Old Timers Lost In A New Era?

It was with some shock and disappointment that amidst the Yes Network’s televising of Yankees Old Timers Day Sunday it was mentioned that it is the only Old Timers celebration in baseball, surprising as that may seem. A sport that prides itself on its history and tradition, that once had a sponsored nationwide series that honored its stars of the past in ballparks across the country, has dismissed an annual gathering as cost prohibitive and unsponsorable. Maybe its time for a relook, here is why.

First, one of the beauties of Yankees Old Timers is not just for its superstars, its to honor some of the players who meant much to the team yet were not Hall of Fame quality. For every Reggie Jackson, there was Lee Mazzilli. For every Yogi Berra there was Pat Kelly. It was a celebration of all pieces of the brand, with many sponsorable parts if needed. Many former players would look for ancillary dollars for meet and greets and clinics, or maybe a more extensive panel on a select event in team history, a championship anniversary for example. Those dollars and the value they bring in good will add up over time, especially with athletes who will not command high dollars for their alumni. It does not have to be overly commercial, but the added value to bring in guys…planned out well in advance, can make an annual event a winner.

However one of the hidden gems that still goes ignored in the sales area remains special events and programs tailored towards Baby Boomers. teams always strive to cater to the young, the hip, the time crunched, yet those with ancillary dollars to spend and an interest in the sport and its past stars are those 50 and older. Creating an event, or a series of events, that include “Old timers” but geared toward that audience would make great sense again. It takes time to plan and execute, but that demo, especially that demo that is active, is still very well sought after by brands, and combining a feel good event like an Old Timers Day with a brand targeting baby boomers would be a win for both. Even for teams who say that it is too cost prohibitive to bring in former stars from around the country there are plenty of solutions…local legends, former MLB’ers from other teams, front office officials, coaches etc all make for great guests, great talk and great memories.

In other sports there are both good and bad in alumni programs as well. The Packers do an amazing job with their alumni, as do the Giants in the NFL. However there is not the tradition that there is in baseball, where recent retirees can still take the field and get in a few licks for an inning or two. hopefully the connection to the past is revived through Old Timers activities at parks around the country. As the population ages the opportunity grows again, and so could the sponsor dollars.

What’s In A Stadium Name? More Than Dollars….

A few years ago the new owners of the Miami Dolphins were met with a skeptical eye when they effectively came up with a creative and short term naming rights solution for their oft-confused stadium. Land Shark Stadium, part inspired by a minority investor (Jimmy Buffett) became the temporary name of the home of the Dolphins and the Marlins. Those in the business community wondered if the short term fix for cash and publicity would become the standard and effectively devalue the naming rights deals around the country and around the world. After all, the naming rights business, like the economy, had taken a heavy hit in recent years, with corporations thinking twice and three times about spending millions to slap a name on a buildings, and owners thinking even more about the investment in branding only to have a company be sold and change its name. The always skeptical media also had their own issues, trying to figure out what to call a building once a name changes, and how far the corporate rights went into editorial.

Since the Land Shark deal, there hasn’t been a flurry of short term deals coming to the table. What we have seen is the retention of team names in lieu of short term, and then some creative naming deals that look to other assets to play with in addition to just the building names. In Kansas City the value of the newly opened and recently named Livestrong Sporting Park (profiled in SBJ this week) is not in a dollar for naming rights, it is in a community branding partnership that will make the team (Sporting Kansas City) more of a public trust than just a brand that plays in the area. That feeling of public trust, which makes the players, the logo, the coaches, a part of the community year-round was felt to be more valuable than the dollars a local company may have invested as a good buy. It is a co-investment designed to grow the Livestrong brand and the MLS franchise, while at the same time finding other like-minded paying partnerships that could capitalize on the relationship. Risky? Yes. Was there an alternative? Perhaps. Can it work? TBD.

Then there is the deal that Rutgers University cut this week to sell its football naming rights to New Jersey-based High Point Solutions
. Critics say that the deal sullies tradition and further corporatizes college sports. Proponents see it as a way for Rutgers to keep funding and growing their athletic programs without dipping into the public til, which is strapped in New Jersey for anything education related, let alone sports related. What the deal essentially does is help Rutgers, and grow a New Jersey based company’s awareness and visibility at no loss to the taxpayer. Rutgers becomes only a handful of colleges to effectively sell its naming rights at a price that the market dictated. Is Rutgers the last University to do so? No. it probably set a new standard for such deals. Those who worry about “tradition” at the birthplace of college football should be more encouraged about a new tradition that Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti, and those who helped broker the deal at Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, created. One where a local or state-owned rising corporation can partner to find private sector dollars to fund public projects. An endowment it is not. But an opportunity to tie a technology company to an institute of higher learning is smart and creative and was not done in a vacuum. It is not selling scholarships, it is showing the value that Rutgers football has to the business community in New Jersey, in a way that makes sense for all involved.

Lastly, there is this feeling by some that the selling of such rights and packaging them as large scale partnerships will cheapen team brands or tradition. There are some team brands…Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park etc…that transcend the value of corporations. Those brands are multimillion dollar investments on their own and can stand above a flood of alternative dollars. They are however, the exception and not the rule. The cash challenged environment sports works in today has created both challenges and opportunities, and the creative ways to address those concerns are showing up in many places, even in naming rights deals. Maybe in a better economy these deals would not exist. However we are challenged today to fund and grow businesses in non-traditional ways, and these are the latest examples of how to generate interest, offset cost and grow brand in a new way. It’s not easy, it may be a bit controversial, but it certainly is creative.

Can “Brand Jimmer” Lift A Faith Too?

It is an interesting time for the Mormon religion. A Broadway show by the creators of South Park mocks the faith but gives it great visibility and the ability to laugh at itself…it boasts not one but two Presidential candidates, and it has one of the most marketable basketball personalities in Jimmer Fredette, who Thursday night became a member of the Sacramento Kings, the capital city of the Sunshine State with a Mayor who understands the rigors of the NBA (Kevin Johnson) and fought to keep Joe and Gavin Maloof’s team in the city for now.

So with all that exposure, good, bad and curious, can the brand of Jimmer Fredette help the Mormon religion grow as well? Now Fredette obviously is not the first BYU alum to make it to big time sports recognition, nor will he be the last at a school that puts a great priority on athletics balanced with academics and a moral high ground. Fredette’s cult following earned him over 2 million views on a YouTube Channel following him up to and through the draft, visibility no other top draft pick, nor many NBA players, can match. He is not shy about his faith or his ability to play hoops, and if he makes the transition to the NBA grind, he can be a very interesting ambassador for a larger cause that has gotten and will continue to get some pretty unique visibility through sports, the arts and politics in the coming year. The fact that Fredette will take his style of play to arguably the most liberal state in the country and play for a team needing a new identity will also be an added plus for anyone associated with “Brand Jimmer,” but his presence does present some very unique opportunities to have the general public better understand the Mormon faith. Now it’s not to say that Fredette will be out doing missionary work when he leaves Arco Arena, but he can help clarify issues that exist and maybe make people think twice when considering the understanding of his beliefs and millions of others. The power of Fredette’s messaging certainly won’t be lost on the elders of the church, who have taken on a large campaign to better educate people on who and what Mormon is, in light of the success of “Book of Mormon” on Broadway. Could Fredette’s draw also help in a White House battle?

Keep in mind President Obama used his ability as a sports fan, especially a basketball player, to identify with thousands of casual fans and lukewarm voters in the last election. Can candidates Romney or Huntsman subtly use Jimmer success to gain some ground or assist in a platform when their campaigns ramp up? Part of that will be determined by Fredette’s success on the court. If he becomes a fan favorite and plays well, the Jimmer references will begin, if he fizzles, well, that’s showbiz. Fredette’s style and persona is certainly throwback, and he electrified thousands with his play at BYU, now if it translates into NBA success, his calling could help elevate not just brands and the team he plays for, but also the understanding and acceptance of a religion which may be largely misunderstood but is certainly warming to the bright lights and big stage now perhaps more than ever before.

BP Looks To Baseball As A Roadmap To Recovery

It has been a long road back for BP, trying to restore consumer confidence in the brand after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Partners abandoned them, consumers rebelled, government officials encouraged boycotts, and change came. However slowly and steadily the company has rebuilt consumer confidence, and although it may never have a day where the brand is not associated with the oil spill, there is more and more good will occurring to connect the brand again with positive actions in the community.

Some of those recent ties have occurred with Major League Baseball clubs the brand has been associated with. In the spring, BP joined the Cleveland Indians in a “BP sponsors BP (batting practice) promotion.” The idea took a relatively pristine time before a game, when fans are coming in and strolling the park, and gave BP a forum to subtly create promotions and get their positive community messages out. It also gave them a forum to create some fun fan and consumer promotions, giving access to areas for an up close and personal experience.

Then this past week the brand added even more enhancements to their promotional partnerships with the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, sponsoring the crosstown rivalry in interleague play. The brand also launched a digital platform, BPLittleThings.com, that asks both Cubs and White Sox fans to share one little thing that makes Chicago baseball special to them. Through August, a select number of eligible fan entries will be displayed in dynamic advertisements around the city on the Red Line, at bus shelters and through unique outdoor projections at U.S. Cellular Field and near Wrigley Field. BP is also supporting the campaign through a multimedia advertising effort including radio, print and digital buys. The effort is just one way that the brand will celebrate its second-year sponsorship of the Cubs, White Sox and the BP Crosstown Cup in Chicago.

BP also plans to give its customers a chance to win one of more than 50,000 fan prizes as part of the BP Crosstown Cup instant-win game, which returns to more than 450 gas stations in the Chicagoland area starting today. Customers who fill up with 10 gallons or more of BP gasoline with Invigorate now through August 2, can go inside at participating BP stations to request a scratch-off game card that could be an instant winner of a Cubs or White Sox experience, like the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs or White Sox home game, a home entertainment package, or a $10 BP Gift Card while supplies last. BP launched its sponsorship with both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox in 2010, coinciding with formation of the BP Crosstown Cup, the first official structure to the teams’ interleague rivalry, symbolized by a namesake trophy.

The work with both the Chicago teams and the Indians are a smart grassroots way to show the consumer that the little things that brands do can make a difference for consumers, and that the accident in The Gulf was a lesson learned, and one that the company has taken very seriously with a road map to recovery in brand. They are great next steps, well timed ahead of the summer vacation season, and smartly done with subtle messages that keep BP in a positive light without forgetting the issues of the past.

America loves baseball and its traditions, and spending dollars to innovate and engage through those traditions makes great sense to help the brand recover from the bottom on up. Some moves definitely worth a double, if not a homer, in the brand marketing space.

Catching A Simple Promotion Can Be The Best One…

Sunday morning as I was going to get bagels I heard New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan on “Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball” show on WFAN in New York talking about how the simplest of actions with his father, playing catch after work, were some of his brightest memories. Often times in big time sports and promotions it is the simple ideas that get lost as not glitzy or glammery enough, but with the right platform, can be the most effecting. Dolan’s thoughts this morning spurred one of those ideas.

Several years ago I was approached by a colleague, Lance Laifer, to see if there was a way to create awareness for an anti-Malaria campaign he had organized, and do it through sport. The idea was simple, take a nerf basketball hoop and pass it around with a ball through Madison Square Garden, letting each person in the arena dunk the ball, and with each dunk a dollar would be donated to charity. At some point it was going to become a logistical nightmare, setting the world’s largest dunk record, but the event worked. It got exposure for the charity, and as the ball and hoop were passed around the lower seats, several NBA officials and even some players took notice. One was Dikembe Mutombo, who used the idea and the platform to continue to grow his own initiative to eradicate malaria in his native Congo by purchasing bedding nets. The link between the basketball net and the mosquito net was simple, and eventually led Laifer’s group to an association with the NBA, national exposure and fundraising, and a leadership position which has helped eradicate the problem of mosquito-born malaria in Congo and other parts of Africa. All from a simple, cost efficient plan to dunk a nerf basketball. But timing, part passion, part simplicity helped a small idea contribute in a big way.

So now back to playing catch. Every year the Northern League St. Paul Saints hold the “World’s Largest Game of Catch” to kick off their promotional season. A simple act connects fans of all ages in a communal and promotable activity that links young and old, boy and girl, dad and son, mom and daughter. Timeless, simple, easy. So with all the charities, initiatives and campaigns out there, why hasn’t anyone latched on to a “Simple game of Catch” as an easy promotion at the Major League level? Lots of teams do runs around the bases, sleepovers and giveaways, but a linked, simple game of catch can be an amazing communal experience either as a fund raiser or as a stand-alone promotion. problems with liability if Johnny gets hit in the head? Use a soft ball. Problems in moving it along? Like Laifer’s idea make it a nerf promotion that goes around the stands and finishes on the field. If the simple act of dunking a nerf hoop literally helped to change lives, then a simple game of catch could as well. Just an idea.

And with that, Happy Father’s Day to all.

Good Year, Brand Hockey

The post-game rioting aside, the recently completed NHL Finals between Boston and Vancouver capped what was another huge step forward in terms of visibility and brand growth for the NHL. Even in New Jersey, where the Devils horrific start doomed their playoff hopes early, New Jersey continued to make off-ice progress in growing their brand with a series of smart and effective promotions, capped off with “Mission Control,” their state of the art fan engagement platform at the Prudential Center which gave fans the ability to log on and interact with all aspects of the team while at the game.

Boston’s win in the seven game finals was another positive shot in the arm for a sport which many had written off several years ago, but with a solid and effective partnership with NBC and VERSUS and the leadership of Commissioner Gary Bettman and COO John Collins and others, has again turned the corner in terms of growth and engagement. Even more importantly than its domestic growth, is the position that hockey continues to gain internationally again. The Vancouver Olympics were one of two key large scale action platforms hockey had last year (with the ever popular Winter Classic being the other) that catapulted “Brand NHL” to a new level of casual fan engagement globally. Even with the uncertainty for Sochi in 2014, hockey is more in the conversation today than ever before globally.

Another key factor in the growth of the game internationally has been the Kontinental Hockey League’s expanded presence in Europe and in North America. The KHL has done a good job of marketing itself as a brand to hockey fans outside of Russia, and has worked to find ways to tie back to fans here in the United States through social media and other goodwill programs. The latest of those programs will take place in New York this weekend, when the KHL, will sponsor a two game series between the hockey team made of New York City Fire Fighters and EMERCOM (Russian firefighters’ team), and then a Legends of the USSR team (including several former Devils) against an FDNY/NHL Alumni team on Sunday at the Aviator Sports Complex. All proceeds from the games will benefit the FDNY Widow’s and Children’s Fund. Does it mean that the KHL will get in an old fashioned “arms race” with the NHL for talent or start bringing games to North America in the near future? No. What it does mean is that the KHL’s brand will provide added exposure for hockey overall and will help sport growth at times of the year where hockey sometimes is off the map. No downside and lots of good will for the casual fan, and even more good news for casual and die-hard hockey fans.

In short, brand hockey had a great year. Good will, international growth, an exciting Stanley Cup run, more sponsors, new diverse TV contract, the crowning of a champion in a city that loves the sport, digital innovation, fan engagement, all factored in. Even the Thrashers move back to Winnipeg is not terrible. What’s next? Hopefully labor peace and an added global presence, with lots of affordable fun for the casual and die hard fan to enjoy.

Action Sports In the Apple A Worthwhile Move?

There have been very few niche sports that have been able to crack through the big money and big challenges of the New York market. Beach volleyball, arena football, Olympic sports, indoor soccer, arm wrestling, tae kwon do, non-NFL branded football, MMA (outside of the still-banned UFC), indoor lacrosse, outdoor lacrosse, non-US Open tennis all have come and gone with some visibility but with great financial loss. Some, like the PBR and to some extent World Team Tennis, have found a nice and some staying power with cost-controlled and better timed success, but the battle is not an easy one. It is expensive to stage, even more expensive to market and difficult to maintain and grab attention of a consumer who has little time and different degrees of discretionary income.

So with that as the challenge, today the power of Madison Square Garden rolled out a huge display of Action Sports events in the Crossroads of the World, Times Square. Huge jumps and flips captivated passersby, and certainly played well on the jumbotrons, which made for a great platform to launch a new partnership division that will look to bring a younger demo connected by the brands’ sports-related TV network (MSG Network), its music outlet (Fuse) and other Cablevision-related and MSG connected assets (Newsday, MSG Varsity etc.) into one cohesive content driven arena. It is the latest attempt to find ways to link the large offerings that MSG has in a cost-efficient way that will diversify and draw new dollars, partners and consumers to a brand that is largely known for the Knicks and the Rangers and their other pro hockey offerings these days. Will it work?

Sitting in the near future is a surfing event with large dollars (and hopefully large waves) sponsored by the apparel and lifestyle brand Quiksilkver, which will be held in Cablevision-dominated Long Island in September. Two weeks ago a mega-combination pro and amateur skateboard event was held in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, also a heavy Cablevision area. Other action events marketed by sports entities at the grassroots level have done well, most notably Maloof Sports work with skateboarding competitions. And unlike many other properties, MSG controls the most valuable pieces of such a co-promotion…TV time across a set of networks that can draw not just from sports, but from a music and action culture as well. Now the production cost as well as the marketing costs in New York are still high but the ability to build a following and then grow that platform in a summer season when there is a need to fill programming is a good step forward. It also opens up all areas of MSG’s assets to a new market, and may be able to help lure in some extra eyes who may not be interested in Henrik Lundquist or Carmelo Anthony most of the time, but will be more interested through a different connection. Another area of growth is in digital and social media. Event and media companies are still struggling to find the right mix of digital and social engagement with their core demo, and can probably learn a great deal through the field training and experience of being around the attendees and participants in the action sports category. Yes there is risk. At the end of the day, MSG and other properties make money on their core business, professional hoops and hockey and other large ticketed events. Attempts at branching out into secondary businesses have failed before, which has resulted in MSG becoming much more of a rental building for other events than an active partner. That actually is the reason for the failure of other niche sports in recent years…too much to stage, too much to produce media, which led to too high a loss. With MSG having a stake in the sport, there are economies of scale and inventory that others never had the opportunity to bring to the table.

That gives action sports as a platform a chance in the Apple, and probably gives MSG a new, sellable commodity for an audience which may not think twice for hoops or hockey.

In Minor League Hockey, Timing Is Everything…

Minor League baseball is known as a quaint and affordable right of passage in America. In most communities it is a fun way to pass a few hours and get a good feel for the game, especially with little kids. Minor league hockey has often sought to be the winter alternative, and in some markets it has succeeded, but the lack of sunshine, and in many cases state of the art facilities, has really made the minors in hockey still more about player development and hard hits than a rite of passage for families. At the lowest rung of minor league hockey in the Northeast is the Federal League. Now going into its second year, the league (named after the minor league in the legendary movie “Slapshot,” but without the Charlestown Chiefs of the late Paul Newman) plays to small crowds in a handful of outposts in and around Connecticut and upstate New York, as well as in Brooklyn, where the Aviators try and fill the beautiful but small and isolated Aviator Arena near the Brooklyn/Queens border with just over 1,000 fans. It is an only stop for some and a last stop for others trying to hold on to a dream of professional hockey.

One franchise that has tried to take the minor league baseball approach and has succeeded to some extent, is the Danbury (Ct.) Whalers. The Whalers, tucked away in a corner of the state hard by the New York border, have filled their arena on many nights with quality entertainment and OK hockey, and work as hard as any team to engage the community and the local businesses. They pulled their name from the Whalers of NHL/WHA fame a year before former NHL owner Howard Baldwin bought the Hartford minor league team, renamed the Wolfpack the Connecticut Whale, and began his quest again to bring NHL hockey back to The Nutmeg State. That confusion in the marketplace hasn’t slowed the Whalers in their Federal league quest for success. This past week the Whalers took advantage of timing and the Bruins run to the NHL Finals with a unique announcement and publicity play. The team was looking for a new coach, and in their organization resided Phil Esposito. Not the Hall of Famer and former Bruin and Ranger, but a younger man with all the right acumen to coach and help grow the team. So on the night of Game Five of the NHL Finals, the Whalers named Phil Esposito their head coach. The karma didn’t pay off for the B’s, who lost game five to Vancouver 1-0, but it did generate some buzz with the timing for the Whalers, and obviously opens the door for some unique recognition and promotion for the team next year. Had they waited or done the announcement earlier, the media would have missed the story. However by landing on a Finals night, the Whalers scored some fun promo time and helped draw casual interest, which is what the minors is all about.

Can Phil coach? Who knows? Was the announcement noteworthy now and into the offseason for a small Federal League team in Connecticut? For sure. Well done and best of luck Espo.

From Players To Teams, NBA Runs Its Digital Play

Much has been made, and rightly so about MLB.com’s innovation and NHL.com’s savvy in the digital space. However over time, especially with such a solid NBA Finals going on, the NBA, their teams and their players has again found unique, effective and very positive ways to use social media to engage, grow and promote products, teams, players and events, without slamming platitudes over ones head time and again.

Last week the league let Fast Company’s Jason Feifer behind the curtain for a well documented piece on how the league has grown their engagement and what they do, and don’t do to activate in the space. The integration on league platforms is pretty seamless, and partners have the ability to create and then drive campaigns from one medium to another…TV to twitter, .com to radio. While that’s not driving huge dollars yet to the NBA coffers, it is growing an allegiance and getting a fan base which has trouble sitting still to pay a little more attention.

However the greatest piece of the NBA’s social engagement is the way it has been translated throughout every level of the league, from teams to athletes to officials. And while blogger policies are still evolving, largely due to space restrictions in arenas, they are becoming more integrated across the board in basketball than perhaps in any of the other major sports. Some other examples across the league of innovative engagement ranges from the Golden State Warriors use of social media to engage their bloggers, while the Boston Celtics incorporated a full blown social media workshop into their partners summit this week.

The New York Knicks took great strides to build out a full engaged web campaign to engage fans with product, special offers and access both home and away, while the Oklahoma City Thunder regularly posted players twitter handles on dasher boards throughout the playoffs, encouraging fans to follow along. Knicks fans also learned more about Amar’e Stoudamire, and probably had more access to him than their media did, by his strong social media engagement, where he not only shared his thoughts but gave fans the ability to know more about programs that he enjoyed away from the court, from charity to fashion. In Phoenix, the Suns digital team created a series of sponsor-related programs that note only increased visibility and buzz for the team but helped impact the bottom line by enhancing sponsorships partners and giving brands a direct ROI on promotion nights.

Then of course there is Shaquille O’Neal, whose retirement announcement was the culmination of a strongly developed fan engagement platform built out by his partners at Digital Royalty over time, the right person in the right medium.

Now is social media engagement the Holy Grail for all that ails professional sports these days? Heck no. Like every other form of engagement, some athletes take to the process and do well while some fall flat. Those who look at the medium as a money maker are still sadly mistaken, although pay to tweet and post programs with select athletes do work. Some teams are also still very protective of their messaging and aren’t yet ready to invest in full blown social media programs unless there are sponsor dollars tied to offset cost, and often times when you try to tie heavy sponsor messaging into a grassroots word of mouth program the sincerity of engagement is lost and the program dies. Even the best social media programs, without the mix of traditional media…TV and radio…still fall flat as there are still not enough consistent consumer eyes focused in any one place other than the TV to be truly and completely effective. Changing yes, but change is slow in coming. There is also the issue of WHO is engaged? Do you need the right 10,000 followers or do you really need millions, and who exactly are those people and what are you doing with them?

All of those questions are still in play through this medium, but rest assured the NBA from league through teams to players and staff, have really started addressing effective engagement and appear to be doing very well as they innovate and grow a fan base that remains as international and passionate as any in team sports.

Will A Club Take A Publicity Bite Out Of Weiner?

The media, social and conventional, have had a field day pillorying Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, whose work in New York had him on a fast track as a potential Mayoral candidate when Mayor Michael Bloomberg eventually steps down. The week long media frenzy, which reached new heights Monday when Rep. Weiner admitted a host of indiscretions and photos were actually his after a week of denial. For the sports world most just look on in shock and amazement, realizing that the spotlight is much wider, and the social media world is again much smaller, than even those in positions of ultimate power sometimes admit.

So now that even more is out in the open, will any minor league teams, usually looking for every potential advantage and promotion, look to take advantage of rep. Weiner’s problems and come up with their own version of Weiner Night? Would the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, or maybe other contests looking to gain publicity, also look to take advantage of the scandal and headlines? The guess is that Mr. Weiner’s popularity and clout will keep many New York based Minor league teams…especially the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones, or those upstate like the Hudson Valley Renegades…away from the fray at the risk of some backlash, especially while the storm over a man, his family and what was his good reputation are still very much in play. But will there be outreach for publicity from an Independent League team, or a club somewhere in the Midwest who may want to take advantage of the scandal in an area where New York is not held in such high regard? Some minor league hockey teams played off the O.J. Simpson scandal, and nary a celebrity or politician has been exempt from some sort of parody in the world of minor league sports as entertainment, no matter how questionable the taste sometime is. Now this scandal may not fit within the realm of family entertainment, and the Rep. may well be on the way to salvaging his political career, so the point may be considered but may also be moot Which team will fire the first salvo? Will be interesting to see.