Giving thanks in many ways in Florida

Nov 20, 2012 3:00 AM

Turkey Day in South Florida is more like spit-roasted suckling pig day. The traditional New Year’s Cuban/Island feast has spilled into Thanksgiving.

No matter the menu, we’d like to give OUR thanks to some Florida individuals, organizations and events.

•â€…We thank the Miami Dade County Taxpayers for purchasing a new baseball stadium for $3 billion and the joy of watching a minor league ball club play there.

•â€…We thank Jeffrey Loria, David Sampson, Larry Beinfest, the brain trust of the Marlins, for participating in the NL East. Barely.

•â€…We thank Slash, Flash, CB, Spolestra and the Heat for helping us forget the Marlins. Oh yes, and putting another championship flag on the AAA rafters.

•â€…We thank the NHL Panthers for finally making the playoffs.

•â€…We thank the NHL owners for yet another boneheaded lockout.

•â€…We thank Joe Philbin for finally creating a local NFL competitor going forward.

•â€…We thank FIU’s football team for participating. Barely.

•â€…We thank Muschamps Swampmen for breathing new life into the state’s moribund NCAA football product (in Gainesville) and providing some competition in the SEC.

•â€…We thank FAU, USF and UCF football for participating. Barely.

•â€…We thank Jim Laranaga for making “The U” hoopsters relevant, finally.

•â€…We thank NASCAR for keeping the Chase finale in Homestead.

•â€…We thank Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas for being superstars on the Dolphins during a period when the team was competitive. Barely.

•â€…We thank Gulfstream Park for keeping Florida in the forefront of national thoroughbred racing, however briefly.

•â€…We thank Ozzie Guillen, Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and others for their entertainment value and brief stay during a pathetic Marlins season.

•â€…We thank Mother Nature for sending hurricanes elsewhere and providing superior seasons for Bass anglers in Lake Okeechobee, the fighting Tarpons in the keys, the Sailfish in the gulfstream, and the bald eagles in the Everglades.

•â€…We thank Don Shula.

•â€…We thank Jimmy Johnson.

•â€…We thank Dennis Erickson.

•â€…We thank Howard Schnellenberger.

•â€…We thank Ron Frasier and Jim Morris.

•â€…We thank Amy Deem track coach of Miami coaching the women medalists in London to extraordinary world record performances.

•â€…We thank Pat Riley. He plots, plans and wins.

•â€…We thank Mickey Arison who lets Pat Riley plot, plan and win.

•â€…We thank Wayne Huizenga. Without him we’d still be watching the Atlanta Braves on TBS, Cubbies on WGN and Hockey Night in Canada.

•â€…We thank Bobby Bowden, gosh dang it.

•â€…We thank the PGA for keeping Doral in the WGC in spite of Donald Trump buying the place.

•â€…We thank Dan Marino (with a nod to Duper and Clayton).

•â€…We thank the Williams Sisters and Butch Buchholz for keeping top name tennis on Key Biscayne every year.

•â€…We thank (upon occasion) Tiger.

•â€…We thank Giancarlo Stanton for providing some reason to go to the $3 billion boondoggle in Little Havana.

•â€…We thank the Cards, Marlins, and Nats for keeping their spring training headquarters in South Florida.

•â€…We thank The Miami Project, the Buoniconti’s, Dr. Barth Green and his associates for getting ever closer to a miracle.

•â€…We thank Al Golden for sticking around The U in spite of a spate of upcoming sanctions.

•â€…We thank Mario Cristobal for turning down high profile coaching jobs to soldier on at FIU (for now anyway).

•â€…We thank Dave Hyde and Dan Le Batard for being the last remaining relevant scribes in the local sports sections of our newspapers.

•â€…We thank Hialeah Park for remaining open for quarter horse racing. Barely.

•â€…We thank the racinos for giving us a touch of Vegas here at home.

•â€…We thank all the South Florida sports fans who rise to the occasion when they have a winner and disappear into the Everglades for anything less.

•â€…And most of all we’d like to thank our readers. Stick around. We’re just getting rolling.

October slots down

Blame it on the frenetic Florida election, Sandy’s brief visit or the record setting Fantasy Fest in Key West: the Dade/Broward racino numbers for October were down. The only exception was Casino Miami Jai Alai, which wasn’t open last year. The state tax revenue was productive – up 4.9% but certainly buoyed by Jai Alai now being open.

October was disappointing with all five existing racinos down in Net Slot Revenue. Magic City (Flagler) dropped by 14.6% from October, 2011, followed by Calder -13.25%, Mardi Gras (Hollywood) -11.9%. Gulfstream Casino was down 11.1%. Even group leader, Pompano was down 2.2%.

Between humid, hot summer turning to cool, glorious fall, Columbus Day and Halloween, UM and Dolphins home games, and the abundance of live televised sports, including NASCAR, the World Series, start of NBA and the NCAA and NFL – October is always a bit unpredictable. Additionally, the enormous amount of advertising money and time spent by the presidential candidates on television ads also bumped numerous racino ad campaigns.

For the first third of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, only Pompano/Isle of Capri produced positive numbers: barely up 2%. Gulfstream with their aquarium flood lost days in September and ended down almost 16% followed by the competitively challenged Magic City -12.5%, Calder -10.3%, and Mardi Gras -7.2%. Perhaps the return of available television ad time and some strong promotions will beckon new customers.

With only upcoming November’s results available prior to the start of the legislative session, these racinos urgently need to show some indication of gains or the Tallahassee law makers may not champion any expansion.

Odds’n ends

•â€…Gulfstream opens Dec. 1.

•â€…Doral WGC dates are March 6-10, 2013.

•â€…Sony Ericcson dates are March 18-31, 2013.

•â€…Andretti Sports Marketing is pitching a Grand Prix Fort Lauderdale race funded by the bed tax. Stay tuned.

Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].

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