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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Riverfront Park Pavilion, brought to you by … ? Parks Department seeks naming partner for iconic structure

The signature attraction of Riverfront Park may get a longer name.

The city’s Parks & Recreation will also get more than $1.25 million over the next decade to support programming underneath the U.S. Pavilion, built for Expo ’74.

Spokane Parks & Recreation is seeking a naming rights partner for the pavilion, the central gathering place of Expo ’74 with iconic netting that has been a signature of the city’s skyline for decades. The agreement will give the partner a decade of exclusive naming rights to the structure, rebuilt in 2019 at a cost of roughly $25 million as part of a redevelopment of Spokane’s downtown park.

Park staff intend to keep the “pavilion” part of the name, but the “U.S.” portion may go away.

Garrett Jones, the city’s parks director, said the city is seeking a partner that will agree to a visual style that matches the surrounding park and provide financial support for events within the structure.

“We don’t want to drain other resources that we can invest in other places in the city,” Jones said.

Jones likened the future partnership to Spokane’s current agreement with Numerica Credit Union for naming rights to the Skate Ribbon and SkyRide. The institution has naming rights to that attraction through March 2029 per the terms of an agreement that brings in roughly $90,000 a year to the Parks Department.

The city is asking for a minimum investment of $125,000 annually for naming rights to the U.S. Pavilion, so named because it was constructed by the federal government for the world’s fair before being gifted to the city of Spokane at Expo ’74’s conclusion. Jones said it was also important to have a public bidding process for naming rights to the structure.

“I wanted to be as transparent as possible,” Jones said. “It’s really giving every organization an opportunity to look at it.”

The bidder’s annual contribution to the department for the naming rights won’t be the only thing parks staff considers when making a decision, Jones said. They’ll also be looking at how the organization plans to use the space and provide support for programming.

Signage will need to be approved by park officials and adhere to city laws, according to a naming policy the Spokane Park Board agreed to in 2017 in anticipation of selling future naming rights for features of the rebuilt park.

“We want to be leveraging these partners, while also at that same time, doing it very tastefully,” Jones said. “We’ve seen from the public questions like, ‘Is it going to look like a NASCAR track?’ The answer is no.”

One of the elements of the pavilion already has a sponsored name. Garco Construction, the main contractor for the redevelopment work, was granted naming rights to the elevated platform standing 45 feet above the pavilion’s floor. Called the Garco Terrace, sandblasted logos on either side of the structure proclaim the recognition for Garco offered in exchange for site work that increased the capacity of the facility to 5,100 visitors.

The Parks Department also recently restructured its contract with AEG Presents to provide concerts at the U.S. Pavilion through 2025. Jones said those who bid on the naming rights will make their own pitches on promotional materials for the continuing concert series.

“It really is going to be a fluid dynamic, to really see where their priorities are as well, to see where they see value as an organization,” Jones said.

Staff will collect all the completed bids, which are due to Parks & Recreation by Oct. 10, and make a recommendation to the Spokane Park Board.

Jones said he hopes the city will have an agreement with a naming partner by the end of the year.