SBD/Issue 205/Events & Attractions

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  • Brewers' Fielder Defeats Hometown Favorites In Home Run Derby

    Fielder Becomes First Brewer
    To Win Home Run Derby
    Brewers 1B Prince Fielder last night became the "first Brewer to win the Home Run Derby when he bested" Rangers RF Nelson Cruz in the final round of the event at Busch Stadium, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Fielder hit the "four longest home runs of the competition and eight of the top 10, including a 497-foot blast in the first round and a 503-foot moon shot in the second round" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/14). In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes the Fielder-Cruz final round "wasn't exactly what the crowd of 45,981 had been hoping for," as Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols and Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, a St. Louis native, were eliminated in the semifinal round. But the final was a "good matchup of emerging young sluggers" (TORONTO STAR, 7/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan notes silence "permeated Busch Stadium during the majority of the Home Run Derby," and Fielder's victory was "met with the excitement reserved for Arbor Day." The problem was that Pujols "barely made it out of the first round," and Howard "couldn't get to the finals, either." Fans "clapped politely for all but the longest homers, the exception being for Pujols," who "arrived to a presidential applause and a storm of flashbulbs." Pujols "rewarded his lieges with one home run and seven outs" to start the competition, before finishing the first round with five home runs. It "wasn't the worst Derby," but "compared to last season's -- perhaps the moment of the year in all of baseball -- nothing could stand up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/14). In N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes the fans in attendance "were disappointed not to see either" Pujols or Howard "take home the title." None of the players "came close to matching" Rangers CF Josh Hamilton's performance last year, but the players "managed to keep the fans' interest -- at least until Pujols was eliminated" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/14).

    FIELDER OF DREAMS: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark writes it was "not the most mesmerizing Derby show ever." But there is "always one magic moment, one indelible swing of the bat," which came when Fielder hit the 503-foot home run in the second round (ESPN.com, 7/14). SI.com's Ted Keith writes Fielder produced the "only memorable moments of an otherwise ho-hum Home Run Derby," and it "should at least give him a well-deserved glimpse at the national spotlight." Fielder was the "only one of the eight participants who consistently delivered the jaw-dropping power the Derby has become famous for" (SI.com, 7/14).

    BACK, BACK, BACK: THE BIG LEAD writes the biggest story during the Home Run Derby was the "universal dislike" for ESPN's Chris Berman. It is "no surprise that some bloggers and baseball fans have grown tired of Berman's act, but the response on twitter was overwhelmingly negative." Three separate posts on Twitter read: "Joe Morgan and Chris Berman could ruin a birth;" "Back, Back, Back, I wish Chris Berman were GONE!!!;" and "Go away home run derby. You are too long. And Chris Berman makes watching you like having strep." THE BIG LEAD: "Is Berman still a viable commodity for ESPN? Or is the sample size of disgruntled bloggers and tweeters so small that Berman will exit on his own time?" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 7/14). In S.F., Scott Ostler writes the Home Run Derby is "great ... for about ten minutes," then "you realize you're watching fat, rich guys provoke Chris Berman to new heights of poetic frenzy" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/14).

    BLAST FROM THE PAST: YAHOO SPORTS' David Brown writes of his first reaction to ESPN's Ball Tracker technology, "Why are they adding animated fireworks to the home runs?" Brown: "Finally I realized: The NHL on Fox had taken over the broadcast and was making every fly ball glow like a hockey puck" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/14). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Chris Littmann writes, "We're 13 years removed from the birth of ... the glowing puck on FOX, something that was ridiculed as one of the sillier ideas ever in the history of sports broadcasting. Evidently ESPN thought enough time had passed that it was time to bring it back. ... Maybe ESPN's mistake was touting Ball Tracker as something we should care about" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/14). ESPN's Skip Bayless said of Ball Tracker, "I hated it!" Bayless: "I can see the ball just fine without that. Unless, of course, you obscure it with some yellow streak that turns green if in fact the ball goes over the wall. I want to anticipate whether the ball is going over the wall" ("ESPN First Take," ESPN, 7/14).

    STATE FARM WAS THERE: MLB.com's Doug Miller notes MLB fan Mark Weinberger was "asked to 'call a shot' by Pujols before the competition began for a prize package that included a new car and a flat-screen TV" as part of a sweepstakes from Derby title sponsor State Farm. Weinberger "wisely picked left field and got two tries" from Pujols, but he "missed out, hitting a line drive and a popup to center." Also, State Farm's "gold ball" promotion, which "awards money to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for every home run hit with the gold balls," helped net a donation of $665,000, "more than double the contribution in past years" (MLB.com, 7/14). Front Row Analytics indicated that State Farm received $22.85M in broadcast exposure for about 1 hour and 16 minutes of exposure time during ESPN's Home Run Derby broadcast. State Farm gained exposure through verbal mentions, stadium signage and on-screen graphics, and the broadcast media value was determined by comparing the total amount of in-broadcast exposure with the estimated cost of $150,000 for a 30-second spot on ESPN (Front Row).

    Mauer's Cleats Will Be Auctioned With
    Proceeds Supporting Livestrong Program
    CHARITY STRIPE: In Minneapolis, Joe Christensen reports Twins C Joe Mauer for the Home Run Derby "donned cleats with bright yellow trim, after Nike approached him [with] the idea to auction the shoes with the proceeds supporting Lance Armstrong's Livestrong cancer research program" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/14). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Miller reports Fielder during the Derby helped win a $50,000 contribution "for a teen center" at the Bethalto Boys & Girls Club in Illinois as part of MLB's "annual charity promotion for Boys & Girls Clubs of America" (MLB.com, 7/14).

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  • Should MLB Keep Making All-Star Winner World Series Host?

    Writer Believes Selig Should Not Make All-Star
    Game Both Glorious Exhibition And Meaningful
    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig should make the All-Star Game, which takes place tonight at Busch Stadium, a "glorious exhibition or make it meaningful, but don't try to make it both," according to Jim Reeves of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. MLB "continues to have the best All-Star Game in professional sports, by far," but Selig "wants the best of both worlds for baseball." He wants "all the pomp and circumstance, the pageantry and grandeur, of the NBA's All-Star Weekend, but he also wants a real game, with real consequences riding on the outcome." MLB since '03 has awarded home-field advantage for the World Series to the All-Star Game's winning league, but it "hasn't worked ... because every other change Selig and MLB have instituted since, like adding a 33rd player, a 13th pitcher, this year works to counter that very goal." Selig "must face the fact that nobody really cares who wins anymore, not even the players, and he can't manufacture intensity," and he should "give up on the home-field advantage thing and let it simply be an exhibition" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/14). Yankees SS Derek Jeter said of the All-Star Game, "I don't think this should determine home-field advantage. Even when the game didn't matter, I thought the players played hard" (N.Y. POST, 7/14). However, Selig said he is "absolutely" still committed to awarding home-field advantage to the winning league. Selig: "I can tell you the players and managers are really into the game. You look at the dugouts and you will see players watching from the top step and the managers doing everything they can to win the game" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 7/10). In San Diego, Nick Canepa wrote the All-Star Game, while "once tremendous," has become a "complete waste of time." The game "should be abolished," and so should "every other so-called all-star game, especially the Pro Bowl." The "worst thing" about the event now is that Selig, "realizing his All-Star Game stinks, has decided to make it 'important'" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/9).

    HOSTS WITH THE MOST TO OFFER: In Philadelphia, Paul Hagen reports Phillies President & CEO Dave Montgomery at the All-Star Game "will make a point of running into" MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy to "get a sense of when Philadelphia might next host" the event. The Phillies "hosted the game at Veterans Stadium as recently as 1996," but the club since then have opened Citizens Bank Park. Montgomery: "We're anxious to do it, although it's not yet our turn. I thought when I'm in St. Louis I'd sidle up to (DuPuy) and ask him, 'What's the status? What's the feeling?'" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/14). Meanwhile, in K.C., Sam Mellinger cites sources as saying that Selig "most likely next month" will confirm that the Royals' Kauffman Stadium "will play host to the All-Star Game in 2012" (K.C. STAR, 7/14).

    MAKING MOVES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's David Biderman reports the merchandise of the 64 MLB players originally voted into the All-Star Game from June 5 to July 5 "represented nearly $850,000 in sales on eBay, with an average of $13,267 per player." Sales of Jeter merchandise totaled $199,176, "nearly 2 1/2 times more than" Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols, who ranked No. 3 with $83,646 in sales. Rays 3B Evan Longoria finished No. 2 with $86,182 in sales. The Red Sox and Yankees "rule the eBay sales standings" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14). Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin reports the "wives of the players and coaches got fitted in designer dresses for today's red-carpet motorcade through downtown St. Louis" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/14).

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  • Stricker, Kelly Working To Find Title Sponsor For PGA Tour Event

    Kelly Says A Potential Title Sponsor Very
    Interested, But Will Not Identify Company
    While PGA Tour and U.S. Bank Championship officials are "seemingly making little progress in their desperate search for a title sponsor" for the event, golfers and Wisconsin natives Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, "acting on their own, say they are close to not only saving the tournament but turning it into a marquee event," according to Gary D'Amato of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Kelly said that they approached PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem with their plan at the Memorial Tournament in May and Finchem "wholeheartedly endorsed it." PGA Tour Exec VP & Chief of Operations Rick George: "They've got a concept in mind. I think it's doable and possible. It would take a lot of work and a lot of logistics and coordination, but we've got a lot of options on the table." Stricker: "We've talked to enough people around that I think it's going to work." Stricker added that the "key to the plan was a new date for the Milwaukee tournament." D'Amato noted this weekend marks the third straight year the U.S. Bank Championship has been held opposite the British Open, and it has been "poorly attended and has lost several ancillary sponsors in addition to U.S. Bank," which is in its last year title sponsoring the event. However, in order to get a new date, raise the purse and return to coverage on network TV, Kelly and Stricker "would have to deliver a major title sponsor." Kelly said that a "potential title sponsor was very interested, but he wouldn't identify the company." Kelly: "I don't think sponsorship is a roadblock at the moment. Our proposal will sell itself. It's a beautiful thing." Tournament Dir Dan Croak: "Our position is we're working with the Tour to identify companies, both locally and nationally, that would be potential replacements for U.S. Bank as the title sponsor" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/12).

    TITLE SPONSOR CRITICAL TO SUCCESS: The BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE's Rich Kirchen reports attracting a new title sponsor "will determine the long-term viability of Milwaukee's PGA tourney." Croak said, "We need to find a title sponsor. That funding is essential for us to continue." He added that tournament organizer Milwaukee Golf Charities and the PGA Tour have "pursued a new sponsor in recent months, but none is close to signing." George said that PGA Tour officials are "spearheading the effort to attract a title sponsor." George: "We're bullish. We feel we're doing everything we can in this environment to find suitable replacements." Kirchen notes an alternative to securing a single title sponsor "would be to assemble a group of sponsors that each spend a smaller amount but still meet the tourney's funding needs." Croak and PGA Tour officials said that they "haven't ruled that out as a stopgap measure." The Milwaukee Golf Charities contract with the PGA Tour runs through '12 (BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE, 7/10 issue).

    MAJOR REVENUE AND EXPENSES LISTED ON
    MILWAUKEE GOLF CHARITIES' TAX RETURNS
    ITEM
    '07
    '06
    '05
    '04
    REVENUE
    Ticket and sponsor
    $3,546,349
    $3,437,007
    $4,211,375
    $4,427,373
    PGA Tour
    $3,400,000
    $3,400,000
    $2,800,000
    $2,660,000
    EXPENSES
    Purse
    $4,024,500
    $4,031,000
    $4,028,400
    $3,841,125
    TV Production
    $519,402
    $466,436
    $1,384,886
    $1,321,826
    Charitable Contribution
    $423,891
    $452,760
    $414,015
    $496,348
    TOTAL EXPENSES
    $7,624,909
    $7,197,377
    $8,083,026
    $7,622,566
    PROCEEDS (DEFICIT)
    ($243,585)
    $179,605
    ($581,104)
    ($25,708)

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  • Breeders' Cup Advised To Begin Promoting Its Brand Globally

    London-based consulting firm Value Partners is "suggesting that the Breeders' Cup World Championships promote its brand globally, focus a months-long series of races leading into the fall event and form strategic alliances with key tracks," according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. But the overview unveiled to the media and breeders Friday was "short on specifics and the concepts aren't aimed directly at addressing budget problems." Breeders' Cup President & CEO Greg Avioli said that the organization is "looking at sources that could provide new revenue, including more significant relationships with tracks and more opportunities for international wagering." However, Value Partners officials said that building the Breeders' Cup brand globally "isn't likely to mean taking the two-day event to an overseas track." Value Partners consultant William Field: "It's not something that we think is likely to be a desirable or sensible thing to do. ... I'm not sure that you'd ever need to take it beyond the shores of North America." Breeders' Cup board member Satish Sanan said that "using a series of races from the end of the Triple Crown races through the fall championships, 'we can put together a comprehensive plan which will ... attract more fans, attract more wagers, attract more simulcasting revenue and perhaps along the way even look at more creative alternatives,' which he declined to discuss" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 7/11). Meanwhile, DAILY RACING FORM's Matt Hegarty noted Breeders' Cup has projected it will run a $6M deficit this year, on total estimated expenses of approximately $50M. Of that $50M, $30.5M is "committed to purse outlays." The deficit has "raised questions about whether Breeders' Cup can continue to fund the current level of purse distribution, by far its largest expense and one that has grown considerably over recent years." In '05, total purse distribution was approximately $20M. Avioli said that Breeders' Cup "expects its nomination revenues to remain below the recent high-water marks for several years" (DRF.com, 7/10).

    SPONSORSHIP DEALS: The Breeders’ Cup and Montblanc yesterday announced a deal making Montblanc the exclusive timing category partner for the ’09 Breeders’ Cup (Breeders’ Cup). Meanwhile, Dixiana Stables will join Keeneland Race Course's stable of sponsors as title sponsor of this year's $500,000 Breeders' Futurity. As part of eight Breeders' Cup Win and You're In Races, ESPN Classic will provide live coverage of the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity on October 10 (Dixiana).

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