Sunday, January 21, 2018
Business

Amphitheater is no longer named Ask-Gary

TAMPA — It's curtains for perhaps the least melodious name ever for an outdoor music venue — the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre.

Drive by the Florida State Fairgrounds east of Tampa and the sign outside the open-air stage simply says "Amphitheatre."

Google "Ask-Gary amphitheatre" and the search kicks you straight to Live Nation, the entertainment company that books the talent. For now, it's calling the venue the "Live Nation Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds."

"We are beginning the process of finding the right partner for the venue," Live Nation spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said in an email Monday. "In the meantime, we placed our own name on the building."

Who's next and when appears to be anyone's guess.

Across Interstate 4 from the venue is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Its spokeswoman, Gina Morales, emailed that "according to my bosses, currently there is no proposal from Live Nation for us to review in regards to a naming agreement."

The three-year contract that 1-800-Ask-Gary had for the naming rights to the amphitheatre expired Dec. 31.

Calls to the doctor-and-lawyer referral service Monday for comment were not returned.

The amphitheater opened in 2004 and was known as the Ford Amphitheatre until 1-800-Ask-Gary came along in 2010.

Sarasota chiropractor Gary Kompothecras, whose Physicians Group runs more than 40 treatment offices for victims of auto crashes statewide, paid an estimated $375,000 a year for the naming rights. Of that, $75,000 a year went to the Florida State Fair Authority.

And the money, well, it helped the fairgrounds live with 1-800-Ask-Gary.

So when Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller Jr. learned of the change Monday, his first thought wasn't about the name.

"It's a major loss financially," said Miller, who sits on the fair authority's board. "The board's going to have to try to figure out how to make those dollars up.

"Hopefully, it will be a year with no rain, no cold weather. If we have record crowds, that would help. My hope is this is a great year for the fair."

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