City government again hopes to sell Civic Center naming rights

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 13, 2014 

The Consolidated Government is looking for a corporate partner to purchase naming rights to the Columbus Civic Center, Ice Rink and Civic Center box office, according to City Manager Isaiah Hugley.

“Over the years, naming rights have been considered for certain public facilities, particularly the Civic Center,” Hugley said. “It’s a potential source of revenue that a facility could benefit and certainly those with their names on the building would benefit from the exposure.”

The city has twice before sought to sell naming rights at the Civic Center, which is home to the Cottonmouths hockey team and the Lions indoor football team.

In 2006, the proposal had a minimum bid of $600,000 a year for 10 years, or a $6 million total. Six companies responded to that request for proposals, but their response was no. Three of the six said the price was too high and they might consider it if the price came down.

Five years later, in 2011, Councilor Glenn Davis asked Hugley to dust off the proposal and try again. Three years into the Great Recession, that proposal also went nowhere.

This time around, the price has come down and there are three options instead of just the Civic Center, according to Civic Center Director Ross Horner.

Horner said naming rights for the arena would cost $250,000 a year, for the ice rink it would be $75,000 and for the box office, $25,000.

The length of the contracts would be negotiable, Horner said. Ten years would probably be the maximum a sponsor would want and a five-year contract with a five-year renewal clause would be more likely, he said.

The process will be the usual request for proposal bidding process, with interested sponsors dealing directly with the city purchasing department, Horner said. But even if the process doesn’t result in a contract, it could spark conversation between the city and interested entities, he said.

Should naming rights be sold, the money would go into the Civic Center’s budget, and would go a long way toward making the facility self-sustaining, Horner said.

The facility’s current budget is $5.7 million, and it produces practically all of that. In the current fiscal year budget, there is $200,000 in general fund money appropriated for a Civic Center subsidy. Horner said the facility is currently running near budget-neutral for the fiscal year and he hopes to dip very little if any into the general fund appropriation.

Hugley said the current budget problems the city has faced lately, it makes sense to look for new revenue streams.

“In these tough economic times, you look for new sources of revenue, and this is just one new source that we’re taking a look at,” he said.

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