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Mountain Health Network to purchase naming rights to Huntington Civic Arena

Mountain health arena

Workers from Paris Signs install a digital media board above the entrance of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on June 17, in Huntington. The arena is likely to undergo a name change to Mountain Health Arena after city officials announced Wednesday that Mountain Health Network is purchasing the naming rights to the downtown venue.

HUNTINGTON — Mountain Health Network will be the new naming sponsor to the Huntington Civic Arena, the arena announced Wednesday.

Big Sandy Superstore’s contract for naming rights for the 9,000-seat municipal complex expired late last year. Mountain Health Network agreed to purchase the arena naming rights for $175,000 per year over the course of 10 years, or $1.75 million total. The annual proceeds will go to the city of Huntington’s general fund.

“We are pleased to become the naming sponsor for the Huntington Civic Arena,” said Lisa Chamberlin Stump, chief strategy officer for Mountain Health Network. “The arena draws more than 170,000 attendees for concerts and events annually throughout the region who are also patients and families that Mountain Health Network hospitals serve. We are proud to support the city of Huntington and its investment in the arena that provides for quality of life, economic growth and jobs for our community.”

The city of Huntington and Mountain Health Network will sign the naming rights contract upon approval by Huntington City Council. City Council will hold a special call meeting to consider and act on the proposed contract at 5 p.m. Thursday.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Mountain Health Network for the next decade,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “Mountain Health Arena will present a unique branding opportunity for our community. The naming rights will remind consumers throughout the Ohio River Valley and beyond that Huntington is a city that has become a regional medical center and is also a city that provides a dynamic environment for entertainment.”

The arena intends to rebrand with its new name, Mountain Health Arena, in the beginning of next year pending City Council approval.

Big Sandy Superstore, which operates furniture stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, purchased 10-year naming rights to the arena for $1.4 million in 2003. The naming rights were renewed in 2013 for $750,000 over five years, which expired last year. Before that, the arena was known as the Huntington Civic Arena.

The city of Huntington owns the arena. Its facilities are managed by ASM Global, which manages arenas, coliseums and stadiums in multiple states.

“A local arena contributes to job creation, generates taxes, improves property values and increases business for hotels, restaurants and retail,” said Cindy Collins, the arena’s general manager. “It also supports local businesses such as radio, television, newspaper and helps drive tourism to strengthen a city’s brand.”

Collins touted a 2015 economic impact study by Marshall University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which showed the arena provided at least 190 full-time jobs, created $5.6 million in labor income every year and contributed approximately $17 million to the local economy.

“As we sought out a naming rights partner, we knew it needed to be an organization that not only aligned with our core values and represented our area’s unique spirit, but also one which had the brand power to take us to the next level,” Collins said. “We knew after our first meeting with Mountain Health Network leadership that this was the group with which we wanted to be identified. We’re very excited for this new partnership, new direction and new name.”

Within the past year, the arena has made several improvements to its exterior and remodeled its convention center space. The city also is seeking to refinance its tax increment financing (TIF) district downtown to fund a remade plaza outside, adding seating, better lighting and other improvements. That request is pending approval from the West Virginia Development Office.

In August, members of the City of Huntington Foundation said they were seeking a more permanent fix to the cramped Wall of Fame, which is housed inside the arena and is at max capacity with plaques. There was concern a naming sponsor change would also affect the Wall of Fame’s place in the arena. Arena officials said the Wall of Fame would remain there, but they are seeking a permanent fix to the lack of space.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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