posts categorized "Sports"


LaGrave Field sold to Cats ownership group for $4.5 million

LaGrave Field, home to the Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball team, was sold to an affiliate of the team’s ownership group Tuesday morning for $4.5 million. The transaction, conducted outside the Tarrant County courthouse during a foreclosure auction, will give the team a home “for a long, long time,” said John Bryant, managing partner of FW Stadium Group LLC, which bought the property. Bryant said he is also managing partner of the Cats. The 13.2-acre parcel sold includes the stadium and land immediately around the facility extending to Sixth Street on the south.

Former Cats owner Carl Bell built the stadium in 2002 and went on to accumulate 58 acres in the area, on which he planned a mixed-use development of residential, retail and office space. But after the economy weakened, Bell defaulted on a $12.5 million loan from Houston-based Amegy Bank earlier this year. Amegy had posted the facility twice previously but the foreclosure was withdrawn after talks were extended both times. Bryant said the ownership group, which bought the team from Bell in December 2011, wasn’t certain what the stadium’s ultimate sales price would be, but he said the $4.5 million was about what they expected “it might reasonably be because of previous negotiations.”

-- Jim Fuquay


Familiar Fort Worth names on Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans list

With the exception of relocating Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton's residence from Parker County to Fort Worth (mistakenly, as far as we know), the Tarrant area members of Forbes magazine's annual list of the wealthiest Americans are pretty much unchanged this year. Walton is No. 8 on the 2012 list, with a net worth of $26.3 billion. (She listed her residence as 11500 Interstate 20, the address of her 3,200-acre Rocking W Ranch outside of Millsap, in October 2011 when she was charged with DUI on her way home from her 62nd birthday party in Fort Worth.) She's followed by investor Robert Bass (tied at No. 151 with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at $2.7 billion), investor David Bonderman (No. 170, $2.6 billion), investor Richard Rainwater (No. 206, $2.3 billion), brothers Ed and Lee Bass (tied at No. 239, $2 billion), and Sid Bass (No. 271, $1.8 billion). All have been on the list for years.

Dallas area residents on the list, in addition to Jones, include banker Andrew Beal, investor Harold Simmons, oilman and real estate developer Ray Lee Hunt, investor Robert Rowling, oilman Trevor Rees-Jones, investor H. Ross Perot Sr., oilman Timothy Headington, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, pipeline operator Kelcy Warren, banker Gerald J. Ford, Texas Rangers co-owner Ray Davis, real estate developer H. Ross Perot Jr., investor T. Boone Pickens, telecommunications operator Kenny Troutt, and online media developer Todd Wagner.

The complete list is here.

-- Jim Fuquay



Dunkin' Donuts, Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman team up on North Texas venture

Dunkin’ Donuts, which re-entered North Texas several years ago with plans for an aggressive expansion before encountering problems with locations and brand awareness, is hitching its star to two of the region’s highest-profile businesspeople and personalities: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman.

The company, Jones, and Aikman said Thursday morning they've entered a limited partnership that will initially own 11 of Dunkin' Donuts' 19 Metroplex stores, and serve as Dunkin' Donuts' primary expansion vehicle in the region.

The partnership agreements calls for up to 50 stores over five years, but Aikman called that a “minimum” and Jones said he views that number as a “starting point.”

Still to come: What kind of a public face Jones and Aikman, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, will put on the venerable franchise.

“We clearly see this as a growth opportunity,” Nigel Travis, CEO of the Massachusetts restaurateur, which has more than 10,000 locations in 32 countries, said. “I think people identify very closely with Jerry, and Troy is a person a lot of people have great respect for. We’ve got three great partners, all of which bring a different piece to the partnership.”

Under their agreement, Dunkin’ Donuts, based in Massachusetts,  will operate the stores, and the Jones family and Aikman will be responsible for strategic planning, expansion and marketing.

In interviews, the three declined to disclose the financial terms of partnership.

“Obviously, there is a financial transaction, and everyone is looking for a return on their invesatment,” Travis said.

Jones said he thinks the partnership could eventually double or triple the 50 stores outlined in their agreement.

“That would be a goal of mine,” he said.

The partnership is unusual for Dunkin’ Donuts, whose business is heavily focused on franchises, and it’s only the company’s third joint venture, behind two others in Asia, Travis said.

The agreement grew out of a longtime friendship between the Jones family and Travis, former CEO of Papa John’s and former president of Blockbuster in Dallas. Papa John’s became the long-running Official Pizza of the Dallas Cowboys and Jones a joint owner of dozens of Texas Papa John’s, and Jones, Cowboys players, and cheerleaders have appeared in Papa John’s advertising.

Travis became Dunkin’ Donuts CEO little more than three years ago, and the company became the Official Coffee of the Cowboys in 2009.

Aikman said he became familiar with Dunkin’ Donuts as a board member of the Wingstop restaurant chain, serving with Jon Luther, who also is chairman of Dunkin’ Donuts parent Dunkin’ Brands.

“He and I got to talking about Dunkin’s interest in getting a bigger footprint west,” said Aikman, who also is a Wingstop investor and endorser.

Travis, Jones and Aikman said they haven’t yet sat down to discuss how to incorporate the personalities into the advertising and marketing for the stores.

They were quick to say what worked in the Papa John’s relationship might not work for Dunkin’ Donuts. But all three said they expect a meld of the personalities and Cowboys’ profile into the Dunkin’ Donuts marketing plan.

“You grow your brand through the association with other great brands,” Jones said.

“Jerry controls the Dallas Cowboys property; that’s something we may talk about,” Travis said. “Papa John’s did ads with the Cowboys; that could be part of it, but we’ve not discussed anything specific.”

After several years away, Dunkin’ Donuts re-entered North Texas in 2007, with plans to sell more than 100 franchise stores over several years. Those plans didn’t come to bear, and Dunkin’ Donuts ended up buying back the franchise stores that are part of its deal with Jones and Aikman.

The stores in the deal include two in Tarrant County – one on White Settlement Road in Fort Worth and another on Precinct Line Road in Hurst – and others in Dallas, Plano, Carrollton, Frisco, Rowlett, Highland Village, and McKinney. A 12th store, set to open in Southlake in mid-April, also is part of the package. The chain’s D/FW Airport stores are not part of the deal.

The partners said they see significant opportunity for new stores in growing parts of the Metroplex, as well as “infill” locations in more mature areas.

“It’s coffee, it’s tea,” said Jones, who recalled frequenting a Dunkin’ Donuts shop during his youth in Springfield, Mo. “It speaks to a lot of cultural aspects of our country and our commerce.”

Sixty percent of Dunkin’ Donuts sales come from beverages, and the rest from donuts, breakfast sandwiches, and other baked goods.

Aikman, as a sportscaster for Fox Sports, says he’s a regular consumer of Dunkin’ Donuts, consuming it out of a Keurig machine he bought.

The partnership will be Dunkin’ Donuts’ main growth vehicle in the North Texas area, which includes Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, Denton, Fannin and Grayson counties, Travis said.

Travis said he views the partnership as the gateway for the “Northeast-centric” company’s expansion in the South and Southwest.

- Scott Nishimura


Former Cowboys Staubach makes Super Bowl prediction - again

Roger Staubach, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned real estate mogul, and commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, is predicting the New England Patriots will beat the New York Giants in Sunday’s Super Bowl and they’re basing that prediction on the office vacancy rates in the team’s cities.

The city with the greater amount of vacant office space will be the winner.

As of Jan. 1, Boston, home of the Patriots, has an office vacancy rate of 20.5 percent, nearly double that of New York City, which is 10.4 percent.

Last year, Staubach, JLL’s executive chairman, picked the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV as victor over the Steelers because the office vacancy rate in Green Bay was 18.9 percent, higher than the 12.1 percent vacancy in Pittsburgh. The Packers won 31-25.

JLL has looked at the last dozen Super Bowls and two-thirds of the time, the city with the most empty office space won.

"We hit it on the money last year with the Packers and I’m confident that we’ve got it right again this time with the Patriots," Staubach said. "I said it last year and I’ll say it again, this vacancy rate hypothesis is the real deal."

_ Sandra Baker


Verizon FiOS TV customers can now get the Longhorn Network online

Verizon FiOS TV customers who get the Longhorn Network as part of their video subscription service can now get the same programming live online on their PCs and laptops, Verizon reports today.

“FiOS TV customers who receive Longhorn Network as part of their video subscription service will be able to enjoy the network’s exclusive live events and content on their laptops or personal computers, at home or away, using any broadband connection,” Verizon said.

Verizon FiOS and Longhorn Network said they expect to extend online streaming to tablets and smartphones “sometime next year.”

The live stream is available at or through customers’ Verizon Online user names and passwords, Verizon said.

Asked if it's possible Verizon and Longhorn Network could eventually agree to livestream the content to non-FiOS customers, Stefanie Scott, a Verizon spokeswoman, said "this is for FiOS customers. There are no plans to expand it."

 “No question, Texas Longhorn fans are some of the most enthusiastic in college sports, and we’re providing another option to catch the latest developments on the field – anywhere, anytime,” Terry Denson, vice president, global strategy for Verizon, said in a release.

“It’s a great new way for students, alumni and UT fans everywhere to access Longhorn Network round-the-clock,” David Preschlack, executive vice president, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, said in a release.

Upcoming programming includse men’s and women’s basketball games; the Horns’ nationally-ranked women’s volleyball program; and studio and original programming such as “Longhorn Extra,” “Game Plan with Mack Brown,” “Texas All-Access,” “Texas GameDay” and “Texas GameDay Final.”

FiOS, Verizon’s fiber optic TV offering, has more than 540 all-digital channels including more than 130 HD channels and 30,000 monthly video-on-demand titles. In Texas, FiOS TV Prime HD, Extreme HD and Ultimate HD subscribers can watch the Longhorn Network on Channels 79 (standard definition) and 579 (high definition).

ESPN has a 20-year deal to own and operate the Longhorn Network, the 24/7 channel dedicated to athletic programming related to the University of Texas.

- Scott Nishimura


Local charities win with North Texas Super Bowl's projected surplus

The North Texas Super Bowl Committee projects a $7.15 million surplus and agreed to set $2 milliion in reserve against a bid for another Super Bowl and give the rest to four charities.

The charities: Arlington's YET Center, North Texas Food Bank, Tarrant Area Food Bank, and Slant 45.

The Super Bowl Committee says the money could come as early as December, but most likely next year.

- Scott Nishimura


NASCAR partners speed date, grease the wheels for Saturday's race

(Correction: Freescale is a former Motorola unit.)

NASCAR business partners greased the wheels for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with a little "speed business" – the NASCAR equivalent of speed dating – Friday in Fort Worth.

And why not. Ford estimates it generated $200 million in vehicle sales in 2010 through NASCAR’s quarterly Fuel for Business meetings that culminate in the speed meetings.

Austin’s Freescale, a major semiconductor maker and former Motorola unit, had a big spot at Friday’s conference, touting its role in developing the fuel injection technology that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will use in debuting fuel injection next year.

"We really are that guy that people touch every day," Steve Nelson, Freescale’s marketing director, told a roomful of NASCAR sponsors at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Jackson Jeyanayagam, vice president of digital strategy for Taylor, a New York brand and marketing commuications firm, counseled the crowd to incorporate social networking across its business platforms – particularly mobile applications.

"Mobile has to be at the core of any business plan you’re putting together," particularly when trying to reach younger audiences, he said. Studies show high school students predominantly turn first to Facebook to get their information, and other statistics show 90 percent of consumers trust online recommendations from people they know, he noted.

Businesses should turn their Facebook fans into free focus groups, rather than just set up a Facebook page and collect contacts, he said.

"Why not ask them what they want," he said.



- Scott Nishimura

Rangers estimate Ballpark's new venues could add 40-50 seasonal jobs

Forgot to ask the Texas Rangers yesterday for an estimate on the net employment impact of the club's new venues planned for Opening Day next year.

Here's John Blake, Rangers spokesman, on that question today:

"Sportservice estimates it will provide 40 to 50 more seasonal positions in the restaurant, concessions, (and) club from a food and beverage aspect," Blake said. "From the Rangers' perspective, it is unlikely to change significantly. We operated the Children’s Sports Park but those employees would shift to the new Kid’s Zone."

- Scott Nishimura


Rangers launch $11.5 million ballpark renovation

The Texas Rangers confirmed plans today for a ballpark renovation that includes a new centerfield club, sports bar, and kids zone. Construction underway, supposed to be completed for Rangers home opener. Click here on my Twitter feed to see more, including pictures.

- Scott Nishimura


Texas-OU game No. 2 on StubHub for college football games this season

Saturday’s Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl ranks No. 2 for ticket sales this season on StubHub!, behind the season-opening Oregon-LSU game at Cowboys Stadium, StubHub says.

Texas-OU was seeing five times fewer page views, however, than the Rangers-Detroit American League Championship Series, JoEllen Ferrer, StubHub! spokeswoman, said.

Sixty percent of Texas-OU buyers are from Texas and 15 percent are from Oklahoma, Ferrer said.

Right now, more than 400 tickets are available on the site.

Lowest-priced seat is $150 (Upper Corner 123). Upper Sideline seats start at $199, Ferrer said, and Lower Sideline seats start at $250.

- Scott Nishimura


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