Venue News: Winter Classic Appears Headed for Michigan Stadium; ‘Snapdragon Stadium’ Draws Controversy

A source has confirmed to the Detroit Free Press that the Detroit Red Wings will host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in the 2013 NHL Winter Classic. The Red Wings requested to host the game after participating in the 2009 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field. Detroit seems to be an easy selection for the NHL and NBC, which broadcasts the game, because of the team’s rich history and Detroit’s wintry location; however, it remained to be negotiated whether the game would be played at Michigan Stadium, which can hold a record-setting crowd topping 110,000, or at Detroit’s Comerica Park, property of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch. The appeal of setting an attendance record — along with the fact that players prefer the rectangular setup of a football field versus that of a baseball stadium – seems to make Michigan Stadium a logical choice…

… According to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, the City Council can retroactively ratify the agreement that temporarily changed the name of Qualcomm Stadium, but doesn’t have to. 

The deal drew criticism from the public when it was revealed that Mayor Jerry Sanders ignored legal advice that the deal violated terms of Qualcomm’s stadium naming-rights contract with the city. 

A memo issued by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith before the renaming to “Snapdragon Stadium” took effect said he and the City Council would have to ratify the agreement, in which the company promoted its new mobile processor. Sanders went ahead with the renaming anyway, which lasted for 11 days in December. During that time, the facility played host to three nationally televised football games: a Sunday night contest between the Chargers and Baltimore Ravens, and the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls. 

Critics called the deal a giveaway to one of Sanders’ top supporters and questioned why he would ignore legal advice from Goldsmith. 
If the City Council gives retroactive approval, Goldsmith will follow suit. If council members don’t give such support, the deal will remain invalid. Qualcomm paid more than $1,000 to compensate the city for staff time…

… More than three years after the 2008 Olympic Games, managers of Beijing’s Olympic landmarks are desperately exploring new ways to profit from them in order to avoid financial woes. The most recent concern is the Water Cube. Enthusiasm for the bubble-like architectural wonder has continued to decline, with the number of visitors falling by almost a third in 2011 compared with 2010. According to the Beijing National Aquatics Center Co., the government-owned company that runs the venue, the Water Cube was not in the red because it had other income, such as government funding for some water sports that helped it to make up the shortfall. The Olympic venue has been renovated twice during the past three years but failed to lure more visitors. The number of visitors to the main Olympic arena, the Bird’s Nest, also declined by almost 50% in the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010. The biggest channel through which the venues would maximize revenues is commercial operations, which would include naming rights, a type of sponsorship that was initially discouraged by the government for fear of over-commercialization. Interest in naming the Water Cube and Bird’s Nest stadium has been high since the end of the Beijing Olympics, but formal discussions have never started, because of the government’s reluctance…

… Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said Tuesday he is optimistic the team will resolve its stadium troubles even though it came no closer to a solution during his meeting with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster. Sternberg and Foster met for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field to discuss stadium matters and other issues. Sternberg didn’t go into details in a short interview afterward, but said the team and Foster reached no deals on the Rays’ future in the city. Sternberg has said he wants to look throughout the Tampa Bay region for stadium sites, not just in St. Petersburg. Asked by a reporter if he were any closer to convincing Foster of that, Sternberg said no. Sternberg said the two sides didn’t discuss potential locations for a future stadium and there was no talk of how the Rays might buy out their contract to play at Tropicana Field.

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