March 04, 2008
Grand Opening / City Court Dedication April 19, 2008 at 10am
The City of St. Petersburg and the National Jai-Alai Association (NJAA) are putting together a big combined "Court Dedication" and "Grand Opening" ceremony on April 19th at the St. Pete Jai-alai cancha (the Spanish word for "court"). The event, located in Northeast St. Petersburg, will begin at 10am.
Through efforts of the NJAA, Edgemoor Neighborhood Association and the St. Pete City Council, the city is the first municipality in the United States to build an amateur jai-alai court for the public.
Since Jai-Alai means "Merry Festival", it is that type of atmosphere we want to convey.
Mayor Rick Baker, several City Council members and key city employees who helped get the court approved will be in attendance for the city's official court dedication ceremony.
There will be 100 seats for the dedication set up right on the court (in the "out of bounds" area) with additional bleachers brought in. There will be plenty of space in the open field area beyond the court in addition.
The "world's longest" yellow ribbon cutting will take place, draped across the entire court! Several plaques will be given out on this truly historic day for jai-alai and the City of St. Petersburg. The mayor will throw out the first "pelota" or ball.
M. Mark Beiro, the famed boxing announcer and former PR/announcer of Tampa Jai-alai along with the city's Cliff Foottlick will MC the program.
Several sport celebrities and former jai-alai pros are expected to attend.
Airplane flyovers will take place, and plans for a major singer of the national anthem may take place. The NJAA is also in talks with a major sponsor to offer Spanish entertainment and food. Spanish dancers on the court are part of the plan.
Another huge stage will be set up on the grass area for live bands that will be playing music throughout the day. Several top notch local entertainers have been in talks with the NJAA to perform.
The actual Court Dedication will take about 30 minutes. The show starts precisely at 10am, so arrive early for a good seat.
Several tents for sponsors, food and beverage sales, and a possible K9 show and a fireman show may be in the plans, in addition to children games and activities.
There will be several items like gift certificates from major restaurants and autographed baseballs and footballs given away from raffle drawings that will go on as long as the event lasts.
Of course, there will be plenty of jai-alai action after the ribbon cutting ceremony and when the chairs are removed from the court.
A free souvenir program will be available to all attendees. All jai-alai fans are encouraged to attend!