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NJAA 6th Anniversary Draws TV Coverage, Former Jai-Alai Stars

The National Jai-alai Association, home of the nation’s first public jai-alai court, held it’s big 6th Anniversary Event last Saturday. A crowd of about 100 attended the 3 hour 56 minute, 14-game marathon under beautiful sunny skies. ABC Action News provided excellent TV coverage the morning of the event and then 25 players participated in some great action that featured a full sound and PA system, large screen TVs, and Magic Mike’s talking scoreboard. Plenty of great food and drinks, a pro shop set up, artifacts from the Laca Museum and a colorful program were also part of the event.

Several former star players were in attendance including Churruca, Solaun, Ricky Solaun, and Goitia. Former players Scott King, Daniel, Jai-a-Lou and Denver also participated in game action, with Daniel, a former two-time Triple Crown winner at Tampa, winning two games, including his first game ever played in NJAA sanctioned play.

The day’s biggest winners were Scott King and Anthony - each picking up three wins, while Laca, EricL, Daniel, Castanos, and Julio each bagged two wins. Game 9 was a rarity – a perfect game for Anthony and Seminole King, but remember, these games were to just 9 straight points instead of the regular 15. But considering the competition, it was still an accomplishment. The double serve on game point was also eliminated to further speed the games along, in addition to the 9-point games. The event was played in under four hours – ending at 5:56pm, much quicker than the estimated 7:50pm ending time listed on the program. Only one players scratched before play started – the Crab – Dave Sellers, and one player had to scratch after the first game – Rick Dennis – with an upper body injury. He was placed on the 15 day DL.

Plans are in store to make next year’s event even bigger and better with details to come in the next couple of months.

ABC Action News story about the event: CLICK HERE

View trifecta results

View 12- page color program

View Game 9 - a perfect game

NJAA 6TH Anniversary Event April 12th /
ABC News 28 Coverage April 5th

The NJAA – National Jai-alai Association – the group behind the development of the USA’s first public jai-alai court, will be holding their 6th Annual Anniversary Event on Saturday, April 12th at 2pm. At least 25 players will compete on a 12-game program. The highly acclaimed event was well attended last year and featured a color program, food and beverages and a PA sound system and several guest announcers. Several former players will be in attendance, including jai-alai legend Sarmiento, who will be celebrating his 86th birthday that day. Sarmiento won the first singles game ever at Tampa Jai-alai in 1953, and was the top ITW player for the first two seasons. Also in attendance will be former Tampa star players Churruca and Jose Goitia, author of the book “The Other Side of the Screen”.

Players scheduled to play include former Tampa two–time Triple Crown winner Daniel, Jai-alai “ambassador” Scott King, who has helped so much on our recent remodeling of the court, will also be playing. Former Newport players and fronton PR pros Jai-a-Lou and Denver are on the card. Two NJAA homegrown players, including Rocco, are unable to play this year due to a later Orlando Jai-alai season that opens April 4th. Chalkies “Crab” and “Kullster”, two excellent players, will be competing once again.

The event is open to the public for free and everybody is welcome to come. A grill will be preparing cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and a pizza oven will be cooking great pizzas. A large 16-page commemorative program will be available along with a “Pro” shop selling new shirts, “Matt” balls and many cesta’s for sale. An on-line version of the program will be available next week. The program, which starts at 2pm, is expected to last about 4 ½ hours.

The event will be hyped with the ABC Action News coverage that will air that morning. The top-rated newscast will bring their entire staff- including the weatherman (hope he has good weather in store) and actually play jai-alai on the court. Several camera’s will be on the scene, including one on NJAA player Eric M’s helmet for some true live action. The broadcast will be filmed the Saturday before, April 5th at 11am and the public is welcome to attend that event as well.

The St. Pete court, the first public court in the USA, opened 6 years ago and has seen thousands of games played over the years.
The court is located at Puryear Park, a 59-acre site, at 5701 Lee St., St. Petersburg

City denies jai-alai court expansion – most other repairs approved

The City of St. Pete met with NJAA officials Friday to discuss the expansion and renovation plans. One of the main plans involved knocking out the existing front wall and expanding the court by about 18 feet to the next “racquetball” ball court wall. The city flatly rejected those plans, but have approved most of the other plans including court resurfacing. For a review of all plans, see story below this one. There is no timetable set for the renovations, but we will keep you posted.

Dania Jai-alai has big plans coming up

From website ""

Dania jai-alai just recently opened their casino - the 8th and last pari-mutual facility to do so in Broward and Dade counties Thursday night. But when you walk into the jai-alai side of it, you will be shocked at the size of the spectator area- just 17 feet wide with 3 or 4 rows of seats. Directly behind you is a monster sized wall- blocking off the major construction going on the other side.

Until I was able to talk to Benny, I had no idea of the plans in store. Right now, there is only 150 seats - unsloped - offering a close up and different perspective of the court. Unfortunately, your view is blocked by people walking by in an area in front of the court and others standing off to the side.

There are only two betting "booths" , one on each end of the court. The scoreboards are gone with a few TV monitors displaying the scores. Nothing with the game has changed- a full roster and same amount of games.

But after talking to Benny my thoughts of the place quickly changed.

Behind that big blue wall is the old spectator area of Dania Jai-alai. Thousands of seats are being ripped up to make room for several hundred more slot machines. Once compete, near the end of the year, that big wall will come, resulting in an amazing jai-alai casino resort. By viewing the photos, you can see the transition coming. The court walls will be blue with the floor painted black. The huge wall will be replaced with a huge glass one - so players of the slot machines will can view the jai-alai court and vise versa. A unique ceiling and lighting will give the arena a Vegas/Foxwoods glow.

Perhaps the most amazing feature will be a large screen directly in the middle of the long side wall facing the crowd. Not sure how they are going to make this work- a huge high def screen as part of the wall showing video of the game, etc.!

On opening night of the casino, Benny took three tosses at an ice sculpture directly on the court, before it collapsed on the court!

The scoreboards will return in August along with many other features later on. The Argentina owners appear committed to making this entire operation a success. Right now, there is only 150 seats but with the new plans that will increase to nearly 500.

"Court improvements to city of St. Pete proposed by NJAA"

NJAA officials Eric Lanctot, Scott King and Paul Kubala meet with St. Pete city officials this week to discuss a wide assortment of these improvements. These drastic improvements would extend the court to slightly over 100 feet long while extending the wall lengths about 4-5 feet. Complete resurfacing would be included as well as additional lighting. The overhead netting would be increased dramatically to protect balls from flying out of the court.

These additions would dramatically improve the court playing conditions similar to the improvements made last year. There is no timetable for completion or even if all the plans can be accomplished.

The NJAA will be announcing the 6th anniversary event- in April - very soon. Last years event included 26 players - the largest assembly of jai-alai players in Pinellas County history and had about 80 people in attendance.

Obstacles & Red Tape issues cloud Pinellas Park Jai-Alai Court plans

The NJAA meet with various Pinellas Park officials on January 29th to discuss the possibilities of building an amateur jai-alai court/clubhouse and museum on an undeveloped lot that goes up for auction this Saturday. The meeting was attended by 18 people and included NJAA’s Laca, Paul “Castanos” Kubula and his father Chris, who was the public works director for nearby city Largo for 32 years and Anthony Sutton, engineering. The meeting also included 14 key people from the city, including the zoning coordinators, building development directors, fire department and police departments. The 80-minute meeting covered every possible scenario – court plans, the hours of operation, the danger of jai-alai playing, the amount of parking needed, insurance, noise levels, security, etc. Unfortunately, the plans fall under a “conditional” basis, meaning a full vote before the city council (a la St. Petersburg) would be required. Getting passed is not as much of a concern as the other items that were brought to our attention:

· The undeveloped property (rare for Pinellas county) would need to be cleared. This will subject one to cutting down 100 year old trees, worries of turtles and eagles nests, etc.
· The city informed us the road would need to be paved on the property next to the one up for auction (which is also for sale). That lot, also undeveloped would get a free driveway or road of over 110 feet.
· That undeveloped property next to the one eyed by the NJAA is now zoned residential – for four two-level houses, and has been for 5 years now. This is despite the Pinellas Country Records saying it is zoned “heavy commercial”. The owner of that property would fight hard for any kind of business like a jai-alai court going in next doors. Plus, the court would be the only commercial application on that side of the street – there are several houses on that side of the road. Even though the property is zoned “heavy commercial” does not mean the city council will approve you. Other homeowners on the street could argue also.
· A retention pond would have to be built on the property. The pond would have to have a drain off to somewhere. The most obvious area would be the ditch area that runs alongside the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, which is directly behind the property. Getting a company that has been around since 1830 and has all the rights in the world to allow that may not be an easy task. Other drain options would be extremely expensive.
· A driveway and lot would have to be able to hold a 41-ton fire truck to come in and be able to turn around, adding substantial more costs .

A lot of costly risks involved, with no guarantees. Unless the property goes for an unbelievable deal, this site may not be the ideal situation. A lot of effort has gone into this, including a 1/100 to scale model that was brought to the presentation. Anthony, our star player, has been helping out on all the drawings and should be commended. It was also great that the City of Pinellas Park brought 14 key members of their staff to handle every possible question the NJAA brought up and also voiced the rules required upfront in one meeting. Also thanks to Paul K and his father, who has lots of experience in these matters. The NJAA will be at the auction Saturday, but the price will have to be right to move forward.

NJAA to meet with City of Pinellas Park for zoning approval

The NJAA will be meeting with the City of Pinellas Park, Florida on January 29th at 3pm for a predevelopment meeting on the potential of building a new jai-alai court. The property will go up for auction on February 15th and NJAA officials want to make sure the property, an undeveloped area on 86th Ave just west of 66th St. will meet all zoning requirements. The area is zoned heavy commercial and should not be a problem, but the court will be an open air one with a tent-like cover and full netting all around.

According to Section 18-1523.3 of the Pinellas Park Land Development Code, such a facility would be classified as “conditional use” under section B-28 “Recreation establishment, such as bowling alley, golf practice range, golf course or other similar places of amusement or entertainment”. Representing the NJAA will be Jeff “Laca” Conway (owner and CEO), Paul Kubula (operations manager) and Anthony Sutton (engineering). Several zoning and building officials from the city will be in attendance.

Once primary clearance to build a court on the property is obtained, the NJAA will be bidding strongly on the undeveloped property, an odd triangle shaped property measuring 377.53’ x 262.75’ x 268.94’. This comes out to .81 of an acre, plenty of room for the designed 120’ x 28’ x 28’ court with a large out of bounds area and a viewing area with pro shop, clubhouse, and jai-alai museum. A retention pond would be required as well as extensive land cleaning, so the price must be right for the property that runs alongside railroad tracks that are rarely used.

The NJAA has not been able to find a similar amount of property available at a good price in the desired location of mid-Pinellas county. Owners of other larger properties have basically disappeared when asked if they are willing to sell a smaller piece of their property. This seems odd given that some of these properties have spent decades undeveloped or years of just sitting there collecting trash.

The court will be designed first-class and feature a DJ sound system, state-of- the-art video and security cameras, a clubhouse, bleachers, seating tables, a kitchen area, full bathroom, lockers, vending machines, a pro shop, gift shop, offices, a massage chair, a movie theater VIP seating area, a jai-alai pinball machine and a full jai-alai museum. A ping pong table, corn hole would be included allowing for some great tournament not only in jai-alai, but ping pong, corn hole, and jai-alai pinball. The court would be an open air version with misting systems, screened enclosed with a tent covering the entire area to block out the rain and hot sunshine.

Our New Website Link:

Photo by South Florida Business Journal
Dania Jai-Alai hiring hundreds as casino nears completion South Florida Business Journal After being acquired by a group of Argentine
businessmen in May, Dania Jai-Alai is about to become South Florida's eighth pari-mutuel to get slot ...

Laca selling 13 backcourt cesta’s in various conditions

Laca is putting 13 jai-alai cesta’s up for immediate sale. They are from his own personal collection and they are all in good condition, several of them recently repaired by Tampa’s Javier. No, Laca is not retiring, but going to make the switch to the fiberglass baskets that he has been using since late September. He has always maintained a large number of baskets since 1998 (since the closing of Tampa jai-alai) to last many years – just in case of a worst case scenario. Cash only. No payment terms, been stiffed on that in the past. The baskets are priced right to move. All sales are sold as it, with no returns. They are available to view at courtside Puryear park or at his office in Largo.

Basket - Description - Price
A Newly repaired basket including glove. Excellent condition. $145.
B Newly repaired basket of Chasio II. Good condition. $90.
C Slightly worn basket of Chauderon. Narrow basket. $30.
D Newly repaired basket. Very good condition. $100.
E Bad condition only in pocket area. Glove, frame OK. $25.
F Santiso basket in fair to poor condition. $35.
G * SOLD *.
H Oliarbide basket in excellent condition. Very wide. $145.
I Good condition basket with nice new glove. $65.
J Excellent condition basket. Nice study frame. $135
K Newly repaired basket but with cracked frame. Handyman special at $50.
L Excellent basket from Olarbide. Glove slightly worn. $140
M Excellent condition from Olarbide. Wide basket. $135

Click Here for some Jaialai Action from St Thomas
Jaialai Heaven in Connecticut.

We Last Broadcasted Live 04/20
(Game 6 Pro/ExPro Singles).

Click Here for Live broadcast of National-Jai-Alai by Ustream (or previous recordings) Click to view all previous recordings on YOUTUBE

When at just search for 'magicomp1' and you will see all the videos commercial free.

“Laca” one of first to sponsor pro jai-alai with banner on wall.

One of Laca’s products, ScaleBlaster was featured on the actual Orlando Jai-alai court.
There was also a ½ page ad in the program.

Another Magicmike Program
NOW AVAILABLE (Updated 02/05/12)
Also available on CNet's

Click Here to download from CNET

Web Design by: Michael "Magicmike" Berry
Owned/Operated by NJAA Co-Director Jeff "Laca" Conway

St. Pete Jai-Alai Court
Dedication a huge Success

(click picture to view video)

America’s first public jai-alai court opened in St. Petersburg April 19, 2008 with a big court dedication ceremony and a ‘Merry Festival’ like atmosphere.
Click any link below.

Story and photographs of the event
WSPF-TV broadcast of Court Dedication
FOX-13 live broadcast “Charlie’s World”
(long version)

FOX-13 live broadcast “Charlie’s World”
(short version)

CBS-10 6pm and 11pm newscast reports
St. Pete Times article (printed version)
St. Pete Times article (on-line version)
Official City of St. Pete invitation
NJAA Court Dedication Flyer
NJAA 5-page Press Release
20-page Presentation booklet
“Home video” of court dedication

Video of court ACTION!

(click picture to view video)

After years of hard work and determination, the NJAA is proud of it's first accomplishment - the City of St. Petersburg is the first municipality in the United States to build an amateur jai-alai court for public play! Plan on joining us for our "Merry Festival"

City of St. Pete City Council Meetings and Events

St. Pete City Council Meeting on
December 6th, 2007 on Jai-Alai

St. Pete Jai-alai court

Perfect game! St. Pete City Council on
December 20, 2007
approves additional jai-alai funds by 7-0 vote!

St. Pete Jai-alai court

The Innovation and Persistence Award is given to Paul Kubala of the Edgemoor Neighborhood Association and the NJAA
Innovation and Persistence Award