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Hub push to land major sports events

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Big game hunting: Hub push to land major sports events

By Scott Van Voorhis | Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Seizing upon Boston's reputation as ``title town,'' the leaders of the city's pro teams are quietly banding together to lure big-money events to the nation's newly minted sports capital.

With little fanfare, top executives and owners from the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox gathered at a downtown Boston hotel early yesterday morning, launching a re-energized Massachusetts Sports & Entertainment Commission.

The goal: Make Boston a must locale for buzz-heavy events such as the NBA All-Star Game, MLB winter meetings and the NCAA's premier basketball and hockey tournaments.

The effort is getting critical support from high-profile board members such as Patriots Vice Chairman Jonathan Kraft, Celtics owner Wycliffe Grousbeck, and Red Sox chief Larry Lucchino.

The move comes as Boston basks in the glow of four national championships in four years. Top sports executives such as Kraft have vowed to wield their immense influence to bring the country's top sporting events to Boston.

"In those special cases where it may be a tie-breaker to have them make a call on our behalf, they are ready and willing to make those calls," said Don Stirling, chief executive of the state-supported, non-profit Massachusetts Sports & Entertainment Commission.

Meanwhile, the group is already focusing on some of the athletic big game it would like to hunt, including lucrative pro sports All Star games and big name college sports tourneys. Gov. Mitt Romney [related, bio] and Senate President Robert Travaglini also pledged their support at yesterday's huddle of sports executives.

"We are very fortunate in that we have some of the most powerful sports teams within the confines of the state," said Paul Foster, vice president of government and community relations at sneaker maker and sports marketing giant, Reebok.Sports commission member Patrick Moscaritolo, head of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, would like to make a run at bringing the NBA All Star game to Boston.

Along with bringing some of the superstars of the basketball world to town, the event creates ``buzz'' through a weekend long NBA trade show aimed at young fans, he said.Given Boston's reputation as a baseball hotbed, a repeat appearance by Major Leagye Baseball's All Star game could also be in the cards, said Reebok's Foster.

"The city is just perfect for it," Foster said.

Boston's sports team executives are also targeting other big events, from Major League Baseball's winter meetings - where all the big trades are done - to a return engagement of college hockey's final four.

From Boston Herald

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