Venue News & Notes: Layups in London

The National Basketball Association is set to stage its first regular-season games in Europe in an effort to globalize the sport, league Commissioner David Stern said Monday. The New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors will take part in back-to-back games at the O2 arena in London on March 4 and 5 next year as the NBA fulfils a commitment to schedule regular-season games in the UK ahead of the 2012 Olympics. “This is the next step in the progression leading up to the London Olympics,” said Stern, adding that the games will provide the league “an excellent opportunity for its continued growth in London and Europe”…

…When the Ilitch family announced this week that they will aggressively pursue buying the Detroit Pistons, they made it even clearer that they intend to build a new downtown arena in Detroit. City of Detroit and Ilitch Holdings officials say they are bound by confidentiality agreements not to talk about details of a possible new arena. But the Ilitches have repeatedly said they would like to build one downtown, with Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch telling a sports-talk radio show in May, “[We’re] still going to get it done.” The Ilitch family did little to quell any speculation Monday about the new arena — and whether both the Red Wings and Pistons would end up in it…

Questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars’ request that the Florida city forgo its 25% share of stadium-naming-rights revenue stalled for a second time a City Council vote on the team’s deal with EverBank. The council’s Finance Committee was supposed to vote on the bill during a special meeting on Aug. 9, but Chairman Daniel Davis deferred the matter until a second special meeting Aug. 10 at 3 p.m. He said some committee members still had questions about the Jaguars’ request that the city hand over approximately $4 million over five years from the deal to rename the city-owned stadium EverBank Field. The bill was originally deferred on Aug. 3 for similar review.

…New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek said this week that he “certainly would be interested” in a deal for the hockey team’s entertainment affiliate to run both the Prudential Center in Newark and the Izod Center in the Meadowlands. Vanderbeek was reacting to a suggestion by state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) — who in the past has sparred with Prudential Center backers — that a “public-private partnership” between the two would be worth exploring. “The region, as a whole, benefits from having both arenas open, and a deal might help ensure that the employees keep working at the Izod Center, though perhaps under a private banner,” Sarlo said. “So they would be working for the Devils, but [the state] would still own the building. These are options, though I’m not saying that’s what I’ll definitely support”…

…Spurs Sports & Entertainment’s NBA D-League franchise is getting a new home. The Austin Toros, the San Antonio Spurs’ Development League affiliate, are moving out of the Austin Convention Center and into the new Cedar Park Center north of the Capital City. The Toros will tip off their first season in the new arena in November. The multi-use venue, which will seat nearly 4,700 fans for basketball, is also home of the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars. “We are really looking forward to continuing to present NBA-caliber competition to Austin Toros fans at the new Cedar Park Center,” says Rick Pych, president of business operations for Spurs Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the NBA’s Spurs.

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