RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes hoped to strike a naming rights deal for the
Entertainment and Sports Arena
by the end of the hockey season, but that target date has moved back several times from last fall to the end of the year to the end of the hockey season. As the naming rights battle rages on, the team and the arena continue to lose money.
The Carolina Hurricanes earn $500,000 for every sellout crowd of more than 18,000 hockey fans. They have done it 14 times this season, which is twice as much as last season's total.
However after three seasons in Raleigh, the team and the ESA are still losing money. When the city and county agreed to help build the $160 million arena, the Canes agreed to cover any operating losses.
"You can look at Greensboro, Charlotte, the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill where those public arenas run up $2 million to $3 million deficits paid for by the taxpayers. We pay that," Hurricanes president Jim Cain said.
Selling corporate naming rights to the ESA would certainly help, but the $80 million price tag is too steep in the nation's struggling economy. The Canes have also struggled with fans upset over increased ticket prices for next year.
"Most importantly, I don't think it's a distraction for the players. As long as they focus, win and make the playoffs, that's the most important thing," Cain said.
Sports radio host Adam Gold said hockey fans do not care about naming rights or attendance numbers.
"I think it's pretty simple. They need to win games," he said.
Corporations looking for a place to hang their name can choose from a list of about 20 buildings including the ESA, across the country. Naming rights for venues in Miami, Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, and Houston are all on the market.