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Minnesota Twins & Princes Estate Launching Merch Line

Purple Rain is going to fall during Minnesota Twins games this baseball season.

The Twins have struck a deal to sell Prince-branded merchandise throughout the year at their stadium in Minneapolis – Target Field. Items, which will include hats, shirts, pins, patches and balls, will go on sale at the Twins home opener on April 5th. The StarTribune reported that the co-branding deal could be the first of its kind for a Major League Baseball team.

Why the Twins and Prince? Simple: The international best-selling musical artist was from Minneapolis. "Along with our fans, we look forward to celebrating the legacy of a man who brought an international spotlight to our great city," Twins CEO Dave St. Peter told the StarTribune.

For the second year in a row, the Twins will also host a special Prince Night. During the June 8 game against the Los Angeles Angels, additional Prince merchandise will be on offer. Game attendees who purchase a Prince Theme Night package will receive a Twins/Prince co-branded hat.


Attribution: Minnesota Twins

Perhaps most interestingly for Prince Night, there will be a special giveaway – inflatable purple guitars in the shape of Prince's famous symbol that will also display Twins branding. During the 7th inning stretch, the 10,000 folks lucky enough to have scored the limited edition guitar giveaway will be encouraged to stand and illuminate the item – a show of remembrance and respect to the hometown musical genius who passed away in 2016.


Attribution: Minnesota Twins

Who knows, the inflatable purple guitar could become a sought-after bit of merch. After all, the umbrellas the Twins provided fans on Prince Night in 2017 were being offered for as much as $220 on eBay.


Attribution: eBay

For those curious about the nuts and bolts of the co-branding deal, it seems that Delaware North Sportservice, the Twins' retail provider, negotiated it with Bravado – the company handling the merchandising and branding for Prince's estate. The word from the Twins is that Prince's family is cool with the merchandising.

The Bobblehead Tax: Cincinnati Reds Court Case Could Impact Promo Industry

The Cincinnati Reds, Ohio tax officials and branded game-day merchandise like player bobbleheads are at the center of an intriguing court case that could send reverberations throughout the promotional products world.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal from the Reds. The Major League Baseball team argues that state tax officials have no legal basis to demand the payment of $88,000 in taxes tied to Reds-branded promotional products that the team provided to fans on game days between 2008 and 2010. The Ohio Department of Taxation, however, is doing just that, saying the Reds owe the levy.

The Reds contend that they're entitled to a resale exception/exemption because they're reselling the items as part of advertised ticket sales. Ohio law exempts companies from paying tax on items they buy to resell.

Lawyers for the Reds explained their position: Team officials identify certain games on the schedule they suspect fans won't be as interested in attending. To beef up ticket sales to such contests, the team advertises – and then provides – bobbleheads, player cards and other Reds-themed memorabilia as part of a fan's ticket purchase. "The price paid for the ticket includes consideration for the promotional item," Reds attorneys say in a court filing. "Accordingly, the Reds purchase of such items is exempt from tax since the items are resold to game attendees."

Ohio tax officials take an altogether different view. They say the Reds didn't resell the promotional items as part of the ticket price, but rather gave them away for free to increase interest in games. As such, the state tax commissioner contends that the promotional items should be taxed because the Reds bought the products to be distributed as freebies and are not, in fact, part of a ticket sale.

To support their position, tax officials say that the ticket price for each particular seat is the same throughout the season, whether a promo item is offered or not. Furthermore, not all patrons are guaranteed that they will get promo merch for a game in which it's advertised because supplies are limited. Relatedly, if a game attendee decides she doesn't want, say, a bobblehead, then her ticket isn't discounted. Given all that, the state Board of Tax Appeals denied an appeal from the Reds.

"We conclude that the Reds have not provided this board with competent and probative evidence in support of the position that it does not owe the assessed tax," board members wrote in their ruling. "It is the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals that the decision of the tax commissioner must be affirmed."

The Reds decided to appeal to the state Supreme Court. There the case rests, awaiting an initial hearing.

Depending on how the court rules, the case could have sweeping implications for the promotional products industry. Should the court side with tax officials, will teams and other businesses in Ohio be discouraged from investing in branded merchandise for game-day promotions and, indeed, other events because they don't want to pay taxes on the items? Could an Ohio ruling in favor of the tax commissioner's findings influence other states to enforce similar actions? Stay tuned.

Beach Town Considers Towel Ban

A tiny coastal town on Italian island Sardinia has proposed a ban on beach towels and large beach bags, in an effort to preserve the sand dunes at La Pelosa beach. The popular Mediterranean beach attracts thousands of tourists each day during peak season, many of whom leave with sand-caked accessories.

"We didn't come up with the idea of banning towels," Stintino Mayor Antonio Diana told La Repubblica. "The entire plan is based on scientific studies that indicate towels as one of the biggest dangers, since when they're damp they retain a lot of sand. This isn't some airy-fairy idea."

Instead of towels, beachgoers would be able to rent folding chairs, mats and reusable see-through bags.

La Pelosa is also scheduled for a number renovations to begin after the summer of 2019, including removing the road that leads to the beach and replacing it with pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes. The plan also calls for installing a new raised walkway along the beach to keep pedestrians off the sand dunes.

Last year, La Pelosa was ranked one of the top 10 beaches in Italy by Trip Advisor. Diana said he's not ruling anything out to protect and preserve the popular beach.

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