Raleigh seeks public feedback on amphitheater name
Posted May 17, 2010
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh officials want the public to weigh in on the prospect of naming the new downtown amphitheater for a beer.
City officials are working with Anheuser-Busch and local distributor Harris Wholesale on a deal for the amphitheater's naming rights. The proposed deal would name the venue the Bud Light Amphitheater in exchange for $300,000 a year over five years.
Mayor Charles Meeker called the deal "a purely financial transaction," noting the money the city would receive would cover most of the operating costs for the 5,000-seat amphitheater, which is across McDowell Street from the Raleigh Convention Center.
The deal is far from done, Meeker said, but it's the strongest offer the city has received from a major corporation.
The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission must approve any deal Raleigh strikes with Anheuser-Busch and Harris Wholesale. Under state liquor advertising regulations, an alcoholic beverage cannot be part of the name of a public venue.
The state commission last week tabled a decision on the matter until June, and Chairman Jon Williams said commissioners needed more time to think about whether they wanted to set a naming-rights precedent.
A draft contract with Anheuser-Busch calls for a marquee with the Bud Light name over the amphitheater entrance and the inclusion of the beer's name in all print, radio, television and online advertising. In addition, Anheuser-Busch would receive 16 tickets and a four-seat VIP box at each concert, parking passes and the opportunity to meet performers.
At least one conservative group has expressed opposition to the deal, saying it would promote underage drinking.
Meeker disagreed with that assessment, noting Bud Light has sponsored the summer concert series on Moore Square without a problem.
"I don't see it as promoting alcohol sales any more than an ad on television is," he said. "The name (will be) there, but the name is everywhere throughout our community. It really isn't different at this location than it is on a banner at a concert or on a television screen or in a print publication."
Still, the city has set up a feedback form on its website to gauge feelings of local residents on selling the naming rights to a beer company.
Raleigh-based band The Connells will headline an "open house" at the amphitheater on June 4. Other bands to play at the event include I Was Totally Destroying It, Mosadi Music, Old Avenue, Seep Control, The Small Ponds and Th' Bullfrog Willard McGee.
On June 6, the pop group The Backstreet Boys will formally open the amphitheater.
The city has a deal with concert promoter LiveNation to bring 15 to 20 events each year to the amphitheater, and the venue also will host local events.