What is the public allowed to know when it comes to naming rights for the new events center?

Ellis wrote a great column yesterday in the non-free online newspaper about the secrecy surrounding the EC’s naming rights.

So let me get this straight;

• The public was not allowed to pick the location

• The public was not allowed to pick the financing plan

• And now the public isn’t allowed to be a part of the naming rights

What if the corporation chosen is unpopular with the public, even if they give much more then other bidders? Sometimes the highest bidder isn’t always the best. Do we want a subprime credit card company’s name on the side of our events center? Or the name of the founder of that company?

I agree with Ellis, we should be told something, heck, anything. Either the list of companies bidding, or a ballpark figure of what the city is expecting for revenue for the naming rights. Or better yet, both. I think if we made the bids public, we actually might see a bidding war take place which would help us garner even more money.

But hey who am I to question our mayor, Mr. Transparency himself.


On a different note, several people have asked me what I think the working relationship will be between the mayor and councilor Staggers. I have not spoken to Kermit or Mike about this matter. Believe it or not, you may see them join forces on a whole host of things. They both want the EC to be profitable. They both are proponents of testing snow gates. They both want to see infrastructure projects moving at a fast pace. We all may be surprised how much these two have in common. Don’t get me wrong though, there will be battles. Kermit is big on demanding information from city hall before he makes a decision on the council. You may see an all out cage match between Kermit and Darrin Smith (they never got along much on the council).

I will end by saying something Kermit stated the other day on the ‘100 Eyes‘ show when asked about taking things personal. “I don’t take anything personal when there are disputes . . . if someone has a personal issue with me, that’s not my problem, that’s theirs.”

Amen to that.


#1 Andy Traub on 04.16.12 at 7:15 pm

Those with nothing to hide hide nothing. Those with something to hide hide as much as they can.

#2 l3wis on 04.16.12 at 7:23 pm

Andy – don’t you agree that by making the bidders public we might get higher bids? Ellis makes a good point, is there already a pre-determined winner of the bid and that is why it is not public?

#3 l3wis on 04.16.12 at 8:09 pm

Just spoke with Hudson, he thinks that Midcontinent is in the running.

#4 Angry Guy on 04.16.12 at 8:38 pm

Where’s you scrounge that logo up? It’s pretty awesome.

#5 l3wis on 04.16.12 at 8:41 pm

This weirdo sent it to me a few years back. Don’t hear from him much anymore. Married with Children.


#6 l3wis on 04.16.12 at 8:52 pm

Okay, that was not the video I wanted to post, but thought it was funny.


#7 Tom H. on 04.16.12 at 8:55 pm

It seems to me that, in order to drive the bidding up as high as possible (which is in our best interests), the bidding results should be public and open (i.e. companies can up their bids). If it’s just a one-time submission, we’re not taking full advantage of the price-discovery mechanism that a bidding process offers.

#8 l3wis on 04.16.12 at 9:02 pm

Kinda like a farm auction. I think we should get them all down to Carnegie with bidding numbers and hire an auctioneer.

#9 Scott on 04.16.12 at 9:38 pm

And then a post-auction concert by the Jukebox Zeroes!

#10 Detroit Lewis on 04.16.12 at 10:45 pm

LMFAO! one more time LMFAO!

#11 The Guy from Guernsey on 04.17.12 at 8:43 am

The inference I rec’d from Ellis’ piece (and the conduct of the current administration):

While HisManMike’s (TM) diminuitive minion was “pleased” with the response received by Sioux Falls, the number of prospective suitors for naming rights is disappointingly small.

Were this to not be the case and the number of prospective suitors was greater than two, this administration wouldn’t be able to contain its glee (gloat ?). Diamond Jim would don that orange tee-shirt again and there would be press conferences and news releases to no end.

#12 MARK on 04.17.12 at 10:36 am

Just sticking my nose where maybe it shouldn’t be, but I’m originally from the area, so here goes:

City should buy a legal ad requesting naming rights bids to be submitted in 90 days, with the standard reservation that the city can reject or (then) further negotiate final terms. Sounds fair to me.

Whatever Sioux Falls does for naming rights, I’d strongly suggest not doing what Grand Forks did — that is have a community contest, select a winner for the new name (“The Aurora”), give that winner a cash prize, then shift gears and go with a sponsoring name (“The Alerus.”)

#13 Craig on 04.17.12 at 11:04 am

It is not common to have open bidding processes for naming rights, because of two main reasons. Number one it can actually result in a lower bid price since people start low to test the waters and they only go as high as possible.

Second, no company wants to be known for losing in such a contest as it makes them appear weak. To suggest an open bidding process would remove many potential bidders as they don’t want to be seen as inferior to whoever may win.

Case in point, let’s say that Citi decides they want to place a bid of $5M for naming rights, and then five minutes later a bid is opened from Premier Bankcard for $7M. Now Citi appears inferior and unable to compete. Their reputation is harmed to some degree and they have nothing to show for it.

It gets even more complicated when the winning bid is from a different sector. For instance if Sanford Health wins the bidding over the top of Billion Auto, it could harm any future relationship between the two, and Billion would be less likely to want to purchase advertising space etc.

You could potentially release the actual bid amounts, but the companies should rename secret if we honestly want the highest bids.

Also, we don’t need to fear some behind the door deal to hand naming rights directly to any one company because if anyone else had a higher bid they would publicly protest. There is a chance someone could leak the bid amount so that someone *cough* Sanford *cough* could put in a bid slightly higher, but this could be resolved if all bid amounts were public, or if sealed bids were all opened under the watchful eye of the council to prevent any tampering.

This is why most often these types of bids are not auction style but rather sealed bids which gives each interested party one chance to bid. It is not a back and forth type process as that can sometimes result in a lower overall bid amount since people start low and stop bidding when there is no competition left.

Think about it – if Sanford bids 3M and Coca-Cola bids 4M and Midco bids 5M and then Coke drops out and Sanford bids 5.5M before Midco drops out… the final bid is stuck at 5.5M even if Sanford was prepared to go to 8M. However with sealed bids, each company offers what they feel is the most they are willing to pay, and it is quite possible the second highest bid could be millions below the winning bid.

With this in mind, I would rather have shared oversight within the Mayor’s office as well as the City Council but keep the details private. I know people feel this is a “secretive” process, but that is by design to allow the largest bids. There is a reason this is common practice for naming rights – it isn’t because they are trying to keep the public in dark.

* Note I have no idea what naming rights will bring so my numbers are just wild guesses that likely bear no resemblance to reality.

#14 MARK on 04.17.12 at 11:42 am

Adding on to Craig’s point, any company interested in bidding, probably has done some serious due diligence to determine the value of such a name would be for the company, which could be substantially different for each company, as well as what other naming rights went for in similarly sized markets.

Eventually it’s public record. But certainly any company should be allowed to submit a bid, although in SF, I’m guessing it would be only a handful of companies that would be serious contenders for naming rights.

#15 Andy Traub on 04.17.12 at 1:49 pm

I’m not a master negotiator but I do understand this administration enough to say this. If it was good news they’d have a press conference about it. They’re spin-doctors. You can trust them as far as you can throw them. They don’t share information with City Council so why would they with citizens. They’re cloaked in secrecy because it’s about their agenda, not open government. Most city employees are just flat out scared of losing their jobs. The head isn’t afraid to use his hatchet so they do what they’re told. I smell a rat. Now aren’t we using company to help us determine the winner and don’t they get a pretty big chunk of the money? I’m remembering something over 10%?

#16 l3wis on 04.17.12 at 2:22 pm

“However with sealed bids, each company offers what they feel is the most they are willing to pay, and it is quite possible the second highest bid could be millions below the winning bid.”

How do we know if the companies are being told by the city who the other bidders are and what those bids are?

#17 MARK on 04.17.12 at 2:29 pm

Some of these questions might prove to be very interesting in the open agenda or public comments portion of the city council…

Not to be too cynical, but don’t you think that the CEOs of any potential local/regional bidder have talked in general terms about their intentions when they’re sipping their martinis at the club?

#18 l3wis on 04.17.12 at 2:38 pm

It reminds me of when Sanford has a big announcement and it is usually leaked before they can make the announcement.

#19 l3wis on 04.17.12 at 3:01 pm


#20 The Guy from Guernsey on 04.17.12 at 9:25 pm

Lost upon some posters to this thread – the query posed by Ellis was NOT “Tell us who”; rather it was “Tell us how many”.

#21 MARK on 04.18.12 at 8:27 am

You’re right, Guernsey Guy. I think knowing how many might be pretty close to “knowing” who in a town like Sioux Falls.

Be interesting to hear speculation in coffee shops.

Midcontinent? Sanford? Citi? Scheels? Raven?

Someone should start an office pool.

Wild card? How about the South Dacola Center?

#22 Detroit Lewis on 04.18.12 at 3:19 pm

I bid $1 a year for the next 10 years.

#23 hmr59 on 04.19.12 at 9:25 am

Well, then, DL – somebody else will step up and bid $1.01! Hey, that may be an idea – we hold the bidding process like The Price is Right?? We could fill the WashPav with all the corp CEOs who are interested (well, FILL is probably massively optimistic, but, ehhhh) and bring famous “South Dakotan” Bob Barker out of retirement to host. After the lucky ones “come on down”, they make their bids publicly and let HisManMike determine the “actual retail price”!! Heck, they could probably charge $50 bucks a ticket for the regular folks to come in to watch (with the money going to…well, let’s face it – we don’t know where it would end up going…probably an indoor tennis facility!).

#24 Detroit Lewis on 04.19.12 at 12:40 pm

Funny you bring up the Washington Pavilion – Bad place for an auction. When I used to participate in the early days of Arts Night, the artists often criticized how low their paintings were getting sold for (often a 1/3 of what they were worth) and I suggested a minimum bid set by the artist. That was an uphill battle that I never won.