SBJ/August 26 - September 1, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Hawks to air 75 times in 2002-03
UPN69, Fox Sports South and Turner South are banking on Hawks fans to help pull in ratings this season. The three channels will air 75 games among them, including one that will air nationally. TNT will air one game nationally as part of its Thursday night network package (Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. vs. the Milwaukee Bucks).

Turner South, UPN69 team with Thrashers
Turner South will broadcast 46 Atlanta Thrashers games for the 2002-03 season, with UPN69 picking up 15 Saturday games. Turner South will kick off the season Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. with a Thrashers-Hurricanes matchup from North Carolina. The network's season finale is set for April 2 (7 p.m. vs. the Sabres at Buffalo). UPN69 airs its first game Oct. 12 (7 p.m. against the Florida Panthers) and will wrap up the season April 5 (1 p.m., at N.Y. Islanders).


Mascot SlapShark joined Barons coach Roy Sommer and Beachwood police to help kids with helmets.

Barons promote helmet safety
The Cleveland Barons conducted a helmet safety program at Beachwood Place Aug. 17-18. Teaming with the Beachwood Police Department and the Cleveland Clinic, the Barons educated children and adults alike on the benefits of wearing proper safety equipment while skating and biking. Barons head coach Roy Sommer signed autographs and helped fit children's helmets. Kids were entertained by Barons mascot SlapShark.


2 radio stations to air Terps' games
Radio stations WBAL and WMAL agreed to broadcast University of Maryland football and men's basketball for the next three years. The agreements are for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 football seasons and the 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 men's basketball seasons. Both stations will carry weekly coach's shows in both sports and selected women's basketball games.


New team charging higher prices
Though the team won't play its first game until next year, the Frisco RoughRiders, a Class AA minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers, are charging ticket prices up to 10 times higher than other clubs in the Texas League. The Dallas Morning News reported that season tickets cost $15 to $29 for each game of the team's 72-game schedule. Officials of the Southwest Sports Group, which owns the Rangers and Dallas Stars, say the Dallas-Fort Worth market will bear higher ticket prices. The Morning News said the RoughRiders have sold 80 percent of their priciest season-ticket seats, which run $2,100 apiece.


Crush holds first tryout
John Elway's new team, the Colorado Crush, held its first open tryout Aug. 24. The arena football team is partly owned by the retired Denver Broncos quarterback and by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. The tryouts were held at Broncos headquarters.

Broncos eat their way through camp
The Denver Broncos training camp is over, and all those mouths the team had to feed certainly were hungry. The Broncos reported that players consumed some 250 pounds of watermelon daily, along with, during the course of the camp, about 3,000 pounds of beef, chicken and fish. The team also served up 2,500 sandwiches, 1,800 slices of pizza and 2,500 ice cream cones.


Bat Day honors Kaline
The Detroit Tigers' Bat Day promotion on Sunday honored a player whom bat recipients never saw play. Al Kaline Louisville Slugger Bat Giveaway day honored Kaline's 50 years of service with the Detroit organization. The Hall of Fame outfielder joined the Tigers in 1953, played 22 seasons, and in 1974 joined the Tigers' television broadcast team, with which he spent the next 25 years. He now serves as a special assistant to David Dombrowski, the Tigers' president and general manager. The first 7,500 youngsters 14-and-under admitted each received a commemorative bat with a replica signature and the dates 1953-2002.


Women's workout centers merge
Lady of America Franchise Corp. in Fort Lauderdale acquired Ladies Workout Express, an Atlanta-based chain of 88 women-only fitness centers, for $1 million. The merger, originally agreed upon in mid-2001, makes Lady of America the world's largest chain of full-service, women's-only fitness clubs, with more than 500 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom, according to the company.


Rockets drop ticket prices
The Houston Rockets have lowered ticket prices in hopes that more people will see the team play this season than last season. The team also is offering a handful of mini packages to highlight notable opponents to point guard Steve Francis, center Yao Ming and shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. An additional 750 tickets per game will be made available at $13 or less, placing more than 12 percent of the seats in Compaq Center in the more affordable price range. The Rockets also are discounting nearly 1,000 season tickets. Several of the seats priced at $26.50 are now available for $16, and several $34 seats are available for $20.

Billboards promote Yao Ming
The Houston Rockets are promoting their No. 1 draft pick with a 14-foot by 48-foot billboard featuring a photo of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, accompanied only by Chinese words. The billboard's copy translates to "Let's Create Something Grand Together," which is designed to complement the team's "Be Part of Something Big" advertising campaign.

City adds $5M to Olympic bid
Houston City Council added $5 million worth of fuel to fire up the city's 2012 Olympic bid. The council amended its original agreement with nonprofit Houston 2012 Foundation by committing $5 million for marketing, staffing, graphic material and other services over the next three years — if Houston makes the initial U.S. cut on Tuesday. That's when the U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to announce the two finalists that will vie to become the U.S. entry for the host city role in the 2012 Olympics. The USOC will then further review the finalists, announcing its final U.S. recommendation on Nov. 3. The International Olympic Committee will review all global candidates and decide on the host city in July 2005.


CART announces incentives to retain teams
Championship Auto Racing Teams recently announced enhanced financial incentives for existing and new race teams to compete in the CART FedEx Championship Series for 2003 and beyond. Enhancing the Entrant Support Program announced in June, the plan will provide up to $850,000 in cash payments for each car entered in the 2003 championship, to a maximum of 20 cars.


Winn Dixie signs on with Super Bowl
Jacksonville-based Winn Dixie is the first to sign on as a $1 million sponsor of Super Bowl XXXIX, slated for Alltel Stadium in 2005. The Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee will use the money to help stage the event. Plans call for a downtown waterfront plaza, using cruise ships as hotel rooms and barges as restaurants and party venues. The host committee is seeking three other companies to pledge $1 million.


Miami eyes Army-Navy game
Miami is one of about a dozen cities that has expressed interest in luring the Army-Navy football game away from Philadelphia when the schools' contract expires after the 2003 season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This year the game is being played in the Meadowlands. It has been played in Philadelphia 75 times. St. Louis, Chicago, San Antonio and Cleveland are among the cities reportedly interested in hosting the game, which is said to bring 40,000 visitors and an economic impact of $15 million to $20 million.

With Pro Player stands nearly empty, a Marlins pitch almost hit Colorado's Todd Zeile (right) and Zeile went after pitcher Brad Penny, emptying the benches as well.

Marlins set unwanted record
A crowd of 4,746 for the Rockies-Marlins game at Pro Player Stadium left the Marlins last behind the Montreal Expos for worst average home attendance in Major League Baseball. It is believed to be the first time in the club's 10-year history that it has drawn the fewest fans in MLB, according to a Sun-Sentinel report. Through 66 home games, the Marlins are averaging 10,257 fans, and attendance was down 40 percent from last year.


Twins exhibit at State Fair
The MLB Authentic Collection Road Show will be the feature presentation at the Minnesota Twins exhibit at the State Fair. The team's exhibit also will include interactive games for kids, a video presentation, merchandise from Twins' Pro Shops and team representative appearances.


Sept. 14 race: Let Freedom Run
New York will host a 4-mile race dubbed Let Freedom Run on Sept. 14 along Manhattan's West Side in honor of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki will be the honorary co-chairmen of the run, which will begin at Hudson River Park's Pier 84 (44th Street) and continue down the West Side Highway to its finish in Battery Park. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Gift of New York, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to providing the families of those who died in the attacks free access to many of New York's cultural, historical, artistic and sporting events. Let Freedom Run is presented by Modell's Sporting Goods.


Magic opens regional ticket offices
In an effort to expand coverage on the east and west coasts of Florida, the Orlando Magic has opened two regional ticket offices in the Tampa and Daytona Beach areas.


Phillies have sellout at Kalas tribute
The Philadelphia Phillies had their first sellout of the season when 58,493 people turned out for the team's tribute Aug. 18 to Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas. As part of the festivities, the team gave away a dual bobblehead doll that featured Kalas and his longtime broadcasting partner, the late Richie Ashburn. More than a dozen former Phillies took part in a pregame ceremony that included replays of memorable Kalas calls over the years.

Eagles ban sales of plastic bottles
The Philadelphia Eagles are banning sales of plastic bottles at Veterans Stadium this season. The ban applies to soda, beer and water. A team spokesman called the action a "pre-emptive move." Last season, games were disrupted in Cleveland and New Orleans when fans threw plastic bottles onto the field to protest officiating.

City works to keep X Games next year
Philadelphia city officials have started negotiations with representatives from ESPN to bring the X Games back to the city for a third straight year in 2003. This year's event, which ended Aug. 19, generated an estimated $40 million for the region's economy. According to ESPN, attendance this year was 221,352 for the five-day event, down slightly from last year's 235,000 total. During the last two competitions, fans, competitors and ESPN staff rented an estimated 30,000 hotel rooms in and around Philadelphia. The First Union Complex was the site of most of the competition both years.


Shawn Marion, flanked by Paul Luna and Nicole Magnuson of Valley of the Sun United Way

Suns player makes unique donation
When Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion signed a six-year contract extension recently, he was not the only beneficiary. Marion pledged $1 million of his new earnings to the Valley of the Sun United Way as a statement of his commitment to the city. "Shawn is aware of our commitment to the community," said Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo. "I think it's a great statement on Shawn's part." The contribution will be made in eight annual installments of $125,000 and will have an emphasis on youth sports programs and cancer research. Marion's uncle, Joseph Wayne Nelson, recently died of cancer.


Monarchs boost attendance by 7.9%
The Sacramento Monarchs attracted 10,500 more fans than last season, boosting their final regular-season attendance figures by 7.9 percent. The Monarchs' success helped an overall increase for the WNBA, which saw attendance rise to an average of 9,228 per game, a 1.7 percent increase. The Monarchs' attendance had slipped the previous two seasons, from 9,000 in 1999 to 8,350 fans a game last year.


Carbite Golf lays off 35
San Diego-based Carbite Golf laid off about 35 workers — the bulk of its work force — and suspended operations Aug. 15. The wedge and putter manufacturer could not resolve a dispute with its largest lender, Inabata America Corp., which has filed suit over $1.495 million in disputed loans.


Subway targets Giants, Niners
Subway Restaurants will open a store in the center-field food court at the San Francisco Giants' Pacific Bell Park and is negotiating for space at San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point, home of the 49ers. The stores are part of a plan by the Milford, Conn.-based sandwich giant to open 25 restaurants in San Francisco within the next year. The cost of opening outlets in the two stadiums was not disclosed.


Pair does mock telecast of Arena Bowl
NBC's Tom Hammond and Billy Joe Tolliver did a mock telecast of Arena Bowl XVI at Compaq Center at San Jose in anticipation of the network taking over the league's television rights from ABC. Hammond, who said he'd only seen three Arena Bowl games before Aug. 18, will be doing one of four regional telecasts that NBC plans to show each Sunday starting in February 2003. Tolliver was trying out for a position as color commentator.


Seahawks Stadium set for record crowd
The new Seahawks Stadium will host the largest home crowd in Washington State University football history when the Cougars tackle the University of Nevada on Saturday. So far, 45,000 tickets have been sold to the public, with 7,000 allocated to students. Those 52,000 fans exceed the school's previous record crowd of 50,000, which watched the Cougs play Ohio State in Husky Stadium in 1974. The biggest crowd ever to see a game in Pullman, home of WSU, was 40,306 for the Stanford game in 1976.


Cardinals eye 4 sites in Illinois
The Cardinals are considering at least four sites in Illinois as a potential home for the baseball team should negotiations with the city of St. Louis fail. All four sites are within a few miles of Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, and several of the sites offer impressive views of the St. Louis cityscape from the east side of the Mississippi River. In an effort to keep the team in St. Louis, city officials plan to offer the Cardinals a new proposal before the Illinois Legislature reconvenes in November.


Lightning lost $18M, report says
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost $18 million during the last hockey season, possibly jeopardizing its future as an NHL franchise in Florida. A report produced by Turnkey Sports for the Hillsborough County Commission also shows that Palace Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Lightning, lost $3 million on events at the Ice Palace as the arena's leasehold operator.

Shaq 'attacks' literacy — in absentia

Shaquille O'Neal's celebrity basketball tournament in Tampa had one key element missing — its namesake. O'Neal, who was supposed to host the weekend tournament Aug. 17-18 at the Ice Palace, wasn't present either day. Organizers said they had a signed contract with the Los Angeles Lakers star and paid him more than $50,000 in advance. Tickets for the tournament were $250 each. One advance problem with the event was a press release stating that money from the tournament would go to reading education programs, under the heading "Shaq Attacks Literacy."


Panel works on hall of fame for women
A six-member committee including Toronto Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden is trying to come up with criteria that would allow women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At present, women must compete with men for the maximum four induction spots available each year. Within that framework it's inconceivable that a woman would ever be inducted. Hall chairman Scotty Morrison said the committee will take its time developing suitable criteria and guidelines for voters so that the first female induction will set a high enough standard for those who follow.


The Washington Wild Things dressed up in retro '70s clothes for a recent road trip.

Wild Things step into 1970s
The Frontier League's Washington Wild Things, presented by Washington Federal Savings Bank, turned back the clock to the late '70s earlier this month when they wore retro clothes for a road trip to Johnstown. The team got the idea when a fan came to a recent game with a book about Joe Charbonneau. The players (mostly 22 to 25 years old) were fascinated with the clothes Charbonneau wore in the photos and decided to visit secondhand stores to buy clothes from that era. Manager Jeff Isom held a contest for the best outfit. Bus driver Arnold Edwards won the prize with a lavender suit and hat. The Wild Things were leading the Frontier League East Division last week.

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