Qwest Communications spokesperson Danny Pate said that all company properties, including Qwest Field in Seattle, "will transition to the CenturyLink name and brand" after the Louisiana-based telecommunications company closes its $22B merger with Qwest on April 1, according to Ross Boettcher of the Omaha WORLD-HERALD. By the end of August, Qwest Center Omaha "will don the name of CenturyLink." The company's name and "green sunburst logo will replace everything ... that currently carries the name 'Qwest' and its 'Q' emblem." CenturyLink will pay for the "expansive branding makeover." Denver-based Qwest inked a 15-year naming-rights deal for the Omaha arena in '03. A Qwest spokesperson said that "post-merger, the two telecommunications companies will undergo a strategic branding initiative with advertising and educational material for consumers who aren't familiar with CenturyLink" (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 3/24). At presstime, THE DAILY had been unable to reach the Seahawks for comment regarding a potential Qwest Field name change.
QWEST FOR DOLLARS: Qwest’s naming-rights deal in Omaha is worth a total of $14M, which is the top naming-rights deal among all minor league arenas. The company also has rights to Qwest Arena in Boise, a deal which does not expire until ’15. The company’s deal for the Seahawks and Sounders venue is worth an estimated total of $60-100M and expires sometime between ’19-24 (THE DAILY).
Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts said that he is "going to keep pitching his proposal" to rebuild Wrigley Field "with a combination of private and public funds," according to Greg Hinz of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. Ricketts yesterday "lifted the veil a bit on what's next after bloody battles over increased signage at Wrigley, rebuilding the stadium with revenues from city ticket taxes and, most recently, closing Sheffield Avenue during much of the summer for a Boston Red Sox-like street festival." Ricketts said that "threatening to move the team elsewhere ... is off the table," as is the idea of PSLs. Instead, his "chosen tactic is more, mostly quiet talks with public officials," particularly Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. Sources indicated that Ricketts and Emanuel "had a 10-minute sitdown a few weeks ago in which Mr. Ricketts made a presentation and Mr. Emanuel listened." Ricketts said, "He understands." In order to raise money for Wrigley renovations, Ricketts "still seems to emphasize the ticket tax idea that he floated last year, arguing that it would preserve and expand the 'economic magnet' that Wrigley is for Chicago." Ricketts said that he is "prepared for a long war of schmoozing, stroking and negotiating with both neighborhood and public officials." He added, "We're very much committed to the preservation of Wrigley Field. That's a long process, and it is a process. It is going to take awhile to get it done" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 3/23).
Univ. of Colorado AD Mike Bohn yesterday confirmed that the school is "talking with Frontier Airlines and other companies about buying naming rights to Folsom Field," according to Ann Schrader of the DENVER POST. Bohn said that any naming-rights deal would include a "commitment to keep Folsom Field as part of the football stadium's name." CU and Frontier officials "confirmed discussions but said no agreement had been reached and there is no timetable." Bohn and Carlo Bertolini, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for Frontier Airlines parent company Republic Airways, acknowledged that Frontier execs "toured Folsom Field on Tuesday, when a message was placed on the stadium's video screen to give them an idea of what the name could look like." The sign read, "Welcome to Frontier Stadium" and included an image of an airplane. Schrader notes a "photo of the video screen was posted on an online fan forum" (DENVER POST, 3/24). In Boulder, Kyle Ringo reports Frontier Airlines "already is a major sponsor for CU athletics." CU is "believed to be targeting at least $1 million annually for the naming rights and an agreement ranging from 10 to 20 years." Such a deal would give the school "a significant chunk of new revenue at a time when it is badly needed." CU is leaving the Big 12 Conference for the Pac-12 on July 1, agreeing as part of the move to "forfeit nearly $7 million in conference distributions from the Pac-12." School officials estimate the conference change "could cost anywhere between $10 and $16 million" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 3/24).
Red Sox concessionaire Aramark has “signed a deal to bring a pair of ‘Bottoms Up’ beer dispensers” to Fenway Park by Opening Day, according to Greg Turner of the BOSTON HERALD. The system “fills a special cup from the bottom up in just a few seconds, vastly outpouring typical tap setups.” Aramark Senior PR Manager David Freireich said, “We think people will be lining up and stopping by even if they aren’t planning on buying a beer, just to see how it works.” Red Sox fans “got a taste of Bottoms Up at Fenway at the end of the 2009 season during a few games of testing.” Freireich said that “improvements over the last year convinced Aramark to add Bottoms Up to the concessions starting lineup.” Freireich: “The speed is the key selling point.” He added that the “pint-size plastic cup’s recyclable magnet bottoms, which can be used for advertising, won’t force Aramark to hike prices for Bottoms Up-poured Budweisers” (BOSTON HERALD, 3/24).
EXPANDING THE PALATE: In Baltimore, Richard Gorelick notes Camden Yard's new concessionaire, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, yesterday unveiled a new ballpark menu “with a decidedly local flair.” The company “brought the traditional (a tastefully done crab cake), the outrageous (an Esskay hot dog topped with smoked pit beef, pepperoni hash stewed tomatoes and crispy onions) and the whimsical (a golden pretzel braided in the shape of the Orioles' O).” The concession offerings in the past “felt generic and indistinct to many fans.” The “only exception over the years” has been Boog's BBQ, and “even that is being given a Sportservice twist.” Some of what Sportservice will serve "appears to have been directly inspired by the culinary bus tour of Baltimore that Sportservice executives and regional chefs took" in December. Gorelick notes the “traditional ballpark items will still be available” at the ballpark (Baltimore SUN, 3/24).
In Cleveland, D'Arcy Egan reports Thistledown "won't be racing under the lights this season," but track GM Lee Dillard said that he "would like to have later post times on Saturdays in May and June to attract new customers." Later post times "might take advantage" of rival track Northfield Park's "new schedule of switching from live Saturday evening races in May and June to simulcast racing that would include the popular Triple Crown thoroughbred races." Thistledown is allowed lived racing until 7:00pm ET, "although its live programs have ended much earlier in the past" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/24).
DOWN AT THE DOWNS: In Boston, Matt Murphy reports Suffolk Downs is "looking to reduce its live racing days by 20 percent, a change track officials say will boost purses and make the facility a more attractive venue for horsemen and patrons." The East Boston track has "reached a tentative agreement with its horsemen to reduce live racing days to 80 from 100," yet "another sign of the financial difficulties facing the downsized racetrack industry in Massachusetts." The track would "need permission from the state Legislature to make the change" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24).
RESTORING THE PINES: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Michael Buteau notes Pinehurst Resort's No. 2 golf course re-opened earlier this month after CEO Bob Dedman Jr. "hired Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to restore the 104-year-old layout" to its original design at a cost of $2.5M. Visits from golfers fell 13% in the four-year period after Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the '05 U.S. Open, and the resort wanted to "reverse the decline." The renovation required Pinehurst "to shut down No. 2 for four months." The USGA was "consulted at every stage, because the course is scheduled to stage the U.S. Open championships for men and women a week apart" in '14. USGA Exec Dir Mike Davis said, "Now I think you’ve got the wow factor. Aesthetically, it’s a huge change" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/24).