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San Diego Convention Center Looks To Naming Rights For More Revenue

A couple strolls along the sidewalk in front of the San Diego Convention Center.

San Diego Convention Center officials said Wednesday they are in the process of hiring a consultant to determine the potential value of selling naming rights to venues within the facility.

The center is hunting for additional revenue to pay for necessary capital projects and maintenance, as well as restoring depleted financial reserves.

The goal is to have naming rights in areas like the Sail Pavilion, but not the overall facility itself, Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., told members of the City Council's Infrastructure Committee.

"The best brand is San Diego,'' Wallace said. "We in San Diego have an idea of who we are, where we are. That's the first thing -- we have a lot of value in our own brand.''

She said a convention center in a Midwestern city was named for an airline that subsequently changed its name, so the center had to adjust accordingly. The airline was gobbled up in a series of mergers, forcing the facility to go through a few more name changes, she said.

"We would prefer to look at naming internal venues and not changing the name of the overall building. But I would say for the right price, we might be convinced different,'' Wallace said with a chuckle.

Center officials also provided the committee with a prioritized list of infrastructure needs. At the top is a proposal to replace the fabric of the facility's iconic sails in three to four years.

Convention center officials propose to fund the $11.4 million replacement of the sails in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The city of San Diego currently is in FY 2014.

The sail replacement would be part of a major rehabilitation of the Sail Pavilion, where conventioneers and trade show attendees hold special events.

The sails are what give the waterfront building its unique appearance.

Other proposed projects in the Sails Pavilion include replacing concrete, lighting and air-conditioning systems.

Two years ago, convention center Vice Chairman Steve Cushman told City News Service that the sails at that point were two years past their useful life.

The report assigns various projects a value of "five" for the most critical needs down to a "one'' for the lesser items.

Nearly 40 items were rated a "five.'' Other than the sails replacement, they include converting pneumatic heating, ventilation and air-conditioning controls to digital, upgrading restrooms, getting new ice machines and improving the sound system.

Some of the highest-priority needs are very detailed, like replacing dimmer systems for lights, purchasing a forklift and changing out an electrical transformer on the mezzanine level.

Funding plans are being finalized, according to the report. Center officials peg the backlog of infrastructure needs at the center at $41 million.

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