With officials looking to keep the arena open for the foreseeable future, the naming rights for the Pensacola Bay Center could eventually be up for grabs.
Pensacola Bay Center originally opened in 1985, and its aging condition has prompted some discussion about whether or not it will be replaced in the coming years. In a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, Escambia County commissioners showed some willingness to keep the arena operational for the foreseeable future. However, in order to make sure that the facility is a workable venue, officials are expecting that upgrades will need to take place, with a new ice plant expected to be a priority.
One of the topics that came up during Thursday’s meeting was the name of the facility. Pensacola Bay Center has never had a corporate naming rights partner in its history, but commissioners indicated that they are interested in exploring an agreement. Cyndee Pennington, a general manager for arena manager SMG, and commission chairman Doug Underhill both noted the financial benefits that a naming rights deal could provide. More from the Pensacola News Journal:
In the past, Pennington said, companies have been scared off by talks to replace the Bay Center. She said if a company agreed to buy the naming rights, she expects the rights to be worth $1 million to $1.5 million a year.
The Bay Center is projected to operate at a loss of about $1.3 million this year, according to county documents.
“That would absolutely eliminate your operational loss, and this is the first time that I have heard of it,” Underhill said of selling the naming rights. “And I’ve been on this board for almost three years.”
After four years of trying to sell naming rights for what is now Blue Wahoos Stadium, the city of Pensacola sold the naming rights to the team for $112,000 a year, according to a 2015 News Journal story.
Pensacola Bay Center is currently home to the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. It has also been floated as a possible venue for an NBA Development League team, as Pensacola is one of six cites in the mix to land an expansion franchise from the New Orleans Pelicans. That team is not slated to begin play until the 2018-19 season.
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