Sports briefs 12/1/04

Wednesday, December 1, 2004


* The District of Columbia Council approved financing a ballpark for the Washington-bound Expos after voting Tuesday to cap funding at $630 million.

The council approved the plan 6-4 with three members, including Chair Linda W. Cropp, voting present. The measure must be approved a second time to become law.

It was not immediately clear whether major league baseball would agree to the cap, which was not contained in the deal signed in September by the Expos and Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Cropp's amendment, offered during more than seven hours of debate, calls for Washington's chief financial officer to produce another estimate of the project's cost in six months. If it is more than $100 million above the current $530 million estimate, the location of the ballpark would have to be moved to a less costly site than the one south of the Capitol agreed to by Washington and the Expos, who would be renamed the Nationals.

* Free agent Armando Benitez and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a three-year contract Tuesday, a move that stabilizes the club's closer role that's been in flux since Robb Nen got injured two years ago.

The Giants announced the deal after Benitez took a physical in Florida on Tuesday. Agent Mike Powers would not say how much the deal would be worth, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that it would be for about $21 million.

Benitez bounced back from a subpar 2003 season to save 47 games and post a 1.29 ERA for the Florida Marlins this year.


* Colorado appointed former Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel its interim AD on Tuesday.

Lengyel will serve about six months at a salary of $16,000 a month while the school conducts a national search for a permanent replacement for Dick Tharp, who resigned under pressure last week in the wake of allegations of recruiting violations and financial mismanagement within the football program.

Lengyel was athletic director at Navy from 1998-2001. He held the same post at Missouri and Fresno State in the 1980s


* Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton was fired by his cycling team two months after testing positive for blood doping.

The Swiss-based International Cycling Union, or UCI, said Tuesday the Phonak team told the governing body that the American rider's contract was terminated last week.

Hamilton later confirmed the move on his Web site.

Phonak was denied a racing license by the UCI on Tuesday because of the team's doping problems. Hamilton and two other Phonak riders have been charged in drug cases in the past three months.

The decision means Phonak is barred from competing in all major events next year on UCI's Pro Tour -- which includes the Tour de France.


* Martin Gramatica was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday, two days after he missed three field goals in a 21-14 loss at Carolina, extending a slump that began after the Bucs won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Feeling they could no longer afford to wait for Gramatica to regain the form that earned him the nickname "Automatica," the Bucs signed Arena Football League kicker Jay Taylor, who will make his NFL debut against Atlanta on Sunday.

Gramatica missed seven of his last nine field goal attempts and was 11-for-19 overall this season. He had not made a field goal over 22 yards since Oct. 10.

From wire reports

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