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

Coast to Coast


Beat scores 2 nominations
The WUSA Atlanta Beat has two shots at scoring the top prize in the first-ever U.S. Soccer Federation "Best of ..." competition this year. The Beat's home stadium, Herndon Stadium (at Morris Brown College), is up for best soccer stadium. The second chance for a top prize comes in the Best Soccer Promotion category with the team's Twins Mania Night. On April 26, the Beat and their twins (Nancy and Julie Augustyniak) faced the Washington Freedom and twins Skylar and Jacqui Little — the first time two sets of twins faced each other in the history of pro sports, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. To commemorate, sets of twins (and triplets) got free admission and took part in a three-legged soccer mini-match at halftime.

Thrashers to hold clinic
The Atlanta Thrashers are conducting a hockey clinic Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Olympic Park's outdoor ice-skating rink. Thrashers defenseman Uwe Krupp, a 15-year NHL veteran, and the Thrashers Hockey in the Streets staff will provide tips on skating and improving on-ice skills.


Bills offer holiday ticket package
The Buffalo Bills are seeking to bump their season-ticket sales for 2003 before 2002 concludes. The Bills are offering fans a holiday package that costs $75. Fans can then present the $75 gift certificate, to be used for season-ticket purchases for next season, as a gift. In addition, those who put down the $75 deposit will receive a commemorative 2002 Bills yearbook autographed by coach Gregg Williams. The Bills have one of the lowest season-ticket counts in the NFL with about 38,000 sold this season, a 6 percent increase over 2001. The Bills hope to boost that to 40,000 or more for 2003.


Global to operate Ikon Center
Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor, will operate the Ikon Ice and Events Center in Cheyenne and bring additional events to the multipurpose community skating rink. The Ikon Center, which opened in 2000, features potential seating for up to 2,000 spectators, as well as floor space for conventions, meetings, trade shows and exhibits. The Ikon Ice and Events Center is also home to the University of Wyoming club hockey team.


Rangers cut cost of some seats
The Texas Rangers have slashed ticket prices on 12,463 seats at the Ballpark in Arlington and held rates steady on the remaining 75 percent of the stadium's 49,115-person capacity. Owner Tom Hicks promised to hold the line on ticket prices in August because of baseball's labor problems, though hiking them would have been difficult in view of three consecutive last-place finishes.

New minor league considered
At least one of the founders of what is now the Central Baseball League is looking to establish a new independent minor league. Byron Pierce, who helped launch the formerly titled Texas-Louisiana League in the early 1990s, has contacted people in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite about putting a franchise there. Pierce has told others the as-yet-unnamed league would focus on large metropolitan areas, such as the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, rather than the smaller cities favored by the Central League.


Grand Prix pays city for trees
The Grand Prix of Denver has given the city $35,000 because it was forced to cut some trees to keep the line of sight to the race course open this past Labor Day. The city had OK'd race organizers to remove 13 healthy trees and another 16 trees that weren't faring well; in return, 87 trees were to be planted around the city. But because of the ongoing drought, the gift of trees didn't make sense. The planting of new trees has been stopped and the contribution made instead.


Comerica wall to be moved in
The Detroit Tigers announced that the left-field wall at Comerica Park will be moved closer to home plate. Construction of the new left-field configuration will begin sometime after the new year. The most noticeable difference will be in the left-field power alley, which will be reduced from 395 feet to 370 feet.

Dickerson, Price to go it alone
The Detroit Tigers announced that Dan Dickerson and Jim Price, who have worked as Ernie Harwell's broadcast partners the past three seasons, will go it alone as his replacements. Details of their contracts were not disclosed.


Adelphia to drop Sunshine
Adelphia Cable in south Florida is preparing to drop Orlando-based Sunshine Network, which carries Heat games, according to The Palm Beach Post. The decision has sparked a PR war that includes newspaper ads, toll-free numbers and calls from confused and angry fans. Adelphia, which is the dominant cable provider in Palm Beach County, said it could not guarantee it would carry Sunshine after Dec. 31. Sunshine ran newspaper ads urging viewers to call a toll-free number where they could get contact information for Adelphia's office.


Shell Landing among best courses
Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier has been listed by Golf Digest in the magazine's just-released "America's Best New Courses 2002" rankings. Designed by PGA Tour star Davis Love III, Shell Landing is rated No. 5 in the category of "Best New Public Upscale" courses.


Union Federal scores with Colts
In less than three years, Union Federal Bank, the Indianapolis Colts' official bank and one of the team's key marketing partners, has opened more than 7,000 Indianapolis Colts checking accounts. Casual observers might shrug at the importance of such a number. But the Colts accounts represent more than 20 percent of Union Federal's total number of personal checking accounts. And according to officials of St. Paul, Minn.-based Deluxe Corp., one of the nation's largest check printers, only similar offerings by the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers approach the popularity of the Colts checking account.


Suns have new logo
The Jacksonville Suns recently unveiled a redesigned logo, signaling a new era for the Class AA baseball team. Workers demolished the aging Sam Wolfson Park to make way for a $34 million ballpark. Bill Stanford, a graphic designer from Hughesville, Pa., designed the new logo. His design beat more than 1,000 entries for a $3,000 prize.


Mayor to lead arena push
Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes will lead the push for a new downtown arena in Kansas City that could open as soon as 2006. The arena would seat about 18,000 and cost as much as $200 million. Kemper Arena, Kansas City's main indoor arena, would be renovated for the American Royal rodeo and horse show. Funding could come from government bonds backed by a new quarter-cent sales tax. A final report on the project's feasibility will come in April.


Gold Sox may get new owners
Marysville city leaders agreed in principle to allow a Marysville car dealer and a business partner to take over ownership of the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox and move the baseball team into a summer collegiate series. Contracts still have to be written, but the plan is for the team's new owners and operators to be Dodge-Chrysler dealer Don McCullough and Bob Bavasi, a former Gold Sox president whose father, Buzzy, was general manager of the Dodgers when the team moved to Los Angeles. A final deal is expected by early January. The Gold Sox would leave the struggling independent Western Baseball League and instead become a stay-at-home summer ballclub that plays visiting independent teams made of unpaid college players.

Memphis' Running Pony Productions filmed in Deerfield Beach, Fla., for ESPN.


Team produces show for ESPN
Memphis-based Running Pony Productions has been busy again producing a show that will be televised on ESPN. The company sent a production crew to Deerfield Beach, Fla., in October to film the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a competition that pits firemen from across the world against each other in a sort of obstacle course setting. This is the second year Running Pony, founded in 1994, has been involved in the telecast. An hour-long segment featuring the entire event will be shown on ESPN2 Jan. 11 and air again Jan. 23.

Group forms to lure boxing rematch
A group is being formed in Memphis to pursue more high-profile boxing matches, with a priority on securing a rematch of the recent Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis heavyweight title match. The Commercial Appeal reported that state Rep. Joe Towns Jr. is forming the National Professional Boxing & Entertainment Alliance to bring more fights to the Memphis area. Towns held a press conference Dec. 3 to say the alliance also would involve local boxing promoter Brian Young, whose company Prize Fight Boxing promoted the first Tyson-Lewis match.


Sports commission to lure events
Miami-Dade County officials are forming a sports commission charged with attracting sporting events to the county's stadiums and arenas, ranging from soccer games to softball tournaments to Olympic exhibitions. County commissioners designated $250,000 for the effort, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.


Wild store a Ticketmaster outlet
The Minnesota Wild's Hockey Lodge store at Mall of America has been chosen as an exclusive Ticketmaster Ticket Center at the mall.

Kellogg to sponsor WCHA Final Five
The top competitor of Twin Cities-based General Mills Inc. has swooped in to sponsor the WCHA Final Five in 2003. Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co., and its cookie and cracker brand Keebler Foods, will partner with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for next year's event. The Kellogg's WCHA Final Five, presented by Keebler, will be held March 20-22 at the Xcel Energy Center.


Magic to offer holiday ticket plan
The Orlando Magic is offering a special holiday ticket plan for fans. Starting at $100 per seat, the five-game plan will include Magic home games against the Washington Wizards on Dec. 30, the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 31, the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets on Feb. 11, the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 21 and the Philadelphia 76ers on March 31.


Boathouse renews Wings deal
Boathouse Sports has renewed its sponsorship agreement with the National Lacrosse League's Philadelphia Wings, extending the relationship that began two years ago. As part of the one-year agreement, Boathouse Sports will continue its designation as the official outerwear supplier to the Philadelphia Wings, providing Wings players and coaches with custom-made jackets, vests and pants.

Man U to play at Lincoln
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Manchester United, one of the world's most popular soccer clubs, will compete in the inaugural event at Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 3, 2003. The Manchester United Red Devils will face Spain's FC Barcelona as part of a four-city, four-opponent tour that will take the soccer club across the United States. Tickets for the game will go on sale March 15. The Eagles will begin playing at their new $512 million stadium next season.

Arena nominated for award
The First Union Center in south Philadelphia — home of the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers — was nominated as Arena of the Year for 2002 by Pollstar Magazine, which covers the concert and touring industry. In addition, Comcast-Spectacor senior vice president John Page was nominated as Facility Executive of the Year. The winners will be announced at an awards event on Feb. 8 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.


Steelers plan amphitheater
The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to build a $10 million, 5,600-seat amphitheater next to Heinz Field. Steelers vice president Art Rooney II said plans are to begin construction on the privately financed amphitheater by spring. The project should be completed by May 2004. Steelers officials said they may sell naming rights to the planned venue to help fund construction costs. H.J. Heinz Co. paid $57 million for 30 years for naming rights to Heinz Field.


Brick sales begin at ballpark
The Padres announced Dec. 5 that the public can purchase bricks with personalized messages that will become a permanent part of the new downtown ballpark scheduled to open in 2004. The bricks will be laid in Palm Court Plaza, near the entrance to the Western Metal Supply Co. building, which is being renovated and will support the left-field foul pole on its southeast corner. Proceeds from the sale of bricks will support the construction of the ballpark and the Padres Foundation for Children.

First luxury suite leased
San Diego-based Arrowhead General Insurance Agency Inc. has purchased a five-year lease on the first of 50 luxury suites in the new downtown ballpark. Arrowhead plans to move its corporate headquarters into one of the new office buildings to be built beyond the outfield fences. The Padres have opened a 3,000-square-foot marketing center for prospective suite buyers adjacent to the ballpark. It includes a club lounge and model suite built to the exact specifications of those in the park, as well as an interactive seating theater offering 3-D animated views from premium-seating sections, restaurants and lounges.

San Diego's sports council plans to redevelop the area around Qualcomm Stadium.

Redevelopment plan announced
The nonprofit San Diego International Sports Council unveiled a plan for redeveloping the area around Qualcomm Stadium — including a new home for the Chargers — at a Dec. 5 meeting of the Citizens Task Force on Chargers Issues. The council hired Jim Bailey, a sports consultant and former Cleveland Browns executive, to help develop the proposal. It involves scrapping the current Qualcomm Stadium and making the project self-sufficient by including retail and housing developments on Qualcomm's present parking lots.


Bar gets soccer designation
The Britannia Arms, with three locations in the San Jose area, has been nominated as the best soccer bar in America by the U.S. Soccer Federation. A panel of judges selected 10 bars from across the country for the honor of being named the best soccer bar in the United States. Fans can vote for their favorite bar on the U.S. Soccer Federation Web site through Dec. 31.

Agassi, Sampras to headline Open

Old rivals Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras will headline
the 2003 Siebel Open men's tennis tournament at HP Pavilion starting Feb. 10. Andy Roddick, James Blake and Jan-Michael Gambill also are signed for the 32-player field. The ATP tournament is owned and operated by Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment.


Promoter seeks Army-Navy game
A Seattle promoter is considering making a bid to bring the Army-Navy game to the Northwest. Bob Walsh, who helped bring a Final Four, an NBA All-Star Game and the Goodwill Games to Seattle, is working with the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau to put together a bid on the storied game. The service academies are considering taking bids on the five games to be played from 2004 to 2008.


Team selling for first game of '03
The Show-Me Believers of the National Indoor Football League have sold 7,000 of 8,500 seats for their first game of the 2003 season on March 21. Ed Watkins, the team's principal owner, said sponsorships that include ticket packages have resulted in the strong early sales. The team provides sponsors of $3,000 with 200 tickets and sponsors of $300 with 20 tickets.


Bucs weigh site near Raymond James
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are considering an abandoned shopping mall near Raymond James Stadium as the site for their proposed training complex. The Bucs reportedly are negotiating with the Rouse Co., owner of the Tampa Bay Center mall. The team previously sought a 70-acre site along Interstate 75 east of Tampa, but Hillsborough County commissioners denied the rezoning request after complaints from neighbors.

Tribune extends sponsorship
The Tampa Tribune signed a 10-year extension of its sponsorship agreement with the Bucs. The newspaper reported the deal to be worth $20.1 million. The extension closely follows a deal by the Tribune's daily newspaper rival, the St. Petersburg Times, to acquire naming rights to Tampa's arena, now called the St. Pete Times Forum, for $30 million over 12 years. The Tribune is one of 18 "Pewter Partners," whose corporate logos are displayed prominently inside Raymond James Stadium.


CFL to review drug policy
The Canadian Football League said it will review its no-testing drug policy following the arrest of Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineman Mike Mihelic on steroid-related charges. Mihelic was one of six people charged after police uncovered a laboratory that produced steroids and marijuana during a monthlong investigation into steroid production and distribution in and around Toronto. Drug testing is prohibited under the collective-bargaining agreement between the league and its players association.


Minor league hockey team moving in
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Parrots, a minor league hockey team in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League, have moved to Winston-Salem, where they will finish the season. The team will play in the annex of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. ACHL Commissioner Jim Riggs said attendance problems caused the move. The Parrots' first home game was Friday. Winston-Salem has not had a hockey team since 1999.

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