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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

You Can Tell L.A. Has a Brand New Attraction

October 06, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

The announcement Monday that the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating championships are coming to the Staples Center was significant news for L.A. sports fans, even those who don't know an axel from an axle.

It means that the new downtown arena, still at least a year from completion, is already delivering on its promise to attract premier sporting events to Los Angeles.

Make no mistake about it. The U.S. Figure Skating championships are a premier event, particularly in 2002 when they serve as trials for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"I never wavered in feeling that Los Angeles was viable for events like this, but there's no question that having a new facility attracted new attention," said David Simon, president of the L.A. Sports Council.

The U.S. Figure Skating Assn., which voted unanimously for the Staples Center over Portland's Rose Garden, hadn't awarded its championships to this area since Long Beach was host in 1972.

Now, other organizations are expected to have their interest revived in Los Angeles. The L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission is preparing bids for the 2001 NHL and 2002 NBA All-Star games, neither of which has been here since the early '80s.

"Los Angeles deserves these kinds of events, deserves a building like the Staples Center," said Bobby Goldwater, Staples Center general manager.

Orange County already has one in the Arrowhead Pond. Between them, the two arenas make the Southland competitive with any market in the country.

The NCAA West Regional, the NCAA Women's Final Four, the McDonald's High School All-American game, the Olympic gymnastics trials, you name it, we have a chance for it.

About the only indoor event that is out is the NCAA men's Final Four, which is restricted to domes. Maybe Michael Ovtiz will build one for us.

*

Are you ready for some Arena Football? . . .

An unidentified L.A. ownership group has contacted Goldwater about the possibility of bringing an indoor team to the Staples Center in the summer of 2000. . . .

There are a million reasons Felipe Alou might not consider moving to Los Angeles. . . .

Montreal ownership will give him $1 million and allow him out of the remaining year of his contract if the team leaves the city, but, in order to collect, he must agree to remain the manager until the Expos' fate is determined. . . .

Family considerations were the No. 1 reason Jim Leyland wasn't interested in the Dodgers. But he also told friends in Florida he was concerned Tom Lasorda would be looking over his shoulder. . . .

If he can't get Alou, Dodger General Manager Kevin Malone should hire his old friend Kevin Kennedy. . . .

Davey Johnson creates too much turmoil. The Dodgers have enough of that already. . . .

Gary Hughes, the super scout credited for much of the Expos' success at finding young talent before he helped build the Marlins' championship team, may join Oakland as assistant general manager. . . .

Or he might find a place in the Rockies' front office. . . .

One supporter with some influence in Denver is John Elway. Hughes, then a Yankee scout, signed Elway to a baseball contract. . . .

As much as I like the job Paul Hackett is doing at USC, it's a little early for some of the players to be talking about the Rose Bowl. . . .

They shouldn't get carried away with a comeback victory at home against a 2-2 Arizona State team that lost its starting quarterback on the first series. . . .

The Trojans are still a work in progress. . . .

Comparing their vaults for touchdown, I'd score Cade McNown a 9.9 and Ortege Jenkins a 10. . . .

Jenkins stuck the landing. . . .

From watching the HBO replay, it's more apparent than it was live that Julio Cesar Chavez pulled a "No mas" against Oscar De La Hoya. . . .

Although Chavez later insisted he was forced to quit after the eighth round by his handlers, HBO's Spanish interpreter, Ray Torres, said the fighter told them he didn't want to continue. . . .

Torres added that Chavez was complaining in his corner about pain in his ribs, not the cuts to his lip and mouth that were given as the reason for his early retirement. . . .

Leslie O'Neal's quote that San Diego fans would never sit through a storm as Kansas City fans did for a game Sunday night against the Seahawks? You won't hear a better endorsement than that for the intelligence of San Diego fans.

*

While wondering if those were really the Raiders in 49er uniforms at Buffalo on Sunday, I was thinking: The only band badder than Prairie View's is Marilyn Manson, Randy Johnson pitched pretty well to be taking all this heat, no mas.

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