January 28th, 2007
Arena's Name May Be Priceless
By Bertrand M. Gutierrez
City resisting lure of millions, doesn't want to sell rights to sponsor
Joel Coliseum—the 15,000-seat arena where Wake Forest’s Deacons play basketball—could net $400,000 to $700,000 a year if Winston-Salem sold naming rights to a corporate sponsor, according to a city study.
But the idea of changing the name does not appeal to city officials. Members of the Winston-Salem City Council said last week they are willing to forfeit a possible naming-rights contract because there is more to a name than money.
“Certainly, these are significant dollars,” Mayor Allen Joines said. “I haven’t seen the study, but there is tremendous community interest in this. And to change (the name) would be seen very negatively in the community.”
The coliseum is named after Lawrence Joel, an Army medic who served in Vietnam.
Joel was wounded at least twice in a battle near Bien Hoa, on Nov. 8, 1965. Despite being wounded, Joel continued to treat soldiers and was later credited with saving at least 13 lives that day. In doing so, he became Winston-Salem’s only person to get the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.