Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is trying to "transform his holdings into a major sports and entertainment marketing operation," and he has hired former Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins to "run the yet-to-be-named company," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The company's mission will be to "bring together and expand Ross's entertainment assets." Higgins on Monday said that the venture will "focus on acquiring and developing new entertainment content, running events and using technology to enhance the fan experience." By moving into the sports marketing and event businesses, Ross "becomes the latest owner to try to use his franchises as a platform for building a broader business." Ross in '10 "acquired FanVision, a technology that gives fans at sporting events instant replays and data throughout a game." He has "tried to sell it throughout the sports industry" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/1).
For the second time in club history and for the "first time to commemorate a World Series championship, the Cardinals' 2011 title rings will feature their distinctive bird-on-a-bat logo," according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said that the team has "finalized the design of the championship rings and that the manufacturer, Jostens, is in the process of acquiring stones and constructing the rings." The top of the ring will "feature a solo bird on a bat, with the bird crafted out of faceted rubies." DeWitt said that the bird will be "outlined in yellow gold and perched on a bat made of yellow gold, but the rest of the ring will be white gold." DeWitt also said that one side panel of the ring will "feature the number '11' made out of rubies to signify the 11th championship in club history." He said that the other panel will have the team's "interlocking 'STL' logo in rubies." And he added that Busch Stadium's Musial Bridge motif will be "featured in relief on the ring, and there will be room for the player's name on one side." The rings will be "presented to players on April 14 at Busch Stadium during a ceremony before the second home game of the regular season." All of the players who appeared in the majors with the Cardinals last season "will receive a ring, as will all of the team's living Hall of Fame players and other team officials." There are "several versions of the ring, with the same general design, that will also be presented to club employees" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/1).
Darrell Bailey, an 11-year Clippers season-ticket holder who goes by the nickname "Clipper Darrell," yesterday on his website announced that the team “has asked him to refrain from using the name,” according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A. The Clippers issued “a harshly-worded statement in response to Bailey's claims on Wednesday.” The statement read in part, “The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. … We have had multiple conversations with him concerning his inappropriate use of the Clippers' team name and trademark for his own unmonitored commercial gain.” The statement continued, “We hold all of our fans in the highest esteem and we have been patient and generous with Mr. Bailey. He has not returned our support in an honorable way. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers.” Markazi noted this “isn't the first time Bailey and the team have butted heads.” Bailey has often “complained about the team holding him back and preventing him from securing endorsement deals while the team has been upset that he has sold merchandise and booked public appearances on his website using the Clippers name for years.” Bailey's profile has “increased recently with the success” of the team (ESPNLA.com, 2/29). MEDIABISTRO.com’s Marcus Vanderberg noted last week Clippers Senior VP/Marketing & Sales Carl Lahr informed Bailey that the organization "didn’t need him doing stories or speaking to the media on behalf of the team." Bailey said that the team “offered him an additional free season ticket if he dropped the Clipper nickname.” Bailey said, “That’s when everything went haywire and they said I was trying to make money off sponsorships. If people are going to pay me to do some things, why not do it? I don’t see any harm in it as long as I’m not hurting the brand itself. I’m going to high schools, charity events, I do it all.” Vanderberg noted at Tuesday night’s game against the T’Wolves, “instead of wearing his customary red and blue suit, Bailey wore all black” (MEDIABISTRO.com, 2/29).
SUPPORT SYSTEM: CBSSPORTS.com’s Royce Young wrote Bailey is “the most visible, most loyal, most supportive” Clippers fan there is. He has been “a fixture at home games for the last 15 seasons.” Bailey on his blog wrote, “I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell. … I have been a season ticket holder for over a decade and a FAN for over 15 years.” Young wrote the Clippers “have never had a problem with this over the last 15 years, but now that they're good and relevant, they do?” Bailey was “selling Clipper Darrell merchandise such as wristbands and shirts,” and the Clippers “weren't willing to just let Darrell keep on with it” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/29).
In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford notes there was a "high level of frustration within the fan base when the Blues were unable to make any moves by Monday's trading deadline, mostly because of the team being for sale." But Blues President of Hockey Operations John Davidson "insists the ownership issues haven't affected the club's mindset." He said, "We have a budget and we adhere to the budget. The ownership part doesn't even reflect on hockey operations. Our players, our coaches, our management, we've just cared about that. If and when that type of thing gets done, that's awesome. But right now, there are no issues." Davidson added that the Blues' decision to "stand pat at the deadline, in part, had to do with maintaining the makeup of the roster" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/1).
FOCUSING ON THE TEAM: An L.A. TIMES editorial stated Dodgers fans are "already grousing that they won't go to the games or park" in the parking lots if outgoing team Owner Frank McCourt keeps them. But the editorial stated it is "important to stay focused on the main issue: to get the team under new, healthier management." The editorial: "For the fans, this shouldn't be about the real estate, it should be about the game." If McCourt can "effect a sale to an MLB-approved buyer without giving up the parking lots, good for him." But if every bidder is going to "walk away from the negotiating table because the land around the stadium isn't in play, or if the only bidders who will agree to buy the team without the lots can't survive MLB's scrutiny, then it's time for McCourt to reevaluate his selling terms" (L.A. TIMES, 2/29).
PLAN B: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton notes the "longer the feud grinds on" between the A's and the Giants over the A's attempt to relocate, the "more you wonder if the A's owners will simply give up and sell the team." They have "tried so hard to leave Oakland, they've alienated an already small fan base." But if MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "upholds the Giants' territorial rights and blocks an A's move to San Jose, Sacramento could rejoin the conversation." It is "just a pipe dream now, but if the A's are prevented from moving to San Jose," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "should pick up the phone" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/1).
CRACKING DOWN: In Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz wrote in part "because of the smoke bombs and a few obscenity bombs Dynamo supporters dropped during the playoffs, Major League Soccer has sanctioned the Dynamo’s supporter groups and withdrawn some exceptions MLS usually makes for supporters groups." Ortiz: "I’m all for having fun, but there’s no need for obscene language and gestures at soccer games. Knowing that the majority of the Dynamo supporters are classy individuals, I’m sure they’ll regain their rights in time. For now, though, it’s hard to argue with MLS’s decision" (CHRON.com, 2/27).