December 15th, 2007

A Shot at Naming Rights

By James Mayer
The Oregonian

Beer and smokes are out, but Don't Offend Corp. Rose Garden is golden

You can forget Budweiser Arena.

The city’s 15-year-old deal with the Portland Trail Blazers mostly gives Paul Allen the right to name the Rose Garden whatever he wants.

But not completely.

The agreement that allowed Allen to build the arena on city land says the name “shall not be directly related to or associated with names of alcohol or tobacco products.”

So, what about something less corporate and more local, say McMenamins Garden?

“I tend to think that would be off-limits,” says David Logsdon, the city’s spectator facilities manager.

Allen’s Vulcan Inc., which owns both the Trail Blazers and the arena, said this week that it will sell the rights to name the arena to make some money.

There was a moment when the public could have had a much greater say in the name.

Back in fall 1991, Portland Mayor Bud Clark and Allen signed an agreement outlining the broad strokes of a more detailed deal to follow. In that first “memo of understanding,” the city had to consent to any arena name or name change.

But in the final development deal, the city gave up that right in favor of notice and a list of limitations.

In addition to the ban on names linked to booze and smokes, the Blazers aren’t allowed to pick a name that’s “closely and commonly identified with any racial, sexual preference, ethnic, religious, political, gender or national origin affiliation (other than the United States of America.)”

Logsdon says he isn’t sure what concern might have prompted that provision.

And finally, the agreement says the arena name can’t be “patently offensive to any major segment of the local population.”

But bad news for those Portlanders who find corporations offensive.

The agreement makes clear that the name of a “commercial enterprise” can’t be considered “patently offensive.”

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