SBJ/September 16 - 22, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

Speedway bets on lead changes
Atlanta Motor Speedway officials are putting their money where the drivers' talent lies for the Napa 500. The speedway is guaranteeing at least 30 lead changes in the Oct. 27 race — and is giving fans on hand the chance to take $1 off the price of admission to either the March 9 or Oct. 26 Winston Cup race next year for every lead change below that. So 25 lead changes means a $5 discount. "In a way, it's a risk," said AMS President Ed Clark. "If we have six lead changes, I'm probably going to need another job."

BUFFALO

Medaille joins NCAA Division III
Medaille College in Buffalo was accepted as an active member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III. Medaille has been a provisional member for four years. It offers 11 men's and women's sports teams.

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Carolina Center books motocross event

Nate Adams will compete in the IFMA events at Carolina Center.
The IFMA Freestyle Motocross will compete at the Carolina Center on Feb. 21-22. The International Freestyle Motocross Association and Clear Channel Entertainment's motorsports division's extreme sporting event features the top names from ESPN's X Games performing high-flying motorcycle feats. The University of South Carolina's athletic department is the primary operator of the new Carolina Center. Global Spectrum, which manages more than 30 facilities worldwide, was selected by USC Athletics to manage the center.

DENVER

Owner to upgrade ski resort
Canadian ski-resort owner Intrawest Corp. will spend $100 million on Colorado's Winter Park ski area in the next 10 years, according to an agreement with the city of Denver, which owns the resort. Half of that money will go to make improvements. Vancouver-based Intrawest said it will spend 6 percent of the resort's annual revenue on maintenance.

DETROIT

Old Timers Game coming up
The Detroit Tigers scheduled an Old Timers Game for Saturday before the Tigers-Yankees game at Comerica Park. The event will be part of the annual fan appreciation weekend. Among the former Tigers scheduled to participate are Al Kaline, Mark Fidrych, Darrell Evans, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, Frank Tanana, Milt Wilcox, Steve Kemp, John Hiller, Earl Wilson, Jason Thompson and Dan Petry.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

Ground broken on golf community
Bonita Springs-based WCI Communities Inc. has broken ground on Parkland Golf & Country Club, an 818-acre community featuring the first Greg Norman golf course design in the city of Parkland in northwest Broward County. WCI's initial plan is to build 700 single-family homes, priced from $500,000 to more than $3 million, and 120 condos, priced from $350,000 to $600,000, on the site just south of the Palm Beach County line.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.

The new Griffins jerseys link them to the Red Wings.

Griffins update logo, 3 jerseys
The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League introduced an updated logo and three new jerseys for the 2002-03 season, their first as the primary affiliate of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. The logo is unaltered with the exception of a subtle color change. The Griffins eliminated green from the color scheme, replacing it with navy blue. The redesigned jerseys maintain traditional elements but present a new image for the 7-year-old team. The red in the team's uniform is a reminder of its new five-year affiliation with the Red Wings, which also is reflected in the team's first-ever third jersey.

INDIANAPOLIS

Indians post record low attendance
Officials for the Indianapolis Indians, the city's Class AAA baseball team, reported record low attendance for this season. Attendance at Victory Field for the Indians' 72 home games reached just 571,984. This season marked the first since 1997, the team's first full season in Victory Field, that the team has drawn fewer than 600,000 fans for a season.

IU plans sports complex
Indiana University officials unveiled plans to construct a massive sports complex around Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall on the Bloomington campus. The project is expected to cost more than $60 million and take five years to complete. IU Athletic Director Michael McNeely said he is hopeful the funding for the project can be raised through private donations. At the heart of the plan is a $40 million, 225,000-square-foot student-athlete center.

HOUSTON

Marathon prize money announced
It actually could pay to run in next year's hp Houston Marathon. Prize money will once again be connected to the marathon after a two-year absence that significantly changed the caliber of runners attracted to the event. Marathon organizers announced Sept. 6 that a total of $18,000 will be doled out to winners of both the marathon and the ep 13.1 miler, the half marathon sponsored by El Paso Corp. The first-place male and female runners in the Jan. 19 marathon will get $3,500, while winners in the half marathon will get $1,000 each.

Yao Ming looks over the Southwest Freeway in Houston in a Rockets promotion.

Rockets' marketing goes multicultural
The Houston Rockets' marketing campaign has gone multicultural with the installation of an outdoor board featuring only Chinese copy and a photo of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming on the Southwest Freeway. Aimed at generating interest among Houston's large Chinese population, the 14-foot by 48-foot billboard features a headshot of the Rockets' No. 1 draft pick with words that translate from Chinese to English as "Let's Create Something Grand Together" and is designed to work with the Rockets "Be Part of Something Big" advertising campaign.

JACKSONVILLE

Novak won't appeal ruling
Former Jacksonville Jaguars player Jeff Novak won't appeal a judge's decision to throw out a $5.35 million jury verdict against former team physician Stephen Lucie. Lucie's decision to drain fluid from Novak's leg injury, sustained during a 1998 training camp, caused lasting disability that cut short his football career, the jury determined. Attorneys for both sides declined to comment on the case, but other Jacksonville attorneys say the two parties likely settled.

Super Bowl group prepares to set sail
The Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee signed letters of intent with five cruise ship lines to host football fans for the 2005 Super Bowl at Alltel Stadium. Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Silver Sea Cruises and Seadream Yacht Club are on board to provide more than 7,600 floating hotel rooms for the event. The host committee worked with Miami-based Landry & Kling, hired in February as the exclusive management company for dockside ship housing, to develop a request for proposals. Officials declined to say how much the host committee will pay to charter the ships because the groups still are negotiating the cost.

KANSAS CITY

Dukes moving to Kansas City
The Duluth-Superior Dukes will move to Kansas City for the 2003 season. The Northern League team is to play in a $12 million stadium that will be designed by Heinlein Schrock Stearns, a Kansas City architect. The team will spend about $7 million for the 4,500-seat stadium; the remaining $5 million will come from sales tax revenue bonds. Public money is to pay for parking lots, roads and sewers around the stadium, which will be located near Kansas Speedway, which opened last year.

LOWELL, MASS.

Spinners tie attendance record
The Lowell Spinners tied a team attendance record with 185,000 fans this season and extended their standing-room-only streak to 124 consecutive games. The Class A affiliate of the Red Sox tied the record set last year. This is the third consecutive season the Spinners have sold every ticket possible for every home game. A standing-room capacity sellout is 5,000 fans at LeLacheur Park.


MIAMI

Marlins mentioned as movable
The Florida Marlins were mentioned as one of several teams in a situation that may warrant a move, according to Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority Executive Director Gabe Paul, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Efforts to lure a team to northern Virginia might not be limited to the Montreal Expos, he said. "Obviously, there's Montreal, but you look at Miami and Tampa and the Oakland problem, with them so close to San Francisco. Now that contraction is off the table, the only way you're going to satisfy and rectify those situations may be to move a club," he said in the report.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Audio company does score for 'SportsCenter'
Minneapolis-based In The Groove Music, an audio production facility, has completed a musical score for ESPN's flagship show, "SportsCenter." The firm also will relicense 16 musical tracks from the Summer X Games VIII in Philadelphia.

Twins are all hankied out
A mainstay of the team's 1987 and 1991 World Series championship runs, the Homer Hanky made its return to the Twin Cities on Sept. 6. The first 20,000 fans in the Metrodome for the team's game against the Oakland A's received the giveaway, which was sponsored by the Star Tribune. The team gave away 50,000 hankies during the weekend, exhausting its initial supply. Twins officials have ordered more.

Jostens to make BCS rings
The BCS and Jostens, which has made 24 of 36 Super Bowl rings, have unveiled

Jostens will make the official BCS championship rings.
the design for the first Bowl Championship Series national champions ring. Jostens, which also makes the official NCAA basketball championship ring, was selected by the BCS to produce the ring, which is made of 10 karat white gold with a faceted stone-within-a-stone design. The sides of the ring show the team's logo, player's name and game score, and the name of the bowl game. The championship ring meets all the guidelines of the NCAA, making it the official ring of the bowl series. In addition to the BCS championship ring, Jostens has been commissioned to create first-ever players' rings for the Rose Bowl and the FedEx Orange Bowl.

OAKLAND

Raiders off to poor start at gate
The Oakland Raiders continue to win on the field and lose at the box office. Their home opener drew just 53,260 fans, well short of the Network Associates Coliseum's 62,000 capacity. The game was blacked out locally as the Raiders demolished the Seattle Seahawks.

A's still lag behind 2001 attendance
Despite a recent 20-game winning streak, the Oakland A's are still slightly behind their 2001 attendance figures. The A's were averaging 25,919 fans a game, for a total of about 1.8 million, as of Sept. 9.

ORLANDO

2 teams bound for Cajundome
Orlando Predators Entertainment Inc. has closed a deal to bring two new teams to Lafayette, La.'s Cajundome. The company owns and operates the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators. After buying the East Coast Hockey League's Louisiana IceGators, the Predators announced plans to launch a new Arena Football 2 team in Louisiana for the 2003 season. Both teams will play at the Cajundome.

PHILADELPHIA

Great for résumé: Intern gets bobblehead
For its last bobblehead promotion of the season, the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks

Graham doll
of the independent Atlantic League chose a decidedly atypical member of its staff to honor. Instead of featuring a player, mascot or manager, the Riversharks on Sept. 7 gave away 2,000 bobbleheads featuring the organization's summer intern, Graham Bailey, before the team's game against the Long Island Ducks. The "Graham the Intern" bobbleheads featured Bailey dressed in a Riversharks game-day uniform of khaki short pants, light blue staff shirt and tennis shoes. Bailey joined the Riversharks staff in January from Wabash College in Indiana, where he is the starting goalie on the school's soccer team. Bailey interned in the marketing and sales department, but also helped out as a part-time clubhouse assistant where his duties included washing uniforms and cleaning the clubhouses.

Charge players set for 'Trading Spaces'
Four members of the Philadelphia Charge will appear on an upcoming edition of The Learning Channel's "Trading Spaces" program. The show typically involves couples redecorating rooms in each other's houses. For the recently taped segment involving the Philadelphia players from the WUSA, roommates Erica Iverson and Jennifer Tietjen and roommates Karyn Hall and Mary-Frances Monroe redecorated each other's season living quarters. The program will air Oct. 26.

PITTSBURGH

Penguins get new sweaters
The Pittsburgh Penguins unveiled a new home sweater that will be worn during games at Mellon Arena. The design features the skating Penguin, similar to the black alternate sweaters the Penguins have worn the last two years. The only difference is that the home jerseys are white, and the alternate jerseys are black.

ECHL team to play at Mellon
The Wheeling (W.Va.) Nailers, the East Coast Hockey League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will play for the first time at Mellon Arena — home of the Penguins — on Oct. 20 against the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen. The Nailers are playing in Pittsburgh because of a scheduling conflict at the Wheeling Civic Arena.

PLANO, TEXAS

Emmitt billboard marks record try
Emmitt Smith will loom larger than life over Texas Stadium, courtesy of Plano-based

Emmitt Smith will rush over Texas Stadium counting his yards.
J.C. Penney Co. and its Emmitt-O-Meter (pronounced "emmitt-AH-meter"). The Emmitt-O-Meter will boast a 16-foot-tall image of Smith, which will rush across a dynamic billboard to count down the 539 yards needed to match Walter Payton's all-time NFL rushing record. The billboard is located in a prominent corner within Texas Stadium's campus. After Smith breaks the record, the billboard will be transformed into a congratulatory note and remain above Texas Stadium until the end of the season.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

Learfield buys 2 sports sites
Learfield Communications has purchased Internet sports sites from Chapel Hill-based VilCom, including goheels.com and acctoday.com. Terms of the deal were not released. Learfield's sports division, which is based in Jefferson City, Mo., holds multimedia marketing and media rights for the University of North Carolina. Readers who click on goheels.com and acctoday.com are now directed to tarheelblue.com. The university has an agreement with the Official College Sports Network, formerly called Fansonly, for content delivery and site management for the tarheelblue.com Web site.

ST. LOUIS

College game makes for big payday
The Missouri vs. Illinois football matchup Aug. 30 at the Edward Jones Dome provided the dome its largest single-day payout in its seven-year history. With fans purchasing more than 61,000 tickets, the game brought the Dome between $350,000 and $400,000 in net earnings. By comparison, the Dome earns an average of $100,000 per Rams game.

TORONTO

Open practice date set
The Toronto Maple Leafs are holding their 2002 McDonald's Bring It On! season-opening practice Oct. 5 at Air Canada Centre. Fans will be able to watch the practice, see team video highlights and find out about players' favorite songs and other information in live interviews.


WILKES-BARRE, PA.

The Penguins led the AHL in sellouts last year for the third consecutive season.

Penguins again sell all season tickets
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have stopped selling season tickets. Full, 22- and 12-game plan holders occupy all of the 8,143 seats in the First Union Arena at Casey Plaza for the upcoming season. A limited number of tickets will be available. After all the partial-plan holders select their games, the Penguins estimate they will have an average of 600-700 tickets available per game for individual game sale. Last year, the Penguins led the American Hockey League in sellouts for the third consecutive season, and they set an AHL record for sellouts in a season with 39.

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