• FishBait's Jones Says Fans Often Forgotten In Sports Ecosystem

    Rick Jones, founder and CEO FishBait Marketing, an agency with a sharp focus on college athletics, stopped by the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily offices in Charlotte on Tuesday to share his thoughts on present-day sports marketing and some of the issues facing college athletics.

    Rick Jones formed FishBait Marketing in 2003.
    Among his discussion points, Jones said fans have been left behind in the triangular relationship between consumers, sponsors and sports properties. He cited rising ticket prices and the ability of TV to control game times as being developments that have been detrimental to fans.

    “The property depends on the fan for television revenue, for ticketing revenues, for licensing revenues — and the sponsor depends on the fan to buy their products,” Jones said. “I say all boats rise with the tide. Don’t worry about how big your boat is. Create a tide, and I think that’s what properties and sponsors have to collectively do: constantly talk about ‘How do we enhance fans?’ And if we do that, we’re going to grow the ecosystem.”

    Jones, an Atlanta native, began his career as a high school and college basketball coach before earning his master’s degree in sports administration and entering the world of sports business. In the time since, he has started several sports marketing groups, including The Strategic Group, CMA and now FishBait.

    He works with the American Football Coaches Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, as well as a range of other entities that include the NCAA, Turner Sports and ESPN.

    Jones said he prefers a glass-half-full mentality when it comes to the future of college sports. While he notes that the consolidation of rights holders can hurt local and alumni business deals, he also emphasizes positive developments in the space, such as the games each year getting a new crop of fans — a freshman class — and college sports having significant female fan support.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: You Make The Call

    MLB Network’s Chris Rose, on the future of instant replay: “One year from today, I guarantee you how the system is implemented, what we’re looking for, what’s legal and what’s not will be different, and that’s okay. It’s so hard for us to wait and be patient with change” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 4/14). MLB.com’s Terence Moore said, “This is nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. … Here’s the thing: This is still the second best system baseball could use. The best system, just leave it alone” (“OTL,” ESPN, 4/14).

    ARMOUR ALL:  CNBC's Scott Wapner said golfer Jordan Spieth is "right in the wheelhouse of the target demo that you're trying to reach if you're an Under Armour” ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 4/14).

    CRYSTAL BALL: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, on a lawsuit alleging the league promoted violence, "The fact is a couple of plaintiffs' law firms seem to have cobbled together some lawsuits copying what went on in the NFL. We knew it was coming” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 4/15).

    PITCH MAN: TNT's Shaquille O'Neal said of his philosophy of investments versus endorsements, "I'll do investments, endorsements and partnerships. A lot of times, if I really, really believe in a company I'll say, 'Okay, I'll do an endorsement, but you don't have to be pay me, I want to be a partner in your company. Let me grow with you’” ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 4/14).

    CHA-CHING: Giants P Steve Weatherford said of Donald Trump wanting to own the Bills: “Does he want to win games? Absolutely. But he's really in it to make money and create a powerful business venture" ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 4/15).

  • TV Timeout: Buffalo Soldier

    ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “There would be nothing worse than moving the Bills out of western New York. That would be horrible. … For the people there, the significance of that team to that area, I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but if you move the Packers out of Green Bay, part of the flavor of the NFL is being in these cities” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/14).

    MOTOWN MOTOR: NBA TV's Brent Barry said of Joe Dumars taking an advisory role with the franchise, "Even though he's taking this new role, they're smart enough to know you just don’t let good people go" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 4/13).

    CHERRY PICKING: The CBC's Don Cherry said the Maple Leafs naming Brendan Shanahan team President was a "great move" because MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke "knows soccer, he knows basketball, but he's only a fan of hockey” ("HNIC," NHL Network, 4/12).

  • SBJ Podcast: David Morehouse of the Penguins

    NHL writer Christopher Botta and executive editor Abraham Madkour discuss Pittsburgh Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse's unique political background and his work with the Penguins, which is featured on the front page of this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Big Ten opening Manhattan office June 1

    The Big Ten announced yesterday that it will open a New York office at 900 Third Ave. in Manhattan. The intent, the conference said, is to provide staff with a space to work on branding, championships, communications and compliance initiatives.

    The office, which will be 4,400 square feet, will open by June 1. Three full-time staffers will work out of the office, which also will have meeting space for the conference and its school members whenever they’re in New York.

    Kerry Kenny from the Big Ten said existing employees will be moved from the Big Ten’s headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., to New York, but the conference is not disclosing their names just yet. Future branding initiatives for the conference likely will originate out of the New York office, and with Rutgers and Maryland set to officially join the Big Ten on July 1, there is expected to be a flurry of marketing activity associated with that. Kenny said any plans along those lines are still in the works.

    Tags: On the Ground, Colleges
  • Back to ballparks for more concessions creations

    One last helping of new ballpark food, from three MLB concessionaires.

    Target Field (Twins)
    The ballpark, entering its fifth season of operation, is known as a foodie hotspot strong on local brands. Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” television fame jumped on the bandwagon last year by serving a goat-and-lamb butter burger.

    Sportservice's Porketta Sluggers at Target Field
    Izzy’s ice cream ($7), Valentini’s Italian burger ($10, includes fries) and the Porketta Slugger meat pastry ($8) are among the new additions to Sportservice’s portfolio in Minneapolis.

    Valentini’s Supper Club is an 80-year restaurant based in Chisholm, Minn., about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities. It has had a presence at Target Field since 2012, when it introduced a cheese-stuffed meatball at the park. This year, Valentini’s is downsizing the dish to mini-meatballs to make it easier for fans to eat, Sportservice officials said.

    Elsewhere at Target Field, Hrbek’s, a stadium bar named after former Twins slugger Kent Hrbek, offers a Bloody Mary “garnished” with a cheeseburger for $18. It’s officially known as the Bigger, Better Burger Bloody Mary.

    Oriole Park at Camden Yards
    The new Chesapeake Crab Roll ($16) is Sportservice’s spin on the New England crab roll. Baltimore’s version is chilled crab salad served on a bed of lettuce in a French bread roll.

    Angel Stadium of Anaheim
    Legends, co-owned by the New York Yankees, takes over all aspects of foodservice this season for the Los Angeles Angels.

    Legends developed its own line of barbecue called Smoke Ring BBQ. The vendor moved a large smoker that had been operating in right field to Gate 1 at field level, one of the stadium’s busiest entrances. The new stand sells smoked kielbasa ($9.75), smoked BBQ brisket and half-chicken (both $12) and St. Louis-style pork ribs ($16).

    At The Big Cheese, Legends offers comfort foods such as grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. The selections are traditional grilled cheese ($7.50) and speciality grilled cheese with arugula and thick cut bacon ($10) and short rib ($12). The soup is $5.

    At the Nacho Nachos stand, the Nacho Daddy, a souvenir batting helmet fully loaded to feed several fans, costs $16.50. The Nacho Baby ($6) and Nacho Mama ($9.25) are available for smaller appetites.

    O.co Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)
    This year, Ovations signed its first MLB account, revamping the menus and developing new concession concepts at the home of the A's.

    The White Elephant Bar & Grille, a name tied to the team’s unofficial mascot, features fish tacos ($15), Dungeness crab cakes ($16) and wild mushroom mac and cheese ($11).

    The Burrito District has hand-rolled burritos ($10), street tacos (three for $8) and loaded nachos ($8).

    In addition, the Gastropub sells brick-oven pizzas for $13 to $16 and large craft beers for $11, poured in a 22-ounce souvenir cup.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 4/11/2014

    A look at the past week in the NHL:

    News from New York, Part I: Rangers opening ‘Hockey House’ for playoffs

    The New York Rangers are planning to host an indoor fan festival during the Stanley Cup playoffs every day the team plays, whether at Madison Square Garden or on the road.

    The Rangerstown Hockey House will be a 9,500-square-foot building adjacent to MSG that was the former site of a Borders books and music store. When the Rangers are at home in the playoffs, the Hockey House will be open from 2 p.m. that day until 30 minutes before opening faceoff. When the team plays on the road, it will open at 5 p.m. and close at the end of the game.

    Road games will be shown at the Hockey House, which is sponsored by Chase and is open to all fans.

    Scheduled activities include the Blueshirts Live stage for Q&A sessions with Rangers alumni (sponsored by Time Warner Cable); an exhibit of Hockey Hall of Fame artifacts and Rangers memorabilia; autograph signings (sponsored by Celebrity Cruises); and a shooting accuracy contest (sponsored by Delta Airlines). MSG Network will broadcast its pregame shows live from the facility.

    “The house is an extension of ‘Welcome to Rangerstown,’” said Michael Guth, MSG Sports executive vice president, marketing, referring to the team’s marketing campaign this season. “The idea has been to make the Rangers feel a part of your home. Now, we’re welcoming the fans into ours, whether they have tickets to the game or not.”

    The “Welcome to Rangerstown” campaign was created by MSG Sports with the New York-based marketing agency NSG/SWAT.

    “The campaign has really registered with what we call ‘true-blue’ Rangers fans and, we believe, with new fans,” Guth said. “The goal is to build our base of fans, and there’s no better time to do that than during the excitement of the playoffs.”

    News from New York, Part II: Islanders sale talks continue

    Negotiations continue in the potential sale of the New York Islanders from owner Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway. According to a person who was invited to join Barroway’s ownership group as a minority investor, the total valuation of the Islanders has been outlined as being $370 million — broken down as $100 million in cash/equity, $125 million in senior notes, $85 million in seller paper, and $60 million in preferred equity.

    A league source said Wang continues to discuss a sale with Barroway only, with no other serious bids having been formally taken to Wang yet.

    Howard Dolgon, a Long Island resident who owns the AHL Syracuse Crunch, is interested, according to a separate source, but he has yet to line up partners and make a bid.

    From 1992 to 2008, Barroway was a partner in the law firm Schiffren Barroway, based in Radnor, Pa. His focus was on securities fraud claims brought against public companies. One of those claims, in 1998, was against Computer Associates, a company co-founded by Wang. Barroway was the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit that was settled in 2003.

    By the Numbers

    4 days: The length of the exclusive window for Ohio residents to purchase tickets to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ first two home games of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The club is trying to ensure that tickets, which went on sale this morning, go to supporters of the Blue Jackets — not to fans of potential first-round opponents, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nationwide Arena is only a three-hour drive from Pittsburgh.

    $25: The cost of one seat in the upper-level end zones for the first-round home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the least-expensive face-value price that Shift found in a search for playoff tickets. The next-cheapest seat located: $40 in the upper tier for Minnesota Wild games.

    8.35: The rating in Pittsburgh for this week’s NBCSN “Wednesday Night Rivalry” telecast of Penguins/Red Wings, making the net the top-rated cable network in the Pittsburgh market during the game’s time period that night. Nationally, the game drew 717,000 viewers, the third-highest mark this season for NBCSN’s Wednesday franchise.

    1984: The year of the Olympic gold medal victory in men’s figuring skating for Scott Hamilton, who is joining with the Nashville Predators to open a skating academy bearing in his name in August. Hamilton resides in Franklin, Tenn., and has been a Predators season-ticket holder for the last eight years. According to the team, he will be an “active principal” in the academy, hiring coaches and developing curriculum.

    0: The amount of team front-office experience of Trevor Linden and Brendan Shanahan, who were hired for major roles with NHL franchises this week. Neither is without credentials, however. Linden, named president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, is a former president of the NHL Players’ Association and former Canucks captain who played 16 seasons for the franchise. Shanahan, the new president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been a vice president in the NHL’s hockey operations department since 2009 and was a highly-respected, hall of fame player for 21 seasons on league ice.


    To Steve Griggs — whose promotion to president of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Times Forum did not make headlines like the Linden and Shanahan hires did but was good news for a long-time sports executive. Before joining the Lightning in 2010, Griggs spent three years with the Orlando Magic, eight years with the Minnesota Wild, and five years with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment — all in leadership positions in sales and marketing.

    Looking Ahead
    Tuesday: Before the start of the playoffs on Wednesday, the most meaningful night of April for this season’s worst teams is Tuesday — when the NHL Draft Lottery is conducted in Toronto.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Person Of Interest

    The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami said of the Warriors Owner Joe Lacob’s interest in the A’s, “If you think you can get the stadium situation settled, in the East Bay without going against those Giants territorial rights … (and) you put those things together and you just want to be part of that fraternity, you want to get a piece of that huge pie that's growing more and more every year, the digital media rights, all of these things are exploding” ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/9).

    PLANNING COMMITTEE: Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts said of selling shares in the team, “Most baseball teams have several dozen limited partners. I think if we can find a handful of guys that are great partners and value added people in the organization that'd be the best answer for us. But it's really early. We don't know how exactly it's all going to go down or what the plan is. But we do know that we've got to start planning for it” ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 4/10).

    GAME BOY: TBS’ Conan O'Brien, who last week played a video game on the big screen at AT&T Stadium: "I highly recommend that all of you watching go out and rent an NFL stadium, clear it of all personnel and play videogames on the giant Diamond Vision screen. If you can't afford that, you could try getting a basketball arena. I wouldn't go smaller than a basketball arena" ("Conan," TBS, 4/10).

  • 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.


    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.


    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
    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
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