PORTLAND-The manager of the Oregon Convention Center, Portland Center for the Performing Arts and Portland Exposition Center is working with Front Row Marketing of Tampa, FL to sell corporate naming and sponsorship opportunities at its facilities, which attract more than two million people annually.

Following in the footsteps of the nation’s sports complexes, the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission plans to generate revenue from branding awareness and advertising exposure to enhance strategic initiatives and capital programs. Front Row has been working with MERC for the past year. Last week’s announcement of the relationship likely means MERC and Front Row are confident they will be able to close a significant corporate naming and sponsorship deal by the middle of next year, according to sources familiar with the process.

“These past several month were the silent phase, the cultivation phase” one source familiar with the process tells GlobeSt.com. “You like to get pretty far down the road with potential sponsors before you make an announcement.”

Front Row SVP John McDonald declined comment on how far along negotiations are with potential sponsors, but tells GlobeSt.com his company has been given a tough but doable assignment by MERC: to sell naming rights and sponsorships without turning its facilities into something garish. “The MERC properties are show pieces for the region and we intend to treat them that way,” says McDonald. Adds MERC executive director Jeff Blosser in a prepared statement, “We will carefully manage the quantity and quality of displays and signage so they won’t distract from the aesthetics of these facilities.”

First and foremost, McDonald says the naming rights to the Oregon Convention Center itself are not for sale; there will be no ‘Made In Oregon Convention Center.’ Indeed, McDonald says the only naming rights that will be sold for a whole building will be for the Portland Exposition Center.

One goal is to sell a big package deal, says McDonald, one that would give a corporate customer naming rights to the Portland Exposition Center as well as significant other sponsorship opportunities at the Oregon Convention Center and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. For example, instead of being able to name the Oregon Convention Center as a whole, a corporation may get to name a conference room within the building or the property’s environmentally friendly rain garden.

McDonald tells GlobeSt.com that the value of such opportunities is based on the number of “impressions” that can be made, which is to say how many people will be exposed to the company’s name. McDonald declined to estimate how much money the properties could generate in this fashion, but did say that naming right to the Portland Exposition Center alone would generate 74 million annual impressions. A package deal for advertising at all three facilities would “far exceed 150 million impressions,” he says.

While McDonald would not estimate the value of such an opportunity, the same source who told GlobeSt.com that Front Row is likely well into negotiations with potential sponsors estimates that the facilities could generate as much as $5 million for a multi-year deal. That being said, the source says values vary widely, even for similar facilities in similar sized markets.

The only other regional example is the Tacoma Dome next to Interstate 5 in Tacoma, WA. The Cleveland-based consulting firm the Superlative Group Inc. is currently negotiating with prospective buyers of naming rights for the 20-year-old arena. While there were no “impression” estimates to be had, it is estimated that a multi-year naming rights deal could generate between $2 million and $6 million.

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