ST. PETERSBURG — A few months ago, St. Petersburg development administrator Alan DeLisle told City Council members the city could earn about $100,000 annually in naming rights from the yet-to-be constructed Pier District.
At least two council members seemed mildly perturbed, but DeLisle assured them that a consultant would be hired to help "identify areas of the Pier District that could be tactfully and tastefully named."
Council member Karl Nurse supports the naming rights idea for the $76 million Pier District — to a point.
"I wouldn't want it called the Budweiser Pier," he said. "I wouldn't take money from liquor, or tobacco, or gambling, or loan sharks, payday lenders."
The city is now at the point of hiring a firm to guide it through this tricky process. A request for proposals has been issued and a consultant could be selected in early 2018. The word "tasteful" comes up often.
"The idea is to hire a naming rights consultant to look at the Pier District plan and for them to give us their thoughts on how naming rights might best work," DeLisle said.
"We realize that we have got to be very, very careful about how this is done and so that's why we're starting with a consultant to give us some feedback to where the best areas might be for some tastefully done naming rights."
DeLisle said certain areas that might lend themselves to sponsors. Among them, the lawn near the pier head, the pier head building itself, the children's play area, splash pad, pavilion, marketplace, Spa Beach and the entrance to the 26-acre Pier District that will stretch from the edge of downtown out into Tampa Bay.
Other cities have successfully implemented naming rights programs, DeLisle said, particularly mentioning Chicago's internationally known Millennium Park.
"They do have some naming rights throughout the park and it's tastefully done and it makes sense," he said. "We're just saying that we want to explore this possibility. Other cities have done this very tastefully and it's helped their operating budget."
Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination, said there has already been "substantial interest" in the idea.
"I think that the project is getting noticed in the marketplace," he said. "We've got time to work through these things all through the year of 2018. We want to be very thoughtful and deliberate."
Ballestra, DeLisle, Clay Smith, the city's director of downtown enterprise facilities and creative services manager Nina Mahmoudi are among those on the committee that will choose a consulting firm.
"We would like to make selection in January and we would bring that to the City Council no later than February," Ballestra said.
"We're very sensitive that this is a community pier. We want to very considerate of what would be acceptable."
"In a perfect world, I wouldn't name anything except for the splash pad and the pier building," Nurse said, "but there is never enough money to do everything we would like to do. So, if there are folks who are willing to do this, we ought to take a serious look at it."
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes