In 1995, when the Rose Garden was opened, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that they were NOT going to sell naming rights to the building:
"Bucking a league-wide trend," Blazers CEO Marshall Glickman and Trail Blazers Inc. have opted not to sell the naming rights to the Rose Garden, according to Jeff Manning of the Portland OREGONIAN. Glickman: "It didn't seem like the Portland thing to do." Glickman "had to convince" team owner Paul Allen and the financiers of the arena that his organization "can replace the millions of dollars" the team will forego without a corporate sponsorship. Instead, in each of the arena's four corners will stand 23-foot-tall multimedia advertising towers ("totems") which will contain scoreboards, 32-inch TV monitors and a "feast of high-tech, high-glitz advertising."
Times change, though. Pretty much all arena and team owners are looking for ways to increase revenue and quite obviously, if it will keep ticket prices down, nobody is going to complain about adding a name to the arena. But the question I would ask, though, is are the Trail Blazers going to get enough revenue from a naming-rights deal to make it worth their while?
This story puts a dollar value on naming rights that doesn't seem all that much to me:
Annual sponsorships payments for mid-size NBA cities include the Phoenix Suns, America West Arena, $866,667; and Indiana Pacers, Conseco Fieldhouse, $2 million.
Less than a million bucks for naming rights? Could be, particularly in a market like Portland that's not big, doesn't get a lot of national television exposure and is so known by the name "Rose Garden" that it's going to be hard to change that perception. I would also guess that anybody buying into such a naming rights deal will also get a heavy dose of in-arena signage, premium seats, TV advertising, scoreboard ads, etc. -- an entire package.
So I think the question goes back to the original one in 1995 -- is it worth it? Should the Trail Blazers sell their Rose Garden name for less than a cost of a backup point guard?