Category Archives: Entertainment/Tourism

Should Hartford Have a Triple-A Team Instead Of Double-A Rock Cats?

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

My first thought on hearing that the Double-A Rock Cats’ owners agreed to move to a new stadium in Hartford was, why isn’t Triple-A the main goal?

This was the dream of the late Mayor Mike Peters, famously, and on the surface it seems to make the most sense.  Central Connecticut is not a viable major-league region in any of the four big American sports — sorry, Whalers fan club — but its population, wealth, location, history and aspirations place metro Hartford perfectly in the Triple-A International League, right below the majors.

Ranked by population, metro Hartford — comprising Hartford, Tolland and Middlesex counties — is larger than all but 13 of the 28 Triple-A markets that do not also have a major league franchise.  And ranked by economic size, or share of gross domestic product, this region is larger than all but 10 of those 28 markets.

Click here for a database of all minor league baseball teams.

And yet, there’s been barely a mention of Triple-A in all the talk about this deal. The $60 million outlay would give the capital city one of the finer double-A stadiums, with 6,600 seats and room for 9,000 fans in all, including outfield berms, luxury boxes and cafe seating. It would be a bit small by triple-A standards, which tend to hold at least 10,000 people.

In double-A, metro Hartford — which includes New Britain under the federal designation of metropolitan statistical areas — is one of the largest markets.  Among the 28 double-A locations that are not also in a major league franchise market, metro Hartford ranks fourth in population and second in economic size, after San Antonio, which leads in both categories.

The February report by the city of Hartford’s consulting firm, Brailsford & Dunlavey, defines double-A markets as a half-hour drive from the stadium. In that ranking, Hartford compares well with a list of double-A markets, but not at the very top because teams such as the Trenton Thunder and Bowie Baysox include much of Philadelphia and Baltimore, respectively, in their half-hour-drive radius.

But if the capital city were to build a stadium, why shouldn’t it consider paying a bit more for a triple-A-ready palace? That would keep alive the hope of  luring, say, the Las Vegas 51′s, who might like to be much closer to their New York Mets major league affiliate.

As it turns out, double-A might just suit Hartford perfectly because of the economics of the capital region and the way minor league baseball has evolved. Triple-A could be great but there’s no compelling need to sweat out the difference at higher cost, and higher risk.

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Back9Network Signs Deal With DirectTV, Hiring Aggressively

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, Media, Telecommunications Date:

Back9Network, the startup golf lifestyle TV and online programmer, said Monday it signed a multi-year deal for a channel on DirecTV, its first television contract.

The deal means Back9 will immediately hire between 30 and 40 additional employees in downtown Hartford, adding to its existing staff of about 50, company president Carlos Silva said. The hiring has already begun.

Artist rendering of the Back9Network studio on Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford. Courtesy of Back9Network

Artist rendering of the Back9Network studio on Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford.
Courtesy of Back9Network

Back9, with offices in the Phoenix building and a studio under construction across Constitution Plaza,, also said it will open the studio in August, in time to launch the DirecTV shows in September.  Founder and CEO Jamie Bosworth had told me earlier this year that work was progressing on the $7.5 million studio at the site of the former Spris restaurant, but many people were skeptical it could thrive without a national TV contract.

Back9 has raised about $30 million including a controversial state package of $5 million, and has hired some big names, notably Ahmad Rashad as executive producer and host. Although Bosworth and others at the media company had said they could make it work with an online audience only, a national TV contract was widely seen as the sole route to success.

Rashad will host The Ahmad Rashad Show, a “behind the scenes” look at the world of golf, as one of three, half-hour shows at the core of the Back9Network programming.

Rashad, center, with Bill Murray, left, and Scott Burrell at the 2012 Travelers Pro-Am in Cromwell.  John Woike/The Hartford Courant

Rashad, center left, with Bill Murray, left, and Scott Burrell at far right at the 2012 Travelers Pro-Am in Cromwell.
John Woike/The Hartford Courant

The others are “Ball Hogs, “inside the never-before-seen world of the men and women who risk their lives diving for ‘white gold’ in ponds and lakes; and Golf Treasures, which will “follow prominent golf collectors Ryan Carey and Bob Zafian, owners of Green Jacket Auctions, as they travel the globe on a mission to hunt down and acquire the world’s rarest and most sought after golf memorabilia.”

In all, Back9 will produce about 1,100 hours of original programming in its first year, including ten original prime time series and live shows three times a day.

Terms of the DirecTV deal were not disclosed.Under the deal, as is typical in cable or satellite TV “carriage” contracts, both Back9Network and DirecTV will sell advertising for the shows. Ad sales staff is part of the current hiring, which mostly comprises production employees, Silva said.

“We’ll be evaluating more staffing as we move through the fall,” Silva said.

The company could also be eligible for additional state aid through the film and digital production tax credit program. That state assistance is not available for live shows, but much of the content on Back9 will be recorded productions.

Some productions will be done as a partnership with other companies and some will be exclusively created by Back9.  Rashad will be in Hartford, Silva said, because of his broader role as executive producer.

Among the names on Back9Network’s talent roster, Jennifer Bosworth, the wife of Jamie Bosworth and a former reporter on FOX CT, is no longer with the company, Silva said. The Courant reported previously that the Bosworths are divorcing after three years of marriage.

It remains to be seen whether this deal leads to a cable deal with one of the major carriers, including Comcast, which owns the Golf Network.  Bosworth, who testified earlier this year in Congress about the dangers of the proposed, $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, said Comcast was initially negative about signing on Back9, while Time Warner was warm to the idea — until the merger was announced.

DirecTV is seeking federal approval for its own merger with AT&T, a $49 billion deal that would catapult AT&T into a major position as a TV provider.  It’s unclear whether AT&T would pick up Back9 on its U-verse TV package if the merger were to go forward.

Bosworth had also said that the satellite providers, including DISH Network and DirecTV, did not typically roll out their own new programming. But that picture is changing as everyone from Amazon to Netflix is producing or buying exclusive content.

DirecTV will place Back9 on channel 262, near other lifestyle channels, Back9 said.

“This long-term agreement provides us with a strong initial television distribution-base and sends a clear message to the marketplace of our goal of becoming a fully-distributed lifestyle network,” Bosworth said in a written release.

ESPN’s New $175M Studio: ‘Unlike Anything On Sports TV’

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

BRISTOL — Once you get past Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other politicians talking about jobs, and you’ve heard ESPN President John Skipper talk about how the network’s new Digital Center 2 brings amazing technology and people together, listen to Hannah Storm describe what the production palace will mean for viewers.

The longtime anchor and celebrity face of ESPN grows animated, striding out toward the main SportsCenter desk — where a huge video display built right into the floor shines light upward, toward a camera on a circular ceiling track.

Malloy and Skipper, center, cut a fiberoptic cable at ESPN's Digital Center 2. Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Malloy and Skipper, center, cut a fiberoptic cable at ESPN’s Digital Center 2.
Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Sure, it will be more fun and more efficient for ESPN’s personalities to broadcast from the $175 million building, with 6 million feet of fiberoptic cable, 25,000 square feet of studio space and a huge glass wall that looks out onto a glass “cube” with graphic artists sending images onto the screens.

But, I ask Storm, will the viewers see much of a change?

“It’s vastly different,” Storm said, “It will be a significant change, unlike anything on sports TV.”

Digital Center 2 opened Monday with a ceremonial fiberoptic cable cutting and a brief, live “sports report” from the anchor desk by Malloy and Skipper. “Welcome to SportsCenter from Olliewood,” Skipper announced from the set, repeating the play on UConn Coach Kevin Ollie’s name that ESPN used in the Final Four.

ESPN DC2 BustleIn a cut-rate bargain for Connecticut taxpayers, ESPN is expected to collect $10 million in tax credits. That’s instead of the $20-plus million package of grants, tax abatements and a large loan, much of it forgivable, that was announced on this spot nearly three years ago when Malloy made ESPN one of the state’s “First Five” companies with major development incentive money.

The employee level, more than 4,000, up from 3,872 three years ago, has risen less than some anticipated — in part due to a layoff of about 125 people locally last year. But that’s not why the terms changed. Lawyers on both sides simply came up with a different package from the one Malloy announced in 2011, several sources said.

The place goes live for real sometime in late June, producing ESPN’s flagship show a staggering 18 hours a day, with 42 anchors, and the NFL shows. Overseeing the operation is Rob King, the senior vice president for SportsCenter and News, formerly chief of the vast online network — and like Storm, he’s focused on what the building will look like in the 96 million homes that pay upwards of $6 a month for the ESPN.

Lobby of the new Digital center 2 at ESPN Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Lobby of the new Digital center 2 at ESPN
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

“We always felt that the smaller set kept us sitting behind the desk,” King said. “The point really is to give people more of a sense of who we are.”

Highlights of the studio include two giant vertical video screens, dynamic backdrops for studio anchors, reporters and guests.  Those are two of several stations where on-air talent can move around. But, King said, the idea isn’t more complexity, it’s more boldness.

“We want to make sure that we’re not letting the screen dissolve into a lot of little type,” King said. “What happens on these screens is complementary to what the anchors are doing.”

It’s twice as big as the old Digital Center building, which will remain in use for several shows. And the look ties together with the ESPN app and web site.

“I’m told it’s future-proofed,” Skipper crows, as the building has room for technology not yet invented.

A control room inside Digital Center 2. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

A control room inside Digital Center 2.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

What about ESPN’s business? It’s a $12 billion-a-year juggernaut that grew massively with cable TV contracts and mass viewership built around ESPN’s multi-faceted role as chronicler, original content producer and live sports programmer. I asked Skipper, can that keep growing as profitably as it has?

“It’s certainly more difficult to future-proof a business than a building,” Skipper said. But he added, “We are confident in our ability to grow.”

The challenges are tough. We saw on Friday how World Wrestling Entertainment, another Connecticut sports operation, could suffer on Wall Street with a 43 percent, one-day collapse after investors perceived a new contract and online strategy to be less than ideal. And with Comcast, which already owns Stamford-based NBC Sports, hoping to add to its nationwide cable franchise with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable, ESPN’s bargaining position might not remain as strong as it’s been.

A camera with John Skipper's introduction on the scroll; at right is a huge vertical video backdrop. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

A camera with John Skipper’s introduction on the scroll; at right is a huge vertical video backdrop.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Skipper’s confidence derives from the network’s long-term cable TV contracts, its broadcasting rights for the NFL and other leagues, its remarkable cross-platform coordination and what he called a great “head start” as the dominant sports media outlet.

Malloy, for his part, holds a more short-term and less dominant position as he seeks re-election against Republicans who blast his economic development strategy as jobs-for-money.

ESPN, NBC Sports, WWE, Cigna, United Technologies and many other big employers have expanded in Connecticut after inking multi-million-dollar deals, taking advantage of the state’s lucrative film and digital production tax credits, or both.

The overall jobs picture is improving and is certainly stronger than when Malloy took office at the start of 2011, but the progress remains mixed, with unemployment dropping below 7 percent while job-creation stays slow.

Malloy, claiming ESPN as an outright victory as he spoke with reporters inside the new studio, blamed much of the stagnant growth on Republicans, who held the governor’s seat from 1995 until 2011. “We became the seventh-oldest state in the nation. I didn’t do that, they did that,” Malloy said. “We’ve turned that around.”

Each deal is different but with ESPN adding studio space in Los Angeles and launching its SEC Network in Charlotte, its expansion here was not a given and the $10 million in tax credits is a rounding error compared with what the company brings.

Just after ESPN anchor Sara Walsh talked about how happy she’ll be to work in Digital Center 2 under a new contract, Malloy took the podium and said to Skipper, “If my contract doesn’t get renewed, maybe I can swing a job here.”

WWE Shares Smacked Down After Warning On TV Rights Deal

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, Wall Street Date:

The recently-high-flying WWE lost nearly half its value in pre-market trading before Friday’s opening bell, after the company announced a new deal with NBCUniversal, and said it would need 1.3 million to 1.4 million subscribers at its new online network to make up for lost pay-per-view revenues.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, shares World Wrestling Entertainment barely budged — opening at $10.94 and closing at $11.27, down 43 percent from Thursday’s close of $19.93.

Vince McMahon with WWE's Triple H in Las Vegas in 2009. Getty Images

Vince McMahon with WWE’s Triple H in Las Vegas in 2009.
Getty Images

The new TV deal, including flagship shows on USA Network and Syfy, brings WWE cable revenue to about $200 million a year. “With the favorable renegotiation of our largest television agreements, WWE transitions to a subscription-based business model for future growth,” said George Barrios, WWE’s chief financial and strategy officer, in one of the two releases.

The problem is that in the transition, WWE is giving up pay-per-view and video-on-demand revenues. In a detailed outline of what it needs to do to make up for that, WWE said it could sign up between 2.5 million and 3.8 million subscribers to its online network, at $9.99 a month.  In addition to the United States, the online network is rolling out this year in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore,Hong Kong and the Scandinavian nations, WWE said.

But with a break-even point of about 1.3 million subscribers, and well under 1 million now, investors remain skeptical — and so we have a standoff between Vince McMahon, the founder and majority shareholder, and Wall Street.

The $200 million TV deal is larger than previous contracts but was less than Wall Street anticipated. In a video, Jeff Macke of Yahoo Finance suggested that WWE chief Vince McMahon had wanted a deal more in line with the 10-year, $8.2 billion NASCAR TV package reached last summer, on Fox Sports and NBC.

WWE shares closed at an all-time high of $31.39 on March 20, as the TV deal was being negotiated.  From that peak to Friday’s trading value, WWE has lost about $1.5 billion in market value, leaving it with a market value of less than $850 million.

That means Vince McMahon could lose his newfound status as a billionaire on the Forbes list. He owns about 55 percent of the company and his wife, former WWE CEO and U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon, owns a smaller share.

NASCAR Message In New Britain: ‘Our Fans Are Welcoming’

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism Date:

Steve Herbst grew up removed from NASCAR culture in Peekskill, N.Y.  His sister Susan is president of the University of Connecticut and his brother heads Colgate University.

At the dinner table in their house, Herbst told a New Britain business audience Thursday, “If you had not read the New York Times that day, you were in trouble.”

Steve and Susan Herbst at the New Britain Museum of American Art Dan Haar/the Hartford Courant

Today Herbst is a top NASCAR media executive and he doesn’t view his background, or anyone else’s, as inconsistent with the culture of the iconic auto racing promoter. In fact, the first of several marketing videos he showed featured President Barack Obama — not exactly a beacon of the  conservative, Southern NASCAR fan that comes to mind.

“There’s a place for everyone in NASCAR,” Herbst said, speaking at the Hinckley Allen law firm’s annual breakfast at the New Britain Museum of American Art. “Our fans are open, welcoming. More and more, NASCAR is looking like the rest of the country.”

The numbers tell a story of emerging diversity.  NASCAR’s TV broadcasts of 36 major series races, which Herbst manages, attracted an average of 5.8 million viewers per event in 2013, trailing only the NFL. That’s flat to slightly up from recent years and down from the peak pre-recession years, but we all know flat is the new up when it comes to mass media.

Hispanic viewership was up 35 percent, he said, still small at about 150,000 per event, but NASCAR also added a Spanish-language broadcast on Fox Deportes. Overall, 9 percent of self-identifying NASCAR fans are black and 9 percent are Hispanic, spokesman Scott Warfield said later Thursday.

Heck, there might even be some liberals in the mix.

NASCAR is also spreading from the South, with 24 percent of fans in the Midwest, 19 percent in the West and 15 percent in the Northeast, to go along with the 42 percent in the regional base.

Joey Logano, the driver from Middletown, has helped marketing in the Northeast, Herbst said. “There’s a lot of race fans here,” he said.

His sister, Susan, who was on hand Thursday, might remind him that we’re still mostly a college basketball state when it comes to rooting interests. “I felt the glow of two national championships as I came up I-84,” Steve Herbst said.

Herbst, the vice president of production and broadcasting, came to NASCAR’s New York City office in 2011 after years with the NBA and CBS Sports. He was the point man in negotiations for the 2015-2024 TV contracts with Fox Sports, which has aired NASCAR since 2001, and Stamford-based NBC Sports — deals that totaled $8.2 billion, according to many published reports. Exiting as race broadcasters after this year are ESPN and Turner Broadcasting, but Herbst said, “We’re going to continue to have a long relationship with ESPN.”

Herbst joked about a job in which “I watch cars go round and round” while his siblings run major universities.  He was always interested in sports management, Susan Herbst said, recalling him telling her about a course he took at the University of Massachusetts on “comparative stadia.”

In an era when the NFL draft captures the nation for the better part of three days, he’s in the right business, even as NASCAR, in his words, move through “a longer comeback than others off of the recession.”

It’s a comeback from a position of strength. When the Daytona 500 halted for six hours this year, “The ratings for the rain delay programming beat all the other shows out there,” he said.

 

‘High-Roller’ Bet Settled As UConn Champion Flag Flies In Kentucky

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism Date:
The UConn Husky championship flag flew this past weekend over Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green Kentucky, atop the "Kentucky Rumbler" wooden roller coaster. Photo courtesy of Quassy Amusement & Waterpark

The UConn Husky championship flag flew this past weekend over Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green Kentucky, atop the “Kentucky Rumbler” wooden roller coaster.
Photo courtesy of Beech Bend Amusement Park, via Quassy Amusement & Waterpark

Take a good look at the countryside where that UConn championship flag flew this past weekend. That’s not Connecticut, it’s southern Kentucky, high atop the “Kentucky Rumbler” wooden roller coaster at Beech Bend Park & Splash Lagoon in Bowling Green.

Beech Bend paid off its Final Four  “high-roller” bet with Quassy Amusement & Waterpark. As the UConn Huskies men’s team prepared to play in the national championship game against Kentucky, the family-owned parks, each with a Top-50 wooden roller coaster, wagered the right to fly its team’s flag at the other state’s amusement park — on opening weekend.

So Quassy, in Middlebury, shipped the UConn flag to Beech Bend in time for the bet, after UConn beat Kentucky 60-54 for the national title.

Now word on whether Quassy’s “Wooden Warrior” is also flying the UConn flag, but Quassy said in a release, “both parks are now focusing on the summer season and betting on something far more important for them: good weather.”

Hartford Marathon Has Title Sponsor; New Haven Open Close

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

NOTE: An earlier version of the post said the New Haven Open would announce a title sponsor Thursday.

Seven months after ING sponsored its last Hartford Marathon, the race has lined up another corporate title sponsor, to be revealed Wednesday.

20th Running of the Hartford MarathonAnd the New Haven Open tennis tournament, which was bought last year by the state, is nearing a decision on its own title sponsor with negotiations underway, sources said. The list was recently narrowed from three companies, which included two from the Hartford area, a source said.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation is set to announce the sponsor for October’s race at a press conference in downtown Hartford, and the identity of the company has been a closely guarded secret.

This much we know: The sponsor isn’t Cigna, which seemed to be an obvious choice.  The company moved its headquarters from Philadelphia to Bloomfield two years ago; its CEO, David Cordani, is himself a triathlon competitor; the company is in the health care industry; and Cigna already sponsors the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando.

The health insurer is one of the largest local companies that has never sponsored the race. ING had the title for six years but spun off its U.S. operations, creating a new company, Voya Financial. United Technologies Corp. had its name on the race for several years and before that, Aetna was the founding nameplate for the race.

Industry sources say the sponsorship costs in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the company being named Wednesday will also be prepared to send hundreds of volunteers, as ING, UTC and Aetna did.

Beth Shluger, the Hartford Marathon Foundation chief, said of the secret title sponsor, “It’s a company that’s very concerned with every single person in Connecticut and in other places. …They are very community minded.”

Hmmm, so it could be a bank, and Northeast Utilities would make a lot of sense. We’ll just have to wait and see.

It was not automatic that the marathon would attract a banner sponsor. In Miami, where ING ended its run in February, 2013, this year’s race went off with no corporate branding.

Shluger said she’s been generally choosy over the years, turning away such names as Red Bull, which sells a product the marathon board does not want to endorse.

“The one thing we have here is, there are a lot of great companies in our area,” Shluger said. “It speaks well of our Connecticut economy, doesn’t it, that we’ve got two big events and both are in position to name title sponsors.”

 

 

8 Crisis Management Principles Adam Silver Followed Deftly

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, Management, Media Date:

The consensus is that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver nailed it by banning Donald Sterling for life, fining him $2.5 million and declaring he’ll force the L.A. Clippers owner to sell the team. How Silver did it was as important as what he did. Here are eight ways Silver followed the  textbook on crisis management in his mass public debut:

1. Quick But Not Impulsive Action — Sure, three days was fast. But two would have been too quick. Silver showed up at the podium at the perfect moment with the Clippers preparing for a night game and the nation waiting for him to act.

2. Short Answers — Silver didn’t owe long explanations and he didn’t offer any. His response to the first question, whether he thought Sterling would fight a forced sale, set the tone: “I have no idea.”

3. Passion and Personal Stake — You can’t make up a cracking but clear voice unless you’re Daniel Day-Lewis. And Silver connected himself to the NBA with a bond of emotion by saying, “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful; that they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”

4. Support, Not a Poll — We all know the commissioner of every sport works for the owners, not the players or the fans. But Silver proved he’s his own man when asked how his poll of owners came out. He didn’t poll the owners like a lackey, he marshaled support like a leader. A poll would have risked backlash from the likes of Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban.

5. Resisting the Tribal Urge — As with other groups, Jews often worry when one of our own commits a big, shameful public act, such as Bernard Madoff’s fraud. There’s even a word for it, a shonda. Silver, as a New York Jew, knows very well that to many, it’s important that the hero is also Jewish. Wisely, he would have none of this tribal talk, when asked.  “I think my response was as a human being…this is regardless of anyone’s religion, ethnicity, nationality.”

6. It’s Personal But Not An AttackSilver, a lawyer himself and the son of a prominent labor relations lawyer, didn’t give Sterling’s legal team much to work with. Even when pressed, he didn’t make statements about Sterling’s character or describe Sterling himself. He might have erred in saying, “There’s nothing I’ve ever seen in his behavior that would evidence these kinds of views.”

7. Direct Connection to History — Many fans never heard of “Sweetwater” Clifton but we now know what he stands for. Silver didn’t just invoke the names of African American trailblazers of the sport and apologize to them, he did it at the single most important moment of his press conference. “To…pioneers of the game like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, the great Bill Russell, and particularly Magic Johnson, I apologize. Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life…”

8. Strongest Possible Action — The gold standard of corporate crisis management is Johnson & Johnson’s complete recall of 31 million bottles of Tylenol in 1982 after cyanide-laced pills killed seven people. At every turn the company took responsibility and opted for the most extreme measure. That’s what Silver did.

Ted’s Montana Grill Sets Opening Day At Hartford’s Front Street

by Categorized: Commerce, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

Maybe Front Street in downtown Hartford should change its name to Frontier Street on May 12. That’s the day Ted’s Montana Grill opens for business with its second location in Connecticut, the chain announced Tuesday.

Ted’s, founded in 2002 by CNN-founder Ted Turner and restaurateur George McKerrow, will occupy a 4,600-square-foot section of Front Street with a 160-seat restaurant, joining the Spotlight Theatres and Front Street Bistro and the Capitol Grille at the development.

Still under construction is Infinity Music Hall, which is set to open this summer, and Nix’s seafood restaurant.

It being Earth Day, Ted’s Montana Grill, with 44 locations now open in 16 states, didn’t miss the chance to tout its “many eco-friendly technologies and practices” at the restaurant with an old West saloon decor and a bison specialty, “from low-voltage, compact fluorescent light bulbs to menus printed on recycled paper.”

“Mark Twain would be very happy to see Ted’s Montana Grill opening up downtown. He’d definitely walk along the river and be a regular on one of our bar stools,” said John Halpin, who will head the staff of 54 at the Front Street location.

The other location for Ted’s in the state is at  The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.

 

UConn Recruiting Loss Is Good for The Sport And For UConn

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, marketing Date:

Don’t tell this to Geno Auriemma, but the decision by A’ja Wilson to play for her home state university in South Carolina instead of UConn should be good news for UConn fans.

hc-aja-wilson-decision-0417-20140416-001

A’ja Wilson, a McDonald’s All-American
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports / March 30, 2014

 

Sure, the imperial UConn women’s basketball dynasty would have grown if the 6-foot-4 guard-forward, ranked highest in the nation among high school seniors, had brought her talent to Storrs.

But let’s be honest here. The product — big-time women’s college basketball — stinks. We’ve got one dominant program, maybe a half-dozen Baylors, Notre Dames and Stamfords below that and then the bottom caves in.

That’s not good business and it’s not a formula for true success. Kudos to A’ja Wilson for showing hometown loyalty.

Competition makes sports.  Red Sox-Yankees. Federer-Nadal. Celtics-Lakers.  Deeper down, it’s about parity. The American Way. Everybody has a chance.

The NFL is the most successful league in the country, not least because football is a national sport with huge shared revenues. We’ve had seven different Super Bowl winners in the last eight years and ten different teams competing in the last five Super Bowls.

Think it’s all about winning? From 1996 to 2000, the five years when the Yankees won four World Series, they averaged 34,949 fans per home game. From 2004 to 2008, with zero World Series appearances: 51,190.

My colleague, the great sports writer Dom Amore, who covered the Yankees in the 2000′s, says that was due to a delayed effect, not parity. The Yankees made the playoffs in all of those years. Still, multiple rivalries helped the team’s gate.

And let’s look inside each game. How much actual UConn women’s basketball game action did you watch this year, from the tip-off Nov. 9 against UHartford to the last, victorious dribble in Nashville? Admit it — you switched to ESPN2 in the dull middle of the second half against Notre Dame to watch highlights of the amazing 2011 Masters tournament.

A breakdown of the historic 40-0 season, not including two silly exhibition games that the Huskies won by 65 points, tells the one-sided story:

  • Wins by 50-plus: 8
  • Wins by 40-49: 7
  • Wins by 30-39: 9
  • Wins by 20-29: 8
  • Wins by 10-19: 8
  • Wins by less than 10: 0

So as a UConn fan, say it loud: Thank you, A’ja.