The Business & Pleasure of Sports

Category: Miami Dolphins (203)

Cast vote in (unofficial) Dolphins logo contest

An unofficial contest to design a new Miami Dolphins logo struck a creative vein with fans, eliciting 1,293 entries by 270 designers.

The contest has no association with the Dolphins, who have announced that they are redesigning the logo and will reveal the change before the NFL draft in April. However, it is another indication of the high interest in plans to alter the look of the team’s brand.

The contest is being conducted online by 99designs, which has narrowed the field to eight favorite designs. Cast your vote among the finalists at

The winning design will be announced on Feb. 11. The winner will receive $499, and the logo will be sent to Dolphins owner Steve Ross, according to a spokesperson for San Francisco-based 99designs.

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Dolphins not raising season-ticket prices

With the Miami Dolphins say they will not be raising prices for season-tickets in 2013.

Season-tickets went on sale Monday as the home-and-away opponents for 2013 were finalized, including a visit by the newly crowned Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens. Dates will be set in April.

The price in the general bowl remains the same, averaging $34 per ticket for the upper bowl and as low as $75 a game for the lower bowl. Purchasers have the option to pay over seven interest-free installments.

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Getting state sales-tax money a tough sell for Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins managed to gain support from Miami-Dade County politicians for stadium renovations despite the lingering sour taste about the Marlins’ ballpark deal that got the mayor recalled.

Winning a favorable vote from state legislators for a sales tax rebate and tourist tax increase will be more challenging. Once again, timing is not on the Dolphins’ side.

They will be making their pitch in the upcoming legislative session during a time that Republican governors in several states are pushing for greater reliance on state sales taxes than personal income tax for operating revenue.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is leading the charge to repeal his state’s personal and corporate income taxes and compensate with higher sales taxes. Similar debates are taking place in Nebraska and Kansas, and the approach of taxation on consumption rather than income has become a conservative agenda nationwide.

That is, of course, already the status quo in Florida where there is no state income tax. Now the Dolphins are asking a Republican-controlled legislature in Tallahassee that lately has not been receptive to helping out pro sports teams for a significant chunk of sales tax money.

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Dee: Dolphins not moving, but stadium needs improving

Dolphins owner Steve Ross has no plans to move the team, but stadium renovations are essential to the future of the franchise in South Florida, team CEO Mike Dee said Tuesday.

During an appearance on the Keith Sims Show on 640 Sports, Dee reiterated Ross’s comments to Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde that his interest in attempting to buy the company managing the proposed stadium in Los Angeles is a venture separate from the Dolphins.

“On his watch the Dolphins would never be relocated,” Dee said.

Dee used the question about whether Dolphins fans should be concerned the long-term stability of the team as a bridge to address the importance going ahead with the $400 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium that was proposed last week.

Ross vowed to pay more than half the cost of modernizing the stadium. The team is seeking public money through a sales tax rebate on goods and services generated at the stadium, as well as 1-cent hike in hotel bed taxes in Miami-Dade County.

Dee said that if financial support does come from Miami-Dade, the county would get preference in plans for hosting Super Bowls and college championship games.

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Bokamper, Baumhower host BCS seafood bash


Former Miami Dolphins teammates and now restaurateurs Kim Bokamper and Bob Baumhower will get the good times rolling for the BCS Championship as hosts of the Alabama Gulf Seafood Tailgating Party at Bokamper’s Sports Bar and Grill in Miramar on Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

Baumhower (pictured above), who has a chain of restaurants in Alabama, and Bokamper were teammates on the Dolphins “Killer B’s” defense in the 1970s and '80s.

Guests include Rudy Ruettiger, the Notre Dame underdog and inspiration for the movie “Rudy,” as well as former Alabama and Dolphins players Dwight Stephenson, Tony Nathan and Don McNeal.

Admission is free to attend the event, featuring autograph signings, music by Southern Rock Society and panel discussions, including tips on preparing Alabama Gulf seafood by Baumhower’s corporate chef Steve Zucker.

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Dolphins offer perks for fans at home finale vs. BIlls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don Shula went from high stakes to high-class steaks

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

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

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

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

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

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Shula to be honored for business achievements

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

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

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

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No service fees on Dolphins tickets through Friday

The Miami Dolphins are waiving service fees for the purchase of tickets to the season’s final two home games until 5 p.m. Friday.

The offer is for the Jacksonville Jaguars game on Dec. 16 and Buffalo Bills game on Dec. 23, and will eliminate the processing/convenience fees, credit card fees and standard delivery costs associated with the costs of purchasing a game ticket. This is the second time this season the Dolphins have eliminated service fees for a limited time to spur ticket sales.

The no-fee offer is also available exclusively on

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Jason Taylor has some watches to sell you

As tough as he was on the football field, Jason Taylor was always more style than grit. The former Miami Dolphin is expanding that image in retirement with a new collection of limited edition watches for Hollywood-based Invicta.

Taylor not only endorses the timepieces, he helped shape their design, said Eyal Lalo, CEO of Invicta. “Design meetings took place at the Invicta headquarters with Jason giving his direct requests and visions to every single watch in the collection. Designs were modified and finally approved by Jason,” Lalo said.

The watches, retailing from $300 to $1,500, will be available beginning in December at, Zales and the Invicta stores at the Boca Raton Town Center and in Miami.

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Dolphins Cycling Challenge raises $2.2 million for fight against cancer

The Dolphins Cycling Challenge has more than doubled its contribution to the fight against cancer for the second year in a row.

The $2.2 million check presented to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center before Sunday’s Dolphins-Seahawks game at Sun Life Stadium was 100 percent of the funds raised by more than 2,000 cyclists that participated in the third running of the charity event on Nov. 3-4.

It was the largest single-event donation by a NFL team, according to the Dolphins.

The cycling challenge was inspired by former Dolphin Jim Mandich, who was battling bile duct cancer when the event debuted two years ago and died in April 2011. The fund-raising effort raised $533,000 in the inaugural ride, $1.07 million in 2011 and is on track to double that this year.

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Dolphins, Ross donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins and Related Companies are donating $500,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Ross serves as the Chairman of the Board and Managing General Partner of the Miami Dolphins and is the Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, which is headquartered in New York City.

In addition, the Dolphins will donate the net proceeds from the sale of general individual game tickets for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans that are purchased between 9 a.m. Thursday and kickoff on Sunday to the American Red Cross South Florida Region to exclusively support the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Earlier the team announced that it had taken the necessary steps to ensure that the game will be televised locally in South Florida, thus clearing the way for this charitable endeavor.

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Miami Dolphins waive service fees on tickets for 48 hours

To help drive ticket sales for the Miami Dolphins’ remaining home games, the team is waiving service fees on purchases from noon Wednesday until noon Friday.

This special offer includes all of the team’s remaining home games and will eliminate the processing/convenience fees, credit card fees and standard delivery costs associated with the costs of purchasing a game ticket.

The no fee offer is available exclusively on

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Miami Dolphins, Marlins put money, muscle into school projects


This has been the week of giving back by the Miami Dolphins and Marlins in separate community projects.

On Tuesday, all 53 Dolphins players and coach Joe Philbin took part in a project at Barbara Hawkins Elementary School in Miami Gardens.

The Marlins’ Day of Service and Philanthropy was Thursday at Miami Edison Middle School, with the team’s office staff teaming with Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, on a school makeover.

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Dolphins alumni to hand out Perfect Season caps

Former Dolphins will be handing out the commemorative hats for the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1972 undefeated season at Sunday’s home opener.

Among them are several members of the team from the Perfect Season team, including Howard Schnellenberger, who was the offensive coordinator that season.

Here are locations where Dolphins alumni will be distributing the caps that all fans will receive as they enter the stadium:

Gate A: Mack Moore, Derek Wimberley
Gate B: Larry Ball, Bobby Harden, Anthony Harris, Louis Oliver
Gate C: Dick Anderson, Howard Schnellenberger
Gate D: Mark Duper, Roy Foster, Kenneth Poole, Larry Seiple
Gate E: Bob Kuechenberg
Gate F: Donald Brown, OJ McDuffie, Maulty Moore, Dwight Stephenson, Troy Stradford
Gate G: Bob Brudzinski, Larry Little, James Pruitt, Joe Rose
Gate H: Bob Griese, Lorenzo Hampton, John Offerdahl, Rodney Thomas, Jed Weaver

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Miami Dolphins tickets, stadium prices below NFL average

The sub-par Dolphins remain below average in one regard that fans can embrace: the cost of attending a game at Sun Life Stadium.

The Dolphins’ average price for a non-premium ticket of $71.14 is well below the NFL average of $78.38 for 2012, according to the annual Team Marketing Report.

The New York Jets have the priciest ticket for the second year in a row at $117.94, just head of the Patriots ($117.84). The Super Bowl champion Giants, who share MetLife Stadium with the Jets, were next at $111.69. The Bears ($110.91) and Cowboys ($110.20) are the other teams above the $100 mark.

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Dolphins to announce blackout policy Friday

The Dolphins’ exhibition opener Friday night against the Buccaneers will be televised on channels 4 and 34.

Whether or not the streak of regular-season games on local television, dating to 1998, will endure through 2012 will be a week-to-week question, as it was last year. The NFL’s new blackout policy does give teams more options in ensuring their home games are televised in their markets.

The Dolphins said they will announce Friday morning whether they will take advantage of the policy change that allows games to be broadcast locally if 85percent of the non-premium tickets are sold. Thursday was the deadline for teams to report their decision to the league.

Previously a sellout was required 72 hours before kickoff to lift the blackout. The cost of adopting the policy change is having to share a great portion of ticket revenue beyond the 85 percent level with the league.

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First chance for Dolphins' 2012 single-game tickets with express bus

It’s the tailgate party without the hassle of driving, parking or food prep.

That seems to be the appeal of the Dolphins Express bus service which has been running to Miami Dolphins games from Duffy’s Sports Grills since 2009.

Dolphins Express game packages went on sale this week for the upcoming season. At the moment it is the only way to get Dolphins single-game tickets for 2012.

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Dolphins tickets among NFL's cheapest on resale market

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

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

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

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Miami Dolphins consider altering logo, look for 2013


The Dolphins may get a facelift for the 2013 season.

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

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

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

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Dolphins host trade show to rally business leaders

Building brand value will be the mantra Thursday at the Miami Dolphins Business Alliance at Sun Life Stadium.

Featured speaker Bruce Turkel will discuss strategies he has used in helping a number of Fortune 500 companies elevate their brand over the past quarter century.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, general manager Jeff Ireland and CEO Mike Dee will also make appearances, the first of four trade shows hosted by the team this year.

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Miami Dolphins can rebuild image by winning, team CEO Dee says


The Dolphins built an iconic reputation on the 1972 Perfect Season and names like Shula, Csonka and Marino.

In recent years they’ve become more often associated with failure on the field and mocked for accumulating celebrity minority owners in lieu of playoff victories.

Asked this week about the franchise’s tarnished image, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that success on the field would restore the luster.

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Miami Dolphins' lackluster 2012 home schedule won't help attendance woes

Considering what a hard sell this past season was for the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium, the initial reaction to their home schedule for 2012 is: lotsa luck.

In addition to the standard home-and-home meetings with division foes New England, Buffalo and the New York Jets, the Dolphins will play host to Jacksonville, Tennessee, St. Louis, Seattle and Oakland.

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Dolphins' charity bike ride raises more than $1 million for cancer research

In what may be the biggest achievement of this Miami Dolphins season, the Dolphins Cycling Challenge raised $1,070,000 for charity last month.

A check for that amount will be presented to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center during a ceremony before Sunday’s Dolphins-Raiders game at Sun Life Stadium. The amount is one of the largest gifts ever to Sylvester from a single event and represents 100 per cent of net proceeds raised by more than 860 cyclists.

More than 160 children and 21 cancer survivors participated in the second year of the cycling event. Twenty former Dolphins were among the riders, including Zach Thomas and Bob Griese.

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NFL TV: Giants-Patriots match two best owners on Forbes list; Dolphins' Ross avoids 'Worst 10'

After watching the Dolphins make yet another attempt to attain their first victory of the season Sunday at Kansas City, South Florida TV viewers can watch two of the NFL’s top teams.

The Giants at Patriots reprise the 2008 Super Bowl matchup in the late afternoon game on Fox with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call at 4:15.

Why have these teams been among the league’s most successful in recent years while the Dolphins can’t find the winning formula. It starts at the top.

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Dolphins plan salute to military, aid disabled vets during game against Washington

The Dolphins’ next game-day tribute should offend no one.

The game against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 13 will salute the military and veterans. A special ticket package will include a donation to Disabled American Veterans.

As part of this ticket program, fans can purchase an upper level ticket for $49 or a lower level ticket for $99 for either the Redskins game or the Buffalo Bills game on Nov. 20. The package includes a $10 donation to the DAV.

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More TebowMania on Fox Sunday; Dolphins get national audience

In case you didn’t get enough TebowMania in Sunday’s Miracle/Meltdown in Miami, Fox will give much of the country, including South Florida, a chance to view the next installment.

The Detroit at Denver game (Sunday, 4:15 p.m.) will be Fox’s offering in many markets (CBS has the doubleheader this week), and why not? If you want drama, if you want the chance to witness something unique, it would be hard to top tuning in to Tebow.

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Tebow starting vs. Dolphins may fill stadium but embarrass home team


No doubt, Tim Tebow’s promotion to starting quarterback in Denver will spur ticket sales for the Dolphins’ game against the Broncos on Oct. 23 at Sun Life Stadium, perhaps even extend to streak without a television blackout.

It will stir interest and an emotional frenzy perhaps never seen for a game between a pair of hapless teams, currently a combined 1-8.

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Winless Dolphins can help others cash in on new Florida Lottery game

The Dolphins have yet to produce a winner on the field, but they are joining with the Florida Lottery to give fans a chance to cash in on a new game being offered in South Florida.

In the Dolphins Fin-tastic Fantasy 5 game, running through Dec. 6, those purchasing a Fantasy 5 ticket of $5 or more at select retailers will receive a voucher with a serial number that can be entered on the Florida Lottery’s website ( for a chance to win Dolphins experiential prizes, including season tickets and a 2012 Ford Fiesta.

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Dolphins-Chargers blacked out in San Diego; threat looms for upcoming games at Sun Life Stadium

The first television blackout of a Miami Dolphins game this season will not affect viewers in South Florida.

The announcement by the San Diego Chargers that Sunday’s game with the Dolphins will be blacked out in the San Diego television market is a sign of the times in the NFL (it will be shown live in South Florida on CBS at 4:15 p.m.). It may soon be reality here as well.

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Miami Dolphins must prove prognosticators wrong to spur ticket sales

Prognosticators continue to pile on the Miami Dolphins.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Miami Dolphins TV schedule set on CBS4, WBFS

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

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

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Miami Dolphins toil in No. 4 hottest NFL training camp

With the Dolphins beginning training camp Thursday, they already rank among the league leaders in one dubious category.

According to The Weather Channel, the Dolphins are No. 4 on the list of the 10 Hottest NFL Training Camps. That was one spot behind Tampa Bay and one ahead of Jacksonville as all of the state’s teams made the list.

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Miami Dolphins to reinstate salaries, return wages lost in lockout

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said Monday that with the end of the lockout all employee compensation would return to normal levels effective immediately.

In addition, the team will reimburse employees for all pay that was withheld during the lockout, Dee said.

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Nat Moore Foundation awards scholarships

The Nat Moore Foundation awarded nearly $100,000 in scholarships and gifts to 26 South Florida high school graduates. The scholarships will assist the students in paying for expenses associated with their higher education, including tuition and fees, housing, and books and equipment.

“The Foundation’s scholarship programs honor students who have not only excelled academically, but those who have participated in multiple school activities, yet find the time to give back to their communities through volunteer services,” said Nat Moore, the former former Dolphins wide receiver and founder of the foundaton. “Some of these students also work to help with their family finances. They are an amazing group of smart and community-minded young people.”

Six students will receive a four-year $10,000 award ($2,500 per year for four years) through the Foundation’s 2011 Urban Scholarship Program. Seven students will receive various awards ranging from one-time $1,000 awards (2 students) to four-year $2,000 awards (5 students to receive $500 per year for four years) through the Foundation’s 2011 Clear Channel Outdoor-Nat Moore Foundation Scholarship program, which were awarded to graduates from Miami Edison, Miami Jackson and Miami Northwestern Senior High Schools.

“We received more applications this year than we have had over the last three years combined,” said Bob Pechon, Vice President of the Nat Moore Foundation and Chair of the Scholarship Committee. “All the students were outstanding. We had such difficulty selecting the winners that the Foundation’s Board decided to award additional scholarships and gifts to 13 finalists for the Urban Scholarship Program.”

The Foundation awarded six students with a four-year $4,000 award ($1,000 per year for four years) and seven students received their choice of either an Apple iPad or a Toshiba Satellite laptop computer.

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Dolphins owner included in NY Observer Power 150

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross ranks No. 33 in New York Observer’s annual Power 150 ranking of New York’s most powerful people.

It’s a list that ranks Mayor Michael Bloomberg No. 1, Lady Gaga No. 150, and includes politicians, journalists, actors, athletes, fashion designers and restaurateurs in between.

Other sports figures include New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (111); New York Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (85); New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan (84); NBA Commissioner David Stern (79); Yankees manager Joe Girardi (66); Cablevision and Madison Square Garden directors, The Dolans (52); New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov (38); and Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner (29).

In May, Ross topped the publication’s "Power 100" ranking of "The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate."

Here’s what the publication says about Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., for the Power 150:

“Perhaps the single most active developer during the market's downturn, Mr. Ross builds mega-hotels and amusement parks while others put up "For Sale" signs. He'll probably snatch up those properties, too. The Miami Dolphins, which he owns, aren't so bad either.”

The publication date is Dec. 21, obviously before the Dolphins had their colossal meltdown against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

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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

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Dolphins Club LIV ticket deal with yarmulke

yarmulke2.jpgThe Miami Dolphins and Society of Young Jewish Professionals have partnered on a unique ticket deal that includes a yarmulke giveaway.

With SYJP, Jewish dating service JDate and Sleek Medspa presenting the 24th annual Matzo Ball gathering for Jewish singles on Friday night at Club LIV at the Fontainebleau Hotel, SYJP and the Dolphins are hoping to capitalize on partying Jews.

They’ve partnered on a ticket to Sunday’s Dolphins-Detroit Lions game that is 60 percent off entry into Sun Life Stadium’s Club LIV – the team’s new nightclub experience overlooking the game – and a snazzy Dolphins yarmulke.

The ticket still costs $110.25, but the team is promising yarmulkes to anyone purchasing the ticket. It’s part of the team’s effort to connect with its many Jewish fans and to take advantage of the timing of the game right after Matzo Ball.

During Hanukkah, the Florida Panthers gave out a Panthers yarmulke to fans who purchased a special Jewish Heritage Night ticket.

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Dolphins to hold Ford Fiesta drawing at Sunday’s game

This summer, the Miami Dolphins and Florida Lottery launched a $5 per ticket scratch-off game offering cash and prizes, including tickets and merchandise discounts. During halftime of Sunday’s Dolphins-Buffalo Bills game at Sun Life Stadium, the team and Lottery will give away a 2011 Ford Fiesta.

The scratch-off game included the Dolphins Fan Experience Second Chance promotion that allowed fans with losing tickets a second opportunity to score prizes. The second chance promotion resulted in the distribution of 500 pairs of tickets to Sunday’s game. Of those, 10 finalists will be chosen to participate in a ceremony at halftime, in which they will scratch oversized scratch-off tickets. One will win the Ford Fiesta; the others will receive cash prizes of $100 to $500.

The scratch-off program was launched by the Lottery with the Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars. The teams each receive a licensing fee and the dollars raised from the ticket sales go to the state's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which provides money to public schools, scholarships, community colleges and state universities. Read the story I wrote about the program when it first launched here.

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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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Miami Dolphins enhance social media programs with Fan Appz

The Miami Dolphins and Fan Appz, which develops social media marketing applications, announced a new partnership today aimed at expanding the way the team communicates with its tech-savvy fans.

Fan Appz, of Santa Monica, Calif., helps sports and entertainment companies extend and engage their customers and fans through a variety of programs.

With the Dolphins, the company is rolling out opportunities to involve fans more with the team and its sponsors. For example, the company has developed an engaging Facebook page for Dolphins fans “Finatics” that encourages them to watch videos and participate in polls about the team and its rivals. Polls have included “Which Former Jets Player Did You Enjoy Booing the Most?” with choices that include Joe Namath, Wayne Chrebet and Brett Favre.

Monday’s question advances Sunday’s home game against the Buffalo Bills by asking “Which Of These Games Is Your Favorite Dolphins’ Win Over The Bills?” with choices from 1970 to 2005.

Continue reading "Miami Dolphins enhance social media programs with Fan Appz" »

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Ticket specials for final two Dolphins home games; Panthers & Marlins holiday offers

Duffy’s Sports Grill and the Miami Dolphins have sweetened their ticket deal for the team’s final two homes games of the 2010 season.

The Palm Beach Gardens-based sports grill chain is offering up lower corner end zone seats for $79 each – down from $124 – that include express bus service to the game, pregame tailgate at Sun Life Stadium, a Dolphins cap and 50 Duffy’s MVP Bonus points. The buses leave from 10 locations from Fort Lauderdale to Melbourne. The deal is available for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills and the Dec. 26 game against the Detroit Lions. Find the deal at

Meanwhile, other South Florida pro teams are offering holiday ticket specials:

The Florida Panthers are selling tickets to the Dec. 27 game against the Boston Bruins, Dec. 31 game against the Montreal Canadiens and the Jan. 2 game against the New York Rangers starting at $10. The team is also selling Holiday Growl gift cards for $49 good for upper bowl seats and $99 for lower bowl seats at BankAtlantic Center – both for regular season games from January to April. Find the specials at

The Florida Marlins are selling special Holiday 10-Packs of vouchers that can be used for any 2011 games and in any combination. They start at $85 -- $8.50 a ticket – for Fish Tank seats up to $350 -- $35 a ticket for infield box seats. The first 25 buyers each week of the holiday season receive a special gift. That’s a game-used bat this week; an autographed helmet from Dec. 20 to 26; an autographed baseball from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2; and an autographed Rookie Stars poster for Jan. 3 to 7.

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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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FanVision to be used at three BCS games, rollout continuing

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross bought the company now known as FanVision, when he realized the handheld devices that show different camera angles, games and stats, might help combat the stay-at-home-watch the game on TV mentality.

FanVision is now in use in a dozen NFL stadiums and at University of Michigan and University of Miami games. In January, it will be used at three BCS games – the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship game. Read the SportsBusiness Journal piece on the agreements here.

At the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium, 500 of the devices will be provided to fans in the premium seating areas and to the media.

Continue reading "FanVision to be used at three BCS games, rollout continuing" »

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NFL Players union reaches out to politicians (UPDATED with response from NFL)

Concerned NFL owners are planning to lock players out when their contract expires on March 4, the NFL Players Association sent letters Monday to politicians in every NFL market to warn what the loss of football could mean to their states and local communities.

NFLPA President Kevin Mawae’s letters state that each NFL city could lose more than $160 million in jobs and revenue if football shuts down.

In Florida, NFLPA President Kevin Mawae’s letters were addressed to Gov. Charlie Crist, Governor-Elect Rick Scott and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and mentioned the loss of jobs for workers at Sun Life Stadium and in the surrounding community.

Continue reading "NFL Players union reaches out to politicians (UPDATED with response from NFL)" »

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Player Appearance: Meet Ronnie Brown

Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown will help AT&T open its new store in Coral Springs on Tuesday.

The store is holding another “grand opening” and Brown will be signing autographs (one item per customer) from 6 to 7 p.m. at the store at 4240 North State Road 7 (Turtle Crossing location in the Target Shopping Center). Prize giveaways, too.

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NFL Network showing Dolphins-Bears and Parcells documentary

When the Miami Dolphins host the Chicago Bears at Sun Life Stadium tonight, the game will air nationally on NFL Network.

Although the network still isn’t available everywhere, the league reports its distribution grew 31 percent last year and is now in more than 57 million homes. (Comcast customers in South Florida get the channel.)

Judging from the comments Dolphins owner Steve Ross made at the SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference this week, that number could grow significantly, if a deal really can be worked out soon for Time Warner and Cablevision to include the network.

Continue reading "NFL Network showing Dolphins-Bears and Parcells documentary" »

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Dolphins owner irks players union with comments on 18-game season

What might have seemed like innocuous comments Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross made about the league’s interest in expanding the regular season to 18 games, were anything but to NFL players.

Speaking at the SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference in New York this week, Ross said fans dislike paying for preseason games and that two preseason games – rather than four – should be enough combined with practices and scrimmages for coaches to analyze talent. But perhaps most irksome to players were his comments about injuries.

“They’ve done studies … the additional games, the studies show will not really increase injuries,” Ross said. “We’re still playing 20 games. We’re eliminating two preseason games and adding two regular season games, which is really what helps with the revenues, and make the fans a lot happier and those games will be a lot more meaningful. But in terms of the players, they’re still playing 20 games.”

George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFL Players Association, took to his Twitter account shortly after Ross’ comments to remind that two Dolphins quarterbacks – Chad Pennington and Chad Henne – were injured in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Continue reading "Dolphins owner irks players union with comments on 18-game season" »

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Dolphins owner talks NFL expansion, labor and the Super Bowl

Although he wouldn’t talk about his team’s front office or rath of injuries, Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross was pretty chatty about a variety of topics Tuesday, when he was the featured interview speaker at the SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference in New York.

He was invited to speak about his ownership of the team and of FanVision, the company that makes the handheld devices fans use at NFL games to watch replays, other games and get stats. Representatives of FanVision including former Kansas City Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson joined Ross at the conference. Ross stressed that Peterson does not have a role with the Dolphins.

He said FanVision will be available on smartphones next season.

He said he still believe his team will make the playoffs and he dismissed concerns about injuries rising if the NFL moves to an 18-game season.

Other topics he addressed:

Labor: On whether the NFL and its players association will be able to reach a new contract, Ross was optimistic.

Continue reading "Dolphins owner talks NFL expansion, labor and the Super Bowl" »

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Ricky Williams re-elected union rep; Dolphins vote to decertify union

The Miami Dolphins became the latest team – and last of Florida’s three NFL teams -- to approve decertifying the union, if a new players’ contract is not forged with NFL owners by March 3, an NFL Players Association spokesman said.

Decertification, approved unanimously by Dolphins players on Thursday, is just one method the union is considering in its battle with owners for a new contract. Decertifying the union would prevent owners from locking out players because they would no longer be represented by a union, and the players could sue the league under antitrust laws.

The Dolphins also re-elected Ricky Williams as their players union representative and voted approved Chad Pennington, Brandon Marshall and John Denney as alternates, the union spokesman said.

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Homestead and Miami Dolphins team up on ticket combo

Hoping to sell tickets to both Ford Championship Weekend and Miami Dolphins games against less glamorous opponents, Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Dolphins have created a “Track & Field” ticket package.

For $110, you can get a ticket to see the finale of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the speedway on Nov. 21 (a day when the Dolphins aren’t playing) and a ticket to one of three upcoming Dolphins games in December – against the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 5); Buffalo Bills (Dec. 19) or Detroit Lions (Dec. 26).

The price represents a 31 percent (or $50) savings off buying tickets to both events separately. The speedway seats are at Turn 1 between rows 5 and 10 and the Dolphins seats are upper prime – in the 400 level on the sidelines between rows 5 and 20.

To purchase the package or for more information, visit or call 866-409-RACE.

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Ronnie Brown, Frank Gore endorsing Rawlings protective apparel

Rawlings Football – yes, football – has signed up two NFL running backs with ties to Miami to endorse its Skeletal Responsive Gear (SRG) protective apparel.

Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown and San Francisco 49ers running back and former Hurricane Frank Gore are Rawlings' new endorsers. Brown is representing the PORON XRD line and Gore, the Zoombang line. The players will appear in print and digital advertising to promote the lines. Check out the video below, where the two players show off the gear.

More than 200 NFL players are wearing Rawlings’ protective gear, the company says.

“Enhanced by PORON® XRDTM and ZoombangTM, Rawlings SRG protective apparel is faster, lighter and stronger than the competition, and we receive weekly validation of its performance capabilities throughout the football season,” Mike Thompson, Rawlings senior vice president of marketing said in a statement. “ We’re excited to add Ronnie and Frank to our Football Advisory Staff as we continue our commitment to develop equipment and apparel that fully meets the protective needs of today’s athlete at all levels.”

Rawlings is most known for its baseball equipment, but has a long history with football, as well, launching a set of football shoulder pads in 1902. The company stopped making football helmets in 1989, but has decided to re-enter the football helmet market.

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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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Rapper Birdman, a Miami Dolphins limited partner to be? That’s news to the Dolphins

Rapper Birdman, whose non-stage name is Bryan Williams, says he’s close to getting approval from the NFL to become a limited partner in the Miami Dolphins. That’s what he told Angela Yee's Morning After show on Sirius satellite radio.

But that’s news to the NFL and Dolphins majority owner Steve Ross:

"I have NEVER spoken to him or any representative," Ross said in an email Monday evening. "Not considering or looking for any celebrity limited partners."

Birdman is co-founder of Cash Money Records and has collaborated with Lil Wayne. According to reports, in 2007 he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

On Yee’s radio show, Birdman says he wants to join the Dolphins’ array of musical and celebrity limited partners.

“We’re waiting. You have to get the clearance from the NFL,” Birdman is heard saying. “We’re waiting on the clearance. Once we get cleared, we’re good.”

But he also says he’s interested potentially in baseball and basketball teams.


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Miami Dolphins players and dogs launch charity dog calendar -- UPDATED WITH PHOTOS & VIDEO

It wasn’t just Miami Dolphins players walking the red carpet at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood on Monday night.

The players were joined by VIPs – Very Important Pooches – from the Humane Society of Broward County to launch the “That’s My Dog” calendar. The 2011 calendar includes current and former Dolphins and their dogs – or shelter dogs, if they didn’t own a dog.

Players, including Channing Crowder, whose mother Pauline Crowder came up with the idea for the calendar; Chad Henne; Brandon Marshall; Davone Bess; and Karlos Dansby, autographed the calendar, which costs $20 with proceeds benefiting the Humane Society and the Sun Sentinel Children's Fund. Check out a photo gallery here.

For more information, or to purchase a calendar, visit

Watch a video from the launch below:

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Sun Life Stadium tranformed from baseball to football for tonight’s game

They always say the grounds crew at Sun Life Stadium is the masterful – and it’s certainly the busiest as one of only two pro stadiums left in the country to host baseball and football on natural grass. The other is Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, home to the Oakland A’s and Raiders. Sun Life also hosts UM football, the Orange Bowl and the Super Bowl.

The feat the crew pulled off between yesterday afternoon’s final Florida Marlins game of the 2010 season and tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots – including covering the infield dirt with sod for the second time in 10 days – was captured by WeatherBug’s InstaCam here. Hit rerun and adjust the speed to your preference.

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NFL goes pink for breast cancer awareness -- with mouthguards, too

mouthguard2.jpgIt would have been hard to miss the NFL fields and players awash in pink yesterday for the start of the league’s celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Players donned pink cleats, wristbands, chin straps, helmet decals and the quarterbacks had pink towels. The game balls featured pink ribbon decals. Game-worn pink merchandise will be autographed and auctioned at All NFL Auction proceeds collected this month will go to the American Cancer Society and team charities. The league and its teams are also selling special pink merchandise.

Meanwhile, a Minneapolis company called Shock Doctor has donated pink versions of its Gel Max mouthguards to all NFL teams. No word yet whether any Miami Dolphins players will be wearing them for tonight’s game.

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Miami Dolphins field, parking issues

slsfield.jpgThe Miami Dolphins won't decide until late Friday at the earliest whether they will replace the infield dirt at Sun Life Stadium with sod for Monday night's game against the New England Patriots -- as they did for Sunday's game against the New York Jets. (See photo of workers taking the sod back out Sunday night).

Team officials will monitor the weather during the next few days and determine whether there's enough time to replace the dirt infield.

Last week, the grounds crew had about four days to cover the dirt with sod. They wouldn't be so lucky this time because the Florida Marlins wrap up the 2010 season Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The sod is grown in Alabama on pieces of plastic in sand so that it's thick and durable and doesn't turn to mud in the rain. It comes in such big heavy rolls that it can withstand the play of big NFL linemen.

Stay tuned ...

Meanwhile, the team is altering procedures for parking at Monday night's game after some fans complained lots surrounding and adjacent to the stadium were full and they were turned away even though they had parking passes, said George Torres, spokesman for Dolphins Enterprises. The team will work to give priority to fans with parking passes and limit the number of fans, who pay cash, from entering lots immediately surrounding the stadium.

Fans with parking passes, who are shut out of the stadium lots, can have their passes honored at parking lots at Wal-Mart and Norwood Elementary, Torres said.

Torres said priority will be given to season ticket holders with parking passes. He said radio broadcasters will give regular updates on which lots are closed and more staff will be on hand to help with traffic flow.

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Miami Dolphins game parking woes

Couldn’t make it to Sun Life Stadium for Sunday night’s Miami Dolphins’ 2010 home opener?

Neither could Fred Sorentrue. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Sorentrue, of Plantation, said he’s been a Dolphins season ticket holder for more than a decade and he’d never had a problem parking at the stadium. Until Sunday.

He arrived at the stadium about an hour before game time with tickets for his two seats at $82 each and a $20 parking pass. But at each gate surrounding the stadium, he says, he was turned away and told to continue to the next gate.

Sorentrue said he eventually gave up and went home to watch the game. He said he was told part of the problem was the number of fans without tickets to the game, who arrived early just to tailgate. He said driving to an auxiliary lot at Calder Race Course, for example, wasn’t an option for him because he’s 67 and has a bad leg and couldn’t make the walk between Calder and the stadium.

He said he heard others went to park at Calder with their parking passes, only to be charged an additional $15.

“It’s just not right for them to sell the parking pass and double and triple dip,” Sorentrue said. “Gaining other money [from people without tickets] and not giving people with parking passes a chance to get in. I had to basically eat $184.”

Meanwhile, there’s only so much monitoring the Dolphins can do, Dolphins Enterprises spokesman George Torres said.

“The lots did get full and some people had to park elsewhere. This could happen when we’re at total capacity in terms of attendance and if fewer fans carpool,” Torres said.

Torres said when the lots around the stadium fill up, season ticket holders are referred to other lots at Wal-Mart and Norwood Elementary, where they should be able to park for free with their parking passes.

“We may have had some fans without game tickets tailgate but it’s hard to tell since we don’t require game tickets in order to park in our lots,” Torres said. “Some fans without tickets will tailgate and try to buy tickets from the stadium box office or from other fans.”

Did you - or anyone you know - have a similar problem?

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Infield dirt to be covered for Dolphins-Jets game

stadium1.jpgThe infield dirt for the baseball diamond that remains on the football field when the Miami Dolphins’ and Florida Marlins’ seasons overlap has been a complaint of the Dolphins for years. The Dolphins have decided to do something about it for Sunday’s 2010 home opener against the New York Jets.

The infield dirt will be covered with sod for the Jets game.

Sun Life is one of only two stadiums left in the country that host both baseball and football on natural grass. The other being Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, home to the Oakland A’s and Raiders.

The Marlins finish up their 2010 season at Sun Life Stadium on Oct. 3, but a Dolphins spokesman says it’s possible the infield dirt might be covered in time for the following night’s Monday night game against the New England Patriots. However, several factors need to be considered, in particular weather conditions.

It’s not just the grounds crew working overtime at the stadium this week: construction crews are working around the clock – three shifts – to finish Club LIV at the stadium. That’s the brand new, first-of-its-kind sports club debuting Sunday on the club level in the west endzone. The 10,000-square foot two level club modeled on Club LIV at the Fontainebleau Hotel will feature couches, cabanas, DJs, entertainment, nightclub lighting and drinks that can be purchased by the bottle.

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Tebow jersey still No. 1; Brandon Marshall up to No. 15

Denver Broncos and former Gator quarterback Tim Tebow still holds the top spot for NFL jersey sales during the past six months, but Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s jersey is now up to 15th.

That’s according to sales figures from covering the period of April 1 through Sept. 15. Marshall’s jersey sales ranked 16th in May. Meanwhile, the Dolphins merchandise is up a notch, too, to eighth for the time period – up from ninth in May.

Behind Tebow are New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. The top-selling team gear is that of the Dallas Cowboys, who have four players among the top 25 best-selling jerseys, but are 0-2 so far this season.

Here are the full lists from

Top 25 best-selling jerseys

1. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3. Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins
4. Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings
5. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis colts
6. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
9. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
10. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
11. Eli Manning, New York Giants
12. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
13. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
14. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
15. Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolpins
16. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
17. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
18. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
19. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
20. Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals
21. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
22. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
23. Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
24. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
25. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Top 10 best-selling team merchandise

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Denver Broncos
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. New York Giants
6. Minnesota Vikings
7. Washington Redskins
8. Miami Dolphins
9. New York Jets
10. Chicago Bears

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Duffy’s partners with Dolphins, Panthers & Marlins

Buoyed by the success of its partnership with the Miami Dolphins, Duffy’s Sports Grill has been expanding its relationships with South Florida’s sports teams.

The Palm Beach Gardens-based sports grill chain became the “Official Sports Grill of the Miami Dolphins” last August and launched the Dolphins Express – a network of bus transportation from Duffy's locations to and from Dolphins home games at Sun Life Stadium. Not only has that relationship expanded, but the sports grills are also including Dolphins tickets and special offers as part of their MVP loyalty card program, in which members get seated without waiting, discounts and other benefits.

This year, the Dolphins Express has expanded to 10 locations from Fort Lauderdale to Melbourne. The buses, which will all be express rather than making stops along the way, are leaving earlier and rather than a box lunch, the price for the trip includes a ticket and a pregame tailgate at Sun Life Stadium catered by Duffy’s. The prices are $79 for upper corner endzone seats; and $124 for lower corner endzone seats. The tailgates include hamburgers, chips, cookies and a cash bar for beer and wine.

“We’ve learned a lot from last year,” said Paul Emmett, Duffy’s president and owner. “The buses are leaving, there will be a tailgate party. All the buses will get together and we’ll be offering the grill and beer before every game.”

A schedule of the Dolphins Express stops and times is below.

The success of the Dolphins partnership has led to the sports grills – which have 22 locations and more than 300,000 loyalty card members -- partnering with the Florida Panthers and more recently with the Florida Marlins.

The Panthers partnership launched in June with Duffy’s hosting the team’s 2010 NHL Entry Draft Watch Parties at Duffy’s locations in Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale. Duffy’s will also hold watch parties during the season and Panthers benefits are also part of the restaurant’s loyalty card program.

Meanwhile, the restaurant chain recently forged a partnership with the Florida Marlins, which is under way this season, but will be more visible in 2011. Among the plans are watch parties and promotional events aimed at driving ticket sales, said Brendan Cunningham, Marlins senior director of corporate sales.

“They’ve got a great footprint in the South Florida area, their plans for future expansion matched up well without backyard market,” Cunningham said. “It seemed like a perfect fit.”

Emmett said the relationships helps Duffy's with branding and drives more customers to the restaurants.

The Dolphins Express departure locations and times are as follows:

Melbourne: 1 p.m. games, 8 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 11 a.m.,; 8 p.m. games, 3 p.m.
Superplay: 1 p.m. games, 8:30 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 11:30 a.m.; 8 p.m. games, 3:30 p.m.
Jupiter East: 1 p.m. games, 8:45 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 11:45 a.m.; 8 p.m. games, 3:45 p.m.
Villages: 1 p.m. games, 8:45 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 11:45 a.m.; 8 p.m. games, 3:45 p.m.
Southern: 1 p.m. games, 9 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, noon; 8 p.m. games, 4 p.m.
Boynton East: 1 p.m. games, 9:15 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 12:15 p.m.; 8 p.m. games, 4:15 p.m.
Delray: 1 p.m. games, 9:30 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 12:30 p.m.; 8 p.m. games, 4:30 p.m.
Coconut Creek: 1 p.m. games, 9:45 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 12:45 p.m.; 8 p.m. games, 4:45 p.m.
Plantation: 1 p.m. games, 10 a.m.; 4 p.m. games, 1 p.m.; 8 p.m. games, 5 p.m.
Fort Lauderdale: 1 p.m. games, 10 a.m. ; 4 p.m. games, 1 p.m.; 8 p.m. games, 5 p.m.

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Player/Owner Appearance: Meet Venus Williams

Tennis star and Miami Dolphins limited partner Venus Williams is now an author, too, and she’ll be signing copies of her new book at Books & Books tonight at the Bal Harbour Shops.

The event for autographs of the book, “Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession” takes place at 7 p.m. at Books & Books, 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour.

Williams will only be signing copies of the book and you must buy a copy at the store ($25.99). There is no limit on the number of books she will sign, but she does not have time to personalize the signatures or pose for photos – although photos can be taken from the autograph line.

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Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and a water park

The release of financial documents showing the Florida Marlins were profitable in 2008 and 2009 couldn’t have come at worse time for … the Miami Dolphins.

That’s right, the Dolphins. As the Dolphins continue their behind-the-scenes planning to ask the public to help pay for renovations to Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls, the baseball team’s finances can’t have helped the football team’s cause.

The Marlins’ financial records, obtained by, show the team had net operating income – before factoring in taxes, interest, amortization and other items – of nearly $50 million combined during the two years covered. With much of the fallout from the documents' release focusing on the team's ballpark deal, politicians are wary.

Miami-Dade County Commissioners, who opposed putting $347 million mainly in tourist taxes into the ballpark deal, say the county should have pushed harder to see the team’s financial records during negotiations. Even one of the team’s staunchest supporters, County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, asked County Mayor Carlos Alvarez to study whether the team could be required to pay more – and the county less – for the ballpark.

Alvarez says the county doesn’t see a need to reopen the ballpark contract – he says county negotiators were aware the team was profitable, which gave them comfort the team could meet its debt obligations to the ballpark’s construction costs. And besides, the team wouldn’t allow it. The county, team and city of Miami would have to agree to reopen talks.

But the raw feelings and distrust of the team are palpable.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, were already going to be fighting an uphill battle to convince politicians to support contributing to stadium renovations that could include a partial roof covering over the stands and seats closer to the field. Now how likely are pols going to be to chip in taxpayer dollars?

It remains to be seen what the Dolphins' pitch looks like. The public already knows Dolphins owner Steve Ross paid $1.1 billion for the franchise and stadium and it now knows he plans to privately finance a water park south of the stadium as a way to generate revenue after the Marlins leave for their new ballpark in 2012.

Dolphins officials say the water park plans are unrelated to stadium plans. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee has said Ross cannot foot the bill for stadium renovations himself. He said under NFL rules, the team can’t take on any more debt, which again raises the question of how stadium renovations will be financed.

“We have challenges with the current structure the NFL provides for franchises,” Dee said last month. “We’re maxed out at our debt capacity. We can’t take on any more debt. We have $235 million on our books from the last expansion. We’ve invested another $50 million in the facility in the last 18 months. We have the maximum amount of team debt allowed by the NFL … Our hands are somewhat tied with respect to the stadium and more investment by the team into the stadium.”

Under league rules, NFL teams can borrow up to $150 million.

“To borrow more, the club would need a special waiver approved by the other teams, which generally has only been granted to a team in connection with the construction or renovation of a stadium,” an NFL spokesman said.

Stay tuned…

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Truly Nolen warns of tailgate pests

recluse1.jpgJust in time for tailgating season with college football getting underway Thursday night, Truly Nolen wants college football fans to be aware that tailgating should be about food and fun, not critters.

The pest control company says tailgating fans should be particularly aware of Crazy Ants, Mosquitoes and Brown Recluse Spiders.

“Each of these insects has the ability to cause problems for food, guests and pets under the right conditions,” Bob Hartley, Truly Nolen of America vice president of technical services and tailgating guru, said in a statement.

Avoid crazy ants with “properly sealed food containers.” “Drain sources of standing water” to avoid mosquitoes. And if you take off your shoes at your pre-game picnic, shake them out before putting them back on because brown recluse spiders like to nestle in them, the company warns.

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Miami Dolphins: NFL's biggest loser, Forbes says

The value of the Miami Dolphins has remained a steady $1 billion, but the team jumped up to 16th from 18th last year, according to Forbes’ annual list of NFL team values.

The Dallas Cowboys and their grand new football stadium palace top the list with $1.8 billion in value and operating income of $143.3 million. They’re followed by the Washington Redskins ($1.55 billion) and New England Patriots ($1.367 billion). Even the 32nd team -- the Jacksonville Jaguars are valuable at $725 million and operating income of $25.9 million – this for a team that had most of its home games blacked out on local television last season.

What’s of interest in the rankings is the Dolphins are one of just two teams – the other being the Detroit Lions – to record an operating loss. Forbes says the Dolphins operating loss is the most -- $7.7 million; the Lions’ is $2.9 million.

It’s unclear from Forbes’ numbers what the loss is attributable to – I was hoping to ask team owner Steve Ross about the figures last week when he was scheduled to meet with the media, but the team said he had to postpone due to business commitments.

So we’re left to ponder. To be sure, it’s difficult to lose money in the NFL. Of course, owners say costs keep rising and they want to reduce the percentage of revenue shared with players as part of their labor negotiations. But national TV money typically covers team payroll (before benefits), before a ticket or sponsorship is sold.

We do know – as he keeps reminding us – Ross overpaid for the team and Sun Life Stadium when he agreed to buy both from H. Wayne Huizenga for $1.1 billion. (By the way, Forbes identifies a photo of Ross as Huizenga -- and did the reverse in the 2009 rankings). That figure included the debt on the stadium particularly for the $250 million in renovations. Ross has also updated concession areas, added new seating areas and this year’s “The Experience,” modeled on the Fontainbleau’s Club LIV. But that debt shouldn’t be figured into operating numbers.

Perhaps that $7.7 million can be attributed to the millions Ross has spent on signing bonuses and making Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall the highest paid players at their positions. Last year, Ross spent more upfront money on re-signing players and attracting free agents than any team in the league and had the second highest payroll. Additionally, the team fell short of its goal of selling at least 50,000 season tickets -- ending with 49,415 last season.

Here’s Forbes’ note on the Dolphins:

The Dolphins took two key steps to improve their finances during the off-season. The team sold the naming rights to their stadium to insurer Sun Life for $4 million a year (an additional $1.5 million a year from the deal is paid to charities), replacing the temporary, soft-dollar deal it had with Jimmy Buffett's Land Shark Lager. More importantly, the Dolphins refinanced $235 million of stadium debt in a deal that includes a $159 million letter of credit that backs taxable municipal bonds sold through a government conduit but for which the stadium corporation is responsible. The deal, arranged by Goldman Sachs, contains a credit reserve that is significantly bigger than it otherwise would have been to account for the possibility of a work stoppage in 2011.

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Miami Dolphins scratch-off tickets best-selling; plus game ticket discounts

The Miami Dolphins scratch-off tickets have sold the most among the state’s three NFL teams since they were unveiled late last month, Florida Lottery officials said.

Through last weekend, $5 million worth of Dolphins scratch-off tickets had been sold, compared with $4.97 million worth of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tickets and $2.37 million worth of Jacksonville Jaguars’ tickets.

The $5 scratch-off games are a partnership between the Florida Lottery and the NFL teams to raise money for the state's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which provides money to public schools, scholarships, community colleges and state universities.

The tickets include a dozen chances to win cash prizes from $5 to $100,000. Losing tickets can be entered into second-chance drawings at for team themed-prizes such as tickets and stadium tours.

The lottery partnerships were approved by NFL owners in spring 2009 as a way to generate more revenue for teams.

In addition to being available at regular lottery ticket retail locations, the Dolphins tickets are also for sale at Sun Life Stadium. Tickets can be purchased seven days a week – even at Florida Marlins’ home games – at a Lottery Instant Ticket Vending Machine in the Gate G Team Store, and on Dolphins’ game days at six customer relations/advance ticket sales locations on the 100, 200 and 400 levels.

And the Dolphins are offering discounts of $5 off lower level tickets and $10 off upper level tickets to four regular games this season, through its partnership with the lottery. Click on partner offers at for discounted tickets to games against the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

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Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall new Warren Henry spokesman

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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Favre drives ticket prices, but game against Dolphins not among highest priced

favreeffect1.jpgSay what you will about his wavering and his on-again, off-again retirement, but Brett Favre moves ticket prices.

Ticket search engine put together this nifty graphic charting average ticket prices based on Favre announcements and developments last year and this year. Tickets were up to an average of $240.82 this week after Favre’s definitive return announcement and demand has pushed average prices up more than $50 a ticket, FanSnap says.

As you might imagine, the home game against the rival Green Bay Packers – Favre’s former team – is the highest at an average of $230. Tickets for the game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 (Sept. 19) are averaging just $98.

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Boca Raton, Miami Dolphins team up for road game parties

During the Miami Dolphins’ first pep rally in advance of the 2010 season, the team and the city of Boca Raton announced a unique program to make away games a party in the city’s downtown.

Dubbed the “Fins’ South Florida’s Biggest Away Game Party” in Downtown Boca, the partnership is aimed at providing a free party atmosphere in which fans can join together to watch away games on large screens. The Super Sundays will also include activities such as question and answer sessions with Dolphins alumni, performances by the Dolphins Cheerleaders, football-themed games and giveaways.

“We are humbled and excited that the City of Boca Raton has chosen to designate Downtown Boca as Finstown and enter into a truly innovative public/private partnership with the Miami Dolphins,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “South Florida’s Biggest Away Game Party is a special way for our fans in Boca and throughout South Florida to come together to cheer for their Fins while the team plays away from Sun Life Stadium.”

In addition to offering fans a party while the team's on the road, the partnership is aimed at continuing to bring people to the city's downtown.

“The City of Boca Raton is pleased to team up with the Miami Dolphins to present our own away game tail-great parties in our Downtown Boca so that fans of all ages can cheer on our South Florida home team,” Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel said at the event. “We invite Dolphins fans to come early and stay late to discover all that is Downtown Boca as we rollout the aqua and orange carpet, complete with fresh new activities each away game event.”

The road game parties start an hour before kickoff. These are this season's Dolphins road games and the party start times:

Sept. 12: Dolphins at Buffalo Bills, Noon
Sept. 19: Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings, Noon
Oct. 17: Dolphins at Green Bay Packers, Noon
Oct. 31: Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals, Noon
Nov. 7: Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens, Noon
Nov. 28: Dolphins at Oakland Raiders, 3 p.m.
Dec. 12: Dolphins at New York Jets, 3 p.m.
Jan. 2: Dolphins at New England Patriots, Noon

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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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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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Miami Dolphins individual game tickets on sale Saturday

Individual game tickets for the Miami Dolphins 2010 season go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, but fans can get a jump on the on-sale time by stopping by training camp at 9 a.m. for a special one-hour pre-sale.

Individual game tickets start at $45 a game and can be purchased through, or by calling 1-800-745-3000 or 1-888-FINS-TIX.

Fans who stop by training camp in Davie can buy tickets there between 9 and 10 a.m.

“We welcome our fans back to football and invite them to bring their families this Saturday for a special family day at Dolphins Camp,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “For the first time ever, we’re also offering our fans an on-site pre-sale opportunity to buy single game tickets to any home game before they go on sale to the general public.”

The Dolphins home opener is against the New York Jets on Sunday, Sept. 26. In addition to games against the other division rival New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins also host the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

Season tickets are also still for sale and start at $34 a game.

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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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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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Dolphins owner Steve Ross could get tax breaks

While the Miami Dolphins’ quest for public dollars to upgrade Sun Life Stadium is considered an uphill battle, team owner Steve Ross might be getting a tax break … in New Jersey.

As he continues taking on distressed and complicated development projects, Ross could be in a position to benefit from the equivalent of a sales tax rebate from the state of New Jersey, according to the Bergen Record.

Ross’ Related Cos., is working on how to salvage the stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Related began negotiating to become a partner in the project earlier this year. Related has already changed the complex’s name to Meadowlands.

According to the Record story, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is examining the possibility of granting the project $180 million in taxpayer dollars that would come from allowing the project to keep 75 percent of the sales tax revenue from the project for up to the first 20 years it’s open. The report even speculates Ross might give up on the project without the state tax incentive.

Meanwhile, last month, a panel of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee recommended the Dolphins pursue public money to help upgrade Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls. The Dolphins are working on a plan to pay for renovations and expect to unveil it later this year.

In January, the team revealed renderings of possible upgrades, including a partial roof canopy covering the seats and a new seating bowl. The work is estimated to cost $187 million. The team said it cannot make the investment alone, but needs some help from the public.

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More on the economic impact of Super Bowl XLIV

The news from last week's release of the economic impact from this year’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl was that the Miami Dolphins plan to continue pursuing public dollars for renovations to Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls.

Even though the economic impact study by West Palm Beach-based Sport Management Research Institute showed the two games this year generated less for local businesses than the 2007 Super Bowl alone, Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials still said they were pleased and will use the figures to help bolster their argument for public support.

According to the SMRI study, the two games this year pumped a total $333 million into South Florida businesses. The 2007 Super Bowl, held when the economy was healthy, brought local businesses $463 million, SMRI’s study of the 2007 game showed. Differences were blamed on the economy and that the Indianapolis Colts were the AFC team in both the 2007 and 2010 games, meaning the novelty had worn off.

That figure was also markedly less than the $396 million SMRI said the 1999 Super Bowl generated for the region.

SMRI studies show direct spending by Super Bowl visitors was $141.5 million this year; $279 million in 2007 and $239 million in 1999. Direct spending is what visitors actually spend in hotels and restaurants and on other goods and services. The larger figures include indirect spending – the dollars spent for businesses to prepare for the game – and induced spending or the re-circulation of dollars made from the Super Bowl back into the economy.

This year’s Super Bowl drew 109,059 visitors – down from the 112,403 in 2007. They spent less -- $401.44 per day down from $668.60 a day in 2007, according to the study. They also stayed a shorter time -- 3.12 nights this year, compared with 5.11 in 2007 – which also reflects that some New Orleans Saints fans drove -- rather than flew -- to the game. The visitors reported an average annual income of $220,323 down slightly from the $222,318 reported in 2007, but significantly higher than typical non-Super Bowl visitors, who average salaries of $46,000 to $80,000. Room rates fell this year, but hotel occupancy rates rose.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said Kathleen Davis, SMRI president. “We didn’t do anything different from the last time we did this. The story is the consumer sentiment is not where it was.”

Davis said she thinks the study shows South Florida was a successful host for the Pro Bowl, since that generated a total of $99.3 million, including $59.9 million in direct spending.

The SMRI study also bears out that Broward County serving for the first time as host location for the NFL headquarters and Super Bowl media center, meant a greater economic impact than for Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Broward realized direct spending of $57.6 million compared with $39.6 million in Miami-Dade and $12.2 million in Palm Beach, the report shows.

Critics routinely say Super Bowls generate far less than impact studies report because they don’t take into consideration many of the dollars don’t stay in the community, but instead go the corporate headquarters of local hotels, and fail to consider that Super Bowl visitors displace tourists who would otherwise come to destinations like South Florida.

But South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials said the fact that this year’s figures for two games are considerably smaller than for one game in 2007 should prove the numbers are genuine

“This came at a really good time,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said of the two games. “The fact it was less, for those who think those numbers are fuzzy, these numbers are real.”

Dick Anderson, the former Dolphin who chaired a panel studying whether the region should host future Super Bowls, said the numbers should show the event is valuable to South Florida.

His panel's study shows stadium improvements are “absolutely necessary for future Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and other large scale events that differentiate the South Florida region from other regions throughout the country." The report goes on to say: "Each year that improvements are not made makes them more urgent and more expensive in the years to come as the community competes for future Super Bowls…Engaging the public in a meaningful dialogue to demonstrate the economic and ancillary benefits to our community is important in this effort.”

In January, the Dolphins unveiled renderings of potential renovations that include a canopy-style roof covering seats, but leaving the field open to the elements, replacing the lower bowl and moving seats closer to the field. The work is expected to cost $187 million.

Team officials are working on plans to finance the improvements and expect to unveil them later this year. Among the arguments for public financing are expected to be that the Sun Life Stadium has received no public dollars for football. A recent $300 million upgrade was paid for by the team.

Anderson’s panel’s research shows that since 1995, 25 NFL stadiums have either been built or renovated – not including the New York Giants and Jets New Meadowland Stadium, which opens this year – to the tune of $8.8 billion. The public portion of those dollars varies from team to team, but averages 63 percent of the total. Sun Life Stadium is the only one that has not received public dollars for football.

Expect to see those figures repeated.

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Miami Dolphins & Sun Life team up to provide student scholarships

When Toronto financial services and insurance company Sun Life agreed to put its name atop the Miami Dolphins’ home stadium in January, the company also agreed to donate to the team’s foundation. Together, the company and team also vowed to work to benefit the community.

They’ve agreed to provide $50,000 grants to four local non-profit organizations that work with needy youths and another $5,000 each in scholarship dollars to a high school senior involved with those organizations.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is accepting applications through July 23 from the local organizations, which are also to nominate a deserving high school senior active in their program, who plans to continue his or her studies after high school and shows leadership qualities. The non-profits must work with children under 21 and to improve education for at-risk children.

Sun Life has launched the program in six other cities – Detroit, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia – and plans to award $1 million in grants and scholarships to a total of 22 organizations and 22 students. Those winners will then compete for an additional $50,000 grant and $50,000 scholarship that will be awarded to one of the organizations and one of the students.

The South Florida applications are to be judged by a group that includes Dolphins limited partners Venus and Serena Williams; Jeanette Sparano, wife of head coach Tony Sparano; wide receivers Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo; and Sun Sentinel’s Society Scene Publisher Stacy Ostrau. For more information and an application, visit

The winners will be announced later this year.

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Miami Dolphin Karlos Dansby buys Southwest Ranches home

New Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby has purchased a house in Broward County from Indianapolis Colts wide receiver and former UM Hurricane Reggie Wayne.

According to Broward County property records, last month Dansby and his wife Tynesha paid Wayne and his wife Peta Gay $3.4 million for the house in Landmark Ranch Estates in Southwest Ranches. Dansby, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004, signed a five-year, $43 million contract with the Dolphins in March.

Wayne purchased the home on Stratford Court for $4.1 million in 2007.
Read more about the specifics of the home purchase in the South Florida Business Journal.

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YET Center in Miami gets new wing as part of Super Bowl legacy

BrianHartline1.jpgBeyond the millions of dollars organizers and tourism officials say the Super Bowl bring a community, the NFL promises a legacy, too.

The NFL’s Youth Education Town (YET) centers are one of the NFL’s major Super Bowl legacy initiatives. YET centers are designed to provide academic and recreational programs for area youth. South Florida, which has hosted a record 10 Super Bowls, has two – one at Gwen Cherry Park in Miami and one at the Lester H. White Unit of the Boys and Girls Club in southwest Fort Lauderdale.

Rather than build new YET centers each time the league’s championship game comes to town, the NFL has been adding to the existing ones.

On Wednesday, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline along with team and Miami-Dade County officials and kids who attend the center broke ground on a 5,000-square foot annex to the center in Gwen Cherry Park. (See photo by Kelly Gavin, Miami Dolphins)

The annex will include two classrooms, media rooms, and offices. The project’s $1 million cost is being covered by grants from the NFL and county’s Safe Neighborhood Parks interest fund.

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Miami Dolphins address not addressing player conduct

With four players arrested this offseason, the Miami Dolphins have been facing the “character” question a lot lately. After all, it was Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells who said during his first press conference when he was hired by the Dolphins in 2007 that “character” was one of three criteria he uses to evaluate players.

So it’s not a surprise that people are wondering about that criteria after two DUI arrests (Will Allen and Ronnie Brown) and two for domestic battery (Tony McDaniel and Phillip Merling).

In March, prior to Merling’s arrest, team owner Steve Ross said: “You certainly don’t want to see it happen. It doesn’t make us happy. It’s a concern. The coaches and Parcells are disappointed, and concerned, and they are addressing it.”

The situation with Merling, who was charged last month with aggravated battery against his pregnant girlfriend, was muddied when he was back on the practice field in mini-camp a day after posting bail.

At the time, Coach Tony Sparano acknowledged frustration over the four arrests, but didn’t address questions about Merling’s return to the field head-on. Instead, he deflected the issue to the NFL.

"We're going to let the process play itself out and see what the league decides down the road," Sparano said at the time.

None of the other members of Dolphins brass has addressed the question of player conduct since Merling’s arrest. Attempts to ask team owner Steve Ross were quashed on two occasions during the Dolphins Foundation’s FinsWeekend of charitable events – one colleague was told he was not allowed to ask about the issue; I got the question out, but before Ross could answer, a team spokesman said, “we’re not dealing with that.”

Attempts to reach Ross’ limited partners, including Gloria Estefan, Venus and Serena Williams and Fergie, either went unanswered or were referred back to the Dolphins. A further request to the Dolphins to speak with the limited partners, was answered by Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, who said he and Ross speak for the team.

Dee said he couldn’t speak to the specific arrests: “It’s a league matter or a legal matter.”

As for the team, he said, Parcells, Sparano and General Manager Jeff Ireland do keep player conduct top of mind.

“We have great guys on this team, They do a lot for the community both on their own and on behalf of the franchise,” Dee said. “Bill, Jeff and Tony put a tremendous emphasis on character and makeup when they put this roster together. We’re proud of the team that we have and I know it’s an important priority as we move forward as well to continue to put the emphasis on the character and makeup of our guys. We’re really happy with the team that we have, and think they represent this franchise well in the community.”

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2014 Super Bowl fix was in post-mortem

South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto’s glib pronouncement last month that he wasn’t surprised the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey was awarded the 2014 Super Bowl didn’t go unnoticed, but committee members are trying to move on.

“I was not surprised,” Barreto told reporters at the time. “I think the fix was in for New York.”

Barreto was called out by members of his own committee and even caught the attention of some media, including’s Mike Florio, who wondered how NFL owners will feel the next time South Florida bids for the game.

“The NFL gets uncomfortable when terms like that are bandied about, even if it’s true. The fix can be in. They can do whatever they want to do,” Florio told Joe Rose on WQAM (560-AM) last month. “If 17 owners were bound and determined to give this thing to New York, it doesn’t matter what Miami does, and sometimes you’ve got to be discreet about that and depending upon when Miami makes another bid, they’re going to have to do some serious tapdancing to get past those comments that were made.”

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau President Nicki Grossman called Barreto’s words “inappropriate” and said she was “embarrassed” by them.

Barreto, who calls himself a "blunt guy," said it might have been “a poor choice of words,” but otherwise stood by what he’d said. He said he thought a preference for the New Jersey bid was shown when NFL owners waived the daily temperature requirements so the New York Giants and Jets could bid. Barreto said he spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the vote and congratulated the Giants on the winning bid.

On Monday, when the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee held its final meeting, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee tried to put the comments to rest, saying executive committee members had differing views on the 2014 bid.

“You obviously heard Rodney’s the 'fix was in' comment that was splashed all over the newspapers,” Dee told the group. “I respect that point of view.”

Grossman, however, said she wanted to make clear South Florida’s bid was genuine.

“When South Florida gets [the Super Bowl], it isn’t because the fix was in and when we don’t get it, that doesn’t mean the fix was in,” Grossman said. “It was a tough sledding … We had a decent shot at it. I hope we didn’t just go through the motions.”

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Catching up: Panthers rename practice facility, Blackhawks ice for sale & more

Catching up after vacation:

+ Last week, Florida Panthers’ parent company Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced Saveology had won the rights to name the team’s practice facility. SSE launched a contest last fall for businesses to get a shot at naming Incredible Ice for a season by buying four lower bowl season tickets for the 2009-10 season. Incredible Ice, which underwent a $10 million renovation that included adding a third NHL-sized sheet of ice, will now be known as the Iceplex. SSE values the name at more than $300,000. Saveology is a comparison shopping service and already a Panthers sponsor. The company already agreed to extend the deal through the 2011-12 season, too. Saveology will get exposure through a variety of advertising platforms and will pay for new signage at the practice venue, where employee uniforms will also bear the new name.

MM2.jpg + Plantation-based Dreams Inc.’s Mounted Memories division has created special limited edition Chicago Blackhawks collectibles to commemorate the team’s first Stanley Cup win in nearly 50 years: a shawdowbox with photos and some of the ice from the Stanley Cup finals. “This is a new product from our innovative line of memorabilia,” Mounted Memories President Mitch Adelstein said in a statement. “As an NHL licensee, we worked closely with the National Hockey League who was supportive and cooperative with our needs, and we captured portions of the ice from the arena. Our designers created an exciting way for hockey fans to recall this victory for which Chicago fans waited almost half a century.”

+ The New York Times’ piece on Dolphins limited partner Marc Anthony, although it mentions nothing about his sports investment.

+ People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on the Marlins to reconsider their plans to install two-custom designed saltwater aquariums on either side of home plate in the team’s new ballpark.

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Will Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross benefit from NJ Super Bowl?

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross’ habit of investing in distressed and complicated properties continues.

Ross’ Related Cos., is working on how to salvage the massive stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Last month during the annual International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas, Related invited potential tenants to view renderings and videos of and talk about taking up residence in the $2 billion, 2.3 million-square-foot complex.

The Mills Corp. planned the complex to contain 200 retail tenants and attractions, including movie theaters and an indoor snow park, but the project ground to a halt after payments were missed and funding ran out.

Related began negotiating earlier this year to become a partner in the project. Already Related has planned a big move – changing the complex’s name from Xanadu to Meadowlands.

Related developed the Time Warner Center residential and retail complex in Columbus Circle in Manhattan and has the development rights to Hudson Yards on that city's west side.

Ross, CEO of Related, hasn’t said much publicly about his involvement in the Meadowlands project, but confirmed his company is seriously investigating how to make it successful.

“We’re right now working on the feasibility and trying to put it all together to make sure it works,” Ross told me. “But we have a deal to really be the developer of Xanadu and now it’s a question of how we put it together and get it financed.”

If his company can pull it off, the complex could open well before the neighboring New Meadowlands Stadium hosts the Super Bowl in 2014. Ross' Sun Life Stadium was an unsuccessful bidder for that game, but Ross could still benefit from the NFL's first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl. A completed formerly-named Xanadu could see a windfall with so many visitors in the area for the NFL’s championship game.

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(Steve) Ross Field; 2010 Miami Dolphins season expectations

Two giant puddles covered much of the practice field at Miami Beach Senior High School Saturday morning, underscoring the need for refurbishments that are coming thanks to $164,000 in donations from the Dolphins and team owner Steve Ross.

Ross took the official ground-breaking for the field, which was officially named Ross Field, as an opportunity to put his team on notice that he’s expecting a big year in 2010.

“I think in February we’ll be playing in the Super Bowl,” Ross said.

When it was suggested he might be putting pressure on head coach Tony Sparano, Ross said, “Put it this way, he thinks that, too. So does every player on that team. I don’t think there’s any pressure on it, we’ve just got to go out and do it.”

He also told the crowd at the field ground-breaking that he hopes Chad Henne “goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphins history.”

With training camp still ahead before the 2010 season’s start, the Dolphins tried to focus on FinsWeekend – three days of golf, fishing, and awards dinners that benefit the Dolphins Foundation.

Ross, a 1958 graduate of Miami Beach High who played tackle for the school at Flamingo Park, said after he purchased the Dolphins, he received a letter from Miami Beach High Principal Rosann Sidener asking if he’d help with the field. The request perfectly matched Ross’ desire for the Dolphins to be more involved in the community. He donated $82,000, which was matched by the Dolphins.

“It was really a no brainer, I had just bought the team, got this letter, knowing we want to participate in the community and be very active,” Ross said. “Coming from your high school, is something I couldn’t say no to as being the first one. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of letters from almost every high school and I’m sure we’ll do our share. We want to keep active in South Florida.”

The field refurbishment is to be completed in September.

“I look at the field now and say 'hey it really does need a little bit of rehabilitation.' But I also remember when I was playing football, down in Flamingo Park, and I couldn’t wait for those days to have the field flooded so we didn’t have to practice,” Ross said with a chuckle.

Ross was joined by Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, team executives and players, including Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and his wife Jeanette; quarterback Chad Henne, running back Tristan Davis, safety Nate Ness, fullback Rolly Lumbala, defensive back Ross Weaver and cornerback Nolan Carroll; and Dolphins alumni, Nat Moore and Dick Anderson.

“It’s pretty exciting," said Ross, who was given a red and white Beach High jersey. "It’s something I never would have anticipated in my life."

Ross wore No. 71 at Beach High, when the uniforms were black and gold, not red and white. No matter, his heart is still with his high school, but he cautioned that the field naming had nothing to do with his success at the school.

“They didn’t name the field after me for my athletic feats or my scholastic feats,” he said.

Ross was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame last year. The University of Michigan's Business School was renamed for Ross in 2004, after he made a $100 million donation to the school.

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Brandon Marshall has 16th top selling jersey in the NFL with … No. 19

Brandon Marshall’s Miami Dolphins jersey with a No. 19 on it was the 16th best-selling jersey in the NFL for the past two months, based on sales at

As recently as two weeks ago, Marshall said the No. 19 he was wearing at OTAs was only temporary and he hadn’t yet settled on an official number.

“This’ll be my number for now,” Marshall said on May 19. “We'll have one in stone before camp.”

At the time, fans could order Marshall’s jersey online, but it wouldn’t be shipped until the number was official. A disclaimer on read: “The player's number is subject to change and the jersey will not ship until the official number is issued.”

According to both the NFL and the Dolphins, Marshall is wearing No. 19 – yep, Ted Ginn’s old Dolphins number. That’s the number Reebok is printing and is shipping. The online listing now reads that the jersey is in stock and ships in one to two business days.

“As of this point, he’s wearing No. 19,” Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said.

Players can, of course, change their numbers.

Marshall had hoped to secure No. 15 – the number he wore with his previous team, the Denver Broncos, but his new teammate wide receiver Davone Bess, who wears No. 15, has told Marshall the number isn’t for sale. Bess reiterated his plans to hang onto No. 15 as recently as Friday.

The NFL sales rankings are based on sales at from April 1 to May 31. Denver Broncos quarterback (and former Gator) Tim Tebow still has the top-selling jersey, followed by Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

The Dolphins ranked ninth in team merchandise sales. The Broncos were the top-selling team, followed by the Super Bowl Champion Saints and the Dallas Cowboys.

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Brandon Marshall’s Miami Dolphins jersey number still a mystery

While the big news out of OTAs today was new Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s surgery for an undisclosed injury, Marshall’s jersey number also remained undisclosed.

There was some hubbub that Marshall had settled on Ted Ginn’s old No. 19, which he was sporting in Davie today, but he says that’s not a certainty.

“This'll be my number for now,” Marshall said. “We'll have one in stone before camp.”

Davone Bess, who wears Marshall’s favored No. 15, didn’t stop to talk to reporters, so no word yet on whether negotiations for No. 15 are continuing.

Fans can order Marshall’s jersey now – it’s for sale at for $79.99 for replica versions – but it won’t be shipped until he has his official number. The items listed online come with a disclaimer that reads “The player's number is subject to change and the jersey will not ship until the official number is issued.”

Neil Schwartz, director of business development for the SGMA or Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association in Jupiter, said Marshall waiting to pick a number isn’t likely to cause a dip in jersey sales.

“I don’t think these OTA situations necessarily represent a huge selling opportunity," Schwartz said. "I think once camp starts, I think then if he hasn’t settled on a number, he might be missing a little bit of sales momentum.”

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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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New York-area Super Bowl in 2014 looks stronger than ever

The New York-area has been the favorite to land the 2014 Super Bowl for weeks now - and that effort gotten even stronger today when New York Giants and Jets representatives signed off on their bid and held a press conference embracing the prospect of cold wintry weather, rather than worrying about it.

It was cold enough today too – overcast and in the mid-40s – when the press conference that featured Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez kicked off.

The teams made their bid public – and details included the possibility of the commissioner’s party being held at the American Museum of Natural History and a Super Bowl float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

South Florida and Tampa are also bidding for the game, but their bids have clearly taken a backseat to New York/New Jersey. South Florida isn’t conceding defeat, but without the promise of renovations at Sun Life Stadium, locals knew their bid could be in jeopardy. The Dolphins put the potential renovations on hold, rather than rush to try to gain public funding for the improvements in the still slow economy.

It’s unclear when a push for renovations will resurface. In the meantime, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee officials are scheduled to make the trip to Dallas for the May 25 vote of NFL owners on the 2014 game site.

“I take the position, you’ve still got to be in it to win it,” South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto said. “We could still win by default. Remember, you’re invited to bid.”

Barreto reminded that South Florida was awarded the 2010 Super Bowl – even before it had hosted the 2007 game -- after the game was initially promised to New York contingent on the New York Jets receiving government approvals to build a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side. When state funding didn’t come through, the NFL put that game back up for bid.

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Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross tops real estate “Power 100”

Last year, Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross came in at No. 2 on The New York Observer’s "Power 100" ranking of "The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate" behind only President Barack Obama.

This year he’s got top billing on the list released today.

That’s because Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., shows no signs of slowing down in real estate despite the economy, the Observer report said. CityPlace Partners, which owns the retail portion of CityPlace in West Palm Beach, may be seeking to restructure a loan on the complex for flexibility, but that hasn’t stopped Related from seeking out other projects. Related is one of several partners in CityPlace Partners.

The Observer notes Ross is not only eyeing distressed and difficult properties, including the Xanadu project in New Jersey, but is also working with Related partners on starting a bank and is constructing a hotel and apartment tower in midtown Manhattan.

The list include developers, politicians, and just-approved principal New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Reminder: follow me on Twitter @sarahtalalay

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Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross: CityPlace finances unrelated to team

News that the owners of the retail portion of CityPlace, the shopping and residential complex in West Palm Beach, are seeking to restructure a loan on the project and speculation they could be in danger of defaulting, has some Miami Dolphins fans wondering about the financial health of team owner Steve Ross.

Ross is CEO of Related Cos., which developed the complex, but is just one of several partners in CityPlace Partners, which owns the retail complex. Details of the loan restructuring are far more complex than need to be addressed here, but CityPlace Partners insists the loan payments are current and the restructuring is aimed at providing flexibility at a time when market conditions are difficult.

Ross was unequivocal that his real estate business and his Dolphins ownership are separate.

“The actions taken by CityPlace Partners in regards to the CityPlace retail, of which Related has a membership interest, have absolutely no impact on the Dolphins. My ownership of the Miami Dolphins is as an individual and Related Companies has no interest in that investment,” Ross said in an email. “As evidenced by our off-season acquisitions, my focus as an owner remains on building a first class team both on and off the field.”

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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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Some Miami Dolphins individual game tickets and mini-plans on sale Saturday

The Miami Dolphins will begin selling individual tickets -- to games against the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Tennessee Titans -- and four-game packages earlier than ever -- starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The early ticket sale is part of a Mother’s and Father’s Day and graduation promotion that ends on June 20. The four-game packs are available for $100 a game on the lower level and $65 a game on the upper level at Sun Life Stadium. The packs allow you to choose one game from among games against the New York Jets (Sept. 26 home opener), New England Patriots (Oct. 4), Pittsburgh Steelers (Oct. 24) and Chicago Bears (Nov. 18); and three from among the Bills (Dec. 19), Browns (Dec. 5), Lions (Dec. 26) and Titans (Nov. 14).

Last year, the team didn’t make mini-plans and individual tickets available until late July. To purchase tickets call 1-888-FINS-TIX or visit

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Former Miami Dolphin Zach Thomas buys Broward beachfront digs

Former Miami Dolphin Zach Thomas has been busy the past week. Soon after lashing out at the Dolphins for their handling of his brother-in-law Jason Taylor, who signed last week with the New York Jets, Thomas bought a new beachfront mansion in Hillsboro Beach, according to the Daily Business Review.

Broward County property records show Thomas, who has retired from the NFL, purchased the six-bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,347-square-foot Spanish/Mediterranean-style home at 989 Hillsboro Mile for $3.9 million. There’s even a dock with room for a 100-foot yacht. Read the Daily Business Review’s item here.

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Miami Dolphins returning to original Spanish radio partner

The Miami Dolphins are returning to their original Spanish language radio partner WQBA (1140-AM) under a new multi-year broadcast rights agreement with Univision Radio announced today.

WQBA will broadcast Dolphins exhibition and regular season games in Spanish. Sister stations, WAMR-FM, WRTO-FM and WAQI-AM, will run team promotions.

The Spanish language play-by-play announcer and color analysts have not yet been announced.

The Dolphins have most recently had Spanish language radio broadcasts on WSUA (Radio Caracol, 1260-AM).

Univision and the team’s recently created Dolphins Integrated Media Group will jointly sell the advertising for the programming, which will include a live, two-hour weekday broadcast of Dolphins news and the week's matchup during the season.

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NFL draft tidbits from the first round

+ More than 3,800 people attended Thursday night’s Dolphins draft party at Sun Life Stadium, where they waited for player and cheerleader autographs, played interactive games, got to see TD and cheerleaders perform, and watched the new Dolphins radio partner 940 WINZ-AM broadcast live. Among the most popular attractions was the Dolphins garage sale, in which hardhats, jackets, jerseys and highlight films (on film in canisters) were selling for $5 to $20.

The party was scheduled to end at 10 p.m., but after the Dolphins traded their No. 12 pick to move down to 28 -- meaning their pick would come after the party's end -- team officials allowed fans to stay. Those that did were pleased with the trade down and a bit dumbfounded when the team picked Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick, especially when Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle was still on the board.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ new volunteer corps called Special Teams signed up fans, who pledged more than 14,200 hours to the new program during yesterday’s draft-a-thon.

+ Passing this on a little late, from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal -- a look at how teams overspend on top draft picks compared to their performance on the field. Perhaps it’s not so surprising teams trade down.

+ Draft analysis in Haiku! How can you not love this from the John Harris Football Blog?

+ And what’s not to love here – first round draft picks and Subway endorsers Ndamukong Suh and C.J. Spiller rendered entirely in sandwich fixings, including pepperoni, olives and cheese, by the folks at Subway. Read Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner blog item on the meaty sculptures.

+ “Tim Tebow Broncos jersey” is currently registering as the sixth most popular search term on Google. Probably all those Tebow fans getting ready for his homecoming when the Jacksonville Jaguars open the season on Sept. 12 against, you guessed it, the Denver Broncos.

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Miami Dolphins drafting "Special Teams" of volunteers

special1.jpgWith such a large and loyal fan base, the Miami Dolphins have found a way to tap into the hearts and minds of their fans by offering them a chance to be part of a corps of team volunteers.

Called “Special Teams,” the initiative is aimed at encouraging Dolphins fans to pledge hours volunteering with the team across South Florida - and beyond - in events and programs ranging from this morning’s Treemendous Miami Earth Day tree planting and tonight’s NFL’s draft parties to the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run later this month to helping out during emergencies, such as hurricanes. Future opportunities could include cleaning parks and painting schools.

The volunteer corps allows fans to become involved in a community project alongside Dolphins players and executives without having to write a check. They’ll get a “Special Teams” T-shirt to wear at volunteer events.

“This is a terrific opportunity to really put volunteerism on the map,” Dolphins Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Adam Grossman said. “We want to be a resource for people. The goal is for us to be everywhere at all times.”

The effort borrows from the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee’s volunteer program, which drafted thousands of volunteers, who helped staff events leading up to and during Pro Bowl and Super Bowl this year. Leslie Nixon, who oversaw volunteer services for the host committee, is serving as manager of the volunteer program for the Dolphins Foundation.

With this being National Volunteer Week and the NFL Draft starting tonight, the team picked today to launch a volunteer-a-thon “draft” with broadcast partner CBS4 and Neighbors 4 Neighbors. CBS4 is hosting a phonebank from 5 to 7 p.m. for fans to pledge volunteer hours. Call 305-597-4404 to pledge hours. Fans can also sign up at draft parties the team is hosting tonight at Sun Life Stadium, Duffy's Sports Grill in North Palm Beach and Johnny Malloy's Sports Pub in Bonita Springs. The team is also offering gifts - such as team gear and tickets -- depending on the number of hours pledged.

“People can pledge any amount of hours they feel comfortable doing,” Nixon said in a statement. “We’re hoping to collectively reach at least 10,000 pledged hours on draft day.”

Grossman said the idea is not only to increase volunteerism in South Florida, but also to give fans a deeper relationship to the team.

“We want to connect people with the team,” Grossman said. “There’s also this grass roots element. People feel great about giving back. That’s the fundamental commitment of our organization as well. We want as many people as possible to come along for the ride.”

For more information and to check out volunteer opportunities, visit

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Miami Dolphins fans burning up NFL draft war rooms

Miami Dolphins fans have always found ways to chatter about their favorite NFL team. The NFL is just helping to make it even easier for them to find each other with the draft starting Thursday night.

Visit the Dolphins warm room on and you’ll find plenty of fans debating Earl Thomas at No. 12? Sergio Kindle? Starting Pat White? You’ll also find out Dolphins fans are in a “hopeful” mood and have been the most active posters among all 32 teams. As I write this, the Dolphins page has logged more than 37,200 comments. The next closest? The Detroit Lions with more than 28,600. The least active? Fans of the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills with fewer than 3,300 each. More than 329,000 comments total have been posted so far.

An interactive map shows you each NFL market identified by its logo along with a color to show its draft mood and live comments as they pop up across the country. launched the war rooms in a more limited fashion last year and received more comments than the league had expected, General Manager Laura Goldberg said.

“We decided this year to make them a little deeper, if you will, in terms of features and functionality,” Goldberg said. “We really want to cover the draft in a way that is highly interactive with our fans.”

As for why Dolphins fans are ruling the comment “airwaves,” Goldberg speculates that’s because the team’s fans are well organized and excited about the off season moves the team has made (Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby). (Note: I spoke to Goldberg before Jason Taylor officially signed with the rival New York Jets, but Dolphins fans were the second happiest when I spoke with her and now are ranked fifth happiest).

“I think the last year … new ownership, the celebrity coming to the team, I think there’s a lot of excitement around the Dolphins,” Goldberg said.

Meanwhile, at, is aggregating Twitter messages tagged with the hashtag #nfldraft. You can scan across pages of tweets to gauge how people are commenting on the draft, expressing their enthusiasm and concerns. Tweets by NFL officials, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, are among the messages. Goldberg describes the page as being “like a cool scrapbook. Maybe you find someone you want to follow.”

The key to the NFL’s online social media draft strategy was recognizing that “conversations are happening in a lot of different places,” Goldberg said. “We want to make sure we’re aggregating comments no matter where they are.”

They endgame, of course, is to build more loyal fans. “The more we engage fans, the longer they spend on our site, the more pages they look at, the more videos they look at,” Goldberg said. “It’s also great for our advertisers. The more someone is engaged, they’re much more likely to look at an ad, to notice an ad.”

Goldberg would love it if fans watching the draft on television are also checking to get updates, to comment and converse with other fans, and to watch video of the draftees. Oh, they could also be checking the real-time draft tracker and live video feeds on NFL Mobile on their Verizon Wireless phones.

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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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Miami Dolphins raise some ticket prices, freeze and lower others

More details on Dolphins 2010 ticket prices than I was able to include in today's story:

The Dolphins are increasing prices on more than half the seats at Sun Life Stadium next season, but offering significant cost-savings and extras to fans who buy season -- rather than single game -- tickets.

In the first major price restructuring in three years, the team is raising prices on 56 percent of seats, and freezing prices for 31 percent and reducing 13 percent. Six new categories show an eye to pricing seats in the shade and closer to the 50-yard line higher than those in sunny and endzone locations.

Season ticket prices range from $34 a game in the “Phan Zone” on the 400 level of the east end zone -- $31 for fans who renew by March 31 – up to $120 in the Lower Prime South -- 100 level seats on the shady, home side between the 20-yard lines. On a single game basis, Phan Zone seats rise to $45 and Lower Prime South to $150.

New season ticket holder benefits: Game Day Vision -- handheld devices that show replays, different camera angles, other games and fantasy statistics -- available only to club and suite holders last season will be given to all season ticket holders – one for every two seats in an account. Other amenities include priority sales for concerts at the stadium and booklets of buy one-get one concession offers.

“We’ve said the season ticket base is the lifeblood of a successful sports franchise, and we need to walk to walk, not just talk the talk,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said.

The team hired consulting firm, Analysis Group, to evaluate ticket prices and demand as the basis for devising the new pricing structure.

Renewal packets were sent to season ticket holders this week.

The Dolphins sold 49,415 season tickets last year -- up 7 percent from 46,131 in 2008. Dee said the team hopes to reach 55,000 in 2010.

The average ticket price for early season ticket renewers is $70.54 compared to an average $92.69 for single game tickets. Frozen and reduced seats are in 400 level: Upper Corner Endzone seats remain $42 apiece for season ticket holders and $52 for individual game buyers; Upper Sideline seats are dropping from $70 to $60 for season ticket buyers and from $80 to $70 for single game tickets.

The team has also altered prices on the club level, taking into account that endzone tickets aren't as desirable as sideline ones. East endzone seats, which dropped from $262 per game to $92 last year during construction on the Dolphins offices, will be $125 this year, but include only limited access to club amenities. The west endzone club seats also will have limited amenities and will cost $150 per game down from $262.50 last season.

Parking prices will be frozen at $25 to $28, team officials said.

Dee reiterated team owner Steve Ross’ mantra that the team must create an entertaining game-day stadium experience to entice people off their couches.

“One of the biggest competitors to growing our season ticket base and attendance in general is how good the family room experience has become,” Dee said. “Football in high definition is perhaps as good as anything in high definition that you can get on television, so we have to be better than we’ve been in the past, we have to offer new amenities.”

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American flags from Super Bowl XLIV up for auction

Two American flags that flew over Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium are being auctioned with proceeds going to the Miami Dolphins Foundation and Flags4Vets, an organization that raises money to buy flags to put on veterans' graves.

Current bid: $700. Auction ends on Feb. 22. The flags come with a certificate of authenticity signed by …. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. One has to assume he’s authenticating that the flags flew over the Super Bowl, not that they’re legitimate American flags. Find the auction here.

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Post-Super Bowl/Pro Bowl tidbits, wrap-up

+ Super Bowl XLIV wasn’t just a huge event for TV, it – along with the Pro Bowl – helped Sun Life Financial score from its brand new naming rights deal with the Miami Dolphins’ home stadium, according to Joyce Julius, which measures sponsor exposure. The Michigan firm says the two games helped the Toronto-based financial services and insurance company, which signed the naming rights deal Jan. 20, realize more than $27 million in exposure in TV broadcasts and media coverage. CBS’ telecast of the Super Bowl was responsible for 36 percent of Sun Life’s exposure with ESPN’s Pro Bowl broadcast adding another 5 percent. Combined, Joyce Julius reported, the Sun Life logo got 17 minutes and three seconds of airtime and was mentioned 25 times. The company measured the exposure against what advertising during the broadcasts would cost and added in exposure from other media coverage.

+ Saints QB and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees already went to Disney World for the post-championship ad and was part of the parade in New Orleans last night that some estimates say attracted as many as 800,000 people. His marketability should skyrocket, experts say. In his Super Bowl XLIV Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report, Bob Dorfman of Baker Street Advertising, wrote before Sunday’s game that Brees “has the most marketing potential of any Super Bowl XLIV player, and a win in Miami could vault him into the upper echelon of athlete endorsers.” Dorfman placed only Colts QB Peyton Manning higher on his endorsement list, but said this about Brees: “articulate, comfortable on camera, a genuinely nice guy, better looking than Peyton, and his cheek birthmark adds a distinctive touch.” Brees, the father of a toddler, is already starring in an online ad for Pampers, so Dorfman believes he’s a good bet for Gerber or Fisher-Price. He’s also in the running for the cover of Madden NFL 11. Since Brees is already known as "Breesus" around NOLA, Dorfman suggests “a Bank of America ad headline ‘Breesus Saves.’”

+ The Super Saturday Night concert on Fort Lauderdale Beach was so successful that some wonder whether the city’s lifting of its ban on open containers just for the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl should be extended. Watch my colleague Brittany Wallman’s video montage from the concert here.

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Don Shula's statue, award and address

shula1.jpgJust before the 2010 Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, Miami Dolphins officials put a signature touch on their new 35,000 square feet of office space on the east side of the stadium, unveiling a statue of Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history.

The statue depicts Shula being carried on the shoulders of Nick Buoniconti and Al Jenkins after the Dolphins won the Super Bowl in 1973 completing the team’s -- and the NFL’s only -- perfect season. “Perfect Moment in Time” is printed on the statue.

The statue unveiling came less than a month after Shula celebrated his 80th birthday and was attended by a who’s who of Dolphins greats, team owner Steve Ross, coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and local and state politicians, including Gov. Charlie Crist.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee didn’t miss an opportunity to remind Goodell – and everyone else in attendance – of South Florida’s record-setting 10 times hosting the Super Bowl – “more than any other city in America.” Jimmy Cefalo added “We’re fortunate to have the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl and we hope many, many more in the future.”

South Florida is bidding for the 2014 Super Bowl.

Shula’s ceremony came complete with Bob Griese and Shula teasing each other – “I look over at Bob Griese and think ‘I was a hell of a coach to win with talent like that,’” Shula said.

Hall of Famer Dan Marino showed up late for the ceremony to which Jimmy Cefalo said, “Shula just fined No. 13.”

Kidding aside, Shula said he was humbled. The NFL announced the creation of “The Coach Shula Award” to honor an NFL coach each season who displays excellence, integrity and achievement.

And then the Dolphins gave their new offices a new address: 347 Don Shula Drive – in honor of Shula’s 347 wins. That’s the address for the team’s offices. Don’t worry, Marino fans: the stadium’s address remains 2269 Dan Marino Blvd.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on NFL Experience, other Pro Bowl tidbits

Miami Dolphins Ronnie Brown, Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, and Davone Bess were among the NFL players scheduled to appear today at NFL Game Day Fan Plaza – the football activities area adjacent to Sun Life Stadium.

The Fan Plaza area, which is open to the public for a few hours today, and only to Super Bowl ticket holders next Sunday, is part of the league’s answer to the NFL Experience – the giant football-themed activities area that’s become a signature of Super Bowls.

With the Super Bowl just in South Florida three years ago, league officials were looking for ways to vary the experience for local fans. They shelved the NFL Experience and brought the Pro Bowl and some of its trappings instead, including Fan Plaza, the open Pro Bowl practice yesterday at Lockhart Stadium, and free concert on Fort Lauderdale Beach next Saturday.

“We designed a calendar of events that was specifically designed to recognize we were just here three years ago, and we didn’t want to do all of the same things, so that’s part of the reason the Pro Bowl is here this year,” said Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president of special events. “Pro Bowl is the key fan engagement opportunity and provides our fans with the opportunity to see the players all in one place that they’re looking at only in posters and décor around NFL Experience.”

Still, the move didn’t sit well with a number of fans, whose favorite Super Bowl activity is the NFL Experience.

“To be honest with you, I’m glad they miss it, that’s a good sign, that means we had a great event, that was meaningful to the community,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “So we’ll take all that into consideration, and see if there’s a role for both of those, where we could play the Pro Bowl and the NFL Experience. It’s something we’ll certainly address as we go forward.”

The NFL Experience will be back when the Super Bowl is held in North Texas at the home of the Dallas Cowboys next year.

For more from Goodell, read my Q&A with him in the Sun Sentinel’s Outlook section here. He addressed the Pro Bowl, future Super Bowls in South Florida, labor and other issues.

And, you know how everything is sponsored – Pepsi was all over at Lockhart Stadium yesterday; McDonald’s is the Pro Bowl sponsor. Even the parking lot at Sun Life Stadium where the media is parking for the Pro Bowl has Snickers as a sponsor – says so on our parking passes.

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Pro Bowl decision still roiling; more on Super Bowl matchup and the Williams sisters

As 2010 Pro Bowl players descended on South Florida for practices, community events and other obligations, debate continued to rage about as much as the rosters changed.

At an NFL Players Association event at Carol City Elementary in Miami Gardens, where players encouraged kids to eat well and keep active and provided a $5,000 check for the school’s budding vegetable garden, union representatives put on their best face, but didn’t hide their frustration.

“It’s great for South Florida, great for the Miami area. It brings more programs, things like this where players can get involved,” NFL PA President Kevin Mawae said Wednesday. “It’s going to be good for the community and the players that are here are happy to be a part of it.”

But Mawae, who plays center for the Tennessee Titans and is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, also ticked off a number of reasons players are concerned. He says the union should have had more of a role in the decision.

“We really wish we had a bigger say so. I think it’s something we could have given a little more insight to,” Mawae said. “Part of the lure of the Pro Bowl is going to Hawaii as well. So it’s kind of a mixed bag of feelings there.”

Meanwhile, Mawae and union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith aren’t pleased about the requirement that selected players who are in the Super Bowl can’t play in the Pro Bowl, but still must attend the game to get their Pro Bowl pay.

“A whole lot of obligations without a whole lot of input. I also think that’s not lost on our fans,” Smith said. “I talked to a person who was fortunate enough to make it to the Pro Bowl again this year, and he said, ‘you know De, it’s great and it’s still an honor, but there was something about knowing the Pro Bowl was after the Super Bowl, knowing it was a game about the players, knowing it was an honor to be selected to play a game that’s always been traditionally in this spot. And to not have it this year, It feels a little bit less’.”

The NFL says the union was involved in the discussions for years before the decision to move the game’s time and place was announced in December 2008. Smith wasn’t named union executive director until March – after the Pro Bowl decision was announced.

The move before the Super Bowl is also controversial.

“There are fans, once the Super Bowl is over, they lose interest,” Mawae said. “So I understand that aspect of it, but then it cheats guys out of the opportunity to play in the All-Star game, like the 14 guys from the Colts and the Saints. Again, you’ve got to decide which one’s more important, the players’ feelings versus, at the end of the day, the financial aspect of Pro Bowl.”

The Pro Bowl returns to Hawaii in 2011 and 2012. After that, it could rotate.

“We’ll see. We’re testing it out this year,” Mawae said.

Negotiations for a new labor contract continue to get interesting. (More on this in future posts).

+ Meanwhile, as workers continue their Pro Bowl and Super Bowl preparations across South Florida, experts are still debating the merits of a Colts-Saints Super Bowl matchup, compared to what could have been, had the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings advanced.

Tickets on the secondary market are averaging about $2,600, whereas a Jets Super Bowl would have started at $2,500, experts predicted.

“It’s not good for tourism in South Florida. If the Jets and the Vikings had gotten in, you’d have more people flying in and more of a corporate fan base,” Robert Tuchman, executive vice president of Premier Global Sports, told my colleague Doreen Hemlock. “With New Orleans, you’ll have more people driving in, and you don’t have that corporate fan base. Some will drive in on Saturday. They won’t spend as much as New Yorkers would.”

With the Colts just in the Super Bowl in South Florida in 2007, Tuchman, whose company arranges corporate and group travel to sporting events, said, “Some have already paid for that once in a lifetime experience at the Super Bowl.”

Tuchman estimates the losses to businesses at 30 percent to 40 percent. The difference, he said, “is millions and millions of dollars for South Florida. There will be less hotel rooms, restaurant reservations and golf reservations. It’s not a great matchup.”

But that’s not to suggest South Florida won’t be putting on a big show during the next 10 days. The Pro Bowl is officially sold out at 70,500 seats, although a few club and single seats remain for sale.

Tuchman, after all, is a big fan of the region. In his book, The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live, he ranks Miami as No. 1 in his list of top 10 cities for hosting a major sporting event.

+ Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams are skipping the Feb. 6-7 Fed Cup because they say they have roles with the Super Bowl as part owners of the Miami Dolphins. A Dolphins spokesman said there is no formal obligation for the Williams sisters to attend any Super Bowl activities. There’s an owners meeting the day before the Super Bowl, but owners with tiny percentages aren’t in the room for those. Venus is, however, hosting a party at the W South Beach on Feb. 5 to launch the new laundry detergent Tide plus Febreze Freshness Sport.

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Super Bowl matchup, gear, ball kid, stadium renovations and more

+ It might not be the matchup South Florida businesses had hoped for – New York Jets v. Minnesota Vikings would have been more lucrative, some say – but officials recognize they’d better be embracing this year’s Super Bowl teams, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.

And it might not be as slow as some worried, judging from a story Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau President Bill Talbert told my colleague Doreen Hemlock. A volunteer for the CVB was in New Orleans Sunday and reported to the CVB’s board meeting Monday that the Big Easy is excited about its team’s first-ever trip to the Super Bowl.

"They're all coming, whether they have tickets, whether they have a room,” Talbert said the volunteer reported. "This is a dimension you don't often see. This seems to have gone beyond football fans to the entire community. They all want to celebrate the ultimate victory at the Super Bowl... This is driveable. It's a short flight. It's off the charts."

Talbert added: "You better clear the roads: Here come the Saints."

+ Fans interested in snapping up AFC, NFC champion and Pro Bowl and Super Bowl gear can now shop at the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV Store in parking lot 2 at Gate E at Sun Life Stadium. The store opened Monday morning and will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It'll be open the same hours next week.

+ Meanwhile, at least one little Saints fan couldn’t be happier that Drew Brees is in the Super Bowl. Wesley Warren, 7, of Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans, won the NFL’s Play 60 Super Kid contest and will deliver the game ball to the officials on the field at Sun Life Stadium on Feb. 7.

Here’s part of Wesley’s essay where she explained which player inspires her to stay fit: “Drew Brees because he has done so much to help my city New Orleans. The Saints have made me realize how important team work is and how sometimes you have to work really hard for a long long long time to get what you want. My mom and dad think the Saints will go to the Superbowl and with Drew Brees I think so too. He is Saintsational (my mom told me to say that.)”

+ And just because you haven't heard about it officially since the Dolphins unveiled proposed renderings for Sun Life Stadium earlier this month, doesn't mean the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee hasn't been hard at work. The committee on Monday named former Miami Dolphin Dick Anderson chairman of the subcommittee exploring proposed stadium improvements. The committee also includes Talbert and his counterpart from the north, Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors' Bureau; Bruce Jay Conlan, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; Beatrice Louissant of the Florida Regional Minority Business Council; and Adam Grossman, Dolphins senior vice president of public affairs.

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Steve Ross' first eventful year as majority owner of the Miami Dolphins

The one-year mark of Steve Ross taking control of the Dolphins from H. Wayne Huizenga didn’t pass quietly this week. Ross was overseas, but on Wednesday his stadium got its second new name of the year: Sun Life Stadium.

It’s been an eventful –- emphasis on the event -- year for Ross’ Dolphins and his stadium. Remember, it was Jan. 20, 2009 when Huizenga made sure the papers finalizing the $1.1 billion sale were signed just hours before President Barack Obama’s inauguration -- as something of a symbolic gesture in case Obama raised capital gains taxes.

Ross promised he’d jazz up the entertainment experience for fans at the stadium then called Dolphin Stadium. In May, he began that transformation signing a cash-less naming rights/marketing partnership with Jimmy Buffett’s Land Shark Lager for the 2009 season. The announcement came complete with a short Buffett concert, hundreds of Parrot Heads and a new version of Buffett’s hit Fins written specifically for the Dolphins. Bringing brand new meaning to “Fins to the Left…”

This week, the stadium got its second new name in a year – make that three, if you count the two weeks it reverted to Dolphin Stadium between the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5 and the Sun Life announcement on Wednesday.

So, a short by the numbers:

6 World Baseball Classic games: the stadium was host to round two games in March

6 limited partners: Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony (and by marriage his wife Jennifer Lopez), Venus and Serena Williams, Fergie. (Asked whether more limited partners could be brought on board, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, “I wouldn’t say it’s an active pursuit. We continue to keep an open mind toward additional partners. But it’s not a high priority.”)

2 stadium names: Land Shark, Sun LIfe

2 press conference concerts: Buffett’s to introduce Land Shark in May; KC & the Sunshine Band’s booty shaking serenade to introduce Sun Life on Wednesday. (Dee said KC wasn’t likely to become a limited partner, but “he could be a promotional partner.”)

1 new (much maligned) fight song: Can you forget T Pain’s autotune version of the old song?

1 new theme song: Buffett’s revamped Fins, which is played every time the team scores -- and then some. (Dee said Buffett’s song is here to stay. “What was important about the Land Shark involvement wasn’t necessarily the name on the building, but the vibe, if you will, in the stadium, the theme areas.”)

1 artist: Romero Britto’s neo pop art graces the helixes and gates at the stadium.

0 playoff appearances: Both the Dolphins and Marlins missed the postseason.

1 World Cup finalist site: The stadium was included this month among 18 in the U.S. bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

2 (at least) stadium dissings by the NFL: Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Senior Vice President of Special Events Frank Supovitz told the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee and community leaders the 23-year-old venue needs upgrades to keep it competitive with other stadiums across the country vying to host future Super Bowls.

Stay tuned….

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Home of the Miami Dolphins now officially Sun Life Stadium

SunLifeStadium_Logo1.jpgJust in time to host the 2010 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV, the Miami Dolphins reached a long-term agreement with a corporate naming rights partner to rename their multi-monikered home, Sun Life Stadium.

Sun Life Financial, a Toronto-based financial services and insurance company, has agreed to put its name on the Miami Gardens venue for at least five years.

Financial details weren’t disclosed, but a source said the deal is initially five years with multiple options that could stretch the deal to 20 years. The Dolphins are to receive roughly $5 million a year but that could rise to the $7 million range if the certain incentives occur, including securing another Super Bowl and team playoff appearances.

The Dolphins and Sun Life officials from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Wellesley, Mass., announced the deal on a stage on the field inside the stadium. A medley of songs about the sun, including Sheryl Crow’s Soak up the Sun, Smash Mouth’s Walking on the Sun and Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine, helped introduce the name.

“Boy does it feel good under the sun,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said before sharing the name with invited season ticket holders, Super Bowl Host Committee officials and volunteers and students from American Heritage.

Sun Life officials said what attracted them to the Dolphins home stadium was that it is home to football, baseball, the Orange Bowl, Super Bowl and other events and exposes them to lots of new potential customers. It will also help the company overcome the fact that many people in the U.S. aren’t familiar with what they do.

“It really has been about building our brand in the United States," said Wes Thompson, president of Sun Life Financial U.S. "We’ve got great presence in Canada, great presence internationally, but we’ve really lacked brand presence in the U.S., as you’ve seen we’ve with our most recent commercials, our efforts are to really get our name out, so sooner or later you’ll know our name. This is another step in that journey to build our brand.”

And just as they have been doing in their recent advertising campaign launched in November, Sun Life Financial called on KC & the Sunshine Band to help spread the word about its brand. In the ad campaign, two Sun Life representatives try to convince KC to change his band’s name to the “Sun Life Band.” KC still hasn’t done that, but did perform a medley of Shake Your Booty and Get Down Tonight.

Sun Life also agreed to contribute $250,000 annually to the Dolphins Foundation and the team and Sun Life together established “Sun Life Miami Dolphins Haiti Relief Fund” with $200,000 and will match contributions made at two to one.

Priscilla Brown, senior vice president and head of U.S. marketing for Sun Life, who attended the announcement, and Sun Life Financial President Jon A. Boscia, are no strangers to football stadium naming rights deals. Brown served as chief marketing and brand officer for Lincoln Financial Group, where Boscia was CEO. In 2002, Lincoln National Corp., struck the $139.6 million, 20-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to name the team’s new stadium Lincoln Financial Field.

Brown said what made the two deals different was the Lincoln Financial used the Eagles Stadium as a way to announce the company's entry into the Philadelphia market, but the Dolphins' stadium allows the company to make a statement both nationally and internationally.

"Here the primary objective was to make this really big given that we don’t have most of our employees in this area," Brown said. "We want to make sure people around the globe knew about it."

Dee said he didn't think the dollars from the Sun Life deal had been earmarked as yet, but were intended to be used to continue to build a winning franchise. He said he hoped the naming rights deal, which marks the first one in more than a decade that will generate revenue for the team, lasts well beyond the initial five-year term.

"We’ve made clear we want a partner for the long haul," Dee said. "We hope this is the last name this building ever has."

The Dolphins’ home venue, which opened in 1987 as Joe Robbie Stadium, has had a series of name changes. For the 2009 season it was known as Land Shark Stadium, after Dolphins owner Steve Ross struck a cash-less marketing deal with Jimmy Buffett’s Land Shark Lager. That deal was only through the 2009 season.

From 1996 to 2005, the stadium was named Pro Player after then-team owner H. Wayne Huizenga struck a deal with sports apparel maker Pro Player. In 1999, Pro Player’s parent company, Fruit of the Loom, filed for bankruptcy and the Pro Player brand was shuttered. The team regained the naming rights in 2000, but never struck a new corporate deal. The stadium was called Dolphins Stadium in 2005; the ‘s’ was dropped in 2006. The Land Shark deal was announced last May.

Thompson said he hopes the lack of a consistent name for the stadium helps fans remember the Sun Life Stadium name going forward.

“In a sense no one’s established a beachhead because of that," Thompson said. "It’s not as if we have to fight a 20-year nomenclature of any type that may have existed before. So we kind of view that as an advantage for us, and we are in this for the long term per the agreement we have with the Dolphins.”

Here’s the stadium name chronology:

Aug. 16, 1987-Aug. 25, 1996: Joe Robbie Stadium
Aug. 26-Sept. 9, 1996: Pro Player Park
Sept. 10, 1996-Jan. 9, 2005: Pro Player Stadium
Jan. 10, 2005-April 7, 2006: Dolphins Stadium
April 8, 2006-May 7, 2009: Dolphin Stadium
May 8, 2009-Jan. 5, 2010: Land Shark Stadium
Jan. 6, 2010-Jan. 19: Dolphin Stadium
Jan. 20, 2010: Sun Life Stadium

Watch a video from the announcement here:

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Miami Dolphins auctioning game-worn orange jerseys

Orange-Jersey-Auction-2.jpgThe Miami Dolphins are auctioning off those orange jerseys their players wore in the Monday Night victory over the New York Jets at Dolphin (it was Land Shark then, in case you’re keeping track) Stadium.

Jerseys for 31 players are on auction until Wednesday at Some are already running more than $1,000. As of this posting, quarterback Chad Henne’s is more than $4,000. Proceeds will benefit the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. .

“This was only the third time in team history that our team wore orange jerseys,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “The game was an electric night and exciting contest for all of our fans.”

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A decade of South Florida sports business stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Former UM star Andre Johnson - budding endorser?

Houston Texans and former Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Andre Johnson isn’t known for his sparkling personality. He even pokes fun at his lack of loquaciousness in a 2007 ad for the NFL’s fantasy football game – saying “Actions speak louder than words, so I don’t do a lot of talking…”

But some wonder why the star player, who is among the NFL’s top receivers and whose Texans face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Land Shark Stadium, hasn’t gotten the attention of advertisers. In his only ad thus far – a Dick’s Sporting Goods spot that broke this fall – Johnson’s a tad stiff and looks like he’s reading cue cards, but the spot is well-done and amusing. He’s showing off Nike vapor trail gloves and how they can help you catch anything. “It’s ridiculous,” he says with a grin. See the spot below.

“It was my first time doing something like that so I didn’t really know how to go about doing it. The guy who was directing everything did a great job with helping me and telling me how to say things, the expressions and things like that,” Johnson told reporters Wednesday. “It was actually a lot of fun when I got the hang of it, my lines memorized and everything.”

Johnson said he hopes his star turn will lead to more deals.

“Hopefully that commercial has opened up something for me,” he said.

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Office Depot offering "That's Me" personalized sports jersey photos

TALALAY-Football1.jpgJust in time for the holidays, Boca Raton-based Office Depot is offering up personalized photos of sports jerseys hanging in a team’s locker room. Yes, like the one at left with my name on a jersey and locker between Miami Dolphins Joey Porter’s and Ricky Williams’.

You can have your name or a friend’s or relative’s -- of course -- printed on the back of a jersey from any NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball team. About 15 college team are available, too, including Florida, LSU, Ohio State and current No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Alabama.

Called “That’s Me Sports Prints,” the photos are all 8 x 10 and available at Office Depot locations for $39.99 unframed or $49.99 with a frame.

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Dunkin' Donuts and Miami Dolphins team up, provide tickets to Texans game

Concourse-Sign2.jpgThe Miami Dolphins-Pittsburgh Steelers game at Land Shark Stadium on Jan. 3 has already been officially declared a sellout. But there are still tickets to see the only other remaining 2009 regular season home game on Dec. 27 against the Houston Texans.

In a sponsorship and promotional campaign that combines radio, trivia, in-person and social networking opportunities, Dunkin’ Donuts is teaming with the Dolphins to offer a chance at 1,040 free individual tickets to that game.

The promotion kicked off Monday with the first Dunkin’ Donuts Dolphins Appreciation Day: running every weekday through Dec. 18, fans get a shot at winning four tickets to the game by being the first to answer a Dolphins trivia question at Dunkin’s South Florida Twitter account: @DDSoFla. The trivia question today will go out at 11 a.m. in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Dolphins’ 11-0 start in 1984.

That Twitter account will also keep fans informed of other ways to win tickets, including sending out the 10 Dunkin’ locations between Miami and Sebastian, where on Dec. 19, the first 50 people at those stores – starting at 7 a.m. -- will receive two game tickets.

Meanwhile, on weekdays through Dec. 18, WQAM 560 AM during Joe Rose’s show and on ESPN 760 AM during a local break on the Mike & Mike show, two tickets and a $25 Dunkin’ gift card will be given to the fan who answers a Dolphins trivia question. Find out more at the Dolphins' Twitter page, too.

Oh, and there's signage at the stadium and a display area in the Grand Plaza on game day.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @sarahtalalay

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NFL Commish kicks off Pro Bowl, Super Bowl; pushes stadium upgrades; plus Miami Dolphins season tickets up

With just two months until South Florida hosts its record-setting 10th Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in town today for the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee's kickoff luncheon. (Billboards counting down the days until both the Jan. 31 Pro Bowl and Feb . 7 Super Bowl are now up on I-95).

While he praised the region's hospitality and track record for hosting the big game, he also warned -- again -- that the Super Bowl won't be back unless Dolphin Stadium (currently Land Shark) stays current. A $250 million renovation that vastly spruced up the club level isn't enough to compete with newer, glitzier venues in Dallas, Indianapolis, Arizona, the commish said.

"I think the key thing, it’s a great community, they've done a great job hosting Super Bowls in the past, so I think they have that as an advantage," Goodell said of South Florida. "The key thing is making sure this stadium is state of the art and that it can compete with the stadiums in some of these other communities. They are moving to another level some of these stadiums."

It's not Goodell that makes the decision about Super Bowl host locations - it's the 32 owners. But you can be sure he knows the clubs' marching orders. Sure South Florida has its advantages, but without the lighting needed to high definition nighttime broadcasts and other amenities, the dual-purpose stadium won't be at the top of the owners' lists. Goodell and South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto say the Florida Marlins' move to a new ballpark, expected in 2012, presents a perfect opportunity to make what Dolphins owner Steve Ross calls "fine tuning" changes to the 22-year-old stadium.

Ross and Barreto say alterations and funding possibilities are being considered. While it's too early to say precisely what changes will be made and how they'll be paid for, it's quite likely we'll learn more soon since the region is bidding for the 2014 Super Bowl. The owners are expected to consider the 2014 site at their meeting in May.

Barreto said the community, which is awarded the game -- not the Dolphins -- needs to decide if it's worth the estimated $450 million to local businesses to host the game.

Meanwhile, Goodell said if the region successfully hosts the Pro Bowl on Jan. 31, that game could come back here regularly. South Florida's considered the test locale for the game being held prior to the Super Bowl and outside of Hawaii for the first time since 1980. So far, more than 45,000 tickets have been sold to the game. Goodell says he is hoping for a sellout and enthusiasm inside the stadium.

Ross, however, is hoping the Dolphins become the first team to both host and play in a Super Bowl at the same time. "I want to be the first city to host playing in the Super Bowl," he said. "That hasn’t happened yet and it should only happen in Miami. This year wouldn’t be soon enough."

Other topics Goodell addressed include the ongoing labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association, lengthening the regular season and replacing the NFL Experience. Goodell said the good news is the league and union are continuing to hold talks about a new contract. He said the regular season could be lengthened by shortening preseason. Goodell said fans don't like preseason games, but the league needs to be consider the impact on players.

He said the NFL Experience is being replaced in South Florida with a series of other community events since the region just hosted the Super Bowl in 2007.

+ The Dolphins just missed their goal of selling 50,000 season tickets for the 2009 season, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said. Even so, the team sold 49,415 full season tickets up 7 percent from 46,131 in 2008. Plus, some 10,000 represent new season ticket holders.

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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.
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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Steve Ross from NY; Miami Dolphins four-game pack

Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde interviewed Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross in his 19th floor office at Time Warner Center in Manhattan on Friday. Time Warner Center is the mixed use residential and retail complex Ross’ Related Companies built that has transformed Columbus Circle. The piece ran today before the Dolphins defeated the New York Jets 30-25 at the Meadowlands – and completed a season sweep of their rivals. Read Hyde’s piece here.

Just a quick thought on today’s game: is there another team in the NFL that has worked so hard to be 3-4? Just asking.

And speaking of being 3-4, the Dolphins hope you’ll want to watch the rest of the team’s home games this season live. They’ve introduced a new four-game pack that features lower bowl tickets to each of the team’s final four home games of 2009 for $348. That’s to see the Dolphins play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers. It offers a savings off the individual ticket price and gives you priority for playoff seats. Check it out here.

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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 Dolphins-colored Breathe Right strips: bringing new meaning to "game face"

Dolphinsbreathe.jpgWhen fans arrive at Sunday’s Miami Dolphins-New Orleans Saints game at Land Shark Stadium, they’ll receive an aqua and orange Breathe Right Nasal Strip.

Not eye black, mind you. A nasal strip. It looks something like a Band-Aid -- it's affixed just below the bridge of your nose -- but it helps you breathe easier, while you’re sleeping or exercising.

According to the strips maker, GlaxoSmithKline, NFL players are increasingly using the strips because they reduce the energy needed to breathe, while you’re working out or competing. NFL players have been using them since 1994, the company says.

GSK is planning to distribute 400,000 of the strips in the next month at five NFL games to introduce its Breathe Right Extra Nasal Strips, which are 50 percent stronger than the original version. The company is to give away 75,000 strips to fans attending Sunday’s Dolphins game and 80,000 at Sunday’s New York Giants-Arizona Cardinals game.

“Breathe Right has had a long relationship with professional football players using our products both on and off the field,” Breathe Right vice president of marketing Darren Singer said in a statement. “By sampling the new Extra strips at football stadiums nationwide, we’ll have an opportunity to help people understand that this is a product strong enough for high-performance athletes, but available to every day consumers.”

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Miami Dolphins & Café Bustelo: a grounds breaking partnership

DOLPHINSbustelo1.jpgThe Miami Dolphins are calling it “groundbreaking,” but grounds breaking seems more apt. The team and Café Bustelo have teamed up.

At a launch party announcing the new partnership at the Gansevoort Hotel on South Beach Thursday night, Café Bustelo was dubbed the “Official Espresso” of the team. The espresso coffee is now available at Dolphins home games in the club level at section 242 and the invitation-only Ocean Drive Club at Land Shark Stadium.

Today, the team and Cafe Bustelo, which is owned by Rowland Coffee Roasters (a Cuban family-owned South Florida company), are launching a contest on the Spanish channel of for a chance to win a cafecito break with team limited partners Gloria and Emilio Estefan during a home game this season, two tickets to the game, Dolphins merchandise and a year’s supply of Café Bustelo. Enter at through Nov. 6.

Next spring, the company will release Café Bustelo in Dolphins-branded coffee cans.

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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 Dolphins may add Fergie as a limited partner

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross could be adding Fergie as his next limited partner in the team.

NFL owners meeting in Boston this week approved Fergie as a potential owner in the team, but the Dolphins have yet to complete a deal with the Black Eyed Peas' singer.

“The owners did approve Fergie’s application for ownership today but there is nothing more to announce at this time as a formal agreement has not been completed,” Dolphins owner Steve Ross said via e-mail.

Fergie’s on tour in Australia, so don’t expect a formal announcement until she’s returned. Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas already have a marketing partnership with the Dolphins – that’s why you see all those promotional messages from band members on the scoreboard during home games at Land Shark Stadium.

Fergie also sported a pink Dolphins jersey and recorded a public service message (see video below) for the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” breast cancer screening campaign in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The addition of Fergie would continue to spice up the already crowded orange carpet crowd that makes up Ross’ ownership group.


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Miami Dolphins: orange carpet extravaganza

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross' limited partners weren't the only Latin celebrities to walk the orange carpet Monday to help the NFL celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Sure Gloria and Emilio Estefan were there, as were Marc Anthony and his wife Jennifer Lopez. Anthony sang the national anthem; the Estefans helped out with the halftime show.

But there were lots of others: IndyCar driver Rafael Matos, who lives in Miami and competed in Saturday's IndyCar Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, attended his first football game. “I’m here to see Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat,” Matos said.

Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and soap opera star wife Adamari Lopez wore matching No. 1 jerseys. Also on hand were: Lili Estefan (Emilio Estefan’s niece) and Raul de Molina of TV’s El Gordo y La Flaca; Mexican pop duo Jesse and Joy; Texas Rangers and former Marlins catcher Pudge Rodriguez; and artist Romero Britto.

Ross and ESPN President George Bodenheimer arrived together. Also walking the orange carpet were model Naomi Campbell; IndyCar driver and Boca Raton resident Ryan Hunter-Reay; Daymond John of TV’s The Shark Tank; and the Heat’s DJ Irie.

"It's an absolute spectacle," Irie said of the atmosphere. "This is the definition of Miami."

Legendary coach Don Shula, who served as honorary captain Monday night, arrived with his wife Mary Anne, to chants of "Shula! Shula! Shula!" As he was walking the carpet, so were some Victoria's Secret Angel wannabes. Shula posed for photos with the women.

The orange carpet has been evolving since it was unveiled at the team's home opener on Sept. 21. On Monday night, Lexus was sponsoring the orange carpet experience, so two Lexus cars -- an IS 250 and an IS 350 -- were displayed on either side of the carpet. At one point, the alarm on one of the cars went off...

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Miami Dolphins business, MNF v. Jets, bagels & Pro Bowl tickets

+ Wondering why the Miami Dolphins haven’t struck a sponsorship deal with the Florida lottery now that the NFL allows such arrangements? The Dolphins told me they didn’t think a deal could be reached for this season. The SportsBusiness Journal reports the Dolphins nixed a three-team sponsorship deal with the lottery that would have also included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The journal says the Dolphins felt they deserved more in the deal. According to the piece, which you can read here, 18 teams have deals with 20 state lotteries.

By the way, through yesterday’s games, Florida’s three teams are a combined 3-11 on the season.

+ But the Dolphins don’t play until tonight – their highly anticipated matchup against the New York Jets at Land Shark Stadium. The MNF game marks the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The Dolphins are wearing their orange jerseys; team owner Steve Ross’ Latin limited partners Marc Anthony and wife Jennifer Lopez, Gloria and Emilio Estefan will be out in force. Gloria’s MNF theme video with Hank Williams Jr. complete with lines in Spanish, such as “Estos listos para futbol” debuts. Anthony is to sing the National Anthem. Latin stars perform pregame and during halftime. has even created a series of videos in honor of the matchup that pit a Hispanic Dolphins and Jets fan. There are four – one for each quarter – with the first showing a child in a Mark Sanchez shirt beating up a dolphin piñata. Thanks to Advertising Age’s Laura Martinez for finding these. Here’s the first one:

Watch the others here: second, third and fourth quarters.

+ The Dolphins are 2-0 when they’ve worn their orange jerseys, but just in case the Jets do win, Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company (14451 S. Military Trail, Delray Beach) reminds us, customers can get a free bagel the day after a Jets or Giants win. One bagel per customer who can share the winning score. Bagels are being given away today because the Giants beat the Oakland Raiders 44-7. If the Jets win tonight, same drill for customers who can recite the score.

+ Pro Bowl: Tickets for the 2010 Pro Bowl, which is being held the Sunday before the Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium, go on sale at 7 p.m. They cost $50 to $195. Buy them at, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

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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

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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Favre’s jersey still top-seller, Ronnie Brown makes top 50

It helps to be a 3-0 quarterback.

Brett Favre’s jersey remained the top seller between April 1 through Sept. 30, according to sales figures from

Fellow 3-0 quarterbacks Mark Sanchez (Jets); Eli Manning (Giants); and Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) have all seen their jersey sales spike according to the latest figures. Sanchez is now up to 4 from 7; Manning is up to 7 from 10 and Flacco is ranked 14 from 17.

No Miami Dolphins jerseys ranked in the Top 25, but the NFL says Ronnie Brown is now in the top 50. And despite their 0-3 start, Dolphins gear is close to cracking the Top 10 in team sales. The league only releases the rank of the Top 25 players and Top 10 teams.

Below the Top 10 best-selling jerseys and team gear:

1. Brett Favre
2. Troy Polamalu
3. Jay Cutler
4. Mark Sanchez
5. Michael Vick
6. Tony Romo
7. Eli Manning
8. Tom Brady
9. Ben Roethlisberger
10. Adrian Peterson

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. Chicago Bears
5. New York Giants
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. New England Patriots
8. Green Bay Packers
9. San Francisco 49ers
10. Washington Redskins

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Miami Dolphins ticket deals for Sunday’s game and more

The Miami Dolphins say a limited number of tickets are still available for Sunday’s 4:05 p.m. game against the Buffalo Bills at Land Shark Stadium.

The team’s new “Fins Value Pack,” which includes an upper level corner/endzone seat and vouchers for a free soda and a hot dog (valued at $58) for $45, is available for Sunday’s game. But the deal, sponsored by Pepsi and Ball Park, is also available for four other games: Oct. 12 against the New York Jets; Oct. 25 against the New Orleans Saints; Nov. 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and Dec. 27 against the Houston Texans.

To buy these tickets – while they last – visit, which explains how to get the special offer.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are also offering another specially-priced ticket for games in October, including Sunday’s, Oct. 12 and Oct. 25, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That deal, thanks to Boar’s Head, is for an upper sideline seat that regularly costs $80 for $52. For every one of those tickets purchased, the Dolphins will donate $10 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. To purchase tickets those tickets visit

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Miami Dolphins hoping to avoid blackout; offering value pack for Buffalo game

With the Miami Dolphins now 0-3 to start the 2009 season after a 23-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers this afternoon, filling up Land Shark Stadium for next Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (1-2) could be a challenge.

The team hasn’t had a regular season game blacked out on local television in more than a decade.

But team officials were already anticipating avoiding blackouts this season might be tough given that season ticket sales dropped nearly 16 percent last season to 46,131 – the team’s lowest level since 1992. Season ticket sales are up and expected to exceed 50,000 this year. But the team must sell 62,133 upper and lower level seats at least 72 hours before kickoff to prevent games from being blacked out on local TV.

The team, which is scheduled to play the Bills at 4:05 p.m. Sunday, is offering a new “Fins Value Pack” for Sunday’s game – with help from Pepsi and Ball Park. For $45, you get an upper level corner/endzone seat, and vouchers for a free soda and a hot dog. That’s a $58 value.

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Miami Dolphins limited partner Marc Anthony reportedly buys Miami condo

Colts-Dolphins-Football1.jpgWhen he announced in July that he’d agreed to purchase a small stake in the Miami Dolphins, singer Marc Anthony said he and his wife, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, were looking for a house in Miami with team owner Steve Ross’ help.

At Monday night’s Dolphins’ home opener at Land Shark Stadium, Anthony told People magazine the couple had purchased a condo that day.

"When we are through decorating the condo, it will be the sexiest place in town!" Anthony told the magazine.

Looks like Ross may have had something to do with the location. The magazine says condo is in swanky Icon Brickell designed by Philippe Starck and built by the Related Group. Related Group CEO Jorge Perez is Ross’ business partner (Related Group is affiliated with Ross’ Related Cos.) and Dolphins vice chairman.

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Miami Dolphins and Cisco upgrade technology at Land Shark Stadium

In addition to all the new celebrity limited partners, pregame concerts, Jimmy Buffett beer and rewritten Fins song, the Miami Dolphins are also enhancing the technology at Land Shark Stadium.

Before Monday’s home opener, which the Dolphins lost to the Indianapolis Colts, team owner Steve Ross and Cisco CEO John Chambers gave a glimpse of how upgraded technology across the stadium is improving the game experience for fans.

Did you wait in line for concessions? If so, you no doubt saw the new high definition menu boards which can also broadcast game action so you don’t miss a thing while you’re waiting for beer and snacks.

Chambers said the Dolphins are being proactive about reaching fans – the majority of whom – especially those under age 30 -- say they want their sports venues to be high-tech and offer the latest technological advances.

There are 2,000 TV screens throughout Land Shark Stadium that can be programmed together or individually, so you can watch the game and get important messages, if necessary. Suite holders can use the phone in their suite to program the TVs to show different camera angles or other broadcast feeds during the game. They can also use the phones to order food.

Need a place to hold a business meeting with someone out of town? The Dolphins can arrange it so you can visit your suite during business hours and even set up a teleconference with a colleague in another city. Sports consultant (and friend of Ross’), Rick Horrow, demonstrated the teleconferencing, beaming in for Ross’ and Chambers’ meeting with the media.

Ross has been stressing that it takes work to encourage fans off their couches and away from their TVs to attend games in person.

“Today with the competition for the sports dollar, it’s so important that you create reasons for fans to want to come out to a game, as opposed to staying home and watching the game on television on large screens,” Ross said.

Horrow echoed Ross’ mantra, saying sports teams “need to give the fan the opportunity to live the game. You can’t always win … but you can certainly entertain.”

Horrow continued: “A facility that can entertain will offer the ability to showcase Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, University of Miami, not just the Dolphins, but all the things Steve is trying to accomplish at Land Shark Stadium.”

“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Tery Howard, Dolphins vice president of information technology. “This is not only for the fans, but also for the business partners and sponsors.”

The TV screens can be altered to welcome new sponsors or visitors. And adapted quickly for a University of Miami or a Florida Marlins game.

Read more about the details of the partnership here.

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Orange carpet opening: Miami Dolphins on MNF

The Steve Ross' edition of the Miami Dolphins had its coming out party at Land Shark Stadium Monday night. Fans, celebrities and team officials said the pregame buzz had a Super Bowl feel.

The stadium has been jazzed up with the brightly-colored work of artist Romero Britto. Fans were dressed in all manner of aqua and orange. Some wore grass skirts or had fins fashioned from balloons atop their heads. (What’s up with the Luche Libre masks?) A wakeboarding demonstration was held in the Grand Plaza on the stadium’s south side; Land Shark T-shirts and hats were sold in the newly revamped team store; and vendors hawked Land Shark Lagers like old-fashioned cigarette sellers.

Jimmy Buffett performed a concert outside Gate F and team owner Ross joined him onstage. Buffett had already rewritten his hit Fins to honor the Dolphins and on Monday he added this verse: “Fins to my left, fins to my right, we’re going to dine on horsemeat tonight.”

Dozens of fans flanked the orange carpet near Gate G to wait for celebrities to arrive. The buzz and excitement were palpable. Fans lined up several deep strained to get a glimpse of the team's limited partners and Dolphins alumni. They cheered, snapped photos and hoped for autographs.

Among the earliest to arrive was Dan Marino, who served as an honorary captain Monday for the coin toss. He got huge applause and cheers.

"I like the attention," Marino said.

"This is better than any premiere," singer and team limited partner Gloria Estefan said when she walked the orange carpet with her husband producer Emilio Estefan.

It had a Hollywood or awards show opening meets sporting event at Miami Gardens venue feel. Other Dolphins alumni included Mark Duper, Dick Anderson, Troy Drayton, Shawn Wooden. Three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves entered on the orange carpet and said he liked both the Colts (Indy - after all) and Dolphins.

Others entering on the orange carpet included Mark and Robin Levinson of Levinson Jewelers, shoe magnate Donald Pliner and his wife Lisa, and Dolphins Vice Chairman and Ross' business partner Jorge Perez and his wife Darlene.

Hip hop singer T-Pain, who made a much-maligned autotune version of the team's fight song, walked the orange carpet with the biggest entourage of the night. "I'm very excited. I want some nachos," he said. "I'm ready to see some good football."

Meanwhile, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco were in attendance. Castroneves and Ocho Cino took photos from their seats and posted them on Twitter.

And Tiger Woods watched the game's first half from the Indianapolis Colts' sideline.

Buffett's Fins was played after the team scored. The original fight song was played between the third and fourth quarters.

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Are you ready for some Buffett…er…football?

The fun is supposed to start long before the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts take the field for Monday Night Football at Land Shark Stadium tonight. Pregame concerts, the “orange” carpet, the celebrity limited partners…

The pregame activities get started at 4:30 p.m. at the Grand Plaza at Gate G. At 5:15 p.m., Jimmy Stowe performs live at the Land Shark Tailgate Stage near Gate F – he’ll also be performing at 6:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. At 6 p.m. there will be a wakeboard demonstration near Gate H.

The celebrity orange carpet arrival is to begin at 7 p.m. by Gate G and yes, limited partners Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony (and wife, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez), and Venus and Serena Williams are expected. So are Bob Griese and Dan Marino, who will be honorary captains performing the coin toss before the game.

Oh, and at 7:45 p.m., don’t be surprised if the surprise guest performer is none other than … Jimmy Buffett. Surprised? Halftime is to feature 600 Parrot Heads dancing to Fins.

And in case you missed it, here’s today’s Two-Minute Drill interview with Dolphins CEO Mike Dee:

Mike Dee spent 14 years working in Major League Baseball, the past five as chief operating officer of the Boston Red Sox, before being named CEO of the Dolphins in May. Staff Writer Sarah Talalay asked Dee about moving from baseball to football and the Dolphins’ 2009 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts tonight, which happens to be Dee’s birthday. Dee grew up in Maryland, rooting for the Baltimore Colts.

Q. What’s the biggest difference between baseball and football?

A. You start to immediately recognize that every game [in football] is like the seventh game of a playoff series, the regular season is so important. And obviously it’s that way for the football team and the coaching staff and the players take that seriously, but it’s also important on the business side. You have to make sure you get everything right, If you misstep or don’t get something right one game of the year, that’s 10 percent of your schedule. And that’s coming from a place like Boston, where every game was a sellout, so every game was a big deal. But when you only have 10 games, eight in the regular season, it puts a lot of pressure on you to get it right.

Q. The home opener is on a Monday night and it’s against the Colts. What does that mean to you?

A. My team growing up. Isn’t that amazing? It’s actually eerie. My parents and I talked about this, like can you imagine on your 46 birthday all those things happen? I live a charmed life. At least I recognize it.

Q. Do you consider the Colts the team you grew up with even though they moved from Baltimore?

A. I do. Oh yes. They’re the team I grew up with. I became a Dolphins fan when I was 22.

Q. How did that happen?

A. The Colts left and I moved to South Florida [for a job in a family-owned paint company]. Two months after I moved here, I went to the Monday night game against the Bears [Dec. 2, 1985]. I was mad at the Colts for leaving, I was an independent, I had left my party. I was a free agent fan, and I walked into the Orange Bowl and the electricity in that game, just being here in South Florida, at the time, I remember wow. From that day forward I was a Dolphins fan. I’ve been described by some online bloggers as a quote unquote newbie … but I’ve been around for 25 years as a fan… and stayed with it, even after it was the Shula-Marino era that sucked me into it and got me excited. But I’ve stayed with it all the way through the good times and the bad times.”

Oh, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @sarahtalalay

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Are the Miami Dolphins back? Are you buying season tickets?

Tickets are still available to Monday Night’s Dolphins home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Land Shark Stadium. As of yet, none of the team's games this season has been declared a sellout.

The team saw season ticket sales drop nearly 16 percent last year to 46,131 – the lowest level since 1992. While team officials say season ticket sales are pacing ahead of last year and should exceed 50,000, the team could be facing the possibility of local television blackouts for the first time in more than a decade.

The team needs to sell 62,133 general seats in the lower and upper decks at the 75,540-seat stadium at least 72 hours before kickoff to prevent a blackout. Suite and club seats are not included in the blackout guidelines.

Read my story today for more details on how the team is trying to sell tickets this season.

It helps that the team had such a dramatic turnaround on the field, going from a franchise-worst 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 and the first trip to the playoffs in seven years last season. But Florida’s unemployment rate is 10.7 percent and the economy is still sputtering. And not everyone’s convinced – especially after last Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons – that the team is back.

But I’ve spoken to several fans who’ve either decided to keep their season tickets or invest in season tickets for the first time.

flspdolphinspeins.jpgAfter buying individual tickets to every game last season, Dave and Susan Pein of Coral Springs, decided to buy season ticket after their favorite team made the playoffs last season. (See photo of the Peins waiting in line to buy playoff tickets last December).

“This is it,” Dave Pein said. “We’re back and it’s time to go.”

It’s actually more economical for the Peins, who have two sons, Devin and David, and a third -- to be named Dillon -- on the way. The couple is spending $2,900 to buy a pair of lower bowl seats on the 35-yard line from a veteran season ticket holder, rather than about $6,000 to buy by the game, Dave Pein said.

Tom Pillsy is entering his fifth year as a season ticket holder. The paramedic supervisor from Cape Coral who makes the 2.5-hour drive each way for Dolphins home games, almost gave up his tickets this year, when his hours and overtime pay were cut. But he kept the tickets because he enjoys the outings with his teenage son Ryan.

“I can’t think of anything else an 18-year-old still wants to do with his dad,” Pillsy said. “I’m just a fan whether they win or lose. I think this year they have a better team than last year.”

What about you? Have you purchased season tickets?

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Steve Ross: Buying Miami Dolphins wasn't "shrewd investment"

Long time sports business consultant Rick Horrow interviewed his friend Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross for Tuesday’s installment of his new national sports business show The $ports Take, asking Ross if he overpaid when he spent $1.1 billion for 95 percent of the team and Land Shark Stadium.

“Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t call it a shrewd investment, I didn’t steal it certainly,” Ross said on the show, scheduled to air on Versus at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. (The show is repeated at 4 p.m. on Wednesday). “ Many people would think I overpaid when you look back with 20/20 hindsight, especially in today’s market.”

But Ross told Horrow “I’m having more fun in doing something I’ve always wanted to do, in an environment like this. I don’t think a lot of people can say that, so I feel very lucky to really own the Miami Dolphins. I think there is a lot of opportunity there, I believe.”

Ross also repeated his mantra about celebrities, including Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Venus and Serena Williams, who have joined his ownership group as limited partners.

“They represent the community. I wanted to show that the Miami Dolphins were about all of South Florida,” Ross said. “And I wanted everyone to be able to identify with the ownership of the Miami Dolphins. So I think that if you look at the celebrity owners, as they have been labeled, you’ll feel that. And what they’re doing, their excitement for owning part of an NFL team, and being involved and actively engaged in the community.”

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Beyond the Game debut - local sports biz show

Sports consultant Rick Horrow’s new local show Beyond the Game began airing on WPEC Ch. 12 in West Palm Beach on Saturday. Yours truly was on the sports business panel along with former Miami Dolphin Troy Stradford and Brian Finkel, creative director of Horrow Sports Ventures and a student in FAU’s sports management program.

We touched on what to expect at Land Shark Stadium on Dolphins game days; the Dolphins’ new AT&T sponsor patch on practice jerseys, and sports business news around the NFL. Watch it here. The show airs Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.

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Miami Dolphins pre-home opener pep rallies start today

The Dolphins are hosting four pep rallies across South Florida to get fans excited about the team’s Monday Night home opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 21 at Land Shark Stadium. The first is at 5:30 p.m. today at Bongos Cuban Café, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

The team is calling the pep rallies, which will feature Dolphins alumni, cheerleaders, ticket giveaways, interactive games and music, the “Countdown To Kickoff, Ride The Aqua & Orange Wave.”

The one today is being held in partnership with new Dolphins limited partners Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The second one will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. at CityPlace, a development built by Dolphins owner Steve Ross’ Related Companies.

On Wednesday, Jim Mandich’s Ziggie & Mad Dog’s at 83000 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, plays host starting at 5 p.m. And then on Friday, Sept. 18, the party moves to Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler is scheduled to proclaim the day “Aqua and Orange Day.”

The team is also encouraging fans to turn Fridays aqua and orange, by wearing and decorating their offices and buildings in the team’s colors.

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Miami Dolphins sporting AT&T sponsor patch on practice jerseys

As of today, the Miami Dolphins have now joined 17 other NFL teams in sporting sponsor patches on their practice jerseys.

NFL owners approved putting sponsor patches on practice jerseys earlier this year, but until today – the first day of regular season practice – the Dolphins hadn’t had worn a patch. Today they’re wearing an AT&T logo on their jerseys.

“It’s a league-wide initiative that does now allow for sponsorships on practice jerseys during the regular season,” Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said. “We took advantage to provide additional values to one of our largest corporate sponsors.”

Greene would not disclose financial details of the deal, but AT&T is already a team sponsor. Regular season practices are closed to the public and only open to the media for short periods on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and on Mondays when a full practice is scheduled. That means there is some potential media exposure for the corporate logos.

Under NFL rules, teams had until Sept. 1 to finalize deals with one corporate sponsor for a patch on practice jerseys. Separate deals can be made for the playoffs, an NFL spokesman said.

Other NFL teams with practice jersey sponsors include the Buffalo Bills with Sanyo, Chicago Bears with Northshore University Healthsystem, Cincinnati Bengals with Spongetech, Dallas Cowboys with the University of Phoenix, Indianapolis Colts with Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, and the New England Patriots with Gillette.

Leagues have been softening their stance on corporate logos on jerseys this year. The NBA is now allowing sponsor patches on practice jerseys. The New Jersey Nets announced Tuesday they have become the first NBA team to strike a practice jersey sponsorship deal. The team will wear the logo for PNY Technologies Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of computing and digital imaging products. PNY will also own the naming rights to the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford.

The WNBA this season allowed sponsor logos on its regular season uniforms and two teams took advantage: the Phoenix Mercury struck a deal with LifeLock and the Los Angeles Sparks forged a partnership with Farmer’s Insurance. MLS players also wear sponsor logos on their jerseys during the season.

How long before sponsor logos appear on jerseys during the big four sports’ regular seasons?

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Catching up

Just back from vacation. What’d I miss?

Marlins Stadium Update No. Third District Court of Appeals: Lawyers for auto dealer Norman Braman appeared at an appeal hearing last week for the case targeting financing for the Marlins ballpark that Braman lost last summer at the circuit court level. Don’t expect a ruling anytime soon. Meanwhile, work continues on the ballpark, including the first “vertical pour” for the first of 12 super columns is scheduled Friday afternoon at the former site of the Orange Bowl.

Land Shark Stadium spiced up: The stadium’s helixes, gates and security gates got the signature colorful paint styling of neo pop artist Romero Britto, who was joined by South Florida children on Sunday for a painting party.

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More on Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross' limited partners

Another day, another Miami Dolphins limited partner press conference. Well, it only seems that way.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross introduced tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams as his newest limited partners on Tuesday. He gave them Dolphins jerseys – Venus chose No. 11 for her EleVen clothing line; Serena picked No. 89 in memory of the Aug. 9 birthday of her sister, Yetunde Price, who was shot and killed in 2003.

The sisters, who live in Palm Beach Gardens, said they were thrilled at the opportunity to own a piece of the team they’ve followed for years. They plan to attend games when they aren’t away playing tennis, and participate in charity events on behalf of the Dolphins’ foundation. It’s possible Venus’ V Starr Interiors could design a lounge at the stadium and the sisters’ clothing lines might do cross-promotion with the team.

The sisters have won a combined 18 grand slam titles, including this year’s Wimbledon title, which Serena, 27, won by defeating Venus, 29, in the finals.

No financial details were disclosed – as usual – and the stakes are said to be very small. But when pressed on whether limited partners, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony, are making a financial investment, Ross insisted they are.

“They’re limited partners, they’re putting up money, they are investing real dollars,” Ross said earlier in the day Tuesday in reference to the Estefans and Anthony. “They’re also enthusiastic, there’s nothing they have to do to perform or anything like that. They want to. They love it and they’re doing it much like I am, hoping we really are building something.”

Ross paid $1.1 billion for 95 percent of the team and Land Shark Stadium. He says his limited partners are investing based on what he paid for the team, but it's not clear quite how much that would be since his total purchase price includes the stadium and debt.

“They’re investing with real dollars and not discounting. Real dollars, based on what I paid for the team.”

As for other partners, Ross says to expect at least one other partner. As for others going forward, he wasn’t saying.

“ I’m not sure, right now. I have the bulk of money in it," Ross said. "I might bring in somebody for substantial sums, but I will keep at least 60 percent, two-thirds of ownership.”

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Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross answers fans' questions

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross and CEO Mike Dee met with Sun Sentinel editors and reporters this morning. Here are some of their answers to some of your questions:

Q. A number of fans really don’t like the new fight song, they don’t like the T-Pain version. A lot of people don’t like hearing Jimmy Buffett’s Fins when the team scores.

A. Ross: A lot of people do like the Fins song. The thing is you don’t know what people like and you don’t get a feeling for impact until you try something. We’re experimenting. That ‘s what preseason is for. I think Jimmy Buffett will definitely be part of it, he’s not going away. We happen to like the song, we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of favorable comments with regard to that. I think the T-Pain version was controversial. You have to realize, people inherently don’t like change. Same old, same old.

Q. I’ve never heard so many people love that fight song until you changed it.

A. Ross: Isn't it unbelievable? The biggest surprise I’ve ever seen in my life. You have the same feeling I have, you have to look at change. We’re not done looking at ideas to do that, because there was so much negativity about the existing fight song before.

Dee: Basically T-Pain contributed that song, we played it at the first preseason game. Again it was a preseason game, we were experimenting and continue to experiment there are at least two other people I know of, who want to contribute their own version of the fight song, different than T-Pain’s. It wasn’t the old song out and T-Pain’s in. I think it was hey here’s a version that may appeal to a different listener and perhaps there will be two more that have a different flair as well. I think it’s fair to say we recognize the sacred nature of the original version.


Q. Old fight song, it’s not like it’s dead, you’ll still be playing it, but might be interspersing it with others?

A. Dee: It might have a different role. Before it was played exclusively after scores. And we’re still working on how it will be used.

Ross: But we want to start a ritual, we don’t know what song it will be, after the third period, there will be a song we’ll sing on a continual basis. I can’t tell you what that song will be. To inspire people, like the seventh inning stretch, and really inspire the team. You want to start that in football, you want to do after the third period in every game. We’re going to come up with one until we find the right song, that we sing and everybody’s ready for it at the end of the third period, kind of a ritualistic thing that I think will be interesting in football.

Q. Do you have plans to change the team colors and uniforms?

A. Ross: We haven’t even looked at that. I haven’t thought of it.

Dee: Not this year and we just missed the deadline for 2010, so not next year either.

Q. Would you consider selling pieces of the team to retired Dolphins player greats?

A. Ross: No.

Q. Why not sell a one share to the fans or season ticket holders? I don't think you can do that in the NFL.

A. Ross: That isn’t allowed in the NFL, you’re limited to I think 25 owners and it’s not the kind of thing [where] you want a public company. They don’t allow public companies. Someone has to be able to make all the decisions without going to a board or anybody else, which I think is good, because that way you get decisions made. You don’t have fights within different teams which certain sports have, you know divisions. I’m prepared to take all the blame, but still the fans we love them and they’re the most important thing we have. I want to make sure they feel good about the team.

Q. Is there any way you could make ticket prices cheaper? Is there an opportunity to offer a standing room seat? At the Cowboys new stadium, the cheapest seats are $25.

A. Dee: We’re one of the best values in the NFL. Our ticket pricing is in I think the lower third of all teams, we have currently 4,600 seats that cost $31, which is one of the lowest price points in the NFL. That’s per seat, not a standing room seat. We are looking at standing room, kind of irrespective of costs, we think standing room is good and is part of our evaluation of the facility moving forward. We’ll continue to be competitive with the South Florida marketplace and what entertainment experiences are out there and you know overtime we want to make sure we stay competitively priced, given the dynamic of our marketplace.

Q. Is there any ability or talk of moving some seats closer to the field? That’s what people miss about the Orange Bowl.

A. Ross: That’s one of the things we’re looking at. This year with the Sideline Club (passes that allow on-field access throughout the game, new this season) they’re going to be closer to the field. We are studying it. I think when we come up with a total package, I think we can really have a major impact on the stadium.

Q. Is there anything that can be done about the dirt infield, until the Marlins are gone?

A. Ross: We have two more seasons of that. There’s nothing you can do. Contractually we’re obligated.

Dee: We have made the effort over the last couple of years, our grounds crew has sodded the pitcher’s mound area, and we’ve sodded the west endzone corner, which used to be exposed on that terrible rubber warning track, we do that for preseason games, took the turf down. It’s pretty much what it is until they’re gone.

Q. What about a retractable roof at Land Shark Stadium?

A. Ross: We’re studying all that, I don’t think it would be a retractable roof, because I don’t think one, the cost. I don’t think the county, in these economic times has the money and I think the cost of acclimatizing a stadium is so expensive and for the amount of usage it would get it’s probably not feasible. It probably doesn’t need a retractable roof from a football standpoint or soccer. But one thing we’re looking at, is how to do we really improve the stadium and cover some of those issues, not having a roof.

Q. Does that mean some sort of covering over some areas?

A. Ross: Yes.


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Miami Dolphins holding auditions for A Capella group

The Miami Dolphins are seeking singers for Dolphins Voices -- the team’s new A Capella group, which is to perform the National Anthem at all Dolphins home games at Land Shark Stadium this season.

New Dolphins limited partner and Grammy Award-winning producer Emilio Estefan is helping the team lead the search for the eight-piece group. Musician and arranger Derric Johnson will direct the group. The group is just another of new Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross' plans to enhance the fan experience at games.

Aspiring singers must be 18 and perform a song that reflects their vocal range. They also must be available for all eight of the team’s home games during the 2009 season and for rehearsals throughout the season. The group will also perform at other events.

Auditions are scheduled Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. at Paradise Live at the Hard Rock, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; and Thursday, 4-8 p.m. at Bongos Cuban Café, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

For more information, visit or email

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Have a question for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross?

We’re meeting with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross and CEO Mike Dee on Tuesday morning to discuss the changes taking place on the team’s business side and at Land Shark Stadium.

Do fans have any questions for the owner and/or CEO? No promises, but we’ll try to get you some answers. If you have a question, please post it with your name, city you live in and email address, in the comments section below. Also, let us know if you’re a season ticket holder.

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Miami Dolphins add game day bus service from Palm Beach & Treasure Coast

The Miami Dolphins are trying to make it easier than ever to attend home games by expanding the Dolphins Express.

The new bus service unveiled last month to take Dolphins fans from southwest Florida (in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties) to and from Dolphins home games is going to provide service from Duffy’s Sports Grill locations from Deerfield Beach to Melbourne.

“We have a strong base of fans throughout the state of Florida and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to visit Land Shark Stadium,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. “To our fans from the Palm Beaches to the Treasure Coast, the Dolphins Express will be leaving from a Duffy's near you in 2009."

To introduce the new service, team alumni, including Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson, and fans took the bus from Palm Beach to last night’s team practice at training camp in Davie.

The service, which begins with the Dolphins’ Sept. 21 Monday Night home opener against the Indianapolis Colts, costs $69 for an upper corner end zone ticket, round-trip bus ride and a take- out Duffy’s meal. The buses leave two and half hours before kickoff and will be available from the following locations:

Duffy’s of Melbourne, 1700 Evans Rd., Melbourne
Duffy’s of Jupiter East, 185 E. Indiantown Rd., Jupiter
Duffy’s of The Villages Inc., 721 Village Blvd., West Palm Beach
Duffy’s of Boynton, 4746 North Congress Ave., Boynton Beach
Duffy’s of Superplay USA, 1608 NW Courtyard Circle, Port St. Lucie
Duffy’s of Royal Palm Beach, 11943 Southern Blvd., Royal Palm Beach
Duffy’s of Jensen Beach, 4179 NW Federal Highway, Jensen Beach
Duffy’s of Deerfield, 401 N. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach
Duffy’s of Delray, 1750 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach

For more information, visit or call 1-888-FINS-BUS.

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Miami Dolphins fight song via T-Pain

2tpain.jpgHip hop artist and Tallahassee native T-Pain mixed it up on South Beach Friday night at Casa Casuarina (formerly the Versace Mansion), backing the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders 2010 calendar unveiling and… drumroll…. debuting a new version of the Miami Dolphins Fight Song.

Traditionalists, purists, historians, fear not… T-Pain has kept the song’s lyrics and tune in tact. He’s just made it a 21st century autotune version. Check it out HERE.

I was standing next to Nat Moore when the song debuted – Moore loved that T-Pain preserved the history of the fight song. Entertainment industry manager Bernie Yuman, who has been helping Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross partner with celebrities, sported a Dolphins T-Shirt under his jacket and sang the words to the song.

Team officials say T-Pain’s version isn’t replacing the fight song, but that both will be played at games at Land Shark Stadium this season.

Don’t forget, we also will be hearing Jimmy Buffett’s re-written version of his hit Fins that honors the Dolphins. Here’s his debut of that song in May: