by | Dec 19, 1985 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Just between us:

Pontiac’s Stadium Authority, which operates the Silverdome, is eager to talk to the Pistons before they commit themselves to a planned new arena in Auburn Hills.

“We’ll make them a better offer,” says Clayton Jones, the Dome director.
“I don’t think the Auburn Hills people can make a better deal than we can.”

Since they abandoned Cobo Arena in favor of the Dome, the Pistons regularly have carried a threat of returning downtown. It has won them contract concessions several times. The Auburn Hills project will do the same.

“The Pistons haven’t told us they intend to go,” Jones says, “but unless we can be competitive, they’ll go.”

That would be a disaster for the Silverdome, which lost money and events when its roof collapsed in a wind and ice storm last winter. From concessions, parking and stadium rental, the Dome takes in $800,000 annually for 41 Pistons home dates.

“We can take a look at their problems,” Jones says. “I’ve been given the green light to do all the things I proposed 2 1/ 2 years ago — a new 20,000-seat arena, a parking deck, a hotel — on the stadium grounds. Our arena would give them everything they’re looking for.”

If it isn’t too late already . . . A vote for Maris If Billy Martin had his way, he’d get rid of all people connected with the voting for baseball’s Hall of Fame — meaning most of the world’s baseball writers — because they have yet to enshrine Roger Maris.

“I’d fire ’em all, commissioners, voters, everybody,” says Martin, former Yankees player and manager and a friend of Maris, though the two never were together on the Yankees. “They’re prejudiced. They should hold their heads in shame.”

Maris, the ex-Yankees outfielder whose 61 home runs in 1961 broke Babe Ruth’s cherished record of 60, died of cancer last Saturday. He earned his place in history, but he also earned the enmity of many as he pursued Ruth’s record.

Martin was in Detroit to promote a local company that produces “Billy Martin’s glazed, spiral sliced country baked hams.”

“I played with Al Kaline,” Martin said, referring to the 1958 season in which he and Kaline were Tigers teammates. “Maris was as good defensively and had a better arm. Hell, yes. That’s the truth.

“That’s not putting Kaline down — he’s a Hall of Famer. But that makes you look at who’s voting — a bunch of jerks, and that’s why I never want to get in the Hall of Fame.” Look before you leap, David When Don Shula was the Lions’ defensive co-ordinator in the early 1960s, he was known as the “boy coach.” He grew up to become, at age 33, the youngest head coach and now perhaps the best, in NFL history.

So here comes his son David, 26, as an invited candidate for the head job at Philadelphia. David, assisting his daddy with the Miami Dolphins, should consider the following:

“To be successful, you have to take over a team that’s ready to win, because no matter how good you are, you don’t get much time to rebuild. When I went to Baltimore, the Colts didn’t need much. I had the best quarterback
(Johnny Unitas) and plenty to go with him. It was the same at Miami.”

Don Shula said that — when he was accused of being a coaching genius. .
. .

Despite all their hard work and boasting, our Cherry Bowl people really haven’t made much of a dent in the post-season football parade. Nor can they.

They will pay more than $1 million each to Maryland and Syracuse, which are good teams but leftovers — there’s no getting around it — from the collegiate season.

Ever-richer payoffs in the future are not likely to bring higher-rated teams into the game.

The problem confronting the Cherry Bowl committee is that most major conferences commit their champions to long- established bowls, leaving little else for ambitious, new bowl promoters.

For obvious reasons, not even the best of what’s left is available. Teams contemplating a visit know they’re likely to be colder outside here than at any other bowl site. It’s the reason the Silverdome is not even in the rotation for another Super Bowl.

And Maryland versus Syracuse, which might be a fine game, probably will not attract more than 60,000 (down 14 percent from the inaugural Michigan State-Army game, in 1984). The game will make money, but no headway.


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