SI Vault
Edited by Sarah Pileggi
August 12, 1974
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August 12, 1974


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One of the finest roller coasters left in the country is the Cyclone at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Anyone who has experienced the descent of 97 seemingly vertical feet from the crest of its first hill becomes a roller-coaster lover for life or never goes near one of them again.

So it is sad news for coaster buffs that New York City is planning to demolish the Cyclone at the end of the summer in order to add one of those ubiquitous dancing dolphin/killer whale marine circuses to the New York Aquarium, which is on adjoining land.

The idea behind it all is the rejuvenation of the decaying Coney Island community, and perhaps that is progress. But the plan strikes us as a little like floating the Statue of Liberty out to sea to make room for a miniature golf course on Bedloe's Island.


When 55,534 people filed into Philadelphia's ancient JFK Stadium to see the WFL's Philadelphia Bell play the Portland Storm, pessimists said they were merely the curious, and wouldn't be back. But they were: 64,719 of them watched the Bell's televised game with the New York Stars two weeks later.

Suspicions that the house was heavily papered were allayed by Bell Vice-President Barry Leib who said, after the second game, that 10,000 tickets were "sponsorship giveaways" and 19,500 were sold at group discount rates. The implication was that the remaining 35,000 were sold at face value—$2, $5 and $8.

Then came time to pay city taxes on paid admissions, and the truth crept out—13,855 paid their way into the first game, 6,200 into the second. According to Leib mass papering was club policy. "We had to get people out to see the game," he said. "And we had to let them know that the stadium wasn't really in any kind of deplorable condition."

But the papering got out of hand. "If you give away 30 or 40,000 tickets," Leib continued, "who can figure that most of them will actually show up? If I had told the truth and said the house was papered, it would have been ridiculous. I repeated the lie to so many people that I almost started to believe it myself."

For its third home game the Bell claims to be playing it straight. "There will be no more discount rates, no more giveaways," says Leib. "From now on we're selling full-priced tickets."

A deal made before the change of heart, however, meant that even as Leib spoke, ads were running in Philadelphia papers that read: "Get your free ticket to the Philadelphia Bell vs. Memphis Southmen...take this coupon along with a full front panel from an 8 oz. box of Sweet'n Low...."

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