OKC City Council approves agreement to name arena

Wednesday, April 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers to name the new downtown arena ``Ford Center.''

Ward 1 Councilman Mick Cornett cast the lone ``no'' in a 7-1 vote for the 15-year, $8.1 million deal, saying he opposes the city entering into any naming rights agreements.

``I've long been an opponent of selling the naming rights to this arena, and I'm still against it today,'' Cornett said. ``Ford is a great company; this money will be well spent. I just prefer to see the city move in a different direction on naming rights for this arena.''

The ``Ford Center'' name required council approval. Proceeds from the deal will go back into the city's maintenance fund for the arena and other downtown projects.

Ward 5 Councilman Jerry Foshee said the city also will benefit from statewide promotions that Oklahoma Ford Dealers plan in conjunction with the arena. A representative of the dealers said Tuesday the group already has booked 12 events once the arena opens in June.

``By tying it into the Oklahoma Ford dealerships across the state, we're almost guaranteed a draw from across the state,'' Foshee said.

Representatives of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers said they were excited to be partners with the city on the largest of its nine Metropolitan Area Projects.

``Our moniker is the best in Oklahoma, and we're very proud of that,'' said Kyle McQuaid, an advertising representative of the group. ``We truly believe the MAPS projects are one of the best things this state has ever done, and we're all very proud of it.''

The agreement with Oklahoma Ford Dealers was negotiated by SMG, a national facilities operator hired by the city to operate the arena and neighboring Cox Business Services Convention Center, formerly known as the Myriad Convention Center.

SMG General Manager Gary Desjardins told the council the naming rights contract was negotiated as the company discussed possible agreements with 15 to 20 different parties.

``This is a very comprehensive naming rights package,'' Desjardins said. ``It covers everything from exterior signage to suites to club seats and also incentives to bring businesses into Oklahoma City with their regional meetings.''