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Josh Hamilton Scores Big, Despite His Troubled Past

Here's a look at the intersection of sports and business this week: 

NASCAR: Coming Off Chicago (Monday)

There’s nothing that NASCAR officials love more than a clean race. Thanks to a recent regional marketing partnership, they’re now expressing sentiment that literally.

Alongside the official race yesterday, NASCAR-themed car washes are dotting the Chicago map. In honor of the 2011 Chase’s kickoff race, NASCAR Car Wash Company and Chicago based “Spotless Express and Sparkles” car wash owners reached an agreement to rebrand and reflag an immediate conversion of five existing Chicago area car washes, along with building two new car washes in the area.

Last year, Dan Dyer, CEO of NASCAR Car Wash Company, secured exclusive rights to use the NASCAR logo to market car washes across North America and the U.S. Territories. 

The first of several NASCAR Car Wash locations opened in the Chicagoland area in Romeoville on Thursday, September 15, attended by two Sprint Cup drivers. NASCAR Car Washes have also opened in Aurora and Matteson; Joliet and Naperville will open locations in early 2012, with the groundbreaking for Joliet taking place this week.

Bottom Line: At a time when NASCAR metrics are down across the board, activating in race markets becomes especially important.

NBA Arenas Talk (Tuesday)

The Orlando Magic could invest up to $100 million in a proposed sports and entertainment complex across the street from Amway Center. A $2 million feasibility study will be conducted over the next year to determine what can be built and at what cost.

Meanwhile, the City of Sacramento’s proposal for a new NBA arena includes allowing a private vendor to lease up to 8,000 city-owned downtown parking spots. An upfront payment from a vendor for the parking contract could allow Sacramento to guarantee bond debt on the $387 million project.

Bottom Line: The key similarity in both of these NBA arena cases is long-term stability. In Orlando, a mixed-use entertainment district would be a huge revenue generator for the Magic. In Sacramento, an arena is critical for keeping the Kings beyond next season.

Josh Hamilton’s Big Week (Wednesday)

As the Major League Baseball regular season winds down, Texas Rangers star slugger Josh Hamilton is ending the year with big moves on and off the field. On the endorsement side of the business, Hamilton signed a deal to be the spokesperson for a new line of Panini baseball cards. Panini recently signed a licensing deal with the MLB Players Association, and the company is hoping to increase sports trading cards market share. As the reigning AL MVP, Hamilton is a perfect fit for the role.

On the field, Hamilton’s stellar play has created a headache for one local business. Dallas-based CC Carpet had to refund more than $500,000 worth of purchases thanks to a grand slam Hamilton hit last week. The company was running a promotion that promised refunds to anyone who bought flooring or countertops in September if Hamilton hit a grand slam. Fortunately, CC Carpet took out insurance for the promo.

Bottom Line: When you’re one of the best players in the game, endorsement opportunities seem endless. It’s particularly amazing in Hamilton’s case, considering his troubled past.

State of NHL Business (Thursday)

The New Jersey Devils are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, according to a New York Post report. The Devils deny the story and claim that majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek has reached an agreement to buy a minority partner’s 47% stake in the team. Either way, the Devils clearly have financial troubles. The team ranked 25th out of 30 NHL teams in attendance last year.

But just because one team is struggling financially, it doesn’t mean the whole league is doing poorly. Honda renewed its NHL sponsorship for the next three years, and the deal includes activation at events including the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend. According to Fred Dreier of SportsBusiness Journal, the previous deal was worth $4 million annually, and the extension reportedly is worth 50% more in total commitments, including media and activation.

Bottom line: League-wide revenues have grown exponentially since Gary Bettman took over in 1993. Between a big TV deal and several new sponsorships, the NHL is as healthy as it’s ever been.

How Office Depot Shows it Cares About Small Businesses (Friday)

At the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Atlanta on September 4, Kacy Howard’s pet care business was promoted on Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot car. Simultaneously, Sara Mortenson’s mold service business was emblazoned on Greg Biffle’s No. 16 3M car. It’s all part of the Office Depot Official Small Business of NASCAR program, which is just one example of how Office Depot leverages its partnership with NASCAR to help small business owners take care of business.

As the two finalists in the Office Depot contest, Howard and Mortensen each won a $10,000 small business makeover and a chance to win $1 million, eventually claimed by Howard. Howard also secured the right to use the NASCAR bar mark and Official Small Business of NASCAR logo for one year and is now able to leverage the marketing power of NASCAR, and its millions of brand loyal fans, to give a jolt to her small pet-centric company.

Bottom Line: Kudos to Office Depot for finding a unique way to reach consumers through NASCAR partnerships.

Rick Horrow is the "Sports Professor," and is the Sports Business Analyst for Fox Sports. He has been the Visiting Expert on Sports Law at the Harvard Law School, and has authored "When the Game Is on the Line" and "Beyond the Scoreboard: An Insider's Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports." His show "Beyond the Box Score" is posted on a weekly basis on FoxSports.com, and the latest emerging trends in sports business can be found at www.horrowsports.com.