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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Naming rights for Pavilion in Riverfront Park has to wait

A new name for the U.S. Pavilion at the center of Riverfront Park will have to wait a little longer.

Spokane Parks & Recreation received no takers this fall for a 10-year, $1.25 million deal that would affix a sponsor’s name to the structure, first built for Expo ’74 and repurposed in 2019 as part of the park’s redevelopment project.

Though several firms downloaded information from the city’s website about a possible deal, the bidding period ended Oct. 31 without a formal offer.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Garrett Jones, director of Spokane Parks. “But, you know, we’ll see what some of these organizations say. I completely understand as we’re all looking at our future budgets.”

Park staff intends to reach out to those who downloaded the information to see what part of the deal was unattractive, Jones said.

The deal would have granted the sponsor signs on the outside of the structure, green-room branding opportunities and tickets to events, in addition to mentions in advertising and media for events at the Pavilion.

Jones suggested that concerns about an impending recession during the bidding process may have also turned away potential partners.

“Our gut tells us a lot of it is on the timing piece,” Jones said, “as organizations are looking into those budgets for 2023 and beyond.”

The $125,000 annual cost is in line with other sponsorship opportunities around town.

In February 2019, Numerica Credit Union agreed to a deal for $90,000 a year to sponsor Riverfront Park’s skate ribbon for 10 years.

The Spokane Public Facilities District signed a deal with First Interstate Bank for the downtown performing arts center that’s worth $180,000 a year, said Stephanie Curran, chief executive officer of the district.

The organization also just inked a $100,000 annual deal with STCU for naming rights to the Podium, the indoor sports and event space that opened last December.

Curran said she was surprised there weren’t any offers on the Pavilion.

“The Pavilion is an iconic space,” Curran said. “It could be the companies are just coming off of COVID.”

Dan Hansen, strategic communications manager for STCU, said the credit union had looked at the information on the Pavilion naming rights, but hadn’t dug too deeply into the details because of the recent Podium deal.

The bid documents also assure a sponsor their name will be prominent in advertising for summer concerts.

Spokane Parks & Recreation this summer restructured their deal with AEG Presents, the booking firm responsible for filling the calendar with acts, after a quieter summer in 2022 compared with 2021.

Jones acknowledged that having more events in the Pavilion would demonstrate more value to a potential sponsorship partner.

“They want to see how many visitors are driving by, and engaging with the facility,” Jones said. “With that restructure of that concert contract, it really helps us have some of those guarantees of having people in that facility.”

Marnie Rorholm just finalized a deal with Idaho Central Credit Union for naming rights to the yet-to-be-built Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center, which broke ground off Interstate 90 near Mirabeau Park in August.

Rorholm, the managing director of the Idaho Central Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center, was also surprised by the lack of bids for the Pavilion.

“I think it’s undervalued,” Rorholm said of the $125,000 annual price tag.

Idaho Central’s interest, and ongoing fundraising efforts for the performing arts center that will open in 2024, suggests there are organizations in the Spokane market interested in promotional opportunities, she said.

Sponsorship agreements aren’t entered into just to put a name on a building, Curran said. The money that comes in is reinvested in the building and in programming.

Parks officials had hoped to have a naming partner by the end of the year.

Jones said the department’s budget for next year would not be negatively affected by a delay.

“2023 might be an opportunity,” Jones said. “It just might be midyear, instead of the beginning of the year.”

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