Venue News & Notes: Red Wings, Pistons To Share Downtown Detroit Arena

It is possible, perhaps even likely that, within this decade, the Red Wings and Pistons will partner to build and share a sports arena in downtown Detroit, sources told The Detroit News. Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners of the Red Wings, have not renewed their lease at Joe Louis Arena beyond this season and face more than $10 million in structural repair at the dilapidated arena this summer if the team is to play there next season. Going back to the Joe, it seems, is a last resort. So the Ilitches have been looking for a temporary home while they sort out if, when, where, and how they might build a new arena in downtown Detroit…

…The Miami Dolphins this week will announce Sun Life Financial as the new naming-rights partner for their home stadium, just four days before the Pro Bowl and 11 days before Super Bowl XLIV are played at what will be called Sun Life Stadium. Sources say the five-year entitlement deal averages about $7.5M annually. It is unclear whether Toronto-based Sun Life’s category rights will be restricted to insurance or more broadly based to include a number of financial-services categories. The creative ties between Sun Life and an NFL team venue in South Florida are obvious. However, how much marketing value Sun Life will be able to extract in fewer than two weeks from an association with this year’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl site is questionable…

Melbourne Park will get a third weather-proof stadium under a multimillion-dollar plan to ensure that it retains the Australian Open tennis tournament after 2016. The $363-million redevelopment, announced this morning by Premier John Brumby, will see a major facelift to the Margaret Court arena, which will include installation of a retractable roof and boost capacity by 1,500 to 7,500. The publicly funded redevelopment will also see improvements to the Rod Laver and Hisense arenas, a new Eastern Plaza with 21 additional courts, and a footbridge to the Rectangular Stadium…

…The site is chosen, the federal funding confirmed. Now all Toronto needs to break ground on a new arena and sports complex in the port lands is an extra $10 million-$15 million from a private investor. To find that partner, the city has turned to its fledgling partnerships office, which was established in mid 2007 to reel in private money for public projects. The partnerships office has faced the tough task of persuading businesses and non-profit corporations to give, during a recession, to a city whose mayor and council majority are reluctant to plaster corporate logos on public property…

…Even before the playoffs started, the clock is running out on the Minnesota Vikings’ long-term lease in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which has been the Vikings home since 1982. The team’s lease runs through the end of the 2011 season, and, the way coach Brad Childress has been talking, that’s none too soon. To be fair, the Dome is probably as solid as ever, structurally speaking, but without a name to sell, a landlocked site, and just 113 luxury suites, says Forbes magazine, the dome ranks last in the NFL for revenue. It is also why the magazine lists the Vikings at second-to-last in its listing of team net worth…

…If Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena is demolished, a North Hills, PA, developer has a plan to save at least part of it from the scrap heap. Don Cella, president of Five Mile Development Group, wants to use the arena’s main support truss and three-eighths of its distinctive silver dome in the construction of a proposed six-story office building at the firm’s Stone Quarry Crossing development in Ohio Township. The truss would be used to span a township road, and parts of the dome would serve as the roof for the building, which would be built into a hillside at the complex, located at Interstate 279 and Camp Horne Rd…

…The Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers have been selected to play in the NFL’s next venture overseas, taking the field at London’s Wembley Stadium for a regular-season contest on Sunday Oct. 31. It will be the fourth straight year of regular-season NFL action in London. “For the past three years, we have seen the extraordinary passion that exists for NFL football in the UK,” says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “We want to continue to build on that passion by strengthening our ties to our existing UK fans and creating new ones.”

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