The Association of U S West Retirees



CenturyTel Center, perhaps?


By Maggie O'Brien

April 23, 2010

The president of the Qwest Center Omaha said Thursday that he wants to retain the facility's name, despite the company's pending sale.

“I like ‘the Qwest Center Omaha,'” said Roger Dixon, who also serves as president of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, which oversees the facility. “It is a brand that we're very proud of and worked well with.”

Even so, the Qwest Center could have a different name if the deal for CenturyTel Inc. to purchase Qwest Communications goes through next year. The purchase was announced Thursday.

In 2003, Qwest committed to pay $14 million over 15 years for the facility's naming rights.
It will be up to CenturyTel to decide whether to keep the Qwest name.

• No name change: CenturyTel could decide to keep the Qwest name for the company. If that happened, the convention center and arena could remain the Qwest Center Omaha.

CenturyTel Center, perhaps? CenturyTel could drop the Qwest name. In that case, the convention center and arena could also get a new name.

• Change only the company name: CenturyTel could, in theory, drop the Qwest Communications name but keep the Qwest Center name.

However, “that wouldn't make much sense,” said Doug Parrott, a MECA spokesman.

The reason to buy naming rights is for marketing, he said. It's about branding a company.

A spokeswoman for CenturyTel could not be reached for comment.

CenturyTel has, in some cases, changed the names of corporations it has acquired.

If the convention center and arena's name were to change, Qwest's contract with MECA requires that all related expenses be paid by the company. That includes everything from new signs to items such as trash cans, stationery and employee ID badges.

Such alterations would probably cost CenturyTel “well into six figures,” Dixon said.

In addition to the Qwest Center Omaha, the names of two other public venues are up in the air: Seattle's Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and Qwest Arena in Boise, Idaho.

“People don't like change,” Dixon said. “It's as simple as that.”