SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2001/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

 PGA brings in more than $50 million

The PGA Championship held in Duluth, Ga., in August had a statewide economic impact of $50.4 million, according to the Atlanta Sports Council. "This event was a 400-yard drive for Atlanta. It just blew away all expectations," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Sports Council president. The council estimates that metro Atlanta alone benefited to the tune of $46.9 million. The economic impact formula used to estimate money brought in by events was developed by the council, McKinsey & Co. and Georgia State University economics professor Bruce Seaman.

 Peach Bowl officials add event

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic for Kids men's basketball tournament, featuring Mississippi State vs. Georgia State and Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech, will be played Dec. 16. The games benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Camp Twin Lakes. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will once again include the Georgia/Florida All-Star Football Game. The game will be played Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. The Peach Bowl will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.

BUFFALO

 Empire airs induction ceremonies

Empire Sports Network recently broadcast Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Syracuse and Buffalo. Ceremonies in Syracuse were held on Oct. 22, with seven people inducted, while the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame inducted 11 members last Wednesday. Radio station WNSA 107.7 carried coverage of the Buffalo ceremonies.

CHARLOTTE

 Checkers may leave with Hornets

Former Charlotte Checkers minority owner Carl Scheer, now the owner of a Greenville, S.C., East Coast Hockey League team, says Charlotte will have little trouble landing a franchise if the Checkers leave. Ray Wooldridge and George Shinn, co-owners of the Checkers as well as the NBA Hornets, last week shortened the Checkers' lease to one year from five years in anticipation of relocating the Hornets. If the Hornets move, Wooldridge and Shinn want to bring the ECHL franchise along. Scheer, a member of the ECHL's board of governors, says he'd like to help replace the Checkers if they leave. "Charlotte will not go without hockey," he said. "Hockey in Charlotte is alive and well, and will continue to be."

CINCINNATI

 Concrete crumbling at new stadium

Paul Brown Stadium, just a year after opening, is already beginning to show signs of wear. The surface of the stadium’s concrete plaza is starting to crumble, and Hamilton County officials and the construction company that built the plaza disagree about who is to blame. The top layer of many areas of the plaza has started to come apart — it’s unclear how much it will cost to fix the problem. County officials blame the construction company, Turner Barton Malow D.A.G., but that firm says the county’s use of deicing salts and chemicals is to blame.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Southwest Expo gets PRCA sanction

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will sanction the 2002 edition of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show Rodeo after all, resolving a squabble that threatened to remove the group's brand from the event for the first time in nearly 64 years. As part of the settlement, the rodeo will use portable chutes for steer wrestling and calf roping, though their positions in the arena will be marked to avoid giving certain cowboys an advantage. The PRCA had originally demanded that the Southwestern rodeo install permanent chutes, which the show had resisted doing because they would inhibit chuck-wagon races and force the removal of some box seats.

 Blockbuster to handle Pro Bowl voting

The Blockbuster video chain is sponsoring fan voting for the 2002 Pro Bowl in conjunction with DirecTV. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite NFL players at kiosks in Dallas-based Blockbuster stores, while DirecTV will award 10 trips to the game in Hawaii as part of a contest for people who buy satellite-television systems at Blockbuster.

 Cotton Bowl, Fox re-up through 2006

Fox Sports and the SBC Cotton Bowl Classic have agreed to extend their partnership through Jan. 1, 2006.

DENVER

 McGregor to lead Rockies

A standout football player is now in charge of Denver's Major League Baseball team. Keli McGregor, who previously played football for the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks and who was inducted into Colorado State University's Hall of Fame, is the new president of the Colorado Rockies. He succeeds Jerry McMorris, an owner of the Rockies, who will remain chairman. McGregor, 39, has been with the Rockies for eight years, the last four as executive vice president for business operations.

 City selling Mile High turf

The city of Denver planned to offer turf from Mile High Stadium for sale last weekend. Police and fire relief funds in New York will receive the proceeds. The turf was to be sold in rolls measuring 6 feet long and 18 inches wide for $10 apiece. The stadium is scheduled to be torn down next year.

 Cheerleaders wear Spyder attire

Denver Broncos cheerleaders will keep warm this season wearing ski attire made by Boulder-based Spyder Active Sports Inc. The white fur-lined jackets and white pants will be worn when temperatures drop below freezing. The financial terms of the deal weren't released.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

 Largest crowd at Lockhart

A crowd of 11,242, was the largest weeknight crowd ever at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium for the Miami Fusion. The fans attended Game 3 of the MLS semifinals against the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 17.

HOUSTON

 Big 12 heads for Reliant in 2002

The 2002 Big 12 Conference football championship game will be held in Reliant Stadium on Dec. 7, 2002, just months after the stadium is opened for the first season of Houston Texans football. This marks the first time the championship game will be played in Houston.

 Resignations create key job openings

“Help Wanted” signs are now appropriate for the Houston Astros and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. Astros manager Larry Dierker stepped aside on Oct. 18, after the team failed to move past the first round of the playoffs. And Doug Baker, the executive director of the sports authority, is leaving his position in mid-November.

INDIANAPOLIS

 Former IMS exec relaunches race centers

Former Indianapolis Motor Speedway marketing executive Bill Donaldson has formed a new company, Perfect Line LLC, bought the assets of Campbell, Calif.-based Silicon Entertainment and is relaunching NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway nationwide. Donaldson has already reopened nine race centers, which feature NASCAR race car simulators open to the public. He is laying the foundation to open four more stores by year’s end, then open four more stores over the next two years before taking the company public.

 IU lets Knight’s Red Raiders out of contract

Indiana University has let Texas Tech University out of a contract that would have brought the Red Raiders men’s basketball team to Bloomington in December 2002. Texas Tech’s men’s basketball team is coached by Bob Knight, who coached at IU before being fired in September 2000. Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said he called IU officials and asked that his university be let out of the third and final year of the contract.

 BSU fears it could lose Division I-A status

Ball State University officials in Muncie, Ind., are worried that if the NCAA enforces tougher standards for football-playing schools, it could get bumped from Division I-A. The NCAA Management Council is considering imposing standards that would require minimum attendance standards and require teams to host five Division I-A opponents each season. Dick Falls, Ball State’s associate athletic director, said that may be a problem for his school and others in the Mid-American Conference. Falls said it’s difficult to get Division I-A schools to come to Muncie.

 Mo Nunn to field teams in CART and IRL

Indianapolis-based Mo Nunn Racing, a regular in Championship Auto Racing Teams the past two seasons, will field an Indy Racing League team in 2002, team officials announced. The team will have driver Felipe Giaffone with Hollywood cigarettes as a sponsor. Giaffone was the IRL’s Rookie of the Year this past season with Treadway-Hubbard Racing.

JACKSONVILLE

 Duval signs memorabilia deal

PGA Tour pro and British Open Champion David Duval recently signed a long-term deal with Pro Tour Memorabilia, an officially licensed collectible and memorabilia company of the PGA Tour. Officials wouldn’t give the contract’s value. The David Duval collection initially will include autographed photos, golf balls and club heads along with reproduced scorecards from the 2001 British Open. Pro Tour Memorabilia plans to offer limited edition signed and numbered British Open items soon.

 Trading cards to reward students

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, Gordon Bass of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Doug Page of the Jacksonville Zoo recently introduced a new 10-week trading card program designed to reward students in Duval County Schools. Cards feature action photos of Jaguars players on one side with a zoo animal photo and information on the other. Jacksonville sheriff’s officers will give trading cards to local kindergarten and middle school students for good grades and conduct, community service, special achievements and participation in a school safety program.

KANSAS CITY

 Royals end general admission

The Kansas City Royals eliminated general-admission seating for next season, marking the first time in the team’s history that all seats will be reserved. The former GA seats, priced at $7, now cost $10 for individual tickets and $8 apiece in season packages. Tickets in the upper-deck corners of Kauffman Stadium drop to $5 from $11.

 Big 12 back in town in 2003

The 2003 Big 12 football championship will be played Dec. 6 at Arrowhead Stadium. Last year’s title game in Kansas City contributed an estimated $25 million to $30 million to the economy.

 ABA Knights return Dec. 26

The Kansas City Knights will return for the ABA’s second season, which begins Dec. 26. The team will play a 42-game schedule in a league made up of seven teams in one division. Head coach Kevin Pritchard adds the title of general manager.

 Royals eye new color scheme

The Kansas City Royals expect to introduce a new color scheme in January for some of their uniform designs. The team could add black accents to appeal to young fans but will retain its traditional blue and white combinations.

MIAMI

 Wizards give Fox ratings bounce

Fox Sports Net said local ratings on its regional networks jumped an average of 40 to 60 percent from FSN’s 2.3 NBA average when teams play the Wizards. For the Miami Heat, which hosted the Wizards in the preseason, weak ticket sales were given a boost by Jordan’s pending performance — an appearance team marketers capitalized on in local radio campaigns.

 Heat gets spooky, but no masks

The Miami Heat said it will celebrate the start of the 2001-02 Heat season during opening night on Halloween. In addition to the game against the Toronto Raptors, the Heat is offering an evening of spooky activities for the whole family to enjoy as a fun and safe trick-or-treating alternative that includes bounce houses and face painting for kids, a live DJ and appearances by Burnie, the Heat mascot, Heat Dancers and the Heat’s high-flying acrobatic Xtreme Team. The team said masks will not be allowed into the arena.

 Marlboro likes IRL prospects

CART team sponsor Marlboro has an interest in IRL events at Homestead-Miami Speedway as well as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to a report on ESPN2. Marlboro will come to the IRL via CART team owner Roger Penske, according to the network report.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Men’s hockey may face probe

The University of Minnesota could be facing another round of investigations surrounding possible rules violations, this time with the men’s hockey team, according to the Web site United States College Hockey Online. Former Gophers coach Glen Sonmor and former player Lou Nanne recently visited a prospect who had committed to the University of North Dakota, despite Gophers coach Don Lucia asking them not to, according to a story posted to the site. The site said Lucia then contacted the university’s compliance office. NCAA rules forbid representatives of a school from making visits with prospects or their relatives. The father of the recruit in question is a longtime friend of both Nanne and Sonmor, creating a gray area. NCAA rules allow visits made by “established family friends” if not for recruiting purposes and if not initiated by the school’s coaching staff, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

 Canterbury makes Forbes list

Shakopee, Minn.-based Canterbury Park Holding Corp., the parent company of Canterbury Park Racetrack and Card Club, made the Forbes magazine “200 Best Small Companies in America” list. Canterbury, one of eight Minnesota companies to make the list, ranked 88th on the list, which takes into consideration factors such as sales, profits and return on equity. The company’s earnings per share over the last 12 months ranked second on the list.

 NHL, team air first ‘Call of the Wild’

The National Hockey League, the Minnesota Wild and AT&T Broadband aired their first “Call of the Wild” television show on ESPN2 Oct. 20. The show will air locally and will feature Wild player interviews, highlight upcoming events and provide NHL community, team and alumni updates.

 Timberwolves use cardiac profiler

The Minnesota Timberwolves became the first professional sports organization to use St. Paul-based Hypertension Diagnostics Inc.’s CVProfiler DO-2020 CardioVascular Profiling System as part of its physical examinations.

OAKLAND

 Raiders win a round in court

The Oakland Raiders scored a victory in court over the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the board overseeing Network Associates Coliseum with a judge’s order granting the football team $84,000 in sanctions. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Joe Gray said that coliseum authorities are to grant the Raiders full access to all non-privileged documents relating to the contract that returned the team to Oakland in 1995, according to the legal newspaper The Daily Journal.

ORLANDO

 Knights to join Mid-American

The University of Central Florida finally has a conference for its football team. The Golden Knights, which have played as an independent since moving to Division I-A in 1996, accepted a tentative offer to join the Mid-American Conference starting next season.

PHILADELPHIA

 Report faults city on turf contract

Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan A. Saidel issued a report criticizing city officials for not giving rival bidders a chance last year to bid on a project to replace the artificial turf at Veterans Stadium. Back in August, the Eagles canceled a preseason football game because of poor playing conditions blamed on problems converting the stadium’s new NeXturf surface from baseball to football. Southwest Recreational Industries Inc. was hired by the city for $1.8 million last year to manufacture and install the NeXturf product at the Vet. In his report, Saidel criticized the city’s decision to pay the Philadelphia-based design firm of Ewing Cole Cherry Brott $30,000 in 2000 to evaluate competing turf products because the company has a “long history” with Southwest.

PITTSBURGH

 Steelers, Pirates need development plan

The Steelers and the Pirates have until May 31 to come up with a plan to develop the land between PNC Park and Heinz Field. The Sports & Exhibition Authority, the agency that owns both stadiums, said it wants to see construction begin by July 31, 2003. To encourage development, the city’s stadium authority agreed to sell the land to the Pirates and Steelers.

 Street between parks named for Dorsett

Pittsburgh’s Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns Heinz Field and PNC Park, agreed to rename one of the streets that runs between the two stadiums Dorsett Drive in honor of Tony Dorsett, the four-time All-America running back at the University of Pittsburgh.

SACRAMENTO

 Service provides one-stop golf reservations

With help from the golf and hospitality industries, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched Golf Sacramento Inc., a one-stop reservation system for hotel reservations and golf tee times at 14 area courses. The service also provides information about regional attractions and driving distances.

SAN DIEGO

 New deadline extension expected

The San Diego City Council is expected to approve another extension of the deadline to implement the voter-approved deal between the Padres and the city to build the downtown ballpark. The matter is expected to be on the council’s agenda at its Tuesday meeting. In November 1998, nearly 60 percent of San Diego voters approved what is known as the memorandum of understanding, which has been extended four times since its original expiration date of March 2000, mainly due to legal challenges to the project. Mayor Dick Murphy told the San Diego Union-Tribune he remains hopeful that a bond package to finance the city’s share of the ballpark can be presented to the council sometime in November.

SAN FRANCISCO

 Giants announcers expected to return

The San Francisco Giants’ four main broadcasters — Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, Jon Miller and Ted Robinson — don’t have contracts for next season, but they are expected to return, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Negotiations should be completed by the middle of November, Giants executive vice president Larry Baer told the newspaper.

SAN JOSE

 Proposal could be costly for school

An NCAA proposal that Division I-A teams play at least five home games each season could cost San Jose State $1 million annually, said school Athletic Director Chuck Bell. San Jose State regularly plays eight road games and four home games because of low home attendance and the ability to earn large paydays playing major college teams on the road. San Jose State already is facing a $1.5 million deficit this year in its $11 million athletic budget.

ST. LOUIS

 Firm to sell Georgia golf course

St. Louis-based Sports & Fitness Management Corp. is selling its 18-hole golf course in Macon, Ga., for $1.5 million. The sale is expected to close by Nov. 15. The company has received an offer from a Macon developer, said Mark Beckham, president of Sports & Fitness. Sports & Fitness plans to concentrate on more profitable parts of its business, including its 2-year-old horse arena, America’s Exposition Park in Lake St. Louis.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Weather creates slippery court

The Orlando Magic ran into an unexpected physics lesson during its Oct. 21 preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Ice Palace. Condensation on the court forced both coaches to pull their starters from the game late in the first quarter. Ice Palace officials attributed the problem to a combination of warm outside air coming in with the fans and mixing with the chill from the Lightning’s ice below the basketball floor. Additional air conditioning solved the problem.

 St. Pete drops Trojans name

St. Petersburg College has changed its nickname to the Titans, abandoning the Trojans name it has held since the 1930s. Officials said the new name better reflects men’s and women’s sports at the college, which became a four-year school earlier this year. Other sources suggest the change was prompted to halt wisecracks about Trojan condoms.

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