SBJ/August 5 - 11, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

AKRON, OHIO

Drivers attend soap box derby

Ricky Craven, white car, and Jerry Nadeau, blue, get ready for their ceremonial heat.

NASCAR's recently announced affiliation with the All-American Soap Box Derby was highlighted July 27 as NASCAR drivers Jerry Nadeau and Ricky Craven attended the derby's World Championships in Akron, being held for the 65th year. They competed in a ceremonial heat against Featherlite Modified Series racer Todd Szegedy, with Nadeau squeaking out the win. The drivers then signed autographs and posed for photos with the derby winners. The All-American Soap Box Derby is for competitors ages 9-17, who work with family members to build competitive cars, hoping to reach the World Championships.

ATLANTA

Bowl game ticket sales open to public
Tickets to the 2002 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve are now on sale to the public. Tickets are $65 and $55, and good lower-level seating is still available. The only guaranteed ACC vs. SEC matchup in the bowl business, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will play its 35th anniversary game in the Georgia Dome. Last year marked the bowl's fifth straight sellout.

BALTIMORE

Mobile Skatepark headed to town

Bucky Lasek performed at last year's series in Baltimore, his home town.

Pro skaters and BMX bikers from all over the world will roll into Baltimore to compete in the fourth stop of the 2002 Mobile Skatepark Series from Aug. 24 to Sept. 2 at the White Marsh Mall. More than 90 of the world's best professional skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX riders will perform before crowds at the only interactive youth culture festival series in the world. X Games legends and world champions such as Dave Mirra, Dennis McCoy and Kevin Robinson of the United States and Jamie Bestwick of the United Kingdom are expected. Baltimore natives and X Games gold medalists Bucky Lasek and Matt Dove will also compete. Developed by ASA Events, Mobile Skatepark Series offers an interactive cultural experience between pro athletes, musicians and young adults who participate in and follow extreme sports.

BUFFALO

Bisons get in-seat concessions
The International League Buffalo Bisons have instituted an in-seat concession service at Dunn Tire Park. The Bisons and partner Cellbucks announced the addition of In Seat Services, which allows fans to order and pay for food, beverages and merchandise from mobile phones and have it delivered to their seats. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CINCINNATI

Long-term lease sought for tennis site
The Western & Southern Financial Masters' lease on its suburban Cincinnati home will expire in three years, and tournament organizers say they'll go elsewhere if they can't negotiate the purchase or long-term lease of the ATP Tennis Center in Mason. The property includes three stadiums built by the tournament and the Bruin Golf Course. American Financial Group, which owns the property, wants $16.5 million for it. The tournament organizers remain $2.6 million to $3.2 million short of that asking price. And that's after Deerfield Township trustees became the latest Warren County body agreeing to financial support, indicating that they would likely contribute $25,000 to $35,000 a year, probably for 20 or 25 years.

DETROIT

Fox Sports Net seeks ultimate fan
Fox Sports Net begins development of a new program, Fandemonium!, designed to find the country's ultimate sports fan with a pilot program to be taped in Detroit on Sept. 7 in a mini-stadium adjacent to Comerica Park. Tryouts will be held Aug. 25 at The Hockeytown Café. During tryouts, contestants will be judged in three areas: the Body Challenge including the "beer run," a timed event with an obstacle course; the Mind Challenge, a timed trivia test; and the Heart Challenge, which tests the ability to generate crowd noise, creativity and paying homage to the home teams. The winner receives a prize and the opportunity to participate in Fan Bowl I in Las Vegas.

HERSHEY, PA.

AHL Hershey Bears launch Assist Club
The Hershey Bears have launched the "Assist Club," a program to bring underprivileged children to a Bears game in the new Giant Center. Under the program, local businesses may buy full season tickets or single-game group tickets at a discount rate. These tax-deductible tickets will be donated to children associated with nonprofit organizations. All participating businesses and nonprofit organizations will receive exposure on the Bears' video board and in the Bears' game program.

HOUSTON

Sale attracts record number of horses, buyers
Sam Houston Race Park's 2002 Texas Quarter Horse Association yearling sale on July 27 attracted a record number of horses and buyers. The sale consisted of 247 yearlings and resulted in total sales of $2.2 million. Last year's sale attracted 211 horses. The top seller in 2002 was First Place Texas, which sold for $75,000.

Ryan's steak sauce panned
Nolan Ryan Texan Style Steak Sauce, a product being pitched by the hall of famer, was panned in a recent Sports Illustrated article. "The sauce looks and tastes like highly concentrated prune juice," the magazine opines. Plus, SI says Ryan is "a questionable front man for red-meat products" — because the "fireballing pitcher had double-bypass surgery two years ago at 53." The sauce gets only a half-star rating out of four possible stars.

INDIANAPOLIS

IU signs with Nike to cover all sports
For the first time, Indiana University has signed an agreement with an athletic shoe and apparel maker for all its men's and women's sports. IU officials announced a two-year deal with Nike to allow discount purchases that will save the university about $500,000 annually. The only sport not currently covered is soccer, which has two years remaining on its deal with Adidas. Previously at IU, each sports program was free to pursue its own deals. Former men's basketball coach Bob Knight had a lucrative shoe deal with Converse and an apparel deal with Logo Athletic.

MIAMI

Auto racing returning to downtown
Auto racing will return to downtown Miami later this year, according to officials from the Grand Prix Americas and the City of Miami. An announcement made at Miami's Bayfront Park featured comments from City of Miami and Grand Prix Americas officials, race cars on display, and appearances from racing stars Johnny Herbert and Milka Duno and CART racers and Miami locals Christian Fittipaldi, Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia.

Pizza Huts do bobblehead promo
Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler, wide receiver Chris Chambers, kicker Olindo Mare and defensive end Jason Taylor will be featured in a bobblehead promo at Miami-area Pizza Huts this season. The bobbleheads will be available with a meal deal, at an additional cost of $12.95, with a portion of the money slated for players' charities.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

WNBA fans get to watch wrestling, too
Fans attending the Minnesota Lynx game Friday will be treated to postgame professional wrestling. A three-match card will feature wrestlers from the Midwest promotion Steel Domain Wrestling. It will finish with a main event battle royale posing eight sports team mascots against each other. The participants will include Crunch from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Prowl, the Lynx mascot.

Wild introduces VIP club
The Minnesota Wild will introduce an exclusive VIP club called the Board Room for all "On The Glass" members. All fans with season tickets "on the glass" will be eligible to use the club, which will feature a full-service bar, lounges, cigar lounge and plasma televisions. Entering the team's third season, the Wild will again have 16,000 season-ticket holders.

NEW YORK

Jeter named 'Good Guy'

Sporting News Editor in Chief John Rawlings (left) with award-winner Jeter and Publisher Peter Spina

New York Yankee Derek Jeter was designated the 2002 Sporting News "Good Guy" in pro sports. The annual selection is made from all pro baseball, football, basketball and hockey players for actions off the field. The magazine saluted Jeter's work with youth through his "Turn 2 Foundation."

First Liberty 10K set for Aug. 31
The first NYC Run to Liberty 10K is scheduled to take place during Labor Day weekend, the morning of Aug. 31. This inaugural people's run through the streets of Lower Manhattan will be organized by New York Road Runners, NYC & Co. and NYC Sports Commission. The field will be limited to 5,000 runners, and the planned course is to wind around some of New York's downtown landmarks, including the Stock Exchange building, Federal Hall and Ground Zero.

OAKLAND

Oakland throws A's ballpark a curve
Plans for a downtown Oakland ballpark for the A's took a back seat to housing when the City Council voted July 23 to extend an exclusive negotiating agreement with Cleveland-based developer Forest City Enterprises. Forest City plans to build an 807-unit apartment complex on a 12.5-acre parcel in the Oakland district known as Uptown. The City Council voted 8-0 to allow the developer its third 12-month exclusive agreement since February 2000.

PHILADELPHIA

Athletes on road to tout X Games
In preparation for this summer's X Games, Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor organized and sent a traveling caravan of X Games athletes to its three minor league baseball ballparks in Maryland. The caravan made stops in late July at Prince George's Stadium, home of the Bowie Baysox, Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, home of the Delmarva Shorebirds, and Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys. Comcast-Spectacor will host the X Games at the First Union Center in Philadelphia from Aug. 15-19.

Kalas pushes to name ballpark for Ashburn
Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas used the day of his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame to start lobbying to include his longtime broadcast booth partner, the late Richie Ashburn, in the name of the new Phillies ballpark now under construction in south Philadelphia. Ashburn, who played almost his entire career with the Phillies, is also a member of the Hall of Fame. Kalas said he'd like to see the facility called "Rich Ashburn Field at fill in the blank," for whatever naming-rights deal the team signs.

PHOENIX

Diamondbacks set network records
The Arizona Diamondbacks' July 23 game on Fox Sports Net Arizona was the most-watched program in the network's history. According to Nielsen Media Research, the Diamondbacks' come-from-behind win over Colorado received a 14.0 rating (24 share). Immediately after the game, Fox Sports Net's "Arizona Sports Report" set a record with a 10.5 rating. The previous rating high for the program was 7.9 on May 7.

ROANOKE, VA.

Express unveils logo, announces deal
The Roanoke Express unveiled its new logo and announced an affiliation agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks, which includes a working relationship with Norfolk of the American Hockey League. The new logo is the third in the history of the Express, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the East Coast Hockey League during the 2002-03 season.

SAN DIEGO

Super Bowl countdown begins
The San Diego Super Bowl Host Committee and local business leaders gathered July 26 to kick off the six-month countdown to Super Bowl XXXVII. The game is scheduled for Jan. 26 at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy helped unveil the NFL's official Super Bowl XXXVII logo, featuring the Point Loma lighthouse, a local historic landmark.

New Aztec logos revealed
San Diego State University unveiled its new Aztec athletic logos July 25, a black-and-red monogram "SD" with a spear running through it, plus three secondary marks. All were designed by Berkeley, Calif.-based Osaki Design. The monogram, which replaces the red-faced warrior that critics found culturally offensive, is intended to display strength and power. The secondary logos — an eagle warrior, a shield and a banner — symbolize protection and leadership.

Bridges to host golfing 'Battle'
The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, a private golf course just north of San Diego, will serve as host to golf's made-for-TV "Battle" starting next July. The course and IMG announced July 29 that the Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges will be held away from the usual desert heat encountered at Bighorn in Palm Desert. Terms of the three-year deal were not announced. Tiger Woods, an IMG client, will anchor the field in the prime-time weekday event. Due to crowd control concerns, only members of The Bridges and their guests, ABC and IMG personnel and media members will be allowed on the grounds.

SAN FRANCISCO

Fox to be exclusive Warriors TV outlet
The Golden State Warriors and Fox Sports Net Bay Area announced that the Fox outlet will be the exclusive local television provider of Warriors games. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Fox Sports Net Bay Area will televise 60 Warriors home and away games in 2002-03.

SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE, PA.

Schilling gets bobblehead night
Although Curt Schilling played with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons for only a couple of games during rehab assignments in 1994, 1996 and 2000, that didn't stop the Phillies' Class AAA affiliate from holding a "Curt Schilling bobblehead night" on July 27. The game against the Syracuse SkyChiefs drew 10,108 fans, which is about 3,500 fans above the Red Barons' season average.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

Devil Rays open upper deck for games
For the first time since Opening Day, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays opened the upper deck to Tropicana Field for two of their three weekend games against the New York Yankees. The Rays averaged 28,897 attendance for the July 26-28 series, including 35,021 on Saturday night. They have averaged about 14,000 per game throughout the season so far and have kept the upper levels closed for all other games.

Lightning to sell mini-plan tickets
The Tampa Bay Lightning introduced four mini-plan season-ticket packages for 2002-03, including a special 12-game plan sponsored by PowerAde. Package prices range from $99 to $599 for 10 games and offer either weekend and weeknight games or games against the Lightning's biggest opponents. The Lightning will open its home season at the Ice Palace on Oct. 12, hosting the Stanley Cup runner-up Carolina Hurricanes.

ST. LOUIS

Wheaties honors Smith
Wheaties unveiled a special-edition

Ozzie Smith with his Wheaties tribute
package commemorating the Hall of Fame career of shortstop Ozzie Smith at a July 24 ceremony in St. Louis. "It's obviously a wonderful tribute to be elected to the Hall of Fame," Smith said. "Celebrating my career with this new Wheaties box makes it even more gratifying. This has to be every young ballplayer's dream come true." Smith joins many of the greatest baseball players of all time as Wheaties cover athletes, including Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

TORONTO

CBC, SRC carry Masters live
CBC and French language sister network SRC gave a boost to the Tennis Masters Canada tournament by deciding to carry the semifinals and finals live last weekend. Last year's tournament drew poor ratings and had no network broadcaster. Early rounds this year were to be covered on cable by TSN and French language RDS. Tournament director Stacey Allaster said the larger audience that network coverage brings will be key to finding the tournament a title sponsor, which Allaster said could bring in $2.5 million annually.

WASHINGTON

Mystics fan treated to 'Mini-Mique'
Washington Mystics fans were treated to Chamique Holdsclaw bobblehead dolls,

Holdsclaw
nicknamed "Mini-Mique," at the July 27 game at MCI Center. Holdsclaw is the first Mystics player to have a bobblehead doll modeled after her. The Mystics gave Mystics-themed Pez candy dispensers to the first 12,000 fans to attend last Friday's game against the Portland Fire. It's been an active summer for the Mystics, as comedian Chris Rock filmed scenes from his upcoming movie "Head of State" on the court at halftime of the July 20 game.

DC 2012 adds big hitters to board
Washington, DC 2012 added some big players to its board of directors July 29. Olympian Derek Brown, Virginia Secretary of Commerce Michael J. Schewel, DC Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Lang, and Northern Virginia Technology Council President Bobbie Kilberg have joined the effort to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to Washington.

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