SBJ/April 15 - 21, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Ripken Baseball hires ad agency
Ripken Baseball, the sports business venture of former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr., hired Baltimore-based advertising agency Planit to develop its branding efforts. Financial details were not disclosed. Ripken Baseball, formerly known as Tufton Sports & Management, hired Planit as part of efforts to familiarize the public with its new name and business ventures. The company has invested in and will manage a new baseball park scheduled to open this summer in Aberdeen, Md. It owns a minor league baseball team that will begin play at the stadium this year, and also will operate several youth and adult baseball camps.


Boxing card draws record crowd
The "Buffalo Blast" boxing card at the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena drew a record crowd. All 9,554 tickets to the event, promoted by Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing and featuring local heavyweight "Baby Joe" Mesi, were sold four days in advance. Previously, the largest crowd at Alumni Arena was 8,926 for a UB-North Carolina basketball game in 1999.

Bills' season-ticket prices steady
The Buffalo Bills announced that 2002 season-ticket prices will remain unchanged for the third straight year. The price of individual game tickets, however, is being increased by $3 per seat. Season tickets cost $30 to $46 per seat, while individual game prices range from $38 to $56 in five seating categories.


Wolves give away Porsche

Victor O'Block won a Porsche during the Chicago Wolves' Fan Appreciation Weekend.
As part of their annual Fan Appreciation Weekend, the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves ran an intermission promotion at their April 6 game against the Houston Aeros, featuring a 1986 Wolves Classic Porsche giveaway. The promotion, sponsored by 105.9 WCKG, involved five fans chosen through a random drawing, who were each given a key. The lucky fan whose key started the car was awarded the 1986 Porsche. The winner was Victor O'Block from Libertyville, Ill.


Cheer-only gym moving to bigger home
In less than a year, Kentucky Elite North cheerleader-only gym has grown from two employees and five high school squads to 20 employees instructing and coaching 800 kids. The business has grown so big, in fact, that the owners just bought the 16,000-square-foot Town & Country soccer facility in Park Hills and are converting it to a cheer-only gym for Kentucky Elite North.



Nelson to endorse Adams clubs

Larry Nelson, a member of the Professional Golf Association Senior Tour, has signed an endorsement deal with Adams Golf Inc., a Plano, Texas, maker of clubs. Nelson, who was player of the year in 2000, will use a number of Adams products, including the 363 driver, the GT fairway woods and the GT Tour irons, according to the Dallas Morning News.

RadioShack putting stores at racetracks
RadioShack Corp. is putting up retail stores at five racetracks run by Speedway Motorsports Inc. The RadioShack@Speedway locations will be at SMI tracks in Las Vegas; Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta; Charlotte; and Bristol, Tenn. Fort Worth-based RadioShack will determine its product selection based on sales data and will offer a host of gear to drivers and race teams, including race scanners, batteries, headphones and fanny packs. The company will be peddling its wares at five races this year.



Sprint, SportsLine to share content
Sprint, which operates an all-digital, PCS nationwide network, and Fort Lauderdale-based Inc., an Internet sports media company and publisher of CBS, have a deal to share content. The service gives Sprint PCS customers up-to-the-minute coverage of a wide variety of sports. No terms were disclosed.


Attendance down at Houston Open
The Shell Houston Open sold about the same number of tickets this year as last

Weather is blamed for the lower turnout at the Houston Open.
year, but attendance at the weeklong event that ended March 31 dropped by 10,000 people. Approximately 215,000 spectators were on hand this year, down from 225,000 in 2001. Bad weather on Saturday and Easter celebrations on Sunday were to blame, said event spokesman Burt Darden.


ABA again shortens regular season
For the second straight season, the ABA 2000 shortened its regular season. Officials of the Indianapolis-headquartered professional basketball league cut the last month of the season and scheduled a single-elimination tournament last week for the league's remaining seven teams. The title game was set for Friday in Las Vegas.

Fisher released from contract
Derrick Walker, owner of Indianapolis-based Walker Racing, released driver Sarah Fisher from her contract to pursue other racing opportunities. Walker has been unable to secure sponsorship to put Fisher, 21, on the track this year.


Governor supports state funds for stadiums
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden announced his support for a proposal to use $294 million in state money for major improvements to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City. No appropriations would be made until 2006. The state would spend $9.8 million a year for 30 years, in addition to the $3 million annually that is now appropriated. For the proposal to take effect, Kansas City-area voters in Missouri and Kansas first would have to renew an eighth-cent bistate cultural tax. Half of these proceeds would go to the stadiums for such upgrades as wider concourses, more rest rooms, more parking and additional retail space.

Conference tourneys set for 2003

The 2003 Mid-Continent Conference men's and women's basketball tournaments will be played at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Women will play March 8, 10 and 11. Men will play March 9-11. Kansas City, home to conference member University of Missouri-Kansas City, beat out Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., for the event. For the last three seasons, the tournament took place in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Royals sell fewer season tickets
The Kansas City Royals have sold about 8,600 season tickets, down from 10,051 last year, said senior vice president/baseball operations Mark Gorris. For the team to be competitive, Gorris said, it must sell more than 15,000 season tickets and draw 2.5 million fans per season.


Golf chapter is group's 100th
The formation of a new Memphis chapter puts the Executive Women's Golf Association at 100 chapters in the United States and Canada. EWGA membership has grown 30 percent during the past two years. Lori Carey, Jan Adams and Sharon Leonard are founders of the Memphis chapter, whose host club is Stonebridge Golf Club in Lakeland, Tenn. Memphis joins Nashville and Knoxville as chapters in Tennessee.


Conference draws 622, down from last year
The Sportel America conference in Miami attracted 622 reps from 320 companies, down from 900 reps and 398 firms last year, according to a Daily Variety report. Despite the low turnout, Heidi Ueberroth, NBA executive vice president/ global media properties and marketing partnerships, said attendees still found significant buyers were there, according to the report.

Heat selling mini-plan for tickets
The Miami Heat launched a ticket mini-plan titled "The Playoff Contender Package" for the 2002-03 season. The pack offers fans the opportunity to catch the Heat when they take on this year's NBA playoff contenders at AmericanAirlines Arena next season.


CVB sees returns on sports efforts
The Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau stepped up its efforts to attract sporting events five years ago and is finally seeing returns. Milwaukee's strengths in hosting sporting events include its venues, such as the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Bradley Center. Among recent and upcoming events: the Mideast regionals for the NCAA women's basketball tournament, the World Short Track Speedskating Team Championships, the Women's International Bowling Congress Championship Tournament and the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.


Twins' opener in Kansas City got high TV ratings; their home opener was a sellout.

Twins' opener gets high ratings
The Minnesota Twins' opener against the Kansas City Royals was the team's highest-rated opening game since 1996. The telecast recorded a 3.8 household rating, nearly 200 percent higher than the 1.3 rating the team's 2001 opening game achieved. Additionally, team officials think they will reach their goal of selling 7,000 season tickets without a problem. The team's home opener last Friday was a sellout.

Wild ticket prices up 3 percent
The average price for Minnesota Wild tickets for the 2002-03 season will increase by 3 percent, to $46.76, but will still be below the league average ticket price of $47.16. Tickets will range from $10 to $75.


State gives $15M for events center
The University of Pittsburgh was given $15 million more from the state of Pennsylvania to help offset the increased costs of the still-not-completed $82 million Petersen Events Center at its Oakland campus. The 12,500-seat facility, to be the new home for the University of Pittsburgh basketball team, initially was slated to be the site of the April 28 Pitt commencement.


Envision has been hired to help the Phillies sell naming rights to their new ballpark.

Phillies hire Envision for naming rights
Following months of discussions, the Philadelphia Phillies have entered into a contract with Envision to manage the naming rights for the team's new $346 million ballpark now under construction in south Philadelphia. Envision, a sports marketing and consulting firm based in Los Angeles, has negotiated more than $1 billion in sponsorship and naming-rights deals for professional sports teams. David Buck, the Phillies' vice president in charge of advertising sales, said the team decided to bring in an outside firm because of the complexities involved in negotiating naming-rights deals. The Phillies' new 43,000-seat ballpark is scheduled to open in 2004.

Phantoms host college career fair
The Philadelphia Phantoms hosted a sports and entertainment career fair before their April 3 game at the First Union Spectrum. The event was designed to provide college students with a chance to speak to people in the sports industry, submit resumes and find out about internships and full- and part-time positions. Among the 20 sports and entertainment organizations that participated in the event were Comcast-Spectacor, the Flyers, 76ers, Eagles, Phillies, Phantoms, Kixx, Charge, Wings, Bowie Baysox, Delmarva Shorebirds, Frederick Keys, Temple and Villanova universities, and Comcast SportsNet.

Croce to chair SEI golf classic
Former Philadelphia 76ers chairman and current NBC basketball commentator Pat Croce was selected chairman of this year's SEI Pennsylvania Classic. Croce's role in the honorary position will include serving as a spokesman for the event and soliciting potential corporate sponsors. Croce also may get involved in recruiting top PGA golfers to play in the tournament. The Pennsylvania Classic, which is rotated between the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions in alternate years, will take place Sept. 12-15 at the Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli.


Agassi to play some for Capitals
Tennis great Andre Agassi will play this season for the Sacramento Capitals, one of nine teams in the World TeamTennis pro league. Agassi, winner of 51 career singles titles including seven Grand Slams, was assigned to play for the Sacramento Capitals during a marquee draft on April 3. This year's World TeamTennis schedule runs from July 8 to July 28. Agassi will play a couple of matches with the Capitals this season, and perhaps more matches in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.


Riptide makes debut before 9,747
The San Diego Riptide drew 9,747 fans to its inaugural game in Arena Football 2, played April 6 at the San Diego Sports Arena. The Riptide squandered a 24-point second-quarter lead, losing 49-43 in overtime to the Bakersfield Blitz.


Giants to score $20M from in-house ads
The San Francisco Giants expect to raise $20 million in in-stadium advertising revenue this year — the most of any Major League Baseball team — according to the San Francisco Chronicle. That figure includes the team's long-term "Winner Circle" sponsors (such as the Chronicle, Visa USA, Charles Schwab & Co. and Bank of America) and an impressive array of new sponsors. Amtrak, Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn, See's Candy and the Hotel Nikko San Francisco have joined the sponsor lineup this season.

Magna to renew Bay Meadows lease
Magna Entertainment Corp.'s lease at the Bay Meadows horse racing track in San Mateo, Calif., expires Dec. 31, but the company plans to extend the agreement. A new lease would mean SBG, the Swiss investment and banking firm that bought previous owner Paine Webber, has stalled plans to develop the land for homes or offices.

Giants launch new ad campaign
The San Francisco Giants launched the team's first new campaign — "Say Hey, Come Out to Play" — since moving to Pacific Bell Park two years ago. The campaign came from the team's new ad agency, Johnson, Cogert & Strauss of San Francisco. The ads feature fans singing about what they enjoy about Giants games. Giants COO Larry Baer said celebrities who attend Giants games may join future TV spots.

Bay area amends 2012 Olympic bid
Backers of the Bay area's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games submitted a 300-page amendment April 4 that included venue changes requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee. A USOC site selection team will visit the region on July 14-15.


Rawlings plans two more glove lines
Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., which introduced its new Vise model baseball glove (about $65 retail) this season, has plans for two more new lines of baseball gloves for 2003. Company chief executive Steve O'Hara disclosed those plans during an April 4 teleconference with investors. He declined to give specific details about the new gloves but said Rawlings would defend its share of the baseball glove market, estimated at 35 percent, against newcomer Nike Inc.


Station drops Spanish broadcasts
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have lost their translation after WLCC 760 AM decided to drop Spanish-language broadcasts of the team's games. Station owner Mega Communications Inc. cited low ratings and ad revenue as the reasons for the decision. WLCC carried the Devil Rays in Spanish the past three seasons.


Oilers may move AHL team to Toronto
The Edmonton Oilers are seriously considering moving their American Hockey League farm team from Hamilton, Ontario, to Toronto in time for the 2003-04 AHL season. The man who stands to become a limited partner in the team, Edmonton businessman Lyle Abraham, said an agreement is close to move the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Coliseum at Exhibition Place, west of downtown. Abraham said the partnership would allow the Oilers to reduce their costs of operating the team while retaining a place to send their top prospects.

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