SBJ/November 25 - December 1, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

Bobbleheads held up in port dispute
You could say the Atlanta Thrashers were penalized Nov. 15 when left wing Dany Heatley was forced to spend the night in the box. More accurately, the team paid the price — having to postpone Dany Heatley Bobblehead Night when the dolls failed to arrive in time for the game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The bobbleheads were held up on the West Coast by the labor dispute that briefly closed the ports. Any fans who bought tickets for the Nov. 15 game to get that bobblehead can redeem their tickets for a rescheduled Dany Heatley Bobblehead Night on Jan. 17.

BATON ROUGE, LA.

Academic Center opens doors
Representatives of the Tiger Athletic Foundation handed over the keys of the new Academic Center for Student Athletes to Louisiana State University in a ceremony Nov. 15. The dedication was the culmination of a three-year project to turn the old Gym Armory Building on the LSU campus into a home for the university's

The new LSU center for student athletes
Academic Center for Student Athletes. The new Cox Communications Academic Center includes a 1,000-seat auditorium, 40 computers for student athletes, a 2,800-square-foot library, private study rooms and a communications studio to provide interviewing and public relations training for LSU student athletes. The center provides a tutorial staff to work directly with students, a supervised study hall, career counseling, time management and study skills counseling, as well as training in compliance with rules governing the university, SEC and NCAA.

BUFFALO

County takes over ballpark operations
Erie County has taken over operations of Dunn Tire Park, home of the Buffalo Bisons. The county took control from the city of Buffalo, which has lost money on the 14-year-old stadium for the last several years. The Bisons will be responsible for day-to-day maintenance and Erie County has committed to $5 million in infrastructure improvements.

CINCINNATI

Racer Stewart to drop puck for Ducks
NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart will drop the first puck and sign autographs

Stewart
for fans on NASCAR Night when the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks play the Chicago Wolves Jan. 18 at the Cincinnati Gardens. Stewart, who won this year's Winston Cup championship, will participate in various events between periods. In addition, the first 3,200 fans will receive a Tony Stewart bobblehead doll.

Browns' visit boosts attendance
The Nov. 17 Bengals-Browns game drew 64,060 fans, making it the second-biggest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history. The record is 64,217 for a game against the Browns in October 2001.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Center unveils Web site redesign
The American Airlines Center has unveiled its redesigned Web site at www.americanairlinescenter.com. The site provides visitors with information about events and the facility, including panoramic views inside the center. Visitors can take a virtual tour of the facility, and through an interactive seating chart, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars fans can check the view from seat sections and suites before buying tickets. The redesign was created by Dallas-based Imaginuity Interactive Inc.

Red Kettle fund gets TV kickoff

From left: Cowboys backup QB Clint Stoerner, Salvation Army Maj. William Mockabee, Cowboys VP Charlotte Anderson, singer LeAnn Rimes, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Gene Jones (Jerry's wife) and Cowboys starting QB Chad Hutchinson
For the sixth straight year, the Dallas Cowboys will join with the Salvation Army to launch the annual Red Kettle fund-raising campaign on national television on Thanksgiving Day. The campaign will kick off at halftime of Thursday's game between Dallas and Washington at Texas Stadium with recording star LeAnn Rimes performing. The game will be carried live by Fox. The Cowboys began the holiday tradition with the Salvation Army in 1997 when Reba McEntire performed at halftime of a Thanksgiving Day game.

HOUSTON

Rockets form fan council
The Houston Rockets have formed a fan council to help the team gain insight into the specific needs of fans and to enhance the overall fan experience. The 30-member advisory board comprises selected Rockets season-ticket holders and members of local Rockets groups. They will meet about four times this season to discuss issues regarding fans' game experiences.

Oshman's opens 2 more stores
Oshman's, a division of Denver-based Gart Sports Co., has opened two more stores in Houston. Gart is the second-largest publicly held sporting goods store in the country. The company operates stores under the Gart Sports and Oshman's brands.

INDIANAPOLIS

Web firm joins Colts controversy

Fans can vote to "Keep the Colts" or "Let the Colts Go" at the DoublePlus Web site.
An Indianapolis Internet design and marketing firm is hoping to profit from the debate involving the possible move of the Indianapolis Colts. DoublePlus Web Marketing has launched a free online poll at www.doubleplus.com where visitors can vote to "Keep the Colts" or "Let the Colts Go." Company officials said they will deliver the results each month to Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and Colts owner Jim Irsay to let them know where area residents stand.

Bol brings hockey team big publicity
The Indianapolis Ice, the city's minor league hockey team, recently brought in former NBA star Manute Bol for one of its most successful promotions. Not only did the game draw a season-high 5,900 fans to the Nov. 16 game, but it attracted national media attention. After the team announced it would be "signing" the 7-foot-7 Bol to a contract Nov. 12, Ice officials said the phone rang off the hook. "We were flooded with calls from every local, regional and many national media outlets wanting to know about the signing," said Ice spokesman Jason Burkman. "Some people got it, others didn't." The team, which is usually relegated to the back pages of the Indianapolis Star's sports section, was featured prominently on ESPN and Fox Sports during the week. Though Bol was dressed in an Ice uniform for the game, he never played. Ice officials said they would never do anything to risk injury to Bol, who by all accounts barely knows how to skate, or give the game or franchise a bad image. Bol said he did the publicity stunt to raise money to help the poor and needy in his war-torn homeland in the Sudan.

JACKSONVILLE

Tomcats owner to fold team
Jacksonville Tomcats majority owner Steve Umberger will fold the Arena Football 2 team after just three seasons. The team kicked off in 2000, selling out every home game. Ticket sales since then declined from more than 8,000 to 6,000 a game this year. The team reportedly lost several hundred thousand dollars last season. Umberger was unavailable for comment.

LAS VEGAS

LPGA Takefuji moving to Vegas
The LPGA Takefuji Classic will move to the Las Vegas Country Club and increase its purse to $1.1 million, beginning with the 2003 tournament. The 2003 LPGA Takefuji Classic will be held April 14-19 with a 144-player field in the 54-hole tournament. The 2003 champion will receive a first-place check of $165,000. This will be the fourth staging of the LPGA Takefuji Classic, with the previous three being held on the island of Hawaii from 2000 to 2002.

MILWAUKEE

Miller 'official beer' of Soldier Field
Miller Brewing Co. and the Chicago Bears have reached an agreement on a multiyear exclusive sponsorship program for Miller and its Chicago-area distributors, designating Miller the "official beer" at Soldier Field in Chicago. The 10-year deal gives Miller the rights to use the Bears' trademarks in both permanent and nonpermanent, point-of-sale advertising materials. The deal also includes extensive signage for Miller Brewing at Soldier Field, and will make Miller a prominent advertiser in the team's official publications. The brewery will sponsor the "Miller Lite Party Deck" in the north end zone at Soldier Field. Miller has marketing relationships with 20 NFL teams, including exclusive sponsorship deals with the Bears, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

J&P Hockey signs 5-year deal
Minneapolis-based J&P Hockey Ventures Inc., which does business as the Let's Play Hockey International Expo, has signed a five-year agreement to present an international hockey industry trade show with the International Hockey Industry Association. Let's Play Hockey had done an annual show in Las Vegas. The event put on by this partnership will replace that, said Doug Johnson, president of Let's Play Hockey. The new show will be called The International Hockey Industry Association Trade Show. It will alternate between Las Vegas and Toronto, with the first being held in Toronto in 2004.

Wild unveils 2004 all-star logo
The Minnesota Wild unveiled the 2004 all-star weekend logo. The logo features a puck in flight, which represents the speed of ice hockey, according to a league statement. The 54th NHL All-Star Game will be at the Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 8, 2004.

NASHVILLE

Predators promotion rides with Ford
A Nashville Predators fan can win a new 2003 Predators Limited Edition Ford Expedition when

Ford Motor Co. has produced a special Predators Limited Edition Expedition.
the Predators face off against the New Jersey Devils Friday at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Ford Motor Co. is the first car manufacturing company that has produced a Predators vehicle of this kind. Four winners of shoot-outs at previous games will compete in the finals on Friday. During an intermission, each finalist will select a key. The contestant with the key that opens the door will drive away with the Limited Edition Expedition.

Team's new Web site launched
The Nashville Predators have launched a new Web site, www.nashvillepredators.com. The site debuted Nov. 15 and was designed and implemented by Tallent Communications. It features an interactive screensaver, background pictures, a game calendar, online polls, merchandise-purchase area and news alerts. Fans also will be able to participate in online discussion boards.

PHILADELPHIA

Boyz II Men records song for 76ers
The Grammy Award-winning musical group Boyz II Men, whose members hail from Philadelphia, has recorded and produced an original music spot, "Step on Up," for the Philadelphia 76ers. The 30-second commercial, which first aired during the Sixers' game against the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month, was created to remind people to watch Sixers games on Comcast SportsNet. Both the Sixers and Comcast SportsNet are owned by Comcast-Spectacor.

Phillies tickets to cost more
The Philadelphia Phillies announced they will raise ticket prices at Veterans Stadium next season. Most tickets will increase $2 next year. The exceptions are tickets for reserved seating in the 600-level and children's general admission tickets, which will go up only $1. Adult general admission tickets will increase from $8 to $10. The most expensive tickets, 200-level field box seats, will cost $28. Next season will be the last for the Phillies at the Vet. The team's new ballpark is scheduled to open in 2004.

300 women take 'Hockey 101'
More than 300 women turned out for the Philadelphia Flyers' inaugural "Hockey 101" event, which the team organized to provide women with a better understanding of the game of hockey. The event was hosted by Flyers assistant coaches Craig Hartsburg and Wayne Fleming, forward Justin Williams, television color commentator Steve Coates and Philadelphia Phantoms defenseman Bruno St. Jacques.

PITTSBURGH

Heinz may get artificial turf
Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said it's possible that artificial turf will be installed at Heinz Field by 2004. Since its opening last year, there have been numerous complaints about the Steelers' home field. Rooney said he feels that the sand base used on the field to help it drain is the biggest part of the problem.

PORTLAND, MAINE

Reception tickets go on sale
Tickets for the official 2003 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic receptions that will be held before and after both the Pepsi All-Star Skills Competition and All-Star Game are on sale through the Portland Pirates' office. The all-star classic begins Feb. 2 with the pre-skills competition reception presented by UBS/PaineWebber at the Portland Public Market, followed by a post-skills competition reception at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. Feb. 3 festivities begin with the Hockey Hall of Fame/AHL All-Star Classic Brunch presented by Fleet at the Portland Expo. Before the All-Star Game, fans are invited to a pregame reception presented by Pizzagalli Construction Co. at the Portland Museum of Art.

RALEIGH-DURHAM

Hardee's to sell Hurricane dolls
St. Louis-based Hardee's Food Systems Inc. will sell licensed Carolina Hurricanes bobbleheads at certain restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham area. The five-week-long promotion begins today with the introduction of a Ron Francis bobblehead. Jeff O'Neill, Arturs Irbe and Rod Brind'Amour collectibles are to follow, along with a promotional team puck.

McDermott leaving Courage
Marcia McDermott, the head coach of the Carolina Courage, has declined the WUSA's offer to exercise the option year of her contract and is stepping down to pursue interests outside coaching. Officials with the soccer team, which plays in Cary, N.C., said the search for a replacement would begin immediately. McDermott guided the Courage from a last-place finish in 2001 to the 2002 regular-season title and a Founders Cup championship. She was the only female head coach in the WUSA during the league's first two seasons.

READING, PA.

Royals have 6-game ticket deal
The Reading Royals of the ECHL have introduced the "Power Play 6 Pack," which includes six weekend dates and six different opponents for $60. Fans will receive two games each in January, February and March and will be seated in the Royals attack zone, located in the $11 mezzanine price category.

SAN DIEGO

Padres start countdown for park
The Padres began a 500-day countdown Nov. 18 that will end when their new downtown ballpark opens on or about April 1, 2004. Relief ace Trevor Hoffman and team President Dick Freeman unfurled a huge blue-and-white countdown banner at the construction site that will allow passers-by to monitor the progress of the construction, which is about 45 percent complete.

ST. LOUIS

Cardinals sign for ballpark deal
The Cardinals signed a deal with Washington, D.C.-based

The Cardinals would lease the new ballpark for $14 million per year.
Property Funding Group LLC to bring together investors to finance construction of a $325 million new ballpark in downtown St. Louis. Under the terms of the deal, the Cardinals would pay in excess of $14 million a year in rent in a 29-year lease, contribute $50 million for construction, occupy as an anchor tenant an office building to be built adjacent to the stadium as part of a two-block $60 million "Ballpark Village," and contribute the land on which the stadium would sit, said Mark Lamping, Cardinals president. Financing should take three to six months to finish, according to Property Funding Group. The private-financing deal comes six months after the Missouri Legislature declined to consider a bill that would have provided state money for construction of the ballpark.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

City picked for Pioneer Bowl
Tampa has been chosen as the site for the Pioneer Bowl, featuring the champions of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The game is scheduled for Dec. 15 at Raymond James Stadium, with tickets ranging from $15 to $50.

TOLEDO, OHIO

Mud Hens to host AAA All-Stars in 2006
The Toledo Mud Hens will host the 19th annual Triple A All-Star Game in 2006 at Fifth Third Field, the first time that Toledo has hosted an all-star game. The Class AAA game began in 1988 and currently pits the all-stars from the International League against the all-stars from the Pacific Coast League in a nationally televised showcase.

VANCOUVER

PGA date pulled from calendar
The PGA on Canada's West Coast has run its course. Organizers of Vancouver's Air Canada Championship confirmed that the tournament was giving up its spot on the PGA calendar after seven years. The tournament was on hold for more than a year after title sponsor Air Canada gave notice it was not prepared to fund the event beyond 2002. Neither tournament officials nor the PGA were able to find a suitable replacement willing to commit $20 million through 2006 to sponsor Vancouver's PGA Tour stop.

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