SBD/December 21, 2012/Year End

Easy Come, Easy Go: The Sports Business Hits And Misses In '12

The Buckingham Palace backdrop made beach volleyball a top Olympics venue
Each year, some sports business concepts are an all-out success, while others fall somewhat short of that. Here are some ideas that were either a hit or a miss in '12.

HIT: With Buckingham Palace offering a splendidly surreal backdrop, the beach volleyball venue at the London Games was replete with bikini-clad athletes, ‘50s style dance parties and “Benny Hill Show” theme music. The picturesque setting offered stunning views of the British attractions such as Big Ben and the London Eye. Garnering praise from athletes and spectators alike, the largest beach volleyball venue in Olympics history truly was fit for a Queen.

MISS: Tiger Woods decided to eschew his weekly press conference in advance of the Wells Fargo Championship, much to the chagrin of many in the media. Woods’ alternative was a 15-minute video chat on his website in which he fielded pre-selected questions from fans, causing him to catch heat from every corner of the golf industry. His so-called Q&A session was panned as an “infomercial” for his endorsed products featuring nothing but “softball” questions.

HIT: A documentary about the greatest team ever assembled brought the highest ratings NBA TV had ever seen to that point. The net’s “Dream Team presented by Right Guard” debuted in June celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ’92 U.S. men’s basketball team’s high-flying domination at the Barcelona Games. Highlights included behind-the-scenes footage of team practices, candid interviews with Michael Jordan expressing his disdain for Isiah Thomas and fans on the street failing to recognize John Stockton.

Rafael Nadal was feeling blue after the clay court's
colors were changed at the Madrid Open

MISS: When clay court specialist Rafael Nadal lost in the third round of this year’s Mutua Madrid Open, he instantly pointed the finger at tournament Owner Ion Tiriac, the man responsible for changing the color of the tennis courts at the tournament from red to blue. While it sounded simple enough, Nadal and other players complained of a slippery surface and threatened to boycott the event if Tiriac wouldn’t change the color back. The ATP later banned blue clay courts from all ‘13 events.

HIT: While common on TV infomercials, money-back guarantees are hardly a marketing staple in major American professional sports. But the Suns went all in and offered a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” fan promotion in December for a game against the Mavericks. Fans responded by setting a season-high attendance, packing more than 18,000 into US Airways Center. The Suns lost the game, but the promo promotion drew more than its fair share of positive PR.

MISS: The job status of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard overshadowed much of the on-track action in the open-wheel circuit this year. Reports surfaced shortly after the Indy 500 that some top team owners were looking to force Bernard out of his job, causing IndyCar’s head man to Tweet his frustrations. The clouds never really parted for Bernard, and he was eventually forced out in October.

HIT: The Hornets took advantage of Will Ferrell shooting a movie in New Orleans and had the actor introduce the starting lineup for a February game against the Bulls. The “SNL” vet took some liberties with player bios and offered memorable introductions such as, "At forward, No. 5, he still lives with his mother ... Carlos Boozer." Who needs light shows and videos to spice up player intros when you have Ron Burgundy himself?

MISS: Despite passing on a new arena to be funded by the city of Sacramento, Kings Owners the Maloof family vowed to keep the team in town. But George Maloof’s "We're not going anywhere" promise felt a bit empty when reports surfaced that the Kings were in talks with arena investors in Virginia Beach.
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