May 14th, 2008

Mediacom Makes Bid for Ice Park Naming Rights

By Wes Johnson
News-Leader (Missouri)

Park board supports the change, but it must first be approved by City Council.

It might not be Jordan Valley Ice Park much longer.

It could soon be known as Mediacom Ice Park, thanks to a hefty financial contribution from city cable provider Mediacom Communications Corp.

Mediacom plans to give the city $200,000 a year for 10 years in exchange for naming rights for the ice park and the stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex. The tennis venue will be called Mediacom Tennis Stadium.

The Springfield City Council will consider Mediacom’s offer at Monday’s meeting. The council has to approve and accept the contribution before the name changes become official.

Larry Peterson, Mediacom regional vice president in Springfield, said the new signs are almost finished and will be unveiled Tuesday morning at both facilities.

“We’re real excited about this opportunity,” Peterson said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s an opportunity for us to become more involved in the community. Our families work and live here and take advantage of these facilities. We saw a chance to support Springfield and be a good citizen and corporate neighbor.”

Randy Hollis, Mediacom’s regional government relations manager, said the new signs “will be impressive in size and tasteful in nature.”

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board, which operates both facilities, supports the name changes.

Parks Director Jodie Adams said selling naming rights came up in 2003 when the parks department took over management of the ice park.

She said $150,000 of Mediacom’s annual contribution will help pay down the ice park’s outstanding debt.

Next year’s debt payment will be $711,000, and the ice park is financed out to the year 2029. Total outstanding debt is approximately $9 million.

The remaining $50,000 will be used for program improvements at the Cooper Tennis Complex.

“It will help us to continue promoting our programs and going after big events,” she said. “A lot of amateur events use the Cooper complex. It’s a good venue for them.”

Adams said the parks department has absorbed cost increases for years and will lose some money next year through cuts in city funding.

The Mediacom money will help ease those losses, she said.

“This is a big deal for us,” Adams said.

The naming rights aren’t tied to any special considerations for Mediacom, according to City Attorney Dan Wichmer.

The city no longer negotiates a franchise deal with Mediacom, thanks to a law passed by Missouri lawmakers last year that created statewide franchises.

“All they want is naming rights,” Wichmer said. “It’s a pretty straightforward contract.”

City Manager Bob Cumley said he hoped other businesses might consider paying to put their names on city venues, but Peterson said Mediacom has no further plans to do so in Springfield.

“We’ve been fairly generous,” he said. “Dad’s wallet is empty.”

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