|Thursday, July 18
Updated: October 9, 12:08 PM ET
Out-of-staters buck up at Bethpage
By Darren Rovell
Much of the charm and attraction of the Bethpage Black course was in its greens fee. For $31 on weekdays and $39 on weekends, anyone could take a shot at the course on which Tiger Woods won this year's U.S. Open.
The course, which had $3.3 million facelift thanks to the United States Golf Association, re-opened to the public the last week of June with the same old prices. But on July 1, identification started being checked. Out-of-state residents now pay $62 on weekdays and $78 on weekends.
"It only seemed fair to us," said Bernadette Castro, New York state parks commissioner. "It's a public course and just like at a state university, where out-of-state students pay more, out-of-staters will have to pay more to have access to the Black.
"So far, every out-of-stater has understood and no one has canceled because of the price hike," Castro said. "The bottom line is it is still a great value."
While the line to play hasn't diminished, Castro said New Yorkers can take solace in the fact the additional revenue goes to improving state golf courses.
Looking for a lookalike of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to attend your next corporate function? So is Ron Bartels.
Bartels is the owner of Lookalikes-USA.com, an agency that books lookalikes of such sports stars as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali for some 250 engagements a year.
"He has immediate appeal right now, kind of like getting a Monica Lewinsky a couple years ago," Bartels said. "A Bud lookalike shouldn't be that hard to get, given that he's a pretty generic-looking guy in his 50's," Bartels said. "It's not like he has a face like Richard Nixon."
A bigger piece of the pie
One reason champions generate more revenue, beyond the fact fans of winning teams tend to buy more merchandise, is schools receive a 4 percent bump in royalty revenue on the wholesale price of a national championship licensed product, said Derek Eiler, CLC's executive vice president.
While factors contributing to licensing-revenue success include popularity of color and logo, team success, alumni base and television exposure, each year there are always "x-factors" that significantly help schools. The 2000 NCAA men's hockey champion University of North Dakota (No. 50 on the list) sold a tremendous amount of jerseys this year because of exposure generated from controversy over the school's Native American mascot, the Fighting Sioux.
As a result of bulldog mascots being fashionable, the University of Georgia went from No. 13 to No. 11 this year and Fresno State cracked the top 50 (No. 44).
Writer and musician Seth Swirsky told ESPN.com someone offered him $15,000 for his Gaedel signature. A scorecard from the game, with Gaedel's name and number on the roster, reportedly sold for $2,000 in a 1999 auction.
On July 25 and 26, Coach's Corner Sports Auction is putting an Eddie Gaedel-signed official American League ball up for bid. "It's only the second Gaedel autograph I've ever seen," said Lee Trythall, general manager of the auction house. Trythall predicts bidding will top $6,500.
Hall of Phame enshrinement
According to Raymond, there are about five Phanatic costumes at any given time, each costing more than $8,000. Raymond's replacement, Tom Burgoyne, who has worn the Phanatic costume since the 1994 season, will be in costume at the event. "It's sort of going to be like looking in the mirror," said Burgoyne, who does not talk once inside the costume. "The Phanatic could have an out-of-mascot experience."
During the Phanatic's first season, the costume designers and makers, who also made some of the Sesame Street characters' costumes, offered to sell the copyright on the costume to the team for $5,200, Burgoyne said. At the time, Phillies owner Bill Giles decided to pass. Six years later, perhaps convinced by the fact that the Phanatic generated millions of dollars in additional merchandise revenue, the team bought the copyright for $250,000, Burgoyne said.
Burgoyne's book "More than beards, bellies and biceps: The story of the 1993 Phillies (and the Phillie Phanatic too)" hits stores in September.
Wilson, which claims its footballs are used by 85 percent of Division I teams, has given schools that already use its balls another choice this season: The GST (Game Saving Technology).
Eight Division I football schools, including Nebraska and Tennessee, have changed to the lighter-colored ball that has a higher "gripability" and a broken-in softness. Not surprisingly, none of the schools on the list, which includes the Connecticut, Bowling Green and San Jose State, is a Nike school, since that company makes its own balls.
Sales of the ball to Division II and Division III schools, as well as high schools, have been brisk and the GST is expected to generate 50 percent of Wilson's official size football sales this year, according to Kevin Murphy, business manager for Wilson's football division. The $70 ball hit major sporting retailers a couple of weeks ago.
And another thing ...
"Our goal isn't to out-Nike Nike," said Jeff Roth, And1's director of sports marketing. "We're amassing guys who couple their NBA ability with that playground attitude."
Roth said about 10 percent of NBA players, including New York Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell and Milwaukee Bucks guard Rafer Alston, now wear And1 shoes.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org