SBJ/November 18 - 24, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

Dodd award set for Peach Bowl
Announcement of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award is being added to the Peach Bowl's halftime festivities this year. The coaching award, named in honor of the man who led Georgia Tech football teams for 22 years, has been given annually since 1976. The Peach Bowl is played each New Year's Eve.

Thrashers mark Veterans Day
The Atlanta Thrashers hosted the Calgary Flames on Veterans Day for a "Business Breakaway" presented by Bank of America. In a special Veterans Day observance, the Thrashers recognized local and national veterans and welcomed original members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen Corps and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd (Ret.), whose 40 years of military service included Vietnam and the Gulf War. Fans received American flags, courtesy of Bank of America, as they entered the game. The Tuskegee Airmen were recognized in a pregame ceremonial face-off with the captains of both teams.

BALTIMORE

Preakness logo unveiled
The Maryland Jockey Club has unveiled the 2003 Preakness logo. The 128th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Visa Triple Crown, is set for May 17 at Pimlico Race Course. For the fourth straight year, the Leffler Agency of Baltimore and Tampa created the design for the Preakness logo.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y.

Senators to debut radio show
The Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League announced that "Molson Most Mondays," a weekly, hour-long radio show, will debut Dec. 2 on the club's flagship radio station, 680 WINR. The show will air live from Edigans Bar and Restaurant located in the Foundry Plaza-Binghamton each Monday during the regular season and will continue through the postseason, contingent upon the Calder Cup playoff schedule. Grady Whittenburg, play-by-play radio voice for the Senators, will host the show.

BUFFALO

Sabres open second store
The Buffalo Sabres have opened a second "Sabres Store" at the Amherst Pepsi Center. The Sabres will sell merchandise from the outlet, located inside the suburban facility, which also serves as a practice facility for the team.

CINCINNATI

Fox Sports Ohio picks up 17 Xavier games
Twelve of Xavier University's 17 men's basketball games on Fox Sports Net will be broadcast over the entire Fox Sports Ohio territory. All games that don't conflict with Columbus Blue Jacket hockey games will be broadcast statewide.

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Carolina Center launches site
The Carolina Center has launched its Web site. The site allows fans to buy tickets online and to access up-to-date sports, concert, family show and event information for the new Carolina Center, opening this week.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Electronic display to show ads
The Frisco RoughRiders minor league baseball team will use an electronic display screen in the outfield to display commercial messages from seven "founding" sponsors, rather than displaying signs on the walls there. The Dallas Morning News reported that the team, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers that begins play in April, said the sign will give its sponsors a better and uncluttered way of delivering their messages. The RoughRiders have signed two founding partners: Medical Center of Plano and Texans Credit Union.

DENVER

Group completes ski area purchase
A group of Colorado and California business people closed Nov. 7 on their $5 million purchase of the Monarch ski and snowboard area near Salida in southern Colorado. The seller was Pioneer Holdings of Los Angeles, which owned the resort under the name Ski Monarch LLC. With 138,850 skier visits in its 2001-02 season, Monarch is Colorado's 17th-most-popular ski area. The 11 new owners, operating under the name PowderMonarch LLC, include Rich Moorhead, Monarch's general manager and vice president of operations, and Melissa Goforth, the resort's chief financial officer. They will continue to run the ski area. The new owners hope to improve the resort's day lodge and equipment rental shop as soon as possible. They also plan to upgrade the property's master plan. Monarch is scheduled to open for this ski season Friday.

DETROIT

Public buses run to Pistons games
For the first time ever, public transportation will be available to Detroit Pistons home games on Saturdays this season. Three buses, called the "Pistons Express," will run a special route along Woodward Avenue making stops at six locations to pick up passengers for the 30-mile trip to the Palace of Auburn Hills. Cost for a bus ticket is $2 each way. Piston Express riders also will be able to purchase a $19 game ticket for $12. Buses will leave the Palace on the return trip 30 minutes after the game.

Fans donate tons of canned food
The Gleaners Community Food Bank of Metro Detroit benefited from a weeklong Red Wings-sponsored food drive that resulted in a total of 23,800 pounds of food donated to help Gleaners feed the hungry this holiday season. The project started with all-star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom helping with the construction of an eight-foot Stanley Cup built from about 2,000 cans.

HOUSTON

Astros won't raise prices
The Houston Astros will not raise prices on individual tickets for the 2003 season at Minute Maid Park. The team also has discounted season-ticket prices for fans who purchase by Dec. 16. The 83-game package — which includes 81 regular-season games and two exhibition games against the Chicago White Sox — costs between $913 and $3,154 before Dec. 16, and ranges from $996 to $3,237 after that.

Rockets retire Olajuwon's jersey
The Houston Rockets retired Hakeem Olajuwon's No. 34 jersey at an extended halftime ceremony during the Rockets vs. Golden State game Nov. 9 in the Compaq Center. During his 17 seasons with the Rockets, Olajuwon averaged 22.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots in 1,177 games. Olajuwon was the first overall pick of the 1984 NBA draft, won back-to-back NBA championships with the Rockets in 1994 and 1995 and was selected as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All-Time in 1996.

INDIANAPOLIS

F1-CART partnership could hurt USGP
The much talked about alliance between Formula One and Championship Auto Racing Teams series could spell doom for the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Sources close to both series have said CART President and CEO Christopher Pook and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, longtime friends, are discussing a relationship that essentially would make CART an F1 support or feeder series. If a deal is brokered between CART and F1, sources said, part of that deal would be to closely tie F1's North American marketing efforts to CART. It also would give CART additional marketing clout in Europe, a market Pook said is key to his series' survival.

Indians streamline ticket buying
The Indianapolis Indians will streamline the ticket-buying process from three options to two for the 2003 season, the club announced. Adult ticket prices will remain at $11 and $7 for the third straight season. Children 14 and younger will continue to receive a $1 discount. The Indians are eliminating the $9 price level. The re-scaling creates 1,518 more seats in the $7 level (reserved seats) and 1,839 seats in the $11 price category (box seats).

JACKSONVILLE

Hotel deadline will be met, officials say
Jacksonville's Super Bowl organizers say they'll meet the NFL's Dec. 31 hotel-requirement deadline. Jacksonville is 33 percent short of the needed 17,500 contracted hotel rooms for the 2005 game, according to the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee. By comparison, Detroit has contracted nearly 98 percent of its rooms for the 2006 Super Bowl. Host committee officials expect area hoteliers will sign up in time and have no plans to request a deadline extension. Jim Steeg, NFL's senior vice president of special events, expressed confidence, although he said he feels a bit antsy about the slow pace. The NFL has made no threats to pull the 2005 event, Steeg said.

Georgia-Florida game valued at $10.8M
Fans booked 22,874 room nights for the 2002 Georgia-Florida game weekend Nov. 1-3. The Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated visitors generated more than $5.4 million in direct expenditures, with an economic impact of more than $10.8 million.

Awards drop statewide program
The Florida Sports Awards will drop its annual statewide program and return to the organization's local roots next year. Although the local portion of the show scored well, television ratings in other state markets were dismal, making the show less profitable than expected, board member John Forrester said. The Florida Sports Awards recognizes amateur and professional athletes and coaches across the state. It began as the Jacksonville Area Sports Performances, nicknamed the Jaspers, and benefits local youth organizations, particularly the Otis F. Smith Foundation.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Vikings' stadium offer withdrawn
Owner Red McCombs confirmed that the Minnesota Vikings' offer to put $100 million into a stadium effort with the University of Minnesota is off the table, according to media reports. If McCombs had contributed $100 million, the NFL would have kicked in $51.5 million. The deal is off because the structure of the agreement has changed, McCombs told the Star Tribune. The team is prepared to put a sizable amount into the stadium but will wait to see what revenue streams it will have as part of an altered agreement.

NHL All-Star Weekend rescheduled
The 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend has been rescheduled for Feb. 7-8 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It previously had been scheduled in late January.

2 Web sites upgraded
Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Minnesota Wild, upgraded two of its Web sites: wild.com and xcelenergycenter.com, the arena's official site. More than 275,000 fans visited more than 1.4 million pages on the wild.com site in October.

NASHVILLE

Predators promotion: Nextel Night
"Nextel Night," which began Thursday, will offer Nashville Predators fans a chance to win $250,000. The local competition is a part of the Nextel/NHL All-Star Challenge, a national shoot-out competition taking place in 11 NHL markets over a three-month period. It will end during the 2003 NHL All-Star Weekend, which will be presented by Nextel, when one player will attempt to shoot against an NHL star for $250,000. The Predators and Nextel also are sponsoring the "Donate a Phone" campaign, wherein fans bring used wireless phones to the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Phone collections will run through Jan. 13, and funds generated from those collections will be donated to Hockey Fights Cancer, the NHL's nonprofit organization.

NEW YORK

Marathon had most starters, finishers
A record number of starters and finishers along with the most women finishers in the event's history marked the running of the 2002 New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. There were 32,560 starters, edging the previous high of 32,503 set in 1999. The event mark of 31,786 finishers set in 1999 was eclipsed with 31,824 finishing this year's 26.2-mile course through the five boroughs. Of the finishing field, nearly a third were women, 10,192, bettering the race high of 9,160 women finishers also set in 1999.

OTTAWA

Senators offer jersey trade-in
The Ottawa Senators' quest to expand their fan base is getting a little wider. Faced with a vocal and loyal group of Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs rooters, the Senators have launched a promotion aimed at converting Corel Centre fans into cheering for the hometown hockey heroes. Fans attending the Montreal-Ottawa game on Thursday or the Toronto game on Nov. 25 can trade in their Habs or Leafs jerseys at the Corel Centre Sensation store for two tickets to a mid-January game against Tampa Bay and a $10 rebate on a new Senators jersey.

PHILADELPHIA

Governor-elect back on air for Eagles

From left, Michael Barkann, Gov.-elect Ed Rendell, Ray Didinger and Vaughn Hebron celebrate Rendell's return to the Eagles' postgame show as balloons drop on the set.
Less than a week after winning Pennsylvania's gubernatorial election, former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell was back on Comcast SportsNet's Eagles postgame show. Rendell was not able to be a panel member on the show while campaigning for governor because FCC regulations prohibit candidates from appearing regularly on television or radio. Rendell began his four-year run as a postgame analyst for Eagles football on the Comcast SportsNet during the end of his second term as mayor. On Nov. 10 he joined other postgame show analysts Ray Didinger of NFL Films; Vaughn Hebron, a former Eagles running back; and Dave Brown, a former New York Giants running back.

PITTSBURGH

Skate competition set for 2004
The 2004 Skate America, a pre-Olympic competition, will be held Oct. 21-24 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. The annual event is expected to attract more than 60 athletes from eight countries. The skaters who participate in the event are senior-level skaters who will likely compete in the Olympics. The last time the event was held in Pittsburgh was 1994. The estimated economic impact for the city is $829,000, event organizers said.

National Sports Forum in January
Marketing representatives from professional, minor league and college sports teams across the country are scheduled to meet in Pittsburgh Jan. 20-22 when the city hosts the National Sports Forum. The event will be held at the downtown Omni William Penn Hotel.

SACRAMENTO

All-Star 2005 at River Cats' Raley Field
The Pacific Coast League and International League have chosen the home of the Sacramento River Cats for their minor league baseball All-Star Game in 2005. The 18th annual All-Star Game will feature the top prospects from the two Class AAA leagues. Each year the game is broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and Sporting News Radio. Pacific Coast League officials said the choice was an easy one because of the quality of Raley Field and the consistent top performance by the River Cats, which have led all of minor league baseball in attendance for three years.

SAN FRANCISCO

BASOC's demise kills stadium renovation
When the Bay Area lost its hopes of hosting the Summer 2012 Olympic Games to New York, it killed any chance of Stanford rebuilding its football stadium in the short term. Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland said it will be at least two years before it's possible to start raising money for a renovation project. Had the Bay Area captured the Games, Stanford Stadium would have been converted into the Olympic Stadium and track and field venue. Meanwhile, the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee held a garage sale at its Palo Alto offices and closed.

ST. LOUIS

Health club closes after 3 months
Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee may be out as much as $50,000 after a St. Louis health club in which she invested closed its doors after just three months in operation. Joyner-Kersee's attorney said his client was unaware the club had closed since she had not been in contact with the gym's principal owner, Douglas Melzer, for several weeks. Joyner-Kersee had been a silent investor in the club but later discovered Melzer had registered the facility as Jackie Joyner-Kersee's Health & Fitness, according to Joyner-Kersee's attorney. Melzer could not be reached for comment, and Joyner-Kersee's lawyer said he believes Melzer may have left town.

New ballpark plans inch forward
The owners of the Cardinals have inched forward in their plans to develop a new ballpark in downtown St. Louis. On Nov. 4 the owners signed an agreement with the city to redevelop the land on which the current Busch Stadium sits as well as a general agreement to remain in the city. The Cardinals are currently in negotiations with private investors to build a new $333 million ballpark.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

USF bidding for NCAA Final Fours
The University of South Florida is bidding to host the NCAA men's and women's Final Four basketball tournaments in 2008, 2009 or 2010. The men's bid is for Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where the 1999 Final Four was held, while the women's bid is for the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa. USF has been the host institution for four previous men's basketball championship tournaments dating back to 1983.

Outback Bowl cranks up for pregame
The Outback Bowl kicked off its pregame festivities Nov. 7 with its 15th annual "Feast on the Fifty" barbecue inside Raymond James Stadium. About 1,300 game sponsors and guests attended the event, one of several scheduled each year in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 1 bowl. This is the 17th year for the Tampa game, which gets third choice from college football teams in the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences.

TORONTO

FIFA grant clears way for field
Plans are in the works for a 30,000-seat natural grass soccer stadium in central Toronto after FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, came through with a $390,000 grant to the Canadian Soccer Association. CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe said the grant money will be used to do preliminary assessments and analyses. No site for the stadium has been determined and adequate funding is yet to be secured from government or private sources.

VANCOUVER

Premium games to cost more
Fans looking to buy single-game tickets for the Vancouver Canucks' most popular opponents will dig a bit deeper this season. While holding the line on ticket prices, "premium" prices will be in effect for six "high demand" games. The six include Toronto (Dec. 31, March 15) and Detroit (Nov. 22, Jan. 24) as well as single games against Colorado (Feb. 13) and the New York Rangers (Nov. 16).

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