Raleigh, N.C. — The State Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission on Thursday denied the city of Raleigh's request to sell naming rights to a new downtown amphitheater to Anheuser-Busch.
The city had asked the ABC commission for an exemption from state liquor advertising regulations to name the venue after Bud Light. State law bans an alcoholic beverage from being part of the name of a public venue.
Raleigh, Anheuser-Busch and local distributor Harris Wholesale had drafted a proposal to name the the venue the Bud Light Amphitheater in exchange for $300,000 a year over five years. The Bud Light name would have been on a marquee over the amphitheater entrance and included in all print, radio, television and online advertising.
City officials predicted the money could cover most of the operating costs for the $2.5 million, 5,000-seat amphitheater that opened June 4. The city cited an online survey of 1,600 people in which 55 percent supported naming the amphitheater after a beer.
Advocacy groups and Raleigh's Substance Abuse Advisory Commission argued naming the amphitheater for a beer would send the wrong message to children and hurt those dealing with substance abuse problems.
City officials said they would continue to seek other naming rights opportunities for the amphitheater.
"This is a very attractive venue that has great appeal to other potential sponsors," Mayor Charles Meeker said.