June 9th, 2009

Looking for Money in a Name

By Milton J. Valencia
The Boston Globe

Imagine heading to Boston’s Gillette Convention Center, or the Coca-Cola Exhibition Center. Under a state Senate proposal, local parks and pools could be named after neighborhood hardware stores or pharmacies.

“Why not?” said Senate minority leader Richard Tisei, a Republican from Wakefield.

“If it gets the parks open and gets the pools open and brings some money into the state, why not? It’s not a bad idea.”

Although such attempts have failed several times, the Senate’s Republican Caucus has resurrected the naming-rights proposal as a way to help the state balance its finances in the worst budget process in recent history.

An amendment to the Senate’s supplemental budget that would allow for naming rights passed 36 to 3. If the measure is included in a House and Senate compromise budget, the proposal could be sent to Governor Deval Patrick for approval.

Under the plan, the state secretary of administration and finance would solicit bids for naming rights on state facilities in which it would be “appropriate” or “not otherwise prohibited by law.” Tisei said the law is not meant to solicit bids to name the State House, but perhaps buildings with a lesser profile, such as the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

He noted a 2007 Globe story in which one analyst estimated that the naming rights to the center could yield more than $500,000 a year. A representative of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which operates the state-subsidized Convention and Exhibition Center, could not be reached for comment yesterday but an official has said in past interviews that no market exists for naming rights to convention centers. The official said worthwhile naming rights are reserved for sporting centers.

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