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  • Arena league owner isn't sure city is ready for MLB

    By Adam Candee
    <[email protected]>
    LAS VEGAS SUN

    Jim Ferraro moved his Arena Football League franchise from New Jersey to Las Vegas in December 2002, gambling that he could buck the city's history of rejecting even the most noble of sporting franchises.

    And as noble an idea as he feels moving the Montreal Expos to Las Vegas would be, Ferraro said recently that he is just fine watching someone else gamble their money on selling Major League Baseball on the Strip.

    "I'm not so sure it's the right place, but who knows," Ferraro said.

    As he prepares for the Las Vegas Gladiators' third season in town, Ferraro can speak with some authority about the changing sporting climate of the city. He has watched his team draw respectable, but far from overwhelming, crowds for two years at the Thomas & Mack Center, averaging just under 10,000 tickets sold -- and closer to 7,000 actual attendance -- per game in 2004. By Las Vegas historical standards, that is not bad.

    Ferraro acknowledged in 2002 and reiterated Thursday that he did not expect the Gladiators to really establish themselves in Las Vegas until their third season, putting some onus on the upcoming year. He still feels strongly that sports can work in the valley.

    "Vegas is a major-league city," Ferraro said. "It deserves all these sports franchises."

    But that is tempered praise from Ferraro, who went on to say that he would want no more than a small part of the risk involved in relocating baseball's nomad franchise to Las Vegas. To draw the kind of crowds necessary for financial stability through 81 home games over six months, in addition to keeping enough year-round event traffic in the proposed facility to make the building profitable, is an endeavor that Ferraro worries could be a struggle.

    That goes not only for the Expos themselves, but also for the city's credibility in attracting major sports as it continues to grow in size and respectability as a market for professional teams.

    "If it doesn't work, it will be a black eye for Vegas for potential sports teams," Ferraro said.

    His better idea? It's not a new one -- professional basketball in Las Vegas.

    "I personally would be more interested in doing a basketball team than a baseball team because basketball has a track record there," Ferraro said, noting how fans supported UNLV through its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Success for an outfit such as the Gladiators is measured on a much different scale than it would be for the Expos. Ferraro said that given some anticipated improvement in sponsorship deals in 2005, the Gladiators can certainly be profitable for the first time in three years if they average 12,000 tickets sold per game.

    "We'll actually make a profit next year," Ferraro said.

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  • DJRamFan
    Build it and they will come....
    by DJRamFan
    Associated Press
    PITTSBURGH -- Baseball might abandon its long-standing policy of alternating All-Star sites between National League and American League cities and award the 2007 game to another NL city, commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday.



    Minutes after officially announcing Pittsburgh would host its second All-Star game in 12 years in 2006, Selig said he expects to reveal the 2007, 2008 and 2009 sites later this summer.



    PNC Park will be the '06 All-Star field of dreams.



    With San Francisco, Arizona, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and San Diego all playing in new or relatively new ballparks and St. Louis to follow in 2006, one NL city would have to wait until 2018 for an All-Star game should baseball stay with its traditional but no-longer mandatory rotation.



    By contrast, only the refurbished Anaheim Angels ballpark and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg won't have been All-Star sites among the newer AL parks, once Detroit stages the 2005 game.



    "I don't believe that it [the rotation] is as important as it used to be," Selig said. "I think the important thing is to try to be fair. In a perfect world, you would alternate NL and AL, but it's more important to reward franchises, I think, that really need to have the game because of their venue. There are so many great new ballparks, and that's the nice part."



    The hard part, he said, it deciding which cities must wait, especially when teams such as Kansas City already have waited more than 30 years for a game.



    "What I'd like to do even during the course of this summer is to at least award the games for 2007, 2008 and 2009 so they have enough time to get to work on it," Selig said. "There are a lot of cities that have new ballparks and have an intense desire to have an All-Star game. I'll just have to be as fair as possible."



    Phoenix and San Francisco also wanted the 2006 game, which was awarded to Pittsburgh partly to pump up the Pirates' slumping attendance. Their average crowd has dropped by 10,000 a game since PNC Park opened in 2001, even though the riverfront ballpark is widely regarded as one of baseball's best venues.



    Pirates managing general partner Kevin McClatchy was "relentless" in pursuing the game, Selig said, sometimes to the point of being overly intense.



    "I made the decision, and I meant what I said that the competition was incredible and there will be a lot of disappointed people," Selig said. "I have to try to be fair. I understand they had only had a game 12 years ago, but they met all the criteria other than that. They have a gorgeous ballpark ... and Kevin McClatchy was about as tenacious as you can get."...
    -07-21-2004, 07:37 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Cities confident MLB will pick someone soon
    by DJRamFan
    Associated Press
    HOUSTON -- Baseball's No. 2 official expressed confidence Monday that the Montreal Expos will move before the 2005 season but wouldn't set a new deadline for a decision.



    The Expos were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season, and baseball at first hoped for a decision by July 2002 but later pushed it back to the 2003 All-Star break and then to this year's break. The bidding areas have said in recent weeks that they think a decision could be made by late July or early August.



    "I've been hanged out to dry by coming out with proposed dates," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said before the All-Star Home Run Derby. "The sooner we get it done the better. I believe it will happen this summer. I believe it's very important we get this done this year."



    Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia's Loudoun County, near Dulles International Airport, appear to be the top contenders to land the Expos. Also bidding are Las Vegas, Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; Portland, Ore., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.



    Downtown Washington is about 40 miles from Baltimore's Camden Yards, and DuPuy acknowledged that Orioles owner Peter Angelos has openly opposed having a team move that close to his franchise. If the Expos move to either Washington or Northern Virginia, they would play at RFK Stadium, home of the expansion Washington Senators, before moving to a new ballpark in 2007 or 2008.



    "He's expressed his view with the regard an impact a club in the Washington area would have on the Orioles," DuPuy said.



    Commissioner Bud Selig said in May that he was concerned about the effect an Expos move to the nation's capital would have on the Orioles.



    "It isn't only the Orioles, it's all teams," Selig said then. "I think it's the commissioner's responsibility to protect the 30 franchises."



    Baseball officials met Friday with the Washington and Northern Virginia groups, and DuPuy said discussions are ongoing with all the bidding communities.



    He also said it's possible baseball will decide where the Expos move before finalizing a deal to sell the team, a process that could extend into early 2005. He said that areas that don't wind up with the Expos could become contenders for other franchises.



    "That's an inevitable conclusion you can draw if you're having eventual relocation," DuPuy said.



    Selig says the Florida Marlins and Oakland Athletics need new ballparks to survive in their areas.
    -07-12-2004, 05:12 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Owner puts Firebirds up for sale
    by DJRamFan
    Arena football team may move if local buyer can't be found


    By Jeff Rabjohns
    [email protected]
    July 30, 2004


    The Indiana Firebirds are for sale and may move to Florida if a local buyer cannot be found in the next 30 days, owner David Lageschulte said Thursday.

    Lageschulte is searching for local ownership for the Arena Football League franchise that moved to Indianapolis from Albany, N.Y., before the 2001 season.

    If that doesn't happen, Lageschulte, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla., said he would look to move the team, possibly as soon as next season.

    "I would like that to be an option," he said. "First, I'd love to try to sell it and keep it in Indiana. We have wonderful crowds and wonderful games in Indiana.

    "If I can't, I would try to move it. Florida would be a choice of mine, but that would have to come with league approval."

    Lageschulte declined to tell his asking price for the team or what he paid for it. The most recent team to join the Arena league, the Austin (Texas) Wranglers, paid a $16.2 million expansion fee before the 2004 season. The sale of the Georgia Force before the 2003 season was reported at $14 million.

    With an influx of NFL ownership and a television deal with NBC, Arena football has seen its franchise values soar.

    "It's probably a little early to tell what the market will bear," said David Morton of Sunrise Sports Group, who along with Milt Thompson of Grand Slam III has been contracted by Lageschulte to search for potential owners.

    "To compare a new franchise . . . is difficult because this is an existing, established brand."

    Morton said he and Thompson are in the early stages of making proposals to potential buyers.

    Lageschulte purchased the team in August 2002 from Glenn Mazula, who owned the team since its inception in 1990.

    Lageschulte was an investor in the franchise since 1997. From 1993-95, he also owned an Arena franchise known as the Miami Hooters.

    One of the originators of the Hooters restaurant chain, Lageschulte is co-CEO of a company that runs 30 restaurants and bars. He also is part owner of a company involved in fitness centers, heavy equipment and environmental remediation.

    Lageschulte purchased control of the Firebirds with the intent that he would eventually sell the team.

    "We have some pretty stiff deadlines at this point. I love Indianapolis and the Indianapolis market," Lageschulte said. "Unfortunately, I live in Florida and that's the reason I wanted to sell the team or have someone take it over.

    "We have to find something in the next 30 days that at least smells like a deal."

    Playing in Conseco Fieldhouse, the Firebirds averaged...
    -08-02-2004, 02:59 PM
  • psycho9985
    Tragic and UnAmerican B.S.
    by psycho9985
    IOC president Jacques Rogge (search) said baseball and softball, two sports invented in America, would be eligible to win their way back into the Olympics for 2016.

    Baseball and softball, which will remain on the program for the 2008 Beijing Games, are the first sports eliminated from the Olympics since polo in 1936.

    "I think they've made a big, big mistake," said Tom Lasorda, the former Dodgers manager who guided the U.S. team to the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Games. "Baseball is played by all countries now, and softball, too. I think that's really going to hurt the Olympics."

    Bob DuPuy, the major leagues' chief operating officer, said the IOC's decision will "adversely affect millions of sports fans worldwide."

    With two slots open on the program, the IOC voted from a waiting list of five sports: golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports. Squash and karate were nominated but rejected overwhelmingly, failing to get two-thirds approval.

    Dropping baseball and softball will remove 16 teams and more than 300 athletes from the Olympics.

    Baseball, which became a medal sport in 1992, has been vulnerable because of steroids in the major leagues and the absence of major leaguers from the Olympics. Softball, a women's only medal sport since 1996 won all three times by the United States, has been in danger because of its association with baseball and a perceived lack of global appeal and participation.

    "The lack of the MLB players I think people have looked and said, `Well, all right, if there's to be a change, that seems to be the logic of it,"' British IOC member Craig Reedie said.

    Among the players who competed in the Olympics before starring in the majors are Jason Giambi, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra and Ben Sheets.

    Major League Baseball has toughened its drug-testing programs, but they still fall far short of Olympic standards.

    "Problems with doping in U.S. baseball probably cost the sport dearly," Australian IOC member John Coates said.

    Several IOC members also cited high stadium costs associated with both sports, saying baseball and softball venues have little use in some host cities after the games.

    "I feel like somebody who has been thrown out it's certainly not a good feeling," said Aldo Notari, the Italian president of the International Baseball Federation. "I don't think the IOC members know our sport deeply enough."

    Don Porter, the American president of the international softball federation, said his sport's ties to baseball created problems.

    "We tried to keep our distance," he said. "But I think there's still too many people think we're part of baseball. We're absolutely not."

    Cuba has won three of the four gold medals since baseball was first played...
    -07-08-2005, 09:22 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Owner says 'sloppy' play led to Haege's dismissal
    by DJRamFan
    Fear of losing players contributed to decision
    By Adam Candee
    <[email protected]>
    LAS VEGAS SUN

    An emotionally detached assessment showed Jim Ferraro that he wanted to fire Frank Haege as the Gladiators' head coach. The perceived danger of losing current and prospective players because of Haege, combined with the owner's distaste for the team's "sloppy" play during the past two seasons, made it easy for Ferraro.

    But the owner's personal respect for Haege made it hard to pull the trigger.

    "You look at it all and the decision was not really hard at the end of the day," Ferraro said Friday, speaking publicly for the first time since Haege was fired on July 28. "It was just hard for me to do it."

    Along with a long evaluation process that Ferraro said could not have happened while the team focused on winning games during the season, that respect led to the two-month wait after the season's end to fire Haege.

    Ferraro is in town to conduct interviews with the three finalists to replace Haege: Gladiators assistant head coach Ron James; New Orleans defensive coordinator Kevin Porter; and Indiana interim head coach Mike Wilpolt. Interviews begin tonight and continue Tuesday, with Ferraro and general manager Dan Dolby hoping to select someone by Friday. Ferraro recently returned from a long trip out of the country, which slowed the process of hiring a new coach.

    After three middling seasons that produced a 25-21 record and a division title, but no playoff wins, Ferraro entered the offseason intent on evaluating Haege's situation after signing the coach to a three-year contract extension during the 2003 season.

    The most distressing conversations Ferraro had, he said, were with people both inside the organization and around the league indicated that some free agents might avoid Las Vegas and that some current Gladiators might try to get away from the team if Haege remained the head coach.

    He became more disturbed by the lack of support he found for Haege from both players and management.

    "I didn't have anyone who objected to it," Ferraro said of firing Haege.

    No players have spoken out against Haege. Talking the day after Haege's firing, Gladiators quarterback Clint Dolezel -- the team's centerpiece acquisition last offseason -- expressed no reservations about the coach.

    Dolezel did not mourn for long, though, phoning Dolby to vouch for Sparky McEwen as Haege's replacement. McEwen, who worked with Dolezel in Grand Rapids as the offensive coordinator, came off the Gladiators' finalist list Friday when he accepted the head job with the Rampage.

    Ferraro was disappointed in both the Gladiators' preparation and performance leading to an 8-8 record in 2004 after he spent up to the $1.7 million salary cap to upgrade...
    -08-17-2004, 10:12 AM
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