SBJ/March 18 - 24, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast To Coast

ATLANTA

  Atlanta may host women's soccer final
  If the Atlanta Beat returns to the WUSA championship game in 2002, the team may not have very far to go. The Women's United Soccer Association's Founders Cup game could be played at Herndon Stadium on the Morris Brown campus, the new home of the Beat for 2002. In 2001, the Beat finished second in the WUSA (losing the Founders Cup on penalty kicks after two overtimes) and in overall league attendance, averaging a little more than 11,000 fans per game. Team general manager Eddie Rockwell said that turnout was a major part of the decision to apply to host the championship game. Atlanta is one of three cities seeking to host the Founders Cup on Aug. 24. WUSA vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche said Washington and San Jose also have applied to serve as host cities.

The SEC championship game paid off big for
Atlanta and Georgia.

  SEC championship brings $46M to state
  The sellout SEC football championship game between LSU and Tennessee had an economic impact on Georgia of $46 million, the Atlanta Sports Council estimated, putting the impact on metro Atlanta at $43.1 million. The $46 million estimate puts the conference championship game third in recent sports events, behind the 2001 PGA Championship ($50.4 million) and the 2000 Major League Baseball All-Star Game ($49.6 million).

BUFFALO

  Broadcaster Wander to retire
 
Longtime Buffalo area broadcaster Art Wander, "The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt," will retire March 28 from the Empire Sports Network and WNSA Radio 107.7 FM. Wander has worked at the regional sports network since 1996 and joined WNSA for a regular two-hour show shortly after the station became all sports more than a year ago. His broadcasting career spans nearly 50 years.

CHARLOTTE

  Clear Channel is Speed Street radio partner
 
Clear Channel Communications has signed on as official radio partner of the 600 Festival Association's annual Food Lion Speed Street and other events tied to the May NASCAR races in Charlotte. Clear Channel's five stations will promote the event. Terms weren't disclosed.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

  Cowboys eye San Antonio for camps
 
The Dallas Cowboys are considering a new wrinkle on where they will spend upcoming training camps. The team is now weighing spending the full five weeks in San Antonio, instead of doing two weeks there and three weeks in Oxnard, Calif. The reason, according to The Dallas Morning News, is that San Antonio is cheaper and makes for a shorter flight to the East Coast.

DETROIT

  Pistons pump playoff ticket plan
 
The Detroit Pistons have made their season-ticket holders an "offer they can't refuse" for the upcoming NBA playoffs: no increase in prices and no advance payment. The plan is being offered to all season-ticket holders, even those with four-game packages. Fans will be required to submit a credit card number, which will be charged only after the Pistons' playoff run has ended. As of last week, the Pistons were first in the Central Division standings with a 35-26 record.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

  Office Depot kicks off sweepstakes
 
Office Depot in Delray Beach, title sponsor of the Office Depot Championship hosted by Amy Alcott in Los Angeles April 5-7, announced a sweepstakes for the chance to win a position in the pro-am event. One grand-prize winner will have the chance to play in the pro-am event on April 4 and be paired with a top LPGA player. Golf enthusiasts can enter the sweepstakes by visiting any of the 38 participating Office Depot stores in Los Angeles and surrounding area and completing an entry form.

HOUSTON

The Houston Aeros have their very own beer: Aeros Penalty Bock.

 Hockey beer: Aeros Penalty Bock
 
Forget bobblehead dolls. The Houston Aeros have been immortalized with a new beer they can call their own. Two Rows Restaurant & Brewery, a sports-themed establishment that sponsors the hockey team, created a whole new concoction in the team's honor. An online contest gave fans a chance to name the new beer, now known as the Aeros Penalty Bock. Kris Thompson, an Aeros spokeswoman, said it's darker, sweeter and not as heavy as a true bock beer. "It's not like they took a beer that was there and named it after us," she said. "They created it from scratch."

INDIANAPOLIS

  Big Ten women's hoops sets record
  The Big Ten women's basketball tournament held in Conseco Fieldhouse Feb. 28-March 4 had record attendance of 35,846 for the five sessions. The semifinal game between Indiana and Purdue helped draw a single-session attendance record of 9,358. Indiana Sports Corp. officials launched a late marketing campaign, offering two tickets for the price of one on the day of the championship game, which was pushed to Monday to accommodate the Indiana girls' high school state finals over the weekend.

  Legends leave fairgrounds for new home
  The Indiana Legends of the ABA have moved their home games from Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to the Arlington High School gym for their final 12 home games. Legends officials said the move was made in part because of continuing problems with condensation on the basketball floor during games and practices. Sources close to the league and team said financial considerations also contributed to the decision.

  City officials black-flag CART incentives
  A snag over tax incentives is threatening the planned move by Championship Auto Racing Teams from Troy, Mich., to Indianapolis. CART's board approved the move to Indianapolis on March 4 and employees were notified in the ensuing days. But on March 8, CART President Christopher Pook said he was told that city officials had vetoed the idea of tax incentives for the Indy Racing League-rival series.

  Ice considering move to AHL
  Several sources close to the American Hockey League — hockey's version of baseball's Class AAA — said Indianapolis is high on the AHL's radar screen. A switch to the AHL would likely mean pairing with an NHL parent club and would open the doors to national sponsors. Meanwhile, officials of the Central Hockey League, where the Indianapolis Ice currently plays, appear eager to keep the Ice and are attempting to forge a pact with the United Hockey League to facilitate interleague play. A CHL-UHL agreement would allow the Ice to rekindle its rivalry with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Komets and other opponents in surrounding states.

JACKSONVILLE

  PGA tees up new MobileLink service
 
The PGA Tour announced its latest interactive service, PGA Tour MobileLink, allowing golf fans free wireless access to real-time scoring, tour news and player information. Fans can access PGA Tour MobileLink on any text messaging or Internet-enabled phone, pager or personal digital assistant. The type and amount of information available will increase over the next several months and include real-time leaderboards, tournament schedules, weather and television broadcast reminders, player scores and statistics, and the latest tour headlines. Golf fans can register at pgatour.com or at sportsline.com.

MIAMI

 SunSpots show up at Honda Classic
  ITX-SunSpots billed itself as the official sun protection of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic March 7-10. It provided golfers, volunteers and patrons with sunscreen and sun protection, and offered free skin-cancer screenings. Part of that protection came in the form of nickel-size stickers that let the wearer know when he or she had been exposed to too much sun.

  Marlins renew Pro Player lease for 2 years
  The Florida Marlins renewed their lease at Pro Player Stadium for the 2003 season, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The action may be a sign that the Marlins intend to be in south Florida for at least two years. The terms of the lease remain the same as the current contract, with the team receiving only portions of concessions and parking, according to the report. But Marlins President David Samson said he "plans to continue discussions with stadium officials to see if a more favorable arrangement can be reached."

  Kasper hooks Marlins' TV job
  Len Kasper, who grew up in Michigan listening to Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell and as a professional filled in for Bob Uecker on Milwaukee Brewers broadcasts, was named the new television play-by-play voice of the Florida Marlins effective with the 2002 season. Kasper, 31, will call Marlins games on Fox Sports Net and the Marlins broadcast network.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

  Twins bring back 'Get To Know 'Em' campaign
 
The Minnesota Twins, in conjunction with Minneapolis-based advertising firm Hunt Adkins, will launch a second annual "Get To Know 'Em" advertising campaign featuring television and radio commercials. Hunt Adkins produced the second series of ads after last year's set was wildly popular. The ads introduce fans to the team's young, talented players in a humorous fashion. Featured this year will be Cristian Guzman, Luis Rivas, Corey Koskie, Brad Radke, Eric Milton, Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski.

NASHVILLE

Predators hope to make playoffs; if they don’t, season-ticket buyers will get refund.

  Predators link ticket prices to playoffs
 
In what could turn out to be a costly promotional gimmick, the Nashville Predators are tying a ticket price increase to a pledge to make the playoffs by the end of the 2002-03 season. Team owner Craig Leipold announced the "Playoff Pledge." The deal is this: Ticket prices are going up next year, from the current $15-$60 to $16-$64, a 6 percent overall increase for season tickets. Inner circle second-row and first-row seats will jump from $85 and $95, respectively, to $90 and $100, while the premium club seating price will remain unchanged at $75. Individual game prices have yet to be determined, but team officials say that $10 seats still will be available. Here's the hitch: If the team doesn't make the playoffs, season-ticket holders get the difference back, either as a refund or applied to their season tickets for the 2003-04 season. Leipold said the team's business costs have risen over the last four years, and that season-ticket holders to date have not been asked to share that burden. According to the team, no other NHL franchise has gone four consecutive seasons without a price hike.

ORLANDO

  Magic, Sunshine extend telecast agreement
  The Orlando Magic and Sunshine Network announced a three-year extension of their television agreement. The extension continues a partnership between the Magic and Sunshine that began with the inception of the NBA team in 1989. The Sunshine Network will carry a minimum of 42 Magic regular-season games along with two preseason and available playoff games through the 2004-05 NBA season.

PHILADELPHIA

  Flyers' wives raise $1.27M
  The 26th Annual Flyers' Wives Fight for Lives Carnival raised $1.27 million, the second-largest total in the history of the event. Proceeds from the carnival, held March 3 at the First Union Center, benefit the Barry Ashbee Laboratories at the Isadore Brodsky Institute for Cancer and Blood at Philadelphia's MCP Hahnemann University and other Delaware Valley charities. Since its inception, the annual event has raised more than $15 million.

  Global Sports changing name
  Global Sports Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa., is planning to change its name, pending shareholder approval, to GSI Commerce Inc. effective in May. Michael G. Rubin, the company's CEO, said the name change will better reflect Global Sports' expansion beyond operating Internet sites for sports teams and businesses in the sporting goods industry.

  Riversharks ticket sales up
  Ticket sales for the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks, a member of the independent Atlantic League based in West Chester, Pa., are well ahead of last year's pace. The team announced it reached 125,000 tickets sold before the end of February. The Riversharks did not hit the 125,000 market last year, their inaugural season, until after the Opening Day game on May 11. In its first season, the team's total paid attendance was 280,329.

PHOENIX

  Diamondbacks fans to get rings
  With only a few thousand tickets remaining for the Diamondbacks' April 2 game against the San Diego Padres, the team announced it will distribute 50,000 World Champion replica rings to fans attending the game, up from the 30,000 originally announced. Bank One will sponsor the ring giveaway, which is set to coincide with the Diamondbacks' public ring ceremony, in which players and coaches will be presented with their rings before the game.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

  Courage redesigns logo
 
The WUSA's Carolina Courage has unveiled a retooled logo. The logo was created by Michael Doret, a graphic artist based in Hollywood, in collaboration with the Splinter Group, a Durham marketing and advertising agency. The fresh look is being rolled out as the team prepares to start the 2002 season at its new home, the State Capital Soccer Park in Cary. Last season, the Courage played on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

SACRAMENTO

  Fine Host to serve at Raley Field
 
The Sacramento River Cats and River City Stadium Management selected Fine Host Corp. of Greenwich, Conn., to run the food and beverage service at Raley Field, starting with the season that debuts next month. Fine Host replaces River City Concessions, which managed the venue's food and drink concession for the ballpark's first two years. Funding for the River Cats Foundation that was generated through River City Concessions will now be provided by the River Cats. The team and Fine Host haven't decided if they will offer new products or change prices.

SAN DIEGO

  Spirit beats 2001 ticket sales
  The WUSA's San Diego Spirit sold 2,217 full-season tickets through March 4, bettering the 2,009 season tickets sold in the team's debut season of 2001. The Spirit opens at home against Carolina on April 13 in a renovated Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. The team has widened the playing field, increased seating and enhanced spectator sightlines.

ST. LOUIS

  Sports commission eyes figure skating event
 
The St. Louis Sports Commission already is working to assemble a bid for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2006, even though the proposals are not due until August. St. Louis lost out to Dallas three years ago to host the event in 2003, which is expected to attract some 1,500 figure skating athletes, coaches and officials. The event in 2006, an Olympic year, will in effect be the qualifying round for the U.S. Olympic team, said Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, which is assembling the package.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

  Devil Rays hire JP Morgan
 
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have taken down their for-sale sign. The Major League Baseball franchise hired investment banking firm JP Morgan to evaluate alternatives including a possible sale of the team. Vince Naimoli, Rays managing general partner, made the announcement at the same time John McHale Jr., the team's chief operating officer for the last 10 months, left for a new executive position with MLB. Tampa is pursuing the possibility of hosting a future Army-Navy football game at Raymond James Stadium as early as 2004. Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk toured the stadium earlier this month with Tampa Sports Authority officials.

WILKES-BARRE, PA.

A sellout crowd at First Union Arena at Casey Plaza watches the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who currently lead the AHL with an average attendance of 8,333. They also lead the league with 34 sellouts in 35 games this season.

 AHL breaks 5 million in attendance
 
The American Hockey League has broken the 5 million mark in attendance for the first time in league history. This marks the 14th consecutive record-breaking season for the AHL. The previous record was 4,378,109. Arenas are playing to more than 56 percent of capacity, and year-to-date average attendance is up 8 percent. With more than 150 games remaining, the AHL expects to exceed 6 million fans during the regular season and up to 7 million after the playoffs.

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