Maryland's arena drive hinges on naming rights

Plan may crumble if Terps can't find $25 million donor

April 30, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland can tell you that its new basketball arena will have 17,100 permanent seats, and that the 4,000 nearest the court will be occupied by students. You can view plans that show a two-level, state-of-the-art arena with 20 luxury suites adjoining practice facilities and offices.

Maryland administrators, however, can't say exactly when ground will be broken for the $90 million project. The university must cover half of the cost, and before building can begin, it must secure $25 million in the form of naming rights.

"Without a significant naming gift or sponsor, this isn't going to happen," said Joe Hull, associate athletic director for external operations. "It's fair to say that that would more likely come from a corporate sponsor than a gift, since the $15 million to name the performing arts center is the largest gift in the history of the university.

"We would like to have that [naming rights] secured by November, when the General Assembly is compiling its budget."

If the university can secure a gift or sell the naming rights by then, state funds would be forthcoming and ground could be broken at a north campus site off Azalea Lane next spring or summer. If that timetable is met, the Terps could play the 2002-2003 season in their new arena.

The university has already spent approximately $4.5 million in architectural fees to Ellerbe Beckett, the Kansas City-based firm that built MCI Center in Washington. The new arena would replace Cole Field House, which was built in 1955.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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