SBJ/September 17 - 23, 2001/Coast To Coast

COAST TO COAST

ATLANTA

 Thrashers look to net small-business support

The Atlanta Sports Council and the NHL Thrashers are teaming up in an effort to net more small-business support for the team. Atlanta Chamber of Commerce small-business members are being invited to a closed practice and luncheon Tuesday. For $20, participants can watch the pregame workout, have lunch at Philips Arena, meet Thrashers players and members of the front office and receive two tickets to that night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 Thrashers, Philips to offer bobblehead

Thrashers fans who attend the Opening Night game will get a free bobblehead likeness of Ray Ferraro. The Thrashers will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Philips Arena. Tickets for that and all regular-season games are now on sale on the team's Web site (atlantathrashers.com).

BOSTON

 Owners hang on to season tickets

The Boston Globe reported that only 13 of the 57,000 Patriots season-ticket holders chose not to renew their season tickets for 2001 season. The Patriots are opening the new CMGI Field in 2002, and Patriots' vice chairman Jonathan Kraft told the Globe the team has 40,000 names on a waiting list for season tickets.

CHARLOTTE

 Panthers near top on ticket costs

Jerry Richardson's Carolina Panthers may not have the playoffs in their sights, but healthy revenue isn't a problem. According to Team Marketing Report, the Panthers rank seventh among the 31 NFL teams for ticket price, averaging $60.30. The league average: $53.64. Panthers prices increased 4.1 percent over last year, when the team ranked sixth. Who's getting soaked worse than Panthers fans? Washington, Denver, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Jacksonville.

 Team doc leaving ortho clinic

Dr. Glenn Perry is no longer working at Miller Orthopaedic Clinic. Perry, who has been team physician for the Charlotte Hornets since the team started, couldn't be reached, but Miller execs confirmed his departure, as well as that of Dr. Jerry Barron. They declined further comment. Last year, Perry traveled to Sydney to work for the U.S. men's basketball team. Hornets vice president Harold Kaufman said Perry would continue his duties for the team.

CINCINNATI

 Reds ballpark behind schedule, over budget

With 20 percent of the work completed at the new Cincinnati Reds ballpark, the project is facing $4.7 million in cost overruns. That is prompting Hamilton County officials to push for assurances that contractors working on the ballpark will pay for extra costs. Some ballpark work is up to 11 weeks behind schedule and — although project managers remain confident the lost time can be made up to keep the ballpark on track — the likelihood of the Reds playing some or all of the 2003 season in Cinergy Field is a possibility.

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS

 Hockey team shows off new coach, sweater

The Corpus Christi IceRays of the Central Hockey League have unveiled new game sweaters for the team's 2001-02 season. The Rays also have a new head coach and are playing their inaugural season in the CHL. Fans will be able to purchase the sweater when the IceRays start the season Oct. 18 against the San Antonio Iguanas.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Squires debuts events subsidiary

The Squires Sports Group has launched a subsidiary to help handle large sporting events. Dubbed the Events Network, the unit of Dallas-based Squires has a group of 10 services suppliers it can go to for tasks like on-site management. Events Network already is working on corporate tie-ins to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

 Apparel supplier signs with ClubCorp

Fairway & Greene Ltd. will supply golf apparel to forthcoming Bear's Best golf courses in Las Vegas and Atlanta under a recently signed agreement with the courses' owner, Dallas-based ClubCorp. The two-year deal calls for Shelton, Conn.-based Fairway to supply a variety of clothing to the courses' retail stores. The Bear's Best courses feature replicas of golfer Jack Nicklaus' favorite hole designs.

DENVER

  Romanowski case takes new twist

A special prosecutor has been appointed to examine the testimony of two investigators in a case against Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski. The Denver district attorney's office will handle the investigation. Romanowski was acquitted earlier this year on charges of illegally obtaining a prescription diet drug. Similar charges against his wife were dropped after Romanowski's acquittal. Testimony by the two investigators at Romanowski's trial apparently differed from their written reports and from what other investigators testified to.

 Broncos ticket prices rank No. 2 ...

Team Marketing Report says what the Broncos charge for home games amounts to the second-highest-priced ticket in the NFL. The average price is $77.41, or a 66.8 percent increase. The average ticket in the NFL is $53.64, up 8.7 percent from last year.

 ... And so does team revenue

The Broncos are expected to generate as much as $165 million in revenue this year, according to estimates from The Wall Street Journal. That would rank the Broncos second behind the Washington Redskins, who are expected to take in $185 million this year.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

 Sports Authority hits conference

The Sports Authority in Fort Lauderdale said it was presenting at the Wells Fargo Van Kasper "Class of 2001" equity conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The company operates 198 stores in 32 states.

 Partners back fantasy sports products

SportsLine.com, CNNSI.com and the sports content providers for America Online will team up to produce CNNSI.com's fantasy sports products. The partnership will begin with the current professional football season, according to a release. Terms of the agreement have not been released.

HOUSTON

 PR event follows announcement of sale

The Compaq Houston Marathon held its media kick-off luncheon on Sept. 7, just three days after Hewlett-Packard Co. announced it was acquiring Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp. The 30th annual race, scheduled for Jan. 20, 2002, marks the second of a three-year commitment from name sponsor Compaq. A company executive said the merger will have no bearing on the 2002 marathon, and any future sponsorship will be assessed later.

 Clothing store lands 3rd local coach

Houston Texans coach Dom Capers is joining Houston's other big-league coaches — Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich and Astros manager Larry Dierker — as spokesman for Norton Ditto, the men's specialty clothing store. Norton Ditto is now the only store in the country that has the head coach of its city's NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball teams as spokesmen for its firm. Norton Ditto was recently selected one of the top 100 men's retail clothing stores in the country by Esquire magazine.

INDIANAPOLIS

 Colts commission arena study

Colts officials admitted they have commissioned a study to look into the viability of a new stadium for the team and explore public sentiment on the subject. The Colts, who play in the 64,000-seat RCA Dome, one of the NFL’s smallest and least-profitable venues, revealed the study after word of it was leaked to the press. Pete Ward, Colts executive vice president of administration, said the study does not mean a new stadium is imminent, although team officials have indicated if a new stadium is not constructed in the next five years, surviving in Indianapolis will be almost impossible. City and state officials have said financing a new football stadium at this time will be difficult. The survey was sent to several thousand Indianapolis area residents, ranging from season-ticket holders to those who have never been to a Colts game.

 Manning signs deal with Microsoft

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning signed with Microsoft Corp. to help market a new football video game, NFL Fever 2002, for the company’s new Xbox system. Microsoft officials said Manning’s endorsement of the game will help it grab part of the $6 billion-a-year video game market. Manning will be used in television and in-store advertising. Microsoft expects to sell about 1 million Xbox units by Christmas. Manning was outfitted with a special black lycra suit filled with electronic sensors and wore the suit as he ran a number of plays and went through passing and running actions so his real-life likeness could be used in the game.

LAKEWOOD, N.J.

 BlueClaws set N.J. record

The Lakewood BlueClaws, the new Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, have broken the New Jersey professional baseball attendance record, drawing 464,704 people to GPU Energy Park this season, with two games remaining. The previous highest attendance for a New Jersey team in a single season was the Trenton Thunder, who drew 457,344 people in 1998. The BlueClaws were averaging 6,834 people per game through 68 home dates. The attendance research conducted by the BlueClaws and Minor League Baseball did not include the Newark Eagles of the Negro League. The Negro League Hall of Fame does not have season attendance records for its clubs.

LEXINGTON, Ky.

 Legends, Season Tickets team up

Minor League Baseball’s newest team, the Lexington Legends, an affiliate of the Houston Astros, and Season Ticket Solutions (STS) announced that they will offer Legends season-ticket holders the ability to sell unused tickets to the public with the STS Exchange. The Legends also have agreed to purchase STS Management, STS Catering Assistant and STS Group in a multiyear license agreement.

JACKSONVILLE

 Jaguars pick team store

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently named Football Fanatics its official team store. Terms of the deal give Football Fanatics exclusive rights to sell merchandise previously available only at Alltel Stadium, said Jaguars vice president and CFO Bill Prescott. The retailer also will provide product assortment and fulfillment for all merchandise on the Jaguars’ Web site, jaguars.com. Football Fanatics owners Alan and Mitch Trager founded the company following news of the Jaguars inception in 1993 and have expanded from a 900-square-foot store opened in 1995 to two stores totaling more than 8,000 square feet located in the Orange Park Mall and The Avenues Mall (footballfanatics.com).

 Floyd, Vaughn take MVP honors

Jaspers officials honored Marlins outfielder Cliff Floyd and Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Greg Vaughn with their teams’ Florida Sports Awards MVP award. Fans voted via the organization’s Web site at jaspers.com. Based in Jacksonville, the Florida Sports Awards, known as the Jaspers, is a not-for-profit organization honoring the state’s top professional athletes, coaches and teams, and northeast Florida’s top amateur sports performances of the year.

 Jaspers award grant

Jaspers officials recently presented the Florida Marlins Community Foundation with $10,000 in the inaugural Florida Sports Awards Youth Foundation Grant. Grant money will benefit the foundation’s Adopt-A-Classroom program.

KANSAS CITY

 USBL OKs expansion team for St. Joe

The United States Basketball League has approved an expansion team in St. Joseph, Mo., about 50 miles north of Kansas City. The award requires that owner Jay Harris and coach/GM Rex Morgan also keep running a USBL team in Florida. The St. Joseph team will play a 30-game schedule from April to June. Fifteen games will be played at the Civic Arena in St. Joseph.

MIAMI

 Publix starts Tailgate Tour

Publix Super Markets, based in Lakeland, is rolling out “The Publix Premium Certified Beef Tailgate Tour” and taking it to NCAA and NFL football arenas throughout the Southeast this fall. The tour is a marketing mechanism for the chain to launch its newest premium beef product in a multicity event. It will travel to college and professional football games in Florida and Georgia “to enhance the tailgating experience for the football fan audience,” according to a release.

 Minority business networks at tourney

Chrysler Group President and CEO Dieter Zetsche made an appearance before a group of U.S. minority business owners at the Black Enterprise-Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge in Miami. Held annually during the Labor Day weekend, the event is the largest national golf and tennis tournament for African-Americans, attracting more than 1,500 owners and entrepreneurs of minority business enterprises for a weekend of seminars, networking and entertainment.

 Shula, Parcells to do color on NFL games

Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports said Hall of Fame coach and Miami businessman Don Shula and former NFL coach Bill Parcells will join the Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports “Monday Night Football” broadcast team of Howard David and Boomer Esiason as guest color commentators for select games this season. No terms were announced.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Newspaper puts columnist on bobblehead

If it works for the Twins and every other sports team on the planet, why not the local newspaper as well? The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune last month used the Minnesota State Fair to distribute bobblehead dolls featuring sports columnist Sid Hartman. The company produced 5,000 of the dolls, selling 4,800 of them and giving away 200 more as promotional items. The paper donated $1 from each doll, for a total of $5,000, to Children’s Hospitals, which is Hartman’s favorite charity.

 Cris Carter launches health site

Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter launched AthletesHealth.com, a Web site designed to provide athletes with expert information about health, training and nutrition. At the site, consumers can find a line of “high-quality products” and editorial information aimed at athletes’ needs, organizers said. Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Digital River Inc. will power the site.

 Wild sells 40,000 single-game tickets

The Minnesota Wild sold 40,000 regular-season single-game tickets on Sept. 8. More than 2,000 fans lined up outside Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to buy tickets. The regular-season home opener Oct. 10 against the Boston Bruins sold out. A limited number of tickets remain for most other games.

 Kelci Stringer visits school for husband

Kelci Stringer, wife of the late Korey Stringer, and several Vikings officials visited Bancroft Elementary in Minneapolis on Sept. 4. Stringer, who died last month from complications related to heatstroke, used to visit those and other kids to encourage them to read.

 Hale Irwin set to design course

Professional golfer Hale Irwin was to be in Lake City, Minn., to sign a contract to design and build Mississippi Jewel, an 18-hole signature golf course there. Irwin, who runs Hale Irwin Design, has seven other Hale Irwin signature golf courses in the United States.

ORLANDO

 Sanford renovates stadium

The city of Sanford, a suburb of Orlando, finished the renovation of its historic baseball stadium. The spring training home of the New York Giants from 1949 to 1951, the stadium opened in 1926. The $2 million project took a year to complete.

 Armstrong donates ambulance

Orlando Magic guard Darrell Armstrong is giving away an ambulance. The player’s Foundation for Premature Babies donated a neonatal ambulance to Florida Children’s Hospital. The vehicle will feature a large mural in honor of the foundation on the side.

PHILADELPHIA

 Comcast-Spectacor opens 4th ice rink

Comcast-Spectacor opened its latest public ice skating rink in northeast Philadelphia. Earlier this year Polonia Bank, a local financial institution, purchased the naming rights for the facility, which is called the Polonia Bank Flyers Skate Zone. Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Flyers hockey team, also operates ice rinks in Voorhees, Pennsauken and Atlantic City, all in New Jersey.

 Global debuts Chargers’ e-commerce site

Global Sports Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa., has developed and will operate a new and expanded e-commerce store for the San Diego Chargers. The store, located at store.chargers.com, launched Aug. 25 and carries nearly 10 times the number of items previously offered on the Chargers’ site.

 City hires engineers for study of Vet turf

The city of Philadelphia has commissioned an engineering study to determine the cause of the artificial turf conversion problems that forced the cancellation of the Eagles’ first preseason game last month. The study is being prepared in case a legal battle ensues over the $5 million to $10 million in revenue the Eagles lost by not playing the game in the city-owned Veterans Stadium. Earlier this year, the city paid Southwest Recreational Industries Inc. $1.8 million to install a new NeXturf playing surface at the Vet. Last month’s game was canceled because the field under the turf used to covered the pitcher’s mound and base cutouts was unstable.

PORTLAND, Maine

 Gleason group back in Pirates’ booth

The Portland Pirates announced that the stations of the Gleason Radio Group — WKTQ-AM 1450 South Paris, WTME-AM 790 Rumford, WOXO-FM 92.7 Norway and WTBM-FM 100.7 Mexico — will serve as affiliates of the Pirates’ Radio Network for the 2001-02 season. The agreement ends a one-year hiatus for the Gleason Group, which had carried Pirates hockey for the first seven seasons.

SACRAMENTO

 Monarchs merchandise a top-seller

The Sacramento Monarchs are one of the top five WNBA teams in apparel sales, according to reports from the league’s licensees. The ranking is based on sales from Oct. 1, 2000, to Aug. 14. The other top five teams are the Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, New York Liberty and Washington Mystics.

SAN DIEGO

 City hosts opener of soccer event

San Diego hosted California’s opening ceremonies for Soccer In The Streets (SITS) leagues for economically disadvantaged young girls. The SITS program expanded in California with a league development grant provided from Mervyn’s and the Women’s Sports Foundation. The grant of about $50,000 will benefit girls in four California communities this fall, establishing a SITS girls’ soccer league in San Diego, Hayward, Montebello and Sacramento. The grant provides complete funding for a 75-girl, six-team league in each city, including uniforms; player, team and league equipment; trained coaches and referees; and all official league matches.

 TV station, Chargers square off

KGTV-Channel 10 officials have accused the Chargers of encouraging players not to appear on the ABC affiliate’s post-“Monday Night Football” show. “Monday Night Live” debuted after the Broncos-Giants game Sept. 10 with two local sportswriters but no players as guests. Channel 10, which had carried the team-produced “Chargers Power Report” in recent years, was unable to reach a new agreement with the club and decided to produce its own program. The Chargers moved their show to KUSI 51 during the 5-6 p.m. time slot, just before ABC’s Monday game airs on the West Coast.

 Del Mar crowds bet a bundle

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s 43-day summer meet that ended Sept. 5 set wagering records for total handle ($518,376,508) and average daily handle ($12,055,268). On-track attendance increased 8.5 percent and on-track handle was up 0.4 percent.

SAN FRANCISCO

 Pedaling uphill, Grand Prix brakes for sponsors

Organizers of the inaugural San Francisco Grand Prix, a 127.5-mile bicycle race through the streets of the city, had a tough time finding sponsors, but an estimated 175,000 spectators took in the Sept. 9 race. The race, featuring three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, was won by George Hincapie of Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team in 5 hours, 20 minutes, 42 seconds. Armstrong, in his only race on U.S. soil this year, dropped out after 80 miles due to a stomach virus.

 FringeGolf moves with Slocum to PGA Tour

San Francisco-based FringeGolf sunk a hole in one with its first pro sponsorship. Heath Slocum, who signed with FringeGolf this summer, earned a battlefield promotion last month from the Buy.com Tour to the PGA Tour. That gives FringeGolf, a bimonthly golf magazine that launched earlier this year, a larger audience to view Slocum’s FringeGolf-adorned clothing. FringeGolf claims a circulation of 100,000, including 10,000 subscribers, in the United States and Canada.

 49ers looking at architects’ plans

The San Francisco 49ers have met with three architectural firms regarding plans for a new football stadium, owner John York said. Team President Peter Harris has said 3Com Park, the team’s deteriorating, city-owned current home, could be replaced by 2005. “We’ve met with three different architectural firms and gotten some great concepts and ideas. They’ve brought us up on the learning curve so quickly,” York told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s like, how can you tell somebody that has never tasted Cambodian food what it tastes like? It’s so different that you can’t tell someone until they taste it. When it comes to stadiums, now we know.”

SAN JOSE

 Bowl game hires collegiate marketing firm

The Silicon Valley Football Classic has signed a contract with the Collegiate Licensing Co. of Atlanta to handle its licensing and marketing efforts. The fledgling bowl game is in its second year at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, and its matchup pits the Western Athletic Conference champion against an at-large opponent on New Year’s Eve.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Movie theater puts Bucs on silver screen

A Tampa movie multiplex is attempting to lure Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans by showing televised games on the silver screen. Two screens at the 20-screen Muvico Centro Ybor showed the Bucs’ season opener Sept. 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, offering surround sound, plush leather seats, free admission and 2-for-1 beers. About 80 people turned out for the inaugural “Bucs Sunday” at Muvico, which has 465 total seats reserved for games.

 Players score in ticket delivery

The Tampa Bay Lightning called two of its players into season-ticket delivery duty. Wingers Fredrik Modin and Matthew Barnaby assisted about 60 other Lightning staffers in personally delivering about 2,500 season-ticket packages Sept. 10 as part of the Lightning’s “Fans First” initiative for 2001-02.

TORONTO

 Argos find shaky support from CFL rivals

Some Canadian Football League governors apparently think the league would be better off without the money-losing Toronto Argonauts. A report in the Toronto Sun quoted an unnamed source who said some governors feel the Argos are pulling the rest of CFL down and wouldn’t be upset if the struggling franchise folded. Television and broadcast obligations require the CFL to have at least eight teams, but that would be maintained if an Ottawa franchise begins play next season. CFL Commissioner Michael Lysko said the league’s board of directors has never discussed going without a team in Toronto. Argos owner Sherwood Schwartz is looking for a partner to buy into the team. He said he expects to lose about $2 million this season if sponsorships and ticket sales don’t improve.

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