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The Observer, July 17



Verizon on horizon? Or will this be a Dead Zone?

With Little Rock's Alltel Corp. about to go the way of the rotary dial telephone, absorbed into would-be purchaser Verizon if a planned $28.1 billion deal goes through, the obvious question arises: What happens to the “Alltel” in North Little Rock's Alltel Arena?

Michael Marion, general manager of the arena, tells The Observer that while he hasn't heard from or contacted Alltel or Verizon regarding a potential name change there, he fully expects to be swapping out the sign over the door should the Verizon offer gain approval from the Justice Department and FCC. Alltel put up $7 million for 20-year naming rights to the arena before it was built, with all the money paid in advance. Like everything else at Alltel, those rights would transfer to Verizon once the sale is complete.

Marion expects to get a call sometime at the beginning of '09, when the deal is expected to close, from somebody with Verizon. “We'll go from there,” he said, “and my speculation is that there'll be two Verizon Arenas.” The other is in Manchester, N.H.

There's also the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and the Verizon Wireless Amphitheaters in St. Louis; Atlanta; Irvine, Calif.; Selma, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Virginia Beach, Va.

With the sale yet to gain federal approval, however, Marion isn't ready to start reprinting the napkins and beer cups just yet. “By the time January gets here, it might be somebody else,” he said. “So I'm not going to spend my time chasing somebody down. The deal hasn't closed. Alltel still exists and the name is still theirs.” 


Seen on a T-shirt worn by middle-aged white guy standing at the deli counter in the Chenal Kroger:

Celebrate diversity

That sounded OK. But underneath:

Fifteen different styles of handguns

The man wearing the T-shirt looked grouchy. If you see him, don't set him off.


Heads up, Little Rock drivers! The bike lanes are filling up.

The Observer was once chastised for our poor driving skills when we passed a biker on the Markham Street curve past the state Capitol. “Are you trying to hit him?” our passenger asked. We weren't. But maybe we came too close? Since then, we've been doing our best to give the guys in the city's nearly two-dimensional bike lanes a wide berth and not scare the Schwinn out of them.

Thanks to $4-a-gallon gas, we could really pick them off these days. The streets are full of folks on wheels, and some do not have Lance Armstrong's knack. They're the folks you see pedaling in top-siders, jeans and Hawaiian shirts or big blousy shorts and running shoes, instead of skin-tight Day-Glo outfits. Some of these people, frankly, are geezers. Count The Observer among them; we're trying to de-sickle the guy in the black hood. Which means that among those two-wheeling folks out there, Little Rock drivers, are a few who are too stiff to look over their shoulders and too deaf to hear you coming. Heads up!


The Miss Arkansas Pageant being held at Hot Springs this week features only one baton twirler, The Observer regretfully reports. The pageant website, which allows those of us who can't be in Hot Springs to keep up with the competition, does not say whether Miss Jacksonville's baton will be on fire (or far, as the announcer explained in a pageant long ago), but we hope so. Miss White River will be the only fiddle player, Miss Western Arkansas the only flautist. The rest of the contestants will either tap dance or sing (or sing and tap dance), save one: Miss SAU will perform ballet, en pointe, to “Pirates of the Caribbean.” If Johnny Depp were dancing with her, The Observer would race to the Convention Center, on far.


“Right-hander Riley Riggins will take the diamond on the White House lawn Wednesday for a game of T-ball with players from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Pine Bluff second-grader, who is 7, lists shrimp and broccoli as his favorite foods … ”

Our favorite foods at 7 were Kool-Aid and Tootsie Rolls. We suspect that if we'd tasted broccoli, we'd have shared Georgie Bush's aversion to it. Shrimp we'd have been afraid of, scary little things. Times and tastes change, obviously. A few years from now, Pine Bluff may have a shrimp and broccoli drive-in.




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