Wahlbergs buy rights to rename Taylor Sportsplex Wahlburgers Arena
Nino Cutraro, local restaurateur and Wahlburgers franchise owner, unveils the new name of the Taylor Sportsplex. Cutraro first met actor Mark Wahlberg almost seven years ago.
The Taylor Sportsplex has gone Hollywood … by way of Boston.
The sportsplex is now Wahlburgers Arena, thanks to a deal in which naming rights were bought by the national restaurant chain owned by actors and singers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, and their brother, chef/actor Paul, all of Boston.
Paul Wahlberger and Nino Cutraro, who owns the Michigan Wahlburgers franchises in Detroit’s Greektown, Taylor, Flint and Royal Oak, announced the name change at a press conference Monday.
“I’ll tell you it’s mainly from Nino,” Paul told www.newsherald.com about the naming rights purchase. “Mark had met Nino, and so they had built this relationship. Nino is always, ‘Detroit, Detroit, Detroit. Michigan, Michigan, Michigan,’ really pushing it very hard, and so we were just really happy that everybody embraced us the way they did.
“I think graffiti on the outside of the skating rink was about as close as we were to getting naming rights as kids, so this is pretty amazing.”
Cutraro owns the restaurant Bella Piatti in Birmingham, which is how he met the Wahlbergs.
“I met Mark almost seven years ago,” he said. “He came to the restaurant. I don’t watch movies. I had no idea who he was. Somebody said he was a famous actor so I started talking to him. In five minutes, he told me to sit down, and we just talked about family and life. He was telling me that his kids and wife were coming (into town), and he didn’t know what to do. So I invited them over to my house.”
That’s where the partnership was born.
Another reason for buying the naming rights, Cutraro said, is that he wanted to get more deeply involved in the community because of his ownership of the Wahlburgers franchise in Taylor.
“When this came around – the opportunity to sponsor and change the name of the arena – we took it,” he said.
Taylor mayor Rick Sollars is happy with the deal.
“We knew that Nino’s interest in the community was there, and we knew the Wahlberg family was very community-oriented,” he said. “So I think the thought was, ‘Let’s take everybody’s strength and create this opportunity.’ This complex is one of the leading ice arenas in the area, so it just was a natural fit.”
Cutraro said Wahlburgers won’t be sold at the arena right now but they may be in the future.
Mark Wahlberg spent a lot of time in the Detroit area in 2013, shooting “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and again in 2016, shooting “Transformers: The Last Knight.”
He was also in town on Monday for the grand opening of the Wahlburgers in Royal Oak and to meet with 6-year-old Transformers fan and brain cancer survivor Hudson Brown, who is now in remission. Mark caught wind of Hudson's passion for the Tranformers movies and vowed to visit him when the new restaurant opened.
Wahlburgers has locations in 19 states plus Ontario and the United Kingdom. The first location was in Hingham, Mass., a Boston suburb.
The chain gained publicity with the reality show “Wahlburgers,” which ran on A&E from January 2014 until last month and chronicled the family’s running of the business.