SBJ/July 22 - 28, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Akron updates brands
The University of Akron department of athletics has introduced a new branding identification package. The revised look was created by the Joe Bosack Graphic Design Co. of Pipersville, Pa. The rebranding process began in November and was paid for with private dollars generated through the Zips Athletics External Relations Office. The rebranding campaign is the first for UA athletics, and incorporates a sleek, determined kangaroo into the mark set, along with a custom font and a set of revised and all-new word marks.


Local arena gets Senior tourney
The Amherst Pepsi Center was selected to host the 2003 Senior Olympic Hockey Championships. The event, scheduled for Jan. 17-21, is sponsored by the National Senior Games Association and was held for the first time this past January in Lake Placid, N.Y. Organizers said 23 teams, with competitors 50 and older, participated. The projected local economic impact is $240,000. Visitors bureau officials said the event is especially welcome during what is usually a slow time of year for hotels and motels.


Speedway lobbies for Winston
Kentucky Speedway, spurned so far in its attempt to land a NASCAR Winston Cup race, is lobbying for The Winston all-star race. The Winston has been anchored in Charlotte, but its contract is up. Speculation is that the event could move in 2003. Kentucky Speedway is located in Sparta, Ky., just south of Cincinnati.


Complex changes name
The Mid-America Recreation and Convention Complex has changed its name to the Mid-America Center. The multipurpose arena and convention center also has a new logo, which reflects the shape of the facility's roofline and building profile. The 7,500-seat facility is scheduled to open in October and will be home to the River City Lancers of the U.S. Hockey League.


Johnson, fitness chain open local sites
Basketball legend Magic Johnson is teaming with a California fitness chain to launch two gyms in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Both facilities, which have been operating for some time, will be reconfigured and named 24 Hour Fitness Magic Johnson Sport Clubs. The clubs will feature basketball courts and child-care areas as well as memorabilia from Johnson's career with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a Dallas Morning News report. Including the two local clubs, 24 Hour Fitness now runs five Magic Johnson facilities. Johnson has equity stakes in each of them and serves as a spokesman for the chain.


Shanahan speaks for VitaCube
Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is now also part-owner, director and spokesman for VitaCube Systems Inc. The Denver-based company makes nutritional supplements that sell under the VitaCube, Absorbit, AlphaNac and AO Elite names.


Red Wings increase ticket prices
The Detroit Red Wings have increased select ticket prices after their Stanley Cup-winning season. The increases include a $5 bump, to $85 per ticket, for the first seven rows of the lower bowl at Joe Louis Arena, and a $2 increase, to $22 per ticket, for the top five rows of the upper bowl. The Red Wings' 2002-03 schedule includes an NHL-high five home exhibition games, which season-ticket holders are required to purchase.


Track files to have fine thrown out
An investigation by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission into Indianapolis Downs' dealing with a paid consultant is flawed and stems from bias on the part of the commission's executive director, two former commission members said recently. Their comments were included in an affidavit filed July 8 by Indianapolis Downs, which wants a recommended $1.2 million fine thrown out. The commission report alleges that Indianapolis Downs failed to disclose the consultant's role with the track. Indianapolis Downs is developing a pari-mutuel horse racing track in Shelby County, southeast of Indianapolis. It's the area's second track, joining Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind., northeast of Indianapolis. Indianapolis Downs also is seeking an apology from and sanctions against Joe Gorajec, the commission's executive director. Gorajec was unavailable for immediate comment.

Simpson, NASCAR set to battle in court
The trial date in safety equipment manufacturer Bill Simpson's civil lawsuit against NASCAR for defamation following the death of Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt has been set for Sept. 13, 2003, according to Simpson attorney Jim Voyles. Simpson is suing NASCAR in Marion Superior Court in Indiana. Simpson has said that by attributing Earnhardt's death to any trouble with a seat belt, which was manufactured by the company he founded and that bears his name, NASCAR officials have ruined his reputation in the industry.


Jaguars launch ticket payment plan
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to sell 14,000 season tickets to avoid league-mandated blackout rules and televise home games this season. To that end, team officials have initiated the Easy Pay plan, which allows fans to buy season tickets for 12 monthly payments of $20, with no money down. Ticket sales have declined since 1997. Several other changes also are under way as a result of recent fan forums, in which majority owner Wayne Weaver, coach Tom Coughlin and other team officials conducted question-and-answer sessions with fans and business leaders. They include cup holders for every seat and more name-brand food products sold at concession stands.


Charge, Spirit to play exhibition
The WUSA's Philadelphia Charge and San Diego Spirit will play an exhibition game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Sept. 14 as part of an effort to promote the league. The match will be the first women's soccer contest at the Rose Bowl since 1999, when the U.S. women's national team defeated China to win the Women's World Cup. The Charge-Spirit match will be followed by an MLS match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.


Judge bars release of financial papers
Hennepin County District Judge Harry Crump ruled against local media outlets who had sought more than 9,000 papers containing financial information about the Minnesota Twins that were produced by the team and MLB as part of a lawsuit settled last month. Crump ruled that discovery is private between litigants, and that the media failed to show extraordinary circumstances or a compelling need to require public airing of the documents. The ruling is not the first involving the Twins for Crump, who last off-season issued the temporary injunction that prevented Major League Baseball from contracting the team.


Overton opens restaurant
Former Philadelphia 76ers guard Doug Overton has opened a new restaurant called Dip N Doug's All-Star Sandwiches & More, near the local neighborhood where he grew up. His partner in the venture is childhood friend Dip Keith. Overton played college basketball at La Salle University in Philadelphia, and in the NBA for 10 years with eight different teams.


Bridge named for Negro League team
The Homestead Hi-Level Bridge in nearby Homestead, Pa., has been renamed the Homestead Grays Bridge in honor of Negro League baseball team the Homestead Grays. In 30 seasons, the Grays won three World Series titles and 10 pennants. Additional plans call for decorating the bridge, which spans the Monongahela River, with banners depicting Grays players.

City vying for Senior Olympics
Pittsburgh is one of three finalists to hold the 2005 Senior Olympics. Pittsburgh is competing against Louisville, Ky., and Des Moines, Iowa, to host the event, which attracts 12,000 athletes and more than 20,000 visitors and infuses an estimated $30 million into the economy of the host city.


Course, nearby home sites sold
Twelve Bridges Golf Course and more than 400 surrounding home sites in the Placer County city of Lincoln have been sold. The purchase price, undisclosed by the parties involved, was pegged at $38 million by industry sources. Placer Holdings Inc., the developer of Twelve Bridges, sold to a group of buyers led by Chris Steele, Jim Zurbuchen and Bruce Bell. Steele is one of the leading developers of golf course properties in Northern California, with properties that include Teal Bend, Turkey Creek, Coyote Moon, Empire Ranch and Apple Mountain. The sale represents one of the largest land deals in Sacramento this year. Twelve Bridges is home to the LPGA Tour's Longs Drugs Challenge.


Super Bowl committee to pay $1.6M
The San Diego Super Bowl XXXVII Host Committee is expected to pay the NFL $1.6 million, the amount it specified it would spend to ensure that Qualcomm Stadium had 70,000 acceptable seats for the Jan. 26 game. The stadium has 70,500 seats in its football configuration, but more than 2,000 are in the lower seven rows at field level and deemed unacceptable by the NFL as "obstructed view" seats. Delays in the construction of the San Diego Padres' downtown ballpark caused the MLB team to remain at Qualcomm Stadium this season and next, and plans to lower the field and improve sight lines on the seats in question were scrapped. Paying the NFL the money that had been targeted for improvements would offset the revenue loss from having fewer seats.

Council expected to OK panelists
San Diego City Council is expected this week to ratify Mayor Dick Murphy's selections to a task force that will advise the city on the future of the Chargers in San Diego. Murphy named 15 local residents to the task force on July 12, including former City Councilman Bruce Henderson, who has been a harsh critic of the city's recent dealings with the Padres and Chargers. The council vote is Tuesday.


USOC visits Bay Area
The U.S. Olympic Committee's site-selection task force began an abbreviated visit to the San Francisco Bay Area on July 14, taking in what local organizers hope will be the home of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Half of the planned stops for the day were eliminated because rain forced delays at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where the task force had been visiting. Members of the group watched presentations at Stanford University, which would host opening and closing ceremonies as well as many events. The task force will narrow its list to two in September, and the USOC in early November will select a U.S. candidate city from the field of San Francisco, Houston, New York and Washington-Baltimore.

Giants to build new park
The San Francisco Giants will build a two-acre, $2 million park opposite Pacific Bell Park. The space will feature a statue of former Giants slugger Willie McCovey, a T-ball field, picnic areas and a wall inscribed with the names of the more than 1,000 Giants who have played in San Francisco. Walkway tiles, which would include messages to favorite players, will be on sale for $95 or $225.


Sharks traveling to Arco Arena
The San Jose Sharks will play a preseason game at Sacramento's Arco Arena this fall as part of a nine-game schedule. The Sept. 30 game is the first time the Sharks have played at Arco Arena since 1995.

Senior athletes coming to town
Local event organizers are preparing to host the 2002 California Senior Games Championships, scheduled for Aug. 2-11. More than 2,000 athletes ages 50 and older are expected to participate in 25 events.

Donovan may not return to Germany
San Jose Earthquakes star Landon Donovan reportedly is rethinking his pending return to Germany as his personal fame keeps increasing in the United States. Donovan recently won ESPN's Espy award for best male soccer player. Donovan's agent, Richard Motzkin, subsequently told the San Francisco Chronicle that talks are under way with German soccer club Bayer Leverkusen on Donovan's future. Donovan, who starred on the U.S. World Cup team, said he is leaning toward staying in the United States past this season with the Earthquakes. Donovan is currently signed with Bayer Leverkusen and is playing Major League Soccer via a special agreement between league properties.


Blues plan to keep payroll steady
The St. Louis Blues do not plan a significant increase to payroll for the 2002-03 season. Team officials said recently they would keep the payroll at $57 million to $58 million with only slight increases due to inflation. The Blues last season increased their payroll by $20 million over the year prior. The Blues finished the 2001-02 fiscal year with a deficit estimated at between $30 million and $39 million.

44,000 tickets sold for Missouri-Illinois game
The St. Louis Sports Commission and the St. Louis Convention & Visitor's Commission have sold 44,000 tickets for the Missouri-Illinois college football game scheduled for Aug. 31 at the Edward Jones Dome. The matchup marks the first time in more than 30 years the teams will meet in St. Louis. Organizers expect to sell out the 66,000-seat dome for the Labor Day-weekend game.


Lightning's 'Pack the Palace' plan pays off
The Tampa Bay Lightning is on its way to filling the Ice Palace for the coming hockey season, nearly three months after launching a "Pack the Palace" sales initiative and almost as long before the first puck is dropped. The Lightning's sales office posted $1.5 million worth of new tickets sold during June and already surpassed last year's season-ticket revenue figure. At least 1,500 new season tickets have been sold, with several companies buying blocks of season tickets or offering them to fans at reduced prices.


Molson draws 168,421 over weekend
The 17th running of the Molson Indy drew 168,421 fans to the three-day weekend event, the second-largest crowd in its history. Last year's race drew about 500 more fans over the three days. Molson Indy general manager Bob Singleton attributed the slight drop to having had to move the race up one week because Toronto hosted a World Youth Day event at the end of July. Singleton said he was confident CART would be back in Toronto next summer and that 22 cars would be on the starting grid, up from 18 this year.

Local plans for 2012 Games discussed
Former International Olympic Committee vice president Richard Pound said Toronto would have an excellent chance of winning the 2012 Summer Olympics if it went ahead with a bid, but only if Vancouver fails to land the 2010 Winter Olympics. Toronto officials involved in the city's failed bid for the 2008 Summer Games are keeping a low profile until the IOC votes next year on 2010, but they acknowledge that could change if Vancouver is not awarded the Games.

CFL commissioner need not be Canadian
The head of the Canadian Football League's chairman-search committee said the league's top job doesn't necessarily have to be filled by a Canadian, as has been the case in the past. Skip Price said an understanding of the CFL and the Canadian marketplace is essential. The league has been without a full-time commissioner since Michael Lysko was fired in March.

Quinn fined over lockout comments
Toronto Maple Leafs coach and general manager Pat Quinn reportedly was fined recently by the NHL for public comments predicting a league lockout in 2004. When he made the remarks, Quinn was responding to questions about pricey free-agent signings this summer and the need to run hockey more like a business. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated to teams that he should be the only one to speak for the league on collective-bargaining matters. Neither the NHL nor the Maple Leafs would confirm the fine.


Cadillac Grand Prix debuts
The Cadillac Grand Prix was scheduled to make its debut on the grounds surrounding RFK Stadium last Friday. The weekend events were expected to include American LeMans, Trans Am and Star Mazda series races, and a celebrity pro-am.

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