SBJ/October 1 - 7, 2001/Coast To Coast



 Hawks to hand out bobbleheads

The Atlanta Hawks are jumping on the bobblehead bandwagon. The team will feature six current and former players as part of the Atlanta Hawks/Philips Electronics Bobblehead Collectors Series during the 2001-02 season. The customized dolls are produced by Bensussen Deutsch & Associates. The fans who receive bobblehead dolls will be chosen through a lottery. The featured stars (and game dates) are Dominique Wilkins (Nov. 3), Jason Terry (Dec. 11), Toni Kukoc (Dec. 27), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Jan. 12), Theo Ratliff (March 15) and "Pistol" Pete Maravich (March 28).


 Sabres take fan push to Rochester

The Buffalo Sabres are seeking to expand their fan base into nearby Rochester. The hockey team and the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority will offer a bus and ticket promotion for six games during the upcoming NHL season. Fans in the Rochester area will be able to purchase seats and round-trip transportation for games at HSBC Arena.


 Signature Sports lands college hoops

Signature Sports Group of Charlotte has acquired broadcast rights to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's men's basketball games. Signature Sports has signed an agreement with local sports station WFNZ-AM to air the team's games over the next three seasons. The deal allows Signature Sports to retain all advertising revenue in exchange for buying the station's airtime.

 Fall NASCAR purse swells by $1M

Lowe's Motor Speedway plans a $1 million purse increase for its October NASCAR events, reaching $4.6 million. The boost is primarily for the Winston Cup event on Sunday, the UAW-GM Quality 500. That race carries a $3.4 million purse, an increase of $979,482 over 2000. Track spokesman Jerry Gappens said ticket sales for the race are on par with last year — an event that attracted 120,000 and left 47,000 seats empty.


 Bengals crowd a disappointment

Despite winning their fourth straight game at Paul Brown Stadium, the Cincinnati Bengals' Sept. 23 game against the Baltimore Ravens featured the smallest crowd in the stadium's two-year history. Only 49,632 fans attended the game.


 Cowboys offer naming rights to parts of stadium

The Dallas Cowboys are looking to sell naming rights to four areas of Texas Stadium, according to The Dallas Morning News. Instead of putting a corporate name on the 30-year-old building, the team would do that on items like billboards, gates, tickets, and concourse and portal signs.


 Mile High farewell draws crowd of 40,000

About 40,000 fans witnessed the last game at Mile High Stadium on Sept. 22. The game was a friendly game of flag football between retired NFL stars, with the teams led by John Elway and Joe Montana. Elway's team won 34-33.


 Texans display their uniforms, cheerleaders

The Houston Texans unveiled their uniforms Sept. 25 and introduced the team’s first squad of cheerleaders. The Texans already ranked 14th out of 32 NFL franchises for merchandise sales through June, even without a team jersey, which typically represents 45 percent of total sales.

 Race park schedules 82 thoroughbred dates

The Sam Houston Race Park Winter/Spring Thoroughbred meeting, which runs Nov. 1 through March 30, includes 82 racing days. The park will offer in excess of $100,000 in purses each day and feature 35 stakes races with more than $1.6 million in purses.


 IRL considers not replacing Reif

Finding someone to head sales and marketing for the Indy Racing League has been so difficult, league officials are considering not filling the position vacated by Bob Reif. For now, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IRL President Tony George will usurp some of Reif's duties and run the sales and marketing operation with Terry Angstadt, Buddy McAtee and newly hired Jeff Fernandez, the IRL's vice president of marketing partnerships.

 Colts sideline war-themed TV spots

The Indianapolis Colts unleashed their largest television advertising campaign last month, but after terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., the team was quick to cancel the spots, which had a war-time theme. "We've put that campaign on indefinite hold," said Ray Compton, Colts senior vice president of sales and marketing. Compton said the campaign, the franchise's largest in terms of production and media buy, may be resumed when deemed appropriate. The TV spots, produced by Bates Midwest/USA, mimic a World War II newsreel, with Colts fans and cheerleaders rallying around the team.


 Jags' Taylor takes Jasper award

Florida Sports Awards president and executive director Andrew Jacobs presented Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor with the 2001 First Union Jacksonville Jaguars MVP Jasper award in a pregame ceremony at Alltel Stadium on Sept. 23. Sports fans from across the state selected Taylor as the team's MVP on the Florida Sports Awards Web site, The not-for-profit organization honors top amateur sports performances of the year and the top professional athletes, coaches and teams in the state.


 ABA Knights get local owner

Kansas City businessman Jim Clark has bought the ABA Kansas City Knights from a Phoenix-based group led by Gary Elbogen, the league's commissioner. Clark, who bought the first season tickets for the Knights' inaugural campaign, said he's confident the ABA will return this fall.

 Owner vows boost in Royals payroll

The Kansas City Royals tentatively plan to boost their payroll about one-fourth to $45 million in 2002, said owner David Glass. The team already has committed $26.2 million in contracts for seven players next year.


 Forum floor going up for sale

Some prized basketball real estate goes on sale next month. SportsCards Plus will auction the floor from the Great Western Forum, where Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor became stars. Seven sections measuring 4 feet by 8 feet will be sold on eBay starting Nov. 4. All prospective bidders must register with the company in advance by calling 1-800-350-2273.


 Governor, chamber salute Puckett

Minnesota Twins Corey Koskie and Denny Hocking and former player Kirby Puckett were honored at a luncheon held by the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 18. That day, as proclaimed by Gov. Jesse Ventura, was named Kirby Puckett Hall of Fame Day.

 Track star Jones cancels appearance

Olympic track champion Marion Jones canceled an appearance at the College of St. Catherine scheduled for Sept. 23. She was to speak as part of a Women of Substance series at the school. Reportedly, Jones was reluctant to travel following terrorist attacks on the East Coast last month.

  UM loses Baylor, adds Murray State

The University of Minnesota’s football game against Baylor could not be rescheduled for this season, so the teams will meet in 2004. Instead, the Gophers will play Murray State on Oct. 27 at the Metrodome. Tickets for the Baylor game will be honored for the Murray State game.


 Preds air radio program from Hilton

The Nashville Predators have introduced “Predators Prime Time at the Hilton Suites,” a radio show broadcast from the downtown Nashville hotel. The show debuted Sept. 19 with a two-hour broadcast featuring goaltender and U.S. Olympian Mike Dunham. It will air every Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. on WTN 99.7 FM and be hosted by play-by-play broadcaster Pete Weber and Terry Crisp, color commentator and a three-time Stanley Cup winner. The format includes player interviews, listener call-ins, NHL news and previews of upcoming games.


 Area lines up tae kwon do events

The Central Florida Sports Commission landed two amateur events that could bring up to $13 million in economic impact to the area. The area will host the 2002 USA Tae Kwon Do Open Championship and the 2003 USA Tae Kwon Do Junior Olympic Championships. The events are expected to bring in a combined 7,000 competitors and 12,000 spectators. It will be the third time the area has hosted the junior championships.


 ‘Friday Night Fights’ hits city

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard is teaming up with Comcast-Spectacor to bring his “Friday Night Fights” program to the First Union Center in south Philadelphia this Friday. The fight card will feature a title bout for the North American Boxing Federation super middleweight championship between Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer and leading contender Fernando Zuniga. The event is being produced by Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Inc., a boxing promotion company established by Leonard. The fights will be shown live on ESPN2.

  Dr. Ruth pumps up 76ers’ ticket sales

Dr. Ruth Westheimer will be featured in a commercial recently shot by the Philadelphia 76ers. She will be featured in an advertisement promoting group ticket sales. The commercial will include West-heimer delivering the line, “I’ve always believed it’s more fun in groups.”


 Team’s Web content going wireless

The NHL Carolina Hurricanes are licensing software from San Jose-based OceanLake Commerce Inc. to convert content from the team’s Web site and deliver it to cell phones, PDAs, smart phones and other wireless equipment. Howard Sadel, the Hurricanes’ director of new media, declined to give financial details of the deal. The new service, slated for launch this week, will transmit scores, game stories, news and features, and some images to wireless devices. Audio clips could be available as early as January.


 ECHL approves sale of Express

The East Coast Hockey League Board of Governors approved the sale of the Roanoke Express to Mike Lonchar, Ashby Coleman and Chris Pollock, according to The Roanoke Times. Lonchar received word Sept. 20 from ECHL President Rick Adams that the sale had gone through.


 Gwynn takes college coaching job

San Diego State University made it official on Sept. 20, naming Padres future Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn its new baseball coach effective June 1. The three-year contract will pay Gwynn a $100,000 annual base salary, or half the big-league minimum. Gwynn, who will play his final major league game Sunday in a sold-out Qualcomm Stadium, will serve as an unpaid assistant under current coach Jim Dietz through the 2001-02 season.


 Giants fill vacant space with Monster

With the San Francisco Giants chasing a division title and slugger Barry Bonds pursuing a new single-season home run mark, the team sold space on the right-centerfield wall — vacant all season — to a stadium advertising firm for the Disney movie “Monsters Inc.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

 Giants cancel Thomson celebration

The Giants’ celebration of Bobby Thomson’s 1951 pennant-winning home run, originally set for Sept. 16, has been pushed back to next year, the Giants said. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the resulting changes to the Major League Baseball schedule brought on the switch, Giants officials said. Delta Air Lines was to sponsor the event but likely would have pulled out because of airlines’ self-imposed advertising hiatus since Sept. 11.


 CyberRays will return to Spartan Stadium

The Bay Area CyberRays have exercised an option to return to Spartan Stadium in San Jose for 2002. The team averaged 7,592 for 10 games in 2001. The team also will receive the “Exceptional Achievement” award from the San Jose Sports Authority at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner Nov. 7.


 Goalie Weekes scores another TV gig

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Kevin Weekes is becoming quite the TV star off the ice. Weekes appeared as a guest on “Nickelodeon Games and Sports Network” on Sept. 25, taping the segment five days earlier at Nickelodeon’s studios in Orlando. He previously appeared this year on three ABC programs, “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and “The View.”


 Hockey magazines on the block

GTC Transcontinental Group Ltd. has put The Hockey News and Hockey Business News up for sale. In an internal memo, the company told employees it wants to focus its efforts on trade and consumer magazines. The Hockey News, founded in 1947 and based in Toronto, is one of North America’s longest-running sports publications.

 Canceled Germany trip costs Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were left with a hole in their preseason schedule after the NBA canceled their trip to Germany over security concerns. Raptors President Richard Peddie said he agreed with the NBA’s decision even though the Raptors stand to lose a participation fee reported to be in excess of $100,000.

 Blue Jays elevate retiring Fernandez

The Toronto Blue Jays added Tony Fernandez to the team’s Level of Excellence display at SkyDome. Fernandez, in his fourth stint as a Blue Jay and set to retire following the season, is the club’s career leader in hits, doubles, triples, at-bats and games played. His name and number join Joe Carter, George Bell, Dave Steib, Cito Gaston and honorary member Jackie Robinson along the outfield wall.


 Redskins broadcasts going Spanish

The Washington Redskins and Silver Spring, Md.-based MEGA Communications formed a partnership to provide live Spanish-speaking coverage of all Redskins games this season. MEGA stations WBZS-FM (92.7) and WBPS-FM (94.3) will broadcast the games in Washington. The broadcasts will be originated by MEGA, and beginning with the 2002 season, the Redskins Broadcast Network will control syndication to other stations seeking to broadcast the games in Spanish.

 Capitals roll out bobblehead dolls

The Washington Capitals will include a bobblehead doll as part of their 2001-02 fan giveaway lineup. All fans in attendance Nov. 8 will receive a Chris Simon doll. In addition to the Simon doll, a Jaromir Jagr doll will be released Nov. 21, a Peter Bondra doll will be released Jan. 11 and Olie Kolzig’s doll will hit the public Feb. 26. Each will be available exclusively at the Capitals’ merchandise stands in the MCI Center during games.

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