Venue News: Mercedes-Benz, Superdome Reach Naming-Rights Deal; Belmont Park Considered for Islanders

The home of the New Orleans Saints will be renamed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The deal will allow Mercedes-Benz to have its name associated with the home of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 as well as championships in college football and men’s college basketball. The team holds authority to sell naming rights to the 73,000-seat, state-owned stadium through their lease, which runs through 2025. A price for the 10-year naming-rights deal was not disclosed. According to Superdome manager Doug Thornton, the addition of the naming-rights deal to extra revenues from new seats, luxury boxes, and expanded concession stands and clubs will eliminate the state’s payment, which he said totaled $13.8 million last year. Opened in 1975, the Superdome has gone through several renovations, most notably after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After the roof was torn off and the building flooded, compounded by the inundation of evacuees and resulting chaos, the Superdome was considered a total loss by some lawmakers at the time…

… If the New York Islanders eventually leave Long Island, it will not be for lack of trying to stay. Nassau County officials are considering yet another scenario that keeps the NHL team on Long Island, in which a new Nassau Coliseum could be built at Belmont Park in Elmont. The move could pair a racetrack, hockey arena, and proposed casino into a sports-entertainment center. Moving the arena to Belmont would free up the 77 acres of Coliseum land for a potential research and development park, or a mix of other uses. Any move to the Elmont site would likely require state approval, because it is on state land. The New York Islanders have said they will not play at the Coliseum after their lease expires in 2015…

… The Columbus City Council approved using casino money to purchase Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The vote authorized the administration of Mayor Michael B. Coleman to pledge a growing share of the city’s casino tax revenues to help the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority purchase Nationwide Arena for $42.5 million, and to pay millions more to operate the arena through 2039. The agreement allows the city and Franklin County to pay off the loans on the arena early if casino revenue comes in higher than expected, but to pay back the loans more slowly if the revenue is lower. Lawyers are still drafting the details of the agreement, but the legislation that the council approved authorizes the mayor to commit the city to paying 25% of its casino tax revenue in 2013, growing to 32% in 2039…

… In Los Angeles, Angels fans have the Rally Monkey. In St. Louis, Cardinals fans find themselves with Rally Squirrels. Busch Stadium officials are taking steps to control a squirrel infestation that was visible during Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series between the Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. Bill Findley, head groundskeeper at Busch Stadium, said there are multiple squirrels in the park. His team hopes to have the issue resolved before baseball returns to the stadium, which, if the Cardinals win tonight in Philadelphia, will be next Wednesday. Seven wire traps have been placed around the field, and each trap contains peanuts and a dab of peanut butter as bait. Once the squirrels are contained, the stadium crew plans to release the rodents in an undetermined area outside the stadium. As of yesterday, no squirrels have been trapped.

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