SBJ/February 11 - 17, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

 Georgia tees up new golf alliance
  The state is spearheading a new alliance among golf facilities in Georgia, known as Georgia's Natural Golf Experience. The packaged golf travel program includes Brasstown Valley Resort in north Georgia, Stone Mountain Resort, Jekyll Island and the seven state park golf courses. The Natural Golf Experience is co-sponsored by the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the Department of Natural Resources.

BUFFALO

  Empire State Games announced
 
As the United States hosts its first Winter Olympics since 1980 at Lake Placid, New York Gov. George Pataki has announced that Lake Placid will host the Empire State Winter Games. The New York winter sports event will be held Feb. 22-24 featuring 12 competitions, including skiing, skating, ice hockey, luge, bobsled and the biathlon. Lake Placid's venues have undergone renovations and upgrades in recent years, particularly for skiing competitions. The New York State Lottery, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Olympic Regional Development Authority are sponsors of the Empire State Winter Games.

CHARLOTTE

  Sting will play in N.C. in 2002
  The Charlotte Sting will play the 2002 season in North Carolina — even if the NBA Hornets move to New Orleans after the current season. The WNBA decided the Sting will play its sixth season, which begins in June, in Charlotte no matter the decision on the Hornets. The Sting won the Eastern Conference championship in 2001.

  Beekeepers have interesting roster
  A closer look at grassroots group the Beekeepers, aimed at keeping the Hornets in Charlotte, reveals some creative flair among the backers. Among those listed: Elvis Presley of Memphis, who comments, "Thank you very much." Then there's retired banker Hugh McColl of Charlotte: "I'll buy the team myself." And Michael Jordan of Washington, D.C. His message is, "If the Hornets stay, I'll come play in Charlotte."

CINCINNATI

  Bengals upping ticket prices by $4
  The Bengals announced that almost all seats in Paul Brown Stadium will increase by $4 apiece next season. The team's average non-club ticket price was $43.96 last season. The average price for the upcoming season will be $47.76. The most expensive general admission Bengals ticket next season will be $54 for midfield seats. Other seats will be sold for $49, $44 and $39.

  Ballpark on time, on the money
  The Cincinnati Reds' Great American Ball Park is on schedule and on budget. The $280 million stadium is scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2003 baseball season. The park's draining system, boilers and water heaters are being installed now.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

  Burn franchise may be safe
 
A month and a half after reportedly ending up on a list of teams being considered for contraction, the Dallas Burn may have had its MLS franchise saved by the town of McKinney, which is close to approving construction of an 18,000-seat stadium. Officials of the Dallas suburb are seeking $30 million in public money for the project, leaving open where the remaining $17 million to $23 million will come from, according to The Dallas Morning News. Major League Soccer will play its 2003 All-Star Game and the 2004 championship contest there if the stadium is built, the Morning News said.

DETROIT

Construction at Ford Field in Detroit should be completed in time for the 2002 season.

  Lions start season-ticket waiting list
  As the Lions prepare to move into Ford Field for the 2002 season, vice president of sales Jennifer Manzo announced that all season tickets have been sold. For the first time in its history, the team has established a season-ticket waiting list. Names on the waiting list will be given the first opportunity to purchase future season tickets. In addition, the first 1,000 accounts on the ticket list will have an opportunity to buy two tickets for one game during the 2002 season at Ford Field and priority over the general public to buy playoff tickets.

  Tigers to conduct camps for kids
  Under the direction of ex-Tiger pitcher Milt Wilcox, the Tigers will conduct four camps this summer for youngsters ages 7 to 17. One camp will be held at Comerica Park while the other three will be scheduled for suburban locations. This is the first time the team has held camps for kids. The Tigers Fantasy Camps for adults, considered to be among the most successful in the major leagues, will celebrate its 20th year in 2003.

HARTFORD, CONN.

  AHL team to sponsor youth league
 
The Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League has signed on to sponsor the Connecticut Arena Hockey League (CAHL), a new youth hockey league formed by the Association of Connecticut Ice Arenas that will start play this spring. The formation of the CAHL was nine months in the planning and was announced in December. The league will feature teams at all youth levels. The main goal of the league is to build better hockey players by being structured and developmental. The first 100 tryout registrants in each arena will receive a complimentary Wolf Pack Fifth Anniversary T-shirt. The Wolf Pack will provide championship trophies for each age division, and Wolf Pack banners will be on display in all of the arenas.

HOUSTON

McIngvale

  Gallery Furniture drops bowl sponsorship
 
Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale announced Feb. 1 that he is dropping his sponsorship of the galleryfurniture.com Bowl. It will now be called the Houston Bowl. McIngvale, owner of Houston's Gallery Furniture, took an option to leave his four-year contract with the bowl game after two years, during which he spent close to $2 million. A spokesman for the Houston businessman said McIngvale did not want to make the financial commitment required to expand the bowl game, as its organizers wanted. The spokesman said McIngvale prefers to invest in other sports-related projects, such as expanding the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships he established at his Westside Tennis Club.

JACKSONVILLE

  Kelly to join Super Bowl Host Committee
 
Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO Mike Weinstein announced that Michael Kelly, formerly the executive director of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Task Force and the Tampa Bay Final Four Organizing Committee, will join the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee as president and COO on July 1. Kelly is the University of South Florida's associate athletic director and will remain with the university until the end of the spring semester. Weinstein, who plans a mayoral run in 2003, will continue as president and CEO until Kelly is fully on board.

JOPLIN, MO.

  Tournament back in town for 2 years
 
USA Baseball and the Joplin Sports Authority have agreed to hold the 2002 and 2003 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars in Joplin. The 2001 Tournament of Stars was held there in July, and before that the Junior National Team Trials were in Joplin in 1996, '97 and 2000. The city will host eight teams that will compete in the Tournament of Stars, including five teams from USA Baseball's national member organizations (AABC, NABF, PONY Baseball, Dixie Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball). Major League Baseball's RBI program also sends a team, while USA Baseball selects two at-large rosters to round out the field.

LOS ANGELES

The ESPY awards will be held at the new Kodak Theatre for the next two years.

  Kodak Theatre to house ESPY Awards
 
ESPN has picked Los Angeles' new Kodak Theatre, operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc., as the location of its ESPY Awards for the next two years. The 2002 ESPYs, short for "excellence in sports performance," will be held July 10. Anschutz Entertainment Group belongs to Denver entrepreneur and billionaire Phil Anschutz's conglomerate of energy, telecommunications, real estate and investment companies.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Wally the bobble beerman

 Twins tickets on sale
  Single-game tickets for Minnesota Twins games went on sale at TwinsFest on Feb. 1. Tickets went on sale by phone, over the Internet and at pro-shop outlets the following morning. Also at TwinsFest, Golden Eagle Promotions and the Miller Brewing Co. sold a bobblehead doll of "Wally the Beerman" — Wally McNeil, a vendor at Minnesota sporting events for three decades. The dolls sold for $14.99, according to an advertisement in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

  Lynx offer tailored ticket plans
  The Minnesota Lynx are offering fans the "Ultimate Ticket Plan" for the 2002 WNBA season. Under the plan, the team asks potential customers two questions: How many games they plan to attend and how many people will be going. If a fan plans to go to five games with one other person, that fan's plan would include 10 tickets. The team sold 1,000 tickets using that premise before its schedule was announced. Tickets are available for $15, $18 and $29. Fans ordering 10 to 17 tickets will get a $2 discount per ticket.

  University opposes Vikings' demand
  The University of Minnesota is opposed to the Minnesota Vikings' demand that the Vikings retain naming rights for any potential joint, on-campus stadium, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

ORLANDO

The PGA Golf Show operated with a full house of exhibitors, despite the economy.

  PGA show is big business for central Florida
  Despite this year's tighter economy and reduced air travel, the 2002 PGA Golf Show was a major success. Attendance increased by about 3,000 delegates to 56,000, according to officials at PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, a division of Reed Exhibition Companies, the company that runs the association's five worldwide expos. Further, 1,500 exhibitors, including companies such as Callaway, FootJoy and even Buick — the golf tour's official automobile — occupied all 1.3 million square feet of the facility.

  Study: Golfers leave impact on Orlando
  According to a recent study by golforlando — a marketing cooperative of 30 Orlando-based golf courses — golfers have an estimated $171 million economic impact in the Orlando area annually. This impact includes the infusion of dollars by golf tourists for rounds of golf, hotel accommodations, rental cars, airfare, trips to theme parks and food and beverage. In Orlando alone, golfers each year spend more than $45.6 million on rounds of golf, $29.8 million on accommodations, $7.7 million on rental cars, $61.6 million on food and beverage, $24.7 million on airfare and $1.9 million on theme parks.

PHILADELPHIA

  AFL owners to sell franchise
 
The owners of an Arena Football League expansion team in Philadelphia have decided to sell the franchise before the team ever plays its first game. The unnamed Philadelphia team is scheduled to join the AFL in 2003. The owners, who include former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworksi and former AFL Commissioner Jim Drucker, have hired Baltimore-based sports investment banking firm Moag & Co. to find a buyer. Jaworksi, who is expected to serve as president and general manager of the franchise, plans to retain his equity investment in the team and be part of any new ownership group.

SACRAMENTO

  Knights seek to join MISL
 
The Sacramento Knights pro soccer team has applied to join the Major Indoor Soccer League but won't field a team next year. The Knights were part of the World Indoor Soccer League that dissolved in December. Team owner Maloof Sports & Entertainment said scheduling conflicts require the Knights to be inactive this year.

SAN DIEGO

  Chargers increase ticket prices
 
The San Diego Chargers announced Feb. 1 that season and single-game tickets for the 2002 season will be more costly. Most season tickets will jump $6 per game, while nearly all single-game ticket prices will increase by $10. A 10-game package (including two preseason games) that sold for $430 during the recently concluded 5-11 season will cost $490 in 2002. Single-game tickets that went for $49 last season will cost $59 this year, and end-zone seats in the view level, $44 on a single-game basis in 2001, will cost $54 this year.

SAN FRANCISCO

A city official is urging that some form of “Candlestick” be a part of stadium name.

  McCarver, Angel join Giants' broadcast team
  Tim McCarver and Joe Angel will join the San Francisco Giants' broadcast team for the 2002 season. McCarver, the well-known Fox baseball analyst, will work 25 games — when play-by-play man Jon Miller leaves for his ESPN assignments — on KTVU (Channel 2) of San Francisco.

  Supervisor wants 'Stick name to stick
  San Francisco Supervisor Tony Hall wants the city's Recreation and Parks Department to include "Candlestick" on the name of the stadium at Candlestick Point. Santa Clara-based 3Com Corp., which held the naming rights to the city-owned home of the San Francisco 49ers since 1995, has said it may not renew its agreement. The 3Com Park moniker was never a popular one with San Francisco residents. Hall's resolution to the Board of Supervisors urged the Recreation and Parks Department to keep some form of Candlestick, Candlestick Point or Candlestick Park in the new name of the stadium.

  Enron current with Giants; Webvan out
  Enron Corp. is current with its sponsorship payments to the San Francisco Giants, but defunct online grocer Webvan is officially out. Webvan, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, formally rejected its Giants contract after fulfilling two years of the three-year, seven-figure deal. The team now is free to pitch the center-field wall space and roughly 34,000 cupholders where Webvan's logo used to be, said Mario Alioto, the Giants' senior vice president of corporate marketing. Webvan's 2002 payment to the Giants was supposed to increase over last season, and the Giants filed a claim in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

SEATTLE

  State rep takes on blackout rule
 
A Washington state legislator is tackling the NFL's television blackout policy. Rep. Sam Hunt introduced a bill that would force Seattle Seahawks home games to be televised in the region, regardless of whether the games are sold out. Under the current NFL policy, a game that is not sold out 72 hours before kickoff cannot be broadcast within a 75-mile radius of the stadium. The Seahawks failed to sell out a single home game last year, and consequently no Seahawks home games were televised in the region. Hunt's rationale is that state taxpayers contributed $300 million to build the new Seahawks stadium, scheduled to open this fall, and fans should be able to watch a home game regardless of how many tickets are sold. A hearing on the bill has not been scheduled.

ST. LOUIS

  Rams' loss hits team in pocketbook
 
The St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots hit both the team's pride and its pocketbook. The NFL only pays for players' travel and hotel. It does not cover the airfare and hotel rooms for the Rams' entourage, not to mention game tickets at $400 a pop. The Rams chartered three planes for an entourage of family, friends, sponsors and staff, said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., who assisted in the 1995 negotiations to move the Rams to St. Louis. "If the primary interest was making money on this, [the owners] could have people fend for themselves," he said. "It actually costs a team more money to go to the Super Bowl than if it doesn't go."

TORONTO

  Maple Leafs offer PSL
 
The Toronto Maple Leafs are introducing optional personal seat licenses in the upper bowl at Air Canada Centre for season-ticket holders who may want to sell their tickets to non-family members. Previously, season tickets could be transferred only to immediate family members; sales to a business colleague, for example, were not allowed. The new licenses will run about $2,900 to $4,800 per seat if purchased before March 8. After that, the price jumps to about $4,800 and $6,500. The Leafs already have personal seat licenses for lower-bowl seats.

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