• TV Timeout: Inevitable Conclusion

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said of on-jersey ads, “In this day and age where on non-live programming where people are using their DVRs and skipping through commercials, to me it's that much more of an opportunity for our sponsors to get closer to our game and to be closer to our athletes. I mean the sleeve jersey issue, for example, I mean I get that one, whether it's superstition or players just don't like it or they're sensitive to feeling sleeves when they're shooting. That's something we have to tread very carefully on, especially long-term, if there's any suggestion that it impacts the competition or the field of players. But when it comes to advertising on jerseys, I do think it's inevitable" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/9).

    UCONN SAY THAT ON TELEVISION: ESPN's J.A. Adande, on UConn G Shabazz Napier's post-championship comments about the NCAA: "I love the fact that he called out the NCAA right in the midst of its biggest event, its biggest revenue generator for sure, and he just called them out on the hypocrisy of trying to pretend that this is about academics in any way.” N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said, "He kind of had a Richard Sherman moment in my opinion afterwards with the microphone" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/8).

    BRANDED STATEMENT: ESPN's Suzy Kolber said Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's logo is "catchy, creative (and) of course it sparked some conversation about RGIII as a brand beyond being part of a team" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 4/8). Redskins SS Ryan Clark said, "He created a logo. So what? It just gives people things to talk about" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/8).

    HITTING THE BOOKS: Univ. of Delaware President Patrick Harker said of college athletes unionizing, "If there's a crisis, I think it's a crisis, in losing sight of the fact that the most important part of the phrase 'student-athlete' is student … and I really worry that starting with middle school all the way through college we've lost sight of the fact that students need an education to be successful, even if they have a pro career” ("NewsHour," PBS, 4/8).

  • Concessionaires Roll Out Tempting Ballpark Fare

    We promised a look at some of the new delicacies at MLB ballparks, and today we deliver: Feast your eyes on menu items from concessionaires Aramark and Centerplate.

    We’ll be back again with food from other MLB concessionaires.

    ARAMARK

    Citi Field (Mets)
    Pat LaFrieda's meatball sliders at Citi Field are from a family recipe.
    Photo by: ARAMARK
    Local meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda expands beyond his signature chop house at the ballpark. His meatball sliders are a family recipe. $12.

    Fenway Park (Red Sox)
    Wake up with a breakfast burger, topped with a fried egg, fresh mozzarella cheese, sauteed onions and chipotle sauce. $10

    PNC Park (Pirates)
    The Closer is an overstuffed grilled cheese sandwich with four slices of thick-cut sourdough, nine cheeses, candied bacon and a leek, plus Granny Smith apple compote. $14.50

    Minute Maid Park (Astros)
    Texas Hold ’Em is a barbecue chicken sandwich with cheddar cheese, tomato, fries and slaw crammed between Texas toast. $9

    Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)
    The Philly cheesesteak dog is a no-brainer at this ballpark. Hot dog topped with Philadelphia steak, melted cheese, “wit’ or wit’out onions.” $7.

    Rogers Centre (Blue Jays)
    The Muddy York Market fish taco is named after the city’s famed farmer’s market. Crusted tilapia served in a flour tortilla, mixed with red cabbage slaw, chili-lime sour cream, pico de gallo and cilantro. Two for $11.

    Coors Field (Rockies)
    A twist on the traditional Reuben sandwich. Pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese on a pretzel bun. $10.

    CENTERPLATE

    Tropicana Field (Rays)
    Bangin’ shrimp ($11), fried bologna sliders ($5), housemade smoked beef jerky ($6) and old-fashioned deviled eggs ($3) are all served at the new Everglades Brewhouse.
      
    Fans can wash them down with Everglades Moonshine, a mix of bourbon and lemonade served in a Mason jar with a house-smoked bacon strip swizzle. The drink costs $14, and you get to keep the jar.

    The crab sandwich is served on the club level at Safeco Field.
    Photo by: CENTERPLATE
    Safeco Field
    (Mariners)
    The ’Pen, the stadium’s outfield food court, remains one of the best experiences in baseball four years after the space underwent a retrofit. Swingin’ Wings, a new stand at the ’Pen, offers classic Buffalo-style, honey serrano and barbecue sauce chicken wings for $9.

    The same stand sells Dirty Tots, tater tots topped with Beecher’s flagship cheddar, Carlton’s Farm pork belly and Bay Valley picked peppers. Those three brands are local companies.

    On the club level at Safeco Field, the crab sandwich ($13), oysters and chips ($10) and applewood smoked salmon chowder ($7) are new items.

    Click on any image below to begin a slideshow of images from Aramark and Centerplate.


    • Aramark's Reuben sandwich at Coors Field
    • Aramark's breakfast burger at Fenway Park
    • Centerplate's fried oysters and chips at Safeco Field
    • Aramark's Texas Hold 'Em at Minute Maid Park
    • Centerplate's salmon chowder at Safeco Field
    • Centerplate's chicken wings at Safeco Field

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Covering The Issue

    Analysts from numerous media outlets have voiced their opinion on Golf Digest’s decision to use Paulina Gretzky on its most recent cover. Former PGA Tour Senior VP/Strategic Development Donna Orender asked, “Why is it that the only women who seem to grace their covers in the last eight years or so are women that either are half-dressed or models? What is that greater message to women, to young girls who want to play this game, and to men?” Golf Channel's Gary Williams: “You don’t think there is any merit to having somebody who is the daughter of one of the most famous athletes that the sports world has known in the last 50 years?” Orender responded, “Will that make me interested in the game, seriously? No, I’m going to look at it and say, ‘Whoa, she is really a beautiful young woman. Wow, Dustin Johnson is lucky. Let me go back and do my other stuff,' but it is not going to get me in the game.” Williams asked, “Do you understand that they are in the business of selling magazines as much, if not more so, than growing the game of golf?” Orender replied, “We all understand that. … But I do believe in the creative good. I do believe in quality, and good and thoughtful and moral business decisions here. And I believe that there is a great disservice being done to an audience that clearly does want more information about the best athletes in the world, and we are not seeing that.” Orender: “If Golf Digest does not grow the golf business, and if they really don’t see that, then they are going to have a shrinking business. So when young girls all over the world can’t see role models, then what are we saying to them? Go play another sport” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/5).

    DRIVING HOME THEIR POINT: ESPN’s Jemele Hill said, “So I guess Beyonce will be on the cover of a fishing magazine sometime soon" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 4/6). The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay: "There is a media deficit in terms of attention paid to women's professional athletics and it's not just exclusive to this cover" ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 4/4). ESPN’s Pablo Torre said Golf Digest “can do whatever they want. It’s a capitalistic enterprise, freedom of speech. But we can evaluate them on how honest and forthright they’re being about their intentions and to get more new people interested in the game is a farcical explanation” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/4). ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “So you’re telling me somebody who actually plays the game can’t get on the cover of your magazine but you can put a woman who dates a golfer and say she’s giving golf advice. That’s the most ridiculous part” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/4).

    BE-LABORING THE POINT: ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said of the NCAA, “I’ve noticed them working very aggressively to realign conferences to make more money. … I’ve never seen them working very aggressively to address any of the points that the Northwestern kids are bringing up” (“Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 4/7).         

    OUT OF SIGHT: CBS’ Clark Kellogg, on TNT’s Charles Barkley calling fans idiots for their criticism of the net’s Teamcast, “Well, he’s not on Twitter, so he doesn’t care” (“Kentucky-Wisconsin,” TBS, 4/5).

    REPORT CARD: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, on Saturday’s Final Four: “It wasn’t so much about straight A’s as it was about straight cash” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 4/6).

    LOVE IT LOUD: ESPN’s Bram Weinstein said of the AFL L.A. Kiss’ home debut, “Thank you, Anaheim. We are going to rock and roll all night, and party every down” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/6).

  • Knights ready to return to Charlotte in new home

    The Charlotte Knights will christen BB&T Ballpark on Friday night with the first of three consecutive sellouts at the $54 million stadium.

    The team’s move back to Charlotte’s downtown has generated excitement in town. The Knights played the past 24 years in Fort Mill, S.C., where they of late had drawn meager crowds at Knights Stadium and finished last in International League attendance for the 2013 season.

    BB&T Ballpark has dramatically changed the team’s situation. The stadium has 8,800 fixed seats, and with standing room and outfield lawn space, it can fit 10,200 fans. One week before Opening Day, season-ticket sales represent 45 percent of the stadium’s fixed seats, said Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski, the manager of ballpark development for team owner Don Beaver. Those figures include the stadium’s two clubs, the Budweiser Home Plate Club and the Diamonds Direct Luxury Lounge on the upper level, which have both sold out.

    Most of the 18 suites are sold for the season, some divided as “time shares” among multiple companies, he said. Suite prices run $15,000 to $50,000 a season depending on location tied to seven- and 10-year leases. They all have 12 fixed seats and can accommodate 20 people.

    Two dugout suites sit at field level behind home plate, a design similar to Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., home to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. At BB&T Ballpark, those suites are reserved exclusively for single games. The $1,975 cost per game covers 25 tickets and food and drink, but no alcohol.

    The Carolinas HealthCare System Home Run Porch in right field on the ballpark’s second level was converted to a standing-room-only space after the Knights could not agree to terms with a potential restaurant partner. Standing-room-only tickets cost $10, and the team has capped sales at about 300 for each of the first three home games. The Knights anticipate a nearby bar will become a hangout for the singles crowd over the summer months, Rajkowski said.

    Underneath that space on the first floor are concession stands tied to local and national restaurant brands such as Queen City Q, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, Fuzzy Peach and Just Fresh. Ovations Food Service is the Knights’ official concessionaire.

    Toshiba produced the left-field video board at BB&T Ballpark, which at 82 feet long is the widest screen in Minor League Baseball. The ballpark’s tight footprint on less than nine acres has led to Knights players hitting the video board in batting practice, which has forced the club to attach a protective surface, Rajkowski said.

    Chick-fil-A sponsors both “fowl” poles, among the park’s branded spaces.

    Future development plans beyond the outfield walls includes a hotel and office space, Rajkowski said. For now, fans can sit in those grass areas.

    Click on any photo below to see full-screen images. All photos by Tiffin Warnock / Staff


    Tags: On the Ground, Facilities, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • Podcast: NFL sked's impact on media partners

    Executive editor Abraham Madkour and media writer John Ourand discuss the upcoming release of the NFL schedule and what it could mean for ESPN, CBS and the league's other media partners. The topic is featured in a front-page story in this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: NFL, Media, ESPN, CBS, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 4/4/2014

    A look at the past week in the NHL:

    As Sale Talks Continue, Islanders Valued at $370 million

    The value of the New York Islanders in the club’s reported sale negotiations by team owner Charles Wang has been put at $370 million, according to a source in the financial industry.

    Talks between Wang and a group led by Philadelphia-based hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway are said to be ongoing. According to the source, Barroway’s group is short of the funding necessary for the acquisition but is looking for additional partners. The group is seeking to raise another $30 million to $50 million in order to complete the deal.

    A league source said that, should a deal be finalized, there is a chance Wang could remain majority owner of the team at the outset. One scenario being discussed involves Barroway and his partners buying between 30 percent and 49 percent of the team by this summer, with the opportunity to increase their stake in subsequent seasons, eventually taking majority ownership.
      
    The Islanders begin play in Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the 2015-16 season.

    Wang has said that he will continue to listen to serious offers, and with word getting out last Friday that the Islanders are available, Wang is likely to hear from other interested parties.

    BY THE NUMBERS

    744,000 viewers: That was the audience for NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game between Detroit and Boston this week, making it the second-most watched “Wednesday” game and third-most watched game overall on the network this season. Only a season-opening Washington-Chicago game (Oct. 1; 935,000 viewers) and a “Wednesday” Philadelphia-Pittsburgh matchup (Nov. 13; 759,000) drew bigger audience this season on NBCSN.

    20 years: That’s the tenure of Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, who is expected to retire at the end of the season. Rutherford, 65, started with the franchise in 1994, when it was the Hartford Whalers. He may stay with the Hurricanes as team president.

    11,812: Since the Olympic break in February, there has been only one announced crowd of less than 12,000 fans at an NHL game. That game was Tuesday night, when the Islanders hosted Florida in a game between two teams out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The home team has been without star John Tavares, injured during the Olympics.

    -2 percent: That’s the meager drop-off in average attendance from last season (18,970) to this one (18,570) for the Buffalo Sabres, an impressive feat considering the team has been at the bottom of the league’s standings since the beginning of this season. The Sabres, with one of the most passionate fan bases in the NHL, are in the early stages of a rebuilding program.

    0: Number of NHL teams with as many Twitter followers as TSN analyst Bob McKenzie, who has 697,000 — the most of any hockey reporter.

    THE LIST: NHL teams on Twitter (ranked by number of followers)
    1. Toronto Maple Leafs: 552,000
    2. Montreal Canadiens: 540,000
    3t. Boston Bruins: 521,000
    3t. Chicago Blackhawks: 521,000
    5. Vancouver Canucks: 502,000
    6. Pittsburgh Penguins: 492,000
    7. Detroit Red Wings: 406,000
    8. Los Angeles Kings: 325,000
    9. Philadelphia Flyers: 323,000
    10. New York Rangers: 307,000
    11. Edmonton Oilers: 286,000
    12. Washington Capitals: 215,000
    13. St. Louis Blues: 212,000
    14. Calgary Flames: 210,000
    15. San Jose Sharks: 203,000
    16. Minnesota Wild: 202,000
    17. Winnipeg Jets: 200,000
    18. Buffalo Sabres: 196,000
    19. Ottawa Senators: 193,000
    20. New Jersey Devils: 183,000
    21. Colorado Avalanche: 167,000
    22. Dallas Stars: 165,000
    23. Columbus Blue Jackets: 153,000
    24. Tampa Bay Lightning: 151,000
    25. Anaheim Ducks: 148,000
    26. Nashville Predators: 135,000
    27. Carolina Hurricanes: 120,000
    28. New York Islanders: 113,000
    29. Phoenix Coyotes: 110,000
    30. Florida Panthers: 104,000

    THE PLAYLIST: A look at some of the songs played in-arena during an NHL game
    Game: Boston at Detroit
    Date: Wednesday, April 2
    Location: Joe Louis Arena
    In-charge: The Red Wings’ Integrated Media Department, with a little help from Hockeytown: Some songs are submitted by fans using the team’s Twitter page.
    “Don’t Stop Believin’” — Journey
    “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” — Fedde LeGrand
    “Detroit Rock City” — Kiss
    “Raise A Little Hell” — Trooper
    “Last Man Standing” — Pop Evil
    “Welcome 2 Detroit” — Trick Trick/Eminem
    “Can’t Hold Us” — Macklemore
    “All I Do Is Win” — DJ Khaled
    “Jump Around” — House Of Pain
    “Best Day Of My Life” — American Authors
    “Animals” — Martin Garrix
    “I’m The Man” — Aloe Blacc
    “Lonely Boy” — Black Keys
    “Slow Ride” — Foghat
    “Booyah”— Showtek
    “Sweet Caroline”— Neil Diamond
    “Pompeii”— Bastille
    “Counting Stars”— One Republic

    Tags: On The Ground
  • MLB Concessionaires Go Big, Creative

    Behold "The Closer," being served up by Aramark at PNC Park.
    Photo by: ARAMARK
    “Foodie Friday” is back and so are the half-dozen MLB concessionaires, making headlines for creating new and in some cases crazy menu items for the new baseball season.

    Over the past five years, food vendors have done their best to top one another by introducing oversized portions such as 2-foot-long hot dogs and massive burgers, meant to be shared by several fans. Some dishes sound pretty tasty; others border on belly bombs.

    But food providers must also remember to keep their core items on track, said Carl Mittleman, newly appointed president of Aramark Sports and Entertainment. For Aramark, a firm running food at nine MLB parks, 70 percent of its general concessions sales are tied to hot dogs, beer, salty snacks and nonalcoholic beverages. It’s been that way for more than 100 years in baseball, Mittleman said, so vendors must be conscious of getting the basics right before expanding their menus to meet more exotic tastes.

    Some of the “Man vs. Food”-style feeding frenzy is still trending. This year, Levy Restaurants debuts a new $25 corn dog at Chase Field in Phoenix, an 18-inch-long corn-battered hot dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon. Belly up.

    Levy, also the White Sox’s premium dining partner in Chicago, rolls out a $17 sundae in the suites at U.S. Cellular Field, a stomach-churning 12 scoops of ice cream served in a plastic batting helmet.

    Otherwise, the focus continues to be on bringing well-known local brands into the ballpark and expanding craft beer selections tied to new bar destinations.

    Coors Field, Great American Ballpark and Tropicana Field all debut new bars devoted to serving craft brews, such as the Reds Brewery District in Cincinnati (SportsBusiness Journal March 24-30).

    In the Pacific Northwest, where Seattle teams set the tone years ago for serving microbrews in sports facilities, Centerplate has pushed the trend further by introducing cask-conditioned ales at two Safeco Field stands. Cask ale is an unfiltered beer that completes its secondary fermentation in the container from which it’s served, according to Centerplate officials. At Safeco, there are limited supplies for every game and the vendor is serving 20-ounce pours for $9.75 until the taps run dry. All told, there are 50 craft beer brands available at the home of the Mariners.

    The local trend extends to sourcing food and going organic on site. This season, Aramark opens its second ballpark garden at Citi Field, in the Pepsi Porch in right field, after launching the concept last year at Coors Field.

    The herbs and veggies harvested last season in Denver were served to patrons in the ballpark’s Mountain Ranch Club and Coors Clubhouse spaces. The goal there is to expand from two to five harvests this year, Mittleman said.

    Want to digitally sample some of the latest ballpark fare? Check back in this space to see what concessionaires are offering at MLB parks.


    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: To The Videotape

    MLB analysts continue to laud the league's new replay system this week, with ESPN's Aaron Boone saying, "The system has worked. It has been efficient. It hasn’t held up the games a bunch and we are now getting more and more calls correct because of the technology that exists" (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 4/2). MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal: "I have loved it so far. Very few things you can point to and say, 'That is a problem.' ... All of the fears we had, 'Oh my gosh, it is going to slow down the game,' not really happening" (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 4/2). Meanwhile, MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark said, "I'm surprised at how often it has been used thus far. I think as you guys have said and heard, and even as we sat down with players this offseason or this spring training, we had concerns. We liked the idea. You knew despite trying to cover all the bases, there are going to be some challenges along the way" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/3).

  • TV Timeout: Unlike Any Other

    A survey of sports talk shows in the last 24 hours yielded several different takes on how Tiger Woods' absence from The Masters will impact this year's event. The N.Y. Daily News' Bruce Murray said, "It's a huge blow. ... If Tiger's on the leaderboard Saturday or Sunday, they get huge ratings. If he's not, you've got to hope for one of three guys. (Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson). I can't even think of a third guy" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 4/1). ESPN's Pablo Torre: "The first Masters without Tiger Woods in 20 years is going to have distinctly ... new class kind of feel to it. No one knows who the protagonists really are" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/1). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "In the larger term, it's a very big issue that the Tour is going to have to get ready for" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/1). CBSSN’s Tony Luftman: "I know a bunch of people ... who started playing golf because of Tiger Woods. He made it cool. But unfortunately, his fall from grace has also hurt the sport" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 4/1).

    99 PROBLEMS? The effectiveness and success of Jay Z as a sports agent was examined on Bloomberg TV, with ESPN's Andrew Brandt saying, "I thought at the minute he entered the business that Jay Z would be a formidable presence in the industry. He is a draw and I've heard from the agent community that they're worried." CAA Sports Head of Football Tom Condon said, "From our competitors' standpoint, they've got to be concerned. Jay Z and Roc Nation bring a lot to the party. He's got reach to places that probably are different than what typically CAA is involved in." Agent Leigh Steinberg said as a "recruiter, I'd give him an A-plus," adding Jay Z has "done a pretty superb job of picking players that can trigger multiple revenue streams." Brandt added, "I am confident there are more players recruiting Jay Z than vice versa." Wasserman Media Group Vice Chair Arn Tellem: "My sense is they won't change the business. They'll make an impact" (Bloomberg TV, 4/2).

  • TV Timeout: MLBers Of A Certain Age

    Baseball HOFer Cal Ripken Jr. said of big contracts for MLBers in their 30s, such as Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera, "I don't know if I can give you great insight on this one, because I scratch my head as well. I'm all for the players. Many times the system keeps you down early on and they have the leverage. When you have the leverage, after you've proven something, many times the clubs are paying for past performance. It doesn't make any sense to really extend that long, but I guess the value is so great, during the time frame that they're willing to risk it on the back end, but I don’t quite understand it" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/1).

    WINGS AND A PRAYER: Buffalo Wild Wings President & CEO Sally Smith said of the company's NCAA Tournament sponsorship, "We have a unique campaign going on now. If you've noticed the games going into overtime, you'll see the drum roll and 'Overtime Brought To You By Buffalo Wild Wings.'" Smith noted the company has recently switched from Coca-Cola to Pepsi and "what Pepsi brings really is they understand entertainment, from sports to music. Their connection with the NFL really resonates with our guests" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 4/1).

    BATTING CLEAN-UP: MLB Network analysts looked in on a number of ballparks during yesterday's Opening Day coverage. The net's Matt Vasgersian said of the scene at Camden Yards, "Look at this ticker tape parade. The Birds do it right on Opening Day." Billy Ripken added, "Opening Day is pretty good there in Baltimore." Vasgersian, on the offseason moves by the Mariners: "The Mariners have reloaded. In fact, there are only a few holdovers from last year’s M's team. It is amazing how they have changed the face of that roster." He said of the White Sox roster, loaded with int'l talent, "The White Sox are kind of a Model UN these days" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 3/31).

    CHECKING IN ACROSS THE POND: CNBC's Ross Westgate noted tennis player Andy Murray was "serving up some hospitality today as his hotel venture" had a ceremony and opens officially on Friday, located near his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland. Westgate said the hotel, Cromlix House, is "reportedly already fully booked for the Ryder Cup." Meanwhile, Westgate noted "England football fans and players have taking to Twitter to criticize the price of the new World Cup jersey made by Nike. You can pay up to 90 pounds for the replica jersey with the enhanced cooling technology" and Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford "has branded the move 'disappointing'" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 4/1).

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