SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/Coast To Coast

COAST TO COAST

ANN ARBOR, MICH.

 Football ticket-price goal: $5M
 The University of Michigan hopes to raise a reported $5 million from a ticket-price increase for football games this fall. Season-ticket prices will increase from $31 a game last year to $39, $43 or $47 a game, depending on seat location. Student-ticket prices will increase to $17.50 a game from $13.50, the first increase since 1996. Single-game tickets will cost $43, $47 or $51, except for the Michigan-Ohio State game, which Michigan is calling a "premium" game and will charge $48, $52 or $56 for admission via single-game ticket.

ATLANTA

 Philips, Thrashers go to class
 The Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Consumer Electronics signed their 100th school for the team's Score for Schools program. The program, available for students in fourth through eighth grade, is an achievement-based educational program that focuses on physical education skills and uses hockey themes to teach math, science, geography and history. The program is sponsored by Philips Consumer Electronics and is distributed free to teachers. It was launched during the team's 1999-2000 inaugural NHL season.

BUFFALO

 Football start-up surpasses target
 Erie Community College surpassed its initial fund-raising goal for launching a football program. Officials with the local school said more than $600,000 has been raised, in part through marketing sponsorship packages. ECC, which will field its first junior college football team this fall, was looking to raise $500,000 to fund the start-up program.

CHARLOTTE

  Speedway exec branches out
 Lowe's Motor Speedway executive vice president Doug Stafford, who formerly ran the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau, is moonlighting in the hospitality business. Stafford is one of four partners behind a 93-room, $6.5 million Wingate Inn opening near the local speedway this month. Wingate Inn facilities are designed for business travelers — including high-speed Internet access in all rooms — and carry rates of $75 to $125 a night. The partners hope to open two additional locations in the Charlotte area in the next few years.

 Local clothier designs for Duval
 Local clothing designer Cary Mitchell reached a deal to design course apparel items for pro golfer David Duval.

CINCINNATI

 One-school focus a sales hit
 
A media firm in nearby Florence, Ky., owned by a graduate of local prep sports powerhouse Elder High School has quadrupled advertising sales since shifting from multischool programming to an all-Elder sports format five years ago. The Prep Sports Radio Network is run by Mark Bengel from his Red Wing Shoe Store and is the exclusive broadcaster of Elder football and basketball games on WTSJ-AM. Bengel declined to reveal specific figures but confirmed five-figure ad sales. The 1978 Elder alumnus is a professed radio fanatic who once maintained a small transmitter room under a set of steps in his parents' home. He said picking one school's sports program allowed him to develop loyal listenership and ad backing.

CLEVELAND

 Indians stretch ANC sign deal
 The Cleveland Indians agreed to expand their multiyear deal with ANC Sports Enterprises of Purchase, N.Y., for the company's rotating signs at Jacobs Field. The Indians installed ANC systems behind home plate at the ballpark in 1999. The new agreement calls for an additional 290 feet of wall-mounted back-lit rotating modules in the mezzanine and upper tiers of the ballpark.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 ESPN affiliate ready to launch
 ESPN Radio likely will launch its planned Dallas affiliate in the first week of April, according to a Dallas Morning News report. The only locally produced show on the station, KESN-FM, is expected to be an evening drive-time program pairing veteran talk show host Chuck Cooperstein with Newy Scruggs, sports anchor at local NBC affiliate KXAS-TV.

 Leonard hires local firm for marketing
 Justin Leonard hired Dallas-based Sports Communications Group to handle promotions, media relations and marketing work in a support role to Octagon Golf, which will remain Leonard's management firm. The local company also may work to set up a Web site for Leonard.

DENVER

 Elway learning front-office ropes
 Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway is learning how the team's front office works, meeting with the team's scouts in advance of this year's NFL draft. Elway has expressed an interest in becoming involved in an NFL team, either as an owner or in a management position.

 City OKs Grand Prix in 2002
 
Organizers of the Denver Grand Prix received approval from city officials for the planned Labor Day 2002 CART race. The city will spend about $50,000 to pave part of the planned race course, which will circle the Pepsi Center.

DETROIT

 Shock sets ticket sales record
 The Detroit Shock sold 1,750 season tickets on the WNBA club's first day of sales for the 2001 season. The total sets a new single-day sales record for the league, surpassing the 1,500 season tickets sold in one day last year by the Shock for the 2000 season.

EDMONTON

 Oilers looking to revamp arena
 Edmonton Oilers officials reportedly are discussing a renovation of their Skyreach Centre home that would be the second upgrade of the venue in the past decade. According to an Edmonton Sun report, the arena would get 11 new luxury suites and have 7,700 seats replaced. Payment for the work, however, reportedly is still being discussed. The arena is owned by the city.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

 Panthers play to first full house
 The Florida Panthers posted their first sellout of the season on March 16 when 19,250 fans watched the team host Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Friday night game was the first time Lemieux had played at National Car Rental Center since his midseason return.

HAMILTON, ONTARIO

 Season-ticket drive hits target
 The Hamilton Bulldogs reached their goal of selling 1,000 new season tickets for their 2001-02 schedule in their "Stay Dogs Stay" campaign. The campaign was created as part of the American Hockey League team's effort to ensure its continued play in Hamilton.

HOUSTON

 Local firm hired to brand Aeros
 The International Hockey League's Houston Aeros hired locally based Solutioneers to help develop and implement branding strategies. Solutioneers founder Tom Haynes previously worked to help stage an NHL preseason game in Houston between Detroit and Pittsburgh in 1996.

JACKSONVILLE

 Sponsors renew with Senior PGA event
 Cadillac and First Union Corp. renewed their sponsorship contracts for the 2001 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf Senior PGA Tour event, scheduled for this week at the World Golf Village in nearby St. Augustine, Fla. Cadillac, for the fourth straight year, will be the tourney's official vehicle. First Union, for the third consecutive year, will be title sponsor of the tournament's pro-am competition.

KANSAS CITY

  Radio broadcast subs taking to the road
 Kansas City Royals TV announcer Bob Davis and sportscasters Jim Rose and Nate Bukaty of KMBZ-AM will sub for Denny Matthews on about 20 of the Royals' radio broadcasts this season. Matthews, the team's longtime radio voice, will skip several road trips.

MIAMI

 Youth charity goal set at $100K
 Florida Marlins center fielder Preston Wilson launched a marketing campaign to raise money for groups that aid area youth, according to a Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel report. Wilson is driving the campaign with his charitable organization. Sponsors of the charity reportedly will donate money to the campaign, dubbed Preston's Pals, for every one of Wilson's RBIs this year in hopes of raising $100,000. Wilson led the Marlins with 121 RBIs last season.

 Fusion picks Spanish game broadcaster
 The Miami Fusion picked WWFE-AM as the team's official Spanish-language radio partner for the 2001 Major League Soccer season. The station will broadcast all 28 of the team's regular-season games live and will produce live pregame and postgame shows. Nerio Corredor leads the station's Fusion coverage as its principal producer and on-air commercial voice. Dagoberto Pueyo will handle play-by-play work, with Adolfo Encina providing analysis.

MILWAUKEE

  Local airline has its eye on K.C.
 Midwest Express Holdings Inc.'s decision to purchase the naming rights for a section of the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium is a troubling sign that foot-dragging on a proposed airline assistance bill in the Wisconsin Senate has the company looking elsewhere for expansion, said state Sen. Peggy Rosenzweig. The Oak Creek, Wis.-based company, which operates Midwest Express Airlines, has agreed to buy signs in Kauffman Stadium and naming rights for the stadium's exclusive seating section behind home plate. Legislation to provide tax relief for airlines based in Wisconsin has been hung up in the state Senate after being approved by the state Assembly. Midwest Express officials say tax relief is needed if the company is to expand its operations in Wisconsin.

 Brewery toasts opening of stadium
 Locally based Miller Brewing Co. is marking the opening of Miller Park by producing commemorative bottles of Miller High Life showing the logo of the Milwaukee Brewers' new home. The label on the neck of each bottle reads "Miller Park: Inaugural Season, 2001." Miller also plans to sell apparel and glassware adorned with the inaugural season logo through the company gift shop.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Hockey tourney draws record crowd
 A record crowd of more than 67,600 people attended the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul this month. The previous record for the event was just over 61,000 fans at Milwaukee in 1994.

 Wolves ticket prices coming down
 The Minnesota Timberwolves are adjusting ticket prices for next season such that the average ticket price will fall to $35.23 from $36.38 this season. The average NBA ticket price this season is $51.02 a game.

 USL team hires marketing help
 The Minnesota Thunder hired Minnesota-based agency Russell & Herder to develop initiatives that are intended to help the team increase its visibility in the community and attendance at its home games. The Thunder plays in the United Soccer Leagues' A-League.

MOBILE, ALA.

 ECHL team staying despite missing goal
 The owners of the Mobile Mysticks of the East Coast Hockey League reportedly plan to keep the team in town next season despite falling short of a ticket-sales goal. According to a Mobile Register report, the team fell about 250 tickets short of getting deposits by a date earlier this month for 1,200 season tickets for next year. The team still hopes to have 1,500 season tickets sold by the start of next season.

NASHVILLE

 Speedway calls on George for inaugural
 Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George will wave the green flag at Nashville Superspeedway's inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race next month. The race — the Pepsi 300 — is scheduled for April 14 at the new speedway, which is owned by Dover Downs Entertainment Inc.

OAKLAND

 A's, Promark pass out coupon books
 The Oakland A's are teaming with Promark to distribute a product dubbed Fan Advantage Books. The books offer more than $2,000 in savings on golfing, dining and merchandise. They will be issued to season-ticket holders at games at Network Associates Coliseum on April 7, 14 and 15, and May 6. The A's earlier ended their automated Fancard fan loyalty program in the wake of the shuttering of AIM Technologies Inc., which developed the technology for the program.

PHOENIX

 Cards renew radio deal for 3 years
 The Arizona Cardinals signed a three-year deal with Sandusky Broadcasting for its KDUS-AM and KSLX-FM to continue broadcasting the team's games. The deal calls for the Cardinals to produce and market a two-hour pregame show and 75-minute postgame show in addition to marketing the three-hour play-by-play broadcasts.

PORTLAND

 Minor leagues flood the airwaves
 Portland Family Entertainment reached a four-year deal with Infinity Broadcasting Corp. that calls for the broadcast company to carry every game of the Class AAA Portland Beavers and A-League Portland Timbers. Infinity operates six radio stations in Portland.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

 AFL team solves practice problem
 The Carolina Cobras signed a deal with North Carolina state officials for practice space at Raleigh's Dorton Arena. The second-year Arena Football League team plays at Raleigh's Entertainment and Sports Arena, where practice last year conflicted at times with the schedule of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes.

SACRAMENTO

 Team, city fight over $332,000 tab
 The city of West Sacramento and the Sacramento River Cats are trying to resolve a dispute over an unpaid $332,000 bill for police security and traffic control work that the city provided during the Class AAA team's inaugural season last year. West Sacramento officials also are seeking late fees of more than $42,000. River Cats officials say the bill was too high.

 Golf courses unite for marketing push
 Sacramento-area golf courses, hotels and other businesses have joined together, with assistance from the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, to form a regional golf marketing partnership. The nonprofit alliance hopes to establish one phone number that golfers can call to reserve tee times and hotel rooms and set up the rest of a planned trip. Representatives of the 16 courses in the Golf Sacramento Inc. initiative said they felt they need a marketing push as more new courses are being built while the number of rounds of golf played is decreasing at some courses.

ST. LOUIS

 Brock, Buck go to bat for stadium
 St. Louis Cardinals management as well as hall of famers Lou Brock and Jack Buck testified before the Missouri state legislature to gain support for the team's proposed new $370 million stadium. The Cardinals, seeking a tax subsidy from the state, ultimately want city, county and state taxpayers to cover approximately two-thirds of the ballpark's cost. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report, Major League Baseball would bring its 2006 All-Star Game to St. Louis if the Cardinals were to have a new ballpark in place by that time.

SAN ANTONIO

 Iguanas promo targets fan groups
 The San Antonio Iguanas are using a new playoff jersey design as an incentive for fans to gather groups of 50 or more for the Central Hockey League team's final regular-season games this year. Group leaders buying 50 or more tickets to a single game will receive the special jerseys that will be worn by Iguanas players during the playoffs. Members of each group will receive free caps and free passes for four to a local hockey and skating center. Group members also will receive $20 coupons to an area steakhouse.

SAN FRANCISCO

 Bears get 4 more years on air
 KGO-AM and the University of California-Berkeley reached a four-year contract that extends the station's broadcasts of Cal football through the 2004 season. KGO, a 50,000-watt station in San Francisco, is entering its 28th consecutive season of carrying Cal football.

 Team stops before it starts
 The Bay Bandits of the new National Indoor Football League suspended operations just three weeks before their inaugural season was scheduled to open. A recorded message on the Bandits' front-office telephone states that the franchise will return for the 2002 NIFL season. The league

SEATTLE

 Golf trade show benefits charities
 Local charities and youth will reap the profits from the 2001 Pacific Northwest Golf Show this Friday through Sunday. The golf trade show, co-produced by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association and the Northwest Section of the PGA, has earmarked profits from the show for the Evans Scholars Foundation, the Junior Golf Fund and The First Tee program.

 Safeco menu adds sushi, stir-fry
 Safeco Field has added several items to its menu for the coming Seattle Mariners season. Hamburgers from regional restaurant Kidd Valley, sushi and Asian stir-fry will be available this year.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Spring training a boon for Lightning
 The Tampa Bay Lightning has scored big at the turnstiles in March by scheduling 10 home games during MLB's spring training. The club, which stepped up its promotions at area ballparks throughout the month, averaged 15,000 fans a game through the first six games of the month, including a new Ice Palace record of 20,835 fans for the March 17 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Mario Lemieux. The Lightning had arranged with the NHL to host a greater number of games in March, trading for more road games in January on the 2000-01 schedule. The team's March average is slightly above the team's average per-game attendance for the year.

TORONTO

 CFL asks NFL to back off
 Canadian Football League Commissioner Michael Lysko plans to ask the NFL to restrict its teams from signing CFL players who are not going to be added to active NFL rosters. Lysko told The Globe and Mail newspaper that he intends to discuss the matter with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. NFL teams won the right to sign CFL players as part of a 1997 agreement in which the NFL gave the CFL a one-time loan of $3 million. Jeff Giles, Toronto Argonauts president and former CFL commissioner, said the intent of the deal was that NFL teams would sign only players they intended to use. Some CFL players are being sent to play in NFL Europe or are placed on NFL practice rosters.

 LPGA event seeks new course
 The Bank of Montreal Canadian Women's Open is seeking a new course for this summer's LPGA Tour event. Construction delays at the Magna Golf and Country Club in nearby Aurora, Ontario, mean the clubhouse won't be completed by the Aug. 16-19 tournament date.

WASHINGTON

 Retail may come to MCI neighborhood
 Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin reportedly has hired developer Douglas Jemal to build additional shops and restaurants near the Wizards' MCI Center home. According to a Washington Post report, no timetable has been set for the work.

 Local PR firm lands major new clients
 D.C. United and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission hired Washington-based Brotman Winter Fried Communications for public relations work.

WILMINGTON, DEL.

 City lands team in fledgling hoops league
 The National Rookie League awarded a franchise to the city that will be operated by Richmond Group International, a sports consulting firm founded by brothers Joseph and Michael Richmond. The basketball league, which is not affiliated with the NBA, is designed as an alternative to college basketball for athletes under the age of 24 who are pursuing a professional basketball career. The league also has teams in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Washington plus one traveling team. It will begin its second season in June.

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