Critics overreacting

Friday, April 9, 2004

Columbia Daily Tribune

Critics of the name Paige Sports Arena are overreacting.

Bill and Nancy Laurie seeded the arena project by giving the University of Missouri $25 million toward its construction. In return, they negotiated control of naming rights plus a handful of other concessions that might prove lucrative, including a non-competition clause that seems to protect their Wal-Mart interests. ...

Even the "Paige" moniker appears to have implications beyond honoring their only child. The Lauries' Paige Sports Entertainment, which owns the Savvis Center and the St. Louis Blues hockey team, could benefit from an implied extension into MU basketball. Who knows, Paige Sports might provide competition at some point for television rights and marketing services for MU sports. Don't count it out.

In an era when sports venues across the country are selling naming rights to corporations of all stripes, Paige Sports Arena is surely preferable to some other potential options -- say, for example, Tidy Bowl Arena or Tampax Sports Center.

Disgruntled Tigers fans, meanwhile, particularly supporters of former Coach Norm Stewart, seem to have taken the naming as a personal jab ... . Remember, though, without the donation by the Lauries, there would be no new arena. The need for the building is debatable, but the naming rights are a non-issue.

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