Multi-Event Center Needs More Support Of All Kinds

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by Barry Cardinael
Multi-Event Center Project Manager
On May 17, I was respectfully informed by the Tonto Apache Tribal Chairperson, Vivian Burdette, that at this time, the Tonto Apache Tribe was going to decline the opportunity to name the new Payson Multi-Event Center. This decision was arrived at by a consensus of their Tribal Board, their Economic Advisory Committee, and input from the tribal community as a whole.

Out of due consideration for both their longstanding presence in the Rim country, their business and employment stature in the community, their proximity to the event center site, and their ongoing local charitable activities, the Tonto Apache Tribe was the first group given the opportunity to name the new facility. Though this proposal was formulated on both sides of the table, it was never formally negotiated. Therefore, I will simply state that the window of opportunity is still open and the future may still hold some potential for further consideration.

There have been numerous comments made in the press and on the radio that the arena or event center should only be named the Payson Multi-Event Center. I have also had several people suggest to me that it should be named after Mr. Bernard Swartwood, who developed a large percentage of Payson as it is today, and who made it financially possible for the event-center site to be purchased by the town in the first place.

The point here is that both of these are certainly proper and due considerations. However, what is also to be considered is the underlying reason that any facility, anywhere in the world, is given a particular "name" within a formal and legal "naming rights agreement."

The value of a "naming rights agreement" lies in its ability to both generate funds for a new facility and to enhance the image and awareness of the naming sponsor in a positive way. To justify the proposed price tag put on the five-year naming rights agreement for the multi-event center, one must envision that by three to five years from now there will likely be a different kind of event scheduled at the facility every weekend during the spring, summer and fall. Each event is likely to be promoted widely throughout the Valley to the eyes and ears of millions of people.

It is my belief that no combination of $250,000 worth of traditional advertising, promotions and marketing over five years could do as much to enhance anyone's image as a naming rights agreement could.

If the construction of this facility could be funded entirely by some governmental process, then there would be no need for a "naming rights agreement." But such is not the case. Therefore, whether or not everyone is in agreement with the idea, such an agreement, and the funds it could generate, has become one of the options for raising funds.

In the future, most Payson area residents will eventually be proud of and enjoy this facility, and many Payson area businesses will benefit from its existence. For the time being, with the exception of a small and loyal group of people and contractors, this project is largely lacking in active support from both local residents and the business community.

Those who were around here years ago speak frequently about the tremendous negative outpouring of sentiment and opposition that was evidenced in the early planning stages of Green Valley Park and lakes. Yet today it is a place where retirees enjoy summer concerts, children play, others fish, walk, run and picnic, and reunions or fund-raisers for reputable groups like the hospice are staged.

The point here is that few appreciate or encourage progress until they benefit directly from it. Nonetheless, we cannot deny, or hide from, our future and the fact that with the pending completion of the Beeline Highway, Payson and the Rim country will become focal points of the tourism and visitor industry in Arizona.

The best we can do is to both capitalize upon this reality, and at the same time, influence to the greatest degree possible in a positive way the kind of place Payson will be in five to 10 years.

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