Minor league hockey might return in 2009; Surf hot in second half
As reported last week, Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider announced that this will be the last season of the Spectrum, the sports and entertainment complex that was once home to the Flyers and the Sixers in Philadelphia.
The building is coming down to make way for a new retail-and-entertainment complex. The end of the Spectrum will be another fond farewell celebration for a building that holds many sports and concert memories for millions.
There is an intriguing Atlantic City angle to this story. The Flyers' minor league club, the Philadelphia Phantoms, will be homeless as of the end of next season. An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that according to Peter Luukko, president and CEO of Comcast-Spectacor, the Phantoms might need a temporary home base in another town, possibly Atlantic City or Allentown.
As local hockey fans know, the hockey rink at Boardwalk Hall has been mostly dormant since the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies left town after the 2005 season for Stockton, Calif. According to Jeffrey Vasser, the executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, he had preliminary talks with Comcast-Spectacor months ago, before it was decided that the Spectrum would come down. Says Vasser, "Now that the roadblock is down, we anticipate taking the conversation to the next level." When it's suggested that the players might prefer A.C. to Allentown, Vasser says, "If that's true, I hope the players talk to management."
The Atlantic City Surf, after an inconsistent first half in the Can-Am League, has been playing better ball in the second half. The league format has the first-half champion and second-half champion making the playoffs. The two teams with the best overall record behind the champions also make the post-season.
Manager Cecil Fielder likes his team's improved defense and the pitching that has been solid over the last two weeks. Surf lefty Adam Cox (7-2; 4-0, 1.25 ERA in July) was the league's "Pitcher of the Week" for the week of July 14-20. He earned two of the Surf's four wins, pitching eight shutout innings against the New Jersey Jackals in a 2-0 win that completed a series sweep to start the second half. He also earned the only victory, an 11-3 win, over the first half champ Quebec Capitales. The Surf dropped three of four to the best team in the league. Luckily for them, their trip to the Great White North also includes a series with the expansion Ottawa Rapidz. The Surf beat the Rapidz 7-3 Monday and 9-4 on Tuesday. The winning pitcher Monday was Rory Shortell (3-2). Surf centerfielder Lucas Taylor, was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and a stolen base and shortstop Anthony Granato was 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI. In Tuesday's victory, leftfielder Joe Burke was 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs. The Surf is on top of the standings with a 6-3 record.
The Surf will be back at Bernie Robbins Stadium for a homestand beginning Friday (July 25), when the Surf hopes to exact some payback on the Capitales. It's an all-Canadian week as the Surf plays a three-game series with Quebec, followed by four games against the Ottawa Rapidz.
The United States Postal Service will be on hand at the July 25 game against Quebec to promote its new "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" 42-cent stamp (right) in honor of the 100th anniversary of the song. The stamp will be on sale on the concourse. The USPS will also be promoting its Help Pitch in for Baseball program, which collects gently used baseball equipment to distribute to children worldwide; all fans are encouraged to bring gear in good condition to donate at the game.
On Saturday, July 26, the team will be hosting its first-ever Autism Awareness Evening. Specially-designed Autism Awareness jerseys (left) will be worn by the Surf team, and will be auctioned off throughout the July 25-27 series. See more at www.acsurf.com.
Hockey was back at Boardwalk Hall Sunday night and a crowd that was biased against the designated “home” team, the Albany Devils, cheered on the Phantoms with enthusiasm.
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