Changes coming to Fresno's downtown convention center

FRESNO, Calif.

The city council on Thursday approved making a new deal with the company that runs the complex, including Selland Arena and the Saroyan Theatre. That could eventually mean a new name for the complex.

The changes are coming because, as City Council Member Lee Brand points out, the city is spending more money on the property than it takes in.

"We spend roughly about four to five million a year not counting debt service and capital costs, roughly four to five million a year to generate three million in revenues."

Brand lead the charge to do something about that. The city council has approved his plans to wring a little more cash out of the complex, by renegotiating its contract with SMG, the company the city hired to operate the venue. Under the deal the city would pay SMG a little less, but allow them more flexibility in booking acts and events.

SMG Manager Bill Overfelt likes the deal. "We will share portions of the revenues we have generated and kept one hundred per cent of and we will share with a promoter if they bring certain events and a certain number of events especially to Selland Arena and Saroyan Theatre."

City manager Bruce Rudd says the flexibility and shared risk it should make the place more attractive to promoters. "Worst case scenario is we break even on a night when we didn't have anything scheduled anyway, best case is we make money because we make money off of food and beverage or ticket sales. For the promoter it takes some of the risk off the table."

Another idea to make money is to sell the naming rights to the place. Letting a corporation or company put their name on one or more of the buildings.

Rudd explained the naming rights could be put out to bid, while retaining the name of former mayor Arthur Selland. "What would you be willing to pay for naming rights, either the Selland Arena or just we rename the entire complex after Mayor Selland, so it would be the Selland Convention and Entertainment Center so we sell naming rights to the arena."

The options for selling the naming rights and other details of the new contract are expected to be ironed out in the next two weeks. The new arrangement will go into effect at the first of the year.

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