Raleigh mayor upset over name drop

RALEIGH The commission rejected a naming rights deal earlier this week the City of Raleigh had with a beer distributor to call the new downtown amphitheater the Bud Light Amphitheater.

The 5,000 seat concert venue is expected to become a big draw for downtown Raleigh and that's why the beer company was willing to pay $300,000 a year, just to attach its name.

But state law prohibits public venues from being named after alcoholic beverages. That's why the City requested an exemption from the ABC Commission.

"You have a regulatory group that isn't offering us anything in return," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "They're just saying now, we don't think a wholesale distributor ought to do this."

Meeker says the commission's decision is hard to swallow.

"The distributor sells beer," he said. "It's advertised everywhere in this community. It's a little bit frustrating to be honest with you, it's not 1950, it's 2010."

He says it is frustrating mostly because the deal would have brought in big bucks.

"Times are tough and if we can bring in an extra $200,000 or $300,000 a year, it goes straight to the bottom-line and we can then spend that money on human services for the food distribution or other things that will help in this recession," Meeker said.

"I thought about the contributions that they was going to make to the City and thought that would be a plus to us," Raleigh resident Kimberly Bell said.

Bell says she thinks the city missed out on a good opportunity, but hopes others are brewing.

"I hope they can get an offer for just as much as the Bud Light Company had offered them," she said.

That is a hope that is shared by city officials, who say they are now in talks with at least three potential sponsors.

"Someone will be a naming sponsor," Meeker said. "Now, whether it's at the $300,000 level remains to be seen.

Mayor Meeker says he hopes a new deal will go before the council in the next four to six weeks.

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