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Volume 20 No. 41
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Return of football could be part of Fenway Park anniversary

Terry Lefton
Other than 86 years between championships, Fenway Park had the misfortune of hosting its first official Red Sox game in 1912 in the same week that the Titanic sank. Accordingly, news of the ballpark’s new wonders was buried in local papers.

Sam Kennedy announced the 2012 “Frozen Fenway” hockey date last week, one event being planned for the centennial.
Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy is hoping for a somewhat splashier celebration of Fenway’s centennial next year with a variety of events being planned, including a Jan. 7 “Frozen Fenway” college hockey doubleheader, an anniversary gala next spring and possibly football. Fenway hasn’t hosted a pro football game since 1968 when the Patriots left for the ’burbs in Foxboro, and hasn’t hosted college football since Boston College left in 1946.

Kennedy said the sponsorship sales approach will be to tie sponsors to individual events, rather than sell one yearlong anniversary sponsor. “There’s incremental events, so there’s incremental revenue opportunities,” he said, “but this is much less about revenue and much more about celebration.”

STAR POWER: Coordinating talent for a commercial shoot can often be the most daunting part of the creative process. Imagine how many handlers it takes to coordinate nine Heisman Trophy winners for a production. Sources tell us that is how many assembled recently in New Orleans for Nissan House of Heisman branded-content vignettes as part of Nissan’s sponsorship of ABC’s college football schedule. Included in the Big Easy shoot were nearly enough Heisman winners to field a starting 11: Marcus Allen, Doug Flutie, Vinny Testaverde, Tim Brown, Barry Sanders, Charlie Ward, Eddie George, Troy Smith and Mark Ingram.

INSURING VISIBILITY: After last week’s MetLife Stadium naming-rights deal at the New Meadowlands Stadium and USAA joining the NFL‘s roster of corporate patrons, it is no surprise that more insurance brands are piling on. New York Life is buttressing its year-old “Protection Index,” a measure of pass protection proficiency formulated in cooperation with Stats LLC, by adding team sponsorship deals with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. New York Life will spread the word on the index through electronic and social media, including the Colts’ “Protection Index Score Game” on Facebook that allows fans the opportunity to predict the Colts’ score in the Protection Index each week. Peter Stern’s Strategic agency, New York, represents New York Life.

Bart Starr (left) and Roger Staubach, shown in 2006, are among the legends in Allstate’s “Hometown Heroes” program.
Meanwhile, Allstate is looking to slice off some NFL equity through a three-year sponsorship of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a platform through which it will launch a “Hometown Heroes” program honoring HOFers including Howie Long, who serves as a spokesman for the program. Others featured include Sanders, Joe Namath, Chuck Noll, Bart Starr, Sonny Jurgensen, John Madden, Walter Payton, Roger Staubach and George Halas.

“This fits well with our mission to get our Hall of Famers out of the building and to their fans,” said George Veras, president of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises.

As part of the deal, Allstate will also take the lead sponsorship of the Hall of Fame selection show on NFL Network the day before the Super Bowl. Van Heusen was last year’s HOF selection show presenting sponsor.

Considering that Long appeared in so many ads for Chevrolet and that former GM marketer Mark LaNeve is now Allstate CMO, this also could portend a broader marketing relationship for Long with the insurer.

COMINGS & GOINGS: After quietly selling media for NBC’s late-night “Poker After Dark” series for a year, Scott Becher has parlayed it into a new game of chance. He is now senior vice president of partnership marketing for Federated Sports & Gaming’s new five-tournament Epic Poker League, where former World Series of Poker Commish Jeffrey Pollack is CEO. The “other EPL” started play in Las Vegas in August and will continue through next May, with seven hours on CBS beginning Oct. 8 and 13 hours on the Discovery Channel’s new Velocity network starting Sept. 30. “Building a sports league from scratch is an opportunity I could not resist,” said Becher, who’s seeking a presenting sponsor for the league for low seven figures and other top-level sponsors for mid-to-high six figures. … Amos Dylan Varon moves to MSG, New York, as director of sports sales, reporting to Todd Melfi, the new vice president of sports sales. Varon worked for Brett Yormark at NASCAR and the New Jersey Nets for a total of seven years. … Former NBAer Brian Mieth is now vice president, new business development at integrated marketing agency Peppercorn. Mieth was vice president, sports marketing at corporate barter specialist Icon International.

Terry Lefton can be reached at