Could the Snake Pit become the Duck Pond?
The city of Columbus is looking into the possibility of selling naming rights to the Columbus Civic Center and possibly the adjacent new ice rink, said Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis, who asked the city manager to explore the idea.
“Naming rights would be a way to generate more revenue to support the venues,” said Davis. “It just makes good business sense.”
City Manager Isaiah Hugley was unavailable for comment Monday, but Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the idea is intriguing.
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“It’s only an idea right now,” Tomlinson said. “But we’re interested in talking to anybody who wants to participate.”
The city has floated the idea before, but a minimum bid of $600,000 a year for 10 years generated no interest. That was in 2006, before the Great Recession.
“This isn’t the best economic environment to go out and ask people to spend extra marketing dollars,” Davis said. “But certainly we have a lot of high-profile companies in our community who are very active when it comes to the community and very generous as far as participating in the well being of our city. So there may be an opportunity there. You just don’t know until you start exploring it.”
Selling naming rights is common in major league venues. Atlanta’s Philips Arena, Detroit’s Comerica Park, Los Angeles’ Staples Center and many more generate millions of dollars from the naming rights.
It is less common, but not unheard of in the minor leagues.
Whitaker Bank paid an undisclosed amount for the Lexington Legends minor league baseball team to play in what is now Whitaker Bank Ballpark, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported earlier this month.
Startex Power Co. also paid an undisclosed sum to put its name on the baseball park where the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters play.
It seems less common in minor league hockey. Around the Southern Professional Hockey League, in which the Cottonmouths play, none of the venues have sold their naming rights.
Still, Davis likes the idea. He said the goal of the civic center is to break even and he expects the same of the ice rink. But in any venture’s first year, it is less likely to be able to do that, he said. So starting off with some reserve funds available is good business practice.
“We need to look into it to see if anybody’s interested,” Davis said. “It’s great to have the idea, but you have to have an interested party.”
The obvious choice for sponsorship in Columbus would be Aflac, the supplemental insurance company based here.
As for the Snake Pit becoming the Duck Pond, a spokesman for Aflac said the company would rather not comment.