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SBD/June 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
David Beckham on Saturday toured Sun Life Stadium and FIU Stadium, "signs that he has more than just a passing interest in Miami" as an MLS expansion city, according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. FIU AD Pete Garcia "led Beckham on a tour of the stadium, and then the school made a formal power point presentation over lunch, touting FIU’s location, 20,000-seat soccer-ready stadium, and its largely Hispanic soccer-loving student population." Garcia said, "Our presentation to Mr. Beckham addressed two things: Why Miami? Why FIU?" Garcia "cited the campus’ central location and easy access to soccer-crazed pockets in West Dade, Kendall, Doral and Homestead." He said that 61% of the school’s 52,000 students "are Hispanic," and that the stadium was "built to FIFA’s soccer specifications and that FIU would be willing to install natural grass if that’s what it took." Beckham has been in town since last week "exploring the city with Marcelo Claure, the Bolivian billionaire owner of Brightstar Communications who tried in 2009 to bring an MLS team to Miami." Beckham and Claure also have had "conversations" with Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross' RSE Ventures and "other local sports officials" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/2). Beckham said, "I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be ... it's exciting. I think Miami fans are very passionate about their sports and very passionate about winning and of course, it would have to be success but it's definitely exciting." Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Diaz said that there was "real backing for a team in Miami." Diaz: "There is huge political support. It is not only from the county, it's 100 percent support from the municipalities, the mayors and the commissioner, the counselors from the different cities, they are also extremely supportive" (REUTERS, 6/1).
TURF WAR? In Orlando, Mike Bianchi asked, "Could it be that Beckham's attempt to bring an MLS franchise to South Florida will trump Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins' aspirations to do the same in Central Florida?" Rawlins said, "It's what I've been warning everyone about. We got a head start and have had an advantage, but that advantage can quickly be eroded if other cities start getting their act together. You're seeing indications of that now." Bianchi: "If Orlando's ownership group is smart, they will contact Beckham immediately to try to get him interested in Central Florida's effort instead of South Florida's. Instead of competing with Beckham why not join forces with him?" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/2).
WNBA Shock G Skylar Diggins is “trying to come to grips with how much her job demands away from the court,” according to Shannon Ryan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Diggins' "whirlwind orientation to the working class includes meetings with her agency, rapper Jay Z's Roc Nation, meet-and-greets with Shock fans, representing the Nike brand and being billed as one of the WNBA's 'Three to See.'" She said, "I would have to say it's five to 10 times crazier now than in college. Jumping into this world has been crazy. Sometimes I want to focus on basketball and not talk to anybody." As much as Diggins is “billed as the league's future” along with Mercury C Brittney Griner and Sky F Elena Delle Donne, she is “reluctant to be grouped with them and assume instant stardom as a rookie.” Diggins said, "I didn't ask for any of this 'Three to See' stuff. I thought the 'Three to See' was just in college. It can cause some friction (with other players). Nobody said anything directly. I don't know how that looks. I respect the WNBA and its veterans" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/2).
TRENDING UP: In Seattle, Jayda Evans noted attendance numbers from the WNBA's opening weekend “already point to a revival.” The six games over Memorial Day weekend saw a 2.7% year-over-year attendance increase and arenas filled to 85% capacity. However, many teams “only sell lower-bowl seats in their NBA arenas.” The WNBA's website had “2.2 million page views and the league's YouTube channel had 635,000 views.” Griner's two dunks in the Mercury's opening game had "the most clicks, at 177,541 by Friday afternoon” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/2).
WHY NO LOVE? In DC, Sally Jenkins wrote under the header, "Women’s Basketball Needs To Work To Earn An Audience." Jenkins: “Why is a sport with strong audience fundamentals such a chronic underachiever in the marketplace? There are 3.2 million high school girls playing varsity sports in this country, and anywhere from 2 to 4 million people annually watch the women’s NCAA Final Four on TV. Yet the sport is floundering.” There is "no reason the game shouldn't attract large sponsors and grow." It has "huge participation numbers, a passionate and loyal fan base and attractive competitors” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/1).
In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has “spent his entire career working in the league office and his lack of experience working for a team showed when the league pushed the draft into May for next season.” The move is “another example that the league is all about marketing now.” Another thing Goodell “doesn’t understand is the role of the preseason.” As he "lobbies for an 18-game regular season schedule, he talks about fans complaining about the ‘quality’ of the preseason.” But the preseason “isn’t about quality,” rather it is about “preparing the team for the regular season and giving coaches time to evaluate the players” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/2).
MLB LOSING CHARACTER? In Detroit, Jerry Green wrote the allure of MLB interleague games "has gone kaput -- vanished.” What MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “designed as a baseball novelty in 1997 has turned into a drag.” While MLB has "prospered during Bud Selig's regime," it has “forfeited much of its dignity and integrity.” While producing "millions, maybe billions, more in revenue, it has cheapened itself as a game -- as a pastime.” Selig “counterattacks all criticism with the response that Major League Baseball is thriving.” Green: “True, due to soaring television revenue. The players are working for millions in wages. The owners are delighted” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/1).
ODD MAN RUSH: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont noted the NHL will not stage its annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas, due “mainly to the lockout and the resultant jammed June schedule (playoffs/draft)." The league instead will “split the ceremony into two parts, the first on the day before Game 2 of the Cup Final, and the second as a lead-in show on the evening of Game 2” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/2).