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Is “Muted” Defense A Result Of Refusal
To Sign W/ Colarossi’s T.J. Maxx Tour?
In San Jose, John Ryan reports San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales yesterday sent letters to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow and Sharks President & CEO Greg Jamison, urging the league and the union to end the lockout “for the sake of the many downtown businesses and employees dependent on the revenue generated by Sharks games.” Gonzales sent copies of the letters to the mayors of the other cities with NHL franchises, “hoping similar pressure can spur an agreement” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/29). USA TODAY’s Kevin Allen estimates that 25-35 NHLers will draw salaries during the lockout because they were injured during last season or the World Cup. The number was reached by informal polling of team officials and player agents. It is “difficult to pinpoint an exact number because a doctor first will have to determine whether a player would be ready for duty if the season were starting on time” (USA TODAY, 9/29).
NOT SO McCOOL: SI’s E.M. Swift examine between the USA Gymnastics-sanctioned T.J. Maxx Tour and the non-sanctioned rival Rock & Roll Gymnastics Championships, in the wake of U.S. gymnast Courtney McCool being kicked off the T.J. Maxx Tour last week for performing in the Rock & Roll tour in her hometown of K.C. Swift writes several athletes “have felt pressured by USAG President Bob Colarossi to sign with the T.J. Maxx Tour, even if they’d been offered more money” by the Rock & Roll tour. USAG board member Mike Jacki: “We know for a fact there were people who were told if they went on the Rock & Roll tour, they could be pulled from the national team.” Men’s all-around Olympic Gold Medalist Paul Hamm and his brother Morgan “were among those who refused to sign” with the T.J. Maxx Tour, and their father, Sandy Hamm, “believes Colarossi’s muted defense of Paul when he was badgered to return his all-around gold medal in Athens was an act of retribution –- a charge Colarossi strongly denies.” Colarossi contends that Rock & Roll tour promoter Mike Burg, who ran USAG’s post-Olympics tours in ’92, ’96 and ’00, “has no long-term ties to gymnastics and is interested only in profits.” But Burg said, “What we are interested in is creating a branded franchise similar to Stars on Ice in figure skating” (SI.com, 9/28).
WHISTLE BLOWERS: ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported the NBA’s new CBA with its referees, which runs through the ’08-09 season, has been ratified by the league’s BOG and the referees (ESPN.com, 9/28).
Van Clief Jr. Wants To Reevaluate
The NTRA’s Strategies
In his first public appearance since his status as NTRA Commissioner was changed from temporary to permanent, D.G. Van Clief Jr. said Monday at the NTRA Annual Meeting & Marketing Summit in Las Vegas that there will “be a re-evaluation of strategies that were core to the organization when it launched in 1998,” according to Tom LaMarra of BLOODHORSE. While the NTRA’s logo and “Go Baby Go” slogan have remained in place since ‘98, Van Clief said that the “branding effort wasn’t that successful,” adding, “We’re not so sure that has worked as well as we would have liked. We’re not sure we have the critical mass of dollars needed to be effective.” Van Clief also noted that the NTRA’s corporate advertising program has not met expectations, as creative materials “have been used extensively by some members but hardly at all by others.” Van Clief: “We don’t think we’re getting a uniform bang for the buck. We may deploy those resources elsewhere going forward.” Van Clief, who also serves as Breeders’ Cup President, indicated that selection of future host sites for the event “would be ‘pushed out’ in an attempt to assist sponsors and facilitate [TV] coverage,” with a five-year window now being the minimum for choosing host tracks. Van Clief: “The initial reason is to become more effective and efficient in sponsorship sales. Ultimately the goal would be to know where we are going and avoid dates conflicts. It would be easier to line up [TV] clearances with selected host sites. ... [We] should be sophisticated enough to extend the selection process” (BLOODHORSE.com, 9/27).
GIDDY UP: A survey by SDS Research found that horse racing “has picked up a potential 13 million new fans in the past 12 months.” The survey was based on the question: “Are you interested in going to the racetrack?” In ’04, those who answered “yes” represented 48 million people, up from 34.8 million in ’03. SDS Partner John Della Volpe credited the “Seabiscuit-Triple Crown effect” for the increase (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 9/27). Meanwhile, a TNS Sport-ESPN Sports Poll found that the number of people ages 18+ in the U.S. who said they were interested in horse racing increased 3%, from 36.6% to 37.7% during January-July of this year compared to the comparable year ago period (NTRA).