Monday, January 31, 2011
Dodgers to host USC, UCLA in Classic
By Tony Jackson
The Dodgertown Classic, a college baseball doubleheader hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and highlighted by a crosstown matchup between USC and top-ranked UCLA, will return for a second year on March 13, the club announced Monday.
Last year's Classic was staged for the benefit of the Dodgers Dream Foundation. While this year's Classic will instead be a revenue-producing event for the Dodgers, a club spokesman said that change has nothing to do with the fact the Dodgers Dream Foundation, the team's official, non-profit charitable organization, is presently under investigation by the California attorney general's office.
That investigation centers on questions surrounding compensation to the foundation's former chief executive, Howard Sunkin, who now is employed by the club in a different role heading up the community-relations department, according to multiple reports.
"It essentially came down to complying with NCAA requirements that an event of this nature had to have a title sponsor attached to it,'' said Josh Rawitch, the Dodgers' vice president for communications. "We were fortunate enough to bring in the Automobile Club of Southern California in place of the Dodgers Dream Foundation.''
The participating schools -- USC, UCLA, the University of Georgia and St. Mary's College from the Bay Area -- won't receive any of the revenue for the event, also in compliance with NCAA rules. The games will count on the schools' regular-season records, but the USC-UCLA game won't count in the Pacific-10 conference standings.
Georgia and St. Mary's will play at 10 a.m., followed by USC-UCLA at 2:30 p.m.
A ticket to the event includes admission to both games and can be purchased either in advance for $7 or on the day of the event for $12. Advance purchases can be made beginning on Tuesday through Ticketmaster. Tickets also can be purchased at the stadium beginning next Monday.
Additionally, parking for the event will be free, and all concession prices will be half the normal rate for a Dodgers game.
UCLA, which is coming off a national runner-up finish in 2010, is ranked No. 1 in the nation in a preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll and in the top three in all three major preseason polls. The Bruins compiled a school-record 51 wins last season and secured their first-ever trip to the championship round of the College World Series, where they dropped two in a row in the best-of-three set to South Carolina.
USC, a tradition-steeped program that has gone to the CWS 21 times, went 28-32 overall last year and finished last in the Pac-10 with a 7-20 mark.
The Georgia Bulldogs have been to the CWS four times in the past decade, but are coming off a down year in which they went 16-37 and 5-23 in the Southeastern Conference, generally regarded as the nation's best collegiate baseball league.
Leading up to the Dodgertown Classic, Georgia also will play games against UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium at 6 p.m. on March 11 and against USC at Dedeaux Field at 2 p.m. on March 12. St. Mary's will play at USC at 6 p.m. on March 11 and at UCLA at 2 p.m. on March 12.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.