SBJ/November 12 - 18, 2001/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

 Chick-fil-A renews bowl sponsorship

Chick-fil-A Inc. has renewed its title sponsorship agreement for the Peach Bowl. The company also signed a contract to help pay for "More Than A Game" events. Those events include the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic for Kids men's basketball doubleheader, the ACC/SEC Shootout women's basketball doubleheader, the ACC/SEC Challenge alumni sports festival and the Office Depot ACC/SEC Golf Invitational. This is the fifth year Chick-fil-A has served as bowl sponsor.

 Coke gets 'Legendary Impact' award

The Coca-Cola Co. has been named winner in the "Legendary Impact on Sports" category for the second annual Horizon Awards. The category recognizes the company and product that has most significantly contributed to the growth in popularity of sports over the past century. The Atlanta Sports Council's Horizon Awards include nine other categories: sports technology of the year, sports business impact partnership of the year, sports Web site of the year, sports league Web site of the year, sports-theme advertising campaign of the year, sports media network of the year, sports league/association of the year, sports philanthropic partnership of the year and sports business executive of the year. The awards will be presented Jan. 26 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center.

BOSTON

 Celtics' club-seat owners not renewing

Sespite the Boston Celtics cutting prices of club seats by more than 50 percent this season, hundreds of club-seat owners have opted not to renew their seats for the 2001 season, according to a report by Scott Van Voorhis in the Boston Herald. Celtics COO Richard Pond told the Herald that about 1,000 of the FleetCenter's 2,400 club seats remain unsold.

 'Serious' talk about buying Sox

Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald reported that Boston Bruins President Harry Sinden said FleetCenter/Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is serious about buying the Red Sox. According to Callahan, Jacobs, who has partnered with former MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, has even asked Sinden to do some work on the New England Sports Network aspect of the sale.

BUFFALO

 Sabres' Web site redesigned

The Buffalo Sabres' Web site (sabres.com) has undergone a redesign. Graphic design firm OtherWisz has given the official Internet site of the NHL franchise a new look with added content, photos and video clips. The site also includes a real-time camera at HSBC Arena.

CHARLOTTE

 Wooldridge opts out on bigger piece of team

Charlotte Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge decided against buying an additional 15 percent stake in the team, according to published reports. Wooldridge paid $56 million for a 35 percent share of the team in 1999 and had an option to buy another 15 percent by Oct. 1. George Shinn owns 65 percent of the NBA franchise, which is seeking a new home.

 SMI takes spot on Forbes' 200 Best

Speedway Motorsports Inc. was recently named to Forbes magazine's list of the 200 Best Small Companies in 2001. SMI is the parent company of Lowe's Motor Speedway, five other motorsports tracks and the Performance Racing Network radio network.

COLUMBUS

 Blue Jackets on sellout streak

The Columbus Blue Jackets began the season with six straight sellouts, pushing their consecutive sellout streak at Nationwide Arena (18,136) to 21 games. The last non-sellout at Nationwide Arena was Jan. 21 against Tampa Bay (17,652) as the current streak began on Jan. 26 against Anaheim. Beginning with a Dec. 8, 2000, game against Boston, the Blue Jackets have sold out 27 of their last 30 games.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Sport Supply to sell via Web site

The Sport Supply Group has signed a deal to sell 8,000 products through the Web site of the United States Flag and Touch Football League, which is at usftl.com. Specific terms weren't disclosed, though Dallas-based Sport Supply will pay an unspecified percentage of its sales, as well as supply technology and maintenance services for the site.

DENVER

 National Guard to serve at Olympics

A National Guard unit from Aurora, Colo., will travel to Salt Lake City in February to respond to any terrorist attacks during the Winter Olympics. The 22 specialists are trained to handle everything from biological attacks to nuclear attacks. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team is based at Buckley Air Force Base outside Denver.

 CART comes back to downtown

Next year's CART schedule includes a race through the streets of downtown Denver on Sept. 1. Denver was home, in the early 1990s, to two Grand Prix races.

DETROIT

 Red Wings break ratings mark

The Detroit Red Wings' 2-1 victory over Chris Osgood and the New York Islanders on Nov. 2 took over the top spot as the most-watched program ever on Fox Sports Net's Detroit-based regional network. According to Nielsen Media Research, the game registered a 9.7 household rating in the Detroit metro area, meaning an average of about 182,000 homes tuned in during the course of the telecast.

FONTANA, CALIF.

 IROC comes back to speedway

The True Value IROC Series (International Race of Champions) will return to California Speedway after a three-year absence for a 100-mile race on April 27. The race, the second in a four-race series, will be part of the April NASCAR weekend at the speedway, featuring 600 miles of racing on Saturday. The IROC Series is known to many as auto racing's all-star series. The cars are identically prepared Pontiac Firebirds with 12 drivers from a variety of disciplines invited to participate.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

 Sports Authority to sell Diamondbacks

The Sports Authority has reached a distribution agreement with Diamondback Bicycles. A full line of bicycles for men, women and children were to be in all Sports Authority stores by the end of October.

FRESNO, CALIF.

 Stadium steel goes up

The steel structure that will be Fresno's new downtown ballpark for its Class AAA Grizzlies baseball team was put into place Oct. 13. The $46 million stadium is scheduled to be open for business when the San Francisco Giants' Pacific Coast League team begins play in April.

HOUSTON

 Rockets, Compaq team for literacy

The Houston Rockets and Compaq Computer Corp. launched the “Read to Achieve” program with a tip-off rally at Compaq Center. It’s the second literacy initiative between the Rockets and Compaq, encouraging families and adults to read regularly with young children. Rockets players joined All-Star Reading Team members on the floor of the Compaq Center for reading of children’s classics to about 250 second- and third-graders. Participants in the tip-off included Houston Mayor Lee Brown, Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child, Compaq’s Steve Huey, Capt. David Massey of the Houston Police Department and Capt. Rick Flanagan of the Houston Fire Department.

 Houston seeks delay on Grand Prix

Excessive road and building construction in downtown Houston will prevent the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston from taking place at its regular October time next year. The Houston race is not on the 2002 CART schedule at the request of Houston organizers, said Chris Woolwine, vice president of public relations for the Grand Prix.

 Few show up to watch Rockets opener

Only 9,500 people saw the first game of the season for the Houston Rockets on Oct. 30 at the Compaq Center, the lowest attendance for a season opener since 8,420 people bought tickets in 1977. The 9,500 figure also represents the lowest attendance at a Rockets home game since 9,064 watched the team play on Feb. 16, 1993.

INDIANAPOLIS

 AAA team gets new manager

The Milwaukee Brewers announced that Ed Romero will manage the Indianapolis Indians, the franchise’s Class AAA farm team, next season. Romero, 43, is a native Puerto Rican who has spent 12 seasons as a coach and manager in Milwaukee’s farm system.

 Leary joins IU radio broadcasts

Former Indiana University basketball player Todd Leary has been named color commentator for IU basketball. Leary will team with play-by-play announcer Don Fischer. Leary played for the Hoosiers from 1990 to 1994 and was on the team that went to the Final Four in 1992.

 Indians sign 3-year radio deal

Indianapolis Indians games will be broadcast on 1430 WXNT-AM for each of the next three seasons, Indians general manager Cal Burleson announced. Burleson also announced that Howard Kellman and Brian Giffin will return as the team’s broadcasters in 2002. WXNT-AM will carry the entire 144-game slate from 2002 through 2004.

 Miller, O’Neal picked for U.S. team

The Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller and Jermaine O’Neal have been selected to play on the U.S. team for the 2002 World Championships to be held in Indianapolis. It’s the first time a world basketball championship has been played in the United States. Miller and O’Neal, along with former Pacer Antonio Davis, were among the seven players selected to the team Nov. 1. Five spots remain to be filled.

JACKSONVILLE

 The First Tee hosts 400 at 3-day event

The First Tee recently concluded its national association meeting at World Golf Village in St. Augustine. More than 400 chapter representatives and media professionals attended the three-day event. Among the organization’s new developments are licensing deals with eBay and Net Tour Strategies.

 City wins bid to host symposium

Jacksonville recently beat competing bids by 50 cities to host the 2004 Sports Symposium. Delegates voted for a Jacksonville visit at the semiannual meeting of the National Association of Sports Commissions in Salt Lake City, wading through a record number of applications. The annual Sports Symposium will bring more than 300 sports executives from across the country for a three-day stay, accounting for more than 900 room nights. The event is billed as the biggest in the sports and entertainment commission industry.

MIAMI

 Homestead finale for 3 NASCAR series

Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the season-ending site for all three major NASCAR series when it hosts next season’s NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Grand National and Craftsman Truck Series finales Nov. 15-17, 2002.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Probe finds team faultless in Stringer death

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry completed its investigation of the Minnesota Vikings and found the team did not violate safety and health standards with respect to the death of offensive tackle Korey Stringer on Aug. 1. Though no citations were issued, the department made recommendations to the team regarding methods of monitoring the effects of heat and humidity on players. James Gould, Stringer’s agent, told the Star Tribune he wasn’t surprised by the inquiry’s results but didn’t agree with them. A Cincinnati-based personal-injury lawyer hired by the family expects to release a different report soon, according to Gould. The family has said it intends to take legal action against the team.

 Millionth fan honored by Wild

The Minnesota Wild gave Lisa LeMay a gift bag that included a jersey and hat for being the millionth fan to attend a Wild game at the Xcel Energy Center. The team reached the 1 million mark in 55 games, including five preseason games. All of those games have been sellouts. The milestone was reached Nov. 4 against the Edmonton Oilers. Just two nights earlier, the team had its largest crowd ever, 19,014 fans for a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Capacity at the Xcel Energy Center is 18,064, but standing-room areas allow the team to exceed that.

ORLANDO

 Skydivers to hold championships

The National Skydiving League will hold its 2001 championship Saturday and Sunday at Fantasy of Flight, an aviation theme park located between Orlando and Tampa. The championship will be held in conjunction with a skydiving air show dubbed SkyQuest. With 100 participants, the invitational event centers on four-member teams building kaleidoscope formations during free fall. Competing teams include the Army’s Golden Knights, DeLand Police Department Blue, Teiwaz and a Florida team.

PHILADELPHIA

 Flyers wear orange for Halloween

The Philadelphia Flyers brought their orange road jerseys out of retirement for their Halloween game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The hockey team stopped wearing its orange road jersey this season, opting instead to wear black when playing away games. The Flyers auctioned off the orange jerseys on the team Web site (philadelphiaflyers.com) to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund.

 Kixx do Britney Spears promotion

Just under 5,500 fans attended the Philadelphia Kixx soccer game against the Baltimore Blast in what was billed as “Britney Spears Night.” During the Nov. 3 game, the Kixx played cuts from Spears’ new CD three days before its Nov. 6 release date. In addition, the team held a “Britney Spears sing-along” contest at halftime. The Kixx gave away six pairs of tickets to the singer’s Dec. 10 concert at the First Union Center in Philadelphia.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.

 Sharks donate for street hockey

The San Jose Sharks Foundation and the Good Tidings Foundation donated $15,000 to put in a street hockey court at a local elementary school to help a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League street hockey program. The teal-colored court with 18-inch borders is an expansion of the Sharks’ participation in the league. The team has been contributing hockey sticks, goalie equipment and other materials to the league for several years, Sharks officials said.

SAN DIEGO

 LPGA won’t come to town in 2002

The SBC Futures Tour, the LPGA’s developmental tour, will not have an event in the San Diego area in 2002. Lack of sponsorship and a host course will end a four-year run on the Futures Tour’s West Coast calendar. San Diego last hosted an LPGA Tour event in 1994.

 WAFL Sunfire wins in debut

The San Diego Sunfire made its debut in the Women’s American Football League on Nov. 3, edging the Arizona Caliente 14-12 before 5,200 fans at Southwestern College in suburban Chula Vista. Former San Diego State women’s basketball standout Lakeysha Wright led the team with 122 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.

SAN FRANCISCO

 Fox lands Pete Newell Challenge

Fox Sports Net inked a one-year deal with Innovative Sports Management, creator of the Pete Newell Challenge college basketball showcase, to televise this year’s marquee game, Stanford vs. Michigan State. The dollar value of the deal was not disclosed. The fifth annual event — also featuring the University of San Francisco vs. Michigan — will be Dec. 29, at the Arena in Oakland. It is named for Newell, the former USF, Michigan State and University of California, Berkeley, basketball coach.

 Warriors give to terrorist victim’s family

The Golden State Warriors donated $25,000 and Warriors forward Antawn Jamison added another $10,000 to the family of Alan Beaven, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania after being hijacked by terrorists Sept. 11. The Warriors’ donation, from ticket sales for the team’s Oct. 21 Bay Area Charities Game, will help establish an educational trust fund for Beaven’s three surviving children. Beaven, a former Oakland resident, was an attorney with Berman Valerio Pease Tobacco Burt & Pucillo of San Francisco.

SONOMA, CALIF.

 Grading, excavation at speedway

Preliminary work is just about complete on several key areas of a $50 million modernization plan as construction crews work to prepare Sears Point Raceway for the 2002 racing season. Excavation is finished on the two underground pedestrian tunnels that are being built, one under start/finish and the other under Turn 10. Actual construction of the tunnels was to have begun last week. The tunnels will help expedite pedestrian traffic flow around the property on busy event weekends, as well as provide spectators with improved sight lines.

ST. LOUIS

 City bids for marathon trials

A hundred years after St. Louis played host to the Olympics, the city is making a run for either the 2004 Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials or the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. The St. Louis Sports Commission assembled the separate bids. New York, Birmingham, Ala., and Washington also submitted proposals for the events. Committees from USA Track and Field are scheduled to visit St. Louis and the other cities this week. The men’s and women’s marathon committees expect to announce their selections at the annual meeting of the USA Track and Field Convention, Nov. 28-30, in Mobile, Ala.

 Rawlings makes cutbacks

Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., the St. Louis business known for supplying all the balls for Major League Baseball, is making cutbacks in the face of slowing sales and the specter of a baseball walkout next year. CEO Steve O’Hara said the company is both reducing its head count and trimming operating costs. At the same time, Rawlings is launching new products, including a 10-seam basketball designed to help basketball players improve control and shooting, and a new, patented Vise baseball glove that redesigns how the fingers fit in the glove.

 Sting gets new owners, moves

The Sting has a new ownership group, and the Class AA junior hockey amateur team has moved to Springfield, Mo. The new owners include real estate developer Tony Sansone, former St. Louis Blues defenseman and now Blues broadcaster Kelly Chase, St. Louis Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom, former St. Louis Blues executive Susie Mathieu, and Larry Lipscomb, a Springfield businessman. The owners renamed the team the Springfield Spirit after buying the franchise from Robert Lees in late October. Mathieu and other members of the ownership group wouldn’t say how much they paid for the team. The North American Hockey League had an expansion franchise fee of $125,000, which would make the amateur teams worth at least that much, said people familiar with the league. The league approved the transfer Oct. 23.

SYRACUSE, N.Y.

 Harry Potter and the AHL

Coca-Cola and The Comix Zone held Harry Potter Night Saturday at the Syracuse Crunch’s American Hockey League game against the Norfolk Admirals. The first 1,500 kids 12 and younger to enter the gate received a free Harry Potter souvenir, and Harry Potter prizes were given away throughout the evening.

TORONTO

 Davis, others produce basketball video

Toronto Raptors forward Antonio Davis and team analyst Leo Rautins teamed with Dallas point guard Steve Nash to launch a new video designed to help young Canadian players improve their skills. Titled Basketball City, the video features sections on passing, dribbling, shooting, defense and rebounding. Proceeds from the video go to charities including Kids Help Phone, a 24-hour confidential counseling service for youth in distress.

 CFL to own, license team names, logos

The Canadian Football League plans to take ownership of the names and logos of all CFL teams and license them back to individual clubs for their use. CFL Commissioner Michael Lysko said the arrangement will be similar to what is in place in other professional sports leagues. The CFL was burned in 1996 when Ottawa Rough Riders owner Horn Chen folded the team but continued to own the name and registered trademarks, effectively preventing any new CFL team from reusing the name without purchasing the rights from him. The new CFL’s Ottawa expansion team for 2002 will not use the Rough Riders name, but the CFL wants to recover the name anyway for merchandising purposes, the Globe and Mail reported.

WASHINGTON

 Fans invited to donate to WSE Charities

After getting big initial donations from some major players in local sports, the Washington Sports & Entertainment Fund is turning to fans. The education fund, established for children who lost a parent or guardian in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack at the Pentagon, is a part of the WSE Charities, the 501(c)3 arm of the organization that operates MCI Center. Irene and Abe Pollin made the first donation of $100,000, a figure that Michael Jordan matched. Wizards guard Chris Whitney will donated $100 for every three-point shot that he makes during the season.

 Football Divas find an owner

The D.C. Divas, Washington’s franchise in the National Women’s Football League, found an owner after a yearlong search. The team was bought by Kelly George and Leah Fahringer, who both have business management backgrounds. Both were season-ticket holders last season. Coach Ezra Cooper will stay in place for the 2002 season, which begins April 20. The year-old league, which played to modest crowds in most cities last season, expanded in the off-season from 10 to 20 teams. The Divas play in the Mid-Atlantic Division with the Baltimore Burn, Tennessee Venom and Asheville Assault. This season all games will be played on Saturday nights at 7.

 Track designer comes to town

Lance Shafer of Shafer Event Management Inc. was in Washington to begin planning the track design for the temporary racing circuit that will be built at RFK Stadium for the 2002 National Grand Prix. Shafer has designed many tracks in North American cities, including Houston, Toronto and Vancouver. Hayne Dominick, COO of National Grand Prix Holdings LLC, said he expects only minor changes to the original track design, including a less curved stretch in front of the grandstands. The inaugural National Grand Prix will feature the American Le Mans Series and will be held July 21, 2002.

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