By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The City Council of Asheville selected Harrah’s Cherokee’s bid for the new naming rights of the Asheville Civic Center.
It is a deal that is set to last 5-10 years, that range depending on a revisit of the contract after five years. This bid was chosen on Tuesday, May 28, and Harrah’s Cherokee released the following statement, “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the Asheville Civic Center Complex and are honored that Asheville City Council has selected Harrah’s Cherokee as naming partner. We believe this agreement is a win for all parties and appreciate the opportunity.”
Harrah’s did not wish to comment further.
The contract could potentially cost $5.75 million if Harrah’s remains for the full 10 years. According to the information provided by the City of Asheville, that includes annual naming license fee for both the Civic Center, the Civic Center Parking Garage, and $750,000 in funds specifically dedicated to fan experience improvements such as public Wi-Fi and digital video board improvements. Additionally, the offer includes full reimbursement of up to $250,000 for signage and branding transition to replace existing signage and branding to display the new facility name.
This is a sponsorship bid only, there will be no revenue sharing.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed spoke to the Civic Center Governance Board on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). He says that they receive EBCI well, and that he is looking forward to future work with the city of Asheville
“I think we bring a lot of value to the Civic Center with our brand recognition with Harrah’s, but also our culture,” said Chief Sneed. “We could implement parts of our culture into the décor and everything over there. Also, there’s a lot of opportunity for partnerships.”
He said that the Civic Center was interested in working together for future trainings, and that this opens the ability to book acts together.
“We are now the economic leader in the region,” said Chief Sneed. “Other people in the state, political leaders in other parts of the state, they are looking to us to do economic development in other parts of the state. We are well positioned to do that. We have to embrace that.”
The Asheville City Council voted 6-1 to accept this offer, and many leaders of the city have voiced their excitement.
“I think it’s going to be a good sponsorship, and clearly the amount of money that the sponsorship is will help the city,” said Gwen Wisler, the Vice Mayor of the City of Asheville.
Wisler went on to say that she’s happy that a partnership has been struck up among “neighbors,” and that it will hopefully involve more than just naming rights. She said there have been discussions about the possibility of getting a performance like ‘Unto These Hills’ to the Civic Center.
The building has been the U.S. Cellular Center for the past nine years, and that contract ends on Dec. 31. According to the City of Asheville press release, the Civic Center will then be renamed the Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.