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The decision to add a male crew member to the previously all-female America3 yacht racing team "has the potential to create far more consequences down the road than winning or losing the right to defend the America's Cup," according to Barbara Lloyd of the N.Y. TIMES (see THE DAILY, 3/20). The team won an important race yesterday with new tactician Dave Dellenbaugh. They need to win five of the next seven races to have a chance at defending the Cup. While most of the all-female crew has "toed the company line so far in accepting the addition of a male counterpart on the boat, only time will tell whether such an important decision so late in an America's Cup campaign turns out to be fortuitous." Writes Lloyd, "The switch was made in haste and apparently without the knowledge of more than a handful of the crew." And Dellenbaugh's presence has "raised questions, including a watchful eye by corporate supporters of America3 who bought into sponsoring an all-female crew." Lloyd also notes that "still at issue is whether the women actually pushed for the change, or whether it was an idea imposed upon them by male management" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21). Michael Hiestand gives America3 owner Bill Koch a thumbs-down for his decision to add a male crew member: "If you're selling novelty, you should deliver" (USA TODAY, 3/21). But Koch said that the sponsors of America3 are "at peace" with the decision: "All the sponsors that we talked to, including the one who had a contract that said we could not have a man on the boat, said they were all for the decision. And they were behind it 100 percent" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/21).
With sales down and employees "reeling from a layoff announced" late last week, execs at Asics Tiger Corp. are meeting today to "map out a new long-term strategy and figure out how to slash expenses." The sport shoe and athletic clothing maker is looking to reduce spending in every phase of operation. The layoffs have been a result of "sluggish sales." Last year, Asics sales fell 10%, "though how many dollars that represents isn't clear." The company, which disclosed sales in the early '90s, when it was growing at a rate of about 20% a year, now keeps specific sales data private. A spokesperson would only say that Asics generates at least $250M in revenue a year. Asics, like other athletic shoe makers, "has been hurt by the popularity of boots and sandals." Asics spokesperson Lisa Brama: "The hip-hop trend has gone on longer than we anticipated. Our hope and belief is that athletic shoes will become fashionable again, particularly next year with the Olympics" (Andre Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/21).
From '92-94, the official poster for the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, FL "was a cross between Gone With the Wind and Miami Rhapsody, tasteful paintings of the 2-year-old Lipton Stadium and photos of palm trees and beaches. And then there's the 1995 Lipton poster -- an orange fireball vaguely similar to the Miami Heat logo, centered on a stark black backdrop." According to first year Lipton Championships CEO Laurence Kashdin: "This is about seeing tennis in a different way." Eric Conrad of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL writes, "There is a transformation under way at the 1995 Lipton event, but the Lipton is just one snapshot in an industrywide response to depressing tennis participation and equipment-sales numbers served up since 1990." How tennis can become "cool" may be the "biggest test" the sport has faced. "The most striking clash of images at this year's Lipton Championships may be the strong presence" of MTV-Latino Network. But Lipton's '95 changes go beyond MTV. Roughly five acres at the tennis complex is covered with fan-interactive exhibits, from a large Nike play area to a Bacardi sand bar to games where fans can smash overhead lobs alongside Pete Sampras and other players. Kashdin: "Tennis, outside the Grand Slams, is not that profitable. If we have to surround tennis with entertainment to validate it, that's how we'll validate it" (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 3/20).
Madison Sports & Entertainment Group, a diversified sports and entertainment conglomerate, completed the acquisition of Ski Trails USA. Ski Trails builds mobile mountains for snowboarding (Madison Sports)....Cowboys WR Michael Irvin is entering the sportswear business. Irvin and his partners, former Cowboy Alfredo Roberts, Blake Davenport and designer Ricky Talkington, are scheduled to introduce a sportswear line, Masterpeace Ragz, March 31 at the Int'l Menswear Mart in Dallas (FT. WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM, 3/20)....Sport Supply Group Inc. said Friday its chairm may consider buying out the company or putting it up for sale if its stock price does not "improve dramatically." Chair Michael Blumenfeld set a public market trading price of $26 a share to be reached by the end of next year. On Friday, shares rose $2 to $14/share as a result of the announcement (DOW JONES NEWS)....The Mighty Ducks announced plans for their 2nd Annual Mighty Ducks FanFair charity event to be held at Disneyland for an exclusive private party, April 27. All proceeds for the event will benefit Disney GOALS, a public charity established by Walt Disney Co. in '94 that seeks to create positive social alternatives for disadvantaged kids (Mighty Ducks)....The Buick Southern Open has been renamed the Buick Challenge and its purse increased from $800,000 to $1M. The tournament, to be played September 28- October 1 at Callaway Gardens, GA, will be televised by ESPN (PGA Tour)....Coors announced plans to introduce George Killian's Irish Brown Ale on May 1. The new ale will join Killian's Irish Red in establishing an "Irish family of brands" to be marketed by UniBev Ltd., Coors' marketing and specialty import division of (Coors). ....Frito-Lay is leveraging its "heavy" buy during the NCAA Tournament with the introduction of the Doritos/Taco Bell Taco Supreme. The product is the first co-branded offering from the intra-PepsiCo product development partnership (BRANDWEEK, 3/20 issue)....Sears announced their Women's Final Four Fantasy promotion from March 16-26. In conjunction with the NCAA and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, Sears is hosting exclusive coaches appearances in select Sears stores and offering prizes including trips to the Women's Final Four in Minneapolis (Sears).