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Raleigh seeks public feedback on amphitheater name

Posted May 17, 2010

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— 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.

Construction on Raleigh downtown amphitheater Amphitheater name brews controversy

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.

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  • John Sawtooth May 18, 2010

    I wonder why they need to "offset the operating costs" instead of running it like every OTHER business in the world ? They need electricity, water, security/event and technical staff, insurance and some minor incidentals.

    That's not going to create overwhelming ticket prices, especially if they avoid the usual ticket outlets and sell direct. This isn't an airport or hospital being run here. The operating costs should be pretty reasonable.

  • whatusay May 18, 2010

    It's ok to advertise condems during prime time, it's ok to advertise beer during prime time, it's ok to advrtise Viagra and Cialis during prime time, and it's ok to show gay programs during primetime. What's wrong with Bud Light Amphitheater??

  • sslhaas May 18, 2010

    I think drinking Bud Light is better for you than dealing with Time Warner's customer service.

  • srhodes4 May 17, 2010

    What's the big deal......I don't care what the name is, if there's somebody there that I want to see, I don't care if it's called Mojo's Fudge Factory, I gonna go........get over it people, stop hiding behind your computer screen and matter of fact, I like Bud Light....

  • juliestoneham May 17, 2010

    Good grief.. we should go back to the days of prohibition.. dont dare mention alcohol.. makes everyone get drunk.. I know not all folks drink.. but alot do.. geez... lets pretend we dont, and yes, that includes christians. moderation in all things... If Bud Light pays, cool... or have we become so ignore what we do and dont mention it because it will cause harm... Face it.. unless we admit that we have these and other freedoms, we will loose alot more freedoms. We all know not to drink and drive the consequences are obvious. But it doesnt make namining a stadium the situation to encourage underage drinking.. go to a convieince store, grocery store, college party..parents drinking.. is it all wrong? If need be, help someone who is too drunk to drive..make sure you are perfectly free of vices.. before you make us all evil drunks..

  • Lickad May 17, 2010

    I hope that IF Bud Light gets naming rights, we won't be stuck drinking AB beers, I want choice, not swill.

  • NoFreakinWay May 17, 2010

    I think they should call it the DRINK ONE FOR ME Music Hall. This will be great. We can all go downtown and get plastered and toss up all over their streets and leave the mess for others to clean up. I LOVE it!

  • Tax Man May 17, 2010

    I vote for Busch Amphitheater. Free beers for all in attendance!

  • ghimmy51 May 17, 2010

    I think "Infidel Soft Target #1" would be appropriate.

  • Wheelman May 17, 2010

    How about "The Hole in the ground full of sound" ampitheatre/ Or maybe "The Money Pit"

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