Pistons challenge fans to virtual game USA Swimming appeals to listmakers People: Executive transactions From the Field of Management Earnhardt open to career in broadcasting Yormark, Cooper form naming-rights venture Faces and Places Cartoon: The real winner The Sit-Down: Felix Palau, Tecate Skipper: There’s no liberal bias at ESPN
Ravens near perfect on renewals
The Baltimore Ravens have a season-ticket renewal rate at around 99.5 percent. The Ravens did not increase ticket prices this season, continuing with a pattern of raising prices every other year. Last year, price increases ranged from $5 to $15 a ticket.
Wolves pick marketing agency
The Chicago Wolves selected Chicago Sports Entertainment Partners as the team’s new sports marketing agency of record. CSEP will provide digital and experiential marketing, advertising, and strategic counsel during the Wolves’ coming AHL season.
Bearcats banking with Fifth Third
Fifth Third Bank has become the official bank of the University of Cincinnati football team. Fifth Third’s message will show up on signs inside and outside Nippert Stadium. It will also get exposure through TV, radio and print ads and through online media at GoBearcats.com.
Cuban to donate $100K to city
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is planning to donate $100,000 to the city of Dallas to help offset a revenue decline that has a majority of council members favoring a tax hike, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.
Packers cite reasons for LLC picks
Confidentiality and convenience were the major reasons behind the Green Bay Packers using five limited liability companies to locate and purchase land near Lambeau Field, according to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The team acquired about 28 acres near the stadium for what is anticipated to be part of a sports and entertainment district.
Churchill Downs buying casino
Churchill Downs reached an agreement to buy a local hotel and casino for $138 million. Although Churchill operates a casino at its Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, the Harlow’s Casino Resort in Greenville will be the company’s first property not tied directly to a racetrack, according to a report in Daily Racing Form.
Charity backs out of suite leases
Dismas Charities backed out of leases for suites at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the KFC Yum! Center after details of the leases came to light. Dismas Charities operates 26 state and federal re-entry centers in 12 states and serves as a transition point for nearly 7,000 offenders returning to society from prison each year.
KFC Yum! Center adds partners
Louisville Arena Sports & Entertainment Properties unveiled six new partners for the KFC Yum! Center. The new sponsors are Local Kentucky and Indiana Ford Dealers, Vivid Impact Co., Cintas, Yale Kentuckiana, Tennant Co. and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety.
Dolphins debut cycling challenge
The Miami Dolphins are launching the Dolphins Cycling Challenge, a two-day, 170-mile trans-Florida charity cycling event to benefit Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. The event, scheduled for November, is a collaborative effort between the Miami Dolphins Foundation and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Driver’s TD sparks AirTran sale
AirTran Airways last week held a one-day fare sale for travel to and from Milwaukee in honor of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver’s 50th career touchdown catch. The one-way, $50 fares were offered for 14 destinations, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Driver has been an AirTran endorser for years.
Cellular South stays with WTA
Cellular South agreed to continue as title sponsor of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event in Memphis through next year. The 2011 Cellular South Cup will be played at The Racquet Club of Memphis, Feb. 11-20.
Auction begins for Twins statues
The Minnesota Twins and Minneapolis Downtown Council started auctioning five Twins Around Town statues that appeared throughout downtown Minneapolis over the summer. The auctions will run until Sunday, and opening bids are $5,000. The statues represent the 1963, 1984, 2004, 2007 and 2008 seasons. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund.
BSE, Lagardère want tennis at Barclays
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and Lagardère Unlimited are working to bring major professional tennis to the Barclays Center. BSE and Lagardère will develop and co-promote at least two tennis events annually at the planned arena, which will include both current and former stars of the sport.
Flyers reward ticket holders
The Philadelphia Flyers hosted a barbecue for 700 season-ticket holders who renewed their season tickets ahead of the club’s established deadline. Flyers players, coaches and alumni attended the barbecue, held at the AT&T Pavilion at the Wells Fargo Center. Fans were able to pose for photos with the Prince of Wales Trophy, won by the team last season as the NHL’s Eastern Conference champion, as well as take a locker room tour and go on the ice to take shots on goal.
QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC
NHL facility funding debated
Canada Prime Minster Stephen Harper last week opposed full public funding to build an arena that could attract an NHL franchise, according to a report in The (Toronto) Globe & Mail. Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume had been asking the federal government to invest $175 million (Canadian) into a new arena that one study projected would cost about $400 million.
AECOM to study stadium impact
City officials selected international planning and engineering firm AECOM to conduct a study on the future of city-owned Qualcomm Stadium and its business prospects with or without the NFL Chargers, according to a report in The San Diego Union-Tribune. The study is expected to last six weeks before a report is issued.
Coke pouring at Frys.com Open
Coca-Cola was named the official soft drink of the 2010 Frys.com Open, scheduled for Oct. 14-17 in nearby San Martin, Calif. The event is part of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. San Martin is 25 miles south of Fry’s Electronics headquarters in San Jose. Additionally, Audi will be the official vehicle of the tournament, providing 30 courtesy vehicles throughout the week of the event.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.
Track won’t host IndyCar in 2011
The IndyCar Series will not return to Watkins Glen International next year. WGI President Michael Printup cited multiple factors as reasons behind what was called a joint business decision, including cost of competition, operational expense, paid attendance, both sponsor and market support, and future growth potential.
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Success of 'Road Warriors' at Oklahoma gets program extended for full season
Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach will turn into “Orange Drive,” a four-day sports and entertainment festival beginning on New Year’s Eve, through a coordinated effort by the city of Miami Beach, the Discover Orange Bowl and New York-based Union Square Agency.
The idea behind Orange Drive is to shut down nine blocks of Ocean Drive and create a series of concerts, a boxing card, wrestling matches and pep rallies with Orange Bowl teams that would attract fans and party-goers from New Year’s Eve through the Jan. 3 bowl game.
“This is the perfect environment for an event like this,” said Shawn Garrity, president of Union Square. “This takes fan fest to a whole new level.”
Eric Poms, CEO of the Orange Bowl, said his group watched the activity around a closed-down Ocean Drive during the Super Bowl in February. The Orange Bowl had held fan fests and beach bashes in other areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the past, but Poms said he’s always had his eye on more of an anchor event in South Beach.
“We took notice with the way they shut down the streets in South Beach for the Super Bowl and created this entertainment district,” Poms said. “We got an understanding of how to do it.
“The big picture is that we have a lot of fans coming down from the two institutions playing in our game, you have residents here who enjoy South Beach and you have the height of the tourist season, both for domestic and international visitors. There’s tremendous opportunity with this.”
The Orange Bowl already has gone through the permitting phase with the city of Miami Beach to gain initial clearance, according to Max Sklar, director of tourism and cultural development for the city. The bowl will pay Miami Beach an amount to be determined based on space used and the amount of city resources needed, such as fire and police.
The bowl then sold the marketing and media rights for Orange Drive to Union Square for a fee that neither side would divulge.
Union Square will seek a title sponsor for close to seven figures, while other sponsorships will be available for the high five figures to low six figures. If revenue hits a certain threshold, Union Square would begin sharing with the bowl.
Orange Drive represents another step in the comeback for Union Square, the agency that was formed in 2008 by the former owners of MSL Sports & Entertainment. MSL dissolved in 2008 when it sank millions of dollars into a spring college football property, Gridiron Bash, and it failed to launch.
CEO Gary Cioffi and Garrity regrouped and returned with Union Square, which has created a high school basketball tournament and managed the Ivy League’s first women’s lacrosse championship, among its sports events, while also moving into lifestyle and fashion events.
“We believe that if you blend the right entertainment with college sports, you’ve got an interesting mix,” Garrity said.
Orange Drive begins on Dec. 31 with a New Year’s Eve celebration. Union Square is working to find a broadcast partner to televise the entertainment events that night. Professional wrestling from promotional group TNA and a Main Events boxing card will highlight Jan. 1.
On Jan. 2, the day before the Orange Bowl, participating teams, bands and cheerleaders will take part in a pep rally on South Beach, and Jan. 3 will bring more concerts and interactive events during the day prior to the 8 p.m. kickoff.
Ocean Drive, the street between the beach and well-known beachfront businesses like The Clevelander and the News Cafe, would be closed to traffic for those four days.
Early in the New York Giants’ regular-season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium, the boo birds re-emerged after a winter of discontent to voice their displeasure with poor special teams performance by the Men in Blue. The next night, the same chorus could be heard over the Jets’ struggling offense.
Old habits die hard. In both cases, it didn’t take long for Giants and Jets fans to feel at home in a facility they claim equally as their own. It’s the first NFL stadium designed to adapt to the look and feel of two teams in one market, a $1.7 billion chameleon dressed in steel and concrete.
For the Giants, a franchise whose rich history dates back 85 years, New Meadowlands Stadium presents a tremendous upgrade over the cramped old venue that carried their name for 34 seasons. The Jets, meanwhile, AFL upstarts and redheaded stepchild at Giants Stadium since 1984, are now on equal footing after failing to get their own facility built on the west side of Manhattan. After 50 years, they finally have a building where they can apply the Gang Green brand inside and out on game days.
The teams use different names for the stadium on their season tickets, a sign of the tensions inherent in the project, not to mention the lack of a naming-rights sponsor for now. But whether it’s New Meadowlands Stadium, “New Giants Stadium,” or “Home of the Jets,” the fact that two teams representing two distinct cultures were able to get the darn thing built will prove to be their greatest legacy, said Jets owner Woody Johnson.
“It was a challenge because no two teams had ever done it before,” Johnson said. “I think the manual we wrote through our experience will help other teams that have to do it, and I think it will be more the rule than exception.”
“In the big markets, you’re going to have teams sharing stadiums, Los Angeles and maybe Northern California,” Johnson said. “Stadiums of the future are going to be really expensive, and municipalities may not be willing to spend like they did in the past, so they’re going to be financed creatively. That will be the trend [in the U.S.] and worldwide.”
Giants co-owner Steve Tisch referenced the Packers Hall of Fame at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, the roar of the crowd at Qwest Field in Seattle and the fan experience at New England’s Gillette Stadium as inspirations for developing New Meadowlands Stadium.
The compromises necessary to create a home stadium for two teams can be a burden. For example, the stadium’s gray exterior suffers from trying to reach a happy medium for both teams. The lighting on its steel louvers, whether blue or green, is turned on only for night games, leaving a structure void of color outside for Sunday afternoons.
But 20 video towers surrounding the stadium largely make up the difference. The Jets and Giants can program those pillars with messages tied to their respective organizations and sponsors, in addition to showing live game action. The sheer number of those screens is unique in an NFL environment.
Both teams have their own exclusive, permanent spaces bookending the Commissioners Club. The Legacy Club is the Giants’ statement defining their place in NFL history. The Jets answered with the hip, industrial warehouse feel of the Green Room, their own little SoHo inside the stadium.
“I often say that if you were going to build two brands from scratch for one marketplace, you would probably build the Jets and Giants because they are very different,” said Thad Sheely, the Jets’ executive vice president of finance and stadium development. “Their histories, their futures, all the characteristics and attributes that you would talk about for both teams, nothing could be truer than the way we bring our new stadium to life.”
It takes 12 hours, 46 people to switch stadium's colors from one team to the other
Charlotte Motor Speedway plans to install the largest LED video board in U.S. sports this spring — a colossal, 80-foot-tall by 200-foot-wide Panasonic LED board.
The single-screen board will face the track on the backstretch and is a first of its kind at a speedway. Its screen size is larger than the biggest screen on the four-sided, center-hung video board at Cowboys Stadium, which measures 72 feet high and 160 feet wide.
The Panasonic screen will be installed at a time when sports facilities nationwide have begun to view the couch and HDTV as their primary competition for ticket buyers. The installation represents the latest example of a facility trying to overcome that by improving the quality of content it provides spectators attending sporting events.
“Our company is known for breaking ground and the barriers for what happens at a speedway,” said Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Marcus Smith. “This will revolutionize the track experience for fans.”
SMI, which owns Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Panasonic are expected to unveil details of the board at a press event this week. The parties negotiated the deal over the last 10 months.
Neither side would disclose the cost of the board, but it is expected to be in the eight figures. The Cowboys paid $40 million for their video board.
Under terms of the agreement, Panasonic will become the official technology partner of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The partners will hire a third-party agency to help sell founding partnerships for the video board and advertising on the screen during events. Sales will be managed by Panasonic’s motorsports agency, Wunderman, a division of Young & Rubicam, and will be split 60-40 between Panasonic and SMI.
“It’s a revolutionary deal for Panasonic,” said Lesley Poch, group director of marketing at Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, a division of the company that specializes in LED boards, security systems and other facility technology. “If it’s as successful as we think it will be, I can see us moving forward [on future deals] that way.”
The board will be used to enhance not only the race-day experience, but Charlotte Motor Speedway officials also have discussed using it for movie premieres or as a backdrop for concerts and other events.
“If it brings the suite experience to the larger grandstand audience, it’s a good thing,” said Just Marketing International’s Zak Brown. “The only potential downside would be if they can’t monetize it.”
In addition to the speedway partnership, Panasonic has a multiyear alliance with SMI that makes it the motorsports company’s supplier for technology enhancements at SMI’s eight speedways. It already worked on solar panels at SMI’s Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and there are plans to develop a new scoring tower at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The deals are part of an aggressive push by Panasonic into sports and entertainment venues. Its Panasonic Enterprise Solutions division developed LED displays at Red Bull Arena and the Beijing Olympics. It also introduced its first center-hung scoreboard at a big league arena last weekend at the Staples Center.
Panasonic officials hope the speedway screen leads to additional motorsports business, Poch said. She added, “We’d love to see everyone jump on the bandwagon and do something cool like this with us.”
The board is the third Panasonic screen to be installed at a NASCAR track. Last spring, Richmond International Raceway, which is owned by International Speedway Corp., installed a 153-foot-tall tower with four LED video screens measuring 38 feet wide by 24 feet high. A similar tower was installed at ISC-owned Homestead-Miami Speedway this year.
Staff writer Don Muret contributed to this report.