"Arena! Arena, Arena bo Barena Bonana fo Farena Fe fy mo Marena, Arena."
Couldn't help but go back in time when I heard city officials are once again playing the name game with the Columbus Civic Center.
This 1965 novelty song was hard to follow, and so is the proposal to sell naming rights to the 16-year-old arena.
Unlike 2006 when the city wanted private corporations to pay $6 million and sign a 10-year deal, the current proposal is open-ended.
This time, the right to put your company's name on the building is up for bids.
Civic Center Director Ross Horner describes a winning situation for all concerned. Companies will be able to extend their brand recognition and the arena will find a new revenue stream, helping the city refurbish the 10,000-seat facility.
Attaching brand names to facilities isn't new. Fenway Realty was connected to the ballpark in Boston in 1912 and Fenway Park has become a landmark.
A chewing gum magnate put his name on the stadium in Chicago in 1926 and Wrigley Field is a tourist attraction as well as a great place to watch baseball -- even when the team is bad.
These days, you expect to find the names of stadiums and arenas on eBay. In San Francisco, the name of the baseball stadium changed 12 times in three years -- from Pacific Bell to SBC to AT&T. Locals didn't care.
The Big Ticket deals have come in Los Angeles and New York, as you might imagine. Farmer's Insurance considered a $700 million deal for a stadium in Los Angeles and Barclays, a worldwide financial company, paid $200 million to put their name on the new arena for the NBA Nets in Brooklyn.
ESPN.com reports the average renaming fee is $2.9 million a year with the average contract spanning 19 years.
Horner cited more affordable pricing that ranged from $345,000 to $750,000 a year.
But isn't the city getting ahead of itself? Shouldn't we establish guidelines before we open the floor for bids? Before we sell our soul, let's consider what kind of companies we want to do business with (or not) and let's discuss questions like what happens to the signage we already have on scoreboards and other locations around the arena.
We need protections in place. People in Texas would tell us that. Several years ago, the Houston Astros shelled out $2 million to buy back their name from a firm known as Enron.
City officials want to do business with local companies and given the amount of money we're talking about that will be a short list. The most obvious brand name to explore is Aflac.
Sounds good to me. How about a concert at The Duck?
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. He can be reached at email@example.com.