Thursday, November 29, 2012

NFL: Falcons stadium chief outlines public’s role

One of the chiefs behind Atlanta Falcons’ plans to relocate to a new stadium claims that taxpayers can expect to own 100% of the new facility, having been asked to fund just 30% of it.
The Falcons recently announced that they were in talks to move to a new ground within the next five years, and demolish their existing Georgia Dome home, which was constructed in 1992.
“The public sector will own 100% of the new stadium for 30 cents on the dollar,” said Poe, who is the executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center.
Poe added that he is confident revenues generated by the new stadium would more than make up for the investment made in its construction, which is estimated to total more than $900m.
The catalyst behind the move, aside from the potential offered by a more cost-effective facility, is a desire expressed by Falcons chiefs to play outdoors, while the club’s ownership is understood to be explore the possibility of hosting a Super Bowl and future Soccer World Cup matches.
Poe emphasised the importance of a public-private partnership as a means of funding the new facility, noting that Georgia’s taxpayers provided all of the funding for the Georgia Dome.
Those examining the process, including Wyc Orr, who is a member of the Common Cause Georgia board, encouraged members of the public to voice their opinions on the proposal.
“It is important for both Atlanta and Georgia taxpayers to engage in the process and make sure their voices are heard,” Orr told gathered football news reporters.
“This is an opportunity for all members of the public to have direct, person-to-person communications with those who are conducting these negotiations which will have such a direct impact on the public treasury.”
On the field, the Falcons have lost just once this season and betting NFL markets suggest hopes are already high among punters about  a possible Super Bowl push in 2013.

Hansen issues England warning

New Zealand have looked imperious on their tour of the northern hemisphere so far and when head coach Steve Hansen says his side must improve further, that should get alarm bells ringing for members of the England camp.
The All Blacks have been dominant in their performances in Europe, with Scotland, Italy and Wales all being powerless to stop the Kiwi machine.
New Zealand did not even have to be at their best to see off Wales 33-10 in Cardiff on Saturday, and that’s arguably the best side in the northern hemisphere in the last 18 months, after a successful World Cup and winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Next up for the All Blacks they will take on an England side who have lost their last two games narrowly to both Australia and South Africa in hard-fought encounters at the Home of Rugby.
Hansen should fancy his side’s chances but he knows that England will not go down easily at Twickenham, as they hope to end their Autumn International Series on a high before the Six Nations campaign starts with a clash against Scotland on February 2.
The New Zealand boss said: "We put them under a lot of pressure but then of course got Cory (Jane) in the sin-bin (for a deliberate knock-on) and we lost our control and shape for some time - which allowed them to come running back at us.
"But we can't afford to get ahead of ourselves and if we don't prepare in genuine fashion England will give us a thumping next week. However, we'll enjoy this success and start again on Monday."
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Robinson rings changes for Tonga

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson has named a strong side to take on Tonga on Saturday but has made five changes from the side who went down to South Africa last weekend.
The Scots will be looking to take the positives from their 21-10 defeat to the Springboks at Murrayfield ahead of their clash with the Tongans at Pittodrie.
One of those positives was scrum-half Henry Pyrgos who has been rewarded for his try against South Africa by Robinson with a starting place against the Pacific Islanders.
Hooker Scott Lawson will also make his first start for his country, whilst Max Evans, Alastair Kellock and Alasdair Strokosch return to the starting XV.
Thankfully for the Scots, lock Richie Gray has recovered from a mild concussion and will add his bulk and talent to the pack once again this weekend.
Robinson has admitted he was disappointed his side could not get a result against the Springboks, despite a promising second-half performance.
The former England coach knows his side must win against the Tongans in Aberdeen this weekend, to leave Scotland’s Autumn International Series on a high ahead of the Six Nations.
Robinson said: "We will not be among the top eight seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw, so this weekend I'm looking at giving a number of players an opportunity to put their hand up for selection for next year.
"This weekend we have to put together an 80-minutes performance and build on the positive parts of our games that we showed in the last 30 minutes against South Africa and the second half against New Zealand."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nadal returns to training

Rafael Nadal has hit the comeback trail as he bids to return to competitive action in time for the Australian Open in January.
The Spaniard has returned to the practice court for the first in more than five months, completing a session under the watchful eye of coach Toni Nadal at an indoor facility in his hometown of Manacor.
The 26-year-old last appeared at Wimbledon in June, when he fell to a stunning second-round defeat by Lukas Rosol, ranked 100 in the world at the time.
Nadal, who won a record seventh French Open title in June, has been dogged by knee problems during his 11-year career. Tendonitis caused him to miss much of the 2009 season, before he suffered a partial tear of the patellar tendon this summer.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion is optimistic about his chances of a full recovery from his latest setback.
"Hi all, today my first tennis practice after all these weeks. Getting better and hope to continue with the positive trend," Nadal told sport news reporters.
Nadal missed the chance to defend his Olympic crown at the London Games and was ruled out of the US Open, which he won in 2010 before losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final.

He was also absent from the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals and Spain's Davis Cup final loss to the Czech Republic last weekend.
Nadal remains in the top four of men's tennis, such is his contribution to the circuit, which missed his competitive edge during the second half of the season.
Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are fine players, but punters who bet on sports know that  tennis needs a fit and firing Nadal. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to the drawing board for King George hope Grand Crus

There were some decidedly long faces amongst the David Pipe camp at a meeting when the yard’s horses had otherwise done particularly well, after the red-hot favourite Grand Crus has been pulled up in the showcase Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.
The former high-class staying hurdler had only tasted one previous defeat over fences, (in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March when fourth to Bob’s Worth), and was all the rage throughout the morning of the race and in the minutes prior to the off, being backed down to a prohibitive 7/4 favourite at   in one of the most hotly contested handicap chases of the National Hunt season.
On very testing ground that was changed after the contest to ‘Soft, Heavy in places’, Tom Scudamore seemed happier than most in a race in which only six of the original 18 who started the contest actually completed, and heading down towards the third  last the writing looked on the wall for the bookies as the grey travelled particularly well.
Unfortunately for his many supporters, including Paul Nicholls in his latest Paul Nicholls racing tips column, the gelding suddenly began to lose his place as Al Ferof and Walkon surged on towards the home turn and, clearly feeling that something might be amiss, Scudamore took swift action and pulled Grand Crus up before the second from home.
No immediate injury came to light, but clearly a combination of the ground and a possible breathing difficulty could have proved the undoing of the punters’ choice whose odds for the forthcoming Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day where immediately pushed out to as big as 12/1 (from 5/1). There must now be a very serious doubt about Grand Crus taking his place in the line-up for the Christmas showcase event.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Commander Gallop Thrills Brennan

Connections of the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander were both relieved and delighted by the way the star chaser came through a crucial racecourse gallop at Towcester that proved the old horse is ready to return to the fray in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 24, writes Elliot Slater.

When he defeated the great Denman by seven lengths to land the steeplechasing crown, it looked as though the sky was the limit for the gelded son of Flemensfirth.

However, after beating Tidal Bay in the Betfair Chase in November of that year, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained stayer suffered a minor injury before attempting to defend his title back at Cheltenham only to pull up lame after tailing off before the final fence.

Not seen in competitive action since March 2011 after sustaining a tendon injury, many people had doubted that the horse who won the 2008 Paddy Power Gold Cup and the 2009 Grade 1 Ryanair Chase would ever make it back to the racecourse.

Paddy Brennan, who partnered the popular chaser to his famous Gold Cup success, was a very happy man after putting the 11-year-old through a searching racecourse gallop at Towcester on Friday.

Brennan was quick to report to Imperial Commander’s owners, Our Friends in the North, and to his trainer that the veteran retains just about all his old ability and sees no reason why the winner of eight of his 19 races should not be given the chance to win back his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock.

As well as his 2010 victory in the race, few jumps fans will forget the horse’s stunning effort when failing by just a nose to defeat the mighty Kauto Star in one of the best races of the last decade in the same event 12 months earlier.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tennis: Serena rounds off dominant year

After arguably her greatest year yet on the WTA tour, Serena Williams heads into the off-season in full knowledge that 2013 could yield as much success as 2012 as her dominance goes from strength to strength.

Williams capped off a career-defining season in style at the WTA Championships last month: rampaging to the final in Istanbul before powerfully dismantling Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 to claim the title.

Her superb set of results and scores and domination over the world’s top-eight was not unexpected and her performances come at the end of a season that saw the American breeze through major tournaments.

A decade on since her three-Grand Slam haul at the age of just 21, the right-hander took the tennis world by storm this summer, overcoming failure at the French Open to take Wimbledon, New York and the Olympic Games in style. The merciless nature of her 6-0 6-1 victory over Sharapova on Centre Court during London 2012 was simply staggering and proved there is as much life in her 31-year-old legs as when she stood with her maiden Wimbledon title in 2002.

The 15-time Grand Slam champion has not just cemented her place in the history books this year, for Williams has also showed no signs of slowing down. Her hard-court triumphs at New York and Istanbul make her overwhelming favourite in the sport betting for Melbourne in January and with Williams on this kind of form, who can stop her?

It was thought Australia’s 2012 champion Victoria Azarenka would put up more of a fight in Istanbul but fell 6-4 6-4 to Williams’ immense serve, while Sharapova’s 2-10 record against her adversary means the Russian will be underdog if the pair meet in Melbourne.
No, there are few in the game capable of beating Williams and even these top-ranked players will have a tough time doing so next year.