SBJ/April 8 - 14, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

Mizuno picks up man from Braves
Norcross, Ga.-based Mizuno USA Inc. has hired Jim Guadagno, the Braves' baseball systems operator, as manager of baseball promotions. Mizuno currently works with the likes of Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez and Georgia Tech. Guadagno starts his new job today.

Braves honoring vets in 2002
The Braves Museum and Hall of Fame will honor 63 Braves who have served in the armed forces since 1917. "The Bravest of Braves" highlights the military careers of men like catcher Henry Morgan "Hank" Gowdy (the first MLB player to enlist in the U.S. Army in World War I), pitching great Warren Spahn (whose Purple Heart is part of the display) and former military reservist and Braves manager Joe Torre (now New York Yankees manager). The camera used by Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg, who secretly took photos later used to plan the successful Doolittle raid, the first attack on the Japanese mainland during World War II, is also on display. The exhibit, which opened March 29, runs through the end of the season.

BALTIMORE

Orioles unveil new menu
Aramark, a Philadelphia company that operates food concessions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, unveiled a new menu last month. Regular Joes will be able to get veggie dogs and quaff imported beer in a new "international beer garden." If you're on the club level, a sushi chef will be on hand to prepare your favorite rolls. Think only Camden Yards is catering to the chilled chardonnay crowd? Aramark, which operates in 13 major league stadiums, is introducing shrimp cocktail at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Colorado buffalo carpaccio at Denver's Coors Field.

DENVER

Street modifications needed for race
The Grand Prix of Denver can't go forward without some modifications to the city's streets. Race organizers say it needs to have Auraria Parkway, which runs alongside the Pepsi Center, widened by four feet. Organizers already said they would pay $1.3 million for improvements; the extra $1 million to widen Auraria Parkway will come from organizers as well.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

Drag racing fantasy game rolls out
Fantasy Sports Inc., a subsidiary of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Silverstar Holdings Ltd., said it has developed the "Fantasy Drag Racing Challenge" game. In a release, the company said it is the first fantasy sports game for the avid hot rod fan. Modeled on its highly successful Fantasy Winston Cup Challenge, the game allows users to pick drivers from all four National Hot Rod Association professional classes, an online "Hot Tips" section and the ability to trade drivers on a weekly basis.

AOL Latin America to cover World Cup
America Online Latin America, a Fort Lauderdale-based interactive services provider in Latin America, is bringing the 2002 World Cup to its members in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as well as to members of the AOL-branded service in Puerto Rico. AOL Latin America said it will have extensive coverage and content in special interactive areas on its Sports Channels and at Keywords: Mundial 2002 (Spanish) and Copa do Mundo (Portuguese). AOL Latin America's World Cup content offerings also will be available to AOL's U.S. members through AOL Keyword: Latino.

DirecTV to offer Fox Sports Latin America
DirecTV Latin America LLC in Fort Lauderdale and Fox Sports Latin America have reached an agreement to provide Fox Sports Latin America to DirecTV subscribers in Latin America. DirecTV customers can now access the 24-hour channel, which offers Copa Libertadores, Coppa Italia, English Premier League and soccer from Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Colombia. Terms were not announced.

HOUSTON

Minority owner joins Texans
Javier Loya joins the Houston Texans as a minority owner, less than two months after former Enron chairman and CEO Ken Lay sold his interest. Loya is president and CEO of Houston-based Choice! Energy, an institutional energy broker. Loya serves on the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Houston Minority Business Council. Bob McNair and his family own more than 70 percent of the team, while individual investors own the remaining 30 percent.

Texans meet Dallas in first Reliant game

Loya
The NFL released the Houston Texans' 2002 schedule on March 27, providing some interesting bookends to the team's inaugural season. The first regular-season game to be played in the new Reliant Stadium pits the Texans against the Dallas Cowboys, who used to be a rival for the old Houston Oilers. And the last regular-season game at home is against the Tennessee Titans, who formerly were the Houston Oilers.

Concrete poured for basketball arena
Five hundred cubic yards of concrete was poured March 26 for the downtown basketball arena. It took 50 cement trucks six hours to pour the concrete, which covers 12,000 square feet. The Houston Rockets will move to the new arena when its current lease at the Compaq Center expires in 2003.

INDIANAPOLIS

Ice coach/GM resigns under pressure
Indianapolis Ice coach and general manager Rod Davidson resigned under pressure March 26 after three years with the franchise. Davidson was the coach his first two years, winning the Central Hockey League’s Miron Cup his first season. This season he also took over as general manager, replacing longtime franchise fixture Brad Beery, who took a job with the Indianapolis Colts. Davidson, 54, a native of Canada, said team owner Horn Chen told him to resign or be fired. Chen said he wants to take the Ice in another direction.

IRL fan fave wants out of Walker contract
Indy Racing League fan favorite Sarah Fisher is ready to get rolling, and apparently she’s tired of waiting for team owner Derrick Walker to start her engine.

Sarah Fisher has hired a law firm to negotiate an end to her contract.
Fisher, 21, who drove for Indianapolis-based Walker Racing the last two seasons in the IRL, has hired local law firm Ice Miller to negotiate an end to her contract. Walker has been unable to secure sponsorship money to put Fisher in a car for the first three races this season and it’s beginning to look like the entire season will be lost for Fisher if she stays with Walker.

JACKSONVILLE

Jaguars to host fan fest on draft day
The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the 2002 Budweiser Draft Day Fan Fest at Alltel Stadium. Season-ticket holders can watch the draft from the Touchdown Club at the stadium April 20, from noon to 7:30 p.m. Majority owner Wayne Weaver, NFL supervisor of officials Neely Dunn and Jaguars equipment manager Drew Hampton will answer fans' questions, and the team will show a presentation on the stadium's proposed $40 million renovation. The team also will host the 5K Draft Day Dash, a twilight run starting at Alltel Stadium and winding through downtown Jacksonville.

Fan forum draws 350 to Alltel
About 350 fans turned out at Alltel Stadium on March 28 for the team's biggest fan forum yet. The forums began as a series of meetings at Rotary Clubs and other small venues. Increasing demand prompted a citywide fan forum at the stadium, complete with complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Owner Wayne Weaver and other team officials answered fans' questions on Super Bowl plans and proposed renovations.

KANSAS CITY

Royals introduce mini-ballpark
The Kansas City Royals introduced the "Little K," a miniature ballpark beyond right field at Kauffman Stadium. For $2, children and adults get five swings to hit a Wiffle-like ball over the fence. Pepsi sponsors the attraction.

No slogan this year, just 'Join the Fun'
The Royals won't use an official slogan this season. Instead, TV spots will use the tag "Join the Fun."

MIAMI

Heat will lose $10M-plus this year

Heat player Vladimir Stepania is fouled as he shoots against the Detroit Pistons last week.
The Miami Heat will lose more than $10 million this year despite chopping $20 million off payroll last year, according to a Miami Herald report that quotes owner Micky Arison.

ADT forum: Women’s security and safety
ADT Security Services hosted an interactive panel discussion on women’s security and safety issues during the Nasdaq-100 Open. ADT, a unit of Tyco Fire and Security Services, is the presenting sponsor of the 18th Nasdaq-100 Open, a 12-day combined ATP and Sanex WTA Tour event featuring the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. It was the second in a series of community forums hosted by ADT to address women’s security.

MILWAUKEE

Squeaky roof to operate on limited basis
Miller Park's retractable roof squeaks, but it will be used on a limited basis.
Miller Park’s retractable roof will be operated on a limited basis this season until an evaluation is completed of the pivot system that allows movement of the roof panels. The Milwaukee Brewers and the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball District, which runs the stadium, are concerned about a squeaking sound that is heard when the roof is being opened or closed. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America, which designed and built the roof pivot, has been unable to eliminate the noise, but its executives proclaim as safe both the roof and its workings. The roof remained closed during the Brewers’ three exhibition games on Easter weekend against the Chicago White Sox.

Gymnastics championships set in 2003
USA Gymnastics will bring its 2003 U.S. Gymnastics Championships to Milwaukee in an event expected to inject more than $2 million into the local economy, the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau said. The event is scheduled for June 19-22, 2003, with events to be held at the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Midwest Express Center downtown.

NASHVILLE

Predators to give away car, other prizes
The Nashville Predators will give away a 2002 Chevy Avalanche and other prizes as part of the team’s fourth annual FANGtastic FANale on Thursday. Attendees at the final home game, against the New York Islanders, will have the chance to win the car, a camper and other premiums, including third jerseys worn by team members, Murray products including 50 motorized mini-bikes and two go-karts, an all-terrain vehicle and Southwest Airlines tickets.

Coach to lead Canada team
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz has been named assistant coach for Canada at the 2002 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships. The event, held in Sweden April 26-May 11, will see Trotz team with former Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock to serve as assistants for Wayne Fleming, the Canadian Hockey Association’s vice president, who will be head coach. Trotz has coached all 319 games in Nashville’s existence, giving him the second-longest tenure of any NHL expansion coach. He is tied for the eighth-longest current NHL coaching tenure.

OAKLAND

Report: Raiders demote attorney?
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis may have benched antitrust attorney Joseph Alioto Jr., the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Raiders have hired Larry Feldman to try a second portion of the team’s case against the National Football League next month over the issue of revenue sharing. Neither the Raiders nor Alioto are saying whether Alioto is still part of the team. “It’s up to Al,” Alioto told the Chronicle. Alioto was the team’s attorney last May when a Los Angeles jury shot down the first part of the Raiders’ $1.2 billion breach-of-contract suit against the NFL.

A’s add seats behind home plate
The Oakland A’s added about 30 seats behind home plate, and they’re selling quicker than a Tim Hudson fastball. Only a half-dozen seats remain at $6,150 for a half-season or $12,450 for all 81 games. The section, which has sold out since 1998, includes all-you-can-eat food and beverage delivered to the seat.

ORLANDO

Braves score with spring training
As spring training came to a close, the folks at Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports were celebrating.
Rafael Furcal throws on the run at a Braves-Expos spring training game.
The Atlanta Braves’ six-week stint in Orlando brought the second-highest attendance levels in the team’s five-year history with Disney. For the Braves’ 16-game series, 126,829 fans came to get a preview of the 2002 team. The 2000 session brought in the highest attendance figures yet, with 129,883 fans in 15 games.

PHILADELPHIA

Boathouse designs baseball garments
Boathouse Sports, a Philadelphia manufacturer of custom outerwear for athletic teams, has developed two new garments designed specifically for baseball players: the Gore Windstopper MVP Throwing Shirt and the Gore Windstopper RBI Hitting Shirt. Company officials said both products have several custom design options that allow the garments to match a team’s specific look.

PITTSBURGH

ANC to supply signs at PNC Park
ANC Sports Enterprises of Purchase, N.Y., has been tapped by the Pittsburgh Pirates to supply three rotational signs at PNC Park. Each of the signs can supply 25 messages.

SACRAMENTO

New arena plan could work, study says
Building a new arena for the Sacramento Kings in or near the downtown Sacramento rail yard could work financially, a newly released study has found. But the city of Sacramento might have to pay for more than the usual public infrastructure involved in such projects, based on an analysis of comparable markets with NBA teams. Goal Group Consulting LLC, Sports-Economics and Keyser Marston Associates Inc. issued the report commissioned by the city of Sacramento; Union Pacific Railroad, owner of the mostly unused 240-acre rail yard; and Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Kings. The goal was to look at creating a new sports and entertainment district downtown, to be anchored by a new arena and other destination attractions. A new arena and parking structure would cost $280 million to $320 million in 2006 dollars, the study found.

State agrees to back 2012 efforts
The state of California will back up efforts to pay for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games — if the state gets the Games. Gov. Gray Davis has signed legislation making the state’s taxpayers the “last resort” if the Games’ backers run short of money to pay their bills. The actual amount the state might pay is unknown but the legislation says it could be up to $250 million. First, however, the San Francisco Bay area’s bid must win out against those of three other U.S. cities — Houston, New York and Washington — and then the U.S. selection must win in international competition.

SAN FRANCISCO

Giants won’t relinquish San Jose
San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan said the franchise won’t grant the Oakland A’s permission to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, even if offered a buyout. Magowan’s comments followed a San Jose Mercury News report that quoted A’s owner Steve Schott as saying Magowan suggested the Giants would be willing to allow the A’s to move into the Giants territory — if the Giants were compensated. Magowan suggested at least $50 million, Schott told the Mercury News. Magowan told the San Francisco Chronicle that he approached Schott but that Schott “totally misconstrued what I was trying to tell him.”

Enron name to go from scoreboard
The San Francisco Giants have a tentative deal with a company that would replace Enron as an advertiser on the Pacific Bell Park center-field scoreboard, Giants Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer told the San Francisco Chronicle. The deal must be approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. Enron has been a Giants sponsor since 1997.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

Gruden warns players about radio shows
Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has issued a broadcast advisory to players who have local radio and TV deals extending into the coming season. Gruden expressed concern that some Bucs players might be concentrating more on their weekly radio shows than on Sunday’s NFL games. As many as 17 Bucs players were under contract for radio and TV appearances last year, including stars wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Cheap seats really restricted at Rays games
The cheapest tickets at Tampa Bay Devil Rays games won’t get fans too far this season. The Rays are offering seats in the outfield Beach section for $5 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. But buyers of those tickets will be required to enter Tropicana Field through a side entrance, and access to other areas of the dome stadium will not be permitted until the final two innings of each game.

Tropicana bidding to host Final Four
Tropicana Field, which hosted the 1999 NCAA Final Four, is making a bid to host it again in 2008. Officials with the University of South Florida, the city of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau are compiling the necessary paperwork for a filing deadline this fall. The NCAA gave the Tampa Bay area high marks for hosting the basketball finale three years ago, despite complaints that hotels and event venues were scattered far from the 41,000-seat stadium.

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