SBJ/January 15 - 21, 2001/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

Foxhall Cup bumps prize money

The MBNA Foxhall Cup is increasing its first-place prize by $5,000 to $60,000, making it the largest in the equestrian category of eventing. The total purse for the event is now $210,000. More than 100 riders from around the world are expected to enter the event, which will be held May 3-6 at Foxhall Farm just outside Atlanta. The event made its debut in 2000.

BALTIMORE

Would-be owners in the hunt

The fledgling National Women's Football League is reviewing ownership offers for its Baltimore team, according to league founder Catherine Masters. Several people have expressed interest in paying the $35,000 fee to own the Baltimore team, but Masters declined to identify those parties.

BOSTON

 Sponsor offers tickets to skate clubs

Getronics, a Billerica, Mass.-based sponsor of the 2001 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, plans to donate more than two dozen tickets for the event to four skating clubs in Massachusetts. The event is being held this week at the FleetCenter. Getronics is the local sponsor for the championship pairs final, scheduled for Friday.

BRIDGEWATER, N.J.

 Bank backs Kids Club promotion

The Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League launched the Patriots L'il Army Kids Club for the 2001 season. The promotion is presented by The Provident Bank and provides benefits to fans ages 3 to 12 throughout the season.

BUFFALO

Adelphia FM station dumps Fox

WNSA-FM, just three months into its affiliation with Fox Sports Radio, has switched to the One-on-One Sports network for syndicated programming. No official reason was given for the move, but sources said John Rigas, chairman of Adelphia Communications Corp., which owns WNSA, did not approve of a segment of Fox programming that included strippers handicapping football games.

CHARLOTTE

'Prime Time' radio show beefs up

Sports station WFNZ-AM has expanded its signature afternoon show, "Prime Time with the Pack Man," to five hours. Previously airing from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays, the show, hosted by Mark Packer, has now added the 2-3 p.m. hour. WFNZ general manager Mike Kellogg said the move bolsters chances for further syndication of the show. The show landed its first affiliate last year, in Clemson-Anderson, S.C.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Stars pushing for community rink

The Dallas Stars are pursuing construction of a community ice hockey arena in the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake. The complex, which would be similar to three existing area facilities, would have two regulation-sized ice rinks, meeting rooms and space for spectators. A proposal calls for a Southlake school district to donate four acres of land for the venue, with the $10 million building cost being financed by the city and repaid by the Stars via a long-term lease.

DENVER

 Naming proposal keeps Mile High

Three area companies are working to bring the Mile High name of the Denver Broncos' former stadium to the team's new home, which is due to open this year. Level 3 Communications Inc., Coors Brewing Co. and Janus Funds have been talking about the stadium's name with officials of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District. The proposed idea is that the three companies would pay for naming rights to the stadium — the name being Mile High — without putting their names on the venue.

HOUSTON

Fans asked what they want in mascot

The Houston Texans were scheduled to launch an Internet survey last week seeking fan input on the team's mascot. Expected questions include whether the mascot should be a costumed character or live animal, what age range the mascot should be geared toward and whether it should be bold, intimidating, cute or cuddly. A similar survey concerning the team's name drew 65,000 responses within seven days. The Texans begin NFL play in 2002.

INDIANAPOLIS

Pacers seminar peeks into front office

Pacers Sports & Entertainment is scheduled to host a one-day seminar on Jan. 27 on the operation of a front office of a professional sports and entertainment franchise. The company operates Conseco Fieldhouse, which is home to the Indiana Pacers, WNBA Fever and Arena Football League Firebirds. The cost of the seminar is $99 for students and $125 for nonstudents. That includes two tickets to a Pacers game, a Fever game and a Firebirds game.

JACKSONVILLE

Rugby league seeing early payoff

The locally based United States Rugby League is seeing a payoff for its marketing of Jacksonville as a training ground for European rugby teams. England's Bradford Bulls arrived in Jacksonville last week to start a 10-day training camp. Three other England-based teams also are scheduled to train at Alltel Stadium in January and February and compete in the Sunshine State Challenge rugby exhibition games. USRL officials hope to attract 30,000 spectators for the event, which is scheduled for Feb. 3 at Alltel Stadium.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Twins find new COO on the Net

Kevin Cattoor, most recently a senior vice president and general manager with locally based online sports network Internet Broadcast Systems Sports, has been named chief operating officer of the Minnesota Twins. Cattoor will oversee the team’s day-to-day business affairs in areas including sales, marketing, broadcast, stadium operations, human resources and finances.

Ads carry ball for Vikings’ stadium

The Minnesota Vikings ran the first of five planned Stadium Chalk Talk ads earlier this month in newspapers throughout the state. The team plans to use the ads as a way of communicating the team’s needs and rationale behind its push for a new stadium.

MOBILE, Ala.

City hooks major bass tournament

Mobile was picked to host the second-ever M1 Millennium bass tournament Feb. 27 through March 2, 2002. The event, presented by Ranger Boat Co. of Flippin, Ark., carries a $3.6 million purse and is expected to attract the top 400 bass anglers in the country.

NASHVILLE

NASCAR Cafe closes, may move

The NASCAR Cafe in downtown Nashville has closed its doors after three years of business. H&C Racing Inc., the parent company of the restaurant chain, cited high parking costs as a factor in the closing, but a decline in tourist traffic in the area also was blamed. Officials with the company added, though, that they plan to find another location in the city for the venture. The company also has commissioned local architecture firm Edwards & Hotchkiss to design a smaller facility, 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, rather than the current design of 25,000 to 30,000 square feet.

Arena ball benefits youth groups

The Nashville Predators will host their third annual Unmasked Ball on Feb. 22 at Gaylord Entertainment Center. The event, "Winter Around the World," will be presented by BellSouth and Outback Steakhouse. It will feature Predators players, coaches and management personnel. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation, which offers resources and financial support to local youth-oriented organizations.

NEW YORK

Parmalat lands soccer sponsorship

Parmalat USA, a subsidiary of Parmalat SpA, signed a one-year sponsorship with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. The deal gives the Wallington, N.J.-based company the standing of official milk of the Major League Soccer club. Parmalat also will sponsor the Nutritional Tips features on the team’s Web site, metrostars.com.

ORLANDO

It’s a wheel deal for FSU fans

Locally based Clever Covers Inc. won approval from Florida State University to manufacture automobile hubcaps that feature the school’s Seminoles logo. The company already holds a similar deal with the University of Florida for its Gators logo.

PGA to debut home furnishings

The licensed PGA Tour Home Collection of furnishings is scheduled to make its debut exhibit at the PGA Merchandise Show this year. The event is scheduled for Jan. 26-29 at the Orange County (Fla.) Convention Center. Separately, F2 Broadcast Network Inc. reached a deal with the PGA of America and Reed Exhibitions to provide streaming video from the show. The video will be made available to the show’s exhibitors for their individual Web sites.

PHILADELPHIA

2 sports out at Swarthmore

Swarthmore College’s board of managers affirmed at a special meeting its decision to drop the school’s football and wrestling programs. Alumni and supporters of the sports programs had met with Swarthmore administrators last month immediately following the initial decision to drop the sports. The board made the cuts in hopes of promoting a more diverse student body by cutting admission slots held for athletes.

Horse track purses up by 10%

Purses at Philadelphia Park horse racetrack in nearby Bensalem, Pa., will increase by 10 percent this year over last year. Sal Sinatra, director of the track, said this year’s average daily distribution will be $150,000. Sinatra attributed the increase to the growth in handle on Philadelphia Park races in 2000 and an appropriation last year from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as part of a racing enhancement grant program.

PHOENIX

Hall of Fame seeks permanent home

Informal discussions have begun between the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sports Commission and the state’s Tourism and Sports Authority about housing the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in the new stadium planned for the Arizona Cardinals. Currently, elements of the hall are in various area locations, including Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum and the Phoenix Museum of History.

PITTSBURGH

Union, Aramark settle on PNC

Teamsters Local 250 reached a three-year agreement with Aramark Corp. for concessions operations at PNC Park, the new home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The contract covers more than 500 Aramark concessions employees. The ballpark opens in April. Separately, Service Employees International Union Local 508, which represents ushers, porters and ticket sellers at Three Rivers Stadium, reached a deal providing for work at PNC Park.

Ballpark will display memorabilia

The Pirates and the Allegheny Club are working on an arrangement to rotate displays of sports memorabilia at PNC Park. Included in the Allegheny Club’s collection are the Pirates’ 1979 World Series trophy and a portion of the wall at the old Forbes Field. For the last 30 years, the nonprofit Allegheny Club called Three Rivers Stadium home. The club is expected to move to a new location sometime during the first quarter. Three Rivers Stadium is scheduled for demolition in the coming weeks.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

Lemieux frames new ticket package

The Carolina Hurricanes have put on sale a seven-game ticket package built to capi-taize on Mario Lemieux’s return to the NHL. The package includes two games against Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins, two games against division rival Washington and single games against Phoenix, Boston and Buffalo.

SAN ANTONIO

Iguanas spreading out for fans

The San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League are invading San Antonio Spurs territory in an effort to boost attendance. Teaming up on a promotional program with Sunset Station, a cluster of restaurants and bars situated in the shadow of the Spurs’ Alamodome home, the Iguanas are offering fans a chance for dollar drinks at the entertainment complex and then transportation to the hockey games at the Iguanas’ Freeman Coliseum several miles away. The Spurs will encroach on the Iguanas’ turf in 2002, when they begin play in their new SBC Center next door to Freeman Coliseum.

SAN DIEGO

 Local track meet canceled

The San Diego Sports Arena will not host an indoor track meet this year, though general manager Ernie Hahn Jr. hopes to bring back the San Diego Indoor Games in 2002 with a world-class field. The event attracted such runners as Eamonn Coghlan, Steve Scott and Henry Rono and saw numerous world records established during its 20-year run from the late ’60s through 1986. After a 12-year hiatus, the games returned in 1999 and 2000 with less glamorous fields and fewer spectators, something Hahn said he hopes to change in the future with new marketing and promotion of the event.

 Greene steps down from Flash

Jonathan Greene has resigned as assistant general manager and director of communications of the United Soccer Leagues’ A-League San Diego Flash. A replacement was not immediately named. Greene plans to pursue other pro soccer opportunities in San Diego, but additional details were not available.

SAN FRANCISCO

 49ers find COO at Quokka Sports

Les Schmidt, chief financial officer of Quokka Sports, was hired as chief operating officer of the San Francisco 49ers. Schmidt, who will join the 49ers later this month, will oversee all day-to-day operations for the team, including finances, legal issues, insurance and ticketing. He also will play a key role in the team’s evolving plans for a new stadium and redesigned Web site,
according to 49ers CEO Peter Harris. Schmidt’s résumé includes stints with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Applied Immune Sciences, where he helped pull in the company’s first three rounds of venture capital funding, and The Learning Co., where he helped take the company public. Schmidt’s hiring is the second top-level management job filled in the past month by Harris, who himself joined the team in July. Last month, the team hired the NFL’s director of club marketing, David Goldman, as vice president of business development.

SAN MATEO, Calif.

Bay Meadows lands top race

The Bay Area’s most prestigious annual horse race, the Breeders’ Cup Mile, will be held at Bay Meadows in San Mateo this year, probably on the final weekend of April, although an exact date has not been set, track officials said. The Breeders’ Cup Mile has been run at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif., since 1948, except for two years when it was canceled altogether. The switch was made after Magna Entertainment Corp. purchased Golden Gate Fields and the racing operation at Bay Meadows and then revamped the Northern California racing calendar. Track officials say the juggling was needed to give the races at the tracks maximum exposure while not competing with better-established racetracks in Los Angeles.

SEATTLE

Sonics to hold camps for kids

Seattle SuperSonics coaches and players, as part of their community outreach efforts, plan to host a series of weekend training camps at the team’s training facility for boys and girls ages 7-12, beginning this Saturday. Each participant in the two-day sessions receives a camp T-shirt and discounts on Sonics merchandise. Attendees also will have the opportunity to win autographed Sonics memorabilia.

Arts festival, Storm to share arena

The WNBA Seattle Storm and organizers of Bumbershoot, an annual local arts festival, reached an agreement that ends a seven-month tug-of-war over the use of KeyArena during Labor Day weekend. Under a two-year agreement approved by the Seattle City Council, the Storm will get KeyArena each year on the Thursday before Labor Day and on that Sunday at 11 a.m. Bumbershoot gains rights to use the facility on those Fridays and Saturdays, and for concerts starting at 8 p.m. on those Sundays. Storm officials wanted to make sure the team would be able to play on its home court if it makes it to the playoffs. Bumbershoot officials needed to secure the facility because three of its other venues — Mercer Arena, Exhibition Hall and the Seattle Opera House — will be renovated this fall.

SHREVEPORT, La.

AA team dumps Captains for Swamp Dragons

The local Class AA team changed its name from Shreveport Captains to Shreveport Swamp Dragons. The change comes in the wake of Mandalay Sports Entertainment assuming ownership of the club.

ST. LOUIS

City to review stadium proposal

St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon appointed a set of negotiators to review the St. Louis Cardinals’ proposed $370 million stadium. The appointments follow a Dec. 27 letter sent by the mayor to Cardinals President Mark Lamping stating the team’s current proposal lacks sufficient information for the city to move forward. Team management would like to reach an agreement with the city as soon as possible so it can bring the stadium proposal before the Missouri Legislature, Lamping said.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

Yankees set record for training tix

The New York Yankees set a record for first-day sales of spring training tickets at their Legends Field complex in Tampa. Fans waited in line for several hours to purchase more than 22,000 individual-game tickets for 15 scheduled home games. That compares to 15,000 tickets sold on the first day of sales last year. Yankees officials rewarded fans’ patience by serving free coffee, doughnuts and hot dogs.

Track resolves purse dispute

Tampa Bay Downs resolved its three-week dispute with horse owners and trainers over the size of purses paid at the 75-year-old track. The Tampa Bay Downs Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association signed a deal with management even though it accused track management of trying to drive a wedge between the union’s directors and members. Tampa Bay Downs had been blocked from beaming its live-race simulcast signal to other tracks during the dispute.

Bucs’ playoff tickets now souvenirs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers season-ticket holders recently received a souvenir of sorts from the team for the 2000 season. The Bucs mailed tickets for potential home playoff games to the fans before the team’s regular-season-ending loss to Green Bay on Dec. 24. That loss sent the Bucs to Philadelphia for a wild-card playoff game, which the team lost, rendering those home playoff tickets useless. The fans are being allowed to keep the tickets as souvenirs, and the amount they were charged for them will be credited toward their purchase of 2001 season tickets.

TORONTO

 Blue Jays plan tribute to 1977

The Toronto Blue Jays are planning a Turn Back the Clock Day on May 21 as part of the celebrations for their 25th season this year. The Jays and the Chicago White Sox — Toronto’s first-ever opponent, dating to April 7, 1977 — will wear their uniforms from the 1977 season for that May 21 game. The Jays also are giving fans a chance to vote for an all-time Blue Jays’ roster online through their Website, bluejays.com, or at slam.ca/BlueJaysRosterContest, and win two tickets to the team’s April 18 game against the New York Yankees. In addition, an alumni picnic and gala is planned for August. The club also recently completed an online auction of team memorabilia from its first 24 seasons.

 Ferrone doesn’t want job back

Dan Ferrone said recently he is content to remain past president of the Canadian Football League Players’ Association and does not want to resume his role as CFLPA president. Ferrone left his CFLPA post to make an ultimately unsuccessful run at winning a seat in Canada’s Parliament in a Nov. 27 federal election. In the interim, Stu Laird was introduced as CFLPA president. After the election, The Globe and Mail in Toronto reported that Ferrone’s understanding was that he could get his job back if his political bid failed. The newspaper later retracted the story’s headline saying Ferrone wanted his job back, but Globe sports editor Steve McAllister said the paper stood by the story itself.

WASHINGTON

USBL puts franchise in Maryland

The United States Basketball League Inc. awarded a franchise to Upper Marlboro, Md., for the 2001 season, which starts in April. The team will play at the 5,500-seat Show Place Arena. Upper Marlboro is about 15 miles east of Washington.

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