SBJ/December 20 - 26, 1999/No Topic Name

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  • FOR THE RECORD

    MARKETING NEWS


     MARKETING AND LICENSING AGREEMENTS

    The Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (EMGA) signed an agreement with TeeMaster.com to promote the organization's golf courses. EMGA's golf courses can use TeeMaster's Internet tee-time reservation service and marketing support. The Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a nonprofit organization that promotes golf tourism in Minnesota. TeeMaster.com provides Internet golf reservation services.

    Fotoball USA Inc. signed a licensing agreement with The Coca-Cola Co. to produce sporting goods such as footballs, basketballs and volleyballs. The long-term agreement starts Jan. 1. Fotoball provides custom and specialty sports and non-sports related balls.

    The Antigua Group Inc. renewed licenses with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans; the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.; the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami; the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl in Dallas; the Wells Fargo Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas; the Insight.com Bowl in Tucson, Ariz.; the Culligan Holiday Bowl in San Diego; the Sylvania Alamo Bowl in San Antonio; and the Jeep Oahu and Jeep Aloha bowls in Honolulu. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Antigua will produce logoed men's and women's bowl sportswear.

    Global Sports Inc. formed a marketing partnership with PeoplePC, a company that provides Internet access and services. Under the agreement, a retailer for which Global Sports operates Web sites will be featured on PeoplePC's Web page. Global Sports is an e-commerce company that operates the Internet business of several sporting goods retailers.

    SPORTS AGENCY NEWS


     CLIENT SIGNINGS

    Rita Haywood of Bruce Levy Associates International Ltd. signed Yolanda Moore of the Orlando Miracle.

    Benchmark SEG signed golfer Edward Fryatt to an exclusive representation and marketing agreement.

    Hadley Engelhard and Jermaine Dupri of So So Def Sports signed Ray Buchanan of the Atlanta Falcons and Jacquez Green of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    BUSINESS NEWS


     BUSINESS NOTES

    Peter C. Crowley and Matthew A. Tinley III formed Colosseum, a company that sells and markets premium seating in sports and cultural facilities.

    LCS Golf and MyCity.com signed an agreement allowing MyCity.com users free access to the content of LCS Golf's wholly owned subsidiary, GolfUniverse.com. Users will be able to conduct regional searches for golf courses, play fantasy golf, receive free subscriptions to Golf News and the GolfUniverse Newsletter, get golf tips from the pros, buy golf equipment and accessories and access other news and information. GolfUniverse expects to increase advertising revenue, increase viewers of its Web site, broaden its database and boost sales through the relationship. MyCity.com offers news and information on more than 500 metropolitan communities.

    SportingAuction.com and TradeOut.com formed a partnership allowing SportingAuction.com's customers to buy and sell excess sporting good inventory using TradeOut.com's online business-to-business site. Ardsley, N.Y.-based TradeOut.com operates an online marketplace for excess inventory and idle assets. Peterborough, N.H-based SportingAuction.com runs online auctions for sports and fitness merchandise.

    Outpost.com and Sandbox.com formed a co-marketing alliance and e-commerce partnership. Under the agreement, Outpost.com becomes Sandbox.com's exclusive e-commerce partner, operating Sandbox.com's e-commerce site. Outpost.com is an Internet-only retailer of consumer technology products. Sandbox.com operates online sports and financial games.

    The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority signed a five-year contract with Autotote Corp., a computerized wagering equipment company. Under the agreement, Autotote will provide teller-operated terminals, self-service terminals, wireless personal account wagering terminals and other systems for the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park.

     MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

    Marker International, a manufacturer and marketer of alpine ski bindings, consummated its previously announced sale of substantially all of its assets to Marker International GmbH, a Swiss company that is 85 percent owned by CT Sports Holding AG. CT Sports Holding AG transferred $14 million in debt and equity to Marker International GmbH for its 85 percent interest. Marker International received the remaining 15 percent equity interest in Marker International GmbH in consideration for its assets.

    The Sports Club Co. completed the sale of its Spectrum Clubs, a group of 10 athletic clubs in southern California, to investment group Brentwood Associates. Brentwood or an affiliate will continue to operate the clubs under the Spectrum name.

    Bo Jackson acquired the Birmingham, Ala., franchise of the new Spring Football League, a new professional football league playing in the spring and early summer.

    Hollywood Park Inc. signed a definitive agreement to sell its Casino Magic Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi casinos to Penn National Gaming Inc. for $195 million in cash. Hollywood Park is a diversified gaming company that owns and operates casinos and a horse racing facility in Arizona.

     EARNINGS

    Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) reported a net loss of $22.4 million, or 64 cents a share, on revenue of $65.8 million for the first quarter ended Oct. 31. That compares to a net loss of $20.5 million, or 59 cents a share, on revenue of $48.6 million for the same period the previous year.Through its subsidiaries, Vail Resorts operates mountain resorts and handles real estate development.

     DIVIDENDS

    Ellett Brothers Inc. (Nasdaq: ELET) declared a quarterly dividend of 4 cents per share of common stock payable Dec. 24 to shareholders of record on Dec. 10. Ellett Brothers markets and supplies natural outdoor sporting products including products and accessories for hunting and shooting sports, marine, camping, archery and other related outdoor activities.

    Source: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Connecticut Sun, Jeep, Nasdaq, Nokia, Orlando Magic, Penn National Gaming, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tostitos, Vail Resorts
  • Ale be seeing ya: Premium TV to supplant Newcastle on jerseys

    In a move that ends brewer Newcastle Brown's long association with the Newcastle United soccer club, the team has agreed to a media partnership with Premium TV, a subsidiary of U.S.-owned cable operator NTL. Newcastle will receive an interest-free loan of up to $40 million, and NTL will invest $8 million in the club for an equity stake of 3.6 percent, increasing its stake from 6.3 percent to 9.9 percent. NTL bought 6.3 percent last December for $16 million.

    Following the format of the recent trend of media buys in U.K. soccer clubs, Premium TV will act as exclusive agent for Newcastle's media and commercial rights, and gain the rights to run any Newcastle United TV channel or Web site (now hosted by planetfootball.com). Premium will replace Newcastle Brown as the club's shirt sponsors in a five-year deal starting in 2000.

    TWO INTO ONE FOR FIVE-A-SIDE: The two biggest operators in the growing leisure business of five-a-side soccer centers in Britain have merged. Anchor International and Powerplay Supersoccer Ltd. have come together in a deal valued at $86 million.

    The United Kingdom has about 30 five-a-side soccer centers, each comprising 10 to 15 small playing fields. The group said it has the potential to develop 150 centers in the next few years and will roll the concept out abroad. The new name of the merged Powerplay-Anchor company has yet to be announced. The combined business operates 14 centers and plans to open 12 more in the next two years.

    AUSTRALIA WANTS WOMEN'S CUP: Soccer's international governing body, FIFA, has decided to move the next Women's World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in 2003, forward to 2002 to sustain the momentum generated by the hit 1999 tournament in the United States. FIFA had received only one bid to host the tournament by the Nov. 30 deadline, from Australia.

    — Jay Stuart

    Print
  • Ale be seeing ya: Premium TV to supplant Newcastle on jerseys

    In a move that ends brewer Newcastle Brown's long association with the Newcastle United soccer club, the team has agreed to a media partnership with Premium TV, a subsidiary of U.S.-owned cable operator NTL. Newcastle will receive an interest-free loan of up to $40 million, and NTL will invest $8 million in the club for an equity stake of 3.6 percent, increasing its stake from 6.3 percent to 9.9 percent. NTL bought 6.3 percent last December for $16 million.

    Following the format of the recent trend of media buys in U.K. soccer clubs, Premium TV will act as exclusive agent for Newcastle's media and commercial rights, and gain the rights to run any Newcastle United TV channel or Web site (now hosted by planetfootball.com). Premium will replace Newcastle Brown as the club's shirt sponsors in a five-year deal starting in 2000.

    TWO INTO ONE FOR FIVE-A-SIDE: The two biggest operators in the growing leisure business of five-a-side soccer centers in Britain have merged. Anchor International and Powerplay Supersoccer Ltd. have come together in a deal valued at $86 million.

    The United Kingdom has about 30 five-a-side soccer centers, each comprising 10 to 15 small playing fields. The group said it has the potential to develop 150 centers in the next few years and will roll the concept out abroad. The new name of the merged Powerplay-Anchor company has yet to be announced. The combined business operates 14 centers and plans to open 12 more in the next two years.

    AUSTRALIA WANTS WOMEN'S CUP: Soccer's international governing body, FIFA, has decided to move the next Women's World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in 2003, forward to 2002 to sustain the momentum generated by the hit 1999 tournament in the United States. FIFA had received only one bid to host the tournament by the Nov. 30 deadline, from Australia.

    Print
  • AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE ATTENDANCE

    Team
    Arena
    Capacity
    Total attendance*
    Number of games*
    Season average*
    % capacity
    Philadelphia Phantoms First Union Spectrum
    17,380
    132,705
    16
    8,294
    47.70%
    Providence Bruins Providence Civic Center
    11,605
    109,333
    14
    7,809
    67.30%
    Rochester Americans The Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial
    11,200
    105,675
    14
    7,548
    67.40%
    Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and Convention Center
    8,457
    71,622
    10
    7,162
    84.70%
    Hershey Bears Hersheypark Arena Memorial Coliseum
    7,225
    77,547
    13
    5,965
    82.60%
    Hartford Wolf Pack Hartford Civic Center Veterans
    15,635
    65,555
    11
    5,959
    38.10%
    Louisville Panthers Freedom Hall
    17,200
    49,503
    9
    5,500
    32.00%
    Kentucky Thoroughblades Rupp Arena
    21,000
    92,706
    17
    5,453
    26.00%
    Syracuse Crunch Onondaga County War Memorial
    6,230
    67,490
    14
    4,820
    77.40%
    Worcester Ice Cats Worcester's Centrum Centre
    12,316
    72,193
    15
    4,812
    39.10%
    Cincinnati Mighty Ducks Cincinnati Gardens
    10,326
    75,254
    16
    4,703
    45.50%
    Springfield Falcons Springfield Civic Center
    7,452
    70,203
    15
    4,680
    62.80%
    Portland Pirates Cumberland County Civic Center
    6,746
    62,208
    15
    4,147
    61.50%
    St. John Flames Harbour Station
    6,153
    49,078
    12
    4,089
    66.50%
    Albany River Rats Pepsi Arena
    6,500 (lower bowl)
    63,520
    16
    3,970
    61.1% (lower bowl)
    Hamilton Bulldogs Copps Coliseum
    8,919
    62,342
    16
    3,896
    43.70%
    Quebec Citadelles Colisee de Quebec
    15,399
    63,360
    17
    3,727
    24.20%
    St. John's Maple Leafs St. John's Memorial Stadium
    3,765
    53,555
    17
    3,150
    83.70%
    Lowell Lock Monsters Paul E. Tsongas Arena
    6,400
    47,672
    16
    2,979
    46.50%
    * Through Dec. 12Source: American Hockey League

    Print | Tags: AHL, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Falcons, BlueCross BlueShield, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Florida Panthers, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, PepsiCo, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Maple Leafs
  • AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE ATTENDANCE

    AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE ATTENDANCE
    Team
    Arena
    Capacity
    Total attendance*
    Number of games*
    Season average*
    % capacity
    Philadelphia Phantoms First Union Spectrum
    17,380
    132,705
    16
    8,294
    47.70%
    Providence Bruins Providence Civic Center
    11,605
    109,333
    14
    7,809
    67.30%
    Rochester Americans The Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial
    11,200
    105,675
    14
    7,548
    67.40%
    Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and Convention Center
    8,457
    71,622
    10
    7,162
    84.70%
    Hershey Bears Hersheypark Arena Memorial Coliseum
    7,225
    77,547
    13
    5,965
    82.60%
    Hartford Wolf Pack Hartford Civic Center Veterans
    15,635
    65,555
    11
    5,959
    38.10%
    Louisville Panthers Freedom Hall
    17,200
    49,503
    9
    5,500
    32.00%
    Kentucky Thoroughblades Rupp Arena
    21,000
    92,706
    17
    5,453
    26.00%
    Syracuse Crunch Onondaga County War Memorial
    6,230
    67,490
    14
    4,820
    77.40%
    Worcester Ice Cats Worcester's Centrum Centre
    12,316
    72,193
    15
    4,812
    39.10%
    Cincinnati Mighty Ducks Cincinnati Gardens
    10,326
    75,254
    16
    4,703
    45.50%
    Springfield Falcons Springfield Civic Center
    7,452
    70,203
    15
    4,680
    62.80%
    Portland Pirates Cumberland County Civic Center
    6,746
    62,208
    15
    4,147
    61.50%
    St. John Flames Harbour Station
    6,153
    49,078
    12
    4,089
    66.50%
    Albany River Rats Pepsi Arena
    6,500 (lower bowl)
    63,520
    16
    3,970
    61.1% (lower bowl)
    Hamilton Bulldogs Copps Coliseum
    8,919
    62,342
    16
    3,896
    43.70%
    Quebec Citadelles Colisee de Quebec
    15,399
    63,360
    17
    3,727
    24.20%
    St. John's Maple Leafs St. John's Memorial Stadium
    3,765
    53,555
    17
    3,150
    83.70%
    Lowell Lock Monsters Paul E. Tsongas Arena
    6,400
    47,672
    16
    2,979
    46.50%
    * Through Dec. 12Source: American Hockey League

    Print | Tags: AHL, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Falcons, BlueCross BlueShield, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Florida Panthers, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, PepsiCo, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Applying a global view to Gatorade

    Sports marketing chief brings life experience from around the world to company’s business decisions

    BY ANDY BERNSTEIN
    STAFF WRITER

    SNAPSHOT:
    TOM FOX


    Title: Vice president, sports and event marketing.
    Company: Quaker Oats Co. (Gatorade).
    Age: 36.
    Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.
    Education: Bachelor of arts, political science, Miami (Ohio) University.
    Family: Wife, Deborah; expecting their first child in May.
    Personal: Traveled the world with his wife for 5 1/2 months last year.
    Background: Joined Quaker Oats’ food division in 1985 and later worked on Gatorade under then sports marketing vice president Bill Schmidt; joined NBA Properties’ sponsorship department in 1993; later became vice president, managing director for NBA Asia Ltd. in 1995; joined Nike in 1997 as Asia Pacific sports marketing director, based in Hong Kong, and was named Nike’s director of U.S. sports marketing later that year; left Nike in the spring of 1998; joined Quaker Oats in the spring of 1999.

    Don't let his All-American good looks fool you. Gatorade sports marketing chief Tom Fox has quite literally been around the world and back again.

    With a career that has taken him to both U.S. coasts and to Hong Kong, and a personal sense of adventure that took him rafting on the Zambezi River and to the Mount Everest base camp, Fox brings life experience to every business decision that belies his 36 years.

    His story begins and ends, for now at least, at the Chicago headquarters of Gatorade parent Quaker Oats Co., less than 20 miles from the suburb where he grew up.

    Fresh out of college in 1985, Fox joined Quaker Oats' food division and spent eight years working his way up to a senior-level sports marketing position.

    From there, he began a perpetual journey east that would not end until his return to Quaker Oats last spring. Fox joined NBA Properties Inc. in New York as director of sponsor programs in 1993. Two years later, the league shipped him to Hong Kong, where he served as vice president, managing director for NBA Asia Ltd. He remained in Hong Kong when he joined Nike as manager of Pacific Rim sports marketing in 1997.

    The next stop: across the Pacific to Nike's home base of Beaverton, Ore., where Fox was named director of U.S. sports marketing.

    He spent less than a year back in the United States before he was ready to circle the globe once again. Fox and his fiancee, Deborah — a former Reebok International executive he met while flying from Asia to a sporting goods trade show in Atlanta — decided to put their careers on hold for a while and embark on a 5 1/2-month, 16-country trek around the world. Fox turned in his resignation in early June 1998. A day after their late June wedding, they were off on a honeymoon to remember.

    Within a matter of weeks, Fox went from negotiating endorsement contracts with star athletes to negotiating mountain trails where yaks would charge past hikers.

    He had a near-death experience while rafting in Zimbabwe when his raft flipped on a giant rapid. He was under water for so long that by the time he came up for air, the boat was already righted and everyone else, including a frightened Deborah, was already back inside.

    With more humility than bravado, Fox admits he'd think twice about rafting the Zambezi again, but he said he was enjoying himself within five minutes of the near catastrophe.

    Now back working for a brand that has built an entire image tied to the authentic essence of sport, Fox is armed with a finer appreciation for the rush that comes from conquering a seemingly impossible task.

    "When you are challenged physically, there's a great sense of accomplishment," said Fox, recalling his climb to the 18,200-foot mark on Mount Everest, higher than any mountain in the lower 48 states. "And then to be rewarded by the most incredible scenery I've ever seen. The sense of accomplishment is just amazing."

    At one stretch, Deborah and the usually clean-cut Fox camped for 21 straight days, never going anywhere near a shower or other comforts of home. Getting through that experience, he joked, proved their marriage was sound.

    A Sherpa guide led them through ancient villages and shrines. Asked for one word to describe the weeks he spent in Tibet and Nepal, Fox said, "Spiritual."

    Months after descending from the clouds and returning to the United States, Fox replaced Bill Schmidt as Gatorade's vice president of sports and event marketing. He was home again.

    "When I left [Gatorade] in 1993 for New York, I never thought I'd get back," Fox said.

    Although he still lacks the industry profile of his predecessor Schmidt, Fox has carved a reputation as someone who combines a sophisticated understanding of business with an intuitive understanding of sport.

    While he's ready to take chances both in life and in work, Fox is also a believer in adhering to sound fiscal principles.

    At Nike, he was frequently an advocate for not signing certain athletes — a stance that at times ran cross-current to Nike's corporate culture. But Fox is also known as a positive thinker whose enthusiasm for life spills over to his work.

    Dave Grant, a partner at Velocity Sports & Entertainment and a former NBA Properties executive, said Fox opens doors for himself with his personality.

    "If you buy into the old adage of 'people do business with people they like,' well, Tom is a likable guy," Grant said. "Whether you just met him or know him fairly well, he's easy to get along with. Guys like that will always do well."

    Fox joined Gatorade at a tumultuous time for the company's 20-plus employee sports marketing department. The much-revered Schmidt had stepped aside, something many saw as inevitable once Sue Wellington — a company veteran who had risen through the ranks with Schmidt — was named Gatorade's CEO. Greg Via, Schmidt's second-in-command, left not long after Schmidt.

    Within weeks of his arrival, Fox had a new team in place. Former USA Today sports marketing director Jeff Urban, then just six months on the job as head of the sports division at promotions giant Frankel & Co., resigned from Frankel to join Gatorade. The reason for his quick departure? He wanted to work for Fox.

    "Tom has a unique ability to communicate in a genuine manner so everyone feels like we're in this together," Urban said. "You really have to put him on the list of people on the fast track in this industry. With his spending so much time on the international side of the business, he may not have caught everyone's eye. But he now has such varied experiences, from the shoe business to the international business to the properties business. That's another thing that made it very appealing to work for Tom."

    With the luxury of a large staff at his disposal, Fox now spends much of his time tackling major business issues, like trying to figure out how the Internet will change sports marketing, or what kind of impact telecommunications mergers have on Gatorade's business. He concedes he hasn't quite made sense of that one yet, but he is still trying.

    The tent and his travel visas that were once his most essential possessions have been traded in for a home in the suburbs and a little bit of domestic bliss. He and Deborah are expecting their first child in May. That should keep the Foxes in town for a while.

    Print | Tags: Fox, NBA, Quaker Oats, Reebok, USA Today Sports
  • Applying a global view to Gatorade

    SNAPSHOT:
    TOM FOX


    Title: Vice president, sports and event marketing.
    Company: Quaker Oats Co. (Gatorade).
    Age: 36.
    Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.
    Education: Bachelor of arts, political science, Miami (Ohio) University.
    Family: Wife, Deborah; expecting their first child in May.
    Personal: Traveled the world with his wife for 5 1/2 months last year.
    Background: Joined Quaker Oats’ food division in 1985 and later worked on Gatorade under then sports marketing vice president Bill Schmidt; joined NBA Properties’ sponsorship department in 1993; later became vice president, managing director for NBA Asia Ltd. in 1995; joined Nike in 1997 as Asia Pacific sports marketing director, based in Hong Kong, and was named Nike’s director of U.S. sports marketing later that year; left Nike in the spring of 1998; joined Quaker Oats in the spring of 1999.

    Don't let his All-American good looks fool you. Gatorade sports marketing chief Tom Fox has quite literally been around the world and back again.

    With a career that has taken him to both U.S. coasts and to Hong Kong, and a personal sense of adventure that took him rafting on the Zambezi River and to the Mount Everest base camp, Fox brings life experience to every business decision that belies his 36 years.

    His story begins and ends, for now at least, at the Chicago headquarters of Gatorade parent Quaker Oats Co., less than 20 miles from the suburb where he grew up.

    Fresh out of college in 1985, Fox joined Quaker Oats' food division and spent eight years working his way up to a senior-level sports marketing position.

    From there, he began a perpetual journey east that would not end until his return to Quaker Oats last spring. Fox joined NBA Properties Inc. in New York as director of sponsor programs in 1993. Two years later, the league shipped him to Hong Kong, where he served as vice president, managing director for NBA Asia Ltd. He remained in Hong Kong when he joined Nike as manager of Pacific Rim sports marketing in 1997.

    The next stop: across the Pacific to Nike's home base of Beaverton, Ore., where Fox was named director of U.S. sports marketing.

    He spent less than a year back in the United States before he was ready to circle the globe once again. Fox and his fiancee, Deborah — a former Reebok International executive he met while flying from Asia to a sporting goods trade show in Atlanta — decided to put their careers on hold for a while and embark on a 5 1/2-month, 16-country trek around the world. Fox turned in his resignation in early June 1998. A day after their late June wedding, they were off on a honeymoon to remember.

    Within a matter of weeks, Fox went from negotiating endorsement contracts with star athletes to negotiating mountain trails where yaks would charge past hikers.

    He had a near-death experience while rafting in Zimbabwe when his raft flipped on a giant rapid. He was under water for so long that by the time he came up for air, the boat was already righted and everyone else, including a frightened Deborah, was already back inside.

    With more humility than bravado, Fox admits he'd think twice about rafting the Zambezi again, but he said he was enjoying himself within five minutes of the near catastrophe.

    Now back working for a brand that has built an entire image tied to the authentic essence of sport, Fox is armed with a finer appreciation for the rush that comes from conquering a seemingly impossible task.

    "When you are challenged physically, there's a great sense of accomplishment," said Fox, recalling his climb to the 18,200-foot mark on Mount Everest, higher than any mountain in the lower 48 states. "And then to be rewarded by the most incredible scenery I've ever seen. The sense of accomplishment is just amazing."

    At one stretch, Deborah and the usually clean-cut Fox camped for 21 straight days, never going anywhere near a shower or other comforts of home. Getting through that experience, he joked, proved their marriage was sound.

    A Sherpa guide led them through ancient villages and shrines. Asked for one word to describe the weeks he spent in Tibet and Nepal, Fox said, "Spiritual."

    Months after descending from the clouds and returning to the United States, Fox replaced Bill Schmidt as Gatorade's vice president of sports and event marketing. He was home again.

    "When I left [Gatorade] in 1993 for New York, I never thought I'd get back," Fox said.

    Although he still lacks the industry profile of his predecessor Schmidt, Fox has carved a reputation as someone who combines a sophisticated understanding of business with an intuitive understanding of sport.

    While he's ready to take chances both in life and in work, Fox is also a believer in adhering to sound fiscal principles.

    At Nike, he was frequently an advocate for not signing certain athletes — a stance that at times ran cross-current to Nike's corporate culture. But Fox is also known as a positive thinker whose enthusiasm for life spills over to his work.

    Dave Grant, a partner at Velocity Sports & Entertainment and a former NBA Properties executive, said Fox opens doors for himself with his personality.

    "If you buy into the old adage of 'people do business with people they like,' well, Tom is a likable guy," Grant said. "Whether you just met him or know him fairly well, he's easy to get along with. Guys like that will always do well."

    Fox joined Gatorade at a tumultuous time for the company's 20-plus employee sports marketing department. The much-revered Schmidt had stepped aside, something many saw as inevitable once Sue Wellington — a company veteran who had risen through the ranks with Schmidt — was named Gatorade's CEO. Greg Via, Schmidt's second-in-command, left not long after Schmidt.

    Within weeks of his arrival, Fox had a new team in place. Former USA Today sports marketing director Jeff Urban, then just six months on the job as head of the sports division at promotions giant Frankel & Co., resigned from Frankel to join Gatorade. The reason for his quick departure? He wanted to work for Fox.

    "Tom has a unique ability to communicate in a genuine manner so everyone feels like we're in this together," Urban said. "You really have to put him on the list of people on the fast track in this industry. With his spending so much time on the international side of the business, he may not have caught everyone's eye. But he now has such varied experiences, from the shoe business to the international business to the properties business. That's another thing that made it very appealing to work for Tom."

    With the luxury of a large staff at his disposal, Fox now spends much of his time tackling major business issues, like trying to figure out how the Internet will change sports marketing, or what kind of impact telecommunications mergers have on Gatorade's business. He concedes he hasn't quite made sense of that one yet, but he is still trying.

    The tent and his travel visas that were once his most essential possessions have been traded in for a home in the suburbs and a little bit of domestic bliss. He and Deborah are expecting their first child in May. That should keep the Foxes in town for a while.

    Print | Tags: Fox, NBA, Quaker Oats, Reebok, USA Today Sports
  • Basic-cable Olympics: CNBC, MSNBC to provide original programming from Sydney

    Marking the first time that a Summer Olympics will appear on basic cable, NBC-owned CNBC and MSNBC will provide 172 hours of original programming from the 2000 Games in Sydney.

    Olympics broadcaster NBC, releasing plans last week for its cable-based coverage of the Sydney Games, also announced that Jim Lampley would be the studio host for MSNBC's Olympics telecasts and that Pat O'Brien would host CNBC's Olympics coverage.

    Other highlights:

    More than 30 gold-medal matchups will air on cable, including contests in boxing, soccer, tennis, equestrian, water polo, baseball and weightlifting.

    A total of 273 hours of Olympics programming will air on the two networks.

    MSNBC will televise the U.S. women's soccer team's opening match in prime time on Sept. 14. Additionally, the women's soccer gold medal game will run on cable.

    Boxing matches will air daily on CNBC.

    The CNBC and MSNBC coverage will double the number of hours of original programming coming out of Sydney; NBC is airing 1621¼2 hours.

    "That means the viewer has got a tremendous array of choices," said Dennis Swanson, NBC Olympics co-chairman. "The one thing that three distribution systems can do better than one distribution system is provide a lot more hours of coverage."

    Print | Tags: NBC
  • Basic-cable Olympics: CNBC, MSNBC to provide original programming from Sydney

    Marking the first time that a Summer Olympics will appear on basic cable, NBC-owned CNBC and MSNBC will provide 172 hours of original programming from the 2000 Games in Sydney.

    Olympics broadcaster NBC, releasing plans last week for its cable-based coverage of the Sydney Games, also announced that Jim Lampley would be the studio host for MSNBC's Olympics telecasts and that Pat O'Brien would host CNBC's Olympics coverage.

    Other highlights:

    More than 30 gold-medal matchups will air on cable, including contests in boxing, soccer, tennis, equestrian, water polo, baseball and weightlifting.

    A total of 273 hours of Olympics programming will air on the two networks.

    MSNBC will televise the U.S. women's soccer team's opening match in prime time on Sept. 14. Additionally, the women's soccer gold medal game will run on cable.

    Boxing matches will air daily on CNBC.

    The CNBC and MSNBC coverage will double the number of hours of original programming coming out of Sydney; NBC is airing 1621¼2 hours.

    "That means the viewer has got a tremendous array of choices," said Dennis Swanson, NBC Olympics co-chairman. "The one thing that three distribution systems can do better than one distribution system is provide a lot more hours of coverage."

    Print | Tags: NBC
  • Benton to sell share of circuit

    Tennis promoter Ray Benton plans to leave the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit next week and is selling his 25 percent stake in the organization.

    A co-founder in 1971 of the law firm that was the predecessor to ProServ Inc. and Advantage International, Benton established the senior men's tour with Jimmy Connors in 1993. Connors sold his 50 percent stake to IMG several years later.

    Benton, 58, said he has no concrete plans except to help Vic Braden re-establish his tennis colleges. While he would not disclose the value of his 25 percent stake, sources said it was worth roughly $1 million. Benton expects to sell it soon to a sports marketing company.

    While with the senior men's tour, he landed John Nuveen & Co. as an umbrella sponsor for the 10-tournament North American circuit, but the company did not renew for the past year. That left the finances of the tour, which is run by Benton's company, RHB Ventures, unsettled.

    "To make it a worthwhile venture from a business standpoint, you need an umbrella sponsor," Benton said.

    Benton's successor as head of the tour, Henry Brehm, plans to add tournaments to the 2000 schedule. Those additions, however, could replace events that may be discontinued in Detroit and Dallas.

    Print | Tags: IMG
  • Benton to sell share of circuit

    Tennis promoter Ray Benton plans to leave the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit next week and is selling his 25 percent stake in the organization.

    A co-founder in 1971 of the law firm that was the predecessor to ProServ Inc. and Advantage International, Benton established the senior men's tour with Jimmy Connors in 1993. Connors sold his 50 percent stake to IMG several years later.

    Benton, 58, said he has no concrete plans except to help Vic Braden re-establish his tennis colleges. While he would not disclose the value of his 25 percent stake, sources said it was worth roughly $1 million. Benton expects to sell it soon to a sports marketing company.

    While with the senior men's tour, he landed John Nuveen & Co. as an umbrella sponsor for the 10-tournament North American circuit, but the company did not renew for the past year. That left the finances of the tour, which is run by Benton's company, RHB Ventures, unsettled.

    "To make it a worthwhile venture from a business standpoint, you need an umbrella sponsor," Benton said.

    Benton's successor as head of the tour, Henry Brehm, plans to add tournaments to the 2000 schedule. Those additions, however, could replace events that may be discontinued in Detroit and Dallas.

    Print | Tags: IMG
  • Bryant courts Europe

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will use his new status as Italian basketball team owner to broaden his relationship with his sponsors and potentially find new ones, said Bryant's agent, Arn Tellem.

    Bryant announced last week that he bought a 50 percent stake in Olimpia Milano, an Italian Professional Basketball League team. The value of the deal was not announced, but a source said Bryant paid $3 million to $4 million.

    Tellem said Bryant will spend several weeks a year in Milan, which will allow him to spend time with his existing sponsors and may make him more appealing as an endorser to European companies.

    "Most of the companies he is involved with are global," Tellem said.

    Bryant's corporate relationships include Adidas, BroadBand Sports, Columbia Records, GTE, Mattel, Nintendo and Spalding.

    Print | Tags: Adidas, Los Angeles Lakers, Mattel, Spalding
  • Bryant courts Europe

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will use his new status as Italian basketball team owner to broaden his relationship with his sponsors and potentially find new ones, said Bryant's agent, Arn Tellem.

    Bryant announced last week that he bought a 50 percent stake in Olimpia Milano, an Italian Professional Basketball League team. The value of the deal was not announced, but a source said Bryant paid $3 million to $4 million.

    Tellem said Bryant will spend several weeks a year in Milan, which will allow him to spend time with his existing sponsors and may make him more appealing as an endorser to European companies.

    "Most of the companies he is involved with are global," Tellem said.

    Bryant's corporate relationships include Adidas, BroadBand Sports, Columbia Records, GTE, Mattel, Nintendo and Spalding.

    Print | Tags: Adidas, Los Angeles Lakers, Mattel, Spalding
  • Bull Run-Host deal rises to $158 million

    Bull Run Corp. last week was set to pay $158 million to acquire Host Communications Inc. and Universal Sports America Inc., or 23 percent more than was disclosed when the deals were first announced in February. A rise in Bull Run's stock price fueled the increase.

    The acquisitions, which were expected to close last week, were to be paid in a combination of cash, stock, options and debt. Part of the original $128 million purchase price was based on a $4 Bull Run share price, but the stock was trading on Tuesday at 57¼8, said Frederick Erickson, Bull Run's chief financial officer.

    Negotiators for Host, a leading college sports marketing firm, and Universal Sports, a sports marketing outfit, were meeting with Bull Run early last week to approve amended terms. Bull Run already controls minority positions in both companies, so it is buying the parts it does not already own.

    Under the new terms, if approved, $54.2 million of the deal will be in cash, and Host and Universal executives will receive $18.7 million of promissory notes. Originally, the deal included more cash and no notes. The remainder of the purchase price includes 11.33 million Bull Run shares, valued last Tuesday at $66.55 million, and options for an additional 3.16 million shares, valued at $18.55 million.

    Asked why the terms had been amended, Erickson said that such changes were normal alterations during the course of an acquisition. Bull Run shareholders approved the deal in September.

    To finance the purchase, Bull Run last week was set to open a $130 million credit facility with four banks, led by Bank of America Corp. The others are First Union Corp., Bank One Corp. and Wachovia Corp.

    If the Host and Universal Sports deals are consummated, 80 percent of Bull Run's $150 million in revenue will be derived from sports, Erickson said. Bull Run also has investments in several sports companies, including Internet company Total Sports Inc. and Rawlings Sporting Goods Co.

    Print
  • Bull Run-Host deal rises to $158 million

    Bull Run Corp. last week was set to pay $158 million to acquire Host Communications Inc. and Universal Sports America Inc., or 23 percent more than was disclosed when the deals were first announced in February. A rise in Bull Run's stock price fueled the increase.

    The acquisitions, which were expected to close last week, were to be paid in a combination of cash, stock, options and debt. Part of the original $128 million purchase price was based on a $4 Bull Run share price, but the stock was trading on Tuesday at 57¼8, said Frederick Erickson, Bull Run's chief financial officer.

    Negotiators for Host, a leading college sports marketing firm, and Universal Sports, a sports marketing outfit, were meeting with Bull Run early last week to approve amended terms. Bull Run already controls minority positions in both companies, so it is buying the parts it does not already own.

    Under the new terms, if approved, $54.2 million of the deal will be in cash, and Host and Universal executives will receive $18.7 million of promissory notes. Originally, the deal included more cash and no notes. The remainder of the purchase price includes 11.33 million Bull Run shares, valued last Tuesday at $66.55 million, and options for an additional 3.16 million shares, valued at $18.55 million.

    Asked why the terms had been amended, Erickson said that such changes were normal alterations during the course of an acquisition. Bull Run shareholders approved the deal in September.

    To finance the purchase, Bull Run last week was set to open a $130 million credit facility with four banks, led by Bank of America Corp. The others are First Union Corp., Bank One Corp. and Wachovia Corp.

    If the Host and Universal Sports deals are consummated, 80 percent of Bull Run's $150 million in revenue will be derived from sports, Erickson said. Bull Run also has investments in several sports companies, including Internet company Total Sports Inc. and Rawlings Sporting Goods Co.

    Print
  • CBS sales rates soar into the 90s for hot college hoops, golf markets

    Amid a sizzling sports TV advertising marketplace, CBS has sold nearly 95 percent of the ad time for its telecasts of the 1999-2000 NCAA men's basketball season and about 90 percent of the inventory for its broadcasts of the 2000 men's pro golf campaign, sources said.

    The network recently completed deals with a number of newcomers to its college basketball coverage. Among them are Acura, kforce.com and Nortel, sources said.

    CBS wouldn't comment.

    Industry sources also said American Express Co. has cut a deal for "credit-card exclusivity" on CBS' NCAA basketball coverage this season — meaning that AmEx will be the only credit card marketer advertising on those telecasts.

    On the golf front, CBS this week is expected to begin offering sponsorships for its coverage of the PGA Championship. The network will first approach the event's incumbent sponsors, offering three-year packages for the Grand Slam event, sources said. CBS again will look to sell all the ad time to only eight sponsors. The incumbents include Merrill Lynch & Co., Oldsmobile, Pfizer Inc., KPMG Peat Marwick, Sprint Corp., IBM Corp. and MasterCard International Inc.

    Sources say that Nike Inc., the other incumbent, apparently has opted not to return.

    The asking price for a one-eighth PGA Championship sponsorship — which is expected to include TV ad time, on-site signage and an Internet presence — likely will be about $2.7 million to $2.8 million a year, sources said.

    In other sports-media news involving CBS, sources say PaineWebber Inc. is close to a deal to become the title sponsor of the new "CBS Sports Desk," a sports-news update report that often will kick off the network's Saturday and Sunday sports coverage. Sports Desk updates also could occur at other times during CBS' weekend sports telecasts. The PaineWebber CBS Sports Desk is said to be debuting next month.

    Print | Tags: KPMG, Merrill Lynch, NCAA, Pfizer
  • CBS sales rates soar into the 90s for hot college hoops, golf markets

    Amid a sizzling sports TV advertising marketplace, CBS has sold nearly 95 percent of the ad time for its telecasts of the 1999-2000 NCAA men's basketball season and about 90 percent of the inventory for its broadcasts of the 2000 men's pro golf campaign, sources said.

    The network recently completed deals with a number of newcomers to its college basketball coverage. Among them are Acura, kforce.com and Nortel, sources said.

    CBS wouldn't comment.

    Industry sources also said American Express Co. has cut a deal for "credit-card exclusivity" on CBS' NCAA basketball coverage this season — meaning that AmEx will be the only credit card marketer advertising on those telecasts.

    On the golf front, CBS this week is expected to begin offering sponsorships for its coverage of the PGA Championship. The network will first approach the event's incumbent sponsors, offering three-year packages for the Grand Slam event, sources said. CBS again will look to sell all the ad time to only eight sponsors. The incumbents include Merrill Lynch & Co., Oldsmobile, Pfizer Inc., KPMG Peat Marwick, Sprint Corp., IBM Corp. and MasterCard International Inc.

    Sources say that Nike Inc., the other incumbent, apparently has opted not to return.

    The asking price for a one-eighth PGA Championship sponsorship — which is expected to include TV ad time, on-site signage and an Internet presence — likely will be about $2.7 million to $2.8 million a year, sources said.

    In other sports-media news involving CBS, sources say PaineWebber Inc. is close to a deal to become the title sponsor of the new "CBS Sports Desk," a sports-news update report that often will kick off the network's Saturday and Sunday sports coverage. Sports Desk updates also could occur at other times during CBS' weekend sports telecasts. The PaineWebber CBS Sports Desk is said to be debuting next month.

    Print | Tags: KPMG, Merrill Lynch, NCAA, Pfizer
  • Census counts on MLB, SI to reach minorities

    The Census Bureau is hoping to turn a $1 million media buy in Sports Illustrated into tens of millions worth of television advertising by teaming up with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to create a baseball-themed advertising campaign.

    Public service announcements featuring Derek Jeter, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Barry Bonds will air on network television, in all 28 major league ballparks in the United States and in the pages of Sports Illustrated starting in February. The Bureau hopes to reach a wide audience, particularly minorities who may have been underrepresented in previous population counts.

    Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated negotiated the agreement with MLB Properties Inc. and the MLB Players Association on behalf of the Census Bureau, allowing the bureau to picture the MLB logo and MLB players wearing their team uniforms in its advertising. The bureau agreed to buy five full-page ads in the magazine, plus pay Sports Illustrated another $150,000 for the MLB marketing package. In-stadium advertising was included, and the Census Bureau will tie individual teams and athletes with some of its grassroots marketing efforts in various cities.

    Terms of the advertising deal were not disclosed, but single full-page ads in the magazine sell for $218,000. The players will be paid for their expenses.

    Including production expenses, the bureau will spend only about $2 million on the baseball campaign, a tiny slice of its overall $102.8 million marketing budget. But with the networks more prone to run public service announcements that feature sports celebrities and every U.S. MLB team agreeing to run the spots on their video scoreboards, the total media value of the campaign could stretch into the tens of million of dollars.

    "Since baseball is the great American pastime, we thought it would be a great association to help restore some of the civic ceremony in the census," said Terry Dukes, an executive vice president at Young & Rubicam, the Census Bureau's lead advertising agency. "The census is not primary on people's minds. In fact, it's sort of become irrelevant. We want to use baseball to make it more a part of how people live."

    Census advertising of all forms will saturate the airwaves during the two months preceding the census form's late-April due date — a period that jibes perfectly with the start of baseball season.

    Along with the timing and baseball's Americana image, the sport's broad demographics made it a good fit with the Census Bureau's objectives. Loosely stated, the Census Bureau is trying to reach an audience that includes every American above age 18.

    "Baseball appeals to people from a wide variety of ages, genders, educational backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds," said Dukes.

    For baseball, the census deal marks an unprecedented example of the league, the union and all the teams working together with an advertiser.

    "It's the epitome of a full integration in that it's at the national level, the local level and it includes the players," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's senior vice president of properties.

    Because the league's normal fees were lowered, the Census Bureau will not receive an official sponsor designation.

    "This is as much goodwill as it is a sponsorship," Brosnan said. "The U.S. Census Bureau comes to us and says, 'This is important, we need help.' We respond to that."

    Print | Tags: MLB, MLB Properties Inc
  • Census counts on MLB, SI to reach minorities

    The Census Bureau is hoping to turn a $1 million media buy in Sports Illustrated into tens of millions worth of television advertising by teaming up with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to create a baseball-themed advertising campaign.

    Public service announcements featuring Derek Jeter, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Barry Bonds will air on network television, in all 28 major league ballparks in the United States and in the pages of Sports Illustrated starting in February. The Bureau hopes to reach a wide audience, particularly minorities who may have been underrepresented in previous population counts.

    Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated negotiated the agreement with MLB Properties Inc. and the MLB Players Association on behalf of the Census Bureau, allowing the bureau to picture the MLB logo and MLB players wearing their team uniforms in its advertising. The bureau agreed to buy five full-page ads in the magazine, plus pay Sports Illustrated another $150,000 for the MLB marketing package. In-stadium advertising was included, and the Census Bureau will tie individual teams and athletes with some of its grassroots marketing efforts in various cities.

    Terms of the advertising deal were not disclosed, but single full-page ads in the magazine sell for $218,000. The players will be paid for their expenses.

    Including production expenses, the bureau will spend only about $2 million on the baseball campaign, a tiny slice of its overall $102.8 million marketing budget. But with the networks more prone to run public service announcements that feature sports celebrities and every U.S. MLB team agreeing to run the spots on their video scoreboards, the total media value of the campaign could stretch into the tens of million of dollars.

    "Since baseball is the great American pastime, we thought it would be a great association to help restore some of the civic ceremony in the census," said Terry Dukes, an executive vice president at Young & Rubicam, the Census Bureau's lead advertising agency. "The census is not primary on people's minds. In fact, it's sort of become irrelevant. We want to use baseball to make it more a part of how people live."

    Census advertising of all forms will saturate the airwaves during the two months preceding the census form's late-April due date — a period that jibes perfectly with the start of baseball season.

    Along with the timing and baseball's Americana image, the sport's broad demographics made it a good fit with the Census Bureau's objectives. Loosely stated, the Census Bureau is trying to reach an audience that includes every American above age 18.

    "Baseball appeals to people from a wide variety of ages, genders, educational backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds," said Dukes.

    For baseball, the census deal marks an unprecedented example of the league, the union and all the teams working together with an advertiser.

    "It's the epitome of a full integration in that it's at the national level, the local level and it includes the players," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's senior vice president of properties.

    Because the league's normal fees were lowered, the Census Bureau will not receive an official sponsor designation.

    "This is as much goodwill as it is a sponsorship," Brosnan said. "The U.S. Census Bureau comes to us and says, 'This is important, we need help.' We respond to that."

    Print | Tags: MLB, MLB Properties Inc
  • COAST TO COAST

    ATLANTA

     Bowl records earliest sellout

    The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl recorded its earliest sellout in the game’s 32-year history for the Dec. 30 matchup between Clemson and Mississippi State. The game will be played at the 71,228-seat Georgia Dome. It became listed as a sellout on Dec. 9. Peach Bowl President Gary Stokan said the game and its related events will have a local economic impact of $35 million and will attract about 45,000 out-of-town visitors.

     NFL sponsors back local group

    Four NFL sponsors extended their national sponsorships to a local level by joining the Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee. AutoNation USA, Coca-Cola Co., Progressive Auto Insurance and RCA signed on as official host committee sponsors. Super Bowl XXXIV will be played at the Georgia Dome on Jan. 30.

    BALTIMORE

     Ravens catch break on bills

    The Baltimore Ravens were granted leniency for about $426,000 the team owes for utility bills. Because of a bureaucratic snafu, utility companies were not contacted when the team moved into its Owings Mills, Md., training facility in April 1996. A recent audit revealed the mix-up. According to the Ravens' lease, the team is required to pay $1 a year in rent and pay the utility bills each month. Ravens officials said they will pay the bills when they are received.

     PSINet wants CBS recognition

    Officials with PSINet Inc. are upset with CBS for a lack of recognition at Baltimore Ravens games. The Herndon, Va.-based company acquired naming rights to PSINet Stadium in a 20-year, $105.5 million deal, but CBS Sports commentators consistently refer to the venue as Ravens Stadium during broadcasts. The network's on-screen graphics also label the stadium incorrectly. PSINet officials claim CBS refuses to mention the company's name because it does not advertise with the network. CBS officials were unavailable for comment. PSINet representatives have contacted CBS to discuss the matter and have asked Ravens President David Modell to intervene on their behalf.

    BUFFALO

     Adelphia brings services to fans

    The Buffalo Sabres and Adelphia Communications Corp. unveiled an interactive zone inside Marine Midland Arena. Called the "Adelphia Connection," the 1,500-square-foot space includes dozens of digital televisions, four phone booths that allow fans to make up to two minutes in long-distance calls for free, online computers and printers to download sports information, and a hockey archive area that allows fans to view historical photographs of the Sabres and local amateur teams and players. The theme of the technology center plays off the multitude of communications products sold through Adelphia. Six workers will oversee the operation during all arena events. The cost to construct the interactive area was close to $400,000 but will be paid for through sponsorship deals with ESPN, Empire Sports Network, Encore and Discovery Channel. Adelphia has an agreement to purchase the Sabres, but the deal has not been completed.

     Bisons adjust ticket-price structure

    The Class AAA Buffalo Bisons will not raise the price of season tickets for next year despite posting the top attendance total in Minor League Baseball in 1999. The team averaged 10,060 fans a game. Season tickets will again range in price from $390 to $430. Individual-game tickets, however, will increase by 25 cents per seat to cost between $3.50 and $9 a game.

    CHARLOTTE

     Panthers launch online retail site

    The Carolina Panthers Team Store at Ericsson Stadium began selling merchandise online this month at www.pantherstore.com. Panthers officials said the move was prompted by the prospect of sales to fans throughout the Carolinas and in other parts of the country.

     Changes made on commission board

    Local attorney John Fennebresque stepped down from the board of the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission after five years of service. The group added to the board Tom Revels of Presbyterian Healthcare and Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

    CHICAGO

     Dismal fate seen for Great Eight

    The 6-year-old Great Eight college basketball tournament, a joint project of ESPN and Charlotte-based TV syndicator Raycom Sports, may have played its last games. This year’s event, played earlier this month at Chicago’s United Center, was about 8,000 fans shy of the arena’s 21,000-seat capacity. Prospects for the tournament’s future are further hurt by the NCAA’s likely move to eliminate teams’ exemptions for participating. The change would require teams to sacrifice a home game to play in the neutral-site tournament, an unlikely scenario. Raycom Executive Vice President Ken Haines said the tournament could be altered or even moved to Charlotte, but chances are slim it will survive.

     Bears re-sign with radio partner

    The Chicago Bears reached a five-year local broadcast deal with WMAQ-AM and the Infinity Radio Group. Terms were not disclosed. WMAQ has carried Bears games for the past three years.

    CINCINNATI

     Bengals say farewell to Cinergy Field

    The Cincinnati Bengals played their last game at Cinergy Field, formerly known as Riverfront Stadium, before a sellout crowd of 59,972 on Dec. 12. The Bengals closed out the 29-year-old stadium's football history with a 44-28 victory over in-state rival Cleveland. The crowd fell just short of the team's all-time largest home crowd of 60,284 for a Bengals-Browns game in 1971. The Bengals are slated to open the 2000 season in their new Paul Brown Stadium. The Cincinnati Reds will continue to play at Cinergy Field until 2003, when their new stadium is scheduled to open.

     Speedway gets new sponsor, event

    Kentucky Speedway signed Nabisco as its official cookie and cracker sponsor. The motorspeedway is scheduled to open in June in Sparta, Ky., southwest of Cincinnati. The $150 million track also added a fifth event for its inaugural season with an ARCA race scheduled for July 2.

    DALLAS-FORT WORTH

     Rangers coming up blue

    The Texas Rangers are making a uniform change for the first time since 1994. Beginning next year, the team's road uniforms will feature a darker shade of gray and will replace the previous red with blue as the dominant trim color. The team will wear blue road caps. The team also will introduce an all-blue alternate jersey and alternate cap for both home and road wear.

     ClubCorp adds San Antonio course

    Locally based ClubCorp Inc. acquired Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio. In May, Golf Digest ranked the Canyon Springs course as the eighth-best public course in Texas. Canyon Springs is part of an 800-home development that eventually will include office and retail space. With $1.5 billion in assets, ClubCorp is the world's largest owner and operator of golf courses, private clubs and resorts.

    DENVER

     Coyote Sports moves to liquidate

    Coyote Sports Inc. of nearby Boulder plans to liquidate most of its assets through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The company makes golf shafts and bicycle tubing. The company filed for bankruptcy protection this fall.

     North Face relocating to California

    North Face Inc. will relocate its headquarters to San Leandro, Calif., from Carbondale, Colo. The move will take place in February and will affect about 70 employees. North Face makes outdoor apparel and camping gear. The company expects the move to cost $3.5 million.

    HOUSTON

     Cost increase projected for stadium

    Construction costs for the city’s planned new NFL stadium could be at least 20 percent higher than the $310 million projected almost two years ago. The price could now reach $372 million, according to new finance and construction information from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. Reasons cited for the increase include interest rates rising 1.25 percent in the last year, the cost of doing business going up 6 percent over the last two years and the price of concrete and steel increasing more than 10 percent in the last year. Construction of the stadium for the team, owned by Robert McNair, is still on schedule for a March groundbreaking.

     Track sets new handle record

    Sam Houston Race Park broke its handle record on Texas Champions Day Dec. 10 with $4 million in wagers. The previous record was set on Breeders’ Cup Day in 1998 with $3.7 million in wagers. Texas Champions Day is designed to highlight Texas horses, breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys.

    INDIANAPOLIS

     Arena scores Big Ten tournament

    Conseco Fieldhouse was picked to host the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2002 and 2004. The United Center in Chicago will host the event in 2001, 2003 and 2005 as well as next year’s tournament. Conseco Fieldhouse is home to the Indiana Pacers.

    JACKSONVILLE

     Magazine adding Orlando coverage

    Sideline Sports, a year-old free sports magazine published in Jacksonville, is expanding to the Orlando market. The monthly magazine covers the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the University of Florida and Florida State University. The magazine is adding the Orlando Magic to its coverage with the expansion. Sideline Sports also covers local amateur athletes including in-line skaters, surfers and prep stars. The magazine’s owner, Todd Drexler, is a photographer for the Jaguars. The publication employs three full-time and eight part-time workers and is available at more than 400 local stores and restaurants.

    KANSAS CITY

     Royals search for possible bidders

    The Kansas City Royals’ investment banker, J.P. Morgan & Co., is contacting potential bidders for the franchise. Known bidders to date include Royals Chairman David Glass and attorney Miles Prentice, whose $75 million offer to buy the team was rejected in November by MLB owners.

     Arena spurs Ellerbe Becket business

    Locally based Ellerbe Becket was picked to design the San Antonio Spurs’ planned new arena. Construction is scheduled to start March 1 and should be finished Oct. 1, 2002. The arena is expected to seat 18,500 for basketball.

    MADISON, Wis.

     Club creates rosy scenario for coaches

    University of Wisconsin football coaches will split a $200,000 bonus from the Mendota Gridiron Club, a Madison-area booster group, because the team is returning to the Rose Bowl this season. The Badgers also played in the Rose Bowl to conclude last season. The club put up a similar $200,000 bonus last year. The payments must be approved by the UW Athletic Board, but the group allowed the payments after last year. Other booster groups will pay to send 113 people to the Rose Bowl game who were cut from the school’s official traveling party in an effort to hold down bowl-related expenses as much possible.

    MIAMI

     Stadium pegged for enterprise plan

    Miami-Dade County officials want to expand the county’s enterprise zone to include a new district anchored by Pro Player Stadium. The Miami-Dade County Commission agreed to request state approval for the move. Businesses that create jobs in those zones are eligible for benefits that include tax credits, sales tax refunds and property tax breaks.

     Campus arena reportedly behind schedule

    The University of Miami is behind in its plans to build an on-campus arena, according to a Miami Herald report. The building reportedly won’t be ready until the 2002-03 season, one year after it was originally slated to be ready. Design and logistical issues were cited as reasons for the delay. Demolition work began in September for the $36 million, 9,200-seat facility. The arena will be home to the school’s basketball teams.

     Web site signs soccer experts

    SportsYA.com, a locally based interactive Spanish-language sports Web site, signed an exclusive partnership agreement with international soccer experts Cesar Luis Menotti and Jorge Valdano.

     Bank buys Heat tickets for youth

    BankUnited FSB purchased nearly 12,000 tickets from the Miami Heat to be distributed to youth and community groups in south Florida. The tickets were purchased for seven games in January at the team’s new AmericanAirlines Arena, which is scheduled to open Dec. 31. Bank-United FSB is the principal subsidiary of BankUnited Financial Corp. of Coral Gables, Fla., and is the largest financial institution based in Florida.

    MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

     Twins honoring new-year infants

    The Minnesota Twins and Fairview Health Services are teaming for the Fairview Millennium Twins program. The program calls for honoring the first set of twins born in 2000 at any one of the seven hospitals in the Fairview system. Among the gifts the newborns will receive are lifetime season tickets for the Twins. In addition, all twin or multiple babies born at Fairview hospitals next year will receive official Minnesota Twins baby outfits and stocking caps.

    MONTREAL

     Loria takes charge with Expos

    New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria was formally introduced Dec. 9 as the new owner of the Montreal Expos. Loria acquired a 35 percent stake in the team. The balance is expected to be divided between the team’s previous ownership group and additional new investors. Loria said he plans to increase the team’s payroll by 50 percent from its $19 million total last season. He assumes the role with the Expos previously held by Claude Brochu, who is no longer involved with the team.

    NASHVILLE

     Kats owner seeking lease change

    Nashville Kats representatives ended talk that the team may be sold to Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams. Mark Bloom, majority owner and president of the Kats, said he and his partners will not discuss a Kats purchase with any suitor. He added, however, that he wants to discuss a change in the team’s lease at Gaylord Entertainment Center with the Nashville Predators, which is the primary tenant in the teams’ shared home. Adams said earlier he was interested in purchasing the Arena Football League team but would probably move the team elsewhere in the state should he gain control of the franchise.

    NEW YORK

     MetroStars solicit mascot ideas

    The New York/New Jersey MetroStars are reaching out to area soccer fans to help design and name a team mascot that will be introduced in the 2000 Major League Soccer season. The person who submits the winning design will receive a pair of MetroStars season tickets for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons.

    ORLANDO

     Company brings Magic to Bears fans

    RDV Sports put synergy in motion recently when Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong and executive vice president Julius Erving gave a motivational speech to fans at an Orlando Solar Bears International Hockey League game. RDV Sports is the parent company of both teams.

    PHILADELPHIA

     Track starts fan-reward program

    Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa., launched a program to reward its regular customers. Under terms of the Player Rewards Program, horse-racing wagerers can earn points every time they place a bet at the track, at one of its off-track betting parlors or over the telephone using the track’s Phonebet service. The points are redeemable for products ranging from programs and racing forms to food, beverage and wagering vouchers.

     Lindros site aids children’s charity

    Philadelphia Flyers star Eric Lindros launched a Web site at www.EricLindros.net to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. All proceeds from the sale of items through the site’s e-commerce section will go to the charity. The site was designed by Creative Visual Images of Marlton, N.J. The e-commerce section was prepared by Bowman & Co. of Voorhees, N.J.

     Station adds online prep feature

    Local NBC affiliate WCAU-TV launched an initiative on its Web site, www.nbc10.com, aimed at improving the station’s ability to cover high school sports. The program was created in conjunction with InstaSports, a subsidiary of AWS Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md. The feature allows schools to post schedules, scores and statistics directly.

    PHOENIX

     Event bringing back one-day pass

    The Tradition presented by Countrywide will have daily tickets available for the first time since 1995 when the Senior PGA Tour event is played next year. The event is scheduled for March 27 through April 2. The $40 daily ticket is good for one round of play. Tournament management is bringing back the single-day pass to provide greater flexibility for fans, but only 10,000 tickets will be sold for each round. The tournament this year was won by Graham Marsh.

     Company starts women’s hockey league

    Polar Ice Entertainment launched the first Phoenix Women’s Hockey League, open to women of all ages and playing levels throughout the area. All local ice rinks are being encouraged by Polar Ice to participate in the league. Polar Ice is a developer and operator of ice skating facilities and is based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Corporate sponsors also are being sought to defray uniform and equipment costs.

    PORTLAND

     Group gets extension in team search

    Portland Family Entertainment was given a 90-day extension to March 31 to purchase a Class AAA baseball team that would move to the city-owned Civic Stadium for the 2001 season. The Portland City Council granted the extension to keep alive its deal with PFE, which is trying to partner with the city in a $37 million stadium renovation project. Part of the agreement required that PFE acquire a Class AAA team and a minor league soccer franchise. PFE already has purchased a United Soccer Leagues A-League team. A deal to purchase the Class AAA Calgary Cannons fell through last month.

     Nike signs 2000 Olympics deal

    Nike Inc. signed a deal to provide clothing for all of Australia’s athletes during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The multimillion-dollar deal also extends to outfitting the teams for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike replaces rival Reebok International Ltd., which ended its multimillion-dollar deal to outfit the Australian team. Reebok officials claimed that the Australians broke their contract by letting other companies distribute clothes at the games.

    ROCHESTER, N.Y.

     Kodak enters AHL picture

    Locally based Eastman Kodak Co. will be the title sponsor of the 2000 American Hockey League All-Star Classic. The league’s All-Star Game and related events are scheduled for Jan. 16-17 at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena.

    SACRAMENTO


     Raley’s signs new sponsor deal

    Raley’s supermarket chain signed a new three-year sponsorship with the Sacramento Kings. The contract provides for participation in 10 events with Kings players and the team’s Royal Court dancers, title sponsorship of the Junior Kings Club for children and presenting sponsor status for the George J. Maloof Sr. Community Cup.

     Kings honor former mayor

    The Kings are wearing black bands on their uniforms for the rest of the season to honor Sacramento’s late Mayor Joe Serna Jr., who died Nov. 7. Serna played an instrumental role in approving a $73 million loan from the city of Sacramento for the Kings in 1997 that helped keep the team in town.

     Track ticket sales ahead of schedule

    Organizers of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials scheduled for Sacramento in July have sold 40 percent of the tickets available for the event, totaling $1.3 million. About 80 percent of the ticket packages have been purchased by local residents. The Sacramento Sports Commission, which is leading the effort, did not expect to reach that level of ticket sales until next year. Organizers also have commitments of more than $700,000 from corporate sponsors, with another $500,000 expected from potential sponsors who are still in negotiations.

    SAN ANTONIO

     Bell offer rings for Big 12 fans

    Fans of Big 12 Conference teams can now buy from Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. cell-phone faceplates in team colors and bearing team logos. The plates, available for $29 each, fit Nokia 5100 series phones. The deal is part of Southwestern Bell’s ongoing sponsorship deal with the Big 12, which includes title-sponsor rights to the Cotton Bowl game. Southwestern Bell is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc.

     Alamo Bowl listed as sellout

    The Sylvania Alamo Bowl is sold out prior to game day for the first time in the bowl’s seven-year history. A crowd of 65,000 is expected to attend the Dec. 28 game at the Alamodome between Penn State and Texas A&M.

    SAN DIEGO

     Groups challenge ballpark plans

    The San Diego County Taxpayers Association asked city officials to halt the planned downtown redevelopment project anchored by a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres pending resolution of financial concerns. Padres President Larry Lucchino labeled the tax-payer association’s re-quest “irresponsble and disinnous.” In a related matter, opponents of the downtown ballpark launched a petition drive to put an anti-ballpark initiative before voters. The group Citizens for an Informed Vote has until May 1 to collect more than 59,000 signatures from registered city voters. The group claims voters in 1998 did not have information about the ballpark’s environmental impacts and other details on the project when they approved a plan to build the stadium.

     Le Mans race dropped from calendar

    The San Diego Grand Prix has been dropped from the American Le Mans Series schedule. The race had been scheduled for November as the final 1999 stop on the series’ schedule but was later postponed until February to be the opening race of next year’s schedule. Bill Donaldson, executive director of the series, said local organizers did not meet necessary commitments to stage the race.

     Tournament alters schedule for ABC

    The Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship, scheduled for Feb. 24-27 at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., will change its format slightly from the inaugural event won by Jeff Maggert last February. Instead of the tournament’s round of 16 and quarterfinals round being played on Friday, the quarterfinals and semifinals will both be held on Saturday, allowing ABC to have extended coverage on the weekend.

    SAN FRANCISCO

     49ers put stamp on decade

    The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a commemorate stamp honoring the San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980s. The 49ers were selected in a public contest as part of the Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century stamp program. The 49ers won four Super Bowls between 1982 and 1990. The stamp will be issued Jan. 13 as part of a 15-stamp series recognizing significant people and events of the 1980s.

     Cup team adds sponsors

    Lycos Inc. signed as a sponsor of locally based America’s Cup 2000 challenger AmericaOne. The Waltham, Mass.-based company receives branding on the team’s two boats. Separately, Network Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va., also signed as a corporate partner of AmericaOne.

    SAN JOSE

     Earthquakes draw on youth artists

    The San Jose Earthquakes will feature artwork of 16 local youth on their tickets next year. The Major League Soccer team’s “Decorate a Season Ticket” contest encourages children between the ages of 5 and 14 to illustrate what Bay Area soccer means to them. Team officials will select 16 of the drawings as the background for their 2000 season tickets. Two drawings will be chosen from each grade level from kindergarten through seventh grade.

     Fogdog launches public offering

    Online sporting goods retailer Fogdog Inc. of nearby Redwood City, Calif., went public Dec. 9. The company’s stock opened at $11 a share and closed its first day of trading at $13.12. Fogdog closed at $9.44 last Wednesday.

    SEATTLE

     Motorola re-signs with CART team

    Motorola Inc. extended its affiliation with Bruce McCaw’s PacWest Racing Group, signing a two-year sponsorship deal with an option for a third year. Seattle-based PacWest operates two CART teams. Motorola sponsors Mark Blundell’s No. 18 car.

    ST. LOUIS

     Bud Light taps Gretzky for deal

    Wayne Gretzky agreed to become an official spokesman for Bud Light, according to officials with locally based Anheuser-Busch Cos. The NHL hall of famer will be featured in Bud Light’s print, radio and television advertisements and will make personal appearances on behalf of the brand.

    TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

     Bucs launch team Web site

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers launched a Web site at www.buccaneers.com. The site had been scheduled to launch in time for the start of this year’s NFL season but was delayed.

     Reds’ site converted for softball

    The Cincinnati Reds’ former spring training complex in nearby Plant City, Fla., has become the new home for two of the four Women’s Pro Softball League teams. The Tampa Bay FireStix and the Florida Wahoos, formerly the Georgia Pride, will play at Plant City Stadium east of Tampa this spring. The 6,000-seat stadium has been converted from baseball to softball and will become a training center for players. The Reds left the stadium in 1998 in favor of training in Sarasota, Fla.

    TORONTO

     Delgado starts program for youth

    Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado is creating a program called Carlos’ Kids to allow local underprivileged youth to attend games. Delgado, who recently signed a reported three-year, $36 million contract to remain with the Blue Jays, also is contributing toward a team fund called Field of Dreams with the goal of raising money to maintain and upgrade local baseball parks.

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  • COAST TO COAST

    ATLANTA

     Bowl records earliest sellout

    The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl recorded its earliest sellout in the game’s 32-year history for the Dec. 30 matchup between Clemson and Mississippi State. The game will be played at the 71,228-seat Georgia Dome. It became listed as a sellout on Dec. 9. Peach Bowl President Gary Stokan said the game and its related events will have a local economic impact of $35 million and will attract about 45,000 out-of-town visitors.

     NFL sponsors back local group

    Four NFL sponsors extended their national sponsorships to a local level by joining the Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee. AutoNation USA, Coca-Cola Co., Progressive Auto Insurance and RCA signed on as official host committee sponsors. Super Bowl XXXIV will be played at the Georgia Dome on Jan. 30.

    BALTIMORE

     Ravens catch break on bills

    The Baltimore Ravens were granted leniency for about $426,000 the team owes for utility bills. Because of a bureaucratic snafu, utility companies were not contacted when the team moved into its Owings Mills, Md., training facility in April 1996. A recent audit revealed the mix-up. According to the Ravens' lease, the team is required to pay $1 a year in rent and pay the utility bills each month. Ravens officials said they will pay the bills when they are received.

     PSINet wants CBS recognition

    Officials with PSINet Inc. are upset with CBS for a lack of recognition at Baltimore Ravens games. The Herndon, Va.-based company acquired naming rights to PSINet Stadium in a 20-year, $105.5 million deal, but CBS Sports commentators consistently refer to the venue as Ravens Stadium during broadcasts. The network's on-screen graphics also label the stadium incorrectly. PSINet officials claim CBS refuses to mention the company's name because it does not advertise with the network. CBS officials were unavailable for comment. PSINet representatives have contacted CBS to discuss the matter and have asked Ravens President David Modell to intervene on their behalf.

    BUFFALO

     Adelphia brings services to fans

    The Buffalo Sabres and Adelphia Communications Corp. unveiled an interactive zone inside Marine Midland Arena. Called the "Adelphia Connection," the 1,500-square-foot space includes dozens of digital televisions, four phone booths that allow fans to make up to two minutes in long-distance calls for free, online computers and printers to download sports information, and a hockey archive area that allows fans to view historical photographs of the Sabres and local amateur teams and players. The theme of the technology center plays off the multitude of communications products sold through Adelphia. Six workers will oversee the operation during all arena events. The cost to construct the interactive area was close to $400,000 but will be paid for through sponsorship deals with ESPN, Empire Sports Network, Encore and Discovery Channel. Adelphia has an agreement to purchase the Sabres, but the deal has not been completed.

     Bisons adjust ticket-price structure

    The Class AAA Buffalo Bisons will not raise the price of season tickets for next year despite posting the top attendance total in Minor League Baseball in 1999. The team averaged 10,060 fans a game. Season tickets will again range in price from $390 to $430. Individual-game tickets, however, will increase by 25 cents per seat to cost between $3.50 and $9 a game.

    CHARLOTTE

     Panthers launch online retail site

    The Carolina Panthers Team Store at Ericsson Stadium began selling merchandise online this month at www.pantherstore.com. Panthers officials said the move was prompted by the prospect of sales to fans throughout the Carolinas and in other parts of the country.

     Changes made on commission board

    Local attorney John Fennebresque stepped down from the board of the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission after five years of service. The group added to the board Tom Revels of Presbyterian Healthcare and Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

    CHICAGO

     Dismal fate seen for Great Eight

    The 6-year-old Great Eight college basketball tournament, a joint project of ESPN and Charlotte-based TV syndicator Raycom Sports, may have played its last games. This year’s event, played earlier this month at Chicago’s United Center, was about 8,000 fans shy of the arena’s 21,000-seat capacity. Prospects for the tournament’s future are further hurt by the NCAA’s likely move to eliminate teams’ exemptions for participating. The change would require teams to sacrifice a home game to play in the neutral-site tournament, an unlikely scenario. Raycom Executive Vice President Ken Haines said the tournament could be altered or even moved to Charlotte, but chances are slim it will survive.

     Bears re-sign with radio partner

    The Chicago Bears reached a five-year local broadcast deal with WMAQ-AM and the Infinity Radio Group. Terms were not disclosed. WMAQ has carried Bears games for the past three years.

    CINCINNATI

     Bengals say farewell to Cinergy Field

    The Cincinnati Bengals played their last game at Cinergy Field, formerly known as Riverfront Stadium, before a sellout crowd of 59,972 on Dec. 12. The Bengals closed out the 29-year-old stadium's football history with a 44-28 victory over in-state rival Cleveland. The crowd fell just short of the team's all-time largest home crowd of 60,284 for a Bengals-Browns game in 1971. The Bengals are slated to open the 2000 season in their new Paul Brown Stadium. The Cincinnati Reds will continue to play at Cinergy Field until 2003, when their new stadium is scheduled to open.

     Speedway gets new sponsor, event

    Kentucky Speedway signed Nabisco as its official cookie and cracker sponsor. The motorspeedway is scheduled to open in June in Sparta, Ky., southwest of Cincinnati. The $150 million track also added a fifth event for its inaugural season with an ARCA race scheduled for July 2.

    DALLAS-FORT WORTH

     Rangers coming up blue

    The Texas Rangers are making a uniform change for the first time since 1994. Beginning next year, the team's road uniforms will feature a darker shade of gray and will replace the previous red with blue as the dominant trim color. The team will wear blue road caps. The team also will introduce an all-blue alternate jersey and alternate cap for both home and road wear.

     ClubCorp adds San Antonio course

    Locally based ClubCorp Inc. acquired Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio. In May, Golf Digest ranked the Canyon Springs course as the eighth-best public course in Texas. Canyon Springs is part of an 800-home development that eventually will include office and retail space. With $1.5 billion in assets, ClubCorp is the world's largest owner and operator of golf courses, private clubs and resorts.

    DENVER

     Coyote Sports moves to liquidate

    Coyote Sports Inc. of nearby Boulder plans to liquidate most of its assets through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The company makes golf shafts and bicycle tubing. The company filed for bankruptcy protection this fall.

     North Face relocating to California

    North Face Inc. will relocate its headquarters to San Leandro, Calif., from Carbondale, Colo. The move will take place in February and will affect about 70 employees. North Face makes outdoor apparel and camping gear. The company expects the move to cost $3.5 million.

    HOUSTON

     Cost increase projected for stadium

    Construction costs for the city’s planned new NFL stadium could be at least 20 percent higher than the $310 million projected almost two years ago. The price could now reach $372 million, according to new finance and construction information from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. Reasons cited for the increase include interest rates rising 1.25 percent in the last year, the cost of doing business going up 6 percent over the last two years and the price of concrete and steel increasing more than 10 percent in the last year. Construction of the stadium for the team, owned by Robert McNair, is still on schedule for a March groundbreaking.

     Track sets new handle record

    Sam Houston Race Park broke its handle record on Texas Champions Day Dec. 10 with $4 million in wagers. The previous record was set on Breeders’ Cup Day in 1998 with $3.7 million in wagers. Texas Champions Day is designed to highlight Texas horses, breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys.

    INDIANAPOLIS

     Arena scores Big Ten tournament

    Conseco Fieldhouse was picked to host the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2002 and 2004. The United Center in Chicago will host the event in 2001, 2003 and 2005 as well as next year’s tournament. Conseco Fieldhouse is home to the Indiana Pacers.

    JACKSONVILLE

     Magazine adding Orlando coverage

    Sideline Sports, a year-old free sports magazine published in Jacksonville, is expanding to the Orlando market. The monthly magazine covers the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the University of Florida and Florida State University. The magazine is adding the Orlando Magic to its coverage with the expansion. Sideline Sports also covers local amateur athletes including in-line skaters, surfers and prep stars. The magazine’s owner, Todd Drexler, is a photographer for the Jaguars. The publication employs three full-time and eight part-time workers and is available at more than 400 local stores and restaurants.

    KANSAS CITY

     Royals search for possible bidders

    The Kansas City Royals’ investment banker, J.P. Morgan & Co., is contacting potential bidders for the franchise. Known bidders to date include Royals Chairman David Glass and attorney Miles Prentice, whose $75 million offer to buy the team was rejected in November by MLB owners.

     Arena spurs Ellerbe Becket business

    Locally based Ellerbe Becket was picked to design the San Antonio Spurs’ planned new arena. Construction is scheduled to start March 1 and should be finished Oct. 1, 2002. The arena is expected to seat 18,500 for basketball.

    MADISON, Wis.

     Club creates rosy scenario for coaches

    University of Wisconsin football coaches will split a $200,000 bonus from the Mendota Gridiron Club, a Madison-area booster group, because the team is returning to the Rose Bowl this season. The Badgers also played in the Rose Bowl to conclude last season. The club put up a similar $200,000 bonus last year. The payments must be approved by the UW Athletic Board, but the group allowed the payments after last year. Other booster groups will pay to send 113 people to the Rose Bowl game who were cut from the school’s official traveling party in an effort to hold down bowl-related expenses as much possible.

    MIAMI

     Stadium pegged for enterprise plan

    Miami-Dade County officials want to expand the county’s enterprise zone to include a new district anchored by Pro Player Stadium. The Miami-Dade County Commission agreed to request state approval for the move. Businesses that create jobs in those zones are eligible for benefits that include tax credits, sales tax refunds and property tax breaks.

     Campus arena reportedly behind schedule

    The University of Miami is behind in its plans to build an on-campus arena, according to a Miami Herald report. The building reportedly won’t be ready until the 2002-03 season, one year after it was originally slated to be ready. Design and logistical issues were cited as reasons for the delay. Demolition work began in September for the $36 million, 9,200-seat facility. The arena will be home to the school’s basketball teams.

     Web site signs soccer experts

    SportsYA.com, a locally based interactive Spanish-language sports Web site, signed an exclusive partnership agreement with international soccer experts Cesar Luis Menotti and Jorge Valdano.

     Bank buys Heat tickets for youth

    BankUnited FSB purchased nearly 12,000 tickets from the Miami Heat to be distributed to youth and community groups in south Florida. The tickets were purchased for seven games in January at the team’s new AmericanAirlines Arena, which is scheduled to open Dec. 31. Bank-United FSB is the principal subsidiary of BankUnited Financial Corp. of Coral Gables, Fla., and is the largest financial institution based in Florida.

    MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

     Twins honoring new-year infants

    The Minnesota Twins and Fairview Health Services are teaming for the Fairview Millennium Twins program. The program calls for honoring the first set of twins born in 2000 at any one of the seven hospitals in the Fairview system. Among the gifts the newborns will receive are lifetime season tickets for the Twins. In addition, all twin or multiple babies born at Fairview hospitals next year will receive official Minnesota Twins baby outfits and stocking caps.

    MONTREAL

     Loria takes charge with Expos

    New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria was formally introduced Dec. 9 as the new owner of the Montreal Expos. Loria acquired a 35 percent stake in the team. The balance is expected to be divided between the team’s previous ownership group and additional new investors. Loria said he plans to increase the team’s payroll by 50 percent from its $19 million total last season. He assumes the role with the Expos previously held by Claude Brochu, who is no longer involved with the team.

    NASHVILLE

     Kats owner seeking lease change

    Nashville Kats representatives ended talk that the team may be sold to Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams. Mark Bloom, majority owner and president of the Kats, said he and his partners will not discuss a Kats purchase with any suitor. He added, however, that he wants to discuss a change in the team’s lease at Gaylord Entertainment Center with the Nashville Predators, which is the primary tenant in the teams’ shared home. Adams said earlier he was interested in purchasing the Arena Football League team but would probably move the team elsewhere in the state should he gain control of the franchise.

    NEW YORK

     MetroStars solicit mascot ideas

    The New York/New Jersey MetroStars are reaching out to area soccer fans to help design and name a team mascot that will be introduced in the 2000 Major League Soccer season. The person who submits the winning design will receive a pair of MetroStars season tickets for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons.

    ORLANDO

     Company brings Magic to Bears fans

    RDV Sports put synergy in motion recently when Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong and executive vice president Julius Erving gave a motivational speech to fans at an Orlando Solar Bears International Hockey League game. RDV Sports is the parent company of both teams.

    PHILADELPHIA

     Track starts fan-reward program

    Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa., launched a program to reward its regular customers. Under terms of the Player Rewards Program, horse-racing wagerers can earn points every time they place a bet at the track, at one of its off-track betting parlors or over the telephone using the track’s Phonebet service. The points are redeemable for products ranging from programs and racing forms to food, beverage and wagering vouchers.

     Lindros site aids children’s charity

    Philadelphia Flyers star Eric Lindros launched a Web site at www.EricLindros.net to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. All proceeds from the sale of items through the site’s e-commerce section will go to the charity. The site was designed by Creative Visual Images of Marlton, N.J. The e-commerce section was prepared by Bowman & Co. of Voorhees, N.J.

     Station adds online prep feature

    Local NBC affiliate WCAU-TV launched an initiative on its Web site, www.nbc10.com, aimed at improving the station’s ability to cover high school sports. The program was created in conjunction with InstaSports, a subsidiary of AWS Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md. The feature allows schools to post schedules, scores and statistics directly.

    PHOENIX

     Event bringing back one-day pass

    The Tradition presented by Countrywide will have daily tickets available for the first time since 1995 when the Senior PGA Tour event is played next year. The event is scheduled for March 27 through April 2. The $40 daily ticket is good for one round of play. Tournament management is bringing back the single-day pass to provide greater flexibility for fans, but only 10,000 tickets will be sold for each round. The tournament this year was won by Graham Marsh.

     Company starts women’s hockey league

    Polar Ice Entertainment launched the first Phoenix Women’s Hockey League, open to women of all ages and playing levels throughout the area. All local ice rinks are being encouraged by Polar Ice to participate in the league. Polar Ice is a developer and operator of ice skating facilities and is based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Corporate sponsors also are being sought to defray uniform and equipment costs.

    PORTLAND

     Group gets extension in team search

    Portland Family Entertainment was given a 90-day extension to March 31 to purchase a Class AAA baseball team that would move to the city-owned Civic Stadium for the 2001 season. The Portland City Council granted the extension to keep alive its deal with PFE, which is trying to partner with the city in a $37 million stadium renovation project. Part of the agreement required that PFE acquire a Class AAA team and a minor league soccer franchise. PFE already has purchased a United Soccer Leagues A-League team. A deal to purchase the Class AAA Calgary Cannons fell through last month.

     Nike signs 2000 Olympics deal

    Nike Inc. signed a deal to provide clothing for all of Australia’s athletes during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The multimillion-dollar deal also extends to outfitting the teams for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike replaces rival Reebok International Ltd., which ended its multimillion-dollar deal to outfit the Australian team. Reebok officials claimed that the Australians broke their contract by letting other companies distribute clothes at the games.

    ROCHESTER, N.Y.

     Kodak enters AHL picture

    Locally based Eastman Kodak Co. will be the title sponsor of the 2000 American Hockey League All-Star Classic. The league’s All-Star Game and related events are scheduled for Jan. 16-17 at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena.

    SACRAMENTO


     Raley’s signs new sponsor deal

    Raley’s supermarket chain signed a new three-year sponsorship with the Sacramento Kings. The contract provides for participation in 10 events with Kings players and the team’s Royal Court dancers, title sponsorship of the Junior Kings Club for children and presenting sponsor status for the George J. Maloof Sr. Community Cup.

     Kings honor former mayor

    The Kings are wearing black bands on their uniforms for the rest of the season to honor Sacramento’s late Mayor Joe Serna Jr., who died Nov. 7. Serna played an instrumental role in approving a $73 million loan from the city of Sacramento for the Kings in 1997 that helped keep the team in town.

     Track ticket sales ahead of schedule

    Organizers of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials scheduled for Sacramento in July have sold 40 percent of the tickets available for the event, totaling $1.3 million. About 80 percent of the ticket packages have been purchased by local residents. The Sacramento Sports Commission, which is leading the effort, did not expect to reach that level of ticket sales until next year. Organizers also have commitments of more than $700,000 from corporate sponsors, with another $500,000 expected from potential sponsors who are still in negotiations.

    SAN ANTONIO

     Bell offer rings for Big 12 fans

    Fans of Big 12 Conference teams can now buy from Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. cell-phone faceplates in team colors and bearing team logos. The plates, available for $29 each, fit Nokia 5100 series phones. The deal is part of Southwestern Bell’s ongoing sponsorship deal with the Big 12, which includes title-sponsor rights to the Cotton Bowl game. Southwestern Bell is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc.

     Alamo Bowl listed as sellout

    The Sylvania Alamo Bowl is sold out prior to game day for the first time in the bowl’s seven-year history. A crowd of 65,000 is expected to attend the Dec. 28 game at the Alamodome between Penn State and Texas A&M.

    SAN DIEGO

     Groups challenge ballpark plans

    The San Diego County Taxpayers Association asked city officials to halt the planned downtown redevelopment project anchored by a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres pending resolution of financial concerns. Padres President Larry Lucchino labeled the tax-payer association’s re-quest “irresponsble and disinnous.” In a related matter, opponents of the downtown ballpark launched a petition drive to put an anti-ballpark initiative before voters. The group Citizens for an Informed Vote has until May 1 to collect more than 59,000 signatures from registered city voters. The group claims voters in 1998 did not have information about the ballpark’s environmental impacts and other details on the project when they approved a plan to build the stadium.

     Le Mans race dropped from calendar

    The San Diego Grand Prix has been dropped from the American Le Mans Series schedule. The race had been scheduled for November as the final 1999 stop on the series’ schedule but was later postponed until February to be the opening race of next year’s schedule. Bill Donaldson, executive director of the series, said local organizers did not meet necessary commitments to stage the race.

     Tournament alters schedule for ABC

    The Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship, scheduled for Feb. 24-27 at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., will change its format slightly from the inaugural event won by Jeff Maggert last February. Instead of the tournament’s round of 16 and quarterfinals round being played on Friday, the quarterfinals and semifinals will both be held on Saturday, allowing ABC to have extended coverage on the weekend.

    SAN FRANCISCO

     49ers put stamp on decade

    The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a commemorate stamp honoring the San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980s. The 49ers were selected in a public contest as part of the Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century stamp program. The 49ers won four Super Bowls between 1982 and 1990. The stamp will be issued Jan. 13 as part of a 15-stamp series recognizing significant people and events of the 1980s.

     Cup team adds sponsors

    Lycos Inc. signed as a sponsor of locally based America’s Cup 2000 challenger AmericaOne. The Waltham, Mass.-based company receives branding on the team’s two boats. Separately, Network Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va., also signed as a corporate partner of AmericaOne.

    SAN JOSE

     Earthquakes draw on youth artists

    The San Jose Earthquakes will feature artwork of 16 local youth on their tickets next year. The Major League Soccer team’s “Decorate a Season Ticket” contest encourages children between the ages of 5 and 14 to illustrate what Bay Area soccer means to them. Team officials will select 16 of the drawings as the background for their 2000 season tickets. Two drawings will be chosen from each grade level from kindergarten through seventh grade.

     Fogdog launches public offering

    Online sporting goods retailer Fogdog Inc. of nearby Redwood City, Calif., went public Dec. 9. The company’s stock opened at $11 a share and closed its first day of trading at $13.12. Fogdog closed at $9.44 last Wednesday.

    SEATTLE

     Motorola re-signs with CART team

    Motorola Inc. extended its affiliation with Bruce McCaw’s PacWest Racing Group, signing a two-year sponsorship deal with an option for a third year. Seattle-based PacWest operates two CART teams. Motorola sponsors Mark Blundell’s No. 18 car.

    ST. LOUIS

     Bud Light taps Gretzky for deal

    Wayne Gretzky agreed to become an official spokesman for Bud Light, according to officials with locally based Anheuser-Busch Cos. The NHL hall of famer will be featured in Bud Light’s print, radio and television advertisements and will make personal appearances on behalf of the brand.

    TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

     Bucs launch team Web site

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers launched a Web site at www.buccaneers.com. The site had been scheduled to launch in time for the start of this year’s NFL season but was delayed.

     Reds’ site converted for softball

    The Cincinnati Reds’ former spring training complex in nearby Plant City, Fla., has become the new home for two of the four Women’s Pro Softball League teams. The Tampa Bay FireStix and the Florida Wahoos, formerly the Georgia Pride, will play at Plant City Stadium east of Tampa this spring. The 6,000-seat stadium has been converted from baseball to softball and will become a training center for players. The Reds left the stadium in 1998 in favor of training in Sarasota, Fla.

    TORONTO

     Delgado starts program for youth

    Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado is creating a program called Carlos’ Kids to allow local underprivileged youth to attend games. Delgado, who recently signed a reported three-year, $36 million contract to remain with the Blue Jays, also is contributing toward a team fund called Field of Dreams with the goal of raising money to maintain and upgrade local baseball parks.

    Print | Tags: ABC, AHL, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, ClubCorp, Connecticut Sun, Bankers Life, Ellerbe Becket, ESPN, Florida Panthers, Indiana Pacers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Kings, Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Minnesota Twins, MLB, Nashville Predators, NBC, New York Rangers, NFL, NHL, Nokia, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Flyers, Raycom Sports, Reebok, Sacramento Kings, San Diego Padres, San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Earthquakes, Speedway Motorsports Inc., Sports Authority, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Crew’s Rootes leaves MLS for Houston, NFL

    Columbus Crew president and general manager Jamey Rootes is leaving the Major League Soccer team to become vice president of sales and marketing with Houston's NFL expansion franchise, according to people familiar with the plans.

    Along with Crew operator Lamar Hunt, Rootes, 33, has been an architect of the Crew's fan-supported success since the MLS launched in 1996. He was also instrumental in getting the 22,500-seat Columbus Crew Stadium — the first prosoccer stadium in the nation — opened this year.

    Rootes was named MLS executive of the year following the league's 1996 season. He was named MLS marketing executive of the year for 1999.

    Rootes declined to comment. His salary and benefits package in Houston, while undisclosed, is said to be significantly higher than his Crew compensation package.

    Robert McNair, owner of the Houston team, was unavailable for comment.

    Hunt was unavailable for comment, but one source close to him characterized him as "disappointed but understanding" of Rootes' decision to join the NFL.

    It's unclear who will replace Rootes as Crew president and general manager.

    In making the transition, Rootes will become part of the management team overseeing the birth of a major league franchise for the second time in his career. Rootes headed the Crew for its first four seasons.

    The Crew topped the MLS in attendance this year with an average crowd of 17,696 a game. That total was larger than last season's averages for the NHL, NBA or Ohio State University's men's basketball team.

    Originally from Stone Mountain, Ga., Rootes graduated from Clemson University in 1989 after helping lead the school's soccer team to two national titles. He joined IBM Corp. in 1989 as a marketing representative. In 1992, he joined the coaching staff of Indiana University's soccer team, among the nation's most successful college programs.

    In 1994, Rootes become an operations manager with World Cup USA's Chicago venue. Later that year, he joined Procter & Gamble Co. as an account brand manager.

    He was named the Crew's first chief executive in mid-1995.

    Dan Crawford writes for Business First in Columbus, Ohio.

    Print | Tags: Columbus Crew, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL
  • Crew’s Rootes leaves MLS for Houston, NFL

    Columbus Crew president and general manager Jamey Rootes is leaving the Major League Soccer team to become vice president of sales and marketing with Houston's NFL expansion franchise, according to people familiar with the plans.

    Along with Crew operator Lamar Hunt, Rootes, 33, has been an architect of the Crew's fan-supported success since the MLS launched in 1996. He was also instrumental in getting the 22,500-seat Columbus Crew Stadium — the first prosoccer stadium in the nation — opened this year.

    Rootes was named MLS executive of the year following the league's 1996 season. He was named MLS marketing executive of the year for 1999.

    Rootes declined to comment. His salary and benefits package in Houston, while undisclosed, is said to be significantly higher than his Crew compensation package.

    Robert McNair, owner of the Houston team, was unavailable for comment.

    Hunt was unavailable for comment, but one source close to him characterized him as "disappointed but understanding" of Rootes' decision to join the NFL.

    It's unclear who will replace Rootes as Crew president and general manager.

    In making the transition, Rootes will become part of the management team overseeing the birth of a major league franchise for the second time in his career. Rootes headed the Crew for its first four seasons.

    The Crew topped the MLS in attendance this year with an average crowd of 17,696 a game. That total was larger than last season's averages for the NHL, NBA or Ohio State University's men's basketball team.

    Originally from Stone Mountain, Ga., Rootes graduated from Clemson University in 1989 after helping lead the school's soccer team to two national titles. He joined IBM Corp. in 1989 as a marketing representative. In 1992, he joined the coaching staff of Indiana University's soccer team, among the nation's most successful college programs.

    In 1994, Rootes become an operations manager with World Cup USA's Chicago venue. Later that year, he joined Procter & Gamble Co. as an account brand manager.

    He was named the Crew's first chief executive in mid-1995.

    Dan Crawford writes for Business First in Columbus, Ohio.

    Print | Tags: Columbus Crew, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL
  • Dodgers clear $10 million from team payroll

    A year after they were pelted for goosing the salary structure by signing Kevin Brown to the largest contract in baseball history, the Los Angeles Dodgers spent this year's winter meetings clearing payroll as part of an overall restructuring.

    The Dodgers moved $10 million of salary for the coming season and $4.5 million for the next year when they dealt front-of-the-rotation pitcher Ismael Valdes and second baseman Eric Young to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for middle reliever Terry Adams, a fourth-year player who last year earned less than $800,000.

    The deal marked a departure for the Dodgers, who would have been headed for a payroll of more than $95 million.

    They now expect to bring next season's club in at $85 million to $90 million. That still likely will keep them in the top five in the major leagues, but the fact that they moved a valued starting pitcher and a speedy leadoff hitter to reduce costs sent a message through the rest of the industry. If the well of resources ever was bottomless, it isn't anymore.

    Dodgers executives said that even if they land at $85 million, they're likely to lose money next season. The break-even point for the Dodgers would require a payroll of about $75 million, according to team sources.

    "A big part of this deal is the financial flexibility and the economics," said Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone. "We're trying to do what's in the best interest of the Dodgers but also what supports and complements the industry."

    The change in direction did not come as a result of any on-high call by News Corp. executives or by the Dodgers' recently hired CEO Robert Daly, said COO Bob Graziano. When the club spiked payroll last year, it did so with the intent of reining it in down the line, as the organization replenished a depleted farm system.

    The Dodgers expanded their payroll again last month — at least over the long haul — when they traded Raul Mondesi for Shawn Green and then signed Green to the second-largest contract of any position player, $84 million across six years, with a hefty chunk of it backloaded. Though stadium renovations will help, they won't allow the club to make money unless it can trim expenses, Graziano said.

    "Although we're adding seats and suites, it won't be enough," Graziano said. "Over time we hope to grow the revenue. But even that doesn't get us to where we'd need to be to carry that much payroll and break even. To get back to that point, we'll have to look more to our farm system and less to the free agent market."

    Print | Tags: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Dodgers clear $10 million from team payroll

    A year after they were pelted for goosing the salary structure by signing Kevin Brown to the largest contract in baseball history, the Los Angeles Dodgers spent this year's winter meetings clearing payroll as part of an overall restructuring.

    The Dodgers moved $10 million of salary for the coming season and $4.5 million for the next year when they dealt front-of-the-rotation pitcher Ismael Valdes and second baseman Eric Young to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for middle reliever Terry Adams, a fourth-year player who last year earned less than $800,000.

    The deal marked a departure for the Dodgers, who would have been headed for a payroll of more than $95 million.

    They now expect to bring next season's club in at $85 million to $90 million. That still likely will keep them in the top five in the major leagues, but the fact that they moved a valued starting pitcher and a speedy leadoff hitter to reduce costs sent a message through the rest of the industry. If the well of resources ever was bottomless, it isn't anymore.

    Dodgers executives said that even if they land at $85 million, they're likely to lose money next season. The break-even point for the Dodgers would require a payroll of about $75 million, according to team sources.

    "A big part of this deal is the financial flexibility and the economics," said Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone. "We're trying to do what's in the best interest of the Dodgers but also what supports and complements the industry."

    The change in direction did not come as a result of any on-high call by News Corp. executives or by the Dodgers' recently hired CEO Robert Daly, said COO Bob Graziano. When the club spiked payroll last year, it did so with the intent of reining it in down the line, as the organization replenished a depleted farm system.

    The Dodgers expanded their payroll again last month — at least over the long haul — when they traded Raul Mondesi for Shawn Green and then signed Green to the second-largest contract of any position player, $84 million across six years, with a hefty chunk of it backloaded. Though stadium renovations will help, they won't allow the club to make money unless it can trim expenses, Graziano said.

    "Although we're adding seats and suites, it won't be enough," Graziano said. "Over time we hope to grow the revenue. But even that doesn't get us to where we'd need to be to carry that much payroll and break even. To get back to that point, we'll have to look more to our farm system and less to the free agent market."

    Print | Tags: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Don’t turn your back on stadium security till final whistle blows

    Attending a Division I football game recently, I noticed that by the start of the fourth quarter security personnel no longer staffed all gates entering the stadium. This has been considered standard practice at sporting events for many years.

    Event managers have concentrated on keeping out fans who have not purchased tickets until the event is almost completed. As events progress into later stages, the benefit of attending continues to decrease proportionately with the amount of time remaining. If fans arrive in the fourth quarter of a football game, or late in the second half of a basketball game, they may not have an opportunity to watch enough of the event to justify attending.

    Unfortunately, facility managers and sport organizations now have the added burden of confronting the growing problem of public violence. The shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, two day-trading offices in Atlanta, the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and Wedgewood Baptist Church in Texas remind us that there are some dangerous people in society looking for an avenue to direct their aggression in public locations. The recent wave of public violence is especially dangerous, since perpetrators have shown indifference regarding their own safety.

    As incidents of public aggression remain prevalent in the media, criminals may begin looking for opportunities to increase media exposure. This mentality may cause a public sports facility to be the target of a violent act. All the pieces are in place for a major disaster.

    Public sports arenas, holding anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 people, would be a prime target for an attack under the current security strategy. The amount of publicity an attack would attract, not to mention the number of potential targets, makes an attack a real possibility. Major national and international events such as the Super Bowl or Olympic Games are no longer the only events at risk.

    As facility managers and facility management educators, we have a responsibility to be proactive in our efforts to increase security and rewrite our risk management plans before a catastrophe occurs. This could be accomplished, at a minimum, by placing security personnel at all gates until the end of sporting events. This would secure the facility until fans are leaving the stadium. The staffing that would be needed is already present for approximately three-fourths of the event.

    Admittedly, increased security may pose an additional financial burden on sport organizations. The added security needed to staff gates will cost more money without resulting in additional revenue. Sport organizations may need to raise ticket prices to offset the expense.

    The benefit provided to fans is well worth the added investment. In addition to making your facility more secure for fans, another consideration is important: Do you want the first attack to happen at the facility you manage? As I sat with approximately 93,000 other fans on that Saturday, I wondered how safe I really was under the current system. How safe will you be next time you attend an event?

    Jim Reese is an assistant professor in the sports administration and facility management program at Ohio University.

    Print
  • Don’t turn your back on stadium security till final whistle blows

    Attending a Division I football game recently, I noticed that by the start of the fourth quarter security personnel no longer staffed all gates entering the stadium. This has been considered standard practice at sporting events for many years.

    Event managers have concentrated on keeping out fans who have not purchased tickets until the event is almost completed. As events progress into later stages, the benefit of attending continues to decrease proportionately with the amount of time remaining. If fans arrive in the fourth quarter of a football game, or late in the second half of a basketball game, they may not have an opportunity to watch enough of the event to justify attending.

    Unfortunately, facility managers and sport organizations now have the added burden of confronting the growing problem of public violence. The shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, two day-trading offices in Atlanta, the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and Wedgewood Baptist Church in Texas remind us that there are some dangerous people in society looking for an avenue to direct their aggression in public locations. The recent wave of public violence is especially dangerous, since perpetrators have shown indifference regarding their own safety.

    As incidents of public aggression remain prevalent in the media, criminals may begin looking for opportunities to increase media exposure. This mentality may cause a public sports facility to be the target of a violent act. All the pieces are in place for a major disaster.

    Public sports arenas, holding anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 people, would be a prime target for an attack under the current security strategy. The amount of publicity an attack would attract, not to mention the number of potential targets, makes an attack a real possibility. Major national and international events such as the Super Bowl or Olympic Games are no longer the only events at risk.

    As facility managers and facility management educators, we have a responsibility to be proactive in our efforts to increase security and rewrite our risk management plans before a catastrophe occurs. This could be accomplished, at a minimum, by placing security personnel at all gates until the end of sporting events. This would secure the facility until fans are leaving the stadium. The staffing that would be needed is already present for approximately three-fourths of the event.

    Admittedly, increased security may pose an additional financial burden on sport organizations. The added security needed to staff gates will cost more money without resulting in additional revenue. Sport organizations may need to raise ticket prices to offset the expense.

    The benefit provided to fans is well worth the added investment. In addition to making your facility more secure for fans, another consideration is important: Do you want the first attack to happen at the facility you manage? As I sat with approximately 93,000 other fans on that Saturday, I wondered how safe I really was under the current system. How safe will you be next time you attend an event?

    Jim Reese is an assistant professor in the sports administration and facility management program at Ohio University.

    Print
  • Earnings news puts 4 execs out of Action

    Four senior executives at Action Performance Cos. were dismissed last week in the wake of an announcement that the company will miss first-quarter earnings projections due to delays in implementing promotional programs.

    Howard Jacobs, who had been promoted to chief marketing officer only a week before, was among those forced out at the company. Scott Williamson, vice president of corporate communications, was also dismissed, as was Mike Bartelli, vice president of business development. Jacobs and Williamson both joined Action Performance earlier this year from the Coca-Cola Co.

    The name of the fourth executive was not available.

    CEO Fred Wagenhals will assume primary marketing responsibilities at Action Performance, according to a statement released by the company.

    The company also announced that it was indefinitely postponing plans to spin off its Internet subsidiary, goracing.com, through an initial public offering.

    Prior to the announcement, Action Performance's stock price had already dropped by more than 20 percent last week.

    Print
  • Earnings news puts 4 execs out of Action

    Four senior executives at Action Performance Cos. were dismissed last week in the wake of an announcement that the company will miss first-quarter earnings projections due to delays in implementing promotional programs.

    Howard Jacobs, who had been promoted to chief marketing officer only a week before, was among those forced out at the company. Scott Williamson, vice president of corporate communications, was also dismissed, as was Mike Bartelli, vice president of business development. Jacobs and Williamson both joined Action Performance earlier this year from the Coca-Cola Co.

    The name of the fourth executive was not available.

    CEO Fred Wagenhals will assume primary marketing responsibilities at Action Performance, according to a statement released by the company.

    The company also announced that it was indefinitely postponing plans to spin off its Internet subsidiary, goracing.com, through an initial public offering.

    Prior to the announcement, Action Performance's stock price had already dropped by more than 20 percent last week.

    Print
  • Ehrlich takes over as GM, VP at Rivals.com

    Scott H. Ehrlich joined Rivals.com as executive vice president and general manager.

    He will oversee the company’s move into broadband and focus on enhancing the Web site’s content.

    Before joining Rivals.com, Ehrlich was senior vice president and executive producer of News America Digital Publishing, a division of News America Publishing Inc. In this role, he was responsible for all editorial, production, technology and product development for News Corp.’s Web sites, including Fox News Online and Fox Sports Online.

    Ehrlich has worked in television management and consulting for 10 years, spending time at major broadcasting companies including Fox Sports, Fox News, NBC Cable, Twentieth Television, Paramount and McGraw-Hill Broadcasting. He has worked in online publishing and media streaming for five years, directing the operations and strategic direction for Foxnews.com, Fox-sportscom and Fox.com.

    Ehrlich received an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio and a master’s degree from The Graduate School of Political Management in New York.

    Seattle-based Rivals.com is a network of more than 425 sports teams and specialty Web sites providing team and player coverage. The company also publishes more than 30 print publications for college sports fans.

    MARKETING


    Rob Vogel was promoted to president of the Bonham Group. Vogel joined the Bonham Group seven years ago and was most recently the company's vice president and chief operating officer.

    General Sports and Entertainment appointed Dana Schmitt vice president and general counsel. Schmitt will supervise operation of the firm's Sports Representation Division in addition to providing legal services.

    Pat Jones joined the entertainment division of Kaleidoscope Entertainment as senior manager of projects. Jones was previously with Kaleidoscope's GM EventWorks unit in Detroit, where she was a project manager.

    Matthew Waller joined Colosseum and will head the firm's business development sector. Anne Grandchamp also joined the company. She will manage the company's marketing and public relations efforts.

    David Abrutyn was named director of corporate representation for IMG. Abrutyn was previously with the NHL, working on national partnerships.

    Anne Clark was hired as corporate account executive for Cotter Promotions, the marketing arm of Cotter Group. Rodney Ross joined Cotter Productions as director of sales. Amy Creech was promoted to program director for the Bob Evans Restaurants Racing account. Keith Waltz was named public relations account manager for the Cotter Group. Melanie Whitfield was promoted to public relations account representative for the Michael Holigan Racing program.

    Envision named Matthew D. Spence senior account executive. He most recently served as director of corporate development for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball club.

    Barry McNulty was named general manager for the Boston College property, which is managed by Host Communications Inc. He will be responsible for overseeing all sponsorship opportunities with Boston College. McNulty was previously a corporate sales executive with the Boston Celtics.

    Mastro Communications Inc. added Brian Bosworth and Bryan Frost to the company's public relations staff. They will serve as account executives for the agency.

    GOLF


    Henry Lange joined Adams Golf Inc. He will be responsible for national key account sales and new idea marketing.

    HOCKEY


    Dean Lombardi, general manager of the San Jose Sharks, signed a new contract with the team. Lombardi has been in charge of the Sharks' operations since March 1996.

    HORSE RACING


    Philadelphia Park named Salvatore Sinatra director of racing. For the past 10 years, Sinatra was vice president of TSNS, manufacturer of custom software for racetracks, casinos and off-track betting parlors.

    BASEBALL


    David Oster was appointed general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Class A California League. Oster was previously vice president and general manager of the Salem Avalanche in the Carolina League.

    Paul Molitor joined the Minnesota Twins coaching staff for the 2000 season. Molitor played in the major leagues for 21 years and retired after the 1998 season.

    The Boise Hawks, short-season Northwest League affiliate of the Anaheim Angels, named Ryan Brach general manager, Kevin Whitworth marketing coordinator, Lee Ryan controller, Bryan Newton director of group sales, Jeremy Hawks director of ticketing, Torin Oberlindacher ticket account executive and Boyd Mauer field superintendent.

    MOTORSPORTS


    Gateway International Raceway appointed Brian Ulione vice president and general manager. Ulione spent the past four years as vice president of sales for the St. Louis Rams.

    Richard Lasater joined Cicci-Welliver Racing as crew chief for the No. 36 Stanley Race Team. Lasater was previously a driver in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division.

    Memphis Motorsports Park appointed Ross Bartow vice president and general manager. He was previously executive director of the Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority.

    Gary Hargett Racing named Richie Evans Jr. driver for the 2000 season in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. He was formerly a mechanic and a jackman on the No. 33 Busch Series Team, BACE Motorsports.

    Rod Wolter was promoted to vice president of construction and development for all of the Dover Downs Midwest motorsports facilities. Jerry Dunning was promoted to vice president and general manager of motorsports for Dover Downs International Speedway and vice president of Dover Downs Inc., Gateway International Raceway, Memphis Motorsports Park and Nashville Speedway USA. LeeAnn Hardy was promoted to director of operations/motorsports for Dover Downs International Speedway.

    AWARDS

    The Metro Beautification and Environment Commission of Nashville honored the Powell Building Group with the “Clean Builder Award” for its work on the Tennessee Titans Baptist Sports Park practice facility. Powell is the official builder of the Titans.

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Colorado Avalanche, Fox, IMG, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Twins, NASCAR, NBC, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Storm, Sports Authority, LA Rams, Tennessee Titans
  • Ehrlich takes over as GM, VP at Rivals.com

    Scott H. Ehrlich joined Rivals.com as executive vice president and general manager.

    He will oversee the company’s move into broadband and focus on enhancing the Web site’s content.

    Before joining Rivals.com, Ehrlich was senior vice president and executive producer of News America Digital Publishing, a division of News America Publishing Inc. In this role, he was responsible for all editorial, production, technology and product development for News Corp.’s Web sites, including Fox News Online and Fox Sports Online.

    Ehrlich has worked in television management and consulting for 10 years, spending time at major broadcasting companies including Fox Sports, Fox News, NBC Cable, Twentieth Television, Paramount and McGraw-Hill Broadcasting. He has worked in online publishing and media streaming for five years, directing the operations and strategic direction for Foxnews.com, Fox-sportscom and Fox.com.

    Ehrlich received an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio and a master’s degree from The Graduate School of Political Management in New York.

    Seattle-based Rivals.com is a network of more than 425 sports teams and specialty Web sites providing team and player coverage. The company also publishes more than 30 print publications for college sports fans.

    MARKETING


    Rob Vogel was promoted to president of the Bonham Group. Vogel joined the Bonham Group seven years ago and was most recently the company's vice president and chief operating officer.

    General Sports and Entertainment appointed Dana Schmitt vice president and general counsel. Schmitt will supervise operation of the firm's Sports Representation Division in addition to providing legal services.

    Pat Jones joined the entertainment division of Kaleidoscope Entertainment as senior manager of projects. Jones was previously with Kaleidoscope's GM EventWorks unit in Detroit, where she was a project manager.

    Matthew Waller joined Colosseum and will head the firm's business development sector. Anne Grandchamp also joined the company. She will manage the company's marketing and public relations efforts.

    David Abrutyn was named director of corporate representation for IMG. Abrutyn was previously with the NHL, working on national partnerships.

    Anne Clark was hired as corporate account executive for Cotter Promotions, the marketing arm of Cotter Group. Rodney Ross joined Cotter Productions as director of sales. Amy Creech was promoted to program director for the Bob Evans Restaurants Racing account. Keith Waltz was named public relations account manager for the Cotter Group. Melanie Whitfield was promoted to public relations account representative for the Michael Holigan Racing program.

    Envision named Matthew D. Spence senior account executive. He most recently served as director of corporate development for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball club.

    Barry McNulty was named general manager for the Boston College property, which is managed by Host Communications Inc. He will be responsible for overseeing all sponsorship opportunities with Boston College. McNulty was previously a corporate sales executive with the Boston Celtics.

    Mastro Communications Inc. added Brian Bosworth and Bryan Frost to the company's public relations staff. They will serve as account executives for the agency.

    GOLF


    Henry Lange joined Adams Golf Inc. He will be responsible for national key account sales and new idea marketing.

    HOCKEY


    Dean Lombardi, general manager of the San Jose Sharks, signed a new contract with the team. Lombardi has been in charge of the Sharks' operations since March 1996.

    HORSE RACING


    Philadelphia Park named Salvatore Sinatra director of racing. For the past 10 years, Sinatra was vice president of TSNS, manufacturer of custom software for racetracks, casinos and off-track betting parlors.

    BASEBALL


    David Oster was appointed general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Class A California League. Oster was previously vice president and general manager of the Salem Avalanche in the Carolina League.

    Paul Molitor joined the Minnesota Twins coaching staff for the 2000 season. Molitor played in the major leagues for 21 years and retired after the 1998 season.

    The Boise Hawks, short-season Northwest League affiliate of the Anaheim Angels, named Ryan Brach general manager, Kevin Whitworth marketing coordinator, Lee Ryan controller, Bryan Newton director of group sales, Jeremy Hawks director of ticketing, Torin Oberlindacher ticket account executive and Boyd Mauer field superintendent.

    MOTORSPORTS


    Gateway International Raceway appointed Brian Ulione vice president and general manager. Ulione spent the past four years as vice president of sales for the St. Louis Rams.

    Richard Lasater joined Cicci-Welliver Racing as crew chief for the No. 36 Stanley Race Team. Lasater was previously a driver in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division.

    Memphis Motorsports Park appointed Ross Bartow vice president and general manager. He was previously executive director of the Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority.

    Gary Hargett Racing named Richie Evans Jr. driver for the 2000 season in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. He was formerly a mechanic and a jackman on the No. 33 Busch Series Team, BACE Motorsports.

    Rod Wolter was promoted to vice president of construction and development for all of the Dover Downs Midwest motorsports facilities. Jerry Dunning was promoted to vice president and general manager of motorsports for Dover Downs International Speedway and vice president of Dover Downs Inc., Gateway International Raceway, Memphis Motorsports Park and Nashville Speedway USA. LeeAnn Hardy was promoted to director of operations/motorsports for Dover Downs International Speedway.

    AWARDS

    The Metro Beautification and Environment Commission of Nashville honored the Powell Building Group with the “Clean Builder Award” for its work on the Tennessee Titans Baptist Sports Park practice facility. Powell is the official builder of the Titans.

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Colorado Avalanche, Fox, IMG, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Twins, NASCAR, NBC, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Storm, Sports Authority, LA Rams, Tennessee Titans
  • ESPN ads tops in ’90s

    The 1996 ad campaign promoting ESPN's "SportsCenter" drew top honors as best television advertising of the decade in rankings released by the One Club for Art & Copy, a nonprofit organization in New York.

    Bob Barrie, president of the One Club, said, "ESPN became a hit by not taking itself or its product too seriously. It was copied to death for the rest of the decade."

    In addition to the "SportsCenter" ads, which included gymnast Kerri Strug, a "rookie" anchor and a self-defense class for anchors, the One Club also recognized Nike Inc. for seven spots by two agencies: Wieden & Kennedy in Portland and Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. The ESPN ads also were created by Wieden & Kennedy in Portland.

    "Nike has a great stable of athletes to work with," said Warren Berger, editor of One magazine, which follows the creative process in advertising. "It lends itself to great creative execution."

    Cliff Freeman, founder of the ad agency Cliff Freeman and Partners, said ESPN ads have been successful because "there were no barriers to doing great creative work. What holds people back in advertising are clients who don't get it."

    Berger said it helps that sports advertising is targeted to young males. That demographic gives agencies the ability to take a few more risks when creating. "It frees up the audience to go a little crazy," he said.

    But Barrie said it takes more than just a few athletes for ads to stand out. "I don't think those campaigns won because they were for sports," he said. "They were brilliant executions of sports-related products. It was a totally new way of doing advertising. [For ESPN], they were spots where they were able to laugh at themselves and poke fun at newscasters. They almost parodied sports."

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • ESPN ads tops in ’90s

    The 1996 ad campaign promoting ESPN's "SportsCenter" drew top honors as best television advertising of the decade in rankings released by the One Club for Art & Copy, a nonprofit organization in New York.

    Bob Barrie, president of the One Club, said, "ESPN became a hit by not taking itself or its product too seriously. It was copied to death for the rest of the decade."

    In addition to the "SportsCenter" ads, which included gymnast Kerri Strug, a "rookie" anchor and a self-defense class for anchors, the One Club also recognized Nike Inc. for seven spots by two agencies: Wieden & Kennedy in Portland and Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. The ESPN ads also were created by Wieden & Kennedy in Portland.

    "Nike has a great stable of athletes to work with," said Warren Berger, editor of One magazine, which follows the creative process in advertising. "It lends itself to great creative execution."

    Cliff Freeman, founder of the ad agency Cliff Freeman and Partners, said ESPN ads have been successful because "there were no barriers to doing great creative work. What holds people back in advertising are clients who don't get it."

    Berger said it helps that sports advertising is targeted to young males. That demographic gives agencies the ability to take a few more risks when creating. "It frees up the audience to go a little crazy," he said.

    But Barrie said it takes more than just a few athletes for ads to stand out. "I don't think those campaigns won because they were for sports," he said. "They were brilliant executions of sports-related products. It was a totally new way of doing advertising. [For ESPN], they were spots where they were able to laugh at themselves and poke fun at newscasters. They almost parodied sports."

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • ESPN SPORTS POLL

    SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL/ESPN CHILTON SPORTS POLL
    Fan Bases Top 12 Sports
    November
    October
    November of Last Year
    12-Month High
    12-Month Low
    12-Month Average
    All-Time High
    All-Time Low
    Three-Month Average
    National Football League
    67
    69.5
    68.7
    69.5
    64.3
    66.6
    77.7
    55.1
    68.3
    Major League Baseball
    59.8
    63.5
    62.2
    64
    57.1
    61.1
    67
    33
    61.8
    College football
    56.6
    59.4
    57.2
    59.4
    51.4
    54.5
    69.3
    51.4
    57.8
    Figure skating
    54
    47.5
    51.2
    54*
    47
    50.6
    64.4
    47
    50.2
    National Basketball Association
    53.1
    50.6
    45.9
    53.5
    38.5
    49.7
    64.7
    38.5
    51.5
    College basketball
    45.9
    46
    46.3
    52.3
    45.5
    47.6
    59.3
    45.5
    46
    Boxing
    39.2
    37
    37.7
    40.6
    34.7
    38
    43.7
    33.9
    38.9
    Auto racing
    36.2
    38.3
    39.3
    40.8
    35.2
    38.3
    50.1
    35.2
    38.4
    Professional tennis
    35.7
    37.2
    31.4
    41.4
    28.9
    34.1
    45
    28.9
    38.1
    Professional golf
    35
    37
    34
    39
    31.1
    34.4
    42.3
    29.3
    37
    National Hockey League
    35
    36.5
    35
    38.3
    33
    35.4
    47.1
    25.8
    35
    Professional soccer
    26.7
    30.5
    24.7
    37.1
    22.5
    27.7
    38.5
    22.5
    29.4
    *Denotes tie of previous record.
    Note: Asked of all 2,000 respondents monthly in a nationwide telephone poll.

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • Evian springs for $1.8 million purse in French LPGA tourney

    A recent addition to the LPGA Tour's 2000 schedule touts a $1.8 million purse — the largest purse in women's golf.

    The Evian Masters, a tournament that has been on the Ladies European Tour since 1994, will be sanctioned by both the LPGA and the LET in 2000. LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw said the tournament will provide an opportunity for the best players in women's golf to compete.

    The event is scheduled for June 14-17 in Evian-les-Baines, France. The purse last year was about $1 million.

    The purse increase reflects title-sponsor Evian and LET officials' desire to make the tournament a more prestigious event, Votaw said. He added that the fact that the largest purse hails from an international tour stop doesn't have that much of an impact on the LPGA.

    "We don't give it much thought. We're just happy it's on the schedule as further proof that we are a world tour," he said.

    The Evian Masters for the last six years conflicted with an event on the LPGA schedule, and because of LPGA regulations only four members of the LPGA were allowed to play in the event. The addition of the event this year bumps the LPGA's schedule for 2000 up to 40 events.

    Ballgirl Athletic recently signed a four-year deal with the fledgling United States Professional Volleyball league to become the league's official apparel provider.

    The partnership includes a financial commitment from Ballgirl, a marketing presence and a complete line of apparel, said USPV spokeswoman Heather Kolasch. She said the deal's estimated worth is $1 million.

    For Ballgirl, the deal is an opportunity to expand the company's name in women's sports and to gain credibility as a leading designer and manufacturer of women's sporting goods, said Tim Talley, president and co-CEO of Ballgirl Athletic.

    "We try to go after relationships and partnerships with people that have the same goals," Talley said. "We want to help them grow because growing their business means growing ours."

    Ballgirl Athletic is based in New York City and was founded four years ago. In addition to volleyball apparel, its product line includes basketball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey apparel for women.

    The USPV is currently preparing for the Millennium Cup in May, a round-robin tournament featuring international players. The league will hold its inaugural season in 2001 and will feature six to 10 teams mainly in the Midwest.

    Attendance at the recent 1999 NCAA Women's College Cup set records for women's college soccer.

    The two-day event was held in San Jose at Spartan Stadium on Dec. 3 and 5.

    A record 14,006 fans attended the semifinal games on Dec. 3 between the University of North Carolina and Penn State University and between the University of Notre Dame and Santa Clara University.

    That record was topped on Dec. 5 when 14,410 people attended the championship game between North Carolina and Notre Dame. The game was won by North Carolina.

    The two-day attendance total of 28,416 broke the record set in 1998 by more than 8,000 fans. The 1998 event was played in Greensboro, N.C.

    The Women's College Cup was hosted by San Jose University and the San Jose Sports Authority and will return to San Jose next year.

    Print | Tags: LPGA, NCAA, Sports Authority
  • Evian springs for $1.8 million purse in French LPGA tourney

    A recent addition to the LPGA Tour's 2000 schedule touts a $1.8 million purse — the largest purse in women's golf.

    The Evian Masters, a tournament that has been on the Ladies European Tour since 1994, will be sanctioned by both the LPGA and the LET in 2000. LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw said the tournament will provide an opportunity for the best players in women's golf to compete.

    The event is scheduled for June 14-17 in Evian-les-Baines, France. The purse last year was about $1 million.

    The purse increase reflects title-sponsor Evian and LET officials' desire to make the tournament a more prestigious event, Votaw said. He added that the fact that the largest purse hails from an international tour stop doesn't have that much of an impact on the LPGA.

    "We don't give it much thought. We're just happy it's on the schedule as further proof that we are a world tour," he said.

    The Evian Masters for the last six years conflicted with an event on the LPGA schedule, and because of LPGA regulations only four members of the LPGA were allowed to play in the event. The addition of the event this year bumps the LPGA's schedule for 2000 up to 40 events.

    Ballgirl Athletic recently signed a four-year deal with the fledgling United States Professional Volleyball league to become the league's official apparel provider.

    The partnership includes a financial commitment from Ballgirl, a marketing presence and a complete line of apparel, said USPV spokeswoman Heather Kolasch. She said the deal's estimated worth is $1 million.

    For Ballgirl, the deal is an opportunity to expand the company's name in women's sports and to gain credibility as a leading designer and manufacturer of women's sporting goods, said Tim Talley, president and co-CEO of Ballgirl Athletic.

    "We try to go after relationships and partnerships with people that have the same goals," Talley said. "We want to help them grow because growing their business means growing ours."

    Ballgirl Athletic is based in New York City and was founded four years ago. In addition to volleyball apparel, its product line includes basketball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey apparel for women.

    The USPV is currently preparing for the Millennium Cup in May, a round-robin tournament featuring international players. The league will hold its inaugural season in 2001 and will feature six to 10 teams mainly in the Midwest.

    Attendance at the recent 1999 NCAA Women's College Cup set records for women's college soccer.

    The two-day event was held in San Jose at Spartan Stadium on Dec. 3 and 5.

    A record 14,006 fans attended the semifinal games on Dec. 3 between the University of North Carolina and Penn State University and between the University of Notre Dame and Santa Clara University.

    That record was topped on Dec. 5 when 14,410 people attended the championship game between North Carolina and Notre Dame. The game was won by North Carolina.

    The two-day attendance total of 28,416 broke the record set in 1998 by more than 8,000 fans. The 1998 event was played in Greensboro, N.C.

    The Women's College Cup was hosted by San Jose University and the San Jose Sports Authority and will return to San Jose next year.

    Print | Tags: LPGA, NCAA, Sports Authority
  • Fan Bases Top 12 Sports

    The fan measure represents the percentage of people doing something to support their interest in a sport. That may mean attending games, watching on TV, listening on the radio, following results in the paper or on the Internet, having a favorite team or player, etc. The measure the Sports Poll uses to determine "fan" is a question about their current interest. Anyone who is a "little bit," "somewhat" or "very" interested in that sport is considered a fan.

    Click here to view chart.

    Print
  • Fan Bases Top 12 Sports

    The fan measure represents the percentage of people doing something to support their interest in a sport. That may mean attending games, watching on TV, listening on the radio, following results in the paper or on the Internet, having a favorite team or player, etc. The measure the Sports Poll uses to determine "fan" is a question about their current interest. Anyone who is a "little bit," "somewhat" or "very" interested in that sport is considered a fan.

    Click here to view chart.

    Print
  • Feel the glove? Rawlings licensee does, and makes it into luggage

    When Ellen Hart suggested taking the rich leather used for baseball gloves and producing upscale luggage, briefcases and business accessories, her husband, Italian-born designer Gian Paolo Lombardo, rolled his eyes at the idea.

    Today, even Hart cannot believe the enthusiasm she's seen toward the products, which their company sells as a licensee of Rawlings Sporting Goods.

    "They trigger an emotional response," Hart said. "Anyone who has ever owned a baseball glove knows how special that is. It's often the first expensive thing that a kid owns, the first thing they have to take care of. And the smell is so special. People come into luggage stores and notice the smell before they see the products."

    The smell is reflected in the marketing slogan: "You slept with it under your pillow. Caressed it lovingly with oil. Inhaled that intoxicating leather scent. The thrill of your first baseball glove can now be experienced every day."

    Remarkably, no one had approached Rawlings with the idea of manufacturing other leather products besides baseball gloves until Hart suggested it to director of licensing Dave Brawley earlier this year.

    Now there's a full line of Rawlings "Sports Accessories and Travel Goods," all with baseball-sounding names. There's the Flyball carry-on ($575), the MVP all-leather duffel ($515), the Home Run briefcase ($375) and the Away Game travel wallet ($80).

    There also are backpacks, planners, picture frames, credit card cases and checkbook cases.

    Each item comes in tan or black, although 80 percent of orders have been for tan, the traditional baseball glove color.

    Hart and Lombardo's company, Hawthorne, Calif.-based Lombardo Ltd., has designed and marketed upscale leather products for 25 years. Brawley was impressed immediately with the prototypes and the subtle touches. The stitching is similar to baseball glove lacing and each product has a Rawlings logo. But it's all formal enough to use at the most high-powered business functions.

    "It's elegantly understated," Brawley said. "It doesn't scream baseball gloves; it's very subtle. We've found it's a perfect way to enhance our brand name."

    Because Hart and Lombardo obtain the leather from the same tanneries as Rawlings, their products develop a rich patina, give off the same odor as mitts and seem to get better with age. Said Hart, "The quality requirements for baseball gloves are more stringent than for any other product made since it has to withstand the pounding of a baseball."

    The products are available at retail outlets and through the company's Web site at sportsaccessories.com.

    Rawlings, which sponsors the Gold Glove Awards, will create a special limited-edition product for the 18 winners of the award each season. There are plans to extend the line to include garment bags and leather jackets — none of which will need to be broken in.

    In the time since The Upper Deck Co. placed holograms on its first baseball cards in 1989, trading card manufacturers have all but eliminated the rampant counterfeiting problems of the 1980s.

    But The Topps Co., working with security experts from 3M, is taking no chances.

    Beginning with the recently released Topps Baseball 2000 product, the company has placed a holographic, serialized "authenticator" on the backs of valuable insert cards. When viewed with a special 3M illuminator, the words "Topps Genuine Issue" can be read. Topps intends to make "Topps Verifier" devices available in stores for $9.99.

    Pete Williams (peteweems@aol.com) is a writer in St. Petersburg, Fla.

    Print | Tags: Topps Co.
  • Feel the glove? Rawlings licensee does, and makes it into luggage

    When Ellen Hart suggested taking the rich leather used for baseball gloves and producing upscale luggage, briefcases and business accessories, her husband, Italian-born designer Gian Paolo Lombardo, rolled his eyes at the idea.

    Today, even Hart cannot believe the enthusiasm she's seen toward the products, which their company sells as a licensee of Rawlings Sporting Goods.

    "They trigger an emotional response," Hart said. "Anyone who has ever owned a baseball glove knows how special that is. It's often the first expensive thing that a kid owns, the first thing they have to take care of. And the smell is so special. People come into luggage stores and notice the smell before they see the products."

    The smell is reflected in the marketing slogan: "You slept with it under your pillow. Caressed it lovingly with oil. Inhaled that intoxicating leather scent. The thrill of your first baseball glove can now be experienced every day."

    Remarkably, no one had approached Rawlings with the idea of manufacturing other leather products besides baseball gloves until Hart suggested it to director of licensing Dave Brawley earlier this year.

    Now there's a full line of Rawlings "Sports Accessories and Travel Goods," all with baseball-sounding names. There's the Flyball carry-on ($575), the MVP all-leather duffel ($515), the Home Run briefcase ($375) and the Away Game travel wallet ($80).

    There also are backpacks, planners, picture frames, credit card cases and checkbook cases.

    Each item comes in tan or black, although 80 percent of orders have been for tan, the traditional baseball glove color.

    Hart and Lombardo's company, Hawthorne, Calif.-based Lombardo Ltd., has designed and marketed upscale leather products for 25 years. Brawley was impressed immediately with the prototypes and the subtle touches. The stitching is similar to baseball glove lacing and each product has a Rawlings logo. But it's all formal enough to use at the most high-powered business functions.

    "It's elegantly understated," Brawley said. "It doesn't scream baseball gloves; it's very subtle. We've found it's a perfect way to enhance our brand name."

    Because Hart and Lombardo obtain the leather from the same tanneries as Rawlings, their products develop a rich patina, give off the same odor as mitts and seem to get better with age. Said Hart, "The quality requirements for baseball gloves are more stringent than for any other product made since it has to withstand the pounding of a baseball."

    The products are available at retail outlets and through the company's Web site at sportsaccessories.com.

    Rawlings, which sponsors the Gold Glove Awards, will create a special limited-edition product for the 18 winners of the award each season. There are plans to extend the line to include garment bags and leather jackets — none of which will need to be broken in.

    In the time since The Upper Deck Co. placed holograms on its first baseball cards in 1989, trading card manufacturers have all but eliminated the rampant counterfeiting problems of the 1980s.

    But The Topps Co., working with security experts from 3M, is taking no chances.

    Beginning with the recently released Topps Baseball 2000 product, the company has placed a holographic, serialized "authenticator" on the backs of valuable insert cards. When viewed with a special 3M illuminator, the words "Topps Genuine Issue" can be read. Topps intends to make "Topps Verifier" devices available in stores for $9.99.

    Pete Williams (peteweems@aol.com) is a writer in St. Petersburg, Fla.

    Print | Tags: Topps Co.
  • FOR THE RECORD

     MARKETING AND LICENSING AGREEMENTS

    The Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (EMGA) signed an agreement with TeeMaster.com to promote the organization's golf courses. EMGA's golf courses can use TeeMaster's Internet tee-time reservation service and marketing support. The Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a nonprofit organization that promotes golf tourism in Minnesota. TeeMaster.com provides Internet golf reservation services.

    Fotoball USA Inc. signed a licensing agreement with The Coca-Cola Co. to produce sporting goods such as footballs, basketballs and volleyballs. The long-term agreement starts Jan. 1. Fotoball provides custom and specialty sports and non-sports related balls.

    The Antigua Group Inc. renewed licenses with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans; the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.; the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami; the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl in Dallas; the Wells Fargo Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas; the Insight.com Bowl in Tucson, Ariz.; the Culligan Holiday Bowl in San Diego; the Sylvania Alamo Bowl in San Antonio; and the Jeep Oahu and Jeep Aloha bowls in Honolulu. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Antigua will produce logoed men's and women's bowl sportswear.

    Global Sports Inc. formed a marketing partnership with PeoplePC, a company that provides Internet access and services. Under the agreement, a retailer for which Global Sports operates Web sites will be featured on PeoplePC's Web page. Global Sports is an e-commerce company that operates the Internet business of several sporting goods retailers.

    SPORTS AGENCY NEWS


     CLIENT SIGNINGS

    Rita Haywood of Bruce Levy Associates International Ltd. signed Yolanda Moore of the Orlando Miracle.

    Benchmark SEG signed golfer Edward Fryatt to an exclusive representation and marketing agreement.

    Hadley Engelhard and Jermaine Dupri of So So Def Sports signed Ray Buchanan of the Atlanta Falcons and Jacquez Green of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    BUSINESS NEWS


     BUSINESS NOTES

    Peter C. Crowley and Matthew A. Tinley III formed Colosseum, a company that sells and markets premium seating in sports and cultural facilities.

    LCS Golf and MyCity.com signed an agreement allowing MyCity.com users free access to the content of LCS Golf's wholly owned subsidiary, GolfUniverse.com. Users will be able to conduct regional searches for golf courses, play fantasy golf, receive free subscriptions to Golf News and the GolfUniverse Newsletter, get golf tips from the pros, buy golf equipment and accessories and access other news and information. GolfUniverse expects to increase advertising revenue, increase viewers of its Web site, broaden its database and boost sales through the relationship. MyCity.com offers news and information on more than 500 metropolitan communities.

    SportingAuction.com and TradeOut.com formed a partnership allowing SportingAuction.com's customers to buy and sell excess sporting good inventory using TradeOut.com's online business-to-business site. Ardsley, N.Y.-based TradeOut.com operates an online marketplace for excess inventory and idle assets. Peterborough, N.H-based SportingAuction.com runs online auctions for sports and fitness merchandise.

    Outpost.com and Sandbox.com formed a co-marketing alliance and e-commerce partnership. Under the agreement, Outpost.com becomes Sandbox.com's exclusive e-commerce partner, operating Sandbox.com's e-commerce site. Outpost.com is an Internet-only retailer of consumer technology products. Sandbox.com operates online sports and financial games.

    The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority signed a five-year contract with Autotote Corp., a computerized wagering equipment company. Under the agreement, Autotote will provide teller-operated terminals, self-service terminals, wireless personal account wagering terminals and other systems for the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park.

     MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

    Marker International, a manufacturer and marketer of alpine ski bindings, consummated its previously announced sale of substantially all of its assets to Marker International GmbH, a Swiss company that is 85 percent owned by CT Sports Holding AG. CT Sports Holding AG transferred $14 million in debt and equity to Marker International GmbH for its 85 percent interest. Marker International received the remaining 15 percent equity interest in Marker International GmbH in consideration for its assets.

    The Sports Club Co. completed the sale of its Spectrum Clubs, a group of 10 athletic clubs in southern California, to investment group Brentwood Associates. Brentwood or an affiliate will continue to operate the clubs under the Spectrum name.

    Bo Jackson acquired the Birmingham, Ala., franchise of the new Spring Football League, a new professional football league playing in the spring and early summer.

    Hollywood Park Inc. signed a definitive agreement to sell its Casino Magic Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi casinos to Penn National Gaming Inc. for $195 million in cash. Hollywood Park is a diversified gaming company that owns and operates casinos and a horse racing facility in Arizona.

     EARNINGS

    Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) reported a net loss of $22.4 million, or 64 cents a share, on revenue of $65.8 million for the first quarter ended Oct. 31. That compares to a net loss of $20.5 million, or 59 cents a share, on revenue of $48.6 million for the same period the previous year.Through its subsidiaries, Vail Resorts operates mountain resorts and handles real estate development.

     DIVIDENDS

    Ellett Brothers Inc. (Nasdaq: ELET) declared a quarterly dividend of 4 cents per share of common stock payable Dec. 24 to shareholders of record on Dec. 10. Ellett Brothers markets and supplies natural outdoor sporting products including products and accessories for hunting and shooting sports, marine, camping, archery and other related outdoor activities.

    Source: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Connecticut Sun, Jeep, Nasdaq, Nokia, Orlando Magic, Penn National Gaming, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tostitos, Vail Resorts
  • Fox Sports, regional nets combine marketing efforts

    Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net, the collection of 22 regional sports cable networks, have consolidated their marketing and promotional efforts into a single department called the Fox Sports Marketing Group.

    The move is part of a growing collaboration between the two entities that also includes programming and ad sales efforts.

    "From branding and marketing standpoints, [Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net] are not two separate entities. They really are one," said Jeff Shell, president of Fox Sports Networks. "So it makes sense for us to have one big marketing and promotions machine defining the Fox Sports brand and defining the different elements of the brand."

    Those elements include Fox Sports, Fox Sports Net and FoxSports.com.

    Helping prompt the move was Fox's decision in the spring to take total control of the Fox/Liberty Networks, which included the 22 regional sports cable channels. Fox's agreement to buy Liberty Media's 50 percent interest in the Fox/Liberty Networks was completed in the summer.

    "Now it's all under one roof for the first time since Fox/Liberty was formed," Shell said.

    A primary mission for the new Fox Sports Marketing Group is to deliver a clear message to consumers that Fox Sports and its regional networks are linked.

    "We have one brand, called Fox Sports," Shell said. "The key is to take this brand equity that we have in Fox Sports and get the consumer to understand how that translates into each level down the chain. You're sending one message out to the consumers: 'Here's Fox Sports and here are the different incarnations of what you get with it.' "

    Neal Tiles, who had been senior vice president of marketing and promotion for Fox Sports, has been promoted to oversee the Fox Sports Marketing Group.

    Unlike with the marketing efforts, however, there has been no formal consolidation of the programming departments of Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net. But, said Shell, "We are spending a lot more time working on how ... we develop programming together."

    Indeed, Fox Sports, FSN and Fox's FX cable network are working jointly on programming efforts for NASCAR. Fox last month acquired a portion of the TV rights to the sport beginning in 2001.

    There are no plans to merge the advertising sales groups. According to Shell, the broadcast sports sales department headed by Jim Burnette and the cable sports sales unit led by Lou LaTorre and Randy Freer already collaborate regularly.

    "But I think that is probably more a collaboration for the time being than actually putting them together," Shell said.

    Meanwhile, Shell added, "One of the benefits of Fox buying all of Fox/Liberty was that we could put some of the back-office administrative functions together and save some money."

    That consolidation is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

    Print | Tags: Fox, Liberty Media, NASCAR, New York Liberty
  • Fox Sports, regional nets combine marketing efforts

    Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net, the collection of 22 regional sports cable networks, have consolidated their marketing and promotional efforts into a single department called the Fox Sports Marketing Group.

    The move is part of a growing collaboration between the two entities that also includes programming and ad sales efforts.

    "From branding and marketing standpoints, [Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net] are not two separate entities. They really are one," said Jeff Shell, president of Fox Sports Networks. "So it makes sense for us to have one big marketing and promotions machine defining the Fox Sports brand and defining the different elements of the brand."

    Those elements include Fox Sports, Fox Sports Net and FoxSports.com.

    Helping prompt the move was Fox's decision in the spring to take total control of the Fox/Liberty Networks, which included the 22 regional sports cable channels. Fox's agreement to buy Liberty Media's 50 percent interest in the Fox/Liberty Networks was completed in the summer.

    "Now it's all under one roof for the first time since Fox/Liberty was formed," Shell said.

    A primary mission for the new Fox Sports Marketing Group is to deliver a clear message to consumers that Fox Sports and its regional networks are linked.

    "We have one brand, called Fox Sports," Shell said. "The key is to take this brand equity that we have in Fox Sports and get the consumer to understand how that translates into each level down the chain. You're sending one message out to the consumers: 'Here's Fox Sports and here are the different incarnations of what you get with it.' "

    Neal Tiles, who had been senior vice president of marketing and promotion for Fox Sports, has been promoted to oversee the Fox Sports Marketing Group.

    Unlike with the marketing efforts, however, there has been no formal consolidation of the programming departments of Fox Sports and Fox Sports Net. But, said Shell, "We are spending a lot more time working on how ... we develop programming together."

    Indeed, Fox Sports, FSN and Fox's FX cable network are working jointly on programming efforts for NASCAR. Fox last month acquired a portion of the TV rights to the sport beginning in 2001.

    There are no plans to merge the advertising sales groups. According to Shell, the broadcast sports sales department headed by Jim Burnette and the cable sports sales unit led by Lou LaTorre and Randy Freer already collaborate regularly.

    "But I think that is probably more a collaboration for the time being than actually putting them together," Shell said.

    Meanwhile, Shell added, "One of the benefits of Fox buying all of Fox/Liberty was that we could put some of the back-office administrative functions together and save some money."

    That consolidation is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

    Print | Tags: Fox, Liberty Media, NASCAR, New York Liberty
  • Gaylord buys production firm from Nicklaus

    Jack Nicklaus has sold his majority stake in Jack Nicklaus Productions to Gaylord Entertainment Co., owner of the Opryland Hotel.

    Nicklaus, who founded the company 13 years ago to produce golf events and original video programming, will retain a small share, said Gaylord spokesman Tom Adkinson.

    Adkinson said Nashville-based Gaylord acquired the company largely because it fit well with Gaylord's hospitality interests. The company's new subsidiary also is expected to create programming for Gaylord's interactive media efforts.

    Gaylord also owns Cornerstone Sports, a golf management company, and the Springhouse Golf Club, site of the BellSouth Senior Classic in Opryland.

    Nicklaus' representatives did not return a call seeking comment. Terry Jastrow will continue as president of the company through 2002, Adkinson said, and the company will continue to operate out of its Los Angeles offices.

    Print
  • Gaylord buys production firm from Nicklaus

    Jack Nicklaus has sold his majority stake in Jack Nicklaus Productions to Gaylord Entertainment Co., owner of the Opryland Hotel.

    Nicklaus, who founded the company 13 years ago to produce golf events and original video programming, will retain a small share, said Gaylord spokesman Tom Adkinson.

    Adkinson said Nashville-based Gaylord acquired the company largely because it fit well with Gaylord's hospitality interests. The company's new subsidiary also is expected to create programming for Gaylord's interactive media efforts.

    Gaylord also owns Cornerstone Sports, a golf management company, and the Springhouse Golf Club, site of the BellSouth Senior Classic in Opryland.

    Nicklaus' representatives did not return a call seeking comment. Terry Jastrow will continue as president of the company through 2002, Adkinson said, and the company will continue to operate out of its Los Angeles offices.

    Print
  • Golfers set, advertisers signing up for New Year’s weekend event on NBC

    NBC's New Year's Day weekend broadcasts of the inaugural Williams World Challenge presented by Target will showcase a strong 12-man tournament field. Set to tee it up: Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Mark O'Meara, Paul Lawrie, Vijay Singh, Hal Sutton, Tom Lehman and John Huston.

    The roster of advertisers for NBC's broadcasts (4 to 6 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 1, 2 to 4 p.m. on Jan. 2) is taking shape. In addition to title sponsor Williams, a Tulsa, Okla.-based energy and communications conglomerate, and presenting sponsor Target, advertisers that have bought time on the golf telecasts include Anheuser-Busch Cos., Wheaties, Advil, Sales Logix, Rio Suite Hotel, the Arizona Office of Tourism and General Motors Corp., sources said.

    The Tiger Woods Foundation, a charitable organization created by Woods and his father, Earl Woods, bought programming time on NBC to air the event and is handling all ad sales for the broadcasts. Created by the foundation, the 72-hole, stroke-play tournament will take place Dec. 29-Jan. 2 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    NBC hopes to attract viewers looking for a little change of pace from the plethora of football games set to inundate the airwaves Jan. 1 and 2.

    NUMBERS GAME: ESPN's telecasts of regular-season college football games delivered a ratings gain this year. The network's 37 telecasts posted a household ratings average of 2.31, up 5 percent from the 2.19 average that ESPN's 37 telecasts generated last season.

    The ratings for ESPN's Thursday night series of college football games — accounting for 12 of the network's 37 total telecasts — jumped 15 percent this season from last, rising from a 2.08 household average (for 11 telecasts) to a 2.4.

    Additionally, the ratings for ESPN2's coverage of regular-season college football games increased 21 percent from the 0.77 household average that the network's 35 telecasts garnered in 1998 to a 0.93 average (for 34 telecasts) in '99.

    ESPN reaches 77 million homes. ESPN2 is available in 67 million households.

    TEE IT UP: EMC has agreed to extend its title sponsorship of NBC's "Skills Challenge" through 2001. This year's event, matching top PGA Tour players in a series of shot-making competitions, aired on NBC earlier this month. Moreover, EMC has retained its title sponsorship of the Golf Skills European Challenge through 2001. CNBC airs that event in Europe and Asia in the spring.

    Sources say that Office Depot is close to extending its title sponsorship of the Father-Son Challenge — another made-for-TV golf competition on NBC — for two years. Earlier this month, Jack and Gary Nicklaus teamed to capture the fifth Father-Son Challenge. To be eligible for the 16-team field, each father must have won at least one of pro golf's Grand Slam tournaments, but the sons cannot be current PGA Tour players.

    QUICKIES: Upcoming fights on HBO's "World Championship Boxing" series will include a Roy Jones Jr. bout at Radio City Music Hall on Jan. 15 and an Oscar De La Hoya match at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 26. ... Coca-Cola Co. has a deal with Turner Sports to be a sponsor of the network's inaugural Winter Goodwill Games. The games, set to take place Feb. 17-20 at Lake Placid, N.Y., will air on TNT. ... Amid a strong prime-time advertising marketplace, NBC is including NBA inventory in its prime-time ad sales packages, said several media buyers.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, General Mills, NBA, NBC, Office Depot
  • Golfers set, advertisers signing up for New Year’s weekend event on NBC

    NBC's New Year's Day weekend broadcasts of the inaugural Williams World Challenge presented by Target will showcase a strong 12-man tournament field. Set to tee it up: Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Mark O'Meara, Paul Lawrie, Vijay Singh, Hal Sutton, Tom Lehman and John Huston.

    The roster of advertisers for NBC's broadcasts (4 to 6 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 1, 2 to 4 p.m. on Jan. 2) is taking shape. In addition to title sponsor Williams, a Tulsa, Okla.-based energy and communications conglomerate, and presenting sponsor Target, advertisers that have bought time on the golf telecasts include Anheuser-Busch Cos., Wheaties, Advil, Sales Logix, Rio Suite Hotel, the Arizona Office of Tourism and General Motors Corp., sources said.

    The Tiger Woods Foundation, a charitable organization created by Woods and his father, Earl Woods, bought programming time on NBC to air the event and is handling all ad sales for the broadcasts. Created by the foundation, the 72-hole, stroke-play tournament will take place Dec. 29-Jan. 2 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    NBC hopes to attract viewers looking for a little change of pace from the plethora of football games set to inundate the airwaves Jan. 1 and 2.

    NUMBERS GAME: ESPN's telecasts of regular-season college football games delivered a ratings gain this year. The network's 37 telecasts posted a household ratings average of 2.31, up 5 percent from the 2.19 average that ESPN's 37 telecasts generated last season.

    The ratings for ESPN's Thursday night series of college football games — accounting for 12 of the network's 37 total telecasts — jumped 15 percent this season from last, rising from a 2.08 household average (for 11 telecasts) to a 2.4.

    Additionally, the ratings for ESPN2's coverage of regular-season college football games increased 21 percent from the 0.77 household average that the network's 35 telecasts garnered in 1998 to a 0.93 average (for 34 telecasts) in '99.

    ESPN reaches 77 million homes. ESPN2 is available in 67 million households.

    TEE IT UP: EMC has agreed to extend its title sponsorship of NBC's "Skills Challenge" through 2001. This year's event, matching top PGA Tour players in a series of shot-making competitions, aired on NBC earlier this month. Moreover, EMC has retained its title sponsorship of the Golf Skills European Challenge through 2001. CNBC airs that event in Europe and Asia in the spring.

    Sources say that Office Depot is close to extending its title sponsorship of the Father-Son Challenge — another made-for-TV golf competition on NBC — for two years. Earlier this month, Jack and Gary Nicklaus teamed to capture the fifth Father-Son Challenge. To be eligible for the 16-team field, each father must have won at least one of pro golf's Grand Slam tournaments, but the sons cannot be current PGA Tour players.

    QUICKIES: Upcoming fights on HBO's "World Championship Boxing" series will include a Roy Jones Jr. bout at Radio City Music Hall on Jan. 15 and an Oscar De La Hoya match at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 26. ... Coca-Cola Co. has a deal with Turner Sports to be a sponsor of the network's inaugural Winter Goodwill Games. The games, set to take place Feb. 17-20 at Lake Placid, N.Y., will air on TNT. ... Amid a strong prime-time advertising marketplace, NBC is including NBA inventory in its prime-time ad sales packages, said several media buyers.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, General Mills, NBA, NBC, Office Depot
  • Grossman gone from Jets mix

    The number of people bidding on the New York Jets dropped last week when Arizona real estate executive Sam Grossman bowed out of the sale.

    Grossman's exit leaves pharmaceutical heir Robert Wood Johnson and Cablevision Systems Corp. chief Charles Dolan as the two front-runners.

    Grossman, who unsuccessfully bid on the Washington Redskins earlier this year, was seen by insiders as having the weakest financing for the team, which will likely be sold for around $600 million.

    The NFL's finance committee met last Tuesday to discuss the sale with Jets officials but made no decisions.

    The committee, chaired by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, is expected to make a recommendation to the NFL's full ownership group within a month. The owners may approve the sale when they meet in Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

    Print | Tags: New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, Washington Redskins
  • Grossman gone from Jets mix

    The number of people bidding on the New York Jets dropped last week when Arizona real estate executive Sam Grossman bowed out of the sale.

    Grossman's exit leaves pharmaceutical heir Robert Wood Johnson and Cablevision Systems Corp. chief Charles Dolan as the two front-runners.

    Grossman, who unsuccessfully bid on the Washington Redskins earlier this year, was seen by insiders as having the weakest financing for the team, which will likely be sold for around $600 million.

    The NFL's finance committee met last Tuesday to discuss the sale with Jets officials but made no decisions.

    The committee, chaired by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, is expected to make a recommendation to the NFL's full ownership group within a month. The owners may approve the sale when they meet in Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

    Print | Tags: New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, Washington Redskins
  • He’s the top sports marketer in 1,000 years

    David Stern’s commitment to technology, zest for innovation keep NBA ahead of the curve

    With your permission, I'd like to borrow a Chicago maxim: "Vote early and vote often."

    In this case, I'd like to nominate and cast the first vote for David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, as sports marketer of the millennium.

    Yeah, I know that will bother some of you. There's no question that 1,000 years is a lot of territory to cover. Just picking from the last 99 years is daunting enough.

    To start, you'd have to pay tribute to Pete Rozelle, late commissioner of the National Football League and creator of NFL Properties. You would have to acknowledge greats like Peter Ueberroth (Los Angeles Olympics, Major League Baseball), sports agent and marketer Mark McCormack (IMG), baseball owners Bill Veeck and Walter O'Malley, sports network legend Roone Arledge (ABC Sports), and sports licensor David Warsaw (Sports Specialties).

    In the group category, you would acknowledge marketers at Gillette Co. ("The Cavalcade of Sports"), Nike ("Just Do It"), Converse (Chuck Taylor All-Stars), Coca-Cola Co. (numerous sponsorships), Wheaties ("Breakfast of Champions"), Ford Motor Co. (Punt, Pass & Kick) and ESPN ("SportsCenter," X-Games). If I forgot you, I apologize.

    In my mind, however, David Stern, deserves your votes for growing the NBA and for his on-going efforts to keep professional basketball relevant. More important, his recent proactive commitment to technology and the NBA.com TV network is the stuff of legend. Here's your chance to watch the front edge of the curve at work.

    The day that sealed my vote was Nov. 2. That's the date Stern, Adam Silver (president of NBA Entertainment) and Gregg Winik (executive producer, NBAE) launched the first professional sports league television network (on satellite's DirecTV and digital cable's Viewer's Choice). Given that Major League Baseball, NFL and NHL are all more than 75 years old (the NBA is 53), it's stunning that with league properties so reliant on broadcast partners, no one had initiated this concept earlier.

    The conventional wisdom has always been that leagues are better suited to staging games and licensing their broadcast rights to media titans. In that relationship, the league gets a guaranteed cash flow and essentially avoids the risk of selling advertising time. The network gets male viewers and valuable advertisers.

    In this model, TV's role has proven invaluable to the leagues; the best example is the NFL's $17.6 billion, eight-year deal with ABC/ESPN, CBS and Fox. On the Web site side, preliminary reports suggest the NFL will follow its TV licensing strategy (Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called it "sticking to your knitting") and ask for approximately $100 million for its next three-year Internet licensing deal.

    In recent years, however, the television medium has become saturated with over-the-air, cable and satellite channels. One result is that overall ratings have slipped notably (vs. 10 years ago) for most sports leagues. Another is the proliferation of advertising to underwrite the expensive broadcast rights. Net result? TV is still incredibly important, but the medium is getting flanked by the interactive attractiveness of the Internet.

    Now, if you're over 35, you might be saying, "Hogcrap. The future TV will make the Personal Computer (PC) obsolete." But as Emma Duncan wrote in the Economist, "Old companies always fear new technology," and "whenever a new technology has come in, it has made more money for existing entertainment companies."

    David Stern has long recognized that the NBA is an entertainment organization. That explains why the league (along with its line extension, the WNBA) controls seven different TV programming components ranging from NBA "Inside Stuff" with NBC to "Vintage NBA" with ESPN Classic. It has two Web sites (NBA.com and WNBA.com). But the creation of its own TV network, marrying the traditional broadcast features of over-the-air telecasts with digital spontaneity (required by consumers under 25) stamps Stern as the sports industry's ranking visionary.

    For you older dogs (and I'm one of you), what makes Stern's investment (a mere $5 million to $10 million) so notable is the future leverage it gives the NBA and the strategic ability to change with the times. It allows the NBA to gain valuable experience in an evolving medium (computer broadcasting) that, in Stern's opinion, will replace the TV sooner rather than later. It also prepares the NBA for the day when the television networks do not bid up the broadcast rights and force owners to accept less cash (despite long-term player contracts).

    Want an indicator? USA Today reported Nov. 11 that a survey of 6,500 adult cable and satellite subscribers found that online company America Online Inc. (seventh) was "more highly regarded" than Fox (eighth), NBC (10th), ABC (17th) and CBS (21st). Yes, I know the research might be flawed or, at the very least, slanted to favor niche networks like the top six selections (Discovery Channel, Weather Channel, Learning Channel, PBS, History Channel and ESPN). But that's part of the proof: Niche strategies and niche properties are working. Professional basketball is simply one entertainment niche.

    Additionally, Nielsen research has shown that online homes currently watch 13 percent less TV (about one hour a day) than traditional TV homes, and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) thinks Internet advertising will reach 10 percent of all TV advertising in 1999.

    So if you were hedging your bets, would you pick the guy who:

    Unified his owners and crushed unfettered player capitalism.

    Developed NBA Entertainment (now with reported revenues of $150 million).

    Opened the NBA Store in New York (and with IBM online).

    Established NBA City in Orlando (the first-ever league eatery).

    Or would you go with someone else? Would you back Stern's hunch that, as Business Week reported, the Internet might be "the replacement [to the TV and] the primary link to the vast audience for sports programming."

    If you do vote for Stern, you might want to get on the bandwagon early. In a sports world that frequently moves slowly and sometimes avoids change at all costs, David Stern is blazing new trails in the convergence category and probably reshaping the entire sports industry. Not bad for the last 25 years of what has been a pretty exciting millennium.

    Rick Burton is director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Dallas Stars, ESPN, Ford, Fox, General Mills, Gillette, IMG, NBA, NBC, NFL, NHL, PBS, USA Today Sports, Weather Channel, WNBA
  • He’s the top sports marketer in 1,000 years

    With your permission, I'd like to borrow a Chicago maxim: "Vote early and vote often."

    In this case, I'd like to nominate and cast the first vote for David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, as sports marketer of the millennium.

    Yeah, I know that will bother some of you. There's no question that 1,000 years is a lot of territory to cover. Just picking from the last 99 years is daunting enough.

    To start, you'd have to pay tribute to Pete Rozelle, late commissioner of the National Football League and creator of NFL Properties. You would have to acknowledge greats like Peter Ueberroth (Los Angeles Olympics, Major League Baseball), sports agent and marketer Mark McCormack (IMG), baseball owners Bill Veeck and Walter O'Malley, sports network legend Roone Arledge (ABC Sports), and sports licensor David Warsaw (Sports Specialties).

    In the group category, you would acknowledge marketers at Gillette Co. ("The Cavalcade of Sports"), Nike ("Just Do It"), Converse (Chuck Taylor All-Stars), Coca-Cola Co. (numerous sponsorships), Wheaties ("Breakfast of Champions"), Ford Motor Co. (Punt, Pass & Kick) and ESPN ("SportsCenter," X-Games). If I forgot you, I apologize.

    In my mind, however, David Stern, deserves your votes for growing the NBA and for his on-going efforts to keep professional basketball relevant. More important, his recent proactive commitment to technology and the NBA.com TV network is the stuff of legend. Here's your chance to watch the front edge of the curve at work.

    The day that sealed my vote was Nov. 2. That's the date Stern, Adam Silver (president of NBA Entertainment) and Gregg Winik (executive producer, NBAE) launched the first professional sports league television network (on satellite's DirecTV and digital cable's Viewer's Choice). Given that Major League Baseball, NFL and NHL are all more than 75 years old (the NBA is 53), it's stunning that with league properties so reliant on broadcast partners, no one had initiated this concept earlier.

    The conventional wisdom has always been that leagues are better suited to staging games and licensing their broadcast rights to media titans. In that relationship, the league gets a guaranteed cash flow and essentially avoids the risk of selling advertising time. The network gets male viewers and valuable advertisers.

    In this model, TV's role has proven invaluable to the leagues; the best example is the NFL's $17.6 billion, eight-year deal with ABC/ESPN, CBS and Fox. On the Web site side, preliminary reports suggest the NFL will follow its TV licensing strategy (Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called it "sticking to your knitting") and ask for approximately $100 million for its next three-year Internet licensing deal.

    In recent years, however, the television medium has become saturated with over-the-air, cable and satellite channels. One result is that overall ratings have slipped notably (vs. 10 years ago) for most sports leagues. Another is the proliferation of advertising to underwrite the expensive broadcast rights. Net result? TV is still incredibly important, but the medium is getting flanked by the interactive attractiveness of the Internet.

    Now, if you're over 35, you might be saying, "Hogcrap. The future TV will make the Personal Computer (PC) obsolete." But as Emma Duncan wrote in the Economist, "Old companies always fear new technology," and "whenever a new technology has come in, it has made more money for existing entertainment companies."

    David Stern has long recognized that the NBA is an entertainment organization. That explains why the league (along with its line extension, the WNBA) controls seven different TV programming components ranging from NBA "Inside Stuff" with NBC to "Vintage NBA" with ESPN Classic. It has two Web sites (NBA.com and WNBA.com). But the creation of its own TV network, marrying the traditional broadcast features of over-the-air telecasts with digital spontaneity (required by consumers under 25) stamps Stern as the sports industry's ranking visionary.

    For you older dogs (and I'm one of you), what makes Stern's investment (a mere $5 million to $10 million) so notable is the future leverage it gives the NBA and the strategic ability to change with the times. It allows the NBA to gain valuable experience in an evolving medium (computer broadcasting) that, in Stern's opinion, will replace the TV sooner rather than later. It also prepares the NBA for the day when the television networks do not bid up the broadcast rights and force owners to accept less cash (despite long-term player contracts).

    Want an indicator? USA Today reported Nov. 11 that a survey of 6,500 adult cable and satellite subscribers found that online company America Online Inc. (seventh) was "more highly regarded" than Fox (eighth), NBC (10th), ABC (17th) and CBS (21st). Yes, I know the research might be flawed or, at the very least, slanted to favor niche networks like the top six selections (Discovery Channel, Weather Channel, Learning Channel, PBS, History Channel and ESPN). But that's part of the proof: Niche strategies and niche properties are working. Professional basketball is simply one entertainment niche.

    Additionally, Nielsen research has shown that online homes currently watch 13 percent less TV (about one hour a day) than traditional TV homes, and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) thinks Internet advertising will reach 10 percent of all TV advertising in 1999.

    So if you were hedging your bets, would you pick the guy who:

    Unified his owners and crushed unfettered player capitalism.

    Developed NBA Entertainment (now with reported revenues of $150 million).

    Opened the NBA Store in New York (and with IBM online).

    Established NBA City in Orlando (the first-ever league eatery).

    Or would you go with someone else? Would you back Stern's hunch that, as Business Week reported, the Internet might be "the replacement [to the TV and] the primary link to the vast audience for sports programming."

    If you do vote for Stern, you might want to get on the bandwagon early. In a sports world that frequently moves slowly and sometimes avoids change at all costs, David Stern is blazing new trails in the convergence category and probably reshaping the entire sports industry. Not bad for the last 25 years of what has been a pretty exciting millennium.

    Rick Burton is director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Dallas Stars, ESPN, Ford, Fox, General Mills, Gillette, IMG, NBA, NBC, NFL, NHL, PBS, USA Today Sports, Weather Channel, WNBA
  • Hot prospect will follow Beltre

    A promising baseball prospect who could command a signing bonus of up to $4 million intends to follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre this week, requesting free agency because he says the Atlanta Braves signed him when he was 15.

    Winston Abreu, a highly regarded pitching prospect whom the Braves added to their 40-man roster last month, set the process into motion last week when he presented his agent, Scott Boras, with documents that show he was 15 years old when the Braves signed him on July 1, 1993, a violation of MLB rules.

    Boras confirmed Thursday that a representative of his company, Fernando Arguellas, flew to Abreu's home in the Dominican Republic last week and secured a birth certificate, driver's license, passport and other government documents backing the pitcher's claim. Boras Corp. lawyers were reviewing those documents and were expected to forward them to the commissioner's office this week.

    Abreu will be the third player to file such a claim in the last six weeks, following Beltre and Wilson Betemit, another Braves prospect. All are from the Dominican Republic. Beltre is the first major leaguer to make the claim. Abreu and Beltre are both clients of Boras, who said he knows of no others in his stable who make the claim.

    Abreu and Betemit both would command more than $3 million on the open market and Beltre would attract bids higher than that, say baseball scouts. The Dodgers signed Beltre for $23,000 in 1994. Betemit and Abreu received less than that.

    Atlanta Braves management said it was unaware of Abreu's pending claim and would not comment on it, citing the advice of attorneys.

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to announce a ruling on Beltre on Wednesday. Throughout baseball, executives are watching and waiting, wondering what the effects will be upon an international development system that has become an integral part of the game. Although the process of age verification has improved, concerns remain.

    "We've gotten better about making sure clubs verify the documents," said Omar Minaya, the assistant general manager of the New York Mets and a well-traveled international scout. "But there was a time not long ago when that was not the case. What you're seeing now is players, their families and their agents taking advantage of that. I'd be surprised if we've seen the last of it."

    The uncertain status of Dominican prospects has been percolating for the last two years, since the revelation of the curious case of a pitching prodigy named Ricardo Aramboles.

    When Aramboles signed his first professional baseball contract with the Florida Marlins in 1995, he was a wisp of a boy, talented enough to be considered a prospect but too frail to be thought of among the elite.

    He also was 14 years old.

    Aramboles' story triggered warning lights for many in baseball when MLB administrators determined that the Marlins had broken baseball's rules by signing Aramboles early. He was declared a free agent — not only in spite of, but also because of, an affidavit signed by his parents saying they had forged a birth certificate so they could cash in on their son's ability.

    Two years after accepting a $5,500 signing bonus from the Marlins, Aramboles, who is from an island nation of about 8 million where the average person earns less than $1,000 a year, received $1.52 million to join the New York Yankees. He was older, better developed; less of a risk. He also was represented by an inexperienced but inventive Philadelphia attorney, Rob Plummer, who made sure he was seen by evaluators from more than a dozen clubs, creating a competitive market that yielded a premium price.

    There was a message in that decision and the events that followed, one not lost on the impoverished baseball dreamers of Latin America.

    "It created an unbelievable market value," Minaya said. "But, more importantly, it created an incentive for the agent or the family of the player to knowingly give information that is false for the purposes of being free. And maybe for some scouts to encourage them to do it."

    In the Beltre case, the stakes were high not only for the Dodgers, but also for the entire industry. The typical second-year player makes less than $300,000 a year. As a free agent, Beltre might command 10 times that. And arbitrators might then use his salary as a comparative benchmark thatwould elevate all players' salaries.

    Baseball has improved its verification procedures in the last two years, mandating that scouts get age verification on players from the government, rather than accepting documents from parents. But the sport may have tightened the loophole too late.

    The same way that a baseball can be made to dance in varied directions by a combination of grips, arm angles and release points, baseball's future course as a global industry will be nudged by a mosaic of diverse economies, cultures and laws.

    Beltre was a symptom. The problem is in the inconsistency created by assorted locales. Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations at MLB, has suggested that a world draft would give baseball the best chance of corraling its problems. Not only would it force clubs to operate in plain view of each other with greater frequency, it also would give them better leverage in negotiations with foreign players who now can shop their wares on the open market.

    Though the idea has been discussed in concept for more than a decade, it only recently has been taken seriously by many clubs. Alderson sent all of them a clear message at the winter meetings last week in Anaheim when he told assemblies of general managers, scouting directors and farm directors that a world draft was coming — and coming soon.

    While proponents of a world draft say it's needed to give organizations equal access to talent, several clubs that typically fit into the poorer half of baseball's revenue equation are said to be opposed to it. The Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the original miners of Latin American talent, think they might be better off the way things are. So do the Cincinnati Reds, who stepped up their presence in the Dominican Republic two years ago and already are seeing promising results.

    Clubs that are most active in the Dominican and Venezuela, operating academies and summer league teams there, do so because it's cost efficient. Teams can run respectable programs in both countries for less than $1 million, baseball administrators said. That means a fleet of players for less than it costs to sign a first-round pick.

    If those players are draft eligible, there is less incentive for a club to help develop them, since there's nothing they can do to keep another club from swooping in and selecting a 16-year-old that the cost-conscious club had been nurturing for two years.

    Alderson argues that the low-budget clubs will be better off with a draft, because they'll still have access to the multitude of raw, unrecognized players who will go undrafted each year. And, he says, they'll be able to afford the occasional elite international player. Without a draft, Alderson fears the cost of international players will race ahead until low revenue clubs are boxed out both internationally and domestically.

    "You have two parallel schemes: a domestic draft and a foreign free agent market," Alderson said. "And neither one is distributing talent in a balanced way."

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Hot prospect will follow Beltre

    A promising baseball prospect who could command a signing bonus of up to $4 million intends to follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre this week, requesting free agency because he says the Atlanta Braves signed him when he was 15.

    Winston Abreu, a highly regarded pitching prospect whom the Braves added to their 40-man roster last month, set the process into motion last week when he presented his agent, Scott Boras, with documents that show he was 15 years old when the Braves signed him on July 1, 1993, a violation of MLB rules.

    Boras confirmed Thursday that a representative of his company, Fernando Arguellas, flew to Abreu's home in the Dominican Republic last week and secured a birth certificate, driver's license, passport and other government documents backing the pitcher's claim. Boras Corp. lawyers were reviewing those documents and were expected to forward them to the commissioner's office this week.

    Abreu will be the third player to file such a claim in the last six weeks, following Beltre and Wilson Betemit, another Braves prospect. All are from the Dominican Republic. Beltre is the first major leaguer to make the claim. Abreu and Beltre are both clients of Boras, who said he knows of no others in his stable who make the claim.

    Abreu and Betemit both would command more than $3 million on the open market and Beltre would attract bids higher than that, say baseball scouts. The Dodgers signed Beltre for $23,000 in 1994. Betemit and Abreu received less than that.

    Atlanta Braves management said it was unaware of Abreu's pending claim and would not comment on it, citing the advice of attorneys.

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to announce a ruling on Beltre on Wednesday. Throughout baseball, executives are watching and waiting, wondering what the effects will be upon an international development system that has become an integral part of the game. Although the process of age verification has improved, concerns remain.

    "We've gotten better about making sure clubs verify the documents," said Omar Minaya, the assistant general manager of the New York Mets and a well-traveled international scout. "But there was a time not long ago when that was not the case. What you're seeing now is players, their families and their agents taking advantage of that. I'd be surprised if we've seen the last of it."

    The uncertain status of Dominican prospects has been percolating for the last two years, since the revelation of the curious case of a pitching prodigy named Ricardo Aramboles.

    When Aramboles signed his first professional baseball contract with the Florida Marlins in 1995, he was a wisp of a boy, talented enough to be considered a prospect but too frail to be thought of among the elite.

    He also was 14 years old.

    Aramboles' story triggered warning lights for many in baseball when MLB administrators determined that the Marlins had broken baseball's rules by signing Aramboles early. He was declared a free agent — not only in spite of, but also because of, an affidavit signed by his parents saying they had forged a birth certificate so they could cash in on their son's ability.

    Two years after accepting a $5,500 signing bonus from the Marlins, Aramboles, who is from an island nation of about 8 million where the average person earns less than $1,000 a year, received $1.52 million to join the New York Yankees. He was older, better developed; less of a risk. He also was represented by an inexperienced but inventive Philadelphia attorney, Rob Plummer, who made sure he was seen by evaluators from more than a dozen clubs, creating a competitive market that yielded a premium price.

    There was a message in that decision and the events that followed, one not lost on the impoverished baseball dreamers of Latin America.

    "It created an unbelievable market value," Minaya said. "But, more importantly, it created an incentive for the agent or the family of the player to knowingly give information that is false for the purposes of being free. And maybe for some scouts to encourage them to do it."

    In the Beltre case, the stakes were high not only for the Dodgers, but also for the entire industry. The typical second-year player makes less than $300,000 a year. As a free agent, Beltre might command 10 times that. And arbitrators might then use his salary as a comparative benchmark thatwould elevate all players' salaries.

    Baseball has improved its verification procedures in the last two years, mandating that scouts get age verification on players from the government, rather than accepting documents from parents. But the sport may have tightened the loophole too late.

    The same way that a baseball can be made to dance in varied directions by a combination of grips, arm angles and release points, baseball's future course as a global industry will be nudged by a mosaic of diverse economies, cultures and laws.

    Beltre was a symptom. The problem is in the inconsistency created by assorted locales. Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations at MLB, has suggested that a world draft would give baseball the best chance of corraling its problems. Not only would it force clubs to operate in plain view of each other with greater frequency, it also would give them better leverage in negotiations with foreign players who now can shop their wares on the open market.

    Though the idea has been discussed in concept for more than a decade, it only recently has been taken seriously by many clubs. Alderson sent all of them a clear message at the winter meetings last week in Anaheim when he told assemblies of general managers, scouting directors and farm directors that a world draft was coming — and coming soon.

    While proponents of a world draft say it's needed to give organizations equal access to talent, several clubs that typically fit into the poorer half of baseball's revenue equation are said to be opposed to it. The Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the original miners of Latin American talent, think they might be better off the way things are. So do the Cincinnati Reds, who stepped up their presence in the Dominican Republic two years ago and already are seeing promising results.

    Clubs that are most active in the Dominican and Venezuela, operating academies and summer league teams there, do so because it's cost efficient. Teams can run respectable programs in both countries for less than $1 million, baseball administrators said. That means a fleet of players for less than it costs to sign a first-round pick.

    If those players are draft eligible, there is less incentive for a club to help develop them, since there's nothing they can do to keep another club from swooping in and selecting a 16-year-old that the cost-conscious club had been nurturing for two years.

    Alderson argues that the low-budget clubs will be better off with a draft, because they'll still have access to the multitude of raw, unrecognized players who will go undrafted each year. And, he says, they'll be able to afford the occasional elite international player. Without a draft, Alderson fears the cost of international players will race ahead until low revenue clubs are boxed out both internationally and domestically.

    "You have two parallel schemes: a domestic draft and a foreign free agent market," Alderson said. "And neither one is distributing talent in a balanced way."

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Illinois track joins duel for sponsors

    Chicago's second auto racing track is shifting its sponsorship efforts into high gear even though the 75,000-seat facility won't open until 2001.

    In the last month, Raceway Associates, a joint venture between Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. and International Speedway Corp. that is building the $100 million track in Joliet, has hired the Grant/Jacoby advertising agency and named former NBA Properties executive Nat Handler to market the facility.

    Handler, who was marketing director of NBA Properties before joining Raceway Associates, will compete for sponsorship dollars with Chicago Motor Speedway, a 65,000-seat, dual-purpose track that opened last year with a CART race.

    Raceway Associates officials are confident that the Chicago market can accommodate both tracks, and it would seem that the new facility already has an advantage over Chicago Motor Speedway by virtue of commitments from NASCAR for a Winston Cup event and from the Indy Racing League.

    "The Chicago market will be the No. 2 racing market in the country, right behind Los Angeles," said Joie Chitwood, vice president of Raceway Associates. "There should be room for everyone. Our letters of intent [from NASCAR and the IRL] will help us, but there are enough opportunities."

    Construction of the privately financed facility is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2001. The first event is slated for that summer.

    The motorsports park, as Raceway Associates calls the project, includes a 1.5-mile oval, a drag strip, a 3¼8-mile clay oval and a test track. Last year, the drag strip and the clay oval opened as part of the existing Route 66 Raceway, which was folded into the Raceway Associates project.

    A naming-rights deal probably will be at the top of the Raceway Associates marketing priorities. Chicago Motor Speedway already has begun a search for a naming-rights deal by hiring IMG to find a corporate partner.

    Print | Tags: Chicagoland Speedway, IMG, International Speedway Corp., IndyCar, NASCAR
  • Illinois track joins duel for sponsors

    Chicago's second auto racing track is shifting its sponsorship efforts into high gear even though the 75,000-seat facility won't open until 2001.

    In the last month, Raceway Associates, a joint venture between Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. and International Speedway Corp. that is building the $100 million track in Joliet, has hired the Grant/Jacoby advertising agency and named former NBA Properties executive Nat Handler to market the facility.

    Handler, who was marketing director of NBA Properties before joining Raceway Associates, will compete for sponsorship dollars with Chicago Motor Speedway, a 65,000-seat, dual-purpose track that opened last year with a CART race.

    Raceway Associates officials are confident that the Chicago market can accommodate both tracks, and it would seem that the new facility already has an advantage over Chicago Motor Speedway by virtue of commitments from NASCAR for a Winston Cup event and from the Indy Racing League.

    "The Chicago market will be the No. 2 racing market in the country, right behind Los Angeles," said Joie Chitwood, vice president of Raceway Associates. "There should be room for everyone. Our letters of intent [from NASCAR and the IRL] will help us, but there are enough opportunities."

    Construction of the privately financed facility is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2001. The first event is slated for that summer.

    The motorsports park, as Raceway Associates calls the project, includes a 1.5-mile oval, a drag strip, a 3¼8-mile clay oval and a test track. Last year, the drag strip and the clay oval opened as part of the existing Route 66 Raceway, which was folded into the Raceway Associates project.

    A naming-rights deal probably will be at the top of the Raceway Associates marketing priorities. Chicago Motor Speedway already has begun a search for a naming-rights deal by hiring IMG to find a corporate partner.

    Print | Tags: Chicagoland Speedway, IMG, International Speedway Corp., IndyCar, NASCAR
  • IMG hungers for more TV projects with SI

    Trans World International wants to talk to Sports Illustrated about trying to duplicate the success of the "Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards" show, which aired Dec. 2 in prime time on CBS.

    "We know that we can work together," said Bob Horowitz, a senior vice president at Trans World, the television arm of IMG. "I think we have a successful model. Now it just comes down to ... are there things that we can do together in the future?"

    Sports Illustrated wouldn't talk about the venture. Art Berke, vice president of communications, issued a statement calling the show a creative success and saying Sports Illustrated would welcome the chance to talk with Trans World and other companies about future programs.

    Conceivably, a television venture might be tied to a Sports Illustrated special issue or project.

    "Maybe it's the Olympics, maybe it's the NFL," Horowitz said. "Is it a Super Bowl show? Is it an annual Sportsman of the Year show. I think we're open to anything."

    Any project would have to pass muster editorially as well as financially, Horowitz said.

    "Their brand is so important to them that whether they would agree to do a [television venture], I think, has a lot to do with the editorial side," he said.

    For the Dec. 2 show, which originated from Madison Square Garden, Sports Illustrated and Trans World bought programming time (9 to 11 p.m.) from CBS. In turn, the two partners handled ad sales.

    Sports Illustrated sold multimedia sponsorship packages — priced at $1.6 million apiece — to four advertisers — Chrysler, American General Financial Group, Motorola Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. — who accounted for nearly 75 percent of the ad time.

    Trans World, which produced the show, moved the remaining inventory, selling 30-second spots for $150,000 to $175,000 each, Horowitz said. He wouldn't say how much money the partners made on the venture, though sources put the profit in the "low seven figures."

    The show delivered a 6.1 household ratings average. Trans World had estimated a household average between 5.0 and 7.0.

    Print | Tags: Chrysler, IMG, MSG Network, NFL
  • IMG hungers for more TV projects with SI

    Trans World International wants to talk to Sports Illustrated about trying to duplicate the success of the "Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards" show, which aired Dec. 2 in prime time on CBS.

    "We know that we can work together," said Bob Horowitz, a senior vice president at Trans World, the television arm of IMG. "I think we have a successful model. Now it just comes down to ... are there things that we can do together in the future?"

    Sports Illustrated wouldn't talk about the venture. Art Berke, vice president of communications, issued a statement calling the show a creative success and saying Sports Illustrated would welcome the chance to talk with Trans World and other companies about future programs.

    Conceivably, a television venture might be tied to a Sports Illustrated special issue or project.

    "Maybe it's the Olympics, maybe it's the NFL," Horowitz said. "Is it a Super Bowl show? Is it an annual Sportsman of the Year show. I think we're open to anything."

    Any project would have to pass muster editorially as well as financially, Horowitz said.

    "Their brand is so important to them that whether they would agree to do a [television venture], I think, has a lot to do with the editorial side," he said.

    For the Dec. 2 show, which originated from Madison Square Garden, Sports Illustrated and Trans World bought programming time (9 to 11 p.m.) from CBS. In turn, the two partners handled ad sales.

    Sports Illustrated sold multimedia sponsorship packages — priced at $1.6 million apiece — to four advertisers — Chrysler, American General Financial Group, Motorola Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. — who accounted for nearly 75 percent of the ad time.

    Trans World, which produced the show, moved the remaining inventory, selling 30-second spots for $150,000 to $175,000 each, Horowitz said. He wouldn't say how much money the partners made on the venture, though sources put the profit in the "low seven figures."

    The show delivered a 6.1 household ratings average. Trans World had estimated a household average between 5.0 and 7.0.

    Print | Tags: Chrysler, IMG, MSG Network, NFL
  • INSIDE THE DEAL

    THE DEAL:


    LiFizz Effervescent Vitamins signs as sponsor of LPGA

    VALUE/TERM:


    Three years, estimated at more than $500,000 in fees and promotional support.

    DEAL MAKERS:


    Michael Rackley, vice president of marketing, LiFizz Inc.; Karen Durkin, LPGA vice president of marketing; Cathy Levering, LPGA marketing coordinator.

    KEY ELEMENTS:


    Benefits to LiFizz include:

    Designation as official vitamin of LPGA.

    Signs on LPGA's HealthSouth Sports Medicine Trailer, which travels to domestic LPGA events, and selected event signage.

    Opportunity to give away samples at LPGA tournaments.

    Access to LPGA marks in its trade and consumer advertising and promotions.

    Access to ancillary tournament opportunities such as pro-am spots, luncheons and award ceremonies.

    BACKGROUND:


    LiFizz's vitamins are packaged in flavored effervescent tablets. They dissolve in water, and the company claims they're assimilated into the body more efficiently than tablets. LiFizz introduced the product to the U.S. market in the fall of 1998 and claims retail distribution in more than 12,000 health stores, supermarkets and chain drug stores.

    PGA Tour golfer Jesper Parnevik is co-founder and chairman of LiFizz Inc. Investors include golfers Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam.

    This LPGA relationship is an expansion of the company's golf marketing efforts. Last January, LiFizz announced a five-year similar category sponsorship with the PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour. LiFizz is one of the few PGA Tour and Senior Tour sponsors to grow into LPGA. The LPGA relationship officially commences Jan. 1.

    ANALYSIS:


    With so much clutter and competition for consumer affection, key-customer segmentation is more important than ever.

    In a sponsor survey published Sept. 20 by SportsBusiness Journal, the LPGA ranked fourth highest among 21 leagues and sanctioning bodies in terms of being client-centered and service-oriented. LiFizz Marketing VP Mike Rackley said the survey had an influence on the company's decision to grow its golf marketing program.

    People interested in golf tend to be health-conscious, rosy-cheeked outdoor types — and vitamin customers. Women interested in golf and women's sports have an interest in the LPGA. Rackley said company research indicates that 70 percent of the time, the woman in a household makes the vitamin purchase. Sounds like a good match.

    Like most other sports leagues and sanctioning bodies, LPGA needs more sponsors, advertisers, viewers and spectators. Plus there is a wide range of marketability of its athletes, ranging from excellent to awful. But LPGA puts on a good show, the athletes are for the most part approachable and its broad base of national sponsors feel catered to.

    It's interesting to note that Rackley got several welcoming letters from LPGA players when the deal was announced Nov. 30. That says a lot about the attitude of the LPGA players. When was the last time an NBA, NFL or NHL player wrote to thank a sponsor?

    OTHER NEW DEALS:

    Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. was title sponsor of the 1999 Butkus Award Gala. The award is presented by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando Inc. to the top collegiate linebacker in the country.

    JustBalls.com became a systemwide partner of the California Community College Commission on Athletics. JustBalls becomes the commission’s official supplier.

    DLJdirect, online brokerage service of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc., became the official brokerage firm of Vail Resorts Inc.

    Sun Country Airlines became the official airline of A-League soccer team the Milwaukee Rampage.

    Source: Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: LPGA, NBA, NFL, NHL, Oakland Athletics, Vail Resorts
  • INSIDE THE DEAL

    THE DEAL:


    LiFizz Effervescent Vitamins signs as sponsor of LPGA

    VALUE/TERM:


    Three years, estimated at more than $500,000 in fees and promotional support.

    DEAL MAKERS:


    Michael Rackley, vice president of marketing, LiFizz Inc.; Karen Durkin, LPGA vice president of marketing; Cathy Levering, LPGA marketing coordinator.

    KEY ELEMENTS:


    Benefits to LiFizz include:

    Designation as official vitamin of LPGA.

    Signs on LPGA's HealthSouth Sports Medicine Trailer, which travels to domestic LPGA events, and selected event signage.

    Opportunity to give away samples at LPGA tournaments.

    Access to LPGA marks in its trade and consumer advertising and promotions.

    Access to ancillary tournament opportunities such as pro-am spots, luncheons and award ceremonies.

    BACKGROUND:


    LiFizz's vitamins are packaged in flavored effervescent tablets. They dissolve in water, and the company claims they're assimilated into the body more efficiently than tablets. LiFizz introduced the product to the U.S. market in the fall of 1998 and claims retail distribution in more than 12,000 health stores, supermarkets and chain drug stores.

    PGA Tour golfer Jesper Parnevik is co-founder and chairman of LiFizz Inc. Investors include golfers Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam.

    This LPGA relationship is an expansion of the company's golf marketing efforts. Last January, LiFizz announced a five-year similar category sponsorship with the PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour. LiFizz is one of the few PGA Tour and Senior Tour sponsors to grow into LPGA. The LPGA relationship officially commences Jan. 1.

    ANALYSIS:


    With so much clutter and competition for consumer affection, key-customer segmentation is more important than ever.

    In a sponsor survey published Sept. 20 by SportsBusiness Journal, the LPGA ranked fourth highest among 21 leagues and sanctioning bodies in terms of being client-centered and service-oriented. LiFizz Marketing VP Mike Rackley said the survey had an influence on the company's decision to grow its golf marketing program.

    People interested in golf tend to be health-conscious, rosy-cheeked outdoor types — and vitamin customers. Women interested in golf and women's sports have an interest in the LPGA. Rackley said company research indicates that 70 percent of the time, the woman in a household makes the vitamin purchase. Sounds like a good match.

    Like most other sports leagues and sanctioning bodies, LPGA needs more sponsors, advertisers, viewers and spectators. Plus there is a wide range of marketability of its athletes, ranging from excellent to awful. But LPGA puts on a good show, the athletes are for the most part approachable and its broad base of national sponsors feel catered to.

    It's interesting to note that Rackley got several welcoming letters from LPGA players when the deal was announced Nov. 30. That says a lot about the attitude of the LPGA players. When was the last time an NBA, NFL or NHL player wrote to thank a sponsor?

    OTHER NEW DEALS:

    Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. was title sponsor of the 1999 Butkus Award Gala. The award is presented by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando Inc. to the top collegiate linebacker in the country.

    JustBalls.com became a systemwide partner of the California Community College Commission on Athletics. JustBalls becomes the commission’s official supplier.

    DLJdirect, online brokerage service of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc., became the official brokerage firm of Vail Resorts Inc.

    Sun Country Airlines became the official airline of A-League soccer team the Milwaukee Rampage.

    Source: Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: LPGA, NBA, NFL, NHL, Oakland Athletics, Vail Resorts
  • Internet-like ads next for NBA.com TV?

    The NBA may launch an Internet-inspired marketing platform for its new NBA.com TV that would allow sponsors to place corporate logos on segments of the channel's programming during commercial-free broadcasts, said NBA Entertainment President Adam Silver.

    If launched, the marketing plan would more closely mimic the way advertising is displayed on Web sites than how commercials are aired on television, Silver said.

    "What I believe would be somewhat revolutionary would be to have at least a portion of the day commercial-free and to sell advertising more like the Internet," Silver said. An example might be an IBM scoreboard, with the IBM Corp. logo displayed on the electronic graphic, he said.

    Silver said the NBA has had initial conversations about the idea with league sponsors. The sponsored segments could begin appearing on the new 24-hour-a-day network as early as the first quarter of 2000.

    Silver added that the league had not determined what, if anything, it would charge sponsors for exposure on the new channel.

    NBA.com TV was launched Nov. 2 and was available to more than 5.6 million homes on satellite through DirecTV and to more than 1 million homes on upgraded digital cable through Viewer's Choice. NBA officials estimate that about 3 million households have the new channel.

    NBA officials are hoping that the channel's distribution will grow as digital cable grows, Silver said.

    The channel looks more like an Internet site than a television show, with information boxes and moving tickers at the top, bottom and side of the screen, while newscasts, interviews and features are displayed in the middle.

    Keith Kreiter, president of Edge Sports International, said it is not surprising that NBA.com TV is looking at different ways to allow sponsors to advertise. Noting that the channel is new and therefore does not have many viewers, Kreiter said it may be difficult to sell commercials like those on the NBA broadcasts on NBC.

    "Although it is being viewed as a television outlet, you can't really treat it as a network situation in which you sell 30- or 60-second spots," he said.

    By developing a new approach, "I think they are being smart coming out of the gate," Kreiter said.

    Print | Tags: NBA, NBC
  • Internet-like ads next for NBA.com TV?

    The NBA may launch an Internet-inspired marketing platform for its new NBA.com TV that would allow sponsors to place corporate logos on segments of the channel's programming during commercial-free broadcasts, said NBA Entertainment President Adam Silver.

    If launched, the marketing plan would more closely mimic the way advertising is displayed on Web sites than how commercials are aired on television, Silver said.

    "What I believe would be somewhat revolutionary would be to have at least a portion of the day commercial-free and to sell advertising more like the Internet," Silver said. An example might be an IBM scoreboard, with the IBM Corp. logo displayed on the electronic graphic, he said.

    Silver said the NBA has had initial conversations about the idea with league sponsors. The sponsored segments could begin appearing on the new 24-hour-a-day network as early as the first quarter of 2000.

    Silver added that the league had not determined what, if anything, it would charge sponsors for exposure on the new channel.

    NBA.com TV was launched Nov. 2 and was available to more than 5.6 million homes on satellite through DirecTV and to more than 1 million homes on upgraded digital cable through Viewer's Choice. NBA officials estimate that about 3 million households have the new channel.

    NBA officials are hoping that the channel's distribution will grow as digital cable grows, Silver said.

    The channel looks more like an Internet site than a television show, with information boxes and moving tickers at the top, bottom and side of the screen, while newscasts, interviews and features are displayed in the middle.

    Keith Kreiter, president of Edge Sports International, said it is not surprising that NBA.com TV is looking at different ways to allow sponsors to advertise. Noting that the channel is new and therefore does not have many viewers, Kreiter said it may be difficult to sell commercials like those on the NBA broadcasts on NBC.

    "Although it is being viewed as a television outlet, you can't really treat it as a network situation in which you sell 30- or 60-second spots," he said.

    By developing a new approach, "I think they are being smart coming out of the gate," Kreiter said.

    Print | Tags: NBA, NBC
  • Kellogg tries fish with its flakes in Operation Bass deal

    Kellogg Co. signed a multiyear deal to sponsor Battle Creek, Mich.-based Operation Bass Inc., the largest bass fishing tournament organization, and its competitive fishing programs.

    Kellogg will be the official cereal of Operation Bass and will sponsor the $4.4 million 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour and the nine-event, $1.9 million EverStart Batteries Series.

    Kellogg also will sponsor one of the Ranger Comanche bass boats. The company will have an exclusive boat covered with Kellogg logos, and the angler will wear Kellogg apparel while fishing. The boat will appear in the final two rounds of championship competition, which are televised on ESPN and ESPN2.

    "They will get a lot of airtime for their corporate logo," said Brian Sayner of Operation Bass.

    As an Operation Bass sponsor, Kellogg will receive signs at the weigh-in sites at Wal-Mart Supercenters around the country. Each weigh-in is fed via satellite to all U.S. Wal-Marts.

    Kellogg will have a presence at the Family Fun Zone adjacent to the weigh-in station.

    There are an estimated 55 million U.S. fishing enthusiasts, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. ESPN and ESPN2 are longtime broadcast sponsors of Operation Bass. The Ranger M1 Millennium Bass Fishing Tournament, a stand-alone event, was televised last month on Fox.

    Additional sponsors of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour include Coca-Cola Co., Land O'Lakes, Citgo Petroleum Products, Chevy Trucks, B.F. Goodrich, Fuji Film Co., Black & Decker Corp., Coleman Co., Ranger Boats, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderline, Evinrude Outboard Motors, Eagle Electronics, Timex, ShopVac, Wrangler, U.S. Bank, Visa, Poulan and WeedEater.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Fox, Kellogg, Timex, Visa
  • Kellogg tries fish with its flakes in Operation Bass deal

    Kellogg Co. signed a multiyear deal to sponsor Battle Creek, Mich.-based Operation Bass Inc., the largest bass fishing tournament organization, and its competitive fishing programs.

    Kellogg will be the official cereal of Operation Bass and will sponsor the $4.4 million 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour and the nine-event, $1.9 million EverStart Batteries Series.

    Kellogg also will sponsor one of the Ranger Comanche bass boats. The company will have an exclusive boat covered with Kellogg logos, and the angler will wear Kellogg apparel while fishing. The boat will appear in the final two rounds of championship competition, which are televised on ESPN and ESPN2.

    "They will get a lot of airtime for their corporate logo," said Brian Sayner of Operation Bass.

    As an Operation Bass sponsor, Kellogg will receive signs at the weigh-in sites at Wal-Mart Supercenters around the country. Each weigh-in is fed via satellite to all U.S. Wal-Marts.

    Kellogg will have a presence at the Family Fun Zone adjacent to the weigh-in station.

    There are an estimated 55 million U.S. fishing enthusiasts, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. ESPN and ESPN2 are longtime broadcast sponsors of Operation Bass. The Ranger M1 Millennium Bass Fishing Tournament, a stand-alone event, was televised last month on Fox.

    Additional sponsors of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour include Coca-Cola Co., Land O'Lakes, Citgo Petroleum Products, Chevy Trucks, B.F. Goodrich, Fuji Film Co., Black & Decker Corp., Coleman Co., Ranger Boats, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderline, Evinrude Outboard Motors, Eagle Electronics, Timex, ShopVac, Wrangler, U.S. Bank, Visa, Poulan and WeedEater.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Fox, Kellogg, Timex, Visa
  • Lacrosse league will open with tour

    Major League Lacrosse, the creation of fitness guru Jake Steinfeld and the SFX Sports Group, will debut with a summer tour that visits six to 10 cities next year before beginning league play in 2001.

    Prospective owner-operators of MLL franchises will co-promote each tour stop in their home cities. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Long Island, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio, have already been selected as stops on the tour and likely markets for MLL franchises.

    "It's really a trial run for us and will answer all of the questions we have without jumping in headfirst," said Gabby Roe, MLL's executive director. "We're trying to introduce the Major League Lacrosse experience to the public."

    The tour will also include such entertainment elements as concerts and fireworks and will be televised on various regional sports networks.

    The SFX Sports Group's television division will produce the broadcasts and make the feeds available to the stations free of charge. Talks are ongoing with a national cable station that would air one game coast-to-coast.

    Roe said MLL has received multiple inquiries in each market from possible investors. The league will have a single-entity ownership structure similar to Major League Soccer, but SFX, Steinfeld and several other parties will hold equity stakes in the league along with franchise operators. The entry fee charged to owner-operators will likely fall between $1 million and $2 million, Roe said.

    The league also announced its first three sponsors, signing three-year deals with Sports Helmets, Great Atlantic (a lacrosse catalog) and stick-maker Warrior Lacrosse, which is a founding partner of the league. The total cash and barter value of the three sponsorships is thought to be more than $1 million.

    Venues for the tour have not yet been selected, but the games will likely be played in small stadiums that can seat 5,000 to 10,000 spectators.

    Print | Tags: Major League Lacrosse
  • Lacrosse league will open with tour

    Major League Lacrosse, the creation of fitness guru Jake Steinfeld and the SFX Sports Group, will debut with a summer tour that visits six to 10 cities next year before beginning league play in 2001.

    Prospective owner-operators of MLL franchises will co-promote each tour stop in their home cities. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Long Island, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio, have already been selected as stops on the tour and likely markets for MLL franchises.

    "It's really a trial run for us and will answer all of the questions we have without jumping in headfirst," said Gabby Roe, MLL's executive director. "We're trying to introduce the Major League Lacrosse experience to the public."

    The tour will also include such entertainment elements as concerts and fireworks and will be televised on various regional sports networks.

    The SFX Sports Group's television division will produce the broadcasts and make the feeds available to the stations free of charge. Talks are ongoing with a national cable station that would air one game coast-to-coast.

    Roe said MLL has received multiple inquiries in each market from possible investors. The league will have a single-entity ownership structure similar to Major League Soccer, but SFX, Steinfeld and several other parties will hold equity stakes in the league along with franchise operators. The entry fee charged to owner-operators will likely fall between $1 million and $2 million, Roe said.

    The league also announced its first three sponsors, signing three-year deals with Sports Helmets, Great Atlantic (a lacrosse catalog) and stick-maker Warrior Lacrosse, which is a founding partner of the league. The total cash and barter value of the three sponsorships is thought to be more than $1 million.

    Venues for the tour have not yet been selected, but the games will likely be played in small stadiums that can seat 5,000 to 10,000 spectators.

    Print | Tags: Major League Lacrosse
  • Looking to lure in listeners without spending big? Try Webcasting

    All the talk about the Web's convergence with television may not apply to you yet. It certainly doesn't apply to the Oakland (Mich.) University basketball team or to the fine, independent hockey site InTheCrease.com. But both are taking advantage of convergence of a different kind: Web and the radio. It's worth looking into for any sports outfit that's broadcasting on radio — or, as in the case of Oakland University, that can't quite swing a radio deal.

    Oakland, situated in the suburbs north of Detroit, couldn't find a radio partner this year that was worth the cost to an athletic program that's still a newcomer to Division I competition. Area stations wanted too much, given the weak signals they were offering. So the athletic department turned to the university's Internet service provider and site developer, SV3 Media Group, and worked out a way to Webcast the games worldwide.

    There are plenty of pros. For starters, the process is fairly simple. Announcer Jon Bloom's game call goes through his headset microphone, into a laptop and through the RealProducer software program. The encoded call is transmitted to SV3 via a T1 line and from there it's Webcast via SV3's servers or, on high-traffic nights, through a server closer to the listener via a kind of "multicasting" programmed by SV3. Originally Bloom had programmed the laptop with all of the sound effects and ads necessary for the game, but he found the computer bogged down in executing all the commands. So now they're cued up on a minidisk player and run through the same mixing board he uses for his voice input.

    The result, according to Bloom and SV3 Vice President Chris Catallo, is a clear worldwide "signal." If users notice skips or slowdowns due to net congestion or buffering, it's because of the slowness of their dial-up — a problem all Web users will face at times until they have broadband connections.

    Bloom and Catallo couldn't divulge Oakland's cost, but Catallo said SV3 offered the university a good deal because it wanted to showcase its techno-skills (and because Catallo's an alum). There's a moral here for all sports teams: Their high standing in the community gives them some leverage in negotiating with ISPs and site developers, who see the end results as good showcases and good community-relations moves.

    Any cons? Oakland University is faced with the awareness problem that comes with Webcasts. It promotes games on the school site (www.oakland.edu), in-arena and in mailings, but most sports fans haven't come to expect Webcasts and so they don't pick up on the promotions. The site makes it easy for visitors to download the free RealPlayer software necessary to listen in, but this, too, is still a psychological obstacle for some potential users.

    And there's the built-in bias of local print media: Neither the Detroit Free Press nor The Detroit News will list the site in the daily rundown of local games and media outlets. This is unreasonable given how little space – maybe one line of type – the listing would require and how liberal with white space both newspapers are. Furthermore, said Bloom, "The site is now the official flagship radio station of OU basketball." As a result of all this, OU has topped out at just 108 simultaneous listeners so far this season. But things will change in time, and Oakland University will be glad it — and its listeners — began the learning curve early.

    A bit further along is InTheCrease.com, which will Webcast some 200 minor league hockey games this season from a half-dozen leagues. This includes 29 games of the Bakersfield Condors of the West Coast Hockey League, who also Webcast their home games through their arena's site, www.centennialgarden.com.

    InTheCrease.com simply takes the teams' radio feed and Webcasts it live. Through a $3,400-a-month multicasting agreement with national service provider UUNet, the site has enough bandwidth to handle an unlimited number of listeners, who receive an AM-quality Webcast, subject to the speed of their own modems.

    On bakersfieldcondors.com the Condors make an audio and video Webcast available for home games, but it's available to a maximum of 140 users in a "unicast" arrangement that assigns a separate phone line in the arena to each user. It's a hit with hard-core fans and the players' families; the Condors use it as a recruiting tool, said Tom Denk, director of creative services.

    But ultimately Webcasting has the potential to reach lots of displaced fans everywhere and to make new ones, as well. InTheCrease editor Joe Levandosky is proof of that.

    Levandosky admitted from his Mount Pleasant, Pa., office: "I'm starting to follow the Port Huron [Mich.] Border Cats just from hearing them."

    Noah Liberman (noahl@dsl.telocity.com) is a free-lance writer in Chicago.

    Print
  • Looking to lure in listeners without spending big? Try Webcasting

    All the talk about the Web's convergence with television may not apply to you yet. It certainly doesn't apply to the Oakland (Mich.) University basketball team or to the fine, independent hockey site InTheCrease.com. But both are taking advantage of convergence of a different kind: Web and the radio. It's worth looking into for any sports outfit that's broadcasting on radio — or, as in the case of Oakland University, that can't quite swing a radio deal.

    Oakland, situated in the suburbs north of Detroit, couldn't find a radio partner this year that was worth the cost to an athletic program that's still a newcomer to Division I competition. Area stations wanted too much, given the weak signals they were offering. So the athletic department turned to the university's Internet service provider and site developer, SV3 Media Group, and worked out a way to Webcast the games worldwide.

    There are plenty of pros. For starters, the process is fairly simple. Announcer Jon Bloom's game call goes through his headset microphone, into a laptop and through the RealProducer software program. The encoded call is transmitted to SV3 via a T1 line and from there it's Webcast via SV3's servers or, on high-traffic nights, through a server closer to the listener via a kind of "multicasting" programmed by SV3. Originally Bloom had programmed the laptop with all of the sound effects and ads necessary for the game, but he found the computer bogged down in executing all the commands. So now they're cued up on a minidisk player and run through the same mixing board he uses for his voice input.

    The result, according to Bloom and SV3 Vice President Chris Catallo, is a clear worldwide "signal." If users notice skips or slowdowns due to net congestion or buffering, it's because of the slowness of their dial-up — a problem all Web users will face at times until they have broadband connections.

    Bloom and Catallo couldn't divulge Oakland's cost, but Catallo said SV3 offered the university a good deal because it wanted to showcase its techno-skills (and because Catallo's an alum). There's a moral here for all sports teams: Their high standing in the community gives them some leverage in negotiating with ISPs and site developers, who see the end results as good showcases and good community-relations moves.

    Any cons? Oakland University is faced with the awareness problem that comes with Webcasts. It promotes games on the school site (www.oakland.edu), in-arena and in mailings, but most sports fans haven't come to expect Webcasts and so they don't pick up on the promotions. The site makes it easy for visitors to download the free RealPlayer software necessary to listen in, but this, too, is still a psychological obstacle for some potential users.

    And there's the built-in bias of local print media: Neither the Detroit Free Press nor The Detroit News will list the site in the daily rundown of local games and media outlets. This is unreasonable given how little space – maybe one line of type – the listing would require and how liberal with white space both newspapers are. Furthermore, said Bloom, "The site is now the official flagship radio station of OU basketball." As a result of all this, OU has topped out at just 108 simultaneous listeners so far this season. But things will change in time, and Oakland University will be glad it — and its listeners — began the learning curve early.

    A bit further along is InTheCrease.com, which will Webcast some 200 minor league hockey games this season from a half-dozen leagues. This includes 29 games of the Bakersfield Condors of the West Coast Hockey League, who also Webcast their home games through their arena's site, www.centennialgarden.com.

    InTheCrease.com simply takes the teams' radio feed and Webcasts it live. Through a $3,400-a-month multicasting agreement with national service provider UUNet, the site has enough bandwidth to handle an unlimited number of listeners, who receive an AM-quality Webcast, subject to the speed of their own modems.

    On bakersfieldcondors.com the Condors make an audio and video Webcast available for home games, but it's available to a maximum of 140 users in a "unicast" arrangement that assigns a separate phone line in the arena to each user. It's a hit with hard-core fans and the players' families; the Condors use it as a recruiting tool, said Tom Denk, director of creative services.

    But ultimately Webcasting has the potential to reach lots of displaced fans everywhere and to make new ones, as well. InTheCrease editor Joe Levandosky is proof of that.

    Levandosky admitted from his Mount Pleasant, Pa., office: "I'm starting to follow the Port Huron [Mich.] Border Cats just from hearing them."

    Noah Liberman (noahl@dsl.telocity.com) is a free-lance writer in Chicago.

    Print
  • Marlins owner to rally for stadium support

    Florida Marlins owner John Henry said last week the team will spend the next 45 to 60 days rallying public and financial support for a $400 million retractable-roof stadium in downtown Miami.

    Henry did not elaborate on financing options except to say he expected to follow national trends of gathering about 80 percent public money.

    The Marlins also selected HOK Inc. as design architect and architect of record for the project.

    The team hopes to move into the stadium from its current Pro Player Stadium home in time for the 2003 season.

    Henry said the area picked for the stadium has suffered from a number of redevelopment projects that haven't worked — what he likened to a "one-ingredient pizza." He said the planned 38,000-seat stadium, which is expected to be surrounded by retail and urban green space, would serve as a catalyst for development efforts.

    The downtown Miami site was selected over a site in nearby downtown Fort Lauderdale. The site selected is home to the city's public Bicentennial Park.

    The Marlins' site selection prompted immediate criticism by some observers.

    "I think it's the height of arrogance that one should be taking a public park for a private use like that," said Gregory Bush, an associate professor of history at the University of Miami and director of UM's Institute for Public History.

    Bush said the opposition to developing the area into a baseball stadium would be more organized than similar opposition to AmericanAirlines Arena, the new arena for the Miami Heat being built just south of the park.

    The Marlins in August announced six sites in south Florida being considered for their planned baseball-only park. That list was later narrowed to the targeted sites in downtown Miami and downtown Fort Lauderdale.

    Lucy Chabot and Alexis Muellner write for the South Florida Business Journal. Correspondent Ronni Sayewitz of the South Florida Business Journal contributed to this report.

    Print | Tags: Miami Marlins, Miami Heat
  • Marlins owner to rally for stadium support

    Florida Marlins owner John Henry said last week the team will spend the next 45 to 60 days rallying public and financial support for a $400 million retractable-roof stadium in downtown Miami.

    Henry did not elaborate on financing options except to say he expected to follow national trends of gathering about 80 percent public money.

    The Marlins also selected HOK Inc. as design architect and architect of record for the project.

    The team hopes to move into the stadium from its current Pro Player Stadium home in time for the 2003 season.

    Henry said the area picked for the stadium has suffered from a number of redevelopment projects that haven't worked — what he likened to a "one-ingredient pizza." He said the planned 38,000-seat stadium, which is expected to be surrounded by retail and urban green space, would serve as a catalyst for development efforts.

    The downtown Miami site was selected over a site in nearby downtown Fort Lauderdale. The site selected is home to the city's public Bicentennial Park.

    The Marlins' site selection prompted immediate criticism by some observers.

    "I think it's the height of arrogance that one should be taking a public park for a private use like that," said Gregory Bush, an associate professor of history at the University of Miami and director of UM's Institute for Public History.

    Bush said the opposition to developing the area into a baseball stadium would be more organized than similar opposition to AmericanAirlines Arena, the new arena for the Miami Heat being built just south of the park.

    The Marlins in August announced six sites in south Florida being considered for their planned baseball-only park. That list was later narrowed to the targeted sites in downtown Miami and downtown Fort Lauderdale.

    Lucy Chabot and Alexis Muellner write for the South Florida Business Journal. Correspondent Ronni Sayewitz of the South Florida Business Journal contributed to this report.

    Print | Tags: Miami Marlins, Miami Heat
  • Marquette to help Crean rise to the top

    Marquette University fund-raisers see more than a basketball coach in Tom Crean — they also see a possible ticket to a new athletic training center.

    With a likely price tag of $5 million to $10 million, the facility would help both recruiting at the Milwaukee school and the retention of a coach such as Crean, whom many Marquette donors see as a rising star on the collegiate coaching circuit.

    Since Crean arrived as the school's men's basketball coach this spring, he has raised the chances of getting a sports facility by making himself available to alumni, the people most likely to give money for a center.

    "You always have a wish list, and you test the waters with a fairly compact list of donors to see which programs generate the most interest," said John Hopkins, vice president of communications at Marquette. "It can never be bad for your plan when you have someone who is a great ambassador for his program and for your university."

    Crean, who came to Marquette after serving as an assistant coach at Michigan State, is known as a solid recruiter. A new training facility would add to Marquette's appeal to high school recruits.

    Crean replaced Mike Deane, who had four postseason tournament appearances in five years, but whose occasionally biting sense of humor was said to bristle some big-money boosters.

    "People make all the difference in the ability to raise money," said Joe Sweeney, president of Milwaukee-based sports management agency Sports Marketing Group.

    "Tom Crean is slapping people in the face with his enthusiasm, and that is going to help raise money," Sweeney said. "You still have to win, but people will give money to a training facility if they think it will help him win."

    Brad Hoeschen writes for The Business Journal in Milwaukee.

    Print
  • Marquette to help Crean rise to the top

    Marquette University fund-raisers see more than a basketball coach in Tom Crean — they also see a possible ticket to a new athletic training center.

    With a likely price tag of $5 million to $10 million, the facility would help both recruiting at the Milwaukee school and the retention of a coach such as Crean, whom many Marquette donors see as a rising star on the collegiate coaching circuit.

    Since Crean arrived as the school's men's basketball coach this spring, he has raised the chances of getting a sports facility by making himself available to alumni, the people most likely to give money for a center.

    "You always have a wish list, and you test the waters with a fairly compact list of donors to see which programs generate the most interest," said John Hopkins, vice president of communications at Marquette. "It can never be bad for your plan when you have someone who is a great ambassador for his program and for your university."

    Crean, who came to Marquette after serving as an assistant coach at Michigan State, is known as a solid recruiter. A new training facility would add to Marquette's appeal to high school recruits.

    Crean replaced Mike Deane, who had four postseason tournament appearances in five years, but whose occasionally biting sense of humor was said to bristle some big-money boosters.

    "People make all the difference in the ability to raise money," said Joe Sweeney, president of Milwaukee-based sports management agency Sports Marketing Group.

    "Tom Crean is slapping people in the face with his enthusiasm, and that is going to help raise money," Sweeney said. "You still have to win, but people will give money to a training facility if they think it will help him win."

    Brad Hoeschen writes for The Business Journal in Milwaukee.

    Print
  • Men’s tennis already on upswing

    Men's tennis launched an aggressive branding and marketing strategy this month to make its sport more appealing next year, but attendance was already on the uptick in 1999.

    Sixty-nine men's-only ATP tournaments attracted 3.28 million spectators in 1999, up 3.3 percent from the 3.18 million fans who attended 75 tournaments the previous year. Both years were well shy of the 1997 attendance record of 3.44 million at 75 events.

    "Our challenge is to take this great product, which we have live, and [combine] it with a great TV program," said Stacey Allaster, vice president of marketing at the Canadian Tennis Association, which organizes a men's and women's tennis tournament each year. "If people say men's tennis is boring, just all serve and volley, they are not watching."

    Allaster's tournament, the du Maurier Open, had one of the greatest attendance increases of all events, rising 27 percent to 151,722. The du Maurier was an anomaly on the North American circuit, however, as total attendance at the 15 events, not including two mixed-gender ones, fell 3.2 percent to 934,595.

    European attendance rose a modest 3 percent to 1.88 million, paced by gains in Lisbon and Paris. The real growth for the ATP, however, came outside North America and Europe.

    The tour saw sizable attendance increases in such areas as Asia, the Middle East and Russia. Overall, attendance increased to 466,827 in those areas, up 21 percent. Events in Dubai, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong and Sydney enjoyed particularly strong gains.


    ATP MEN'S-ONLY ATTENDANCE*
    1999
    1998
    Percent change
    Europe
    1,880,526
    1,825,479
    3%
    North America**
    934,595
    965,596
    -3.20%
    International
    466,827
    385,381
    21%
    Total
    3,281,948
    3,176,456
    3.30%
    * Does not include Grand Slams
    ** Does not include mixed-gender events at Miami and Indian Wells, Calif.
    Source: ATP Tour

    Print
  • Men’s tennis already on upswing

    Men's tennis launched an aggressive branding and marketing strategy this month to make its sport more appealing next year, but attendance was already on the uptick in 1999.

    Sixty-nine men's-only ATP tournaments attracted 3.28 million spectators in 1999, up 3.3 percent from the 3.18 million fans who attended 75 tournaments the previous year. Both years were well shy of the 1997 attendance record of 3.44 million at 75 events.

    "Our challenge is to take this great product, which we have live, and [combine] it with a great TV program," said Stacey Allaster, vice president of marketing at the Canadian Tennis Association, which organizes a men's and women's tennis tournament each year. "If people say men's tennis is boring, just all serve and volley, they are not watching."

    Allaster's tournament, the du Maurier Open, had one of the greatest attendance increases of all events, rising 27 percent to 151,722. The du Maurier was an anomaly on the North American circuit, however, as total attendance at the 15 events, not including two mixed-gender ones, fell 3.2 percent to 934,595.

    European attendance rose a modest 3 percent to 1.88 million, paced by gains in Lisbon and Paris. The real growth for the ATP, however, came outside North America and Europe.

    The tour saw sizable attendance increases in such areas as Asia, the Middle East and Russia. Overall, attendance increased to 466,827 in those areas, up 21 percent. Events in Dubai, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong and Sydney enjoyed particularly strong gains.


    ATP MEN'S-ONLY ATTENDANCE*
    1999
    1998
    Percent change
    Europe
    1,880,526
    1,825,479
    3%
    North America**
    934,595
    965,596
    -3.20%
    International
    466,827
    385,381
    21%
    Total
    3,281,948
    3,176,456
    3.30%
    * Does not include Grand Slams
    ** Does not include mixed-gender events at Miami and Indian Wells, Calif.
    Source: ATP Tour

    Print
  • Nabisco spends millions on star power

    Nabisco will launch an aggressive sports marketing campaign next month built around five high-profile athletes who will likely get more than $500,000 each in endorsement fees alone.

    The sports marketing campaign, featuring Mia Hamm, Lindsay Davenport, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter and Dan Marino, is a first of its kind for the nation's largest cookie maker and bucks the corporate trend away from athlete endorsements.

    One industry observer said the Nabisco deal could rekindle the demand for athletes to endorse products.

    Beginning next month, Nabisco, the maker of such popular snacks as Planters peanuts and Oreo cookies, will launch ads, products, sweepstakes and promotions, according to agents who represent the athletes.

    The effort is unusual in that while most corporations, particularly footwear firms, are shying away from shelling out big endorsement bucks to athletes, Nabisco's unfolding strategy is the opposite. Indeed, Nabisco is expected to spend several million dollars annually on the endorsement fees alone.

    Nabisco did not comment.

    "The demand for celebrity spokespeople is dwindling," said Nova Lanktree, whose Lanktree Sports firm matches companies with athlete endorsers. "[Nabisco's deal] has the potential to be a rejuvenating, clear shot in the marketplace" for endorsements.

    Exactly how much Nabisco will pay the quintet is unknown, though a source said that Davenport would receive a mid six-figure annual sum. The Davenport endorsement will also include a sweepstakes that awards the winner a trip to a Grand Slam tennis event.

    They are probably all mid six-figure deals, Lanktree estimated.

    For Nabisco, the endorsements mark a departure from its past sports marketing efforts. As part of the tobacco company RJR, Nabisco historically had been a strong sponsor of golf and tennis events. More recently, the food company has become a big supporter of NASCAR and the NCAA.

    While it is unclear if Nabisco's split earlier this year from tobacco giant RJR had an effect on the new focus on celebrity endorsement, observers believe it may have freed the food company to invest sports marketing dollars in new ways.

    "There could have been some handcuffs on them in the past with the tobacco," said Eric Bechtel, a vice president at SFX Sports Group, a unit of SFX Entertainment Inc. "In the food category, you need to cut through the clutter. Ten or 15 years ago, you may have had one competitor in the cookie and biscuit category; now you have got 200."

    Athletes' endorsements can differentiate products, Bechtel said. Nabisco, for example, plans to place the athletes on product packaging. Davenport will be on Newtons boxes, while Griffey will promote Oreo and Planters as well as a yet to be released new product, Sportz, which are crackers in the shapes of sports balls.

    Griffey plans to spend several days in Orlando next month filming commercials for Nabisco, said the superstar's agent, Brian Goldberg. "The deal gives them a certain number of days per year with Kenny," Goldberg said.

    It is unclear what other products Nabisco plans to promote through the athletes. Some of its other brands include Chips Ahoy!, Ritz, A-1 steak sauce, Grey Poupon, LifeSavers and SnackWell's.

    Nabisco, whose 1998 marketing and advertising budget was $237 million, is the market leader in the $7.2 billion U.S. cookie and cracker industry, according to Moody's Investors Services. The company's market share position is more than 38 percent in cookies and 50 percent in crackers, Moody's estimated.

    Nabisco Holdings Corp.


    Founded: 1898 as National Biscuit Co.

    1999 sales (first nine months): $5.935 billion (down 4%).

    Background: Nabisco Group Holdings (formerly RJR Nabisco Holdings, and formerly the owner of No. 2 U.S. cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds) owns 80.5 percent of Nabisco Holdings Corp. Nabisco Holdings sells its products in more than 85 countries, with 30 percent of total sales overseas.

    CEO, Nabisco Holdings and Nabisco: James M. Kilts, 51.

    1998 compensation: $1.7 million.

    1998 employees: 74,000.

    Recent activity: RJR Nabisco sold its international tobacco operations and spun off its domestic tobacco operations, taking on a new name (Nabisco Group Holdings).

    November: Nabisco bought candy maker Favorite Brands International (Jet-Puffed marshmallows, Farley’s fruit snacks, Trolli gummies) for $475 million.

    December: Partnered with investment group Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst to form Burlington Biscuits, to bid ($1.87 billion) for underperforming United Biscuits, Britain’s largest biscuit and snack maker.

    Sports activity (partial listing): “Official Snack of NASCAR” (Planters peanuts), and sponsors of the Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd Planters team, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Nabisco), the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (Pop Secret), and the LPGA Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament.

    Source: Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: Dale Earnhardt Inc., LPGA, NASCAR, NCAA
  • Nabisco spends millions on star power

    Nabisco will launch an aggressive sports marketing campaign next month built around five high-profile athletes who will likely get more than $500,000 each in endorsement fees alone.

    The sports marketing campaign, featuring Mia Hamm, Lindsay Davenport, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter and Dan Marino, is a first of its kind for the nation's largest cookie maker and bucks the corporate trend away from athlete endorsements.

    One industry observer said the Nabisco deal could rekindle the demand for athletes to endorse products.

    Beginning next month, Nabisco, the maker of such popular snacks as Planters peanuts and Oreo cookies, will launch ads, products, sweepstakes and promotions, according to agents who represent the athletes.

    The effort is unusual in that while most corporations, particularly footwear firms, are shying away from shelling out big endorsement bucks to athletes, Nabisco's unfolding strategy is the opposite. Indeed, Nabisco is expected to spend several million dollars annually on the endorsement fees alone.

    Nabisco did not comment.

    "The demand for celebrity spokespeople is dwindling," said Nova Lanktree, whose Lanktree Sports firm matches companies with athlete endorsers. "[Nabisco's deal] has the potential to be a rejuvenating, clear shot in the marketplace" for endorsements.

    Exactly how much Nabisco will pay the quintet is unknown, though a source said that Davenport would receive a mid six-figure annual sum. The Davenport endorsement will also include a sweepstakes that awards the winner a trip to a Grand Slam tennis event.

    They are probably all mid six-figure deals, Lanktree estimated.

    For Nabisco, the endorsements mark a departure from its past sports marketing efforts. As part of the tobacco company RJR, Nabisco historically had been a strong sponsor of golf and tennis events. More recently, the food company has become a big supporter of NASCAR and the NCAA.

    While it is unclear if Nabisco's split earlier this year from tobacco giant RJR had an effect on the new focus on celebrity endorsement, observers believe it may have freed the food company to invest sports marketing dollars in new ways.

    "There could have been some handcuffs on them in the past with the tobacco," said Eric Bechtel, a vice president at SFX Sports Group, a unit of SFX Entertainment Inc. "In the food category, you need to cut through the clutter. Ten or 15 years ago, you may have had one competitor in the cookie and biscuit category; now you have got 200."

    Athletes' endorsements can differentiate products, Bechtel said. Nabisco, for example, plans to place the athletes on product packaging. Davenport will be on Newtons boxes, while Griffey will promote Oreo and Planters as well as a yet to be released new product, Sportz, which are crackers in the shapes of sports balls.

    Griffey plans to spend several days in Orlando next month filming commercials for Nabisco, said the superstar's agent, Brian Goldberg. "The deal gives them a certain number of days per year with Kenny," Goldberg said.

    It is unclear what other products Nabisco plans to promote through the athletes. Some of its other brands include Chips Ahoy!, Ritz, A-1 steak sauce, Grey Poupon, LifeSavers and SnackWell's.

    Nabisco, whose 1998 marketing and advertising budget was $237 million, is the market leader in the $7.2 billion U.S. cookie and cracker industry, according to Moody's Investors Services. The company's market share position is more than 38 percent in cookies and 50 percent in crackers, Moody's estimated.

    Nabisco Holdings Corp.


    Founded: 1898 as National Biscuit Co.

    1999 sales (first nine months): $5.935 billion (down 4%).

    Background: Nabisco Group Holdings (formerly RJR Nabisco Holdings, and formerly the owner of No. 2 U.S. cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds) owns 80.5 percent of Nabisco Holdings Corp. Nabisco Holdings sells its products in more than 85 countries, with 30 percent of total sales overseas.

    CEO, Nabisco Holdings and Nabisco: James M. Kilts, 51.

    1998 compensation: $1.7 million.

    1998 employees: 74,000.

    Recent activity: RJR Nabisco sold its international tobacco operations and spun off its domestic tobacco operations, taking on a new name (Nabisco Group Holdings).

    November: Nabisco bought candy maker Favorite Brands International (Jet-Puffed marshmallows, Farley’s fruit snacks, Trolli gummies) for $475 million.

    December: Partnered with investment group Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst to form Burlington Biscuits, to bid ($1.87 billion) for underperforming United Biscuits, Britain’s largest biscuit and snack maker.

    Sports activity (partial listing): “Official Snack of NASCAR” (Planters peanuts), and sponsors of the Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd Planters team, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Nabisco), the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (Pop Secret), and the LPGA Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament.

    Source: Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: Dale Earnhardt Inc., LPGA, NASCAR, NCAA
  • NASCAR wants film company

    NASCAR is expected to acquire Street & Smith's Productions within several weeks and launch an in-house film production company next year modeled after NFL Films, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

    Street & Smith's Productions is one of a half dozen Street & Smith's divisions owned and operated by American City Business Journals, a Charlotte-based company. SportsBusiness Journal, Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Institute, Winston Cup Scene and other titles and divisions of the Street & Smith's Sports Group will not be affected by the sale.

    NASCAR's planned film venture would be modeled after the highly successful NFL Films, and there is even talk of eventually creating a NASCAR cable TV network similar to The Golf Channel, said motorsports industry sources.

    Street & Smith's Productions already has motorsports ties through its work with Speedvision, ESPN and Fox Sports Net.

    The source of this information came from neither ACBJ nor Street & Smith's Sports Group. American City Chairman Ray Shaw would only confirm that "discussions have taken place" and declined further comment.

    Bray Cary, vice president of broadcasting and technology at NASCAR, declined comment. Cary will be in charge of the project, sources said.

    Industry sources say the deal is all but done and will be announced sometime next month. Cary said earlier this year that one of NASCAR's goals is forming a production company modeled after NFL Films.

    The planned film division will produce and package biographies, highlights shows and other entertainment offerings. In addition to providing programs for use on racing shows, the film group will market and sell highlight videos of individual races and drivers. It won't handle any live broadcasts of NASCAR races; those rights are held by the major networks.

    Street & Smith's Productions is privately held and doesn't disclose revenue. In 1997, the company reported revenue of $6.5 million, but it has since declined to release any financials.

    Cary has targeted the NFL and NBA as models for the start-up, observers say. Later this month, Cary is expected to visit NBA Entertainment's $100 million, 80,000-square-foot film headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., to explore ideas for the NASCAR unit.

    NBA Entertainment, started in 1982, employs 250 workers and generates an estimated $45 million in revenue annually. It has expanded its mission in recent years, launching an NBA Web site, an all-NBA television network and managing events such as international tournaments.

    NFL Films, based in Mount Laurel, N.J., has shot more than 7,200 games since its launch in 1962. The 310-employee film group shoots 700 miles of film annually and produces footage used by national networks on pregame and postgame shows, as well as promotional footage for individual franchises.

    "The NFL has always looked at us as an advertising arm," said Steve Sabol, NFL Films president. "You have to make money, but this isn't a cash cow. If you look at it from the standpoint of advertising, though, we're producing 300 hours a year of advertising. That's invaluable."

    The planned motorsports film division is part of a broadcast overhaul for NASCAR, traditionally a league that hasn't had the same national appeal — or bargaining power — as other major sports. Last month, Cary helped put the finishing touches on a six-year TV deal for race telecasts with Fox, Turner Sports and NBC valued at $2.4 billion.

    Industry experts said NASCAR faces some unique challenges as it enters the video-production business.

    "There are a lot of inherent problems because it's just cars going around in a circle," Sabol said. "How do you create the tension for the novice like myself who doesn't understand what separates a good driver from a bad driver or what is required? You have to educate your audience."

    Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Fox, Golf Channel, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, NFL
  • NASCAR wants film company

    NASCAR is expected to acquire Street & Smith's Productions within several weeks and launch an in-house film production company next year modeled after NFL Films, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

    Street & Smith's Productions is one of a half dozen Street & Smith's divisions owned and operated by American City Business Journals, a Charlotte-based company. SportsBusiness Journal, Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Institute, Winston Cup Scene and other titles and divisions of the Street & Smith's Sports Group will not be affected by the sale.

    NASCAR's planned film venture would be modeled after the highly successful NFL Films, and there is even talk of eventually creating a NASCAR cable TV network similar to The Golf Channel, said motorsports industry sources.

    Street & Smith's Productions already has motorsports ties through its work with Speedvision, ESPN and Fox Sports Net.

    The source of this information came from neither ACBJ nor Street & Smith's Sports Group. American City Chairman Ray Shaw would only confirm that "discussions have taken place" and declined further comment.

    Bray Cary, vice president of broadcasting and technology at NASCAR, declined comment. Cary will be in charge of the project, sources said.

    Industry sources say the deal is all but done and will be announced sometime next month. Cary said earlier this year that one of NASCAR's goals is forming a production company modeled after NFL Films.

    The planned film division will produce and package biographies, highlights shows and other entertainment offerings. In addition to providing programs for use on racing shows, the film group will market and sell highlight videos of individual races and drivers. It won't handle any live broadcasts of NASCAR races; those rights are held by the major networks.

    Street & Smith's Productions is privately held and doesn't disclose revenue. In 1997, the company reported revenue of $6.5 million, but it has since declined to release any financials.

    Cary has targeted the NFL and NBA as models for the start-up, observers say. Later this month, Cary is expected to visit NBA Entertainment's $100 million, 80,000-square-foot film headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., to explore ideas for the NASCAR unit.

    NBA Entertainment, started in 1982, employs 250 workers and generates an estimated $45 million in revenue annually. It has expanded its mission in recent years, launching an NBA Web site, an all-NBA television network and managing events such as international tournaments.

    NFL Films, based in Mount Laurel, N.J., has shot more than 7,200 games since its launch in 1962. The 310-employee film group shoots 700 miles of film annually and produces footage used by national networks on pregame and postgame shows, as well as promotional footage for individual franchises.

    "The NFL has always looked at us as an advertising arm," said Steve Sabol, NFL Films president. "You have to make money, but this isn't a cash cow. If you look at it from the standpoint of advertising, though, we're producing 300 hours a year of advertising. That's invaluable."

    The planned motorsports film division is part of a broadcast overhaul for NASCAR, traditionally a league that hasn't had the same national appeal — or bargaining power — as other major sports. Last month, Cary helped put the finishing touches on a six-year TV deal for race telecasts with Fox, Turner Sports and NBC valued at $2.4 billion.

    Industry experts said NASCAR faces some unique challenges as it enters the video-production business.

    "There are a lot of inherent problems because it's just cars going around in a circle," Sabol said. "How do you create the tension for the novice like myself who doesn't understand what separates a good driver from a bad driver or what is required? You have to educate your audience."

    Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Fox, Golf Channel, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, NFL
  • NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE ATTENDANCE

    Team
    Arena
    Capacity
    Total attendance*
    Number of games*
    Season average*
    % capacity
    Cleveland Crunch CSU Convocation Center
    12,493
    23,816
    3
    7,938
    63.50%
    Philadelphia Kixx First Union Spectrum
    17,500
    53,398
    7
    7,628
    43.60%
    Buffalo Blizzard Marine Midland Arena
    18,500
    35,758
    5
    7,151
    38.70%
    Milwaukee Wave The Bradley Center
    17,401
    25,496
    4
    6,374
    36.60%
    Kansas City Attack Crosby Kemper Arena
    17,488
    17,928
    3
    5,976
    34.20%
    Baltimore Blast Baltimore Arena
    11,500
    41,155
    7
    5,879
    51.10%
    Edmonton Drillers Skyreach Centre
    17,099
    40,874
    7
    5,839
    34.10%
    Harrisburg Heat State Farm Show Arena
    7,203
    27,259
    5
    5,452
    75.70%
    St. Louis Ambush Kiel Center
    19,500
    19,054
    4
    4,763
    24.40%
    Detroit Rockers Palace of Auburn Hills
    20,804
    18,965
    4
    4,741
    22.80%
    Wichita Wings Kansas Coliseum
    9,686
    22,529
    5
    4,505
    46.50%
    Montreal Impact Claude Robillard Stadium
    5,000
    8,397
    3
    2,799
    56.00%
    * Through Dec. 5
    Source: National Professional Soccer League

    Print | Tags: Miami Heat
  • NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE ATTENDANCE

    NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE ATTENDANCE
    Team
    Arena
    Capacity
    Total attendance*
    Number of games*
    Season average*
    % capacity
    Cleveland Crunch CSU Convocation Center
    12,493
    23,816
    3
    7,938
    63.50%
    Philadelphia Kixx First Union Spectrum
    17,500
    53,398
    7
    7,628
    43.60%
    Buffalo Blizzard Marine Midland Arena
    18,500
    35,758
    5
    7,151
    38.70%
    Milwaukee Wave The Bradley Center
    17,401
    25,496
    4
    6,374
    36.60%
    Kansas City Attack Crosby Kemper Arena
    17,488
    17,928
    3
    5,976
    34.20%
    Baltimore Blast Baltimore Arena
    11,500
    41,155
    7
    5,879
    51.10%
    Edmonton Drillers Skyreach Centre
    17,099
    40,874
    7
    5,839
    34.10%
    Harrisburg Heat State Farm Show Arena
    7,203
    27,259
    5
    5,452
    75.70%
    St. Louis Ambush Kiel Center
    19,500
    19,054
    4
    4,763
    24.40%
    Detroit Rockers Palace of Auburn Hills
    20,804
    18,965
    4
    4,741
    22.80%
    Wichita Wings Kansas Coliseum
    9,686
    22,529
    5
    4,505
    46.50%
    Montreal Impact Claude Robillard Stadium
    5,000
    8,397
    3
    2,799
    56.00%
    * Through Dec. 5
    Source: National Professional Soccer League

    Print | Tags: Miami Heat
  • NBA checks out whether it should check out of Vancouver

    The NBA hired Ernst & Young to analyze the viability of the Vancouver Grizzlies franchise as talks continue between the team's owner and a would-be buyer.

    A deal to sell the NBA team to Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie was put on ice earlier this year after the league's finance committee expressed concerns that the team would be moved to St. Louis, where the Lauries recently bought the NHL Blues and the Kiel Center.

    When the proposed sale was announced, officials at Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Grizzlies, said Canadian economic issues, including an unfavorable exchange rate, played a part in the decision to sell the team.

    Last week, Stanley McCammon, president of Orca Bay, indicated that the two sides were still trying to work out a deal.

    "We are still in dialogue with the buyers and the league, and we are all conferring about how to address the concerns raised by the finance committee," he said, refusing to comment further.

    The Grizzlies are an expansion franchise that began play during the 1995-96 season. NBA observers say Commissioner David Stern is against giving up on a Canadian franchise, especially in light of his strategy to expand the NBA's reach globally.

    In a Nov. 1 conference call with reporters, Stern said the league's board is analyzing how the team is doing financially.

    "But since we just expanded to Vancouver, there was a strong sense that before you abandon a city, you want to make every effort to see whether that city can, in fact, support the team after the necessary infrastructure arrangements have been made for the facility," he said. "Clearly we would love to see our franchises succeed where they are located. If they can't, they can't."

    Print | Tags: Memphis Grizzlies, NBA, NHL, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, St. Louis Blues
  • NBA checks out whether it should check out of Vancouver

    The NBA hired Ernst & Young to analyze the viability of the Vancouver Grizzlies franchise as talks continue between the team's owner and a would-be buyer.

    A deal to sell the NBA team to Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie was put on ice earlier this year after the league's finance committee expressed concerns that the team would be moved to St. Louis, where the Lauries recently bought the NHL Blues and the Kiel Center.

    When the proposed sale was announced, officials at Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Grizzlies, said Canadian economic issues, including an unfavorable exchange rate, played a part in the decision to sell the team.

    Last week, Stanley McCammon, president of Orca Bay, indicated that the two sides were still trying to work out a deal.

    "We are still in dialogue with the buyers and the league, and we are all conferring about how to address the concerns raised by the finance committee," he said, refusing to comment further.

    The Grizzlies are an expansion franchise that began play during the 1995-96 season. NBA observers say Commissioner David Stern is against giving up on a Canadian franchise, especially in light of his strategy to expand the NBA's reach globally.

    In a Nov. 1 conference call with reporters, Stern said the league's board is analyzing how the team is doing financially.

    "But since we just expanded to Vancouver, there was a strong sense that before you abandon a city, you want to make every effort to see whether that city can, in fact, support the team after the necessary infrastructure arrangements have been made for the facility," he said. "Clearly we would love to see our franchises succeed where they are located. If they can't, they can't."

    Print | Tags: Memphis Grizzlies, NBA, NHL, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, St. Louis Blues
  • NBA eyes big screen in search of Oscars beyond Robertson

    NBA Entertainment will jump headlong into the movie business next fall with its first full-length standard theatrical release, "The Last Dance," a documentary chronicling the drama, challenges and controversies of the Chicago Bulls' last championship season.

    The film, which contains on- and off-court footage of the Bulls during the 1997-98 season, is one of two films NBA Entertainment is planning to release next year, said David Silver, president of NBA Entertainment. "We're in the movie business," Silver said.

    The other is a 45-minute film called "Jordan to the Max" featuring just Michael Jordan, which will be released in the 100 or so IMAX big-screen theaters around the country. "It's going to be Michael Jordan eight stories high," Silver said.

    The films will create additional revenue streams for the NBA as well as promote the game, Silver said.

    The IMAX film is scheduled for a May release, and the full-length feature film about the Bulls is scheduled for either a Thanksgiving or Christmas release, Silver said.

    Silver declined to say how much revenue he believes the films would create.

    David Falk, Jordan's longtime agent and the chairman and CEO of SFX Sports Group, is serving as executive producer of both films. He also declined to provide estimates of the two films' projected revenue. Jordan will have a financial position in both films, Falk said, but declined to reveal what that position is.

    Falk said he doesn't know which film will make more money. He noted that although the IMAX Jordan film may be released in fewer theaters than the Bulls documentary, it could be around for a long time.

    "My expectation would be because of the artistic quality of the film, it will probably be the all-time IMAX movie, and these have a very long shelf life," Falk said. "I think it will be in the theaters for 10 years."

    "The Last Dance" is a behind-the-scenes look at the Bulls players dealing with the obstacles surrounding their last championship season, including rumors — which proved true — that the team would be disbanded, Falk said.

    "There was a lot of drama," Falk said. "There was a fairly public feud between the coach and the general manager. There was a situation with Dennis Rodman."

    The other film celebrates the athletic prowess of Jordan. "It gives the audience a chance to feel what it is like to fly with Michael," Falk said.

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, NBA
  • NBA eyes big screen in search of Oscars beyond Robertson

    NBA Entertainment will jump headlong into the movie business next fall with its first full-length standard theatrical release, "The Last Dance," a documentary chronicling the drama, challenges and controversies of the Chicago Bulls' last championship season.

    The film, which contains on- and off-court footage of the Bulls during the 1997-98 season, is one of two films NBA Entertainment is planning to release next year, said David Silver, president of NBA Entertainment. "We're in the movie business," Silver said.

    The other is a 45-minute film called "Jordan to the Max" featuring just Michael Jordan, which will be released in the 100 or so IMAX big-screen theaters around the country. "It's going to be Michael Jordan eight stories high," Silver said.

    The films will create additional revenue streams for the NBA as well as promote the game, Silver said.

    The IMAX film is scheduled for a May release, and the full-length feature film about the Bulls is scheduled for either a Thanksgiving or Christmas release, Silver said.

    Silver declined to say how much revenue he believes the films would create.

    David Falk, Jordan's longtime agent and the chairman and CEO of SFX Sports Group, is serving as executive producer of both films. He also declined to provide estimates of the two films' projected revenue. Jordan will have a financial position in both films, Falk said, but declined to reveal what that position is.

    Falk said he doesn't know which film will make more money. He noted that although the IMAX Jordan film may be released in fewer theaters than the Bulls documentary, it could be around for a long time.

    "My expectation would be because of the artistic quality of the film, it will probably be the all-time IMAX movie, and these have a very long shelf life," Falk said. "I think it will be in the theaters for 10 years."

    "The Last Dance" is a behind-the-scenes look at the Bulls players dealing with the obstacles surrounding their last championship season, including rumors — which proved true — that the team would be disbanded, Falk said.

    "There was a lot of drama," Falk said. "There was a fairly public feud between the coach and the general manager. There was a situation with Dennis Rodman."

    The other film celebrates the athletic prowess of Jordan. "It gives the audience a chance to feel what it is like to fly with Michael," Falk said.

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, NBA
  • NBA viewers haven’t heard the last of Charles Barkley

    When the career of that round mound of the profound, Charles Barkley, ended because of a knee injury, the saddest to see him go were the media. For them Sir Charles was a walking, running, dribbling quote machine. Once, when he heard that Tonya Harding had labeled herself "the Charles Barkley of figure skating," he retorted, "I was going to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized I had no character." His gift of gab is already up for grabs, with NBC and TNT/TBS vying for his services as NBA analyst and color commentator. Some sources say he could even wind up working for both nets.

    DOUBLE TAKE: When the Minnesota Twins announced plans to bestow lifetime season passes on the first set of twins born in the year 2000 at any of seven Minnesota hospitals, New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden had a problem. "Will those tickets still be good in Charlotte or northern Virginia, which is where the Twins may be playing when these fans are old enough to be real fans?"

    WHEN UNDERDOGS BECOME OVERDOGS: With its TV contract with CBS due to run out next year, the Big East could be in a boss position at the bargaining table — if Virginia Tech can beat Florida State and join UConn hoops as national champions. And, although they're 6-point 'dogs to the Seminoles, many, including this writer, are picking the Hokies and Michael Vick to shed their underdog collar and win it straight up.

    MASTERS OF ALL THEY SURVEY? In the face of charges of outright corruption, the International Olympic Committee has conducted its own public opinion poll, and — guess what — the results are rosy. According to the IOC, its image has been largely unaffected by the exposure of dirty linen: Respondents had a higher opinion of the Games than they did a year ago, and they ranked the organization a worthier entity than either the International Red Cross or UNICEF. No word on whether the IOC was seen as 56/100 percent purer than Ivory Soap.

    LINE OF THE WEEK: In the wake of the suspension of Chicago Bears QB Jim Miller for taking a nutritional supplement that included an ingredient banned by the league, Bears' center Olin Kreutz was still shaking his head in disbelief: "There are guys all over the league laughing their [butts] off at the idea of a quarterback on steroids."

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bears, IOC, MillerCoors, Minnesota Twins, NBA, NBC
  • NBA viewers haven’t heard the last of Charles Barkley

    When the career of that round mound of the profound, Charles Barkley, ended because of a knee injury, the saddest to see him go were the media. For them Sir Charles was a walking, running, dribbling quote machine. Once, when he heard that Tonya Harding had labeled herself "the Charles Barkley of figure skating," he retorted, "I was going to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized I had no character." His gift of gab is already up for grabs, with NBC and TNT/TBS vying for his services as NBA analyst and color commentator. Some sources say he could even wind up working for both nets.

    DOUBLE TAKE: When the Minnesota Twins announced plans to bestow lifetime season passes on the first set of twins born in the year 2000 at any of seven Minnesota hospitals, New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden had a problem. "Will those tickets still be good in Charlotte or northern Virginia, which is where the Twins may be playing when these fans are old enough to be real fans?"

    WHEN UNDERDOGS BECOME OVERDOGS: With its TV contract with CBS due to run out next year, the Big East could be in a boss position at the bargaining table — if Virginia Tech can beat Florida State and join UConn hoops as national champions. And, although they're 6-point 'dogs to the Seminoles, many, including this writer, are picking the Hokies and Michael Vick to shed their underdog collar and win it straight up.

    MASTERS OF ALL THEY SURVEY? In the face of charges of outright corruption, the International Olympic Committee has conducted its own public opinion poll, and — guess what — the results are rosy. According to the IOC, its image has been largely unaffected by the exposure of dirty linen: Respondents had a higher opinion of the Games than they did a year ago, and they ranked the organization a worthier entity than either the International Red Cross or UNICEF. No word on whether the IOC was seen as 56/100 percent purer than Ivory Soap.

    LINE OF THE WEEK: In the wake of the suspension of Chicago Bears QB Jim Miller for taking a nutritional supplement that included an ingredient banned by the league, Bears' center Olin Kreutz was still shaking his head in disbelief: "There are guys all over the league laughing their [butts] off at the idea of a quarterback on steroids."

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bears, IOC, MillerCoors, Minnesota Twins, NBA, NBC
  • NBC will cap cup sponsors

    NBC is trying to sell all the ad time for its coverage of the 2000 and 2002 Presidents Cups to only eight or nine sponsors, sources said.

    The network, which has begun approaching prospective sponsors with packages that encompass both events, is seeking $2.3 million to $2.4 million for a 2000 Presidents Cup sponsorship and $2.5 million to $2.8 million for a 2002 sponsorship, according to estimates from several ad agency executives. Different ad categories may command different prices.

    NBC holds TV rights to the biennial pro golf competition through 2006. The match-play event pits a 12-man squad of the best U.S. golfers against a dozen top international players not eligible for the Ryder Cup. In the past, the international contingent has included such players as Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Nick Price.

    NBC sold the early round rights to the Presidents Cup to Turner Sports; while NBC will provide the weekend coverage, TNT will televise the early action.

    For the 2000 cup, slated to take place at the Robert Trent Jones Course in Manassas, Va., NBC will broadcast play on Oct. 21 and 22. TNT's coverage is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20. In addition, NBC is expected to air a Presidents Cup preview special Oct. 14, media buyers said. On Oct. 18, TNT plans to televise the event's opening ceremonies as well as a Presidents Cup preview show, according to buyers.

    Sponsorship packages, which are being sold by NBC, include commercial time on the TV coverage as well as an association with promotional efforts hyping the events.

    The 2002 cup will be held in Cape Town, South Africa. Since its inception in 1994, the Presidents Cup has aired on CBS.

    Print | Tags: NBC, Nickelodeon
  • NBC will cap cup sponsors

    NBC is trying to sell all the ad time for its coverage of the 2000 and 2002 Presidents Cups to only eight or nine sponsors, sources said.

    The network, which has begun approaching prospective sponsors with packages that encompass both events, is seeking $2.3 million to $2.4 million for a 2000 Presidents Cup sponsorship and $2.5 million to $2.8 million for a 2002 sponsorship, according to estimates from several ad agency executives. Different ad categories may command different prices.

    NBC holds TV rights to the biennial pro golf competition through 2006. The match-play event pits a 12-man squad of the best U.S. golfers against a dozen top international players not eligible for the Ryder Cup. In the past, the international contingent has included such players as Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Nick Price.

    NBC sold the early round rights to the Presidents Cup to Turner Sports; while NBC will provide the weekend coverage, TNT will televise the early action.

    For the 2000 cup, slated to take place at the Robert Trent Jones Course in Manassas, Va., NBC will broadcast play on Oct. 21 and 22. TNT's coverage is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20. In addition, NBC is expected to air a Presidents Cup preview special Oct. 14, media buyers said. On Oct. 18, TNT plans to televise the event's opening ceremonies as well as a Presidents Cup preview show, according to buyers.

    Sponsorship packages, which are being sold by NBC, include commercial time on the TV coverage as well as an association with promotional efforts hyping the events.

    The 2002 cup will be held in Cape Town, South Africa. Since its inception in 1994, the Presidents Cup has aired on CBS.

    Print | Tags: NBC, Nickelodeon
  • New Starter runs into stop signs from leagues

    The four major pro leagues have all turned down the new Starter brand's request for licenses, but generic Starter-branded product will still hit the shelves of Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target next fall.

    Sources say the leagues would not license Starter because, among other reasons, they did not want Starter products to be sold through mass-merchant retailers. Starter is still the most recognized brand name in team licensed products, and the leagues feared that if Starter merchandise were sold at discount prices through these stores, it would cut into sales of higher-priced goods at department stores and sporting goods shops.

    The leagues are also trying to cut down their base of licensees and ease price competition in the struggling licensed market.

    The Starter trademark was bought out of bankruptcy by a group led by Logo Athletic, several other apparel brands and an investment bank last summer. The brand is being managed by Group III and Elite Sports Properties, which are licensing the Starter name to various apparel suppliers, most of whom already do business with the mass merchants.

    Elite Sports Properties CEO Michael Lewis said the Starter brand has already been licensed to more than 20 apparel makers. With Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target all "starving for real live brands," as Lewis said, he predicted that the new Starter will easily eclipse the $300 million to $400 million in annual sales generated by the old company, even without any licenses from the leagues. Lewis said discussions with the leagues will continue, and the brand will also pursue motorsports and collegiate licenses. But he boldly predicted that the branded line alone will become the "third- or fourth-largest sports brand in the world."

    The initial list of licensees should be announced next month.

    With Sara Lee Corp.'s Champion not returning as the WNBA's uniform supplier and lead licensee, NBA Properties Inc. plans market its own line of WNBA products next season, sources said, but will continue to order the raw goods from Champion.

    The league offered the WNBA license to Nike Inc., but Nike is said to have turned it down because the company believed the costs of supplying the teams could not be offset by retail sales. Champion generated only about $3 million in annual business through the WNBA, despite exclusivity in key apparel categories, sources said.

    NBA Properties has dabbled in marketing its own products ever since the NBA Store opened last year, contracting directly with manufacturers to produce some generic NBA-logoed product and, more recently, some team-specific goods. Distribution of those products has since been expanded to some overseas accounts and team shops. But the WNBA move represents the first time a major professional league will actually supply its own uniforms and then market those products at retail. WNBA sponsors Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Lady Foot Locker, along with arena souvenir stands, have sold the bulk of WNBA licensed products.

    HotJobs.com has picked up promotional rights to the Super Bowl logo by signing a $500,000 deal to become an associate sponsor and banner advertiser on SuperBowl.com. One of two Internet companies, along with competitor Monster.com, to advertise on the Super Bowl broadcast last year, HotJobs.com spent another $1.9 million on a Super Bowl spot this year and will reportedly spend almost $20 million on a multimedia campaign built around that ad.

    Print | Tags: Champion, Kmart, NBA, Reebok, WNBA
  • New Starter runs into stop signs from leagues

    The four major pro leagues have all turned down the new Starter brand's request for licenses, but generic Starter-branded product will still hit the shelves of Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target next fall.

    Sources say the leagues would not license Starter because, among other reasons, they did not want Starter products to be sold through mass-merchant retailers. Starter is still the most recognized brand name in team licensed products, and the leagues feared that if Starter merchandise were sold at discount prices through these stores, it would cut into sales of higher-priced goods at department stores and sporting goods shops.

    The leagues are also trying to cut down their base of licensees and ease price competition in the struggling licensed market.

    The Starter trademark was bought out of bankruptcy by a group led by Logo Athletic, several other apparel brands and an investment bank last summer. The brand is being managed by Group III and Elite Sports Properties, which are licensing the Starter name to various apparel suppliers, most of whom already do business with the mass merchants.

    Elite Sports Properties CEO Michael Lewis said the Starter brand has already been licensed to more than 20 apparel makers. With Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target all "starving for real live brands," as Lewis said, he predicted that the new Starter will easily eclipse the $300 million to $400 million in annual sales generated by the old company, even without any licenses from the leagues. Lewis said discussions with the leagues will continue, and the brand will also pursue motorsports and collegiate licenses. But he boldly predicted that the branded line alone will become the "third- or fourth-largest sports brand in the world."

    The initial list of licensees should be announced next month.

    With Sara Lee Corp.'s Champion not returning as the WNBA's uniform supplier and lead licensee, NBA Properties Inc. plans market its own line of WNBA products next season, sources said, but will continue to order the raw goods from Champion.

    The league offered the WNBA license to Nike Inc., but Nike is said to have turned it down because the company believed the costs of supplying the teams could not be offset by retail sales. Champion generated only about $3 million in annual business through the WNBA, despite exclusivity in key apparel categories, sources said.

    NBA Properties has dabbled in marketing its own products ever since the NBA Store opened last year, contracting directly with manufacturers to produce some generic NBA-logoed product and, more recently, some team-specific goods. Distribution of those products has since been expanded to some overseas accounts and team shops. But the WNBA move represents the first time a major professional league will actually supply its own uniforms and then market those products at retail. WNBA sponsors Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Lady Foot Locker, along with arena souvenir stands, have sold the bulk of WNBA licensed products.

    HotJobs.com has picked up promotional rights to the Super Bowl logo by signing a $500,000 deal to become an associate sponsor and banner advertiser on SuperBowl.com. One of two Internet companies, along with competitor Monster.com, to advertise on the Super Bowl broadcast last year, HotJobs.com spent another $1.9 million on a Super Bowl spot this year and will reportedly spend almost $20 million on a multimedia campaign built around that ad.

    Print | Tags: Champion, Kmart, NBA, Reebok, WNBA
  • NHL .com producer dies during staff game

    Tragedy struck the National Hockey League on Tuesday when Lisa Strongson, a 27-year-old assistant producer of the league's Web site, died of heart failure during the league's weekly staff hockey game.

    Strongson had overcome a heart condition as a child but had been cleared by a cardiologist to play, a league official said. Witnesses said she collapsed while skating and had no physical contact with another player.

    The league canceled its scheduled Christmas party the following day, and almost the entire staff of the NHL's New York headquarters attended Strongson's funeral Thursday.

    The league's Web site, NHL.com, noted that Strongson's death was accompanied by an unrelated fireworks display across the Hudson River, visible from New York's Chelsea Piers skating rink where the game was being played. NHL.com called the fireworks "an odd, but somewhat comforting coincidence ... a powerful statement reflecting uncommon characteristics of joy, warmth, compassion and commitment."

    "She was a very passionate, very responsible, and very persistent person," said Tom Richardson, general manager of NHL I.C.E., the league's joint Web venture with IBM Corp. "She made a very big impression on a lot of different people in this league in her own quiet style."

    Strongson had been with the league about a year. She had only recently begun to play hockey.

    Print | Tags: NHL
  • NHL .com producer dies during staff game

    Tragedy struck the National Hockey League on Tuesday when Lisa Strongson, a 27-year-old assistant producer of the league's Web site, died of heart failure during the league's weekly staff hockey game.

    Strongson had overcome a heart condition as a child but had been cleared by a cardiologist to play, a league official said. Witnesses said she collapsed while skating and had no physical contact with another player.

    The league canceled its scheduled Christmas party the following day, and almost the entire staff of the NHL's New York headquarters attended Strongson's funeral Thursday.

    The league's Web site, NHL.com, noted that Strongson's death was accompanied by an unrelated fireworks display across the Hudson River, visible from New York's Chelsea Piers skating rink where the game was being played. NHL.com called the fireworks "an odd, but somewhat comforting coincidence ... a powerful statement reflecting uncommon characteristics of joy, warmth, compassion and commitment."

    "She was a very passionate, very responsible, and very persistent person," said Tom Richardson, general manager of NHL I.C.E., the league's joint Web venture with IBM Corp. "She made a very big impression on a lot of different people in this league in her own quiet style."

    Strongson had been with the league about a year. She had only recently begun to play hockey.

    Print | Tags: NHL
  • Nickelodeon backs NBA’s 2ball

    Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon GAS, the network's Games and Sports channel for kids, has again teamed with the NBA to televise NBA 2ball, the league's grassroots basketball skills competition for 9- to 11-year-olds.

    Nickelodeon will air "NBA 2ball Championship," a half-hour special showcasing the competition's championship rounds, which will take place at one of the sites of the NBA Finals in June.

    Coproduced by NBA Entertainment and Nickelodeon GAS, the coverage also will include weekly programming segments — each a few minutes in length — airing next May and June on Nickelodeon GAS.

    NBA 2ball, which tests shooting, passing, dribbling and rebounding skills, consists of three divisions: boys, girls and coed.

    "In terms of our programming, we're doing more and more to target kids," said Heidi Ueberroth, senior vice president of international television and business development for NBA Entertainment. "And with Nickelodeon as a partner on 2ball ... we think we have a partner that is clearly a leader in understanding things from a kid's perspective."

    Print | Tags: NBA, Nickelodeon
  • Nickelodeon backs NBA’s 2ball

    Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon GAS, the network's Games and Sports channel for kids, has again teamed with the NBA to televise NBA 2ball, the league's grassroots basketball skills competition for 9- to 11-year-olds.

    Nickelodeon will air "NBA 2ball Championship," a half-hour special showcasing the competition's championship rounds, which will take place at one of the sites of the NBA Finals in June.

    Coproduced by NBA Entertainment and Nickelodeon GAS, the coverage also will include weekly programming segments — each a few minutes in length — airing next May and June on Nickelodeon GAS.

    NBA 2ball, which tests shooting, passing, dribbling and rebounding skills, consists of three divisions: boys, girls and coed.

    "In terms of our programming, we're doing more and more to target kids," said Heidi Ueberroth, senior vice president of international television and business development for NBA Entertainment. "And with Nickelodeon as a partner on 2ball ... we think we have a partner that is clearly a leader in understanding things from a kid's perspective."

    Print | Tags: NBA, Nickelodeon
  • Nike gone, but golf goes on

    The PGA Tour's top minor league is losing a well-known name as its title sponsor, but the circuit will move forward powered by a dot.com and the enthusiasm of PGA officials.

    Sports equipment and apparel giant Nike Inc. announced in October that it was ending its title sponsorship of the tour after a seven-year relationship, giving way to buy.com, a growing e-commerce company eager to access the high-end buying habits of golf fans.

    The change won't halt the growth of the tour, particularly in prize money. The average purse on next year's buy.com Tour will increase to at least $400,000, compared with an average of $233,000 only two years ago, said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. The tour's total purse grew from a little more than $3 million in 1990, its first year, to $7.6 million in 1999.

    "Our strategy will be to present the buy.com Tour as very much a stand-alone tour," Finchem said. "It will continue to be a feeder to the PGA Tour. But the strength and presentation of the tour and the rapid growth of tournaments on the tour has created a situation where it now has a stature of its own."

    Terms of buy.com's five-year deal were not released. Nike's deal with the PGA was reported to have been between $4 million and $5 million a year. Nike had indicated it would probably end its sponsorship when the contract expired. During Nike's sponsorship, the tour produced a number of fresh stars, including David Duval, for the PGA Tour.

    Buy.com is a 3-year-old, privately held California company and growing Internet retailer. Its buy.com site serves as a portal to seven specialty sites, including the recently acquired buygolf.com.

    Greg Hawkins, CEO of buy.com, said the arrangement with the PGA Tour is an ideal fit for his company because "the demographic of the golfer is in sync with our target audience." He added that his firm sees its association with the PGA's top minor league circuit as a means to "extend and build the buy.com brand."

    Finchem expects no problems in the transition from Nike to buy.com.

    "Greg Hawkins and his management team understand golf," he said. "They play it and are sensitive to what golf is all about."

    Nike, through its high-profile tour involvement (and having Tiger Woods in its stable of athlete endorsers), gained credibility and shelf space in an already crowded golf equipment field. In addition to golf apparel and golf shoes, the company launched a line of golf balls last year.

    Mike Kelly, director of marketing/communications for Nike Golf, said Nike will redirect dollars it spent on sponsorship of the tour to advertising on the main PGA Tour and World Golf Championship events, player endorsements for its line of golf balls, and ball sampling efforts.

    Kelly said Nike will continue to be a vendor at buy.com tournaments and provide equipment to players on that tour.

    John Torsiello is a free-lance writer in Connecticut.

    Print
  • Nike gone, but golf goes on

    The PGA Tour's top minor league is losing a well-known name as its title sponsor, but the circuit will move forward powered by a dot.com and the enthusiasm of PGA officials.

    Sports equipment and apparel giant Nike Inc. announced in October that it was ending its title sponsorship of the tour after a seven-year relationship, giving way to buy.com, a growing e-commerce company eager to access the high-end buying habits of golf fans.

    The change won't halt the growth of the tour, particularly in prize money. The average purse on next year's buy.com Tour will increase to at least $400,000, compared with an average of $233,000 only two years ago, said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. The tour's total purse grew from a little more than $3 million in 1990, its first year, to $7.6 million in 1999.

    "Our strategy will be to present the buy.com Tour as very much a stand-alone tour," Finchem said. "It will continue to be a feeder to the PGA Tour. But the strength and presentation of the tour and the rapid growth of tournaments on the tour has created a situation where it now has a stature of its own."

    Terms of buy.com's five-year deal were not released. Nike's deal with the PGA was reported to have been between $4 million and $5 million a year. Nike had indicated it would probably end its sponsorship when the contract expired. During Nike's sponsorship, the tour produced a number of fresh stars, including David Duval, for the PGA Tour.

    Buy.com is a 3-year-old, privately held California company and growing Internet retailer. Its buy.com site serves as a portal to seven specialty sites, including the recently acquired buygolf.com.

    Greg Hawkins, CEO of buy.com, said the arrangement with the PGA Tour is an ideal fit for his company because "the demographic of the golfer is in sync with our target audience." He added that his firm sees its association with the PGA's top minor league circuit as a means to "extend and build the buy.com brand."

    Finchem expects no problems in the transition from Nike to buy.com.

    "Greg Hawkins and his management team understand golf," he said. "They play it and are sensitive to what golf is all about."

    Nike, through its high-profile tour involvement (and having Tiger Woods in its stable of athlete endorsers), gained credibility and shelf space in an already crowded golf equipment field. In addition to golf apparel and golf shoes, the company launched a line of golf balls last year.

    Mike Kelly, director of marketing/communications for Nike Golf, said Nike will redirect dollars it spent on sponsorship of the tour to advertising on the main PGA Tour and World Golf Championship events, player endorsements for its line of golf balls, and ball sampling efforts.

    Kelly said Nike will continue to be a vendor at buy.com tournaments and provide equipment to players on that tour.

    John Torsiello is a free-lance writer in Connecticut.

    Print
  • Nothing minor about these prospects

    After participating as a keynote speaker at last week's winter baseball meetings in Anaheim, it became evident to me that Minor League Baseball, more than ever before, controls its own destiny. And, unlike most sports, this is actually good news.

    Because it continues to successfully differentiate itself from the rest of sports and manages the fan experience as well as any, Minor League Baseball's future remains bright.

    This is the case for a number of reasons, not the least of which are its affordability, commitment to customer service and connection to America's edge cities. But beyond these factors, all of which remain well within the control of Minor League Baseball, the sport is favorably positioned to take advantage of several industry developments that, if managed properly, will propel the sport to levels of success many once believed unattainable.

    For example, while the corporatization of sports has gathered momentum over the last decade, Minor League Baseball has not allowed this "intrusion" to tarnish the ballpark experience its fans have come to enjoy and rely upon. Fans of the minors find the sport a refreshing alternative and welcome the fact that it delivers less corruption, greed and controversy than most professional sports.

    Further, not only has Minor League Baseball refused to allow the everyday fan to be priced out of the ballpark, it has actually gone out of its way to protect its relationship with families. The sport allows a family of four to take in a ball game for about one-fourth the cost of attending NBA, NHL or NFL games, thus enabling families to pass the minor league experience along from generation to generation.

    In addition to managing the corporatization of its product, Minor League Baseball is poised to take advantage of the trends in sports marketing. Since corporations have realized the need to market on a local level, they have propelled the localization of sports marketing activities. Whether through community-based, grassroots, cause-oriented or ethnic marketing, the minor leagues are favorably positioned to take advantage of this rapidly emerging trend. Indeed, no sport is more ideally suited, based on the location of its franchises, their commitment to the community and the fan base they attract, to deliver the local audiences advertisers and sponsors covet.

    The ability to create and implement comprehensive Internet strategies represents another significant opportunity for the sport to increase its exposure, fan base and eventually its revenue. The Internet not only allows minor league teams and leagues the ability to reinforce their commitment to customer service with existing fans, but it also enables them to build relationships with new ones, including those beyond their local community.

    Significantly, a successful Internet strategy will enable the minors to take full advantage of database marketing, ultimately resulting in an increase in awareness stemming from revenue-producing activities such as e-commerce. A critical component of Minor League Baseball's Internet strategy, a compelling e-commerce plan will enable the sport to increase its already impressive levels of merchandise sales.

    The developments highlighted above are merely a sampling of those that will ensure the continued expansion of Minor League Baseball. And, as the sport continues to deliver great value in an entertainment experience by differentiating itself and providing stellar customer service, it will thrive.

    The ultimate validation of this expansion will be witnessed in the increase in cash flow and franchise values, the ultimate goals for most minor league teams.

    David M. Carter (davidc@bus.usc.edu) is a principal in The Sports Business Group, a Los Angeles consulting firm specializing in strategic marketing.

    Print | Tags: NBA, NFL, NHL
  • Nothing minor about these prospects

    After participating as a keynote speaker at last week's winter baseball meetings in Anaheim, it became evident to me that Minor League Baseball, more than ever before, controls its own destiny. And, unlike most sports, this is actually good news.

    Because it continues to successfully differentiate itself from the rest of sports and manages the fan experience as well as any, Minor League Baseball's future remains bright.

    This is the case for a number of reasons, not the least of which are its affordability, commitment to customer service and connection to America's edge cities. But beyond these factors, all of which remain well within the control of Minor League Baseball, the sport is favorably positioned to take advantage of several industry developments that, if managed properly, will propel the sport to levels of success many once believed unattainable.

    For example, while the corporatization of sports has gathered momentum over the last decade, Minor League Baseball has not allowed this "intrusion" to tarnish the ballpark experience its fans have come to enjoy and rely upon. Fans of the minors find the sport a refreshing alternative and welcome the fact that it delivers less corruption, greed and controversy than most professional sports.

    Further, not only has Minor League Baseball refused to allow the everyday fan to be priced out of the ballpark, it has actually gone out of its way to protect its relationship with families. The sport allows a family of four to take in a ball game for about one-fourth the cost of attending NBA, NHL or NFL games, thus enabling families to pass the minor league experience along from generation to generation.

    In addition to managing the corporatization of its product, Minor League Baseball is poised to take advantage of the trends in sports marketing. Since corporations have realized the need to market on a local level, they have propelled the localization of sports marketing activities. Whether through community-based, grassroots, cause-oriented or ethnic marketing, the minor leagues are favorably positioned to take advantage of this rapidly emerging trend. Indeed, no sport is more ideally suited, based on the location of its franchises, their commitment to the community and the fan base they attract, to deliver the local audiences advertisers and sponsors covet.

    The ability to create and implement comprehensive Internet strategies represents another significant opportunity for the sport to increase its exposure, fan base and eventually its revenue. The Internet not only allows minor league teams and leagues the ability to reinforce their commitment to customer service with existing fans, but it also enables them to build relationships with new ones, including those beyond their local community.

    Significantly, a successful Internet strategy will enable the minors to take full advantage of database marketing, ultimately resulting in an increase in awareness stemming from revenue-producing activities such as e-commerce. A critical component of Minor League Baseball's Internet strategy, a compelling e-commerce plan will enable the sport to increase its already impressive levels of merchandise sales.

    The developments highlighted above are merely a sampling of those that will ensure the continued expansion of Minor League Baseball. And, as the sport continues to deliver great value in an entertainment experience by differentiating itself and providing stellar customer service, it will thrive.

    The ultimate validation of this expansion will be witnessed in the increase in cash flow and franchise values, the ultimate goals for most minor league teams.

    David M. Carter (davidc@bus.usc.edu) is a principal in The Sports Business Group, a Los Angeles consulting firm specializing in strategic marketing.

    Print | Tags: NBA, NFL, NHL
  • NTRA forecasts savings from alliance as high as $1M a year

    The National Thoroughbred Racing Association may save as much as $1 million a year as a result of a strategic alliance with the Breeders' Cup Ltd., NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith said.

    The NTRA, horse racing's national league, and the Breeders' Cup, an organization that runs an annual eight-race championship day, announced the alliance earlier this month.

    Under the plan, the two organizations would combine certain administrative and marketing functions but retain their legal independence and separate boards.

    Smith said the Breeders' Cup plans to use the NTRA's New York office for support in the areas of marketing, advertising, licensing, television and new media. Conversely, the NTRA may use some of the Breeders' Cup administrative staff, which could save $1 million in the first year, Smith said.

    Any savings would be devoted to increased marketing.

    "The cost savings were a factor in the decision, but, honestly, they were secondary," Smith said. "The main reason for doing it is there is not another sport you can point to that does not combine the marketing of the league office with its championship event, such as the World Series or the Super Bowl."

    Print | Tags: NTRA
  • NTRA forecasts savings from alliance as high as $1M a year

    The National Thoroughbred Racing Association may save as much as $1 million a year as a result of a strategic alliance with the Breeders' Cup Ltd., NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith said.

    The NTRA, horse racing's national league, and the Breeders' Cup, an organization that runs an annual eight-race championship day, announced the alliance earlier this month.

    Under the plan, the two organizations would combine certain administrative and marketing functions but retain their legal independence and separate boards.

    Smith said the Breeders' Cup plans to use the NTRA's New York office for support in the areas of marketing, advertising, licensing, television and new media. Conversely, the NTRA may use some of the Breeders' Cup administrative staff, which could save $1 million in the first year, Smith said.

    Any savings would be devoted to increased marketing.

    "The cost savings were a factor in the decision, but, honestly, they were secondary," Smith said. "The main reason for doing it is there is not another sport you can point to that does not combine the marketing of the league office with its championship event, such as the World Series or the Super Bowl."

    Print | Tags: NTRA
  • Once up a time in Dallas, there was a midfielder …

    Dallas Burn midfielder Mark Santel has the ball rolling as an author. Santel and his brother, Steve, have written a children's book — "Soccer Dreamin': The Golden Goal" — that hit the shelves last week. Santel is a spokesman for Texas Gov. George W. Bush's literacy campaign and was recently recognized by the governor for his continuous work with literacy and the children of Texas.

    GOODWILL PROMOTION: Oksana Baiul, the 1994 Olympic figure skating gold medalist and a 2000 Winter Goodwill Games competitor, laced them up and took a morning skate with the Atlanta Thrashers last Tuesday. The appearance was to promote the Goodwill Games, which will be Feb. 17-20 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Ted Turner started the games in 1986 as a statement against the Cold War. Time Warner Inc., the Thrashers' owner, inherited the games when it acquired Turner's media empire in 1996.

    BO KNOWS SPRING FOOTBALL: Bo Jackson has acquired the Birmingham, Ala., franchise in the new Spring Football League. Jackson will meet with Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid to discuss the possibility of playing at legendary Legion Field.

    PRO KIDS PLEDGE: The Pro Kids Golf and Learning Center's scholarship endowment fund has received a pledge of $1 million from San Diego Padres owner John Moores and his wife, Becky.

    SPORTS WRITING ETHICS: A columnist for The Tampa Tribune has been called on the carpet for his business dealings with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Editor & Publisher magazine questioned whether Tom McEwen, the Tribune's retired sports editor, can objectively write about the Lightning when McEwen Travel & Imports, a company he and his wife own, handles travel arrangements for the team's front office. Tribune Editor Gil Thelen explained that McEwen, who retired in 1992 after 34 years, works for the paper as an independent contractor but has been made aware of the paper's ethics policy. As a result, McEwen Travel will stop doing business with the Lightning at the end of this year, Thelen wrote in a Dec. 12 column.

    "I'LL TALK TO THE BOSS FOR YOU": One sports talk show host doesn't worry about losing favor with management — he is management. Craig Karmazin, 24 and the son of CBS CEO Mel Karmazin, has put together a four-station chain in the Wisconsin towns of Beaver Dam, Watertown and Columbus under his Good Karma Broadcasting banner. He also is co-host of "The Sports Drive," a late afternoon show on WTLX-FM in Columbus, which serves the Madison area.

    Print | Tags: FC Dallas, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Once up a time in Dallas, there was a midfielder …

    Dallas Burn midfielder Mark Santel has the ball rolling as an author. Santel and his brother, Steve, have written a children's book — "Soccer Dreamin': The Golden Goal" — that hit the shelves last week. Santel is a spokesman for Texas Gov. George W. Bush's literacy campaign and was recently recognized by the governor for his continuous work with literacy and the children of Texas.

    GOODWILL PROMOTION: Oksana Baiul, the 1994 Olympic figure skating gold medalist and a 2000 Winter Goodwill Games competitor, laced them up and took a morning skate with the Atlanta Thrashers last Tuesday. The appearance was to promote the Goodwill Games, which will be Feb. 17-20 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Ted Turner started the games in 1986 as a statement against the Cold War. Time Warner Inc., the Thrashers' owner, inherited the games when it acquired Turner's media empire in 1996.

    BO KNOWS SPRING FOOTBALL: Bo Jackson has acquired the Birmingham, Ala., franchise in the new Spring Football League. Jackson will meet with Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid to discuss the possibility of playing at legendary Legion Field.

    PRO KIDS PLEDGE: The Pro Kids Golf and Learning Center's scholarship endowment fund has received a pledge of $1 million from San Diego Padres owner John Moores and his wife, Becky.

    SPORTS WRITING ETHICS: A columnist for The Tampa Tribune has been called on the carpet for his business dealings with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Editor & Publisher magazine questioned whether Tom McEwen, the Tribune's retired sports editor, can objectively write about the Lightning when McEwen Travel & Imports, a company he and his wife own, handles travel arrangements for the team's front office. Tribune Editor Gil Thelen explained that McEwen, who retired in 1992 after 34 years, works for the paper as an independent contractor but has been made aware of the paper's ethics policy. As a result, McEwen Travel will stop doing business with the Lightning at the end of this year, Thelen wrote in a Dec. 12 column.

    "I'LL TALK TO THE BOSS FOR YOU": One sports talk show host doesn't worry about losing favor with management — he is management. Craig Karmazin, 24 and the son of CBS CEO Mel Karmazin, has put together a four-station chain in the Wisconsin towns of Beaver Dam, Watertown and Columbus under his Good Karma Broadcasting banner. He also is co-host of "The Sports Drive," a late afternoon show on WTLX-FM in Columbus, which serves the Madison area.

    Print | Tags: FC Dallas, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Open-wheel racing losing big sponsors

    The financial costs and low returns of big-league open-wheel racing have caused a growing list of manufacturers and sponsors to bid farewell to CART and the Indy Racing League in the last few months.

    Since July, such prestigious companies as the Valvoline Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. have all packed in their programs in favor of the greener pastures of NASCAR. Others, such as the financially strapped Nissan Motor Co., could be on the way out in the future.

    As the only manufacturer competing in the IRL against General Motors Corp. — manufacturers supply engine kits to teams who build the engines — Nissan's Infiniti engine program garnered just 5 percent of all the top 10 finishes in this year's 10-race season, and its best finish to date has been third.

    But the Infiniti's IRL program may face its biggest test off the track. Nissan has incurred losses in six of its last seven fiscal years, including $400 million in the past two years alone, and expects more losses this year. As a result, the company is in the midst of a painful financial and operational restructuring plan to reduce its $27 billion debt burden. The company announced in October a cost-cutting plan that would lay off 21,000 employees and shutter five of its manufacturing and assembly plants.

    Already, the company has canceled plans to race in the Le Mans 24-hour race. And based on the depth of its financial problems, its IRL Infiniti program could be next.

    For now, though, there is little indication that things will change.

    "Our entire motorsports plan is being reviewed now," said Gina Pasco, a spokeswoman for Infiniti products in Los Angeles. "Right now, our executives have not made any changes to our plans."

    While Nissan's corporate fortunes are shaking up its motorsports programs, most say that the financial burdens of competing — and winning — in the single-seat, open-cockpit cars are too much to endure in an environment of global competition.

    "It was more financial than anything," said Stu Grant, general manager of global race tires with Goodyear, about the company's decision to stop supplying tires to both the IRL and CART. "The corporation looked at the expense involved to compete in these two arenas and decided it was time to exit."

    In one sense, Goodyear's decision was a particularly big blow to the two series. The manufacturer had provided tires for Indy-car racing since the early 1960s, and Goodyear became the sole supplier to Indy-car teams in 1975.

    The company's fortunes started to change in 1995 when Firestone, now part of Bridgestone Corp., re-entered the fray. By 1996, Firestone had won 10 of 16 CART races and three of five IRL races. From 1997 through 1999, Goodyear won just six of 56 CART events and 15 of 29 IRL races, including the last two Indy 500s.

    As a result, Goodyear found it harder to justify the expense. While the company does not release figures on how much it spends on its racing programs, the decision to end its association with Indy-style racing will result in the elimination of 60 — or 10 percent — of the 600 associates in its race-tire division.

    Goodyear's withdrawal from its Indy program was the company's second such retreat from racing in as many years. It stopped supplying tires to Formula One teams at the end of 1998 after Bridgestone started supplying top teams. Again the problem was the escalating cost of competing.

    Valvoline, too, cited business reasons for its decision to end its association with CART's Walker Racing. After winning just two races over the past two seasons, the company said it wanted to dedicate more marketing resources to promoting its Eagle One and SynPower brands. Nonetheless, the company will continue as the official supplier of motor oil and methanol fuel to CART and is expected to renew its association with Al Unser Jr.'s new IRL team next year.

    Budweiser also ended its five-year run of sponsoring Della Penna Motorsports on the CART circuit in late September. The company decided to focus its racing efforts elsewhere, most notably on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Winston Cup effort. Like Valvoline, the company maintains ties to CART, as the series' "official beer."

    Still, there are plenty of companies waiting to get into racing so that even as some companies leave a series, others fill the void. The reason for Goodyear's withdrawal was Firestone's return. And in the last year, the IRL and CART added several high-profile sponsors to their rolls, including such notable additions as McDonald's Corp. and Pioneer Electronics in CART and Yahoo.com in the IRL.

    Jim Allen is a writer living in Virginia.

    Print | Tags: Dale Earnhardt Inc., Firestone, Formula One, Goodyear, Infiniti, IndyCar, NASCAR
  • Open-wheel racing losing big sponsors

    The financial costs and low returns of big-league open-wheel racing have caused a growing list of manufacturers and sponsors to bid farewell to CART and the Indy Racing League in the last few months.

    Since July, such prestigious companies as the Valvoline Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. have all packed in their programs in favor of the greener pastures of NASCAR. Others, such as the financially strapped Nissan Motor Co., could be on the way out in the future.

    As the only manufacturer competing in the IRL against General Motors Corp. — manufacturers supply engine kits to teams who build the engines — Nissan's Infiniti engine program garnered just 5 percent of all the top 10 finishes in this year's 10-race season, and its best finish to date has been third.

    But the Infiniti's IRL program may face its biggest test off the track. Nissan has incurred losses in six of its last seven fiscal years, including $400 million in the past two years alone, and expects more losses this year. As a result, the company is in the midst of a painful financial and operational restructuring plan to reduce its $27 billion debt burden. The company announced in October a cost-cutting plan that would lay off 21,000 employees and shutter five of its manufacturing and assembly plants.

    Already, the company has canceled plans to race in the Le Mans 24-hour race. And based on the depth of its financial problems, its IRL Infiniti program could be next.

    For now, though, there is little indication that things will change.

    "Our entire motorsports plan is being reviewed now," said Gina Pasco, a spokeswoman for Infiniti products in Los Angeles. "Right now, our executives have not made any changes to our plans."

    While Nissan's corporate fortunes are shaking up its motorsports programs, most say that the financial burdens of competing — and winning — in the single-seat, open-cockpit cars are too much to endure in an environment of global competition.

    "It was more financial than anything," said Stu Grant, general manager of global race tires with Goodyear, about the company's decision to stop supplying tires to both the IRL and CART. "The corporation looked at the expense involved to compete in these two arenas and decided it was time to exit."

    In one sense, Goodyear's decision was a particularly big blow to the two series. The manufacturer had provided tires for Indy-car racing since the early 1960s, and Goodyear became the sole supplier to Indy-car teams in 1975.

    The company's fortunes started to change in 1995 when Firestone, now part of Bridgestone Corp., re-entered the fray. By 1996, Firestone had won 10 of 16 CART races and three of five IRL races. From 1997 through 1999, Goodyear won just six of 56 CART events and 15 of 29 IRL races, including the last two Indy 500s.

    As a result, Goodyear found it harder to justify the expense. While the company does not release figures on how much it spends on its racing programs, the decision to end its association with Indy-style racing will result in the elimination of 60 — or 10 percent — of the 600 associates in its race-tire division.

    Goodyear's withdrawal from its Indy program was the company's second such retreat from racing in as many years. It stopped supplying tires to Formula One teams at the end of 1998 after Bridgestone started supplying top teams. Again the problem was the escalating cost of competing.

    Valvoline, too, cited business reasons for its decision to end its association with CART's Walker Racing. After winning just two races over the past two seasons, the company said it wanted to dedicate more marketing resources to promoting its Eagle One and SynPower brands. Nonetheless, the company will continue as the official supplier of motor oil and methanol fuel to CART and is expected to renew its association with Al Unser Jr.'s new IRL team next year.

    Budweiser also ended its five-year run of sponsoring Della Penna Motorsports on the CART circuit in late September. The company decided to focus its racing efforts elsewhere, most notably on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Winston Cup effort. Like Valvoline, the company maintains ties to CART, as the series' "official beer."

    Still, there are plenty of companies waiting to get into racing so that even as some companies leave a series, others fill the void. The reason for Goodyear's withdrawal was Firestone's return. And in the last year, the IRL and CART added several high-profile sponsors to their rolls, including such notable additions as McDonald's Corp. and Pioneer Electronics in CART and Yahoo.com in the IRL.

    Jim Allen is a writer living in Virginia.

    Print | Tags: Dale Earnhardt Inc., Firestone, Formula One, Goodyear, Infiniti, IndyCar, NASCAR
  • Organizers to kick around changes after soccer finals stumble

    Disappointing attendance and a potential financial loss for this year's College Cup men's soccer finals probably mean changes for next year's event, organizers said.

    More than a few grumbles stemmed from ticket prices, which were $50 to $85 for the two-day event. Judy Rose, athletic director at co-host University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said lower ticket prices will be considered for next year.

    Rose said the tournament may suffer a financial deficit. Local organizers raised about $300,000 to pay for the event, but attendance fell below expectations.

    UNCC, Davidson College and the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission hosted the College Cup and share responsibility for its financial performance.

    The three-game event was held at 73,248-seat Ericsson Stadium for the first time this year. Tickets were available only for the stadium's lower bowl, which seats about 34,000.

    Total attendance was 28,670, well below the event's high of 42,022 in Richmond, Va., in 1995. Organizers had hoped to attract about 20,000 fans each for the two semifinal games Dec. 10 and the championship game Dec. 12.

    The event featured Indiana, Santa Clara, Connecticut and UCLA.

    Charlotte will host the College Cup again in December 2000. The NCAA hasn't awarded host sites beyond that. Organizers said the move to Ericsson Stadium, home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers, represents a step up for men's soccer in prestige and recognition.

    Mark Bedics, an NCAA spokesman, said Charlotte excelled in its first year as College Cup host and praised Ericsson Stadium. The NCAA's main concerns, he said, center on attendance and the field markings. Some fans and media complained that football-field yard markers marred the field.

    "Obviously that was a concern coming in," Bedics said. "It's something we'll look at again."

    NCAA officials will meet with the local organizing committee next month to discuss possible changes for 2000.

    Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: Carolina Panthers, Florida Panthers, NCAA, NFL
  • Organizers to kick around changes after soccer finals stumble

    Disappointing attendance and a potential financial loss for this year's College Cup men's soccer finals probably mean changes for next year's event, organizers said.

    More than a few grumbles stemmed from ticket prices, which were $50 to $85 for the two-day event. Judy Rose, athletic director at co-host University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said lower ticket prices will be considered for next year.

    Rose said the tournament may suffer a financial deficit. Local organizers raised about $300,000 to pay for the event, but attendance fell below expectations.

    UNCC, Davidson College and the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission hosted the College Cup and share responsibility for its financial performance.

    The three-game event was held at 73,248-seat Ericsson Stadium for the first time this year. Tickets were available only for the stadium's lower bowl, which seats about 34,000.

    Total attendance was 28,670, well below the event's high of 42,022 in Richmond, Va., in 1995. Organizers had hoped to attract about 20,000 fans each for the two semifinal games Dec. 10 and the championship game Dec. 12.

    The event featured Indiana, Santa Clara, Connecticut and UCLA.

    Charlotte will host the College Cup again in December 2000. The NCAA hasn't awarded host sites beyond that. Organizers said the move to Ericsson Stadium, home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers, represents a step up for men's soccer in prestige and recognition.

    Mark Bedics, an NCAA spokesman, said Charlotte excelled in its first year as College Cup host and praised Ericsson Stadium. The NCAA's main concerns, he said, center on attendance and the field markings. Some fans and media complained that football-field yard markers marred the field.

    "Obviously that was a concern coming in," Bedics said. "It's something we'll look at again."

    NCAA officials will meet with the local organizing committee next month to discuss possible changes for 2000.

    Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: Carolina Panthers, Florida Panthers, NCAA, NFL
  • Owners knew Tagliabue got $6M in ’98

    The full ownership of the NFL knew about and approved Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's $6 million total compensation for the year that ended in March 1998, said Wayne Weaver, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and a member of the NFL owners' compensation committee.

    "All the other owners knew the commissioner's salary, bonuses and deferred compensation," said Weaver. "That's why we voted 28 to nothing" to shoot down the claims of Oakland Raiders' owner Al Davis.

    According to records filed by the league with the IRS, Tagliabue received $2.2 million in base salary for the year that ended on March 31, 1998. He also received $400,000 each from NFL Properties and NFL Enterprises. His deferred compensation from all three sources, according to the records obtained from the IRS, was $3 million.

    While the $6 million figure pales in comparison to NBA Commissioner David Stern's estimated $9 million annual salary and bonus plan, it has become important as NFL owners deal with allegations that the deferred compensation to Tagliabue and 61 other NFL executives was paid without the approval of a majority of NFL owners.

    Davis contended in court documents and before a meeting of owners earlier this month that all of the owners were aware of Tagliabue's base salary, but that only four were aware that Tagliabue received more than $3 million in deferred compensation and another $800,000 from the NFL divisions of properties and entertainment.

    Weaver said that Tagliabue received a raise in 1998 and that, at that time, all the owners were informed of the full compensation package, including base salary, bonuses and deferred salary. He said Davis' claim may have been isolated to the compensation plan approved in 1994, but Weaver wasn't an NFL owner at the time.

    New York Giants owner Bob Tisch had previously said that all the owners knew the full range of Tagliabue's salary. Other owners have been strong in their defense of the commissioner, but no other NFL owners would respond to compensation questions for the record.

    Oakland Raiders attorney Kenneth Hausman backed Davis' version of events.

    "Mr. Weaver's statement that all the owners knew of the three secret compensation plans and voted to approve them in 1998 is not accurate based on the evidence I have seen," said Hausman.

    While records for the year ended March 31, 1999, are still unavailable, the league's preceding four years of tax filings show that the controversial deferred compensation plan had increasingly become an important part of Tagliabue's and ex-president Neil Austrian's total compensation (see chart). The effect of the benefits plan was to dramatically increase Tagliabue's pay far beyond the levels that had been previously reported by national media.

    Between April 1, 1994, and March 31, 1998, according to the tax records, Tagliabue received $19.1 million in compensation, and 38 percent, or $7.3 million, came from a retirement plan that Davis says has reached a total of $100 million for 62 executives, including Tagliabue and Austrian.

    The league paid Austrian $12.7 million during this period, and 42 percent, or $5.4 million, came in the form of deferred compensation, according to the tax records, which the NFL is required to file annually.

    At the extraordinary meeting earlier this month, owners voted unanimously against Davis' resolution that would have subjected the entire executive deferred compensation fund to an independent investigation.

    Weaver, referring to questions about the 1994 origination of the deferred compensation plan, said that the NFL had and still has some procedural problems. He said that's why the owners agreed to meet privately in New York on Jan. 18 to review the league's decision-making processes.

    Other owners said that they plan to excuse the two executives during the discussion on deferred compensation and conduct a rare owners-only debate.

    The IRS disclosures may not even be the full extent of Austrian's and Tagliabue's pay, the Raiders contend.

    "There may be other moneys or compensation they received that might not be required to be reported to the IRS," said the team's attorney, Hausman.

    The NFL declined to comment on all matters regarding the compensation of the two executives.

    Notably, a lot of the pay and deferred compensation reported to the IRS came not directly from the NFL, but from its properties, enterprises and films divisions.

    In the 12 months ended March 31, 1998, for example, Tagliabue received a base NFL salary of $2.2 million, plus $400,000 each from NFL Enterprises, the league's new-media unit, and Properties, the sponsorship and licensing unit. Similarly, the commissioner received $1.3 million in deferred compensation from the league, and $1.8 million in deferred pay from Properties and Enterprises.

    While the NFL's 1999 tax record was not available, media reports from early 1998 said the NFL doubled Tagliabue's base pay to $5 million to reward him for signing a record $17.6 billion TV deal.


    BEHIND THE PAYCHECKS
    A year-by-year breakdown of compensation for top NFL executives (For 12 months ending March 31)
    Source
    Compensation
    Deferred
    Total
    % deferred
    Paul Tagliabue
    1998
    NFL
    $2,201,173
    $1,285,350
    $3,486,523
    37
    NFL Properties
    $400,000
    $966,000
    $1,366,000
    71
    NFL Enterprises
    $400,000
    $825,000
    $1,225,000
    67
    Total
    $3,001,173
    $3,076,350
    $6,077,523
    51
    1997
    NFL
    $2,676,892
    $763,850
    $3,440,742
    22
    NFL Properties
    $200,000
    $795,000
    $995,000
    80
    NFL Enterprises
    $200,000
    $530,000
    $730,000
    73
    Total
    $3,076,892
    $2,088,850
    $5,165,742
    40
    1996
    NFL
    $2,311,924
    $22,500
    $2,334,424
    1
    NFL Properties
    $480,000
    $555,000
    $1,035,000
    54
    NFL Enterprises
    $360,000
    $410,000
    $770,000
    53
    NFL Films
    $80,000
    $60,000
    $140,000
    43
    Total $3,231,924 $1,047,500 $4,279,424 24
    1995
    NFL
    $2,052,828
    $427,546
    $2,480,374
    17
    NFL Properties
    $176,605
    $400,000
    $576,605
    69
    NFL Enterprises
    $142,609
    $250,000
    $392,609
    64
    NFL Films
    $38,109
    0
    $38,109
    0
    NFL Management Council
    $66,391
    0
    $66,391
    0
    Total
    $2,476,542
    $1,077,546
    $3,554,088
    30
    Four-year total
    $11,786,531
    $7,290,246
    $19,076,777
    38
    Neil Austrian
    1998
    NFL
    $776,478
    $438,017
    $1,214,495
    36
    NFL Properties
    $700,000
    $735,000
    $1,435,000
    51
    NFL Enterprises
    $650,000
    $727,500
    $1,377,500
    53
    Total $2,126,478 $1,900,517 $4,026,995 47
    1997
    NFL
    $720,673
    $261,109
    $981,782
    27
    NFL Properties
    $700,000
    $434,800
    $1,134,800
    38
    NFL Enterprises
    $700,000
    $434,800
    $1,134,800
    38
    Total
    $2,120,673
    $1,130,709
    $3,251,382
    35
    1996
    NFL
    $533,510
    $22,500
    $556,010
    4
    NFL Properties
    $600,000
    $434,800
    $1,034,800
    42
    NFL Enterprises
    $600,000
    $434,800
    $1,034,800
    42
    NFL Films
    $200,000
    0
    $200,000
    0
    Total
    $1,933,510
    $892,100
    $2,825,610
    32
    1995
    NFL
    $821,018
    $295,564
    $1,116,582
    26
    NFL Properties
    $170,082
    $550,000
    $720,082
    76
    NFL Enterprises
    $170,082
    $550,000
    $720,082
    76
    NFL Films
    $37,500
    $50,000
    $87,500
    57
    Total
    $1,198,682
    $1,445,564
    $2,644,246
    55
    Four-year total
    $7,379,343
    $5,368,890
    $12,748,233
    42
    Source: NFL Form 990 filings with Internal Revenue Service

     

    Print | Tags: Jacksonville Jaguars, NBA, New York Giants, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants
  • Owners knew Tagliabue got $6M in ’98

    The full ownership of the NFL knew about and approved Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's $6 million total compensation for the year that ended in March 1998, said Wayne Weaver, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and a member of the NFL owners' compensation committee.

    "All the other owners knew the commissioner's salary, bonuses and deferred compensation," said Weaver. "That's why we voted 28 to nothing" to shoot down the claims of Oakland Raiders' owner Al Davis.

    According to records filed by the league with the IRS, Tagliabue received $2.2 million in base salary for the year that ended on March 31, 1998. He also received $400,000 each from NFL Properties and NFL Enterprises. His deferred compensation from all three sources, according to the records obtained from the IRS, was $3 million.

    While the $6 million figure pales in comparison to NBA Commissioner David Stern's estimated $9 million annual salary and bonus plan, it has become important as NFL owners deal with allegations that the deferred compensation to Tagliabue and 61 other NFL executives was paid without the approval of a majority of NFL owners.

    Davis contended in court documents and before a meeting of owners earlier this month that all of the owners were aware of Tagliabue's base salary, but that only four were aware that Tagliabue received more than $3 million in deferred compensation and another $800,000 from the NFL divisions of properties and entertainment.

    Weaver said that Tagliabue received a raise in 1998 and that, at that time, all the owners were informed of the full compensation package, including base salary, bonuses and deferred salary. He said Davis' claim may have been isolated to the compensation plan approved in 1994, but Weaver wasn't an NFL owner at the time.

    New York Giants owner Bob Tisch had previously said that all the owners knew the full range of Tagliabue's salary. Other owners have been strong in their defense of the commissioner, but no other NFL owners would respond to compensation questions for the record.

    Oakland Raiders attorney Kenneth Hausman backed Davis' version of events.

    "Mr. Weaver's statement that all the owners knew of the three secret compensation plans and voted to approve them in 1998 is not accurate based on the evidence I have seen," said Hausman.

    While records for the year ended March 31, 1999, are still unavailable, the league's preceding four years of tax filings show that the controversial deferred compensation plan had increasingly become an important part of Tagliabue's and ex-president Neil Austrian's total compensation (see chart). The effect of the benefits plan was to dramatically increase Tagliabue's pay far beyond the levels that had been previously reported by national media.

    Between April 1, 1994, and March 31, 1998, according to the tax records, Tagliabue received $19.1 million in compensation, and 38 percent, or $7.3 million, came from a retirement plan that Davis says has reached a total of $100 million for 62 executives, including Tagliabue and Austrian.

    The league paid Austrian $12.7 million during this period, and 42 percent, or $5.4 million, came in the form of deferred compensation, according to the tax records, which the NFL is required to file annually.

    At the extraordinary meeting earlier this month, owners voted unanimously against Davis' resolution that would have subjected the entire executive deferred compensation fund to an independent investigation.

    Weaver, referring to questions about the 1994 origination of the deferred compensation plan, said that the NFL had and still has some procedural problems. He said that's why the owners agreed to meet privately in New York on Jan. 18 to review the league's decision-making processes.

    Other owners said that they plan to excuse the two executives during the discussion on deferred compensation and conduct a rare owners-only debate.

    The IRS disclosures may not even be the full extent of Austrian's and Tagliabue's pay, the Raiders contend.

    "There may be other moneys or compensation they received that might not be required to be reported to the IRS," said the team's attorney, Hausman.

    The NFL declined to comment on all matters regarding the compensation of the two executives.

    Notably, a lot of the pay and deferred compensation reported to the IRS came not directly from the NFL, but from its properties, enterprises and films divisions.

    In the 12 months ended March 31, 1998, for example, Tagliabue received a base NFL salary of $2.2 million, plus $400,000 each from NFL Enterprises, the league's new-media unit, and Properties, the sponsorship and licensing unit. Similarly, the commissioner received $1.3 million in deferred compensation from the league, and $1.8 million in deferred pay from Properties and Enterprises.

    While the NFL's 1999 tax record was not available, media reports from early 1998 said the NFL doubled Tagliabue's base pay to $5 million to reward him for signing a record $17.6 billion TV deal.


    BEHIND THE PAYCHECKS
    A year-by-year breakdown of compensation for top NFL executives (For 12 months ending March 31)
    Source
    Compensation
    Deferred
    Total
    % deferred
    Paul Tagliabue
    1998
    NFL
    $2,201,173
    $1,285,350
    $3,486,523
    37
    NFL Properties
    $400,000
    $966,000
    $1,366,000
    71
    NFL Enterprises
    $400,000
    $825,000
    $1,225,000
    67
    Total
    $3,001,173
    $3,076,350
    $6,077,523
    51
    1997
    NFL
    $2,676,892
    $763,850
    $3,440,742
    22
    NFL Properties
    $200,000
    $795,000
    $995,000
    80
    NFL Enterprises
    $200,000
    $530,000
    $730,000
    73
    Total
    $3,076,892
    $2,088,850
    $5,165,742
    40
    1996
    NFL
    $2,311,924
    $22,500
    $2,334,424
    1
    NFL Properties
    $480,000
    $555,000
    $1,035,000
    54
    NFL Enterprises
    $360,000
    $410,000
    $770,000
    53
    NFL Films
    $80,000
    $60,000
    $140,000
    43
    Total $3,231,924 $1,047,500 $4,279,424 24
    1995
    NFL
    $2,052,828
    $427,546
    $2,480,374
    17
    NFL Properties
    $176,605
    $400,000
    $576,605
    69
    NFL Enterprises
    $142,609
    $250,000
    $392,609
    64
    NFL Films
    $38,109
    0
    $38,109
    0
    NFL Management Council
    $66,391
    0
    $66,391
    0
    Total
    $2,476,542
    $1,077,546
    $3,554,088
    30
    Four-year total
    $11,786,531
    $7,290,246
    $19,076,777
    38
    Neil Austrian
    1998
    NFL
    $776,478
    $438,017
    $1,214,495
    36
    NFL Properties
    $700,000
    $735,000
    $1,435,000
    51
    NFL Enterprises
    $650,000
    $727,500
    $1,377,500
    53
    Total $2,126,478 $1,900,517 $4,026,995 47
    1997
    NFL
    $720,673
    $261,109
    $981,782
    27
    NFL Properties
    $700,000
    $434,800
    $1,134,800
    38
    NFL Enterprises
    $700,000
    $434,800
    $1,134,800
    38
    Total
    $2,120,673
    $1,130,709
    $3,251,382
    35
    1996
    NFL
    $533,510
    $22,500
    $556,010
    4
    NFL Properties
    $600,000
    $434,800
    $1,034,800
    42
    NFL Enterprises
    $600,000
    $434,800
    $1,034,800
    42
    NFL Films
    $200,000
    0
    $200,000
    0
    Total
    $1,933,510
    $892,100
    $2,825,610
    32
    1995
    NFL
    $821,018
    $295,564
    $1,116,582
    26
    NFL Properties
    $170,082
    $550,000
    $720,082
    76
    NFL Enterprises
    $170,082
    $550,000
    $720,082
    76
    NFL Films
    $37,500
    $50,000
    $87,500
    57
    Total
    $1,198,682
    $1,445,564
    $2,644,246
    55
    Four-year total
    $7,379,343
    $5,368,890
    $12,748,233
    42
    Source: NFL Form 990 filings with Internal Revenue Service

    Print | Tags: Jacksonville Jaguars, NBA, New York Giants, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants
  • Plan would change face of pro rugby

    The owner of a Formula One team has proposed radical reform for rugby union, setting off a debate on what the pro rugby league should look like and whether it should even exist at all.

    Tom Walkinshaw, owner of the Arrows Formula One team as well as the Gloucester rugby team, has proposed setting up a new 16-team British rugby league — including four teams from Wales and two from Scotland — to replace the current all-English Allied Dunbar Premiership of 12 teams. The struggling league is in its third season.

    The Walkinshaw proposal would create a franchise system, with owners putting up $1.6 million to get a team and become shareholders in a new league company. The owners would get their money back if they decided to pull out. Participating teams would get $1.6 million a year for five years. For the first four years there would be no relegation of the bottom clubs in the new elite circuit to lower leagues.

    The financial backing for the plan has not been revealed, but pay-TV operator BSkyB is thought to be an interested party.

    Meanwhile, skeptics remain unconvinced that the sport is big enough for a full-blown pro loop at all. Soccer is so dominant in Britain that rugby, whose season overlaps with it, is left scrummaging for financial crumbs. A new salary cap of $2.9 million a team will come into effect before the 2000-01 season kicks off in the fall.

    The Premiership rugby clubs lost more than $25 million last year, estimates Richard Moon, secretary of the Rugby Union Players Association. He said bluntly: "I don't believe that at the current level rugby union can be a sustainable professional game — even with a salary cap. It can be semiprofessional. Rugby is not football [soccer], and it will never be able to pay football wages."

    Rob Andrew, a retired player who was the first big name to go pro five years ago, has been named by England's Rugby Football Union, which is reasserting its central role in the game, to head a working party to counter the Walkinshaw plan. The top priority apparently is to keep the league all-English, thereby preventing dilution of the organization's power over the league.

    Also on the agenda is improving the rugby schedule, which is overshadowed by the big annual tournament for national teams, the Six Nations, kicking off in early 2000. Games drag on throughout the winter, but a proposal would squeeze the tournament into April and May. An idea of shifting the whole tournament to May was put forward by the Rugby Football Union in 1995 but failed to take hold.

    Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.

    Print | Tags: Formula One
  • Plan would change face of pro rugby

    The owner of a Formula One team has proposed radical reform for rugby union, setting off a debate on what the pro rugby league should look like and whether it should even exist at all.

    Tom Walkinshaw, owner of the Arrows Formula One team as well as the Gloucester rugby team, has proposed setting up a new 16-team British rugby league — including four teams from Wales and two from Scotland — to replace the current all-English Allied Dunbar Premiership of 12 teams. The struggling league is in its third season.

    The Walkinshaw proposal would create a franchise system, with owners putting up $1.6 million to get a team and become shareholders in a new league company. The owners would get their money back if they decided to pull out. Participating teams would get $1.6 million a year for five years. For the first four years there would be no relegation of the bottom clubs in the new elite circuit to lower leagues.

    The financial backing for the plan has not been revealed, but pay-TV operator BSkyB is thought to be an interested party.

    Meanwhile, skeptics remain unconvinced that the sport is big enough for a full-blown pro loop at all. Soccer is so dominant in Britain that rugby, whose season overlaps with it, is left scrummaging for financial crumbs. A new salary cap of $2.9 million a team will come into effect before the 2000-01 season kicks off in the fall.

    The Premiership rugby clubs lost more than $25 million last year, estimates Richard Moon, secretary of the Rugby Union Players Association. He said bluntly: "I don't believe that at the current level rugby union can be a sustainable professional game — even with a salary cap. It can be semiprofessional. Rugby is not football [soccer], and it will never be able to pay football wages."

    Rob Andrew, a retired player who was the first big name to go pro five years ago, has been named by England's Rugby Football Union, which is reasserting its central role in the game, to head a working party to counter the Walkinshaw plan. The top priority apparently is to keep the league all-English, thereby preventing dilution of the organization's power over the league.

    Also on the agenda is improving the rugby schedule, which is overshadowed by the big annual tournament for national teams, the Six Nations, kicking off in early 2000. Games drag on throughout the winter, but a proposal would squeeze the tournament into April and May. An idea of shifting the whole tournament to May was put forward by the Rugby Football Union in 1995 but failed to take hold.

    Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.

    Print | Tags: Formula One
  • PSL plan under consideration for Wembley

    A personal seat licensing plan is thought to be under consideration for Britain's new Wembley Stadium, where the architecture of the financing needs to be nailed into place soon, even as the physical blueprints remain up in the air.

    Estimates on the new Wembley's cost have hit $760 million. The project is to get $192 million of National Lottery money, leaving owner Wembley National Stadium Ltd. to raise more than $560 million. A personal seat licensing plan could help trim the company's debt load.

    The idea is that a portion — say 15 to 20 percent — of the 90,000-seat capacity planned for soccer would be sold to premium seat license holders, who would be guaranteed the right to buy tickets for events at the stadium for a specified period.

    U.S. banks are among those jockeying to advise Wembley National on raising the money, and Wembley National is expected to choose a lead bank in early 2000. The National Lottery has given it a March deadline to have its financing proposal in place if it wants the $192 million.

    The sale of "debentures" for the right to buy seats has been used as a financing tool by Wimbledon and Twickenham (the home of England's national rugby team).

    Pricing is a key factor, but politics may play a bigger part in whether the idea ever gets off the ground. At issue: Would the Labour government consider the personal seat license concept sufficiently "democratic" for a national stadium?

    Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.

    Print
  • PSL plan under consideration for Wembley

    A personal seat licensing plan is thought to be under consideration for Britain's new Wembley Stadium, where the architecture of the financing needs to be nailed into place soon, even as the physical blueprints remain up in the air.

    Estimates on the new Wembley's cost have hit $760 million. The project is to get $192 million of National Lottery money, leaving owner Wembley National Stadium Ltd. to raise more than $560 million. A personal seat licensing plan could help trim the company's debt load.

    The idea is that a portion — say 15 to 20 percent — of the 90,000-seat capacity planned for soccer would be sold to premium seat license holders, who would be guaranteed the right to buy tickets for events at the stadium for a specified period.

    U.S. banks are among those jockeying to advise Wembley National on raising the money, and Wembley National is expected to choose a lead bank in early 2000. The National Lottery has given it a March deadline to have its financing proposal in place if it wants the $192 million.

    The sale of "debentures" for the right to buy seats has been used as a financing tool by Wimbledon and Twickenham (the home of England's national rugby team).

    Pricing is a key factor, but politics may play a bigger part in whether the idea ever gets off the ground. At issue: Would the Labour government consider the personal seat license concept sufficiently "democratic" for a national stadium?

    Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.

    Print
  • Rice gets small for kids computer game

    Jerry Rice will appear in a new ad campaign for software game manufacturer Humongous Entertainment. Rice, of the San Francisco 49ers, is featured in the Humongous title Backyard Football, a game geared to children younger than 12.

    The game features NFL players as children. In the 30-second ad spot, created by Publicis in Seattle, Rice joins a group of children to play football and is transformed into a child in order to play. The game is animated, and in the spot Rice morphs not only into a child, but also into an animated character.

    "It gives the idea of the magic that happens when you take these players and turn them into kids," said Mike Salvadore, director of marketing and business development for Humongous Entertainment.

    Backyard Football was introduced to the market in November. An independent data reporting firm says it is now the No. 2-selling children's title, behind Toy Story 2.

    Salvadore said Backyard Football is the first football game geared toward younger kids. Humongous also produces Backyard Baseball and Backyard Soccer. Updated versions of those games, scheduled for release in the spring of 2000, will also feature actual players as children.

    The campaign featuring Rice for Backyard Football breaks Sunday. The $2 million spot will run for four months on network and cable television in eight markets: Washington, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Indianapolis.

    Print | Tags: NFL, Publicis, San Francisco 49ers
  • Rice gets small for kids computer game

    Jerry Rice will appear in a new ad campaign for software game manufacturer Humongous Entertainment. Rice, of the San Francisco 49ers, is featured in the Humongous title Backyard Football, a game geared to children younger than 12.

    The game features NFL players as children. In the 30-second ad spot, created by Publicis in Seattle, Rice joins a group of children to play football and is transformed into a child in order to play. The game is animated, and in the spot Rice morphs not only into a child, but also into an animated character.

    "It gives the idea of the magic that happens when you take these players and turn them into kids," said Mike Salvadore, director of marketing and business development for Humongous Entertainment.

    Backyard Football was introduced to the market in November. An independent data reporting firm says it is now the No. 2-selling children's title, behind Toy Story 2.

    Salvadore said Backyard Football is the first football game geared toward younger kids. Humongous also produces Backyard Baseball and Backyard Soccer. Updated versions of those games, scheduled for release in the spring of 2000, will also feature actual players as children.

    The campaign featuring Rice for Backyard Football breaks Sunday. The $2 million spot will run for four months on network and cable television in eight markets: Washington, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Indianapolis.

    Print | Tags: NFL, Publicis, San Francisco 49ers
  • Rivals.com closes in on content-swapping deal with Fox Sports sites

    Rivals.com and News Corp.'s News Digital Media, which is a one-sixth owner of Rivals.com, have ironed out most of the details of a significant content-sharing agreement. FoxSports.com will receive content from Rivals.com's large network of team sites, and Rivals.com will receive digital content, beginning with audio and video clips of highlights and expanding to full games from Fox in 2000. FoxSports.com and its 19 regional sites will link to Rivals.com and appropriate team sites, which are being dubbed "team channels" as they beef up their content. For four months in a row, since its launch, Rivals.com has been the "stickiest" sports site, the site where surfers stayed the longest, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

    MotoWorld Networks Inc., publisher of MotoWorld.net, has signed a one-year deal to provide motorcycle sports coverage to ESPN.com. MotoWorld will provide the majority of the site's coverage in exchange for branding, and will sell advertising on the site's motorcycle pages on a commission basis. Lou Seals, chairman of MotoWorld Networks and sister company Seals Communications Corp., would not disclose the exact terms of the deal but said that it includes rights to share in e-commerce generated through the motorcycle pages. Seals' companies have been providing motorcycle-based television to ESPN and ESPN2 since 1990. The Web deal calls for live event coverage, including an audio race call. MotoWorld Networks is in a three-month push to raise $35 million in private funding.

    Ignite Sports Media has signed a multiyear deal for Web rights to the Chicago White Sox' site, Chisox.com. The site will relaunch during SoxFest 2000, Feb. 4-6. Ignite's formula for team sites is to add leaguewide sports news and scores to the team's offerings, creating a miniportal. Ignite President Hank Adams said Ignite and the Sox would also work to put the team's significant multimedia historical archives online for fans. This is the second deal Ignite has made with a pro team; it also produces the Washington Capitals' site. Adams would not disclose the length of the deal or the amount paid by Ignite for the rights.

     Launches:

    AllProTraining.com has signed more than 40 team trainers from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and other leagues to provide personalized training programs to site subscribers. The trainers received equity stakes in the company and will receive 30 percent of the subscription fees, which are $99.95 a year or $9.95 a month.

    Subscribers get the personalized training, diet and supplement program from the coach of their choice; those taking the one-year option also receive one of five specially made fitness videos and other promotional items.

    Upper Deck's UpperDeckStore.com features limited-edition Upper Deck Authenticated memorabilia, company logo apparel and collectibles.

    • The NASCAR Online Store is on track at NASCAR.com.

     Partnerships:

    Circuit City, which is sponsoring the annual Bowl Week programming on ESPN, is also sponsoring ESPN.com's complementary coverage, including the site's College Bowl Pick 'Em Game. Circuit City will promote the online ties with tagged TV spots and via Sunday newspaper circulars.

    Coach's Edge's (www.coachsedge.com) online playbook simulations, which are used by numerous sports sites, appear in the Oliver Stone movie "Any Given Sunday."

    • Former WNBA player and Lifetime and ESPN analyst Fran Harris is writing "Just Hoops by Fran Harris" weekly for SportsForWomen.com.

    SportingAuction.com has partnered with TradeOut.com to provide its customers with the opportunity to buy and sell excess sporting goods inventory using TradeOut.com's online business-to-business marketplace.

    The Gillette Co. has teamed with Student Advantage's FANSonly Network (www.fansonly.com) for the Gillette Mach3 Million Dollar Bowl Challenge. The contestant who correctly predicts the winners of all 23 college bowl games and the exact score of the Nokia Sugar Bowl wins $1 million.

    LifeMinders.com has announced that CNNSI.com will provide content for weekly personalized sports e-mail updates that will be distributed to an initial membership base of more than 500,000 members. CNNSI.com also will advertise in designated areas of the e-mail messages. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    Noah Liberman (noahl@dsl.telocity. com) is a free-lance writer in Chicago.

    Print | Tags: Chicago White Sox, ESPN, Fox, Gillette, Lifetime Television, NASCAR, NBA, News Corp, NFL, Nokia, Washington Capitals, WNBA
  • Rivals.com closes in on content-swapping deal with Fox Sports sites

    Rivals.com and News Corp.'s News Digital Media, which is a one-sixth owner of Rivals.com, have ironed out most of the details of a significant content-sharing agreement. FoxSports.com will receive content from Rivals.com's large network of team sites, and Rivals.com will receive digital content, beginning with audio and video clips of highlights and expanding to full games from Fox in 2000. FoxSports.com and its 19 regional sites will link to Rivals.com and appropriate team sites, which are being dubbed "team channels" as they beef up their content. For four months in a row, since its launch, Rivals.com has been the "stickiest" sports site, the site where surfers stayed the longest, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

    MotoWorld Networks Inc., publisher of MotoWorld.net, has signed a one-year deal to provide motorcycle sports coverage to ESPN.com. MotoWorld will provide the majority of the site's coverage in exchange for branding, and will sell advertising on the site's motorcycle pages on a commission basis. Lou Seals, chairman of MotoWorld Networks and sister company Seals Communications Corp., would not disclose the exact terms of the deal but said that it includes rights to share in e-commerce generated through the motorcycle pages. Seals' companies have been providing motorcycle-based television to ESPN and ESPN2 since 1990. The Web deal calls for live event coverage, including an audio race call. MotoWorld Networks is in a three-month push to raise $35 million in private funding.

    Ignite Sports Media has signed a multiyear deal for Web rights to the Chicago White Sox' site, Chisox.com. The site will relaunch during SoxFest 2000, Feb. 4-6. Ignite's formula for team sites is to add leaguewide sports news and scores to the team's offerings, creating a miniportal. Ignite President Hank Adams said Ignite and the Sox would also work to put the team's significant multimedia historical archives online for fans. This is the second deal Ignite has made with a pro team; it also produces the Washington Capitals' site. Adams would not disclose the length of the deal or the amount paid by Ignite for the rights.

     Launches:

    AllProTraining.com has signed more than 40 team trainers from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and other leagues to provide personalized training programs to site subscribers. The trainers received equity stakes in the company and will receive 30 percent of the subscription fees, which are $99.95 a year or $9.95 a month.

    Subscribers get the personalized training, diet and supplement program from the coach of their choice; those taking the one-year option also receive one of five specially made fitness videos and other promotional items.

    Upper Deck's UpperDeckStore.com features limited-edition Upper Deck Authenticated memorabilia, company logo apparel and collectibles.

    • The NASCAR Online Store is on track at NASCAR.com.

     Partnerships:

    Circuit City, which is sponsoring the annual Bowl Week programming on ESPN, is also sponsoring ESPN.com's complementary coverage, including the site's College Bowl Pick 'Em Game. Circuit City will promote the online ties with tagged TV spots and via Sunday newspaper circulars.

    Coach's Edge's (www.coachsedge.com) online playbook simulations, which are used by numerous sports sites, appear in the Oliver Stone movie "Any Given Sunday."

    • Former WNBA player and Lifetime and ESPN analyst Fran Harris is writing "Just Hoops by Fran Harris" weekly for SportsForWomen.com.

    SportingAuction.com has partnered with TradeOut.com to provide its customers with the opportunity to buy and sell excess sporting goods inventory using TradeOut.com's online business-to-business marketplace.

    The Gillette Co. has teamed with Student Advantage's FANSonly Network (www.fansonly.com) for the Gillette Mach3 Million Dollar Bowl Challenge. The contestant who correctly predicts the winners of all 23 college bowl games and the exact score of the Nokia Sugar Bowl wins $1 million.

    LifeMinders.com has announced that CNNSI.com will provide content for weekly personalized sports e-mail updates that will be distributed to an initial membership base of more than 500,000 members. CNNSI.com also will advertise in designated areas of the e-mail messages. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    Noah Liberman (noahl@dsl.telocity. com) is a free-lance writer in Chicago.

    Print | Tags: Chicago White Sox, ESPN, Fox, Gillette, Lifetime Television, NASCAR, NBA, News Corp, NFL, Nokia, Washington Capitals, WNBA
  • Rodeo group’s hopes ride on 2 tours

    The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has created two pro tours that will be part of beefed-up television exposure designed to improve its appeal with fans and sponsors, said tour officials.

    The PRCA will launch its new winter tour in January. The circuit's eight events and finals in Las Vegas will be packaged in 90-minute shows and televised Sunday nights in prime time by The Nashville Network under a new contract.

    Details for a summer tour are sketchier, said rodeo operations director T.J. Walter. He said as many as 15 events leading up to the annual National Finals Rodeo will be televised on ESPN2 Sunday nights between May and December.

    "This has been specifically developed to make rodeo easier to follow," said Walter, who supervises the more than 700 events that lead up to the National Finals Rodeo in December. At the same time, developing more fans should also increase ratings, "and companies are interested in rodeo [until] they look at the ratings," Walter said.

    The changes apparently have impressed longtime sponsor Coors Brewing Co. The beer company's contract with PRCA expired with the end of the 1999 season, but negotiations for a new deal are already under way.

    Walter said PRCA Commissioner Steve Hatchell told him the agreement was "already worked out in concept," but he was not aware of the terms of the deal. Hatchell was unavailable because of the negotiations.

    Rodeo, especially popular in the West and Southwest, has been attempting to broaden its appeal for years, in part by staging events in potential markets nationwide. Those efforts are expected to continue.

    Sports marketers say rodeo appeals to roughly the same demographics as NASCAR but has yet to capture the public imagination like the stock car racing circuit, which recently landed a $400 million-a-year television deal with three networks.

    TNN had televised NASCAR for years. It has also carried another rodeo circuit, the Professional Bull Riders, which executives call one of its top ratings draws. In fact, the PBR — with fewer than 30 events leading to an annual championship — serves as a sort of model for the shorter, fan-friendly tours PRCA is planning.

    Walter said PRCA hopes "television makes rodeo more appealing to everyone. Right now it's too complicated to follow. This will help [fans] understand rodeo better."

    Print | Tags: Dallas Cowboys, NASCAR
  • Rodeo group’s hopes ride on 2 tours

    The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has created two pro tours that will be part of beefed-up television exposure designed to improve its appeal with fans and sponsors, said tour officials.

    The PRCA will launch its new winter tour in January. The circuit's eight events and finals in Las Vegas will be packaged in 90-minute shows and televised Sunday nights in prime time by The Nashville Network under a new contract.

    Details for a summer tour are sketchier, said rodeo operations director T.J. Walter. He said as many as 15 events leading up to the annual National Finals Rodeo will be televised on ESPN2 Sunday nights between May and December.

    "This has been specifically developed to make rodeo easier to follow," said Walter, who supervises the more than 700 events that lead up to the National Finals Rodeo in December. At the same time, developing more fans should also increase ratings, "and companies are interested in rodeo [until] they look at the ratings," Walter said.

    The changes apparently have impressed longtime sponsor Coors Brewing Co. The beer company's contract with PRCA expired with the end of the 1999 season, but negotiations for a new deal are already under way.

    Walter said PRCA Commissioner Steve Hatchell told him the agreement was "already worked out in concept," but he was not aware of the terms of the deal. Hatchell was unavailable because of the negotiations.

    Rodeo, especially popular in the West and Southwest, has been attempting to broaden its appeal for years, in part by staging events in potential markets nationwide. Those efforts are expected to continue.

    Sports marketers say rodeo appeals to roughly the same demographics as NASCAR but has yet to capture the public imagination like the stock car racing circuit, which recently landed a $400 million-a-year television deal with three networks.

    TNN had televised NASCAR for years. It has also carried another rodeo circuit, the Professional Bull Riders, which executives call one of its top ratings draws. In fact, the PBR — with fewer than 30 events leading to an annual championship — serves as a sort of model for the shorter, fan-friendly tours PRCA is planning.

    Walter said PRCA hopes "television makes rodeo more appealing to everyone. Right now it's too complicated to follow. This will help [fans] understand rodeo better."

    Print | Tags: Dallas Cowboys, NASCAR
  • Satellite TV rides sports wave

    Sports has been very, very good to satellite TV operators this year.

    The two main direct-broadcast satellite providers, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., which operated The Dish Network, will rake in more than $311 million in gross revenue this year from nearly 2.5 million season subscriptions to sports-league packages, according to the Carmel Group, a satellite TV financial advisory firm. Making the first real estimates about the popularity of sports packages, the Carmel Group predicts that these rapidly proliferating pro and college offerings will boost the two companies' combined net revenue by $62 million in 1999.

    More important, the premium sports packages are helping the DBS players to sell more satellite dishes and differentiate themselves from rival cable TV operators, who usually can't offer as many games because they have fewer channels to carry them. In its recent report, for instance, the Carmel Group notes that DirecTV makes heavy use of its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package to promote its overall service to consumers.

    "The main benefit of sports packages is their powerful marketing value," the consulting group says in its report. "Sports packages, especially the NFL Sunday Ticket, are hooks to get consumers to buy [satellite TV] reception hardware and to order premium programming packages."

    There are about 11 million U.S. DBS subscribers vs. 65 million cable customers.

    NFL Sunday Ticket, by far the most popular premium sports package, has nearly 750,000 subscribers on DirecTV, the only service that offers it, and will produce more than a third of the revenue this year. The Carmel Group projects that the NFL season package, which offers customers all out-of-market games for about $150 a year, will generate more than $112 million in gross revenue and $22.4 million in net revenue by year's end.

    Despite last year's crippling player lockout, which cut the pro basketball season nearly in half, the $160 NBA League Pass package runs a solid second to NFL Sunday Ticket, besting both baseball's MLB Extra Innings package and hockey's NHL Center Ice offering. NBA League Pass will end 1999 with almost 420,000 subscribers, generating more than $67.1 million in gross revenue and $13.4 million in net revenue, the Carmel Group says.

    The lower-priced baseball and hockey season packages rank third and fourth with 335,600 and 251,700 subscribers, respectively. Then come ESPN's college football and college basketball groupings of games, followed by the packages for Major League Soccer and the WNBA.

    Most of the subscription revenue is flowing into DirecTV, the satellite TV leader with 7.8 million customers. Carrying all eight premium packages, DirecTV will sell slightly more than 2 million sports subscriptions this year and gross close to $300 million, the consulting group forecasts.

    The Dish Network has 131,000 subscriptions for the college football and college basketball packages. Primestar, owned by DirecTV, has the rest of the DBS sports-package subscribers, about 304,000. It carries all the packages except NFL Sunday Ticket.

    Down the road, the Carmel Group projects that DirecTV and EchoStar together will sell up to 5.23 million packages a year by 2003, generating $663 million in gross revenue and $132 million in net revenue. Even though cable operators are finally starting to offer some of the same packages on their upgraded systems, analysts believe the two satellite companies will simply boost their sports promotion efforts to offset the competition.

    NFL Sunday Ticket is projected to remain the most popular package over the next four years. The Carmel Group predicts that the football package will produce $53.7 million in net revenue by 2003, about double the $26 million that NBA League Pass will generate.

    Alan Breznick is a writer in Washington, D.C.


    SATELLITE TV SPORTS PACKAGE PROJECTIONS
    Sports package
    1999 subscriptions
    1999 net revenue
    2003 projected net revenue
    NFL Sunday Ticket
    746,000
    $22.41 million
    $53.66 million
    NBA League Pass
    419,000
    $13.42 million
    $26.02 million
    MLB Extra Innings
    335,600
    $8.73 million
    $16.91 million
    NHL Center Ice
    251,700
    $6.54 million
    $12.68 million
    ESPN Full Court
    233,600
    $4.44 million
    $9.53 million
    ESPN GamePlan
    233,600
    $3.97 million
    $8.53 million
    MLS/ESPN Shootout
    167,800
    $2.18 million
    $4.23 million
    WNBA Season Pass
    83,900
    $590,000
    $1.14 million
    Source: Carmel Group

    Print | Tags: ESPN, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA
  • Satellite TV rides sports wave

    Sports has been very, very good to satellite TV operators this year.

    The two main direct-broadcast satellite providers, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., which operated The Dish Network, will rake in more than $311 million in gross revenue this year from nearly 2.5 million season subscriptions to sports-league packages, according to the Carmel Group, a satellite TV financial advisory firm. Making the first real estimates about the popularity of sports packages, the Carmel Group predicts that these rapidly proliferating pro and college offerings will boost the two companies' combined net revenue by $62 million in 1999.

    More important, the premium sports packages are helping the DBS players to sell more satellite dishes and differentiate themselves from rival cable TV operators, who usually can't offer as many games because they have fewer channels to carry them. In its recent report, for instance, the Carmel Group notes that DirecTV makes heavy use of its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package to promote its overall service to consumers.

    "The main benefit of sports packages is their powerful marketing value," the consulting group says in its report. "Sports packages, especially the NFL Sunday Ticket, are hooks to get consumers to buy [satellite TV] reception hardware and to order premium programming packages."

    There are about 11 million U.S. DBS subscribers vs. 65 million cable customers.

    NFL Sunday Ticket, by far the most popular premium sports package, has nearly 750,000 subscribers on DirecTV, the only service that offers it, and will produce more than a third of the revenue this year. The Carmel Group projects that the NFL season package, which offers customers all out-of-market games for about $150 a year, will generate more than $112 million in gross revenue and $22.4 million in net revenue by year's end.

    Despite last year's crippling player lockout, which cut the pro basketball season nearly in half, the $160 NBA League Pass package runs a solid second to NFL Sunday Ticket, besting both baseball's MLB Extra Innings package and hockey's NHL Center Ice offering. NBA League Pass will end 1999 with almost 420,000 subscribers, generating more than $67.1 million in gross revenue and $13.4 million in net revenue, the Carmel Group says.

    The lower-priced baseball and hockey season packages rank third and fourth with 335,600 and 251,700 subscribers, respectively. Then come ESPN's college football and college basketball groupings of games, followed by the packages for Major League Soccer and the WNBA.

    Most of the subscription revenue is flowing into DirecTV, the satellite TV leader with 7.8 million customers. Carrying all eight premium packages, DirecTV will sell slightly more than 2 million sports subscriptions this year and gross close to $300 million, the consulting group forecasts.

    The Dish Network has 131,000 subscriptions for the college football and college basketball packages. Primestar, owned by DirecTV, has the rest of the DBS sports-package subscribers, about 304,000. It carries all the packages except NFL Sunday Ticket.

    Down the road, the Carmel Group projects that DirecTV and EchoStar together will sell up to 5.23 million packages a year by 2003, generating $663 million in gross revenue and $132 million in net revenue. Even though cable operators are finally starting to offer some of the same packages on their upgraded systems, analysts believe the two satellite companies will simply boost their sports promotion efforts to offset the competition.

    NFL Sunday Ticket is projected to remain the most popular package over the next four years. The Carmel Group predicts that the football package will produce $53.7 million in net revenue by 2003, about double the $26 million that NBA League Pass will generate.

    Alan Breznick is a writer in Washington, D.C.


    SATELLITE TV SPORTS PACKAGE PROJECTIONS
    Sports package
    1999 subscriptions
    1999 net revenue
    2003 projected net revenue
    NFL Sunday Ticket
    746,000
    $22.41 million
    $53.66 million
    NBA League Pass
    419,000
    $13.42 million
    $26.02 million
    MLB Extra Innings
    335,600
    $8.73 million
    $16.91 million
    NHL Center Ice
    251,700
    $6.54 million
    $12.68 million
    ESPN Full Court
    233,600
    $4.44 million
    $9.53 million
    ESPN GamePlan
    233,600
    $3.97 million
    $8.53 million
    MLS/ESPN Shootout
    167,800
    $2.18 million
    $4.23 million
    WNBA Season Pass
    83,900
    $590,000
    $1.14 million
    Source: Carmel Group

    Print | Tags: ESPN, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA
  • Scaled-down football league on for spring

    The International Football Federation is forging ahead with plans to hold its inaugural season this spring with four teams each playing a six-game schedule.

    The league was founded in June by Dennis Murphy and television executive Ed Litwak, who had grandiose plans: a 12-team springtime league playing a 16-game schedule in many of America's major markets. Kickoff was supposed to begin in February.

    In the six months following the league's announcement, plans have been dramatically scaled back. Now the league plans to hold a limited, showcase season next year with teams in New York, Mobile, Ala., Los Angeles and Detroit. Litwak, chief executive of the startup Cavalcade of Sports Network, is no longer part of the league. Jerry Saperstein, owner of the New York franchise, is the league's president. Saperstein did not return calls for comment.

    Murphy said the season will start May 15 with each team playing three home games and three away games. No leases have been signed with venues in the markets.

    "This hasn't been easy, and certainly the odds are against us, but I am confident that this inaugural season is doable with four teams," Murphy said. "We're realistic. If our crowds average between 15,000 and 20,000, we'll be doing good."

    Murphy knows a thing or two about starting professional sports leagues. He was one of the founders of the American Basketball Association, the World Hockey Association and World TeamTennis. And he needs no reminder of other failed springtime football leagues such as the USFL and the World Football League. Even the deep pockets of NBC and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. have not been deep enough to create a springtime pro football league.

    Murphy admits that without some sort of television deal in place, the league stands virtually no chance of succeeding. While he refused to discuss any media deal, he said there are plans afoot to broadcast games. The league also plans to broadcast its games on the Internet.

    Print | Tags: NBC
  • Scaled-down football league on for spring

    The International Football Federation is forging ahead with plans to hold its inaugural season this spring with four teams each playing a six-game schedule.

    The league was founded in June by Dennis Murphy and television executive Ed Litwak, who had grandiose plans: a 12-team springtime league playing a 16-game schedule in many of America's major markets. Kickoff was supposed to begin in February.

    In the six months following the league's announcement, plans have been dramatically scaled back. Now the league plans to hold a limited, showcase season next year with teams in New York, Mobile, Ala., Los Angeles and Detroit. Litwak, chief executive of the startup Cavalcade of Sports Network, is no longer part of the league. Jerry Saperstein, owner of the New York franchise, is the league's president. Saperstein did not return calls for comment.

    Murphy said the season will start May 15 with each team playing three home games and three away games. No leases have been signed with venues in the markets.

    "This hasn't been easy, and certainly the odds are against us, but I am confident that this inaugural season is doable with four teams," Murphy said. "We're realistic. If our crowds average between 15,000 and 20,000, we'll be doing good."

    Murphy knows a thing or two about starting professional sports leagues. He was one of the founders of the American Basketball Association, the World Hockey Association and World TeamTennis. And he needs no reminder of other failed springtime football leagues such as the USFL and the World Football League. Even the deep pockets of NBC and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. have not been deep enough to create a springtime pro football league.

    Murphy admits that without some sort of television deal in place, the league stands virtually no chance of succeeding. While he refused to discuss any media deal, he said there are plans afoot to broadcast games. The league also plans to broadcast its games on the Internet.

    Print | Tags: NBC
  • Small-business alliance sought

    Vanderbilt University is hoping to drum up support among Nashville small businesses with a cross-promotional ticket package for its men's and women's basketball teams.

    Through a program called the Vanderbilt Business Alliance, the athletic department is offering would-be business partners a package that includes tickets to men's and women's games, advertising in game-day programs and inside Memorial Gymnasium, and recognition during game broadcasts on the school's radio network.

    While valuing the package at around $1,750 — most of it derived from the cost of a radio spot — Vanderbilt is offering the package to businesses for $425.

    "We're trying to do something for small companies who probably can't afford to do a larger sponsorship," said Hunter Yurachek, assistant athletic director at Vanderbilt.

    Yurachek said the concept behind the program is to reel in businesses that may be under the radar screen of the school's primary competitors for local sports fans' dollars — the NHL's Nashville Predators and the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

    "When you look at the sports teams, everybody is going after the big hitters," Yurachek said.

    The offer also is an extension of a pilot program Vanderbilt began earlier this year during the school's football season. Yurachek said about 35 businesses signed up for that program. Now the school hopes to attract as many as 50 for basketball season.

    Details on initial response to the basketball offer were not available.

    One company Vanderbilt has been able to attract is Micro International. Bob Allen, president of the Nashville-based semiconductor company, said he is using the tickets from the program both as an employee benefit and for charitable distribution.

    "I've been a longtime season-ticket holder and supporter of Vanderbilt, and this is the first time since 1958 that I've seen Vanderbilt reach out to small businesses," Allen said.

    Keith Russell writes for the Nashville Business Journal.

    Print | Tags: Nashville Predators, NFL, NHL, Tennessee Titans
  • Small-business alliance sought

    Vanderbilt University is hoping to drum up support among Nashville small businesses with a cross-promotional ticket package for its men's and women's basketball teams.

    Through a program called the Vanderbilt Business Alliance, the athletic department is offering would-be business partners a package that includes tickets to men's and women's games, advertising in game-day programs and inside Memorial Gymnasium, and recognition during game broadcasts on the school's radio network.

    While valuing the package at around $1,750 — most of it derived from the cost of a radio spot — Vanderbilt is offering the package to businesses for $425.

    "We're trying to do something for small companies who probably can't afford to do a larger sponsorship," said Hunter Yurachek, assistant athletic director at Vanderbilt.

    Yurachek said the concept behind the program is to reel in businesses that may be under the radar screen of the school's primary competitors for local sports fans' dollars — the NHL's Nashville Predators and the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

    "When you look at the sports teams, everybody is going after the big hitters," Yurachek said.

    The offer also is an extension of a pilot program Vanderbilt began earlier this year during the school's football season. Yurachek said about 35 businesses signed up for that program. Now the school hopes to attract as many as 50 for basketball season.

    Details on initial response to the basketball offer were not available.

    One company Vanderbilt has been able to attract is Micro International. Bob Allen, president of the Nashville-based semiconductor company, said he is using the tickets from the program both as an employee benefit and for charitable distribution.

    "I've been a longtime season-ticket holder and supporter of Vanderbilt, and this is the first time since 1958 that I've seen Vanderbilt reach out to small businesses," Allen said.

    Keith Russell writes for the Nashville Business Journal.

    Print | Tags: Nashville Predators, NFL, NHL, Tennessee Titans
  • SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL/ESPN CHILTON SPORTS POLL

    SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL/ESPN CHILTON SPORTS POLL
    Fan Bases Top 12 Sports
    November
    October
    November of Last Year
    12-Month High
    12-Month Low
    12-Month Average
    All-Time High
    All-Time Low
    Three-Month Average
    National Football League
    67
    69.5
    68.7
    69.5
    64.3
    66.6
    77.7
    55.1
    68.3
    Major League Baseball
    59.8
    63.5
    62.2
    64
    57.1
    61.1
    67
    33
    61.8
    College football
    56.6
    59.4
    57.2
    59.4
    51.4
    54.5
    69.3
    51.4
    57.8
    Figure skating
    54
    47.5
    51.2
    54*
    47
    50.6
    64.4
    47
    50.2
    National Basketball Association
    53.1
    50.6
    45.9
    53.5
    38.5
    49.7
    64.7
    38.5
    51.5
    College basketball
    45.9
    46
    46.3
    52.3
    45.5
    47.6
    59.3
    45.5
    46
    Boxing
    39.2
    37
    37.7
    40.6
    34.7
    38
    43.7
    33.9
    38.9
    Auto racing
    36.2
    38.3
    39.3
    40.8
    35.2
    38.3
    50.1
    35.2
    38.4
    Professional tennis
    35.7
    37.2
    31.4
    41.4
    28.9
    34.1
    45
    28.9
    38.1
    Professional golf
    35
    37
    34
    39
    31.1
    34.4
    42.3
    29.3
    37
    National Hockey League
    35
    36.5
    35
    38.3
    33
    35.4
    47.1
    25.8
    35
    Professional soccer
    26.7
    30.5
    24.7
    37.1
    22.5
    27.7
    38.5
    22.5
    29.4
    *Denotes tie of previous record.
    Note: Asked of all 2,000 respondents monthly in a nationwide telephone poll.

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • SportsLine winning the revenue race with ESPN.com, analyst’s report says

    SportsLine.com Inc. and ESPN.com run neck and neck each month in Web site traffic, but SportsLine is the clear winner in generating revenue.

    SportsLine's revenue should reach $113 million in 2000 and $166 million by 2001, Gordon Hodge, an analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners, predicted in a report last week in which he started stock coverage of the company with a buy recommendation.

    By comparison, ESPN.com, a unit of Walt Disney Co., will have less than half of the $58.5 million in revenue that SportsLine will enjoy this year, Hodge said. In fact, ESPN Internet Ventures, which includes ESPN.com and management of some of the most popular sports Web sites, such as NFL.com, had revenue of just $21.4 million in the first nine months of 1999, according to the Disney merger proxy that details its acquisition of Infoseek Corp.

    "SportsLine people have a very strong sales culture, and the association with [partner] CBS doesn't hurt as well," Hodge said. "ESPN is not as productive."

    SportsLine also may finally be ready to turn the corner on profitability. While losses continue to mount, as the importance of content over distribution on the Internet increases, content providers like SportsLine will benefit, Hodge said.

    Historically in media, content providers have paid a stiff original price to distributors before content became more important. To start, Sports-Line has paid CBS and America Online Inc. to distribute and advertise the SportsLine site.

    "However, once the mass audience is hooked on the content, the content-distribution struggle shifts dramatically in favor of the content company," Hodge said. "SportsLine is nearing this critical inflection point."

    But while that may be happening, profits will still be hard to come by for several years. Net losses are expected to be $57.3 million this year, $64.4 million next year and $62.2 million in 2001, according to Hodge's report.

    Shares of SportsLine closed last Tuesday at $52.25, but Hodge expects the share price to reach $70 within 12 months.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NFL
  • SportsLine winning the revenue race with ESPN.com, analyst’s report says

    SportsLine.com Inc. and ESPN.com run neck and neck each month in Web site traffic, but SportsLine is the clear winner in generating revenue.

    SportsLine's revenue should reach $113 million in 2000 and $166 million by 2001, Gordon Hodge, an analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners, predicted in a report last week in which he started stock coverage of the company with a buy recommendation.

    By comparison, ESPN.com, a unit of Walt Disney Co., will have less than half of the $58.5 million in revenue that SportsLine will enjoy this year, Hodge said. In fact, ESPN Internet Ventures, which includes ESPN.com and management of some of the most popular sports Web sites, such as NFL.com, had revenue of just $21.4 million in the first nine months of 1999, according to the Disney merger proxy that details its acquisition of Infoseek Corp.

    "SportsLine people have a very strong sales culture, and the association with [partner] CBS doesn't hurt as well," Hodge said. "ESPN is not as productive."

    SportsLine also may finally be ready to turn the corner on profitability. While losses continue to mount, as the importance of content over distribution on the Internet increases, content providers like SportsLine will benefit, Hodge said.

    Historically in media, content providers have paid a stiff original price to distributors before content became more important. To start, Sports-Line has paid CBS and America Online Inc. to distribute and advertise the SportsLine site.

    "However, once the mass audience is hooked on the content, the content-distribution struggle shifts dramatically in favor of the content company," Hodge said. "SportsLine is nearing this critical inflection point."

    But while that may be happening, profits will still be hard to come by for several years. Net losses are expected to be $57.3 million this year, $64.4 million next year and $62.2 million in 2001, according to Hodge's report.

    Shares of SportsLine closed last Tuesday at $52.25, but Hodge expects the share price to reach $70 within 12 months.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NFL
  • THE INDEX

    A look at whose stock is up and whose is down.

    HBO Cable net bolsters its reputation for covering serious sports issues with hiring of Bob Costas to become the Ted Koppel of the stick-and-ball set.

    Rupert Murdoch Shares top spot on Sporting News' Power 100 with Fox execs Chase Carey and David Hill. Perhaps he'd be interested in adding the venerable St. Louis mag to his collection?

    Michael Jordan Fell from fourth to 92nd on the same list.

    Charlotte Panther Rae Carruth's murder case and Hornets owner George Shinn's sex-assault trial in civil court make it a dark time for pro sports in the Queen City.

    Nike Loss of VP Andrew Mooney hurts; on the other hand, when Disney wants your top guns, you're doing something right.

    Print | Tags: Fox, New Orleans Pelicans
  • THE INDEX

    A look at whose stock is up and whose is down.

    HBO Cable net bolsters its reputation for covering serious sports issues with hiring of Bob Costas to become the Ted Koppel of the stick-and-ball set.

    Rupert Murdoch Shares top spot on Sporting News' Power 100 with Fox execs Chase Carey and David Hill. Perhaps he'd be interested in adding the venerable St. Louis mag to his collection?

    Michael Jordan Fell from fourth to 92nd on the same list.

    Charlotte Panther Rae Carruth's murder case and Hornets owner George Shinn's sex-assault trial in civil court make it a dark time for pro sports in the Queen City.

    Nike Loss of VP Andrew Mooney hurts; on the other hand, when Disney wants your top guns, you're doing something right.

    Print | Tags: Fox, New Orleans Pelicans
  • THE NUMBERS GAME

    0 Miles the Los Angeles Clippers traveled for their road game Tuesday, when they played their first game as a visiting team in Staples Center against their NBA co-tenant, the Lakers. They lost by 27.

    10 30-second spots that Anheuser-Busch Cos. plans to run during Super Bowl XXXIV, which will set the brewer back about $20 million.

    200,000 Additional viewers that Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl reached in Salt Lake City after AT&T Digital Cable worked a deal to move the game, featuring the hometown University of Utah, from premium service ESPN2 to the Animal Planet network on basic cable.

    $137 million Value of deal in which Salton will continue to use boxer George Foreman's name and likeness on its cooking products. Salton had been paying Foreman and his partners 60 percent of the profits from his signature line of grills.

    Print | Tags: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Staples
  • THE NUMBERS GAME

    0 Miles the Los Angeles Clippers traveled for their road game Tuesday, when they played their first game as a visiting team in Staples Center against their NBA co-tenant, the Lakers. They lost by 27.

    10 30-second spots that Anheuser-Busch Cos. plans to run during Super Bowl XXXIV, which will set the brewer back about $20 million.

    200,000 Additional viewers that Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl reached in Salt Lake City after AT&T Digital Cable worked a deal to move the game, featuring the hometown University of Utah, from premium service ESPN2 to the Animal Planet network on basic cable.

    $137 million Value of deal in which Salton will continue to use boxer George Foreman's name and likeness on its cooking products. Salton had been paying Foreman and his partners 60 percent of the profits from his signature line of grills.

    Print | Tags: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Staples
  • USA completes vid grand slam

    USA Home Entertainment has completed a clean sweep of video-licensing deals with the four major pro leagues by signing as the exclusive distributor of National Hockey League home videos.

    A division of USA Films, part of Barry Diller's USA media holdings, USA Home Entertainment replaces CBS/Fox, which has been moving out of the professional sports video business.

    NHL officials said the league will benefit from USA's year-round commitment to sports videos.

    "They have permanent retail space devoted to sports," said Doug Perlman, the NHL's vice president of business affairs.

    USA's first NHL title, "NHL 2000: A Millennium of Memories," will be released Feb. 1. A Stanley Cup video and one other title will follow before the end of next year. In subsequent years, USA plans to release four to five videos a year.

    Print | Tags: Fox, NHL
  • USA completes vid grand slam

    USA Home Entertainment has completed a clean sweep of video-licensing deals with the four major pro leagues by signing as the exclusive distributor of National Hockey League home videos.

    A division of USA Films, part of Barry Diller's USA media holdings, USA Home Entertainment replaces CBS/Fox, which has been moving out of the professional sports video business.

    NHL officials said the league will benefit from USA's year-round commitment to sports videos.

    "They have permanent retail space devoted to sports," said Doug Perlman, the NHL's vice president of business affairs.

    USA's first NHL title, "NHL 2000: A Millennium of Memories," will be released Feb. 1. A Stanley Cup video and one other title will follow before the end of next year. In subsequent years, USA plans to release four to five videos a year.

    Print | Tags: Fox, NHL
  • USE OF U.K. SPORTS INTERNET SITES

    USE OF U.K. SPORTS INTERNET SITES
    Sports Web useres were asked: Have you visited the following web sites during the last two weeks?
    Site
    % Visting
    Soccer club’s own Web site
    17%
    SkySports
    8%
    Yahoo! Sports
    7%
    Carling Net
    4%
    Football 365
    4%
    Formula1.com
    4%
    ITV-F1
    4%
    Soccernet
    4%
    Football Unlimited
    3%
    Sporting Life
    3%
    TeamTalk
    3%
    Football FC
    2%
    Scrum.com
    2%
    Cricinfo
    1%
    Express Sport
    1%
    Sportsline
    1%
    Base: All U.K. Web useres (6,289 sample) for fourth quarter 1999.
    Source: Fletcher Research

    Print | Tags: Formula One
  • Video monitors cater to fans

    New York's Madison Square Garden has installed ChoiceSeat video monitors in luxury suites and on the backs of some club seats, becoming the first U.S. arena to offer that technology.

    The touch-screen monitors allow a user to view the live action or replays from any camera angle, to call up player statistics and league standings, and even to order a hot dog and pay for it by credit card. Of course, the units also deliver advertising, reaching a prime upper-income-level audience.

    ChoiceSeat, the creation of the New York firm CSI Inc., has already been used at two Super Bowls and at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on a limited basis. The Madison Square Garden installation is the most ambitious to date: The system is wired into all 88 luxury suites and two sections of club seats, where the video screens rising off the backs of every seat bring the deck of the Starship Enterprise to mind.

    By next season, CSI says, all 3,000 seats in the Garden's lowest seating tier will feature the screens.

    CSI is marketing the system to all sports venues for $700 to $1,100 a unit for a season. The company also takes a cut of advertising revenue and sells national advertising packages to sponsors.

    If all the advertising inventory is snatched up, the system will pay for itself, said Barry Goldberg, executive vice president at CSI.

    A quick review of the wired club-seat sections at Madison Square Garden earlier this month found that as a New York Rangers game wore on, few attendees with access to the screens were actually using them. Company officials concede that there is a "learning curve" to using the system, and note that children often take to it faster than adults. But Goldberg predicts than in the near future, every U.S. arena will have a touch video-screen system in its luxury seating area.

    "Everyone knows this is inevitable," he said. "The challenge has been, how do you take the concept and make it work?"

    That challenge, he said, relates to content more than technology. The programming and hardware for these systems are relatively simple. The hard part is creating an easy-to-use format that truly enhances people's viewing experiences.

    "Like most ideas that are on the cutting edge, it's one that needs some tweaking," said Mike Dee, senior vice president for corporate marketing of the San Diego Padres, who tested the system for two years. Although the team did not use it last season, Dee said the Padres may bring it back when they move into a new stadium, scheduled for 2002.

    "We're going to be talking with them [CSI] soon, as well as with some other people," said Dee. "Clearly we want to utilize technology along those lines in the new ballpark."

    When interactive television becomes the norm in people's homes — a phenomenon that most think will take place during the next 10 years — CSI plans to roll out a similar system for home use. The company is also targeting racetracks, where the video monitors could be used to place bets directly from seats.

    Other companies have dabbled in this sort of technology, but CSI says it has an advantage because its majority owner, Williams Communications Group Inc., also owns the Vyvex fiber-optic network used in 85 percent of U.S. stadiums and arenas.

    Print | Tags: MSG Network, New York Rangers, Qualcomm, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers
  • Video monitors cater to fans

    New York's Madison Square Garden has installed ChoiceSeat video monitors in luxury suites and on the backs of some club seats, becoming the first U.S. arena to offer that technology.

    The touch-screen monitors allow a user to view the live action or replays from any camera angle, to call up player statistics and league standings, and even to order a hot dog and pay for it by credit card. Of course, the units also deliver advertising, reaching a prime upper-income-level audience.

    ChoiceSeat, the creation of the New York firm CSI Inc., has already been used at two Super Bowls and at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on a limited basis. The Madison Square Garden installation is the most ambitious to date: The system is wired into all 88 luxury suites and two sections of club seats, where the video screens rising off the backs of every seat bring the deck of the Starship Enterprise to mind.

    By next season, CSI says, all 3,000 seats in the Garden's lowest seating tier will feature the screens.

    CSI is marketing the system to all sports venues for $700 to $1,100 a unit for a season. The company also takes a cut of advertising revenue and sells national advertising packages to sponsors.

    If all the advertising inventory is snatched up, the system will pay for itself, said Barry Goldberg, executive vice president at CSI.

    A quick review of the wired club-seat sections at Madison Square Garden earlier this month found that as a New York Rangers game wore on, few attendees with access to the screens were actually using them. Company officials concede that there is a "learning curve" to using the system, and note that children often take to it faster than adults. But Goldberg predicts than in the near future, every U.S. arena will have a touch video-screen system in its luxury seating area.

    "Everyone knows this is inevitable," he said. "The challenge has been, how do you take the concept and make it work?"

    That challenge, he said, relates to content more than technology. The programming and hardware for these systems are relatively simple. The hard part is creating an easy-to-use format that truly enhances people's viewing experiences.

    "Like most ideas that are on the cutting edge, it's one that needs some tweaking," said Mike Dee, senior vice president for corporate marketing of the San Diego Padres, who tested the system for two years. Although the team did not use it last season, Dee said the Padres may bring it back when they move into a new stadium, scheduled for 2002.

    "We're going to be talking with them [CSI] soon, as well as with some other people," said Dee. "Clearly we want to utilize technology along those lines in the new ballpark."

    When interactive television becomes the norm in people's homes — a phenomenon that most think will take place during the next 10 years — CSI plans to roll out a similar system for home use. The company is also targeting racetracks, where the video monitors could be used to place bets directly from seats.

    Other companies have dabbled in this sort of technology, but CSI says it has an advantage because its majority owner, Williams Communications Group Inc., also owns the Vyvex fiber-optic network used in 85 percent of U.S. stadiums and arenas.

    Print | Tags: MSG Network, New York Rangers, Qualcomm, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers
  • Web sites’ needs, sports’ strengths create a beautiful friendship

    If there's any sports marketing trend that will be identified with 1999, it's the emergence of Internet companies as sports sponsors.

    In 1997, Insight Direct was mocked for its title sponsorship of the Insight.com Bowl, one of the first major sponsorships for a dot.com company. The novelty of such deals, however, has been erased as Internet companies have quickly emerged as mainstream sports sponsors. In 1999 Internet companies signed sponsorship deals for a golf tour (Buy.com Tour), basketball teams (Team Lycos and Team Acunet.net of the Collegiate Professional Basketball League) and another bowl game (Rival.com Hula Bowl), to cite just a few examples.

    The relationship between sports properties and Internet companies will continue to flourish in 2000. For many reasons, there's an ideal match between the marketing needs of Internet companies and the advertising and promotional capabilities of sports properties.

    Beyond anything else, dot.com companies are looking to establish name recognition. These companies aren't focused on meager short-term goals such as turning a profit. Rather, they're battling to imprint their name in the minds of Internet users. That objective is clearly evident in the outrageous television commercials produced by many Internet companies.

    It's somewhat ironic that Internet companies have sought out sports deals to establish name recognition. That's in contrast to the mission of many major sports sponsors that are no longer satisfied with seeing their name on a courtside sign. These sponsors are pushing their partners to look beyond traditional sponsorship elements to develop packages that push sales.

    In truth, the primary inventory of most sports properties does a better job of establishing name recognition than it does in generating sales. Static elements such as signs and logo placements are effective in creating visibility but can't deliver a persuasive message about brand superiority or product features. Those, however, aren't objectives for Internet companies. They want their name to be seen. Period. It's no surprise, therefore, that the names of dot.com companies are appearing in high-visibility places such as race cars, outfield fences and caddie bibs.

    Internet companies also stand to benefit from the repetitious visibility of signs during a sports broadcast. As sponsors know, strategically placed signs can be in view for a good portion of a sports broadcast. This redundant exposure is exactly what dot.com companies seek in order to ingrain their name in the minds — and Web browsers — of viewers.

    Perhaps the best reason why the relationship between sports properties and dot.com companies will prosper is that Internet companies will spend even bigger dollars on advertising in 2000. One CBS Corp. executive forecasts that dot.com companies will spend more than $500 million this year just on network television.

    Since there's a race in almost every product and service category to establish a dominant presence on the Web, sports, like TV, stands to benefit.

    Internet companies have realized that sports sponsorships are a solid nontraditional marketing buy. The exposure generated by sponsorship elements such as signs is efficient in providing the name visibility that Internet companies seek, paving the way for 1999's big trend to grow even stronger in 2000.

    Alan Friedman (alanf@teammarketing.com) is executive editor of Chicago-based Team Marketing Report.

    Print
  • Web sites’ needs, sports’ strengths create a beautiful friendship

    If there's any sports marketing trend that will be identified with 1999, it's the emergence of Internet companies as sports sponsors.

    In 1997, Insight Direct was mocked for its title sponsorship of the Insight.com Bowl, one of the first major sponsorships for a dot.com company. The novelty of such deals, however, has been erased as Internet companies have quickly emerged as mainstream sports sponsors. In 1999 Internet companies signed sponsorship deals for a golf tour (Buy.com Tour), basketball teams (Team Lycos and Team Acunet.net of the Collegiate Professional Basketball League) and another bowl game (Rival.com Hula Bowl), to cite just a few examples.

    The relationship between sports properties and Internet companies will continue to flourish in 2000. For many reasons, there's an ideal match between the marketing needs of Internet companies and the advertising and promotional capabilities of sports properties.

    Beyond anything else, dot.com companies are looking to establish name recognition. These companies aren't focused on meager short-term goals such as turning a profit. Rather, they're battling to imprint their name in the minds of Internet users. That objective is clearly evident in the outrageous television commercials produced by many Internet companies.

    It's somewhat ironic that Internet companies have sought out sports deals to establish name recognition. That's in contrast to the mission of many major sports sponsors that are no longer satisfied with seeing their name on a courtside sign. These sponsors are pushing their partners to look beyond traditional sponsorship elements to develop packages that push sales.

    In truth, the primary inventory of most sports properties does a better job of establishing name recognition than it does in generating sales. Static elements such as signs and logo placements are effective in creating visibility but can't deliver a persuasive message about brand superiority or product features. Those, however, aren't objectives for Internet companies. They want their name to be seen. Period. It's no surprise, therefore, that the names of dot.com companies are appearing in high-visibility places such as race cars, outfield fences and caddie bibs.

    Internet companies also stand to benefit from the repetitious visibility of signs during a sports broadcast. As sponsors know, strategically placed signs can be in view for a good portion of a sports broadcast. This redundant exposure is exactly what dot.com companies seek in order to ingrain their name in the minds — and Web browsers — of viewers.

    Perhaps the best reason why the relationship between sports properties and dot.com companies will prosper is that Internet companies will spend even bigger dollars on advertising in 2000. One CBS Corp. executive forecasts that dot.com companies will spend more than $500 million this year just on network television.

    Since there's a race in almost every product and service category to establish a dominant presence on the Web, sports, like TV, stands to benefit.

    Internet companies have realized that sports sponsorships are a solid nontraditional marketing buy. The exposure generated by sponsorship elements such as signs is efficient in providing the name visibility that Internet companies seek, paving the way for 1999's big trend to grow even stronger in 2000.

    Alan Friedman (alanf@teammarketing.com) is executive editor of Chicago-based Team Marketing Report.

    Print
  • Web Wanderings

    Only 25 percent of British Web users go to sports sites, according to a survey by Fletcher Research. Sports is ignored by three-quarters of users even though 60 percent of them are men with an average age of 36.

    While broad-based sports Web sites like CBS SportsLine, CNNSI.com and ESPN.com rule the U.S. sports Internet scene, British Web users think small. When surfers do visit sports sites, they're more likely to visit a favorite soccer club's site than any generalist service.

    Click here to view chart.

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • Web Wanderings

    Only 25 percent of British Web users go to sports sites, according to a survey by Fletcher Research. Sports is ignored by three-quarters of users even though 60 percent of them are men with an average age of 36.

    While broad-based sports Web sites like CBS SportsLine, CNNSI.com and ESPN.com rule the U.S. sports Internet scene, British Web users think small. When surfers do visit sports sites, they're more likely to visit a favorite soccer club's site than any generalist service.

    Click here to view chart.

    Print | Tags: ESPN
  • WEB WANDERINGS

    USE OF U.K. SPORTS INTERNET SITES
    Sports Web useres were asked: Have you visited the following web sites during the last two weeks?
    Site
    % Visting
    Soccer club’s own Web site
    17%
    SkySports
    8%
    Yahoo! Sports
    7%
    Carling Net
    4%
    Football 365
    4%
    Formula1.com
    4%
    ITV-F1
    4%
    Soccernet
    4%
    Football Unlimited
    3%
    Sporting Life
    3%
    TeamTalk
    3%
    Football FC
    2%
    Scrum.com
    2%
    Cricinfo
    1%
    Express Sport
    1%
    Sportsline
    1%
    Base: All U.K. Web useres (6,289 sample) for fourth quarter 1999.
    Source: Fletcher Research

    Print | Tags: Formula One
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