SBJ/December 2 - 8, 2002/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Threesome in bobble set

Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith bobbleheads
The Atlanta Hawks and Philips Electronics will be giving away bobblehead dolls of the "NBA on TNT" studio crew — Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley — at the Hawks' Thursday game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena. The bobblehead sets will be given away via a halftime drawing to 5,000 winners. Other sets will be given away via radio promotions.


Bisons work on renovation
The Buffalo Bisons are working on renovations to Dunn Tire Park that will see 3,000 bleacher seats removed and replaced by a berm, where fans can watch games in a picnic-like setting. Removing the bleachers is the centerpiece of a nearly $1.5 million renovation planned for the 14-year-old downtown stadium this off-season. All of the changes should be completed by the start of the team's 2003 International League season.


Raffle winner to implode Cinergy Field
On Dec. 29, one winner of a United Way fund-raising raffle will push a button that will send Cinergy Field crashing down. Hamilton County commissioners and O'Rourke Wrecking are offering tickets, for $10 each, to raise money for the United Way and Community Chest. United Way officials are not sure how much can be raised through the raffle tickets. Three years ago, when Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh was imploded, a similar plan raised about $100,000 for charity. The winner, to be chosen randomly at the Dec. 18 county commissioners' meeting, will get the opportunity to trigger the implosion O'Rourke officials say will turn the former home of the Reds and Bengals into a pile of concrete and steel in 37 seconds.


Dorsett to coach team for promotion
Former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett will coach a flag-football team in the "Red Zone Rumble" promotion for the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Texas. The contest offers a $20,000 prize for the customer chosen to play, and will be held during halftime of the Cowboys' Sunday game at Texas Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers. Terms of Dorsett's deal weren't disclosed. He was represented by Champion Management LLC, a sports marketing agency located in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound.


Columnist Paige joins radio team
Denver Post sports columnist Woody Paige has become a regular on a fledgling Denver sports radio station, 560 KLZ AM. Paige has been with the Post for more than a quarter-century. The station, which calls itself The Mighty 560 ESPN, has switched formats in the past two years, settling on a sports format recently. Paige last week began appearing on the station every Wednesday evening.


Fox Sports Net Detroit airs high school games
Fox Sports Net Detroit was to televise the entire slate of Michigan High School Championship football games last Friday and Saturday. The games, played at the Pontiac Silverdome, included the finals of each of the state's eight divisions. Six games were televised live, with two games on "same-day tape delay." All games will receive replays throughout December. Matt Shepard and Fred McLeod alternated play-by-play duties, with former pro players Stan Edwards, Rob Rubick and John Wangler providing analysis.


CFL gets new logo
After 32 years, the Canadian Football League has a new trademark. Unveiled in Edmonton just days before the 90th Grey Cup championship game, the more contemporary logo features a red football in front of two red maple leafs, bordered with black CFL lettering. Designed in cooperation with FutureBrand Canada, the CFL's new look celebrates Canadian sport and pride, and the connection between the league and its fans. The new brandmark will soon appear on all CFL merchandising, signage and licensed product.


Family buys outstanding shares of team
The minority interests in the Evansville Otters baseball team have been bought outright by the majority shareholders, the Bussing family. The Bussing family and the Goldklang Group purchased the franchise in April 2001. This stock transaction marks the first time in franchise history that the Evansville Otters are entirely locally owned. Over the team's eight-year history, the Otters have been one of the most successful franchises in the Frontier League, averaging more than 2,500 fans per game and making the Frontier League playoffs four times.


New course opens; 2nd one planned
On Thursday, Redstone Golf Club is opening its new 18-hole golf course that will host the Shell Houston Open April 21-27. The course was designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. The Redstone Cos., which owns the club, is planning a second 18-hole course, designed by Rees Jones, to open in the fall of 2004.


Indians get new manager
Cecil Cooper will manage the Indianapolis Indians during the 2003 season, Indians general manager Cal Burleson announced. Cooper, the 56th skipper of the Tribe since 1902, will be making his managerial debut after serving the Milwaukee Brewers in various capacities since 1997. Cooper, 52, played 17 seasons in the major leagues, earning five All-Star appearances.

Speedway hires marketing rep
Indianapolis Motor Speedway has appointed T&R Enterprise Solutions Ltd. of Windsor, England, as its official international marketing representative. T&R is responsible for promoting the IMS trademark and its affiliated events and entities, including the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race and the Indy Racing League.

Stewart signs with Silicon Speedway
Newly crowned Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart has been named spokesman and technical adviser for NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway Racing Centers. He will be featured in promotions, advertising and point-of-sale material for NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway and will make appearances at racing center locations throughout the country.


Super Bowl panel launches site
The Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee launched its official Web site, Jacksonville-based Idea Integration, a division of MPS Group, developed the site pro bono. InControl Online, a hosting service of Jacksonville's ManaSyst, will host the site. The site showcases northeast Florida, explains the Host Committee's roles and responsibilities, and gives details on volunteering, membership, sponsorship, events, transportation, business and more. Super Bowl XXXIX is slated for Feb. 6, 2005, at Alltel Stadium in downtown Jacksonville.


Station to buy for sellout record
WDAF-TV, the Fox affiliate in Kansas City, will buy any unsold tickets that remain for the Kansas City Chiefs' last home game of the season on Dec. 22 against the San Diego Chargers. The commitment by the station, which will carry the game, will maintain the Chiefs' streak of home game sellouts that goes back to Dec. 16, 1990.

T-Bones to launch season on the road
The Kansas City T-Bones will open their inaugural Northern League season on the road to provide more time to finish construction of a 5,768-seat ballpark in Kansas City, Kan. The T-Bones' home opener will be June 6 against the Sioux City (Iowa) Explorers. Ticket prices will range from $5.50 for general admission seats to $13.50 for padded box seats closest to home plate that will be available only in season-ticket packages.


ESPN picks L.A. for X Games
ESPN has selected Los Angeles to host the next two X Games starting with the ninth annual event, Aug. 14-18, 2003. The announcement was made by ESPN President George Bodenheimer and Anschutz Entertainment Group President and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke. AEG, owner and operator of Staples Center, which will be the primary venue for the X Games, represented the city in reaching the agreement. The X Games showcases more than 300 alternative sports athletes competing in a variety of categories for medals and prize money.


Lawsuit to continue 'for now'
District Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages ruled that a lawsuit brought by former Montreal Expos limited partners against Florida Marlins managing general partner Jeffrey Loria and MLB officials will proceed "at least for now — in Miami," according to The Miami Herald. The judge denied Loria's request to move proceedings to New York. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's attorneys had asked Ungaro-Benages to quash the suit based on improper venue arguments.

Marino's 5th restaurant opens
Dan Marino's Fine Food & Spirits, a new restaurant from the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, opened in the Shops at Sunset entertainment complex in South Miami. The restaurant features an American-influenced menu, including steaks, pasta, salads, seafood and desserts. The Miami unit is the fifth in Marino's lineup. Other restaurants are in Orlando (Pointe Orlando complex), St. Petersburg (Baywalk complex), Fort Lauderdale (Las Olas Riverfront complex) and the original in Coral Springs, which opened in 1995.

Fight Night series debuts at arena
The first installment of Miami Fight Night, the new fight series bringing boxing back to Miami, premiered Nov. 14 at the new Waterfront Theatre at AmericanAirlines Arena. Eight bouts were featured and the event was hosted by ESPN boxing analyst Al Bernstein. The Waterfront Theater, located within AmericanAirlines Arena, holds 2,000 to 6,000 and has theatrical lighting, video, a ceiling-to-floor acoustic curtain, carpeted aisles and other amenities.


Brewers mascot gets new digs
Milwaukee Brewers mascot Bernie Brewer is getting his Miller Park home remodeled. A $35,000 revamp of his left-field upper-deck perch known as "Bernie's Dugout" will give the mascot an air-conditioned back room during the hot summer months. The project, funded by the Brewers and approved by club President Ulice Payne Jr., will create an air-conditioned enclosure behind the "dugout." Reconstruction of Bernie's quarters is scheduled to begin during the off-season and be completed by the 2003 home opener on April 4. Bernie's Dugout, sponsored by Sentry Foods, consists of a bright yellow curved slide and a neon sign featuring the home run call of Brewers radio announcer Bob Uecker of "Get Up, Get Up, Get Out of Here, Gone!" Bernie's new addition's air-conditioning unit is being donated by the Trane unit of American Standard Cos.


Team redesigns home page
The NBA's Orlando Magic has made some changes to its Internet home page, adding new features and photos and improving its navigation tools. Specifically, the Web site now has a "sitelet" for kids dubbed Stuff's Kid's Court, which includes games, puzzles, coloring pages, Stuff the mascot's diary and a photo album. The site also has a new Magic Music page, featuring song logs from previous games, a Fan Choice Poll and the ability to request a song. Additionally, the new site includes changes and additions to the Magic Dancers, Magic en Español, Magic Camps, team history and trivia sections.


Broadcasters' dual bobbles back
The Harry and Whitey dual bobbing head doll is back. The Phillies are selling a limited edition of last season's giveaway item, featuring the team's former broadcasting duo of Harry Kalas and Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, for $15 each. Proceeds from the sale of the bobber will benefit the Rich Ashburn Foundation and Phillies Charities.

World B. Free on two bobbles

World B. Free holds his "then" and "now" bobblehead giveaways.
Philadelphia 76ers director of community relations World B. Free will be immortalized in a special "then" and "now" bobblehead doll giveaway scheduled for Dec. 13. The first 5,000 fans at the Sixers game against the Phoenix Suns will receive either a "then" doll, which features Free in a mid-1970s Sixers uniform, or a "now" doll, which features Free in a white suit. Dave Coskey, executive vice president of the Sixers, said the dolls are part of the team's efforts to celebrate the franchise's 40th anniversary season.

Flyers get new jersey sweater
The Philadelphia Flyers were to unveil a new jersey sweater for last Friday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to Ron Ryan, the team's chief operating officer, the jersey has an orange body, white along the arms, and a three-dimensional styled logo. The new jersey will join two others the Flyers wear.


Heinz Field to get new turf

Heinz Field was resodded in October, but will get new turf next year.
Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said Heinz Field will get new turf next year. There have been numerous complaints about the stadium's field since it opened last year. One of the options being considered by the Steelers would be the combination of a natural grass and artificial turf. The Steelers have resodded Heinz Field three times this year.


River Cats to play A's
The Sacramento River Cats will play a preseason game against their major league affiliate, the Oakland A's, at Raley Field on March 30. The game will mark the second time the River Cats and A's have played a preseason game at Raley Field. During the 2001 preseason, the River Cats hosted three major league games — one against Oakland and two against the San Diego Padres. In three seasons, the River Cats have graduated more than 30 players to the major leagues.


Chargers to stop billing for non-seats
In an adjustment to their controversial ticket guarantee, the Chargers have agreed to stop billing the city for up to 650 seats at Qualcomm Stadium that no longer exist. Under the guarantee, the city assured the Chargers attendance of 60,000 each game, paying for unsold general-admission seats when the number falls below that level. That deal has cost San Diego more than $5.6 million through seven games (including two preseason dates) this season, though much of the figure is offset by rent. The seats in question were removed from the stadium last winter during $5 million in renovations to expand seating for the disabled as part of a settlement of an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit. To assure more accurate billing in the future, the city will ask the Chargers for a breakdown of all seats charged against the guarantee.


Hagin to announce for Cardinals
Wayne Hagin, the play-by-play announcer for the Colorado Rockies since the team's inaugural season in 1993, has been hired to be the next Cardinals announcer for the team's flagship radio station KMOX. Beginning next season Hagin will fill the role vacated by hall of famer Jack Buck, who died in June after 47 years as a broadcaster for the Cardinals. Financial terms of Hagin's contract with KMOX were not disclosed.


Crunch teams up with Taco Bell
The Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League has partnered with Taco Bell, in the "Crunch Win, Crunch a Taco" program. The new partnership offers a free taco to all fans in attendance for any Crunch victory at the club's home arena, the War Memorial at OnCenter. Fans can redeem their ticket stubs at any of 11 Taco Bell restaurants in the surrounding area.


Lightning owner hints at move
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Bill Davidson hinted at a possible move by the NHL franchise if it doesn't get more help from Tampa and Hillsborough County. Davidson, who bought the Lightning in 1999, met with Tampa Mayor Dick Greco before the team's Nov. 21 home game against the New York Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum. Davidson reportedly told Greco that his ownership group, Palace Sports and Entertainment, has stepped up to improve the local hockey team and arena, and now it is up to city, county and state governments to do their part. One major contention between the Lightning and local officials is a $3.3 million property tax bill that Hillsborough County says the Forum owes, while Palace Sports says the bill should be only about one-third of that amount. The Lightning could be allowed to move if attendance falls below 80 percent capacity this season. Through games of Nov. 25, average attendance was 86 percent of capacity.


Godfrey reiterates NFL dream
Toronto Blue Jays owner Paul Godfrey has not given up on his dream of helping bring the National Football League to Toronto, a move that many feel would cripple the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. On the eve of the CFL's Grey Cup, Godfrey reiterated his position that the NFL would stimulate football interest in Toronto. He said he believes the CFL is viable long-term only if it becomes a true developmental league for the NFL, with NFL teams paying most of the salaries as in a baseball farm team system.

Argos could be seeking new coach
The Toronto Argonauts could be searching for new head coach after Mike Clemons said he wasn't interested in remaining in the position full-time. Clemons, who also serves as team president, took over the on-field reins in midseason and guided the Argos to an improbable playoff berth. Clemons said he will stay on if asked to do so by owner Sherwood Schwarz.

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