Riverfront Park’s biggest attractions will now be known as the Numerica Skate Ribbon and SkyRide.
The name change comes after the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department approved its first title sponsorship agreement on Thursday, which will bring in almost $1 million over a decade.
The money from the agreement, about $90,000 a year, will go to programs like skating lessons, free skate night and other low-cost programs for the community. It could also be used for park operations.
Spokane Park Board President Nick Sumner said sponsorships could allow the Parks Department to offer programs that may not normally be available.
He said the board would also only choose sponsors that align with the Parks Department’s mission and that give back to their community.
“We are very picky about who we partner with,” he said.
The skate ribbon opened in 2017, replacing the more traditional Ice Palace rink. The SkyRide has been a part of Riverfront Park since 1974.
Dennis Hession, who served 11 years on the Park Board before joining the Spokane City Council and being appointed mayor, said he remembered the panel always “being reluctant” to sell naming rights within the park. However, it might make sense to ease the burden on taxpayers for keeping up certain amenities in city parks, he said.
“Maybe you look a little bit like Las Vegas, but you’d also minimize the need to ask citizens for more money out of their pockets,” Hession said.
City Council President Ben Stuckart agreed.
“You want this jewel of our city to break even. You don’t want it to be sucking all the revenue from the neighborhood parks,” Stuckart said.
He referred to the First Interstate Center for the Arts, previously known as the INB Performing Arts Center and, before that, the Opera House, as an example of unobtrusive naming of public facilities.
The Parks Department also redacted Numerica Credit Union’s name from city documents prior to the Park Board vote. Sumner said the board wanted to keep its first sponsorship a secret to build excitement and announce it with fanfare, which came with a spray of confetti after the vote.
Hession said he wasn’t concerned withholding the potential name for the skate ribbon from the public would lead to Park Board members potentially selecting a name that didn’t reflect the values of the community. Members are free from political and monetary influence by design, he said, serving on appointment and motivated by a desire to keep up the city’s park system.
“There’s no incentive for the Park Board to do anything other than the right thing,” Hession said.
Numerica’s name will be on signs around the skate ribbon, SkyRide and ice machine and have its name used in park marketing. The credit union also will have the right to plan a summer event and a winter event in the park area, and will have its name used in marketing for the city’s annual tree-lighting ceremony.
The credit union also has sponsored a free skate for the coming Presidents Day weekend. Skaters must bring canned food to donate to Second Harvest and will need to pay for skate rentals if they don’t have their own.
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