Author Topic: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute  (Read 15532 times)

jaxlongtimer

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Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« on: January 14, 2022, 09:04:21 PM »
The City has one of the largest law offices in the form of the Office of General Counsel.  With that horsepower, can't it ever do an "agreement" that isn't full of vagaries, loopholes or such whatnot that it protects the complete interests of the taxpayers?

Now comes Curry and his team who claim with, so far, no clear documentation, that the $3 million paid in 1994 by the Times Union for naming rights isn't "forever" and they can, somewhat arbitrarily, now decide such naming rights should be resold.  In addition to the $30K to $40K the City admits it will take to change signage (probably not once, but twice, since they will take the name down now and have to put up a new name down the road), they may be spending many times that if Gannett follows through and takes them to court.

Interestingly, the City agrees the three individual performance hall names (Moran, Jacoby and Terry) sold at the same time by the same City agent that sold the building name, the Jacksonville Symphony, are indeed in perpetuity.  Further, the then T-U publisher and City general counsel (John Delaney) don't recall any differently for the building naming.

Oh, the hazards of doing business with this City.  Screw the taxpayers or be screwed by the City.  Not many things fall in-between it seems.  City incompetence abounds.

Quote
Jacksonville plans to rename its performing arts center. The Times-Union says it still holds those rights.

The city of Jacksonville has begun removing the Times-Union's name from parts of the downtown performing arts center’s building and website in its bid to resell the naming rights to the three-theater entertainment venue christened the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts a quarter-century ago.

The newspaper, though, said it still holds the naming rights to the center and that the city has no right to resell them.

The question that must be answered is whether those naming rights secured with a $3 million gift in 1994 had an expiration date, or whether they were "in perpetuity."

That’s when The Times-Union, under then-owner, Augusta, Ga.-based Morris Communications, bought the naming rights to the riverfront entertainment complex for what the newspaper’s current owner, its publisher in 1994 and a top city official at the time say was “in perpetuity.” ....

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2022/01/14/times-union-center-does-jacksonville-newspaper-hold-naming-rights-in-perpetuity/9185221002/

MusicMan

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2022, 12:37:47 PM »
Very interesting. I imagine there is some documentation regarding all of this correct?

I do know that Bob Jacoby was very explicit before his death, he would welcome a new sponsor for Symphony Hall naming rights. Not sure if the Symphony is actively shopping it around, however. It might be "Jacoby stage"  at __________ Symphony Hall....

Steve

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2022, 04:51:15 PM »
Here's what I don't understand: The agreement that named the place, does it have a term in the agreement? If so, then what's the term?

If not, then the agreement is in perpetuity. I mean naming rights in 1993 wasn't what it is today, but any agreement without a term doesn't seem particularly smart IMO. That said, you can't magically "make" it have a term.

Just because an agreement isn't beneficial to one side and/or the other doesn't mean the agreement doesn't exist. Now, if both sides could renegotiate the agreement then that's a different matter.

Ken_FSU

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2022, 06:26:36 PM »
Not accusing anyone of taking petty, arbitrary action out of left field just to spite a political opponent (joke obviously being that the Landing would probably still be there if Toney Sleiman didn’t appear in an ad endorsing Alvin Brown), but I wonder if the city is pulling down signage if the Times-Union had been favorable in their coverage over the last couple of years.

Personally, in the absence of a term in the original agreement - which doesn’t sound like it’s there, nor was it likely to be in the early 90s for same reason that things like streaming royalties weren’t included in actor’s deals 25 years ago - I think it’s a crappy move.

The Times-Union has been a part of the bedrock of Jacksonville since at least 1883. And the community is lucky it’s still around considering how many newspapers have folded in the last 10 years. They don’t have the marketing budget of a TIAA or a VyStar, and the industry is struggling overall. Just feels like a dick move to arbitrarily decide to yank what most assume to be permanent naming rights on a loophole.

Yet another example of this bozo city eroding external trust and thinking there’s no consequence of simply walking walking away from agreements they make with sponsors, or with private developers like Sleiman, or with the National Parks service, or with RFP respondents, etc.

Here’s an idea.

If the city doesn’t want to honor the agreement anymore, why don’t they give the $3 million back to the Times-Union? Not the parent company, but the newsroom. And if they can’t for legal or ethical reasons, how about returning the money to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations instead? With interest of course.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2022, 06:30:19 PM by Ken_FSU »

BridgeTroll

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2022, 06:30:20 PM »
Hilariously Jacksonville…ROFL
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2022, 06:53:44 PM »
Very interesting. I imagine there is some documentation regarding all of this correct?

I do know that Bob Jacoby was very explicit before his death, he would welcome a new sponsor for Symphony Hall naming rights. Not sure if the Symphony is actively shopping it around, however. It might be "Jacoby stage"  at __________ Symphony Hall....

Per the article linked, I take it the Symphony controls all the names of the halls and has no plans to change any of them.  The only issue is the name on the building which was also sold by the Symphony but may be under a separate agreement.  That agreement apparently does not set a time limit on the naming rights nor explicitly states that they are in perpetuity.  It appears the players at the time believe the agreement was silent on the issue because it was "obvious" to them that it was in perpetuity unless otherwise stated.

It would appear the City would have an uphill battle winning this issue in court, especially since it seems totally arbitrary to pick this point in time (i.e. about 28 years - not 20, not 25, not 30...) to decide it has "expired."  And, with no apparent supporting documentation or testimony from the original players.

Khan better have his lawyers read the fine print on his deals.  If he pisses off the City one day, watch out!  See Sleiman and the Landing too.

MusicMan

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2022, 10:52:21 PM »
To my knowledge the Symphony Association (management) has no control whatsoever over it. I have no knowledge about that issue, it predates my tenure at the Symphony (2006-2022). However I am the musician rep on the development committee and one of the more oustspoken members of that committee (LONG TIME Board Member)  never misses a chance to remind us all that "the symphony raised the money to build this place."    So there could be some basis for the articles. That being said, I don't think the Symphony is now or ever had been an "agent" for the COJ.  We hardly appear in their budget (although there are serious efforts to change that going on right now.)

vicupstate

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2022, 08:14:52 AM »
The Performing Arts Center in Greenville SC was named after the Peace family that owned the Greenville News newspaper.  They were the biggest single donor to the construction of it. I don't know the particulars of what entity received the actual funds and the details of any contracts involved. There has never been any talk of renaming it, and I would be certain a lot of hell would break loose if anybody did.

I am no expert, but I have never heard of a similar facility reselling its naming rights. The facilities in Columbia, Charlotte have certainly never changed their names. 

This reeks of incompetence and power grabbing and most likely political vendetta. In other words, exactly what you would expect from Jacksonville but not too many other cities.   
« Last Edit: January 18, 2022, 08:16:27 AM by vicupstate »
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Captain Zissou

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2022, 11:38:35 AM »
I have spoken with a number of consultants and outsiders lately for work and they all speak so highly of the Jacksonville market and the potential that it has for growth and development.  I appreciate their comments, but always in my mind I'm thinking that if only they knew how our government worked they'd feel differently.

Steve

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2022, 12:39:05 PM »
The Performing Arts Center in Greenville SC was named after the Peace family that owned the Greenville News newspaper.  They were the biggest single donor to the construction of it. I don't know the particulars of what entity received the actual funds and the details of any contracts involved. There has never been any talk of renaming it, and I would be certain a lot of hell would break loose if anybody did.

I am no expert, but I have never heard of a similar facility reselling its naming rights. The facilities in Columbia, Charlotte have certainly never changed their names. 

This reeks of incompetence and power grabbing and most likely political vendetta. In other words, exactly what you would expect from Jacksonville but not too many other cities.   

Performing arts centers don’t seem to change like sports venues, that’s for sure.

But all of that aside-was there a term in the contract? If not then it seems open and shut unless Gannett and COJ want to renegotiate.

All of that said….with everything COJ needs to concentrate on, how on earth did this bubble to the top!?

(I mean I have ideas but good lord)

Tacachale

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2022, 05:02:14 PM »
The Times-Union's owners put $3 million into the 1994 renovation, which was nearly 10% of the budget. It's no wonder the city honored that gift with a permanent name. The city's position is ridiculous. No one who was around at the time, including city officials, are supporting it. A deal with no ending term doesn't magically transform into a 28-year contract just because the current city leadership doesn't like it. Or because they don't like the Times-Union.
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Florida Power And Light

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2022, 08:16:47 PM »
I wish my father in law, the first General Counsel upon Consolidation, was here to pontificate on this.

On the other hand, it likely doesn’t matter.

MusicMan

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2022, 08:57:03 PM »
I can say that the entire building is in need of repairs, updates, and improvements costing in the millions of dollars. That's not unusual for a 30 year old facility that has been used A LOT. 

A better designed and more efficient bar and refreshment kiosk(s) would help immensely at intermission of busy shows.  Some table service for drinks and food on the terrace would be great, too.

The restrooms are vintage 1997.....  The air chiller is temperamental and way overcools parts of the building.  Symphony Hall actually has been on hold for over 10 years for some 'acoustical adjustments'.   

The marquise out front (in the picture) was a half broken disaster for years, until yours truly went to a public meeting and shamed the COJ reps into replacing it with a decent modern one. This happened AFTER the huge and expensive new sign was installed at Daily's Place. 

« Last Edit: January 18, 2022, 09:04:46 PM by MusicMan »

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2022, 10:22:18 PM »
^ The city and SMG rake in millions from the T-U center.  The question I would be asking is are they properly reinvesting some of that in maintaining the facility.  From what I hear, that's a bid "no."

You can be sure the Jags suck up lots of City dollars as they don't let the City get away with skimping on the stadium.  Maybe a bit like that too at the Baseball Grounds.  The T-U tenants are many and, being mostly nonprofit arts organizations, not built with the same assertiveness, perhaps, as for-profit sports tenants.

Just compare the expenditures by the City on sports facilities to the arts facilities and it becomes clear where the City's real priorities are.  And, even if T-U Center rents don't cover the cost of maintenance, well, neither do the rents at the stadium or the ballpark. 

By the way, I have a long list of improvements and upgrades that need to be made at the arena, while we are at it.  Don't see the City stepping up there either, probably for the same reasons.  The arena does have one advantage, it is capable of hosting sports events, not just the arts.  That might bump it up some on the City's list of priorities.

Maybe the Symphony should ask the City for $50 million to tear a perfectly good road down.  Or $100 million for their favorite hotel brand.  Those might get funded  8)

Ken_FSU

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Re: Naming Rights of T-U Center in Dispute
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2022, 01:06:47 PM »
Absolutely asinine commentary from Brian Hughes on the move, with absolutely nothing concrete to support it:

Quote
“There’s no scenario where a naming right is a one-time payment in perpetuity,” Brian Hughes, the city’s chief administrative officer, told WJCT.

“It’s just not how naming rights is structured, certainly not in the modern era.”