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Alabama Tourism Department Names Top 10 Events for 2008


>Montgomery, AL- Eight of the top 10 special events selected by the Alabama Tourism Department for this year, including the top-ranked Speed Week, reflect the theme of the Year of Alabama Sports. The top three will be nationally televised, officials said.

Speed Week begins April 18 at the Barber Motorsports Park with the American Motorcycle Association's Superbike Championship, and concludes April 27 with NASCAR's Aaron's 499 race at the Talladega Superspeedway.

The second Navistar LPGA Classic at Prattville's Capitol Hill Senator course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail on Sept. 8-15 ranks second.

The most anticipated football game of the year, when Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide hosts the Auburn Tigers in Tuscaloosa, was picked third. Either the Tide will defeat Auburn for the first time ever at home on Nov. 29 or Auburn will win the seventh straight victory over its cross-state rival.

The annual Red Snapper World Championship in Orange Beach in late spring, April 4-May 22, ranks fourth.  This fishing bonanza represents the largest bottom-fishing tournament in the world with anglers vying for more than $550,000 in cash and prizes. 

Fifth on the list is the Rickwood Classic Baseball Game, played at the nation's oldest ballpark: Rickwood Field in Birmingham.  Some of the greatest names in baseball-Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige and Reggie Jackson-have played at the 1910 ballpark, which is currently undergoing restoration as a museum.  The Birmingham Barons return to their home park on May 28 for their annual showdown against the Jacksonville Suns.

Holding the number six spot is Thunder on the Gulf, Aug. 14-16.  Traveling at speeds exceeding 100 mph, power boaters compete in this riveting race in the Gulf of Mexico at Orange Beach.

An annual rivalry between two of the nation's outstanding historically black colleges ranks number seven on the list.  The Magic City Classic, which takes place at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Oct. 25, pits the Alabama State University Hornets of Montgomery against the Alabama A&M University Bulldogs of Huntsville.

The Dothan Pro Classic was selected number eight.  The professional women's tennis tournament features the top female players competing for a purse of $75,000, April 13-20, in Dothan.

Rounding out the Top 10 list are two non-sporting events: the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Induction on February 22 in Montgomery and the grand opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, October 10-12 in Tuskegee. The Induction Banquet and Awards Show will be the premiere event showcasing the new Renaissance Montgomery Hotel at the Convention Center. The grand opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site will spotlight aviation history and vintage aircraft and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the legislation establishing the site as a unit of the National Park Service.

The events are promoted in the new 2008 Alabama Calendar of Events, available free of charge from the state tourism department, 334-242-4169 or



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