I-Cubs Ready for "Prime Time"

Whoever thought Deion Sanders' name could go hand and hand with the Iowa Cubs might have been the first to do so.

Regardless, Sanders, a former two-sport star whose resume includes stints with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, became the first guest scheduled to appear at next year's Iowa Cubs Fan Fest in January, the team announced earlier this week.

The 39-year-old Sanders last played professional sports for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens in 2005. His full repertoire of past teams includes the Ravens, Cowboys, 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants.

Sanders is slated to sign autographs during the opening night of Iowa Cubs Fan Fest 2007. The annual event will be held Jan. 12 and 13 at the Knapp Center on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines.

"When we discussed it, we thought that if we could get somebody tied to baseball and football, we might be able to draw in a little bit of a newer audience and some people that haven't actually been to our Fan Fest before," I-Cubs Assistant General Manager Jim Nahas said.

In addition to Sanders, the I-Cubs are working to secure appearances by former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace and Hall of Famer George Brett.

"We've made contact with both of them," Nahas acknowledged. "It just all comes down to their schedules, which are so hectic. If that weekend is free for them, then those are the two guys we're trying to get. Once we hear from them, we'll move on from there."

The event features autograph sessions with guests, the team's coaching staff and others. Interactive games like "Speed Pitch" will also be available.

Additionally, a luncheon is scheduled at the Seven Flags Event Center in nearby Clive, Iowa, a suburb of West Des Moines. The price for tickets to the luncheon a year ago was $30 per person, and Nahas says the Cubs aren't anticipating a change in price.

Tickets for Sanders' autograph, meanwhile, are listed at $55. Tickets to Fan Fest are $8 per adult with free admission to children.

"The Fan Fest is like the season never ends," said Nahas. "As soon as the season ends, we try to start announcing dates for our Fan Fest so that people continue to think about Iowa Cubs baseball. It's been really good for us."

Having Sanders on board has only added to the excitement.

"We're really excited about Deion coming," Nahas said. "We've talked to his people and we've heard he's really good with fans and interactive with fans. Obviously, he's very entertaining. It should be nifty out here."

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