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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Review: Professional Bull Riders at Gwinnett Arena

Last week, AJC editor Monica Richardson explained to us why she loves the sport of bull riding. Today, she gives us a look at what happened when she saw it at Gwinnett Arena this weekend:

MonicaRichardson (WinCE)


The competition opens like a concert: an explosion of fire and smoke on the dirt makes way for cowboys, who come out to the field for a splashy introduction. The fresh smell of bull fills the arena as they show off after the cowboys. The bull, you see, is the other athlete that takes the field. The bulls are generally named for their personality. At this competition, there’s Fired Up, Slim Chance, Red Ears, Gray Spot, Poker Face and many others.

After the introductions,  it’s two hours of nothing but bull-riding.

The event Friday and Saturday night had quite a crowd. Not exactly a sell-out, but it drew people of all ages. Sara Broun, spokeswoman for Professional Bull Riders Inc. said 18,000 people were expected over the three-day event that ends Sunday.

One after the other, the …

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Professional Bull Riders at Gwinnett Arena November 20-22

willingham tighty whitey WF2009 (Small)

Local cowboy Sean Willingham attempts to ride Simpson & Dennis' Tighty Whitey during the first round of the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. Photo by Andy Watson.

I knew it was something special when the classiest, best-dressed woman in the newsroom approached and asked, just shy of begging, if she could write something for this blog — about bull riding.

So here it is, rodeo fans, from AJCer Monica Richardson, everything you need to know about the Professional Bull Riders at Gwinnett Arena this weekend:

MonicaRichardson (WinCE)


It’s the most exciting 8 seconds in sports.

Yeh, that’s right, I said it … sports. Bull riding is indeed a SPORT! I added in the italics and capital letters for extreme emphasis on that point to all you nay-sayers.

Hand wrapped, re-wrapped, gloved and anchored tightly into position with a bull rope, the other hand free to whip the air, a rider gets on the bull hoping to avoid eating dirt for 8 seconds…

Those hold-your-breath moments can seem like hours …

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Access Points 16: 1948 Sain glove at Atlanta Braves Museum


This week's Access Point was a bronzed glove worn by Johnny Sain during Game 1 of the 1948 World Series. It's at the Atlnata Braves Museum. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

Did you make a guess at this week’s Access Point photo game? A few commenters were in the ballpark (Pun!) when they correctly guessed it was at Turner Field. It’s actually inside the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame inside the park gates. It’s pitcher John Sain’s glove and ball from Game 1 of the 1948 World Series, when the Boston Brave pitched a shutout against the Cleveland Indians.

There are many balls and gloves in the museum — and jerseys, World Series rings, photos and even a train car –  but this one stands out. The museum received it after Sain’s death, bronzed like baby booties you want to hold forever in one time.

It would be easy to miss among all the red and blue, but even easier to miss some of the story behind it. There’s only so much room on an information card. (Here’s a short piece from when I went on …

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Atlanta Braves Museum and Hall of Fame is free today


A snapshot from inside the Atlanta Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. You can visit it free Nov. 14. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

The Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame opens today with no ball in play, but free admission and free tours for all the off-season stats ‘n’ history geeks having baseball withdrawal.


Carpeting designed for major league ball clubs and 7-year-old's dream rooms.

I took the tour earlier this week with guide Dave Barrett, known henceforth as Dave. He gamely led me around the park despite the cold, rain and me being the only one there to visit.

Here are a few tidbits that others may know, but seemed like grand trivia to me.

  • The Turner Field gates are connected by columns. They made up the edge of the track and field facility for the 1996 Olympics, before it was converted to a baseball stadium.
  • The hybrid Bermuda stays green all year and gets cut once a day. “Grows by the inch, killed by the foot,” so they say. Good thing there’s an empty section in the …

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Would you go back to the Gwinnett Braves next season?


Gwinnett Braves Stadium just before it opened in April, 2009. I wonder, did you have fun there? AJC file photo

With one season done, a weekend AJC story went into the finances and decision-making behind the Gwinnett Braves and its new stadium in Lawrenceville. In its first year, it drew 423,000 visits in 71 home games, and 4,000 more for two home postseason games.

But I want to hear about another aspect of the new stadium: was it as fun as some said and hoped it would be?

From the story, “Gwinnett Stadium a winner for county?”:

Proponents say the stadium is an asset to the community, that it was meant to add to the quality of life in Gwinnett more than to generate income for the county.

Preston Williams, who served as point man for the project for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the first year was a rousing success.

“The venue is doing exactly what was intended from the inception: It is serving the people of Gwinnett as a destination for family fun and …

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Know before you go: Atlanta Braves playoff race games


High five! Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth celebrate a 4-0 shut out of the Florida Marlins on Monday. Can they keep it up? AJC/Curtis Compton

Despite the lackluster attendance at last night’s game, I get the feeling that the place to be this week will Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves are racing to catch up with the Colorado Rockies. The prize: a spot in the playoffs.

Here’s some info about games times, special events, tickets, parking — all the stuff you need to know before you go.

(And if you’re not going, follow Tuesday’s game live with Jeff Schultz.)

Games: There are at least six Braves games left in Atlanta. Note that the game time on Saturday’s game shifted from 7:10 p.m. to 4:10 p.m.

Sept. 29:  7:10 p.m. vs. Florida Marlins
Sept. 30: 7:10 p.m. vs. Florida Marlins
Oct. 1: 7:10 p.m. vs. Washington Nationals
Oct. 2: 7:35 p.m. vs. Washington Nationals
Oct. 3: 4:10 p.m. vs. Washington Nationals (Time change!)
Oct. 4: 1:35 p.m. vs. Washington Nationals

Concerts:There are …

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Game on at most Atlanta parks after sports field rain outs

Anybody showing up to an Atlanta park for  peewee football or a pickup game in the last few days probably arrived to soft ground and the disappointing news that city athletic fields were closed.


Most of Atlanta's athletic fields, like this one at Piedmont Park, are open after closing down because of rain. AJC file photo

On Sept. 22, the city closed all of them after days of heavy rain. Once a field is wet, a simple game of softball can turn it into a mud pit, and once the ground is damaged, fixing it is a long, difficult process.

Special events like PUMA’s “Can I Kick It?” one-day kickball tournament at Central Park were postponed, along with any regularly scheduled outdoor fun.

But there’s good news: as of yesterday, the citywide ban on using athletic fields was lifted. However, fields in Coan Park in Edgewood, Shady Valley Park in Buckhead and South Bend Park around Lakewood Park and Swallow Circle/Baywood are still unusable.

Sharon Davis, the public information officer for

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Know before you go: Atlanta Football Classic events


The Atlanta Football Classic parade will draw dozens of marching bands through downtown. This year's parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday near the Hyatt on Peachtree Street. AJC file photo

It’s been a rough week in Atlanta for everything but college football. Amid floods and rain, we got the news that the College Football Hall of Fame will move from South Bend to downtown Atlanta. As everything dries off, we’ve now got a full weekend of Atlanta Football Classic events to keep us busy.

And some other good news: no AFC events have been canceled or changed because of rain.

Here’s what you need to know before you go. Meanwhile, AFC regulars, help us out in the comments by sharing the can’t-miss events, the best place to watch the parade or any other advice.

There are a ton of events going on in Atlanta for the football, and they range from college fairs to club nights. Here’s a full schedule of Atlanta Football Classic events. Meanwhile here are a few key events for the …

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Why Atlanta Dream playoff games moved to Gwinnett Arena


Atlanta Dream teammates celebrated their season and home opening win at Philips Arena in June. For the playoffs, "home" becomes Gwinnett Arena. AJC file photo

I read a headline like “Sesame Street forces Dream out of Philips,” and I imagine Big Bird’s Muppety foot booting the entire WNBA team out onto Marietta Street. In traffic. And rain. Cue the wistful music. Sad, sad, sad.

As the story explains, “Sesame Street Live” long-ago booked this weekend at Philips Arena. Then Atlanta’s women’s basketball team just went ahead and made the playoffs, which is awesome, except for the Elmo factor.


Our fuzzy red monster friend may have some skills on the court, but mostly he’s a money-maker, a family draw and the first to sign the weekend contract downtown. The Dream had to find a new place to play — Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, some 25 miles away.

Contracts are contracts, but evicting a team from its home arena for its first-ever playoff outing is a disappointment. After talking …

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What to know before you go: Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game festivities, 2008.

When Alabama and Virginia Tech play the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday, there won’t be an empty seat in the Georgia Dome. Apparently, Atlanta’s a pretty good place to have a football game.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer told the AJC so: “I was with [ESPN College Game Day host] Chris Fowler this summer and he said it’s like no other atmosphere he can remember during the regular season. We’re playing in a great city that really supports football.”

Virginia Tech sold its 31,000 tickets. Alabama sold their’s, too. In fact, all 72,000 seats are sold, and thousands more people are expected to come downtown just for the game day activities. Here’s a guide to what’s going on and how you ought to prepare yourself, whether you’re coming downtown for some fun or just avoiding the crowd.


6-10 p.m. Friday: Fan Night, Georgia Aquarium
The world’s largest fish tank will be open late on Friday for …

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