By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 1999
Storm Shelter web site
Controversy erupted last week when coach Tim Marcum -- also the team's general manager and director of operations -- revoked press box credentials for The Storm Shelter, an unofficial Web site run by former team intern Andrew Mason.
In a letter to Storm fans posted on the team's official site Tuesday, Marcum said, "(Mason) has questioned and challenged many aspects of what we are trying to get done" and added that the team no longer considers him a "positive force."
In recent weeks, The Storm Shelter has questioned attendance figures, specifically whether the team reached the 1-million mark after Mason added figures in the Storm's media guide. It also criticized other aspects of off-the-field operations.
Marcum initially declined comment but said Monday: " 'Announced' attendance doesn't have anything to do with it. It's just overall negative stuff. And some of that was not what was written. We are just purely disassociating ourselves."
In addition to revoking Mason's credentials, the Storm's official site also no longer has a link to his site. Since then, Marcum's letter and Mason's response have been posted on the Web site http://www.arenafan.com, and a number of fans have weighed in with opinions at the Storm's official site.
"If the Storm was to deny press passes to any media outlet that has ever "questioned' or "challenged' any aspect of the franchise at one time or another, there would probably be no one left in the press box," Mason said.
But despite Mason's history with the Storm and knowledge of the league, league spokesman and vice president David Cooper on Monday said that calling Mason a member of the media is a stretch.
"Andrew's a good person, a loyal and devoted fan of Arena football," Cooper said. "Whether he was trying to shine a light on something ... I don't think (he) was doing anything malicious. But it was the Storm's decision, and we will support that decision.
"It's kind of ambiguous because he's not a reporter. If it were (a newspaper), we would have a very large problem to resolve. ... But this is a little different situation. I think it's become more personal than it needs to be."
Mason was a Storm intern last season but attended games on behalf of The Storm Shelter, filing game reports to the site on deadline. His site, which also has included commentary, developed a sizable following among computer-savvy fans because of the detailed information it provided. Mason had no official affiliation with the Storm this season.
ROSTER NOTES: Though several Storm players are banged up, veteran WR/LB Stevie Thomas (hamstring) is the only one questionable for Friday's game at Nashville. Thomas "stretched and ran and strided (Monday)," Marcum said. "He didn't work out hard."
The team usually has Mondays off, but with the short week, it could not afford to not practice. The Storm will have full workouts today and Wednesday before leaving for Nashville on Thursday morning.
REFEREE IMPROVING: Umpire Ed Manning, who sustained a head injury in the Iowa-Orlando game May 1, has returned home to the Pittsburgh area in good condition for rehabilitation after being hospitalized for three weeks in Des Moines. Manning, a 12-year Arena Football League official and a Big Ten official, is able to speak clearly and walk without aid.
Back to Sports
Opinion | Entertainment | Floridian | Hernando | Pasco | Sports
State | Tampa Bay | Travel | World & Nation | Taste
© Copyright 2006 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.