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Naming Deal for Raleigh Convention Center on Table

City officials are negotiating a deal to sell the naming rights for the area around the new downtown convention center.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — City officials are negotiating a deal to sell the naming rights for the area around the new downtown convention center.

"We have an offer," convention center director Roger Krupa said.

Krupa said officials are talking with two corporations and people representing a well-known local resident. A deal would put a name on the plaza surrounding the $221 million convention center, which is expected to open next fall, rather than the building itself.

"It's a great idea. It's a home run for the city and the taxpayers," said City Councilman Philip Isley, who said he hasn't been briefed on the details of the proposal. "Any private money we can get to help finance this $200-plus-million facility is really money the taxpayers don't have to spend."

A naming rights deal for the plaza, which will include an interactive fountain, could bring in more than $1 million over the next three to five years. That compares with $5.5 million Progress Energy is paying the city over the next 20 years for the naming rights to the performing arts center downtown.

Krupa said he expects a deal to be finalized within 90 days.

City Manager Russell Allen declined to comment.

The naming rights for convention centers usually don't generate the same kind of corporate cash as those for sports arenas, like the RBC Center, marketing specialist Hill Carrow said.

"The most attractive naming-rights sponsorships are usually associated with professional facilities that get a lot of broadcast or media exposure," Carrow said.

The 500,000-square-foot convention center already has booked more than 80 events, including regional and national gatherings, for its first two years of operation.

Fewer than 10 convention centers in cities nationwide have corporate naming deals, and those range from $250,000 to $850,000 a year. Carrow predicted Raleigh's deal would fall somewhere in the middle of that range.

"It reaches a certain audience. The key for most companies (is) does it reach the audience I want to tap into?" he said. "I wouldn't see it as a real risk for a business."

Durham-based Cree Inc. has already committed $1 million to erecting a "shimmer wall," with panels that shimmer in the wind, on the west side of the center.


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