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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 13, 2018 2 months ago

Naming rights for iconic landmark could be up for grabs

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What's in a name? St. Pete city officials see dollar signs.

Naming rights can be a tricky topic to navigate for many brands and businesses. On one hand, you have classy examples like Raymond James Stadium, a.k.a. “RayJay,” the longtime home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other, you have cringe-worthy naming-rights scenarios, like the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl —Tropicana Field’s college football bowl game that has undergone a dizzying procession of previous sponsors ranging from MagicJack and Beef O’Brady’s to BitCoin.

The city of St. Petersburg appears to be OK with the risks associated with naming-rights deals. In a March 15 meeting, the city council approved a deal that will see the parking garage at the Mahaffey Theater christened the Crown Cars Parking Garage. According to its agreement with Big 3 Entertainment, the company that manages the theater, St. Pete-based Crown Automotive Management will pay a total of $365,000, plus a $40,000 signage fee, over the course of the five-year deal.

And now that most St. Petersburgian of St. Pete landmarks, the Pier, could see some corporate branding. The new Pier won’t be open for at least another year, but already the city is considering accepting bids for naming rights for the amenity.

St. Petersburg city development administrator Alan DeLisle says the city has hired a firm to analyze what naming-rights opportunities, if any, are available at the Pier and what such opportunities might be worth. He says the city would look for long-term deals with local companies and families, and that Pier features such as the lawn, playground and beach could be suitable candidates for sponsorship.

“It will be tastefully done,” he says. “We aren’t looking to commercialize the Pier at all. There are some national brands with a local presence that might be interested, but local players would get the first look, and we want to be locking in a revenue stream over a long period of time.”

DeLisle says all naming-rights bids would have to be approved first by Mayor Rick Kriseman and then the city council, and the city does not yet have a revenue goal in mind.

“We have purposefully not put any numbers into a budget,” he says. “We want to let the process play out first. We think there’s going to be interest. It’s an opportunity we don’t want to let pass us by.”

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