Oct 12, 2008

Alex Ovechkin, rock star

Check out this TSN video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the taping of a new Washington Capital music video -- featuring "Ovie and the Caps". The Capitals are using the video as their pre-game intro for the 2008-09 season.



You can watch the full video here. The song they're lip-synching to is Hell Yeah by Rev Theory. Great video, but not nearly as great as Can't Stop A Flame...

(via Scarlett Ice)

Sep 11, 2008

New scoreboard at Air Canada Centre

The Toronto Star has and article and some video showing the new video scoreboard and control room at Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. Some highlights from the article:
- The new scoreboard is fully HD functional - the old board was VHS type quality signal. The main portion of the new board is 17 by 10 feet - old was 16 by 9 - so 20 per cent more screen.
-8 new rectangular boards above the main board, all with LED projection.
-A new ring style board below the main board.
- 4 new boards on the bottom, used specifically for NHL, NBA score updates.
- Total expense on the new board is $7.8 million - $4.7 million to renovate the control room, and the rest on the board - the old board coast $4 million (10 years ago).

Aug 15, 2008

Foam hand history


We learned two things today via the always-entertaining Freakonomics blog

First: The "#1" foam finger hand was invented in 1978 by Geral Fauss, a high school teacher. Now made of polyurethane foam, originally it was a wooden sign. Fauss says: "I saw the students in the stands holding up an index finger, and shouting 'we're number 1' at the playoff games. Students rallied around the team and kept a fevered pitch during the playoffs. I knew that they wanted something 'big' to show their spirit.....so I thought , why not a large 'hand sign.'" Lots and lots of additional details about the foam hand are here...

Second: Maybe fans should tone it down a bit when cheering for the home team? "Jennifer L. Butler and Roy F. Baumeister, psychologists at Case Western Reserve University, found that people often performed unexpectedly worse in front of supportive audiences than they did in front of neutral ones. (We think of it as choking under pressure.) In Butler and Baumeister’s experiments, the higher audience expectations got, the worse their performers did." (More via Freakonomics)

Aug 8, 2008

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" turns 100

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame", the unofficial anthem of baseball, turns 100 years old this summer. EarFarm.com has a good article about the song, including these highlights:
  • In 1908, the Chicago Cubs won the world series. Coincidentally, in the same year, the song was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.
  • The song was popular, but didn't really take off until after 1971: "Chicago White Sox announcer Harry Caray first started singing the song along with Comiskey Park organist Nancy Faust. In 1976, White Sox owner Bill Veeck asked Harry if he could give him a microphone so he could sing for the entire stadium during the seventh-inning stretch. Initially, Harry wanted no part of it. Thankfully, as Caray was doing it one afternoon, WMAQ radio producer/broadcaster Jay Scott decided to open the booth mikes on him without his realizing it and a tradition was born.
  • In 1982, Carayh joined the Chicago, and his seventh-inning performance of the song became legendary.
  • Harry Caray continued that tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” until he died in 1998. At that time the Cubs began a practice of inviting guest celebrities, local and national, to lead the singing Caray-style.
  • A full list of celebrities who have performed "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field (up to June 19, 2008) can be found here.
There's a great Bill Veeck story about Caray and the song. As the story goes, Veeck secretly placed a mic in Caray's booth so the fans could hear Caray singing. Veeck told Caray: "Harry, anybody in the ballpark hearing you sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' knows that he can sing as well as you can. Probably better than you can. So he or she sings along. Hell, if you had a good singing voice you'd intimidate them, and nobody would join in!" (From BaseballAlmanac.com)

A few more facts from the Canadian Press:
  • It's the third most frequently sung song in the United States, yet few know all its lyrics. (Happy Birthday and The Star Spangled Banner are #1 and #2.)
  • It's been recorded by more than 400 artists, from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa.
  • The song was a top 10 hit for three recording artists in 1908.
  • It wasn't performed at a ballpark until Pepper Martin and his teammates played it before Game Four of the 1934 World Series at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.
More info:

Who's got the biggest scoreboard? The Dallas Cowboys


The Dallas Cowboys will have the largest video scoreboard of any sports facility when their new stadium opens in 2009. The scoreboard, pictured above, features two "sideline displays" measuring 159 feet x 71 feet, and two "endzone displays" measuring 50 feet by 28 feet. There will be also more than 3,600 linear feet of ribbon board LED displays. Mitsubishi is supplying the LED screens, and recently revealed these specs:

Center-Hung – Sideline Displays (2)
Width: 159’ 7-1/16”
Height: 71’ 4-3/4”
Total LEDs: 10,584,064
Pixel-Pitch: 20mm
Screen Area: 11,393 square feet
Power Consumption: 635 Kilowatts
Screen Weight: Approx. 170,000 lbs
Video Source: 1080p HDTV
Resolution: 2,176 x 4,864
Installation start date: October, 2008
Installation completion date: June 1, 2009

Center-Hung – End Zone Displays (2)
Width: 50’ 4-3/4”
Height: 28’ 6-3/4”
Total LEDs: 2,088,960
Pixel-Pitch: 16mm
Screen Area: 1,439 square feet
Power Consumption: 80 Kilowatts
Screen Weight: Approx. 25,000 lbs
Video Source: 1080p HDTV
Resolution: 1,080 x 1,920
Installation start date: October, 2008
Installation completion date: June 1, 2009

Sportline.com attempts to give an idea of how massive this scoreboard will be: "Imagine four city buses parked in a line. Now imagine another layer of buses stacked on top of them. Add five more layers and hang the 28-bus cluster over a mental football field."

Sportsline also reports that the cost of the massive screens will be more than $35 million, the amount that the original stadium in Dallas cost to build in 1971.

Meanwhile, at least one fan is worried the huge size of the scoreboard might hurt the fan experience. From DallasNews.com:

Team officials say [the 60-yard video scoreboard] will give every fan a close-up view of the action, and that's what worries a reader named Diane.

She's concerned that it'll create problems for fans when the on-field action and the on-screen action are going in opposite directions. In other words, it could be a huge distraction trying to watch a 50-foot-tall Terrell Owens streak toward the end zone one way when the life-size T.O. on the field is heading the other way.

"It has never been an issue before because the screens have never been 60 yards wide!" Diane wrote in an e-mail. "It would be impossible as a fan sitting on the Cowboys side to ignore that huge screen, which is of course Jerry Jones' intent."

Cowboys officials said they considered that, but they wouldn't be able to show the action from different perspectives on each side of the stadium.

Team spokesman Brett Daniels said he's not aware of any technology that could reverse the image on the fly for one side of the screen. Diane wrote that she wished the Cowboys would consider hiring a second video crew to shoot separate footage for the other side of the scoreboard.

Previously: Does Kansas City have the biggest video scoreboard?

Jul 16, 2008

Bob Sheppard: Yankees announcer forever?

Really interesting post today from Darren Rovell on NBC's Sports Biz blog: It's about Bob Sheppard, the 97-year-old announcer for the New York Yankees. He's been announcing for the Yankees since 1951 -- that's 57 years -- except this year there's a bit of a difference:
Sheppard, 97, who had been announcing all the names and numbers for the New York Yankees since 1951, hasn’t made it to the stadium this year due to illness, but his voice has lived on due to the fact that he has recorded the Yankee lineup.

Given the ovation at the mention of Sheppard’s name last night, it’s clear that there would be no replacement for Sheppard if he sadly never makes it to the new stadium next year.

But due to the state of text-to-speech technology, Sheppard’s voice could be the voice of the starting lineups for the next 50 years, if the Yankees choose to go that route.

Read on...

Jul 4, 2008

Milwaukee Brewers host Prostate Cancer Screening night

As seen on the Partnership Activation blog:
The Brewers have done it again. The team recently conducted the second annual "Free Prostate Cancer Screening" night at the ballpark - an effort that resulted in 480 people getting screened, a 25% higher turnout than the team's 2007 event.

How did they do it? The Brewers teamed up with local television station WITI Milwaukee, the National Coalition Against Prostate Cancer, a Milwaukee-area hospital, and Froedert & the Medical College of Wisconsin to run the promotion... The collaborating parties targeted their messaging at men 40+ and their wives and required participants to only have to fill out minimal paperwork and take a quick blood test on-site. Oh yea, the team also offered each participating individual two (2)free tickets to a future Milwaukee Brewers home game... Now the general rule of thumb is that you should never give away tickets to the general public, but this case is definitely a true exception (tying in quality partners to collaborate on a worthy cause and driving media attention).

Jun 30, 2008

Sports Illustrated ranks ballpark promotions

Sports Illustrated surveyed baseball fans in 30 MLB cities to rank the best and worst promotions (among other things). The Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians are in the top three, while the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Boston Red Sox have the lowest overall ratings.

Even better than the rankings themselves are some of the fan comments about the best and worst giveaways:
  • Milwaukee: "The funniest was Jeffrey Hammonds bobblehead after he was cut by the team."
  • San Diego: "The best promotion was a free Padres blanket. The worst was an ugly floppy hat that had a bigger logo of the sponsor than of the team. I would like to see more promotions of items people could actually use, such as the team blankets and cups."
  • Los Angeles: "Pink tote bags for Mother's Day was the best. That jerk who sued the Angels is the worst. I would like to see only women get the pink tote bags again."
  • Detroit: "My favorite was Magglio Hat/Hair day, I think that day was a blast. You have people of all ages walking around with a Tigers cap and curls hanging out the back of them."
  • Colorado: "Honestly, the best was a 'Loyal Fan' pin I received after sitting through a three-hour rain delay a couple of years ago."
  • New York Yankees: "The worst was one of the bobblehead nights when they only gave them out to kids. I hate paying 10-year-olds $10 to get a bobblehead."
  • Minnesota: "Worst: Minnesota Road Map Night. The road maps turned into giant airplanes sailing down from the upper deck. Best: Dairy Queen Spatula Night. The clink, clink of 10,000 spatulas was incredible. I still use the spatula on the outdoor grill."
(via GameOps.com)

Jun 25, 2008

Promotions gone bad: Major league forfeits

Check out ESPN.com's list of the last 10 major league baseball forfeits. Many of them are due to game day promotions gone horribly wrong. Some examples:

Aug. 10, 1995: Dodgers fans littered the field with giveaway souvenir baseballs in the ninth inning, and Los Angeles forfeited to the Cardinals.

July 12, 1979: Thousands of fans overran the field at Comiskey Park during the "Disco Demolition Night" promotion between games of a doubleheader. The White Sox forfeited the nightcap to Detroit.

June 4, 1974: Cleveland forfeits to Texas when a riot breaks out at 10-Cent Beer Night.

Sept. 30, 1971: Souvenir hunters overrun R.F.K. Stadium and the Senators, despite leading 7-5 with two outs in the ninth, forfeit their last game in Washington to the Yankees.

Sept. 26, 1942: Hundreds of children, guests of the Giants in a promotion to bring scrap metal for the war effort, swarmed the field after the eighth inning, and New York forfeited to the visiting Boston Braves.

A complete list of forfeits can be found at Retrosheet.

Beer and violence in Cleveland

Here's a great article from ESPN about a Cleveland Indians game on June 4, 1974, featuring a "10-Cent Beer Night" promotion that ended in a riot. Some highlights:

The '74 Indians were a smorgasbord of mediocre and forgettable talent playing in an open-air mausoleum. That year, in a city that fielded one of the founding professional teams (the Forest Citys, incorporated there in 1869), 85 percent of the seats at home games went unsold. All those empty seats meant a balance sheet written in red. The team's executive vice president, Ted Bonda, could put up with losing teams and an ugly stadium (he had inherited both in 1972), but he would not tolerate insolvency. Bonda called a meeting to discuss options for improving attendance, which must have felt a little like trying to figure out how to get people excited about a trip to the orthodontist. Someone, apparently a team employee likely acting out of desperation, suggested copying the Texas Rangers, who had recently hosted a successful "10-Cent Beer Night." We can imagine the grim silence in the boardroom as the group considered this obviously dangerous remedy. How interested would Cleveland be in such a promotion?
...

Accounts vary as to the volume proffered -- 8 ounces? 10? 12? -- but the price was certain enough: 10 cents per cup. Fans -- and we shall use this term for lack of a better one -- could buy up to six cups at a time, with no system in place to prevent a designated mule from purchasing a full complement, handing them off to underage clients, and returning for more.

Even though the Indians offered copious amounts of beer at cut-rate prices, a great many attendees opted to play with a handicap, arriving at their seats drunk, stoned or both. The June 4 promotion turned out to be quite popular, drawing 25,134 people, more than double the average crowd that season.

...

Through deliberate coordination or spontaneous groupthink, hundreds of fans showed up with pockets full of firecrackers. Anonymous explosions peppered the stands from the first pitch, lending the game a war-zone ambiance that would seem increasingly appropriate. Though it is not clear whether this impromptu celebration cost anyone a finger or hand, an uneasy je ne sais quoi settled into the stadium along with clouds of exploded gunpowder and marijuana smoke.

...

As the night wore on, the crowds grew bolder, and packs of fans frequently scurried across the outfield. One man tossed a tennis ball into center field, then scrambled after it. After throwing the ball back into the seats, he led park security on a little jog, pausing at one point to hug another fan, perhaps a long-lost relative, who had jumped out to greet him. Ushers dragged away one of the two, while the other leaped into the stands and was borne away by dozens of gleeful, anonymous hands. The rain of beer became a hail of rocks, batteries, golf balls and anything not bolted down.

...

In 1974, it did not occur to the Indians organization to request an additional police presence at the ballpark for their beer-fueled promotion. If any municipal police were in the stadium that night, they were off duty and quite possibly as drunk as anyone else.

Early on, the demand for beer surpassed the Indians' capacity to ferry it to concession stands, and a luminary, perhaps the same person who suggested the promotion in the first place, decided to allow fans to line up behind the outfield fences and have their cups filled directly from Stroh's company trucks. The promotion achieved critical mass at that moment, as weaving, hooting queues of people refilled via industrial spigot.

The public address announcer reminded spectators not to litter onto the field, and refuse rained down harder. The grounds crew had not sat down since the second inning, and outfield fans used them as moving targets...

Read on ... it gets much worse...

Jun 14, 2008

Round-Up: Hockey Night in Canada Theme to CTV

So the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada Theme have been purchased by CTV, and will be now be known as the Hockey Theme. There's not much we can add to the conversation, but here are some fun blog posts from the past week on the topic:
  • James Duthie: "I will be composing lyrics to go with the music and performing it live (with Dreger and McKenzie on background vocals) to open every broadcast... I was asked about “The Song” in roughly 497 radio interviews this week (They all went pretty much like this: “Yes, I’m excited. Yes, it will be a little weird at first. No, I don’t know how the monkey feels about it.”)"

  • Scott Feschuk: "..forget the Exciting National Contest. Instead, try to salvage some dignity and manufacture some new tradition ... by a) securing the rights to Stompin’ Tom’s The Hockey Song, and b) swiping a page from the TV show Weeds ... by having the tune performed each week by a different musical artist – The Hip one Saturday night, Arcade Fire the next, Anne Murray after that and Trooper when some band phones in sick at the last minute..."

  • Scott Feschuk (again): "So CTV has purchased exclusive rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, presumably for use on TSN and beyond. This feels a bit like Superman ripping off Batman’s theme song to score chicks..."

  • Ken Campbell: "If I were a hockey fan – and I am – I’d be a lot more concerned about some of the things that are going on around the game than whether or not I’ll be able to hear The Hockey Theme next season when I watch hockey on Saturday night."

  • David Staples: "The rhetoric is getting out of control here. The CBC wasn't going to burn all copies of the song, after all, just stop playing it on Hockey Night in Canada. Some of you may be truly grateful for CTV's big-hearted "salvation" of the song, but I see it as Claman and her people pulling off a brilliant negotiating ploy, using the very real attachment that Canadians feel for the song to win a better rights deal for themselves."

Jun 13, 2008

LA Lakers pre-game show - creating a huge virtual video screen

Check out this video of the NBA finals pre-game show. The LA Lakers hung a white sheet around their video scoreboard, and projected huge video images onto it -- creating a huge video scoreboard. As the video ends, the sheet falls away as the player introductions begin. It's a simple effect, but very impactful.

Jun 10, 2008

New York Yankees fans boo the sun

New York fans love to boo (we've blogged about Buffalo boos before), and FanHouse.com tells us that Yankees fans even boo the Sun. Fans cheered when a cloud moved in front of the brigh sun during the 5th inning, and then they booed a few moments later when the sun returned.
(Thanks CC!)

Jun 7, 2008

Mariah Carey throws the ceremonial first pitch at a Japanese baseball game

At least she didn't sing the National Anthem!


(via Balls)

Listen to the Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song

For all the Canadians lamenting the loss of the Hockey Night in Canada Theme, check out Fong Songs for four versions of the song by the Shuffle Demons, Mother of Pearl, Moxy Fruvous, and the Jimmy Smith Band.

Jun 5, 2008

Great Promotions: "Cheaper By The Gallon"

The Fort Meyers Miracle have a promotion running for every Monday home game called "Cheaper By The Gallon". This is a great promotion because its creative, and thorough -- I guess you can say they've covered all the bases. Some of the elements of the promo:

  • The lowest price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline offered in South Fort Myers, will equal the cost of a box seat ticket for that night's game.
  • For example, "Sharpie's Super Stop" has regular unleaded gas at $3.86 a gallon, then $3.86 is what you pay for a box seat that normally costs $7.00.
  • Fans will have the chance to win anything from a gallon of water to a gallon of sour cream. Anything that comes in a gallon is fair game for a "Cheaper by the Gallon" Monday giveaway.
  • Monday patrons will also benefit with a discount on popular items from the grill -- hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bratwursts and chicken sandwiches. The same price for a gallon of gasoline is the same reduced price for these ballpark favorites.
  • Since there are four quarts in a gallon, if there are four people in your vehicle when you arrive at Hammond Stadium, your parking is free on Monday nights.
  • Every fan who attends a Monday night game will be entered into a drawing to receive a pass for free gas, courtesy of the Miracle.
(via Ben's Biz Blog)

Goodbye to the Hockey Night in Canada Theme?

Update June 7:

Watching CBC this morning, and they're reporting that CBC Sports offered composer Claman $65,000 a season for the rights to the song, as well as a total rights buy-out of $1,000,000.

CBC's being raked over the coals for this by Canadian hockey fans -- but I think some of the anger has to be directed to Claman (and her representatives) as well. If the report of the $65,000 per season is true, certainly that's more than fair compensation for a 60-second theme song on the broadcast.

Does the public really want CBC to spend that much money for a song? And if the song is so important to Canadian culture -- should Claman be allowed to charge CBC a ransom in order for Canadians to enjoy it?



Update June 6:



Although we love hockey here in Canada, it's not often that hockey music is debated on Parliament Hill. Here's a transcript from a media scrum today with Jack Layton, leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (via The Commons):

Reporter: Mr. Layton, there’s talk that CBC may cancel the theme music for Hockey Night in Canada, you know the duh duh duh duh duh —

Jack Layton: What do you mean do I know?

Reporter: What do you think?

Jack Layton: It’s kind of second to the national anthem. Why would they do that?

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Jack Layton: Why would they? Oh my God. Well, I think we need an emergency debate in the House of Commons. I think we need to mobilize Canadians in defence of that amazing tune that just gets our blood coursing through our veins. It’s a signature. It’s the musical signature of who we are. How dare they? That music belongs to the people. I call on Canadians to rise up and sing.

The q & a was in regards to several media reports that CBC has decided to stop using the immensely popular Hockey Night in Canada Theme song next season, due to a rights fee dispute with the song's composer. Based on the reaction in Canada today, hockey fans clearly think that decision is "offside". Here's a sampling of blogger comments:
But wait! Apparantly the decision is not final, and the theme song just might be coming back next year. Moore, the executive director for CBC Sports says:

"We've been reaching out to [composer Dolores Claman] and her representative, and haven't heard back," Moore said. "We're prepared to do a deal, we're prepared to talk, but we're not prepared to do a deal at all costs."

If an agreement can't be reached, Moore said a nationwide contest would be held for Canadians to submit a new theme song.

"We have to responsibly have another plan if, for some reason, we're not able to do a deal. We've had this plan in place for more than a year," said Moore, adding the controversy and debate created by a contest wouldn't necessarily be bad. (via CBC Sports)

May 23, 2008

Sportsnet interviews Stompin' Tom Connors

From Sportsnet.ca, Perry Lefko interviews with Stompin' Tom Connors about "The Hockey Song", better known as "The Good Old Hockey Game". Highlights from the interview:

Q: You mentioned "Bobby scores" in the opening stanza. Was it in reference to any particular Bobby?

A: There was so many Bobbys out (in the National Hockey League) that I thought if I was going to put a name in the song at all that somebody was going to score, it just had to be a Bobby. If I had said Pete or Harry or something like that, I wanted to cover as many bases as I could.

Q: Were you surprised that some 20 years after its release, The Hockey Song suddenly enjoyed a second coming when the Ottawa Senators played it at home games?

A: It didn't take off overnight either. I didn't even know the Senators were playing it. I heard the same as anybody else. I hadn't even heard it watching the games. People were telling me they're playing your hockey song (at Senators games). That's how I got wind of it. It became a sleeper and what I mean by that is radio didn't care to know anything about it, I guess. They still don't play it.
...
Q: But when the Senators started playing it, the story goes Leaf coach Pat Burns heard it and wanted it played at Leaf games. True?

A: Some of the Leafs when they were younger had heard the song, too, in their local arena and they said, 'Hey, the Senators have a great idea here.' So then the Leafs started playing it and before you know it, American teams were right on it and they started playing it.
...
Q: This was a song that as soon it started playing regularly at the Air Canada Centre everyone started singing it, kind of like Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and it arguably is now the anthem of hockey. Would you agree?

A: I have heard the expression and, yeah, I'm honoured they would think of it that way.

Read the entire article...

May 21, 2008

Michael "Let's Get Ready To Rumble" Buffer on American Idol

Darren Rovell has the details on Michael Buffer's appearance on American Idol last night ... plus some more juicy business tidbits on the man behind the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" catchphrase.
Buffer, who recently recovered from throat cancer surgery and treatment, is back to his grueling schedule after a brief hiatus needed to recover.

Since the surgery, Buffer – whose famous line has yielded more than $400 million in gross retail sales of licensed merchandise – has been the ring announcer for the Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe fight (April 19) and the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight (May 3).

As we speak, he’s on a plane right now to London from Los Angeles, where he uttered his famous line on “American Idol,” to announce the Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano fight.

After “Idol” decided to go with the boxing theme between David Archuleta and David Cook (I can’t believe they carried it out that far putting the guys in robes and splicing in sound from Jim Lampley), Buffer discussed the idea of him being part of the show with the show’s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.

His brother Bruce --who serves Michael’s business manager, the voice of UFC and recently a mainstay on the Poker circuit – negotiated the deal.

Bruce told me that the fee that his brother received for “Idol” was comparable to what he makes for a fight, but that wasn’t why he did it.
...

Bruce also said that he and Michael are working on a “Rumble” bar and restaurant franchise that will role out in different cities.

Said Bruce: “The phrase is not about fighting. We call it the ultimate clarion call to the pure integrity of the competitive spirit.”

Read the entire article...

Here's a video of Buffer's performance... and for more about Michael Buffer, check out this previous post: "Let's Get Ready To Rumble Snitch Line"

May 18, 2008

NHL playoffs opening videos

Here's a round-up of pre-game show videos from the 2008 NHL playoffs. We can't find anything for New York, Nashville, Anaheim, or Colorado.

Some notes:
  • Nice light show in Detroit. Looks like a about 24 or 32 Mac 2000's or something similar -- it's a simple effect but used very effectively.
  • Washington had some great music choices.
  • Minnesota had one of the nicest overall arena shows that we saw, with nice integration on-ice projection, video scoreboard, and LED signage.
  • I like the green Stanley Cup on the Dallas video
  • Philly's added some nice video projection for Round 3

Ottawa
Playoff open (music: The Hives - Tick Tick Boom)

Pittsburgh
Playoff arena show

Montreal
Youtube vids of the arena show: 1 2 3 4

Boston
Youtube vids of the arena show: 1 2

Washington
Highlight vid (music: Foo Fighters - The Pretender)
Playoff open (music: Papa Roach - To Be Loved)
Year in Review (music: The Bravery - Believe)


Philadelphia
Playoff open
Round 3 video projection


New Jersey
How Far We've Come
Don't Stop Believing


Detroit
Arena show

Calgary
Playoff open (music: In Your Honour / Foo Fighters)

San Jose
Arena open Youtube vids: 1 2

Dallas
Playoff open
Arena open

Minnesota
Arena open Youtube vids: 1 2

May 17, 2008

Mascots perform OK Go treadmill act

Nice find by Jon over at GameOps.com: The Denver Nuggest mascot Rocky & friends performing on treadmills to the OK GO song "Here We Go Again".

May 13, 2008

David Stern on basketball music

Here's what NBA commissioner David Stern thinks about music at NBA games:
"How do you spell Simon and Garfunkel? Or Billy Joel? Or The Beach Boys? I'm lost. But that's OK. I appreciate it is their new-age music, the hip hop, the rap. It's fine. The reality is I think that what has happened is that very well-intentioned people feel that it's their obligation to root their team on to victory, to urge them. What they do is that they think if you turn up the loud speaker, it's going to help them perform better, even though there are babies in the building. I think it's going to be interesting. I think we should have it as a time capsule item, because in some future century people are going to look and say, ‘What were they thinking about?' And I'm positive — I just saw [Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe columnist] — I'm positive that [late Boston coach] Red [Auerbach] is watching and getting ready to call me. I think we've gone over the top." Source: National Post "Posted Sports"
(see previous: Commissioner Stern: "the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault")

Commissioner Stern: "the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault"

NBA commissioner David Stern wants a review of music and pyro used in pre-game shows. Here's an article from the Canadian Press:

CLEVELAND — On the subject of the NBA's infatuation with pre-game pyrotechnics, smoke and noise, commissioner David Stern was loud and clear: He's had enough.

"I think they're ridiculous," Stern said Monday before Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics second-round playoff series. "I think that the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault that we should seriously consider reviewing in whether it's really necessary given the quality of our game."

His comments came just a few minutes before Cleveland's over-the-top player introductions, which include fire - hot enough that fans can feel the heat in the stands - shooting out of four swords on the scoreboard.

Such pyrotechnic displays have become common around the league. The barrage of fireworks in Boston is so intense it leaves a fog hanging over the court for most of the first quarter.

"It may be that these are the maniacal rantings of a fan from a different era and I recognize that, but you know I'm sitting there waiting for the next cannon to go off and then the fire heats up the arena," Stern said, "so the temperature in the arena raises by 15 degrees. That's if you can see it because you're still waiting for the smoke, which is chemical, to clear."

Cavs forward Ben Wallace says the smoke in Boston contributed to the dizziness that forced him to leave Game 2. Wallace didn't go onto the court for Game 3 in Cleveland until the onslaught of smoke and fire had ended. Anderson Varejao ran onto the court in his place.

The special effects aren't limited to pre-game introductions. White residue from fire extinguishers delayed Game 1 of the Spurs-Hornets series for 19 minutes between the first and second quarters after a mascot soared through a ring of fire for a dunk in New Orleans.

Another thing that annoys Stern is the non-stop loud music and other noise that isn't generated by fans.

"I always bite my tongue because I say, 'Well, maybe I'm not the demographic that likes to be assaulted by loud rap, smoke, pyrotechnics and chemicals,"' he said. "I'm outdated, but I think it's time for us to say, 'Hey guys, lets look at it one more time."'

There's rarely a quiet moment in Cleveland's arena where the video screen routinely displays a metre registering over 100 decibels, as loud as a rock concert.

Stern, more of a Simon and Garfunkel fan, says he's got nothing against hip hop and the music appreciated by younger audiences, but says the volume is over the top.

"What's happened is that very well intentioned people feel that it's their obligation to root their team on to victory, to urge them ... they think if you turn up the loudspeaker it's going to help them perform better even though there are babies in the building," he said.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.

Read the entire article...


I blogged last week about the mascot fire stunt at a Hornets game that caused a delay lasting more than 20 minutes, and speculated that the incident could be the beginning of the end of fire stunts in the NBA.

The NHL has already banned most pre-game pyro due to concerns about ice conditions (not to mention the smoke and haze that interferes with sightlines for fans & broadcast).

And one of my students pointed me towards this article about Rai Henniger, the senior vp of marketing for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Last year he was severely injured in a pyrotechnics accident at the ballpark. (Thanks JV for the pointer.)

Safety for fans, safety for players, arena playing conditions ... there are plenty of reasons for every sport to consider a ban, or at least severely limit, the use of pyrotechnics.

Rai Henniger returns to Colorado Springs

Here's a remarkable, must-read story about Rai Henniger, senior vp of marketing for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Triple-A).
"A year ago, a pyrotechnic accident nearly killed him: "It's been precisely a year since a 2½-inch spherical titanium shell shattered Henniger's face, turning Security Service Field into a makeshift battlefield scene, and a glance in the mirror is all it takes to remind him that his life will never be the same."
Henniger is back at the ballpark, inspiring others with his remarkable story of recovery. I'll let you read the article for the entire story, but I do want to highlight some of Henniger's creative and caring approach to game entertainment:

At age 48, Henniger is a cross between Mike Veeck, proponent of the "Fun is good" mantra, and Tom Hanks dancing on a giant keyboard in the movie "Big." Amid the wide-open spaces of Henniger's imagination, there's no such thing as a bad idea -- merely occasional tinges of regret from concepts unexplored.

He's the guy who conceived "Bark in the Park" night, when baseball fans cavort with Cocker Spaniels and Pomeranians, and he was at the forefront of the first ballpark hot tub (even though the PR guy and groundskeeper had to twist his arm to do it). He designed the costume, name and educational theme for Sox the Fox, the Colorado Springs mascot, and once wore a homemade TV set over his head during Comcast Night in Colorado Springs.

As the proud creator of Assorted Animal Snout Night, he ordered thousands of cheap barnyard masks from China, passed them out to the crowd, then cued the pigs to "oink" and the cows to "moo" just as the opposing pitcher went into his delivery.

And during his signature promotion, Computer Geek Night, he dressed up in high water pants, a pocket protector and nerdy glasses and did a poor man's Myron Noodleman impersonation. When the Sky Sox weren't holding Bill Gates and Dilbert look-alike contests, they were designating fans to be "Spam blockers" -- sending them to the grassy hillsides behind the foul lines and firing gobs of lunch meat at them from a sling shot.

"I would have loved to be in the meeting where they talked about shooting meat into the berm," Ensor says. "Someone makes a dumb joke, the ignitions are firing, the lights are going off, and Rai's formulating a promotion. And he's the best at it. I like to think I'm pretty good, but he's got one more gear than everybody else."

It's only fitting that he met his future wife at the park. One night the scheduled participant in the "Pitch to Win" contest failed to report to the gift shop as instructed. Henniger, desperate for a replacement, approached an attractive young woman on a group office outing and asked if she could bail him out of trouble.

"What is this, some sort of sexist thing you do to make women look foolish?" asked the then Heather Mooney.

She won a $50 gift certificate by throwing a baseball through a hole on a board and revealed during a casual conversation that she was a trained vocalist. Henniger invited her back to sing the national anthem, and the story ends with 12 years of marriage, three beautiful children and a lovable, panting Australian Shepherd mix named Bosco.

...

Fellow employees tell a story from years ago, when a little boy designated to be the Sky Sox's junior announcer was so panic-stricken he wet his pants in anticipation of the big event. It was Henniger who cleaned him up, encouraged him to overcome his fears, and made the experience one to cherish.

"A time like this is a telling sign of how somebody treats other people," says Dan Karcher, Sky Sox radio broadcaster and Henniger's longtime friend. "I don't think Rai has an enemy anywhere in the community. He's one of those guys who's able to light up a room whenever he enters it."

Read the entire article...

May 10, 2008

Yes, players do watch the video scoreboard

Here's a story from last fall about Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who says he used the video scoreboard to help score a touchdown:

Rogers said he knew he'd have to stiff-arm Broncos running back Selvin Young on his 66-yard interception return for a touchdown because he saw him gaining ground on the huge Ford Field scoreboard screen.

Corey Smith tried to block Young, but didn't get enough of him to knock him off course.

"I looked at the Jumbotron and saw a guy coming up on my left. I caught a glimpse of the Jumbotron and saw (Smith) trying to throw a block to my left. I turned my head around and there he was. I tried to put that big arm out there to keep him at bay,'' Rogers said.

And why was Rogers looking at the big screen?

"It just happened that way. We have a beautiful stadium and a beautiful Jumbotron,'' he said.

Read the entire article from MLive.com

May 9, 2008

HEY HO LET'S GO!



Check out this amazing ukulele cover of the arena favourite "Blitzkrieg Bop".

The Art of Hockey


Check out this article from The Coast about a new hockey art exhibit opening up at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) in Halifax. My favourite is "Hockey Organ" (pictured above) by Graeme Patterson: "...a souped-up STIGA rod-hockey game with its own "Jumbotron." Instead of pulling rods to make the players move, you press organ keys, which in turn play music."

(There's more about "Hockey Organ" here.)

You can check out the AGNS web site for a video preview of the exhibit -- definitely worth a look.

May 8, 2008

The best ballpark traditions

MLB.com has a list of nine of the best ballpark traditions in major league baseball. A sample:
1. Roll Call, New York Yankees: ...From the chants that fit neatly into a four-syllable meter -- "DE-REK JE-TER" -- to the ones that don't - "A-Rod," "Ro-bin-son," and "Bob-by" -- this Bronx cheer works, and is a lot more family-friendly than the rest of the Section 39 utterances heard throughout a game.

2. Rally Monkey, Los Angeles Angels: ...the Angels are losing late in the game, they get a runner on base, and they show a monkey jumping up and down under the words RALLY MONKEY. The fountains by the faux rock pile beyond center field go off, they play "Jump Around" by House of Pain, and the fans go wild.

3. Sausage Race, Milwaukee Brewers: It's worth going to Miller Park just to see this tradition, which occurs after the bottom of the sixth inning as a promotion for the Klement's Sausage Company. Five mascot-dressed links square off in a race on the field, and you choose your personal preference...

4. "Sweet Caroline," Boston Red Sox: ...This Neil Diamond staple caught on during the 2002 season and is now a sing-along ritual in the Fens, with the fans adding the "So good, so good, so good" echo in the middle of the chorus. It's so good that Diamond himself will come sing it at the diamond this year. Now that's a powerful tradition.

5. "OK Blue Jays," Toronto Blue Jays: ...It starts with, "You've got a diamond, you've got nine men, you've got a hat and a bat, and that's not all," and it goes on from there, peaking at the chorus of, "OK, Blue Jays, Let's ... play ... ball!" Ardent Jays fans appreciate the 1980s references in the original song, such as, "Dave's put down a smoker," which apparently means former Jays hurler Dave Stieb threw a strike, and didn't castigate a patron holding a cigarette.

6. "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," Baltimore Orioles: You don't mess with a tradition that dates back to the 1970s,... right after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," you'll hear this John Denver chestnut -- written by John Martin Summers, by the way -- and you'll see the kooky fan in the straw hat and overalls dancing around on the JumboTron.

7. Rally Fries, Seattle Mariners: ... During a game last June, the Fox Sports Northwest TV cameras caught a fan scattering his fries down the right-field line while chasing a foul ball. Mariners broadcasters Mike Blowers and Dave Sims eventually came to the decision that he deserved a new set of fries, so Blowers had one of the Mariners interns deliver them. The next night, signs calling for free fries were all over Safeco Field, and soon enough, the Mariners were scoring runs when the fries were delivered, prompting the "Rally Fries" moniker that has stuck -- even on the road.

8. "Nasty" Rally, Tampa Bay Rays: Only in a yard like Tropicana Field will you catch a professional wrestler with a blond Mohawk ranting and raving about his Rays in a jersey with ripped sleeves in a videotaped late-innings rally motivational message for the hometown nine. His name is Brian "Nasty" Knobbs, he's a season-ticket holder, and he's part of the famed Nasty Boys tag-team duo...

9. Home Run Apple, New York Mets: The lovably dented, bizarre, kitschy-chic apple that pops out of a top hat for every Mets home run has withstood mammoth blasts off the bats of Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado since its inception in 1980...
Read the entire article...

May 7, 2008

A call for more french music at Montreal Canadiens games

From CBC Sports:

A prominent Quebec publisher is calling on the government to force the Montreal Canadiens to play more French-language music at the Bell Centre.

Michel Brule, publisher of Les Editions des intouchables, circulated a petition demanding the Quebec and Canadian governments set a quota for how much francophone music is played in the arena.

Brule said he was shocked the arena's disc jockey played only one French song during Game 7 of the Habs' first-round series against the Boston Bruins.

The petition calls on politicians to create content rules similar to CRTC regulations, and demands French-language songs make up at least 65 per cent of the tunes that echo through the Bell Centre. Read the entire article...


The article has generated over 60 comments from readers so far -- just about all of them against Brule's idea.

May 6, 2008

Speedo Guy: Master Distractor


Here's a fun video about "Speedo Guy": a Duke fan who used a speedo to distract the visiting UNC basketball team.

(via Partnership Activation)

May 5, 2008

Fire stunt delay @ Spurs vs. Hornets game



Here's a vid from a mascot stunt during Game 1 of the Spurs-Hornets NBA playoff series.

Between the first and second quarter, Super Hugo (the Hornets mascot) jumped through a hoop of fire. The stunt went fine (thankfully), but then the gameday crew couldn't extinguish the flaming hoop. The game was delayed 19 minutes as the fire was extinguished and the resulting mess cleaned up.

This could be the beginning of the end of fire stunts in the NBA.

May 1, 2008

Does Kansas City have the biggest video scoreboard?

The Kansas City Royals say that they have the biggest video scoreboard in the United States. A massive new Daktronics HD board measures 85 feet wide by 105 feet high, and sits smack dab in the middle of the outfield, soaring up above the stadium.

At 85 x 105 feet, that's 8925 square feet, it's bigger than the Arizona Diamondbacks display - 154x52 feet = 8008 square feet. If you know of a bigger video scoreboard, please post the info in the comments below.

Some info:
  • TV Technology: At almost 9,000 square feet (85-by-105), the giant Daktronix screen is powered by a Ross Switcher and a couple of EVS replays, Deko 3000s for graphics and Pro-Bel routing gear. The towering board—the nation’s largest, according to Daktronix—debuted at the Royals’ home opener against the Yankees Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium ... The screen, at 1584x1980, amounts to about two 16:9 screens on top of each other ... The $8 million-plus system board replaced a 17-year-old Sony.

  • Business Wire: Daktronics HD-X LED technology will be installed in a huge outfield structure behind center field measuring more than 100 feet high by 85 feet wide, topped with the familiar Royals iconic golden crown. The LED display will contain more than 1800 full-color lines of resolution with lines on 16 millimeter (.63) spacing. The display will be the largest HD LED board in the world, surpassing the former record holders designed and manufactured by Daktronics for Dolphin Stadium in Miami and Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin
    ...
    Additional equipment will be installed prior to the start of the 2009 season. Two LED displays will be positioned on the fascia of the upper deck seating along right field and left field. These ribbon boards will measure approximately 4 feet high by 380 feet long. Also included will be two additional LED displays positioned in the outfield above the new restaurant/bar and above the new Hall of Fame, each to measure approximately 5 feet high by 108 feet long. Fans near the Little K baseball field, and by the Taste of KC plaza area, will also be able to catch the action on Daktronics LED video displays.

Apr 29, 2008

Flyers know how to work up the crowd

More from Philadelphia -- an article from the Globe and Mail about how the Philadelphia Flyers are working up their fans for the playoffs. (Again via KuklasKorner)

"There's still a Philly flu," [Bernie Parent] says. "Only it's different. It used to be out on the ice, but now it's mostly in the crowd. When we won, I used to say 75 per cent of our success was the crowd."

Last night, it might have been closer to 100 per cent for the first two periods of the Flyers' 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens...

There was no need of the scoreboard announcer welcoming "the most intimidating fans in hockey" to the Wachovia Center. They know who they are — a crowd that would have made the lions wet themselves in Nero's Rome.

The atmosphere in the lead-up to the game was, well, surly, both inside and outside the Flyers' rink.

...

At the turnstiles, they handed out orange T-shirts with "Crush the Canadiens!" stencilled across the chest. They flashed "Vengeance Now!" across the wraparound scoreboard.

They offered a blistering booing in accompaniment of the Canadian anthem — "I didn't like it," Philadelphia goaltender and Quebec native Martin Biron said at game's end. They cheered through a long rendition of God Bless America, with Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Flyers' play-by-play announcer Gene Hart, joining in a duet with the late Kate Smith, Smith coming in from some other dimension courtesy of grainy film.

...

They were handed blowup orange thundersticks and, for a select few, blowup sledgehammers just in case the visiting Canadiens didn't get the point.

The scoreboard announcer predicted a "nasty, bloodthirsty" game to answer the "nasty" Montreal Canadien, Tom Kostopoulos, who offered up that controversial "face wash" to a Flyer to end the previous game in Montreal, which Philadelphia had won to even the series at one game apiece.

They showed a few select brawls on the scoreboard, particularly concentrating on those times in the past 41 years of Flyers history where they have pounded various Canadiens players to the ice, if not quite to a pulp.

They paraded out Ed Hospodar, Philadelphia hero of a famous 1987 pregame brawl between the Flyers and the Canadiens, and Hospodar brought the fans to their feet by rolling up his sleeves and doing a little shadow boxing.

They showed clips of what outside media — in this case Washington, home of the Capitals, the team the Flyers beat in seven games in Round 1 — had to say of Philadelphia's famously partisan fans and invited these fans to roundly boo any outside condemnation of their behaviour.

Kate Smith sings the anthem again in Philadelphia


From the National Post (as seen on KuklasKorner) ... the spirit of Kate Smith fills Wachovia Centre again this year in the playoffs.
More than 20 years after her death, the Philadelphia Flyers continue to channel the spirit of singer Kate Smith.

Born in 1907, Smith was a famous broadway, stage and radio singer whose name became synonymous with the song God Bless America after she sung it to glowing reviews on Armistice Day in 1938.

Even the song’s composer considered it sappy but in the hands of Smith, a big lady with a bigger voice, the song stirred patriotic feelings at a time when many Americans wanted nothing to do with the simmering conflict in Europe.

Years later, Flyers president Lou Schienfield hoped to tap into these patriotic feelings when he ordered Smith’s rendition of the song to be played prior to a Flyers game on Dec. 11, 1969, in lieu of The Star Spangled Banner.

The switch angered some but the Flyers beat Toronto 6-3 that night, and the Flyers soon developed a penchant for winning on nights when Smith’s song was played.

According to the fan Web site www.flyershistory.com, Philadelphia went 19-1-1 over the next three years when Smith’s song was played and 31-38-28 when it was left on the record shelf.

Smith’s first of four live performances at Flyers games did not happen until the home-opener of the 1973-74 season, a Stanley Cup year for the Flyers.

Click here to see a youtube video of Smith’s performance prior to the Flyers Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the Bruins on May 19, 1974.

The team turned to Smith again the following season, when she sang prior to a Game 7 semi-final win over the Islanders en route to Philadelphia’s second straight Stanley Cup.

Smith’s last live performance at a Flyers game was on May 16, 1976, a 5-3 loss to the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The win completed a 4-0 sweep of the Flyers and started a run of four straight Cup wins for the Canadiens.

The Flyers erected a statue outside the Spectrum in tribute to Smith in 1987 — a year after her death — in honour of her role as the team’s eternal good luck charm.

Singer Lauren Hart sang God Bless America at the Wachovia Center prior to Monday’s Game 3 of the East semi-final, but it was accompanied by film of Smith’s performances from the Flyers' Stanley Cup years.

The Flyers beat Montreal 3-2 on Monday to take a 2-1 series lead, proving perhaps that Smith’s song has not lost its magic when it comes to spurring on the Broad Street Bullies.

Check out some Lauren Hart & Kate Smith duet videos here.

Apr 28, 2008

Scott Adams on Amercia's Favorite Pastime

Here's a great description of "Little League Day" at a San Francisco Giants game, written by Scott Adams (creator of "Dilbert"):
Yesterday I went to a Giants baseball game. It was Little League Day, so there were about ten thousand young boys running wild in the stands. It was also free bat day, courtesy Bank of America.

I will pause while you digest this concept.

Do you know what happens when you hand an 8-year old boy a new bat, sit him behind the exposed heads of several adults, and ask him to sit patiently for four hours while nothing much happens on the big field in front of him? Do you think he fiddles with that bat?

...

My memory of the afternoon goes something like this: “TREVOR, PUT DOWN THAT BAT! YOU ALREADY HIT THAT LADY ONCE! I SAID, PUT IT DOWN! I MEAN IT! I WILL NOT TELL YOU FOUR HUNDRED MORE TIMES!” This was followed by the sound of wood making solid contact with skull, cursing, repeat.

My wife took a solid blow to the shoulder. Later, one of the tykes kicked some guy’s beer out of the back seat holder, so we sat in a puddle of beer, while the sun cooked us. I was one pinch of salt from being a recipe.

I tried to use the restroom at the stadium. This is no place for the shy. Unlike most public men’s rooms, where there might be a small privacy shield between urinals, this place was designed to handle high volume, shoulder-to-shoulder peeing. I saw an opening where I could poke my penis between a bearded guy and a guy with a fanny pack, just over the left ear of a Little Leaguer, but before I could make my move, someone filled the slot. I decided I could wait another three or four hours.

...

I wish someone would invent a device that allowed you to watch sporting events from your home. I think that would be popular.

Apr 25, 2008

Sharks fans boo Stars during the anthem

While we're not a fan of booing during the national anthems, there was a funny moment in San Jose tonight. Each time the anthem singer sang "STARS" or "STAR", the fans booed. I guess they were turning the Stars home ice anthem tradition on its head.

Apr 20, 2008

Washington Redskins perform at a cricket game in India

This is our first-ever post about game entertainment at cricket games. From the Washington Post:

BANGALORE, India, April 18 -- Squeezing through the gates of a sold-out 55,000-seat cricket stadium in steamy evening heat, Hashim Kerala made no attempt to hide his reason for coming to the season's opening match: Cheerleaders. Washington Redskins cheerleaders, to be specific.

In white go-go boots, yellow spangled short shorts and bikini tops, they pompomed their way onto the field, bursting right through local notions of modesty. The result was something that few in this cricket-obsessed nation thought possible: tens of thousands of male cricket fans finding it hard to keep their eyes on the game.

...

In many corners of the world, cricket is seen as slow-moving and stodgy, a vestige of British colonialism that is a cross between baseball and napping. Organizers of the newly founded Indian Premier League are hoping to drastically change that perception overseas, and bring new verve to the game for the home crowd as well.

So they've brought in 12 Redskins cheerleaders, who, in addition to performing, are mentoring a squad of Indian women. The league is also trying to win fans over to a shortened format of the game that is formally called "Twenty20," known colloquially as "cricket on crack." It condenses nearly a week of match play into three hours, with shorter "overs," which are similar to innings in baseball.

...

Beer and airline billionaire Vijay Mallya, who calls himself the king of India's good times, agrees. He owns the Bangalore Royal Challengers cricket franchise and invited the Redskins cheerleaders to the game, which pitted his team, on home turf, against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

They're owned by Shah Rukh Khan, India's top movie star. His team fielded its own cheerleaders, both male and female. But their black-and-gold uniforms were much less revealing than those worn by the Americans.

The Redskins cheer choreographer, Donald Wells, said the Indian cheerleaders he's working with are already adept at shaking their hips and staying on the beat. He noticed that Indian cheerleaders were very expressive with their hands -- Indian classical dance has countless hand motions -- and joked that they probably wouldn't need pompoms.

...

Cricket purists complain that the abbreviated version of the game is cheapening its traditional stately tone.

"Twenty20 Terror?" read the headline of an editorial in the Times of India, a major English-language newspaper. The paper noted worries that money might spoil the "good taste of cricket," but it also saw the shortened game, which was invented in England, as a sign of the times.

But it is often not only the fast-motion format of the new game that offends cricket purists.

The American women's presence has caused a stir across India, a conservative, Hindu-dominated country where even at the beach, women often shun swimwear in favor of saris, which are made of at least six yards of billowing fabric that covers everything from the neckline to the ankles, sometimes leaving the belly exposed. It's a country where the top female tennis star, Sania Mirza, who is Muslim, is often criticized for wearing short skirts on the court.

Some TV pundits pointed out that the Redskins cheerleaders are showing more skin on the cricket pitch than most Indian men will see before marriage.

At the game, the crowd roared every time the cheerleaders appeared on the big screen. "I wish I could wear a bikini, but that's not allowed for Indian women," said Bollywood actress Rakhi Sawant during a heated pregame debate on an Indian cable sports channel. Across South Asia, modesty is still an essential part of everyday life. Public affection is severely frowned on. Protests erupted last year after Richard Gere publicly kissed Bollywood starlet Shilpa Shetty.

...

Friday's event went smoothly. Though some newspapers had predicted protests, there were none. But there were Indian rock bands, smoke machines, stilt-walking butterflies, ballet dancers in clear plastic cocoons, trapeze artists, a laser-light show and a fireworks display. And, of course, cricket.

Read the entire article...

Mar 7, 2008

Everything you ever wanted to know about goal horns


Two of our most popular blog posts are about goal horns, and I bet this one will be just as popular.

There's a great thread on the Hockey Music Forum about the technology behind hockey goal horns -- complete with photos, videos, audio files, technical specifications, and more.

A sample: "We use a real freight train locomotive horn model "K3L" manufactured by Airchime. Our rinks is not large, however we have the horn specifically set so that it's loud and not ear piercing. The model Ottawa has is the same as ours, which is a three trumpet horn with the exception of the third trumpet which is a K5 and we use a K3. The K3 gives a deeper note than the K5 which is not hard on the ears if set at 60psi."

(The photo above is a Black Finish 4 Horn Kit & 2.0 Gallon Tank from HornBlasters.com)

Mar 4, 2008

Los Vegas Wranglers host "clubbing night"

We've seen lots of kids day promotions -- but this is the first sports promo we've seen that is "adults only". From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Tonight's game between the Wranglers and Stockton (ECHL) is scheduled to start at 9:05 p.m. in conjunction with the team's first "clubbing night" promotion. Admittance is open to ages 18 and older, and those 17 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

"Psychic Tanya," comedian Amazing Jonathan's assistant, will host a pregame cocktail party -- open to ages 21 and older -- starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Orleans Arena and DJ Franzen will entertain throughout the game.

Go-go dancers and models from Red agency will perform, R-rated movie clips from films such as "Slap Shot" and "Airplane" may be shown on the jumbotron during the game, and fans ages 21 and older are encouraged to join Wranglers players for an after-game party at Spin nightclub.

Mar 3, 2008

Capital Centre had the first video scoreboard

Here's a great "first" in game entertainment history, via Wikipedia:

"The Capital Centre (Washington, D.C.) was the first indoor arena to have a video replay screen on its center-hung scoreboard. The video screen was known as the "Telscreen" and predated the DiamondVision video screen at Dodger Stadium by seven years. It was also the first arena to be built with luxury boxes and a computerized turnstile system."

Blackhawks get a new theme song

The Chicago Blackhawks have a new theme song, written by Al Jourgensen of Ministry. You can listen to the track on MySpace.

(I still prefer "Here Come The Hawks".)
"Last fall, as the buzz began to build around the new, young Blackhawks team, Jourgensen decided he wanted to add to the momentum. In his studios rehearsing for their farewell tour, Al picked up on a guitar riff that hadn’t made his final album and started building what would become “Keys to the City,” a sports rock anthem that he presented as a gift to the Wirtz family and the Chicago Blackhawks in December of 2007. The Blackhawks have since embraced the song as a great opportunity to reach out to a new generation of Blackhawks fans; a worthy companion to the team’s official theme song, “Here Come The Hawks.”

...

Keys to the City
Though containing trademark intensity and guitar riffs, “Keys to the City” is less a traditional Ministry song, but more a classic sports anthem in structure. Built around a drum/bass line that recalls Garry Glitter’s “Rock n’ Roll Pt 2,” the song is a rallying cry for Blackhawk fans. Name checking the past Hawk greats like Hull, Mikita, Esposito and Savard, the song celebrates the resurgence of the Blackhawks and the quest to bring home the Stanley Cup to Chicago. It is already popular among the young Blackhawks players upon which the team is building its future championships.

Keys To The City

A song for the Chicago Blackhawks

Written By: Al Jourgensen, Josh Bradford, Paul Raven
Performed by: Ministry & Co-Conspirators
2007 13th Planet Music, Inc. P 2007 13th Planet Records, Inc.

Let’s Go Black Hawks! 3X
Want to Rock Want to Rock Want to Rock! 3X

Verse One
If you’re a Black Hawk you skate with pride
So many legends have played for our side
Mikita! Hull! Esposito! Savard!
To name a few, that’s why we play so hard
Want to Rock Want to Rock Want to Rock 3X

CHORUS ONE
We’re gonna get the Keys To The City
Gonna give it all in every game
We’re gonna get the Keys To The City
I want to hear you scream our name

“Let’s Go! Black Hawks!”
“Let’s Go! Black Hawks!”

Verse Two
Our players bleed Red, White and Black
We play for the Crest, and not the name on the back
The best fans in the NHL
United Center – it’s time to raise hell!
Want to Rock Want to Rock Want to Rock 3X

CHORUS TWO
We’re gonna get the Keys To The City
Win the Cup and have a big parade!
We’ll bring the Cup back home to Chicago
Show them all how real hockey is played……real hockey is played

“Let’s Go! Black Hawks!” Fighta Fighta Fighta
“Let’s Go! Black Hawks!” Skate-a Skate-a Skate-a
“Let’s Go Black Hawks!” Oh What A Team 2X

CHORUS ONE
CHORUS TWO – 3X



(via CC / The Daily Swarm)

Feb 24, 2008

Jersey retirements: too many in the NHL?

FaceOff.com has "head2head" debate on whether or not NHL teams retire too many numbers. Read it here...

Feb 23, 2008

In-game marriage proposal goes bad

This is probably a set-up ... still funny to watch nonetheless. (From the Houston Rockets.)


Valentines Day Proposal Goes Wrong - Watch more free videos

Feb 17, 2008

Ads on jersey, ads on rinkboards & more

Interesting article today in the Toronto Star about in-arena advertising in the National Hockey League: Is this the NHL's new look? Some highlights:
  • "...several NHL goalies have asked the league and its players union to consider starting a so-called Goaltender's Club. Revenue-generating initiatives for the club could include placing a corporate logo on the jerseys of the league's 60-odd goalies... on-uniform ads might generate upwards of $30 million a season for the NHL."

  • "One proposal shows Roloson's blue and orange team jersey with a small Rexall logo above the Oilers symbol. The drugstore chain's symbol could also be "sublimated (dyed right into the fabric) on a portion of the sleeve." A second proposal depicts Brodeur's Red Devils jersey. The team's NJ on the chest is positioned above a large tag for the bank UBS and adjacent to an RBC logo. Bank Morgan Stanley's symbol could be featured on the goalie's sleeves and shoulders. A third proposal shows Detroit goalie Hasek's red jersey, again with the Red Wings' logo front and centre above the larger symbol of insurance company AIG. The company's logo could also be displayed on the sleeves and on the bottom of the jersey's back. The presentation also suggests goalies be allowed to choose the jersey's colour and depicts Hasek's in black, blue, green and white styles."
  • "(Ritch) Winter has already been involved with one effort to narrow the gap between uniforms and ads. When he represented goalie Grant Fuhr, then with the Edmonton Oilers, Winter reached an agreement for Fuhr to receive $50,000 from soft-drink maker Pepsi in exchange for wearing a pair of pads that had been fashioned to resemble a blue, red and white Pepsi can in the 1989 All-Star Game. Former NHL president John Ziegler scotched that effort."

  • "The introduction of ads on arena rink boards in the late 1970s was a turning point for the NHL's ties to corporate North America, say several sports-sponsorship experts. Some 55 years after the six hockey teams banded together to create the NHL, in 1972 The Gillette Co. wanted to build awareness for its new, twin-blade razor, the Trac 2. Gillette agreed to pay about $10,000 to place a five-metre-wide ad on the boards at centre ice in the Moscow arena where Paul Henderson and Team Canada would make history against their Soviet rivals. "
  • "It wasn't long before NHL owners were debating whether they should follow suit. The Minnesota North Stars were the first franchise to debut rink board ads. The team sold eight pairs at $3,000 a pair. Throughout the 1980s, more ads on rink boards began to sprout in NHL arenas."

  • "Not everyone embraced the idea. In 1980, CBS televised a hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York and refused to show any of the rink-board ads. Whenever players skated near the ads, the camera focused on the players' skates, gambling the puck would appear in the picture."

  • "There are also subtle ways to spur revenue. A year ago, the NHL ordered rink-board ads, which sell for as much as $600,000 a pair for a season, to be reduced in width from 3.6 to 3.2 metres, so the league could squeeze more ads in rinks, says Toronto sports marketer Bob Stellick, a former Maple Leafs marketing executive."
  • "To be sure, the NHL is far from the first league to face challenges and criticism as it builds closer ties to its corporate supporters. In 1998, organizers of the Rose Bowl began selling naming rights to the historic college football game when it struck a deal with AT&T. And NASCAR has turned itself into a marketing juggernaut thanks to its racing teams' seamless ties to team sponsors.

  • "Even on-uniform ads have become more commonplace. On Jan. 24, 1976, at a soccer stadium in the middle-class English city of Kettering, an otherwise unremarkable band of players trudged onto the field straight into history books. Wearing red tops with long white sleeves and lettering that read "Kettering Tyres" across the front, the Kettering Town Poppies became the first in British soccer history to compete in a pro game wearing jerseys emblazoned with a sponsor's logo."

  • Read the entire article...

Jan 25, 2008

From the archives: Morganna the Kissing Bandit retires

Here's an article from 2001 that appeared on seattlepi.com:
"Morganna the Kissing Bandit," who for more than two decades became baseball's unofficial mascot by jumping onto fields and bussing unsuspecting players -- including George Brett at the 1979 All-Star Game in the Kingdome -- has kissed the game goodbye.

"Three or four months ago, she called me up and said, 'I'm retiring,'" her Tulsa-based agent Jon Terry said. "I have no information on why it was so abrupt, as she was someone who obviously loved attention.

"I don't if she thought she was too old or if it was a health problem. But she was as vivacious as ever. She's the grand dame of baseball."

...

An overly buxom woman who used to dress in hot pants and a tight shirt for her madcap dashes, Morganna is 47 now. She's no spring -- or San Diego -- chicken.

And, face it, she's been doing her player smooching in the minors for much of the past decade.

"She was greeted with a polite response from the 1,300 in the stands," a Charleston, W.Va., columnist wrote recently of a Morganna visit.

A Kentucky native, Morganna was 17 when she attended a 1971 Cincinnati Reds game and a friend dared her to run out on the field at Riverfront Stadium and give Pete Rose a kiss. Rose swore at her for the intrusion, then called her and apologized the next day.

It was the first of nearly two dozen big-league baseball kisses and one of hundreds involving entertainers and other athletes for Morganna, who realized the value of publicity. A Cincinnati sportswriter dubbed her the Kissing Bandit. It was a life of crime she could handle.

Either invited or uninvited, Morganna tried to plant a kiss on someone in each ballpark nationwide. Among her victims were Cal Ripken, Johnny Bench, Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly and Nolan Ryan. Brett got kissed twice. Her Mariners choice for a wet one was former catcher Steve Yeager.

At the '79 All-Star game, Morganna waited seven batters before bounding onto the Kingdome field in the first inning and sprinting for Brett. He got a hug and a kiss. The Mariners were said to have paid for this moment, according to one source.

"Definitely not for the All-Star Game," said Randy Adamack, Mariners vice president with the club since 1978. "We might have done it a few years later, maybe air fare."

In 1986, Morganna showed up in Seattle during the first week of the season and targeted Yeager. A notorious tobacco-chewer, the catcher received only a peck on the cheek. The visit was strategic.

"I told my fans I was going to New York after Mattingly, but their security was ready for me, so I thought I'd surprise everybody," Morganna told the P-I's Art Thiel in a Kingdome security office that night. "I had been planning to kiss Yeager for quite a while. Fans kept suggesting him. I had a break in my schedule and this looked like a good time."

Along the way, Morganna became an exotic dancer, working regularly in Las Vegas, Houston and Oklahoma City. It was good money, sometimes $7,000 to $10,000 per week. In 1985, Morganna was even brought to Tacoma to highlight the grand opening of a local club, Night Moves. She danced topless, signed T-shirts and drew a huge crowd.

...

She often signed her autographs "With breast wishes, Morganna."

Her kissing vocation was not all laughs and giggles. She was arrested and charged with trespassing nearly 20 times, often spending 12 to 14 hours in jail and paying a $100 fine.

You can read more about Morganna on SRO Productions' "Hall of Fame" page, including a little more background onto why she retired. In short -- the world changed, and teams became more concerned with security.

Jan 20, 2008

Boston Celtics fans love Gino Vanelli

Macleans.ca has a very entertaining story about how Gino Vannelli, a Canadian pop icon from the 70's and 80's, has become a huge hit at Boston Celtics games.

Earlier this season, the team started showing a very cheesy disco video on their scoreboard. Here's a look:


The video has become a staple at Celtics home games, a hit with fans and players, and has even spawned a line of merchandise. Other than the t-shirt, this all has nothing to do with Gino Vannelli -- although he has jokingly suggested he'd like to sing the anthem.

Here's how Macleans describes it:
"As the clock runs down on another Boston Celtics home victory, a disco anthem blares over the arena sound system and the scoreboard begins flashing clips from a 1970s episode of American Bandstand. One on-screen dancer in particular gets the crowd on its feet, cheering during every game: a bearded man whom Celtics faithful call “Gino” because of his tight T-shirt, which bears the name and image of Montreal-born singer, composer and one-time disco heartthrob Gino Vannelli.

The Celtics arena staff waits until a stoppage in play late in the game, when the result is beyond any doubt, before cuing up the music and getting Gino Time underway. Every time Gino appears in the montage of dancers, the crowd hoots and screams his name."

Jan 16, 2008

Minnesota Wild: "Retro style" game entertainment

Check out this great mini-review of the Minnesota Wild's game entertainment, by Jon Cudo over at GameOps.com.

Jon visited the Wild nearly eight years ago and loved their "retro style" game entertainment. He went back this season, and it sounds like he enjoyed it even more:
At the time the Wild we new and building their game entertainment in a somewhat retro-style. Their show was light on the current theatrics, mascots, and wacky contests and heavy on a focus on the traditions of Minnesota hockey.

Now eight years later it was a real treat to watch their game presentation which has stayed true to that traditional focus and had built and trained an amazing fan base. The show is as unique as you will see in its style and as effective as I have seen.
The team has kept many traditions, like having a celebrity introduce the game by leading all fans in a “Let’s Play Hockey!” battle cry. On this night it was Minnesota ball base legend Paul Molitor. The have also augmented their show with a nice variety of more standard fan prompt videos, which kept the show fresh without making it seem like everyone else’s show. Read more...

Forbes magazine on America's top sports mascots

Check out this article from Forbes about mascots and sports marketing. Some highlights:
  • "What started out as a gimmick to entertain fans during breaks in the action has become an ultra-important component for major- and minor-league sports teams looking to market at the grass roots by nabbing new fans at increasingly earlier ages."
  • "According to market researcher The Marketing Arm, original, modern mascots like the Chicken and the Philadelphia Phillies' Phillie Phanatic score the most recognition and resonance with fans ... Other mascots that scored highly on The Marketing Arm's Davie-Brown Index are Mr. Met (New York Mets), the Racing Sausages (Milwaukee Brewers) and Sourdough Sam (San Francisco 49ers). A common theme among the most popular: All are kid-friendly."

  • "Rare nowadays is the vicious-looking tiger, or the fierce, non-politically-correct "Indian" wielding a tomahawk. Mean and scary is out, warm and fuzzy is in--all the better to warm youngsters' hearts. Bring a second-grader to a football or baseball game, and there's little chance he'll understand what's going on down on the field. But that muppet-like dinosaur or blue horse roaming the stands will draw his attention immediately. It's what will stay in his memory long after the game is over, all but ensuring an upbeat first impression. Presto: a fan for life."

  • In addition to helping secure kids' allegiances, clubs utilize mascots to keep their images up in the local community. The Dallas Cowboys' Rowdy (a cowboy guy) and Chicago Bulls' Benny, both of whom made the Davie-Brown most-recognized list, are just two of the many mascots who represent teams at local hospitals, store openings and other assorted events."

(via GameOps.com)