Seafood Marketing Board Mulling New Orleans Arena Naming-Rights Deal
The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board is “mulling a proposal to purchase naming rights for the New Orleans Arena,” according to Cara Bayles of the HOUMA COURIER. The marketing board’s Exec Dir Ewell Smith said that the Hornets could “soon play in the Louisiana Seafood Arena.” Hornets Senior Dir of Communications Harold Kaufman said, “We've been aggressively seeking a naming-rights partner for many months, but we can't specify who those discussions are with.” Bayles noted should the naming-rights deal go through, it “would not be the first time the Seafood Board and the Hornets worked together.” Prior to the BP oil spill in '10, the marketing board “opened a Louisiana seafood vendors' booth at the arena," which Smith said was "a tremendous success." Since the spill, the group “has bought signs in the arena, and the Hornets agreed in February to exclusively serve locally produced seafood” (HOUMA COURIER, 1/24). Smith said that the board “might use a portion of the $30 million it received from BP after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to buy the naming rights” to the arena. In New Orleans, Nakia Hogan writes a deal is “far from [a] slam dunk.” But Smith said that it “could have great value as part of their campaign to restore confidence in the seafood industry, which took a major blow following” the spill. Under their current lease with the state, the Hornets “would receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of naming rights at the state-owned building.” Smith said that a decision “could be made within 30 to 90 days.” The Hornets, “whose lease with the state is set to expire following the 2014 season, are in negotiations with the state to extend the lease while also seeking to find an owner to purchase the team from the NBA.” A naming-rights deal and a new lease “would seemingly make the team more attractive to potential buyers,” but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal yesterday said that the negotiations “are separate transactions.” A naming-rights deal for an "arena in the New Orleans market likely could cost about $35 million for 10 years" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/25).