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Downtown theater: Your name in lights for millions

Published March 21, 2013 7:38 pm

Downtown • Naming rights could bring in extra cash for Utah Performing Arts Center.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A rose by any other name could be worth big bucks.

The $110 million Utah Performing Arts Center just became the $116 million Utah Performing Arts Center.

By plowing an extra $4 million into luxury boxes, a VIP lounge and a terrace overlooking Main Street, Salt Lake City could rake in five times that much in naming rights, according to the consulting firm Pathway Associates.

The Salt Lake City Council endorsed the plan this week.

The remaining $2 million of the new $116 million total is the cost associated with issuing the bonds for financing the playhouse designed for touring Broadway plays. Officials apparently neglected to mention that expense earlier in the run-up to approval of ownership and operating agreements between Salt Lake City Council and the Salt Lake County.

According to the new naming-rights plan, the three-tiered, 2,500-seat theater would include three private center boxes on tier one that will hold 18 seats each ($2 million apiece for naming rights); 14 private side boxes of six seats each on tiers one, two and three ($750,000 apiece for naming rights); and a private lounge on tier three ($3 million for naming rights).

A terrace facing Main Street also would be added on tier three ($5 million in naming rights). It would be open to the public.

As part of the original budget for the project — then listed as $110 million — naming rights for the planned building on Main Street near 100 South would bring $20 million. That's still the plan, according consultant Dave Jones.

Beyond the $4 million construction cost, $4 million would be budgeted for VIP services, according to Pathway Associates and the office of Mayor Ralph Becker.

Naming rights for the VIP amenities and the terrace could raise $8 million to $24.5 million, according to Pathway Associates. The low range represents a break-even point for construction and services. The high range would yield up to $16.5 million that would help retire the debt, according to Helen Langan, senior adviser to Becker.

In a best-case scenario, naming rights for the building and other amenities could eventually amount to $44.5 million, according to figures supplied to the City Council.

Purchasing the naming rights on private boxes does not come with tickets to those seats. Those must be purchased.

The private boxes and lounge make it possible for a larger segment of the donor community to be involved with the Utah Performing Arts Center, Jones told the council. And the program would "make the theater experience better for everyone."

The council put one condition on its endorsement. The first $150,000 of revenue from naming rights must go the "Art Accessibility" program for the first season of operation in 2016. The program seeks to make theater seats available to the financially disadvantaged on a sliding-fee scale through community organizations.

Under the city's operating agreement with Salt Lake County, 35 cents from each ticket sale will go to the Art Accessibility program.

csmart@sltrib.com Naming rights for Salt Lake City arts center

Theater building • $20 million

Main Street Terrace • $5 million

Legacy Lounge (private) • $3 million

First-tier center boxes (private) • $2 million

Side boxes on three tiers (private) • $750,000