LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan on Friday met with Colorado Open Golf Foundation CEO Kevin Laura and Oakwood Homes Chair & CEO Pat Hamill to "kick around the idea of bringing an annual event to Denver," according to Anthony Cotton of the DENVER POST. The LPGA was "on the grounds all week" at Colorado Golf Club during the Solheim Cup. Whan said, "It was just exploratory. They've put a group together that's interested. We'd be looking at 2015 at the earliest." Cotton writes women's golf and Denver have "enjoyed a long flirtation," and after Cherry Hills hosted the U.S. Women's Open in '05 the "time seemed right for a deal to get done." But the momentum "crashed along with the economy." However, Laura said that things are now "in a better place." Still, he said, "Even if we were to get a title sponsor immediately it would probably take a good two years to get set up." Laura added that there were "a number of courses capable of hosting the LPGA, but it's been the CGC that has generated the most buzz nationally." Cotton notes after the '10 Senior PGA Championship, there "was talk of the club being in line to host the PGA Championship, or perhaps even a Ryder Cup." But the downturn of the economy "rocked the club to the point where it came within days of going bankrupt." Whan admitted that the club's financial difficulties "caused some concerns about the viability of holding the Solheim" there, but it "bounced back after being purchased by the membership." Crowds totaling 110,000 for last week's event "spoke to the appetite for golf" at the club (DENVER POST, 8/19).
GROWING THE GAME: Cotton reported one of "the busier pavilions" at the Solheim Cup was the Girls Golf booth, which was a "joint project" of the LPGA and USGA. The Girls Golf program as of three years ago "had about 2,500 participants," but this year it "topped 10,000" with about 260 outlets in the U.S. Whan said that the program has "received a sizable cash influx from the LPGA" (DENVER POST, 8/18).
AFL Soul co-Owner Ron Jaworski on Saturday prior to his team's 48-39 loss to the Rattlers in ArenaBowl XXVI said that he was "going to make a push for Philadelphia to host" next year's game, according to Ed Barkowitz of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Jaworski was "effusive in his praise for Orlando, site of this year's championship game and quite critical of last year's host, New Orleans." There is a "debate among AFL leaders on whether the championship game should be held at a neutral site or awarded to the team with the best record." Jaworski said, "I didn't think New Orleans did a very good job of presenting the ArenaBowl last year. But the Orlando Predators organization and the city of Orlando did a magnificent job of presenting this game." Meanwhile, AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz "pointed out that having the game at a neutral site is better for planning and other logistics." The "problem in Philadelphia's case would be whether the game could be enough of a draw if the Soul wasn't playing." Orlando has "much deeper arena football roots than Philadelphia and Saturday's crowd was announced at 12,039." Jaworski said that he will "kick it around and bring it up" at the league's BOD meetings in October (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/19).
COMING UP ROSES: In Portland, John Canzano reported the Trail Blazers on Friday met with AFL officials to "discuss relocating a franchise" to the Moda Center in '14. The AFL "did not make an announcement regarding its television deal or the relocation of franchises on Saturday during the Arena Bowl as expected," but a Blazers source said that this "wasn't a sign that the organization wouldn't land a team." The source said, "There's just more work to be done. ... We are still deciding if we will do it." The source said that the Blazers and AFL on Friday "engaged in lengthy discussions" (OREGONLIVE.com, 8/17).
Go the Distance Baseball announced Friday that an "independent professional baseball team" will play at the planned Dyersville, Iowa-based All-Star Ballpark Heaven in the relaunched Northern League, according to Ben Jacobson of the Dubuque TELEGRAPH-HERALD. The team will "not be affiliated with" an MLB franchise. Dyersville is "just the second site announced in the new league." Officials said that stadium and team ownership plans "still are pending, but players could take the field as early as 2014." The 5,000-seat stadium will include "more amenities than the tournament fields." Go the Distance President & CEO Denise Stillman said that plans for the stadium "will have to be modified to include even more features ... like clubhouses with showers for the players." The Northern League "folded a few years ago," but the league is "being relaunched under new ownership" and Commissioner Dan Evans, a former Dodgers GM. Evans said that the All-Star Ballpark Heaven site is a “'catalyst location' that will help attract other teams and locations to the league." He said that that was "why the announcement was made before an ownership group had been found to operate a team out of Dyersville." He predicted the league could have "eight to 12 teams by next season and noted that league officials are looking from the Midwest to the east coast and even into Canada." Northern League Elkart County Miracle Owner Craig Wallin said that the Dyersville team’s "proximity to the Field of Dreams movie site will be a major selling point for Elkhart fans and players." He said that he "already is planning tour bus promotions linking the two cities" (Dubuque TELEGRAPH-HERALD, 8/16).
IF YOU BUILD IT...: In Chicago, Phil Rogers noted Go the Distance has been "consulting with White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard on plans for a 24-diamond site that will host youth baseball and softball tournaments." Evans said that the Stillmans have "committed to building a stadium that could accommodate 5,000 fans and would be used for amateur showcase events and the Northern League team." Evans said, "We're trying to do something a little bit different. ... This will make it a unique experience for baseball fans who love that movie. It was made in 1989, and people still identify with it. Just sending around photos, people say, 'There's the farmhouse, there's the cornfield.' It's going to be really cool" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/17). The APnoted Go the Distance is "scaling back initial construction plans" for the baseball complex. Dormitories for coaches and players have been "removed from the first construction phase, and the number of fields in the initial phase has been reduced from 12 to six." Stillman said that the facility will "open in time for the 2014 season." That also is the 25th anniversary of "Field Of Dreams" (AP, 8/16).