But now knowing the team that we have at the Jordan Brand is only going to make it better for everyone else. It’s not pressure on one guy to build the brand, it’s going to be on a lot of different guys to help add to the brand that Michael has already built. So it sort of makes our job a little bit easier actually.

On whether he’ll have his own signature shoe at Jordan Brand:

That’s still to be determined. I just came into the brand two and a half months before the season, so a lot of stuff we have to get together … We’ve got some special things planned, but you know how we are at the Jordan Brand, we keep everything secretive…

What shoe he’ll wear this season:

I wear the 16.5 that’s a combination of Jordan 16 and Jordan 17. And also wear the Hallowed Ground, and another shoe they’re going to be putting them out. I’ll be wearing three different shoes throughout the year until they decide they want me to wear something else.

On holding a “summit” with his endorsement partners:

I think the biggest thing, which we always talked about just never could do, you want everyone you’re endorsing and partners of, to all be on the same page and tell a story, you don’t want everyone coming out with something different and telling different stories … It’s exciting for us to get everyone in the same room, and see what each other is working so we’re not overlapping, not crossing each other. It’s an opportunity to see the plans and say OK Gatorade is doing this, Jordan Brand we don’t have to do this, we can concentrate on this part. It’s just about getting everybody to work together.

On this year’s message:

This year so far, the message so far is simple … I think it’s self-explanatory to the point of where my team is and where other teams are, we’re still rebuilding , so I have to continue to keep proving myself and our team needs to keep proving themselves.

On what kinds of companies he’d like to partner with:

You always want to add the right things, and at the same time I don’t want to do too much, because I still want to have time for myself. There are certain categories I want to go after that at one point I did have. At one point, I had the car category with Lincoln, but that was only a one year deal. A lot of people still talk about my commercial now, years later. Car and food and maybe some other ones. Personally I want to do maybe Calvin Klein.

On whether he still has interest in acting in movies (he has a cameo role in Just Wright starring Queen Latifah set for release next year):

I’m going to say I’m going to hold off for a minute, on like really trying to get into movies. Like I wouldn’t mind doing cameos. It’s so long, it’s like I was there for like 13 hours and I wasn’t a major, major part of the movie. So I really have to have time to really do that. So right now I’m still going to make my cameos, and do certain things for fun that we want to do. But I don’t know if I really want to do a Space Jam or nothing like that. That takes a lot of time. It’d have to be the right time and the right thing.

On whether he’ll walk the orange carpet at a Miami Dolphins game:

We’ll see. I don’t know. I went to the first game, I was there supporting. I didn’t go on the carpet, that was for the owners. I was there to support. Maybe, maybe not.

Will he become a limited partner in the Dolphins?

Maybe, maybe not. It’s all exciting and interesting, it’s all just chatter. It’s a lot of chatter.

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Miami Heat celebrates Heat week with community activities


HeatBiz1.jpgThe Heat is holding a series of events in the community to gear up for its 2009-10 home opener on Oct. 28 against the New York Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena. Visit heat.com for more information.

Oct. 22: Heat dancers, Burnie the mascot, Xtreme team and DJ MDOT serve customers at McDonalds, 32nd Avenue and U.S. 1, Coconut Grove, 1-3 p.m.

Oct. 23: Heat Happy Hour at Tobacco Road, Miami, including Heat dancers, Burnie, Xtreme team, 5-8 p.m.

Oct. 24: Tweet with the Heat, Twitter scavenger hunt at Dolphin Mall, 1-3 p.m. Registrations starts at noon at Miami Hoops Gear store. Grand prize is Heat season tickets. Follow twitter.com/MHEAT.

Oct. 25: Open practice, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at AmericanAirlines Arena. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., parking and practice are free and first 500 fans receive an Adidas hat.

Oct.26: Rush Hour Heat. The team pays tolls and dancers and Burnie will hand out goodies and entertain commuters heading east on 836 at Northwest 17th Avenue, 7-9 a.m.

Papa John’s Pizza Deliveries, order between 6-8 p.m. and your pizza might be delivered by a player, dancer, Burnie or Xtreme team member. Vouchers for a free ticket to select November games will got out to first 20 deliveries in Broward, West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade locations during that time.

Oct. 27: Heat window decals will be given out at AmericanAirlines Arena, 5-7 p.m., while supplies last.

Oct. 28: Opening night versus the Knicks, includes Tim Hardaway’s jersey retirement ceremony pregame, 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.

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NBA launches comprehensive Hispanic marketing initiative


enebea.jpgLast week, the NFL refs announced penalties in Spanish for the benefit of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Miami Dolphins-New York Jets Monday Night Football game at Land Shark Stadium. The stadium took on a decidedly Latin flavor with a Calle Dolphins tailgating area; Gloria Estefan and Hank Williams Jr. singing a bilingual “Are you ready for some football?” in the MNF theme video; and Marc Anthony performing the national anthem.

Sports leagues certainly recognize the power of marketing to Hispanics. Today, the NBA announced its most comprehensive Hispanic marketing effort that encompasses all of its previous efforts, which have included Spanish-language radio broadcasts in 11 markets and Spanish language team Web sites, and new ones, including advertising, broadcasting and online components.

The league’s effort is called “éne•bé•a,” – or the Spanish pronunciation of ‘NBA,’ – and includes a dedicated Web site at www.nba.com/enebea, which currently features a story about the Miami Heat signing guard Carlos Arroyo (who is from Puerto Rico); advertising that features Heat guard Dwyane Wade along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on Spanish networks; and content on Spanish language social networking sites. There will also be special merchandise. NBA TV even broadcast the NBA Mexico game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns in Spanish on Sunday.

Already recognized for its efforts to reach fans globally, the NBA wants to make further inroads with its Hispanic fans, who make up 15 percent of the league’s fan base. Some 25 NBA players hail from Latin America and Spain.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said the number of Hispanics living in the U.S. is close to 50 million that will have a spending power in the next several of years of $1 trillion.

“We pride ourselves on our diversity and inclusiveness as a league,” Stern said. “We’ve slowly begun to diversify our efforts to speak to our Hispanic market.”

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Ricky Williams adds restaurant to his resume


Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is adding yet another job to his resume: restaurateur.

Williams and former Cincinnati Bengal Rudi Johnson have signed on as co-owners of PROOF on Ocean Drive, a health-conscious restaurant and lounge set to open next month in the Z Ocean Hotel South Beach.

“We are thrilled to have such highly-regarded, well-known backers as Ricky and Rudi in our new venture,” Douglas McAllister, president and CEO of the restaurant’s developers Hospitality Development Management Group, said in a statement. “Their leadership and determination on the field will translate just as well off the field, and will no doubt contribute to our commitment to making PROOF a major Miami Beach hot-spot and success.”

Read Ethan Skolnick’s blog item on the restaurant endeavor here.

Williams isn’t the only local athlete with ties to a South Beach restaurant. Last year, retired Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning joined a group of athletes, including retired Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis and the Denver Nuggets' Chauncey Billups, who together own about a third of Philippe Miami, the South Beach installment of the upscale Chinese restaurant Philippe Chow in New York. Philippe Miami is in the Gansevoort South Hotel.

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Miami Heat's Michael Beasley featured in online adidas ad


Beasleyadidas.jpgMiami Heat forward Michael Beasley is among the NBA players adidas is featuring in its 2009-10 “It’s On Me for My Brotherhood” marketing campaign, which begins airing Thursday.

Beasley is appearing in print ads (see photo) and an online ad at adidasbasketball.com. In the ad, Beasley goes to pick out his shoes and invokes the names of other adidas athletes, including Kevin Garnett and Chauncey Billups. He then pulls on his pair of TS Commander LTs with “B. Easy” on them.

While spots featuring the adidas athletes individually appear on the company’s revamped Web site, a separate ad with several adidas athletes, including Garnett, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, will air on TV. Beasley does not appear in the group ad, but you can see his online ad here:

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Kobe Bryant’s jersey still top seller in China; D Wade's moves up to fifth


Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant had the top-selling NBA jersey in China for the third consecutive year during the 2008-09 season, according to sales figures from NBA stores in China released by the league on Thursday.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s jersey moved up to fifth in 2008-09 from eighth in 2007-08.

Here’s the top 15 for 2008-09:

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
4. Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets
5. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
6. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
7. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
8. Allen Iverson, Denver Nuggets/Detroit Pistons
9. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
10. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
11. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
12. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
13. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
14. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards
15. Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers

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Miami Heat’s presenting sponsor: sign of the times


When the Miami Heat introduced Assist-Card as its first-ever season presenting sponsor last week, the team became part of a trend as teams look for new ways to generate more revenue.

Assist-Card, a Geneva-based travel insurance and assistance company, forged a five-year agreement with the Heat to help the company launch its services to U.S. customers. The 39-year-old company served 7.2 million international travelers last year, but is just entering the U.S. market.

The company assists travelers with everything from lost luggage to medical care to translators to legal services. Its name will appear on tickets, banners, schedules, advertisements and arena signage. For this season, the company’s name will also appear like this: “Heat ’09-10 presented by Assist-Card.”

For the Heat, the sponsorship is a way to generate more revenue. The Heat has had playoff presenting sponsors. Other teams have had sponsors for individual games or series.

The Florida Panthers have had a presenting sponsor for the past four seasons, starting with ADT and followed the past three seasons by the Seminole Tribe, whose Seminole Casino Coconut Creek was the presenting name and the “official Florida Panthers Post Game Party Spot.” The deals have been worth mid-six figures to low seven figures.

“First and foremost the benefit from a team standpoint is revenue generated from a piece of inventory that didn’t really exist before. And for us, it has been a significant revenue source,” Panthers President Michael Yormark said.

Yormark’s twin brother, Brett, who is CEO of the New Jersey Nets introduced basketball’s first off-season sponsor, signing Wrigley to sponsor the team’s summer activities in 2007.

The Panthers are always looking at new ways to forge sponsor partnerships.

“The presenting sponsorship of a season is just the tip of the iceberg,” Yormark said. “We have a sponsor for all of our player transactions – Coral Springs Moving & Storage. These types of things are only going to expand in the future because they provide a company with a customized exposure package that is unique to their partnership and will more efficiently help them meet their goals and objectives.”

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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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Beyond the Game, episode 2


Better late than never…. I was again part of the sports business panel on sports consultant Rick Horrow’s local show, Beyond the Game, on WPEC Ch. 12 in West Palm Beach on Saturday. (The show airs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays). Former Miami Dolphin Troy Stradford and Horrow Sports Ventures creative director Brian Finkel and I covered the Dolphins Monday Night home opener; games we were watching in Week 2; so-called “body bag games” in which lower level college programs travel to big-time programs for the cash payouts; and the Miami Heat’s staff pay cuts. Watch here.


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Want to meet Udonis Haslem?


Heat forward Udonis Haslem is scheduled to sign autographs and visit with shoppers at BJ’s Whole Sale Club in Miami Lakes on Saturday.

Haslem is to appear at the store at 17250 Northwest 57th Ave., between 11 a.m. and noon. The first 200 fans will receive an autographed photo card.

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D. Wade joins Nike’s Jordan Brand


Heat superstar guard Dwyane Wade is joining Nike's Jordan Brand.

Wade, who signed a modest $400,000 deal with Converse as a rookie, is abandoning his deal with Converse, which was set to run through the 2011-12 season. He’s joining Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Derek Jeter, among others, with Team Jordan, the brand named for Michael Jordan.

Wade’s first Converse shoe was released during the 2005-06 season.His signing was viewed as a way to spark the struggling brand, which is also owned by Nike. The Wade 4 was released last season, but Wade wore the Wade 1 on the court. Converse re-released a limited number of the Wade 1 last season.

“For me, the move to Jordan Brand is a dream come true,” Wade said in a statement. “As a kid, I grew up on the south side of Chicago idolizing Michael Jordan and have worked hard to achieve the same success that he’s had on the court. I have enormous respect for this brand and all that it stands for. I’m humbled to be a part of the Team Jordan family and I’m looking forward to a great future.”

The Jordan Brand, which also includes apparel, was launched in 1997.

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Heat’s James Jones joins the fight against home foreclosures


Last month, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and retired Heat center Alonzo Mourning helped bring attention to the problem of home foreclosures joining the Hope Now Alliance’s “Bringing Hope Home” bus tour of Miami. The pair was drafted to meet with needy residents and join a roundtable discussion about the problem.

Today, another Heat player stepped up to help fight foreclosures and assist local residents in buying homes. Heat forward James Jones, a Miami native, joined the Opa-Locka Community Development Corp. (OLCDC) and AT&T to launch the South Florida version of a national program known as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Through the program, the OLCDC will acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed homes and then sell them to low- to moderate-income families in Opa-Locka and Miami Gardens. The OLCDC also plans to counsel needy residents, who wish to buy homes.

AT&T presented $50,000 to the OLCDC. James, meanwhile, said he would help families with house down payments and closing costs and committed to donate up to $5,000 per homebuyer.

“As a Miami native I’ve seen the good and bad parts of our community,” Jones said in a statement. “However, in order to make it a better place we all have to come together. Miami is my home and as such, I hope to continue to provide support and work with community organizations that are interested in building up our community and uplifting the residents who live here.”

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Donald Pliner shoes for the Dolphins?


The introduction of Gloria and Emilio Estefan as minority investors in the Dolphins on Thursday had a festive air: an Estefan greatest hits soundtrack, a Cuban coffee station, plenty of Latin entertainment and lifestyle media – and even a journalist from an Italian style magazine.

Among the media, Dolphins and stadium officials were Related Group CEO Jorge Perez, who is Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross’ business partner and the guy who introduced Ross to the Estefans, and luxury shoe designer Donald J. Pliner.


Pliner made a beeline for Ross after the press conference. He offered to make slip-on street shoes for the Dolphins. The two pairs he’s considering for the team are his T Rex (photo left) and Uwait (photo below).

Pliner makes shoes for former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal and retired Heat center Alonzo Mourning. He works with the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Perez wears Pliner’s shoes. So does criminal attorney Roy Black. The Estefans are his neighbors on Star Island.

The shoes Pliner has picked out for the Dolphins are made of breathable micro-fiber. “It’s more expensive than leather, but it stimulates the blood vessels, stops your feet from getting tired, keeps the blood flowing it has memory,” Pliner said. “They’re water resistant, it looks like leather.”


He added: “The point is if your feet are uncomfortable so is the body and so is the mind.”

So what was Ross’ reaction?

“He gave me his size and which size to send him first,” Pliner said.

For the record, Ross wears a size 13B. “That’s narrow, which is difficult,” Pliner said. “We’ll fit him.”

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Shaq gets new team, sheds Star Island home


Former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal finally unloaded his Star Island home on Wednesday, a day before he was traded from Phoenix to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Philip Freedman, a broker with Flagstone Realty, said the deal to sell the 2.5 acre property at 26 Star Island Drive closed Wednesday. The home sold for $16 million, far below the $18.8 million O’Neal paid for the mansion in 2004 and the $32 million he was seeking for the home in 2005. He was reportedly asking $22.5 million, but couldn’t get nearly that much in this economic climate.

The home has been on and off the market for years, including when O’Neal threatened to move to Broward County when his family grew tired of the gawking boaters who stopped by to look at the house.

The 19,440-square-foot, two-story home has eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a dock, gym, tennis court, indoor racquetball court and a separate guest house. Other Star Island residents include Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Rosie O'Donnell.

The home was originally owned by original Heat center Rony Seikaly.

O'Neal has had contracts out on the home that have fallen through, including one with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Freedman would not identify the buyer, but the Daily Business Review speculates it could be Peter Fine, a co-producer of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights. Fine, the publication reported, had a contract to buy the property for about $19 million and the deal was supposed to close in January.

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Zo and D. Wade join foreclosure prevention tour


Photo--AM--DW2.jpgAlonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade are spending a lot of time together this summer promoting causes. Last week, they were at the White House with other notable fathers to promote the responsibilities of fatherhood alongside President Barack Obama.

On Thursday, Mourning, retired Heat center, and Wade, current Heat superstar guard, are joining Latino TV host Fernando Arau in bringing attention to the problem of foreclosures and how to prevent them. The trio is participating in Hope Now Alliance’s “Bringing Hope Home” bus tour of Miami.

No, the group will not be doling out financial or legal advice. Their role is to bring star power and attention to needy communities around Miami-Dade County. They’ll also participate in a roundtable discussion with community leaders and homeowners. The idea is use celebrities to let residents of needy communities know how and where they can get help.

Hope Now, an alliance of counselors and mortgage professionals helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, has arranged other celebrity tours, including with Queen Latifah and Wyclef Jean in Newark and Mary J. Blige and Big Boi in Atlanta.

Next month, Wade is helping host annual charity event Zo’s Summer Groove, now known as The Summer Groove hosted by Zo and D. Wade.

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Heat enters new era with giant LED MiamiMediaMesh marquee


mediahmesh1.jpgThe Heat unveiled its MiamiMediaMesh LED marquee Wednesday night with great fanfare. The 3,400-square foot stainless steel mesh screen covers a dozen window panels on AmericanAirlines Arena’s west façade – so it’s hard to miss.

I described it in today’s story as being like a curtain, but it’s really more like a screen since it’s attached to the arena. (See photos by the Heat's Omar Vega). But at just ¾ inch thick and 70 percent transparent, it doesn’t block your view from inside the arena, and you almost don’t know it’s there, if it’s not turned on.

When it is on – arena officials plan a 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule – it’s the size of 320 50-inch plasma TVs blasting game and concert footage, sponsor advertising messages and even the public’s Twitter and email messages. Send Tweets to @MiamiMediaMesh or emails to MiamiMediaMesh@heat.com for possible display.

“One of the things we’ve never had here is a true marquee and almost as soon as we opened we started talking about how we might really get one,” Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said. “We’ve been through many versions of what we thought might work or what’s been done elsewhere. Because of some of the limitations of our site, because we’ve got a rounded building, we wanted to do it right.”

A couple of Heat employees saw the technology at a trade show about three years ago. The Heat’s marquee is the first use of the technology developed by a German company and installed and operated by Boston-based A2aMEDIA on a sports arena in the United States. A2aMEDIA is talking with other sports venues, as well as hotels, office buildings, retail centers, casinos and other large-scale buildings that are seen by lots of people.

The Heat’s arena, for example, gets 1.4 million visitors at its events each year, 65,000 cars traveling by each day on Biscayne Boulevard and more than 3.8 million cruise passengers passing through the nearby Port of Miami.

mediamesh2.jpgAlthough the Heat isn’t saying how much the marquee cost, it does expect to cover its expenses from the advertising dollars. Already, American Airlines, Bacardi, the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming and Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler are among several advertisers already signed up to place their messages on the marquee.

Martha Pantin, an American Airlines spokeswoman, said the airline plans to put up shortened commercials and other messages.

“We think it gives us great visibility,” Pantin said. “For us AmericanAirlines Arena is one of our crown jewels and this makes the crown a little bit sparklier.”

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M&M’s adds NBA team logos and colors


You can already buy M&M’s chocolate candies in NFL and Major League Baseball team colors with team logos.

Just in time for the NBA playoffs, Mars Direct has added NBA team colors and logos to its My Team collection of candies. The candies are available for all 30 teams - including the Heat - in 7-ounce bags at $12.99 each, but you must order at least three bags. Or you can get 5-pound bags for $140. There’s also candy dispenser with team logos and three 7-ounce bags for $59.99.

Find the team M&M’s at the NBA Store in Manhattan or online at mymms.com/nba.

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Win Heat playoff tickets; vote for D Wade


Got time to sit around? The Heat is reprising one of its popular promotions to win playoff tickets: "48 Hours of Intense Heat."

Fans interested in winning free playoff tickets and a shot at free 2009-10 lower level season tickets are invited to sit for 48 hours (yes, there will be restroom breaks and food) in front of AmericanAirlines Arena starting at 5 p.m. Thursday through 5 p.m. Saturday, just in time for the 6:30 p.m. start of Game 3 of the Heat-Atlanta Hawks first round playoffs series.

Fans who sit for at least the first four hours will win a pair of tickets to Game 4 on Monday. Those who make it through all 48 hours will win a pair of tickets to each of the Heat’s 2009 home playoff games. If more than one fan makes it through the full endurance test, the team will hold a trivia contest to determine the grand prize winner of the season tickets that also come with free concessions and parking. Other prizes will be awarded throughout the 48 hours of the contest.

The contest is limited to the first 200 fans, who are at least 18 with identification and proof of residency. Registration starts at 3 p.m. Thursday. The team will provide hot dogs and soft drinks, water, umbrellas and entertainment by the four-time NBA Dance Team contest-winning Heat Dancers, the Xtreme Team and Burnie the Heat mascot.

For more information, visit heat.com.

The last time the Heat held this contest was prior to the playoffs in 2000. A total of 172 fans entered the competition with 91 making it through the full two days. The grand prize was awarded to the winner of a trivia contest. This time, the Heat is encouraging participants to chart their progress on their Facebook and MySpace pages and via Twitter.

More MV3

Meanwhile, Goodyear Blimps are encouraging fans to vote for their favorite candidate for NBA MVP from among Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. The blimps, which are providing aerial coverage for ESPN and TNT NBA telecasts flew over Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and Staples Center in Los Angeles yesterday to gather votes by displaying the toll free number – 1-800-773-9614 – where fans can register their votes: 3 for Wade; 23 for James and 24 for Bryant.

Goodyear happens to have blimps in the area of each MVP candidate’s team. The Spirit of Innovation, based in Pompano Beach, is to fly over AmericanAirlines Arena from 6-10 p.m. Saturday.

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Heat banners will get second life as totes and folders


flzrecycle09b2.jpgLast week, the Heat announced its home arena had received coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for making the building environmentally friendly. Now the team is taking its efforts a step further by turning its old banners into new products.

The team is partnering with RetroActif, a Pembroke Pines company that takes old banners and turns them into handbags, travel pouches and portfolio folders and sometimes sells them back to the banners’ original owners for corporate events. My colleague Doreen Hemlock wrote a piece about the company that ran last month – you can read it here. See Sun Sentinel photo of company founders Monica and Ziad Shuman with some of their products at left.

After the story ran, Heat officials saw an opportunity to recycle the team and player banners that hang from street poles at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"It's a simple equation of sports plus recycling equals fashion--and the solution is creative, chic and most importantly, it's environmentally responsible," said Lorrie-Ann Diaz, Heat director of marketing communications.

Ziad Shuman said the partnership is the company’s first with a sports team. He said he is waiting for the banners to be delivered. The company has agreed to make carry-all tote bags that will sell for $24 and letter size portfolio folders for $28. Both will be sold at the arena.

“I don’t think they’ll use banners showing faces of guys no longer there, like Shaquille O’Neal,” Shuman said.

I suggested that might be a collector’s item, but Shuman quipped: “We’d have to make a really big bag.”

The bags and folders won’t be ready in time for the playoffs, but the Heat says, look for the new products next season.

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D Wade’s original Converse shoe reissued


WADE-1-Angle2.jpgIn honor of Dwyane Wade’s MVP-caliber season and because fans have been asking for it, Converse has reissued a limited number of the Heat guard’s original signature shoe, the Wade 1.

Fewer than 2,400 pairs of the black shoe with the red accents that Wade wears on the court – yes, he’s been wearing it this season, too – have been released and are currently on sale only at Champs Sports, according to Converse. The shoes, which were first launched before the 2005-06 season, are $90.

The shoe features 0.8 (or 8/10ths of a second) on the inner heel to symbolize the time the ball left Wade's hands when he made two game-winning shots during his first two NBA seasons. His No. 3 appears on the shoelace eyelets and his name is on the shoe’s back and top.

But those nifty “MV3” shirts some were sporting at yesterday’s game against the Knicks, in which Wade scored 55 points, aren’t for sale. They were made just to promote Wade’s candidacy for MVP.

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More fun with Heat and doughnut brackets, Phanatic ice cream and Panthers' Sunrise Edition


Tidbits:

+ The Heat dancers still own the NBA’s dance bracket competition, winning the title for the fourth time in the contest’s four-year history. The teams are judged by fans who vote online. Wonder if Pat Riley has plans to trademark something with the number four...

+ In Dunkin’ Donuts bracket contest, Florida Donut Champ is … Boston Kreme. But runner-up Coconut gave the favorite a good run. And apparently there’s also precedent for Boston Kreme… in 2000, in honor of Dunkin’s 50th Anniversary, Americans voted Boston Kreme their favorite doughnut.

+ Win the World Series and your mascot gets an ice cream flavor. Or so it is for the Phillie Phanatic. The popular mascot for the 2008 World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies now has his own “Phillie Phanatic Double Play,” which is: “Bavarian cream-flavored light ice cream with caramel corn and caramel swirl” according to a release. It joins Turkey Hill Dairy’s official team flavor, Phillies Graham Slam. “Just like the Phanatic, this ice cream is a little unusual but it's something you can't help but love,” Turkey Hill President Quintin Frey said in a statement. The mascot flavor will be sold at Citizens Bank Park.

+ And from BankAtlantic Center, increasingly energetic Panthers President Michael Yormark has added blogging to his early morning duties. His “Sunrise Edition” blog is on the team’s Web site. Even after last night’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that hobbled the team’s playoff hopes, Yormark tries to push optimism, while he also touts a new sponsor, Fontainebleau Miami, and his personal trainer, whom he says he works out with most weekdays at 4 a.m. Sunrise edition, indeed.

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Heat, Hawks arenas go green; others to follow


arenagreen.jpgAmericanAirlines Arena is bathed in green for tonight’s Heat-New Orleans Hornets game, in honor of the venue receiving LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The coveted designation was bestowed upon the Miami venue and Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, this week. Heat and Miami officials announced AmericanAirlines Arena’s “green” stamp of approval Tuesday morning. My colleague Doreen Hemlock, who covers “green” business, was there to capture the sentiment.

Among the green features at the arena are its roof paints and sealants that reflect the sun, instead of absorbing heat; drought-resistant plants and irrigation system; and its purchase of chilled water from a nearby plant for more than $100,000 a month rather than building a water plant that would have cost about $30 million and requires high energy to operate.

Eric Woolworth, Heat president of business operations, said the decision to seek LEED certification was "strategic" to differentiate the arena from others and boost business.

"This is a really challenging time to attract sponsors, and this is one way to separate ourselves from the pack," he said, noting that Waste Management already has signed up as a partner in a multi-year deal. "And hopefully, it will attract entertainers and acts that want to play green venues and visitors who want to support green venues."

Costs for certification were minimal, because nearly all paperwork was handled in-house and few improvements were needed to qualify, said Kim Stone, the arena's general manager. The nearly 10-year-old building already boasted many of the electricity- and water-saving features to earn the certification, such as underground parking that produces less heat than above-ground asphalt lots.

Green has now reached the consciousness of sports teams and leagues. BankAtlantic Center has adopted environmental measures, and has explored LEED certification, but it not pursuing it at this time. The Sunrise venue that is home to the Panthers uses green cleaning products, recycles everything from cardboard to light bulbs to cell phones and is considering adding solar panels on the venue’s roof, arena officials said.

And Silver LEED certification is a requirement of the Marlins’ planned $515 million ballpark in Little Havana. Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami have agreed to contribute up to $1.75 million each toward the certification; with Major League Baseball pledging $1 million to the cost. The team would pick up any additional costs. The ballpark would become the second silver LEED certified building in the league, after the Washington Nationals’ ballpark.

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Heat faces Charlotte on and off the court; and more with brackets


The Heat takes on the Charlotte Bobcats at 7 tonight, but the Heat dancers have already beaten the Charlotte Lady Cats in the NBA’s fourth annual NBA.com Dance Team Bracket Competition.

That means the three-time dance competition champion Heat dancers are in the championship round against the Houston Rockets Power Dancers.

Heat President Pat Riley allowed the dancers to use his trademarked “three-peat” term in their quest to win the dance competition last year. They wore “Three-peat” T-shirts and sent out email blasts reminding fans to vote for them. Riley trade-marked the term in 1988 when his L.A. Lakers were attempting to win their third straight NBA title. But the Detroit Pistons swept the Lakers in the 1989 Finals.

Fans can vote for the dance team they want crowned until 2 p.m. Monday online here.

Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts’ bracket is down to its “Fabulous Four” today:

It’s No. 1 Glazed; No. 3 Boston Kreme; No. 5 Chocolate Glazed; and No. 10 Coconut (talk about an upset).

The Florida State Donut Champion will be crowned Tuesday. Doughnut fans can lobby franchisees to vote for their favorite via Facebook and Twitter.


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Heat honors Alonzo with jersey retirement merchandise


Never one to miss a merchandising opportunity, the Heat has created a line of products it is calling the "Alonzo Mourning Retirement Collection." The items are available in conjunction with tonight’s jersey retirement ceremony -- the first ever in franchise history for a Heat player -- during halftime of the Heat-Orlando Magic game.

The team created a special jersey retirement ceremony logo that is featured on T-shirts for $20 apiece, on 33 limited edition Spalding basketballs for $150 each and on 133 gold-plated coins for $25. The team is also selling mini-basketballs with the logo and a white panel (for autographs, naturally) for $15.

The items were already on display at the Miami Hoops Gear store in AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night. There are lots of other Mourning items, too, including bobblehead dolls. The items are also for sale online.


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Dwyane Wade in NBA’s “Amazing” playoff ads


Wade_Post2.jpgHeat guard Dwyane Wade didn’t play Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics, because of a sore hip, but he’ll debut tonight in the NBA’s new playoff ads in the latest installment of the league’s “Where Amazing Happens” campaign.

Created by Goody Silverstein & Partners and NBA Entertainment, the series of ads ask: “Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?” and feature a number of players in remarkable moments in stark black and white footage. League broadcasters, ABC, ESPN and TNT, are all running the ads that began airing Sunday with ones featuring LeBron James and Joe Johnson.

Spots featuring Wade, James, Johnson, Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili and other current players will run by the first round of the playoffs. Ads starring former stars, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, will air during the conference finals and Finals.

Check out Wade’s spot here:

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It’s Wade’s House


wadeshirt2.jpgIt didn’t take long for the Heat to capitalize on Dwyane Wade’s new signature phrase: “This is my house.” Wade said that after scoring 46 points when the Heat defeated the New York Knicks 120-115 on Feb. 28 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat Executive Vice President Michael McCullough said the team spent the next day working on T-shirts with Wade’s image that say “This Is My House.” The shirts were available for sale at AmericanAirlines Arena in time for the March 2 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The shirts cost $20 with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wade’s World foundation. They’re only for sale at the arena for now.

With Wade’s heroics nearly every night – he’s averaging 29.7 points a game and scored the three-pointer in double overtime as time expired to beat the Chicago Bulls Monday night – McCullough says the shirts are “selling very well.”

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Sports fans and teams getting social with Twitter


It’s mostly sports fans who are using Twitter.com to update scores, pontificate about various players and plays and trash talk. Some are even “tweeting” live from games and placing friendly wagers. But teams and events are increasingly realizing they need to be tweeting, too.

My story today examines how teams and events are incorporating social messaging system, Twitter, which allows users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters, into their media, marketing and promotions. Teams are posting news stories, updates, scores, ticket discounts, promotions and more.

Reach the Dolphins here; the Heat here. The Panthers are in the process of launching an account and the Marlins are in talks with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which controls the league’s new media rights, about setting up an account.

Even Homestead-Miami Speedway just started using Twitter this month to post news, driver quotes and even responses to Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith’s diatribe against Homestead last week. Check out the speedway’s twitter page here.

Are you talking sports on Twitter? Live tweeting from games? Let me know....

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Marlins, Heat, Panthers promote Tobacco Free Florida Week


TFF2.jpgThose public service announcements by local athletes in which they say they don’t chew, dip or smoke, are having an impact. So much so that Gov. Charlie Crist proclaimed this week “Tobacco Free Florida Week.”

In an unusual display of teamwork, eight pro and college teams around the state along with Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports are continuing the anti-tobacco messages in force this week. The networks have taped more than 90 tobacco-free announcements with players and coaches. They’ll be played on scoreboards and during game telecasts.

Skeletons -- representing the nearly 29,000 Floridians who die each year from smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control – will be dressed as sports fans and placed in the stands at participating arenas and stadiums (see photo of skeletons in UF and FSU gear). Street teams will promote anti-tobacco messages; smokifier vans, in which fans can see how they would age if they smoke, will be at the events.

"By combining efforts of professional and collegiate teams, local County Health Departments and other key tobacco prevention stakeholders, we can further extend the reach of the campaign's message," Kim Berfield, Florida Department of Health deputy secretary, said in a statement.

The festivities started Friday at the Orlando Magic-Detroit Pistons game and continued today at FSU’s basketball game against Clemson. Sunday afternoon’s Marlins-St. Louis Cardinals spring training game in Jupiter will also be a Tobacco Free Florida event. The rest of the week’s schedule: Monday night’s Heat-Cleveland Cavaliers game at AmericanAirlines Arena; Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Rays-Houston Astros spring trianing game; Thursday’s Panthers-Pittsburgh Penguins game at BankAtlantic Center; Friday’s Tampa Bay Lightning-St. Louis Blues game; and Saturday’s UF-University of Kentucky basketball game.

"Tobacco Free Florida Week presents a tremendous platform for us to utilize our unique media assets, along with those of our sports team partners across the state, in a concentrated, highly-visible way and encourage Floridians to pledge to be tobacco free," Fox Sports and Sun Sports Senior Vice President and General Manager Steve Liverani said in a statement.

Tobacco Free Florida Week is one part of this year’s campaign to promote anti-tobacco messages and help smokers quit. The campaign is funded by tobacco settlement dollars made available for anti-smoking programs when Floridians approved a constitutional amendment in 2006. Last year, $17 million was spent on the media campaign; the amount is up to $19.8 million this year.

The program directs smokers to the American Cancer Society’s Quitline for counseling and nicotine replacement patches, gum and lozenges. The message has been effective. Calls to the Quitline rose from about 4,000 in 2007 to about 45,000 last year.


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Hollywood company responsible for Dwyane Wade’s bandages


chuck_wade2.jpgThe NBA may have banned Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s personalized adhesive bandages, but the fad is already under way. Lil Wayne wore one at Tuesday’s Heat-Detroit Pistons game; so did Burnie the Heat mascot. On Thursday night, even the TNT NBA analysts, including Charles Barkley, were wearing them. Of course, Wade was a guest analyst.

Wade shed his personalized bandage Friday night after the NBA told the team bandages must be worn only for healthcare reasons and can’t have names or promotional slogans on them. Ira Winderman explains the league’s edict here and The Hater weighs in on the controversy here. Incidentally, Jermaine O’Neal did get to wear his headband during Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

And fans can join the Band-Wade bandwagon on Saturday night. Heat staffers, AmericanAirlines employees, ticket takers and ushers will all be wearing decal versions of the Band-Wade, courtesy of Metro Signs Inc., which made Wade’s adhesive bandages, too. Read about Metro Signs’ involvement here.

The team will be selling special three-packs of the decals featuring Heat, Wade and 3 on them for $5 apiece at the Miami Hoops Gear store at the arena and online. A portion of the proceeds will go to Wade’s foundation. In addition, Saturday is jersey night, so fans wearing Heat jerseys to the game might be lucky enough to get a free decal if they’re spotted by the Heat’s Hoops Crew.

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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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O’Neal Heat jerseys now available (Or - the numbers game)


Jermaine O’Neal, who will make his debut with the Heat on Wednesday, didn’t offer up anything like a Mercedes or a few thousand dollars to new teammate Mario Chalmers for the No. 6 – the number O’Neal wore in Toronto.

No, O’Neal has chosen to go back to wearing No. 7 – the number he wore as a member of the Indiana Pacers. His jersey is already for sale at miamihoopsgear.com or by going to heat.com. And Andy Montero, Heat senior director of retail operations, tells us there will be O’Neal jerseys for sale at AmericanAirlines Arena at Wednesday’s game.

But upstairs on the 300 level of the arena are No. 32 O’Neal jerseys – remaining from Shaquille O’Neal’s tenure with the Heat – at a steep discount. Those are for sale for $10 apiece and fans are still buying them, Heat officials say.

There was no encouraging Jermaine O'Neal to pick No. 32 or special program to pay a few dollars to have your No. 32s replaced with No. 7s. This is, after all, another merchandising opportunity.

“He’s a former Heat player, just like Glen Rice is a former Heat player. We’re happy to see people show up in No. 32 O’Neal jerseys,” Heat executive vice president Michael McCullough said. “We hope more of them get No. 7 O’Neal jerseys.”

“It’s a different player,” Montero added. “It’s a new era.”

The team even has some remaining No. 7 jerseys for Shawn Marion – who was traded to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal, Montero said.

Additionally, Jamario Moon's No. 8 Heat jerseys will be available at the arena on Wednesday. Moon wore No. 33 in Toronto -- the same number Alonzo Mourning wore with the Heat.

COOK THREE-POINT MERCHANDISE

Meanwhile, the Heat has ordered 60 commemorative versions of the orange and purple “money balls” from this past weekend’s NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix to sell in honor of Daequan Cook winning the three-point contest. The team will also sell 8 x 10 photos of Cook shooting the “money ball.” Those should arrive within a week and will sell at the Miami Hoops Gear store and online -- $70 for the basketball and $5 for the photos, Montero said. He said the same thing was done to honor Jason Kapono, who won the three-point contest in 2007.

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T-Mobile and D-Wade team up for H-O-R-S-E


They’ve renamed H-O-R-S-E after insurance company G-E-I-C-O for an event Saturday at NBA All-Star weekend, but Heat guard Dwyane Wade and sponsor T-Mobile are already thinking about H-O-R-S-E at the Eastern Conference Finals.

Wade and T-Mobile kicked off a promotion this week that will give one fan a chance to play H-O-R-S-E against Wade at the Eastern Conference Finals and a shot at winning $50,000. Oh, and the fan can bring along five favorite friends – this is T-Mobile, after all.

To enter, text MYSHOT to 72579 through May 1 or enter online beginning March 4 at www.t-mobile.com/nba -- where you’ll find more information on the promotion as well.

But be forewarned, Wade, who says he plays H-O-R-S-E “all the time,” is ready.

“We can both have fun, I will win, but we can both have fun. I think it’s an unbelievable opportunity for someone, the opportunity of a lifetime,” Wade said. “You can’t beat me. I’m very confident in my ability. I’ve got a couple of shots that will get me over the hump, but I’m sure people will make it hard on me.”

Meanwhile, Barkely is back with Wade in a new T-Mobile ad that also features Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. T-Mobile dropped the ads that paired Wade and Barkley, after Barkley's drunk driving arrest on New Year's Eve. Barkley also took a leave of absence from his position as an NBA analyst with TNT, but the network now says Barkley will be back, but after the All-Star game.

The new T-Mobile ad breaks Friday; Wade and Howard are on the coaching staffs of the rookies and sophomores, respectively, competing in the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday night.

Check out the new spot:

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Missing D Wade’s firs