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Cumberland County Civic Center hires Philadelphia firm to sell naming rights

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Cumberland County Civic Center hires Philadelphia firm to sell naming rights

PORTLAND — What's in a name? For the Cumberland County Civic Center, potentially millions of dollars.

So the Civic Center Board of Trustees is getting some professional help in selling rights to rename the arena, Board Chairman Neal Pratt said July 12.

The board has retained Front Row Marketing Services to act as an agent for the Civic Center's naming rights, corporate sponsorships, and other branding opportunities, according to Pratt.

The 6,800-seat Civic Center is closed during a $33 million renovation, which is expected to be complete by January 2014. Pratt said any new name for the arena would probably be unveiled in time for its reopening.

Front Row, based in Philadelphia, represents sports teams and venues across the country. The firm has served as the sales arm of the Civic Center's anchor tenant, the Portland Pirates professional hockey team, and handled the sale of naming rights for the newly constructed Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Cross Insurance Agency paid $3 million in 2012 for 15-year rights to name that 5,800-seat arena, which is scheduled to officially open in early fall.

Pratt said it would be "premature" to predict what kind of price the Civic Center's naming rights might fetch.

"At this point," he said, "we just want to make sure we maximize the value (of the naming rights)."

Front Row brings expertise that will help the Civic Center obtain that value, he added.

Interest in using the Civic Center's name, seating, electronic displays and interior space for marketing has already been high, according to Pratt.

"Even before the board retained Front Row, I got calls from company representatives wanting to kick the tires," he said. "There are a lot of interested parties."

A party that won't be bidding on the rights is the Pirates.

The rights were contested during lease negotiations between the team and the Civic Center earlier this year. On April 17, after dozens of meetings, the two sides announced an agreement that calls for the team to play another five years at the arena.

As part of the complex deal, the Civic Center retained the naming rights, a stipulation Pratt had called a "deal breaker."

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.