SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Coast To Coast

COAST TO COAST

BUFFALO

 Empire carries A-League title tilt

Empire Sports Network broadcast the championship soccer game of the A-League between the Rochester Rhinos and Hershey (Pa.) Wildcats from Rochester's Frontier Field. Fox Sports World produced the broadcast on Empire, which is available to more than 5 million TV households via cable and satellite systems.

CHARLOTTE

 Jay Howard Events expands

Jay Howard Events has expanded its staff, adding Michael Verlatti, Danny Allison and Lynne Gobbo. Verlatti is an event producer, Allison is an event coordinator and Gobbo is an administrative assistant. Jay Howard Events specializes in entertainment before and after NASCAR races.

 Town plans Earnhardt memorial

The town of Kannapolis, N.C., plans a $700,000 memorial for Dale Earnhardt, the native NASCAR star killed at the Daytona 500 in February. Sports artist Sam Bass will design a commemorative wall, and an Arizona sculptor has been selected to create an Earnhardt statue. Kannapolis officials hope to pay for the memorial through fan donations (City of Kannapolis, c/o the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Fund, P.O. Box 1199, Kannapolis NC 28082-1199).

CINCINNATI

 Bengals game sets city record

A crowd of 64,217 at the Bengals-Browns game on Oct. 14 set a Cincinnati record for attendance at a sporting event. It bettered the 64,006 attendance at the stadium opener, also against the Browns, in 2000.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Rodeo likely to lose PRCA sanction

The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show Rodeo will evidently lose its sanction from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2002, because the Fort Worth event’s organizers have declined to make changes to their arena demanded by the PRCA. The PRCA wants the rodeo to install permanent chutes for calf roping and steer wrestling, though the event’s organizers told the Dallas Morning News that this would inhibit the popular chuck-wagon races and would displace some box seats. Southwestern Expo officials now plan to hold an invitation-only rodeo with cowboys from various organizations, including the PRCA.

 Controversy over referendum

A controversy has erupted over the necessity of a forthcoming Nov. 6 referendum by Dallas voters on approving a $100 million trust fund to cover potential financial shortfalls from hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The Dallas City Council approved the referendum this summer after officials of Dallas 2012, the group leading the region’s bid, claimed they had been told by U.S. Olympic Committee officials that public money was necessary to cover shortfalls. But USOC officials told The Dallas Morning News that private guarantees, such as insurance, would be sufficient. If approved, the trust fund would include $86 million in sales tax revenue from the state and a capped contribution from Dallas of $14 million. Dallas 2012 has said it will provide other private guarantees.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.

 Team to honor fans touched by cancer

One of the top teams in the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series will sport a new paint scheme at the Grand-Am Finale Nov. 1-3. Motorsports Technologies in Deland, Fla., has teamed with the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute to honor race fans whose lives have been touched by cancer. They will display the institute's name and logo on the hood of four race cars during the Nov. 2 four-hour race at Daytona International Speedway.

DENVER

 New Broncos mascot — Miles

The new costumed mascot of the Denver Broncos has a name. More than 7,000 fans chimed in with suggestions before the Broncos settled on the name Miles. The mascot, a horse, will be featured at all Broncos home games.

 Broncs settle lobbyist lawsuit

The Denver Broncos settled a lawsuit involving the former lobbyist for the team. Porter Wharton had demanded $4 million from the team for his role in helping lobby for the new stadium. Terms of the settlement weren’t released.

 Avalanche players get title rings

Members of the Colorado Avalanche are sporting new jewelry. Team members received their Stanley Cup championship rings, which are made of 14-carat white gold. An Avalanche logo atop the ring is made of rubies and diamonds. One side shows the Stanley Cup in the Colorado mountains.

 City can use skybox if it pays

The city of Denver can use a skybox at Invesco Field at Mile High if the city pays the full price for the box. That’s according to a ruling by the Denver Board of Ethics. The city requested the opinion after the mayor offered to swap a box, worth $85,000 a year, in exchange for the Mile High trademark. That deal has since been scuttled.

HOUSTON

 Astros score well on Nielsens

They couldn't make it past the first round of the playoffs, but the National League Central champion Houston Astros did score well on cable TV this season. The Astros had their best-ever Nielsen-rated season on Fox Sports Net with a 4.9 average household rating in Houston. One ratings point in Houston represents 17,474 households. The 2001 stat is a 17 percent increase over last year's 4.2 final rating, and 7 percent better than the 4.6 in 1998, which was the previous high. Home run king Barry Bonds helped the team post its all-time single game record on FSN with a 9.1 rating on Oct. 2 when the Astros took on the San Francisco Giants at Enron Field.

 Rockets-Wizards game sells out in 3 minutes

All the individual game tickets to the Dec. 6 game between the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards with Michael Jordan sold out in three minutes when they went on sale Oct. 6. It was the only Rockets game of the 2001-02 season that has sold out. Some season tickets are still available.

INDIANAPOLIS

 Forsythe threatens CART with lawsuit

Jerry Forsythe, owner of an Indianapolis-based CART team, is threatening a lawsuit against CART for its proposed engine specifications change in 2003. Forsythe, who fielded three cars this season, said the franchise board overstepped its bounds. Because CART is a publicly traded company, it must respond to the wishes to its shareholders, Forsythe said. He contends only the corporate board of directors can approve major policy decisions. Forsythe said CART leaders are making a major mistake by adopting an engine formula too similar to that of the Indy Racing League.

 Firms help Dr. J launch NASCAR team

The Milhous Group and St. Claire Cisco Group, both based in Indianapolis, signed a deal with former basketball great Julius Erving and retired football star Joe Washington to help raise money to launch WEM Motorsports on stock car racing's most prestigious and expensive circuit. Milhous and St. Claire have been charged with finding sponsors willing to ante up $10 million to $20 million needed to launch the team. The two firms, which have worked together previously, will partner to handle marketing, media and sponsor relations, ad creation and placement, promotions and event planning. Washington and Erving got their start in motorsports in 1998, when they formed a team for the Winston Cup feeder Busch Series. They idled that effort this year to focus on revving for a run at the Winston Cup series in 2002.

JACKSONVILLE

   Super Bowl committee hunts new CEO

The Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee is searching for a new leader. CEO Mike Weinstein recently announced he will step down early next year to focus on his mayoral campaign. Super Bowl XXXIX will be played at Alltel Stadium in February 2005. Agency of record for the committee is the Dalton Agency, creator of Jacksonville’s bid campaign, which helped the city land hosting rights last year.

  Jaguars reading program goes online

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently debuted an online version of their Playbooks reading program. Designed to encourage children’s interest in reading, the program began as a compilation of books recommended by Jaguars players, cheerleaders and senior staff. For the past several years, Playbooks were in booklet form available in Duval, Clay and St. Johns county libraries. The Playbooks Web site will include games, book review contests, tips for parents and links to other reading Web sites.

KANSAS CITY

 NAIA booked for next four years

The NAIA’s next four annual conventions and next outdoor track-and-field championships will take place in the Kansas City area. The first event will be a convention during the NAIA’s 2002 Division I basketball tournament in March. The convention replaces the NAIA’s 2001 convention, planned for St. Louis in September, which was canceled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Another convention will take place later next year. The track championship is scheduled for May 23-25. The NAIA’s headquarters moved this summer to the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, Kan., from Tulsa, Okla.

 New Indy series may debut at speedway

The Indy Racing League’s new Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series could debut next year at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Brian Barnhart, the IRL’s vice president of operations, said he hopes to launch the series midway through the 2002 season. “If we could run the first race at Kansas next year, it would be ideal,” Barnhart told The Kansas City Star. The series will serve as a training ground for young open-wheel drivers. The IRL weekend at Kansas Speedway in 2002 is scheduled for July 6-7.

 NBA exhibition draws 7,113 fans

An NBA exhibition game Oct. 13 at Kemper Arena drew 7,113 to watch the Houston Rockets beat the Detroit Pistons.

MARYSVILLE, CALIF.

 City to operate baseball team

The city of Marysville has decided to operate its own baseball team instead of hiring the management of the Valley Vipers of the Western Baseball League, which used to play in Scottsdale, Ariz. Marysville, in Yuba County north of Sacramento, previously indicated that it would entertain a proposal by Jim Goldsmith, owner of the Vipers, to move the team to play at the city’s Bryant Field for the 2002 season. The city owes more than $600,000 for stadium bleachers it co-signed for with the Feather River Mudcats, a Western Baseball League franchise that filed for bankruptcy protection last year after playing one season in Marysville. The city has an improved park but no team to play. Neither the Vipers nor the Mudcats played this season, but both are still licensed franchises.

MIAMI

 Heat turns up security at arena

The Miami Heat has increased security measures that will be implemented for all games at AmericanAirlines Arena during the 2001-02 season. The team announced certain restrictions, such as no backpacks or carrying cases, no re-entry and a search of cars in the garage, but said most security initiatives will remain confidential.

 Speedway holds ‘Select-A-Seat Day’

Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted its annual NASCAR Winston Cup Open House and “Select-A-Seat Day” Oct. 14. Fans were asked to reserve the best available seat for the NASCAR Winston Cup weekend, Nov. 9-11.

 Station switches to all sports

WINZ-AM in Miami switched to an all-sports format last week from a general talk lineup. Executives at the station said it will not pursue rights to the Florida Marlins or Florida Panthers and will withdraw its offer for the Miami Dolphins. WINZ said it will make a profit with low-budget Fox Sports Radio programming 23 hours a day and Phil Latzman from 6 to 7 p.m. Fox Sports Radio is carried by 135 stations.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Kelly may get own bobblehead

Tom Kelly, who recently stepped down as manager of the Minnesota Twins, will likely be honored next year with a bobblehead doll in his likeness, say Twins officials.

 Xcel changes admittance rules

Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, home of the Minnesota Wild, has changed its admittance policy to protect patrons and employees. Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center vice president of operations, said patrons’ bags can be searched and anyone refusing to allow a search will not be given access to the arena for safety reasons. Among items not allowed in the arena are outside food or drink, weapons, items that could cause harm or annoyance, laser pointers, audio or video recorders. Cameras, at the instruction of event promoters, also can be outlawed.

NASHVILLE

 Predators offer youth helmets

The Nashville Predators once again partnered with Baptist Sports Medicine, a division of Baptist Hospital, to offer youth helmets last Saturday. The safety promotion gave a youth helmet to the first 4,000 children, 12 and younger, through the gates at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

 Sounds lose Hendersonville option

The Nashville Sounds have one less option for a new home as Hendersonville and Sumner County have yanked their proposal for a new facility. Negotiators for Sounds Good, the organization formed to craft a proposal that would be palatable to the team, say their efforts hinged on the Sounds agreeing to exclusive negotiations, something the team wouldn’t do. “We wanted exclusive negotiation rights for 90 days, and they said they didn’t feel like we were close enough for them to do that,” said John Pennington, executive director of the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the committee. The Sounds organization is continuing to talk with Williamson County officials, who have cobbled together a preliminary proposal but are short on fiscal details of a new stadium’s financing. Time is running out for the team, said Glenn Yaeger, chief financial officer of Chicago-based AmeriSports Cos., which owns the Sounds. “We want to be in a new stadium by April 2004, and we didn’t view [exclusive negotiations] as the best way to get to that conclusion,” Yaeger said. A deal has to be completed by year’s end for the Sounds to meet their stated deadline for a new facility, Yaeger said.

OAKLAND

 Steinbrenner nails A’s drummers

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner silenced the Oakland A’s outfield bleacher drummers during the Yankees’ weekend playoff games in Oakland, invoking a major league rule against in-house noise. The drummers, ages 19 to 25, would be exempt from the rule except that the A’s featured them in a TV ad campaign and compensated them with the bleacher seats. In effect, that meant the drummers are A’s-sponsored entertainment. “Yankees fans have told us the drums are cool,” drummer Ben Rosenberg told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We told them what Steinbrenner said. They said: ‘Don’t listen to him, man. That’ll only mess you up.’”

ORLANDO

 Magic works on broadcast deals

The Orlando Magic has finished broadcasting deals for this season. First, the team extended its deal with its flagship Hispanic radio station AM 1440 WPRD. The contract, which started in 1998, was extended for two years and will include broadcasts on two sister stations in Daytona Beach and Kissimmee. Included in the deal is the broadcast of a Spanish version of “Inside the Magic,” a weekly program hosted by the Spanish voices of the Magic. The second broadcast deal came with WRBW-TV UPN 65, which carries the Magic’s away games. The station will allow people to watch games in Spanish, if they have an SAP-enabled television. The station will use the broadcast from the Spanish radio station. In addition, the UPN affiliate will be the home of “Orlando Magic FastBreak,” a new 30-minute television show.

 Logo, shirts to aid disaster fund

The Magic has come up with a new logo to aid disaster relief. The logo, which features patriotic symbols, will be placed on T-shirts available at games for $10. All proceeds will go directly to the Orlando Magic Disaster Relief Fund. Shirts will be featured on television broadcasts and in team communications.

OTTAWA

 City lands CFL franchise, Grey Cup

A Canadian Football League expansion franchise has been granted to a group led by Brad Watters to begin play in Ottawa for the 2002 season. The CFL board of governors approved the new ownership and its business plan. The group of investors has previously launched and operated several franchises in the National Lacrosse League. The CFL also chose Ottawa as host for the 2004 Grey Cup, marking the sixth time the city has hosted the Grey Cup event, starting in 1925.

PHILADELPHIA

 Figueroa visits White House

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Nelson Figueroa was a guest of President George W. Bush earlier this month at the White House. Figueroa was part of a group that met with the president for a celebration of “National Hispanic Heritage Month.” He presented Bush with a Phillies jersey adorned with an American flag, the president’s name and the number “01” on the back.

PITTSBURGH

 Pirates raise ticket prices

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who recently concluded a 100-loss season, are raising ticket prices. Prices for infield boxes, baseline seats, as well as left and right field seating will increase from $1 to $2 a ticket. Prices for dugout boxes — $35 a ticket — will remain the same and some prices will drop. Overall, however, the average price of a ticket at PNC Park will jump from $19.24 this year to $20.51 for the 2002 season.

SAN DIEGO

 Dunlop countersues Callaway

While Carlsbad, Calif.-based Callaway Golf Co. has reached a settlement in a patent dispute with Bridgestone Sports Co., it has been countersued by Dunlop Slazenger Group Americas in a continuing dispute over who stole whose recipe for making a better golf ball. Callaway has agreed to license some of the patents held by Bridgestone, the maker of Precept brand golf balls. Callaway will be allowed to use a number of Japan-based Bridgestone’s patents for three-piece golf balls. Bridgestone filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta against Callaway in July 2000 claiming that Callaway’s new Rule 35 ball infringed on several Bridgestone patents. Callaway filed a countersuit in September. Dunlop Slazenger Group Americas countersued Callaway on Oct. 15, 12 days after Callaway sued Dunlop, alleging the makers of the Maxfli A-10 golf ball infringed on Callaway’s technology patent for its Rule 35 ball. In its countersuit, Greenville, S.C.-based Dunlop claims Callaway is using Dunlop techniques and secret recipes developed over more than a century to make Callaway golf balls.

SAN FRANCISCO

 Cal turns to Oregon to fill seats

The University of California-Berkeley looked north to fill seats for its Oct. 13 home game against the University of Oregon Ducks. Cal’s sports marketing and promotions department bought airtime on a Portland sports station Oct. 8-10 to promote its “Duck Special,” a ticket for the game and a lower room rate at the Walnut Creek Marriott. Although specific numbers weren’t immediately available, response was strong, said David Kaufer, Cal’s director of marketing and promotions. “Oregon’s stadium is totally sold out,” Kaufer said. “We’ve got the capacity here.” Cal averaged about 35,500 fans for its first three home games at Memorial Stadium, capacity 75,028. Attendance at the Oregon game was 34,552.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Air Force gets Lightning deal

The Tampa Bay Lightning is offering free and discounted tickets to MacDill Air Force Base personnel and their families. Anyone with a Defense Department military identification card will receive a free upper-level ticket or a half-price seat in the club or lower levels. The offer is also available to other active members of the military in the Tampa Bay area.

 Preseason game draws 17,392

An announced crowd of 17,392 attended an NBA preseason game between the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic at the Ice Palace arena in Tampa on Oct. 14. The game is one of two NBA matches played in Tampa this year, with the Magic’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers last Sunday having been moved from Mexico City due to national security concerns. The Magic held its training camp at the University of South Florida this season.

TORONTO

 Leafs affiliate with Memphis CHL team

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed an affiliation agreement with the Memphis RiverKings of the Central Hockey League. Memphis is coached by former Leaf Doug Shedden.

 Argos, university have Lamport plan

The Toronto Argonauts and the University of Toronto have put together a joint development plan for Lamport Stadium in the city’s west end. According to reports, the two groups will submit a lease-and-renovate proposal to the city that would include major expansions and upgrades on the 10,000-seat stadium. The Argonauts have two years left on their lease at the SkyDome but are looking for ways to boost attendance, including possibly moving to an outdoor stadium such as Lamport.

WASHINGTON

 Capitals sell out 3 games already

The Washington Capitals have jumped out to a healthy start selling tickets for the 2001-02 NHL season. The team has already sold out three games — the Oct. 6 season opener against New Jersey and Dec. 11 and 22 games against Pittsburgh. There are five games with fewer than 1,500 tickets available, including two in October. Last season the team did not reach a sellout until Jan. 30. Season-ticket sales are now at 11,600 — just short of the team’s goal of 12,000. Declan Bolger, senior vice president of business operations, said the team should hit its goal by the end of the year. Even though the Capitals ticket sales were already increasing, the addition of Jaromir Jagr has added extra punch to the team’s sales efforts.

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