Sports

D-Day for Gillette Stadium’s World Cup 2022 bid

December 1st, 2010 at 7:00 am by under General Talk

Soccer’s most powerful officials are meeting in Switzerland this week to decide which countries will get to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, with a formal announcement expected tomorrow. The U.S. is one of five finalists to host the world’s most popular sports tournament in 2022.

If the U.S. gets the games, some of the matches will be played right here at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, which would be one of 18 host cities. (It’s listed as Boston on the official website.) Patriots owner Bob Kraft is on the board of directors for the 2022 U.S. bid.

These would be the first World Cup games at Gillette, though the old Foxboro Stadium hosted in 1994, eight years before Gillette opened. The stadium’s fields were upgraded to meet FIFA’s standards last winter.

Bloomberg News sets the scene ahead of tomorrow’s 10 a.m. announcement:

Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, will decide Dec. 2 where sport’s most-watched event takes place. Before that, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.K.’s Prince William and the Emir of Qatar will try to charm the 22 voters on FIFA’s executive committee.

The decision is worth billions of dollars to hosts, sponsors and FIFA, a not-for-profit organization that gets most of its income from sales related to the quadrennial tournament. The U.S., one of five candidates for 2022, says a World Cup generates about $5 billion.

“If somebody has decided that he will go with a candidate, this endorsement of interest by royalty or the prime minister or the president of the country really tells you not to have any other thoughts in the last minute,” Marios Lefkaritis, a delegate on the FIFA body that makes the decision, said in an interview. The Cypriot declined to say who he’ll vote for.

Australia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea make up the remaining 2022 candidates. The 2018 race is all-European as England competes with Russia and joint offers from Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium. Brazil hosts the 2014 tournament.

A majority vote is required. If that isn’t immediately attained the lowest-scoring bids are eliminated in further voting rounds.


Will TV ratings force the Sox to make a big signing?

November 18th, 2010 at 2:35 pm by under General Talk

The Red Sox are promising to make some big moves this off-season, and for good reason – without a new superstar, their TV ratings won’t recover, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes in a column today:

The decline in ratings on the New England Sports Network, of which the Red Sox own 80 percent, is nothing short of a call to action.

For the first time in eight years, the Sox didn’t lead the majors in local TV ratings, a major-league source said. They finished tied for fifth, according to figures obtained by FOXSports.com.

The Cardinals had the best local TV ratings, followed by the Twins, Phillies and Reds. The Rays, a low-revenue club with disappointing home attendance, generated the same ratings as the Sox, who show all of their local games on NESN.

The Sox’s ratings on NESN fell 36.6 percent from ’09 to ’10. Only one team, the Cubs, had a larger percentage dropoff on local cable. The Cubs, though, had a less severe decline than the Sox in their 70 over-the-air network games.

While the Red Sox remain a hot ticket at Fenway Park, playing to over 100 percent capacity, their sagging ratings indicate Red Sox Nation is somewhat spoiled by the team’s recent success — six postseason appearances in the previous seven years, including two World Series titles.

Read the rest here.


Cubs legend Ryno Sandberg may manage PawSox

November 15th, 2010 at 12:59 pm by under General Talk

Buried in Nick Cafardo’s Boston Globe column yesterday was an intriguing little item about our own Pawtucket Red Sox. It seems Theo Epstein and his deputies are eying Hall of Famer Ryne “Ryno” Sandberg, the longtime Chicago Cubs second baseman, to take over as the Triple-A club’s manager:

The Sox are putting together a list of candidates for the Pawtucket job, and Sandberg had a lot of success managing Iowa, the Cubs’ Triple A franchise. He is the rare Hall of Fame player who wants to have a career in managing, and has done it the right way, by paying his dues in the minors.

Sandberg was recently passed over by the Cubs as they looked for a manager. He would succeed Torey Lovullo, who led the PawSox to a 66-78 record in his first and only season there. Lovullo is leaving to join his fellow ex-Sox colleague John Farrell, the Blue Jays’ new manager.

Update: The plot thickens. WPRI Sports Director Eric Murphy, who started here the same week as me last summer, joined us from WOI in Des Moines, Iowa. Could it be that Sandberg is just looking to follow my pal Eric on the Iowa-to-Rhode-Island trail?

We report, you decide.

Update #2: Easy come, easy go: Sandberg just got hired by the Phillies to manage the PawSox’s North Division rivals, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The two teams meet for the first time on April 26 in Allentown, Pa.


Remembering when Providence had an NBA team

October 26th, 2010 at 3:41 pm by under General Talk

the Steamrollers' logo

Let’s take a break from Shoveitgate and politics, shall we?

The Celtics open their season tonight against the Miami Heat’s much-hyped trio of Wade, James and Bosh. (Sounds like a law firm.) But if history had taken a different turn, it’s possible the Heat could have made their debut right here in Providence.

I didn’t know this until recently, but it turns out the capital city had its own professional basketball team for three seasons right after World War II, from 1946 to 1949.

The team’s name was the Providence Steamrollers and, according to NBA.com, its brief run included an unhappy record: the fewest wins in a single season in the history of the NBA. The team went 6-42 in 1947-48.

Well, you can’t win them all – or in this case, they could hardly win any. (“Remember the Providence Steamrollers?” New York magazine asked in 1983. “Only masochists and trivia maniacs would.”) There was apparently some attempt made to bring back the team in the early 1980s, but nothing came of it.

The Steamrollers were part of the Basketball Association of America, which merged with the National Basketball League in 1949 to form the NBA, killing off the poor Steamrollers. The team’s roster during its ignominious 1947-48 season included 46-year-old Pat Hickey, who still holds the record as the oldest person ever to play in the NBA.

Steamrollers games took place at the old Rhode Island Auditorium (also known as the Providence Arena) on North Main Street, which was demolished in 1989. The team’s owner, Lou Pieri, also owned the Arena. According to Charley Rosen’s history of the NBA, Pieri named the team after his construction company and they practiced at Hope High School. (I doubt anyone reading this saw the Steamrollers play, but maybe you caught the Reds, the longer-lived hockey team that played there.)

Providence has a lot of fascinating old sports history. I mentioned the Steamrollers to my friend Dan, who’s a smart sports aficionado, and he reminded me that basketball’s Providence Steamrollers should not be confused with football’s Providence Steam Roller, winners of a pre-Super Bowl NFL championship way back in the 1920s. Indeed, there’s a lot of great sports history in Providence. Another chum pointed out to me that the NFL’s decision to start teams in small cities early on is the reason a place like Green Bay still has the Packers.

All I know is, I want a Providence Streamrollers T-shirt. Anybody know where I can buy one?

(image credit: NBA.com)