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Spin Control

Posts tagged: naming rights

Sunday spin: Name that bridge for (name that price)

OLYMPIA – Legislators are considering – not too seriously, it seems – a plan to allow the state to sell the naming rights to its many roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings and other facilities.

Should it pass, Spokane residents might at some future date drive east on the Avista Interstate, cross the Microsoft bridge over Lake Washington, take an exit onto the Starbucks Expressway, grab the REI exit ramp to the Nordstrom Terminal, then catch the Ivar’s Acres of Clams ferry boat for points west.

There’s no rate structure in the proposal which had a hearing last week in the Senate Transportation Committee, so how much the state might collect from such a scheme isn’t known. That was clearly a shortcoming, for sponsor Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, could only say the state ought to at least explore any chance to rake in some money that “we don’t have to take out of the taxpayers’ pockets.” Legislators respond better when more definite pots of money are dangled in front of them, such as the possible windfall from legalized pot.

The bill drew predictable harrumphs from purists who think the state ought not to besmirch its fine infrastructure. A member from Gig Harbor seemed leery about the prospect of renaming the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the Chuck E. Cheese bridge, although it’s not immediately clear if he’s spent too much time eating their pizza while screaming kids thrashing about in the pit of plastic balls or just thought it would be unseemly for the company to paint its giant cartoon rat on the structure.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with it if the Legislature can extract a decent rate, although naming structures for corporate entities can be a problem when a corporate change comes along. Just about the time one gets used to Seahawks Stadium being Qwest Field, it gets changed to CenturyLink Field, which requires a search for a catchy nickname like the Clink.

Besides, the state has a tendency to name its various structures and facilities already, but on a very narrow criteria and for no cash in hand. They are almost all named for politicians who are either dead, or at least so long retired that their former adversaries can’t put up a fuss when the naming resolution comes around. Don’t believe me? Get off I-90 on the Jimmy Keefe Bridge, take a left at the light and go down to Division, where if you turn right you will cross over the Sam C. Guess Bridge. Keefe, a Democrat, and Guess, a Republican, were both longtime legislators. Over here, the naming game is nothing if not bipartisan.

WA Lege Day 30: Name that bridge — for a price

OLYMPIA — Driving from Spokane to Seattle might take a motorist west on the Avista Highway, across the Microsoft Bridge to the Starbucks Expressway under a bill the Legislature is considering  to sell the rights to put corporate or other names on the state's roads, bridges, tunnels and ferries. 

Some members of the Senate Transportation Committee made light of the idea, wondering for example, if every legislator would get a chance to name at least one structure after themselves and  what it would cost to rename the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the Chuck E. Cheese Bridge.

The cost is unclear, said the committee's staff. There's no cost estimate or fiscal analysis of the proposal.

A 2009 study on selling the naming rights to name the state's ferries estimated it that proposal could raise about $10 million a year, Dan O'Neal of the Washington State Transportation Commission said. Not a lot of money, but “it may have some merit” O'Neal said.

It's an idea the state should at least consider, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said, if it will bring some money into the state's road project coffers. After all, that $10 million going into the state transportation fund would be money that isn't coming out of the taxpayers' pockets, he said.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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