SBJ/August 19 - 25, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

BUFFALO

Bills host NFL execs' gathering
The Buffalo Bills recently hosted a two-day gathering of NFL executives at the team's St. John Fisher College training camp in suburban Rochester, N.Y. Russ Brandon, vice president/business development and marketing for the Bills and co-chair of the NFL's Executive Business Committee, met with officials from Reebok and eight other teams. Reebok is the exclusive apparel provider for the NFL. The Bills' training camp, with Bausch & Lomb as the lead sponsor, has sparked interest throughout the league and was recently featured on CNBC.

Tony Hawk to perform at UB
The University at Buffalo plans to bring in skateboarding icon Tony Hawk as part of its promotional lineup for the football season. Hawk will give a pregame demonstration at UB Stadium on Sept. 14 when the Bulls host the University of Connecticut.

CHICAGO

All-Star logo for 2003 unveiled
The Chicago White Sox and Major League Baseball have unveiled the official logo for the 2003 All-Star Game. The 74th Midsummer Classic is scheduled for July 15 at Comiskey Park. The logo features the pinwheels from the "exploding" Comiskey Park scoreboard.

CINCINNATI

Tennis event attendance down
Tennis fans and vendors declared the Western & Southern Financial Masters in nearby Mason, Ohio, a success, although attendance was slightly off 2001. Attendance through the event's Aug. 10 matches was about 2.8 percent lower than the first nine days of 2001. Tournament officials attributed the decline to new restrictions on drug companies' ability to give doctors free tickets to sports events. Americans Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick lost in the tournament's quarterfinal matches on Aug. 9.

Mighty Ducks make deal with Lexington
The Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League signed a working agreement with the East Coast Hockey League's Lexington Men O' War for the 2002-03 season. The agreement allows the Mighty Ducks to send an unspecified number of players to Lexington during the season. The Mighty Ducks will assign players to Lexington following Cincinnati's training camp in September.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Group seeks to build arena
The holding company for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars reportedly is looking to expand its sports holdings to Austin, Texas, and Oklahoma City. According to a Dallas Morning News report, Southwest Sports Group is seeking help from the Austin suburb of Cedar Park in building a $20 million, 6,000-seat arena for a possible minor league hockey team. A development would include restaurants, a separate ice rink and an amphitheater. In Oklahoma City, Southwest Sports reportedly is in talks to buy the Rangers' Class AAA team, the RedHawks, and an Arena League Football team, though the parties are said to be far apart on price.

Nicklaus, Garcia to design courses
Wildflower Resort Co. has hired Jack Nicklaus and Sergio Garcia to design adjacent 18-hole golf courses as part of a $200 million project in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie. Dallas-based Wildflower also will put up a 500-room hotel, the Dallas Morning News reported. Nicklaus has designed 208 courses; this will be Garcia's first attempt.

DETROIT

Lions' entire season set on local TV
For the first time in franchise history, the Detroit Lions will have all their preseason and regular-season games shown on local TV. Ford Field, with a capacity of 65,000, is expected to be sold out for all home games this season. The Pontiac Silverdome, the team's former home, had a capacity of 80,311, the largest in the NFL. The Lions do have a small inventory of club seats still available for this season, but new NFL rules for lifting the local TV blackout do not require club seats, suites and other premium seats to be sold out. Any club seats not sold on a season-ticket basis will be available game-to-game. The first game at Ford Field, a preseason game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, is already an official sellout.

HOUSTON

City hosts ski championships
Houston was scheduled to host the 2002 West Marine U.S. Open Water Ski Championships this past weekend at local residential water ski community Lago Santa Fe. The event carries the largest cash prize purses in the sport and attracts the world's top water ski athletes.

Texans get vanity license plates
The Houston Texans now have their own license plate for sale in Texas. The Dallas Cowboys are the only other pro sports team in the state with a specialty license plate. Much of the proceeds from the specialty plates will go to help the team pay for construction of Reliant Stadium. Of the $35 plate fee, $25 will help the Texans pay down debt.

Comets give away Celebriduck
The Houston Comets became

Sheryl Swoopes' Celebriduck has Swoopes' new hairstyle and a manicure.
the first WNBA team to offer fans a limited edition Celebriduck on Aug. 13, when the first 5,000 fans at the team's game received a collectible in the likeness of forward Sheryl Swoopes. The Celebriduck is outfitted with a red No. 22 Comets jersey and WNBA basketball. The duck, which can float and squeak, features Swoopes' newest braided hairstyle, earrings and French manicure polish.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

ANC Rental wants to keep sponsorship
Fort Lauderdale-based ANC Rental Corp. which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, wants to maintain the name National Car Rental Center on the Florida Panthers' home in nearby Sunrise, Fla. The company has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to permit it to keep the sponsorship rights, according to a Miami Herald report. A proposal is to trim nearly in half the annual promotional fee ANC's national subsidiary is scheduled to pay the Panthers, from $2.2 million to $1.25 million.

INDIANAPOLIS

Buyback could pave way for majority owner
A recent stock buyback announced by Indians Inc. allows stockholders in the city's Class AAA team to reap nearly double what was offered five years ago, but it also indicates the team's total value has dropped $2.3 million. If the number of shares outstanding drops from the current 902 to below 620 as a result of the buyback, the Indians' president and chairman, Max Schumacher, who now owns 310 shares, or 34.4 percent of the franchise, would own controlling interest of the team. It would mark the first time the team has had a majority owner since the community sold stock to finance the purchase of the team from the Cleveland Indians in 1956.

Software maker inks deal with Trail Blazers
Indianapolis-based software maker Interactive Intelligence signed a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers on a package combining the team's telephone and data network to help team officials handle telephone calls from ticket holders and other clients more efficiently. The system also links to Web and fax capabilities and connects remote offices to central networks.

KANSAS CITY

Bayer to sponsor PGA event
Bayer Corp. will become the title sponsor next year for the Senior PGA Tour event in Kansas City. The tournament, scheduled for May 2003, will move to The National Golf Club of Kansas City, designed by Tom Watson. Bayer becomes the fifth title sponsor since the event began in 1991. The company, which has a plant in Kansas City, replaces TD Waterhouse.

MIAMI

Marlins plan 4 giveaways
The Florida Marlins will feature four bobblehead promotions the week of Sept. 13-19. Pitchers Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny and Julian Tavarez will be featured, with the team giving out 15,000 dolls of the respective player on the night he pitches.

MILWAUKEE

Brewers honor 1982 club
The Milwaukee Brewers plan to take a break from the worst season in their 32-year history to pay tribute to their greatest team ever with a 20th anniversary reunion of the 1982 American League champion squad. Most of the members of the 1982 team, including hall of famer Robin Yount, are expected to return to Milwaukee on Tuesday to reunite for a pregame ceremony at Miller Park prior to the current Brewers' game against Philadelphia. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a 1982 pennant to adorn Miller Park. The first 15,000 fans will receive a commemorative pennant featuring the names of the players on the 1982 team, which was the last Brewers team to reach the playoffs. The Brewers lost the 1982 World Series in seven games to St. Louis.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Team to host NHL All-Star Weekend
The Minnesota Wild will host the National Hockey League's Willie O'Ree All-Star Weekend next February. The event, which honors the NHL's first black player, brings together NHL players and children ages 10 to 12 for two days and culminates with the Willie O'Ree All-Star Game, in which co-ed kid teams compete in an East-vs.-West format.

Wild opens store at Mall of America
The Minnesota Wild will open an official team store at the Mall of America in September. The Hockey Lodge, which will sell merchandise and memorabilia, will be on the mall's second floor.

NASHVILLE

Adelphia sign comes down

It took three days to remove the letters spelling "Adelphia" from Nashville's NFL stadium. The naming-rights deal ended Aug. 6.

Adelphia Business Solutions' big red letters no longer grace the local NFL football stadium. Following the Aug. 6 approval by a bankruptcy judge, the naming-rights agreement between Adelphia and the Tennessee Titans formally ended. The biggest component of that deal was naming rights to the front of the coliseum, letters that were hung as part of a 15-year, $30 million deal that lasted only a fraction of that time. The sign came down over three days. Sign removal was handled by Joslin Sign & Maintenance Inc.

Predators offer mini-packages on tickets
In celebration of the team's fifth anniversary season, the Nashville Predators introduced two 10-game Power Pack ticket packages. Highlights of the Silver and Blue 10-game Power Packs include visits by the 2002 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and division rivals such as the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Benefits of the Power Packs include a five-month interest-free payment plan, same seating for every game, a discount off the single-game price, a guaranteed playoff option and the opportunity to buy more regular-season tickets.

OAKLAND

Dunleavy signs with Adidas
Adidas signed Golden State Warriors No. 1 draft pick Mike Dunleavy to an endorsement contract. Dunleavy, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 draft, signed just two weeks after Adidas signed his Duke teammate, Jay Williams of the Chicago Bulls.

PHILADELPHIA

Blue Rocks honor Mr. Celery
The Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks are probably the only franchise to give away a bobblehead honoring a vegetable. On Aug. 9, 6,383 fans turned out for Mr. Celery bobblehead night at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. Mr. Celery has been a fixture at Blue Rocks home games for the three seasons. Kevin Linton, the team's assistant director of public relations, said the Blue Rocks have whole line of Mr. Celery merchandise — hats, T-shirts and even a beanie doll. "Mr. Celery is a stadium character, not so much a mascot," Linton said. "He only appears when the Blue Rocks score a run."

Fair bobbles again for Charge
For the second time

Lorrie Fair bobblehead
this season, the Philadelphia Charge had a Lorrie Fair bobblehead doll giveaway. The team gave away the same bobbleheads for its home opener on May 4. After receiving requests for the more dolls since that game, the team decided to have another giveaway during the home finale on Aug. 7 against the San Jose CyberRays. A total of 6,402 fans turned out for the contest at Villanova Stadium. The Fair bobblehead doll, sponsored by the Got Milk? campaign funded by America's milk processors and dairy farmers, was the first bobblehead given away by a Women's United Soccer Association team.

Contracts go to minorities
Minority and women-owned firms have received 56 percent of the contracts awarded for the construction of the new Philadelphia Eagles football stadium, according to team officials. Joe Banner, the Eagles president, said the minority contracts amount to $126 million of the $230 million in construction costs. The stadium will open next year.

PITTSBURGH

Mellon denied historic status
Pittsburgh's Historic Review Commission voted against giving Mellon Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, designation as a historic site. Mellon Arena is 41 years old and is the oldest arena in the National Hockey League. Final approval is up to Pittsburgh City Council. If Mellon Arena were given historic status, it would be protected from demolition when and if the Penguins get a new arena.

SAN DIEGO

Pacific Life sponsors Holiday Bowl
Pacific Life Insurance Co. of Newport Beach, Calif., has become the fifth title sponsor of San Diego's annual Holiday Bowl football game. Financial terms of the four-year deal were not disclosed, but the minimum payout to each team is expected to remain at $2 million. The 2002 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl will be held Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium, with the Pac-10 runner-up facing the third selection from the Big 12. Culligan sponsored the game from 1998 to 2001. Previous title sponsors included Plymouth (1995-1997), Thrifty Car Rental (1991-1994) and SeaWorld (1986-1990).

Spirit sees increase in attendance
Despite going 5-11-5 on the field and missing the playoffs for a second straight season, the WUSA's San Diego Spirit saw an increase in attendance in 2002. Home crowds at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus averaged 5,883, up from last season's 5,714.

SAN FRANCISCO

Bonds' 600th estimated at $1M

Jay Arsenault, the San Francisco Giants season-ticket holder who came up with Barry Bonds' 600th career home run ball, may be $1.5 million richer, according to sports memorabilia experts. Arsenault, a 36-year-old carpenter from Vacaville, Calif., on Aug. 9 emerged from a pile of fans beyond the center field fence — 421 feet from home plate — with a fat lip, bloodied face and the ball. Sports memorabilia experts told the San Francisco Chronicle that the ball could be worth $600,000 to $1 million.

ESPN to pay SF Bowl some $4M
ESPN will pay organizers of the San Francisco Bowl an estimated $4 million, sources told the San Francisco Business Times, for the right to show the game for seven years. The inaugural San Francisco Bowl, matching the third-, fourth- or fifth-place Big East team versus the No. 3 Mountain West team, will be played Dec. 31 at the San Francisco Giants' Pacific Bell Park.

SOUTH BEND, IND.

Notre Dame gives tailgaters the boot
Notre Dame has issued a ban on football game tailgate parties by people who party in the parking lots surrounding the team's stadium with no intention of going to games. "This is not prohibition," said Phillip A. Johnson, assistant director of Notre Dame Security/Police. "Tailgating before and after games is a great tradition here." Johnson added, though, that in recent years more people have come strictly to party in the parking lots. "It's not in the best interest of all our fans to put up with that," he said.

SPRINGFIELD, MASS.

Falcons bought by local investors
The Springfield Falcons AHL club has been bought from Pro Friends Inc. by a group of local investors called Springfield Pro Hockey LLC. The new owners are four equal partners: MassMutual Financial Group, Springfield Food Service Corp. President Joe Cambi, Peter Pan Bus Line President Peter A. Picknelly, and individuals Don and Judith Bridge, Lyman Wood and Bruce Landon (the current president and general manager of the Falcons). Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

Pistons to host Heat at Ice Palace
NBA basketball will return to Tampa this fall as the Detroit Pistons host the Miami Heat in a preseason game Oct. 20 at the Ice Palace. Pistons owner Palace Sports and Entertainment holds the lease to the Tampa arena as owner of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning. The group has hosted Pistons preseason games in Tampa the last two years, usually against the nearby Orlando Magic.

TORONTO

Raptors open against Pistons
The Toronto Raptors announced that their preseason schedule will open with an Oct. 8 date against the Detroit Pistons. The Raptors will play eight preseason games — four at home at Air Canada Centre against Philadelphia, New Jersey, Boston and Detroit, and four on the road.

MLS looking at Toronto for team
Major League Soccer is considering Toronto for a 2004 expansion team, said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. It would be the first MLS team outside of the United States.

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