SBJ/April 1 - 7, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Braves offer new kind of TV deal

The Insider lets ball fans switch between live broadcasts and replays.
Atlanta-based Immersion Entertainment LLC has developed The Insider, now being offered at Turner Field. The wireless, binocular-shaped device allows fans to switch between live-game broadcast, replays and live camera shots from the ballpark — or watch other sporting events, news or entertainment on seven channels of low-power TV. "Polls have shown that some fans stay at home to watch the TV broadcast. This revolutionizes the way fans can watch baseball," said Taz Anderson, who heads Immersion Entertainment. The Braves are the first Major League Baseball team to offer the device. The Insider, which has been tested by NASCAR, NCAA football, the NFL and the Braves, will rent for $20 a game.


Olympic baseball group to visit Aberdeen
Economic development leaders in Harford County, Md., will play host to USA Baseball this month. The organization, which selects and trains the U.S. Olympic team as well as three others on collegiate and youth levels, will be scouting out the area April 15-16 for a potential headquarters relocation. USA Baseball in Tucson, Ariz., is particularly interested in land around the $38 million Ripken stadium project in Aberdeen. The location will be the last stop for USA Baseball representatives, who are also visiting Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Osceola County, Fla., and Palm Beach County, Fla. The organization expects to make a final decision in late May.

Unitas donates collection to Ruth museum

Johnny Unitas will donate his collection to the Babe Ruth museum in Baltimore.
Former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas decided to donate his personal collection of football memorabilia to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore. The museum also serves as the archives for the Baltimore Colts franchise. Included in the 200-item collection is Unitas' single-bar helmet, the Bert Bell Award for being the league MVP in 1967, and a 1949 game film of one of his high school games. Unitas had considered donating his collection to the University of Louisville, where he played college football.


Bengals alter Cinergy lease with county
The Cincinnati Bengals had their Cinergy Field lease changed by Hamilton County so team officials have to purchase tickets only to Cincinnati Reds games they want to attend, and for only the number of people actually in attendance. That's a deal none of the other corporations renting suites get, according to the county. Renting a luxury suite at Cinergy typically costs $16,000 for the season. And you have to buy 20 tickets at $31 apiece for each of 81 home games — another $50,000. The county gets all the revenue from suite sales while the Reds get ticket revenue. But the county had to agree to the special deal, which county officials signed off on last month.


Tigers sign with Sportservice
After two years of trying to do it themselves through Ilitch family-owned Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Tigers signed a 20-year agreement with Sportservice Corp. to provide food and retail services at Comerica Park. The new agreement will include all merchandise, traditional food and beverage concessions, service to the Tiger Den, the Tiger Club, the Beer Hall and executive suites as well as catering for all private parties. Sportservice was the Tigers' concessionaire at Tiger Stadium from 1930 to 1999.


Griffins to host Red Wings game

Sean Avery (left) and Ryan Gaucher in the 2000 Red & White Game
The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League will host the 2002 Red and White Game, a Detroit Red Wings intrasquad contest, at Van Andel Arena on Sept. 19. Tickets for the Red and White Game will be included in the Griffins' full season and mini-plan ticket packages for the 2002-03 AHL season. Both renewing and new season-ticket holders who buy a ticket package for the coming 2002 Calder Cup playoffs will be allowed to buy additional tickets for the Red and White Game, in a quantity limited to the number of seats in their 2002-03 season-ticket package.


Last game in arena to be televised
The AHL's Hershey Bears and ABC-27 have teamed up to televise the Bears' final regular-season home game at Hersheypark Arena. The final game, against the Philadelphia Phantoms, will take place Sunday. The team will honor several former Bears, including Frank Mathers, Mike Nykoluk, Mitch Lamoureux, Tim Tookey, Obie O'Brien and Willie Marshall. The Calder Cup trophy will be on display throughout the game on its last stop of the 2002 AHL Calder Cup Tour.


Reliant tests retractable roof
Reliant Stadium's retractable roof system took its first test run, moving from the north end zone to its closed position at the south end zone March 23. Uni-Systems Inc., which designed and built the retractable roof, also installed the retractable roof at Astros Field and the movable outfield walls at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Once the 500-foot by 385-foot roof at Reliant Stadium is completed, it will be able to open and close in about 10 minutes. The new home for the Houston Texans and RodeoHouston will open in August.

Astros donate to ex-Enron employees
The Houston Astros marked their March 30 exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox by donating $150,000 to former employees of Enron Corp., whose name was stripped from the ballpark, now known as Astros Field. The donation was made to the Enron Employee Transition Fund, which is assisting the 5,100 people who lost their jobs after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in December in the largest-ever corporate bankruptcy case.


Lilly, Newman to race against Viagra
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co., one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, has reached a deal to sponsor the Newman-Haas racing team in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, and is reportedly negotiating with team co-owner Paul Newman to be the spokesman for its new drug Cialis. Lilly currently has its corporate name on the side pod of the car, and sources close to the team said Lilly is pouring more than $1 million into the team this year. But Lilly officials want Cialis' name and logo on the side of the car once the drug wins approval of the Food and Drug Administration later this year. Sources close to the deal said Newman being a spokesman for Cialis, which will compete in the market with Pfizer Inc.'s Viagra, was key to making the deal happen.


NAIA draws 40,198 over six days
The NAIA Division I men's basketball national championship in Kansas City drew 40,198 during its six-day run. It was the tournament's largest attendance since 1992. The March 19 championship game attracted a crowd of 4,713 to Municipal Auditorium. The tournament injected $5 million into the local economy.


KCAL to broadcast 10 Galaxy games
The Los Angeles Galaxy and KCAL 9 have entered a three-year broadcasting agreement. Under the terms of the deal, KCAL will be the exclusive local broadcaster for 10 games of the Galaxy, the Anschutz Entertainment Group-operated Major League Soccer franchise. The two companies will collaborate on a number of unique marketing initiatives, as well as on-air and on-site promotions. KCAL will have an enhanced presence at all Galaxy games and related events.


Schwartz makes deal with Sanders

Schwartz Sports of Buffalo Grove, Ill., said it has an exclusive signature agreement with former Detroit Lions and NFL star Barry Sanders for the production, signing and distribution of Sanders-autographed memorabilia and collections. The deal was arranged by Miami Beach-based Pro Access. It will allow him to sign jerseys, balls, helmets, photos and other items for Schwartz Sports. Terms were not announced.


Pettit Center talks with USOC
Officials with the struggling Pettit National Ice Center met March 18 and 19 with representatives of the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Speedskating to discuss strategies to improve the cash flow of the financially struggling indoor ice rink. Pettit Center officials are seeking support for the facility as an Olympic training center and marketing help from the USOC. The Pettit Center board is negotiating to refinance the building's construction bonds in an effort to reduce monthly expenses.


Scooters go to ticket-deal buyers
Fans who buy two $20 tickets in a package for the Minnesota Timberwolves game against Golden State will receive a Timberwolves foldable scooter decked out in the team colors with a KDWB-FM sticker.

Volleyball to be broadcast live

The Chill's Wiz Bachman (left) and Kate Fitzgerald block the ball in the March 22 game. The Force won 3-0.
United States Professional Volleyball's Grand Rapids Force-Minnesota Chill match was broadcast live by KWEB-AM 1270, a Sporting News Radio affiliate in Rochester, Minn. The station also broadcasts Twins, Timberwolves, Wild and Vikings games. Chill and KWEB officials are investigating the possibility of broadcasting the away playoff matches in late April and May. This is the first USPV event to be broadcast on live radio. Eric Peterson will be the play-by-play voice for the match.


Preds create 'Man of Year' award
The Nashville Predators and Chevy Trucks have partnered to create the Chevy Trucks "Man of the Year" award. The title will be bestowed on the Predator who "most exemplifies his commitment to Nashville and Middle Tennessee through outstanding community service," according to the team. Voters can cast ballots at the team's Web site, or at the Chevy Showroom at the Gaylord Entertainment Center through Saturday. The winner will be announced April 11 and receive a crystal award cup. Chevy Trucks will make a financial donation in the player's name to the charity of his choice.


Ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange were (from left) Iain Banner (CEO, Laureus), Michael Johnson, Wolfgang Inhester (executive director, Laureus), Dick Grasso (chairman and CEO, NYSE), Edwin Moses, Paul Halata (CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA), Boris Becker, Emerson Fittipaldi and Sir Bobby Charlton.

Laureus members ring NYSE bell
Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, including Boris Becker, Edwin Moses, Michael Johnson, Emerson Fittipaldi and Sir Bobby Charlton, rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell to start trading March 18. Aside from opening the market, the academy members were in New York to work with children through the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and to announce the nominees for the 2002 Laureus World Sports Awards.


Kerrigan, Marzano to host show
Two former baseball players with strong ties to the Philadelphia region will host "Phillies Post Game Live," broadcast on Comcast SportsNet, this season. Recently fired Boston Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan will host the program with former catcher John Marzano. Kerrigan grew up in the Philadelphia area and played baseball at Father Judge High School and Temple University, both in Philadelphia. Marzano played high school and college ball in Philadelphia at Central High and Temple. They replace former Phillies outfielder Glenn Wilson.


Diamondbacks invite fans to ASK
The Arizona Diamondbacks have created the Accessible Seating Klub for fans with disabilities who want more control over the use of wheelchair seating. A small percentage of wheelchair seating has been set aside for members of ASK. This will increase the likelihood of fans choosing wheelchair seating at Bank One Ballpark. Members will get a monthly flier with information on available club seating, coming events at America West Arena and Dodge Theater, and accessibility news. Accessible seating is still available for fans who choose not to become a member of ASK.


Volleyball to be broadcast live
The Sacramento Kings and Carl's Jr. have teamed up to offer at the Sacramento-area restaurants bobbleheads of star players Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, Doug Christie and Scot Pollard. Starting with the Stojakovic collectible, the bobbleheads are being introduced over a five-week period that began March 23. The Stojakovic doll came with a free display stand. The bobbleheads are sold separately for $3.99 with the purchase of a combo meal. This is the first time the Kings have offered a collectible set of bobbleheads.


Trio invests in Giants
Outgoing Yahoo! Inc. President Jeff Mallett bought an undisclosed stake in the San Francisco Giants' ownership group in early March. Mallett joined former Charles Schwab & Co. vice chairman Lawrence Stupski and Cisco Systems senior vice president Dan Scheinman — both of whom bought in during last season — as new investors in San Francisco Baseball Associates LP. The trio, which collectively owns less than 10 percent of the Giants, represents new money for the franchise since none of the current owners sold their interests, said Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer.

State to commit $250M to 2012 bid
The California Legislature pushed through a bill that could commit $250 million of the state's general fund as a financial backstop for a 2012 San Francisco Summer Olympic Games. The measure earmarks the first pure public dollars to the potential Northern California Games. But the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, which assembled the bid, said the state trust fund would be tapped only if overruns exceed $500 million in anticipated profits and $250 million in private insurance coverage. The state Senate on March 21 passed the bill, which awaits the signature of Gov. Gray Davis. The U.S. Olympic Committee told BASOC, which is resubmitting its bid in early April, that it should have a state-backed safety net, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The San Francisco bid — stretching from Sacramento to Monterey — is competing with New York, Washington, D.C./Baltimore and Houston to be the U.S. candidate city. The other cities already have public money committed.


Sabercats may be on way out
This may be the last year for the Tacoma (Wash.) Sabercats hockey team. California-based CoachSports Inc., which owns the West Coast Hockey League team, is negotiating a new lease with city of Tacoma, owners of the Cats' home ice the Tacoma Dome. Unless the Sabercats get a sweetheart deal, they will cease operations after this season, CoachSports said. The Sabercats rank last in the eight-team league in attendance at 2,818 and lost a reported $750,000 last season. The city has already said the team's current lease barely meets expenses and it is not willing to subsidize the team. CoachSports owns the rights to place a team in Ontario, Calif.


Coke deal pushes out Pepsi
One of the latest skirmishes in the cola wars took place at Dover Motorsports' Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. The track signed a multiyear agreement with Coca-Cola Co. to be the official soft drink of the track. Track executives said the new arrangement pushes out Pepsi-Cola, which until the announcement had its own exclusive relationship with the track. Gateway International declined to disclose the value of the deal with Coke's Central States Bottling in St. Charles, Mo. The agreement places Coca-Cola's products as the official soft drink and bottled water at all race events at Gateway. Coca-Cola is also the official soft drink of NASCAR.


Lightning spotlights Khabibulin
The Tampa Bay Lightning centered its marketing efforts, much as it has its entire season of play, on goalie Nikolai Khabibulin during its March 22 game versus Montreal at the Ice Palace. Khabibulin, goalie for the Russian Olympic hockey team, was presented with a Tiffany bowl and a watch before the game, and 10,000 cardboard masks resembling his trademark "Bulin Wall" helmet were handed out to fans.


Leafs TV takes exclusive interview
The Toronto hockey media were left fuming at the NHL's trade deadline when Toronto Maple Leafs coach-general manager Pat Quinn granted his only interview of the day to the club's in-house digital television station, Leafs TV. The club said videotapes of Quinn's interview with Leafs TV host Bob Harwood would be made available to the mainstream media. No other media accepted the offer. Leafs TV executive producer John Shannon said Quinn did his station a favor, saying Leafs TV can't beat rivals on scoops, so it has to have other way of competing. Other media outlets, though, mocked Quinn's decision, calling it a "power trip" and an insult to fans looking for answers why the Leafs didn't make any deadline day trades.

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