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Thursday, March 7
Updated: March 11, 6:07 PM ET
 
More champs choosing to purchase floor

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

Fans might scour the Internet and memorabilia stores in search of unused game tickets, programs and Final Four collectibles, but the biggest keepsake of all, the Final Four floor, is what many schools covet most.

Richard Hamilton
UConn, led by Richard Hamilton, won the 1999 men's tournament. The Huskies then bought the floor and sold pieces of it as souvenirs.
Each year, new maple wood floors used during the last two rounds of the men's and women's NCAA Division I basketball tournaments go on sale soon after the championship teams cut down the nets.

Each year, there is a waiting list of schools interested in purchasing the floors. For as little as $80,000, or $11 a square foot, it is quite a bargain; new portable-court floors sell for between $100,000 and $110,000, according to Bill Gappy, national sales manager for Horner Flooring. The flooring company has manufactured and installed portable floors at more than 50 college basketball arenas and the last 17 NCAA Final Fours, he said.

Waiting list or not, as part of its deal with the NCAA, Horner must sell the courts to the men's and women's champions, if either wants its respective championship dance floors. Winning teams exercise the option about 50 percent of the time, Gappy said.

Recently, purchasing the floor has become more popular for champions. Last year, Duke, which won its third men's title in 11 seasons, and Notre Dame, which defeated Purdue to win its first women's championship, bought the floors.

After 12 seasons of wear and tear on its Breslin Center floor, Michigan State bought the Final Four floor on which it defeated Syracuse and Iowa State en route to winning the men's tournament title in 2000. Although the floor was stripped of all NCAA marks and logos and re-varnished before it was delivered to the school, Michigan State placed a bronze plaque in a corner of the floor that includes the scores of the team's first two games played on it, said Greg Ianni, an associate athletics director at Michigan State.

Double-dipping
Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave Dairy Queen millions of dollars worth of publicity in January when he said he wouldn't hire the NBA's head of officials to manage a Dairy Queen. Cuban later took the food chain up on an offer to manage one of its restaurants for a day, then gave the company more publicity by appearing on talk shows and wearing Dairy Queen garb at games.

But the lovefest didn't stop there. Dairy Queen recently became a radio sponsor for the second half of the Mavericks' season and purchased advertising on "The Mark Cuban Show," a television talk show that airs locally in Dallas on Saturday nights during the season.

Do You Recognize This Sports Owner?
Harris Interactive asked 10,084 people if they recognized the names of 14 sports owners and whether they thought of each in a positive or negative light.
Most familiar
Owner Teams Pct.
Ted Turner Braves, Hawks 79
G. Steinbrenner New York Yankees 76
Jerry Jones Cowboys 53
Lamar Hunt Chiefs 26
Wayne Huizenga Dolphins 26
Least familiar
Owner Teams Pct.
Ted Leonsis Capitals 7
Tom Hicks Stars 10
Carl Pohlad Twins 12
Jerry Colangelo D-Backs, Suns 19
Paul Allen Blazers, Seahawks 21
Positive impression
Owner Teams Pct.
Paul Allen Blazers, Seahawks 89
Ted Leonsis Capitals 83
Jerry Colangelo D-Backs, Suns 81
Lamar Hunt Chiefs 76
Mark Cuban Mavericks 73
Negative impression
Owner Teams Pct.
Jerry Jones Cowboys 60
Daniel Snyder Redskins 59
Carl Pohlad Twins 54
Jerry Reinsdorf Bulls, White Sox 49
G. Steinbrenner Yankees 41

It also sponsors the "DQ Disqualification," the newest in-game promotion at American Airlines Center. If a coach or player is disqualified or ejected from a game, a section of about 200 fans receives coupons for a free Blizzard at a local Dairy Queen. Cuban, perhaps jokingly, told ESPN.com the team is exploring whether it can convince Mavs coach Don Nelson to drop-kick a basketball at each game. Based on the number of levels the ball travels, fans would get extra scoops of ice cream put in the Blizzard, Cuban said.

Recently, Cuban recorded a video, announcing Dairy Queen's Texas Manager of the Year, for its annual operators meeting in San Antonio, which took place during the NBA All-Star weekend.

Though his net worth is estimated at more than $1 billion, Cuban said fans are helping him pay off the $500,000 fine he received from the NBA for his Dairy Queen remark. "I have gotten $700 in cash from people just sending me money to help pay for the fines," Cuban said. Cuban said donations can be sent to: Mark Cuban, 2909 Taylor Street, Dallas, TX, 75226.

If it walks like a Duck ...
It should come as no surprise that Nike likes to sign Ducks to endorsement deals. That's because Nike CEO Phil Knight is a University of Oregon graduate. Nike has signed at least two of Oregon's five NFL draft-eligible players: quarterback Joey Harrington and running back Maurice Morris. But Nike spokesman Scott Reames was quick to point out that the shoe and apparel company also "signs (Oregon State) Beavers as well." Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton, who played at Oregon State, is part of Nike's stable of star athletes.

Cleanup time
The Houston Astros, who are paying $2.1 million to terminate their naming-rights deal with Enron Field, wasted little time before beginning to remove the energy company's name from around the stadium. Hundreds of signs have been taken down by the Astros maintenance crew over the past week and only a couple of signs remain, said Rob Matwick, the team's senior vice president of operations and communications. Among the remaining signage are Enron logos on the stadium's clock faces and tower, the scoreboard sign and three signs with lettering 10 feet high outside the stadium.

The Astros will have to pay a pretty penny to remove what remains. To save costs, the Astros are considering whether to keep the "Field" part of the scoreboard signs. The stadium will be called "Astros Field" until a new partner is signed.

Luckily, the team decided against embossing the Enron logo on seats when the stadium was built. Instead, it chose to engrain "Houston Baseball" on the sides of aisle seats. "In retrospect, it was a great decision, Matwick said. "If those seats had Enron logos on them, it would have been tremendously expensive to get that off."

The Astros staff still has plenty of stationery and business cards with "Enron Field" on them, and the 2002 media guide will list Enron Field as the home of the Astros.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn.com






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