A new type of marketing blitz for Stevenson

On a steamy turf field in Owings Mills, more than 100 young men are baking in the nearly 90-degree heat while coaches run drills like army sergeants and a few fatigued players stand on the sidelines sipping water under the watchful eye of a team trainer.

Welcome to Stevenson University football — the newest marketing tool for a school aiming to shed its small-time image since it changed its name from Villa Julie College two years ago.

Men’s football is the second athletics team the school has added since it changed its status to a university (women’s golf is the other), and Athletics Director Brett Adams said investing in sports is part of the plan to attract more students, offer a well-rounded college experience and keep alumni connected.

“It helps develop a passion for the university, and down the road those people give back,” Adams said after a news conference in which Stevenson unveiled its new Mustangs logo and football helmet. “In the short term, you can’t get better marketing [during the off-season] than happy football players wearing their Stevenson shirts at the beach.”

For the Orioles, selling hope is the key

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

With the chill of a particularly brutal winter finally replaced by warm sun and blue skies, it’s almost natural for most baseball fans to greet the start of baseball season with at least a glimmer of optimism and good spirits.

On the other hand, if you’re an Orioles fan who has endured a dozen straight losing seasons, that cupboard is pretty bare.

But there seems to be a buzz this spring in Baltimore that hasn’t been heard in years, and it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about the team and its future.

While many say it’ll still take time for the chatter to translate into bodies in the seats at Camden Yards, an average of 1,000 more fans per game are showing up at spring training games this year, an excitement that’s also fueled by the team’s new location in Sarasota. And some say the team, which opens its season on the road Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and its fans are heading to better days.

It’s not that the Orioles are selling hope and optimism inspired by a fresh start and everybody’s just happy to buy it — they’re selling a plan for the franchise that at least some Baltimoreans say they can believe in.

Tiger Woods needs to say more, PR pros advise

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Golf pro Tiger Woods may have accepted full responsibility for his multiple extra-marital affairs, but public relations professionals say a few more things need to happen before he can fully win back the hearts and minds of his public.

 They take issue with the fact that, despite it being his first public appearance since the details of his affairs began unraveling, Woods is still refusing to take questions from the press.

“At some point he’s going to have to answer some questions if he wants to rebuild his brand,” said John Maroon, president of Maroon PR in Marriottsville. “At some point you have to get that over with and move on with your life and he could have done that [Friday].”

Woods, who has not been seen or heard from since late November, appeared Friday at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. His event aired opposite the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, which started Wednesday in  Arizona. Accenture is one of the companies that dropped Woods as a sponsor.

WMAR outsourcing its 11 p.m. sportscast to PressBox

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer 

After months without a sportscaster of its own, Baltimore’s WMAR has turned to a local sports media company to produce sports segments on its nightly television newscasts — a move some say is a financial win for both companies but a potential loss for viewers.

PressBox, a Baltimore company with a monthly newspaper, a Web site, and weekly television and radio shows, started producing the script and voiceover for WMAR’s sportscasts more than a week ago and plans to officially announce the new relationship Monday.

A handful of PressBox writers — including company founder Stan “The Fan” Charles and managing editor Kevin Heitz — serve as the nightly voice of the sportscast. A 90-second voiceover of highlights and news is recorded and sent to WMAR, where the video is later edited in and aired during the 11 p.m. newscast.

Apparel lifts Under Armour’s quarter

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc. beat analysts’ estimates and nearly doubled its fourth-quarter profit in 2009 — an increase helped by gains in its apparel business during the holiday season, the company said Thursday.

The results prompted the athletic apparel maker to raise its 2010 projections by 10 to 12 percent to between $945 million and $960 million.

The company’s fourth-quarter net income increased by 83 percent to $15.2 million, or 30 cents per share, compared with $8.3 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier. Under Armour also reported a 22.5 percent rise in its profit for the year, netting $46.7 million compared with $36.2 million in 2008.

Crystal Palace is looking to baseball model

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

New Crystal Palace GM Keith LuptonWith a new league and — they hope — soon a new stadium, Baltimore’s minor league soccer team wants to model its business after minor league baseball in its goal to fill seats and become a regional destination and entertainment center for soccer fans.

To get there, Crystal Palace Baltimore is looking to new General Manager Keith Lupton to guide the team to the next level off the field. Lupton spent 28 years in the minor league baseball business and helped start and manage Baltimore Orioles affiliates in Frederick, Hagerstown, Bowie and Salisbury.

“I’m probably the least knowledgeable about soccer than everyone in this room, but that’s not my job,” he said at a Wednesday news conference at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. “My job is to get a new stadium up and fill the seats through season tickets, advertising, media and entertainment.”

Edie Brown: A friend in the PR arena

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer 

Edie Brown began working for what was then called the Baltimore Civic Center in 1983, after more than three years at the Baltimore Convention Center.Edie Brown can’t go anywhere in Baltimore without seeing someone she knows.

When asked how many people she knows here, the longtime public and community relations director for the 1st Mariner Arena just laughs.

“[Baltimore] is very neighborhood-oriented, so you kind of always stick to people that you know and you grew up with or went to school with who are in the same social circle, so you don’t really expand out of that little circle,” she said. “This has given me the opportunity to meet terrific people I never would have met otherwise. It helps you stay young and alert.”

And while she may have framed photos of herself and Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Phelps and Sugar Ray Leonard in her office, the 76-year-old has made her career by treating everyone who crosses her path as a friend.

Md. Lottery ads concern racing commission

Daily Record Business Writer
September 15, 2009 7:14 PM

Concerns raised by state horse racing officials Tuesday took on a new flavor as some worried events inside the state lines will hurt attendance this fall at Laurel Park.

The comments are a deviation from the industry’s overlying concern that gambling opportunities at race tracks in Delaware and Virginia are drawing attendance away from Maryland’s tracks. Most recently, parlay sports betting opened at Delaware tracks last week.

At a Maryland Racing Commission meeting held at Laurel, commission members expressed their disapproval of a campaign being run by the Maryland State Lottery that advertises Racetrax, a virtual reality horse racing game. They said they felt the ads, which encourage consumers to “experience the sights and sounds of the race track without the smells,” discourages attendance at the real race tracks.

“It’s outrageous to compete against ourselves — especially because we aren’t getting any cut out of this for purses,” commissioner John McDaniel said.

O’Malley slams Anne Arundel County for slots inaction

Daily Record Business Writer
August 6, 2009 7:33 PM

Gov. Martin O’Malley told nearly 250 people at the Maryland Horse Forum that the Anne Arundel County Council’s failure to vote on a slots facility is delaying progress in the horse industry.UPPER MARLBORO — In a speech to the Maryland horse industry Thursday, a frustrated Gov. Martin O’Malley said industry progress is being stalled by the Anne Arundel County Council.

The council has delayed a zoning vote several times that would allow a slot machine at Arundel Mills mall and is not expected to vote until the fall — after the state has awarded the first slot machine licenses elsewhere.

“The Anne Arundel County Council needs to make a decision so we can move forward,” O’Malley said, pounding the podium. “The legislature has made its decision, the voters have made their decision, now Anne Arundel County needs to make a decision.”

The governor was the keynote speaker at the Maryland Horse Forum held at Upper Marlboro’s Show Place Arena. The forum was attended by about 250 people in the racing, recreational and breeding side of the industry, as well as state officials.

In the question-and-answer session after his speech, O’Malley confirmed that the three other sites designated for slots in the state that received licensee applications were moving forward. But the site in Anne Arundel County, which allots for nearly 5,000 slot machines, is by far the largest designation in the state and potentially the biggest revenue generator.

Buzz over O's prospect Wieters has entrepreneurs hopeful

Daily Record Business Writer
May 28, 2009 8:21 PM

It’s Matt Wieters time, Hon.

Friday night’s anticipated debut of baseball’s top prospect in a Baltimore Orioles jersey has elicited a frenzy of chatter and excitement among fans and media — and it’s a buzz the team and quick-thinking entrepreneurs are hoping to cash in on.

Ian Oland, left, and Daniel Moroz, co-founders of, a blog dedicated to Baltimore Orioles newest catcher Matt Wieters.“Clearly for someone who’s yet to have an at-bat in the major leagues, the hype is enormous,” said Orioles spokesman Greg Bader.

One Web site,, run by Daniel Moroz and Ian Oland, has been averaging 3,500 hits a day and 1,400 unique visitors since the Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail announced Wieters’ call-up during the Tuesday night game’s broadcast.

“It’s been really, really nuts,” said Oland, 24, a graphic designer in Columbia and author of the I Never Stop Designing blog. “I think the better he plays the better our traffic is going to be.”

Charter operators fishing for customers this season

Daily Record Business Writer
May 21, 2009 7:26 PM

OCEAN CITY — The problems may be different this summer for Ocean City’s charter boat operators, but the worries are the same.

Shepherd University student Anthony Pino spends his summers as a first mate on the Marlin Magic, but he doesn’t see a future for himself in the industry.After their worst season in decades — thanks to high fuel prices and a poor tuna fishing season — this year the boat captains will have to deal with the recession.

Although last year’s season was described with words like “horrible” and “devastating,” most operators in one of the resort town’s largest industries, who are hired for offshore fishing day trips, say matching 2008’s numbers will be good enough this year.

“We’re optimistic,” said Ron Callis, captain of the Shelly II. “The fuel’s less than half what it was last summer, so that alone will save us some money.”

Added Brian Tinkler, general manager at the Sunset Marina: “Last year the boats didn’t move. It’s still anybody’s guess for this year with the economy, but we’re encouraged by the fuel prices.”

The long road to uncertainty

Daily Record Business Writer
May 14, 2009 6:57 PM

On a typical Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, longtime Maryland horse racing reporter Dale Austin could walk into the racetrack’s press box and find it flooded with at least 25 or 30 reporters.

“Pimlico was a red-hot place, the hottest in the East,” said Austin, who covered racing for The Baltimore Sun for 29 years. “You could go up to a window in Washington to get a ticket the day of a Redskins game, and, except for Opening Day, you couldn’t fill up the ballpark for baseball games. But there’d be 20,000 people at the racetrack in Maryland.”

But that was in 1962.

And since that time, perhaps the only thing that the horse racing industry nationwide and in Maryland has done is consistently miss the boat, falling further into obscurity and an uncertain future.

Maryland launches online sports venue directory

Daily Record Business Writer
May 8, 2009 9:04 PM

With the launch of a new online directory detailing the state’s more than 600 sports facilities, officials Left to right, Cal Ripken, Jr., President and CEO of Ripken Baseball; Christian Johansson, Secretary of DBED; Terrance Hasseltine, Director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing and John Morton III, Chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, announce new state online sports venue directory.say Maryland is finally “ready to play” as a destination for world-class sporting events.

“This is a $182 billion industry and is growing annually,” Terrance Hasseltine, the state’s sports marketing director, said at a press conference Friday at Camden Yards. “It’s time we go out for a bigger piece of that proverbial pie.”

Hasseltine was joined in the announcement by Cal Ripken Jr., whose Ripken Baseball operates the largest youth baseball complex in the state, and representatives from the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Preakness is a trademark of the Triple Crown

Daily Record Business Writer
April 16, 2009 8:15 PM

Despite the recent efforts to keep the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, the race’s status as the second leg of the Triple Crown is only loosely protected by a marketing group and trademark that do not legally bind it to any state.

The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes have been referred to as the Triple Crown races since the 1930s. But their official designation as such and the Triple Crown trophy didn’t begin until 1950.And at least one member of that group is concerned about a new owner’s potential impact on the Triple Crown brand.

“I would argue that if you were to move the Preakness from Pimlico you would have a new construct, and you might still call it the Triple Crown, but I wouldn’t call it the Triple Crown,” said Charles Hayward, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association Inc., which owns the Belmont Stakes. “We’re watching this very closely.”

Technically, a developer could buy Preakness and Pimlico but still move the race to an out-of-state track without violating the articles of incorporation of Louisville-based Triple Crown Productions LLC or the Triple Crown trademark.

Orioles' opening day - Vendors not selling optimism

Daily Record Business Writer
April 6, 2009 8:01 PM

The weather may have cleared for the Orioles home opener against the Yankees on Monday but the business forecast was still gloomy from vendors who rely on the ballpark for sales.

Vendor Jay Smith, of Philadelphia, said he usually sells ‘a couple hundred’ soft pretzels at an event, ‘but Orioles [games] are usually below average for me.’“I’ll normally sell a couple hundred [pretzels] at an event, but Orioles [games] are usually below average for me,” said Jay Smith, a Philadelphia-based pretzel vendor who has been in the business for nearly a half century.

“The only games that are good are the ones against the Yankees and Red Sox,” he said. “Otherwise it’s practically a wash for me to come down here and do this.”

The sentiment was echoed up and down Howard and Conway streets outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards Monday afternoon as vendors hawked food, t-shirts and souvenirs to fans making their way to the ballpark.

“The Yankees and Boston — they’re the ones that keep us in business,” said Lauren Edgar, who works at one of Stadium Caps’ two stands on Howard Street.

Bringing the Markakis brand to Baltimore and beyond

Daily Record Business Writer
April 2, 2009 6:16 PM

When the Orioles signed 25-year-old Nick Markakis to a six-year, $66.1 million contract extension in February, the team brought home its top priority in the offseason.

John Maroon: ‘So what we want people to think of is Nick [Markakis] is a guy that cares about Maryland and is an outstanding baseball player — which is what people here think now — and continue that on a national scale.’His future in Baltimore no longer a question mark, Markakis has hired a local firm to build his brand and catapult him into the national sports scene.

But for Markakis to jump from local hero to national celebrity while playing in a midsized market, the onus is on him not to just be good — he has to be great.

There are two ways that can happen, said John Maroon, president and founder of Markakis’ new agency, Marriottsville-based Maroon PR. One is to “catch lightning in a bottle” and garner national media attention through some extraordinary turn of events.

That happened to sports agent Joe Linta’s client, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, when the rookie led the underdog team to an 11-5 record last season and one win away from the Super Bowl. Since then, endorsement deals, including one from Pizza Hut, have been pouring in during the offseason, Linta said.

The big drop in O’s attendance doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix

Daily Record Business Writer
April 2, 2009 6:06 PM

Come Monday, the streets around Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be alive with baseball fans coming out of their winter hibernation — a guaranteed swirl of black and orange, mixed with visiting Yankee blue — and filled with anticipation, predictions and for some, maybe a little hope.

But it’s not Opening Day Orioles marketers have to worry about. Nor will it be the other 17 days this Orioles spokesman Greg Bader: ‘Fans are less willing to commit those dollars upfront to specific games during the course of the year. They might be more willing to do that when the economy is strong.’year that the Orioles host the Yankees or the Boston Red Sox — which both draw sizable contingents of out-of-town fans.

It’s those other 63 games on Baltimore’s home schedule; those games that last year averaged about 20,700 people in a more than 48,000-seat park and highlight the fact that it hasn’t been easy to fill Camden Yards these days.

But the team’s attendance problem has been caused by a number of factors and doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix.

With 11 straight losing seasons and nine straight years of failing to crack the 3 million mark in annual attendance at Camden Yards, 2008 marked a new low for the team and its ability to draw fans.

Unfortunate milestones last year included producing the least-attended game in Camden Yards history with 10,505 fans one early April night and 1.95 million in total attendance for 78 games — a record-low for the ballpark’s 17 seasons.

At Morgan State - turning March Madness bid into bucks

Daily Record Business Writer
March 16, 2009 7:53 PM

The school pride in Morgan State University’s first-ever March Madness appearance is one of those intangibles sports marketers say can translate later into cold hard cash — but only if the school takes action now.

Morgan State Director of Athletics Floyd Kerr: ‘The excitement on campus is phenomenal…our kids are creating their own ‘good old days.’ I think the residual impact will be more clearly defined after the school year.’“When enthusiasm is high, people make the mistake of saying that’ll do it all by itself,” said Bob Leffler, a Baltimore-based sports marketer and a Morgan State alumnus.

“[Morgan] has a new stadium, a new [basketball] coach and they’re winning — you’ve got to grab that by the neck and spend money and make it happen,” he said.

For a small school like Morgan State, those crowd-pleasing rewards to making the NCAA Division I basketball tournament are the ones that can really represent big bucks.

“The excitement on campus is phenomenal ... our kids are creating their own ‘good old days,’” said Floyd Kerr, the university’s director of athletics. “I think the residual impact will be more clearly defined after the school year.”

In the meantime, Morgan’s marketing company plans on doing a promotion for 2009-10 basketball season ticket sales around the tournament appearance and is creating other athletics department promotions based on the berth, according to Kerr.

Stadium authority says it’s poised to bring more events to Md.

Daily Record Business Writer
February 11, 2009 6:47 PM

ANNAPOLIS — Fresh off of winning the bid to host the 2010 and 2011 NCAA lacrosse Final Four in Baltimore, Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Morton III told legislators Wednesday that while the agency expected a decrease in revenue this year, it was poised to be a revenue generator for the state’s future.

“When I worked on the [2012] Olympic bid, one of the things we took away from that is that there were hundreds of events taking place every year that our state was just missing,” Morton told the House Appropriations Committee’s Education and Economic Development Subcommittee. “We had the transportation and infrastructure in place ... but no consolidated effort or logistic approach to how we were going to loop in on this.”

With a new sports marketing director in place who last month submitted a report stating that Maryland had at least 380 venues that could be marketed to the national and international sporting world, Morton said progress had been made but was far from complete.

Race commission says marketing needed in addition to slots

Daily Record Business Writer
February 3, 2009 5:45 PM

Maryland racing officials expressed concern Tuesday that if media coverage of the sport continues to decline, slot machines alone could not fill up the grandstands.

 Maryland Racing Commission members John P. McDaniel (left) and Louis J. Ulman (right) listen to chairman John B. Franzone at the board’s meeting Tuesday at Laurel Park.The issue came up at the Maryland Racing Commission’s first public meeting since the Washington Post announced in December it was dropping its regular coverage of horse racing at Laurel and Pimlico racetracks.

“We’re doomed to fail over time,” commission member John McDaniel said at the meeting, which was held at Laurel Park. “We see every other sport being covered and we’ll do whatever we can politically to launch a frontal attack with The [Baltimore] Sun and The Post, but we need to find a way to allocate some money for publicity. Nobody’s going to go to Laurel if it’s not in the paper and they don’t see some enticement to be there.”

McDaniel also said the decline in racing’s popularity in Maryland can’t be solved solely with bigger purses from slots revenue.

“This isn’t just about slots,” he said. “The long-term problem is trying to reinvigorate and get people talking about this sport.”