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At press time, sources said that D'Backs Managing General Partner Jerry Colangelo and a fan picked randomly from the stands will throw out the first pitch tonight for the D'Backs' inaugural opener (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/31). BIG BUCKS AT THE BOB: With the construction of Bank One Ballpark (BOB), Colangelo "has put together the most lucrative marketing package in sports history," according to Ken Western of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. He is the architect of a multiyear, $430M advertising partnership "with some 60 companies that are banking on the ballpark to boost their bottom line." BOB was designed to showcase its sponsors through ways such as calling the main concourse Fox Sports Arizona Diamondtown. Ellerbe Becket VP & Project Manager Mike Wright: "As much as anything, baseball is a game of dollars as it is a sport. We tried to get as much potential for revenue in the building." Such "heavy hitters" as America West, APS, Miller Brewing, 76/Circle K, Nissan and US West are spending up to $3.5M a year for the next 10-15 years for promotional packages. As "building partners," each of these companies gets a 60-by-60-foot swinging panel in center field, among other signage. Outfield wall advertising consists of Office Max, Fry's, Fox Sports and Sun Pool & Spa Products. Other team partners, including PepsiCo, McDonald's and Auto Zone, are spending up to $1M in stadium advertising (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/31). WHAT'S IN A NAME? FREE PARKING: KSLX-FM's morning team is sponsoring a promo where fans attending the D'Backs opener can get free parking one block from the stadium if their first name is the same or any derivation of BOB -- ie. Roberta, Bobby, Robbie, Bobette, etc (AZ REPUBLIC, 3/31).
In reopening Edison Int'l Field following Disney's $117M renovation of Anaheim Stadium, the Angels "would like nothing more than to exorcise its ghosts," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Anaheim Sports President Tony Tavares: "Re-marketing the Angels from a public perspective is one of the toughest things we face. While I think we've done a good job of putting a quality product on the field, convincing the marketplace we're for real -- overcoming 30 years of skepticism -- is not easy." Tavares: "It's not like Disney can come in and sprinkle a little pixie dust and wave a magic wand and, all of a sudden, 2.5 million people appear." Since the team was bought in '96, the Angels have "been immune" to Disney's marketing "magic." But this year, Disney "is sparing no expense or expertise." Its "stadium marketing blitz," valued by one source at $3M-4M, includes direct mail, billboards, bus signs and shelters and radio/ TV spots in English and Spanish. Disney also furnished a "Grand Slam Van" -- an advertisement on wheels, with games, exhibits and a ticket window. Angels VP/Sales & Marketing Ken Wachter: "[I]n some ways, the ballpark will sell itself if we can get people in here" (L.A. TIMES, 3/31).
MLB FACILITY NOTES: NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that there "is no deadline" for Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner to make a decision on a location for a new ballpark. He added that the city "would be agreeable" to a lease extension if the Yankees needed more time to make their decision (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/31)....The Devil Rays have teamed with Tulsa-based Williams ChoiceSeat to provide nearly 200 ChoiceSeat units to be installed at Tropicana Field. One-hundred of the units will be located in seats behind home plate, with others placed in the stadium's 300,000 square foot mall-like addition known as Center Field Street (Williams ChoiceSeat)....The Richard E. Jacobs Group plans to build a 14-story, $29M Courtyard by Marriott next to Jacobs Field. The Indians and the Cavs paid $2.5M to Gateway for the parcel (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND, 3/23 issue). HOME OF THE WILD: MN state and city officials are "considering" a plan which would reduce the cost to the state of a St. Paul hockey arena for the Wild and increase it for the city. Under the latest plan, St. Paul would cover up to $95M of the arena cost (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/31). Meanwhile, public records show that MN's Human Rights Dept. "tried for a year" to get M.A. Mortenson, which is overseeing construction of the new arena, to make a "'good faith effort' to hire disadvantaged workers." Mortenson's President Thomas McCune has denied that the company "discriminated against anyone and said its failure to meet the city's goals for unskilled minorities and female workers was an anomaly (PIONEER PRESS, 3/31).