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From the minors to the majors, corporate tie-ins span from the first pitch to the final score.  We grade a few we've seen recently at Greater Cleveland sports venues.

Sitting at Quicken Loans Arena, in the Sherwin-Williams Painted Fan Section, watching the Moen Full Force Free Throw Contest, sipping a $6 Budweiser, the mind wonders: Maybe I should get a loan. … Maybe I should get a loan and repaint the house. … Maybe I should get a loan, repaint the house, then take a shower. … On second thought, I just hope the Cavs score 100 so I can get a free Taco Bell Chalupa.

Advertising in sports arenas is as ubiquitous as “Girls Gone Wild” commercials on late-night television. And while some giveaways are welcome diversions to a game’s downtime, some advertisements are just obtrusive. Let’s face it, not everyone enjoys making out in front of 20,000 people on the Kiss Cam. So we graded some of the more recent sports venue promotions.— Tom Kondilas

Five Star Brand All-Beef Footlong Frenzy
Lake County Captains home games
Gimmick: Four people race to see who can eat the most of their hotdog in one minute. Winners earn 10 wieners to share with their section.
Analysis: New in 2006, this is a homegrown version of competitive eating. Though the action here is not quite as intense as the International Federation of Competitive Eating’s “Glutton Bowl,” where you might see a man consume more than 50 hotdogs in 12 minutes, it’s still fun. Plus, the contestants aren’t the only ones getting free hot dogs.
Grade: A — Fun, entertaining and wacky. Who doesn’t like watching people gorge themselves during minor league baseball?

The Eat’n Park Cookie leads the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Cleveland Indians games at Jacobs Field
Gimmick: Smiley is a digitized cookie, which bounces from word to word on the Jumbotron while fans sing the traditional anthem of baseball’s seventh-inning stretch.
Analysis: Smiley is new to Cleveland, but apparently bouncing cookies that lead songs make perfect sense in Pittsburgh (home of the Eat’n Park chain). To us, it’s kind of like trying to explain the pertinence of the Easter Bunny to Christianity, but the promotion is part of a larger effort by Eat’n Park to infiltrate the Northeast Ohio market. The company also donated $10,000 to promote educational events at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Smiley even has his own “Cookie Cruiser.” Watch for gangs of children chasing a truck with a cookie at the wheel in the near future.
Grade: B+ — Harmless, sedate, and we were stretching anyway.

National City Bank’s Show Me Your Money

Cleveland Cavaliers home games at The Q
Gimmick: Like many in-house promotions, this gives fans a shot at being on the Jumbotron. All you have to do is pull a National City Bank card out of your pocket and Scream Team personnel will give $25 prizes to a handful of lucky participants.
Analysis: At first, it seems like a blatant act of commercialism, with fans waving bankcards in the air trying to win free cash. The real genius is National City gets its customers to do the advertising. Customers of other banks find themselves surrounded by a sea of smiling National City Bank cardholders all hoping to get a little richer.
Grade: C — Overtly commercial, not entertaining, distracting. But it’s a chance to win some money if you bank at the right place.


And Another Thing

After Arthur Gugick’s Lego replicas of famous buildings landed him on our Most Interesting People list (January 2006), they got him invited to Legoland California in May to compete for a job as one of the theme park’s master builders. Each contestant was asked to build an egg, a safe and an original creation. “I created a Rubik’s Cube, but I think that they were looking for something more organic,” says Gugick, a Beachwood High School math teacher. “Other people were creating things like fire-breathing snowmen.” He always has his side business, “A Piece of the World, ”which will build a Lego replica of your favorite building. For more information, call (216) 533-4612.

After writing about training for her first half marathon (“13.1,” May 2006), free-lance writer Jeannie Roberts was forced to sit out this year’s run:

A dream deferred, a run re-scheduled. A dozen days before my debut as a half-marathoner, I tearfully withdrew from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon due to complications from a hip injury suffered 40 years ago. It is one more thing running has taught me: Honoring my body and allowing it to heal is more important than running a half marathon. I spent race day cheering my coach, Johanna, through her first marathon. She finished in just over five hours. I am altering my training, strengthening my hip before hitting the road again. I’ve been told my limit is about 10 miles, but there’s no reason I can’t safely increase that to, say, 13.1. I’m thinking Bermuda in January, perhaps?

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