In Toronto, Lance Hornby reports the NHL has approved a "new concave partition where the glass meets at the boards and the players' bench," and the structure "will be in place in all 30 arenas for the start" of the '11-12 season. NHL Senior Dir of Hockey Operations Kris King said, "We talked about beefed-up padding, but just felt that an actual deflection area through curved glass could allow a player to deflect off a surface rather than hit it solid." The new system is "getting its first experiment under game conditions this week at the league's research and development camp in Toronto" (TORONTO SUN, 8/18).
WESTERN CHANGES: ESPN.com's Diamond Leung noted attendance figures for the Pac-12 conference basketball tournament "have plummeted since the Pac-10 voted to revive the event following a 12-year hiatus." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that he is "strongly considering moving it" from L.A.'s Staples Center. The conference "accepted formal proposals to host the event up until its deadline Friday, with Salt Lake City's EnergySolutions Arena and Seattle's KeyArena reportedly being a couple of the potential sites." Scott, who "hopes to make a decision by this fall," also said that the conference "had yet to rule out different models for the event, including using rotating sites annually and holding games on campus." Scott: "I really want a strong collegiate atmosphere around the basketball tournament. I don't want it to feel overly corporate. I want it to be well-attended and well-supported and there to be a great buzz around the event" (ESPN.com, 8/16).
PLAYING HARDBALL: A ST. PETERSBURG TIMES editorial states Mayor Bill Foster "is not negotiating with the Rays in good faith, and he is not treating the franchise with the respect worthy of a prominent business with a significant financial and civic footprint." The editorial: "The mayor is becoming increasingly isolated in his stubborn insistence that the Rays cannot look at potential stadium sites in Hillsborough County" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 8/18).
A PLACE TO CALL HOME: In L.A., Sam Farmer notes if the NFL returns to L.A., the "relocated team is more likely to call the Rose Bowl its temporary home than" the L.A. Coliseum, because a "battle has been brewing for years over control" of the stadium. The disagreement is over whether the "aging venue should be run by a nine-member commission representing the city, county and state, or by USC" (L.A. TIMES, 8/18).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? In Indiana, Arek Sarkissian II reports Tri-State Ford Dealers has inked a 10-year, $4.2M naming-rights deal for Evansville’s downtown arena, which will be renamed the Ford Center. VenuWorks Evansville Dir Scott Schoenike, whose company operates the arena, said that Ford "will have some signage inside the facility." The deal "now awaits approval from the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 7" (Evansville COURIER-PRESS, 8/18). The venue is home to Univ. of Evansville basketball and the CHL Evansville IceMen (THE DAILY).