Clemson arena makes turn for the better The Edmonton connection Practice facility a tool for recruiting Coast to Coast Fanatics-UA to field MLB jerseys in 2020 USOC works to ramp up college connection Figure skating launches a youth movement DTI Management gets $75M funding Arena getting its own Frito-Lay lab USSA sees ticket demand for alpine stops
SBJ/19980629/This Weeks Issue
Coast to Coast
Published June 29, 1998, Page 42
■ Wilkens honored by Hall of Fame – again
■ Florida wants changes for prep event
■ Ty Cobb Museum opens July 17
■ Atlanta Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens, who was enshrined into the Naismit Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989, will be honored as a coach on Oct. 2. Wilkens is the NBA’s all-time winningest coach. He joins legendary UCLA coach John Wooden as the only two people ever honored by a sports hall of fame as both a player and a coach.
■ Florida’s prep stars may choose not to return to Atlanta for the annual Georgia-Florida High School All-Star Football Game after 1999, when the current three-year deal for the game expires, unless the Scottish Rite Festival organizing group expands the annual event to include a basketball game or another interstate football game. Florida Athletic Coaches Association executive director Wink Barnette said his organization agreed to the current pact with the understanding that the Scottish Rite would add an All-Star basketball game and bring football all-star teams from Tennessee and either Kentucky or Alabama to form a doubleheader. The game was played in Florida for 12 years under the sponsorship of the Florida Citrus Sports Association before moving to Atlanta in 1997. The Scottish Rite Festival is a fund-raising arm of Egleston Scottish Rite Children’s Health Care System in Atlanta.
■ Ty Cobb Healthcare System Inc. in Royston, Ga., will open the Ty Cobb Museum on July 17. The museum will be located in the Joe A. Adams Professional Building in Royston, which was Cobb’s hometown. In 1949, Cobb donated $100,000 to start a hospital there. He also endowed a million-dollar scholarship fund in the city. Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro will be keynote speaker for the opening ceremony at the museum. Artifacts and memorabilia in the museum will include a pictorial history of Cobb’s rise to baseball fame, rare photos, letters, his Detroit Tigers uniform and his baseball glove.
■ Pimlico reports slight decline in wagers
■ Record crowd sees O’s-Yankees
■ Total wagers dipped slightly at Pimlico Race Course for the three-month period ended June 21 compared with the same period last year. Wagers totaled about $116 million, compared with $118 million in the same time in 1997. The level would most likely have remained flat if about $2 million in wagers hadn’t been lost in a power failure during the 1998 Preakness Stakes.
■ The crowd of 48,269 at Camden Yards for the June 17 Orioles-Yankees game was the largest for a regular-season game in the stadium’s history. The three-game series total of 144,318 fans also was a record.
■ Sports project pegged for Garden site
■ Delaware North Cos. reportedly is developing a sports-related project adjacent to the FleetCenter and on the site of the former Boston Garden. The project would include sports-themed restaurants and a retail operation and would be part of the office, hotel and apartment complex project already planned for the Boston Garden land. In addition, should the company merge the retail component of its project into the FleetCenter, it would be able to add a new concourse level to the arena and possibly add 10 to 12 luxury suites.
■ Sabres want estranged fans back
■ The Buffalo Sabres are looking to regain season-ticket holders from 1996-97 who chose not to renew for last season. The Sabres finished their 1997-98 season with an appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, their deepest playoff push in 18 years. The team lost nearly 1,600 accounts from the 1996-97 season to this past season, dropping their season ticket total to about 8,500. The team wants its season-ticket count close to 10,000.
■ Football league files for liquidation
■ Deal between racing firms finalized
■ Legends series shows growth
■ Tickets for NASCAR race selling well
■ A professional football league founded and based in Charlotte that once boasted 35 teams and hoped to be used as a farm system for the NFL filed under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for liquidation of its assets. The National Minor Football League, a nonprofit organization that went dormant last spring after three years of operation, claims debts of more than $86,000 from at least 40 creditors that include 14 former team owners, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charlotte. Its goal of becoming a farm system for the NFL was dealt a blow last year when the NFL bought out the former World League of American Football and renamed it NFL Europe with designs to use it exclusively for NFL Player development. A hearing for the bankruptcy is scheduled for July 14.
■ Racing Champions Corp. of Glen Ellyn, Ill., has completed its acquisition of Mooresville, N.C., collectibles company Wheels Sports Group. Racing Champions will retain the Wheels leadership team and rename the company Racing Champions South. The newly merged company also has reached an agreement to distribute merchandise for NASCAR driver Bill Elliott and a new race team co-owned by Elliott and NFL star Dan Marino.
■ Attendance and television exposure are expected to hit all-time highs for the start of the fourth year of the Legends racing series at Charlotte Motor Speedway this summer. After being televised the first three years on Turner Sports-owned SportSouth, the Legends events will be carried this year by Fox Sports South, part of the national Fox Sports Net. The Legends series was created by Speedway Motorsports Inc. to provide amateur drivers with an entrée into auto racing.
■ Charlotte Motor Speedway has sold more than 80,000 tickets for its Oct. 4 UAW-GM NASCAR Winston Cup event. That represents a 300 percent improvement on last year’s sales pace. Track officials predict the 150,000-seat facility may be a sellout for the fall race for the first time in history.
■ Tax targets local games, events
■ Xavier-Cincinnati could join ‘Rivalry Week’
■ Olympic movement adds two
■ Cincinnati City Council is considering raising the admissions tax on for-profit events such as professional baseball, football and hockey games to meet a financial commitment it made to the city’s school system. The current 3 percent admissions tax would increase to 4.25 percent in 1999 and would remain at that level through 2010. It then would be phased back to 3 percent by 2019. The goal is to generate an additional $5 million on average each year.
■ The Cincinnati Crosstown Shootout, the annual battle between Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati for local men’s basketball bragging rights, might be televised by ESPN as part of its “Rivalry Week” coverage in late January. The local station that holds the broadcasting rights for the game is WXIX-TV, a Fox affiliate, but both schools have been interested in gaining national coverage for the game. Their contract with WXIX would allow for an ESPN telecast.
■ Cincinnati’s Olympic movement has tapped two big guns to raise up to $5 million within six months and re-energize the 2-year-old initiative. James Rogers, president and CEO of Cinergy Corp., and William Keating, whose career pursuits have included stints as a congressman, judge and publisher, will serve as co-chairmen of the Greater Cincinnati Amateur Sports Association. Formed in 1996, the nonprofit group is trying to bring the 2012 Olympics to the area. Rogers and Keating said they agreed to take on leadership roles because they believe the quest for the Olympics is achievable and will spawn sporting events and regional cooperation initiatives that last long beyond the campaign for the Olympics.
■ Spitzer joins group bidding for Browns
■ Alan Spitzer, chairman and CEO of Elyria, Ohio-based Spitzer Management Inc., has joined the group led by local businessman Bart Wolstein seeking ownership of the new Cleveland Browns franchise. Spitzer would hold roughly a 20 percent stake in the team if the bid is successful. Spitzer Management is one of the leading acquirers of auto dealerships in the country.
■ Gov. Bush profits from Rangers sale
■ Lone Star Park offers new wager
■ Texas Gov. George W. Bush turned his $606,000 investment in the Texas Rangers nine years ago into at least $15 million, according to Rangers President Tom Schieffer. Bush’s initial stake in the team was 1.8 percent, but that rose to 12 percent because he served as managing general partner. Bush and a group of investors bought the Rangers nine years ago for $86 million. The team recently was sold to businessman Tom Hicks.
■ Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie experienced moderate success with a new wager it offered during the recent NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship. Bets for the All-Star wager totaled $109,125. It allowed bettors to pick the jockey who would finish with the most total points at the end of four specific races held during the evening. Jockeys earned points for finishing first through fourth on a scale of 12-6-4-3. Shane Sellers earned the most points with 36.
■ Mississippi group deals for Bombers
■ The owners of the Dayton Bombers reached an agreement in principle to sell their East Coast Hockey League franchise to a group led by the owner of another of the league’s team, the Mississippi Sea Wolves. The deal is expected to be completed next month. It calls for the group led by Sea Wolves owner John Gagnon to buy all of the ownership shares of the Bombers held by co-owners Bud Gingher and Arnold Johnson. Gagnon’s group consists of business partners from Canada and Mississippi, according to Bombers general manager John Tull. The team is expected to remain in Dayton. Tull said he does not expect that prospective dual-ownership status for Gagnon will hinder league approval of the deal because similar situations already have occurred in the league.
■ Stadium backers start petition drive
■ City protests retail tax
■ Stadium model reflects Mile High
■ Democrats plan All-Star fund-raiser
■ Beer battle shaping up
■ Beanie Babies will join All-Stars
■ Coors offers $1 million for fan home run
■ Gart Sports targets West Coast
■ The Metropolitan Football Stadium District Board was given the OK to begin circulating petitions in favor of a new Broncos stadium. Stadium supporters have until Aug. 3 to collect the 28,700 signatures needed to get the measure on the November ballot. Voters are being asked to extend a sales tax, previously used to fund construction of Coors Field, to pay for the new stadium.
■ The small town of Lone Tree, Colo., sued the Metropolitan Football Stadium District. Lone Tree’s retail area would, under a proposal to fund a new stadium for the Broncos, be expected to collect an additional sales tax to fund the stadium. However, the stadium district’s boundaries would not allow most of the town’s 2,800 registered voters to vote on the proposal. Lone Tree residents want to be able to vote on whether to approve the sales tax.
■ Preliminary plans developed by HOK Sport for a new Broncos stadium call for a repeat of Mile High Stadium’s horseshoe shape. The south side of the stadium would be open above the lower seating deck. Plans also call for the inclusion of 15,000 club seats; Mile High doesn’t have any.
■ The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes to raise $200,000 using baseball’s All-Star Game as a fund-raiser. The group has gotten hold of 50 tickets to the sold-out game scheduled for July 7 at Coors Field. For $2,500 a ticket, fans can attend the game and watch it while sitting with a member of Congress. The committee is also planning a fund-raising dinner as part of the All-Star festivities.
■ The host field might bear the Coors name, but it’s Budweiser that will get much of the advertising attention at the All-Star Game scheduled for July 7 at Coors Field. Budweiser is the official beer of Major League Baseball. To make sure its own brew doesn’t get overlooked, Coors plans to sell Coors Light in commemorative cans locally during the All-Star festivities and will hold a tent party near the stadium for ticketless fans.
■ Major League Baseball will distribute Beanie Babies as souvenirs to fans attending the All-Star Game at Coors Field on July 7.
■ Adolph Coors Co. is sponsoring a $1 million home run contest at the company’s namesake ball field July 10. One fan will get three swings to try to hit a home run at Coors Field. The contest participant will be chosen from a pool of five finalists selected from across the country.
■ Denver-based retailer Gart Sports Co. intends to add stores in Washington and California. Gart Sports will build six or seven stores in western Washington that will use the Gart Sports name. The 20 stores expected to be added in California will carry the name Sportmart. Gart Sports acquired the Sportmart chain earlier this year.
■ Parade brings estimated $20 million
■ The Detroit Red Wings’ victory parade to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship brought an estimated 1.2 million people to downtown Detroit and generated an estimated $20 million for the city. Spending on parking, food and souvenirs was projected at $20 a person, according to an estimate by Comerica Bank economist William Wilson for the Detroit Free Press.
■ Spending doesn’t bring stadium victory
■ The posturing for last month’s vote on a stadium initiative for Major League Baseball in the Triad area of North Carolina reportedly ended with stadium proponents spending $899,000 to build support for their campaign while opponents raised only $33,000. With the initiative suffering a resounding defeat, those totals translate into stadium backers having spent $16.26 for each vote in support of the initiative and only 34 cents being spent for each vote against the proposal.
■ McNair, rodeo seek revenue deal
■ Golf course developer sues former employees
■ Businessman Bob McNair is negotiating with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to determine how to split the advertising and naming rights revenues for a proposed joint football stadium and rodeo arena. McNair, who is trying to bring an NFL franchise to Houston, believes the football team should get the majority of the facility’s total revenue because of the national exposure teams receive. Rodeo officials believe they deserve a larger chunk of the in-stadium advertising revenue, which could be as much as $8 million, because the rodeo would have 20 dates at the site each year compared with 10 for the football team.
■ Tour 18 Inc., a Houston-based golf course developer that had to defend its right to copy well-known golf holes, is suing two of its former employees who formed a new company to create similar copycat courses. Tour 18 was sued for trademark infringement in 1994 by Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., Pebble Beach in California and Resorts of Pinehurst in North Carolina. Now Tour 18 is accusing Spencer Clements and Jeffrey Sheehan of Replica Golf Group of taking confidential and proprietary information and using it to start Replica. Sheehan quit as director of the Houston Tour 18 course in October 1996. The two say no confidential information was taken from Tour 18. Replica has yet to build any courses but has sent a proposal to potential investors outlining its goals. According to the lawsuit, filed in state district court, Replica is considering building courses in Washington and Atlanta, two areas that Tour 18 has researched as potential sites for its own courses.
■ Local reporter joins ‘SportsCenter’
■ Carlos Diaz, a former local television sports reporter, has taken a job as a reporter for ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Diaz, 27, is originally from Greenwood, Ind. He started working with ESPN last July and lived in Indianapolis while he hosted the network’s weekly “Scholastic Sports America” show. Diaz previously worked as a high school sports reporter for Indianapolis’ NBC affiliate, WTHR-TV.
■ School proceeds with golf program plan
■ The University of North Florida is moving forward with plans for a golf management program that will include a practice facility for the school’s golf team. The 38-acre Golf Management and Learning Center is scheduled to be built on the campus’ southeast corner, a site that stirred opposition among students and faculty members who questioned the location and the need for such a program. A recent consultant’s report prepared by Reynolds, Smith and Hill, however, concluded that the southeast location would be the least expensive to develop among three proposed sites. It also downplayed environmental concerns with the site. Construction of the center is expected to begin this summer and is being funded by a $750,000 gift from Jacksonville businessman John T. Hayt and matching state funds.
■ School’s plan for fields draws fire
■ Magazine, radio station form partnership
■ Screening committee seeks new A.D.
■ Marathon gets new name, route
■ The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s decision to demolish 52 homes south of the campus to build athletic fields is meeting stiff resistance from that neighborhood’s residents. The residents, who have been told they must vacate their homes by Aug. 15, believe the university could develop the athletic fields on alternative sites. They have held several public protests and have started a mailing campaign aimed at changing the school’s plan. School officials have said they are intent on redeveloping the land, most of which university owns, with the goal of enticing more students to live on campus.
■ Kansas City Sports magazine formed a marketing partnership with local sports-talk radio station KMBZ-AM. Under the partnership, the magazine will now be called KMBZ’s Kansas City Sports.
■ The University of Missouri appointed a screening committee to interview candidates for the school’s vacant athletic director post. University Chancellor Richard Wallace has not confirmed a time frame for the hiring.
■ Organizers of Kansas City’s Oct. 25 marathon unveiled a new route for the race as well as a new name – The Rib Run. Unlike previous years, in which the 26.2-mile race included two states and nine cities, this year’s race will take place entirely in Kansas City, Mo., and will be run through most of the city’s downtown area.
■ Peeler sues former agent Fleisher
■ KCAL re-signs for Lakers broadcasts
■ Kings use “Puddy” for jersey unveiling
■ Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Anthony Peeler filed a lawsuit against his former agent, Eric Fleisher, alleging that Fleisher did not give him enough notice to renegotiate a contract or get traded before an option in his contract expired. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, contends that Peeler would have earned more money if Fleisher had pursued the option with the Lakers. The lawsuit, which did not specify damages, alleges professional negligence and breach of contract and fiduciary duty. Peeler, a former first-round draft pick, was a guard for the Lakers for four years, ending in 1996. He finished last season with Minnesota.
■ KCAL-TV signed a seven-year deal for local broadcast rights of the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal is valued at an estimated $140 million. KCAL has controlled local Lakers broadcast rights for more than 20 years. The deal calls for KCAL to control all production and ad sales for telecasts of the team’s 41 away games.
■ The Los Angeles Kings used a “Seinfeld” alum to help with the recent unveiling of their new uniforms and log. Patrick Warburton, who played “Puddy” on the show, modeled one of the team’s new jerseys.
■ Stephenson named bowl chairman
■ SportsLine CEO sees bright future
■ Former Miami Dolphins center Dwight Stephenson was named chairman of the Sunshine Football Classic. The game was formerly known as the Carquest Bowl.
■ Michael Levy, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based SportsLine USA, said he expects the online firm to be profitable by 2000. SportsLine’s World Cup content generated 17 million page views during the first week of the event. The site provides soccer information in six languages. In addition, the company could be adding a TV-like component in the near future. The company is talking with a studio to develop a TV show, and it is working with the William Morris Agency to further marry sports business and entertainment.
■ Selig making plans for new job
■ Curtain coming down on Irwin, McGee
■ Bud Selig reportedly is negotiating a lease for office space in the Firstar Center, Milwaukee’s premier office tower, from which to run Major League Baseball. In addition, Selig reportedly is discussing a way to put his ownership of the Milwaukee Brewers in a trust for his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, so she can become president of the team. The actions come as Selig, president and CEO of the Brewers, is on the verge of becoming the next commissioner of baseball.
■ The 18-year run of Jim Irwin and Max McGee as the radio voices of the Green Bay Packers on WTMJ-AM will come to an end after the 1998-99 season. Irwin, 64, who has been announcing Packers games for 29 years, also is expected to retire from his post as sports director at WTMJ. In addition to his Packers work, Irwin has called Milwaukee Bucks and Wisconsin Badgers football games and has been named Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year 11 times. McGee, 66, played 12 seasons in the NFL and is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame.
■ Kramer might join McCombs’ group
■ Llewellyn plans bid for Vikings
■ Puckett interested in Twins stake?
■ Kellogg’s loses cereal battle
■ Angler will appear on Wheaties box
■ HOK unveils Wild arena design
■ Thunder land AmEx as sponsor
■ Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer is interested in assuming a role with the team again if Texas businessman B.J. “Red” McCombs is successful in his bid to purchase the franchise. Kramer grew up in San Antonio and later played at Rice University in Houston.
■ Another bidder for the Minnesota Vikings stepped forward. J. Bruce Llewellyn, chairman of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., was expected to submit a bid by the July 1 deadline set by the Vikings’ owners. If successful, Llewellyn would become the first African-American majority owner of a major professional team. Former Vikings co-owner Mike Lynn would join Llewellyn in the ownership group. However, some current team owners said Llewellyn’s initial bid appears to fall short financially of what is being sought for the team.
■ Former Minnesota Twins outfielder Kirby Puckett reportedly is considering becoming an investor in the team. Puckett retired from baseball in 1996.
■ The affiliation of Michael Jordan with Minneapolis-based General Mills’ Wheaties brought to a halt a plan of Kellogg’s to issue a Corn Flakes box featuring the NBA champion Chicago Bulls. The NBA earlier this month reached an agreement with Kellogg’s whereby the company was named the league’s breakfast-food sponsor and was supposed to issue a Corn Flakes box with a photo of the NBA champion. With the Bulls winning, however, the NBA changed its stance, reportedly in hopes of avoiding any legal battles with General Mills if Jordan had been included in the Bulls photo.
■ General Mills will manufacture 2 million Wheaties boxes featuring Denny Brauer, the winner of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s Angler-of-the-Year points title. Brauer will be first fishing champion to be featured on the box.
■ HOK Sport unveiled its design for St. Paul’s $130 million arena for the NHL expansion Minnesota Wild. The 18,632-seat arena will include 74 luxury suites and a club-seat level with 3,000 seats.
■ The Minnesota Thunder professional soccer team picked up Minneapolis-based American Express Financial Advisors as a sponsor. The Thunder play in the 28-team A-League.
■ Orlando joins Tampa’s Olympics bid
■ Florida stars will challenge nation’s best
■ RDV refocuses its retail effort
■ ESPN Zone coming to town?
■ The city of Orlando is joining Tampa’s effort to bring the 2012 Olympics to central Florida. Under the partnership, Orlando has no financial obligation for the push unless the area is selected to host the Games. The joint proposal calls for using Orlando’s 74,000-seat Citrus Bowl, 17,000-seat Orlando Arena and the 1.1 million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center as venue sites.
■ The organizers of the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl are starting an annual college football all-star game. The All-Star Gridiron Classic, which will debut Jan. 16 in Orlando, will match a team of college players from Florida against a team of players from the rest of the country. The game will be coached by former NFL coaches Chuck Noll and Lindy Infante. The Buoniconti Fund, which is trying to find a cure for paralysis, will be the game’s main beneficiary. In addition, unlike other college all-star games, each participating player will receive $1,000 to play in the game.
■ RDV Sports, the parent company of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the International Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears, plans to close half its local merchandise stores. The company operates four Magic FanAttics but now will concentrate its merchandise effort on a 9,800-square-foot flagship store in downtown Orlando, which opened in November.
■ ESPN is expected to announce within the next few months that an ESPN Zone sports-themed restaurant will be coming to Walt Disney World. The first ESPN Zone opens next month in Baltimore. Walt Disney World is already home to the sports-themed restaurant ESPN Club. Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ESPN.
■ Comcast-Spectacor settles lawsuit
■ Comcast-Spectacor, owner of the CoreStates Center in Philadelphia, settled a lawsuit filed over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the agreement, which still must be approvedb y the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, Comcast-Spectacor will modify the CoreStates Center so that people in wheelchairs will be able to see game action when fans in front of them stand. The change calls for the installation of platforms to raise the level of some seating areas and prohibits the sale of certain seats in front of wheelchair sections.
■ Small crowds show for championships
■ Track proposal scrapped by Legislature
■ LSU urged to stay in Showdown series
■ The USA Track & Field Championships in New Orleans earlier this month drew only about 7,000 fans each day for the three-day event. Organizers had hoped to average 10,000 fans daily. The poor turnout was attributed to a number of factors, including unseasonably warm weather and the fact that Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee withdrew from the event at the last hour.
■ In the waning days of the state Legislature’s regular session, a proposal for an auto speedway in New Orleans was scrapped. Backers of the project couldn’t form a consensus on the issue, said state Rep. Charles DeWitt, chief sponsor of the legislation. The proposal called for redirecting money from the city’s hotel-motel tax to a development district charged with funding the new raceway.
■ The University of New Orleans and Tulane University are urging Louisiana State University Athletic Director Joe Dean and baseball coach Skip Bertman not to pull out of the annual Winn-Dixie Showdown baseball series. LSU recently announced its intention to withdraw from the Superdome tournament after 1999. The tournament pits the three schools against other teams from around the country. LSU can make more money by playing on its home turf in Baton Rouge, but New Orleans officials may put together some financial incentives to keep LSU and its large fan base.
■ Kids get Mets tickets
■ Giuliani tours Camden Yards
■ Wells signs with B&J collectibles
■ Film could tell Hernandez’s story
■ The New York Mets and Chase Manhattan Bank donated 70,000 tickets to local children. About 10,000 of the kids who received tickets are in foster care. The tickets were distributed to schools in low-income communities and to youth groups in the metro area.
■ New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took a private tour of Camden Yards in Baltimore. Giuliani is trying to develop a proposal for the New York Yankees that would keep the team in New York even if they were to leave Yankee Stadium.
■ Yankees pitcher David Wells signed a one-year deal with B&J Collectibles to sign autographs and make appearances. Wells was represented by Woolf Associates of Massachusetts.
■ Orlando Hernandez of the Yankees reportedly will be portrayed by actor Cuba Gooding Jr. in a feature film about the pitcher currently under consideration. Antonio Banderas reportedly would play Hernandez’s agent, Joe Cubas.
■ Team picks prospects for youth camp
■ D’backs hand out Beanie Babies
■ Company plans indoor soccer arena
■ Youth tourney returning to town
■ Taekwondo team goes to Korea
■ The Arizona Diamondbacks have chosen six boys between the ages of 12 and 14 to represent the team and the city of Phoenix at a baseball camp in Denver called Opportunity Through Baseball. The all-expenses-paid camp began in 1994 and is funded through The Opportunity Through Baseball Foundation, a project of the Howard H. Callaway Foundation. The three-week camp is held at Regis University. It provides an opportunity to play baseball to inner-city at-risk youth who otherwise could not afford to attend camp but who possess talent for the sport. Several other major league teams are sending youngsters to the camp, including the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Colorado Rockies.
■ The Diamondbacks recently took their turn in the line of Major League Baseball teams offering Beanie Babies to fans. The result? The team gave away 6,000 Beanie Babies as fans lined up well before game time in hopes of getting one of the collectibles.
■ Let’s Play of San Diego will build an indoor soccer arena for youth and adult leagues in northern Phoenix. The facility, slated to open early next year, is awaiting city approval of its design and construction plans. Let’s Play operates similar arenas in 10 states. The planned 23,650-square-foot venue in Phoenix is being designed by Architectural Team Three in Tempe and will include a field, bleachers, offices, a pro shop and a snack shop. Construction costs are estimated at $1 million.
■ One of the nation’s most prestigious youth soccer tournaments is coming to Phoenix for the second consecutive year. Sponsored by Snickers, the annual competition is organized by U.S. Youth Soccer and features 40 boys and girls teams competing for national championships in five age divisions. Teams advance to the July tournament by winning state and regional competitions. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 22. All the action takes place at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.
■ The Valley’s USA Martial Arts’ team is in Korea representing the United States in Taekwondo demonstrations. The team consists of 25 masters, grand masters and students from the three local USA Martial Arts academies. The team received a reciprocal invitation to Korea after hosting the Korean Eagle Professional Show Team in Arizona in January.
■ Mount Hood ski area sued
■ CART race draws crowd of 78,000
■ Seven environmental organizations filed a federal lawsuit against Mount Hood Meadows and the U.S. Forest Service seeking $46 million. Mount Hood Meadows is a ski area located on Mount Hood. The groups contend that Mount Hood Meadows and the federal agency that regulates it violated numerous environmental laws. They also allege that the ski area has failed to properly follow permitting procedures and that the Forest Service has wrongly issued permits, resulting in at least 1,825 violations of the Clean Water Act.
■ Attendance for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe’s 200 auto race on June 21 was 78,000, according to race chairman Bill Hildick. Total attendance for the three-day weekend of CART racing was 167,000, which was 2,300 short of the record set in 1996.
■ URI gets OK for basketball arena
■ The Rhode Island General Assembly approved a proposal to build a $43 million basketball arena for the University of Rhode Island.
■ Hurricanes seeking return for contribution
■ The Carolina Hurricanes’ offer of $20 million toward cost overruns in construction of the city’s planned downtown arena reportedly is conditioned on the team gaining some control over naming rights for the facility. The original arena contract gives naming rights to North Carolina State University, which will share the arena with the Hurricanes. Other concessions reportedly being sought by the Hurricanes in return for the $20 million are additional money from concessions, ticket sales and advertising, and control of property around the arena.
■ Group Oks stadium site study
■ The Sacramento Ballpark Authority recently gave the green light to a local six-month analysis of potential Major League Baseball stadium locations.
■ U.S. Open generates millions for USGA
■ Judge rejects stadium opponents’ bid
■ This year’s U.S. Open, played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, generated an estimated $11 million in hospitality revenue for the U.S. Golf Association, the sport’s U.S. governing body.
■ Superior Court Judge Raymond Williamson Jr. threw out an initiative to overturn the San Francisco 49ers’ narrowly approved stadium deal. Williamson ruled that backers of a petition to dismantle the stadium package used statements that were misleading. The backers want to put the $525 million deal on the November ballot for a re-vote. Last month, Williamson threw out a lawsuit brought by the anti-stadium forces to overturn the June 1997 election results, ruling that there was no evidence of fraud.
■ Mountain guide service purchased
■ AquaSox open season in new-look ballpark
■ Christine and Keith Boskoff bought the Mountain Madness guide service from the estate of Scott Fischer, the former owner who died on Mount Everest in May 1996. The Boskoffs were friends of Fischer. The company is planning its first ascent of the mountain since the accident for 2000.
■ The Everett AquaSox, Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, won their June 17 season opener in the team’s newly renovated stadium. Attendance on opening night was 2,067, well below the stadium’s new capacity of 3,682. Capacity prior to the renovations was 2,285.
■ Sale of arena seats raises $30,000
■ Speedtown opening prototype store
■ Blues still popular online
■ The sale of 2,600 seats from the St. Louis Arena, former home of the St. Louis Blues, raised $30,000 after expenses for the Fourteen Fund, the cancer-research trust named for former Blues center Doug Wickenheiser, who is fighting the disease. The seats, priced at $20 each, sold out in 80 minutes. They were removed in preparation for razing the arena later this year. The sale was sponsored by the Blues and the St. Louis Development Corp., the city’s economic development agency.
■ Speedtown USA will open a 2,500-square-foot prototype store during the Fourth of July weekend in St. Louis Union Station. The shop will feature apparel, accessories and memorabilia from the auto racing, motorcycle, boat and aviation worlds. Another prototype shop is planned for Miami. Sports Avenue recently opened the 2,240-square-foot Dugout Shop at the station featuring St. Louis Cardinals apparel and memorabilia.
■ The St. Louis Blues Web site still is getting more than 600,000 hits a month even though the team’s season ended last month. The site was averaging more than 1 million hits a month during the season, said Jim Woodcock, the team’s senior vice president of marketing.
■ Blue Jays renew Pasco County talks
■ St. Petersburg wants the X Games
■ Mutiny sign CarMax as big sponsor
■ Station uses Rays theme for business cards
■ In what has become an annual recurrence, the Dunedin Blue Jays are again considering moving their spring training headquarters from Dunedin, where they’ve played since 1977, to Pasco County, just north of their current home. The team’s contract with Dunedin extends into the spring of 2000. Whether a deal can be struck in Pasco depends on several factors, including the team’s demand that the county foot the bill for a stadium expected to cost at least $17 million. The Jays are one of a handful of major league teams that have eyed Pasco over the years, joining the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees. The Jays are the Class A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
■ St. Petersburg is one of four cities being considered to host next year’s X Games. St. Petersburg, San Francisco, Seattle and Providence, R.I., have all submitted bids to host the eight-day alternative sports event. That list is expected to be shortened to two cities and final decision will be made after X Games officials visit both sites. St. Petersburg drew sizable crowds when the X Trials qualifying event came to town in April.
■ The Tampa Bay Mutiny signed a deal with CarMax that makes the company one of the team’s biggest sponsors and the “Official Automotive Superstore of the Tampa Bay Mutiny.” The Mutiny are in their third year of Major League Soccer play.
■ Several employees of Tampa’s WWWB-TV are carrying business cards this year that mimic Tampa Bay Devil Rays trading cards. The station is broadcasting 51 Devil Rays games this season. The cards feature the employees posing in Rays uniforms and holding bats or gloves.
■ New baseball league planned
■ Stadium projections are questioned
■ Record crowd attends Mystics’ opener
■ GW will add four women’s sports
■ Cambridge Sports International sold
■ A new baseball league featuring the top Class A and AA players from all 30 Major League Baseball clubs will begin play this fall in Frederick, Bowie and Salisbury, Md., and Wilmington, Del. Modeled after the Arizona Fall League, the new league – as yet unnamed – is designed as an alternative to sending players to fall leagues in Hawaii, Australia or the Dominican Republic. The four participating teams will play 42-game schedules and a championship game. Players will wear the uniforms of their parent clubs. The league is the brainchild of Syd Thrift, director of player development for the Baltimore Orioles, and Peter Kirk, chairman of the Maryland Baseball L.P.
■ The economic benefits of the state-financed Baltimore Ravens stadium have been greatly overstated, according to the Maryland General Assembly’s top research agency. The Office of Policy Analysis predicts that the $220 million stadium, which is scheduled to open this fall, will generate about $64 million a year in total economic impact, about one-third the amount forecast by the administration of Gov. Parris Glendening. The administration said the stadium will generate 2,792 jobs, but the Policy Analysis report predicts only 889 new jobs. The deal cut by Glendening in 1996 to lure the former Cleveland Browns to Baltimore gives virtually all revenue generated from the new stadium to the Ravens ownership group, which is led by Art Modell.
■ The Washington Mystics drew 20,674 fans for their home opener at MCI Center, the largest crowd ever to see a women’s professional basketball game in North America. Among the attendees were Tipper Gore, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and WNBA President Val Ackerman.
■ George Washington University plans to add four women’s sports and is phasing in an additional $500,000 in scholarships for female athletes. The school will add women’s lacrosse and softball during the 1999-2000 school year, elevate women’s club water polo to varsity status in 2000-01 and add women’s squash in 2001-02. The expansion comes in the wake of GW acquiring Mount Vernon College, a four-year liberal arts college for women. GW plans to spend up to $2 million expanding athletic facilities at that 27-acre campus.
■ The Marquee Group bought Virginia-based Cambridge Sports International, which represents professional golfers John Daly and Scott Hoch.