SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Facilities

Fire escape: 2 San Diego sports-biz figures feel lucky to be home

Qualcomm Stadium general manager Bill Wilson never knew that San Diego International Sports Council President Ky Snyder lived two blocks away. It took a major disaster for him to find out they were neighbors.

Wilson and Snyder were among thousands of residents affected by the West Coast wildfires. Both are fortunate to be back in their homes, which were saved by a small group, including Snyder, that stayed behind to fight the fires after their loved ones were evacuated and firemen had left the area in Poway, Calif., north of San Diego.

Snyder was among about 20 people who worked Oct. 26 to protect the Range Park subdivision. Snyder, however, didn't think his life was in danger and stressed he doesn't consider himself a hero.

"I never really felt like the fire was out of control. I always felt like I had a back way out," he said. "Of course, had the winds been blowing as hard as they were earlier, it would have been different.

"So many people did the exact same thing I did. At one point, there was a 45-mile fire line making its way through the county and there were simply not enough [fire department] assets to fight it."

Snyder's story included neighbors ingeniously fitting a PVC pipe onto a fire hose to stretch another precious 70 yards.

Wilson and his wife, Nina, had joined Snyder's family in evacuating their homes upon police orders. The wildfires had already torched nearby Scripps Ranch, burning 350 houses.

"Thirty minutes before we left, authorities told us to take pictures of everything for insurance purposes, because it would all be gone," Wilson said. "Then here comes the wall of fire 35 feet high."

Wilson was thankful for Snyder's efforts. "Together, they probably saved 200 houses. The fires burned all around us in a horseshoe. Everything still smells smoky, but we're delighted to be back."

STARS FROM TWO WORLDS: Staples Center in Los Angeles early next year will be the center of the universe even more than when it played host to the NBA Finals three consecutive seasons. The first two weeks of February, the Anschutz Entertainment Group facility has the Grammy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game back to back.

NBA and Staples Center officials meet Thursday through Saturday to discuss, among other topics, economies of scale regarding production for the two events.

"It's going to be quite a challenge. This has never been done before," said Lee Zeid-man, AEG vice president of operations.

"We are researching ways to combine Grammy elements into the All-Star Game and save money on rigging. We want to keep as much equipment in the air as we can for sound and lighting."

With performing artists now almost as much a part of the NBA showcase as the Grammys, Zeidman said it makes sense to keep the staging platforms for both dates in one location, targeted for the north end of the building.

"The NBA's stage is considerably smaller because we still have to run a game," he said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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