By Craig Harris
Arizona Republic March 02, 2001
(SportsJet article from the AZ Republic Newspaper 3/2/01)
Looking for a
competitive edge for his Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, owner
Jerry Colangelo approached transportation mogul Jerry Moyes a few years
ago with a proposition: Want to buy a team jet?
Moyes, a voracious
competitor and multimillion-dollar investor in both clubs, agreed that
a custom-made Boeing 737-400 would help the teams. Thus was born
SportsJet, a joint venture between Moyes and the two clubs.
Since then, SportsJet
has continued to expand.
Moyes, who owns
Phoenix-based Swift Transportation, a trucking firm, bought a Boeing
757-200 and put it into service this year under SportsJet. With the
expansion came four new customers: the Seattle Mariners, San Diego
Padres, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Coyotes. Moyes is an investor in the
His firm also has flown
rock star Bruce Springsteen and his band, the Texas Rangers and the
Moyes does not comment
much on SportsJet, citing a federal law that prohibits soliciting
business under his type of operating license.
"It's an investment,"
Professional teams used
to fly commercial airlines many years ago, but began leasing or buying
charter jets in the late 1980s, said Rich Dozer, president of the
Diamondbacks. Only a few still fly commercial jets.
SportsJet's vice president of aircraft management, said at least 10
other NBA teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks
and Detroit Pistons, have their own jets.
"Some say owning your
own plane is the difference in winning one or two games (on the road),"
He said the teams
arrive to venue cities sooner and get more rest, which allows them to
perform better athletically.
"In the playoffs,
having home-court or home-ice advantage can come down to one or two
games. It's a big, big issue," Kasteler said.
SportsJet allows teams
to outsource the travel without turning to airlines and their
The Mariners, who
travel 50,000 miles a year, said they went with SportsJet because they
wanted a reliable carrier to provide coast-to-coast travel.
"In the last two years,
we have used six or seven airlines," said Ron Spellecy, the Mariners'
travel director. "You mix and match . . . and you get what everybody
Judy Adams, director of
travel for the Jazz, said Utah struck a deal because SportsJet would
agree to a long-term deal and promised to have a jet available for the
playoffs. SportsJet also was less expensive than the team's previous
carrier, Classic Limited Air in Van Nuys, Calif., Adams said.
But it's not cheap. The
cost is roughly $15,000 or more an hour, and the Mariners are paying
$1.8 million for the service. Other teams declined to reveal what they
Moyes' latest Boeing
jet is coming on line as he expands another aviation firm he owns,
Swift Air. The company, which caters to corporate executives, has nine
corporate jets and at least 50 more on order.
The Boeing jets are
white with purple and black trim, and they have leather
first-class-style seats, while some have nearly 5 feet of leg room. The
737, which has a mahogany wood interior and individual TV sets, can
accommodate 72 passengers. The 757, meanwhile, can take 106 passengers,
and it has a wireless audio system. Both have a mechanic on every
flight, and SportsJet has 34 flight attendants and 18 pilots under
Dottie Sidabras, a
flight attendant who lives in Gilbert, said even though the jets are
spacious, the players still like to sit together and some teams prefer
the smaller 737.
The jets also have
electrical and phone outlets for computers and fax machines and are
equipped with tables to handle a preflight spread of fresh fruit,
vegetables, hot wings and barbecue. A recent in-flight meal consisted
of gourmet hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, pasta, salad, filet mignon and
"It (the jet) is
nothing short of luxurious," said Bryan Colangelo, general manager of
the Suns. "You try to compete with other organizations in your
respective leagues and providing your players with the best amenities
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