SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

CINCINNATI
County urged to drop Bengals suit
A top Cincinnati Bengals official urged Hamilton County officials to rethink their lawsuit against the team. Troy Blackburn, the Bengals’ director of business development, said in a letter to the county that “litigation is not the answer.” The county is suing the team and the NFL for up to $600 million, alleging they used their monopoly power to force the county to build $450 million Paul Brown Stadium in 2000.

COLTON, CALIF.
Stater Bros. puts name on Busch race
Stater Bros. Supermarkets will be the title sponsor of the Stater Bros. 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway. The race is scheduled for Feb. 26 in Fontana, Calif. The sponsorship will run through 2009. Stater Bros. is also the official grocery store of California Speedway. This is the second straight year that Stater Bros. has sponsored a Busch Series race at California Speedway. The Stater Bros. 300 presented by Gatorade was held last May 1 and was Stater Bros.’ first entry into auto racing sponsorship. Stater Bros. is also the title sponsor of the “Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous,” an automotive street fair held in downtown San Bernardino, Calif.

DALLAS
New team delays joining race circuit
Samsonite is Mavs’ official luggage
Hall of Fame Racing, a NASCAR team owned by former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, will delay its debut on the circuit until 2006. The team had planned to participate this year, but The Dallas Morning News reported that NASCAR nixed a primary sponsorship deal that HOF Racing had planned with a communications company over fears of conflicts with Nextel’s title sponsorship. Another problem, according to the News, was the October crash of a plane carrying members of Hendrick Motorsports, which is providing Hall of Fame Racing with equipment, technical assistance and other help.
Samsonite Corp. has agreed to be the exclusive luggage provider to the Dallas Mavericks for the 2004-05 season. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Mavericks management, players and coaches will travel with Samsonsite’s Black Label product line, with each piece embroidered with the team logo and personalized for each individual. Samsonite also will be featured in the Mavs team yearbook, media guide, pocket schedules and matrix board signs, and will receive Web site support from the club.

DENVER
All-Star impact estimated at $30M
Sports Authority lowers Q4 forecast
The NBA All-Star Game and associated events will generate a $30 million economic impact in Denver, according to tourism officials. The estimate covers the All-Star weekend Feb. 18-20, which is expected to attract as many as 100,000 people to the Mile High City. But don’t look for Coke products to be sold during the game. That’s because it’s being played in the Pepsi Center. Coca-Cola Co. is an official sponsor of the NBA, but the Pepsi Center allows only its namesake sponsor’s products to be sold there.
Sporting goods retailer The Sports Authority Inc. says its fourth quarter won’t be as good as previously believed. The Englewood, Colo., company said a lack of snow in its cold-weather markets, coupled with a decline in sales of hunting and camping gear, prompted the company to lower its expectations for the quarter. The company originally expected earnings of $1.08 per share. Now it says that number will more likely be between 90 and 95 cents a share.

INDIANAPOLIS
Speedway announcer gets bobblehead
Colts looking to form own TV network
The voice of legendary public address announcer Tom Carnegie has provided a soundtrack for fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the last 59 years. Now motorsports fans can bring Carnegie and some of his famous sayings home. A talking bobblehead doll of Carnegie is now available for $29.95. Fans can buy the 8½-inch-tall resin doll through the Internet at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, at the IMS Gift Shops in the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum or at Brickyard Authentics stores at Circle Centre Mall and the Indianapolis International Airport.
Sources close to the Indianapolis Colts said the NFL franchise is planning to launch its own television network, possibly as soon as the beginning of next season. Sources said Colts officials will try to secure a spot on local and regional cable networks and broadcast the signal statewide. The Colts hope to air talk and variety shows featuring players, coaches and front-office staff, as well as play archived footage of games. One special feature is being planned to give fans behind-the-scenes peeks at practices and coaching sessions at the Colts’ training complex. An array of advertisers from around the state are currently being sought to ensure the venture will be profitable.

KANSAS CITY
2 groups vying for Wizards
Two Kansas City-area groups want to buy the Kansas City Wizards, The Kansas City Star reported. Both prospective buyers met current team owner Lamar Hunt’s requirement of at least $25 million in financial capability. Neither of the groups’ identities has been revealed. When Hunt announced his intent to sell in December, he indicated a preference for a buyer who would keep the MLS team in Kansas City. At least three other cities — Rochester, N.Y.; San Antonio; and Seattle — also have expressed interest in the Wizards.

LONG BEACH, CALIF.
Venue plans more concerts for race week
Adding to the weeklong festival atmosphere surrounding the April 8-10 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Vault350 has signed a sponsorship agreement with the Grand Prix. The venue is planning major live concert events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights of Grand Prix week. The concerts will take place later in the evenings. On Friday and Saturday nights, the shows will start after the Tecate Fiesta Friday and Rock-N-Roar concerts in front of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center have ended. Thursday night’s concert will be presented as the “grand finale” to the annual Tecate Thursday Thunder on Pine street festival event.

MILWAUKEE
Casino could neighbor Bradley Center
Representatives of the Bradley Center are talking with the Forest County Potawatomi about the possibility of developing a casino next to the downtown Milwaukee sports and entertainment venue. Ulice Payne, chairman of the Bradley Center board, has held preliminary discussions with the Potawatomi, who already operate a casino in Milwaukee, about locating a casino on a parking lot adjacent to the Bradley Center. The tribe could lease the three-acre lot from the arena, providing a much-needed new revenue stream. The tribe has proposed a $240 million expansion of its existing casino, which is west of downtown, but the project is on hold until the Potawatomi can reach a new gaming compact with the state of Wisconsin. Forest County Potawatomi attorney general Jeff Crawford said he was willing to listen to pitches to move the casino to downtown.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL
Luxury seats nearly sold out
Timberwolves games in Spanish
Lottery deal back in the works
The Minnesota Twins have nearly sold out 130 new luxury seats located directly behind home plate at the Metrodome. The price for the premium seats, which will be closer to home plate than the pitcher’s mound, will change depending on certain opponents, but will average $77 per ticket, said Dave St. Peter, Twins president. The seats will be padded, and patrons get concessions service from a wait staff, game notes, team publications, and “the best sight lines in the ballpark,” said St. Peter, adding that there has been demand for as many as 400 of the new seats.
For a second year, the Minnesota Timberwolves will broadcast four of the team’s home games in Spanish. The Timberwolves have partnered with Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance and Clear Channel Radio to present the broadcasts.
The Minnesota State Lottery will once again have a presence during Minnesota Twins games during the 2005 season. The two organizations have agreed on a corporate sponsorship arrangement that will help the lottery reach out to a younger demographic, said Eric Curry, vice president of corporate partnerships for the Twins. Specific details are still being worked out.

ORLANDO
Magic wearing classic uniform
To commemorate the team’s first appearance in the NBA Finals (1994-95), the Orlando Magic was to wear retro blue uniforms with white pinstripes for a game against the Houston Rockets last Thursday. This was to be the first time the team was scheduled to wear the classic uniform at home this season, with 10 more appearances to come. The debut of the retro apparel came with the first retro theme night of the season, “I Love the ’70s.” Fans had the opportunity to purchase the throwback jersey at a cost of $180 (authentic), $85 (swingman), $65 (kids) and $60 (replica). The jerseys also are available online at www.orlandomagicshop.com. The throwback uniforms are made by Reebok. The Magic is one of 14 teams celebrating the past with NBA “Hardwood Classics Nights.”

PHILADELPHIA
Phantoms to honor legendary fighters
Teams won’t be sold to Triple Play
The Philadelphia Phantoms are planning

The Phantoms are honoring hockey fighters with a poster on "Tough Guys Night"
to honor the city’s legendary hockey fighters with a tribute to the “Broad Street Bullies” on Friday. The first 10,000 fans in attendance for the game against the Hartford Wolf Pack, being billed as “Tough Guys Night,” will receive a commemorative poster. Prior to the game, former Flyers Dave Schultz, Joe Watson, Dave Brown, Ron Hextall, Al Hill, Paul Holmgren, Larry Zeidel and Bob Kelly; former Phantoms Frank Bialowas and Dave MacIsaac; and former Flyer and current Phantoms assistant coach Craig Berube will be on hand to sign autographs and meet fans.
Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor announced it will retain total ownership of its three minor league baseball teams in Maryland, all affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles, as a result of the termination of its securities purchase agreement with Triple Play Partners. In July, Comcast-Spectacor announced tentative plans to sell the Bowie Baysox, Delmarva Shorebirds and Frederick Keys to Triple Play. Triple Play, based in Lexington, Mass., was established last year by David Pearlman, a former senior executive at Infinity Radio, and Steve Horowitz, a former sports marketing executive. The deal was expected to close by Dec. 31. “As the December deadline approached, it became apparent to us that Triple Play was not prepared to close on the terms agreed upon last summer,” said Comcast-Spectacor Ventures President Peter Luukko. Pearlman said the deal fell apart after his company discovered a “major economic change” to the Frederick Stadium lease beginning next season.

PITTSBURGH
Penguins hire consultant on arena
The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired a nationally known consultant to aid in their push for a new arena. David Morehouse, a Pittsburgh area native who worked for former President Bill Clinton and was an adviser to John Kerry and Al Gore, has been named senior projects consultant for special projects by the team. In that role, Morehouse will lobby for a new arena, as well as help the team get a state license for a stand-alone slot machine parlor. The Penguins play in Mellon Arena, the oldest venue in the NHL. Team owner and captain Mario Lemieux has said repeatedly that the team needs a new arena to remain financially viable. The Penguins’ lease at Mellon Arena expires in 2007.

SACRAMENTO
Games won’t return to town
Group plans Tour de California
The Pan Pacific Masters Games, a competition for athletes older than 30 that organizers hoped to host in the Sacramento area every other year, won’t return in 2005. The games, imported from Australia, debuted locally with high hopes in the summer of 2003, with sports that ranged from golf and track to rarely played netball. Organizers from the Sacramento Region Sports Education Foundation and the Sacramento Sports Commission intend to bring the competition back after they re-evaluate the structure and timing. But the event lost about $50,000 last time, drew sparse attendance, suffered spotty promotion and faced the basic hurdle of trying to attract middle-aged contestants to compete outdoors in the middle of a Sacramento summer.
The group planning a professional California bicycle race expects to announce next month that a major California corporation has signed on as a name sponsor for the debut race in the spring of 2006. The organizers of the Tour de California have kept pretty quiet the past year, but that promises to change in February as details of the race are unveiled. Planned as an annual event, the Tour de California would include nine stages over two weeks, with world-class cyclists racing through California’s prettiest landscapes. The California race would follow the successful path of the Dodge Tour de Georgia, which started in 2003 as a six-stage professional race. Last April it drew some 748,000 spectators to watch 120 professional cyclists compete. The 2004 Tour de Georgia had a $70 million economic impact on Georgia, from hotel room stays and restaurant meals to increased tourism.

SAN DIEGO
Soccer fans can see hockey games
Indoor soccer fans who were left holding tickets when the MISL’s San Diego Sockers suspended operations late last month can still use them at the San Diego Sports Arena this winter, but for ice hockey action instead. The San Diego Gulls of the ECHL will honor unused paid Sockers tickets for all games remaining on their 2004-05 home schedule. Single-ticket buyers and groups can exchange their tickets at least 24 hours in advance for terrace-level seating, while season-ticket holders will receive a complimentary Gulls half-season-ticket package.

SEATTLE
4 renew Mariners sponsorships
The Seattle Mariners have signed three-year extensions of their sponsorship deals with Anheuser-Busch, the Boeing Co., Redhook Ale Brewery Inc. and U.S. Bank. Officials with the Major League Baseball team said all four renewals include signs at Safeco Field, sponsorship of in-game programs, retail promotions and promotional giveaways. Other details were not disclosed. St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch owns nearly 34 percent of Seattle-based Redhook, which gets most of its sales through the St. Louis-based beer giant’s distribution system. Redhook and A-B have a distribution agreement that runs through Dec. 31, 2024.

SPARTA, KY.
Tailgate parties are sold out
Kentucky Speedway announced its Outback Steakhouse Tailgate Parties have sold out for the 2005 season. Three parties were offered to new and renewing season-ticket members for a total of $60. The hospitality events will be held before the June 18 NASCAR Busch Series Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo; the July 9 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers; and Aug. 14 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Bluegrass 300. Tailgaters get Outback Steakhouse appetizers and Coca-Cola products as well as a cash bar before each of the races.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG
Bucs ticked over seat replacement
Rays raise some ticket prices
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are blaming the Tampa Sports Authority for fumbling a plan to have new red seats installed in Raymond James Stadium in time for next football season. An attorney for the team stated in a Jan. 7 letter that manufacturer Hussey Seating agreed to replace the seats, which have turned almost pink after seven years of sun and exposure, but won’t have them ready until 2006 because of a subcontractor problem. TSA executives blame Hussey for the problem, saying the company “dropped the ball” on seat replacement plans.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have raised ticket prices for regular-season games at Tropicana Field by as much as $7 per seat, even though the team is discounting tickets for less-popular games. Upper-deck tickets will be $5 for 55 of the 81 games scheduled, while those for “prime” games are priced at $10 and $16. Field-box seats will increase by $5 to $85 for non-prime games, and by $4 to $99 for prime games. The Rays won 70 games last season, avoiding last place for the first time in seven seasons.

James Blake won the 2002 USTA Challenger.

WAIKOLOA, HAWAII
Resort to name USTA event
The Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii will be title sponsor and host of the $100,000 Hilton Waikoloa Village USTA Challenger, today through Sunday. The tournament began in 2000 and added a women’s event last year. Hilton Waikoloa Village, which has 1,240 guest rooms and suites on 62 acres of oceanfront property, is also the title sponsor and host of a USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Futures event in November. Other sponsors of this month’s Challenger include the Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Adidas.

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