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Volume 24 No. 156

Events and Attractions

Secondary market prices for tonight's MLB State Farm Home Run Derby and tomorrow's All-Star Game have fallen precipitously over the last two weeks, but remain far stronger than last year's event in Phoenix. According to N.Y.-based ticket aggregator TiqIQ, average listing prices for tonight's Home Run Derby are $337, down 30% from late last month. And, as of yesterday, average listings for tomorrow's All-Star Game are currently at $606 per ticket, down 35% in a similar time frame. But with less available inventory compared to last year and demand heightened due to a variety of factors, prices remain far higher than '11 when All-Star Game tickets were listed at less than $300 at a similar time before the game, and Home Run Derby tickets could easily be obtained below face value. Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby will again feature on-field tweeting and posting on Facebook from Derby participants and other All-Star players during the event. Introduced last year, the on-field tweeting and posting are part an overall league effort to heighten social media involvement during the All-Star Game events. As was the case at Chase Field, Kauffman Stadium will be outfitted with social media stations with laptops, tablets, cameras and personnel assistance. "Our research has shown over and over that fans want as much connection with their favorite players as possible. So we're trying to foster that deeper connection anywhere we can," said MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan.

THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT: Yesterday's SiriusXM Futures Game in K.C., featuring minor-league all-stars, drew a sellout crowd of 40,095 at Kauffman Stadium, believed to be a record for the 12-year-old event. The turnout builds meaningfully upon a draw of 37,012 at Chase Field a year ago. As little as two years ago, the game was by far the least attended of any All-Star event and rarely filled more than half of the host ballpark. The host Royals had three of their prospects in yesterday's game.

While there are certainly areas in which F1 has “shown other sports how it is done," this past weekend's British Grand Prix "was probably not one of them,” according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. When the rain fell in "copious quantities on Thursday night and Friday morning, Silverstone was just not equipped to cope." The campsites "flooded, campervans were turned away, the traffic management system went down the drain. Unlike the rainwater.” Organizers “strongly advised” 30,000 fans to skip qualifying on Saturday while Silverstone officials “desperately scrambled to extricate themselves from their muddy predicament.” Yesterday’s race at Silverstone saw “a full house numbering somewhere in the region of 125,000.” In many respects, the track "deserves praise for the way in which it recovered." Silverstone Managing Dir Richard Phillips said, “There is plenty to reflect upon. We need to put more roadways in, we need to sort out the campsites, we have learned that the park and ride has been a massive success and we can build on that” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/9).

: In London, Kevin Eason writes fans endured “some of the most atrocious weather in the history of this most historic of Formula One grands prix." Not since the "first grand prix of the modern era, at Silverstone in 1950, could anyone remember such awful weather.” Mercedes Motorsport VP Norbert Haug said, “They are the best fans in the world. They have taken everything -- the rain, the cold -- and they still came in their thousands.” Eason notes, “Many of the 40,000 spectators on campsites stayed on to stage impromptu parties last night, hoping to get away early this morning without fear of being stuck in traffic jams.” But Silverstone will be “counting the cost this week as executives organise refunds for the fans trapped in those jams who missed practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.” Bringing in “extra machinery and hardcore, plus paying staff to work around the clock, is thought to have cost Silverstone as much as” $6.2M (all figures U.S.) (LONDON TIMES, 7/9). F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said, “I feel sorry for the fans, to be honest. You can’t blame anyone -- it’s the weather.” He added, “For the people of Silverstone, what could they have done? They probably couldn’t predict the rain” (LONDON TIMES, 7/7). The TELEGRAPH’s Cary wrote Silverstone’s reputation “has once again been severely bruised” as a result of the “chaotic scenes” Friday. Ecclestone's decision to "offer sympathy rather than criticism was by far the biggest surprise of the day” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/7). But Phillips "insists he will stay on as Silverstone's managing director with the circuit preparing to count the cost" from the rain-hit weekend (London DAILY MAIL, 7/9).

HELP ON THE WAY? REUTERS' Keith Weir notes Silverstone's owners "want to lease" the track's 760 acres in a deal that "could be worth" up to $388M. Phillips said that an "injection of cash for the circuit, owned by British Racing Drivers' Club, would help." Phillips: "We are a private grand prix, a private circuit and we have to do a lot out of our own pocket." Phillips cautioned that "it had to be the right people to help develop the circuit" (REUTERS, 7/9).

Andy Murray may have "missed out on the Wimbledon men's singles title, but British tennis will still hope to cash in on the feel-good factor generated by his run to the final," according to Matt Scott of the London TELEGRAPH. The Lawn Tennis Association, the sport's U.K. governing body, earns an estimated US$38.77M per year "from its five-year title sponsorship with the financial services company Aegon." That agreement "expires at the end of next year and the LTA will now enter renewal negotiations buttressed by an unprecedented level of interest in the sport." Even if Aegon "does not choose to extend its sponsorship with the LTA, Andy Murray's fine form widens the potential interest in British tennis, bringing competitive tension to the negotiations." LTA CEO Roger Draper said that the interest "sparked by Murray's performances might provide a boost to participation in this country" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/9).

A LONG TIME COMING: In a special for USA TODAY, Chris Oddo writes, "Aided by the use of pregerminated seeds, modern grow covers and hopefully cooperation from Mother Nature, the storied lawns of Wimbledon -- in all their iconic, green glory -- will be ready to impress the world when Olympic tennis begins July 28." Wimbledon head groundskeepers Eddie Seaward and Neil Stubley have been "preparing for the Olympic challenge for years, vigorously experimenting on the practice courts, mixing seeds and techniques, comparing notes and compiling a growing list of methodologies, noting those that do and do not work." Stubley said, "What we've done over the last two years is taken pairs of courts and done different trials on them immediately after Wimbledon, when they're worn" (USA TODAY, 7/9).

GETTING CLOSURE: Early in the third set of the Wimbledon men’s singles final, it started to rain and the grounds crew quickly covered the court and the roof was closed. ESPN’s Chris Fowler said, “There have been some very scrutinized, controversial decisions throughout these championships about when, and when they don’t, use the roof.” ESPN’s John McEnroe said, “That’s a great point. ... To me personally, it would be a magnificent way to end it.” Fowler noted that there have been 13 days of play and the men’s final was the “15th stoppage” due to weather ("Wimbledon," ESPN, 7/8).

HOT TICKET: In London, Jack Malvern writes each of the inhabitants in the Royal Box at the Wimbledon men's final yesterday "had his or her own way of cheering on Andy Murray." Among those in the box were Princess Kate, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson, MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham and his wife Victoria. The Royal Box was "so filled with cousins of the Queen, politicians and former Wimbledon champions" that many celebs had to sit in the public areas. Among those kept out of the Royal Box were EPL club Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, singer Cliff Richard, actors Stephen Fry and Jude Law, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and free agent German MF Michael Ballack. Princess Kate's sister, Pippa Middleton, applauded from the Royal Box while parents Michael and Carole were in the public area (LONDON TIMES, 7/9). ESPN Exec Chair George Bodenheimer made it into the royal box, sitting behind Kate and Pippa (THE DAILY).