Barry Jackson

A peek inside the Heat’s Wade and Hurricanes’ turnover chain money-making machines

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been good for business for the Heat.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been good for business for the Heat.

It’s one thing if an enlightened idea can give your team a boost between the lines. It’s an added bonus if it’s also good for business.

Such has been the case for two of the neat things to happen to South Florida sports in the past six months — the Heat’s acquisition of Dwyane Wade and UM’s creation of the turnover chain.

Since Wade’s trade from Cleveland, Miami has sold thousands of Wade jerseys (the Heat won’t give an exact number), with those sales in all 50 states and 43 countries. The Heat gets a percentage of that revenue.

What’s more, though every game is already sold out, home games since Wade’s addition have generated far more on the secondary market — and on the Heat’s resale website — than most other games the past two years.

Michael Lipman, CEO of Tickets of America, said prices of Heat tickets on the secondary market have doubled since Wade arrived.

“I was shocked he would have that impact, but he is the greatest South Florida athlete to ever play any sport,” Lipman said. “This would be comparable to Dan Marino coming back. Upper level seats were going for $65 to $75 before. Now they’re $150 with Wade. Courtside seats with Wade for his first game went for $3,000 to $5,000. They might have been $1,500 to $2,500 otherwise.”

Fox Sports Sun was averaging a 3.5 rating in Wade’s nine games entering Tuesday, compared with a 2.6 for the others. That means Heat games, on average, have gained viewership of more than 15,000 Dade/Broward homes since Wade joined the team.

Meanwhile, UM has received a business briefing on the impact of the turnover chain, and we now know this:

People who purchased officially licensed turnover chain merchandise between September and January could fill every seat in Marlins Park — and then some.

Through January, 37,490 pieces of UM-authorized turnover chain merchandise had been sold since it debuted in a game in early September, according to UM. Marlins Park capacity is 36,742.

And that number doesn’t even include a lot of unlicensed turnover merchandise that was sold.

UM gets 7.5 percent of the wholesale prices on those authorized pieces, according to Harry Rothwell, who owns the allCanes retail store in Coral Gables. Though UM didn’t reveal profits, that’s likely well north of $50,000 in revenue for UM, thanks to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s inspired idea to create the chain.

Up until this point, it was relatively cheap to buy licensed turnover chain merchandise such as T-shirts and Christmas ornaments. But only Dyme Lyfe was authorized to sell the actual chains, for $150 initially — they’re $75 now.

Miami Hurricanes safety Sheldrick Redwine, No. 22, gets the turnover chain after recovering the ball in the second quarter against Pitt at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 24, 2017. Redwine had secured the job of starter, opposite Jaquan Johnson, as 2018 fall camp was about to begin. CHARLES TRAINOR JR

Former Canes linebacker D.J. Williams, who owns Dyme Lyfe, said they were expensive to make and had “to go through five peoples’ hands” before being put on sale. He sold more than 2,900 of them.

But UM has authorized the manufacturing of cheaper chains by Dyme Lyfe and four other companies. Some of those are being made overseas with less expensive material. Rothwell said those chains will arrive at his store and others shortly and be priced in the $15 to $20 range.

Diaz told me the 2018 incarnation of the chain “will probably be a little different, something to make everyone come to the opener and see what it looks like.”

He wants to keep the chain for a second year and beyond not only because of the emotional benefit for players and its value as a recruiting tool but also because “I think branding matters. It helped give Miami an identity, woke up some old echoes of what Miami Hurricanes football looked like. High school kids loved it as much as grandma loved it.”

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