Is Premier Ewart Brown about to feel the love for another baseball team?

Last year Dr. Brown threw out a ceremonial pitch at Shea Stadium as part of a sponsorship deal with New York Mets.

Mets fan Dr. Brown described the moment as "a once-in-a-lifetime" experience. The link up, which cost the taxpayer around $500,000, also featured Bermuda 'Feel the Love' branding and advertising at Mets home games.

Now Dr. Brown is believed to be in talks to again secure a link-up with a baseball team. However, while the Mets are again in the frame, Boston Red Sox appear to be the frontrunners to sign a deal.

Sponsorship package

Red Sox representatives recently met with Dr. Brown, the Bermuda Sun understands. A Red Sox party stayed at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, where they discussed terms of a sponsorship package.

Dr. Brown's spokesman, Glenn Jones, said yesterday he was unable to say at this stage whether a link-up will go ahead. However, he did confirm that talks had taken place. Mr. Jones said: "Last year's deal is under review as is typical with all tourism marketing initiatives. In the process of that review, dialogue with other pro baseball teams is underway. The Bermuda Department of Tourism expects a final decision that can be released to the public as early as next week."

During last year's deal, Dr. Brown said the Mets had been "a perfect match for us" and appeared to suggest the link-up with the team would continue in following years. After his ceremonial pitch he said he and Mets chiefs had "reaffirmed their commitment to this arrangement."

'Great marriage'

He continued: "We think it's a great marriage between Bermuda and the Mets because the Mets are about to go on an upswing and I see our tourism going the same way. The Mets are opening a new stadium next season and have acquired new players, and I feel we will grow and grow together in the number one market, which is New York."

Upswings for the Mets and for Bermuda tourism failed to materialize. The Mets failed to reach the playoffs and tourism figures showed Bermuda suffered one of the worst slumps in visitor numbers in the Caribbean and Atlantic region.

Critics of last year's deal said the sum paid was too costly to target such a specific audience - the estimated four million fans who attended Mets' home games last season. However, tourism chiefs said it would be an effective way to target New York, the island's number one tourism catchment area.