SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2001/No Topic Name

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  • 5 leave Primedia for new marketer

    The former managing director of Atlanta-based Primedia Inc., the agency of record on NASCAR's image campaigns in 1999 and 2000, has left that agency to start his own shop.

    Daniel Skahen last week announced the creation of C2R Communications, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm that takes its name from an acronym for concept-to-reality. Four other former Primedia employees will join Skahen at the new firm based in Norcross, Ga.: Marty South, Pete Galbiati, Albert Bloser and Jennifer Nowicki.

    Mark Johnson, founder of Primedia, would not comment on the departures.

    C2R services will include print, collateral, television and broadcast production as well as Web design and public relations support, Skahen said.

    The NASCAR image campaign was worth about $5 million a year to Primedia when it handled the account, according to an industry source.

    — Bill King

    Print | Tags: NASCAR
  • Aggressive A’s add to sponsor list

    Coming off an American League West Division title season, the Oakland A's have scored new sponsorship deals with the likes of AT&T Wireless, Albertson's supermarkets, Bay View Capital and broadband Internet service firm Covad Communications. Meanwhile, Pepsi, brewer Gordon Biersch, Aloha Airlines and others have upped their involvement with the franchise.

    "We've been out there knocking on doors," said David Alioto, vice president of sales and marketing for the team. "We were very aggressive in the off-season."

    It's the success of the A's middle relief pitching — holding on to top backers such as Pepsi, Network Associates, Budweiser and Microsoft UltimateTV — that allows the four-person corporate sales staff to concentrate on new business, Alioto said, "instead of chasing lost renewals."

    The A's now list more than 100 sponsors that mix in-stadium signs, radio spots, team magazine ads and other promotions. At the same time, the A's held the line on the cost of sponsorships, essentially tossing a softball to smaller companies.

    "Two-, three-, four-thousand-dollar sponsorships add up very quickly," Alioto said.

    All the while, existing sponsors and A's food vendors — many of which weren't sponsors of the team until prodded this year by the A's — have stepped up. For example, Fox Sports Net Bay Area, which broadcasts 60 A's games and has several signs along the diamond, forged a deal with Volvo Cars of North America to give away a Volvo S40 this season if an A's player hits a fifth-inning grand slam.

    Other companies are simply looking for a forum to show they belong in the big leagues.

    Ron Leuty writes for the San Francisco Business Times.

    Print | Tags: Fox, Oakland Athletics, PepsiCo
  • AHL prepares to welcome 6

    The American Hockey League is expected to officially announce today that it will expand to include six former International Hockey League teams.

    The IHL, which had a board of governors meeting scheduled for last Friday, was expected to shut down after 57 years of operation. Its remaining five teams would either fold or join other minor league hockey circuits.

    The six IHL teams joining the AHL will pay a reduced expansion fee of $1 million, paid over 10 years at $100,000 a year. The AHL reduced its normal expansion fee, which was $2.5 million during the previous round of expansion and is now listed at $3 million.

    "These are going concerns and strong businesses," said AHL President Dave Andrews of the IHL teams. "We essentially gave credit to each of these applicants. We don't feel we did anything to negatively impact franchise values or [future] expansion fees."

    He said the IHL teams will all play in the same division and play 20 to 24 games against other AHL teams each season. The AHL will have at least 26 teams next year.

    All of the teams in the AHL will have NHL affiliate agreements next season. The Houston Aeros, which were the sole IHL team last season that did not have an NHL parent club, has reached an affiliate agreement with the Minnesota Wild. The Manitoba Moose and Chicago Wolves, which had only partial affiliate agreements last season, will now be the top farm teams for the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Thrashers, respectively.

    The other three teams joining the AHL are the Milwaukee Admirals, Utah Grizzlies and Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins, all of whom have ongoing NHL affiliate agreements.

    IHL Commissioner Doug Moss could not comment on the final demise of the league because the league had not yet held its board of governors meeting, but he said the IHL's troubles stemmed from the early 1990s, when the league de-emphasized player development and began to spend lavishly on veteran players.

    "We got away from the core business of minor league hockey," he said. "We've tried to correct that path."

    When Moss joined the IHL in 1997, the league had 18 teams, and only a handful had NHL affiliations. Last season, the count was down to 11 teams, and 10 had agreements with NHL parent clubs.

    "The philosophies of the [AHL and IHL] are one and the same now," Moss said.

    The six teams joining the AHL will have to limit their rosters to six veterans with 260 games or more of pro experience, as per AHL rules, but no longer will be governed by a salary cap.

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman pushed for the AHL and IHL to consider a merger at a meeting with Moss and Andrews more than a year ago. He has since publicly distanced himself from the talks that led to the AHL expansion but has continued to voice support for consolidation in some form.

    Andrews said he expects the NHL and the entire hockey world to be pleased.

    "We've created something a lot of people in our industry have wanted to see happen for 30 to 40 years, which is one league servicing the development needs for all NHL clubs," he said.

    New AHL franchise NHL affiliation
    Chicago Wolves Atlanta Thrashers
    Grand Rapids Griffins Ottawa Senators
    Houston Aeros Minnesota Wild
    Milwaukee Admirals Nashville Predators
    Manitoba Moose Vancouver Canucks
    Utah Grizzlies Dallas Stars
    Others Status
    Cincinnati Cyclones Folding
    Cleveland Lumberjacks Folding
    Detroit Vipers Folding
    Kansas City Blades Will fold or join
    another league
    Orlando Solar Bears Will fold or join
    another league

    Print | Tags: AHL, AEG, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota Wild, NHL, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Vancouver Canucks
  • Al Davis' last great act of defiance?

    A huge American eagle with blood-red eyes and razor-sharp talons swoops down, its beak open as if shrieking at its prey. Below, a mouse stands straight and proud, a defiant smile on his face. In the last instant, before the eagle's talons close around his small defenseless body, the mouse raises his hand and offers his middle finger as a final gesture to his attacker.

    The scene is titled, "The Last Great Act of Defiance."

    It was this visual that came to mind when I read that Al Davis had lost his billion-dollar lawsuit against the NFL. A few weeks ago, I suggested that Davis at least had a chance at winning this suit, in which he claimed the NFL sabotaged a deal for a new stadium and forced the Raiders to leave Los Angeles. But in the end, the jury just didn't buy Davis' claims that the NFL had acted with "oppression, malice and fraud" in its dealings with the Raiders.

    It wasn't the jury's decision that recalled "The Last Great Act of Defiance," though. It was the release of a top-secret file entitled "Raiders vs. the NFL, Exhibit 681." Somehow, the Los Angeles Times got its hands on this file, which included an astounding level of detail on the financial workings of every team in the NFL.

    As I perused chart after chart of financial ledgers detailing heretofore-unseen accounts of revenues, expenses and operating profits, I could almost see Davis smiling as he raised his hand in an obscene gesture toward the NFL. It appeared "the man in black" had struck again and in doing so had created an unprecedented state of chaos and anger within the halls of the NFL league offices and amongst his fellow owners.

    Virtually every NFL owner in the country was asked to comment on how they thought this highly confidential information had been leaked to the Los Angeles Times and whether it was accurate. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney had perhaps the most succinct (if not the most eloquent) response: "It's that lying creep, Al Davis, trying to influence a jury in L.A. And he gave out this information. ... Basically, we were in a loss situation, not a profitable one."

    There are three main reasons why Rooney and his fellow owners were so upset about this information becoming public.

     As detailed and accurate as the numbers in Exhibit 681 were, they were incomplete and therefore misleading.

      The charts showed an average per team operating profit of more than $11 million in 1999 for the NFL's 31 franchises. Many owners who had been claiming losses were, at the same time, asking for or accepting public funds to build new state-of-the-art stadiums. The Los Angeles Times' revelations made it appear as though they had misled their communities.

     Perhaps most galling of all, one of their own had betrayed the other members of what can arguably be characterized as the most exclusive private club in the country. The operative word here is private.

    The fact is the financials printed by the Los Angeles Times do not include costs of servicing debt for the owners' investments in their franchises, nor do they account for team investments in new stadiums. Costs for up-front player bonuses were also not included. These three omissions alone could change a team's financial picture by millions of dollars a year. Simply put, many of the teams that appeared to be profitable in these charts could actually have lost millions of dollars.

    The Bonham Line: Al Davis committed a great act of defiance and in the process embarrassed and angered his fellow owners. But it could be his last. It looks like the NFL's talons are about to close. When they do, Davis could be removed from the American sports scene once and for all.

    Dean Bonham is chairman and CEO of The Bonham Group, a Denver sports marketing agency.

    Print | Tags: NFL, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore host/owner Aparicio back in print with book on Ravens’ season

    Nestor Aparicio is one of sports radio's hardest-working entrepreneurs. He hosts a national show on Sporting News radio, owns his own sports station in Baltimore and promotes himself and his show with everything from charity dinners to road trips that he organizes for his listeners.

    But Aparicio's background is in print (he was previously a sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun), and now he has returned to the medium, again with an entrepreneurial twist. Aparicio has written and self-published "Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac," a book about the Baltimore Ravens and their Super Bowl season. (It chronicles not just this season but also football's return to Baltimore, owner Art Modell's financial struggles and the building of the current roster.)

    "A couple of people gave lip service to writing a book afterwards, but no one followed through," he said, explaining that the team and the Sun both published coffee table picture books. Aparicio printed 10,000 copies (through Junior Press, which handles his newsletter) and said he has sold 2,000 since April 19.

    Aparicio, who got Ravens coach Brian Billick to write an introduction, said he had "access to anyone I wanted."

    Equally significant, he had an easy way to promote the book and a unique plan for distributing it. "When you have the ear of the entire community and friends in the media like I do, it's easy," he said, adding that not only can he plug it on his own show — and sell it through his Web site — but that his contacts have led to media coverage. He said he appeared on a local television morning show and sold 200 copies that day.

    The book, a glossy-covered, 270-page paperback that retails for $20, is carried in some Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores. Aparicio balked at giving bookstores their traditional 40 percent discount, calling it "borderline suicide," since he also is selling the book online himself. He got several bookstores to buy it for 15 percent off.

     GOLF FOR WOMEN SOLD: Golf Digest Cos. is buying Golf for Women from the Meredith Corp. for a reported $25 million, though specific terms were not disclosed. (Golf Digest Cos. is owned by Advance Publications, SportsBusiness Journal's parent company.) Meredith said it would focus on its core titles, such as Country Home and Better Homes and Gardens.

    Golf for Women is one golf publication showing growth in ad revenue. The magazine, which finished 2000 up 6 percent in ad pages and 19 percent in ad dollars for the year, is down 10.8 percent in ad pages through April, to 108.7 pages, according to Publishers Information Bureau. But it is up 3.1 percent, to $4.3 million, in dollars.

    By contrast, Golf Digest is down 15 percent in ad pages and 3.5 percent in ad revenue. Its rival, Golf, is down 14.5 percent in pages and 13 percent in revenue. (Both titles, however, are far larger, with nearly 500 ad pages each and $48.9 million in revenue for Golf Digest and $38.9 million for Golf.) Only Travel & Leisure Golf, which, like Golf, is owned by AOL Time Warner, is up in both ad pages (1.4 percent, to 164.3 pages) and ad revenue (17 percent, to $6.3 million.)

    The purchase of Golf for Women, which has a circulation of 400,000, may mean the death of Advance's Golf Digest Woman, with a circulation of 265,000.

      GUNS & AMMO & SAFETY: In September, Guns & Ammo, which is owned by Emap USA, will launch its first public service campaign promoting gun safety. The campaign, which will feature five full-page ads, will last six months. The magazine will partner with Emap's other gun-related titles such as Handguns, Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Gun Dog and even some other Emap USA titles such as 4-Wheel and Off-Road. The goal, according to statements released by Emap USA, is to increase safe handling of guns while diverting attention from advocates promoting gun control regulations.

    Stuart Miller can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Ravens, MillerCoors
  • Baseball will return to renovated Albuquerque park

    Minor league baseball will return to Albuquerque, N.M. — but not in a new stadium.

    Voters last Wednesday approved selling up to $10 million in general obligation bonds as the city's contribution toward renovating 33-year-old Sports Stadium but overwhelmingly rejected a second ballot question that sought funding for a downtown ballpark.

    Almost two-thirds of voters chose not to fund a new facility, which would have called for a $15 million commitment by the city.

    By passing the first ballot measure with 55 percent in favor, Albuquerque voters cleared the way for the arrival of the Class AAA Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League.

    Calgary's ownership group had signed a contract with Albuquerque that hinged on getting a new or significantly renovated stadium for the 2003 season.

    "I'm sorry it's not a new stadium," said Mike Koldyke, one of the Cannons' owners, "but the important thing is that Albuquerque is getting baseball back."

    The city's previous PCL club was sold to investors in Oregon and is playing this year in Portland.

    The stadium issue drew about 48,000 to the polls, about 19 percent of registered voters.

  • Be Here cam to ride Finals backboards

    Be Here Corp.'s recently rebranded TotalView technology will have its sports-television debut in the NBA Finals on NBC, when the company will position one of its patented cameras on each backboard, allowing NBC to capture wide-angle action and zero in on details of a play in nearly instantaneous replay.

    Be Here CEO Andrew Thau would not disclose financial terms of the arrangement, nor whether NBC had committed to a certain number of uses of the technology in broadcasts. He said NBC could use TotalView at its discretion and he expected it to get increased use as the Finals progressed, especially coming out of commercials. When used, the replay will carry "Be Here TotalView" branding.

    TotalView is Be Here's 360-degree camera system. NBC will employ it to cover a nearly 160-degree swath. The technology was used by "Entertainment Tonight" to film Academy Awards goings-on for later programs. NBC's Finals use will be the first television instant-replay deployment.

    Be Here has done Web work with the NBA and the NHL before, and its TV and Web applications are two of a four-pronged business model that includes still photography and security camera services. The latter produce the bulk of Be Here's high-seven-figure revenue, said Walter Ramos, a partner in Snider Capital, which recently led a round of funding for Be Here that has netted $6 million, with another $2 million on the way. Philips Electronics NV, Intel Capital and Kodak were return investors. The company has raised $23 million since 1996.

    "I wouldn't even call them an Internet company, to be honest with you," said Ramos. "We absolutely love the technology and did extensive due diligence on the patents, and alone they are worth a lot of money. We had that confirmed by the type of investors which stepped up to our round."

    NBA Finals global TV scorecard
    91 telecasters, reaching 205 countries, will air the NBA Finals. The league series, airing in 41 languages, will be available to more than 750 million TV households.
    Among the telecasters that will be carrying the Finals for the first time are Korea’s iTV,
    Turkey’s DigiTurk, Estonia’s ETV, Botswana’s BTV, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s TV Hayat, Hungary’s Sport 1, Macedonia’s MRT, China’s Hubei TV and Mexico’s Superdeportiva.
    More than 30 international telecasters will be on site to cover the Finals.

    Print | Tags: NBA, NBC, NHL, Philips
  • Britney takes her Pepsi show out to Daytona racetrack

    Singing and dancing for Pepsi is apparently not enough. Britney Spears will be grand marshal for the 43rd annual Pepsi 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway on July 7. Spears will give the "start your engines" command to the 43 drivers at the speedway to kick off the Winston Cup Series race. This will be the first NASCAR broadcast of the year for NBC. More than 200,000 race fans are expected to attend.

      ALL MY HOCKEY CHILDREN: Tampa Bay goaltender Kevin Weekes, Boston Bruins right winger Bill Guerin and Florida Panthers center Rob Niedermayeron were to have appeared on ABC's "All My Children" Friday as themselves. The scene was to feature "All My Children" star and "Live with Regis and Kelly" co-host Kelly Ripa (who plays Hayley Vaughan), her real-life and soap husband Mark Consuelos (who plays Mateo Santos) and pop star Shaggy on the show's fictional talk show "WAVE." Weekes was also a guest star last week on "The View," joined in the studio by the Stanley Cup as he discussed the playoffs.

      LIKE FATHERS, LIKE DAUGHTERS: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali have talked plenty of trash over the years, and their daughters, set to fight Friday, are taking up where their dads still, apparently, haven't left off. Despite an apology in a New York Times interview from Ali, Frazier, in TV Guide, has declined to accept the apology until it's made in person. Ali says that won't happen. "I'll kick his ass. ... he's still a gorilla," he says. Daughter Laila Ali has called Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde "ignorant" and "ugly" and says, "It's not like this fool even belongs in the same ring with me." And Frazier-Lyde counters: "She hasn't been smashed like I'm going to smash her." Sticks and stones ...

    Print | Tags: ABC, Boston Bruins, Carolina Panthers, Florida Panthers, NASCAR, NBC, PepsiCo
  • Cards’ stadium on solid ground

    Imagine a football stadium supported by 700 concrete stilts built on the side of a mountain, and you've conjured up a picture of the foundation needed for the Arizona Cardinals' new home in Tempe.

    The 73,000-seat stadium is so large and has so many parts to it that "it's like building a small city," according to one environmental consultant.

    For this project, the "stilts" actually are 700 reinforced concrete columns reaching deep underground, and the "mountain" is the sloping bedrock under the soil.

    Some columns could go as deep as 45 feet before hitting rock. Those will be at the south end of the structure. At the north end, the columns will be shorter because the bedrock is closer to the soil surface.

    Those are some of the details in a report Tempe-based Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants Inc. is preparing for Hunt Construction Group. The report should be ready in the coming weeks, GEC principal Donald Spadola said.

    The $334 million stadium and multipurpose facility is planned for 60 acres at the southeast corner of Washington Street and Priest Drive. In recent weeks, GEC crews drilled in several places on the property to determine the depth of the bedrock and to obtain rock samples, as well as confirm the level of the groundwater table.

    "We will drill down into the rock, and we will socket [the columns] into the rock 10 to 15 feet," Hunt contracts manager Dennis Gilbert said. "What that does is put the load on rock throughout the whole facility."

    GEC senior project manager Tim Anderson said loads will vary from 200,000 pounds on the smallest columns to 5 million pounds on the largest.

    "The whole stadium is going to be supported by bedrock," he said. "There is no better material to build a stadium on."

    The rock core samples obtained by GEC were subjected to pressure tests at the company's laboratory. The tests showed that the rock "is as strong or stronger than concrete," Anderson said.

    Spadola said the Tempe site, while challenging because of the slope as well as the angled bedrock, has its advantages. One is the relatively short distance to reach the rock. In the West Valley, where developer John F. Long offered to donate land for the stadium, it could be 80 feet or more from the surface to solid rock, Anderson said.

    Once holes are drilled for the concrete columns, the holes will be lined with steel casings to keep out ground water, sand and gravel while concrete for the columns is poured.

    Spadola added that since the stadium is under the flight pattern to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the north end of the site will be excavated enough to keep the stadium under the Federal Aviation Administration's 200-foot height limit.

    A unique feature of the stadium is that its field will be mounted on rails. The football field will be rolled out of the stadium on a huge structure so the stadium can accommodate concerts, conventions and other activities. Electric motors will move the field back and forth, and hydraulic systems will help start and stop it.

    CMX Group Inc. is helping design the retractable field. It will be sod and an irrigation system on a mammoth concrete tray. The field, weighing an estimated 14 million pounds, will remain outside the stadium most of the time to expose the grass to sunlight. Each game day, the 240-foot by 360-foot field will be wheeled back inside the stadium, Spadola said.

    One analyst said Hunt and its subcontractors will employ 1,000 workers during construction. Work is to start in August, with completion in time for the 2004 football season.

    Mike Padgett writes for The Business Journal in Phoenix.

    Print | Tags: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals


     NASCAR driving to Smithsonian
    The Atlanta History Center is teaming with NASCAR and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to develop an exhibit called "Speed and Spirit: NASCAR in America." The exhibit, expected to open in 2003, will highlight NASCAR drivers, owners, crews and families within the broader context of the sport's Southern roots. It would open locally before traveling to the Smithsonian and other museums nationwide.


      Top court upholds claim on Ravens logo
    The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a jury verdict in favor of Baltimore security guard Frederick Bouchat, who claims a logo once used by the Baltimore Ravens was copied from a sketch he drew. Bouchat is seeking about $10 million from the Ravens and the NFL for copyright infringement regarding the logo the Ravens used from 1996 to 1998. A trial is set for May in a Baltimore district court to determine the amount of damages Bouchat will receive.


      Bills start construction on retail outlet
    The Buffalo Bills began construction of a 2,000-square-foot retail venture dubbed The Bills Store, located adjacent to the team's new administration complex at its Ralph Wilson Stadium home. The cost of the project is estimated at $400,000. The store is expected to be open in time for the start of the NFL preseason in August.


      Ground broken for NASCAR training site
      NASCAR and Universal Technical Institute Co. executives broke ground on a $12 million, 140,000-square-foot vocational school in nearby Mooresville, N.C., late last month. The planned NASCAR Technical Institute is scheduled to open next summer and would host 135 teachers and 1,800 students on its 19-acre campus. The school is intended to train students for work in the automotive industry as well as possible stints on NASCAR crews. Industry executives point to an aging population of cars and a 13 percent decline in service centers since 1980 as evidence that more auto technicians are needed.


      Global Spectrum hired to manage arena
    The University of South Carolina hired Global Spectrum to manage its planned 18,000-seat arena, scheduled to open in October 2002 for the school's basketball teams. The Philadelphia-based company also will operate the school's existing 12,400-seat Carolina Coliseum and handle special event bookings for 80,000-seat Williams-Brice Stadium.


      Burn sponsorship sales may set record
    Dallas Burn officials said they are on pace for a record sponsorship sales year. Details were not available from the Major League Soccer team other than that the sales to date are 10 percent ahead of the team's previous record, set in 1997. Increased marketing efforts to Hispanics and youth soccer leagues were cited as reasons for the increase.


      Broncos to sell half-price seats
      The Denver Broncos are finalizing plans for the distribution of 2,000 half-price tickets for each home game yet keeping those tickets from falling into the hands of scalpers. Games at the team's former Mile High Stadium home have been sold out since 1970, but a law passed in 1996 requires that the Broncos make the half-price tickets available should a taxpayer-supported stadium be built for the team. The team, in accordance with the law, is preparing for the opening of its new Invesco Field at Mile High this fall. Separately, the stadium's logo was unveiled recently. The image features team mascot Bucky the Bronco surrounded by six pillars, representing the six counties in the Denver area that are raising the tax money to pay for the facility.

      McDyess, his agents part ways
      Denver Nuggets forward Antonio McDyess severed his ties with agents Tony Dutt and James Bryant and plans to handle his future contract talks through his manager, Kegis Smith.


      Teams' broadcaster boosting signal
    WXYT-AM, broadcast home of the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, reportedly has applied to the Federal Communications Commission to increase its dusk-to-dawn signal to 48,000 watts from its current 5,000 watts. According to a Detroit Free Press report, officials with the station — in the midst of a six-year deal with the teams — have told team representatives that the signal will be improved considerably in the coming years.


      Retailer will honor youth coach
    The Sports Authority Inc. launched a nationwide program to honor a national youth Coach of the Year as nominated by his or her players. This coach will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes U.S. Olympians Summer Sanders and Jackie Joyner-Kersee as well as famed track and field coach Bob Kersee and Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden. Nominations, in the form of 100-word essays, can be submitted through June 30 at each of the locally based retailer's 198 stores nationwide.


      Tourney logo powers up sponsor
    Organizers of the PGA Tour's Tour Championship event unveiled a new logo that prominently displays locally based Dynegy Inc. as the tournament's new presenting sponsor. The tournament is scheduled for Nov. 1-4 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.


      Indy 500 snuffs out Marlboro insignia
      Marlboro Team Penske was forced to remove the Marlboro insignias from cars the team entered in this year's Indianapolis 500 in accordance with a ruling from a group of state attorneys general administering a federal tobacco lawsuit settlement. A stipulation in the settlement states that tobacco companies can only participate as advertisers or sponsors in one North American-based auto racing series. Team Penske competes on the CART circuit, and the Indianapolis 500 is sanctioned by the IRL. Team Penske officials thought they were within the guidelines of the agreement because CART sanctioned its members to compete at the race as a non-points race for the CART series. With the change, the team maintained its traditional red-and-white color scheme but without the Marlboro logo.

      Welterweight fight coming to Conseco
      Pacers Sports and Entertainment reached a deal to host a July 21 fight at Conseco Fieldhouse featuring WBC welterweight champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley. The fight would be the second for the arena, the first coming in May 2000 and featuring Roy Jones Jr. Mosley's opponent is still being sought.


      AHL team gets new majority owner
    The San Jose Sharks agreed to a deal with Kentucky Hockey Associates Inc. to purchase controlling interest of the Kentucky Thoroughblades, the NHL team's top developmental club the past five seasons. The American Hockey League team plays in Rupp Arena. The deal was pending league approval as of last week. The current ownership group would retain a minority stake in the club.


      Panthers ask to sit out the season
    The Louisville Panthers requested that the American Hockey League board of governors allow the team to suspend operations for the 2001-02 season while continuing a search for a new home. The board was expected to vote on the request this week. The Panthers have played their home games the past two seasons at Freedom Hall but are seeking a new home venue due to scheduling conflicts for next season at the arena.


      Firstar lifts profile with Bucks
    Firstar Bank used the Milwaukee Bucks' playoff run to highlight its standing in the city. The company used special purple gels to illuminate the corners of 42-story Firstar Center, the tallest building in the Milwaukee skyline. Firstar acquired US Bancorp, adopted the US Bancorp name and moved its headquarters to Minneapolis earlier this year.


     Green signs with team's former broadcaster
      Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green signed a two-year deal with WCCO-AM to appear regularly on the station, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune report. The Vikings this season begin a broadcast deal with sports-talk station KFAN-AM. WCCO is the team's former radio partner. Green's deal reportedly prohibits him from making regularly scheduled appearances on other stations, including KFAN.

      Saints lay plans for $20M stadium
      The St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League are working on a plan for a new ballpark that would open in 2003, according to published reports. The team has sold out more than 200 consecutive games at its current Midway Stadium home. Saints officials have met with city of St. Paul representatives regarding the proposed $20 million, 7,500-seat stadium, proposing to pay for 60 percent of the venue's cost.

      Legislature leaves Twins, Vikes on table
      The Minnesota Legislature adjourned without reaching an agreement to fund stadium proposals for either the Minnesota Twins or Vikings.

      Bus line offers free rides to the park
      Metro Transit, which operates most of the local market's public busing services, offered free rides to anyone boarding a bus with a ticket to the Twins' doubleheader against Oakland late last month. The team drew 38,047 fans for the doubleheader, the only twin bill on the MLB schedule for the 2001 season.

      Player helps in release of bald eagle
      Twins first baseman Doug Mient-kiewicz took part in a recent release of a bald eagle at the local Fort Snelling Historic Site. The eagle had spent three months rehabilitating at the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center.

      WNBA Kid Reporter tryouts canceled
      The Minnesota Lynx's Sears Kid Reporter tryouts were canceled last month when Sears pulled out of the arrangement, according to a Lynx spokesman. Children ages 8 to 15 had been invited to audition to win the right to attend two games, visit and interview players, work side-by-side with the sports media, report for the team's Web site and win team merchandise. A Sears spokeswoman said the company's decision came from a change in its focus for its affiliation with the WNBA this year.


      Senior Bowl bags presenting sponsor
    Bruno's Inc., parent company of the Food World grocery chain, reached a deal with the Senior Bowl to become the annual college football all-star game's presenting sponsor, according to a Mobile Register report. Bruno's assumes the sponsorship role from the Delchamps supermarket chain, which has seen many of its local stores acquired by the Food World operation recently.


      Stadium adding seats for Grey Cup
    The Montreal Alouettes are adding 9,255 seats to Olympic Stadium for hosting the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup championship game on Nov. 25. The increase — prompted by demand for tickets to the game — pushes the stadium's capacity for the game to 65,255.


      Harrah's bets on inaugural Indy race
    The inaugural Indy Racing Northern Light Series event at Nashville Superspeedway will be called the Harrah's Indy 200 following the signing of a sponsorship deal with Harrah's Entertainment Inc. The July 21 night race is scheduled to be broadcast by ESPN. The track opened in April.


     Saints tix go marching out the door
    The New Orleans Saints, struggling to sell tickets for the 2001 season earlier this spring, reportedly saw a spike in sales in May. According to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report, team officials were nearing 40,000 season tickets sold as of late last month. That puts the defending NFC West champions ahead of last year's sales mark of 35,028.


      Mayor: Boost parking fees for stadiums
      Philadelphia Mayor John Street proposed allowing Comcast-Spectacor to increase parking fees at the city's sports complex in return for the company's help in closing a $29 million funding gap for the new stadium projects planned for the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles. Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, controls most of the public parking lots around the team's First Union Complex home under a previously negotiated deal with the city. Parking for a Phillies game now costs $7, while parking for an Eagles game costs between $6 and $20. Under Street's proposal, parking for baseball would increase $1 while all parking for football would cost $10. The request for more money from fans drew immediate opposition from City Councilman James Kenney.

      And 1 tourney benefits school students
      Basketball shoe and apparel company And 1 of nearby Paoli, Pa., was scheduled to team with White-Williams Scholars to hold a fund-raising three-on-three basketball tournament this past Saturday at Temple University. And 1 was underwriting the cost of the event. The proceeds were expected to benefit White-Williams Scholars, which provides monthly stipends to local public high school students to make it easier for them to stay in school.

      Drug firm gets behind cycling series
      GlaxoSmithKline signed a deal to become the official pharmaceutical sponsor of the First Union Cycling Series, taking place in the Philadelphia area this week. The British drug company, which has a large presence in the Philadelphia region, also becomes title sponsor of the now-named GlaxoSmithKline Fun Ride, an event open to all bike riders to benefit the American Diabetes Association in advance of the First Union U.S. Pro Championship race on Sunday.


      Tillman joins field for triathlon
      Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman was scheduled to take part this past Sunday in an Ironman Triathlon World Championship qualifying event in Cambridge, Md. More than 1,500 people were expected to compete in the event, which called for swimming 1.2 miles, cycling 56 miles and running 13.1 miles. Tillman is participating in hopes of finishing in less than seven hours and to raise money for several local charities.

      Coyotes share minor league affiliation
      The Phoenix Coyotes reached a multiyear deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning for a shared affiliation with the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons of the American Hockey League. Both NHL teams will provide 10 players to the Falcons, which has served as the Coyotes' primary minor league affiliate for the past five seasons.

      CMX Group invited to spring training
      CMX Group Inc. was hired as part of the design team for the planned $45 million spring training facility to be built in nearby Surprise, Ariz. The facility will be home to the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. It marks the sixth Cactus League project for the planning, civil engineering and sports consultation firm.


     SunTrust to sponsor Richmond race
    Organizers of the inaugural Indy Racing Northern Light Series race at Richmond International Speedway signed SunTrust Banks Inc. as title sponsor for the event. The June 30 race, to be called the SunTrust Indy Challenge, marks the IRL's first race on a track of less than one mile in length. Richmond International has a three-quarters-mile oval. SunTrust is based in Atlanta but has operations throughout the Southeast, including in Virginia.


      Track construction on hold
    Construction of Frank Arciero Sr.'s planned $100 million auto racetrack 35 miles north of Sacramento remains on hold as Yuba County officials and motorplex developers sort through options for building a necessary interchange that has drawn cost and environmental concerns. Ground was to be broken on the raceway in April, with an opening next year, but now it's unclear when construction will begin. Arciero and Gerald Forsythe want to build a 1.3-mile racetrack with grandstands for about 45,000 fans next to the 1-year-old Sacramento Valley Amphitheatre.


      No extra bleachers for Spirit
    San Diego Gas & Electric officials told the San Diego Spirit that the team won't be allowed to add bleachers in the west end of Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus, where the WUSA club plays its home games. The Spirit had hoped to add seating for an additional 867 fans with a stand of metal bleachers. SDG&E rejected the plans, citing safety concerns related to 138-kilovolt power lines running overhead and a gas line underneath the west end of the stadium.


      Card game teams with electronic reader
      Wizards of the Coast Inc. plans to release a card game in August called NFL Showdown 2002, marking the first sports card game to incorporate an electronic reader called the PlayGrid. The locally based subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. has teamed with Tiger Electronics, another Hasbro division, to create the game. The sports cards involved in the game feature not only player pictures, but also information about each player's ability based on actual season statistics. The PlayGrid is a handheld scanner that reads, decodes and stores information from the cards when they are swiped through the PlayGrid's electronic scanner. It then computes play results from that information.

      Emerald Downs cutting back
      Emerald Downs has dropped plans to add Wednesday events to its thoroughbred race schedule in July and August, and is reducing its non-stakes-race purses by 7 percent. The cutbacks are due to a decline in the number of horses starting each day as well as increased competition from nearby casinos and card rooms, said Ron Crockett, track president. The weekly race schedule will continue to run Thursdays through Sundays.


      Rams start football coaching program
      The St. Louis Rams are teaming with the NFL, National Football Foundation and St. Louis Sports Commission to launch a training clinic program for youth football coaches. The program is part of the Rams' overall commitment to youth football in the St. Louis area. The first clinic for the St. Louis Rams Coaching Academy is June 15-16. Rams coaches Bobby Jackson and Dana LeDuc will speak, as well as area high school coaches. The curriculum includes coaching philosophy, football skills and strategies, player communication and feedback, life skills, and health and nutrition issues.

      Ex-Cardinals president dies
      Former St. Louis Cardinals President and CEO Stuart F. Meyer died May 21 in Palm Coast, Fla., after a long illness. He was 67. Meyer preceded current team President Mark Lamping as president of the Cardinals.

      Park's phase two under way
      Byrne and Jones Construction Co. began work on phase two of the 93-acre O'Fallon Sports Park in nearby O'Fallon, Mo. The $800,000 project calls for new soccer fields, a parking lot and roadways, with completion scheduled for the fall. Phase one was completed by the company in 1998, also providing for soccer fields for local youth competition.


     Bay area seeks SEC tournament
      The Tampa Bay area is making a push to host the SEC men's basketball tournament in 2006 or 2008, at either the Ice Palace in Tampa or Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. An SEC official recently visited the sites to view hotel space and possible local venues for the conference's annual interactive fan festival. The Ice Palace will host first- and second-round games of the 2003 NCAA men's basketball tournament, and the 2007 ACC tournament. Tropicana Field hosted the 1999 Final Four.

      Z-Tel hires Ditka as spokesman
      Locally based Z-Tel Technologies hired CBS Sports analyst Mike Ditka as its national spokesman. Company officials hope the former Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints coach helps attract new residential phone customers, particularly in Chicago, where Z-Tel is poised to offer bundled local and long-distance service.

      Ice Palace expands seating area
      The leaseholders of the Ice Palace are expanding the popular XO Club corporate seating area to add up to 600 new seats in the facility's club level. Palace Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Tampa Bay Lightning and a minority interest in the Tampa Bay Storm, plans to spend $1.3 million on the expansion, which is expected to be completed by the time NHL season starts this fall. The effort will more than double the size of the club, to 40,000 square feet. A cigar club, aquarium and specialty dining areas are being added as part of the plans. The XO Club, named for title sponsor XO Communications Inc., sold all 421 seats last season at $4,000 a year each on three-year contracts, including food, drink, parking and admission to all 41 Lightning regular-season home games. The new seats will go for $5,000 annually, also for three years, but will include admission to the Storm's Arena Football League games.


     Carter ad thanks Raptors fans
      Vince Carter thanked Toronto basketball fans for their support during the 2000-01 season in an ad that ran recently in local newspapers. The ad, in the form of a letter from "the desk of Vince Carter" and bearing Toronto Raptors letterhead, said Raptors fans have made Toronto a tough place for visiting teams to play.

      Women's Open moves to Angus Glen
      This year's Bank of Montreal Canadian Women's Open will be played at the south course of Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ontario, just north of Toronto. The event had to be moved from the Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, because of construction delays on the clubhouse at that site. The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 16-19.


      New facility being built underground
    National Cathedral School is building a new athletic facility that will be underground of the girls' school's soccer field. The planning stems from limited above-ground space for the school, which sits on the grounds of WashingtonNational Cathedral. The facility is expected to open in February. Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction is the contractor for the project, which has a construction budget of $17.5 million.

    Print | Tags: AHL, And 1, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Clark Construction, Comcast, Bankers Life, Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, FC Dallas, Florida Panthers, GlaxoSmithKline, Indiana Pacers, IndyCar, Kansas City Royals, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, MLB, NASCAR, NCAA, New Orleans Saints, New York Rangers, NFL, NHL, Palace Sports and Entertainment, Penske Corp., Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Storm, Sports Authority, St. Louis Cardinals, LA Rams, Tampa Bay Lightning, Texas Rangers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, WNBA
  • Colangelo mulls selling Suns stake

    Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo is considering selling part of his NBA club because of estate planning demands.

    The 61-year-old Colangelo said the potential move is not tied to his debt problems with his other Arizona team, MLB's Diamondbacks, and he intends to keep running the Suns for at least another decade. It's premature, he said, to discuss whom he might sell the position to, or for how much.

    "This is all about an asset that has appreciated dramatically," he said. "In terms of an exit strategy or estate planning, if you will, it is important to explore all the options that are available to protect the asset."

    Financial sources said he already had talked to an old friend about buying a 40 percent stake in the team, but Colangelo disputed that account. The NBA, which would have to approve any sale, wouldn't comment.

    Colangelo led a group of investors who bought the club for $44.5 million in October 1987 after he ran the team as general manager for 19 years. The current value of the club could be more than $200 million, given that was how much the Seattle SuperSonics sold for earlier this year.

    Colangelo, who is believed to directly own about 36 percent of the team and is the controlling partner, said some of his current limited partners could be bought out by a new investor.

    Financial and estate planning sources questioned whether Colangelo's potential minority sale might not be tied to his problems at the Diamondbacks, despite his denials. Since leading a group to buy the franchise that became the Diamondbacks in 1995 for $130 million, Colangelo was forced to ask those investors for $53 million in 1998 and 1999 to prop up the financially ailing club.

    Also, there are easier ways of managing an estate than selling part of a basketball team, said accounting experts.

    "You can sell a discounted minority interest to a family member or a trust," said Steve Resnick, a partner in Resnick, Amsterdam & Leshner, a Blue Bell, Pa., accounting and business development company. Resnick was unfamiliar with Colangelo's specific situation. "But selling a minority interest to an outside person is done to create liquidity that could be used to pay down debt, especially if the minority interest is worth a lot of money."

    Estate planning is designed to minimize the inheritance taxes family members must pay when someone dies. In the case of Colangelo, the transfer of his Suns' interest could create huge tax demands for his survivors, unless he unloads part of his position now.

    "This ... avoid[s] a fire sale by his family at death," said Susan Goldenberg, a partner specializing in estate planning with the Katten, Muchin, Zavis law firm, which represents owners and investors in major league sports.

    Another concern for Colangelo is that if he decides to sell a minority stake, the market is weak and crowded. Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga recently scotched his plans to sell up to 30 percent of his team after finding no takers at the right price.

    And Jon Ledecky is already trying to unload his interests in the Washington Capitals and Wizards, while Vancouver Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said he wants to sell up to half the team as part of a move to Memphis, Tenn.

    Last year, Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell sold 49 percent of the team to Maryland businessman Steve Bisciotti for $272 million, but that included an option to buy the remaining stake in the Ravens in 2004.

    "This is not a great economy to be selling a minority piece of a franchise," said John Moag, head of the sports practice at Legg Mason, which brokered the Bisciotti deal and is trying to find a buyer for Ledecky.

    Colangelo also has been negotiating to sell his interest in the Arena Football League's Arizona Rattlers to a group led by the team's coach, Danny White. That sale could fetch around $10 million. He paid $220,000 for the franchise in 1991.

    Print | Tags: AEG, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Fire, Miami Dolphins, MLB, NBA, Phoenix Suns, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards
  • Connecting with fans keeps seats full

    Some athletes today must think stadiums and arenas are built with people already in the seats. They walk out of a tunnel into the light and the fans are automatically in place, yelling and screaming on cue.

    But these days, with increasing frequency, the seats might be half full and the fans more interested in the antics of a costumed mascot or catching a free mini-ball.

    What impact does the player have in filling seats? A huge one. While many teams employ high-powered marketing and advertising talent, players are the best sales people. When the struggle to sell your product hits the wall, athletes can make a tremendous difference in the success or failure of the campaign.

    As they say, it's all about attitude.

    I recently read about an NBA star who was asked to sign a few autographs at a local shopping center in support of a ticket promotion. "I don't remember anything in my contract about selling season tickets," he said in disgust.

    Selling tickets may not be in his contract, but it should be on his mind. He may or may not know that convincing someone to buy a ticket involves a lot more than standing behind a window. He's probably not in those endless meetings where marketing executives struggle to find new slogans, brainstorm a catchy advertising campaign or imagine giving away bobblehead dolls to the first 5,000 through the gates.

    According to Kathleen Davis, executive director of Sports Marketing Research Institute (SMRI) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., what really motivates the typical fan is an opportunity for player interaction. "Typically, it's the No. 1 response when we ask fans what they would like to do at a sporting event," she said. "Actually connecting with a player by way of the autograph or catching a souvenir ball is high on the list of aspirations with many sports fans."

    In a recent survey conducted by SMRI, fans ages 6-24 were asked "What is the one thing you would change about this event, if you were in charge?" The biggest segment of fans (29 percent) said "more player autographs/interaction." Among another group 25 and older, almost 20 percent wanted to meet the players and have an opportunity for autographs, the second-highest response behind lower ticket prices.

    With the incredible demands on today's athlete, we can't always expect them to skip practice or medical treatment to participate in every promotion. The sheer number of media requests for the typical professional player is growing almost as fast as the number of sports talk shows. But when a player steps up and gets involved with the customers, the process takes a completely different turn.

    Davis points to NASCAR as an example of creating a successful relationship with the customer. "NASCAR has done a fabulous job making its drivers accessible in the pit areas and the garages," she said. "The response from the fans has been strong loyalty patterns towards sponsors and a propensity to purchase sponsor products associated with the racing event."

    You know, when we organized women's professional tennis, our players probably spent more time promoting the sport than participating in it. If we had to decide between practicing or distributing fliers outside the arena, we might be doing the latter. Media interviews and appearances were can't-miss opportunities to send a message. And we didn't miss too many.

    All Tyco World TeamTennis players sign autographs, attend sponsor parties and are very good with all media requests. We're planning some Internet chat sessions from Wimbledon, and in most markets we're doing youth clinics with marquee players and coaches. Kids clinics and other community events are a big part of World TeamTennis, and teams like the Philadelphia Freedoms and Delaware Smash might be working with 1,500 kids during the season.

    I've been following the success of women's soccer in recent months. With the inaugural Women's United Soccer Association, these athletes have a special opportunity and they seem to be taking full advantage of the situation. Recently, it's seemed like women's soccer players were appearing everywhere. They seemed to be running from place to place, talking about their sport constantly.

    Players like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain are the first generation of women's professional soccer. Interviews, autographs and banquets may not be in the contract, but if the WUSA fails to click, these players are out of a job. They are setting the stage for every future player. In 10 or 15 years, another young group of players will be examining the pioneers of today and using them as a measuring stick.

    It's important to learn from those who have gone before. The Women's Tennis Association has a mentor program where a present-day player works closely with a former player. This helps players get beyond themselves and is an effective way to translate responsibility. Players like Chris Evert (who works with Martina Hingis) and Pam Shriver (who shares ideas with Venus Williams) are sharing some of their "first-generation" wisdom with today's players and it's working.

    Some of the greatest players, both past and present, are vitally aware of public image. And while no one can fulfill every request, they have a degree of responsibility to themselves and the people who pay to watch them.

    In today's sports business climate, attitude is key. We need contributors when it comes to selling tickets or sponsorships. More important, we need people willing to connect with the customer. Coaches and players can easily become consumed with performance. But if the forehand, jump shot, hit and run, fullback draw or penalty kill is the singular focus, then some rethinking may be in order.

    Those people watching are judging more than just playing ability. They are deciding if this is worth their while and whether they might ever again buy a ticket. Some positive interaction with "the product on the field" may become the real point of sale.

    Billie Jean King is co-founder and director of World TeamTennis.

    Print | Tags: Mattel, NASCAR, NBA
  • Deal could make Earl Campbell owner of an Italian barbecue

    Football legend Earl Campbell is considering a partnership that could result in the reopening of his Austin, Texas-based barbecue restaurant.

    The 3,400-square-foot restaurant and bar has been closed since February. Representatives of the property's landlord, Colliers Oxford Commercial, say the location was padlocked after rent went unpaid.

    Tom Douglass, a consultant for Campbell, said the former University of Texas and Houston Oilers star is negotiating a partnership with an Italian chain restaurant that he wouldn't name. Douglass said he's a longtime friend of Campbell who has lent his consulting services to other athletes. He works with the Austin law firm Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP, although the Campbell work isn't connected to the firm.

    If a partnership agreement is reached, Earl Campbell's on 6th would reopen and serve both barbecue and Italian food. Douglass said the Heisman Trophy winner would continue to lend his celebrity to the restaurant.

    If the deal goes through, Douglass said, the restaurant could reopen this summer.

    Campbell's lawyer, Mike Robertson of Austin-based Smith Robertson Elliott & Glen LLP, said the potential partnership is just one of the options on the table.

    "There have been a series of folks interested in trying to work something out," Robertson said. "This one is sort of the latest. Earl is taking his time to identify the right partner that will provide a concept he is happy with and one we think will really be successful."

    The restaurant opened in October 1999 after Campbell and three partners entered the sausage industry in 1990 with the formation of Austin-based Earl Campbell Foods Inc. The eatery included sports-oriented decor, complete with the Heisman that Campbell won at Texas.

    "His barbecue restaurant was doing really well," Douglass said. "There were just some management problems that caused us to shut down for a while and regroup."

    Douglass wouldn't pinpoint what kinds of management problems cropped up, saying simply, "Earl Campbell did not have anything to do with the problems the restaurant experienced."

    Alison Hovanec, a spokeswoman for the Texas Restaurant Association, said she has noticed more partnerships within the restaurant industry.

    "Partnerships are an effective business strategy," Hovanec said. "They've been prevalent in the industry in the last five years or so.

    "We're now seeing partnerships between independents and chains. Independents have a unique concept, and chains have the capital. It's a good marriage."

    Hovanec said Campbell wouldn't be the first football star to form a partnership with a chain restaurant. Last November, NFL hall of famer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lee Roy Selmon opened a restaurant with the help of Florida-based chain Outback Steakhouse Inc.

    Mary Alice Piasecki writes for the Austin Business Journal.

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, NFL
  • e-BRIEFS

     Michigan to auction online

    The University of Michigan is teaming with Dayton, Ohio-based BusinessHere Inc. to launch a private-label auction site at The site will be used to auction products and events to raise funds for the Michigan Student Athletic Scholarship Endowment Fund.

      Mygolftime, AOL link

    Mygolftime Inc. of Winter Park, Fla., signed a tee-time reservation deal with America Online Inc. In exchange for a licensing fee, AOL users and visitors to AOL Web sites will see a "book my tee time" button that will be powered by Mygolftime. The online tee-time reservation company's service also will be accessible on AOL's internal travel, sports and golf pages, as well as AOL subsidiary Compuserve's golf and sports pages.

      Canaries offer sites to fans

    The Sioux Falls (S.D.) Canaries of the independent Northern League are teaming with Sioux Falls-based CoreFactory Inc. to offer personalized Web sites to fans. CoreFactory is a division of Dakota Home Web Design and Hosting. The Canaries are giving fans a chance to each have a free site for 30 days. Those fans then wanting to buy their sites, which link to the team's site, would pay $49.99 a year.

  • ESPN executive reels in the big ones

    Last summer in Nantucket, Michael Rooney caught a 30-pound striped bass with a fly rod. He released the fish but was so proud, he said, that he almost persuaded his wife to use the fish instead of the kids as their Christmas card photo.

    It's a nice story, but seemingly not all that relevant to Rooney's job as senior vice president of ESPN The Magazine. There, his ad sales background matters more as he strives to build the magazine's brand with advertisers. The enthusiasm in his voice as he tells the story, however, suddenly matters a great deal. This month, ESPN Inc. added another title to Rooney's folder, making him general manager of the company's new initiative, ESPN Outdoors.

    "There's an appetite for outdoor [information]," Rooney said. "It's a completely different audience for us, but it is worth our while to really focus on this."

    Rooney will oversee the Great Outdoor Games, ESPN2's outdoor programming and newly acquired B.A.S.S., the fishing organization that oversees tournaments, distributes television shows and publishes magazines.

    That's quite a change for a man who fell into ad sales back in the 1970s when he married the boss's daughter and joined the family business at J. Paulsen Inc.

    Rooney, who was publisher at the 1998 launch of ESPN The Magazine, will retain his role there. "They just pile it on," he said with a laugh, adding that some of his responsibilities will be divided among other senior staffers. "Time will tell how much time I spend on the magazine."

    Rooney, 47, said he knows nothing about event and television planning and will focus more on big-picture strategy. "We have very good people," he said. "I'll be learning from them. I build pretty good teams."

    Rooney said he won't become an expert, but in six months he expects to "have a very good understanding" of his new fields. "I'll just immerse myself," he said, attending events, watching television and sitting in on meetings and picking his colleagues' brains.

    "He's a leader and a listener," said George McNeilly, director of communications for B.A.S.S., adding that everyone who has met Rooney instantly likes him. "It's a rare and genuine quality when you still seek out the opinions of those who report to you."

    But from magazines to programs to tournaments, Rooney's love of outdoor sports will help. "I understand the needs of the outdoorsman," Rooney said. His credentials include a stint as publisher of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life.

    "He's an avid outdoorsman," McNeilly said. "You can tell that really quickly."

    Stuart Miller is a writer in New York.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, MillerCoors
  • ESPN grabs first day of celebrity golf tourney

    The American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, a tournament co-owned by NBC Sports and SFX, has a new opening-round TV carrier.

    Tournament officials say ESPN will replace The Golf Channel as first-round broadcaster, providing same-day taped coverage of the 12th annual event from 7 to 9 p.m. July 6.

    NBC will broadcast the final two rounds, airing the competition live from 4 to 6 p.m. ET July 7 and from 3 to 6 p.m. ET July 8.

    The field for the tournament, which has a total purse of $500,000, is expected to be announced this week.

    Among those who have previously competed in the event are John Elway, Jerry Rice, Mario Lemieux, Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench. Al Del Greco is the defending champion. The tournament, taking place at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., typically attracts high-profile athletes and former athletes who are not professional golfers, as well as celebrities from the television, music and movie industries.

    In addition to title sponsor American Century Cos., which has titled the event since 1999, the tournament's sponsorship roster includes Beck's beer, Unisys, EMC, American Airlines, Taylor Made Golf and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. Sponsorship packages include category exclusivity on the NBC broadcasts.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Golf Channel, NBC, TaylorMade Golf

    Team: Sports Illustrated

    Event: Advertising World Series

    Dates: September/October 2002 and 2003

    History: Tucson, Ariz., 2001; Sheraton Sandkey Resort and Radisson Sandkey Resort, Clearwater Beach, Fla., 2000; Riviera Resort & Racquet Club, Palm Springs, Calif., 1999

    Contact: Michael Meiches, commissioner, (310) 574-2800

    The Pitch: Annual slow-pitch round-robin softball tournament played every fall in a resort destination. More than 750 professionally employed players and 80 teams representing advertising, media, marketing firms and general business compete for division, regional and city championships. This year's 19th annual tournament will be played Sept. 29 through Oct. 3. The host hotel must be able to accommodate at least 400 rooms each night for four nights and cater two to three on-site banquets and one off-site banquet. Twenty regulation softball or baseball fields are required. If multiple venues are required, each complex must offer at least four diamonds. A 400-page tournament program and video available upon request.

    Team: American Armwrestling Association

    Event: North American Armwrestling Championship

    Dates: August

    History: Bakersfield, Calif., 2000

    Contact: Frank Bean, director of international affairs, (570) 342-4984, fax (570) 342-1368,,

    The Pitch: More than 200 international competitors in six weight classes compete in a weekend-long tournament. The venue can be a hotel ballroom or a facility capable of seating 250 to 300 spectators. Airport transportation must be provided. The host hotel must be able to accommodate rooms for five AAA staff members plus all competitors.

    Team: Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)

    Event: National AAU Youth and Adult Tae Kwon Do Championship

    Dates: July 2002

    History: Cobo Center, Detroit, 2001; Pontchartrain Center, Kenner, La., 2000; U.S. Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1999

    Contact: Mike Friello, national sport chair, (518) 372-6849, fax (518) 372-6986,

    The Pitch: 1,000 competitors on 16 teams in four age groups compete in this four-day event each year from Wednesday through Saturday of July 4 weekend. The host hotel must be able to accommodate 1,900 room nights. The facility must be able to seat 2,500 spectators. The AAU tae kwon do program is among the top 10 youth sports in the AAU program in terms of participation.

    Team: Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)

    Event: AAU Junior & Senior National Karate Championships (team and individual)

    Dates: End of June 2002

    History: Pontchartrain Center, Kenner, La., 2001

    Contacts: Jennifer Lujbli, sports manager, (407) 828-3704, fax (407) 934-7242,; or J.B. Mirza, national karate chair, (847) 540-9567, fax (847) 797-0510,

    The Pitch: 2,000 to 3,000 participants compete in this five-day tournament. The competition site must be large enough to accommodate a minimum of 12 rings, seat a minimum of 7,000 spectators and include men's and women's locker rooms with showers. The average number of people traveling with a karate competitor is 2.5.

    Team: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

    Events: Men's and Women's Cross-Country National Championships

    Dates: November 2002

    History: University of Wisconsin-Parkside Cross-Country Course for the past 25 years

    Contact: Terry Hasseltine, cross-country administrator, (918) 494-8828 ext. 118,

    The Pitch: 28 men's and 28 women's teams (approximately 490 runners) compete each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. A well-kept cross-country course that has a 5K women's course and an 8K men's course with two to five finish-line chutes and automatic timing equipment is required. The course must be available Friday for the participants as well, and should be able to seat about 500 spectators. Also requested is a gymnasium or auditorium for the awards ceremony (minimum capacity 800). One headquarters hotel within 15 minutes of the course that has comfortable rooms and meeting room space for at least 150 is needed, and overflow/alternate housing (two to four hotels) for participants and fans also is requested. 350-400 rooms are needed for an average length of stay of two to three nights, with a recommended price range of $55-$75. Hotels will be pre-assigned and sent a list of occupants/participants. Participants will be responsible for making reservations and paying for rooms directly with the hotel. Bid deadline is immediately.

    Team: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

    Event: Men's and Women's Tennis National Championship

    Dates: Mid-May 2002

    History: University of Kentucky Tennis Complex, Lexington, Ky., 2000 and 2001; Patch Reef Tennis Center, Boca Raton, Fla., 1999; Shadow Mountain, Tulsa, Okla., 1998; Indian Springs, Tulsa, Okla., 1997

    Contact: Lori Heeter, tennis administrator, (918) 494-8828 ext. 115,

    The Pitch: 24 men's and 24 women's teams (approximately 400 participants) compete each year in this weeklong tournament, from Saturday to Saturday. The host hotels must be centralized and capable of accommodating several meetings and a banquet for 400-500 people. 300 rooms are needed for an average stay of four nights. The price range should be $60-$80, no matter room occupancy. Participants will be responsible for making reservations and paying for rooms directly with the hotel. Bid deadline is immediately.


    Event: Playboy Scramble Golf Tournaments

    Dates: July through December

    Contacts: Kurt Eide, executive producer,; or Heather Settle, national tournament manager, (813) 265-2899,

    Event: National Skydiving League Championship

    Dates: November 2002

    Contact: Kurt Gaebel, CEO, (904) 740-9093, fax (904) 740-9094,

    Event: InfoSport Inc. Pro Soccer Combine

    Dates: January 2002

    Contact: Julie D. Lanzillo, president, (610) 993-9582, mobile (610) 745-4403,

    Event: Amateur Athletic Union Baseball National Championships

    Dates: Mid-July through mid-August 2004

    Contact: Eddie Clinton, senior sports manager, (407) 828-3162, fax (407) 828-5336,

    Event: USA Curling U.S. Junior Men's and Women's National Championships

    Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2002

    Contacts: Peggy Rotton, (315) 797-2975; or David Garber, (715) 344-1199,


    Teams: Tulsa Convention & Visitor Bureau, Tulsa Sports Commission

    Event: 2005 Women's International Bowling Congress Championship and Annual Convention

    Venues: Multiple

    Teams: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, Bridger Ski Foundation

    Event: 2002 Chevy Truck U.S. Cross-Country Championships

    Venue: Bohart Ranch in Bridger Canyon, outside Bozeman, Mont.

    Print | Tags: AEG, Colorado Rapids
  • Everything’s roses for Levy

    Forget the winner of the Kentucky Derby — the biggest score at Churchill Downs this year was made by Levy Restaurants, the Chicago-based food and beverage company.

    John Long, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Churchill Downs Inc., announced that Levy has been retained to provide food service for all events at the track in Louisville, Ky.

    "We've been in discussion concerning a master plan for upgrading the entire facility, and we're about two-thirds of the way through that," Long said. "Along the way, it became obvious a big part of it was food and beverage, and we think Levy is the best at what they do."

    The agreement with Levy ends a 60-year relationship between Churchill Downs and concessionaire Aramark or its predecessor, Harry M. Stevens, which was acquired by Aramark in 1994.

    Levy will begin service on July 11 at CDI's Trackside off-track betting facility in Louisville. Levy's on-track service makes its debut with the beginning of Churchill Downs' fall meet Oct. 28.

    Long hinted that Levy Restaurants eventually could wind up handling all food and beverage service at three other tracks owned by CDI — Calder Race Course near Miami, Hollywood Park in Southern California and Indiana's Hoosier Park.

    "Two of those are being handled in-house and the other by a local firm that is almost in-house," Long said, "so we have a lot of flexibility there. The obvious question is that if we have a great partnership at one track with Levy, why not in a variety of locations?"

    Levy already provides the food and beverage service at Arlington Park near Chicago, which CDI acquired through a merger last October.

    "Arlington is definitely where this [current agreement with Levy] began," Long said. "We saw the different approach they took toward providing such high-quality food service, and it was a launching pad for the deal at Churchill Downs and whatever else comes up."

    Levy has been the concessionaire at Arlington since 1989, its only racetrack account until last week's announcement.

    "Obviously, we're excited," said Larry Levy, the company's founder and chairman. "Churchill Downs is one of the shrines of sports in America, and the Kentucky Derby is among the most famous single events in the world.

    "I've been to the Derby and always loved it, but I have a feeling I'm going to have a whole different perspective on it next year."

    Levy indicated that races like the Kentucky Derby — and the Arlington Million, which his company already works — present unique challenges for a food and beverage provider.

    "The biggest difference in serving a track instead of a ballpark isn't in the tastes of the customers," Levy said. "It's that at those racing venues, some days the volume can be many multiples of a typical day.

    "The Kentucky Derby draws 160,000 people. To do that job right, we not only need lots of people — something like 3,000 — but you have to have military-type precision. You need to house everybody, feed everybody and train everybody for that one big day, and then you have to do everything right."

    Levy will have some hometown help, however.

    Compass Group, the world's largest food and beverage service provider — and Levy's partner since late last year — has contracts with the University of Louisville and two large auto plants in the area, giving Levy a ready-made personnel pool.

    "We knew that the partnership with Compass would help in all kinds of ways," Levy said, "and this is just one of them."

    Print | Tags: Churchill Downs Inc., Levy Restaurants
  • FIFA goes to court, accuses ISL parent

    International soccer governing body FIFA has asked a court to investigate claims of fraud against ISMM Group, the parent of longtime marketing partner ISL. Accusing the Swiss group of "attempting to keep FIFA in the dark," the federation made its claims in connection with a $60 million payment by Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo to ISMM on Sept. 17 for the television rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

    Two weeks ago, the liquidation of ISMM/ISL (based in Zug) was assured when French group Vivendi pulled out of rescuing the Swiss marketing group. ISMM's deadline had already been extended to allow possible salvation by acquisition.

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, said five companies have offered help in finding more sponsors for next year's World Cup finals in Korea and Japan. FIFA in April set up its own marketing company, FIFA Marketing AG, to step into the breach if ISL couldn't fulfill its obligations. FIFA Marketing has recruited staffers from ISL's soccer division.

    A decision on whether another company will be named as a permanent replacement for ISL will not be made before the next FIFA executive committee meeting June 12. Current sponsors have been asked to submit contracts signed with ISL to FIFA for examination by today.

    On May 25, FIFA described its own financial situation as stable. The federation has been talking to investment bankers about a possible international bond issue to raise $56 million, the sum FIFA estimates it could lose because of the ISL/ISMM failure. FIFA said the bond would be backed by revenue from the sale of marketing rights, and not television, for the 2002 World Cup.

    In its charges of wrongdoing against ISMM, FIFA said it had an agreement with ISMM requiring all payments from licensees to go into a Swiss bank account monitored by FIFA. FIFA claims the payment from TV Globo was put into a different ISMM account, which FIFA had no knowledge of or access to.

    FIFA's complaint is directed against the chief financial officer of ISMM, Hans-Jürg Schmid, and senior vice president Hans-Peter Weber, plus unnamed third parties. "We have decided to take this step on obtaining evidence that payments due to FIFA were being withheld," Blatter said. "This money belongs to football, and FIFA intends to do everything within its power to shed light on this affair and retrieve the money."

    The ISMM Group denied any impropriety and said the payments made by TV Globo constituted a loan.

    The fraud allegations are bound to further heat up the atmosphere in the top level of soccer politics. Blatter, in his first term in office, is under huge pressure these days. FIFA recently called off the World Club Championship tourney that was to have taken place this summer in Spain. Blatter launched the event last year as FIFA's first big event in club (as opposed to national team) soccer.

    European governing body UEFA, whose president, Lennart Johansson, was defeated by Blatter in the FIFA presidential election in 1998, has come down hard on FIFA, expressing "grave concern at the lack of transparency and clarity" in recent developments. It called for a "full and complete explanation on all issues relating to the bankruptcy of ISL, the cancellation of the World Club Championship, the financing of the Confederations Cup and the role played in these and other related matters by the FIFA president and the FIFA administration."

    It is thought that a motion of no confidence regarding Blatter may be considered at the June 12 meeting.

    ISMM held the TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups outside of Europe and the United States.

    Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.

    Print | Tags: Miami Heat

     SEC looking into Sport-Haley

    Denver-based Sport-Haley Inc., which makes golf apparel for men and women, reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a formal investigation of the firm. Company officials said the SEC is looking into whether the firm or officers, directors or employees violated any U.S. securities laws. Additional details were not available.

      Loria ups Expos stake

    Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria has increased his ownership stake in the team to 92 percent, according to a Montreal Gazette report. Loria acquired a 24 percent stake in the team in December 1999.

      Pack to get $13M from NFL

    The Green Bay Packers will receive a $13 million loan from the NFL to help pay for the team's planned $295 million renovation of Lambeau Field. The loan was approved at the league's spring owners meeting late last month. The final financial obstacle to the renovation for the Packers is obtaining $9.1 million from Wisconsin state officials to pay for road and parking improvements around the stadium. Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum included the funding in his proposed state budget, but the expenditure was still pending approval from the state Legislature last week.

    Print | Tags: Green Bay Packers, NFL
  • Florida Sports Awards give other organizers an idea

    The Florida Sports Awards — known as the Jaspers — which started in 1996 as a local charity event, have blown past organizers' expectations, prompting others to follow suit.

    The Emmy-nominated statewide production, slated for Saturday at the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, attracts sports stars from across Florida, as well as film and TV celebrities. It also has attracted attention from other cities hoping to replicate the Jaspers' success.

    The Nashville Sports Council was the first to call. It contacted Florida Sports Awards President and CEO Andrew Jacobs a few years ago to learn how to start its version of the awards dinner, the American General Dinner of Champions. Another call came from former Major League Baseball player Glenn Davis, a Columbus, Ga., resident who plans to produce a similar program.

    "When you're involved in fund raising, you're always looking for new ways to generate funds for your endeavor," Davis said. "Andy's got a good one."

    "We were looking at the Jaspers format and were impressed with what [they] were doing," said Randy Puckett, events director for the Nashville Sports Council.

    Nashville officials copied much of Jacksonville's technical production aspects, spending $125,000. By comparison, the Jaspers event is produced with a $140,000 budget, plus in-kind donations.

    Nashville's event, now in its third year, attracts 1,000 attendees annually and will be broadcast for the first time this year. Plans are to increase attendance to 1,500 during the next few years.

    "It's really grown in popularity," Puckett said. "I gauge that by the participation of the award winners. The [Tennessee] Titans had a month off and all came back to be here at the event."

    This year, Robert Wuhl, star, writer and producer of HBO's "Arli$$," will host the Florida show.

    "The Jaspers [are] the most prestigious sports event as far as exposure in the state, by far," said Mike Sullivan, director of sports development for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

    Devan Stuart writes for The Business Journal in Jacksonville.

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, Tennessee Titans



    Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Net will televise the second annual Royal Neighbors of America United States Professional Volleyball International Millennium Cup. The match, featuring the USPV "Dream Team" vs. Team America, will be shown on a tape-delayed basis on June 30. Chris Marlowe and Heather Cox will handle play-by-play and color commentary duties. The "USPV Dream Team" is currently on a four-month tour designed to generate interest in the USPV, which begins play in January with eight teams.




    Maxx Motorsports Inc. added Cale Yarborough as national spokesman for its current and future motorsports initiatives. Yarborough remains the only NASCAR Winston Cup driver to win three consecutive championships and is fifth on the all-time win list. Maxx Motorsports Inc. places particular emphasis on examining emerging trends, technological advancements and branding initiatives that will maximize the growth of motorsports.

    General Nutrition Cos. chose triathlete Hunter Kemper, bobsledders Jean Racine and Jen Davidson, and powerlifter Brad Gillingham as spokespeople for its Pro Performance line of performance-enhancing products.

    UltimateTV signed John Madden to an exclusive one-year deal to host a dedicated 30-minute infomercial that will run exclusively on DirecTV later this year. Madden will demonstrate UltimateTV's products and features. San Francisco-based FCB Sports Marketing negotiated the deal on behalf of UltimateTV.

    Graphite Design International signed an agreement with PGA Tour player Franklin Langham. Langham will use and endorse GDI's Graphite Alloy Technology Shafts, which are available to consumers. GDI manufactures and distributes shafts for its own brand as well as to original golf equipment manufacturers worldwide.



    The annual Jay Fund Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, dinner and silent auction hosted by Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin raised more than $180,000 for local pediatric leukemia patients at the Wolfson Children's Hospital. Coughlin founded the Jay Fund in honor of former Boston College football player Jay McGillis, who died of leukemia in 1992.

    Cardinals Care, the St. Louis Cardinal charity, donated $340,000 to area youth organizations to assist with scholarships, mentoring programs, counseling for abused children and summer camps for kids with AIDS. The charity also announced the construction of three new ballfield projects in East St. Louis, Ill., and several youth ticket programs for kids who otherwise would not be able to attend games. The ticket programs are sponsored by manager Tony LaRussa and players Andy Benes, Bobby Bonilla, Darryl Kile and Mike Metheny.

    The Sunnyside School District in Sunnyside, Wash., received a $14,500 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund prior to a Seattle Mariners' game at Safeco Field. The grant will be used by Sunnyside to renovate the principal baseball fields in the community to provide a safe facility for more than 300 participants in spring and summer baseball leagues. Baseball Tomorrow Fund grants for 2001 currently total $487,000.

    Hockey fans and a San Diego radio station donated more than $50,000 to help defray the medical expenses of San Diego Gulls captain B.J. MacPherson, who suffered a dislocated neck in Game 4 of the West Coast Hockey League's Taylor Cup finals. MacPherson was injured May 4 and was transferred to San Diego on May 11. Fans raised $4,000 for the MacPherson Fund at Game 5 and nearly $50,000 during Game 6, including a $25,000 donation from KGB 101.5 FM.

    The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation raised $400,000 with its seventh annual Comcast Capital Tennis Challenge on May 5. Comcast, Chevy Chase Bank, Rouse Co. and the Fannie Mae Foundation were sponsors of the event. The WTEF is a nonprofit organization aiming to improve the lives of Washington youth from lower-income communities through after-school tennis programs, education and community building. The WTEF also provides athletes opportunities to obtain college tennis and academic scholarships.

    The Phoenix-based National Minority Golf Foundation raised $455,532 and distributed 250 pairs of golf shoes, 1,400 golf balls, 200 golf clubs, 11 sets of junior golf clubs and hundreds of gloves and accessories as part of its effort to increase minority youth participation in golf. Major contributors to the foundation were Nike Golf, the Tiger Woods Foundation and local country clubs and individuals. The foundation also enabled 136 junior golfers to participate in national championships.

    Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference officials and celebrities raised more than $7,500 for the Georgia Baptist Health Care System's Mobile Health Services Unit at the annual Office Depot ACC/SEC Golf Invitational, a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Festival event. Participants included ESPN analyst Lee Corso, Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, Georgia State basketball coach Lefty Driesell and former Georgia and NFL kicker Kevin Butler. In its fourth year, the two-day invitational has raised more than $28,000 to help fund units of the Georgia Baptist Health Care System.

    The Northside Athletes Foundation, a charitable organization made of businessmen, donated $30,000 to the Northside Youth Organization in Atlanta. The grant will be used to help renovate the NYO's Chastain Park facilities, where more than 2,000 kids participate in football, baseball and basketball throughout the year. The NYO is one of the Southeast's oldest multisport youth organizations. The NAF also offers annual support to the Murphy Candler and Morgan Falls sports parks, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Atlanta Junior Golf Association.

    During halftime of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Spurs at the Alamodome, the Spurs Foundation recognized 43 local charities selected as recipients of more than $112,000. Grant recipients will use their donations for a variety of educational and recreational programs. Funded solely through fund-raisers and donations, the Spurs Foundation has provided more that $4.5 million to San Antonio and the south Texas community during the past 13 years.

    The Royal Caribbean Classic contributed a tournament-record $677,000 to charity as part of this year's tournament. The United Way's Success by Six program, a charity dedicated to addressing the needs of preschool children, was the primary beneficiary. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the YMCA of Greater Miami, Metro-Dade's Adopt-A-Park program, Shake A Leg, Metro-Dade's Police Benevolent Association's Project: New Born and the Mental Health Association also shared in the proceeds. This year's gift brings the tournament's total charitable proceeds to more than $4 million since it began in 1987 and more than $2 million during the past four years.

    The Freddie Mac Foundation provided a $1 million grant to Youth for Tomorrow, a home for at-risk teen-age boys founded by Joe Gibbs in 1986. The money will go toward completing a $4 million academic and physical fitness facility, which includes classrooms, faculty offices, a gym and dining area. The 28,000-square-foot facility also will include the first group of girls to enter the home. The foundation has contributed $125,000 during the last few years. Gibbs is chairman of Youth for Tomorrow, a program that has helped more than 425 teens since its founding.

    The Harlem Globetrotters contributed $100,000 to the Reebok Human Rights Foundation. The Globetrotters hosted a black-tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5 that was presented by Reebok International Ltd. The event, one of several held during the Globetrotters' 75th anniversary season, raised nearly $1 million for charities. Reebok established the Reebok Human Rights Awards program in 1988 to recognize young people on the forefront of human rights activism around the world. The award provides recipients with a $50,000 grant from the Reebok Human Rights Foundation for the human rights organization of their choice. Since its inception, 60 young activists from 30 countries have received the award.

    The Atlanta Thrashers awarded grants to 17 metro Atlanta charities and made donations in excess of $300,000 during the 2000-01 season. The team's overall contributions to Georgia-based community service and charitable children's organizations consist of grant money, team memorabilia, game tickets, hockey equipment and other team-related items. The grants were awarded to charities and organizations focusing on projects with an emphasis on health and wellness for children grades K-12. Several Thrasher events and activities raised funds for the foundation, including the Atlanta Thrashers Golf Tournament, the Thrashers SuperSkills event, the Thrashers' Wives Valentine Puck Surprise and the Powertel PowerPlay Scoring Program. The Atlanta Thrashers Foundation is a nonprofit, grant-making public charity that assists charitable, educational and public service organizations.

    The National Thoroughbred Racing Association named the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation a horse-racing affiliate of its nonprofit branch, NTRA Charities. The TRF provides aftercare and adoptive services for retired race horses. Horse-racing affiliates of NTRA Charities provide programs and services to racing's horses and people and to civic communities that are home to thoroughbred racing and breeding. Many TRF farms are located at correctional facilities or homes for troubled youths and allow caretakers to learn a vocational trade and compassion for living creatures.




    Logisoft Corp. completed the acquisition of Maxx Motorsports Inc. Logisoft issued 7.75 million shares of its common stock in exchange for 100 percent of the issued and outstanding shares of Maxx. As part of the definitive stock agreement, Logisoft received $7.1 million in equity funding and divested two of its operating subsidiaries. The subsidiaries were purchased by a group of Logisoft shareholders led by Robert Lamy. Maxx Motorsports Inc. is a marketing, research and development company focused on the industry of motorsports.

    Action Performance Cos. agreed to buy the Winner's Circle brand name and product inventory from toy seller Hasbro Inc. Action designs and sells a broad range of products including motorsports-related die-cast car replica collectibles, apparel, souvenirs and other memorabilia.

    Promotion Management Inc. (PMI) purchased the Green Bay Gamblers hockey team from John Stauffacher. The Gamblers, a junior hockey team affiliated with the United States Hockey League, have been based in Green Bay since their inception seven years ago. Beginning in 2002-03, the Gamblers will play their home games at the 11,000-seat Resch Center that is currently under construction in Green Bay. PMI has been awarded the contract to manage the new facility. PMI provides management services to the Green Bay Area Visitor and Convention Bureau, Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame and the Tri-Cities Coliseum in Kennewick, Wash.


    Los Angeles-based Digital Sports Strategies, an interactive consultancy, opened its doors for business. Steve Bradbury, former group vice president and content chair for the eSportsWorld interactive conferences, is the company founder.

    Sports Capital Partners relocated its offices to 527 Madison Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY, 10022. The new phone number is (212) 634-3304.


    Ticketmaster and the U.S. Tennis Association signed a multiyear ticketing and technology agreement that makes Ticketmaster the exclusive ticketing service for the U.S. Open. The deal includes a multifaceted promotional component and strengthens the relationship between the USTA and Tickemaster's parent company, USA Networks Inc., the exclusive domestic cable carrier of the U.S. Open. Ticketmaster also will provide a U.S. Open National Hotline for fans and in-venue technology that will provide USTA with in-house processing of group, subscription and VIP ticketing. The 2001 U.S. Open will be held at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., from Aug. 26 through Sept. 9.


    Head N.V. signed a five-year agreement for Romika GmbH to license the Head Performance Footwear brand covering athletic, outdoor and casual shoes and boots. The license period begins Jan. 1, 2002, and Romika, as the licensee, will be in charge of Head Performance Footwear, which will become a separate division within Romika. Andy Winsauer, who has overseen the relaunch of Head Performance Footwear, will join the management team of Romika.

    Spalding Sports Worldwide renewed its licensing agreement with NorthPole Travel Division of Fremont, Calif., for gear bags and backpacks in the United States and Canada. Spalding's new line will debut for back-to-school in the fall and will include wheeled daypacks and sport bags. NorthPole has been a licensing partner with Spalding since 1997, and under the agreement it will distribute the Spalding line through mass merchants and sporting goods retailers. Spalding Sports Worldwide is a full-line sporting goods company.

    The Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) entered into a partnership with to provide their members with access to most major brands of supplies within the range category. Over the next year, GRAA and will provide their services through GRAA's Golf Range Magazine. will be involved with the annual meeting as well as attending other GRAA functions. The GRAA is a source of education, information and purchasing services for the range industry. is a national golf distribution company with off-line and online capabilities and the official purchasing program for the National Golf Course Owners Association.

    Source: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal research

    Print | Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Comcast, ESPN, Fox, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Lakers, NASCAR, NTRA, NFL, Office Depot, Reebok, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Mariners, Spalding, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Frozen Four’s big, in Final Four’s shadow

    College hockey is a regional game. If the Boston College Eagles didn't realize it before they traveled to Anaheim for the 1999 NCAA Frozen Four, they found out quickly on arrival.

    The team took taxis from the airport to its hotel. B.C. associate athletic director Susan Mosher recalls that one cabbie, upon discovering what sport the group played, commented: "I didn't know they played hockey in college."

    Compared with the hype of the men's basketball Final Four, the Frozen Four registers barely a blip on the radar screen. The NCAA has some 15 corporate sponsors who get exclusive rights to promotional and signage appearances at all NCAA championship events. Only four of the sponsors — Hershey Foods, Kraft Foods, Pepsi and Phoenix Wealth Management — had a presence this April at the 2001 Frozen Four in Albany, N.Y.

    The lack of sponsor presence was partly attributable to the event's timing. The semifinal games were played April 5 — just three days after the Final Four ended, where all 15 sponsors were in full attendance. Those who chose to go to Albany to tap into that rabid Northeast hockey hotbed, spanning from Massachusetts to Minnesota, discovered a Frozen Four fan base and on-site enthusiasm that matches any championship event the NCAA offers.

    "It's No. 2 behind men's basketball as far as its revenue generating for the association," said Tom Jacobs, NCAA director of championships. "This event is supported very well. There's a very strong group of core college hockey fans, probably 5,000 or 7,000 strong, that are there every year no matter where it is."

    Average attendance for the event over the last five years was 14,723, all sellouts except for 1999. This year's event averaged 13,390. Jacobs said the tournament generates between $500,000 and $1 million profit for the NCAA each year. Estimates are that this year's event, won by Boston College over North Dakota in a 3-2 overtime thriller, will yield $800,000.

    The NCAA seems to have decided the best way to market the Frozen Four is to keep it in safe hockey country where sellouts are guaranteed and transportation costs are low. Next year's Frozen Four will be held in St. Paul, Minn.

    Because the NCAA holds exclusive sponsor rights, individual schools can't do much to market their own participation. Still, success brings its own rewards. One of Boston College's major sponsors is Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New England. By the time hockey season rolls around next fall, Boston College commemorative Frozen Four championship bottles will have hit the shelves.

    Mark Brender is a writer in Ontario.

    Print | Tags: Kraft Foods, NCAA, PepsiCo, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Giants bring scorecard into 21st century with Palm ‘beaming stations’

    The tradition of baseball fans hand-scoring a game at the ballpark seems to have gone the way of twilight doubleheaders and multipurpose stadiums. With attention spans growing shorter and stadiums providing all manner of in-game entertainment, some fans struggle just to keep track of who's winning. Only die-hard traditionalists, it seems, follow a game closely enough to record each at-bat.

    The San Francisco Giants hope to resurrect scorekeeping with a 21st century twist. Beginning with the team's home stand against the San Diego Padres this week, fans will be able to score each batter electronically on their hand-held Palm devices.

    Before the game, fans can take their Palm units to one of three "beaming stations" located on the concourse levels at Pacific Bell Park. There they'll be able to download updated rosters, statistics, lineups, pitching matchups and biographical information.

    The service, an outgrowth of Palm's existing marketing relationship with the Giants, will be available free of charge to fans. Larry Baer, the club's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the innovation is a natural fit for a team near Silicon Valley.

    "We're always looking for any possible way to create new technological advantages for us," Baer said. "A lot of the things we're doing are state-of-the-art, and we will continue to push in those directions."

    Club officials say they'll wait for fan feedback to determine what other wrinkles the service will offer in the future. One possibility is a digital baseball card, perhaps sponsored and produced by a licensed manufacturer, that could be downloaded at the park and "traded" to other Palm owners.

    "We're figuring this out as we go along," said Matt Ellis, who handles the Palm account for the Giants. "The idea is to get people coming back to the station."

    The beaming stations, a joint venture between Palm and San Francisco-based WideRay Corp., consist of three book-sized "jacks" that send high-speed infrared beams of information. Fans need only stand within 15 feet of the jacks and hold up their Palm units.

    Christian Leone, the chief operating officer for WideRay, said the initial download of Giants information should take as little as 10 seconds. Updates, perhaps released during the game, could take even less time.

    "It's something a fan could visit between innings on the way to the concession stand or rest room," Leone said.

    WideRay also plans to install beaming stations at malls, enabling customers to download maps, movie times and coupons. The technology made its sports debut in April at Stanford's intrasquad spring football game.

    To introduce the system at Pac Bell Park, Palm will be the sponsor of a new "Scoring 101" segment that will air on the ballpark scoreboard. After Giants game footage is aired, fans will be given four choices on how to score the play.

    Once the answer is given, fans who have not done so already will be directed to the beaming stations to have their Palm devices activated.

    Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palm Inc. came on board as a Giants sponsor last year after the company spun off from parent 3Com Corp.

    Keith Bruce, a senior vice president of Foote Cone & Belding Sports Marketing, Palm's agency, said Palm likely would not have extended the deal for two years were it not for the added value of being able to showcase the scorecard service. Similar Palm-based technology is available at 24 PGA Tour sites.

    "We want people to use their Palms in conjunction with the event," Bruce said. "If this goes over well with the Giants, we'd likely pursue other venues."

    The Giants, who have packed Pac Bell Park since its opening a year ago, do not need incentives to draw more fans. "We're not sure how many people bring Palm units to the park," Ellis said. "But this is something that can enhance the fan experience for a significant portion of our fans."

    n SPONSORSHIP CD-ROM: A Phoenix company has created an interactive CD-ROM product it believes will help teams better market sponsorships. New Tier Inc., which is best known for its interactive screen saver CD-ROMs that have been given out at more than 100 sporting events, has produced a CD-ROM for the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Pepsi Center that showcases all of the arena's potential advertising space.

    "Potential sponsors can get a good idea of what their logo would look like in the building without ever visiting," said Michael Rossman, CEO of New Tier.

    Rossman said New Tier can produce 2,500 CD-ROMs for a team or arena at a cost of between $10,000 and $15,000.

    Pete Williams ( is a writer in Florida.

    Print | Tags: Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, New York Giants, PepsiCo, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
  • Hamm’s agent using Venus, Kournikova deals as benchmarks for Nike

    Mia Hamm and her agent, David Bober of Bober Associates Inc., have started negotiations for a new contract with Nike.

    Hamm's four-year endorsement deal expires in August, and according to Bober, "We're trying to come up with something that's fair to her and recognizes her popularity and place in women's sports and in sports in general."

    Bober wouldn't say what Hamm's current deal is worth and said he couldn't begin to speculate about the value of a new deal. He did say that he is using Venus Williams' five-year, $40 million deal with Reebok, Anna Kournikova's deal with Adidas and Lindsay Davenport's deal with Nike as barometers.

    "The reality is you could probably count on two hands the number of athletes, male or female, that have significant relationships with national companies and that really transcend sports," Bober said. "[Hamm is] one of those 10."

    Bober said he is seeking a six- to eight-year deal.

    Nike officials wouldn't comment.

     ADIDAS SIGNS PEARCE: Christie Pearce, a member of the U.S. women's soccer team and defender for the WUSA's New York Power, signed an agreement with Adidas to endorse and promote its product.

    The deal started Friday and will run through
    Dec. 31, 2002, with an option to extend. It includes Adidas gear, a base payment and an incentive structure for performance with the Power and on the national team, said Pearce's agent, Sue Rodin.

    Rodin wouldn't comment on financial terms.

    As part of her agreement, Pearce will wear Adidas apparel and shoes and will make appearances for the company. Additionally, Adidas can use her in company promotions, Rodin said.

    Pearce had endorsed Kappa products prior to her current Adidas deal.

      LUCY OPENS STORES: Lucy, the athletic apparel and footwear company founded by former Nike exec Sue Levin, has made good on its promise to start opening additional stand-alone stores.

    The Portland company already has a store in New York. Now it says it will open a second store this summer in San Francisco. That store will feature an expanded offering of athletic apparel, footwear and accessories and is scheduled to open in August.

    Lucy was founded as, a Web retailer, in November 1999. The company shifted its business plan and name to be known simply as Lucy in 2000 when it decided to shut down its Web site and focus on stand-alone retail stores.

    Jennifer Lee can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Adidas

    Kevin Malone's complaints about the Los Angeles Times ["Cynical paper takes a swing and a myth," May 14] sound like an echo of the statements Sandy Alderson made, to much denial from the Bay Area media, just before he left Oakland for the commissioner's office.

    Anyone who doubts the media's influence with fans need look no farther than 400 miles north of Dodger Stadium. Since the A's arrived in Oakland in 1968, they have outperformed the Giants, winning 11 divisions to San Francisco's four and four World Series to the Giants' none. Prior to the construction of Pacific Bell Park — and perhaps cumulative to this day — the A's have outdrawn the Giants at the turnstiles. The construction of the football grandstands known as Mount Davis supposedly "ruined" what previously had been grudgingly acknowledged by the Frisco press as the more fan-friendly stadium between the Coliseum and Candlestick Park. Now, one is apparently loathe to admit to paying to see baseball anywhere but McCovey Cove.

    Yet, when I went alone to a game at the Coliseum last season, I was joined briefly by another guy playing hooky from work who began raving about how nice the park was and how he hadn't expected it to be so pleasant or the A's to have such a solid team. From out of town, I asked? No, he was a Giants season-ticket holder!

    The Giants-leaning press has always gone beyond simply highlighting "the Lads" — as the Frisco reporters call the Giants — above the fold and the A's below. The acerbic and definitely not diversity-friendly Will Clark was revered, given a pass in a city that may well be the PC capital of the world while every Jose Canseco speeding ticket was front-page news.

    The 1989 World Series, swept by the A's by the widest run-differential of any four-and-out series, is always asterisked as "earthquake interrupted," as though "the Lads" would no doubt have easily erased the two games-to-none hole they were in when the Loma Prieta temblor struck.

    There is no doubt the media can and does influence fan choices.

    Dave Weber
    Olympia, Wash.

    Fordham Prep’s proud of alumni, Bronx home

    I very much enjoyed the article on Tim Brosnan [“Master of the straight pitch”] in the May 14-20 issue. Tim serves as a trustee of Fordham Prep and he delivered our commencement address on May 30. There is one error in the article that all good baseball historians have no doubt caught. Ever since the time of Frankie Frisch ’16, Johnny Murphy ’25, Snuffy Stirnweiss ’36 and Vin Scully ’44, Fordham Prep has been located in the Bronx, not Manhattan.

    Joseph P. Parkes

    Joseph P. Parkes, S.J., is president of Fordham Prep.

    Print | Tags: New York Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants


    Big O Tires signs as the season presenting sponsor of Sears Point Raceway.


    $1.5 million total value in cash and promotions


    Four years


    Sharon Lane, regional director of marketing, Big O Tires; Tim Schuldt, vice president of sales and marketing, Sears Point Raceway; Frank Gullum, manager of sponsorship sales and development, Sears Point Raceway


     Official tire retailer of Sears Point Raceway

      Included in all television, radio and print advertising placed by the track

      Signage visible during five televised races, including placements on lap leader tower and eight-foot by 20-foot signs throughout the road course

      Rights to track logo and event tickets for promotions

      Display space at one of eight interactive pavilions (beginning with 2002 race season)

      Hospitality suite


    Sears Point Raceway is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., which also owns the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. The major race at the Sears Point road course is a NASCAR Winston Cup race. The track draws about 600,000 spectators annually.

    Big O Tires has more than 500 locations throughout the United States. Most locations are owned by franchisees. The funding for the Sears Point deal came from co-op marketing funds from the Northern California/Nevada Regional, which is composed of about 100 franchisees.


    This won't be the end of seven-figure deals for Sears Point. The track will soon be in the marketplace selling title sponsorship. The eventuality of a naming-rights partnership was factored into the Big O deal, so the sponsor won't be surprised down the road. Big O isn't new to the track. The company is a longtime but minor sponsor. Big O gets the name recognition from the constant promotion of track events. But even more important, it will have promotional rights to races. The company knows that an offer of free tickets with a purchase lures customers to the door. A multiyear deal gives the sponsor a chance to build some equity in the relationship, and if the company takes full advantage of the promotional tie-ins, it shouldn't be too difficult to get a good return on this investment.

    Alan Friedman ( is founder of Team Marketing Report.

    Print | Tags: NASCAR, Speedway Motorsports Inc.
  • Knight Commission on college sports to produce recommendations June 26

    The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a panel of 22 leaders in education, business and sports, will hold a June 26 news conference in Washington to release its report on intercollegiate athletics and make recommendations for reform.

    Commission members wouldn't comment on any of the recommendations.

    This will be the commission's second set of reform proposals for college sports. The commission first met 10 years ago and proposed reforms that would give college and university presidents more control over their athletic departments. Many of the recommendations from that first set of meetings were adopted by the NCAA in 1996 when it changed its governance structure to give more control to university presidents.

    — Jennifer Lee

    Print | Tags: NCAA, Oakland Athletics
  • Kodak in NBC’s picture for Olympic coverage

    Eastman Kodak, an International Olympic Committee TOP sponsor, has signed a deal with NBC to buy advertising time on the network's coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

    The network also has struck a major Salt Lake City Games ad deal with an undisclosed pharmaceutical company, industry sources said. Together, the two deals are worth about $50 million, according to the sources.

    Lisa Kowitt, media director at Eastman Kodak Co., would not divulge the dollar value of Kodak's Olympics ad buy. Neither would NBC.

    Under terms of its agreement with NBC, Kodak has secured category exclusivity on the network's broadcasts of the Salt Lake City Games, meaning it will be the only company in the imaging category advertising on the telecasts. The 2002 Winter Games are set for Feb. 8-24.

    "The Olympics are truly one of the [few] global events that offer a marketer mass reach," Kowitt said. "People are so passionate about the Games that it's something we want to be a part of. ... It's something that we have had a long-term association with and will continue to have a long-term association with."

    Kodak has been an Olympic sponsor since 1896 and a TOP sponsor since 1988.

    Kodak has not yet decided what the content of its Olympic Games ads will be, nor has the company determined whether it will use the broadcasts as a platform to introduce new products. "We're in strategy sessions right now for 2002," Kowitt said, adding that the mass appeal of the Games provides an ideal environment in which to market new brands.

    The fact that the 2002 Games are U.S.-based is a bonus for U.S. marketers, Kowitt said. "The fact that viewers will be able to see the Games live, that means a lot," she said.

    Print | Tags: IOC, NBC
  • League says it has the skill

    A perfect slogan for Major League Lacrosse might be "If you hated the XFL ..."

    The first-ever outdoor professional lacrosse league, which makes its debut Thursday and will field teams in six Northeast markets, is positioned as wholesome, family entertainment — with the best players ever assembled in the sport.

    "Some of the other new sports leagues have launched with retreads or guys who can't play at the highest level," said Garry Roe, the MLL's executive director. "You can't fool the general public. If the play isn't there from either an excitement or talent standpoint, they're going to go away."

    Although the MLL has made a few crowd-pleasing rule changes, like a two-point play and a 45-second shot clock, its goal is to appeal to lacrosse purists first.

    The MLL won't even have much in common with the indoor National Lacrosse League, a nine-team pro circuit that averaged a respectable 8,437 fans a game last season. When the MLL staged a six-game all-star tour last summer, the male 24- to 35-year-olds who dominate the stands at indoor games were nowhere to be found. Instead, the bleachers were filled with families and their preteen children, mixed in with high school and college-age lacrosse players.

    "We tried cheerleaders and loud music during play," Roe said. "The universal response we got was our fans don't like that."

    Roe heads a full-time staff of 10 out of offices in Secaucus, N.J.

    The league is jointly owned by team operators, who have about a 60 percent stake, and a central investment team headed by fitness guru Jake Steinfeld, Warrior Lacrosse owner Dave Morrow, Family Channel founder Tim Robertson and Roe.

    Team operators each paid a franchise fee of about $1 million and must cover all franchise operating expenses. Players earn anywhere from $8,000 to $22,000 a season.

    Roe said the league as a whole expects to gross about $6 million this season but will probably lose about $2 million.

    "We're not naive enough to think we'll make money the first year," he said.

    Teams will each play seven home games in facilities that range in capacity from 4,700 to 12,000, and the league projects an average attendance of 5,000 a game, equal to what the exhibition games drew last summer.

    As of last week, teams had sold an average of 920 season tickets. The Rochester (N.Y.) Rattlers led the way with more than 1,600.

    To back the individual teams' marketing efforts, the league also is running a print ad campaign in lacrosse publications and four major daily newspapers: The Sun in Baltimore, Newsday, Rochester Democrat and Boston Herald. And the league has teamed up with Host Communications to create its own magazine, Fuel, to be sold at games.

    In addition, two vans will travel to lacrosse tournaments, fairs and concerts throughout the summer, unrolling interactive exhibits that test the speed or accuracy of a lacrosse shot.

    "No one has ever promoted the sport of lacrosse like the league is about to," said Steve Donner, CEO and part-owner of the Rattlers and a shareholder in three other Rochester professional sports teams.

    To date, the league has sold only three of six available sponsorship slots, to Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light, Yahoo! Sports and SoBe Beverages, now part of PepsiCo. Each will get logo placement on one team's uniform, field-side advertising and two 30-second commercial spots in every game telecast. For that they each pay an average of $1.5 million in cash over three years, Roe said.

    Reebok and Morrow's Warrior Lacrosse are two of six official suppliers.

    Sponsors got good news from the league when the television schedule was announced. Originally, the league had promised that 24 games would be televised, but Fox Sports Net and five regional stations ultimately agreed to air a total of 60 MLL contests, more than doubling the advertising inventory allotted to sponsors.

    As important as the cash portion of the sponsorships is an agreement to help market the sport. Roe said each sponsorship deal includes guarantees that the sponsors will back the league through consumer promotions or themed advertising.

    Yahoo! Sports will run the league's all-star balloting online, as it does with the MLS.

    Anheuser-Busch will place four to six Bud Light billboards in each MLL market touting its official sponsorship, the league said. SoBe will give away MLL products from its six "Lizard Mobiles," which travel to concerts and other events throughout the summer. It also will tag radio ads with a mention of the MLL. SoBe founder Bill Bishop owns the MLL's Long Island Lizards, who have adopted the SoBe logo as the team's.

    Roe said that the league twice walked away from potential sponsors who viewed the MLL only as a media buy and would not commit to marketing the sport.

    Major League Lacrosse
    franchise capsules
    Baltimore Bayhawks
    Venue/capacity: Homewood Field (Johns Hopkins University)/10,000
    Owner-operators: Gordan Boone, Chris Hutchins, Dave Pivec, Ray Schulmeyer
    Boston Cannons
    Venue/capacity: Cawley Stadium (Lowell, Mass.)/6,800
    Owner-operator: Matt Dwyer
    Bridgeport Barrage
    Venue/capacity: Harbour Yard/5,300
    Owner-operators: Charlie Dowd, Mickey Hebert, Ken Paul
    Long Island Lizards
    Venue/capacity: EAB Park (Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.)/12,000
    Owner-operators: Bill Bishop, Billy Bishop, et al.
    New Jersey Pride
    Venue/capacity: Yogi Berra Stadium (Montclair, N.J.)/4,700
    Owner-operators: John Flood, Bob Turco
    Rochester Rattlers
    Venue/capacity: Frontier Field/10,868
    Owner-operators: Frank DuRoss, Steve Donner, Chris Economides

    Print | Tags: Fox, Major League Lacrosse, MLS, National Lacrosse League, Reebok
  • Leonsis helps make a dream come true for D.C. student

    The cards were stacked against Michael Hendrickson. He was living with his mother, three brothers and four sisters in a small apartment in an inner-city neighborhood in southeast Washington. He had no father figure in his life and virtually no support system when it came to academics.

    His luck turned last summer.

    The senior at Washington's H.D. Woodson High School got into the Hoop Dreams program and found out his mentor would be Ted Leonsis, a senior executive at America Online and owner of the Washington Capitals.

    Now, just a year later, Hendrickson has an internship at the Capitals' office and is preparing to attend Hampton University in the fall, becoming the first male in his family to go to college.

    The Hoop Dreams mentoring program, part of the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, matches professionals from the business community with students from inner-city high schools. The goal: getting the students prepared for and admitted to college.

    "He helps me not only academically, but with personal problems," Hendrickson said of Leonsis. "I consider him to be a second father. Ted has always been there for me whenever I need him."

    Woodson High School teacher Susie Kay started Washington's Hoop Dreams program in 1996 with a one-day, three-on-three charity basketball game that raised $3,000. Five years later, Hoop Dreams is a year-round effort, awarding more than $500,000 in scholarships annually. The basketball tournament still takes place — 128 teams are set to hit the court Saturday.

    Since 1996, the program ( has awarded more than 330 academic scholarships, with renewals going to 236 students. Kay said she hoped to award $500,000 by the end of May and then raise several hundred thousand more by the end of August.

    Leonsis got involved after committing $25,000 to the scholarship fund.

    "I approached Ted with the normal regimen: Will you be a sponsor? Will you be a big sponsor? Will you be on the board?" Kay said. "He said, 'I really just want to be a mentor in the mentoring program.' "

    Like all mentors, Leonsis spent the 2000-01 school year working with Hendrickson.

    "I look at this kid and go, 'I want to hire him,' " Leonsis said. "He's one of eight kids and doesn't know his dad. They live in a one- or two-bedroom apartment. I think several family members have been incarcerated. He's just risen above all of this."

    Leonsis spent time with Hendrickson regularly and e-mailed him every day to see how he was doing in school.

    They had a deal: Hendrickson e-mailed Leonsis before and after a test to talk about how he prepared and how he performed. Leonsis also helped Hendrickson prepare for the SAT and apply for colleges and scholarships.

    "It's very complex and complicated, and no one in his family had ever done this before," Leonsis said. "So when he got in, it was like, 'Wow.' There was an unbelievable sense of accomplishment for the two of us."

    The program has volunteer mentors from many segments of the business community. All 60 of the seniors participating in the program are expected to attend college. Fifty-eight of the 60 have applied for Hoop Dreams scholarships. The mentors will see them through college, continuing relationships and providing support.

    Kay said the key to the program is the continued mentoring, and she initially wondered how to manage Leonsis as a mentor.

    "There's a lot of tough love," Kay said. "I have to stay on the mentors. I thought, 'How am I going to stay on Ted Leonsis?' But I never had to from the first second."

    Because of the experience in the mentoring programs, Leonsis created the Leonsis Scholar within the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund. Each year, four D.C. students will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship for each year they stay in college and meet certain academic requirements.

    Leonsis hopes to get more of the business community involved.

    "There's got to be hundreds of thousands of kids just like [Michael] in the city," Leonsis said. "It's our duty to help these kids do well."

    Cynthia Hobgood writes for the Washington Business Journal.

    Print | Tags: Washington Capitals
  • Little decided for as season nears

    The NFL and its potential partners in the production and marketing of were still in heavy discussions on deals last week. As the NFL season nears and the window for creating and marketing the next-generation site narrows, the situation is still complicated, said several close sources. Resolution could happen quickly or drag on many more weeks, they said.

    While sources indicated last month that was the front-runner to produce and market the site, ESPN Internet Group has been holding fresh discussions with the league during the last two weeks. ESPN Internet Group produces the site and can continue by matching a competitor's deal.

    Simultaneously, America Online and the league were disagreeing over the length of a possible distribution deal, sources said.

    AOL and had been the front-runners to co-partner with the NFL several weeks ago, after ESPN Internet Group apparently chose to withdraw from the bargaining.

    Executives at AOL, ESPN Internet Group and did not return calls for comment. The NFL declined comment.

    In the last few weeks,'s possible involvement was modified by the entrance of CBS and its parent, Viacom, into the picture, several sources said. CBS is a 20 percent owner of SportsLine and an NFL television partner, and sources said CBS and Viacom were considering contributing rights money and additional marketing avenues to sweeten the deal.

    Similarly, an AOL deal would involve resources from other AOL Time Warner companies, such as Turner Sports.

    The league has been angling to sign two deals, one with a sports entity, such as ESPN Internet Group or, to produce the site and market it to serious fans, and another with a portal, such as AOL, to distribute content to more casual fans.

    The AOL deal seemed somewhat precarious last week, sources said, as the company was leery of long-term sports-Web commitments in light of's acknowledged difficulty in generating advertising revenue this year. Turner Sports is in the first year of a multiyear deal with NASCAR to produce the site.

    Sources said AOL is interested in a two-year deal with the league and the option to extend beyond that, but the league was demanding a longer term.

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NASCAR, NFL
  • Looking to the past can answer a lot of those Web sports marketing questions

    While attending the Interactive Sports West conference in Los Angeles a few weeks back, I was amazed at how many people there were asking questions about online advertising.

    Executives from prominent national properties and smaller regional properties all still seemed to be asking themselves, and anyone else who would listen, why they have yet to generate even a small percentage of online advertising revenue.

    The struggles are being felt by more than just the sports properties. From the third quarter of 2000, the Internet Advertising Bureau listed Internet advertising spending at just under $2 billion, a drop of 6.5 percent from the previous quarter. Additionally, last year broke a string of 19 consecutive quarters of growth in online advertising.

    Sports sales executives claim that media buyers usually pass on online buys because the Web, while an ideal source for a discounted offer, doesn't compare with other traditional channels to build their brands.

    The standard view of media buyers is that television viewers watch TV for entertainment and Web users go online for a specific purpose. Thus, they end up creating an entirely different marketplace for brand building and, more often than not, the buyers refuse to spend significant advertising dollars online.

    Many of the property executives are quick to blame the ad recession in the general marketplace. Some cite the rise and fall of the companies and their excessive ad spending. Others simply point a finger at the banner ad as an ineffective advertising vehicle.

    The reality is that they all might be right. But there is hope for properties. In order to look ahead and understand the growth of the Web in the sports marketing industry, it is important to look to the past.

    In the first half of the 20th century, sports marketing as we now know it did not exist. Teams were struggling to break even and local businesses lent their support in the form of payment for outfield billboards.

    These signs featured the likes of Ted Williams touting the taste of root beer. While the marketing could be categorized as elementary at best, the team was happy to have some additional revenue and the companies were satisfied with an outlet to promote their products.

    Sound similar to the banner ad?

    It should, because the parallels and lessons of sports marketing's past are repeating online.

    As traditional sports marketing packages became more sophisticated, so too did the terminology. Created along the way were such industry staples as presenting sponsorships and category-exclusivity packages.

    While in the mainstream sports marketing world these packages took as long as 50 years to evolve, sports marketers have achieved it in the online world in only a handful of years. In the future, expect such traditional sports marketing elements as naming rights and other off-line trends to find online parallels.

    The ultimate lesson here is that sports properties are in large part offering the right inventory. The challenge is that in the traditional world, it took almost a century for both the business and consumer marketplace to evolve and adapt to the modern commercialized sports industry.

    While the Internet moves at an accelerated pace, the path to mass advertising online still needs some time to grow — even in Internet years.

    With all the reasons stated earlier, every executive — both buyer and seller — has failed to mention time: time to work through the kinks, time to understand the marketplace, time to educate.

    But most sports marketers don't want to wait, and they will be the ones continuing to ask questions at future conferences and continuing not to get it long after their counterparts who look to the past and tap the brakes have made a dent in this trying industry.

    And it is these sports marketers who will continue to ask at trade shows why advertisers aren't buying online and who will tout how broadband will be the ultimate delivery channel and change everything.

    I guess some people will never learn.

    Dan Migala is the author of "Web Sports Marketing."

  • Marketing is marketing, unless you’re in L.A. it appears

    While the WNBA's courting call for the 2001 season is "Basketball is Beautiful," the L.A. Sparks have taken a different marketing approach to reach their fan base. In one of the most inspired campaigns since someone decided that men with Phi Beta Kappa keys were the best potential customers for double-breasted suits, the Sparks have targeted the gay community by designating their June 14 game as "Gay Pride Kick-Off." Predictably, their efforts have been met with more than some criticism from those who probably think women have smaller feet so they can stand closer to the sink. One of those, T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times, wrote: "Unless there's some kind of ID card that I'm not familiar with, how are the Sparks going to separate the lesbians at the ticket window from someone like my wife?" However, it should be pointed out that both the Miami Sol and the Phoenix Mercury have long targeted the lesbian market without what New York magazine calls "a blip on the talk-back radar." Maybe writers in those cities don't believe equality is a step down.

     THE FAMILY THAT PREYS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER: In a move guaranteed to win him a gold medal in chutzpah, retiring IOC head Juan Antonio Samaranch submitted the name of his son for consideration as an IOC member. The move to pass the Olympic torch down from generation to generation was so audacious several were moved to comment, including Sen. John McCain, whose Commerce Committee had held congressional hearings into the Olympic scandals. McCain, taking issue with Samaranch's "Someday, son, this will all be yours" stance, said: "This is Samaranch's last gasp at nepotism, which has characterized his entire reign." Nevertheless, Samaranch shamelessly defended his son's nomination, arguing that if the White House can have a Bush dynasty, why can't the IOC?

      BAILING OUT: Want proof that getting caught is the mother of invention? Well then, take the case of the Cleveland Browns' fifth-round draft choice, Jeremiah Pharms. Pharms, a linebacker from the U. of Washington, was arrested for armed robbery after the NFL draft and pledged his signing bonus as collateral for his $150,000 bail. Minor problem: There never was a signing bonus, Pharms not having yet signed a contract and the Browns having no intention of signing him until he is cleared of the charge — which may not happen until the trial, which is still many months away.

      POPPING UP THE QUESTION: Back in the old days, the Washington Senators were described as being "First in War, First in Peace and Last in the American League." Today, the Montreal Expos can sport an equally embarrassing motto: "Last in the Standings, Last in Attendance and Last in Proposals Accepted." Last in proposals accepted? Yes, for on May 4, one of the few fans at Olympic Stadium for a game against Houston showed up with a diamond ring, all the better, he figured, like John Wilkes Booth, to take a shot at his intended in the box seats. And, in front of 40,000-plus empty seats and the Expos' orange-colored mascot, Youppi, who stood beside him dressed in a tux and holding flowers, the party of the first part held up the diamond ring and smiled for the Diamondvision cameras as he proposed. But he struck out, the party of the second part wanting no part of it. As Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies said, "Probably when her mom tucked her in at 12 years old, she didn't tell her, 'Your prince will come along — with a big orange guy in front of 2,700 happy Canadians at a ball game.' "

      IS THAT BRAIN DAMAGE OR DRAIN BAMAGE? A recent survey of 1,094 former NFL players commissioned by the NFL Players Association and conducted by the U. of North Carolina's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes found that 61 percent of the former players suffered concussions during their careers, that 15 percent had five or more and that three-quarters said they were not sidelined after their injuries. Scott Ostler, of the S.F. Chronicle, taking note of the number who said they had sustained concussions, wrote, "The other 39 percent responded to the question with blank stares."

      LINE OF THE WEEK: Comedian Phyllis Diller: "If it weren't for baseball, many kids wouldn't know what a millionaire looks like."

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Browns, Houston Astros, IOC, Los Angeles Sparks, NFL, Ottawa Senators, WNBA
  • Martin tees up possible book, endorsement

    Golfer Casey Martin will revisit potential business opportunities — including a book deal and an endorsement for a pain reliever — now that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favor in a lawsuit against the PGA Tour, said Chris Murray, Martin's agent.

    Murray, president of Imani Sports, said Martin had put some opportunities on hold while awaiting the Supreme Court's decision on whether he could use a golf cart on the PGA Tour because he suffers from a disabling condition. Last Tuesday, the court ruled 7-2 in Martin's favor.

    Murray said that Martin wants, first and foremost, to focus on playing golf. But Murray said he plans to hold meetings in the next few months with writers associated with major publishing houses about a book about Martin's life.

    Martin turned down an opportunity for a book in 1998, Murray said, adding that the time for a book "is much more right now than it was in '98, although there are some chapters left, like a victory on the PGA Tour."

    Additionally, Murray said, he has had some initial talks with the pain reliever brand Advil about an endorsement deal for Martin and hopes to renew those discussions soon.

    "A partnership we thought would be a great fit for us is Advil because he takes something like 12 Advil a day," he said. No one with Whitehall-Robins, maker of Advil, could be reached for comment by press time.

  • MCC changing name to Horizon League

    The Midwestern Collegiate Conference, a Division I athletic conference based in Indianapolis, is scheduled to announce today that it has changed its name to the Horizon League.

    The name change has been in the works for the last year, Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone said.

    "We wanted to create a platform that tells the story of the commitments of our student athletes," LeCrone said. "We also wanted to differentiate ourselves from a number of conferences that have 'Mid-' or 'Midwestern' in their name."

    The new logo includes the tag line "Raise your sights," which LeCrone said falls in line with the plan to play up achievements of student athletes.

    LeCrone estimated that the transition to the new name and logo will cost $200,000. Caldwell Van Riper/MARC, an Indianapolis communications company, developed the name and logo.

    The league comprises Butler, Cleveland State, Detroit-Mercy, Illinois at Chicago, Loyola at Chicago, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State and Youngstown State.

  • Meeker attributes success to luck; others credit his open mind

    NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year: NAIA/Other Non-NCAA Schools


    Steve L. Meeker
    Black Hills State University
    Title: Director of institutional advancement
    Age: 39
    Education: Bachelor’s of science in mass communications, Black Hills State University, 1984
    Black Hills State University sponsors: Rushmore Bank & Trust, Wells Fargo, Cedar House Restaurant, Black Hills Pioneer, Pope & Talbot

    Steve Meeker pins his success solely on good fortune.

    And perhaps his best fortune came with two students who made a layup, a free throw, a three-point shot and a half-court shot in 25 seconds to win their tuition.

    It was part of the Ballroom Blitz Tuition Shootout, a basketball halftime promotion Meeker, the director of institutional advancement at Black Hills State University, put together to bring attention to the school. After the two students beat the odds on consecutive nights, the national media from USA Today to Fox Sports Radio featured the small Spearfish, S.D., school across the country.

    The Ballroom Blitz Tuition Shootout has created attention for Meeker as well. This year, he is the NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year for the NAIA and other non-NCAA four- and two-year schools partly because of the promotion. But his winning the award goes well beyond the Ballroom Blitz. It also symbolizes Meeker's efforts during the past 12 years to use promotions and sponsorships found at larger schools to create a financial base for the school's foundations.

    When Meeker took on the job in 1990, the school's athletic scholarship foundation was just $50,000 a year. Today, the foundation has a budget of more than $200,000.

    And while the humble man attributes the success to good fortune, others attribute it to Meeker.

    "He's brought in a very progressive and open mind to funding for athletics and foundations," said Dave Little, athletic director at Black Hills State University. "Some of his biggest successes have been because he has gone into the corporate marketing world with [the idea of] donations as an investment as opposed to philanthropy."

    That's one of the keys to the growth in the foundation's budget. Meeker decided that even a school in a city with only 10,000 people could have some of the revenue sources usually reserved for major programs.

    He went about signing corporate sponsors for the athletic department, giving them wall and floor signage at the school's basketball games for $3,000 to $5,000.

    One of the people he approached was Jack Lynass, president of Rushmore Bank & Trust in Spearfish. Lynass said he wasn't interested in signs. So, Meeker pitched Lynass on sponsoring the Ballroom Blitz, with Lynass and the bank's vice president grabbing rebounds during the promotion.

    "Steve makes you think you're getting value even if you're not," Lynass said.

    But Lynass said his bank did see a return on its $2,000 investment.

    "I couldn't leave the bank for 15 minutes without someone talking to me about it," he said. "You can't put a dollar value on that."

    Again, Meeker attributes the success of his programs to good fortune, and not just the tuition shoot-out.

    And, as luck would have it, Meeker noted there isn't much else to do in the winter besides attending a basketball game at the university.

    Black Hills State joined the Dakota Athletic Conference two years ago. Athletic department officials from both the DAC-10 and the SDIC, its former conference, ask Meeker for advice. It also helps that Meeker is a graduate of the school and believes in what he is doing.

    "They know that my heart is behind this," he said. "There is no other school I would rather be making money for."

    Alan Byrd writes for the Orlando Business Journal.

    Print | Tags: Fox, NCAA, Oakland Athletics, USA Today Sports
  • Memphis’ Hyde planning to be active co-owner

    Should the Vancouver Grizzlies move to Memphis, Tenn., lead investor J.R. "Pitt" Hyde, founder of AutoZone Inc., won't take a back seat as a minority owner.

    Hyde, who is leading the effort to bring the Grizzlies to Memphis by offering to pay about $100 million for up to 50 percent of the team, said he expects to take an active role in the Grizzlies.

    "I see my role as helping acclimate the team to Memphis and to help assure that the right community programs are in place," Hyde said. "I will be active in the organization. [Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley] has made it clear that he'll be looking to us for input and direction. Also, we will be very interested in working with the design of the arena."

    NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league's seven-member relocation committee met with Memphis officials Tuesday over the city's bid to lure the Grizzlies from Vancouver. The relocation committee poked around the Pyramid, the facility that would serve as the Grizzlies' temporary home, but it's the proposed new arena that will determine whether Memphis is awarded the Grizzlies.

    The proposed $250 million arena is almost entirely publicly financed, with about $20 million to come from local corporate donors. The Grizzlies also would get $100 million from a naming-rights deal from Memphis-based Federal Express.

    City and county officials must approve the funding. After spending a day visiting Memphis, NBA officials left town telling local officials that they need to lock up financing for an arena no later than mid-June.

    Print | Tags: AutoZone, NBA
  • Men’s lacrosse at Syracuse a big winner, but not a moneymaker

    As sure as nearly 10 feet of snow (or more) will fall on Syracuse, N.Y., each winter, one rite of spring will follow.

    That is a berth by the Syracuse University men's lacrosse team in the NCAA Final Four.

    It's been that way for 19 years running, 2001 included.

    Two components have helped make Syracuse the lacrosse power it is. One is the popularity of the sport in central New York state. The second is the Carrier Dome, aka, the "House of Pain," where SU wins better than 90 percent of its home games and 12 times has gone undefeated.

    "Since the NCAA established the Final Four tournament structure, we have been in every one," said Jake Crouthamel, the director of athletics at Syracuse. "That is astounding."

    What's not so astounding, though, is the fact that despite its success, men's lacrosse at SU is not a moneymaker.

    Lacrosse rosters run deep, with 40 or more players. The NCAA scholarship limit, however, is just 12 for this non-revenue sport. SU gives out just a fraction below the 12 scholarships allowed.

    "Title IX is discouraging the creation of men's teams in any sport because of the financial commitments and the numbers commitments that we're responsible for in Title IX," Crouthamel said. "There aren't collegiate men's lacrosse teams popping up across the country like there are women's teams."

    SU generates close to $200,000 in lacrosse ticket revenue and twice this year had crowds in excess of 10,500, with an average of nearly 7,000 per game. Associate director of athletics Michael Veley said SU has just over a half dozen corporate sponsors, split nationally and locally. He said sponsorships account for about $45,000 in added revenue, but the marketing focus is on all sports.

    "The biggest mistake sports marketers make is not knowing who their fan base is, what their consumer buying habits are," Veley said. "When people tell me, 'I'm a Syracuse fan!' the first question I ask is, what sport? There is a big difference between our football crowd and our basketball fans, and the makeup of our lacrosse crowd is very specialized."

    As is, Crouthamel quickly noted, ticket revenue covers little more than half of the allotted scholarships.

    "We're not even close to profit or breaking even," he said. "I suspect on a gross revenue basis there's no one that matches us."

    On the field, it's pretty much the same story.

    Rick Maloney writes for Business First of Buffalo.

    Print | Tags: NCAA, Oakland Athletics
  • MLS campaign makes good start at putting shine on soccer stars

    New sports product success in our media-saturated nation carries long odds. Challenges notwithstanding, Major League Soccer has gone about building its business with a gutsy persistence. And from an advertising standpoint, the new 2001 MLS advertising campaign is a solid step in the right direction.

    The strategy behind the campaign is a good one: Create fan interest in star players. The idea is to provide fans with a person (not just a team) in whom they can invest. The effectiveness of using star athletes to build game interest is a proven strategy. It was a star, legendary Brazilian World Cup superman Pelé, who effectively launched soccer in this country. It is a star, Tiger Woods, who has spurred interest in golf. Kids around the world would not have been wearing Bulls gear without the star power of Michael Jordan.

    The star strategy was the brainchild of TV sports pioneer Roone Arledge, who enjoyed booming ratings by being the first to take us "up close and personal" with athletes of all kinds. In short, stars sell. So, taking a page out of Arledge's old handbook, the marketing minds at MLS have begun the process of star-making and star-activating: attracting new fans and making current fans feel even closer to players they may already love.

    The campaign includes both TV and print ads featuring established and potential breakout players: the Columbus Crew's Brian McBride, Chicago Fire's Hristo Stoitchkov and Josh Wolff, D.C. United's Bobby Convey and the Metro-Stars' Clint Mathis. More multinational work is in development featuring Colombian-born Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama and Senegalese Tampa Bay forward Mamadou Diallo.

    A nice example of MLS's world-sport-feeling campaign is the Bulgarian superstar Stoitchkov speaking in and voicing over his commercial in Spanish. And beyond simply sending a nice message, his spot is strategic as well: Playing to MLS' significant Latino fan base, the league has cut the Stoitchkov spot in versions with English subtitles and in Spanish only. The Diallo spot will be cut in French.

    While the league has a strong global feel and ethnic fan base, MLS appears to have designed its initial work with an eye on the Anglo audience it seeks with its Disney broadcast partners, ABC and ESPN. Americans McBride, Wolff, Mathis and Convey play to a mainstream audience and generate a bit of surprise in each spot. Sporting a game-generated shiner, McBride communicates how tough the game is ("You want soft? Go play golf."). Convey describes his meteoric rise to stardom, and then tells us he's only 17 years old. Wolff and Mathis were kids who broke with Georgia tradition and chose soccer over football.

    All the TV spots are shot and edited well, with the high-tech, high-energy feel of a "Monday Night Football" introduction. And all were done in-house, managing outside production resources on a shoestring budget, making the accomplishment that much more notable.

    The campaign isn't perfect, however. The players MLS has chosen tend not to be very good at delivering a powerful voice-over. The campaign gets a little confused in its messaging by subsuming its tag line ("It's your game") with a bigger copy line that all the players say and is featured prominently in the work ("I believe in Major League Soccer").

    The communication problem is not just that the lines dilute the star-making stuff, but that the "I believe in Major League Soccer" line comes off somewhat desperate, as if they are trying to convince themselves as much as they are trying to convince us. The boastful "With my presence, MLS can become the best league in the world" delivered by Stoitchkov comes off as forced and inappropriate. And the MLS print ads' art direction feels a little out of date, coming off rather future-retro, like the movie poster from the film "Blade Runner."

    Overall, despite a mountain of challenges ahead, MLS' star-driven advertising approach appears to be a nice effort toward building fan interest in American professional soccer.

    Commissioner: Don Garber
    Executive vice president, marketing and fan development: Mark Noonan
    Production: Tupelo-Honey Productions, New York
    Sound design: Cut-Time Music, New York
    Graphic design: Atmosphere 13, New York

    James H. Harris ( is CEO of Chicago-based strategic marketing consultancy ThoughtStep Inc.

    Print | Tags: ABC, AEG, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Dallas Stars, ESPN, MLS
  • MSNBC name gives way in sports site address to

    Until recently, there was an urgent, sometimes expensive emphasis on branding for sports Web sites. Nevertheless, some were saddled with brands that either were not memorable or didn't say "authority on sports" clearly enough. Remember

    MSN and NBC apparently came to the same determination about Beginning last week, the site was to be officially rebranded

    The joint venture between Microsoft and NBC continues, but with events such as the NBA Finals, the Triple Crown, NASCAR and the Olympics coming in the next nine months, the time seemed right to clean up the URL and promote the network whose sports coverage the site can promote and benefit from.

    This coincides with the site's push to bolster content through partnerships, such as one with the Daily Racing Form to enhance horse racing coverage and another in the works to bolster NASCAR coverage.

    The new URL will receive considerable promotion during NBC's NBA playoff coverage and in other NBC programming. No media buys are planned, but they haven't been ruled out, said Peter Dorogoff, marketing communications director.

    Some brand confusion will remain. Contractual obligations require NBC to give some residual promotion to NBCi, so in a much-played NBC ad recently, NASCAR fans were urged to visit Dorogoff said the combination branding will continue for a short time.

    The URL change aligns NBC's online sports brand with its online Olympics brand, That site is not MSN-produced — its developer and host deals are being negotiated now by the network since the loss of partners Quokka and LogicTier, respectively — but MSN is involved heavily in the negotiations for that deal.

      RIVALS RELAUNCHES: The former high school sports component of has been relaunched as by AllianceSports, which bought assets of RivalNetworks in April.

    Where had 88 high school sites in the network, has 30, some with regional coverage, and does not expect to add more than 10, said Bobby Burton, a former RivalNetworks vice president and general manager who was hired by AllianceSports to head its college and high school networks.

    AllianceSports bought RivalNetworks' logos and trademarks, URLs and source code in mid-May. Terms were not disclosed. joins AllianceSports' college and recruiting networks, also being reconstructed from former RivalNetworks sites. Burton said there will be between 100 and 120 sites in all, considerably fewer than, which fluctuated between 500 and 700. adopted a premium-site model in its last several months, and the six-figure revenue encouraged Burton to plan premium sections for the relaunched college sites. The high school sites will remain free, depending on revenue sharing from sponsorships sold by AllianceSports and e-commerce generated through affiliate relationships with manufacturers of institutional sporting goods, he said.

    The high school section of grew from 400,000 page views a day to 2.5 million in the year it operated, and Burton is confident the section can become profitable fairly quickly, despite the soft ad market. He said the venture has long-term fu7nding but would not provide specifics. AllianceSports hired only six people from RivalNetworks to work on the high school section, and Burton insisted the company and its affiliate sites all understand there is no better current arrangement for publishers who want their sites online and promoted.

    "High school publishers are very different than publishers of some other avenues, like pro sites or college," Burton said. "These guys really are doing it for the love of the game. I don't think there are delusions of grandeur. I think everyone knows it's time to put their nose to the grindstone and build a business."

    AllianceSports is also in the application service provider business. It hosts and manages software for more than 1,000 sites for small businesses, churches, etc. These services begin at $39.95 a month, and Burton said they would be offered to sports fans who want to produce their own unofficial sites.

    Noah Liberman can be reached at

    Print | Tags: NASCAR, NBA, NBC
  • stays to path of patience expects to have revenue of $100,000 and a loss of $250,000 in its first full year of fiscal operations, which concludes at the end of this month.

    The site, which is designed to help high school athletes financially plan for college, is in the process of raising an additional $1 million from angel investors, the category of investor who makes very early investments in start-ups.

    CEO Arman Rousta attributes his site's survival — at a time when some sports Internet sites are dissolving because of a lack of funding — to a modest approach.

    "Part of the difference has been taking a patient path to our growth cycle," Rousta said. By that he means the site is still slowly developing its core product: a sophisticated analytical service that would help student athletes plan for college. But it is coming, he said.

    Currently, MyStudent's revenue comes fully from providing electronic and Internet reservation services to sports facilities. But it plans to begin testing its first online student financial package, dubbed 401kid, next year.

    The site also provides a range of free information, from nutritional advice to sports medicine to sports instruction.

    The fledgling company has only five employees, but with the new money in tow, 70 percent of which has been secured, Rousta plans to double his staff. Around 80 percent of the new money will pay for product development, not marketing, he added. Many failed Internet companies overspent on marketing and then struggled when revenue failed to materialize.

  • NBA, NBC rock demographics

    A dash of U2 and a splash of Sugar Ray. They're two ingredients in NBA Entertainment and NBC's recipe to try to grow the NBA's fan base.

    During halftime of its broadcast Wednesday of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, NBC will provide live coverage of a U2 concert as the Irish rockers perform at the FleetCenter in Boston.

    Then, if the best-of-seven Finals series reaches Game 5, NBC will televise a live halftime concert by Sugar Ray, who would perform at the arena of the Eastern Conference team competing in the finals. (At press time last week, the conference championship series, between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks, was still undecided.)

    Also at press time last week, the NBA was considering other musical acts for halftime entertainment, including Destiny's Child.

    "We may be able to get fringe fans more interested in the NBA through these halftime performances," said Gregg Winik, executive vice president and executive producer for NBA Entertainment. Indeed, the NBA Finals attracts a wider audience than just the hard-core NBA fans.

    Winik said NBC also will air an NBA-themed version of the network's prime-time game show "The Weakest Link" during the halftimes of games 2 and 3. Competing on the show, which will be taped, are Baron Davis of the Charlotte Hornets, Lisa Leslie of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, NBC Sports' Bob Costas and NBC NBA analysts Bill Walton and Steve "Snapper" Jones.

    Print | Tags: Los Angeles Sparks, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBC, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, WNBA
  • NBDL names 2 more sites, still needs one

    The NBA's fledgling National Basketball Development League will put teams in Columbus, Ga., and Greenville, S.C., leaving one market to round out the eight-team minor league, which begins play in November.

    The Columbus and Greenville entries will join teams in Fayetteville, N.C.; North Charleston, S.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Mobile, Ala.; and Roanoke, Va. The NBDL's lone remaining market is expected to be named in a few weeks, although less than six months remains until the NBDL season begins.

    "There are a number of cities vying for the eighth spot, but we are taking our time," said NBA senior vice president Rob Levine. "Everyone has been so focused on the completion of the deals, but we have to be certain that wherever we go we will be successful."

    Terms of the NBDL deals call for the league to keep 100 percent of ticket sales and anywhere between 50 percent and 75 percent of concessions and parking revenue.

    The NBDL will play a 56-game schedule that runs from November through March, with 24 games to be televised on ESPN and ESPN2.

    While the NBA contributed an undisclosed financial stipend to the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association, the NBDL is the NBA's first effort to create a viable minor league run under the NBA umbrella. None of the NBDL teams will have a direct affiliation with specific NBA clubs, so NBDL players will be eligible to play for any NBA team. Players on the 11-man team rosters must be at least 20 years old to play in the league and will earn about $30,000. NBA officials hope that the NBDL will also help develop a front-office talent pool.

    The structure of the NBDL includes an agreement with SFX Entertainment to bring concerts and other entertainment events to NBDL franchise facilities, giving the second- and third-tier cities the opportunity to fill additional arena dates.

    "Partnering with the NBDL and SFX Entertainment will not only help us maximize use of the Civic Center, but offer even more entertainment options for fans throughout our region," said Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters in a statement. "This agreement will take our city to another level in sports, concerts and family entertainment."

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NBA

     Viking makes basketball debut

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss made his professional basketball debut with the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs of the United States Basketball League on May 24. Moss scored seven points in the ValleyDawgs' 113-112 victory over the Long Island Surf. Moss signed a deal to play in just one game but left open the option to return for another game later in the season. Moss' appearance helped boost ticket sales at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena to 4,349. The arena holds 6,000. The ValleyDawgs are coached by former Philadelphia 76er Darryl Dawkins.

      Kruk heads for Fox talk show

    John Kruk resigned from his position as a hitting instructor with the Class AA Reading (Pa.) Phillies to take a new job with Fox. Kruk will be one of the hosts of new talk show expected to air nights on Fox Sports Net's regional channels when no games are being broadcast. Kruk, 40, retired from baseball in 1995. He spent six years of his career with the Phillies. He also played for the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox.

      Pell dies of cancer

    Former Florida football coach Charley Pell died last week at 60 after a long battle with cancer. Pell, an Alabama native, played for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama in the early '60s and coached at Jacksonville State and Clemson before joining Florida in late 1978. He was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 1980 and ACC Coach of the Year in 1977-78. Pell coached Florida from 1979 through 1984, leaving after the NCAA levied 59 sanctions against the program.

      Atlanta Thrashers reach out

    The Atlanta Thrashers' Hockey in the Streets program took part in a Special Olympics of Georgia event Sunday. H.I.T.S. promotes hockey, teaching people the fundamentals with clinics including skills development sessions tailored to the group's level of play. The H.I.T.S. program is presented by Philips Consumer Electronics, WebMD and PowerAde.

    Print | Tags: Fox, Minnesota Vikings, NCAA, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres
  • No football means schools must get creative

    When Tim Hofferth arrived at Villanova University in 1994 to help boost sponsorships, the school was generating a paltry $150,000 a year from corporate alliances.

    In 2000, three years after the school promoted Hofferth to athletic director, Villanova hauled in over $1 million from a crop of sponsors including PNC Bank, Ford, State Farm, Comcast and Bob Stores. All without college athletics' biggest carrot: Division I-A football.

    "Right off the bat it hurts financially," Hofferth said of not having Division I-A football. "You don't have a chance at revenue sharing through the conference [in football], no bowl money, no BCS money."

    Hofferth, now president and chief operating officer at Nelligan Sports Marketing Inc., and Villanova made the formula work by taking control of all marketing elements and emphasizing their lone revenue-generating sport, men's basketball. Since Hofferth's departure last summer, the school has decided to out-source its marketing control to International Sports Properties Inc.

    The tradition of Division I-A football attracts fans, which ultimately attracts sponsors. Athletic departments that have major football programs pull in, on average, between $2 million and $8 million annually in sponsorship revenue. A handful of schools with strong basketball programs and without major college football have managed to haul in anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million annually from sponsors.

    Without the support of a major football program, athletic departments have to market themselves knowing they can only offer a five-month sponsorship platform as opposed to a nine-month platform.

    To do that, Charlotte emphasizes its blossoming hometown, growing alumni base, 5-year-old on-campus arena and on-court success (NCAA tournament berths four of the past five years). The school also pitches its membership in Conference USA as well as visiting high-profile programs led by coaches Bob Huggins (Cincinnati), Rick Pitino (Louisville) and John Calipari (Memphis).

    Among Charlotte's sponsors, which account for approximately $500,000: Wachovia, Phillips 66, Food Lion, TIAA-CREF, Chick-fil-A, Bojangles', BellSouth and ConAgra's Healthy Choice brand.

    Charlotte has been creative in other areas, too. In February 2000, Signature Sports worked with Charlotte sponsor Food Lion to create a promotion with Nabisco's Oreo brand around a nationally televised game against Cincinnati. Fans could win a chance to compete in an Oreo-stacking contest at the game — against NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    "They've done a good job creating something bigger," said Dave Biery, Food Lion marketing vice president. "The program has grown and that helps, and they've also worked very hard to make sure we're reaching consumers and getting some real value there."

    The trials of life without football are eased when a school plays in a major market. Nelligan Sports Marketing represents several of those, including St. John's (New York), Seton Hall (New York), DePaul (Chicago) and Georgetown (Washington, D.C.).

    T.J. Nelligan, the firm's chairman, said schools must remember that they have far more to sell than just athletics. Every university retains control over numerous, lucrative vendor contracts: copiers, long-distance telephone service, soft-drink machines, student union retail and snack shops. The opportunity for sponsors to have access to all of those contracts in numerous university departments could equal a large potential for revenue.

    In addition, Nelligan emphasizes the value of college sports fans. They're better educated than pro sports fans because most of them attended college. And the NCAA's latest basketball TV deal with CBS, for $6 billion, bears out the value of college hoops.

    With Georgetown and DePaul, Nelligan took control of the schools' radio contracts, moving them to 50,000-watt stations from 5,000-watt outlets — and quadrupling ad rates in the process. Through Nelligan, both universities were able to purchase air time and sell spots themselves. By combining their radio inventory with other sponsorship elements, both Georgetown and DePaul were able to increase their rates and overall revenue.

    Hofferth said schools without football have to work and focus that much harder to reap big-dollar sponsorships. The other crucial piece, he said, is finding marketing and sponsor sales people comfortable with courting corporate America.

    As for football? Don't worry about what you don't have, experts say.

    "It's never an issue here," said Judy Rose, athletic director at Charlotte. "We market what we have and that's basketball. It takes enough energy to do that without going through what might happen if we had something else."

    Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal of Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bears, Comcast, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Food Lion, Ford, Healthy Choice, NASCAR, NCAA, Oakland Athletics, PNC Bank
  • Non-revenue teams rely on football, men’s hoops

    Editor’s note


    As part of our special report on college sponsorship, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal profiles the 2000-01 NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year award winners, beginning on page 32.

    The National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators selected its winners from four categories — NCAA Division I-A, NCAA Division I-AA/I-AAA, NCAA Division II/III and NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions/Junior/Community Colleges. Winners must be a NACMA member and must have worked full time in a marketing capacity (director of marketing, associate athletic director in charge of marketing, etc.) for an institution for three consecutive years.

    Glenn Toth knows that when he approaches potential corporate sponsors for the UCLA athletic department, they will care little that the Bruins won national championships this year in women's gymnastics, women's track and both men's and women's water polo.

    Like his counterparts throughout the NCAA, UCLA's associate athletic director in charge of corporate relations has found that sponsors want to focus their attention and budgets on the school's football and men's basketball teams.

    Any consideration sponsors might give to non-revenue teams — or "Olympic" sports, as they often are referred to by athletic officials — usually comes about only as a condition of landing a deal for the football and basketball squads.

    Like revenue from ticket sales and television/radio deals, college sponsorship money comes mostly from football and basketball, helping to fund the rest of the athletic department.

    "You try and be creative, but it's an uphill battle for the Olympic sports to find sponsors," Toth said. "The consolation is that sponsorship money that's primarily driven by football and men's basketball is not necessarily designated by sport. It goes into the department's general operating fund so that everyone benefits."

    That's not always the case, with schools often directing some sponsor money to football and basketball coaches as part of their compensation packages. As part of Michigan State's deal with Nike, basketball coach Tom Izzo receives $200,000 from the shoemaker. At the University of Florida, football coach Steve Spurrier receives about 80 percent of the $1.2 million in cash that Nike annually pays the school.

    A shoe/apparel deal remains the most lucrative sponsorship for most major university athletic programs, even with the softening of the footwear market that has caused companies like Reebok to take a lesser role in college sports sponsorship.

    "We decided the all-school deal does not work for us economically," said John Lynch, senior director of sports marketing for Reebok. "The price of outfitting all of the teams and providing a cash component is not something that we feel right now is the best use of funds. While you get great visibility through football and basketball, the visibility you get through the others is reduced."

    Lynch noted that while Reebok has let the last of its major all-sport deals expire with Arkansas, Virginia and Wisconsin, it still has contracts for football and/or basketball with Boston College, Air Force, Memphis and South Florida.

    UCLA, a former Reebok account, signed a six-year, $18 million contract with Adidas two years ago to cover its entire department. With about $1.7 million in cash and $1.3 million in apparel coming into the program annually, it represents a huge chunk of the $5 million the Bruins take in annually in cash and trade from sponsors and covers a significant portion of the school's $32 million annual athletic budget.

    Nike Inc. has equipment and apparel accounts with about 200 athletic departments. Fifteen to 20 of those are full-program deals, such as the seven-year contract the company signed in January with the University of Michigan worth between $25 million and $28 million in cash, equipment and apparel.

    Apparel deals typically include bonuses for the school, such as summer internships available to all students. Adidas installs full-time representatives at its schools to act as liaisons. Michigan's Nike contract requires the company to fund several graduate journalism fellowships. In return, the companies receive tickets to games and other perks, but the deals are mostly about exposure and potential shoe sales.

    "It's a difficult thing to quantify," said Vada Manager, director of global issues management for Nike. "You want to create that psychic connection in the customer's mind that comes from building quality partnerships with first-rate programs."

    Shoe and apparel deals also provide licensing revenue to the schools, which receive a percentage (usually around 7 percent) of sales of team logo merchandise with the sponsor logo.

    Outfitting an entire athletic department can cost up to $2 million annually, which is why many schools negotiate a deal to cover all teams, even if that means sacrificing cash in return for more product.

    Doug Dickey, athletic director at the University of Tennessee, said the school could have commanded more in cash in its four-year, $8 million deal with Adidas had it limited the deal to football, men's basketball and women's basketball. Instead, the school opted to accept $1 million in cash and $1 million in equipment annually in order to equip the entire department.

    "The question is whether the value of football and basketball gives you enough strength to get someone involved in everything," Dickey said. "Whichever way you do it is probably a wash."

    "Most of the value is in football and basketball," said Chris Bevilacqua, who negotiated a dozen university contracts for Nike before leaving the company two years ago. "Usually it's the school that brings up the other sports, although it's not going to make the deal bigger. It's just that the company is going to spread its cost around to more teams."

    Bevilacqua said handling the apparel needs of an entire athletic department can be an operational challenge, requiring significant day-to-day involvement, which is another reason apparel companies often look to partner with just football and basketball programs. Said Bevilacqua, "It's a lot easier to handle three or four teams than 30."

    While apparel deals account for much of college athletic sponsorship revenue, other sponsor money is out there. Tennessee receives about $200,000 annually from longtime sponsor Gatorade. UCLA has six-figure deals with Gatorade, Coca-Cola, MBNA Bank, Pacific Bell and State Farm.

    The University of Virginia, which is looking for an apparel contract to replace its Reebok deal that ends this month, receives $350,000 annually from each of four "Team Virginia" sponsors: First Union, Hardee's, State Farm and the Virginia Lottery.

    Keith VanderBeek, Virginia's associate athletic director for business operations, said those deals are driven mostly by football and basketball.

    "We stress to any potential sponsor that there's value to any in-event exposure," VanderBeek said. "But they're obviously going to see more return from millions of people watching on television than from 5,000 people in a soccer stadium."

    The University of Texas, which has long had one of the nation's top women's sports programs, grew its sponsorship program out of the women's department. In 1993, the women's department generated $120,000 from selling game-related sponsorships of women's basketball and volleyball games to companies such as Taco Bell and HEB Groceries.

    The Longhorns have a seven-year, $22 million contract with Nike, but senior associate athletic director Christine Plonsky estimates that much of the school's other sponsorship revenue grew out of the relationships established by the women's department.

    "We were selling game sponsorships to women's sports long before football," Plonsky said. "While it might be easier these days to sell football and basketball, there are numerous deals that can be done for the non-revenue sports on a local and regional level. And those sponsor dollars add up."

    Pete Williams is a writer in Florida.

    Print | Tags: Adidas, Boston Bruins, Hardees, NCAA, Reebok
  • O’Neal agent Armato returns as volleyball CEO

    Leonard Armato, best known as Shaquille O'Neal's agent, has officially returned as CEO of the beach volleyball tour he helped found almost two decades ago.

    The Association of Volleyball Professionals, which achieved significant popularity in the 1980s and early '90s, will return Friday for the first of eight events that will, for the first time, combine men's and women's competition.

    Armato said he will invest "in the upper seven figures" to acquire and resuscitate the AVP and Beach Volleyball America, a fledgling women's tour that featured his girlfriend, Holly McPeak.

    "This season we'll try to stabilize the tour," said Armato, who will continue as O'Neal's agent while running the AVP. "Next year should be a growth year."

    Most of last year's major sponsors are returning this season, but Armato said that growing the sponsorship base, as well as media partnerships — all events will be shown tape-delayed on Fox Sports Net — are keys to the future. The tour has five returning sponsors — Michelob Light, Speedo, Wilson, Paul Mitchell Systems and Sunkist.

    The goal will be to create stars to help market the tour.

    Armato's predecessors tried the same thing and achieved some success during the last two years. The tour was owned by Spencer Trask, an investment banking firm in New York, and managed by Bill Berger.

    Their first move was to take management of the tour away from the players, who some believe drove the tour to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two years ago by ordaining exorbitant prize money.

    When the tour reorganized, Berger signed top players to long-term contracts and reduced prize money to about $1 million for the entire season. The AVP also held several events that featured women, including icon Gabrielle Reece.

    But what they ultimately found was a lifestyle-sport marketplace that had gravitated away from volleyball and toward more youth-oriented individual sports such as skateboarding and BMX biking.

    "Beach volleyball is way more like the traditional team sports than it is the action sports that are more popular now," said Bill Carter, president of FUSE Integrated Sports Marketing. "It really doesn't fit into action sports."

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, Fox
  • Padres’ critics to appeal loss of ballpark suit

    Opponents of the San Diego Padres' proposed downtown ballpark said they would appeal a Superior Court ruling that, if upheld, would remove the last significant legal obstacle to the ballpark's construction.

    Attorney Bruce Henderson said the opponents would waive arguments on the remaining issues in the lawsuit and file an appeal of the ruling, which found no basis to overturn the city's ballpark agreement with the Padres.

    Plaintiffs Jerry Mailhot and Bruce Skane claimed in the lawsuit that Padres owner John Moores' gifts to City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings, and a pattern of courting other city officials, tainted the city's support.

    Stallings was forced to resign after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors. Moores was cleared of any wrongdoing. In his May 25 ruling, Superior Court Judge E. Mac Amos Jr. rejected the argument.

    Henderson said the ruling did not dismiss the plaintiffs' central argument that Moores' gifts created a "conflicting interest" for city officials.

    "They certainly have reason for optimism," Henderson said, "but it isn't over."

    The Padres had hoped to move to the $450 million ballpark in April 2002 but are now looking at a mid-2003 opening at the earliest. Construction has been halted since last October because of pending legal action.

    But Padres executives have long considered the Skane-Mailhot lawsuit to be the biggest roadblock. The city, which would pay $208.5 million toward the ballpark under a revised funding plan, must now decide whether the coast is clear enough to sell bonds.

    City officials would not comment on whether they were prepared to issue bonds. Padres senior vice president Bob Vizas said the ruling "puts to rest any claims" that would thwart the ballpark.

    Henderson disagreed. He said the plaintiffs will argue on appeal that the gifts created "divided loyalties" among public officials who then voted to support the ballpark plan in 1999.

    Stallings, according to her plea agreement, admitted to taking gifts and travel from Moores and failing to report them to the state. Henderson said this "created an environment where Stallings thought she would have a special relationship with Moores if she supported the project."

    "The [appeals] court has to decide whether or not that creates a conflict of interest on her part," Henderson said.

    Print | Tags: San Diego Padres
  • Panthers’ only prez considers departing

    Florida Panthers team President Bill Torrey may leave the team following the NHL draft June 23-24, which will be held at the Panthers' home arena, the National Car Rental Center.

    Torrey, who built four Stanley Cup champions with the New York Islanders and has been Panthers team president since the franchise's inaugural season in 1993, says he's not sure whether he'll remain with the team after it is sold.

    An investment team led by Alan Cohen, CEO of generic drug-maker Andrx Corp., has been in negotiations with team Chairman Wayne Huizenga to buy the Panthers for the last three months. Torrey said he's assured the prospective buyers that he'll remain at the helm through the draft, but his status beyond that has not been addressed.

    "I've told them that I have made no inquiries about anything anywhere else and that there would be no changes in the hockey department prior to the draft," Torrey said.

    Torrey, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, is an employee of the team's parent company, Boca Resorts Inc., whose principal shareholder is Huizenga.

    The team has been on the block for more than a year, originally shopped at $175 million. Huizenga told Boca Resorts shareholders in November that interest in the team has been light and that the sale price would have to be lowered.

    Colorado businessman George Gillett reportedly was close to an agreement with Huizenga in December but pulled out at the last minute and is now poised to become owner of the Montreal Canadiens.

    Cohen's investment group reportedly includes former NFL and University of Miami star Bernie Kosar, South Florida car dealership owner Mike Maroone and Precision Response CEO David Epstein.

    "We're down to the pretty fine strokes with this group," Torrey said. "The lawyers have done all they can do. The decision is theirs at this point. I would certainly think if they're going to go forward, they will do it soon."

    Print | Tags: Carolina Panthers, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, NFL, NHL

    Rainbow Media Holdings promoted Andrea Greenberg to president, Rainbow Sports Networks, making her one of the highest-ranking women executives in sports television.

    Greenberg, who has been with the company since 1983, was executive vice president of Rainbow Sports Networks.

    As president, Greenberg will continue to oversee Rainbow's 50 percent ownership interest in the national Fox Sports Net service and Fox Sports National Advertising. In addition, she will manage the growth of Rainbow's majority-owned and operated Fox Sports Net regional networks in San Francisco, Chicago, Ohio, Florida and New England while continuing to work with senior management from Fox Entertainment Group overseeing Rainbow's investment and the overall strategy and direction of the national service. Major rights negotiations with professional sports leagues and franchises for Rainbow Sports, as well as cable and DBS distribution negotiations, will continue to be her responsibility.

    Rainbow Sports Network generated nearly $300 million in revenue in 2000.

    As executive vice president, Greenberg negotiated numerous long-term rights agreements with pro teams, including the Chicago White Sox, Cubs and Bulls, the San Francisco Giants, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Indians. In 2000, Greenberg played a major role in Rainbow's acquisition of SportsChannel Florida and the network's integration with Fox Sports Net.

    Greenberg also has worked with Rainbow's regulatory affairs and participated in industrywide regulatory and legislative activities. She joined Rainbow's business affairs department in 1983.

    Greenberg earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from Brandeis University and lives in New York with her family.

    Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp., manages American Movie Classics, Women's Entertainment, Bravo, The Independent Film Channel, MuchMusic USA, Rainbow Sports Networks, News 12 Networks and MetroChannels as well as the Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp. and Rainbow Network Communications.


    The American Hockey League's Manchester Monarchs named Paul Hemingway director of communications. Hemingway was sports information director for Alfred State College in Alfred, N.Y. Jon Crabbe was appointed director of ticket sales and marketing. For the past two seasons, Crabbe held a similar position with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. Barrett Ortego was hired as sponsorship coordinator. Ortego had been director of ticket sales and promotions for the Monroe Moccasins of the Western Professional Hockey League.

    The Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League promoted Jason Porter to director of media relations. Porter was the team's assistant operations manager.

    The Augusta Lynx of the East Coast Hockey League promoted Mike Pierson to general manager. Pierson has been assistant GM for the past three seasons.

    The Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League hired Eric Allen as director of ticket sales. Allen spent the last five years with USA Hockey Inc., most recently as manager, membership development.

    The West Coast Hockey League's Fresno Falcons appointed Jim Fries assistant general manager. Fries has been with the organization for two years as director of marketing and sales and director of operations.

    The Washington Capitals named John Vidalin senior director of marketing. He previously was vice president of client services for MGM Communications in Calgary and also worked for the Calgary Flames as director of marketing.

    The Minnesota Wild hired Mike Reeves as vice president of human resources and organizational development. Reeves spent 30 years with Deluxe Corp. in numerous positions, most recently president and CEO of Vertical Publishing Inc.

    College Hockey America named R.H. "Bob" Peters commissioner. Peters retired in March from Bemidji State University, where he had been hockey coach and athletic director for hockey. His new position will begin on July 1. He also will continue as BSU's director of hockey operations.



    Stan Yamamoto was named to head SRO Communications, the in-house advertising and sports marketing agency for the Phoenix Suns and its affiliated entities. Yamamoto, most recently director of advertising, has been with SRO since 1996.

    Host Communications Inc. appointed Peter Pallad director of national sales in its New York City office. Pallad comes to Host from Sports Spectrum, where he was a sales account executive representing professional sports franchises, the NCAA and various sports events.

    Octagon Worldwide's Athlete Representation division President Phil de Picciotto was appointed to the worldwide board of the Octagon Group.

    Kaleidoscope named Michael Cohen vice president of sponsorship sales. Cohen joins Kaleidoscope from Broadband Sports, where he managed advertising for a network of sports-related Web sites.

    Elaine Canevaro was promoted to senior account supervisor for Edelman Public Relations Sports and Entertainment Marketing Group. She will continue to supervise client accounts and manage Edelman's Celebrity and Athlete Services.

    The Bonham Group named Shawn Bradley vice president and chief operating officer of The Bonham Group Market Research Co. Bradley has been with the company for seven years, most recently as vice president of client services. The Bonham Group also promoted Greg Rieber and Jill Bornand to managers of client services. Both are former senior account executives with experience in property, sponsorship and soft-drink analyses.

    Velocity Sports & Entertainment appointed Shalagh Blanck as an associate. She has more than six years of experience in meeting planning, most recently with IMsci.

    Sport Chalet Inc. promoted Claudia Reich to senior vice president of marketing and advertising. She started with Sport Chalet in 1999 as vice president of marketing and advertising.

    Keystone Marketing Co. added Lynn Bright, Scott Dorsett, Gary Lergner and Eric Weaver to its field marketing team as field marketing managers. Bright will manage a mobile exhibit program for General Nutrition Centers and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Chevrolet. Dorsett will coordinate Keystone's field marketing efforts while managing the at-track office base. Lergner will assume responsibility for fan attractions that surround the Pfizer Men's Health Tune-Up for Life mobile health screening unit. Weaver will oversee Hills Bros. Coffee's Winston Cup marketing efforts.

    Kathi Tomsyck founded Road Runner Sports Marketing in Charlotte. Tomsyck has 15 years of experience in broadcast and consumer promotions at Charlotte media outlets WSOC AM/FM and WBTV and five years in sports marketing at SFX/Cotter Group. Jenny Bonk was hired to assist with the business development and public relations aspects of Road Runner. She comes from the SFX/Cotter Group.

    Gary Pluchino joined the New York office of Momentum as a senior vice president. Pluchino had been vice president, worldwide sports and event marketing at Carlson Marketing Group.



    The Lancaster JetHawks of the California League hired Alan Koelling as director of sales. Koelling is completing a master of business administration at the University of Oregon and previously worked for the City of Lancaster in the Parks, Recreation and Arts department.

    The USA Baseball board of directors elected Lindsay Burbage of Trenton, N.J., chairman of the board. Burbage is senior partner at Burbage & Associates, a Trenton-based law firm, and has been involved with USA Baseball since 1982. USA Baseball also named Steven Keener, president and CEO of Little League Baseball, to its executive committee as an at-large member. Ernie Young and Dave Roberts were added as recent athletes.

    Ryan Murray was named director of public relations for the Delmarva Shorebirds of the South Atlantic League. Murray comes from the New Jersey Cardinals, where he was media relations director since February.

    The Buffalo Bisons of the International League promoted Tom Burns to director of public relations and entertainment, Tom Sciarrino to stadium operations and concessions manager and Christopher Hill to director of sales and marketing. Matter Herring was named public relations and baseball operations coordinator. Eric Edelstein is the new promotions coordinator. Zachary Cooper became sales and marketing coordinator. The team added Mark Gordon and Mark Hoppe as account executives.



    Jim Frevola was named senior director, business development and marketing partnerships with the Miami Dolphins/Pro Player Stadium. Frevola had been the director of marketing partnerships for the Florida Marlins for the past two seasons.

    The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl named William Pate chairman of the executive committee. Pate is vice president of advertising and public relations at BellSouth and chairman-elect of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    The San Diego Chargers named John Shean vice president of sales and marketing. He was vice president of sales for the Arizona Cardinals from 1995 to 2000.



    Stephanie J. Hannah was promoted to director of enforcement for the NCAA's national office. She has been with the enforcement staff since serving as an intern in 1994.

    Delise O'Meally and Lynn Holzman were promoted to directors of membership services for the NCAA national office.

    Warner Alford resigned from his position as the University of Louisiana's athletic director.

    Mike Bazemore was promoted to associate athletic director at Jacksonville University. He had been assistant athletic director.

    Ryan Erb joined Miami (Ohio) University's athletic media relations office as an assistant director. He spent the past year as full-time intern at Bucknell University.

    Jeffrey P. Long was named senior associate athletic director at the University of Oklahoma. He was athletic director at Eastern Kentucky University.

    Pat Manak, assistant director of administration at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, was promoted to assistant executive director.

    Chris Plonsky was named interim women's athletic director at the University of Texas at Austin. Plonsky had been associate men's athletic director.

    Larry Martin was named athletic director at Eastern Mennonite University. Martin comes from Towson University, where he was associate athletic director.



    UsherPro, an institutional ticket management and ticket exchange software company, named James E. de Castro to its board of directors.

     Benetton Sportsystem USA hired Steven Maasland as senior director of international sales. Maasland most recently worked for Fister S.p.A./ACD Tridon in Italy. The company also hired Chris Fiorillo as its public relations manager. Fiorillo had been a project manager with SFX in the brand consultancy division.


    Brian Billick, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, received the Civic Works' community service award. Civic Works, a Baltimore-area youth service group, honors individuals who stress education, service and community. Billick was one of three community leaders to receive the award.

    Arnie Ferrin, former University of Utah director of athletics, was named the recipient of the 20th NACDA/NIT Athletics Directors Award by the National Invitational Tournament. During Ferrin's eight-year tenure, Utah won eight NCAA or Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women championship events and multiple conference titles. Utah also hosted the 1979 NCAA Men's Final Four, the 1981 NCAA Skiing Championships and the 1982 and '83 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships during Ferrin's tenure. Ferrin is a member of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee and has worked in various capacities for the University of Utah since 1969.

    Bob Hope, president of Hope-Beckham Public Relations; Robin Roberts, ESPN and ABC-TV sports commentator; and Donald Sabo, professor of sociology at D'Youville College in Buffalo received the Women's Sports Foundation's Presidents Award given annually to members of the WSF's Advisory Board. The award, selected by current and former WSF presidents, recognizes each individual's contributions to women's sports and their service to the foundation.

    Donna Caponi, a 24-time LPGA Tour champion, was elected to the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. She is the second player voted into the Hall in the veteran's category. Caponi joined the tour in 1965 and is one of six player to successfully defend a U.S. Women's Open title. In 1981, she became the third woman to cross the $1 million mark in career earnings. Caponi retired at the end of the 1988 season and is now an analyst for The Golf Channel. As a member of the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, Caponi will be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame on Nov. 12.

    Jack Lengyel, director of athletics at the U.S. Naval Academy and president of NACDA in 1989-90, was chosen as this year's recipient of the 35th James J. Corbett Memorial Award. During Lengyel's tenure, the Naval Academy has won more than 60 percent of all of its athletic contests and more than 70 percent of its contests against rival Army during the last four years. Lengyel also has supervised the completion of numerous facility improvements for rowing, baseball, soccer and golf. He is chair of NACDA's Preseason Football Games Committee and is on the association's Continuing Education, Finance-Management, Strategic and Long Range Planning, Inter-Association Liaison and Site Selection committees. The Corbett Award, voted on by the officers and executive committee of NACDA, is presented annually to the collegiate athletic administrator who "most typifies Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its benefit." Corbett was Louisiana State University's AD and NACDA's first president. Lengyel, the first non-Naval Academy graduate named as athletic director, also will receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute.

    Colorado College in Colorado Springs inducted basketball player Lorna Kollmeyer, soccer players Kerry Tashiro and Saad Sahawneh and football player Steve Sabol into its Athletic Hall of Fame. These individuals make up the Hall's seventh class.

    Bill Walsh, former coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was named San Jose State University's 2001 Tower Award Winner. Walsh was honored for his work as a coach, author and executive. During his 10 years as coach, the 49ers won three Super Bowls, made seven postseason appearances and earned six NFC West division titles. Walsh is one of only 14 coaches to be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

    Print | Tags: ABC, AHL, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Boston Celtics, Calgary Flames, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, ECHL, ESPN, Miami Marlins, Fox, Golf Channel, LPGA, Miami Dolphins, NCAA, New York Giants, NFL, Oakland Athletics, Pfizer, Phoenix Suns, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Pit-crew school offers students a chance at NASCAR career

    Anyone who thinks NASCAR isn't a sport should take a look at athletic trainer Breon Klopp's latest pursuit.

    Klopp has opened a Mooresville, N.C., school that trains NASCAR pit crews in the high-speed choreography of tire changing and split-second repairs during a race.

    "We're not talking about a good ol' boy changing tires," Klopp said. "We're talking about elite athletes who train for this."

    The school, 5 Off-5 On, began its first classes last month in 9,000 square feet at Lakeside Business Park. The school's name comes from this bit of racing trivia: There are five lug nuts on each wheel of a NASCAR racer.

    With a budget of $800,000, Klopp has set up a four-employee operation in which students are given assigned roles, with the pit-stop routine scripted by instructors and strength trainers.

    The idea for the business began in September, when Klopp met with some friends — including executives from Mooresville-area racing shops — to discuss opening an exercise training facility.

    As the group talked about the concept, it evolved into something more ambitious. Rather than simply training pit-crew members into good physical condition, 5 Off could be involved in recruiting, screening and teaching the folks who gas up, change tires and sometimes repair cars during races.

    "They were saying how difficult it was to find skilled people to man the pit crews," Klopp said.

    The 48-classroom-hour course for pit-crew members costs almost $1,800 a student. That curriculum — called Green Flag! — involves a monthlong series of classroom work, speakers and physical conditioning.

    The first class began May 1 with six students and concluded Thursday. A full class is 14 students.

    Shorter, less expensive courses are also available. For $55, an armchair racing fan can learn the basics of what goes on during a 15-second pit stop. That class is called Practice Lap.

    The training includes heavy doses of realism. During exercises, a compact disc of racetrack noises blares in the background. For refueling practice, water is substituted for gasoline.

    Andy Ward, pit coach for Penske Racing's No. 12 car, driven by Jeremy Mayfield, plans to use the school to find recruits and pit-crew stand-ins.

    "It will be a proving ground, in addition to a training center," Ward said.

    Klopp previously worked with fitness centers, including an operation at First Union Corp.'s 2 million-square-foot Customer Information Center in Charlotte.

    The financing for 5 Off comes primarily from an investor who has racing and automotive connections. The company wouldn't say who.

    5 Off offers other services — including an event featuring a two-hour pit-crew demonstration for $1,720. Taking a page from marketing-savvy NASCAR, 5 Off has signed World of Weights Inc. of Akron, Ohio, as sponsor for the school's weight room, and Klopp is talking to a toolmaker about providing equipment and financial support.

    "We've been pleased with the people who want to participate," he said.

    Ken Elkins writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

    Print | Tags: Columbus Crew, NASCAR, Penske Corp.
  • Program benefits from experience

    NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year: NCAA Division II/III


    Larry Swanson
    University of California-Davis
    Title: Associate athletic director, external affairs
    Age: 58
    Education: Bachelor’s degree in education from Oregon State University, 1965; master’s degree in education, Oregon State University, 1969
    UC Davis sponsors: Pepsi, Continental Airlines, Cisco Systems, Apple Computers, Hewlett-Packard, Marriott, Wells Fargo, UPS, Frito-Lay, AT&T Broadband, Krispy Kreme, UC-Davis Medical Center

    The University of California-Davis athletic marketing program is not the first thing Larry Swanson has built from the ground up.

    In 1984, the Division II school's associate athletic director left a campus housing post to go into private business. Over the next three years, he and two partners acquired and converted an abandoned monastery near Santa Cruz into a resort.

    Swanson returned to UC Davis in 1986 and began to transform the central California campus into a sports hotbed. The result has been a program that is a regular competitor for the Sears Directors' Cup, and his efforts have landed him the NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year award for NCAA Division II/III.

    "I think he's one of the absolute best not just in Division II but in the whole country," said Cliff Dochterman, the associate athletic director at the University of California-Riverside. As a result, he said, UC Davis is "as good as Division I in a lot of sports."

    Swanson, 58, said his brief foray into private enterprise gave him a better appreciation of "what people face in the business world every day and how we could help enhance their profile."

    "I also made contacts that helped me in opening doors," Swanson said. "They didn't necessarily become sponsors, but they provided me access to some who eventually became partners."

    Those partnerships brought in about $500,000 for the school in 2000-01. The development department raised another $600,000, and the "Aggie Auction," which Swanson created in 1997, took in about $275,000 last month.

    What Swanson might be best known for is the "Aggie Pack," a student spirit squad that started with 50 members in 1993 and has grown to more than 8,000. The students attend games and rally Davis teams in all 25 intercollegiate sports, not just high-profile sports like football.

    By growing student attendance, UC Davis was able to create interest in the school's athletics in the community, which in turn attended more games and generated more interest from sponsors trying to reach a very desirable audience, said Doug Ihmels, president of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators.

    At the same time, the Aggie Pack has become a potent lobbying group on a campus in which students can vote to tax themselves to pay for desired facilities or services. In February 1999, students levied a small fee on themselves in perpetuity to pay for $62 million in new sports facilities, including a recreation center and a multi-use stadium that is used by Davis football.

    "He's not afraid of new ideas," said Ihmels, who is also the associate athletic director at the University of California-Bakersfield. "Some people who have been around a long time are looking not to rock the boat before retirement."

    Swanson's passion is actually rooted in the old idea that students should be proud of where they went to school, and that pride should not be tempered by whether you're competing in Division I, II or III.

    "Regardless of the level, there's reason to be proud of what we're doing," Swanson said. "Competition is competition. As long as we're on a fairly even playing field, people will be interested in supporting gifted young people."

    Prior to returning to UC Davis in 1986, Swanson served as associate director of university housing and was responsible for the business operations, facility maintenance and long-range planning for the residence halls and apartment complexes on the Davis campus.

    Except for his three years as a developer, Swanson has been at UC Davis since 1972. Swanson said he was a part-owner of Chaminade at Santa Cruz, the resort and meeting center which overlooks the Monterey Bay that he helped build, until it was sold in 1996.

    The recent economic downturn is Swanson's latest challenge. He said he would face it "with as much innovation as possible."

    "We're still fairly young at UC Davis in terms of business involvement," Swanson said. "There's still some room for growth."

    Print | Tags: Continental Airlines, Frito-Lay, NCAA, Oakland Athletics, PepsiCo, Wells Fargo
  • Proskauer Rose pipeline fills sports world’s executive suites

     Background: Founded in 1875 in New York City, Proskauer Rose has 550 attorneys in five U.S. offices and Paris. It lists among its non-sports clients an array of firms in many industries, including chemicals, financial services, health care, information technology, insurance, Internet, manufacturing, media/communications/entertainment, pharmaceuticals, real estate investment and transportation.
      Corporate clients include: ABC, CBS, NBC, HBO, The New York Times, the Daily News, Paxon Communications Corp., Dow Jones & Co., New York Stock Exchange Inc., Radio City Music Hall, RCA Records, Bear Stearns & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Miller Brewing Co., Exxon-Mobil, GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Madonna, MetLife, MGM, Viacom, Walt Disney Productions and Warner Bros. Pictures.
      Sports clients include: NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, Madison Square Garden, Major League Soccer, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Montreal Expos, WNBA and TRAC, the new auto racing league scheduled to debut in 2003.

    Tandy Meghan O'Donoghue vividly remembers the day she set her sights on joining the powerhouse New York law firm Proskauer Rose LLP. An undergraduate at Cornell University at the time in 1992, O'Donoghue had just learned that Cornell alumnus Gary Bettman, a former Proskauer lawyer, had been named the first commissioner of the NHL.

    "I knew Proskauer's reputation in sports law practice and in producing sports executives," O'Donoghue recalled. "And I knew it would put me on the path to ending up at a league, which is what I always wanted."

    She was right. Earlier this spring, O'Donoghue left Pros-kauer to accept the position of vice president of legal and business affairs/general counsel for the Women's Tennis Association. Her move raised to 15 the number of former Proskauer lawyers holding high-powered positions in the sports business world — believed to be the most top-level sports executives in the country to flow from a single firm (see chart).

    David Stern, commissioner of the NBA, came from the firm as well, meaning two of the four commissioners of the major team-sports leagues are Proskauer alumni.

    Ironically, Proskauer prides itself on not having a sports law department per se. Beyond the sports realm, Proskauer ranks as one of the largest corporate law firms in the country, especially in labor and employment issues. Proskauer's labor lawyers are heavily recruited by several industries. But in terms of sports, its attorneys specialize in other areas and then are brought into sports law work.

    O'Donoghue, for example, was an associate in the firm's litigation and dispute resolution department.

    "The NBA gets the best corporate lawyer we have available for its corporate work, for example," said Michael Cardozo, a partner in Proskauer's litigation and dispute resolution department who also chairs the firm's sports law group. "We don't have any one client that we know each year will occupy 50 people full time. We want to bring the best quality people to bear when a sports client has a problem."

    The would-be sports executives, though, first prove themselves on the sports legal battlefield. In the last decade, Proskauer has handled cases affecting nearly every major issue in professional sports, from last month's announcement of a new stock car racing league, to last December's court victory defending Major League Soccer against antitrust charges, to the 1999 crushing of the Major League Baseball umpires' strike, to the negotiation of the NBA's salary cap.

    Proskauer stands, competing attorneys agree, among the top three sports law firms representing management in the country. The other two are Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom in New York; and Covington & Burling in Washington. Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the NFL, was an attorney with Covington.

    That means three of the four major commissioners are attorneys, symbolizing the legal complexity of professional sports today. Baseball's Bud Selig is the only nonlawyer.

    But Selig often turns to Proskauer. When the baseball players' strike of 1994 erased the World Series and dragged on for months, Selig brought in a former Proskauer lawyer, Randy Levine, to negotiate a settlement. Levine succeeded where many others had failed.

    Since then, Selig has recruited two Proskauer labor lawyers to his staff. Not coincidentally, the players' latest collective-bargaining agreement expires
    Nov. 1.

    Most Proskauer alumni cite the firm's nurturing atmosphere and its ties to leagues and teams for creating what has become America's incubator of sports business leadership.

    The NHL's Bettman said, "As a young lawyer, I found a great environment for developing and teaching young lawyers their craft." Also important, Bettman said, was that Proskauer early on had the NBA as a client. "That kept them on the cutting edge of sports issues," he said.

    Another boon to Proskauer came when Stern left the firm in 1978 to become general counsel of the NBA, then league vice president and finally commissioner in 1984. When opposing lawyers are asked about Proskauer's success in producing sports executives, they cite Stern's influence as the key.

    It worked for Bettman. "I was at a farewell party for David Stern in 1978," Bettman said, "and I turned to someone and said, 'He's got the greatest job in the world. I'd really like to go to work for him.' " Three years later, Stern hired him.

    The NBA job eventually led to Bettman's NHL appointment. Currently, the NBA has three other Proskauer alumni on its legal staff, as does the NHL.

    Stern, like Bettman, attributed Pros-kauer's success in part to having the NBA as a client before the field of sports law exploded in the 1980s and '90s with complicated issues in labor, intellectual property, media deals, antitrust, bankruptcy, pensions, acquisitions, sponsorships, the Internet and global sports competition.

    Stern, however, has been referring an increasing number of NBA legal issues to Skadden, Arps, raising questions in the legal community about whether Proskauer has reached a turning point in its sports law practice.

    Jeffrey Mishkin, who spent 20 years at Proskauer before joining the NBA in 1992 and then Skadden, Arps in January 2000, is now one of the NBA's top outside counsels. He points out, though, that Skadden did a substantial amount of work for the NBA even before he joined the firm as a partner.

    Mishkin had been Stern's executive vice president and chief legal officer at the NBA. Stern said, "I have worked with Jeffrey since 1971, when we represented the NBA [at Proskauer]. We have a long history together and he is a good friend. We will use him a little more, but we will also use Proskauer. And we'll use Covington & Burling, too."

    Howard Ganz, a veteran Proskauer lawyer who directs the firm's NBA work, said simply, "The NBA did not move to Skadden, Arps. The NBA's legal business was always divided among firms — Proskauer and Skadden principally. That remains the case now."

    Ganz said Proskauer continues to handle all of the NBA's labor and employment issues, as well as corporate ones such as transactions or team relocations. He added that Proskauer would have liked to have rehired Mishkin when he moved from the NBA.

    Mishkin said of his choice between Proskauer and Skadden: "It was impossible for me to make a mistake. I simply chose the best opportunity for me."

    Skadden, with 1,600 attorneys, is nearly three times the size of Proskauer. In 1999, Skadden, Arps became the first law firm in the country to gross over $1 billion in revenue, according to the most recent annual survey of the top 100 law firms by American Lawyer magazine. Skadden's 292 equity partners each received $1.6 million in profits that year after ranking No. 1 in revenue for several years in a row.

    In comparison, Proskauer dropped from 43rd to 48th in revenue with $243 million. Its 125 equity partners each received $740,000. Proskauer wouldn't discuss what percentage of its revenue derives from its sports law practice.

    Bettman said he has no plans to switch his legal work from Proskauer. And Stern indicated the growth of sports litigation in general means there will be plenty for both firms to do. Besides, Stern's ties to Proskauer remain deep.

    Stern joined Proskauer in 1966 — as part of what some members of the firm fondly call "the class of '66." That group also includes Robert Batterman, Cardozo and Ganz. Cardozo and Ganz were classmates at Columbia Law School with Stern, and all three served on the law review together.

    The four speak fondly of "learning at the knee of George Gallantz," the now retired lawyer who first brought NBA business to Proskauer more than 35 years ago. At that time, one and sometimes two Proskauer attorneys worked part-time on sports issues; today, at any one time, that number can reach 60.

    Ganz represented Major League Baseball in breaking up the ill-fated umpires' strike in 1999. He has served as principal outside labor counsel for the NBA for more than 20 years and worked on many of the major cases that have shaped players' salaries and rights.

    Ganz recalled his early years when the NBA's collective-bargaining agreement was five or six pages long. Now, he said, it is 279 pages plus 25 pages of exhibits plus some side letters. He has described the current pact as "Biblical in its proportions and Talmudic in its complexity."

    Cardozo primarily represents the NHL and Major League Soccer. He established a major legal precedent last year in an antitrust decision that held that the MLS is a legal "single entity" and not a monopoly. That federal court precedent could lead to reduced antitrust litigation against sports leagues.

    Among the mementos in Cardozo's Manhattan office are a baseball cap emblazoned with the words "Salary Cap," an official red-striped Spalding football from the late XFL (a Proskauer client) and a simulated basketball scoreboard that reads "NBA — $5.6 million" on one side, and "Clippers — 0" on the other. The scoreboard refers to a Proskauer case in the late '80s involving the San Diego Clippers' move to Los Angeles without permission from the NBA. Earlier, when Al Davis had moved his Oakland Raiders football team without permission and the NFL tried to sanction him, Davis won a $50 million judgment against the NFL.

    Not only did the NBA not have to pay the Clippers, but Proskauer's lawyers won a $5.6 million settlement from the team. Hence the souvenir scoreboard.

    Perhaps the only drawback to 35 years of experience in sports law is that it points out that Proskauer's warhorses from the class of '66 are aging. But they have an answer for that.

    First is their work ethic. Batterman, 59, proudly proclaimed that he billed 2,000 client hours last year. And Cardozo, soon to be 60, litigated two major trials last year — a seven-week one in San Francisco and the three-month MLS trial in federal court in Boston.

    Second, they point to a stable of bright, young partners and associates who are making their own marks on the sports world. Those include:

    n Joseph Leccese, partner in corporate law, who helped structure the WNBA, worked on NFL and NHL expansions, and helped owners buy the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.

    Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles, called Leccese "not only my lawyer, but a constant adviser as well." After helping Lurie buy the team, Leccese has worked nearly six years to gain the financial and political approval to build a new stadium in Philadelphia. Groundbreaking was scheduled for Sunday.

    "I don't think I ever realized until I owned the team how important your relationship is with your key lawyer and law firm," Lurie said. "So many of the decisions you make have to be grounded in legal policy and just good judgment, which Joe has in abundance."

    n Jeffrey Levitan, corporate partner specializing in bankruptcy and leveraged buyouts. He has represented numerous sports clients and licensers in bankruptcy cases. He also represented the NHL in the Pittsburgh Penguins' bankruptcy case, the first such case by a major sports team in nearly 30 years.

    n Bradley Ruskin, partner in the litigation and dispute resolution department. Ruskin has worked on issues for the NBA, NHL, ATP Tour, ownership groups in the NFL and MLB, media companies in sports-related disputes, and Fila Sports. Ruskin, 44, is the youngest member of Proskauer's six-person executive committee.

    Most recently he and Leccese structured Team Racing Auto Circuit, the new national stock car racing league announced last month, using the single-entity concept.

    As for these or any other young Pros-kauer lawyers potentially moving to the offices of teams and leagues, like so many have before them, the firm's partners call the raiding of their talented lawyers "a bittersweet compliment." On the sweet side, those who leave often refer business back to their mentors.

    "Now that I'm on the other side and will look at firms to provide me a service, it is a nice component for a firm to be a one-stop shop," the WTA's O'Donoghue said. "Proskauer has the greatest breadth in sports law practice of all the litigators out there, whether it's tax, bankruptcy, corporate, pension ... whatever."

    Proskauer Rose alumni
    15 former employees, with their positions at the law firm in parentheses
    David Stern, commissioner (litigation partner)
    Harvey Benjamin, senior vice president for business affairs of NBA Properties (corporate partner)
    William Koenig, general counsel of NBA Properties (litigation partner)
    Vicki Pica, associate counsel of NBA Properties (litigation associate)
    Gary Bettman, commissioner (litigation associate)
    Douglas Perlman, group vice president of media ventures and strategy development (litigation associate)
    David Zimmerman, senior vice president/general counsel (corporate associate)
    Daniel Ages, associate counsel (corporate associate)
    Jennifer Rosar Gefsky, deputy general labor counsel (labor associate)
    Paul Mifsud Jr., counsel for labor relations (labor associate)
    Tandy Meghan O’Donoghue, vice president for legal and business affairs/ general counsel (litigation associate)
    Robert Brandon, senior vice president for legal and business affairs (corporate associate)
    David Kahn, general manager (litigation associate)
    Thomas Lynn, director of hockey administration and legal affairs (litigation associate)
    Jared Bartie, vice president of legal affairs (labor associate)
    * The XFL folded last month.
    Source: Proskauer Rose LLP

    Sue Reisinger is a writer in Florida.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Cleveland Browns, ExxonMobil, Fila, Ally, Los Angeles Clippers, MillerCoors, MLB, MLS, MSG Network, NBA, NBC, New York Jets, NFL, NHL, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Spalding, WNBA
  • Quick jump to I-A carried pains, then reward

    NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year: NCAA Division I-A


    John Lambert
    University at Buffalo
    Title: Senior assistant athletic director for external relations
    Age: 35
    Education: Graduated from Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, Welland, Ontario, in 1985 with a degree in retail management
    University at Buffalo sponsors: Adelphia Communications Corp., Tops Markets, Target, M&T Bank, Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

    Building a Division I-A athletic program is obviously an enormous challenge. Try making it happen in an expedited fashion and in a city that is absorbed by professional sports.

    That is the task the University at Buffalo embarked on just over a decade ago. The wounds of moving too quickly are evident. The football team and the men's basketball team have yet to find a winning recipe, both teams have changed coaches in the past year and the hoops program has just gone through an NCAA investigation.

    Now, completing its second full year of operation in the Mid-American Conference, the UB athletic department is at least exhibiting signs of finding its way along the Division I-A landscape. The NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year award for Division I-A is more of a reward for the efforts of those charged with raising the profile of athletics at UB.

    John Lambert, senior assistant athletic director for external relations, will receive the honor, but the fingerprints of many others within the university are all over it. And he is quick to name those who have implemented a scope of programs to enhance the image of all Bulls teams, not just those in the revenue-generating sports: Dawn Reed, marketing coordinator for women's athletics; Rob Suglia, student relations coordinator; Jill Rexinger-Kuhn, promotions director; Alan Kegler, design manager/senior art director in the UB Publications Department.

    "Specifically, it's under my umbrella, but I trust these people to present the best programs," Lambert said. "We've tried to implement standard programs across the board — promotional T-shirts, team photos, poster schedules. That may not seem like much, but when those teams don't have anything, it's a step forward. We're going to lay a foundation to help the Olympic sports and women's programs."

    One of Lambert's first charges under Director of Athletics Bob Arkeilpane, who replaced Nelson Townsend two years ago, was ensuring UB met mandated NCAA attendance and stadium expansion requirements allowing entry as a Division I-A football team in 1998. "Mission I-A" was successfully met, allowing UB marketers to begin focusing on the entire program.

    In the age of gender equity, UB has benefited with assistance from the New York State Legislature. Nan Harvey, associate athletic director/senior women's administrator at UB, said lawmakers have budgeted $1.6 million over the past two years to help the Bulls market women's programs. As a result of that additional funding, the women's basketball team has been able to have games broadcast on both radio and TV.

    "Everyone tailors their department to the local markets. It's more specific than people realize," said Rick Chryst, commissioner of the MAC. "The following that's being developed for women's sports at UB is something our schools will learn from."

    This past season a women's basketball attendance record was set when more than 4,000 fans turned out at Alumni Arena to see the Bulls knock off North Carolina. Through a partnership with the university's conference and special events, basketball commentator Dick Vitale addressed a pregame men's crowd and, to highlight a promotion for National Girls and Women in Sports Day, WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes spoke before a women's game. Last summer, as students were returning to campus, a "Rockin' Rally" featuring singer Eddie Money attracted more than 5,000 to kick off the football season.

    As the "arms race," as some NCAA officials have called it, continues to escalate, the revenue-generating sports will always be viewed differently.

    "They're not the same and the percentage of promotion we do cannot be the same," Lambert said. "With so many financial demands on football and men's and women's basketball, it's impossible to allocate those funds equally. However, it isn't impossible to increase our promotional efforts in sports that do not get the notoriety as revenue sports. We've taken steps through creation of these [departmental] positions and revenue allocation to make sure they do get exposure."

    Rick Maloney writes for Business First of Buffalo.

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, NCAA, Oakland Athletics, WNBA
  • Rashad to be host of Finals special

    NBA Entertainment and NBC are teaming to produce an NBA Finals special to air at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.

    "NBA at the Finals: Backstage with Ahmad Rashad," hosted by NBC Sports' Rashad, will provide "behind-the-scenes access" to the teams battling in the league's championship series, said Gregg Winik, executive vice president and executive producer for NBA Entertainment.

    The program, which will precede the 7 p.m. tip-off of NBC's coverage of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, is expected to include appearances by several noteworthy players who have competed in previous NBA Finals.

    — Langdon Brockinton

    Print | Tags: NBA, NBC
  • Real Madrid land sale to slay debt

    Spanish soccer team Real Madrid has practically wiped out its huge debt load by approving the sale of the land where the team has its training fields. The club estimates the eventual value of the deal at nearly $300 million, more than enough to give the club a fresh financial start. When the debt total was most recently mentioned by Florentino Pérez, the Real chairman, he estimated it at $180 million. The deal involves a tradeoff with regional and local government bodies, which have agreed to relax zoning laws on the commercial use of the property at Paseo de la Castellana. About 20 percent of the land would be converted into office buildings, which the club will be able to sell to private investors. In exchange, the government will be given the remaining 80 percent of the land to build a public park with a sports arena as part of Spain's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

     BLIMPCAM ARRIVES: Like Q's laboratory in the James Bond movies, the camera experts at British public broadcaster BBC love to invent new gadgets. The latest results were introduced during coverage of the debut bout by British Olympic gold-medal heavyweight Audley Harrison, who beat Michael Middleton on May 19. The Refcam is a mini-radio camera tucked into the referee's top pocket. The Ringcam, a remote-controlled camera, is attached to the overhead lighting. The Blimpcam, a camera attached to a fan-powered blimp (about 15 feet by 6 feet) that flies around the arena at 3 mph.

      FIAT FIRST: Paolo Cantarella, managing director of Fiat, is the first president of the company being set by auto manufacturers to launch a new Formula One series starting in 2008. BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Renault and Fiat have signed a deal to create the new racing company, and other makers have been invited to join. The presidency is to be rotated among the companies annually.

      ROWING THE ATLANTIC: The Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge, sponsored by insurance company Ward Evans, will launch Oct. 7 from Tenerife in the Canary Islands with a destination of Barbados. It is the first sponsorship undertaking by Ward Evans Group, which is meeting the costs of organizing and promoting the race for two-man identical boats. There are 37 teams entered, each of which is expected to spend about $75,000 on the boat and to compensate the rowers for time off work. Team sponsors are mostly small companies such as Henley Tent & Marquee Hire (the firm that puts up hospitality tents at the Henley Regatta), but include Norwegian energy and metal group Norsk Hydro and Perot Systems Europe. The prize at the end of the trip will probably be a trophy and free accommodations in Barbados, although the possibility of some cash is still being discussed.

    — Jay Stuart

    Print | Tags: Formula One
  • Reform recommendations sweep through Pac-10 faculty senates

    Faculty senates across the Pac-10 Conference's membership are urging their presidents to put intercollegiate athletic reform at the top of their agenda for their meeting in June.

    In the last three weeks, faculty senates at Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State have passed resolutions that ask their presidents to "begin serious discussions aimed at moderating the exponential growth of athletic programs and budgets in the Pac-10."

    Similar proposals are being considered by faculty groups at UCLA, USC and Arizona, said English professor James Earl, president of the University of Oregon's faculty senate and the person who drafted the two-page resolution.

    The document mirrors reform recommendations made by Indiana University President Myles Brand earlier this year, Earl said. Brand, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., urged college and university presidents to "work to eliminate the excesses of commercialism, to ensure the academic success of student athletes and to make certain that athletic programs enhance and support the larger academic mission of the university."

    Faculty concern over intercollegiate athletics has been rising over the years as budgets, coaches salaries and facility construction have increased, Earl said, adding that the Pac-10 faculty senate initiative is designed to demonstrate the faculties' view on the importance of addressing the issue.

    "I think this shows that the faculties are all very unified on the feeling that there is an approaching catastrophe in intercollegiate athletics," Earl said.

    Earl said that, once the remaining Pac-10 schools are on board with the resolution, he and other faculty senate presidents will begin pushing the resolution to faculty members in other conferences.

    Print | Tags: Oakland Athletics
  • Restructuring completed at DEI

    Dale Earnhardt Inc. recently made formal the management structure that has been in place since Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500 in February.

    Doug Swanson will continue as chief operating officer. Ty Norris, formerly director of motorsports, will be executive vice president of motorsports. Steve Hmiel, formerly technical director, was promoted to Norris' old spot. Joe Hedrick was named vice president of licensing. Judy Queen was named director, office of the CEO.

    Teresa Earnhardt, who formed the company with her husband in 1980 and was chairman, will take the CEO title, as expected.

    "Dale and I developed a plan for the long-term growth of this company several years ago," said Teresa Earnhardt. "As DEI moves ahead, we're placing people in their respective roles to meet the goals we envisioned back then."

    — Bill King

    Print | Tags: Dale Earnhardt Inc.
  • SFX’s Tellem set to hoop it up big in NBA draft

    SFX Basketball chief Arn Tellem represents three NBA prospects who have a realistic chance to be taken one, two, three in the draft later this month, in what could be one of the most dominant draft days for any single agent.

    Tellem represents Seton Hall freshman Eddie Griffin, Illinois high school senior Eddy Curry and Georgia high school senior Kwame Brown, according to sources. Although it is still early, all three have been ranked among the top five picks on several draft lists.

    It isn't clear how many players Tellem may represent overall in this year's draft or if he will break his record of representing seven first-round picks last year. Repeated attempts to reach Tellem for comment were unsuccessful. But sources said he has signed as many as eight players who may be picked in the June 27 draft.

    Last year, Tellem's top pick was No. 5 Mike Miller. SFX Sports, as an agency, represented nine of the first 29 picks in the 2000 draft.

    Eric Chapman, author of a scouting report that counts 20 NBA teams as its subscribers, said the No. 1 draft pick is anybody's guess. "To be honest, it's totally up in the air at this point," he said. "There is no Tim Duncan-, Shaquille O'Neal-type [in this draft]."

    Chapman named as potential top five picks Griffin, Curry, Brown, California high school senior Tyson Chandler and Georgia high school senior DeSagana Diop. He said all five have a chance at being No. 1.

    Diop has signed with NBA agent Leon Rose, according to sources. Chandler is represented by Jeff Schwartz, president of the sports division of Artists Management Group, which is owned by Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz.

     PARNEVIK HEADWEAR SWITCH: In an unusual midseason move, colorful PGA Tour golfer Jesper Parnevik has switched his headwear endorsement deal from Sun Microsystems Inc. to Upper Deck.

    Since Parnevik routinely flips up the bill of his cap, Upper Deck's logo appears on the underside as well as the top of the hat, said Clarke Jones, the IMG agent who represents Parnevik.

    As to why Parnevik left Sun Microsystems earlier this year, Jones would only say, "We all agreed to go a different way."

    A telephone call to Sun Microsystems, which last week saw its stock plunge on a warning that fourth-quarter earnings would be lower than expected, was not returned by press time.

    Jones wouldn't reveal the value of Parnevik's headwear deal.

      FAMILIE GETS SNOWBOARDER WHITE: The Familie, an agency specializing in extreme sports, has signed 14-year-old professional snowboarder Shaun White, who appears on the cover of this month's "SI for Kids."

    White, who recently won a gold medal in the Arctic Challenge in Norway, is hoping to qualify for the U.S. team for the 2002 Winter Olympics, said Nadia Guerriero, Familie director of athlete management. Guerriero and Familie President Steve Astephen will handle White's career.

    White was formerly represented by his parents, Guerriero said.

      GAYLORD SIGNS GOLFERS, DEALS: Gaylord Sports recently signed PGA Tour veteran Andrew Magee and Craig Lile, who recently turned professional. Magee was previously represented by IMG.

    Additionally, Gaylord inked endorsement deals for existing clients and PGA Tour golfers Billy Mayfair, Rocco Mediate and Mark Calcavecchia to endorse prestigious golf courses.

    Mayfair will endorse Estrella Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course in Goodyear, Ariz.; Calcavecchia will endorse Querencia Golf Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and Mediate will endorse the Broadmoor Golf Course in Colorado Springs.

    Steve Loy, president of Gaylord Sports, wouldn't reveal the value of the deals. But he said the agreements include secondary logos of the golf course on the player bags and apparel, as well as personal appearances and print advertising.

    Liz Mullen can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Goodyear, IMG, NBA
  • Shaq only getting bigger at Nestlé as it rolls out its Crunchmobile

    Nestlé is stepping up its NBA marketing program around Shaquille O'Neal during the NBA Finals, launching a new television ad and doing grassroots marketing in and around Los Angeles. The ad, from Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles, includes in-game footage of O'Neal and touts Nestlé Crunch as the official candy bar of the NBA. It makes its debut during the Finals on Wednesday.

    While that spot hits national airwaves, a recreation vehicle featuring a giant Nestlé Crunch logo and images of O'Neal will be driving through Southern California. The top of the RV reads "Out of the Way. It's Crunch Time."

    A corresponding outdoor advertising campaign will include signs on buses and a giant "Shaq Wallscape" hanging near the Staples Center.

    — Andy Bernstein

    Print | Tags: NBA, Staples
  • Software firm SAS spending $2M a year to name Senior PGA stop

    Once-shy SAS Institute has stepped up as the high-profile backer of a Senior PGA Tour event coming to the Raleigh area.

    The software giant pledged an estimated $2 million a year for at least three years to put its name on the event, which has been dubbed the SAS Championship. The tournament at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., will be broadcast live on the Pax television network in the early rounds, with final play airing on CNBC.

    SAS snapped up the spot on the Senior PGA Tour, which was lost by Atlanta after the title sponsor there,, pulled out because of financial troubles.

    Landing the event also is a coup for Raleigh. Atlanta officials scrambled to find a deep-pocketed backer to replace the lost sponsor and keep the event, which it had hosted for 10 years. Tour officials gave tournament officials a deadline to find a new sponsor, but no deal materialized.

    After its three-year run at Prestonwood, the event is expected to shift to TPC at Wakefield Plantation — a $22 million, PGA-affiliated course in north Raleigh built for major tournaments. TPC Wakefield will host the Monday Qualifying Tournament for this year's SAS Championship and other tournament-related functions in the future.

    The event will be held Sept. 17-23.

    Kim Nilsen writes for The Business Journal in Raleigh.


     Inn chain with Big South

    The Big South Conference signed Wingate Inns to a one-year corporate partner deal for the 2001-02 academic year. The nine-member conference is based in Charlotte. The deal gives Wingate the standing of official hotel of the conference.

      LopezGolf backs Olds event

    The Women's Oldsmobile Scramble has signed NancyLopezGolf to a sponsorship agreement as the official golf club for the 2001 season. As part of the agreement, the NancyLopezGolf product line will be available for testing and demonstrations at select Women's Oldsmobile Scramble local and sectional championships throughout the summer months.

      Bank steps up in golf

    Bank of Montreal agreed to become title sponsor of the new Canadian Women's Tour as well as Future Links, the country's national junior golf development program, the Royal Canadian Golf Association and the Canadian Professional Golfers' Association said last week. Terms of the deal were not announced. Bank of Montreal already sponsors the Bank of Montreal Canadian Women's Open, the only LPGA stop in Canada.

      Vodafone bags Ferrari team

    Mobile phone concern Vodafone Group, an aggressive sponsor on the U.K. sports front, signed a three-year deal to sponsor Ferrari's Formula One team starting in 2002. No financial details were disclosed, but Vodafone said the sponsorship deal is the largest for the company, which has its name on the jersey of soccer giant Manchester United and sponsors England's national cricket team. One of Ferrari's two drivers is three-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher.

    Print | Tags: Ferrari, Formula One, LPGA, Manchester United

    POPULATION: 5,901,589 (7th-ranked MSA)

    NO. HOTELS/ROOMS; RATE*: 265/41,142; $145.30

    VENUES AND EVENTS: FleetCenter (17,600 seats for hockey, 18,400 for basketball), host of the 1998 NCAA Hockey Finals, 1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament first- and second-round games, 2000 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, 2001 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, 2003 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament first- and second-round games; The Country Club in Brookline, host of the 1999 Ryder Cup (35,000 attendees per day); Longwood Country Club, host of 1999 Davis Cup tennis (15,000 attendees); Fenway Park (36,000); Foxboro Stadium (60,000), host of 1999 Women's World Cup games, 1999 MLS Cup championship game; J.B. Hynes Convention Center

    MAJOR CORPORATIONS: FleetBoston Financial, Raytheon, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Gillette, John Hancock Financial Services, EMC, State Street Corp., Thermo Electron, BJ's Wholesale Club

    LOCAL CONTACT: Jessica Miller, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, (888) 733-2678,


    Boston composition (%)
    Age 18-34
    Age 18-49
    Age 25-54
    Age 35+
    Single (never married)
    Average annual household
    income $100,000+
    Average annual household
    income <$50,000
    Home value $250,000+
    Leisure activities (past 12 months)
    Bicycling/mountain biking
    Power boating
    Attended pro sports event
    Sports avidity (very/somewhat
    interested in the following sports)
    Media use — average audience***
    Read any daily newspaper
    Read any Sun. newspaper
    Total radio a.m. drive M-F
    Total radio p.m. drive M-F

    * Average daily rate, March 2000 through February
    ** Scarborough Sports Marketing surveys 66 U.S. metropolitan
    markets. The composition shows the percentage of the market
    that fits the specific measure. The index compares Boston
    with the averages of these markets. Par equals 100. For
    example, Boston residents are 32 percent more likely than
    the national average to be MLB fans, but 23 percent less
    likely to be NASCAR fans.
    *** Average issue readers for newspapers, average
    quarter-hour listeners within a specific time period
    for radio.
    ^ The local media measurement is not indexed against
    the national average.
    Sources: Scarborough Sports Marketing 66 Market Report,
    SportsBusiness Journal research, Smith Travel Research,
    U.S. Census March data

    Print | Tags: Gillette, John Hancock, MillerCoors, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NCAA, New York Liberty

    From January 1999 through December 2000, ESPN Sports Poll, a product of TNS Intersearch, asked sports fans monthly about cable and computer access. Here are the responses broken down by sport, and by year. To read: last year 52 percent of NHL fans used a PC to access sports information, up from 46.2 percent in 1999. Next week, we will profile golf, tennis, auto racing, boxing and figure skating fans.


    Have cable TV at home
    Have access to a PC
    Use PC to access sports info (of those who have PC access)
    Have cable TV at home
    Have access to a PC
    Use PC to access sports info (of those who have PC access)

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NHL
  • Spot will team racer Gordon, racy Britney

    Pepsi endorsers Britney Spears and Jeff Gordon will star in a 20-second spot promoting NBC's coverage of the Pepsi 400 Winston Cup race, set for July 7 at Daytona International Speedway.

    The spot is slated to debut Friday on NBC's broadcast of Game 2 of the NBA Finals. It will air on other NBC sports programming and on the network's prime-time entertainment fare in the weeks leading up to the race, which will be the network's first NASCAR event of the year.

    Millsport LLC, Pepsi's sports marketing agency, approached NBC about developing the promo. It's been a joint effort involving NBC, Millsport, Pepsi ad agency BBDO New York and production company Wide Open Entertainment.

    The Pepsi 400 is one of two races in which NASCAR superstar Gordon drives a blue Pepsi car, and that vehicle also "will be a star of the promo spot," said Bob Basche, Millsport's vice chairman and managing partner. Basche described the spot — which also has five-second and 10-second versions — as "a clever approach to using [Gordon and Spears] in a humorous way to promote the race."

    Pop music sensation Spears will be the grand marshal of the Pepsi 400.

    Basche said that Spears' "notoriety and fame outside of NASCAR will help promote the race." That's of particular importance to this race, he said, because it's airing in prime time and likely will attract a wider audience than a typical Sunday afternoon Winston Cup event.

    Jon Miller, senior vice president of NBC Sports, said: "We think it's obviously going to be a nice pop for the event. She's a tremendous star, as is he, and Pepsi is fortunate to have these two icons as part of their marketing and promotion team. Being able to bring both of [them] to bear on this big prime-time race helps NASCAR, helps the event and helps NBC. It helps bring awareness and attention to the event."

    Print | Tags: MillerCoors, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, PepsiCo
  • Steinberg sues former partner Dunn

    In what could prove to be one of the nastiest breakups in the sports business, football agent Leigh Steinberg sued his long-time protégé, David Dunn, last week, seeking unspecified damages and a court order to stop Dunn from taking any of Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn's 86 NFL clients.

    Dunn and Brian Murphy, a lawyer for the firm who left with Dunn and is also named in the suit, have "boasted" that as many as 80 percent of the firm's football clients have fired Steinberg, said Wayne Smith, attorney for Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn, which is owned by Assante Corp.

    Smith maintains that Dunn is prohibited from representing former clients of the firm under a five-year employment agreement. Smith will seek an injunction to stop Dunn from soliciting clients of Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn or taking commissions that are due the firm, he said.

    But Gerald Sauer, Dunn's attorney, said the employment agreement his client signed isn't binding. "Under the case law in [California], David Dunn has an absolute right to compete against Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn," he said. He denied that Dunn was taking any commissions due the firm.

    "We have attempted for several weeks to resolve this dispute, and it is unfortunate that they have chosen to bring this matter into the public arena," Sauer said. "We are hopeful we will get this resolved quickly, once the emotions in this divorce have died down. In the event we don't, our side of the entire story is going to come out."

    But Smith indicated that Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn is ready for a drawn-out battle, claiming that Dunn mistakenly thought that Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn wouldn't sue him because of the damage it would cause the firm. "His position is that nobody wants to air this publicly and ultimately he would win in a bluffing contest," he said.

    Smith acknowledged that the lawsuit and defection of Dunn would likely cause the firm, which has been the most dominant NFL representation firm in the United States, to lose clients. "Other agents are licking their chops," he said.

    Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn stated in a lawsuit that it had received "more than nine purported termination letters" from clients, including Drew Bledsoe, Corey Dillon, Darren Woodson, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Rodgers, Reggie McGrew and Amani Toomer.

    Sauer would not say how many clients were going to sign with Dunn's firm, Athletes First, but said the number was "significant."

    Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn sued Dunn after weeks of negotiations to keep him with the firm broke down, Smith said. The company had been negotiating with Dunn since he sent a termination notice in February, and at one point was going to send out a press release naming Dunn a co-director of Assante's football division.

    Assante CEO Martin Weinberg told SportsBusiness Journal in March that reports that Dunn left the company and took a significant number of football clients with him were "not true" and "a fairy tale."

    Assante spokeswoman Deanna Allen said that at the time Weinberg made those statements, Dunn had orally agreed to a re-negotiated employment contract to stay with Assante, but that he never signed that contract. Sauer disputed that Dunn ever agreed to stay.

    Dunn in March denied that he had left or was leaving and attributed the reports to rival agents spreading rumors.

    Sauer said Dunn made the comments "at a time when it was very tumultuous and he was operating under a threat of litigation."

    Smith said the negotiations involved Dunn wanting more money, but Sauer disputed that. "At the heart of this dispute lies David Dunn's belief on the right way to handle your clients and take care of them," Sauer said.

    Rival agents have said that Dunn in recent years has increasingly been involved in preparing contracts for Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn's clients.

    But Smith said Dunn gained access to the clients through Steinberg's name and reputation and was paid to maintain relationships with NFL clients.

    "He got a $2 million signing bonus and after signing that [employment] agreement he appears to been securing those relationships for himself," Smith said. "When he felt he was sufficiently attached to those athlete clients, he decided to bolt."

    In addition to the lawsuits, Smith said Steinberg, Moorad and Dunn may file a grievance with the NFL Players Association accusing Dunn of tampering with the company's clients. Smith said some clients told Steinberg that they were asked by Dunn to sign resignation letters.

    To prove a violation of NFLPA regulations prohibiting agents from soliciting other agents' clients, as a practical matter, the athlete involved must testify in a proceeding, according to Richard Berthelsen, NFLPA general counsel.

    Smith said, "We don't want to trade off our athletes or put them in the middle." But he added, "This is a guy who worked for us who was paid to maintain relationships with 86 of our clients and delivered to us letters saying that a significant number have jumped ship. I don't think he can argue that all of those athletes called him."

    Rival NFL agents said the breakup of the biggest NFL player firm was likely to cause an uproar in the business. One prominent rival agent likened the dozens of NFL clients to children in a divorce "who are going to be asked to choose between Mommy and Daddy."

    But Berthelsen said players would not be harmed by the dispute. "These guys are not going to go unrepresented and it is not going to affect negotiations with NFL clubs," he said. "The club is going to negotiate with the party the player tells them to deal with. Any dispute about fees is between the agents."

    Assante hoops chief Fegan hit with suit


    A former assistant for Assante Corp. basketball head agent Dan Fegan is suing his former employer, claiming that Fegan reneged on promises to make him a partner and pay him $200,000.

    Meanwhile, a National Basketball Players Association source told SportsBusiness Journal that Kenyon Martin, the No. 1 pick in the 2000 NBA draft, sent a notice to the union in late May that he had terminated his relationship with Fegan, who was his agent. Sources said that the assistant who filed the lawsuit, Brian Dyke, was involved in Fegan's signing of Martin.

    Fegan denied that Martin had fired him and said Dyke's lawsuit against him and Assante Corp. is without merit. Another source indicated that Martin was expected to rescind the termination notice.

    "Brian Dyke has solicited our clients, in direct violation of National Basketball Players Association rules and non-solicitation laws," Fegan said in a statement to SportsBusiness Journal. "I am hurt and I feel betrayed by his actions."

    Jeffrey Winikow, Dyke's lawyer, said, "Players have a right to choose their own representatives, and if there are any players who would rather be represented by Brian Dyke than Dan Fegan, that is the players' choice."

    The lawsuit, filed in May in Los Angeles Superior Court, states that Dyke personally recruited several first-round draft picks who signed with Fegan's agency, Fegan & Associates, before Fegan sold his firm to Assante in 2000.

    The suit claims, among other things:

     That despite his success in signing top NBA prospects, Dyke was paid a low salary, which at its peak reached $36,000 a year.

      That Dyke complained to Fegan about the level of his compensation in 2000, about the same time that Fegan was approached by Assante with an offer to buy his business.

      That Fegan promised to make Dyke a partner and pay him a lump sum of $200,000 at the close of the Assante merger because "Fegan needed Dyke to remain with his firm, and maintain his arsenal of players, in order to maximize the value of a buyout."

      That Fegan never paid Dyke the promised $200,000 after the close of the merger and that Assante instructed Fegan not to pay Dyke any money unless he signed a noncompete agreement. The suit says Dyke did not sign the noncompete agreement and resigned when Fegan refused to pay him.

    Fegan said, "I gave Brian Dyke an opportunity to work for me as an independent contractor when he was unemployed because I consider him a friend. Brian worked for me for approximately two years. I was shocked when he quit in January without notice."

    Print | Tags: NBA, NFL
  • Strange brew in Charlotte

    Will the sports facility industry learn anything from Charlotte's arena referendum?

    Seems unlikely.

    Citizens in the North Carolina city theoretically will decide the fate of their Hornets Tuesday when they vote yea or nay on a $342 million, seven-project bundle that includes $280 million for a downtown arena.

    However, issues involved have become muddled. Voters must sort through such a thicket of political sideshows that any result will be clouded, at best.

    For one thing, the referendum is nonbinding. Arena proponents such as the business-driven Decade of Progress committee, along with a presumed majority of the City Council, could push ahead with a retooled financial package even if the referendum loses.

    Likewise, opponents will retain plenty of ammunition in the event of a yes vote. Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and his pro-arena allies have insisted that no construction can begin until the team proves it can sell 75 percent of planned luxury suites and club seats — a key element of paying for the building.

    There's another unusual element involved, too.

    Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge — both of whom live out of state — have become hugely unpopular. Most polls indicate that Charlotte citizens, including plenty of Hornets fans, feel uncomfortable handing the current ownership an expensive new playpen.

    Max Muhleman, president of Muhleman Marketing — a Charlotte subsidiary of IMG — was a key figure in the city's landing of both the Hornets and the NFL Carolina Panthers. Muhleman isn't sure how the Shinn-Wooldridge factor will play out.

    "Charlotte is a very young, immature sports market," Muhleman said. "We're not even into our adolescence yet. People haven't figured out yet that owners come and go, and teams belong to cities and fans.

    "As someone who lives here, it's slightly embarrassing because it's so irrational. To say that if you build a better building that enhances the community, then you're doing a bad thing because a guy you may not like may make a little money off it — that's not rational thinking."

    There are plenty of other local issues that have turned the Charlotte referendum upside down, as well.

    For instance, until last week, the main group fighting the ballot measure was Charlotteans Opposed to Sports Taxes (CO$T). But McCrory's veto of a council measure raising the city's minimum wage to $9 an hour earned him the wrath of another organization, Helping Empower Local People (HELP).

    Talk about strange bedfellows: The anti-tax crowd probably wouldn't agree with HELP's constituency on any issue except the arena, which each is opposing for different reasons.

    In the midst of this squabble, recently retired Hugh McColl — former chairman of Bank of America, major benefactor of city projects and an up-front arena supporter — stepped into the limelight with some TV appearances.

    "These people who want to vote no," McColl said, "what have they ever done to improve Charlotte?"

    Then there is the saga of the arena design, which is being done by Kansas City-based Ellerbe Becket.

    Several city officials didn't like Ellerbe's preliminary drawings and a group of 40 citizens was asked to help set some goals for the basic arena design. Ellerbe Becket then brought back a second set of drawings, and some local media reported that considerable dissatisfaction remained — a potentially serious problem just days before the referendum.

    "But that wasn't a fair representation at all," said Ron Gans, a senior project designer for Ellerbe Becket. "Basically, the people who were quoted in the newspaper were people opposed to the arena being built at all.

    "The fact is that we're right on board with the city staff, the planning director and the Hornets with our design. It's still not finished, but our clients — the city and the team — say they're very satisfied we've addressed some of the issues involved."

    With all these peripheral issues being debated and so many distinctly local matters thrown out for argument, it might be hard to read much into Tuesday's referendum result — whichever way it goes.

    "It's been a classic case of opponents totally clouding the core issue to keep voters from understanding the basic facts of it," said Steve Luquire, president of the consulting firm that has advised pro-arena campaigners. "In the end, there are far more people in Charlotte in favor of this package, which would be a huge benefit to the city. But those same folks who vote no on everything will vote no on this, and they'll definitely show up to vote.

    "One thing we've got in common with other cities that have had referendums is that the result will be determined by turnout. If enough people vote, this thing will pass."

    Print | Tags: Carolina Panthers, Ellerbe Becket, Florida Panthers, IMG, New Orleans Pelicans, NFL
  • Structure still shifting at SFX

    The restructuring of SFX Entertainment Inc. will continue this week when it announces the consolidation of corporate consulting and client services divisions, rebranding them under the name CMI.

    This new division had pro forma revenue of $20.5 million last year, the company said, and will now be led by general manager David Paro, who was the head of SFX's sports and entertainment consulting practice.

    It will be one of the few divisions of SFX to operate under a separate brand name and will compete in the space occupied by such larger marketing agencies as McCann-Erickson's Momentum Worldwide and Omnicom's GMR Marketing.

    "We're trying to make sure we fit logically but somewhat separately with SFX," Paro said. "We're creating a marketing services company that really focuses in on the space in which SFX is strong — lifestyle pursuits like entertainment and music and sports. But we are going to be autonomous enough to do what we need to do on the consulting side to deliver on an objective basis."

    Paro said just less than half of CMI's revenue will come from sports.

    SFX derives most of its income from promoting live entertainment events and selling sponsorships and media, along with representing individual athletes. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, a $5.8 billion (2000 revenue) owner of television stations, radio stations and outdoor advertising. Almost every dollar that comes through Clear Channel's door stems from selling advertising inventory or tickets or other sales-based commissions.

    Conversely, the divisions that will make up CMI derive their revenue from fees charged on an hourly or project basis. They represent less than 3 percent of SFX's total revenue, which was about $900 million last year, but list some of America's largest blue-chip organizations as clients.

    Those clients include Lowe's, Ford and McDonald's on the motorsports side, Staples and Hershey Foods for general consulting and the Coca-Cola Co. and R.J. Reynolds for on-site promotions.

    CMI, which gets its name from a marketing firm already owned by SFX, will now encompass all or pieces of four companies acquired by SFX during the last several years: The Cotter Group, a motorsports-oriented marketing and public relations firm; ProServ, whose consulting group was headed by Paro before its parent company, The Marquee Group, was bought by SFX; Heffernan Interactive Group, an Atlanta based marketing firm acquired last year; and CMI itself.

    CMI, formerly Contemporary Marketing International, was originally the marketing arm of a St. Louis-based concert promoter acquired by SFX in 1998, one of many former independent concert promoters that came together to form the backbone of SFX.

    When SFX bought Heffernan Interactive Group last year, it was immediately folded into CMI, with founder Lee Heffernan put in charge of the combined organization. It was run out of offices in Atlanta and ones in East Rutherford, N.J., formerly occupied by SFX-acquisition Integrated Sports International.

    Heffernan and Cotter Group founder Tom Cotter will now both report to Paro as managing directors.

    Up until the first of this year, all of SFX's sports holdings were part of the company's Sports Group, including athlete representation, property sales and consulting divisions, as well as event and television arms. SFX then spun off its athlete division into a semi-autonomous company, eventually breaking it up into individual agencies devoted to particular sports. The rest of the SFX Sports Group was scattered into new or existing divisions throughout SFX, with both the Cotter Group and Paro's consulting division falling under the general marketing unit, headed by Paul Balzer.

    Balzer will continue to oversee Paro and CMI.

    Many of the entrepreneurs who have sold their companies to SFX over the years have left the company after short stints under the corporate umbrella. Cotter said he expects to stay.

    "This is what I do for work and for fun," he said.

    Print | Tags: Clear Channel Communications, Ford, Lowes, McCann-Erickson Worldwide Inc., Staples
  • Tune-up will help sports properties manage hazardous selling conditions

    The economic slowdown is having its impact on the overall economy, and the sports business isn't immune to the effects. At a period when sponsors and advertisers are taking a more critical look than ever at their expenditures, it's an appropriate time for sports properties to re-examine how they are pitching and packaging their deals.

    There's no doubt that marketing budgets at many companies have been cut. Media spending reports compiled by analysts CMR show advertising expenditures dipped 8.5 percent in February, the last month reported. That's the third straight month spending has declined, the first instance in many years of a trio of down months. While there's no specific report on the status of spending in the sports industry, the consensus is that budgets haven't dried up, but negotiations are getting tougher and companies are willing to walk away from deals that don't address their specific needs.

    Clearly the sports marketplace that exists today is much different from the climate of even 18 months ago. If sports marketers want to continue to thrive, they'll need to make some adjustments. Here are my suggestions on how sports sales executives can respond to the changing advertising climate.

      Listen and respond

    I can't remember ever speaking to a sports sales executive who hasn't said he customizes packages for each sponsor. And, of course, all sports sales executives say they listen intently to the needs of the sponsor. It's ironic, therefore, that so many of these deals end up looking remarkably similar. In reality, these packages are a lot more about meeting the needs of the property than the needs of the sponsor.

    As budgets continue to tighten, there will be no way to hide elements of a package that don't relate to satisfying the goals of the sponsor. To get deals done, it's not enough just to listen to a sponsor. Sports marketers also must respond in abundance with ideas and programs to help companies reach their goals. If a sales executive can make his program so invaluable to a company, there shouldn't be a concern about the direction of future budgets.

      Cut the fat

    Leaner times demand leaner sponsorship packages. During times of robust spending, many sponsorship deals got bloated to include elements not pertinent to the core business goals of a sponsor. A company might find tremendous value in a ticket promotion that increases foot traffic at its stores. But when an expensive piece of signage gets included in the package, the deal starts to veer off course.

    If companies are cutting back on spending, they are not going to buy anything that seems extraneous. This is the time to keep packages laser-focused on the sponsor's goals. The short-term result might be some inventory that goes unpackaged, but longer term, it means successful relationships with companies that know there will be a payoff on the dollars invested with your property.

      Work from strengths

    Companies might cut back on spending, but no reasonable firm completely eliminates marketing programs. Deals will always be out there, so it's more important than ever to emphasize your strengths. If your property is a great draw with families, then sell that hard to the companies looking to reach this audience. Likewise, if your fans are legendary for their loyalty to sponsors' products, then focus your sales pitch on this point.

    In this type of ad spending downturn, companies are looking to cut the stuff that isn't essential. But if selling to families or developing repeat business is their core business strategy, they won't drop programs that deliver answers to their business challenges.

    Alan Friedman ( is founder of Team Marketing Report.


     NESN moves to standard tier

    New England Sports Network will become part of the standard cable package for the Boston area's biggest cable provider, AT&T Broadband, starting July 1. AT&T will increase the cost of its service by $1.40 a month for all of its 1.5 million standard customers to cover the cost of adding the local cable sports network, which broadcasts Boston Red Sox and Bruins games.

      Special edition for Dolphins show

    Orlando-based regional cable broadcaster Sunshine Network is planning a special edition of its popular "Sunshine Network Live!" news show, devoted to covering Miami Dolphins players' community activities this off-season.

      Chargers show on the move

    San Diego independent station KUSI-TV will be the new home of "Chargers Power Report" this fall and plans to move the program to a time slot before "Monday Night Football" each week. The new 8 p.m. ET slot is a change from past years, when the show aired after "MNF" on local ABC affiliate KGTV-TV. The program, produced by the Chargers, will originate from Chargers linebacker Junior Seau's local restaurant. KGTV is planning to air its own sports show after "MNF" this year.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Miami Dolphins, NESN, San Diego Chargers
  • Two pawns in MLB's theater of the absurd

    Perceptions about the past sometimes can be way off the mark, but it does seem that some things used to be simpler than now. For example, in the earlier days of unionism, when employers were required to adjust to collective bargaining as the method of establishing the terms and conditions of employment, employers developed direct tactics to protect their turf.

    For a time the most popular method was to plead poverty. They told their employees and the public that, as employers, they could not afford improved wages or benefits; that the proposals they were being asked to accept would render them noncompetitive or, worse, bankrupt.

    The usefulness of that assertion, however, deteriorated with repetition and because of increasing sophistication of labor-management negotiations as well as of the general public. The law began requiring an employer claiming poverty as a basis for refusing to negotiate in good faith to furnish appropriate factual documentation in support of its claim.

    When major league baseball players organized, the employing clubs followed the same pattern, but with one variation. The standard "inability to pay" was asserted only in public statements made before and after collective-bargaining sessions. This was intended to insulate owners from the law's requirement that they furnish supporting financial documentation to the union, and for the most part it did.

    The owners' tactics eventually convinced even some of the most rabid antiunion and pro-management observers that the poverty claims were without merit and therefore irrelevant.

    In recent years matters have become less simple. Apparently it has become obvious to the baseball ownership power structure, or at least to its spin doctors, that, as they again prepare for union negotiations and salivate with the thought of another possible set of union-busting opportunities, their tired old poverty claims won't wash. An industry that has added $3 billion in annual revenue in the last 35 years is not in a good position to elicit sympathy with a "poor-mouth" claim. As a result, a new position has been dreamed up and pushed — and pushed — and pushed.

    The new position has no more validity than the old, simple "we are broke" line, but it has succeeded in recruiting more willing flacks than the old laments. As a famous New York nightclub hostess was fond of saying in the 1930s, "There's a sucker born every minute — and two to take him." The essence of the new line is that a dreadful scourge is upon us, threatening professional team sports, especially Major League Baseball.

    The scourge is said to be salary disparity. The contention is that salary disparity is the cause of league vertigo, manifested as chronic competitive imbalance. The diagnosticians assert, despite hard factual evidence to the contrary, that the imbalance either is worse than at any time in the past or if not, it is growing worse, and is different because it is now caused by salary disparity, allegedly a new phenomenon. Furthermore, today's spin doctors conclude that the cure for salary disparity ills includes massive revenue sharing, stiff "taxes" on the top team payrolls, forced movement of quality players via an annual draft from the more successful clubs to the less successful ones.

    It is pro forma for such positions to be put forth by owners, their commissioner and their "blue ribbon" clones. It is disconcerting, however, to note that a journalist of Bob Costas' character is promoting the management party line. A journalist is by definition a neutral in relation to contending parties. If one can imagine a labor editor or reporter for any reputable paper writing about, for example, steel industry labor negotiations well before they begin and advising management what positions it should take, what demands to make, the rationale to be offered in support of such, and offering further unsolicited advice that the industry should attempt to enforce its demands by locking out its employees for a record long period if that's what it takes to obtain the recommended changes, one can realize the enormity of the impropriety represented by Costas' book last year, and subsequent interviews and speeches.

    Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College similarly misunderstands his role as an academic neutral to be that of an unsolicited labor relations adviser to baseball ownership. What is startling is that both Costas and Zimbalist, intelligent and serious individuals, seem totally unaware that the salary disparity line in reality is not more than a bargaining ploy and that by treating it seriously as a major concern, as a battle cry and as the basis for and justification for an owner-induced shutdown of the industry for a record-breaking long period, they bid fair to unwittingly serve as pawns in a sports theater of the absurd in the year 2002, and perhaps thereafter.

    Zimbalist, in a column in this publication a few weeks ago, objected in intemperate terms to a Wall Street Journal article. Allen Barra's straightforward article racked up the highest and lowest winning percentages of clubs in 16 years in the last century. He reported that in the later years, when there were more clubs, the disparity between the highest and lowest winning percentages narrowed; that last year for the first time not a single team finished above the .600 mark in won-lost percentage or below .400.

    Zimbalist seemed to misinterpret Barra's article and, in the process of damning it, offered some observations that made little sense. He opined that baseball fans don't care if their club wins an additional one to five games per year. Obviously, it depends on whether the additional wins change the standing of the club. If the additional wins result in a club's winning first instead of second or third, fans would care a great deal.

    In order to support the thesis that salary disparity is the problem of the day, Zimbalist argued that the correlation between team success and team payrolls is becoming more and more apparent. Actually, the domination of both leagues by a few teams was far greater in the past than in the present, as documented by Murray Chass in a May 8 column in The New York Times. Just one example: The Yankees, who have won four of the last five AL pennants, would have to win 10 more in the next 11 years to equal their record of 14 pennants in 16 years between 1949 and 1964.

    Neither Zimbalist nor others deny the imbalances of the past. But they soft-pedal them by saying or implying that salary disparity was not the cause. Since player salaries and team payrolls were not published or generally known in the years prior to the union (1966), it is beyond argument that writers citing salary disparities or lack of disparities prior to 1966 cannot provide any factual substantiation whatsoever.

    Although Zimbalist urges clearly radical changes, he professes to favor moderation in dealing with collective-bargaining problems. His is a peculiar definition of moderation. He favors more revenue sharing on top of the millions of dollars already shared each year, a stiffer luxury tax on the top team payrolls (to provide an incentive to move to lower payrolls), a forced draft of new players and existing players (requiring them to change teams), a salary/payroll cap (to reward clubs that will hand over a chunk of their annual revenue to less successful clubs), and other reforms (and nary a word relating to players' needs or desires). If this is the moderate approach, heaven help all of us if the hard-line, radical right among the new owners, encouraged by all this, insists on weighing in with its version of what is reasonable in the next negotiations.

    Only in baseball can any fan, sportswriter, announcer or academician manage a ballclub better than Joe Torre or Bobby Valentine or, for that matter, John McGraw. It must follow, then, that any fan — or anyone else, with or without labor-management experience or knowledge — is qualified to give us the scenario of next year's negotiations. Only in baseball!

    Marvin Miller was executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1983.

    Print | Tags: MillerCoors, New York Yankees
  • U.S. Open gear going nationwide

    The U.S. Open Tennis Championships have given the green light to sponsor Fila for national, year-round sales of such merchandise as sneakers and sweatshirts adorned with the Open's logo, a significant departure for the country's largest tennis tournament.

    Unlike such tennis events as Wimbledon and most major sports leagues, which sell an array of merchandise nationally and internationally, the Open has not excelled in selling products bearing its logo, so-called licensed products. If you wanted to buy a U.S. Open cap or T-shirt, attending the tournament was the primary way.

    As a result, licensed-product sales represent only about 6 percent of the more than $150 million in revenue the event reaps annually. The bulk comes from TV, sponsorships, hospitality and gate.

    Now in conjunction with Fila, the tournament plans early next month to launch the first U.S. Open national apparel and footwear collection.

    Previously, Fila offered only a limited range of merchandise tied to the tournament, such as replica umpire uniforms and T-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps. The sales were either on-site during the tournament or at local New York City stores around the time of the event.

    Fila's new Open collection is designed as a significant change in that approach. It will include a full range of tennis gear, from sneakers to women's tennis skirts. Fila plans to make it available year-round across the country in specialty stores and national retails chains such as The Sports Authority.

    "We've been looking to extend our licensed merchandise program off-site for several years," said Pierce O'Neil, the chief marketing officer of the U.S. Tennis Association, which owns and runs the Open. "We have taken some steps to do that, but this is the most significant step."

    Until recently, U.S. Open merchandise could be bought only at the actual event. Last year, Fila began selling a limited amount of apparel in New York City retail outlets like The Sports Authority and Macy's around the time of the tournament. But there had never been a full-scale endeavor to market U.S. Open licensed merchandise nationally during the entire year.

    O'Neil blamed the Open's recent initiatives, from the building of the Arthur Ashe Stadium to a new focus on entertainment, for keeping the tournament from boosting merchandise sales.

    Fila plans to clothe its top endorsers, including Jennifer Capriati, in the collection's outfits during the Open, said Howe Burch, the company's head of sports marketing. The apparel will bear the Fila logo and the Open's trademark flaming tennis ball.

    "We think the U.S. Open has equity outside of New York," Burch said. "It is one of the top 10 events in the world."

    Print | Tags: Fila, Sports Authority
  • UsherPro merger leaves one standing in ticket management

    UsherPro and Season Ticket Networks, competitors in the growing field of ticket exchange, management and group ticket software solutions, have announced a merger that leaves the surviving company almost alone in its industry.

    UsherPro had concentrated its previous sales efforts on the venue side of the season-ticket business — working with clients like the Staples Center, Boston's FleetCenter and the Toronto SkyDome, for instance — while STN was working with individual teams and franchises.

    "The beauty of this merger is that we didn't have a single duplicate client," said Robert McAuliff, former chairman and CEO of UsherPro, who will hold those same titles with the new entity, Season Ticket Solutions. "We were the same market, however, so now we no longer have to compete with our ad dollars, with our marketing dollars, with all those expenses that similar companies incur just pursuing clients.

    "Putting our resources together, we certainly expect to double or triple our market size, and we're definitely going to emerge as the undisputed leader in our business. We'll have more than 40 customers, and there isn't anyone else out there with more than one."

    Season Ticket Solutions will be based in Chicago, with several field offices, including Ottawa, the former home of STN.

    Joel Milne, founder and president of STN, will become chief technology officer of the new company, and Taggart Romney has been named president of the ticket exchange division.

    "We'll keep all the key staff from both companies in place," McAuliff said, "including people on the technology and sales sides, so there won't be any drop-off with our customers."

    McAuliff indicated that, although UsherPro and STN had been competitors seeking some of the same clients, each boasted some unique products that will be offered by the merged company.

    "For example, [STN] didn't have the corporate solution that we did, the type of things that allowed us to work with someone like Verizon and handle all their tickets," McAuliff said. "On the other hand, STN had a great group sales product, one that really complements our market."

    Neither UsherPro nor STN would release financial details of the merger, other than McAuliff's stated expectation that Season Ticket Solutions now could grow into a company with $100 million yearly revenue.

    Print | Tags: Staples, Verizon
  • Velocity will express itself for big spender Cingular

    Velocity Sports & Entertainment has been tapped as the sports marketing agency of record for Cingular Wireless, an account that insiders say is worth approximately $2 million in annual fees.

    Cingular, a joint venture between the wireless units of BellSouth and SBC Communications, launched nationally Jan. 1 when the parent companies combined 11 separately branded wireless units. Cingular then spent a whopping $68 million on advertising during January and February alone, according to Competitive Media Reporting, running several memorable television ads from Omnicom's BBDO during the Super Bowl.

    Curiously, no Omnicom sports marketing agency was among the finalists for Cingular's business, although sources say Omnicom shops GMR, The Marketing Arm and Millsport were among nine agencies asked to make initial presentations. Career Sports Management, BellSouth's sports marketing agency of record, was the other finalist.

    Less than 2 years old, Velocity has carved out a niche in the sports marketing agency marketplace as one of the few midsize players not owned by an advertising conglomerate or a major sports marketing agency. That independence has been one of its primary selling points, as it does not have to work around the potential conflicts that abound at other firms.

    The company will handle the strategic and creative end of all of Cingular's sports activity with the exception of Cingular's NASCAR race team sponsorship.

    The first task at hand is sifting through the tonnage of proposals Cingular has received from sports properties since its launch. The second is going through the dozens of team and local deals Cingular inherited from BellSouth and SBC. Velocity will create an evaluation system to be applied in all future negotiations and try to develop a strategy that will unify all the sponsorship activity.

    Velocity plans to open three additional offices — one in San Francisco, another in either Dallas or Chicago and a third in Atlanta — to handle the new business.

      FORMER YANK FORMS FIRM: Former New York Yankees marketing chief Joe Perello has left the Internet firm UltraStar and formed his own sports marketing consultancy, Perello & Co. He now lists both UltraStar and YankeeNets Properties as clients, along with an impressive roster that includes Modell's Sporting Goods, Novartis Pharmaceuticals,, Everlast Worldwide, Standard and Poor's, Isle of Capri Casinos, Asixpoint Inc. and rock star David Bowie. For most, he's handling sponsorship negotiation and strategy, while also dabbling in sponsorship sales.

    Perello's goal is to take a page from how pharmaceutical companies market themselves and apply those methods to sports and entertainment.

    When he was vice president of new business development for the Yankees, he was deluged with requests from nonprofit health awareness organizations asking to use pictures of uniformed Yankees players in campaigns without paying the standard fee. He knew these organizations were created and backed by self-interested pharmaceutical companies but still felt compelled to comply. The organizations then went out and generated massive media exposure by using the players.

    Perello says his agency also will preach this creative, PR-oriented approach to sports marketing to clients from all industries. To that end, he's hired veteran health-care PR executive Marc Wasserman, who served as vice president of the consumer health practice at Hill and Knowlton before joining Jericho Communications.

      YAHOO! EXPANDS WNBA VOTING: Yahoo! Sports will extend its sponsorship of WNBA All-Star voting to paper ballots for the first time. Some 30,000 ballots will be distributed at home games of all 16 WNBA teams June 9-28. Yahoo! also will sponsor the online voting on as it did last season, but will step up its support by adding a link to its own site and other promotion on the Yahoo! sports site for the first time. The league will back the balloting effort through a 30-second television commercial airing in league-controlled inventory during WNBA telecasts. The spot won't have any mention of Yahoo! except when it runs on arena video scoreboards.

    Andy Bernstein can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Modells Sporting Goods, NASCAR, New York Yankees, WNBA
  • Vick has Falcons fans buzzing, stores ordering

    Michael Vick's march on Atlanta continues.

    Four Atlanta area sporting goods retailers — Champs, Athlete's Foot, Pro Image and Walter's — have together ordered more than 30,000 No. 7 Michael Vick jerseys in the six weeks since the Falcons took him with the first pick of the NFL draft. Stores have ordered about 23,000 adult sizes and 7,000 youth sizes.

    Atlanta retailers ordered 9,600 jerseys for Aug. 15 delivery in anticipation of a preseason spike in fan interest. Vick replica jerseys sell for $44.99 on the Falcons' Web site.

    Orders for Vick jerseys put him on pace with two other recent No. 1 choices: Peyton Manning in 1998 and Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. That's testimony to the marketing effect that a No. 1 pick can have when he plays a marquee skill position.

    "Here we are, more than a month removed from draft day, and we're still seeing evidence of this buzz," said Rob Jackson, vice president of marketing and sales for the Falcons. "The jersey orders tell you that [merchants] expect to see that interest continue to build. It's been a tremendous boost for us."

    Though the Falcons played in the Super Bowl three seasons ago, their merchandise sales have lagged. Falcons goods ranked in the bottom third of all teams in licensed-product sales last season. The Falcons have hit the top 10 only once in the last 10 years.

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, NFL
  • Virginia, Portland state their cases for bases

    Two markets are pressing their case as the best destination for a troubled Major League Baseball team looking for a new home.

    Supporters of baseball in northern Virginia released a study last week that concluded there would be little impact on the neighboring Baltimore Orioles if a team were located there.

    At the same time, Portland baseball backers hosted MLB consultant Cory Busch for two days as he continued his research on which markets are the best sites for a franchise.

    Even though baseball is talking about dissolving several troubled franchises, and three of the last four expansion teams have not fared as well as expected, the contenders feel baseball can succeed in their market.

    "There are concerns, but when you compare, this market is so much larger," said Gabe Paul, executive director of the Virginia Baseball Authority. "It wouldn't be a mistake locating a club here."

    The Oregon Baseball Campaign's Lynn Lashbrook said baseball would benefit from the lack of major professional sports options in the largest U.S. city without an MLB team. Supporters there contend that Portland's 23,000-seat PGE Park is a suitable home until a new ballpark can be built.

    "Portland, with only the [NBA] Trail Blazers and as the 22nd-largest market, is the most underserved community in America sports-wise," Lashbrook said. "With a half-dozen struggling franchises on its hands, baseball and these struggling teams are not going to turn down a perfect interim stadium and a new ballpark being built."

    There are other contenders. The Hampton Roads-Newport News area of Virginia is expected to release a study in the next month showing whether its corporate community could support a major pro franchise.

    In California, the city of Santa Clara is studying the economic feasibility of luring the Oakland A's, who are seeking a new venue in the affluent Silicon Valley when their lease at the Network Associates Coliseum expires after 2004.

    An A's move to Santa Clara or San Jose, however, would be opposed by the San Francisco Giants, who say surveys show that 30 percent of their fans come from that area, a figure the A's counter is more than double the real number.

    The Orioles, who have been an attendance juggernaut since Camden Yards opened in 1992, have opposed franchises in northern Virginia or Washington, D.C., on the grounds that the competition would hurt their bottom line.

    Paul said he believed the northern Virginia study debunked that fear. The report, which cost $175,000 to compile, found that the Orioles draw 13 percent of their fans from the northern Virginia-Washington market area. While not an insignificant number, it is far less than the 22 percent that the Orioles claim.

    The study further found that the Orioles' sponsorship and advertising revenues would only be marginally affected, while media revenues might actually rise because of competition between local regional sports networks.

    "Our only problem has been the perception that Baltimore would be forever hurt if a club returned to the area," Paul said. "This [study] backs what we've been saying."

    The Orioles, however, do not appear to be swayed. Public relations director Bill Stetka has noted the difference in the survey's number with the team's own poll. He also told one newspaper that the lower number also could be construed as a sign that "northern Virginia is not ready for Major League Baseball."

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, MLB, NBA, New York Giants, Oakland Athletics, Portland Trail Blazers, San Francisco Giants, Vulcan Ventures
  • Visionary plan, solid strategy pay off in ticket sales, sponsorships

    NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year: NCAA Division I-AA/I-AAA


    Curt Krouse
    University of Delaware
    Title: Director of sports marketing
    Age: 34
    Education: Bachelor’s of science in accounting from Villanova University, 1989; master’s degree in physical education from Kent State University, 1992
    University of Delaware sponsors: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Wilmington Trust, Grotto Pizza, Yellow Book, Embassy Suites, Metro Call, New Car Dealerships and Zerowai

    A shrewd combination of strategy and vision has helped Curt Krouse, 34, significantly raise the awareness of athletics at the University of Delaware among its potential fan base in Newark, Del. Krouse, director of sports marketing and promotions, took the university from a state of dormancy to the top of the charts in attendance.

    "He's worked to get different groups involved to improve student attendance at games," said Scott Eatough, associate director of athletics at the Division I-AA school. "He's greatly increased the amount of community awareness of Delaware athletics, and he's also significantly increased the amount of revenue we've brought in through corporate sponsorship."

    Krouse's handiwork has been reflected in both season-ticket sales and attendance figures since his arrival in 1998. Initially focusing on Delaware's season-ticket population, which had grown somewhat old in recent years, Krouse's master plan targeted a younger audience.

    During the 2000-01 school year, the Blue Hens set attendance records in football, averaging 21,154 in a 22,000-seat stadium. In addition, the women's basketball team set all-time highs for average attendance at 1,164 and a single-game record of 2,400 fans at the Bob Carpenter Center, a 5,000-seat facility.

    The resulting windfall of funds is one of the reasons Krouse has been named the NACMA/Host Communications Marketer of the Year for Division I-AA/I-AAA.

    "Our goal was to make each game an event, make it fun, turn it into something that allows the fans to have an effect on what is going on," Krouse said. "Looking at football, in particular, we've always had a very successful team. But our attendance was stagnant. So by targeting whole families and by making it more of an event, making it more entertaining, we were able to take it to the next level."

    Krouse helped implement the Blue Hen tents that offer pregame festivities, ranging from games for the kids to group activities for students and adult fans. He also developed Blue Hen Fever, a student spirit group designed to support the school's broad-based athletic program.

    After earning a degree in accounting from Villanova University in 1989, Krouse went on to get his master's degree in physical education from Kent State three years later. He began developing his marketing skills during stints at the U.S. Military Academy and Princeton University.

    Two years ago, Krouse was a key figure in negotiating a seven-figure radio rights fee package that secured a first-time FM broadcasting deal for Blue Hens football. He also helped formalize a corporate partnership program that broadened inventory opportunities and led to increased revenues.

    "It's a much-deserved award," Eatough said. "I think it's the relationships Curt has been able to develop with his clients and with the students. He's very friendly, very outgoing. Once he gets the door open and establishes that connection, there is a pretty good chance for success for him."

    Jay C. Upchurch is a writer in Oklahoma.

    Print | Tags: BlueCross BlueShield, Indiana Fever, NCAA, Oakland Athletics
  • WNBA spreading into New Zealand and South Africa for the first time

    The WNBA, whose fifth season got under way last week, has signed first-time international television-rights deals with such networks as New Zealand's Saturn Sport, South Africa's e.TV, Serbia's ANEM TV and Montenegro's RTVM.

    "We anticipate having additional international agreements [in place] during the season," said Scott Levy, senior director of international television for the NBA and WNBA.

    In fact, the WNBA is in discussions with several potential broadcast partners from Latin America, the Middle East and Hungary.

    Outside the United States, the WNBA has rights deals with 46 telecasters, which together reach 167 countries in 23 languages. Last season's scorecard: 45 international telecasters, 158 countries and 23 languages.

    The WNBA's deal with Saturn Sport, a cable and satellite network, marks the first time that the league has struck an agreement with a New Zealand-based telecaster. (WNBA games also reach New Zealand via ESPN International.) Under terms of its two-year deal, Saturn Sport will air WNBA games and "WNBA Action," a weekly 30-minute game-highlights show.

    ANEM TV and RTVM have each signed one-year deals to broadcast playoff games. For its part, e.TV has opted to air "WNBA Action," but no games.

    In addition to signing new TV partners, the WNBA has cut a first-time rights deal with Mexican radio network Superdeportiva. Under its two-year pact, the network has agreed to broadcast the WNBA championship series.

    The league also renewed its TV-rights deals with China broadcaster Shanghai Oriental Television and Italy's Tele+, a cable and satellite network. The Tele+ agreement, for WNBA games and "WNBA Action," is a two-year extension. Shanghai's deal, for WNBA postseason play, is a one-year renewal.

     FOX MLB AD DEAL: Radio Shack has signed a Major League Baseball advertising deal with Fox Sports that includes commercial time on Fox's coverage of the regular season, All-Star Game and postseason, including the World Series, sources said.

    Under terms of its deal, Radio Shack secured multiple spots on each of Fox's regular-season MLB telecasts. In addition, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company, whose current advertising slogan is "You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers," is sponsoring the "Trivia Question" segment on every Fox MLB broadcast this season. 

      U.S. OPEN GOLF SALES: NBC Sports, as of early last week, had sold virtually all the ad time for its broadcasts of the men's U.S. Open Golf Championship, sources said.

    The Grand Slam tournament will take place June 14-17 at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

    On average, 30-second spots on NBC's final-round broadcast are going for $200,000 to $240,000 apiece, while units on the network's third-round coverage are going for $160,000 to $190,000 each, sources said. NBC wouldn't discuss its pricing.

      NBC/TNT NASCAR AD SALES: Applebee's and Outback Steakhouse have signed NASCAR advertising deals with NBC/TNT. As part of its deal, Applebee's will be the on-air presenting sponsor of a Busch Series race in Darlington, S.C., on Sept. 1. That race will air on TNT.

      WOMEN'S COLLEGE HOOPS: Tennessee will meet N.C. State and Duke will face Louisiana Tech in the fifth annual Honda Elite 4 women's college basketball doubleheader, scheduled to take place Dec. 2 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Tennessee-N.C. State matchup, airing on ESPN, is set to start at 1 p.m. ET, while the Duke-Louisiana Tech game, airing on ESPN2, is slated to tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Intersport Television will produce both telecasts.

      INDY NUMBERS: ABC generated a 5.3 overnight household ratings average for its Indianapolis 500 broadcast (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET May 27) — 18 percent above the 4.5 overnight average for the network's broadcast of last year's Indy 500 (11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.) and 6 percent above the 5.0 overnight average for its coverage of the '99 race (11 a.m. to 3:36 p.m.). Last year's Indy 500 was delayed three hours by rain, and the actual race took place from 3 to 6:15 p.m. ET.

    For this year's race segment (noon to 4 p.m.), ABC delivered a 5.8 overnight average — up 7 percent vs. the 5.4 overnight average for last year's race segment (3 to 6:15 p.m.) and up 9 percent vs. the 5.3 overnight average for the '99 race segment (noon to 3:36 p.m.).

    Langdon Brockinton can be reached at

    Print | Tags: ABC, Applebees, ESPN, Fox, Intersport, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, WNBA
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