SBJ/January 13 - 19, 2003/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast


Braves make cut for ad award
The Atlanta Braves are one of seven finalists in the print category of the second annual Ad It Up awards. Atlanta is competing against the Oakland A's, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Maple Leafs and two minor league baseball teams, the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. First-, second- and third-place winners will be announced at the National Sports Forum on Jan. 22 in Pittsburgh.

Bowl payout sets record
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl joined an elite class of bowl games to pay its participating teams at least $2 million each. The $4 million team payout marks the highest in the Peach Bowl's 34-year history. This ranks the bowl in the top 10 of all bowl games, including the Bowl Championship Series contests. The $4 million payout brings the bowl's total historical payout to $59.4 million.


Jared to join Subway promotion
The Bakersfield Condors of the West Coast Hockey League are teaming up with local area Subway locations to hold a contest for the game Feb. 22 against the Long Beach Ice Dogs. The promotion will allow a fan to win a party in a VIP suite at the game, along with nine friends. Subway's celebrated dieter and television pitchman Jared Fogel will be in town for the game and will join the winners in the suite for the night. Subway, Pepsi and Frito-Lay will cater the suite. The winner also will get to drop the ceremonial first puck at the game along with Fogel.


Buyers snatch up Cyclones tickets
The Brooklyn Cyclones, the Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, are ahead of last year's pace in renewal rates on season tickets and mini plans. Last year, the Cyclones broke their own New York-Penn League attendance record, becoming the first team in the short-season league to draw more than 300,000, a feat they will probably accomplish again. As of late December, the team had sold about 116,000 tickets (41 percent of capacity) through season-ticket and mini-plan renewals, compared with about 100,000 tickets this time last year (35 percent of capacity).

"Party Marty" (center in white shirt) joined the Polar Bear Club's 100th New Year's Day swim on Coney Island Beach.

Team sends 2 to Polar Bear Club
"Party Marty" Haber and Sandy the Seagull of the Brooklyn Cyclones braved rain and 40-degree weather to join hundreds at the Polar Bear Club's 100th Anniversary New Year's Day swim on Coney Island Beach. Founded in 1903 by Bernard Macfadden, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is believed to be the oldest cold-water swimming club in the United States. "Party Marty" joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, dressed in a bathing suit and Cyclones cap, in leading the club members and first-timers into the cold water. "Party Marty" is the team's on-field host. The Cyclones plan to participate in this event next year, making it part of their Coney Island traditions.


Tire Bowl does well for ESPN2
The inaugural Continental Tire Bowl was the second-most-viewed scheduled program in ESPN2 history. The game averaged 1.7 million household impressions on a 2.01 rating for its first-year telecast on ESPN2 as the University of Virginia beat West Virginia 48-22 in front of a sold-out crowd of 73,535. The first college bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Continental Tire Bowl was played Dec. 28 at Ericsson Stadium.


Cleaning up Cinergy will take months
The process of hauling away the remains of Cinergy Field, which was demolished on Dec. 29, will take months. The former home of the Bengals and Reds needs to be completely cleared by Aug. 31 so the site can be turned over to Hunt Construction Group, the construction management firm for Great American Ball Park, which sits adjacent. By summer 2004, the former stadium site will be home to the west concourse of the Great American Ball Park and a new building housing the Reds Hall of Fame. But first, O'Rourke Wrecking Co. has 100,000 cubic yards of concrete, 600,000 square feet of masonry and 22,500 tons of steel to deal with.


2 sue Callaway over Odyssey putter
Two Florida men, Clark Collins and Patrick Riley, and their attorneys filed suit against Callaway, the world's largest golf manufacturer, in Stuart, Fla. They say they'll ask a judge to freeze all sales of the No. 1-selling putter, the Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Putter, because they allege Callaway ripped them off and is making millions of dollars off their idea. The pair hired attorneys Willie Gary and his partner Madison McClellan, who have won jury awards in similar cases against Disney World for $240 million and against beer giant Anheuser-Busch for $139 million on behalf of the family of the late New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris. News of the suit was released by the firm. There was no comment from the defendants.


LPGA event picks The Woodlands
The Samsung World Championship, an LPGA Tour event featuring the top 20 women golfers in the world, will be held at The Woodlands in 2003. The Oct. 6-12 event will be played on the Tournament Players Course at The Woodlands, which hosted the PGA's Shell Houston Open for 17 years before losing it last year to the Redstone Golf Club. The Samsung World Championship carries an $800,000 purse — $167,500 of which goes to the winner.


Pacers TV ratings soar
Though the Indiana Pacers have seen attendance at Conseco Fieldhouse decline the past two seasons, the team's television ratings have grown. Officials for Fox Sports Network report the Pacers are second among the 22 NBA teams whose games Fox televises, with an average rating of 4.8. Only the San Antonio Spurs' ratings are higher, at 5.3. In Indianapolis, each rating point equals about 10,200 households, meaning about 50,000 homes are tuning in to each Pacers home game on Fox Sports Midwest.

US Youth Soccer coming to Indy
US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest youth sports association, recently announced the inaugural US Youth Soccer National League Director's Cup, presented by Adidas, will be played Aug. 8-10 at Lawrence Soccer Complex on the city's northeast side. The Director's Cup and the Snickers US Youth Soccer National Championships are the premiere tournaments for US Youth Soccer's 3.1 million members.


Gator Bowl a financial hit
Officials at the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau are predicting a $21.3 million economic impact from the Toyota Gator Bowl. North Carolina State beat Notre Dame 28-6 in the Jan. 1 game. The Wolfpack pounced on its initial 12,500 tickets within three days of the Gator Bowl Association's Nov. 19 invitation and came back for more, selling nearly 27,000 total. Notre Dame also requested extra tickets. Gator Bowl attendance was a sellout at 73,491, the eighth-highest attendance in the game's history.


TV ratings a tribute to marketing
Officials with the Memphis Grizzlies think early season television ratings for their local broadcasting package are proof the team's regional marketing efforts are paying off. Through the first three months of the 2002-03 season, ratings for the team's games broadcast as part of its local television package are up about 50 percent overall from the previous year, said Randy Stephens, director of broadcast for the Grizzlies.


Heat honors Yao with fortune cookies
The Miami Heat gave fortune cookies to the first 8,000 fans at its game with the Houston Rockets to honor Yao Ming's first appearance in Miami Dec. 16. Some of the fortunes included free tickets, Heat merchandise coupons and ticket upgrades for the game.

Panthers propose building $8M rink
The Florida Panthers have proposed an $8 million dual ice skating rink complete with a pro shop, restaurants and a skater's lounge on a five-acre site in Wes-ton, Fla. Incredible Ice in Coral Springs submitted to Weston a $10,000 cash deposit and details highlighting the facility. It was the only entity to meet the city's deadline for proposals and the only one to submit a proposal, according to the Miami Herald.


Wave games shift to U.S. Cellular Arena
Home games for the Major Indoor Soccer League club the Milwaukee Wave will move from the Bradley Center to the U.S. Cellular Arena next year, which the team hopes will help boost attendance. With the new 10-year agreement, the Wave gains booking priority at the downtown arena. The Wave has played home games since 1988 at the Bradley Center, which seats 18,717, also in downtown Milwaukee. The smaller U.S. Cellular Arena, which seats about 9,500 people for soccer, is a better fit for the Wave, which averages about 7,000 for regular-season games.


Fox-Time Warner dispute drops Fox Sports Net
Fox Sports discontinued providing Fox Sports Net to Time Warner Cable Minnesota customers when its contract expired Jan. 1. The two entities are in a disagreement over the fees Time Warner should pay. Fox Sports is seeking a 45 percent increase in its fees; Time Warner has offered a 10 percent increase, according to Time Warner's Web site. Fox Sports Net broadcasts Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild games in addition to many University of Minnesota events. Time Warner is showing ESPN News in place of Fox Sports Net while the two companies negotiate a new contract. The conflict is affecting nearly 180,000 subscribers in Minneapolis, Eden Prairie and Bloomington.

Fans can ride bus free to Wild games
The NHL's Minnesota Wild and Metro Transit have formed a partnership to provide free bus rides for fans to all Wild home games. Free rides have been available for Metro Transit's Wild Ride since Jan. 6. The rides are available on any Metro Transit bus, anywhere Metro Transit travels. To receive a free bus ride to a Minnesota Wild home game, fans simply need to show their ticket for that day's game to the driver as they board the bus. Free rides are available two hours before face-off until two hours after the game ends.


Uptown seen as top site for A's park
The Oakland Tribune reported that a combined city and county study released in December shows uptown Oakland is the premier site for a new Oakland A's ballpark in the East Bay. Proponents say the uptown site is the only financially viable stadium spot in the city, the Tribune reported. Sam Spear, a spokesman for A's co-owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann, told the Oakland Tribune that the team is not for sale. The comment was made after rumors that a "wealthy Silicon Valley investor" was interested in purchasing Hofmann's share of the team.


Company to keep AFL interest
After Orlando Predators Entertainment Inc. announced it will sell the Orlando Predators arena football team, the company is emphasizing that not every asset is up for grabs. Specifically, officials with the publicly traded company say it will retain certain key assets, including its 9 percent net revenue interest in the Arena Football League. The reason: The revenue from the league is a source of ongoing positive cash flow for the organization, and one that is not impacted by the team's operating expenses. Recently, the company has been in a cash crunch, as its stock has plummeted to a low of 75 cents from a high of $7.


First Union Center site for NCAA rounds
The First Union Center in south Philadelphia has been selected as the site for first- and second-round NCAA basketball tournament games in 2006. The Atlantic 10 Conference will host the games. The selection marks the first time the city has hosted first- and second-round games since 1984, when games were played at The Palestra on the University of Pennsylvania campus. East Regional finals were held in the city in 1992 and 2001.


Coyotes tickets go to blood donors
The Phoenix Coyotes teamed with United Blood Services to get fans donating blood during the driest week of the year, and rewarded them for it. United Blood Services set up 12 locations around metropolitan Phoenix for Coyotes fans to donate blood Jan. 4 and 5 as part of the "Face Off the New Year" blood drive. To donors, the Coyotes gave out two free tickets to a remaining home game and a "Phoenix Coyotes Ubie" bobblehead, which is part of a series of United Blood Services' bobbleheads.


Turf prepared for Super Bowl
George Toma, the turf guru who has overseen preparation of the field at every Super Bowl to date, was back at work at Qualcomm Stadium early last week as the green sod carpet was laid down for Super Bowl XXXVII. West Coast Turf, which has provided the sod for four previous Super Bowls, delivered 100,000 square feet of 11¼2-inch-thick hybrid Bermuda sod, overseeded with perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, from its Indio, Calif., facility, 120 miles northeast of San Diego. The old playing surface was bulldozed the day after the Chargers' final home game Dec. 29.

Padres ballpark half done
The Padres marked the halfway point on construction of their new downtown ballpark with a Dec. 18 ceremony in which team President Dick Freeman, San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy and Padres chairman John Moores signed and placed a ceremonial second base at the construction site. A "topping out" ceremony is scheduled for February.


Bay Area bowls report mixed results
The Silicon Valley Football Classic needs a sponsor to survive, while organizers of the inaugural Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl said the game generated an $8.1 million economic impact for the city. Neither game on New Year's Eve was a success at the gate, drawing the fewest fans of any of the six bowl games played nationally on Dec. 31. The Silicon Valley game in San Jose drew just 10,142 to see Fresno State beat Georgia Tech, while a crowd of fewer than 26,000 was at Pacific Bell Park for Virginia Tech's triumph over Air Force.


Nuckols steps down at Sporting News
After six years at the helm of The Sporting News, Jim Nuckols, president and chief executive, stepped down from his post Jan. 1. In his place is Richard Allen, former president and chief executive of National Geographic Ventures, the taxable arm of the National Geographic Society. Despite leading the St. Louis-based TSN magazine to back-to-back years of record growth in ad revenue and circulation, Nuckols said management changes throughout Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc., TSN's parent company, led to his departure. He will serve as a consultant to TSN though the first quarter of 2003.


49ers may drop training camp deal
The San Francisco 49ers might opt out of a 10-year contract with the University of the Pacific for summer training camp as early as this summer, mainly due to heat and logistics trouble. The 49ers have trained at UOP for five years, but temperatures that regularly approach 100 degrees and heavy traffic congestion between its Santa Clara headquarters and Stockton's Central Valley locale have caused problems, 49ers officials say.


Bucs buy mall for training complex
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended their site search for a new training complex by buying a closed mall near Raymond James Stadium. The team said it bought Tampa Bay Center, which closed last year, from the Rouse Co. The purchase price was not disclosed, but property appraisal records put a $19.4 million value on the mall site. The Bucs seek to replace their aging complex near Tampa International Airport, and have $12 million in Hillsborough County sales tax proceeds that they can put toward development of new training facilities.

Rays hope to collect insurance on Alvarez
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are looking to collect millions of dollars in insurance damages on an insurance policy the team took out on injured pitcher Wilson Alvarez. The Rays filed a lawsuit against the Hartford Life Insurance Co. in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court seeking to recover part of Alvarez's five-year, $35 million salary for two seasons of missed play. The lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount in damages, though the Rays say they paid $821,000 in premiums on the policy.


Francis' coaching under fire
A senior official with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency told the Globe and Mail it is within the organization's power to administer target drug tests to track superstars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, reported to be training in Toronto with controversial Canadian sprint coach Charlie Francis. The official, senior managing director Dr. Larry Bowers, didn't say if the tests were being considered. Francis was coach for Ben Johnson when Johnson's 100-meter world record of 9.79 seconds at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 was thrown out because of a failed drug test. Francis later said he considered drug therapies to be a critical tool in the arsenal of a world-class sprinter. He subsequently was banned for life by Athletics Canada.

Put title game in U.S. bowl season?
Canadian university football officials are weighing the pros and cons of moving the national championship game at Toronto's SkyDome from late November to the U.S. bowl season. Those in favor of moving the game point to a later start to the season, financial savings and greater marketing possibilities as selling points. At present, teams' first games are often played before the majority of students even arrive on campuses in the fall, and the cost of feeding and housing players for one to two weeks in mid-August can run in the $25,000 range. It's also thought a holiday-season game would allow more fans from participating schools to get to Toronto for the game; just 17,000 attended the 2002 Vanier Cup between Saskatchewan and St. Mary's. On the downside, many schools would be forced to practice in winter conditions or not practice outside at all were they to make the national final.

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