The Rangers "will face the Flyers in the NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park" on Monday, Jan. 2, at 8:00pm ET, according to sources cited by Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY. The outdoor game, which will be broadcast by NBC, "will be confirmed officially with the release of the NHL schedule this week." The event "will include HBO's '24/7' series as a lead-in." The previous Winter Classics were staged on Jan. 1, but that is a Sunday next year, and NBC is "committed to an NFL broadcast" (NEWSDAY, 6/22). In N.Y., Jeff Klein reports the Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic was "confirmed by an official briefed on the decision." An NHL spokesperson said that the release of the league's schedule "could happen as soon as" tomorrow (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22).
SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY: The Coyotes and Stars yesterday announced that they "will play a preseason game Sept. 23 at Reliant Stadium in Houston." The Stars said that they "will have further details when they announce" their preseason schedule next week. In Dallas, Mike Heika writes, "The game is intriguing on a number of levels. ... It is being held at a football stadium, and that will spark all sorts of talk about whether or not a Winter Classic can be held in the south" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/22). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote, "Don't think for a second the NHL isn't going to look at this venue and how this thing goes as a test to determine whether the Winter Classic can be held in the south" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 6/21).
High school football all-star games have become “very professional and part of the big business that surrounds college football recruiting,” according to Jim Halley of USA TODAY. Before ’01, there were “no national high school football all-star games.” The launch of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in January “will make it five.” All American Games Dir of PR Adam Liberman, whose company runs the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, said, “It’s amazing where this has all gone. I didn’t start with the company until August and had no idea how big this has gotten.” Halley notes the games are “advertising vehicles for enterprises seeking to reach an elusive demographic: 18- to 22-year-old men.” Intersport Associate VP/Sponsorship & Events Drew Russell, whose company promotes the Under Armour All-America Game, said, “Sponsorship drives these games … the right sponsor who is looking to make an impact in the high school space.” The games have “become a way for players to draw national attention by announcing their non-binding college intentions.” The games also “make money off underclassmen combines that draw future players.” Virginia high school football coach Patrick Kane said, “I don’t put a lot of value in combines. They’re part of the marketing scheme.” High school coaches also are “concerned about a new form of recruitment that has accompanied all-star games’ growth.” NCAA rules “limit seniors to two postseason all-star games,” and the “competition among game organizers for top players is fierce.” Halley notes some players “begin committing to the games as early as a year in advance” (USA TODAY, 6/22).
The World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlon racing series, has signed a single-year partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps to launch a new series of endurance races. Called the Marine Corps Primal Challenge Mudventure Quest, the two-race series has athletes crawl through mud, climb over cargo nets and run through an obstacle course reminiscent of boot-camp training. The events will be held September 16-18 in Charlotte, N.C., and November 4-6 in Lake Wales, Fla. The deal also has the Marine Corps take title sponsorship of the Ironman 70.3 world championships in Henderson, Nev., and the 5150 triathlon Lake Lanier, held in Lake Lanier, Ga. Both events will be held in September 11. The 70.3 race includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run, and the 5150 event includes a 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run.