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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland and Cuyahoga County would split about $10 million over 20 years under a proposed deal to sell the naming rights of the Cleveland Convention Center to FirstMerit Corporation (now Huntington Bank), the county and city announced Monday. If approved by County Council, the deal would become effective Nov.1, 2015, and FirstMerit would pay $400,000 the first year. The annual payments would then increase by 2.6 percent a year. In the 20th year, the deal would pay more than $650,000.
The county would use its share of the money to maintain the convention center and the city would use its money on the adjoining malls. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said at a news conference that the city’s share would be used to add amenities to the malls.
The naming rights deal was negotiated by Cleveland-based Superlative Group, which will receive a commission of 15 percent, or $1.5 million.
In June, 2013, the county and city split the cost of a $260,000, two-year contract to hire Superlative Group to find prospective sponsors for the convention center and Global Center for Health Innovation. As of 2013, 10 convention centers in mid-sized cities had sold naming rights for an average of $322,000 a year, according to a list provided at the time by company president Myles Gallagher. Contracts ranged from seven to 30 years. The companies include Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisc. and the Community Choice Credit Union Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Duke Energy pays Cincinnati $400,000 a year for its name on the city’s convention center. The Cleveland Browns sold the naming rights to the downtown football stadium to FirstEnergy Corp., resulting in FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Browns. The deal reportedly cost the investor-owned utility about $6 million a year for 17 years.
Gallagher’s work led to the naming of the HealthLine, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s nine-mile Euclid Corridor route. The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals agreed in February 2008 to pay $6.25 million over 25 years for the name.
FirstMerit is headquartered in Akron and has 367 banking offices in Ohio and four other states. Paul Greig, FirstMerit chairman and CEO, said at a news conference that Greater Cleveland is an important area for FirstMerit and that securing the naming rights to the convention center is one more way to connect with the city. FirstMerit has 62 branches in the Cleveland area, with 23 in Cuyahoga County.