Name Blame Game

Live Nation is under fire for a naming-rights deal that rebranded the Murat Centre as the “Old National Centre” from a local organization that owns the Indianapolis property.

The re-branding applies to the building only, not the Murat Theatre and Egyptian Room venues inside.

The Murat Temple Association, affiliated with Shriners International, say they weren’t involved in the agreement with Evansville, Ind.’s Old National Bank to rename the historic building, according to the Indianapolis Star. Live Nation maintains that naming rights are included in its lease agreement.

Shriners are weighing their legal options in an effort to reverse the name change, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

“Our members are understandably upset,” board member and attorney Greg Miller told the paper. “They believe we’ve participated in this and financially benefited. We’ve not.”

Miller told the paper that the association caught wind of the impending change in January and wrote to building GM Terry Hennessey. Miller reportedly said the letter demanded Live Nation seek the Shriners’ permission for any name change.

He said the association got no reply but was taken by surprise with the announcement of a press conference on the building’s marquee March 15 when members arrived for a board meeting.

Miller told the Business Journal the group’s lease with Live Nation allows it to put up signage for sponsors and advertisers but not change the name of the theatre. It’s apparently silent on renaming the entire building.

Live Nation Senior VP Tom Mendenhall said at a press conference that it wasn’t necessary to modify its lease before renaming the building. “We had the right. It’s under the lease agreement,” the paper quoted him saying.

In a written statement, Live Nation said it “has acted within our lease rights with the Murat Temple Association in renaming the Murat Centre the Old National Centre. We look forward to continuing to showcase the best live entertainment with our title sponsor Old National Bank, who shares our passion and dedication to the arts.”

The 50-year Murat lease was signed in 1995 with Murat Center LP, a company then controlled by Dave Lucas and Sunshine Promotions. Lucas sold his company to SFX Entertainment and it was subsequently acquired by Live Nation. Lucas is no longer with the company and instead owns another Indianapolis firm, Live 360.