A four-minute story that ran on NBC National Television is now available to view.
Check it out
A four-minute story that ran on NBC National Television is now available to view.
Check it out
On December 2nd, 2022 Stu Neiman confirmed the following additions at Magic City. “Manu Ladutxe, Jairo Baroja, Robin Flores, Nicolas Eyheragaray, Inaki Goitiandia, Aratz Mendizabal & Ekaitz Mendizabal will join the roster in 2022. Each will play either parimutuel games, H2H matches or both.”
“Based on the success and enthusiasm surrounding our annual U.S. National jai-Alai Championship we will host the inaugural “World Super Court” Doubles Championship at Magic City in October of 2022.” Details are still being finalized but this event will offer $50,000 in total prize money and will be open to all nationalities.
Dania Jai-alai may have closed its doors last weekend with record crowds in their remodeled fronton last weekend, and the St. Pete Cancha is hoping to get their newly remodeled and expanded court broken in next weekend with about half the Magic City roster coming up to play, but that’s not stopping Matt DiDomizio from hosting another tournament this weekend.
An amazing 40-players are registered for the 3-day tournament set for the weekend of December 3-5th in Berlin, Connecticut. Virtually all the players except a very small handful appear to be from Connecticut and the greater Hartford area.
Check out the lineup roster shown here for Saturday and be sure to watch the event on Facebook live (CLICK HERE).
We were still reeling from the early evening raid on Miami Jai-Alai. Fortunately, most of the media frenzy had died down. But it was definitely a challenge to keep a major corporation running after having all your current and past documents confiscated.
Dan Licciardi, Operations Manager, had somehow gotten permission from the authorities to enter the storage facility and make copies of the files. He was frantically going through the thousands of papers, copying invoices, financial statements, memoranda, pari-mutuel license information, anything to help keep the business operating smoothly. It was a heroic effort and somehow, because of Dan, there were no disruptions.
I continued to wonder whether it was worth it… the promotion to Corporate Director of PR for World Jai-Alai, relocating to Miami, upending my happy and tranquil life in Tampa? Yes, I was now part of the “inner circle” of the corporate executives. But I didn’t know that meant being so close to two murders and a raid by law enforcement on our corporate headquarters.
Sue and I were busy with the wondrous joys of first-time parenthood. Our daughter Shawna was born in July of 1982. I still enjoyed coordinating the NAJF national Jai-Alai tournaments. My daily interactions with Dick Donovan, President, and Paul Rico, VP, had its advantages. I had gained their trust… and their friendship. There was still plenty of golf, gin rummy, and… oh, yes, work. But some of the work became “cool.”
One day, I got a call from the front office that someone was there to see me. Asking who, the reply was “Burt Reynolds.” I thought she was joking, but quickly crossed the parking lot to the main building. Entering our small switchboard area, I found a jean-clad, darkly tanned gentleman who stuck out his hand and said, “Marty, I’m Burt Reynolds… a pleasure to meet you.”
Burt Reynolds was one of the most popular Hollywood movie stars of the 1970s and 80s. His breakthrough role was in the 1972 blockbuster film Deliverance. He had gone on to star in box office successes like Smokey and the Bandits, and Cannonball Run. Reynolds was one of the hottest movie stars of the era and he had come to see me, Marty Fleischman!
Apparently, having starred in many successful movies wasn’t enough for Burt (I called him Burt since I knew him so well, ha.) He was trying his hand at directing and was starring in AND directing a new movie called Stick.
Having grown up in Riviera Beach, not far from Palm Beach Jai-Alai, he wanted to use Miami Jai-Alai for a scene in the movie. I quickly ran upstairs to Donovan’s office to get permission. Donovan said he would review the location agreement. As long as it didn’t interfere with our operation, it was ok. So, I told Burt to give us the paperwork and I was sure we could do it. I was to coordinate the whole thing.
About two weeks later, Burt Reynolds, the crew, the catering truck, extras, and the stunt man set up during the afternoon at the fronton. I was amazed at the number of people involved in shooting one scene in a movie. It was astounding.
Burt could not have been nicer. Whatever he needed, he politely asked if it could be possible. He was never demanding. Plus, he said he loved Jai-Alai, having grown up in South Florida. He had always wanted to show the sport in one of his movies. I was already a fan of his, but now became an even bigger one.
While we were just a small part of his movie, Stick, the scene I remember most was the chase through the fronton culminating in a deadly fall from our third floor. I was amazed at how meticulous Burt was about this scene. Apparently, he and stunt man Dar Robinson had worked together in previous movies. Reynolds wanted to make sure Dar wasn’t going to be hurt in this two-story fall.
The cameras would follow a man chasing another man through our seats, up the stairs, and into the 3rd floor lobby area. They would fight. One would push the other over the rail, landing on the program stand, right on top of a stack of programs. Dar assured him he could do it.
When the scene was finally shot, I was observing from the main lobby, next to Burt. He yelled up to Robinson, “Dar, let’s make it one take, please.” The scene began with blank gunshots reverberating throughout the fronton. We patiently waited.
Suddenly, a body flies past us, landing on a cushion below the stand. Dar had somehow landed on his back, the cushion saving his spine. They would cut to a man sprawled on the stack of programs presumably dead from the fall. There was a round of applause for the daring stunt. Reynolds ran over to make sure Robinson was okay. He said he was fine, and Burt embraced him, thanking him for a great shot.
(Dar Robinson had never broken a bone in his 13-year career. But, on November 21st, 1986, just two years later, while filming a routine high-speed chase in a film, Robinson’s stunt motorcycle went straight off a cliff to his death.)
Stick was released in 1985 but was not a major hit. However, Burt Reynolds was a hit with all of us at Miami Jai-Alai. It would be my first experience with dealing with Hollywood celebrities and coordinating a scene for a major motion picture. But it would not prepare me for was about to come: the major television hit, Miami Vice.
Dania Jai-alai staged it’s last performances this past weekend, likely bringing an end of full court, goatskin covered pelota’s, a full roster with parimutual wagering jai-alai in the United States. It was an emotional farewell for a sport that has endured a 120-year run in the United States..
Dania had run itself for nearly 70 of those years with about 6 seasons played in a condensed fronton after ripping out 9,000 seats to make room for slots machines and other amenities like a concert hall, poker room, buffet restaurant and more. Large enthusiastic crowds were in attendance Saturday and the for the closing performance on Sunday afternoon, November 28th.
The big event was actually on Saturday night when over 750 crammed into the 480 seat fronton. Walking from one end to the other end of the fronton was virtually impossible and without running into an former pro player. Yep, everyone was there from Arrigaga to Zulaica, and from Joey to Chimela to Steve “The Hook.” There was more socializing with people that had not seen others in decades and was more of a reunion and a celebration of life atmosphere then watching a good old NAJF event from decades ago. But that’s not to say nobody was watching. The play was excellent including a huge battle in game 8 singles featuring a most memorable volley between Arrieta and Erik. The performance concluded with two partidos to 15 points with the final game 10 between Zulaika and Ladutxe vs. Barandika and Leke. Zulaika and Ladutxe prevailed 15-14 by scoring the final 3 points. A long standing ovation greeted the players for an amazing performance and brought back memories of the great jai-alai days. Fans were into, including one fan that was out of control and cheering on Ladutxe who had to talk to him before and after the match. That fan likely won on a $2 bet to win – of course the only wager available in the two post game.
Sunday was the final performance and the crowd size was about 300 or so people. The players families and children were allowed on the court and ceremonies took place after game 5 both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. It was truly an emotional experience. Players jerseys were handed out to fans as well as an autographed photo of the final Dania roster.
Benny once again stressed “never say never” and has vowed to do everything possible to bring back jai-alai to the Dania Palace. But it likely won’t be a full roster and rather sports betting can be in the picture, Magic City as jumped on that already with 3 states now offering jai-alai wagering. That adventure has been a costly one to date as Magic City will open next winter as the only fronton with jai-alai action left.
A decoupling agreement in Florida had been approved by the legislators along with sports betting to be run by the Seminole Tribe but was recently rejected by a federal judge. It is unclear at this time if the decoupling part will be thrown out that allows pari-mutuals with jai-alai licenses to be able to continue running card games without staging ja-alai games. Already Miami, Ft. Pierce, Ocala have elected to.
Attached is a spreadsheet of the contributions and expenses through 10/01/2021 and the Venmo Qrcode to send funds.
We need people to dig down deep and contribute to this incredible renovation we have embarked upon.
I will provide updates periodically to keep things transparent.
Here is where we stand on the funds.
Lower section in red is projected expenses remaining.
All bills for current items in place are paid leaving a deficit of ($1673.50)
Parks department provided the rubber padding for the lower chopa. We have the material on hand
We need Extra front wall pads to protect fencing from errant throws $ 450-900 ( remnant – full price) the new fencing is won’t hold the impact of the ball
~ $4608.50-5000.00 more should complete what is needed.
Scott King Contracting, Inc. – CGC 1520251 – (813) 833-5592 – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.scottkingbuiltit.com