BANGOR, Maine — The new Bangor arena won’t be finished until early fall of next year, but it already has a name.
Thanks to a $3 million, 15-year agreement with the city of Bangor, the arena will officially be known as the Cross Insurance Center.
“We were initially approached by Steve Rex of Front Row Marketing July 5 and made an offer July 9,” said Brent Cross, vice president of the Bangor-based Cross Insurance Agency. “We haven’t signed a contract yet, but we have signed a solid letter of intent.”
The deal calls for quarterly payments of $50,000 by Cross for naming rights, as well as an exclusive 12-month renegotiation period that kicks in 12 years into the deal that allows Cross to extend its contract by as many as 10 years.
“We would love to see our name stay on the building for a long time,” Cross said. “First and foremost, we were looking to support the arena and the city, even before Steve called us.
“It took a lot of courage for the city to tackle something of this size. We’d not considered having our name on the side of the building, but we’re excited about it.”
Based on their public statements, so are city officials.
“What an amazing day for Bangor. A hearty thank you to the Cross family and Cross Insurance for their belief in not only this project but in the future of Bangor,” said Bangor City Councilor and Mayor Cary Weston. “The energy and support we have seen throughout this project from our business community, starting with the amazing effort of the Friends [of the Arena] group, has been tremendous. And for a family-owned business with longstanding Bangor roots to step forward like this makes it even more special.”
Cross said the deal brings instant local, regional and national visibility to his 58-year-old family business.
“This brings a lot of exposure to this company,” said Cross. “People have this impression of our business being my father and my brother and I with our desks pushed together in one office.”
While the company is still family-based with three generations currently employed, it also has grown into a regional insurance presence with 450 employees, 27 locations across New England and clients that include the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox.
“That’s probably the main reason why we’re doing this,” said Cross, whose 95-year-old father, Woodrow Cross, started the agency in 1954 and still works 5½ days a week at the Bangor headquarters on Gilman Road. “It gives us more of a regional and national branding.”
Five employees currently represent three generations of the Cross family: Brent Cross, his father, brother Royce, son Woody and nephew Jonathan.
The deal also provides an opt-out option for Cross Insurance that includes financial penalties, but Cross couldn’t provide specifics because the contract language is still being worked out.
The $65 million arena and events center — featuring 5,800 fixed seats with a total capacity of about 8,050, seated and standing — is on schedule and expected to officially open Labor Day weekend 2013.
Front Row Marketing Services, a company specializing in generating ancillary income for sports and entertainment venues, completed the naming rights agreement on Bangor’s behalf. Global Spectrum, an international public assembly facilities management company, was hired by Bangor to operate Cross Insurance Center. Both Front Row and Global Spectrum are subsidiaries of Comcast-Spectacor, an international sports and entertainment provider.
Correction: An early version of this story said Woodrow Cross works one day a week. He works five and a half.