It’s the What Amphitheater Now?
The sale of naming rights for venues has resulted in some interesting names for amphitheaters and other venues around the country. Perhaps the most interesting so far was the announcement yesterday was the new name of what has been known as the Ford Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, which will now be known as the 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheater. For those of you unfamiliar with 1-800-Ask Gary, it’s a medical and lawyer referral service for people injured in car accidents known for its advertisements featuring actors encouraging people to call, which have been pretty heavily parodied on YouTube and other sites. In these type of deals, a company pays a fee to put its name on the venue for a certain period of time. The potential exposure can be huge for a company and its brand, as it is featured not only on the venue, but also mentioned by announcers, featured on scoreboards during televised games, you get the picture. The uses of the brand name would be spelled out in specific terms. The fees for naming rights can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to hundreds of millions depending on the market. But it’s not always as simple for companies as just cutting a check and signing a contract– there can be public relations issues that can prevent a naming rights deal from going through. For example, a proposed deal between the Mosaic phosphate company and the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays fell through after community backlash erupted over the company’s environmental record. In another instance a while back, the University of Missouri announced that its new arena would be named the Paige Arena, after the Wal-Mart heiress, only to change the name a few weeks later after Paige Laurie was accused of paying a classmate to write her papers in college. As of late, the state of the economy has impacted naming rights deals, and it is getting tougher for some venues to find takers for naming rights. Reportedly, in the 1-800-Ask Gary deal, the rights were sold for half of the $775,000 a year that Ford was paying under its deal. A rep for Live Nation admits that there might be jokes made about the amphitheater’s new name, but does not think there will be a negative impact. What do you think, does the name of a venue matter, or do you just want to know where the show is? What are your favorite odd or quirky venue names? Here are some of Business Week’s favorites.