SBD/September 28, 2011/Franchises

Sharks Could Face Legal Challenge Over Policy Forbidding Fans From Promoting Other Entities

Sharks management sent a warning letter to Bad Boys Bail Bonds owners
A new Sharks policy that "forbids ticket holders from promoting 'other entities'" at HP Pavilion may have the team "on the verge of a First Amendment showdown," according to Bruce Newman of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Sharks management “announced the policy shift during the offseason by sending a warning letter" to Bad Boys Bail Bonds. The company's co-Owner, Jeffrey Stanley, has used T-shirts emblazoned with his company’s logo as a “gorilla marketing campaign -- a fixture of every TV close-up of the Sharks’ bench for the past three seasons.” Stanley is “convinced he’s being stripped of his boldface blouse in retaliation for his decision to drop the Bad Boys’ paid sponsorship of the home team’s bench and visitors’ penalty box, for which he paid $70,000 last season.” However, Sharks Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon said that the Bad Boys’ T-shirts “would apply a visual hip-check” to the Porsche car ads that now adorn the Sharks’ bench. Bordelon: “That type of ambush marketing is what we’re trying to protect them from” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/24). YAHOO SPORTS’ Greg Wyshynski noted since Stanley received his letter about the policy change, he “has worn his shirt to a preseason game with no punishment or recourse from the Sharks and their arena personnel.” Stanley and his family also "intend to wear" the shirts during the Sharks' regular-season home opener Oct. 8 (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/27).
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