Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2001

Fifty-one mushers enter Iditarod on first day

Fifty-one mushers, including five Iditarod champions who have laid claim to 16 of 29 crowns, signed up Saturday to run the 2002 Iditarod.

Doug Swingley, the reigning and four-time champion from Lincoln, Mont., head up the list along with five-time champion Rick Swenson of Two Rivers, three-time champion Jeff King of Denali Park, three-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake and past champion Gerry Riley of Nenana.

In addition to these and 31 other veterans, 15 rookies decided to enter the race. Peninsula mushers signing up on the first day were Lance Mackey of Kasilof, rookie Judy Merritt of Moose Pass, Jon Little of Kasilof, Tim Osmar of Ninilchik and Mitch Seavey of Seward.

Mariners headed for the black for just second time

TACOMA -- The Seattle Mariners are close to selling out the rest of their season at Safeco Field -- and turning a profit for the second time in their 24-year history, the team's chairman and chief executive says.

''In a nutshell, the Mariners are firing on all cylinders,'' Howard Lincoln told the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County on Friday.

''Last year, we made a profit. That's how it's supposed to work.''

Until the team left the Kingdome, it lost money annually. When the Mariners moved outside to Safeco Field in 1999 and brought in Lincoln, their financial performance began to match their success on the field.

Lincoln wouldn't say how much the team has lost since the current owners bought it from Indianapolis media mogul Jeff Smulyan in 1992. But last year's winning team drew more than 3 million fans, combining with rising television ratings and revenues for a $9.5 million net profit, Seattle's first ever.

''We have struggled mightily to preserve and build this franchise,'' Lincoln said.

Going into Saturday's game against the Anaheim Angels, the M's had a 54-18 record, their best ever and one of the best in major league history.

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