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A big bouncing bowl season

The Bowl Business

Last week, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff may have best summarized the reaction to the BCS hearings before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee: "With an ongoing war in Iraq, thousands of Katrina evacuees still in need of homes, millions of Americans without health insurance, the potential for an avian flu pandemic, soaring home heating costs, and an $8.12 trillion debt, Congress held a hearing on the best way to pick a college football champion." This was written by Rick Harrow and appeared at SportsLine.com

This next week, the Wyndham New Orleans Bowl pits Arkansas State against Southern Mississippi. The game, moved to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Cajun Field, ushers in the 2005-06 bowl season - 28 bowl games over a 16-day period ending with the crowning of this year's "undisputed" national champion at the Rose Bowl on January 4 in Pasadena.

The business facts have remained fairly constant over the past five years.

The 28 bowls have a payout of a record $193.1 million, up about four percent from 2004.

The first 23 bowls have an average payout approximately $1.35 million per team; the Capital One Bowl in Orlando has a $5.3 million payout for 9-3 Wisconsin and 9-2 Auburn.

The four Bowl Championship Series games on January 2-4 have a payout of $18.3 million per team for the Tostitos Fiesta, Nokia Sugar, and FedEx Orange - and $14.8 million per team for Texas and Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Quite a difference from the $750,000 NCAA mandated minimum payout per team for the first seven bowls of the season.

Overall, 11 of the 28 bowls pay this minimum. In these cases, the schools recoup their expense dollars. Their real compensation is the exposure gained from their fleeting bowl "moment in the sun."

The projected payout for each conference breaks down like this:

Big Ten 7 bowl teams; $35 million SEC 6 bowl teams; $32.5 million Big Twelve 8 bowl teams; $25 million Pac-10 5 bowl teams; $19.9 million

The 56 teams continue to inspire statistical mediocrity. Thirteen of the 56 teams have 6-5 records (the same as last year). The combined record of all bowl participants is 438-190 (eight more cumulative losses than last year). Interestingly, however, there have been three teams who have gone to bowls with losing records - 5-6 Troy State in 2001; 4-6 SMU in 1963; and 5-6 William & Mary in 1970. The first time a top 25 team appears in a bowl is Clemson (7-4) seven days into the season on December 27 at the Champs Sports Bowl. The first time a top 10 team appears in a bowl is sixth ranked Oregon (10-1) at the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl - the 13th game of the bowl season.

This year continues a period of relative corporate stability. Twenty-five of the bowls have some corporate or public sector name attached. Only the Ft. Worth, Poinsettia (the new bowl in San Diego on December 22), and the Independence Bowls do not have a public or corporate name. That bowl in Shreveport has operated with a $375,000 annual grant through the Louisiana Economic Development Fund, with an additional $100,000 provided by the City of Shreveport. The bowl has been the "granddaddy of the name game" - played in the mid-90's as the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl through 1997. Sanford and MainStay sponsored the game through 2003, and the public sector has provided a bridge loan until a new sponsor is found - especially in post-Katrina Louisiana.

States hosting bowls breaks down like this: Texas and Florida lead the bowl race with five games each; California follows with four. Louisiana, Georgia, Arizona, and Tennessee host two each. North Carolina, Michigan, Hawaii, Nevada, Alabama, and - unbelievably - Idaho, host one game a piece.

The sponsorship has been relatively stable. Only the Silicon Valley Bowl was cut from the 28-bowl roster of last year. From a sponsor perspective, PlainsCapital terminated its deal with the Ft. Worth Bowl; and Continental Tire ended its relationship with the bowl game in Charlotte, replaced by Meineke Car Care - hosting the December 31 bowl between 6-5 North Carolina State and 6-5 South Florida.

Nine sponsors have effectively "taken over" the brand of their respective bowls. Outback, GMAC, Motor City, Insight, MPC Computers, and Meineke Car Care are the corporations that have maximum exposure in this category.

THE CATEGORIES OF "CORPORATE AMERICA'S NAME GAME" BREAK DOWN LIKE THIS:

The communications/computers category leads the way with six bowls:

Nokia Sugar Bowl Insight Bowl Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl MPC Computers Bowl EV1.net Houston Bowl SBC Cotton Bowl (the recent SBC acquisition of AT&T means that the game will be renamed the AT&T Cotton Bowl)

The automotive supplier category is close behind with five bowls:

Toyota Gator Bowl Motor City Bowl Meineke Car Care Bowl GMAC Bowl AutoZone Liberty Bowl

The finance category is close behind with four bowls:

Capital One Bowl Master Card Alamo Bowl Pacific Life Holiday Bowl GMAC Bowl

The food and beverage category is next with four:

Emerald Bowl (began as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl; Diamond CEO Michael Mendes says the company was "not going to be offensive with the sponsorship," and a year later changed the name to the Emerald Bowl) Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Outback Bowl

The hotel category is represented with three bowls:

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Wyndham New Orleans Bowl Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

The sports retail industry is represented with one:

Champs Sports Bowl

The hair care category has one as well:

Vitalis Sun Bowl

The service express industry has one bowl as well:

FedEx Orange Bowl

ARE THERE TOO MANY BOWLS?

Absolutely not. Cynics argue that the "niche bowls" serve little "useful purpose," pointing to the fact that attendance at certain bowls dropped significantly (and the Silicon Valley Bowl has been eliminated altogether). These cynics ignore the big picture, however.

First, the 28 bowls produce 56 schools with an opportunity to participate in the post-season at a significant level. Overall, 48 percent of the teams have the privilege of participating in post-season bowl games, a far greater percentage than the approximately 20 percent that are selected in the NCAA championships in other sports (22 percent in baseball; 20 percent in men's and women's basketball; and 24 percent in men's soccer). Even though the 13 6-5 teams will never win a national championship, they earn the opportunity to participate after a "winning" season.

Second, as for television, the ABC/ESPN family of networks are televising 25 of the 28 games. According to Scarborough research, adult bowl game viewers are among the most prolific buyers - they are 33 percent more likely to have mutual funds, 28 percent more likely to have a money market account, and 20 percent more likely to bank online. From this perspective, relatively insignificant television ratings go a long way toward satisfying the networks and Corporate America. Given this, get set for over 110 hours of bowl coverage this year.

Third, as for Corporate America, Joyce Julius & Associates research reveals that the recall of bowl titles is one of the most successful corporate investments through a sports calendar year. In addition, the local and national exposure over the period leading up to the bowls is substantial for Corporate America. Two years ago, Tostitos enjoyed $76.6 million worth of exposure as part of the national championship Fiesta Bowl (easily justifying its six-year, $30 million deal as a bowl sponsor). This year's relative stability speaks to this point -- 25 corporations have spent substantial dollars to lend their name to a bowl game and week of festivities. Corporate America is spending at least $7.2 billion to pay for officials sports tie-ins, with bowl titles potentially the most efficient and effective of all.

Fourth, the economic impact for regions and cities is most significant. The impact of the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses parade is expected to exceed $225 million according to a study by the Anderson School of Management by UCLA. The 27 other regions experience at least a $50-$60 million impact from the week-long festivities. The U.S. vacation and leisure travel market exceeded $115 billion last year, the highest since September 11, and the bowl experience seems to attract more visitors than ever before.

Clearly, the cries of "oversaturation" fall on deaf ears in most bowl hosting cities around the country. In fact, Denver, Miami, Indianapolis, Birmingham, New York, Toronto, and St. Louis have discussed the possibility of applying for another bowl of their own in the coming years. As for the mediocrity, 64 teams were "bowl eligible" this year with the requisite six wins and a better than 500 record. With an expanded 12-game season next year, look for a number of 6-6 teams that may make it to the bowl season in 2006-07. Purists will cry even louder, but more teams will continue to enjoy the experience. Happy bowl season. This was written by Rick Harrow and appeared at SportsLine.com

Super Bowl XL,no ticket, don't bother heading downtown

Hey, metro Detroiters: During Super Bowl week, come downtown, enjoy the Motown Winter Blast and take in the NFL Experience. This report was written by Amber Hunt Martin and appeared in The Detroit Free Press.

Any day but Sunday.

That was the message Wednesday from the Super Bowl Host Committee to people who think they should come to downtown Detroit during game time. Non-ticket-holders, committee members say, might as well hit their traditional game day parties instead of clogging downtown on Feb. 5.

The reasons? Motorists will have a tough time getting around town, and security near Ford Field will be tight. Winter Blast and the NFL Experience will be closing up shop before game time. Most downtown businesses and bars will be booked with private parties.

So, unless your idea of a good time is being stuck in your car nowhere near Ford Field, stay away.

"You could get stuck in a logjam," said Susan Sherer, executive director of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee. "Come when the entertainment is."

Sherer and other members of the host committee updated the media Wednesday on various aspects of Super Bowl planning. Here's a sampling of what's in store.

Getting around

If you think it's tough navigating downtown on a typical Lions game day, just wait until thousands of out-of-towners are driving the wrong way down Brush Street.

Those who live downtown will have to grin and bear it, but there will be extra public transportation for folks wanting to hop from one Super Bowl event to the next.

Several park-and-ride stations, where you can catch a bus from one venue to another, will be scattered throughout downtown. The locations are still sketchy, though Tim Roseboom of the Detroit Department of Transportation said one of the sites will be near Wayne State University.

Meanwhile, DDOT will sell single-day and four-day commemorative bus passes for the events, and the People Mover will have extended hours.

Tim McCarthy, president of Commuter Express and Checker Cab, also said hundreds of sedans, limousines and taxicabs will inundate the city.

And for those worried that Detroit taxicab drivers might rub tourists the wrong way, don't fret: They'll undergo hospitality training.

Security not final

OK, so the committee hasn't released many details when it comes to security. And some will remain under wraps until the last minute. (For security reasons, duh.)

Police say they expect to focus their heaviest patrolling on four downtown areas -- the Renaissance Center, Cobo, the Winter Blast and Ford Field. City police will be working with State Police, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office and the Michigan Department of Transportation to keep the peace.

Many of the details aren't finalized, said Marc Koretzky, the host committee's director of operations.

"Ninety-five percent of the plans will be complete in January," he said -- including the outlines of a perimeter to be set up around Ford Field for extra security. You'll need a ticket to get inside that line.

O, Canada

If Detroit plays leading man in Super Bowl XL, Windsor's got the supporting role.

"It's all about the international experience," said Bill Baker, senior project development and policy adviser in Windsor.

He said Windsor has its own Super Bowl committees working on ways to "showcase our two-nation destination."

Buses will shuttle Windsor folks from their downtown to ours. The city will host an exhibit at Art Gallery of Windsor celebrating 40 years of football. There also will be an ice festival during the week.

Since tailgaters won't be able to get near Ford Field, Windsor's planning its own tailgate party. The Downtown Windsor Tailgate Party will be held Feb. 3-5 at Dieppe Gardens along the Detroit River.

Let it snow?

Earlier suggestions that Windsor would loan Detroit snow-removal equipment if a big storm hits have hit a snag.

"There's a good chance if it's snowing in Detroit, it's snowing in Windsor," Baker said with a laugh.

But Pat Hogan of the snow-removal subcommittee said Detroit is prepared for the worst, weather-wise.

MDOT is working with Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, as well as Detroit and Windsor officials, to keep tabs on the weather and pull out the big snow-removing guns, if needed.

"We're confident we're as prepared as we can be for winter weather on Super Bowl week," Hogan said.

Have a blast

The second Motown Winter Blast -- Detroit's insistence that having fun in the bitter cold is a good thing -- will nearly triple in size from last year, said organizer Steve Facione.

Initially, the outdoor street blast was planned to hug Campus Martius Park, as it did last year. Now, it'll extend north on Woodward to Grand Circus Park and east on Monroe, bringing it closer to the game site. About 400,000 people are expected to listen to outdoor music, glide down an expanded snow slide and peruse an artists marketplace Feb. 2-5.

The NFL Experience, meanwhile, will begin Feb. 1 at Cobo Center. The interactive theme park will feature games, displays, kids clinics, free autograph sessions and a huge football card show.

Plenty more is planned -- even some events not related to football -- in metro Detroit and Windsor that week. For details, go to www.sbxl.org and click on "events." This report was written by Amber Hunt Martin and appeared in The Detroit Free Press.

The Breeders Latest

Starcraft, the New Zealand-bred Australian champion, got acquainted with the paddock at Belmont Park this week, and Azamour, the winner of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in England, arrived from Ireland. They are among the more than 100 horses at Belmont for the 22nd running of the Breeders' Cup, which horse aficionados like to think of as the Super Bowl of horse racing. This report was written by Joe Drape and appeared in The New York Times

There is no disputing that the annual afternoon of eight races, with a total purse of more than $14 million, brings together the best horses from around the world and has been a success within the industry. In its inaugural year, 1984, at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., more than $19.4 million was bet worldwide; last year, when it was at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Tex., more than $120 million was wagered.

Still, its marketers have struggled to make that Super Bowl metaphor resonate to a broader audience. The event has not come close to drawing the more than 100,000 people who attend the Kentucky Derby, and its television ratings have never approached those of the Triple Crown races. In fact, the most-watched Breeders' Cup telecast was its first, and its least watched was last year.

"Well, the Derby and the Triple Crown have a hundred years on us and a better spot on the sports calendar," said D. G. Van Clief Jr., president of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "But there has been an inside-the-Beltway feel to the Breeders' Cup because the championship nature of the event gets lost because there are eight different races for eight different divisions."

The Breeders' Cup offers an opportunity at a $1 million purse for trainers like Jimmy Toner, whose specialty is preparing fillies and mares to run route distances on the turf, but its inclusiveness and international impact confuses casual race fans conditioned to watching 3-year-old horses compete in the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes over the span of five weeks in the spring.

"The Filly & Mare Turf keeps me in business," said Toner, who will saddle Wonder Again in the mile-and-a-quarter grass race, which he won in 1999 with Soaring Softly.

In addition to drawing stiff competition for viewers from the World Series and college football, the event's autumn date poses a challenge for horsemen.

"The nature of the game is that after a long year, horses are going to get injured or tired and not be in shape for a season-ending championship," said the trainer Todd Pletcher, who will have eight horses competing in four races. "The name horses that casual fans know, the Derby and Preakness and Belmont winners like Giacomo and Afleet Alex, are not here. So it loses some buzz."

The Breeders' Cup registers as a big event in Europe, however, especially in England and Ireland, where horse racing is more ingrained in the culture. Some 64 European journalists have received credentials for the Breeders' Cup, and the races will be shown live in England on a subscription television station and in France on a simulcast network.

"It is extremely popular, so much so that we have horses who have never run on dirt before, which is an impossible task, attempting to take on the Americans in the Classic," said the trainer of Azamour, John Oxx, an Irishman who won the Breeders' Cup Mile in 1995 with Ridgewood Pearl.

Starcraft, the Irish-bred Oratorio and the England-based Jack Sullivan will run on the dirt in the mile-and-a-quarter Classic, but Oxx will not run his colt in the race. Azamour will stay on the grass in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf race.

"These are races trainers over here point a horse to and that people here watch because of the international competition," Oxx said.

Van Clief said he believed that the Breeders' Cup would receive a boost next year, when it begins a seven-year multimedia deal with ESPN, which has promised increased promotion and a seven-hour telecast, two more hours than it has with NBC, its current home. It means ESPN will carry 140 hours of horse racing.

Len DeLuca, senior vice president for programming for ESPN, said the network's research showed horse racing had a vast potential for growth. He said the average number of viewers for its horse racing programming had increased to 326,000 a telecast this year from 264,000 in 2001.

The deal includes the rights for coverage via ESPN's international and foreign-language networks and its broadband and cellphone services.

"We can promote this with the horse racing we already have, across platforms, and promote it all year round and create a presence that it's never had as the Super Bowl of thoroughbred racing," DeLuca said. "We can do what insiders already know, tell the general fan that this is a big event, a championship, the culmination of a season." This report was written by Joe Drape and appeared in The New York Times

The Golden Tickets

It sounded like a sure-fire way to get World Series tickets: Sign up for 2006 season tickets, and the Golden Tickets would be yours. This report was written by Dave Newbart and appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times.

But due to an "overwhelming'' response to the promotion, which ended Tuesday, the Sox will not be able to guarantee World Series tickets to every fan who tried to sign up for the offer, even if they applied before the Tuesday afternoon deadline.

"The demand will exceed the supply we have,'' said Scott Reifert, Sox spokesman. Several thousand fans attempted to secure the offer.

Reifert said Sox sales staff will contact fans by noon Friday if the team can process their orders and provide them World Series tickets. Orders will be filled based on when Sox fans got their orders in.

Monday night, Patrick Caraher, of Munster, Ind., signed up online to pay more than $2,000 for two lower-deck season tickets -- and tickets to all four home World Series games. Or at least he thought. As of Wednesday evening, he still hadn't heard whether he will get them.

"I've been on pins and needles the last couple of days,'' he said. "It's driving me crazy.'' This report was written by Dave Newbart and appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times.

Legally Reselling Tickets Finally

Ticket scalping long has been a shady business involving quick transactions out of the sight of the cops.

Those kinds of tactics are no longer necessary, thanks to a change in state law. Street-level scalping can now take place in broad daylight. This report was written by T.J. PIGNATARO and appeared in the BUffalo News.

A new amendment to state law permits people to resell tickets with up to a 45 percent increase over face value outside sporting events and concerts in venues with more than 6,000 seats, as long as they're sold more than 1,500 feet away from the building.

Scalpers and fans alike outside Ralph Wilson Stadium and HSBC Arena welcome the change.

"The fact that it's legal now, . . . probably helps the customer more," said John Wilson of Rochester, who was thrilled to pick up a pair of 100-level tickets to Monday's Sabres game against Pittsburgh for $7 apiece, about the time the two teams faced off.

Others who paid above face value for their Bills tickets to Sunday's sold-out game against the Miami Dolphins also felt comfortable with the repeal of the old law that prohibited the resale of tickets for more than two dollars above face value.

"I really wanted to go to the game, and I just came here and got a ticket. For $10 extra, I got good seats," said Tom Dietrich of the Town of Tonawanda, who fetched a ticket for a seat on the Bills side of the field, on the 20-yard line about 18 rows in.

Fellow Bills fans Rob Lasky and Eric Harrington, both of North Tonawanda, said they support the change.

"If you're willing to pay the money, why is it wrong?" asked Harrington, a season ticket holder.

The amended law was put together by legislators angling for better enforcement against illegal sales of tickets for New York City theater companies, according to Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga.

A couple of years ago, Tokasz said, many of the choicest seats to highly acclaimed Broadway productions were being purchased by box office personnel, who sold them to scalpers on the black market. Most of those venues have a capacity of less than 6,000. "Part of it was that local district attorney's offices or the attorney general's office and local police departments quite honestly had better things to do," Tokasz said. "And, part of it was to realistically put a statute in place that was a lot more enforceable."

The amended law, he said, provides greater controls on licensing both in-state and out-of-state ticket brokers and opens the street-level sale of tickets to market prices, to increase supply. "The previous law was not well-enforced," added Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo.

All major sports teams in New York State were consulted on the change, Hoyt said.

"We didn't receive any negative feedback at all," Hoyt said. "That gave me some confidence."

Change angers Bills

Locally, however, the Bills are angered by the change, and the Sabres say fans should be purchasing their tickets from the box office.

"We think it's an awful idea," according to a statement by the Bills.

"We feel we, the average fan and the public are all being cheated. Just follow the money. The markup does not go to the team to add to the fan experience - all of which hurts the average fan and the public."

The team said allowing up to a 45 percent markup encourages scalpers to circumvent the box office at the team's expense.

"These entities have no investment in the game-day experience. They don't provide parking, security, ushers, restrooms or the team. Yet, if they play their cards right, they could yield more revenue on a given ticket than we do," the statement said.

"If the team attempted to charge these prices, it would be considered "gouging the consumer.' Consequently, what we are beginning to see is that the legitimate marketplace is restricted and the illegitimate marketplace is unrestricted."

Bills officials contend that allowing scalping will not only undercut its season ticket base but likely increase black-market ticket counterfeiting, which allows even more laws to be broken, especially those involving state sales and income tax.

"We cannot understand how this law is deemed to be "free enterprise' when many of the brokers/scalpers involved do not adhere to the restrictions of the law, do not pay taxes on these sales and do not support employment in our area," the team said in a statement.

Sabres officials say scalping is rarely an issue for the team unless it's a game against the archrival Toronto Maple Leafs.

And, those tickets resold on the street under face value - such as the pair Wilson obtained for a bargain - were already once sold at the ticket window, they say.

"For us, I don't know how much of an impact [the law] would have, because we're not sold out on a season basis," Gilbert said.

Still, Gilbert advises fans that the safest ticket is one from the box office.

"We want them to buy them from us at the box office so they know they're not getting a stolen, phony or counterfeit ticket," Gilbert said. "You know it's an honest ticket."

"When you're buying third-party tickets, we don't have any control, and you don't know what you're getting."

Many scalpers disagree.

Scalpers make their case

"When people do that, it reflects on me," said a ticket reseller who identified himself as "Greg."

Scalpers help police against counterfeit tickets, Greg said.

A 35-year veteran scalper, Greg pointed to an example during the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, when he and other scalpers turned a Syracuse man over to police for trying to peddle fake tickets to them. After investigation, police uncovered a suitcase full of the phony tickets.

Another scalper took a shot at the ticket service agencies representing the teams that assess extra charges and fees.

"That's the real "scalping,' them service fees," he said. "That's always included in the ticket price if you get it from us."

A $4 convenience fee is added to each Bills ticket purchased online through Ticketmaster and between $6.50 and $13 in convenience fees and order processing charges are assessed on each Sabres ticket bought over the Internet through tickets.com.

"Serving a need'

Street sellers insist they're just trying to earn a living. They buy people's extra tickets low and move them into the hands of those who want to go to the events, while keeping a little profit for themselves.

"We're serving a need. We save them money, and we make money," said a scalper who wouldn't give his name but carried a two-sided sign - one side for buying tickets and the other for selling - on Washington Street this week. He also objected to being called "a scalper."

"When it was illegal, it was called scalping. Now that it's legal, we're ticket resellers. This is a legal profession now," he said.

Despite the recent law change, most scalpers still refuse to reveal their names. One suggested the tax man had something to do with the desire for anonymity.

Scalpers outside Sabres games estimate they make up to $80 to $100 on an average night. There is, of course, bigger money made for games of greater consequence - and at Bills' games. One scalper admitted making as much as $900 per game during the height of the Sabres 1999 run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

"People say to us, "Get a real job,' " he said. "Well, this is a real job." This report was written by T.J. PIGNATARO and appeared in the BUffalo News.

Finally a Stadium Deal that makes Sense

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey's most enduring mission since taking office nearly 11 months ago has been the revitalization of New Jersey's Meadowlands sports complex, which was suffering from what looked like the imminent defection of four of five professional teams that play there: the Devils, the MetroStars, the Nets and the Jets. This report was written by Charles V. Bagli and appeared in The New York Times

And late Thursday afternoon, he seemed to have accomplished his mission, doing what amounts to the unthinkable in the National Football League: getting two teams - the Giants and the Jets - to commit to building a new $800 million stadium together and, in this case, to stay in New Jersey for the next 99 years.

"It's a huge win for Codey," said Paul Fader, the governor's counsel, who is involved in the negotiations, which threatened to blow up at almost any moment in the last two weeks. "Codey comes in and negotiates an agreement that locks in not only the one team that was staying, but one of the teams that was leaving. It's a tremendous coup for the governor and the state."

That may sound awfully self-serving, given that most economists are pretty skeptical about public investments in stadiums, which, they say, tend to enrich team owners, with little additional economic benefit. After all, Mr. Codey sealed the deal by promising to provide 20 acres of state-controlled land for each team's practice facilities and offices, on top of the 75 acres and $30 million worth of roadwork he had already promised.

The teams will pay a relatively modest fixed rent and cover the cost of demolishing the existing stadium. But the state government will be stuck with the remaining $100 million in debt.

But even some critics of building hugely expensive stadiums for teams that play only 10 home games a year say that this deal may make sense, when you install not one team, but both the Giants and the Jets, and integrate the stadium into Xanadu, the $2 billion shopping and entertainment center that will share the Meadowlands complex with the teams.

It might just attract millions of visitors and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, economists say, especially if it includes a retractable roof. The roof would allow the building to be used for Super Bowls, Final 4 basketball games, political conventions and concerts.

"If this does become the premier sports venue, with 80,000 seats and a retractable roof, and it's embedded in Xanadu, then it might be worth the public investment," said James Hughes, dean of Rutgers University's School of Public Planning and Public Policy.

The Jets favor a roof, and the Giants are considering one. They have already agreed to pay for the stadium, but they have not figured out yet how to finance the estimated $200 million cost of the roof. Mr. Codey said emphatically on Thursday that it would not come from public coffers.

Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist who teaches at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., had been critical of the Jets' lengthy effort to build a $2.2 billion stadium on the Far West Side of Manhattan with a direct $600 million subsidy from the city and the state.

Assuming the teams see it through, Mr. Zimbalist said, the deal in New Jersey is "a very positive outcome, from a development point of view."

In recent months, L. Jay Cross, the Jets' president, said the team was exploring all its options when it simultaneously considered building a $1.35 billion stadium in Queens as it negotiated with the Giants and the Codey administration over building a new stadium in the Meadowlands with the Giants.

But with Governor Codey refusing the Jets' request for a 60-day extension on his Thursday deadline for a deal, the team ran out of time.

"You're getting two teams to share a stadium and to be part of a broader project," Mr. Zimbalist said. "The teams will build the thing. Government is committing infrastructure and land. They're not busting up the West Side or taking precious parkland in Queens. It's the rational way to go."

But it was not easy getting the two teams to share. "It's so easy for something as complex and ego driven as this to unravel," Mr. Hughes said. "To be able to pull together all the pieces, forcing the Giants to do something and then the Jets, is absolutely extraordinary."

John Mara, a co-owner of the Giants, was reluctant to give up the team's premier position in the Meadowlands, where the stadium bears its name, and form an equal partnership with the Jets,

"It must be galling to the Giants that they are the team that stayed," said Marc Ganis, a sports business consultant based in Chicago. "They are the ones that never flirted, much less announced that they were going to leave New Jersey."

And the Jets wanted the Giants to move their practice fields and offices away from the new stadium so they would not have to feel like second-class citizens anymore.

"From Day 1," Mr. Fader said, "Woody Johnson made it clear to me that the movement of the Giants' practice facility was a deal breaker."

The Jets also wanted to continue playing out their options in Queens. Governor Cody ultimately told the team to choose; he would not extend his Thursday deadline for a deal with the Giants.

If the Jets choose Queens, he said, he would sign a deal with the Giants to build a new stadium, regardless of whether the Jets made good on their threat to sue.

It is unclear whether Mr. Johnson, the Jets' owner, was serious about Queens, or merely using it for leverage in New Jersey. He certainly wanted to go to Manhattan, spending five years and $65 million to get there.

"I don't think anybody worked harder in trying to bring the Jets to the West Side of Manhattan," Mr. Johnson said at Thursday's news conference, when asked what he had to say to Jets fans in Queens.

One person who knows Mr. Johnson said that he had no stomach for another bruising battle like the one he endured in Manhattan over the past five years.

On Tuesday, the Jets finally sat down with the governor and the Giants to negotiate, at the offices of Carl Goldberg, chairman of the sports authority, in Short Hills. With a deal in sight at a bargaining session the next day, Mr. Goldberg's staff brought out a birthday cake slathered in green and blue icing.

"It was an icebreaker," Mr. Fader said. "Mr. Mara got up and ate from the green side of the cake and Jay Cross ate from the blue side of the cake. It was a sign of coming together." This report was written by Charles V. Bagli and appeared in The New York Times

The New Crosby Show

The Penguins are such a hot ticket, they already have sold more seats for the upcoming season than for the entire season when last they played (2003-04). This report was written by Chuck Finder and appeared in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

That translates into nearly half a million tickets purchased amid the exhilaration generated by Sidney Crosby and the New Guys.

And remember: It's only mid-August.

The usual sales bumps of training camp (starting Sept. 13) and the regular season (starting Oct. 5) remain weeks away, yet the telephones in the Penguins' offices continue to ring and tickets continue to sell.

"There has never been a three-week stretch of season-ticket sales like this," stressed Tom McMillan, the Penguins' vice president for communications and marketing. "Ever."

Sure, in December 2000, when owner Mario Lemieux decided to become a player again, that spurred a rest-of-season rush that ended with an average attendance of 16,398 and 26 sellouts. Separate trades for Luc Robitaille and Sergei Zubov in the mid-1990s were major moves at the time, but virtual waiver-wire transactions by comparison now. The drafting of Jaromir Jagr, the trade for Joey Mullen and the free-agent signing of Bryan Trottier was one good week in 1990, but nothing resembling the Penguins' past three.

The sudden arrival of the world's most-heralded junior hockey player since Lemieux in Crosby, the signing of offensive All-Stars Sergei Gonchar, Ziggy Palffy and John LeClair, plus the trade for goaltender Jocelyn Thibault -- all since winning the July 22 draft lottery -- have sent Penguins season- and 20-game ticket sales into a commodities market relatively foreign to the front office.

So fast and furious have been sales to date, those seeking 10-game ticket plans have been put on hold, and single-game seats, once they go on sale Sept. 17, conceivably could be sparse.

If somebody wants to attend the Oct. 8 home opener against Boston or the Oct. 15 Tampa Bay date of the Lemieux Classic DVD giveaway (66 minutes in length), he or she may have to purchase tickets to more than one, two or 10 games.

"You structure your policy based on demand," McMillan explained.

Full-season packages are the Penguins' first sales priority, followed by 20-game plans and 10-game plans. Then come single-game seats, which go on sale Sept. 17 apparently because the NHL wants all its teams to open that business on the same day, as already advertised on the ticket-selling Web sites of Anaheim, Chicago and Los Angeles, at least.

"But, if the pace continues the way it's been going -- and you never know about paces -- there will be a very limited number of single-game tickets available for the home opener.

"And that's with two months to go before the opener. It hasn't slowed down."

Certainly, tickets are moving at a speed that already eclipsed the 475,080 sold for the Penguins' 2003-04 season, when they finished last in the standings and in attendance, their 11,877 per-game figure roughly 5,000 seats below the NHL average. On the other end of the spectrum, they could be approaching levels breaking their previous highs of 16,398 per game in 2000-01 when Lemieux returned, 16,691 when he retired in 1996-97 and 16,714 in 1993-94, a club record -- as are the 34 sellouts that season.

The Penguins might reach a 2005-06 juncture where they will have to halt all season- and 20-game ticket sales so they might withhold seats for the 10-game and single-game fans.

"I hope we get to that point," McMillan said. "Those are nice challenges to have, but we're not there yet. It's an unprecedented time, and we're riding the wave.

"The fans have never had this kind of thing, either. Who could even predict this would happen? We were just excited to have the CBA. Then to have the draft and the free agents. ... In normal circumstances, you hoped for one big offseason move. Craig [Patrick the general manager] keeps signing guys."

August is normally vacation time for Penguins ticket-buyers, who would start buying in larger numbers after Labor Day. Instead, sales started the minute after the team won the Crosby lottery at 4:30 p.m. July 22 and spike with each big addition: Gonchar, Palffy, Thibault and, just Monday, LeClair.

Sponsorships and advertising also are on an uptick, McMillan said, declining to divulge current numbers as is club policy. Ticket sales and television ratings trigger such deals, even driving prices higher, and indeed the first of those indicators appears to be going through the Mellon Arena roof.

It's quite a turnaround for a team that finished 25th, 29th and 30th in the NHL its past three seasons. Monday afternoon, following the LeClair announcement, ESPN's "Around the Horn" devoted a topic to the subject: Everybody wants to be a Penguin. Said McMillan: "I was walking back to my desk and stopped dead when I saw that." This report was written by Chuck Finder and appeared in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

In The Resale Of Admission To Concerts and Sporting Events, Free Market Rules

Some call it scalping; others refer to a "secondary ticket market." The former call it fraud; the latter say it's free enterprise.Either way, the reselling of tickets for concerts and sporting events, long a profitable endeavor, has become an even bigger business in recent years, thanks to the Internet and ever-higher face-value ticket prices for top acts.No longer the province of shady dudes skulking outside venues before shows, the ticket resale industry now pays a Washington lobbying group, promotes a code of ethics for its members and portrays itself as a shining example of pure capitalism, governed by the immutable laws of supply and demand.

Yet it's still anathema to music promoters, artists and primary ticket vendors such as Ticketmaster, who say secondary ticket sales inflate prices and make events unaffordable for the average fan. What they don't say, at least not in so many words, is that reselling tickets is hugely profitable, but it is money they never see. Some artists and sports teams, though, have started making their own forays into the secondary market, which brings in somewhere between $10 billion to $25 billion a year."It's an exploding market, and what it tells me is that there's tremendous wealth in the United States that's driving this," says Stephen K. Happel, an economist in the business college at Arizona State University and a free market economist who is a proponent of unfettered ticket reselling. That market is anchored by a pair of websites: StubHub.com in San Francisco and Ticketsnow.com in Chicago.

Although concert and sports tickets are available elsewhere online, such as eBay and Craig's List, StubHub and Ticketsnow are the two biggest sites devoted solely to the resale of tickets, each says.Neither company actually owns the tickets they sell. They serve as online clearinghouses for buyers and sellers and make their money by charging a fee on every transaction. Sellers on the sites include professional ticket brokers, season-ticket holders and others looking to unload extra tickets. Both sites scrutinize sellers and guarantee all transactions against counterfeit tickets and such."It's a completely different paradigm than the guy standing on a street corner," says Kenneth Dotson, chief marketing officer for Ticketsnow.That company went online in 1999, taking advantage of expanding technology to sell tickets nationwide (except in New York, which is now reconsidering laws that prohibit secondary sales).Dotson says the Internet has allowed them to reach its customers, and the business would be impossible "if you had to rely upon ... the phone and fax machines."Prices range from cheap to exorbitant.

Tickets are generally sold in groups. A pair of bleacher seats for today's game between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs were selling for $6 per ticket last week on StubHub. Two front-row seats for the Rolling Stones' Aug. 26 show in East Hartford were listed at $2,395 each on Ticketsnow - nearly 1,500 percent above the original $160 price. (Tickets for sale on one site are often listed on others; the listings disappear automatically once tickets are sold.)"It may be above face value, but at least you know it's a market-driven price where you know it's driven by supply and demand," says Jeff Fluhr, the founder and chief executive of StubHub, which has been online since 2000.That's not much comfort for Julian Caesar. When the Windsor resident tried to buy tickets online for Jimmy Buffett's performance Friday at Mohegan Sun, primary seller Ticketmaster told him there were no seats available - only two minutes after the show had gone on sale April 18. Later, on StubHub, he found tickets ranging in price from $200 to $1,000 for seats in front of the stage, he says."I'm not going to pay that kind of money," Caesar says. "Someone else got in through the back door and they're going to make a profit on it? That's crazy. I'm not going to do that."Although the profiting is generally legal, how ticket brokers come by their wares is a murky area they are reluctant to discuss.

Jason Berger, a Greenwich re-seller who is president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, referred questions to the trade group's spokesman, Gary Adler, a Washington lawyer. Adler wouldn't go into specifics on how brokers get the tickets they re-sell, saying only, "I have not had one report to me of anybody doing anything illegally to obtain tickets." Promoters, though, are happy to talk about how scalpers (as they call them) snap up so many tickets. "We very much dislike it," says veteran promoter Jim Koplik, president of Jim Koplik Presents, the Connecticut arm of Clear Channel Entertainment. Clear Channel owns and books shows for the Meadows and Oakdale, and also books concerts for Mohegan Sun arena, some shows at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport and the Hartford Civic Center."We think it takes dollars out of our future. We really think that people that spend crazy amounts on a concert ticket will spend that much less when we have a show the next week that we need ticket sales on.

"Scalpers tend to employ three main methods, Koplik says. They pay people to stand in line at ticket outlets, they use phone banks and speed-dialers to flood telephone lines and, according to scalper lore, they have developed computer software that overrides online measures intended to prevent them from buying tickets in bulk from primary-vendor websites, such as the one run by Ticketmaster. "The unauthorized secondary ticket market has become more sophisticated and it's a cat and mouse game as we stay ahead of it," says David Goldberg, Ticketmaster's executive vice president for strategy and business development. "People continue to look for new ways to thwart the system and Ticketmaster continues to develop new ways to stop them."

One new way is simple: Shut down ticket outlets such as venue box offices, something Koplik says he's considering doing in 2006.

He wouldn't be the first. Tickets that went on sale Saturday for an upcoming concert by Bruce Springsteen in Bridgeport were only available online and by telephone. (In response to an e-mail requesting comment, Springsteen's publicist said no one from the singer's camp would discuss the issue. "They do take measures to stop scalping but don't do interviews about it," she wrote.)

Regardless of what promoters or artists do to thwart scalpers, economist Happel says, there's always going to be a secondary market.

"If there's ticket scalping outside the Bolshoi Ballet in the '70s when the KGB is trying to arrest scalpers, there'll be scalping anyplace," he says. "I'm telling you, you're not going to stop it if there are profits to be made."

There are certainly profits. Ticketsnow and StubHub are privately held companies that do not disclose net earnings, but Dotson says Ticketsnow took in $55 million in gross revenues last year, a figure it expects to boost to $120 million this year. Fluhr won't comment beyond saying that StubHub will "do significantly more than $120 million this year."

The chance to dip into that income stream is prompting some sports teams and musicians to explore the secondary market themselves. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and others have struck deals with StubHub to auction off tickets they set aside from the primary market.

"Generally a portion - if not all - of the proceeds of the tickets auctioned off will go to a charity of the artist's choice," Fluhr says.

Even Ticketmaster has gotten involved through what it calls Team Exchange, which allows season-ticket holders with some professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams to resell tickets they cannot use through a team-sanctioned website run by Ticketmaster.

The Chicago Cubs went a step further and set up its own separate secondary ticket market, complete with a team-owned ticket broker. The team sells tickets at face value to its broker, which marks them up and resells them to fans based on the market price for a given game. The Cubs' director of ticketing did not respond to an interview request. (The Cubs are owned by Tribune Co., which also owns The Courant.)

"They're getting the delta between the face value and the higher price, whereas other teams that do that are just getting a fee off of every transaction because it's the season-ticket holder who is getting that delta," Fluhr says.

Primary-ticket vendors who exploit the secondary ticket market and then complain that the market is fraudulent are disingenuous, say proponents of reselling tickets.

"I think it's probably indicative of the fact that those entities would probably like to be in the secondary ticket market and just haven't done so, because at the end of the day, there's nothing fraudulent about it," Fluhr says. "When you own something, you can resell it."

That's true - provided you obey the law. Connecticut is one of 11 states that regulates how tickets may be resold. Passed in 1984, the Connecticut law allows scalpers to sell tickets for $3 or 20 percent more than the face value of the ticket, whichever is greater. That law is enforced, but there are limitations, says Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"There are two main gaps in the law. The first is that it applies only to events in Connecticut and the second is that it applies only to sales in Connecticut," Blumenthal says. "So, for example, ticket scalping on baseball games in Boston and New York is not prosecutable and ticket sales via the Internet by sellers located outside Connecticut are not prosecutable."

Although Blumenthal says it's a "misconception" that scalping is a victimless crime, there are more pressing issues that demand his attention.

"Given other areas of consumer harm, this one probably ranks a bit lower than insurance fraud or drug prices or other areas where the consumer injuries may be much more real and palpable," he says. "Tickets are an item involving much more consumer choice, because obviously people can choose not to go to a concert or a sporting event if the price is too high. There's a free-market argument there that can't be ignored."

That argument is what drives the secondary market, and proponents say that consumers benefit most when the market determines ticket prices.

"You've just got to allow free-market trading," Happel says. "I know it doesn't sound like it's the best thing, but in the end it's the best way to protect the consumer. We see it over and over again. If there are a lot of tickets being traded, there's a chance for you and me to get tickets at a real good price."

What about people who can't afford to shell out more than $5,000 for market-priced Stones tickets?

"The best way to do it is free market and then have the rich feel guilty and buy the poor tickets to come in," Happel says. "In the end, it will be the poor that get screwed with price controls. The best hope for the poor is free markets with charitable rich people."

Steel Town councilman not happy with Steelers scalping zone

City Councilman William Peduto is unhappy with the reselling zone created by the Pirates and the Steelers for people who want to unload tickets before a game. This was written by Mark Belko and appeared in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Peduto, who sponsored the legislation implementing the zone, said the two teams have not lived up to their promise to create an "attractive and viable location" for the sale and purchase of tickets at roughly face value.

Instead of the decorative railings, lighting and full landscaping that Peduto said he expected, the Pirates and the Steelers have put up chains, posts and metal signs.

In a letter to the teams, he said he expects the reselling zone to meet the same standards for design and materials as all other development on the North Shore between the two stadiums. He added the teams' design and construction standards "are inappropriate and violate" the guidelines mandated for other development.

"It needs to be a design that complements the entire North Shore area," he said Wednesday. "There was a lot of money invested over there. There's an expectation that if they're going to invest in that area, they should invest to the same standard the public invested in, and I think they will."

Peduto expects to meet with the teams June 28 to discuss the issue. He said he is hoping the area, as currently designed, is temporary and that there are plans to improve it.

Representatives for the Pirates and the Steelers did not return phone calls.

The reselling zone debuted last month. Inside that area, located at Dorsett Way and North Shore Drive near the new Del Monte office building, people without a license can legally sell tickets they don't want. However, under state law, sellers can earn no more profit than $5 or 25 percent of the value of the ticket, whichever is greater.

Those who want to sell tickets outside of the reselling zone must obtain a license from the city to do so.

They would be prohibited from operating anywhere near PNC Park or Heinz Field. This was written by Mark Belko and appeared in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

James the Jerk

They hammered out the details for a landmark, $90 million deal with Nike. They leveraged another $12 million from Coca-Cola. And a collection of other deals totaled millions more. This report was written by Darren Rovell and appeared at ESPN.com

But Aaron and Eric Goodwin couldn't keep their biggest deal from falling apart, as the NBA's biggest power brokers have lost the NBA's biggest star.

LeBron James fired the Goodwin brothers as his agent representatives Monday, severing his relationship with the team responsible for structuring more than $120 million in endorsement deals before he ever stepped foot on an NBA court.

It is expected that Maverick Carter, James' close friend and a former high school teammate, will be part of a team that will take over deal-making responsibilities for the Cleveland Cavaliers' rising star, who ranks as the fourth-highest-paid athlete endorser in the world. Only golfer Tiger Woods ($90 million per year), Formula One driver Michael Schumacher ($50 million) and soccer star David Beckham ($35 million) are paid more off the playing field.

"I'm stunned by everything that is happening," Aaron Goodwin said. "We did everything for LeBron to help mold him off the court and become the next big icon in sports. If what we did over the past two years led him to believe that he no longer needs an agent, then I guess we didn't do too badly."

The defection might be the most high-profile breakup of an agent and an NBA player since Shaquille O'Neal and agent Leonard Armato parted ways in 2001, said Kenneth Shropshire, author of "The Business of Sports Agents."

Carter, who has been a close friend of James' since their high school days, has served as a consultant with Nike for the past two years. Reached Tuesday on his cell phone, Carter said he wanted to reserve comment until a later time. Nike officials did not return calls seeking comment.

James informed the NBA Players Association that he has terminated his relationship with the Goodwins. They will continue to receive their commission on the deals they've already negotiated. NBPA spokesman Dan Wasserman confirmed Tuesday that the union had received the termination letter from James, who must wait at least 15 days before he is able to hire new representation.

It is believed Carter and James' road manager, Randy Mims, will be part of a group that will pursue future business transactions for James.

Carter is not currently registered as an agent with the NBPA, but that won't stop him from representing James on marketing deals that do not need certification by the union. James, who turned 20 this past season, has two more years on his four-year rookie contract. After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, James improved almost every key statistic in his sophomore season, including points (averaging 27.2, up from 20.9), rebounds (7.4 vs. 5.5) and assists (7.2 vs. 5.9).

"LeBron as the immediate phenom was a benefit to both Aaron and LeBron," said Sonny Vaccaro, a veteran shoe company executive familiar with negotiations with James' agents. "What is happening now is just a sign of our times, because everyone wants to be with and grow a company or business with their own people. This was the natural offshoot. It's not like this is an illegitimate group that is raiding the coffers."

Carter is "the ultimate young people person," Vaccaro said, and he will be afforded ample time to learn the ropes of the business since most of James' endorsement deals are done.

Hours before the 2003 NBA draft lottery, the Goodwins negotiated a seven-year, $90 million Nike contract for James. The deal is worth $10 million per year more than what Nike agreed to pay Carmelo Anthony, the No. 3 pick in the draft.

Aaron Goodwin said there was "no indication from LeBron that he was unhappy."

Def Jam Recordings could become involved with James, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal. Hip-hop icon Russell Simmons developed the label and sold it for a reported $100 million in 1999, but he recently announced his return to Def Jam after developing Phat Farm, an urban clothing line worth $500 million.

Def Jam does not represent athletes but does have several high-profile artists, including Ludacris, LL Cool J and Ashanti. Def Jam president Jay-Z is part owner of the New Jersey Nets. It is not known whether Jay-Z's role in the organization would be considered a conflict of interest given his ownership position.

What makes things more interesting is that Eddie Jackson, James' surrogate father, is expected to be transferred Tuesday from federal prison in Loretto, Pa., to a halfway house, possibly in Akron, Ohio, where he would be allowed to serve in a work-release program. He is scheduled for release Aug. 27 after serving a three-year sentence for mortgage and mail fraud.

In addition to the Nike and Coca-Cola deals, the Goodwins negotiated a memorabilia deal with Upper Deck and a chewing-gum deal with Cadbury Adams for Bubblicious. In the Coca-Cola deal, which has four years remaining on it, James has appeared in Sprite and Powerade commercials as well as on the packaging. He was due an undisclosed bonus if Powerade's market share increased, which it did by 3 percent.

James has a few more endorsement categories to fill. He's nearing a deal with McDonald's but has yet to sign a deal with a financial institution or a car company. Many in the sports-marketing world believe his value in the car market might be compromised by the much-publicized purchase of a Hummer during his senior year in high school. Endorsing any other car could be looked upon as a disingenuous move.

The Goodwins still represent last year's No. 1 pick, Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard, as well as Boston Celtics guard Gary Payton; New York Knicks guard Jamal Crawford and forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim; and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire. The Goodwins also are representing University of Washington junior guard Nate Robinson, who is expected to be a late first- or early second-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. This report was written by Darren Rovell and appeared at ESPN.com

 

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