SBD/October 4, 2011/Facilities

Pistons Hire Wasserman Media Group, Downplay Talk Of Selling Arena Naming Rights

Palace Sports & Entertainment yesterday downplayed a SportsBusiness Journal report that "said it was looking to sell the naming rights to the Palace of Auburn Hills," the home of the Pistons, according to Katherine Yung of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. PSE VP/PR Kevin Grigg said the company has hired Wasserman Media Group "to evaluate strategic partnerships across all of our business properties with the goal of enhancing the overall fan experience and servicing of our customers." But he noted "the team is not looking specifically at naming rights for the Palace of Auburn Hills at this time and no decisions have been made at this point" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/4). Pistons and PSE President Dennis Mannion said, "We are not specifically looking for a naming-rights partner. We like The Palace name. That's not the intention of Wasserman. We're looking for the potential for a strategic partnership to see if we can better our fan experience." Mannion added that PSE's new ownership group, led by Tom Gores, is "evaluating every facet of the fan experience at The Palace -- from when fans pull into the parking lot to the time they leave after a game or concert." He said that "improvements to the luxury suites and making The Palace more kid-friendly are among the goals of the new management" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/4). Industry experts estimated a naming-rights deal for The Palace could be worth $2.5-3M a year. Mannion said, "We’re not in this to get a bunch of money for a building name, but if we can get a deal that improves our fan experience and drives revenues, that’s where we want to go. We want a marketer that will bring novel execution" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/3 issue).
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