SBD/Issue 21/Events & Attractions Open Falls Shy Of Sellout; Game Conditions Improved

Suns Outdoor Game Draws 14,979 Fans, A
Dropoff From Last Year's Sellout Crowd
Saturday's Open Warriors-Suns outdoor preseason game drew 14,979 fans at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, a "dropoff from last year's sellout of 16,236," according to Leighton Ginn of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Suns President of Basketball Operations & GM Steve Kerr said the game "was a success" despite the smaller crowd. Kerr: "We had a good crowd. We didn't have quite as big a crowd as last year, but I know all the fans around me said they loved it. I think the players enjoyed it and it would be great if it can come back." The Warriors won the game 104-101, and much of the increased point output from the Nuggets' 77-72 win over the Suns last year can be attributed "to the weather, with little wind and even fewer shivering players at the end of the night" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/11). In Palm Springs, Drew Schmenner noted a "chilly wind swirled" last year, but Saturday a "temperature in the mid 80s was ideal when the game tipped off." Suns President & CEO Rick Welts: "We're hoping to build a tradition here. It takes a while to do that, but we've had two really successful events now" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/11).

COMMUNITY CARE: In Phoenix, Paul Coro noted the game had its "usual preseason dropoff in quality that was exasperated by the outdoor conditions, albeit not as cold and breezy as a year ago." Meanwhile, Suns investor Dick Heckmann said that he "anticipates a third annual NBA outdoor game next year involving the Suns with more of a community hook." Coro noted a high school game held at Indian Wells Thursday "drew 3,000 fans to raise money for the schools." Heckmann: "We got how much of a community event this can be. In five years, this whole community will be Suns crazy. You root for the team you know" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/11). In Palm Springs, Larry Bohannan wrote as "fledgling traditions go, the NBA under the stars is off to a good start." Heckmann, the Suns, the city of Indian Wells and Tennis Garden officials "believe they found a way to grow roots in the desert sands" with the high school game, and Heckmann said that it "was as if a light went on for everyone involved with the game." Bohannan: "Make the outdoor game the crown jewel of a three- or four-day festival featuring more high schools, more bands and more money for the schools." Heckmann and Suns officials already are "planning for 2010, meaning they have 12 months to pull together a larger version of what they did with the one high school game this year in just one month." Meanwhile, Saturday's game "didn't have the same buzz as the debut event last October," but the crowd "filled in nicely, and you have to believe a lot of the almost 15,000 fans that came to this game came last year, too." Bohannan noted four other NBA franchises had "representatives at the game" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/11).

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