|Thursday, March 7
Updated: March 11, 6:07 PM ET
More champs choosing to purchase floor
By Darren Rovell
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.
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.
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.
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 ...
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.firstname.lastname@example.org