FedEx to Drop Orange Bowl Sponsorship

FedEx Corp. – one of the most recognizable corporate names in sports marketing – will no longer be the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl, the Sports Business Journal reported Monday.

The Memphis-based shipper has been affiliated with the Orange Bowl since 1989, making it the longest running title sponsorship among current college football bowl games.

FedEx, which has naming rights to FedExForum here and FedExField in Washington, has tweaked its sports marketing during the last few years as it copes with a challenging economy. For example, the company didn’t advertise during the 2009 Super Bowl.

But it still remains a powerful name in sports with sponsorship positions in professional football, basketball, baseball and car racing.

Paddle the Mississippi? Try Swimming It

While writing a story about this weekend’s Outdoors Inc. Canoe & Kayak Race, I remembered an Outside magazine article I read a few years ago by Memphis-born Hampton Sides about swimming the Mississippi River.

Yes, swimming the Mississippi.

Sides (in town this week to promote his new book, “Hellhound on His Trail”) swam from the Arkansas side of the river to Memphis under the watchful eye of river rat John Ruskey, who followed Sides and a couple other swimmers in a boat.

Sides admitted that swimming the river was a “subversive, if not suicidal idea” because of the river’s reputation as being dangerous and dirty.

“Growing up in Memphis, I was told it was sure death to go in that nasty, stinkin’ river,” he wrote. “It was a big drainage ditch swirling with the country’s foulest waste—Our National Colon. Every category of danger lurked in there: snags, whirlpools, menacing big-a** catfish, industrial sludge, burning chemicals, snarled trotlines, and cottonmouths, not to mention a wicked current intent on sweeping away everything in its path.”

I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a great read. Anyone up for a dip?

Tick tock, tick tock

Time is nearly out on the homebuyers tax credit.

Qualified applicants have until Friday to make an offer on a home, which could score them a chunk of change to put toward their down payments, furnish their homes or put into savings.

Under the plan, $8,000 is available for first-time homebuyers who have bought or will buy their homes between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30. If a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, the purchase can be completed within 60 days, or by June 30, to qualify.

The repeat homebuyer tax credit of up to $6,500 applies to houses sold between Nov. 6, 2009, and April 30. Like the first-time credit, if a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, the purchase can be completed by June 30 to qualify.

The program’s success will be judged not only by home sales in April (which should be released by Chandler Reports in the first week of May) but also by sales throughout the summer. In other words, did the credit create enough of a spark for an industry that has struggled for the past two years? Or will activity drop once the promise of cash back is gone?

SkyFest Moved to Sunday

SkyFest at Shelby Farms Park has been postponed until Sunday because of Saturday’s expected inclement weather, park communications director Jen Andrews said this morning.

The event, part of Shelby Farms Park’s Earth Week, will be held in conjunction with the Down to Earth Festival from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit

Smithsonian Chronicles Memphis’ Soul

The Smithsonian magazine’s May issue has a huge spread on the Bluff City.

The Soul of Memphis” by Jamie Katz discusses the city’s music, history, food and commerce.

It includes photographs by Lucian Perkins and video of Dream Safari’s own Tad Pierson driving his pink 1955 Cadillac around town.

The Smithsonian’s feature follows the excellent New York Times piece from January, “Roll Over, Elvis. Meet Indie Memphis.”