Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tough times force two local tracks to shut down

How tough has it gotten for local racetracks? Bad enough that two local tracks abruptly announced this week that they're shutting down early — one because of economic reasons, one because of staffing problems.

At Poplar Bluff Speedway, owner Shon Stuart announced on the track's Web site that the track can't afford to stay open for its final two months of the schedule. Stuart said in the note that the track will race just once more in a season finale October 20.

"Everyone thinks race tracks make a ton of money," Stuart wrote. "I got news for you. They don't. And that is the No. 1 reason I'm closing for the year."

The track has competed on Saturday nights since opening in April 2004.

Up the road, Fredericktown Raceway's season is over ... again. The track announced two weeks ago that it would close because of low participation, then changed course two days later and said it would stay open, but without its Late Model division. Its season came to an end again this week when owners Curley and Anne DeBold said the track has sufferend "staffing issues," Anne DeBold wrote in a posting online.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cincinnati looking past SEMO? Plus news on local hoops events

They're already crowing in Cincinnati about a 5-0 start, no doubt helped along by a Wednesday item in the Cincinnati Enquirer touting a rise in season ticket sales and enthusiasm for first-year coach Brian Kelly.

But for Southeast fans making the drive for the nighttime kickoff, don't expect overflow crowds for the Aug. 30 opener. The Bearcats' Nippert Stadium seats 35,000 fans and last season finished a distant last in the Big East with an average attendance of 20,373. The 7,559 season tickets sold through Aug. 12 are little more than the 6,464 sold last year, about half of which were never used.

• A hat tip to Al Jackson, who passed along the recently released list of participants in the Poplar Bluff Showdown, an annual boys basketball tournament in late December. Sikeston will compete in the event for the first time since 2000, joining host Poplar Bluff, Jackson (Tenn.) Liberty, Union City, Tenn., Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison, Little Rock (Ark.) Mills, Raytown South and Maplewood-Richmond Heights. The two teams in last year's championship game — Forrest City, Ark., and Vashon — aren't in this year's field.

• Organizers of the Heartland Hoopfest are finalizing their fourth annual event, which this year will be at the Show Me Center. An announcement about the event's new sponsor is expected soon. Last year's one-day schedule at the Perry Park Center in Perryville featured eight games with teams from Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Competition for SEMO's opener, plus a new look for UT-Martin

Four quick notes heading into a hot and humid weekend:

• The Cincinnati Enquirer says there's a battle brewing for the starting quarterback spot at Cincinnati, where Southeast will open its football season with a Thursday night game Aug. 30. Junior Dustin Grutza is gaining preseason buzz over Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk.

• What's the reward for Tennessee-Martin's breakthrough 9-3 season a year ago? Besides gaining new respect in the OVC, the Skyhawks also gained new uniforms. The new ones already are drawing comparisons to Auburn, but your chance to judge them in person comes Oct. 27 when the Skyhawks play at Southeast. UTM opens the season against Southern Mississippi.

• Practice started Monday for fall sports, and several teams open the season in less than two weeks. Baseball, softball, girls golf and girls tennis begin the season Aug. 20; volleyball, boys soccer, boys swimming and diving and cross country begins Aug. 27; and football starts Aug. 30. Locally, the only football game set for an Aug. 30 kickoff is Windsor at DeSoto; other teams open the next day.

• And finally, SemoSportsWeb has joined millions of others around the world with a page on MySpace. The page is new and still being fine-tuned, but more content will come. In time, it will be a great spot to meet other sports fans from here and around the world, plus get loads of news and information. For now, sign up as our friend on MySpace and get alerts sent to your MySpace inbox with the latest breaking news.