Breaking Ticket News
As I've been telling readers in this space, secondary ticketing -- and how tickets are sold on the open market from one ticket holder to another -- is going to be the No. 1 sports business story of 2007. After years of watching sites like Stubhub and eBay thrive, many teams are trying to regulate whom their fans sell to, going as far as voiding tickets that were not sold on the official reselling site and telling season ticket holders that they will revoke their privileges.
In a year that is sure to be filled with lawsuits involving fans, teams and secondary ticketing sites, the state of New York began its plan to stop teams from claiming rights to their tickets even after they've sold them.
In a bill passed yesterday in the state assembly, ticket scalping laws -- which previously capped scalping at no more than 45 percent over face value for large events in the state -- are rendered null. The bottom line is that this was a technicality to begin with. The more important part of the bill, which could become a law, if it is passed in the senate and signed by the governor before the close of the legislative session in June -- is the part that says, "This legislation protects the right of resale at any price and through any legal medium."
Teams have been trying to argue that they are only allowing resale through their sponsored reseller to prevent fraud. I actually think that fraud isn't that common and that they're hiding behind that premise so that they can either take a cut on the resale of their tickets or make a ticket reseller sponsorship more valuable.
Early Prediction on Hancock Case
My friends over at the Sports Law Blog have some great commentary on the lawsuit brought about by Dean Hancock, the father of the late Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock against the restaurant that served his son alcohol, the tow truck driver who his son smashed into and the driver of the car it was picking up. They predictably say that the Hancock family will lose the case, but give some nice legal reasons why it's not necessarily as frivolous as the media, including me, have made it out to be.
Potential first overall NBA draft pick Greg Oden has signed an autograph and memorabilia deal
with Topps. The 2007-08 Topps Basketball set will mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Topps Basketball set and will feature Oden and Bill Russell as its primary pitchmen.
The greater Oden story involves the kid showing up at the airport in Portland for his meeting with Nike carrying an Under Armour bag, something that was documented by a picture in The Oregonian. Since we know that Under Armour isn't negotiating with Oden we're wondering if carrying the bag was simply a smart strategy -- perhaps making Nike think twice about their competition, an oversight or an unintentional admission that he's at heart an Under Armour lover. At Ohio State, Oden wore Nike swooshes on his apparel during the regular season. That was changed to Nike's LeBron23 logo for the postseason.
Jordan Still Hot
LeBron who? Dwyane who? As part of the 20th anniversary of Fleer's 1986-87 basketball set, Upper Deck -- which now owns the brand -- has inserted 23 autographed, authentic Michael Jordan rookies in packs. Last week, the first of the 23 cards (number 20/23) hit eBay and sold for $12,300. That's close to the highest price for an ungraded basketball card. Upper Deck's LeBron James 2003-04 Exquisite Collection rookie is currently valued at $13,000.
An anonymous insider was intrigued by my breaking news last week that James Blake and Prince were cutting off their endorsement deal after Blake -- who lost in the first round of the French Open yesterday -- couldn't find a way to use Prince racquets.
"The one thing you did not mention or know is James Blake's Dunlop racquet was never available to the consumer. It is a 'Pro Mold' frame that Dunlop does not offer to the consumer. The closest racquet that Dunlop ever offered was the Revelation Tour 95 that was only sold in Australia in the late '90s before Blake joined Dunlop. Some of the other players that use this 'Pro Mold' by Dunlop are Tommy Haas, Tomas Berdych and Wayne Ferreira.
You are correct that in the tennis industry, 'Paint Jobs' are very widespread and prevalent -- perhaps more than you know. To me, it is like a plague that has infected every single racquet company. Amelie Mauresmo recently signed a deal with HEAD Racquet Sports to use the new Microgel Radical Midplus. The reality is Mauresmo is still using her old Dunlop MuscleWeave 200G 16x19 string pattern with the cosmetics of the HEAD Microgel Radical Midplus.
In 2005, HEAD Sport AG stopped manufacturing tennis racquets in its own factory in Austria for the consumer, but did not do so for the sponsored players on Tour. HEAD outsources all racquet production for the consumer to China, while HEAD still manufactures 50,000 racquets in Kennelbach, Austria for the players on Tour.
The most popular of these racquets on Tour are the Prestige Classic 600, Pro Tour 630 and Liquidmetal Instinct. HEAD officially discontinued selling the Prestige Classic 600 in March 2001, but due to pressure has done two SMU (Special Make Up) runs for the consumer.
The highest profile player of HEAD using the Prestige Classic 600 is Marat Safin. His racquets are currently painted to look like the Flexpoint Prestige mid. The Pro Tour 630 was discontinued for the consumer at the end of 1997, but has never stopped being manufactured for the players on Tour.
Not just Gustavo Kuerten uses the Pro Tour 630. Young guys, in their early twenties, are using the Pro Tour 630, such as Gilles Simon of France and Robin Soderling of Sweden. The Pro Tour 630 is probably the most popular HEAD racquet on the ATP Tour.
Most of the players you see on Tour with racquets painted like the Microgel Extreme are really using the Liquidmetal Instinct. What Prince has done right is they are no longer deceiving the public with what the pros are using on Tour. You can't fake the O Ports on their racquets. You see Sharapova using a real O3 White and you can buy an O3 White. That is huge in this industry and is contrary to the other racket manufacturers. This has reflected positively by increased market share and Prince's bottom line."
Head officials were not in the office when I called for comment this morning. I will get their reaction to this when I can get through."
Quick News and Notes
Fathead, the new age wall poster, has signed Wieden+Kennedy as its agency of record. Fathead is owned by Camelot Ventures, a private investment group run by Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans and Cleveland Cavaliers fame... A group called GridIron Fantasy Sports LLC announced yesterday that it had acquired the assets and rights to the World Championship of Fantasy Football. In 2006, the champion of the massive nationwide league won $200,000. Fans can pay between $650 and $10,000 depending on what league they want to enter... I am at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. today -- praying my top 10 get through to tomorrow.
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com