SBJ/20000529/Coast to Coast

COAST TO COAST

ATLANTA

 NASCAR event gets new sponsor

Locally based Georgia-Pacific Corp. signed as title sponsor of the NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying Day at Atlanta Motor Speedway this fall. The three-year agreement begins Nov. 17 when the Winston Cup Qualifying Day kicks off the NAPA 500 weekend. Georgia-Pacific has been a secondary sponsor of racing events for the past seven years, but this event will be the company’s first title sponsorship. Qualifying Day was sponsored last year by Georgia Boot, which now sponsors the ARCA Georgia Boot 400 as part of the same race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 Dome schedules renovations

The Georgia Dome is scheduled to have its Kicker’s Lounge sports bar renovated this year. Half of the space will remain a traditional sports bar for adults, with the other half being converted into a family restaurant with special features for children. Each will have its own kitchen and dining area. Dome officials said the facility also is scheduled to upgrade its closed-circuit security system with new camera locations.

 Smoltz lends voice to TBS

Injured Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was a guest commentator in the TBS booth for the team’s May 21 game against San Diego. Smoltz recently underwent surgery on his right elbow to repair a torn ligament and is expected to miss the entire season.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

 Memorabilia firm signs deal

Sports Investments International plans to begin offering news about autographed sports memorabilia developments from locally based Sweet Spot magazine. The alliance is a non-exclusive one-year deal that gives sports memorabilia vendors access to articles on the memorabilia market. Sweet Spot, a subsidiary of Austin-based Kaufman Communications, looks to benefit from increased traffic on its Web site, sweetspotnews.com.

BALTIMORE

 Fans take final look at stadium

The Maryland Stadium Authority reopened Baltimore's Memorial Stadium recently for tours of the complex, which is scheduled to be demolished in the summer of 2001. Attendance at the daylong event was not released, but several thousand people were expected to pay the $5 admission for a tour of the locker rooms, grandstands and playing field at the stadium. To help pay for the $10 million demolition, the state agency and the Babe Ruth Museum are auctioning off more than 25,000 seats, signs and lockers. Memorial Stadium was home to Baltimore's Orioles, Colts and Ravens, who played their last game at the stadium in fall 1997.

BOSTON

 Red Sox detail ballpark plans

Boston Red Sox CEO John Harrington released the team's financial plan for construction of The New Fenway Park, a $627 million development project. Team officials said they will put up $352 million and proposed the remaining $275 million come from the city and state. Harrington's plan is for the city to provide $140 million for the project and the state to provide $135 million. Massachusetts House members were scheduled to meet last Wednesday to review the proposal.

BUFFALO

 Bills Caravan rides again

The Buffalo Bills launched the team’s 2000 Bills Caravan. The promotional effort will make stops in western New York, southern Ontario and northern Pennsylvania. This is the third year the Bills have employed the marketing tour, featuring current and former players at all 20 stops. Many of the tour visits will be conducted at Wegmans stores. The Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer is among the Bills’ biggest corporate sponsors.

 NCAA drives hotel occupancy

Local hotel occupancy in March shot up 8.6 percent from the year before, driven largely by the city hosting first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year. According to Smith Travel Research statistics, occupancy this March was 64.3 percent, up from 59.2 percent in March 1999. Occupancy at hotels in nearby Niagara Falls also increased, to 32.4 percent from 30.2 percent.

CALGARY

 Flames counting on local support

The Calgary Flames are approaching the city's 400 largest companies in hopes of selling an additional 2,000 season tickets in a push for increased local support. Team owners have said they would sell the team if 14,000 season tickets are not sold by June 30. The team recently had sold almost 10,300 season tickets, up from 9,000 for this past season. Molson Inc. also agreed to contribute $1 to the team's drive for every dozen Molson Canadian beers sold locally through June 18. Tickets purchased with those funds will be donated to community groups.

CHARLOTTE

 Camp leaves Checkers post

Charlotte Checkers President and General Manager Steve Camp has left the franchise. Camp, whose contract expired May 15, had been with the Checkers for two years. The team was sold to Charlotte Hornets co-owners Ray Wooldridge and George Shinn last month. That sale was to close Wednesday.

CINCINNATI

 Griffey graces Wheaties box

Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds is featured on a new Wheaties box unveiled earlier this month at Cinergy Field. The limited-edition package became available last week in Ohio stores. Outside Ohio, boxes can be purchased online at generalmills.com. The box features Griffey on the front, Cinergy Field and the Cincinnati skyline in the background, and the words "Welcome Home Ken Griffey Jr."

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.

 Sky Sox may get new home

Developer Earl Robertson hopes to see a downtown Colorado Springs stadium for the Colorado Sky Sox. Robertson is working on a plan to give the Class AAA team a 10,000-seat stadium by 2003. The team currently plays in a 13-year-old stadium in the northeastern part of the city. There currently is no timetable for the project.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Westwood extends bowl rights

Westwood One signed a three-year extension of its contract for exclusive national radio rights for the annual Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl, played in Dallas. Westwood One serves more than 7,500 radio stations and is managed by Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

DENVER

 Broncos facing federal investigation

The Federal Election Commission is investigating the Denver Broncos. The investigation centers on possible campaign violations following a March rally for presidential candidate George W. Bush held at the Broncos' training camp. A complaint, filed by an unidentified Boulder, Colo., resident, was followed up by the FEC because the law bans corporations from backing any "clearly identified candidate." According to a team spokesman, no laws were broken by holding the rally.

EAST LANSING, Mich.

 Spartans featured on cereal box

Kellogg Co. is producing a special edition of its Frosted Flakes cereal in honor of the NCAA basketball champion Michigan State Spartans. The box cover features coach Tom Izzo and players Mateen Cleaves, A.J. Granger and Morris Peterson with the company’s Tony the Tiger character. It’s the first time Kellogg has featured a college basketball champion on its Frosted Flakes box. The box will be sold primarily throughout Michigan.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

 Nets freeze ticket prices

The New Jersey Nets will keep the same ticket-price structure for all seats for next season as for this past season. Nets ticket prices range from $80 to $5 a game. The team finished 31-51 this year.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.

 City has big plans for soccer

The city of Fort Lauderdale, led by local business executive Ben Wagman, is launching a campaign to become recognized as the capital of soccer in the United States. According to a Miami Herald report, plans call for turning the city’s Lockhart Stadium into a $30 million to $40 million training center for the U.S. Soccer Federation. The stadium is home to Major League Soccer’s Miami Fusion.

HOUSTON

 Grand Prix to honor Andretti

Legendary race car driver Mario Andretti will be honored at this year’s Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston gala benefiting local charities. The Houston Police Activities League, Neighborhood Centers, La Rosa and the Sunshine Kids Foundation will receive proceeds from the Mayor’s Grand Prix Gala slated for Sept. 27 and the Mayor’s Grand Prix Golf Tournament set for Sept. 28. The Grand Prix is part of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Actor and race car driver Paul Newman and Houston Mayor Lee Brown are co-chairs of the gala.

KANSAS CITY

 Golf sponsor planning extension

TD Waterhouse Group Inc. officials were discussing a four-year extension of their sponsorship of the local Senior PGA Tour event. TD Waterhouse, the nation’s second-largest discount brokerage, just completed a two-year title sponsorship.

LOS ANGELES

 Miller ties charity to Dodgers

Miller Brewing Co. will donate $100 to the Tools for Success program for each home run hit by the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. The program provides scholarships to vocational students. Miller’s contributions under its agreement with the Dodgers will be dedicated to students in Los Angeles.

MIAMI

 Panthers keep prices down

The Florida Panthers are keeping ticket prices the same for both season tickets and individual-game tickets next season as they were this season for the majority of seats in National Car Rental Center. Some ticket prices are being cut. The Panthers averaged 15,999 fans a game this season, down from 18,501 the previous year.

 Radio host organizes charity

Steve Goldstein, host of sports station WQAM-AM’s “The First Team,” has organized a nonprofit community-oriented program that gives children at various schools and charity organizations a chance to attend pro sporting events when they otherwise wouldn’t get that privilege.

 Marlins support in low tide

The Florida Marlins posted their smallest crowd in the history of the franchise, 6,955, for a game against San Diego on May 17. The low turnout came at the same time that team officials began meeting with stadium architects to discuss a new ballpark smaller in scale than what the team originally had planned, according to a Palm Beach Post report.


MILWAUKEE


 Golf charity to benefit hospital

Pro golfer Skip Kendall, a native of Fox Point, Wis., has been awarded a charity golf tournament that will be held in Milwaukee on Sept. 11. The Skip Kendall Pro-Am Fore Kids, to benefit Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, will feature country music singers Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Organizers expect the event to raise $200,000 for the hospital. Kendall has invited fellow Wisconsin golfer Steve Stricker and other PGA pros to attend.

 NASCAR, lottery team up for game

The Wisconsin Lottery is teaming with NASCAR to introduce a racing-themed Race for Cash game next month. NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth, a native of Cambridge, Wis., will be part of the promotion with five other NASCAR drivers. Tickets will cost $2 each, and the top prize is $25,000.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Wild signs for practice ice

The NHL expansion Minnesota Wild reached an agreement with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the team to use Parade Ice Garden as a practice facility throughout the 2000-01 season. The team will conduct its first practice there in September and will use the facility whenever the ice at the team’s New St. Paul Arena is not available.

 Arena poised for management change

The Target Center is poised for a change in management companies, according to Dana Warg, executive director of the arena, which is home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. New York City-based SFX Entertainment Inc. is expected to be announced as the replacement for Ogden Corp. in the next several months.

 Committee picked for AD search

The University of Minnesota selected a 14-member search committee that will work during the summer to find a new men’s athletic director. School officials hope to hire someone by the beginning of the fall semester.

MOBILE, Ala.

 Saints bringing NFL to city

The New Orleans Saints will hold an open practice at Ladd-Peedles Stadium in Mobile to mark New Orleans Saints Day in the city on Aug. 19. The practice will mark the first time an NFL team has practiced or played in the city in more than 40 years. The Mobile Area Sports Commission is working to coordinate the event. Mobile is about 120 miles east of New Orleans and about 175 miles east of the Saints’ training camp home in Thibodaux, La.

NEW YORK

 Hilfiger race ready to run

The first 1,000 runners to register for the “tommy’s american 4-miler” road race in Central Park on July 4 will get free passes to the Joan Jett concert at the park later that day. The race is part of the second annual “tommy’s american running series” of 13-races across the country produced by Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries and the New York Road Runners Club. The races will benefit local chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

ORLANDO

 NFL rookies hit town again

For the third consecutive year, 32 of the NFL’s draftees gathered in Orlando this month for a series of events called the Acclaim Sports NFL Players Rookie Premiere. The event primarily is a photo shoot for trading-card companies, but it becomes a chance for the rookies to interact with fans in the area and spend time at charity events like the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Fla.

 Postage stamps honor youth sports

The U.S. Postal Service was scheduled last Saturday to unveil a series of postage stamps honoring youth team sports. The dedication ceremony was scheduled in conjunction with the Amateur Athletic Union National Tournaments at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

PHILADELPHIA
n Flyers, Phillies target fan behavior
n Teams set pace in attendance
n Philadelphia’s sports teams are taking steps to crack down on rowdy fan behavior. Flyers fans at a recent playoff game at the First Union Center were handed cards that outlined a no-tolerance policy calling for the arrest and revocation of ticket privileges for any fan exhibiting poor behavior. The cards told fans that spotters were placed throughout the arena and urged fans to point out any troublemakers to security personnel. The Phillies announced they now will charge fans who run on the field with a misdemeanor offense, which carries a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail.
n The Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League and the Philadelphia Kixx of the National Professional Soccer League led their leagues in attendance this season, despite a drop in numbers from last year. The Phantoms averaged 10,039 fans this season, down 16 percent. The Kixx averaged 8,081 fans for the team’s 22 homes games, a 10 percent drop from last year.


PHOENIX

 Baseball season sparks employment

Restaurants and bars in Arizona hired about 1,500 workers in April, due in large part to the start of the baseball season, according to the monthly labor report published by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Many of the new jobs were added in and around Bank One Ballpark, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

PITTSBURGH

 Foundation plans soccer stadium

The Sports Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance youth sports, plans to build a soccer stadium estimated to cost between $30 million and $45 million for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer Leagues’ A-League. The facility is being billed as only the third soccer-only stadium in the country, joining venues in Charleston, S.C., and Columbus, Ohio. The stadium is set to open in April 2002 and will include at least 24 soccer fields.

PORTLAND

 Rockies seal relocation deal

Portland Family Entertainment has reached an agreement to relocate the Class A Portland Rockies of the Northwest League to Pasco, Wash., in time for the 2001 season. The deal follows PFE’s agreement to purchase the Class AAA Albuquerque (N.M.) Dukes and move the team to Portland. PFE signed a 10-year lease to operate Pasco’s 4,000-seat stadium, where the Tri-Cities Posse of the independent Western Baseball League currently plays.

SACRAMENTO

 City preps for Olympic trials

In an effort to help draw tourists, organizers of the July 14-23 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials are sprucing up the host stadium at California State University Sacramento. Parts of the bleacher fencing have been cut through to allow for improved access. Two large video screens will be placed in the end zones of the stadium, while temporary skyboxes will be erected in the south end zone.

 River Cats create business center

The Class AAA Sacramento River Cats are featuring a dedicated business center at the team’s new Raley Field. Fans can use the facility to send a fax, retrieve e-mail or type documents on a personal computer. The 100-square-foot center is located within the $40 million stadium’s souvenir store. The facility, which was seen as a way to help sell corporate suites, will be provided as a free service to fans.

 Pro sports return to Marysville

Professional baseball has returned to the city of Marysville, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. The Feather River Mudcats of the independent Western Baseball League played their opening game May 19 at city-owned Bryant Field. The city last had a professional team, the Marysville Giants, 50 years ago.

SAN DIEGO

 Padres clear legal hump

The last two of 12 legal actions filed in San Diego Superior Court against the San Diego Padres’ proposed downtown ballpark and redevelopment project were dismissed on May 19. The judgments clear the way for the city to move ahead with financing to let construction continue that would allow the project to be completed by mid-2002.

ST. LOUIS

 Blues craft new radio deal

The St. Louis Blues signed a letter of intent to broadcast games on KTRS-AM through the 2002-03 season. The proposed agreement states that the radio station will air all Blues regular season and playoff games, select preseason games, a 30-minute pregame show and extensive postgame programming. The decision ends the team’s relationship with KMOX-AM, which has broadcast Blues games almost every season since 1967, the team’s inaugural year. Team leaders were said to be unhappy with KMOX’s policy of pre-empting hockey with St. Louis Cardinals games.

 Costas heads golf charity

NBC broadcaster Bob Costas will serve as honorary chairman of the 20th annual Boys Hope/Girls Hope Pro-Am Golf Tournament on June 26 at Whitmoor Country Club and Missouri Bluffs Golf Club, both in nearby St. Charles, Mo. All proceeds will be used for operational support of Boys Hope and Girls Hope, long-term residential homes for children located in St. Louis. Costas lives in St. Louis.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Storm players donate to children

Two Tampa Bay Storm linemen are pledging $50 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay for each sack they make this Arena Football League season. Darion Conner and Torry Epps launched the program, called “The Tampa Bay Sack Exchange,” to benefit the club’s summer programs. They are also donating 100 tickets for each Storm home game through July at the Ice Palace in Tampa. The local Boys and Girls Clubs serve about 3,000 youngsters a day throughout Hillsborough County.

 Lightning supports cancer center

The Tampa Bay Lightning recently donated $80,000 to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. The money for research was raised via a golf tournament, a sports memorabilia auction and a seasonlong jersey raffle. It was the second year of Lightning support for Moffitt. Last year, the Lightning raised $45,000 for the center.

TORONTO

 MLB closes local office

Major League Baseball has closed its Toronto office. The decision was made by Major League Baseball executive Paul Beeston, formerly president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays and now MLB’s COO. According to league officials, the office was closed as part of an effort to centralize business operations in MLB’s headquarters in New York. Rick Amos, director of sponsorship and media for MLB Properties Canada, is the only one of five office employees whose job will continue there. The Toronto office was responsible for Canadian licensing and promoting licensed goods to retailers.

TROY, N.Y.

 College eyes Class A team

Hudson Valley Community College is on track to be home to a Class A baseball team next year. According to New York State Sen. Joseph Bruno, the state budget includes $12 million to build a 4,500-seat stadium at the school in Troy. Plans call for National Pastime Corp. of Pittsfield, Mass., to bring a New York-Penn League team to the stadium. The company’s current team, the Pittsfield Mets, is expected to be purchased and relocated by the New York Mets after this season.

WASHINGTON

 Jordan brings help to Wizards

Michael Jordan, president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, has asked Fred Whitfield to help run the team. Whitfield, a Charlotte-based Nike executive, was hired to study salary cap issues for the NBA franchise. Whitfield, who befriended Jordan before his NBA stardom, will join the team next month.

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