SBJ/January 21 - 27, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

 Peach Bowl to kick off hall of fame

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl officials have announced plans to establish a hall of fame and honorary first team to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the game in 2002. Inductees, who have yet to be named, will take part in the Office Depot ACC/SEC Golf Invitational in May, take part in the game-day parade and be recognized in an on-field ceremony. Nominees for entry into the first class include Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, ACC Commissioner John Swofford, former quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Tiki Barber.

BALTIMORE

 Olympics 2012 group launches PSAs

Hoping to build public support for the Baltimore/Washington area's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition has launched a series of public service announcements. The ads, which will air on Comcast, WBAL-TV, WBAL radio and Clear Channel radio in Washington, will feature the Orioles' Cal Ripken Jr., Darrell Green of the Redskins, Olympic gold-medal gymnast Dominique Dawes, tennis star Pam Shriver and paralympian Beth Scott. All five are board members of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the group working to bring the Olympics to the region.

BUFFALO

 Bills ratings dip a little this season

While the Buffalo Bills dropped from an 8-8 team a season ago to a 3-13 team in the 2001 season, local TV ratings dipped by only 6 percent, according to figures from WIVB, the CBS affiliate, and Nielsen Media Research. In 2000, 13 Bills games were broadcast in the Buffalo market with an average rating/share of 34.5/61. In 2001, 10 games carried locally resulted in a rating/share of 32.5/54.

CHARLOTTE

 Big South, 8 partners in giveaway

The Big South Conference and eight of its corporate partners have teamed up for The Big South Basketball Championship Giveaway. The prize packages are valued at more than $8,000. The cross-promotion involves corporate partners Advance Auto Parts, Amtrak, Hardee's, Nabisco, O'Charley's Restaurants, Phillips 66, Valvoline and The Westin Resort at Hilton Head. The grand-prize winner will be selected March 2 during the Advance Auto Parts/Big South Conference Basketball Championship Game at the Roanoke (Va.) Civic Center.

 Wheeler details economy's effect on NASCAR

At the annual Motorsports Symposium in Concord, N.C., this month, Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler acknowledged the impact of the poor economy on NASCAR. "We all know we're in a recession and it's definitely affected racing," he said. "The downside is that companies are spending considerably less — in some cases, as much 50 percent — as they were. We're really starting our third year of flatness in the business." Wheeler said the sport remains strong because of its fan base, which continues growing, and an unusual acceleration of TV ratings. NASCAR's TV ratings gained nearly 30 percent last year.

COLUMBUS

 Jackets, Dominion again giving away a home

For the second straight year the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dominion Homes are teaming up to give away a new Celebration Series home in the Great American New Home Give-Away contest. The giveaway will end April 12, when the Blue Jackets host the Atlanta Thrashers in the FANtastic FANale at Nationwide Arena. Eight finalists will compete on the ice at the last home game of the Blue Jackets' season; they will be blindfolded, and the first one to find a miniature Dominion Home on the ice wins the real home.

DENVER

 Broncos want Super Bowl at Mile High

The Denver Broncos want to see the 2007 Super Bowl played at the new Invesco Field at Mile High. The NFL is considering having the game played in an outdoor arena in a city prone to cold winters. But the NFL is looking at the change as a way to boost areas hit by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; that means making an exception for the homes of the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. No decision about the 2007 Super Bowl will be made until 2003.

 Judge dismisses naming-rights suit

The name Invesco Field at Mile High will stick. A Denver judge dismissed a year-old lawsuit seeking to overturn the naming-rights deal that made the home of the Broncos a corporate brand.

DETROIT

 Harwell signs on for another year

The legendary voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell, 84, agreed to a one-year contract with the team, marking his 42nd season with the Tigers and 55th year of broadcasting Major League Baseball. He will be joined on the Tigers' flagship station, Team 1270, WXYT, by current partners Jim Price and Dan Dickerson.

INDIANAPOLIS

 ABC adjusts IRL, Indy broadcast lineup

ABC Sports, the network of the Indy Racing League and home of the Indianapolis 500, announced Jan. 14 that veteran broadcaster Bob Jenkins has been promoted to host of its coverage of the Indianapolis 500 and the IRL. Jenkins will lead the motorsports broadcast lineup, with longtime ABC announcer Paul Page calling race action, former IRL driver Scott Goodyear offering analysis and Gary Gerould joining Jack Arute and Vince Welch as pit reporters.

JACKSONVILLE

 Tomcats pick radio flagship

The Jacksonville Tomcats named WJXR 92.1 FM the AF2 team's flagship radio station, signing a three-year deal. The 25,000-watt station will anchor the Jacksonville Tomcats Radio Network and broadcast all games. Affiliate stations in Lake City, St. Augustine, Daytona, Ocala and Brunswick, Ga., also will carry live broadcasts.

KANSAS CITY

 Royals pick new colors for uniforms

The Kansas City Royals introduced new uniform color combinations for the coming season. The team hopes to boost merchandise sales and its appeal to younger fans with a four-design scheme that includes black tops that will be worn at home and on the road with black-crowned caps. Another option is a sleeveless road top. The changes are the first significant ones since 1992, when the team’s powder-blue road uniforms were replaced with traditional gray.

 Chiefs raising ticket prices again

The Kansas City Chiefs will raise ticket prices next season for the third consecutive year. The amount of the increase hasn’t been set, but Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson said he anticipates the hike will be in line with that of the rest of the NFL. Last season, the Chiefs’ average ticket price of $52 ranked 22nd in the league.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Robertson may be Anaheim candidate

Bill Robertson, vice president of broadcasting and communication for the Minnesota Wild, is being mentioned as a possible candidate to be president of Anaheim Sports Inc., which operates the NHL's Mighty Ducks and Major League Baseball's Angels. Robertson said he has not been contacted about the position. He ran the media relations department for the organization from May 1993 to 1998, when he joined the Wild front office. Previously, he worked as a public relations assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Target Center. Robertson will take a leave of absence from the Wild for much of February to act as director of public relations for Team USA men's hockey during the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

 Stringer family files $100M lawsuit

Representatives of Korey Stringer's family filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Minnesota Vikings and several individuals Jan. 15, according to media reports. Among the defendants in the case are former coach Dennis Green and new coach Mike Tice. Stringer died Aug. 1 from complications related to heat stroke after collapsing during a workout the day before.

NASHVILLE

 A-B gets rights at Gaylord

Anheuser-Busch has received naming and branding rights to the 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar area overlooking the ice at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, home of the Nashville Predators. The Bud Light Party Zone’s branding includes a 70-foot fascia sign in the bowl, a sign over the main entrance, dasherboards on the exterior and signs throughout the interior. In addition, the Bud Light Party Zone logo will be printed on club-seat tickets for the current and future seasons.

OAKLAND

 Golden State raises ticket prices

The Golden State Warriors increased all ticket prices 5 percent Jan. 11 after an arbitrator ruled the NBA franchise owed the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority at least $1.5 million for failing to collect a facility surcharge on ticket prices. The Warriors claimed the 5 percent fee was an illegal tax since the authority instituted it two years ago. Last March, a different arbitrator ruled the Warriors owe the authority nearly $20 million in back rent, interest and penalties. The Warriors are appealing that decision.

ORLANDO

 What happened to the Magic?

Just three weeks into 2002, and it’s already been quite a year for the Orlando Magic. Days after owner Rich DeVos said he wanted to sell 49 percent of the NBA franchise, he changed his mind and said he wanted to put the whole Magic team on the auction block. On top of that, whoever buys the franchise won’t be required to keep the team in Orlando, although DeVos and RDV Sports hope to keep the Magic in Orlando. If a buyer can be found, it could take six months to 21¼2 years to complete the sale.

 Still giving …

Despite its current turmoil, the Orlando Magic is business as usual. The Magic has another team collectible to give away at its games. This time, it’s the Horace Grant Celebriduck, a rubber ducky that sparks a striking resemblance to Grant, goggles and all.

PHILADELPHIA

 More ex-cheerleaders join lawsuit

Another group of former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders have added their names to an expanded lawsuit filed against 29 NFL teams whose players allegedly spied on the cheerleaders through holes that separated their locker rooms. The expanded suit, filed at state court in Philadelphia earlier this month, now names 44 former cheerleaders as plaintiffs. The suit alleges the peeping incidents occurred between 1983 and 2001. The only NFL teams not named as defendants were the Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who did not play at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium during the years in question. A former Eagles cheerleader was quoted in the Trentonian of Trenton, N.J., as saying the cheerleaders also knew about the holes and that peeking “went both ways.”

 Global Spectrum to manage Miami arena

Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia-based facilities management firm, was awarded a management contract for the University of Miami’s new Ryder Center. The $48 million multipurpose arena is scheduled to open in December. The 7,000-seat facility will be the home of the University of Miami men’s and women’s basketball teams.

PITTSBURGH

 Marathon to start, end at Heinz

This year’s UPMC Health System/City of Pittsburgh Marathon will begin and end at Heinz Field, the new home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The finish line will be at the 50-yard line of the stadium. Race organizers said the course of this year’s race was altered to accommodate road construction projects. This year’s event is scheduled for May 5.

PORTLAND

 New ticket plan keyed to future

The Portland Oregon Sports Authority is offering a new ticket plan for the Class AAA Portland Beavers that will provide ticket/suite holders with priority access to season tickets/suites for a potential Portland Major League Baseball franchise. The new plan was developed as a partnership of the Portland Oregon Sports Authority, Portland Family Entertainment and Oregon Baseball Campaign. New purchasers of Beavers suites, season- and mini-ticket packages will be placed on the list for choosing seat/suite locations for a future Portland MLB franchise ahead of the general public.

SAN ANTONIO

 Spurs sign pair of deals

The San Antonio Spurs have signed concessions and merchandising contracts for SBC Center. The NBA team has come to terms with Aramark, which will handle food and beverage concessions, as well as retail and novelty merchandising in the new arena. Levy Restaurants will serve as the premium dining provider for the Spurs’ suite holders and private club guests in SBC Center, which opens in the fall of 2003. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

 Team displays animal attraction

The Spurs veered away from the normal route of bobblehead mania for one game, promoting their mascot instead of a player for a Jan. 7 promotion. The NBA team, through a halftime lottery, handed out 3,000 free Spurs Coyote bobblehead dolls in the Alamodome. Alexander Global Promotions USA, maker of the Coyote bobblehead, is producing similar ceramic likenesses of Spurs players Tim Duncan and David Robinson for later promotions. The Spurs series of dolls is again sponsored by Body Solutions.

SAN DIEGO

 Padres sue attorney Henderson

The Padres launched a lawsuit of their own against a longtime protagonist and also received a favorable ruling in their efforts to get construction resumed on their downtown ballpark. The team filed a malicious-prosecution lawsuit Jan. 8 against San Diego attorney Bruce Henderson. The suit accuses Henderson of using the legal system to improperly delay construction by filing at least six “baseless” lawsuits. While no monetary claim was specified in the Padres’ suit, the team is seeking punitive damages “in an amount sufficient to punish Henderson for his improper conduct and to deter him from engaging in similar acts in the future.” Henderson told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the suit was “intimidating,” and he accused the Padres and city officials of trying to “financially destroy me.” He added, “I don’t doubt that they bear me tremendous malice.”

SAN FRANCISCO

 USF plans $12M gym expansion

The University of San Francisco will launch a campaign within 18 months to raise $12 million for the expansion of 44-year-old War Memorial Gymnasium. The 1,000-seat project would boost gym capacity to 6,300 seats, Bill Hogan, executive director of athletics, told the San Francisco Business Times. USF remains open to playing games at a new $250 million to $350 million downtown arena, Hogan said, but that project is at least six years away.

ST. LOUIS

 Rams set rating record against Falcons

The St. Louis Rams’ last game of the regular season set a record off the field. The victory over the Atlanta Falcons kept 39.7 percent of the St. Louis area glued to TV sets, according to Nielsen Media Research. “It was the highest rating for a regular-season afternoon game,” said Susan Burchfield, director of research for KTVI, Channel 2, the Fox Network affiliate that aired the contest.

TORONTO

 Hockey game draws monster ratings

TSN’s telecast of the World Junior Championship gold-medal hockey game between Canada and Russia on Jan. 4 pulled in monster ratings, making it the 10th-most-watched show in the network’s 18-year history. The game drew a per-minute average audience of 1.4 million.

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