SBJ/August 13 - 19, 2001/Coast To Coast

COAST TO COAST

ATLANTA

 Turner Sports rolls out gift certificates
 
Atlanta sports fans may now have a passport to paradise. The Braves, Hawks and Thrashers are offering a gift certificate program for the purchase of sports and events tickets. The $50 Turner Sports & Entertainment Passport books contain five $10 certificates that can be used to buy tickets to goings-on at Turner Field or Philips Arena. The discount books can be purchased through the teams, at the box offices for Turner Field and Philips Arena, at the Braves Clubhouse store in CNN Center and at the Team Gear store at Philips.

BOSTON

  Developer previews plans for new ballpark
 
Boston developer Frank McCourt publicly previewed his plans for a new Red Sox stadium on the land he owns on the South Boston waterfront. With the team up for sale, any new ballpark plan will be contingent on who buys the team. McCourt is reportedly interested in purchasing the team and has until the Wednesday deadline set by the current ownership to make a proposal. McCourt's proposed ballpark would feature a panoramic view of Boston's financial district from home plate.

CHARLOTTE

  Broadcaster close to 2 key deals
  News-talk radio outlet WBT-AM/FM expects to complete two-year deals with the Charlotte Hornets and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by mid-August. Station GM Rick Jackson said both deals are all but signed. "We agree on everything and just have a few things to finish up," he said. "It's great for us to have the Hornets and Tar Heels stay with WBT." Both contracts begin this fall and require the teams to buy airtime in exchange for control of all advertising inventory. The UNC deal includes all football and men's basketball games.

  Embattled Simpson quits his company
  Bill Simpson, principal at Simpson Performance Products, resigned from the company. The 61-year-old motorsports safety equipment entrepreneur cited the controversy over driver Dale Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500 Feb. 18. NASCAR officials announced Feb. 23 a broken Simpson belt was found in Earnhardt's car. Simpson refuted inferences that the belt broke — or led to Earnhardt's death. Angry fans made death threats against Simpson and some of his employees. On July 17, Simpson told Carousel Capital, a Charlotte venture capital firm and the largest Simpson Performance stakeholder, he was quitting. The firm accepted the resignation July 30. There's been no word on potential replacements.

CINCINNATI

  40,000 expected at IRL race
 
Officials with the Kentucky Speedway expected more than 40,000 fans to attend Sunday's IRL race, the Belterra Casino Indy 300. More than 60,000 fans attended last year's race, which was the track's inaugural event.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

  Council approves Olympic referendum
  A Nov. 6 vote by Dallas voters will decide whether to allocate $14 million in sales-tax revenues to offset any losses from hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The Dallas City Council approved the vote Wednesday by a 13-2 margin. International Olympic Committee rules require such a measure to be in place, meaning that Dallas' bid will die if voters don't approve the measure. The referenwould seek to put sales-tax money from Olympics spending into a trust fund to pay for any losses.

  Brahmas get OK to sell arena name
  The Fort Worth City Council voted last week to give the Fort Worth Brahmas permission to sell the naming rights to the Brahmas home arena at the Fort Worth Convention Center. According to Mike Barack, the hockey team's fourth-year general manager, a naming-rights sponsorship could generate up to $1 million yearly based on industry standards. In their agreement, the Brahmas and the city would share the money collected from naming-rights fees in a three-year deal with two one-year options. For finding a sponsor, the Brahmas would receive 40 percent of the naming fees the first year, and the remaining 60 percent would go to the city. The Brahmas' percentage would drop to 30 percent in the second year and then 20 percent in the third year.

DENVER

  Invesco rest rooms pass the test
 
The rest rooms at Invesco Field at Mile High passed the test. Turner Construction workers flushed toilets and ran water in the sinks for 10 minutes to make sure everything was ready for the stadium's debut last Saturday. Only minor problems were reported.

HOUSTON

  Groundbreaking held for downtown arena
  The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority broke ground July 31 on the multipurpose downtown arena that will be the new home for the Houston Rockets and Comets once it's completed in September 2003. Organizers launched six, three-foot rockets into the air as part of the groundbreaking ceremony. The six rockets represented the six NBA and WNBA championships won between both teams. The $175 million arena, which will feature one of the largest lower-seating bowls in the country, will accommodate 18,500 spectators for basketball, 17,800 for hockey and 19,300 for concerts.

  Politics puts sports authority on the bubble
  The future of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority could be in question now that politicians have made it an issue in Houston's upcoming mayoral race. Houston councilmen and mayoral candidates Chris Bell and Orlando Sanchez say the sports authority will have completed its mission after overseeing financing, and in some cases construction, of Enron Field (opened 2000), Reliant Stadium (opening 2002) and the basketball arena (opening 2003). Mayor Lee Brown opposed shutting down the authority.

  Astros take it off for the fans
  The Houston Astros gave the shirts off their backs to fans as part of a promotion Aug. 5 at Enron Field. Thirty-six randomly selected fans won the actual jerseys worn by players and coaches during the game against Montreal Expos. All the Astros signed their jerseys before giving them away.

INDIANAPOLIS

 Plan to build new arena may get iced
  A plan to build a new 8,000- to 10,000-seat indoor/outdoor arena on downtown's west side appears to be in peril after the man who initiated the idea skated aside. The potential deal may have vanished after a local ownership group sold the Indianapolis Ice to a group led by Chicago resident Horn Chen, who said he has little interest in finding the Ice a new home. The team currently plays at the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and plans to play four to six games next season at Conseco Fieldhouse. Local auto dealer Gary Pedigo, who bought the Ice two years ago, sold his majority interest in the team in the face of a dispute with the Central Hockey League, leaving the plan he forwarded last year for a new arena hanging in the lurch. Pedigo became upset when CHL officials decided to integrate their league with teams from the former Western Professional Hockey League. Pedigo sought to sever ties with the CHL and join the United Hockey League.

  Brickyard 400 tickets hot commodity
  A survey conducted by the Indianapolis Business Journal of Indianapolis' top ticket brokers found a marked increase in demand for this year's Brickyard 400 NASCAR race, which was held Aug. 5. "I think it has something to do with the race moving to Sunday and NASCAR is on top of the world," said Fred Bear, of Freddie's Ticket World in Speedway. Ticket brokers also think Hoosier natives making news like Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, who is leading the Winston Cup Series, have helped Brickyard ticket sales.

MIAMI

 Playboy puts name on golf tourney
  Playboy said it is sponsoring its second annual Playboy Scramble Golf Tournament with local competition scheduled for the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami Sept. 21. Golfers will play in teams of four, with top teams progressing through semifinal competition to a Fox Sports Network televised championship Dec. 7-9 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

  Cogen takes Panthers COO job
  Jeff Cogen, executive vice president of the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers, was named chief operating officer of the Florida Panthers. He'll report directly to the team's new ownership group, which includes Alan Cohen, several other prominent south Florida businessmen and former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar. Cogen, 43, joined the Panthers last week. He had been with the Stars since they moved to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993. Before that he was an employee of the Detroit Red Wings, but he left the team when his boss with the Red Wings, Jim Lites, was named president of the Stars.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

  Electric wheelchair hockey catches on
  Two Minnesota teams participated in the U.S. Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association tournament at Augsburg College in Minneapolis Aug. 4-9. The Minnesota Stars, the first-ever organized electric wheelchair PowerHockey team in the United States, and the St. Paul Saints, in the team's inaugural year, were among the teams competing in the largest power-wheelchair sporting event in U.S. history.

  Thunder does cards, bobblehead promotions
  Minor league soccer's Minnesota Thunder gave away autographed cards of Tampa Bay Mutiny player Amos Magee (formerly of the Thunder) to the 3,115 fans who attended the team's victory Aug. 3 against the San Diego Flash. The team's next four games are on the road, but when it returns to the National Sports Center in Blaine Aug. 25, it will give away 5,000 Buzz Lagos bobblehead dolls. Lagos is the team's head coach.

  Vikings call off scrimmage
  The Minnesota Vikings' scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs scheduled for Aug. 6 was canceled due to the death of Vikings player Korey Stringer. Proceeds from tickets sold for the event were to be refunded to those who requested. Fans who don't request a refund by Aug. 31 will have made a contribution to Korey's Crew, Stringer's community program that encouraged education, literacy and youth football participation. Thousands of fans, players and team officials attended a memorial at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel in Edina Aug. 3.

MONTREAL

  Scorpions land dual deal with Montreal, Quebec
 
The New Mexico Scorpions hockey club signed an agreement with the Montreal Canadiens and the Quebec Citadelles to become the Central Hockey League affiliate of both hockey teams. As part of the agreement, the Citadelles (Montreal's American Hockey League affiliate) will provide the Scorpions with three players for the 2001-02 season and will have up to six Scorpions players participate in their preseason training camp. One of the three players to be sent to New Mexico on two-way contracts, defenseman David Cornacchia, already has been signed. The other two players who will join the Scorpions have yet to be determined. Three additional Scorpions players have been offered spots at the Citadelles' preseason training camp. They are Swedish defenseman Johan Olsson, goaltender Boyd Ballard and Swedish winger Johan Eriksson.

ORLANDO

  USOC visits Florida bid sites
  The U.S. Olympic Committee held its site visit to central Florida's Olympic venues on Aug. 3-5. While the task force wouldn't comment on how Tampa and Orlando compare to other U.S. markets bidding to host the 2012 Games, it did give local organizers high praise. The only negative hinted at by the USOC group was the distance between the two cities, but officials said a high-speed rail system, which is planned for the region, would help. The site visit group also learned that if the Summer Games were awarded to central Florida, Tampa 2012 would pay for tickets, food and lodging for two family members of every Olympic athlete in the Games.

  Magic to hand out Pez dispensers
  The Orlando Magic is jumping on a new trend of giveaways at games. The team will hand out 15,000 Orlando Magic Pez dispensers at a game in November. Magic officials see the dispenser as the newest phase in giveaways, following the popular bobblehead dolls. The team is the first in the National Basketball Association to design a dispenser in the team colors. It will feature a basketball on top with the Magic's logo. The base will be blue. In addition, the team will auction off one dispenser autographed by the Orlando Magic players.

PHILADELPHIA

  Racetrack opens new Turf Club
  Philadelphia Park's new $3.5 million Northeast Turf Club, the sixth off-track betting facility opened by the Bensalem-based horse racing track, opened Aug. 3. The 27,000-square-foot facility was built at the site of the former Discovery Zone and Doral Catering Center next to the Roosevelt Mall. It can accommodate up to 600 people, includes a 100-seat restaurant and will employ more than 125 people.

  Lurie blames city for fans' fees
  Speaking at the opening of training camp, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie blamed the protracted stadium negotiations with the city of Philadelphia for the team's decision to charge fans stadium builder license fees. Lurie said the Eagles had plans for a new football stadium — including site selection, design and financing — ready about the same time as the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are opening their new stadium this month. Lengthy negotiations with Philadelphia officials, who were simultaneously negotiating with the Phillies for a new ballpark, delayed construction until this year. As a result, Lurie said, the cost of the stadium rose from $330 million to $510 million. The Eagles are financing their share, more than $300 million, primarily through loans from FleetBoston and the NFL stadium loan fund.

  Atlantic City nods to old Flyers' teams
  The Atlantic City (N.J.) franchise in the East Coast Hockey League will be called the Boardwalk Bullies. The name was selected from among more than 500 monikers submitted in a "Name the Team" contest. Matt Loughran, the team's general manager, said the name pays homage to the nickname of the 1973 and 1974 Stanley Cup-winning Philadelphia Flyers' teams, known as the "Broad Street Bullies." The Atlantic City team also unveiled its new logo, which features a growling and tattooed bulldog. The Boardwalk Bullies, who begin play this fall, have already sold about 1,500 season tickets.

PITTSBURGH

  Swann to chair PGA event
 
The Marconi Pennsylvania Classic, which will be played for the first time this year in western Pennsylvania, has named former Steelers great Lynn Swann, a 2001 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as its honorary chairman. The PGA Tour event, now in its second year, will be held Sept. 17-23 at the Laurel Valley Country Club in Ligonier. The event was held last year in suburban Philadelphia, where it will return in 2002. Proceeds from this year's event will benefit Latrobe Area Hospital and other local charities.

PORTLAND, MAINE

  Pirates partner with Eastland Park
 
The Portland Pirates have formed a multiyear marketing partnership with Eastland Park Hotel, part of the Magna Hospitality Group in downtown Portland. Eastland Park Hotel will serve as the Pirates' official training camp headquarters and will provide the club with space and opportunities to hold team meetings, luncheons and news conferences. During the regular season, the property will help accommodate the top prospects of the Washington Capitals — the Pirates' National Hockey League affiliate — visiting American Hockey League clubs, professional scouts and staff and Pirates' colleagues and guests. Eastland Park will also be involved in the Pirates' group sales campaign and will assist the team with support of season-ticket holders.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

  Jimmy V tourney live on ESPN Classic
 
ESPN Classic will air three hours of live play from the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic on Aug. 26. The live national coverage, from Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., is a first for the tournament. The event, now in its eighth year, raises money for the V Foundation, a nonprofit launched by former N.C. State University basketball coach Jim Valvano to fund cancer research. Valvano died of cancer in 1993. Organizers of the golf classic are predicting that the slower economy will mean a slight drop from the $1.85 million the celebrity event raised in 2000.

SACRAMENTO

 Maloof venture signs 2nd fighter
 
Maloof Brothers Boxing Inc., a new venture by Sacramento Kings and Monarchs owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and friend Guy Riordan, has signed its second boxer, former world champion Danny Romero Jr. of Albuquerque, N.M., for four years. The company already manages light heavyweight Max Heyman, also of Albuquerque.

SAN DIEGO

  Bevacqua, auction firm settle dispute
 
Former major leaguer Kurt Bevacqua will receive cash and 200 bats signed by former teammate Tony Gwynn under a settlement of a business dispute with a Carlsbad, Calif.-based online auction company. The agreement was reached July 30, the day the case was scheduled for trial in San Diego Superior Court. Asia Web Holdings Inc. agreed to pay Bevacqua $500,000 for 50,000 shares of his stock in the company. The company, which formerly sold sports memorabilia online at AcuBid.com, also agreed to give Bevacqua 200 signed bats commemorating Gwynn's eighth and final batting title, plus 200 tickets from the Aug. 6, 1999, game in Montreal in which Gwynn stroked his 3,000th hit. Bevacqua left the company in a dispute over business strategies and stock options.

SAN JOSE

  Sharks increasing ticket prices
  The San Jose Sharks raised their 2001-02 ticket prices by $2 on average. The top "VIP Club Glass" seats are $102, up $2. Upper rim seats increased $4, to $56. Upper reserve seats range from $18 to $39, up from $17 to $37 last season. The Sharks have raised ticket prices every year except one in their 10-year existence. The Sharks were at 99.8 percent capacity for the 2000-01 season and the team cuts off season-ticket sales at 13,000 for the 17,496-seat Compaq Center.

  MLS team switches to Ticketmaster
  Ticketmaster has been named the official ticket outlet for Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. Effective Aug. 3, tickets are available on Ticketmaster's Web site and at local retail stores where Ticketmaster is located. Ticketmaster took over from Tickets.com.

  Earthquakes host 'Legends' contest
  Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes gave a nod to their namesake forebears in the old North American Soccer League when 50 members of the original Earthquakes played in a "Legends" game on Saturday. The old-timers' game was to be played before a MLS match between today's Earthquakes and the Columbus Crew. The MLS team originally was named the Clash but took the Earthquakes name because of public fondness for the old NASL team.

SONOMA, CALIF.

  Sears Point upgrade starts 2nd phase
 
National Hot Rod Association stars John Force and Gary Scelzi traded in their 6,000-horsepower dragsters for 100,000-pound Caterpillar bulldozers on Aug. 5, following final-round eliminations at the NHRA Fram Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway. Scelzi and Force piloted the huge bulldozers and ripped through the asphalt on the drag strip, beginning the second phase of Sears Point Raceway's $35 million modernization. An integral part of the second phase for the NHRA will be repaving the drag strip and constructing a 660-foot concrete launching pad that could make Sears Point Raceway one of the fastest tracks in the country. A 15,000-seat permanent grandstand will be built on the west side of the refurbished drag strip. The renovation is expected to be finished by 2002.

ST. LOUIS

  Top world golfers scheduled for event
 
The World Golf Championship-American Express Championship will bring 65 to 70 of the world's top golfers to Bellerive Country Club Sept. 11-16. Todd Rhinehart, championship director of the event, said the field for St. Louis is the best field of the year. The field showcases the top 50 players in the official world rankings, a list including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, recent British Open winner David Duval, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen. Nineteen countries will be represented.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

  Special promotions mark Lightning's 10th
  The Tampa Bay Lightning is continuing to plan events and promotions around the hockey club's 10th anniversary season in 2001-02. A "Glitz & Sticks" charity event is planned for Oct. 2 at the Ice Palace and will feature dining, dancing, a silent auction and casino games with Lightning players as dealers. In the meantime, the Lightning is selling a special 10-pack of tickets to games with package prices ranging from $79 to $429.

  Olympic bid puts Tampa name out front
  Florida 2012, the Tampa-Orlando group seeking to attract the Olympics to central Florida, changed its official logo to read "Tampa 2012" in time for the U.S. Olympic Committee's formal visit to the area Aug. 2-5. Although organizers say the regional push to win the Games will not change, the USOC requested that one city name have prominence in the bid. Florida 2012 is headquartered in downtown Tampa, though several other cities are involved in the effort.

  Shuttle service begins for Bucs games
  Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will be able to take the bus to games at Raymond James Stadium this season. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit will offer round-trip shuttle service before and after Bucs games. The HARTline shuttles will arrive at the stadium 45 minutes before the start of each game with the last bus departing 30 minutes after each game ends. The cost is $8 round-trip or $5 one way, including parking.

WASHINGTON

  More athletes join 2012 effort
  The Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition added some local star power to Washington's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Washington Redskins veteran Darrell Green, Washington Freedom captain and two-time Olympian Mia Hamm, two-time Olympic swimmer Tom Dolan, Paralympian Beth Scott and Olympian Theresa Andrews joined the coalition's board of directors. The coalition stressed the importance of having Washington's athletes involved in the bid process early on and has made expanding the early foundation of athletes a priority this summer.

  NLL team happy in Capital Centre
  In spite of recent discussions of the possible razing of the 28-year-old Capital Centre, formerly known at USAir Arena, Washington Power officials confirm they will play in the facility for the 2001-02 National Lacrosse League season. The Power has offices and a lease to play in the facility this season and has no plans on moving. Plans to build an upscale retail and entertainment center on the site have suffered some setbacks, including Magic Johnson canceling plans to open a 16-screen movie theater at the site. It is now possible that the Capital Centre will be torn down — a departure from previous plans. The Power says that possibility will not affect the approaching season.

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