Charlottesville Free Clinic director Erika Viccellio reacts with joy at the $5K donation nTelos offered the non-profit health-care agency.
A few steps away, hired PVCC student-artist Jason Gaviria commemorates the event in chalk at the free speech monument
photo by Hawes Spencer
The Charlottesville Pavilion is losing its old name. Henceforth the Downtown Mall landmark will be known by a more corporate (and curiously-capitalized) moniker: nTelos Wireless Pavilion. (It could be worse; the Nissan Pavilion in northern Virginia got a new name last year that sounds like something behind the counter at the local video store: Jiffy Lube Live.)
Although the site of the Charlottesville Pavilion is owned by the public, in 2004 the city leased the property to music/real estate mogul Coran Capshaw, via CEDA, the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority. And all along, Capshaw's company, Charlottesville Pavilion LLC, has held the naming rights.
"That's pretty standard in arenas and pavilions," says CEDA director Aubrey Watts. "That's part of the revenue stream for developers and promoters."
The name has to be approved by City Council and CEDA, and Watts sees no reason that won't happen– unless the sponsor happened to be Marlboro, Trojan, or another corporate brand that might be considered unseemly for children.
The city lent Capshaw $2.4 million to build the pavilion, contributed another $1 million, and demands that he operate the place for 20 years with at least 10 days a year for city-sponsored events, according to the lease [PDF below].
While Capshaw's company gets to keep 100 percent of whatever fee he charges nTelos for the sponsorship, Watts considers the pavilion a success for the city.
"It accomplished what we wanted," says Watts. "It brought a presence to the east end of the mall along with the Transit Center."
Where the city cashes in, he says, is from parking revenues and meals taxes. Restaurants estimate they have 20 percent more sales when there are events at the pavilion, says Watts, who adds that pavilion events bring potential shoppers back to the Mall, too.
"The spinoff money is important to the city," Watts says.
A March 24 letter from Pavilion general manager Kirby Hutto announces the nTelos deal, which runs for five years, and asks for expedited approval from City Council.
"We also ask that you treat this request as confidential," Hutto writes, "until such time as it is approved so that we can control the announcement of our new name." That letter is part of the agenda materials for the April 4 City Council meeting.
"Under our lease, we're required to provide written notice," explains Hutto. "And we did as soon as we had the deal with nTelos."
The lease gives City Council 30 days to approve.
"Everything should go smoothly," says Mayor Dave Norris of the deal, which was first publicly discussed in a broadcast news report. He expected that nTelos would win approval at the April 4 meeting, and indeed it did.
Hutto, who declines to say how much nTelos paid for the sponsorship, made plans to unveil the season's musical lineup at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion the next day. And he doesn't anticipate any confusion with another nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth from addled online ticket buyers.
"Both websites clearly say Charlottesville and Portsmouth," says Hutto. "That's not really a concern."