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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Michigan Brand for a Michigan stadium

There is some uncertainty to whether naming rights for The Palace of Auburn Hills are indeed up for sale, as reported by Sports Business Journal and Crain's Detroit. Pistons personnel are now saying the proposal is off the table.
Crain's points out The Palace is one of only five NBA arenas without a corporate sponsorships.
Naming rights are something nearly as old as sports itself, so it stands to reason the residence at Six championship Drive (why is it still called that BTW?) would get into the game with new ownership.
What should it be called? Rock Financial and PNC are the Pistons' most recent presenting sponsors, so there's that link.
Comerica Bank already has a 30-year deal in place to the tune of $66 million to name the Tigers' home stadium, so, as a banking rival, it would make sense for PNC. However, PNC already pays for the rights to the Pittsburgh Pirates' home stadium.
Ford paid $40 million over 40 years for naming rights of the neighboring dome. Perhaps General Motors, on its way out of a bankruptcy funk, takes a stab.
Crain's suggested a sponsorship could land as much $3 million per year in the coffers of Tom Gores and Platinum Equity.
Joe Louis Arena, which is owned by the city of Detroit, would become the only Detroit area arena without a corporate sponsorship if The Palace got a new name.
So what other companies could take the plunge?
  • Little Caesar's — Former Pistons owner Bill Davidson once spurned an offer for a combined downtown arena to share with the Red Wings in favor of The Palace. Sour grapes then? Maybe. Hard feelings now? Not likely. But it would gain the pizza chain more national attention and give them another venue to sell $5 Hot and Ready pizzas.
  • Belle Tire — Who doesn't love the dancing tire? (Me for one). Like Little Caesar's, Belle Tire is a Michigan company that gets its hands in sponsoring youth sports and many other things, so why not put that big Michelin Man impostor on the sign?
  • Vernors, Faygo, Better Made, Sanders, Stroh's, Kars, Made in Michigan Consortium — All Michigan companies but unlikely to be able to sustain a long-term agreement for naming rights. Solution: Pool their funds together in some combined naming rights venture called ... "Made in Michigan."
  • Rock Financial or FatHead — One of Dan Gilbert's companies should get in on this. Rock Financial used to sponsor a convention center in Novi, previously presented the Pistons, and could get back in on the naming rights action here. Gilbert, a Michigan State grad, owns the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit-based Quicken Loans, which sponsors the Cavs' home arena. The exposure would be great for Livonia-based FatHead, which produces stickers of sports and entertainment's finest in all shapes and sizes. After all, their slogan is "Go Big. Go Real Big."
  • "Pure Michigan" — Nothing would be more Pure Michigan than hearing Tim Allen's voice on everything throughout the arena. He could soothe concertgoers in the bathroom line. Ease your troubles as you wait for an overpriced concession.
  • Koegel's Meats, Kowalski Sausage, Dearborn Brand — Another possible consortium, this sponsorship deal would likely add to the variety for the carnivorous fans packing The Palace.
Those are just some of the ideas being kicked around the newsroom and through my head. What are some of yours?


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