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PHILADELPHIA-Just hours before a vote for the reduced, $160-million expansion plan for Cincinnati’s Albert B. Sabin Convention Center was scheduled by the City Council, locally based Cinergy Corp. agreed to pay $12 million over four years for naming rights at the center. This summer Delta Airlines backed away from an earlier commitment to pay as much as $30 million for naming rights. The airline’s decision initially threatened any expansion and caused a trimming of the budget and the size of expansion for a third time.

What began several years ago as a $405 million expansion has undergone successive trimmings, first to $198 million, and now, $160 million. It trims the additional space proportionately. The $198 million plan would have added 278,000 sf to the existing 300,000 sf; the current plan adds just 184,000 sf.

Under the agreement with Cinergy, the center will be renamed Cinergy Center on January 1, 2003, and will keep that name for 30 years. In return, Cinergy will pay $3 million a year for the next four years.

“We believe this is the right step for us to take in helping to continue the revitalization of downtown Cincinnati,” said James E. Rogers, Cinergy’s chairman, president and CEO. “Expansion of the convention center is critical to Cincinnati’s ability to be a destination city and will provide 1,800 permanent and part-time jobs in the area hospitality industry.”

He assured that the funds would come from Cinergy’s retained earnings and not customer rate hikes, noting that electric prices to residential customers in Ohio are frozen through 2005 by state regulation.

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