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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

HBO Goes for Broker With This Story

July 25, 1997|LARRY STEWART

On April 11, the second day of the Masters, Allen Caldwell, 40, was found dead in his Augusta, Ga., home, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Caldwell and a company called World Golf Hospitality co-owned the Clubhouse, an exclusive restaurant across the street from the Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters. A table at the restaurant for the four days of the tournament cost as much as $22,000. For that, dignitaries and corporate guests were to get food and drink, plus four-day badges to the Masters.

It was Caldwell's job to procure the badges. He had made arrangements with Augusta members to buy theirs. Problem was, some ticket brokers were offering up to $10,000 for the badges, twice what Caldwell was offering.

Turned out Caldwell couldn't deliver the badges as promised and he and his partners faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Rather than face that embarrassment, he committed suicide.

This is an extreme case, but it illustrates the high-stakes pressures of the ticket-brokering business.

In one of the segments in the next edition of HBO's award-winning "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," with a first airing Monday at 10 p.m., this often unsavory business is examined by Jim Lampley in a segment titled "Who Needs Two?"

Ticket brokering is legal only in Alabama, California, Texas and six other states. There are some restrictions in 32 states and the practice is illegal in nine states.

"The unfortunate thing is tickets to major events are all going to corporations," Lampley said on the phone from his home in Rancho Santa Fe this week. "The average fan can no longer afford them."

In the HBO show, Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, who has twice vetoed legislation that would have made ticket scalping legal in his state, says, "Practically every entertainment venue and sports venue in this state, not every one but close to it, was built through taxpayer funds. To do this to the tax-playing citizen is just inherently wrong."

The show also takes a look at women's professional basketball, boxing referee Mills Lane and the success of the expansion Colorado Rockies.

THE BOXING BEAT

In a recent edition of "American Journal" on Channel 9, Evander Holyfield was asked if he was going to have plastic surgery to fix the ear bitten by Mike Tyson. "I've got the most famous ear in the world. Why would I change it?" he said.

Holyfield had another reason for not fixing the ear. "Needles hurt," he said. . . .

HBO commentator George Foreman was among those who said Johnny Tapia's unanimous decision over Danny Romero last Friday was just what boxing needed. Guess it was a big deal because no one was disqualified for biting or excessive holding. The feeling here was, it was only a so-so fight and Tapia's clowning was a turnoff to many viewers.

Maybe the best part of the HBO coverage was the pre-fight feature on the two Albuquerque fighters. The 7 1/2-minute segment was the first project by Lampley's new production company.

Lampley has moved from Park City, Utah, to Rancho Santa Fe because his wife, Bree Walker, will soon become an anchor for San Diego's Channel 39. . . .

The Westwood One radio network has a deal with HBO to broadcast its fights, and XTRA 1150 carries those fights. That made it nice for those still on the freeways late last Friday. Also, blow-by-blow announcer Joel Meyers and commentator Terry Atlas were excellent. . . .

The Forum-promoted boxing shows on Channel 9 are traditionally good ones that draw top ratings. The latest edition, Saturday night at 8, features welterweights Hector "Torero" Lopez of Palmdale against Mark Lewis of Mira Loma at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. . . .

CBS originally was to show a replay of Tyson-Holyfield II, but the network angered Showtime when news of the replay was leaked. So ABC ended up with the replay rights. ABC planned to show the replay Aug. 7 but has moved it to Aug. 14 because Roy Jones Jr. faces Montell Griffin on pay-per-view on Aug. 7. . . .

Of Larry Holmes, who fights someone named Maurice Harris on the USA network Tuesday night, announcer Al Albert said, "Larry Holmes has become a prospect all over again. Not a hot prospect. Just a prospect."

SHORT WAVES

When the Sparks play the Phoenix Mercury tonight at 6 on Lifetime, Reggie Miller will do the commentary and his sister Cheryl will be coaching the Mercury. Also, a taped interview Reggie did with his sister, who is also the Mercury's general manager, will be shown at halftime.

In the interview, Reggie asks Cheryl, "What would you say you're better at--a better sister or a better basketball player?" Says Cheryl: "I'm a better sister. There's no greater love in this world than the love I have for you." . . .

If you want to be really moved, don't miss Fox Sports West's special on last month's Southern California Special Olympics at UCLA. The show will be televised Sunday at 9 p.m. and again Tuesday at midnight and next Thursday at 9 p.m. . . .

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