The marriage between pro sports and North Carolina, at first rapturous, is
fraying. The Panthers are dealing with an accused murderer in former
receiver Rae Carruth, who is facing the death penalty if convicted, and back
Fred Lane was just arrested for alleged domestic violence. The Minnesota Twins
recently acknowledged using North Carolina to pressure voters into approving a
new stadium (they threatened to move here if they didn't get what they wanted,
but were never serious about it). The Hornets recently lost Bobby Phils,
who was racing through town when his car went out of control, and are
shedding fans rapidly. They are also pushing for a new stadium and threatening
to leave if they don't get it - and a lot of fans are telling them to go
ahead. George Shinn has worn thin, and the accident, and the legal
troubles encountered by Anthony Mason and Derrick Coleman likely haven't helped
either - nor did getting rid of Mourning, Johnson, and Bogues - and anyone else
who wanted a fat contract to stay.
The taxpayers aren't particularly impressed.
And in Raleigh, the Hurricanes, transplants to an area with no great love for
hockey, continue to alienate fans. After having overpriced tickets,
and having to cut prices twice, the Hurricanes, selling only about 60% of their
building out, have alienated season ticket holders by refusing to allow them to
sell their tickets on arena property - even though they are selling them for
less than face value! There is no law against selling tickets for less
than face value in this state, but, as Dennis Rogers pointed out, the 'Canes are
using Raleigh police to strong-arm fans who want to ditch an extra
ticket. Not smart.
None of it's impressive, and the fans, weaned largely on college sports,
don't seem as willing to put up with the vulgarities of professional sports as
they are with the college variety.
Well, except, as always, for NASCAR.