Venue News: Sandy Causes Minor Damage to NASCAR Venues; Michigan Unveils Renovated Crisler Center

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Some racetracks that play host to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy reported slight damage from the storm as of Tuesday afternoon, while others were largely spared. Watkins Glen, a road course that covers more than 1,800 acres in upstate New York that is 250 miles northwest of New York City, suffered more than an estimated $50,000 worth of damage, according to track president Michael Printup. Part of victory lane was ripped apart, eight billboards were blown down, grandstand signage destroyed, and building trim was damaged. Pocono Raceway, which is 100 miles west of New York City and about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, was without power Tuesday morning but only lost one of the two steeples that tower above its grandstands. The roof of Victory Tower is also partially missing and some fencing down as well…

…With the calendar flipping from October to November, it can only mean one thing: basketball season is upon us. One of the most common sights around Crisler Center for the past few years has been construction equipment and fences. Most of that will change this week when the men’s and women’s basketball teams host exhibition contests, giving fans their first chance to see the new Crisler Center. The original plan for the $52 million Phase II renovation of Crisler Center was for the construction to take about 20 months. The majority of the work was just completed this week, taking approximately 10 total months.  This portion of the Crisler Center renovation project added approximately 63,000 gross square feet, allowing for new fan entrances, expanded and renovated concourses, new restrooms and concession areas, fan interactive areas, additional retail spaces, and ticketing areas, as well as a private club space…

…The Pittsburgh Steelers moved to sue the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority in a spat over how to pay for a planned 3,000-seat expansion the team wants in Heinz Field. The dispute hinges on how much the taxpayer-supported SEA, which owns the stadium on the North Shore, should contribute to the roughly $38 million to $39 million expansion of the 11-year-old stadium’s south end zone and construction of a second video scoreboard. Steelers officials want the authority to contribute about two-thirds of the cost, which they say is in line with a provision in the team’s lease. SEA officials want to contribute less than that, but it’s unclear how much. The two sides discussed extending the Steelers’ 30-year lease of the stadium as part of the expansion deal…

…When the NFL travels to London, it goes to Wembley Stadium. That might not always be the case. London mayor Boris Johnson has spoken with league officials about hosting regular-season games at the city’s Olympic Stadium, which is set to reopen in 2014. Johnson is chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which oversees the arena. Talks with league officials were described by a mayor’s spokesman as “exploratory,” according to the BBC. Wembley holds rights to the NFL until 2017 after signing an exclusive five-year deal with the league.

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