DENVER-The $309-million Colorado Convention Center expansion that will open this December, faces a $3.2-million overrun due to change orders, down slightly from an earlier projection of about a $3.4-million overrun. But Jack Finlaw, the city of Denver’s director of theaters and arenas, says not to worry–it won’t be necessary to tap the general budget to make up the deficits.

One trick Finlaw has up his sleeve is to sell the naming rights for a 35,000-sf ballroom and a 50,000-sf ballroom in the center. He estimates that he can sell the naming rights for $1 million to $1.5 million for a 10-year deal.

But City Council President Elbra Wedgeworth says that the city must be careful not to let anyone get the rights. “You don’t want it to be the Playboy ballroom, I wouldn’t think,” she says.

City Councilman Charlie Brown says he doesn’t think it is a good idea to sell the rights to MTV or Janet Jackson. “We have to be careful after Invesco Field,” Brown tells, alluding to selling the Mile High Stadium naming rights to the Denver-based mutual fund that is now being sued by the attorney generals from Colorado and New York, after allegedly secretly allowing late trades.

Before he was mayor, John Hickenlooper in 2000 fought a public battle to keep Mile High of being called Invesco Field at Mile High, its current name. But naming the ballrooms isn’t the same, Hickenlooper says. The Mile High name had a long tradition and a clear economic value, while the ballrooms haven’t even been built yet, he notes.

To raise additional cash, the city also controls a corner at 14th and Champa streets, Finlaw says. While the current concessionaire at the convention center has the first right of refusal for the site, it could potentially be sold or leased to a company that wants to develop a restaurant, retail or both on the corner.

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